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.
Before:
After:

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!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Lean to door and twister tool quilt

We're definitely into winter here now, with ice storms the last couple of days and snow storms due tonight. Ryan got to attempt our new driveway in the snow and said it is steep, but doable. 

Here is the driveway with less snow on it so you can see the gravel.

Ryan has also been hauling hay like mad, three bales at a time. We bought 25 bales from a guy about a 45 minute drive away, and we bartered a few cows for a flatbed trailer a while ago. Hay is fairly scarce and expensive right now (these bales were a steal for $50 each, the only nearby hay was not as good and $90 a bale) and a bale lasts about three days. 

Ryan hauls the hay to the cows using hunting sleds two at a time. We're getting quite a herd now, with almost all ages represented. 

About three winters ago on the coldest day of that winter (-13 deg. F) Ryan got frustrated with our lean-to door getting stuck in the ice. It actually got frozen to the ground. So he got out the reciprocating saw and cut it off the building. Then he propped it against the door frame and used a cinder block to keep it shut. I know I've mentioned it in my other "doing chores" posts. But a few days ago he built a door out of scrap lumber from around the farm and a window he picked up at a hardware store!

 He got it hung, but it still has some finessing yet to do. I think it's really cute and is a vast improvement over either no door or the camper/RV cast off we inherited. No joke; that's where the old door came from. 

On the quilting front, I finished a little baby quilt for a friend of mine who had a baby girl just before Thanksgiving. I used the twisting star ruler and a bunch of charm squares from my stash. I will tell you that before I used the twister ruler on it, it was actually kind of an ugly quilt. But I like how it turned out

And I'm still liking putting a blessing on the backs of my baby quilts. This one says:
May the sun shine all day long,
everything go right and nothing wrong.
May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true.

In random house news, our cat Fumbles has a favorite napping place. Unfortunately it is the room where Z sleeps, so we use his carseat to block entry. This cat can pry the pocket door open with his claws and slip in, which inevitably wakes Z up.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Driveway and Steampunk

So recently we decided we weren't going to be able to make much progress on the driveway at the pace we were going. Here are some pictures Ryan took in early November after he did some more dirt moving.

He was making some progress, but the little tractor's backhoe was badly underpowered for the amount of dirt that needed to be moved.


A lot of the work was in taking down the trees, which Ryan did do. So we hired a local guy to dig the driveway. One Monday Ryan went out to the site to do more tree clearing and found this waiting for him:

So with the right tools, the guy did it in about a day. I feel fully vindicated by the whole process because everyone kept telling me how crazy this driveway was going to be, and it was going to be steep, and yadda yadda yadda. But I did the math (those of you who know me are not surprised by this) and suspected it would actually work quite well. You can see the road off to the left in the picture above, so you can also see that the driveway isn't parallel to it. Yet I think it's perfect and it avoids the dreaded waterline the county decided they didn't want in the ditch.

Here is the equipment the guy used to dig the driveway; he's not messing around:

I was mad at Ryan for not taking a picture of his little tractor next to this monstrosity of a backhoe just to show how big it is.

We also now have gravel on this driveway, but we haven't been back out to look at it. I'll post pictures next time. Everyone seems to keep asking me whether we will pave it, and the answer is definitely no. This is one of those country/city things, I think. Not only would it be expensive (the driveway is something like 200 feet long), but you actually don't want a paved driveway if you are going to drive a tractor or other equipment on it. It's hard on both the driveway and the equipment tires (and those suckers are PRICEY!). 

Now back to the old place, we discovered that cattle will eat fallen leaves if they are raked into a bit of a pile. That and loaf in it. Here a mama and relatively new calf had a very autumn moment together. We don't manage our herd access to bulls very closely, so we basically have calves at any given time. We had one born just a couple of weeks ago. So far our cows have done very well with this, which is nice. Cattle have a long lead time to beef, but they are some of the easiest animals we deal with.

Sheep also spent some time in the front yard right before moving to their winter pasture. I love that sheep mean you really don't have to mow the yard. It's extremely easy to see where the manicured yard idea came from, because after the sheep our front yard really does look like someone mowed it. I think we had the mower out about 3 times all summer. The yard is a little brown in this picture just because the sheep had been there too long. You can also see cattle in the background on their winter pasture; we have quite a herd going. 

Another thing that happened this month was that I turned 30. Not much of a milestone, but a little one just the same. A lovely friend of ours hosted a joint costume birthday party for me and her husband (who turned 30 about a week before) and we decided to go steampunk. (Don, before you ask me what steampunk is, click the link and Wikipedia will tell you....) We were more "steam" than "punk" generally.
I had great fun making a costume. Ryan found this duster on Craig's List and made his fake gun out of a variety of parts. I made him a vest and kerchief. Z we just put in a vest we happen to own, he wasn't very steampunk. But at the age of one, he wouldn't keep any of that stuff on anyway. I'm wearing a corset I got years ago from Forever 21 and has been hanging in my closet, along with a basic button up shirt. Then I made a hat and used some safety pins to pin up the skirt I wear with my renaissance garb over a petticoat I'll be wearing under a bridesmaid dress for my brother's wedding next month. 

I also made a necklace out of odds and ends from Michael's craft store, among other places. 

Here is the skirt pinned up. This worked pretty well, but the petticoat was definitely needed as well (and is under the skirt in this picture). 
And here's a closer view of the hat.

Here's H, who is actually wearing an Alice in Wonderland dress my parents had custom made for me at about her age. It's a little big for her, but it was OK and I steampunked it up a little bit. The hat had some cards (a queen of hearts, a 10 and a 6 in nod to the mad hatter) and feathers on it, along with a white rabbit. She's playing with a key and glass vial I had at her waistline, and there were a few gears scattered throughout. She LOVED wearing her hat and would not take it off. 

In other crafting, I tried my hand at ombré dyeing. I have a quilt idea in mind, but couldn't find an ombré long enough, so I decided to make my own. I rigged up what can only be termed a "contraption" in our kitchen sink to do this, while Ryan looked askance at me and tried very hard not to ask. I used supplies from Dharma Trading Company, and I have to say I highly recommend them. Good prices, fast delivery, good tutorials. I actually decided to mix up super concentrated dye, then lower the fabric a little at a time while also adding water. I think it worked better than trying to mix in dye and raising the fabric up out of the water if that makes any sense. I took enough pictures for a tutorial if anyone wants one (leave a comment and I'll post one). 
And here is the result! I'm very happy with it, it will suit my needs perfectly. I didn't need perfectly straight lines because I'll be cutting it up for a quilt. I just needed a smooth progression. Hopefully you'll see the quilt someday too!

Ryan also insists I post a picture of my Thanksgiving schedule.
Is this unusual? Don't other people do this? I save it every year, and then pull it out the next year and rewrite it. I still inevitably forget to put something on the schedule anyway, this year it was the stuffing. It doesn't take long, though, and I so far have always managed to remember it. We had a small Thanksgiving this year, with only seven adults and only my two kids. It was kind of nice to not have 16-20 people in my house, though. 

As usual, the kids are growing well. Here H is showing me a "friend bug" she caught. She has named box elder bugs friend bugs because they are slow moving (translation: easy to catch), do not bite, are common, and are surprisingly long lived in captivity. She doesn't much like spiders, but she could catch friend bugs all day.

Z celebrated his one year birthday, and Ryan's parents brought us a cupcake for the occasion. He basically posed for this picture. 
It's like these two pictures of the kids are the same pose! They are each a variation of "Look what I have, Mommy!!"