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Friday, April 29, 2011

Quilt - Update

And here is my new quilted table centerpiece, in action:

It took me an hour to unearth my kitchen table, so this is a major accomplishment around here.  Meals in the kitchen, once again.  The kids are going to be so mad! 

(I also added one more picture to the original post.  Somehow that one didn't save the first time around.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Project 15 - Woven Quilt

I am very proud of this week's project (well, really it spanned 2 weeks.)  I finally bit the bullet and made my first attempt at quilting!

I followed a very simple pattern, using 1 jelly roll (apparently fabric can be sold in special cuttings that all sound like food!)  I just wove the strips in and out and then sewed up the seams.  It is all machine-quilted - I didn't want to do the handwork.

Unfortunately, that shows at the binding, where the front and back did not line up.  Embarrassing, but I am not about to pull it all out.  Live and learn

Just the same, I had fun and I love it.  Now, the original pattern was for a rug, but I cannot imaging putting that much effort into something and letting it get muddy.  My quilt is not padded and is heavy.  I think it would work will in the middle of our kitchen table, so that is where it is going to live.  Bunnies and all.

Oh, Of Course!

Yesterday, my first-grade son proudly told me that he ate all of his lunch.  Except his pear.  

"Why," I asked, "did you not eat your pear?"

He giggled.  "Because it looked like a butt!"

He did, however, show it to "everyone he could find."

Atta Boy!

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Mantra for Today

There is NOTHING crawling up your leg!

Because every time I come in from the garden, I get the creepy-crawlies up my legs and across my back. (Cue involuntary shudder.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Invasion of the Seedlings!

Now with pictures!  My super-smart husband took a few minutes out of his busy morning to end the feud between the camera and the computer so that I can again have pictures on the blog!  And while I am completely sure that I caused the feud, he was kind enough not to ask.  Win!

So, check the post on last week's project if you want to actually see it!  And now on to today ...

I am so, very, super excited about this season's garden.  We have actual, honest-to-goodness growth outside.

 We have fennel that I rescued after it was accidentally (ahem) pulled up at the University garden.

 I am already planning where to stash all the onions (this is one of three beds with onions)

 and garlic when they are ready.  

 The potatoes have started sprouting 

 and the peas are reaching for their trellis!  

The strawberries are ripening!  (I am salivating.)  

And the carrots, spinach and lettuce are still trying hard to grow.

But what are really taking over are the seedlings inside the house.  Oh holy mama.  We can't reach the windows anymore.  Don't believe me?

We have three windows full of seedlings.

Two in the office.

And one in our master bathroom.   Nice, I know!

We can only fill three windows with seedlings because the rest of our windows that face South are shaded by our front porch.  Lovely for us, but not so great for growing plants.  And while this has been pretty successful for our first year starting seeds, next year we are making a rack with grow lights. Obviously, "we" equals "husband, in this case.  I want my windows back!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Homestead Dreams

Spring is here and I am daydreaming.  To be perfectly honest, you could probably insert any season and follow it with "and I am daydreaming," and have it be accurate.  I do a lot of daydreaming.

Today, however, we are going call daydreaming "planning."

Our little slice of Virginia is not large, just over 3 acres, but I would like to see it used productively and sustainably.  We have an orchard that is already fruiting, a garden that is starting to flourish, and about 2 acres of partially cleared, unfenced, unused land.  This just cannot be! gasp

As you already know, dear reader, I would like to have some livestock.  A true homestead has the means to produce the vegetables and meat products the family needs for the entire year.  While I think that is very lofty for my family and my land, I would like to get as close as possible.

The homestead in my dreams has a family cow for milk.  Right now I am partial to either


Both are smaller, multi-purpose, heritage breeds that are known to do well on small homesteads.  There is a Dexter breeder in my town, not a mile from here, so that seems a wise choice.

But, since I don't want the cow to be lonely (hah, not really the reason), the dream homestead also has a few sheep.  I like either

Tunis Sheep

Hog Island Sheep
Again, both are heritage breed, multi-purpose sheep that can forage well on imperfect pasture.  Hog Island Sheep are native to Virginia, but the Tunis Sheep are soooo lovely, and give good wool.

An alternative to either the sheep or the cow, is to have goats.  Milk goats are really common in our area, but as we discussed last year, they can be high maintenance.  But if I had to choose a heritage breed of goat to have on our small holding, it would be the

San Clemente Goat
They are very, very rare, and conservation efforts are taking place nationwide to promote the breed.  I would love to be part of a recovery effort like that.  Plus, look at their beautiful faces!  Sheesh

That is it for our Dream Homestead of Tomorrow (do you all remember those old cartoons about the dream home of tomorrow  Or the hilarious Farm of Tomorrow?).

And we haven't even discussed the chickens, yet!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Project 14 - Document Case

This week's project was born of necessity.  I am going back to work (long story for another post), and so we needed to buy a second car.  Which we did.  On Friday.  Come Friday night I realized I need something to keep the registration, etc., safe and handy in the glove box.  (I know I could just use an envelope, but they get damaged and lost easily.  And what fun are they?)

