Thursday, July 10, 2014


It's been quiet on this blog because I'm just tired of being optimistic on it. We're still stuck. We're still in Reasnor, still in our house, I'm still commuting an hour to work, we still just have a driveway and a power pole at our new place, and it feels like life is standing still. I can't tell you how many people over the years look at me and say, "Oh, you have a farm? I've always wanted a little farm, but land is just too expensive." What they apparently actually mean is that they want someone to will them a bunch of cropland for free because I have the cheapest land within an hour drive of Des Moines but still no one wants it, even though we are now down to $209,000 for the house and 40 acres (from our original $245,000). My house is small. People also talk about wanting a smaller house; but faced with the reality of a 900 square foot house (with a 400 sq ft sunroom) they suddenly don't want it. I admit I'm tired of cleaning my house up for people who have THREE small children and somehow think that magically a house that is 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and 900 square feet will be the one. 
  It's been a year since I left Vermeer and a job I loved to take this leap of faith that we were supposed to move to Ryan's family farm. Four seasons. One complete school year. It's very discouraging. Yes, our house is small. But it is not a bad house. When a storm blows 70 mph winds across our roof, I roll over and go back to sleep. If a 70 mph wind hasn't taken out our house in 146 years, it's not going to. And I still feel like our space is well appointed; there isn't anywhere that is a silly use of space. But apparently people who walk through it don't see its potential. I know, #FirstWorldProblems, but I guess if you are the praying type or the good universe energy type or (even better) if you know someone who wants to buy a farm a commutable distance to Grinnell, Pella, and Newton and an hour from Des Moines, let me know.

I don't have much quilting news because I've been working on bigger things. I'm working on quilting a t-shirt quilt for the Iowa State Fair, and I'm also steadily working on the first quilt that I am making to be a show quilt. Here's a glimpse as I was auditioning fabric options; I'm feeling good about it.

Ryan and I also got a rare date night early in June, even if it was for one of my MBA classes. We checked out the Concert on the Prairie at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. 

It was a good time, we danced barefoot on the grass.
And of course the kids are growing, because that's what they do.
H had a birthday, for which I made an Elsa dress (from Frozen for the uninitiated).

Then she had a dance recital (she is dressed as a monster)
Wow, dance recital. Not sure if we're doing that again. It was a lot for a four-year-old, and frankly very hard on Ryan to have to bring both kids into town (hour drive again) four days in a week for rehearsals and whatnot. 

She also finished up her school year, here she is at the picnic on the last day. Apparently she and this friend of hers are married. He told his mom so, but somehow H neglected to mention it to me...

Z still loves books of all kinds, and trucks. So a book with a truck in it? Pure gold. 

And that boy also loves the great outdoors. Even though he only says about three words at the age of 1.5 (Uh oh, Thank you, Hi... not even a Mommy yet), he knows to bring us his shoes, his socks, AND our shoes to go outside. 
Here he helps Daddy rake the lawn after a mowing of some very long grass.

Perhaps the next time I blog, we will have a closing date!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring, Barn, and Dye

Spring is beginning to arrive here at the farm! We had a lovely sunset the other day; I just love that moment when the orange sunset lights the hills and makes them glow.

We have not yet sold our farm, I continue to hope we find the right person to buy it. I think someone who wants to raise sheep or cattle like we do or perhaps who wants to grow grapes or have horses would be a good fit. Part of the difficulty is that we don't have a big old farmhouse; it's a well-proportioned space but not large. We have plans for an addition that fixes that; but didn't think it made sense to build that if we were moving. I am very tired of driving an hour each way to work, but I just have to have faith that the right buyer will come along soon.
Here are the cows chewing on a bale right before our weather turned; Ryan was on his semi-annual trip away so he put hay in a bale ring for me so I wouldn't have to haul half a dozen sleds of hay to the cows twice a day.
On the new farm, I took a better picture of our driveway. It's steep, but nowhere near as steep as everyone thought it would be. That's Ryan at the top in the new tractor. We also got our building built at the new place. We're calling it a barn, but it's a modern barn rather than the picturesque type everyone always thinks of.
Under construction:
It's about 50 ft square with the south side open.
Cleary Buildings built it for us, I love the weathervane on top. 
While we checked out the building, we also walked through the old mother-in-law house on the farm to see if we could live in it temporarily while we build our place. 
The answer to that is definitely no. It hasn't been inhabited in 30 years, which might be OK if it didn't have a ton of mold in it. That was disappointing because even though it is much smaller than our house, it would have been a rent-free way to have somewhere to live while we built our new one. 

In crafting news, I've been playing with dyeing recently. Here is my next attempt at ombré, it is a much smoother blend than my last try. I'm dying fabric for a new quilt, which I will share with you when I complete it. 
I also dyed H's flower girl dress from my brother's wedding. This makes it less flower-girl like and very useful for other occasions like my grandfather's 90th birthday party today.

The kids are growing well, Here H and Ryan plant some seeds for starting in the garden:
And Z gets read to by a good friend of ours. That kid loves books:
And H shows me things in her school open house:
While Z hangs out on the porch in summer sunshine:
Happy spring, everyone!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Viking quilt, another I-spy, and living room drawing

February was a rough month. That's probably why I didn't blog during it. If you saw Ryan's post about his mom, that explains at least some of it. So, now that we have a new month, we will start anew!

