6/26/2017

Sweet treats for sweet hens....

Here are my sweet hens are eating their favorite treat right from my hand..  And if you were a chicken, what do you suppose your favorite treat would be.. above all else.?. If you guessed dried mealy worms you'd be right and I can order them  right from Amazon.  That's my lovely Maxine on the left.

I keep a bag in my apron pocket and when I let the hens free range a bit in the evening I can always keep them near by tossing a few mealy worms out after I "chuck -chuck"  That way I can keep an eye on them and get some weeding done as well.
Things are progressing better than I hoped although the old hens are still pretty bitchy..  I could see that the new hens were about to start laying and looking for somewhere to nest.  The old hens would not let them settle in the nesting boxes near the roost during the day.  So I took the door off this puppy crate and put it clear on the other side of the coop...added a couple golf balls as lures and sure enough one of the  new hens promptly laid her first egg.

But the old hens couldn't stand this new box being just for the new hens so they too had to jump in and lay their eggs there also..  Everybody is laying now in the puppy crate and they line up like women in a one-stall bathroom... Quite frequently the old hens still give the new hens a good hard whack just to show them who is still boss.  But no blood is drawn and that is good.

The last hurdle is the sleeping situation... I do get all of them into the roosting area at dusk but the old hens won't let the new hens on the roost.  There are 6 bars and plenty of room for everyone. It's a natural inclination for hens to roost as high as possible at night.  Not sure how I'll solve this little problem and may not be able to... At one time when I had 6 chickens, one was ostracized and spent her entire life sleeping on the bottom rung by herself.

But for now the new hens have to huddle in the old nesting boxes to sleep..  "Pecking order" is an incredibly ingrained instinct.  I may have to figure out a way to build an alternate  roost.  I tell you it is really tough trying to outwit chickens.....


6/21/2017

Painting furniture funky!!!


Painting the kitchen counter really put me in the mood to paint something else much larger than a button.  I've been painting ugly furniture for years.. and there is a lot of it in the house.  But my favorite piece of furniture I painted is my nightstand in 2008 because I see it every night and every morning.








And the rainbow front door was fun... I love painting doors but this is my favorite because I see it many times a day and it is the first thing visitors see when they come.  Now that it has become a bit weathered and worn I like it even more...  I have painted other doors including the one to the bathroom which makes it easy for visitors to find..."just look for the green door."  I actually painted that door because it was so old and ugly and being an odd size, hard to replace.




As I was working around the house and barn I kept an eye out for what to paint.  I have a fabulous antique breakfront in the barn which was too big for the house.  I always thought that someday I would live where I could use it as a kitchen island as it is almost 8' long.  It would be fantastic as a funky paint job but I would never see it.




I already have a fun piece I never see and
probably will never live where I can use it.  It is this sunflower bench I built and painted and is now covered with a tarp for years.  I love the black and white check and will probably use that on my newest project...








So the criteria is developing...something I will see and use everyday..  I do have several stools that I could paint including my antique piano stool I use at my sewing table... It is high on the list.. The little roll-about stool from Harbour Freight really needs a facelift and I use it all the time.





Stools are a perfect subject for funky painting.

















Some things I am too emotionally attached to so that painting them is not an option...such a case is my 100 year old typing table on the left which holds my featherweight... But the tall jewelry cabinet on the right with all the drawers would be a blast.. It came from the thrift store and has no real value.  I can see every drawer painted differently... It too is high on the list at this point.



And there are a few tables.  The little folding green one on the left is used all the time and since I have used it to iron on, the finish is pretty bad.  DH is always snagging it to put by the couch to hold his coffee or wine.  But it is not very stable and is an accident waiting to happen...  The one on the right is darling and a perfect subject but it too is in the barn because it was  too large for the house.

So I settled on another smaller one from the barn that could be used by the couch and other uses when the leaves are up... It needs a good sanding before I paint it but is in great shape otherwise....very stable... hard for husband or dog to upset.


















And as a bonus it
has great legs... and boy do I have visions for those legs..... check out these legs that Pinterest sent me under funky furniture...



