I did!

Owl Pincushion

This adorable owl flew into our nest today! She came all the way from Sandy’s house in Missouri.

Needlekeep Owl

She holds a pair of scissors, a seam ripper, and a needle threader. All of which you can never have too many of! The inside of her wings are made of felt, and will work as needle keeps. For travel, her wings fold over the items and are held secure with a hair elastic and two buttons. She also holds a spool of thread in her elastic talons. (I wonder if Sandy’s granddaughters are missing any of their ponytail holders?)

Such a lovely gift from such a thoughtful person! (Sandy is the one that mailed me some replacement marbles when mine went missing.)

First you deduce that since she signs up for give-a-ways on the KitchenAid site every time a stand mixer comes up that she might want one. You somehow work a conversation around to them while at a “Girls Weekend”. You then discover that while she would like to have one someday, they are on her “List of Things to Get When I Win the Lottery.” Unless, of course, she wins one somewhere.

kitchenaid-artisan-stand-mixer

Then you shop until you find The Best Deal Ever, and you buy her one for her birthday. AND because you are so excited, you drive it out to her house to give it to her two weeks early.

This is an excellent way to make your sister happy.

One of the first items to take a test spin in the mixer was peanut butter cookie dough.

Inaugural Batch

I had help squishing them out before baking.

Baker's Helper

Not only has this made me happy, but since I have to try out all of the recipes to see if they work up any different and if they fit in that 5 quart bowl. It has made my family, and several other recipients of baked goods happy as well.

Thanks Sis! I’m loving it!

As my 2012 Christmas gift, my sister Dorrie gave me a Craftsy Mystery Box of fabric. It nearly drove her nuts waiting until Christmas for me to open it. Inside was a jelly roll of Lilliput Lane fabrics along with an assortment of other fabulous pre-cut fabrics in other colors and patterns. (Jelly roll = 2.5 x 42″ strips of fabric rolled up to resemble a slice of jelly roll cake.)

Sparkling Gemstones in Chocolate

I get stumped with some of the pre-cuts. So I checked out a few books from the library. This pattern was in a book by Pam & Nicky Linott. It is called Sparkling Gemstones. The sample was worked with bright prints and cream sashing between the blocks. The dark chocolate fabric seemed to tame the oranges and tie the colors of these fabrics together. To be perfectly honest these would not be my first choice of colors to work with as a group.

Lilliput Lane fabrics

During the summer, I was messing with the blocks on my cutting table while I had a friend over and forgot to put them away. Dorrie came over to visit and saw them on the table. Her comment was “I really like that.” Hmmmmm. I do believe it shall be yours! It was kind of heading in her direction, but that closed the deal.

I picked up some plumy purple for the border from our new local quilt shop, Quilt Revolution, and finished the top to be big enough to snuggle under while watching TV on the couch.

The pattern uses up almost the whole jelly roll. I used the scraps from the ends of the strips to make a piano key border around the label  on the back. The only bits that weren’t used were the selvedges and they went into the bag that will make stuffing for a pet bed.

I gave her the quilt as her 2013 Christmas gift!  She liked it, although she says she doesn’t remember seeing the blocks on the sewing table last summer!

I signed up for a secret Santa swap on the Missouri Star Quilt Co forum. There was a clue for each month and you added an item of your choosing to the box each month. We had to wait until October to receive the names of our  swap partners.

It was a lot of fun making and picking up little things that our swap partner might like in her basket of goodies.

Secret Santa Decoy Pkg

This is what my partner sent me! Sue from New York received my name. I thought she might have gotten this box mixed up with the “Office Supply” Santa swap, but it was just some clever decoy packaging!

Hidden Treasures!

In addition to the tasty salsa, thread snips, lovely pincushion & books was all of this loot!

I have some beautiful new fabrics to play with, fresh needles for my machine, authentic Maple Syrup, & a handy new bag made in lovely Christmas fabrics & lined in flannel! I’d really like to crawl in there and take a nap! The box of color catchers is great. I’m sure I’ll be trying them out when I make Em’s red quilt. The chocolates in the adorable fabric box have been well hidden from non-sewing fingers! Those quilt labels are just about the truth on every project!