First, I finished the view in the opposite direction for our future dining/living room. 
And here are some close ups.

It was again a very useful exercise because when I drew it I realized the wall that is now a 3/4 wall on the left with the plants on it was an awkward wall. It makes more sense as a 3/4 wall that could be used for plants or anything else to add interest and personality to the living room as well as usefulness. 

I also finished two quilts recently. The first is another I-spy quilt I made for some good friends of ours who are having their second baby. 
This one turned out particularly colorful based on the scraps I had on hand, which resulted in Z immediately liking it and wanting to carry it around. I'll take that as a good sign. 

I also finished a quilt for Z that I started a few months ago. I saw the Timeless Treasures viking fabric (the historic cultural group, not the sports team) and had to have some. The map is so freaking cute!
The pattern is from Scrap Therapy's Scraps Plus One book with some modifications. 

The borders have the Viking alphabet quilted in and the centers of the blocks are quilted with the Viking cross. 
 I really like how it turned out. The blessing on it says, "Be strong as a stone, and noble as gold, true as steel, and radiant as fire." 
It will be for when he is a toddler, it is about a throw sized quilt. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Kitchen Panorama, Coffee Tables, and Holidays

People who know me know that I'm a nerd. While in some settings I try to hide it, I never actually succeed for long. But sometimes my nerd spills over and manifests in funny ways. This week that was one of those times, where I felt like I had all these thoughts about how I want our new house to look but they were all scattered. So I decided to draw what I want my kitchen to look like.
So I got out my daughter's drawing paper and a pencil, and started remembering the perspective rules my art teacher taught me in 6th grade. It's fairly large; I didn't crop the laptop out of this picture on purpose so you could see that it's about 14 inches tall and 4 feet wide (I'm estimating; I didn't measure). 
I haven't inked it all yet, here is the hearth. I haven't inked it because I'm not perfectly satisfied with it. Maybe a mantel? We want a wood stove, and you can see our "Command Center" in the background. It was a good exercise for this wall especially, because we realized we could cut into the bottom of our pantry for the firewood storage and we could cut into the middle very slightly for a cubby for phone charging, mail sorting, etc. Behind that door is a bathroom. The tiles on the bottom sides of the hearth are dragons from Earth Song tiles (found toward the bottom of the page at this link) and the hearth is brick. 
This is the kitchen island, with a door to the outside (deck?) on the back kitchen wall. We're thinking ivory subway tile for a backsplash, lighter wood cupboards, and just laminate countertop. I don't mind laminate and have always had it. So I just don't see a good reason at this point to spring for quartz or granite. If you've been in our current kitchen, you will think this looks a lot like it!
For a backsplash, I like Earth Song Tile's tree of life tile (found toward the middle of this page). We can pick whatever glaze we want, and we're still debating that. I just really want a kitchen that in 10 years someone doesn't walk into and say, "Oh, that kitchen is so 2014". It seems like the current trend is white cabinets, black granite countertops, vertical multi-tone grays narrow glass tile backsplashes, and stainless steel appliances. Although the stainless appliances have been around for a while. 
  I know they are going to look at me like I am out of my mind, but I fully intend to walk into a kitchen cabinet store, unroll my drawing, and say, "I want THIS."

In less obsessive compulsive news, we had some holidays recently. My stepdad helped us pick out the right cedar tree on Thanksgiving day, and I have to say this was the nicest tree we've had. Maybe because Ryan didn't just wander out there on his own and grab the first tree he saw. :-)

As a case in point and a study in contrast, here is our 2010 tree:
Even now I am laughing at how completely ridiculous that tree is. 

Also as part of the holidays, we found and refinished some coffee tables for my sister-in-law. Here they are before (fresh from Goodwill!)...:

...and after at her house. We distressed them a bit, resealed the wood with polyurethane, and made the top center chalkboard paint (she has two girls age 4 and 2). They are quite sturdy and I like how they turned out. 

Then we headed to visit my dad for Christmas and to go to Lake Tahoe to see my brother get married. I don't have official wedding pics yet, but this is (apparently) the one picture I took of H as a flower girl. She did a great job and I didn't take many pictures because the photographer seemed to be taking many. 

Both kids were fairly enamored with the whole plane thing, here Z is pointing at our plane. Yes, his onesie says "Daddy's co-pilot" because he already owned that onesie and I simply could not resist. 
H checked out our plane, although was also interested in the other young passengers sitting next to her.

Z is so far a typical Boy, loving trucks and electronics. Here he is at my dad's (who's house is not so very toddler proof although it's not bad) holding a Playstation 3 controller and fiddling with the myriad of black electronic boxes available under the TV. It was Z's bliss.

H continues to like to be outside, even when weather is dismal. Here she is with our first lamb of the season (who is also our first bottle lamb. Stupid ewe. She lost her baby and Ryan didn't find it until a half hour later, when she had a second one and decided the first one wasn't hers. Five days later she is still the only ewe to lamb and we have a bottle lamb). The are both bouncing up and down, with H imitating the lamb. 

Today we had someone looking at our house for a second time (hurray!) but that happened during the kids' nap time. So for what we think is the first time ever, H fell asleep on the couch. She was watching The Incredibles and we came into the living room to see her all curled up. 
Good night!