6/20/2017

Latest on Harley


You have to love a dog named after a motorcycle and Harvey here is indeed a real cutie.  When I get all the basics blocked in I lay the button on the picture and take a photograph.. Many times the camera gives me a better perspective.  I not only want to capture the image of the animal, I want to capture a personality.  Things started off well with Harley...  Here his nose is still just a blob and I haven't even started on the fur on the muzzle.

When I'm closer to being done I will scan both the button and the photo and put them on the computer screen and leave them there for a while and keep looking at all the details.

Sometimes I find I have to remove or replace one or both eyes or a nose but here the changes to be made are very minor and I'm happy.



I'll tell you what I see:
Change the shape of the left ear
Forehead a little higher
Several tiny changes to left eye
Reshape the neck area.
The very last step is fine tuning the fur..

It feels good to be painting again and I must start regularly as my supply of buttons for sale is so low.  I have to either do it or give up Etsy as it has been so long they have changed the site and I had a devil of a time figuring it out.  I have been making a list of new ones to paint... I just painted a special order for a clown and now I'd like to do a few more...  I have one more special order to do then start on my list.

6/17/2017

As promised a picture of the table.

As promised a picture of the table.  This dinner had been scheduled since March and I was so glad that the roses obliged and bloomed on time (barely).

I started collecting this pattern of vintage Vernon Rose pottery (c. 1965-1975) years and years ago and it has become a tradition to use it when the roses are in bloom. The pink goblets and salad plate are French and also a long ago purchase... But the  ruffled hobnail bowls are a new addition to my collections.  They are from the 40s by Anchor Hocking and called "Moonstone Opalescent"  I couldn't believe I had never seen it, but I had lunch at my cousin's recently and she had a set.  I fell in love with it and was able to find some bowls and dessert dishes on Etsy for a very reasonable price.  It will go with everything which is great because almost all of my dishware are not complete sets and having something to fill in my bits and pieces is nice.

We were having a beef dish so I got out my crystal knife rests to help protect the vintage lace and embroidery tablecloth. Since I never buy tourist-type souvenirs, I always try to buy something for my table or my kitchen as reminders of a trip.  I bought these gorgeous antique crystal knife rests in Amsterdam in 1992.  They came in this beautiful leather box lined with silk... It was the best bargain I ever got and a great reminder of the trip every time I use them..

But even though I love to cook a special meal and set a pretty table, the real joy comes with sharing it all with friends.  We rarely  go out to drink or dine so having friends for dinner is a major part of our social life.

All in all the evening was a great success and DH helps with all the dishwashing......

6/15/2017

A Good Morning

I had a great morning.... I know it will sound silly but I got to go grocery shopping all by myself.  I've always like to shop for groceries as I like to dawdle over purchases and fuss over the veggies, and make impromptu decisions about menus or add something spontaneous because I have a whim.. 

Since I don't drive anymore DH has been taking me grocery shopping for months.  He never complains and takes me whenever I need to go....but.... he has a tendency to hover or shift on his feet if I'm too slow or the very worst ...wants part of the list and makes his own decisions about brands and prices
.

Today he had to get his driver license renewed which is a lengthy process here and he dropped me off at the grocery store and I had a whole hour and a half  to shop alone.  I was in heaven.  We 're having a fancy dinner party tomorrow night and I had a long list.  We always shop at the same store so I'm comfortable getting around and am not the least embarrassed to ask for help with reading labels or finding things. I had just finished and checked out when he arrived and apologized profusely for being so long... I just smiled..

I did need a LOT of special items as here is the menu... The theme is "Everything's coming up Roses!" I get to spend whole the afternoon making the duck pate and the cannoncini.  It's a rainy day and since I can't play  outside, the next best thing is playing in the kitchen.  I will post a picture of the table tomorrow.

6/14/2017

Flowers feed my spirit.....

What a difference a year makes... This is my bed of rescued peonies that I was working on last year.  It was all overgrown with weeds and my lovely granddaughter Leigha helped me clear it out so I could put down a weed barrier and bark mulch...  Photo from the same spot as last year.  All the peonies in the foreground have already bloomed as they are very early varieties.. Added many more peonies this spring.  There are close to 50 plants now in this bed...most still small.

My garden is filled with secret places of bloom that no one but me ever sees.  This huge pink dictamus and beauty bush are a good example...

5/29/2017

Meet Maxine and Harley!!