I also have two rolls of adding machine tape – Sue sent me a link for a project to make with them. Whew! I thought she was going to make me add up my fabric stash! The apple cider soap smells fantastic and is still sitting in my sewing room. I think the thing that tickled me the most was the snail measuring tape. I’m not sure why, but it just makes me smile!

So, THANK YOU Sue! Your box of goodies certainly added to the festivities around here! I’m off to go see if one of those recipes in the baking book might work for tonight’s meal.

This is to remind me that while I look out to see the garden is mostly dirt, skeletal trees, and canes with a few sad leaves still clinging to them, this is what it will be again.

Raspberry patch

I shall enjoy the surprisingly late harvest of raspberries from our second-year canes. We ended up with about two gallon-size bags of the plump red berries. They are snuggled in the freezer between the peaches and the packages of pumpkin puree. I have to decide if they will be used as whole berries or converted into jam for biscuits, scones, and toast. Our small peach harvest would make a few jars of preserves, a small pie, several tasty smoothies, or some fabulous ice cream.

Pears!

Despite a full tree, we didn’t get any good apples. Our trees are going to have to be sprayed or dusted for us to get any that don’t have critters. Our multi-pear tree set fruit for the first time and we ate those right off of the tree! Most of them were Bartlets, but we did get one rogue Comice.

Bronze Fennel

We have also started to expand our herb garden, both culinary and medicinal. This is the bed that is dedicated to mint and some bronze fennel. Both the peppermint and spearmint were quite refreshing in our iced tea this summer, and they have dried nicely for our winter use. It is hard to believe that the fennel grows to six feet, but there it is.

Blueberry Barricade

Our blueberry bushes are looking better after a few hard years. We had a lovely crop of berries that the birds ate in one afternoon. They were there, all dusky blue and juicy at morning chore time, and when I went to pick them for supper (blueberry pancakes) the bushes were stripped bare! Eric constructed a row cover of netting and we did manage to get a few later in the season.

Cukes & Strawberries

We planted more pickling cucumbers and some Mexican Sour Gherkins. The pickles turned out pretty great this year, except for the MSGs. They look so cute, almost like tiny watermelons, but they have the worst texture once pickled! If we grow them again, they will be eaten fresh.

The cherry-type tomatoes were mislabeled. I thought we had Sweet 100′s, but we ended up with SunGolds. They only get to orange when ripe, so I lost a few waiting for them to turn red. They are like sugar bombs! Very tasty in salads or pasta, if they make it in the house. We had one “standard” tomato ripen this year. We are going back to the Oregon Spring variety. It is the only one we have had any success with here.

The strawberry bed was completely redone this season. The berries had become odd shaped and scarce on the plants. The old plants were pulled up and used as ground cover in other areas of the farm. Aged compost was mixed in with some bonemeal and fresh starts were set. We didn’t keep up with them as well as we should and I will have to figure out a way to keep the heavy clusters off of the dirt. Row covers and slug bait will also be our friends in this bed next spring. I prefer Corey’s Slug & Snail Death along the edges of the pathways to keep the monsters out of the beds in the first place and then the “Slug Saloon” in the bed. (Saloon =modified soda bottle with dead beer inside.)

Peppers & Beans

The beans and the peppers did fairly well this year. While the taste is fine, I have decided I don’t like bush beans. I would rather stand up to pick the green beans than crouch down to rummage under the leaves for them. I will find more panels for another bean trellis.

Finally, this is the stand of comfrey I planted in 2012. These were starts from Don & Judi Hoy’s farm. I know this stuff can go wild and crazy, similar to mints, so it was planted accordingly. They looked really bad at first, and I wasn’t sure they were going to handle the transplant. As you can see, they survived the winter and have decided to thrive here. The goats love to snack on a few leaves, and that pruning helps keep them in check!

Comfrey in June

I don’t have any photos up loaded of the sunflowers or the pumpkins that we grew in the beds with the garlic & fruit trees. The goats were very interested in the sunflowers! I will have to stake them if we grow them in the same place next year. The two old lady goats would wait for the breeze to blow and then snatch leaves off of the plants as the stalks leaned over the hot wire into their pasture!

