Hey man slow down, slow down

;) – That’s when you see sparks

As promised, a garden update and a freebie!

Garden first, well lets call it the Micro-farm cuz that’s kinda what were trying to do here. The apple trees are bearing up well and we discovered a surprise on the new pear tree, an actual PEAR!

I am so planning on doing this in a few years

The beans are climbing all over the fence, the peas are beginning to flower and the tomatoes are really beginning to take off. Over in the main garden we are almost done with the first bed of radishes, a few more coleslaws and salads and we’ll be ready for a second planting.

We also have a bunch of little berry patches that we hope to consolidate for next year.  Black raspberries, I feel a pie coming on!

The cockerels and pullets have been separated. The male Steves are living in the new “dude-coop” and the lady Steves have moved down with the hens.

We also picked up 5 Leghorn chicks, from Mr. Lipman’s 2nd grade again, whicj brings us to a grand total of 35 chickens. I know, but really, we’re pretty sure that 2 of the leghorns are male so that means that by the end of the summer we’ll be down to 21 hens. Holy shit, did I just say 21 hens?

Who needs eggs? You do, right? Right!

And how do we corral all these chickens? a Liberal use of chicken wire and other fencing which brings me to the freebie!

My hair is kind of a crazy thing to begin with and the summer humidity does terrible things to it. I often wear my hair in a ponytail but sometimes I just want it out of my face. So what’s a girl to do?

Chicken Wire!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a simple mesh kerchief that ties at the back neck to help corral your frizzy summer locks (it also doubles as a great neckerchief!)

Grab the PDF of Chicken Wire here or over on <a href="download now“>Ravelry

Toots

Don’t worry about this heart of mine

;) –  Don’t turn around

For those of you with weak stomachs, those of you who are not comfortable with the process of putting meat on your table, those of you who don’t want to see the original “shape” of your food, this post is not for you.

Walk away.

Don’t look, you’ll be totally grossed out! Srsly.

If you don’t mind knowing that your food was once an actual animal, then please continue because I did the most amazing thing yesterday, and again this morning. I dispatched my roosters. No, they are not Taxi drivers, they are now dead.

Roosters are good for 3 things:

1- making noise

2- making more chickens

3- eating

Since we didn’t want the boys to be doing either of the first two things, the next step was obvious.

My friend Melissa came down to help me out and I couldn’t have asked for a better friend or teacher. She walked me through the whole process from live bird to ready to cook. She showed me everything,  let me help a bit and then guided as I tried it on my own. We made it through 8 birds yesterday morning and this morning, with my husband’s help, I took care of the last 4 birds on my own.

I can’t tell you how empowering it is to know that I can feed my family. That I know everything there is to know about the food they are putting in their bodies. I did that, and I am amazed by it. Absolutely gobsmacked.

Melissa’s daughter, who helps with the chicken dispatching on their farm, told me that if I did it just right, I could disembowel a chicken in one fell swoop – everything, including both lungs, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do.  Somehow, on the last bird yesterday, I did it.

I pulled off a “Double Lunger”!

- this is the part where you should really look away of you don’t want to see the proof.

Yes, those are 2 chicken lungs in my hand.

I now have 12 birds in the freezer along with various and sundry bits for stocks and soups. This farming thing just got way more real and kinda, grossly, cool.

Now we sit back and wait for the 7 lady birds to start laying.

Toots

At times I just don’t know

;) – I think that I was made for you

Yesterday we got the thing I’ve been talking about for 3 years.

