Category Archives: Sewing

A Good Busy

Hello and welcome. August is upon us and I feel like I’ve been MIA (blogging action at least) for a while. It has been longer than I like to go between posts so I’m going share a hodge-podge of things that have been keeping us busy.

Dog Tails

Ruby has been with us for nearly two months now and we are all happy she’s here. When I first introduced you to Ruby I had mentioned a few things that she needed to learn. She has proven to be a quick learner. She no longer tries to get in bed with us at night and rarely puts her paws up on our chests. She is doing well with knowing that she can shoo the chickens out of the barn or off a chair, but she does not chase them for fun. The chickens are no longer afraid of her. To them she is just part of the farm family.

When we adopted Ruby from the shelter we were told that she had not been well socialized and took a while to warm up to people. While at times this may be the case, she had no problem socializing with people and other dogs when we had a family picnic at the farm.

Ruby swimming with the family.
Ruby always eager to play fetch.
Ruby playing chase with Captain and Misty.
Ruby waiting for Kara to throw the frisbee.

It took a few weeks for Ranger and Ruby to bond. At first Ranger seemed to think of Ruby as an intruder, especially when he would be getting attention from my husband or me and she would push her way in or when she would curl up on my lap as I was kicked back in my recliner (he was used to having the choice of my lap or my husbands.) But it wasn’t just our attention that Ruby sought. She worked hard to get Ranger to be her friend.

Often modeling his behavior or initiating play sessions.

She just doesn’t understand the concept of hunting.

Nowadays Ruby and Ranger spend a lot of time ruffhousing or wrestling.

Ruffhousing

Sometimes it can look and sound like they are being mean to each other, but they are just playing and having fun. They really have become good friends.

Besides ruffhousing with Ranger, Ruby’s other activity of choice is playing fetch. A ball, a frisbee, a stick – if we throw it Ruby will fetch it and bring it back to be thrown again. She is definitely a retriever.

My husband often comes home with a sore arm from throwing the ball so many times, but Ruby’s not done, after she eats, she will go get a ball and bring it to me or my husband, wanting to resume the game that was started at the farm.

Incidentally, she has also learned not to chew up her toys. In the first several weeks she chewed up several balls and other toys. Each time she would chew a hole in something we would throw it away as we didn’t want her swallowing plastic or whatever materials the toy was made out of. We began monitoring her and telling her “no chew” or “be nice” when we saw her chewing up a toy and she has since stopped destroying her toys. We do still allow her to chew up sticks.

Making Curtains

Last week, our hottest week so far this year, was a good time for me to have an inside project to work on, so when my husband suggested we needed new curtains for the kitchen and back bathroom I decided to make some. It was also perfect timing because my sister, K.C. was in town for a day, so we had lunch together then made a trip to the fabric store. πŸ™‚

Below are the results of this project.

Kitchen curtains are opened most of the day.
But necessary to block the morning sun.

My husband and I agree – we Love the kitchen curtains! Even when they block the sun they still brighten the room.

The pattern on the bathroom curtains is honeybees and clover. πŸ™‚

We also like the bathroom curtains just not as much as we love the kitchen curtains.

Chickens

It’s been a while since I have blogged about the chickens and quite honestly it hasn’t been our best year of raising chickens. In the spring we lost about half our flock to a fox or family of foxes. We can only assume that there was more than one because on one day we lost seven chickens in just a couple hour time frame. They were not killed on sight they were carried off by their predator(s). On a few other occasions we lost one at a time.

The fox was pretty bold. My husband yelled to chase it off a few times. It has been at least a month now since there has been any evidence of fox in the area, so think that perhaps it has raised its young and moved on.

These chickens are some of the chicks we bought this spring. Out of the 12 chicks we started with this spring we still have six of them – two black and four white. It’s too early to tell, but we suspect one of the white ones might be a rooster since it’s comb and wattles are far more developed than the rest of them. We expect the hens to start laying in August.

Garden Stuff

The gardens continue to do well. Having everything mulched heavily with straw has worked so well. Not only has it kept weeds well under control it helps the soil retain moisture making it available for the plants.

Our squash and pumpkins were planted late but they are doing well.

They are beginning to blossom and form fruit.

