Category Archives: Sisters

Vacation

When I learned of the opportunity to go visit my sister (K.C) and brother-in-law for a couple of days I knew it was something I couldn’t pass up. It was two years ago this month that they retired and moved to their home in Tennessee. Since then, I had seen them one time when they returned to Michigan for a visit. I had not yet been to visit them.

A few weeks ago, my other sister (#3) told me that she and her husband had decided to take a 4-day weekend and go to Tennessee for a visit. They invited me to go along. It would be a short visit because both the first day and the fourth day we would spend 11 hours in the vehicle traveling there and back. My husband would stay home with Ranger to care for the chickens and all of the garden plants.

It is truly a spectacular part of the country/world that they live in, but the best part was being able to spend this time with some of my favorite people.

I’ve decided to share some of my photos without narration – the beauty speaks for itself.

A Short Walk Before Breakfast

Mountain Tour in Off Road Vehicle

Elk River Falls

Thanks for visiting. Are you planning a vacation this year?

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

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

Sisters Day

Before I begin I want to apologize for being away so long. It was a couple of days ago when my most loyal reader, who also happens to be my husband and my editor, mentioned that I needed to get another post up, that I realized that it has been almost three weeks since my last post. I could come up with a whole bunch of excuses but that’s all they would be – excuses. Instead I will beg your forgiveness and hope you enjoy this post. 🙂

“Sister. She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she’s the reason you wish you were an only child.”
― Barbara Alpert

I love the above quote as it accurately describes my relationship with my sisters. Honestly there were not many days of “wishing I was an only child” and those days are long gone, but the rest of this quote describes us.

Last Friday was sisters day. What is sisters day??? It’s simply spending time with my sisters. There are no rules for sisters day because we would probably break them anyway. Sisters day might be two, three, or four of us getting together, but it is not exclusive to us sisters. There might be aunts, cousins, daughters, grandkids or friends involved. Husbands, sons, son-in-laws are also welcome if they want to put up with our shenanigan’s. 🙂

Our activities also vary but since they often include some type of crafting it should come as no surprise that last Friday we spent time shopping at Joanne Fabrics. I came home with fabric to make two sewing projects that I have planned; several skeins of yarn that I have no immediate plans for (but if you knit or crochet you’ll understand that you can never have too much yarn); and a hairpin lace loom. Hairpin lace is a method of crochet that I recently learned of and now that I have the required tools I am looking forward experimenting with new creations.  (Watch for this in future posts.)

One of the sewing projects that I have planned is a do-over. If you are a long time reader you probably remember that despite not being skilled at sewing I usually dust off my sewing machine and attempt to sew something at least once or twice a year. My sister, Kathy, on the other hand is very skilled at sewing and has been teaching my other sister, Jamie and my cousin Abbey for a while now. In September I decided to get in on the action.

Below are wo of Kathy’s recent projects.

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A perfect fit and the dogs name is Daisy. 🙂

 

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This shirt is a pattern she would like us all to try. I really like the style but making button holes is scary.

 

September Sewing

We selected a pattern for a hooded shirt that we all liked and decided that we would each make our own. Kathy had made one for herself and when I tried it on I really liked the look and the way it fit. I was very encouraged when she said it was an easy pattern to make. We then went fabric shopping and each selected our own fabrics. There were so many options and as you will see in the photos below we all had different ideas.

It was a week later when we got together to begin making them. Kathy helped us with laying out the pattern on the fabric, telling and showing us things about the salvage and the stretch of the different fabrics. She also helped with making sure that my fabric was cut properly so I could line up the squares and that the flowers on Jamie’s fabric would all be right-side-up. We also talked about what type of stitch we should use, machine settings, seam allowances, and I assured her I had a ball point needle that she told me I would need.

Before we parted that day Kathy gave us the directions for the first few steps, sewing the front and back together, attaching the sleeves then sewing up both sides of the shirt. If we had time we could complete those steps before we met again. We could also line the hood and attach it if we thought we could do it on our own. If we had questions just give her a call.

By the time we met, a week later, I had completed many of the steps. The body and sleeves were assembled and the hood was lined. I had decided to wait for guidance when attaching the hood. I was glad I waited because I ran into some snags but by the time we parted that day the hood was properly attached and the band around the bottom was pinned in place – ready to be sewn. After that all I would have to do is sew the cuffs on and it would be finished. WOO HOO!

The next day, after I had successfully attached the band on the bottom of the shirt I pinned the first cuff in place and was feeling really excited as I was sewing it in place. I was almost finished! Once I had that cuff finished I held up the shirt and realized I had sewn the cuff on inside-out. Ugh! The seam was on the outside of the sleeve. I wanted to cry.

Instead I got out my seam ripper only to discover that instead of ripping out the stiches I was ripping the fabric, so taking that cuff off and redoing it was not the answer. I talked to my sister Jamie and she said she would probably sew the other on the same way and wear it like it was intentionally done that way. LOL. Since I had quite a bit of fabric leftover from the cuffs I decided to redesign them. It was already messed up so what harm could I do?