Chickens.

ladies in the coop

Patrick built a coop that you would want to live in, if you were a snooty chicken.

the coop

They settled in pretty quick and today they explored their mini front yard. Eventually they will be free rangin’ but they’re penned up a bit till they figure out that this is home. The girls fed them earthworms and beetles yesterday and they gobbled up the French Toast leftovers from breakfast

thing one peeking out

Many thanks to Melissa, Mr. Wonderful and Girl for raising such beautiful ladies. So far they are “thing1″ and “thing2″  but I’m thinking Wanda and Tulula. Patrick shot down Fricasee and Cacciatore.

thing one on the ramp

Saeb took this pic of their bottoms – too cute.

chicken butts

Toots

Drawing lines above my head

;) – But the fan keeps spinning over me

Life has been SO busy here the last few months, well its been busy for my hands. I have not been without a hook or needles in my hands in weeks, and there doesn’t seem to be an end to it anytime soon – not that I’m complaining.

potholder edges

I have a series of crochet workshops at WEBS this summer, plus a year long blanket class, my summer run of Crochet 1 and a 6 week tutoring session, and all the samples needed to be done by early May, to be put on display in the store, photographed for the website, and available so potential students could see what they’d be making. Then it was time to start on the samples for Fall classes!

potholder in 2 sizes

Somewhere in there my kids finished up school, I attended 2 baby showers – with gifts that HAD to be handmade, my sister’s 30th birthday party with her handmade gift, my 13th anniversary slipped by, I participated in a hotpad/potholder swap ( I needed 5 – I made 12), weekly trips to the farmers market started, we got to meet the 2 chickens that will come home with us sometime this month, jam making, pickle making and I was asked to take over the Friday afternoon drop-ins at WEBS

decorative discs

Just to see how high I could pile it, I wrote 2 patterns. This one from last week and one more. The potholders that I did up for that swap were my own creation, based on a inspiration pic I’ve had for a couple years, and now you can make your own. The pattern is up in my Etsy shop – have at it ;)

Toots

Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls

;) – Would I know?

(Seriously this is my favorite song right now. just click the link, it’ll open and play in a new window. Oh and get tissues.)

I got the best belated birthday box yesterday and it came with an awesome and totally unexpected and overdue surprise. Seems my gift was arriving at the same time as hers. Ms. Marti and I have been blogger buddies pretty much since I started and every once in awhile we ship little boxes off to each other (I have one halfway full for her at the moment) I have watched her get married, buy a house and move all the way across the country and now she and her Mounty have welcomed a little girl. So how floored was I that she though of me in the midst of this dreary winter and her uber long pregnancy! 

New purse and minibag – minibag comes with stitchmarkers!!!

new-purse1new-mini-bagzipper-with-stitchmarkers

I am making a purse from this!!!! 

knitting-chickens-fabric

and something wonderful from this

lang-tosca

and I cannot stop wearing this.

cinnamon-and-spice-love-tammy-new-hat-love

Maybe its the impending arrival of spring, maybe the impending arrival of my 13th wedding anniversary, maybe the impending arrival of 4 babies (well 3 now, one is already here ) in my life in the next 5 months, maybe the one-car crunch in our home this winter that has had us spending much more time together and appreciating the little things, but I’m like, stupidly in love right now – with everything. I’m just happy. happy happy. I hope you are able to find some of that this year cuz man, its awesome!

 I am the luckiest.

Toots

You grow up and learn that kinda thing aint right

;) – But while you were doin it-it sure felt outta sight

I have had SO MANY post in mind for you in the past 2 months and as the days go by and I move further from the initial idea of the post I find myself losing interest in it. Silly me. I also have had plenty of projects that I couldn’t post about because the recipients stop by here occasionally or because they are out for publication. What does that leave me with? Humdrum daily life, thats what,  and as exciting or interesting as that may be to me in the moment it doesn’t always translate so well for the blog. So I’ve decided to give you a bit of a pic heavy post with minimal details of recent completed projects and I’ll save the funny one for last, trust me.

Also, my blogiversary slipped by on March 1 and I know I talked about a contest but I just haven’t had the energy or attention for it. This summer we’ll do something fun. I have a collaboration project in the works and I’ll pull a little something from there for you. 