Melons and cucumbers were also planted late but are blossoming and forming fruit as well. We did pick our first cucumbers this week and I plan on making pickles soon.

Look at the little watermelon. So cute!

Cabbage is looking good – I’ll be making sauerkraut this year.

We’ve started picking tomatoes. I’ll probably have enough to start canning next week.

Stuffed peppers are on the upcoming menu. We have been including garden produce in our meals each day. Perhaps I’ll share some of these dishes in future posts.

So far this is the only sunflower to blossom since the deer ate the tops off of most of the plants. It is a beauty though.

Thanks for visiting. Watch for future posts on how we are eating and preserving our harvest.

Another Sewing Project

Hello and Welcome.

Buttonholes, collar stand, placards, interfacing, French seams, pleats and top stitching all in one project. If nothing else it was a learning experience. I took my time and read the directions carefully and tried to follow them. After two failed attempts at attaching the collar stand I found an online video tutorial to assist me. After I finally got it on I called my sister and said “I HATE COLLAR STANDS!” She laughed before offering encouraging words. “I don’t cuss often,” I told her “but in my mind I was.”

At last, it’s finished. The fit is decent and from a distance it doesn’t look too bad.

I do like the combination of fabrics.

It will be nice for working around the house or farm or perhaps even sitting around a campfire on a summer evening.

Thanks for visiting.

Winter Update

Now that you know my, um, excuses for not blogging much this year (the dog ate my blog – Blame It on the Dog) let me catch you up on some of the things that I’ve been up to in 2022.

Daily Yoga – The day after Christmas I began doing yoga. I have never done yoga before but have been told about its benefits and encouraged to try it by two of my sisters and one of my daughters. Since I was no longer experiencing as much pain form the pinched nerve, I decided that it was time to start trying to heal this condition. In order to do so I figured some type of exercise is necessary. I decided to start this 30-day yoga journey entitled breath because for the past two years I have been practicing deep breathing and encouraging others to “breathe deep” as well.

https://yogawithadriene.com/breath-a-30-day-yoga-journey/

Now don’t get the wrong idea. I am nowhere near good at this. I am not graceful. I am awkward at best. I am getting better but it’s not pretty. (That is why I only do it when I am home alone.)

I have been feeling and seeing some of the benefits. I can tell that I am getting stronger and increasing my balance. I also feel good physically and I seem to have more focus after doing it. Once I finished the first 30-day program I started over again and I’m about to finish it a second time. I plan on repeating it again in March.

If you’ve ever considered learning yoga I would encourage you to do it. I would also recommend this program as a starting point.

Sewing Projects– I have completed two sewing projects. The first was this sweatshirt dress made with plush fleece. I did adjust the pattern to make it a turtleneck. This top is so comfortable and warm; I wear it quite often.

(I’m no model so this is what I do when my husband tells me to pose. LOL)

The second is this sweater. I’m not sure what the fabric would be called, but it is a soft knit with silvery threads intertwined to give it the shimmery look.

I have a third project started but it’s way different from anything I have done before. I am learning to work with interfacing and make buttonholes, so this is taking a while.

Garden Planning – We are really looking forward to spring. We have ordered and received all of our seeds for this year’s garden. I found it interesting that we did not receive tons of seed catalogues in the mail this year. (I think we received one.) I wonder if we have been removed from the mailing lists because we hadn’t ordered for several years, or are companies no longer using catalogues as a means of marketing? Maybe some of both?

After last year’s gardening disaster (too much rain) we decided we need to do something different this year. We will be adding some raised beds. We are in the planning stage, and I’ll write more about it once we begin working on them.

Bees – We lost both hives again this year and just can’t explain why. There were just a few dead bees in the bottom of both hives. The rest were just gone. This is an unexplained phenomenon referred to as colony collapse disorder. We did harvest about 30 lbs. of honey that was left in the hives so at least it wasn’t a total loss.

We have ordered three bee packages for this year. They are scheduled to arrive on April 15. The bees we are getting this year are a different breed than the ones we have had in the past, so that gives us a little more hope for their survival.