We picked up the new pullets a week ago and they are settling in.  This is the prettiest one and I have named her Maxine and she definitely wants to be my friend.  I try to sit with them a bit each day and talk to them so they know me but right from the first Maxine would come right by my feet and peck at my shoes while the other two have been more shy.

Then yesterday she hopped up on the feed bin within a foot of me and listened to every word I had to say...  I sit on a small stool near the feed bin and my shoulder is leaning against a bale of shavings.







Tonight she eased over to the edge of the feed bin and was trying to decide whether she was going to hop over to the bale of shavings to get closer and that is just what she did.







And once she made the leap she scooted right next to my shoulder and set herself down.  I had the camera on my shoulder when I took this picture. You can see her BF "Fancy Pants" watching all this. Maxine sat there until it was getting dark  and listened to me until I finally had to go in the house... I predict I will soon have her eating right out of my hand.



Now that the weather is turning too hot to work outside I will get some buttons painted and this pet Lhasa  Apso  is first on the list.. His owner is a motorcyclist enthusiast and named him Harley...  No pink ribbons on his head and check the haircut... and he will be wearing a bandana with the Harley Davidson logo.  I had to blow the photo up on the computer to really see where the dark side of his head started and ended.  I really like Harley!!!  Great photo to work from....lots of detail.

5/24/2017

Great product - new kitchen

Most of my adult life I've had a yellow or cream kitchen...I cook better in a yellow or cream kitchen.  The food looks better in a yellow or cream kitchen and it even tastes better in a yellow or cream kitchen... Only twice in 60+ years have I varied.  Once I painted my kitchen pink which did not last long... It was pepto bismal pink and horrid..

And about 35 years ago I painted it a minty green thinking it would be soothing... It was at the time I was upgrading my cabinets with new doors and getting new counter tops for which I also chose a minty green formica.  I soon hated a minty green kitchen and went back to either yellow or creams... But I was stuck with those minty green counters all those years.



So I was thinking when we were on the cruise that I would try to paint the counter tops and found this product on Amazon.

I thought I would try it and if I didn't like it I would paint sunflowers all over the counter instead.  But I was definitely not looking at those minty green counters one more summer.




I corralled DH into helping to tape off all the edges which was the most time consuming part of the whole process.  The first step was painting it all with black primer and DH was really worried at that point..  Probably rightly so as over the years I have had some not-so-great ideas.





Well it turned out so much better than I even dreamed it could.  The lighting in this picture does not do it justice. There were 3 steps.  The first step was the primer which had to dry 8 hours, then the sponging of three colors which had to dry 4 hours and then the top coat and let it dry 8 hours. It will take a couple weeks to really "cure."  So in a couple days my kitchen looks brand new.

It is really this color. Granted it is not real granite! ...and not as durable but it is breathtaking.  I always use vinegar on my kitchen counters and they advise vinegar or other harsh cleaners not to be used on this surface.  I can do that! And if I do accidentally damage a spot I will paint a sunflower on it.

5/23/2017

Picking the pattern for cq garment

I did have some criteria in mind looking for a pattern.  I wanted :
 

1. for it to be lightweight so silks would be great
2. for it to have a little shape or style
3. suitable for indoor wear.

But on the other hand it had  to be suited to CQ....the pattern has to be quite simple and that has been the problem... Every few years I would get the urge and search for the "perfect" pattern but to no avail.. They all needed major restyling so the project would be shelved again.

Finally I found the "nearly" perfect pattern, Butterick 5789.  It has some shape and still a  very simple construction...  The only problem I see is that it is too long in back and that can be fixed.. It's especially too long for someone as short as I am and also I don't want to be sitting on stitching.

 I am doing the pattern in a size larger than I need because I know things "shrink" with lots of stitching.

Now a couple very important tips for doing this type of project.... creating your "fabric" before construction




 First I made some modifications in the pattern (shortened the length of the back) and then traced it on muslin for the foundation...and am not cutting it out on the lines.....leaving plenty or room around the pattern.  It is much easier to cut something back then add extra later....  I almost goofed and drew 2 right sides...  Only the body of the jacket will be CQ



A antique quilt Allie posted on facebook recently inspired me.  I do want bright colors which are way out of my comfort zone but what I like the most is that it is all embroidery.... no charms, lace etc. Also by using only embroidery, I can do a lot of it on a hoop which will reduce the shrinkage.  So you see with this project  I'm not straying too far from the Victorian era I love.