On to the pics!

powrie-buttonpowrie-front-rightmyceria-left-hand

 

 

 

This was a hat idea I cooked up last summer and as I made it in January a mitten idea snuck in. I’ll have more details soon, like when the pattern becomes available through WEBS!

grellow-hanging-detailwatermelon-skies-1watermelon-skies-4

 

 

 

I whipped up a granny scarf for myself, which has become a class for this summer, and I made this awesome silk cowl for my MiL. With some tweaking and a slight fiber change, this will also become a pattern for WEBS. She loves it :)

for-de-bebe-blanket-done-3x3for-de-bebe-carseat-bundleelizas-favour-birdie

 

 

 

My sister’s baby shower was Valentine’s weekend and I was working furiously to get everything done that I wanted to for her. This is The Wool Eater blanket by the lovely Sarah London – its a free patern! I worked it up in the colors of my new neice’s room, but my sister decided that at 3×3 it was the perfect out-and-about blanket. And lest you think I am the only crafty one… that little felt birdie was my sister’s gift to everyone that came to the shower. The night before we (me, sis, and her long-time friend Marissa) stitched up the ones she hadn’t finished yet and tied them onto little bags of color coordinated peanut m&ms, her pregnancy candy craving. 

chicken-asses-a-baby-mobilechicken-ass-blue-with-a-hearttwo-baby-kimonos

 

 

 

I was asked by my sister to make a chicken mobile and it took me a long time to figure it out. She and I have always had, what most girl children of the 80’s have, an affection for rainbows. Once I had that in mind I worked up the chickens and as I worked on them one day someone commented that I would damage my poor soon-to-be niece by making her look at chicken asses for the first years of her life. That’s when I decided to add the little shapes to their butts, this way its education chicken ass that she’s seeing.  This past fall I had found 2 great pillow cases and I just waited till I found the right pattern. Nothing is cuter than babies in kimonos, and yes, that is my homemade bias tape.

buerkshire-bulky-granny-squarespractice-patches-for-winter-09-crochet-1carrot-soup-and-pumpernickel-bread

 

 

 

I’ve been working on a block of the month crochet blanket, for another class and those colorful grannies are the fill-in squares, 12 blocks does not a blanket make. I also started the winter ’09 round of my Crochet 1 class and I spent an afternoon working up little practice patches for the students. Starting each student group with these has become the key to my success with that class. And somewhere in there I got sick and needed good food that was just for me. Homemade carrot soup and pumpernickel bread anyone? Oh it was so yummy.

test-motif-1test-motif-3test-motif-4-for-scale

 

 

 

I’ve been working up some miniature crochet motifs for a jewelry class this summer. Yeah, that is a dime. Even I can’t beleive I made these. 

The Hubby is out on a man-date tonight, watching the Watchmen with some friends, I saw it last night. 

um…. if you get this film and the GN, then I need not say anything to you because, well, you get it. If you don’t then I can’t help you. Seriously. 

Rorschach. oh boy. If ever there was a tempting, mysterious, broken man in comics/sci-fi that a comic geek-fan-girl would love to fix, for me, it would be you (the shadowy pre-teen echo that is left in me screams that I have to include Snake -Eyes here).

Ok, I’m off to finish watching seaon 4 of Spooks, thats MI:5 here in the States. Oh Adam Carter, would that I were an imaginary beatiful British spy girl and we could make beautiful British spy babies together. Woof.

Oh yeah, I promised funny, huh?

olivias-pincushion

The girls had schol friends over during winter break and Re decided to teach her friend how to embroider. Re has a little mushroom pincushion and said her friend would need a pin cushion. So I let her little friend pic our felt and I sewed one up for her. It wasn’t until I looked at it in pictures after she left that I saw its particulat resemblance to, well, a penis.

bad, bad, me

Toots

From the mighty to the meager things

;) – What’s been going on, around here

I have a wikkid cold today, head full of cotton, drippy nose, blech.

Patrick says its because I don’t have to work today. Like its some sort of karmic punishment for not earning money today, nice logic huh. I like to think of it more as a Karmic “get out of jail free” card. I figure I’m bound to get sick at some point this year, why not when I have a 3 day weekend. I’d much rather be home in bed all comfy a cozy and miserable than having to get up at 5:30 in the freezing cold and go drive a bus with 45 kids for 2 hours. 