Chicks and Chickens – Sunday as I looked at the weather forecast, I realized that the weather this week would be right for tapping maple trees. With above freezing daytime temps and below freezing nighttime temps that sap should begin to flow. We are not tapping trees this year, but I reminded my husband that in past years it seemed like at the same time we tapped maple trees the chickens began to lay more eggs. Monday my husband collected 6 eggs and Tuesday five. For about the past two months we had been averaging only between two and three eggs a day. An interesting correlation between sap season and egg laying.

We are going to add about 12 chicks to our flock this year. I will share chick pictures when we get them. πŸ™‚

New Chair – Last week we finally went shopping for a new desk chair. this is the one I selected.

While it doesn’t actually have bells and whistles, it does have lumbar support, height adjustment, arm rests that adjust up and down and forward and backward, and the seat back reclines. This makes sitting at my desk much more comfortable. It is called a gaming chair so as I like to say, “game on!”

Thanks for visiting.

Have you ever done yoga?

Will you be planting a garden this year?

Did you receive any seed catalogues in the mail?

Catching Up

Hello and welcome!

Once again I’ve fallen behind in blogging. In this post I am sharing some of my activities from the week of November 1st – 7th. I plan to get another post, highlighting November 8th – 14th, up early next week. If all goes as planned I will be caught up. πŸ™‚

Monday Nov 1 – I rendered beef suet into tallow. Suet is raw hard fat found around the loins and kidneys of the cow. For the last few years we have been buying our beef from a local farmer. we purchase a quarter of a cow at a time. Once the cow goes to the butcher or processor I have to call them and give them instructions for cutting and wrapping the meat. At this time I ask to have the suet included in our order. Most people who buy their meat this way to not want the suet so I always have to ask.

Rendering is the process of cleaning the suet. To do this I cut the suet into small pieces. It’s easiest to cut when cold or partially frozen. I then put it in my crock pot on high until it is completely melted.

Tuesday, Nov 2 – The suet was still in the melting process Monday when I was ready to go to bed so I just unplugged the crock pot and would finish it on Tuesday. After reheating it I strained the hot fat through 2 or 3 layers of paper towel. When the hot fat (tallow) cools it solidifies and becomes white. (picture above)

Tallow can be used for cooking. (The original McDonald’s french fries were cooked in tallow), candle making and is commonly used for soap making. If you read the ingredients on your store bought bar of soap you won’t see tallow as an ingredient but it is there. It is listed as sodium tallowate which is the result of combining sodium hydroxide (lye) with tallow.

Any solid that are left after rendering the suet are called cracklings. While some people eat these I never have. I decided to feed them to the chickens but my husband said next time don’t bother. When I asked if the chickens did not like them he told me that the chickens would have loved them but instead they were forced to stand by, dining only on bread crusts, as Ranger gobbled up the cracklings.

weighing the tallow

Wednesday, Nov 3 – I made soap. I wanted to use some of the tallow that I just rendered. The recipe I made was an oil combination of 40% coconut oil, 40% tallow and 20% olive oil. This is the first time I used this particular combination so I’ll try to remember to report how it turns out. It will be about 6 weeks before it is ready. I also added aloe to this batch.

Thursday Nov 4 – I did my dad’s grocery shopping. He orders his groceries online then I picked them up from the store. I then went to the dollar store and picked up a few things that he prefers to get from there. I delivered the groceries to dad and helped him with a few chores.

Friday Nov 5 – I took the boys out for their morning walk at the farm.

It was a beautiful fall morning. When we went out, around 10:00 A.M., the sun had melted the heavy frost that had blanket the area in the early morning hours. Our feet/shoes got wet as we tromped though the grass.

The breeze, if any, was gentle.

I observed moments when a single, random, tree would suddenly drop a shower of leaves.

It was and interesting phenomenon as the trees seemed to be taking turns.

Many leaves were still holding on. Fall is not over yet. πŸ™‚

Saturday November 6 – My sister visited.

I still have one sister who lives near-by and we have been trying to block off some time, at least once a month, to spend together.

Last month when I visited her house I returned two bags of books that she had given me earlier this year. They had been passed onto her by our other sister and most she had not read yet. As I packed the books to return to her I stuck slips of paper into some, labeling them “must read” or “good read” so she will know where to start when she digs into this stack of books.