 My Carole Samples stitch book will be my bible throughout this endeavor..  I'm sure you could find every single one of the stitches on these quilts in her marvelous, inspiring research.








5/19/2017

News from the farm

I'm still here and finally seeing the light of day.  Being gone 16 days and coming home sick set me way behind on what needed to be done....besides some days the weather made working outside impossible. 
 
 Two things were critical and needed to be done immediately if not sooner.  First was repairing the pig damage and that was hampered by a very short window of time that things were transplantable before they got too large.  I did get that mostly done and can do no more until fall.
 
The second thing was an outdoor wire-enclosed area for the chickens now that I only have two left... This is probably of little interest to anyone but I just have to share because it is one of the few times that I had an epiphany at the right time.  I usually FINISH a project and THEN realize how I could have done it better. I was so happy to have my epiphany in time that I could hardly believe it...so I share.
 
My chicken house is divided into two areas. The inner area (B) is completely double wired and is where they are locked at night. It is only about 6x12 but since they are only in there at night it doesn't matter.  It has their elevated roost unit  and the nesting boxes. The other area is about 12' x 12' and has their food and water and room to scratch before I let them out to free range.   
 
Now that I can't let them free range my initial plan was just to add an outside pen right next to the larger area of the coop.  I am getting some new pullets and have to keep them separate for about 4 months..  In the past I have just wired off a section but the older hens would get in, eat the pullet's food and terrorize them.  It was at this moment the light in my brain came on and the bells and whistle began to ring. 
Just by shifting the new pen back about 3 feet I could have an entrance from the inner area and keep the entire   area  A  for the pullets. Such a simple solution....no extra work and it makes life so much easier for me and much more pleasant for the sweet new pullets.  Lest you worry about the pullet's safety at night they are secured in a large dog crate at night. I will eventually add a second entry to pen from area A when the pullets are big enough.
So I became thinking it would be a two-day project but it took about 6 days with weather interruptions and me getting tired quicker than I expected.   I started by gathering the old lumber from when I dismantled the lambing pens and this wood was from the original corral when we bought the place 37 years ago. Using this old lumber, lots of chicken wire and many screws and  staples I finally finished. I felt so good to be doing something physical outside and pounding out all my frustrations... I still swing a mean hammer.....
 
Cost - $0.00. DH brought a load of gravel tonight to top dress the floor of the inside of the chicken house.  Just in time for the new girls...any day now..
 
 


5/05/2017

Wow.. and easy patching technique

What a special treat to be "chatted up" by one of my favorite people and definitely my favorite crazy quilt artist...Sharon Boggon!!!!

Pop over to TAST and read the interview...
http://pintangle.com/2017/05/04/tast-interview-gerry-krueger-older-rose/

More about vest project....the patches.


Of all the steps in crazy quilting, piecing is my least favorite... I always want to get to the fun stuff as fast as possible....seams and embellishment... Must be a closet drama queen.

I mentioned in a previous post that I preferred paper piecing but thought I was going to have to assemble this   patch by patch to get the look I wanted...  But Marilyn Nepper suggested I paper piece large chunks of it and fill in between.   I thought that was a great idea.  I've sketched four (about 9") areas and will clean them up a bit.  I avoided 90 degree angles because I did not want the jacket to look like it was assembled blocks. I also strived to have all patches close to the same size with no little odd bits or angles...



I stacked materials and cut the patches in threes by just randomly grabbing fabric... I made no attempt to coordinate colors at all.. 











After I had them all cut I kept them organized in baggies pinned to the master sheet.  This has all gone so smoothly and I'm really grateful to Marilyn for suggesting it...

Doing the patches in bunches went so well and so fast...   Then all I had to do was to connect them with similar patches and this I did by hand.  I can heartily recommend this technique to anyone wanting a whole cloth look achieved quickly by paper piecing.



 Now did I want to include black.  I'm was really on the fence with this decision and it has to be decided at this point.

 I spent time looking at a lot of antique quilts and most all of the ones I loved incorporated black with the bright jewel tones..  This color palette is so alien to me that I'm had a hard time getting a feel for it.

I know that the black makes the colors really pop so I went go for it.




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