Last week was crazy. We were down to one car while the Beetle was in the shop for bits n’ pieces. I had a class to teach and parent-teacher conferences and having to bring Patrick to work after I’d finished for the morning and then go pick him up again after the girls and I had had dinner. And last Tuesday was Veteran’s Day, the girls didn’t have school but I had work so they were on the bus with me…I felt smushed – not a drop of me time. Saturday I decided was all for me. I slept late, and didn’t bother getting dressed till, like 3 HA! Then I went down to Webs where my friend Kristin had been teaching color classes and was doing a book signing.

kristins-book

I’m gonna make these :)

kristins-mitts-to-make

Then I headed off to Malea’s housewarming party, where we all got to needle felt coasters for her, and because I brought her a bottle of wine, I got to pick out one of her wine glasses – to keep! She’s a potter and makes some great stuff.

wine-glass

After that I got some girly time with my buddy Annie. We stopped by a housewarming for another friend, talked a bit about chickens and played a few rounds of hungry hungry hippos with the kids before she and I went to the movies. We saw The Secret Life of Bees at the Amherst Cinema – oh tear jerker, but yummy man candy , dirty, ignorant, and angry but deliciously convincingly, southern man candy. Not all that much like the book, but an OK film. Good music though.

It was a nice release, and this week has felt much more normal and better paced. Next week I’ll be in pie mode for turkey day, I’m in charge of desserts and turnips (Dad will not allow them to be cooked in his house and my BIL loves them so they get cooked up here with the pies, though not at the same time) I’ll also be putting the final touches on my 3 designs for the Twilight inspired Knits book and submitting them, then I can dive whole hog into holiday making of things.

saebs-mitred-mittens1

Oh, on Wed I craft with my buddy April and I usually make some kind of baked goody for us, this week I made apple cake. She said I should take pictures and post the recipe, so here:

apple-cake

Apple Cake – serves 8

Preheat oven to 325

6 Med apples – cored, peeled and sliced      1/2 C brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon                                         1 tbs melted butter

mix together and spead in the bottom of a 13×9 baking pan.

4 tbs melted, cooled butter                          1/2 C milk

1/2 C sugar                                                  1 C flour

1 egg                                                            1/4 tsp salt

1tsp vanilla                                                   1 tsp baking powder

Cream the butter and suger, add egg and mix till light in color and thickened. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, add to sugar mix alternatly with milk/vanilla beginning and ending with the milk. Pour over the apples and bake 25- 30 mins. Enjoy!

This is whats left.

apple-cake-dregs

I’m gonna go have another cup of tea and climb in bed for a bit. Have a great weekend!

nice-hot-tea

Toots

Hold on, hold on tightly

;) – You’ll run and not grow weary

All sorts of projects are falling off the hooks now. See

aurelia-ganomy

That’s the hat that goes with the mittens from the last post, she doesn’t know that stuff is for her for the holidays. She thinks they are samples for the store – ha! I pretty much made the whole thing while we watched 3 episodes of Doctor Who (Tom Baker years) on Saturday night.

saebra-felted-cloche

That’s Saebra in my new hat – um, ok she says its hers now. Felted crochet, really dense stuff and it really does fit her better.

to-green-shoulder-seams

and I’ve started another sweater, top-down raglan, its a test knit for a friend. Its slow going on the sweater simply because she has no deadline and I have a pile of things to make for friends and family for the now swiftly approaching gift-giving season. 

I have also doomed myself to a bit of additional holiday rush by signing up for my third year in the Ornament Swap. Can I get away with chickens again?

of course I can – besides my sister wants a chicken mobile for the new baby so I can mash it all in together as one big project. It’ll be great – I love lying to myself!

I had a parent teacher conference with Aurelia’s teacher last night and it was everything I expected it to be. I think I may adore this woman as much as my daughter does. My kid is smart, so smart she’s sometimes spinning her wheels while she waits for the rest of the class to catch up and she ends up staring out the windows or whisper-chatting up a storm with one of her neighbors. Yes, Mom, it sounds JUST like me in 2nd grade. Oh, and she’s horrible about turning in her homework – the homework I watch her do everynight, the homework that is in her bag, in her locker instead of in her teachers homework box each day. uh-huh.