So I decided to sew one.  Well, two.  We have two cars, why not make two document keepers.

I found some scrap plaid fabric and linen to line it in my stash, and used some buttons I have had forever (I love buttons!)  So this project was completely free.

I love that I could make up a pattern and it looks almost like it did in my head.  I also love that I finally got to use my button whole maker and it worked perfectly!  Love, love, love this sewing machine!

If I had to do this one again, I would add some batting to make it more sturdy.  Overall, though, I count this a success.

I will post pictures when I can get the computer to talk to the camera.  Right now, they are apparently feuding. Update 4/22/11, pictures finally posted.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Cake-tastrophe and Mr Itchy Pants

A Cake-Tastrophe

Today is my husband's birthday, so I made him a cake.  I love to bake cakes, and my favorites, and my husband's, are scratch-made cakes with raspberry preserves and chocolate icing.  Not just any chocolate icing, mind you.  It has to be my grandmother's famous chocolate icing.  (Which, it seems, is the icing recipe on the back of the chocolate box.  Still, it is famous to us.)  This icing is rich, chocolaty, decadent, and delicious.  Tonight, however, it was also a little thin.  I have had this problem before and when the icing just doesn't want to thicken, I just add more sugar.  It didn't work.  Maybe because I used 2% milk.  I don't know.

Whatever the reason, the beautiful layers of yellow cake started to slide off each other as soon as I layered them.  I thought they were level.  Would have sworn that they were level.  But the waterfall of chocolate-raspberry goop splooging out the side told a different tale.  I tried valiantly to make the cake look beautiful ...

I failed.  In fact, there is so much fail in this cake, I should send it to CakeWrecks! (It tasted good, though.)

Mr. Itchy Pants

My 5-year-old is a chatty boy with a good imagination.  Lately he has started trying to excuse things he says or does by blaming them on his "brain."  My brain thought that. OR I didn't say that, my brain said it.  He kept talking about his brain as a separate person so often that it started to really bother me .  (I started worrying that he would develop multiple personality disorder!)  Then one day I stopped and realized...

His brain is his imaginary friend!

Imaginary friends are supposed to be a sign of intelligence and creativity (and I am not just saying that because I had one (Sha-la)!), so I am supportive of this idea.  Once I got over my annoyance at his brain being the excuse, I started listening to the stories my son was telling me.  Apparently his brain has quite an advanced and active life!  He drives a white pick-up truck and has seen all the toy-story movies through Toy Story 100.

So today I asked him what his brain's name was, since it would be easier to personify if we could call him something other than "my brain."  What did my imaginative, creative, intelligent son tell me?

His brain's name is Mr. Itchy Pants.

Okay.  And we are back to mildly worried.

Project 13 - Two-Handed Oven Mitt

I am so excited!  This is the project I have been wanting to make for weeks.  But it seemed every time I sat down to sew I either had the wrong fabric, too little fabric, no time, or just plain didn't understand the pattern.  Well last night everything clicked and I can finally present....

My Two-Handed Oven Mitt
I have always wanted one of these, so when I saw the pattern on sew4home, I knew I had to make it.  And I am so happy with the way it turned out.  It is pretty, it is functional, and it was fairly easy to put together (once I understood the pattern). 

I love it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Just A Little Update

We are already seeing more garden progress than we saw all of last fall.  We have onions and garlic going bonkers in their beds.  A surprising number of strawberries survived their planting and they are growing well.  I am not holding my breath on fruit this year, but I will buy bird netting, just in case.  Our peas are starting to come up and will be provided with a trellis to climb on Saturday. Our spinach and lettuces are just starting to sprout.  The potatoes have been planted and are snuggled under soil.

And that is just what is outside. 

Inside our seedlings are moving right along.  Tomatoes, peppers, herbs, brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, chard, and cucumbers are all starting to reach for the sun.  I am so excited to watch this garden grow!

I love Spring!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Project 12 - Egg Cozy

I forgot to post the latest project!  We lost internet for half the weekend and then I was ill, so those are my excuses and we will all just have to live with the consequences.

Ok, enough drama.  Project 12 comes directly from The Knitter's Year (page 29), though with a slight pattern change so that I could knit it in the round.  It is a silly little project that gave me a disproportionately large headache.  In honor of the Easter Bunny's imminent return, I give you the Egg Cozy.

Cute, isn't he?  

My husband said I should knit a second on so that each kid gets one.  I said (to myself) he should learn to knit if he has such great suggestions.  I was cranky.

I am a little concerned, though.  There is just something sinister in his look. 

Like he is organizing his minions.

I may knit another one, but this one actually hurt my hands a bit.  It is made from cotton yarn and knit on needles a size smaller than normal.  The combination means a lot of tension on the yarn and a lot of force to make it do its job.  Worth it, though, since he holds his shape so nicely.

Unless he is consipiring against me.  In which case,

you are on your own, dude.