We also looked at different sewing patterns and she showed me some fabrics that she had purchased but wasn’t sure what she would make with them. “Take what you want” she said. There was one flowered print that caught my eye. We agreed that it was beautiful and needed to be made into something but neither of us could decide what. Even though I didn’t have a plan for it I decided to take that piece of fabric.

That fabric nagged at me for a couple of weeks. Because it was a large print I kept thinking that it needed to be turned into a large item of clothing. I searched for patterns for full length skirts and found a few simple ones but I don’t wear skirts very often and I don’t really know anyone who does.

Seemingly out of the blue I remembered the bathrobe pattern that I had. This fabric would make a lovely bathrobe. I bought a contrasting fabric for the trim and decided to make a bathrobe for my sister.

As I was making the robe I would try it on for size and in doing so discovered that as beautiful as this print is it looks horrible on me. Thankfully when my sister put it on it looked gorgeous – elegant, like I had imagined. ” I don’t know if I love it so much that I won’t want to wear it” she said, “or if I love it so much that I will wear it all the time”.

“Wear it all the time!” I told her. That would be the ultimate compliment.

In addition to giving her the robe, I showed her the projects I have planned to make as Christmas gifts. And we solved a few of the world’s problems over lunch. LOL!

Sunday Nov 7 – It was a perfect fall day for being outdoors and I started out by raking leaves.

The maple tree just off our deck had shed most of it’s leaves.

It took about an hour and eight trips with the wheelbarrow to remove the leaves from the front yard.

The maple that stands in front of our house was still holding many of her leaves.

As were many of the trees in the woods behind our home. The work is not finished yet.

After lunch I headed to the farm with my husband and the boys (dogs) to plant garlic. Normally we plant garlic around the middle of October. This year the ground has been too wet and muddy to plant, so we have been waiting for things to dry out a bit. We had decided earlier this year that growing garlic to sell is not in our future, so we were only going to grow enough for us and to be able to share some with family. We were able to get about 250 cloves planted, mulched and fenced (so the chickens couldn’t go digging them up). This is the smallest amount we have planted since we began growing garlic in 2013 and it was a breeze compared to years past. Now we can only pray that the weather stays warm enough for the garlic to get a start before the ground freezes. It will be spring before we know if this crop will survive.

When my husband told me that our son-in-law would be stopping by the farm to winterize his bee hive I decided to take along the gifts I made for Jackson and Addy. I had a hoped that the kids would be with him, but even if they weren’t he could take the gifts home for them – just in time for Addy’s (4th) birthday on Monday.

I hadn’t taken pictures of the super hero capes I made for the kids so my husband hung them from a plant hook and held them so I could get some photos.

Addy loves unicorns so one side of her cape was made from this unicorn fabric.

The capes are reversible so the other side of Addy’s was made with this brilliant yellow, orange and white tie-dye fabric.

I wasn’t sure what Jackson’s favorite thing is currently so I selected this superhero(ish) fabric for one side of his cape.

and this outer space type fabric for the other.

I wasn’t able to give the kids their gifts in person but I received a message from my son-in-law that the kids love the capes and that Addy was pretty insistent on wearing hers to bed. πŸ™‚

If I made you a super hero cape what would you want on it?

Summer Sewing

I’m trying to develop my sewing skills and the only way I know to do that is to practice. Over the summer I made a few projects. Take a look.

The first was this red crossover tank top. It was a fairly easy project and I am pleased with the way it turned out.

This grey cardigan was a fairly easy project as well. I love the knit fabric it is made out of, as it was easy to work with and is comfortable to wear.

The red tank top even pairs well with the grey cardigan.

When I wore this striped hooded pullover at our family picnic three of my daughters decided I should make it for them. They told me what colors they would like and I told them “Christmas is coming”.

This beautiful black with yellow flowers has a cowl neck (it’s hard to tell in the photo). I’ve always liked wearing a cowl neckline. I have to give my sister credit for making most of this though. Recently while visiting I was visiting her we were looking through fabrics and patterns. She then showed me this shirt that she had mostly finished but given up on because she didn’t like the way it fit her. When I tried it on I loved the way it fit. I also loved the print.

I brought it home and finished sewing the second cuff on and hemmed the bottom. I now have some new fall attire and a list of things I need to make before Christmas. πŸ™‚