Miss Henneman says that her biggest problem with Aurelia is just that she dissapoints her sometimes, she throws a bit of ‘tude around because she knows she doesn’t have to work as hard as some of her classmates, but Miss Henneman loves that even on days when she has to call Aurelia out for “bad” behaviour my kid still makes it a point to give her teacher a hug at the end of the day and say thanks for being a great teacher.

sigh

its reassuring to know that we’re doing something right.

I have Saebra’s P/T conference on Thursday. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Toots

But my heart is still unknown

;) – Now inches from the water, about to disappear

My week started off in a wonderful place. 

Patrick has had Mondays off all month and we’ve been able to spend some nice days in each others company. This week we took a slight road trip north for goodies.

See, Kristin mentioned awhile back that she and The Farmer had this amazing old abandoned apple orchard on their farm, then she went and said that if anybody wanted to come pick apples they could! We don’t live all that far away and I’ve been trying for 2 years to get together with her, so we decided we would go make a morning of it!

It was one of those great blustery autumn days with really warm sunny patches and cool breezy patches – just a beautiful day. We got there around 11, said hi to Kristin, the Farmer, lovely neighbors, the dogs, chickens, mamma sheep and their fall lambs, the guinea fowl and the orchard – oh that orchard.

They are the wildest apple trees, there is such life and a magic about them, all tangled together, gnarled, broken, canted, wild, rose covered – you should see al the little cuts on my hands and all the little thorns I pulled out that afternoon :) – and quiet, so quiet but alive with sound at the same time. I remember days like that as a child spent wandering the hills behind my grandparents place and spending hours without hearing human sounds. I loved every minute of it!

After an hour or so of picking we were at hauling capacity for our little station wagon and we headed back up to the house for a bit. Kristin showed us around, introducing us to the reasons for patricks newest blog posts, showing us her studio, piles of works in progress and recently returned test knits for her latest book-in-progress. Truly amazing stuff. She also gifted me with a nice little stack of postcards of some of her pictures and paintings – she has them for sale on her site scroll down a bit.

The apples were hard to get to in places and we only explored and picked in a very small portion of those 4000 trees. Most of the fruits are very high in the trees now – one of the reasons comercial orchards prune their trees is ease of picking – but we had a wonderful time and filled a huge bin with a falls worth of cider fodder! This weekend, when Patrick isn’t working on his sugar shack, we’ll be grinding and pressing apples. 

The girls have 3 soccer games this weekend but I’m sure I can get them to help me wash the apples inbetween. I can’t wait for that fresh cider!

Thank you Kristin!

Toots

all of our dreams would come true

;) – what else can a poor boy do

I feel like Quasimodo, or Sloth or John Merrick.

I’m slogging through a nasty first cold of the season. The kids both had it two weeks ago and Patrick had it last weekend. I’ve had it for 3 days and today is the worst so far. I’m achy to the point where my body feels strangey proportioned, totally congested, I can’t breathe through my nose and find myself slurping occasionally to keep myself from drooling – hence the above mentioned names.

Patrick went grocery shopping last night and I told him to bring me home a whole chicken so I could make soup today. I started it this morning and then, knowing that my FIL was on his way out here today to help Patrick with the construction of the new sugar shack, my MIL called and offered to send lots of freezer goodies including soups!! Yeah! I live on soup when I’m sick and nobody else in the house really likes it so its all mine. She also sent a couple roaster chickens from the grocery store – now I don’t have to cook dinner. love my MIL!

In my couch bound lasstitude I’m working on projects for my crochet 1 class. I keep all my goodies for the class in a little suitcase. See, examples of all the finished class projects all laid in there so nicely.

This is the rest of the stuff that gets piled on top! HA! I’m not as organized as you think! ( that awesome little chicken stapler was a gift from Bonnie who was a student in my last session – isn’t it the best!!)

So back to finishing up my latest two-sided potholder/hot pad and I’ll probably start the scarf since its a longish project, but I also have a sweater vest I’m test knitting and my own scarf/shrug project to keep on keepin on with.

Ah the comfort of soup and fiber, makes a girl feel better. 

toots