This will remind me of our successes and give me incentive to do some more planing for next year’s garden!

Sweetie is both.

This is what she looked like when she was born. Alpine coloring.

Alpine Sweetie

This is what she looked like after she was clipped for the fair. Hmm. That’s more of a Toggenburg color, but not the correct white markings. There is to much white on her belly.

Togg Sweetie

This is just odd. It will be interesting to see which way her hair grows back.

Toggpine Sweetie

Through some very good friends, I have inherited a fabric treasure trove. These are only part of a larger stash owned by a quilter who has passed on. I was asked to make a quilt for her husband from a portion of the fabrics. Of the two parcels I was able to squeeze in the car on our last visit, one was full of hand-dyed fabrics. I am guessing she dyed them herself and that they were either from a class or an experiment in making her own fabrics. I figured that these self-created pieces would have more meaning for her husband than just some material she bought off the bolt to add to her stash.

I laid out the fabrics looking for some inspiration. Each piece is about a yard long, and they range from earth tone blends to an eye-searing combo of mustard and turquoise. (That piece is going to take a “special” project!) I went for a block pattern that would have large enough pieces to show off the color variations in the fabrics and yet still allow several colors to work together.

Hand-dyed Fabrics - Top Only

This really reminds me of tile work. I hope it will honor his wife in a way he can appreciate.

The other request was that a portion of the fabrics be used for charity quilts. I have a few places that will benefit from the fabrics depending on what I find in the rest of the stash. Apparently I have about 18 more “bundles” to pick up on my next trip. I’m going to have to clean out the sewing room in order to just do the sorting!

After several years of riding with training wheels it was time for them to come off. In reality they have been barely hanging on the last year. One of them had worked it’s way loose and kind of tagged along for the ride.

Away she goes!

Now we have to get her to remember to steer and use the brakes….

Meet Sweetie, the newest addition to our farm.

Sweetie

She is a Toggpine. In her case her daddy is the Toggenburg and her mommy is the Alpine. She arrived Saturday evening after we had been to Nana & Grandpa’s to celebrate Nana’s birthday.

She’s doing a fine job of being adorable.

We had a problem with yellow jackets last week.

I thought I had gotten them after I got stung. Later we realized they had actually made their nest in one of the bales of alfalfa hay. The farmers use a long spear to pick the bales out of the field and this had created a inviting hole for bees to nest in. Thankfully I didn’t get a face full when I actually picked up the bale and moved it! 

After Em was stung walking by to see the baby goats I called in the big guns. I couldn’t justify dumping a can of wasp spray in to the end of such an expensive bale of hay. Therefore, Daddy brought home two Tyvek paper suits and his full face respirator from work. After a bit of tape to keep the little monsters out of his sleeves he went to work.

Daddy gets the Bees!

He tore apart the end of the bale and found the comb and the queen. This really seemed to irritate the yellow jackets as they ended up stinging three of the goats who were standing at the feeder waiting for the hay to come their way. Poor things had some pretty serious swelling.

This wasn’t enough for the bees. They didn’t seem to know it was best just to leave. They kept lurking about the area around the hay stack and the bottom corner of the feeder. I was afraid they would set up new digs under the hay feeder.

My dear, sweet husband donned his protective gear again and went back down there. This time I think he was having fun. He made a red-neck blow torch out of a can of carburetor cleaner and a lighter. (Yes, in my pretty barn, next to my hay stack.) He’d wait for several of them to gather, flame them, and then the smooshing would ensue. In the mean time, we had fed the parts of the bale of alfalfa that the yellow jackets had nested in.

Our best guess is that between the flames and the digestion of the hay we eliminated the “homing” scent the little hellions were hanging around for. Either that, or they had watched enough of their friends have their wings singed off and be smashed into oblivion to make leaving town sound like a good idea.

I just wanted the world to know how brave my sweet husband was. He HATES bees of any kind. That puts this act of bravery right up there with slaying dragons to save the princess in his book. I love you honey. Thanks for making the barn safe for us to work in again!

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