Nervously I cut about six inches off both sleeves. I then cut pieces of the cuff fabric that would fit the area that I had cut off.  I pinned them to the sleeves so that the seam would be on the inside and sewed them on. I was actually quite pleased with the results. You will see it in the photo below. In fact I liked every thing about the way the shirt turned out – except the way it fit me. 😦

Before you see the results I want to tell you that the photo of me is not very complimentary (it’s a horrible photo of me). Not only does the shirt not fit well I seem to have a Frankenstein thing going on with my hair. I was hesitant to even include it but I didn’t think it was fair to write about it all but not show the end results. So please don’t judge me on this photo.

 

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Abbey and Kathy

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Jamie and Ruth (Me)

I really learned a lot from this project. Not only about the sewing process but about the way different fabrics act. We all made the same pattern in the same size (Abbey decided not to add the band on the bottom), but each of the shirts fit differently. When I tried on Kathy’s shirt and Jamie’s shirt (it’s a sister thing you know – we grew up wearing each other’s clothes) they both fit me well. My shirt was a better fit on each of them as they are a bit shorter then I am.

Jamie, who had said several times while we were making our shirts how much she liked mine, made me and offer. If I gave her my shirt she would buy me fabric to make a new one, hence the “do-over”. Even though Jamie had mentioned liking my shirt previously, I tend to think her offer had a lot to do with encouraging me not to give up.

It is said that “practice makes perfect” and “if at first you don’t succeed try, try again” so that’s how I will be spending some of my time over the next week or so. Keep your fingers crossed that you will see an updated post revealing great results (and a better hairdo LOL).  🙂

Thanks for reading.

Have you ever tried sewing?

Do you prefer to wear prints or solids?

 

 

 

 

Loom Knitting

If you have become frustrated by attempts to learn to knit, or crochet or even if you haven’t tried to knit or crochet but would like to learn to craft yarns into lovely things like hats, scarves and even afghans, loom knitting might be the answer.

I come from a crafty family – my grandmother, my mom and my mom’s older sister Ruth had all seemingly mastered the arts of knitting and crocheting among other things. My Mom’s younger sister Donna and my sister KC both do beautiful cross stitch and KC is sharing her skills in sewing by teaching any of us who want to learn – my sister JB and cousin Abbey now sew as well. Apparently despite attempts by Grandma, Aunt Ruth and Mom to pass on the art of crocheting to their offspring, it seems that I am the only one who was able to pick up the craft.

Recently my sister, KC, picked up a set of round knitting looms and found a video tutorial (linked below) for making hats. She discovered how quick and easy it was and decided we (sisters) should get together for a hat making day. It was a few weeks before we could schedule a time to all get together and in the mean time KC had made several hats on her loom. She also taught her grandson (I think he is 8 years old) how to make hats on the loom and he was planning to make them for several of his friends at school and his teacher. One day when visiting my dad KC was telling him about the craft and since he seemed interested she bought him a set of looms and a couple skeins of yarn. He called me that evening to tell me that he completed his first hat. 🙂

Last Thursday was hat day. The group included sisters KC and JB, along with my cousin Laurie, her daughter Abbey and Aunt Donna. Six of us in all and all having various experience with attempting to crochet. It was fun to listen to their stories of have they had tried to learn the craft.

“I can make a long chain,” Aunt Donna said “but never was able to turn.”

Laurie told us how patient Aunt Ruth was when trying to teach her, but how she ended up tearing it out to try again, and again, and again…

KC and JB agreed that Mom was “not so patient” when trying to teach them and they too had to undo the work over and over and over…

While Mom taught me the basics, how to make a chain, how to turn, and how to make a single crochet, I have mostly taught myself. It’s taken a lot of practice, a lot of trial and error, and A LOT of frogging, I have used stitch diagrams and nowadays I use online tutorials and videos. Learning to crochet is not easy.

Loom knitting on the other hand is pretty easy to learn. We spent about 4 hours together on Thursday. KC did most of the teaching and I helped when I could. We probably spent as much time talking and laughing as we did knitting and we took a lunch break, but by the time we left everyone had at least half of a hat finished. KC forwarded the video link to everyone so they would be able to view it if they had questions about how to finish their project.

If all of these people, who have struggled with learning to crochet, can pick up loom knitting so easily I figure it must be worth sharing. Below is the video link for the hat making tutorial. The second link has a chart for making different size hats.

I decided to include a third link which is a finger knitting tutorial. Finger knitting is much like loom knitting only using the fingers on your hand rather than a loom with pegs. If you are curious about loom knitting but aren’t ready to run out and buy a loom you might want grab some yarn and try finger knitting.

Thanks for reading and Happy Crafting! 🙂

 

 

 

http://www.loomahat.com/how-many-rows/

 

Well Said

If you read K.C.’s comments on this recent post https://donteatitsoaps.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/challenging-my-skills/ I have to say I couldn’t agree more. “Sisters Rock!” Without question the greatest gift(s) my parents ever gave me is my 3 sisters. I have also been blessed with 4 daughters and while growing up, they, like me and my sisters, had their differences, it gives me great joy to see them so close as adults.

With that being said, I thought I would share one of my favorite quotes about sisters.

“Sister. She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she’s the reason you wish you were an only child.”
Barbara Alpert