Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The rooster that was

You may remember the chicks we watched back in August, especially the one that turned out to be a rooster. It looks like I never really talked about him again, but we moved him into the chicken coop in his own sort of isolation coop under the main hen house. After several failed attempts at integrating the flock, we realized his life would be in peril if he were to be left alone with our flock of blood thirsty girls. "No boys allowed in this house!"

He had a pretty happy life, got the choice scraps all to himself, and we let him out in the yard when the girls went out. He was terrified of them though, and if one approached him he would flip out and fly halfway across the yard to escape. He was quite a handsome young guy.

Around September or so he started crowing. It was delightful actually. He generally only crowed from 7am to 8am and then was quiet the rest of the day. One morning we woke to dueling roosters: the rooster down the street would crow, then ours would, then the one down the street. It was hysterical!

The first video was taken by Jeremy, and the rooster had no problem crowing for him. The second video was taken by me. I had to film far away because every time I got close to the coop, he zipped his beak and refused to crow!

But then of course, the fateful day came.

It was starting to get cold outside for our ward, integration wasn't going to happen, and we hadn't planned to keep him anyway. So one day when I was at work my husband (plus his intern, two neighbors, and another curious friend or two!) did the deed.

And boy was he tasty!

It was a good experiment because our neighbors enjoyed having him around. So if we get roosters in the next batch we won't feel so bad about keeping them around. But I guess in the end that depends on how much they crow. Our neighbors' rooster crowed every time someone walked by the house - so he eventually had to move out to a farm because there were too many complaints. It would be nice to have a rooster on the block again though!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting ready

Jeremy has been cleaning out the garage and organizing things in preparation for starting up mushroom logs in a few short weeks. While digging around out there, he found the pieces of our brooder box for chickens. Well, he realized, we'll be needing that again soon!

So he brought it all inside and re-constructed the brooder box in the basement. Here it is in process.

We're planning to get Rhode Island Red, Americauna, Rose Comb Brown Leghorn, and Cuckoo Maran this time. That should give us blue/green, brown, and white eggs.

And yes, this does mean our current batch of girls, in a few short months, will be made into tough chicken soup, or tough chicken enchiladas, or tough chicken something-or-other. I'm sure it will be a difficult task because some of the girls have so much personality and are so endearing (especially the speckled sussex). But, they aren't pets and that has been the plan all along. So you'll be hearing about that (and new baby chicks!) sometime in the next couple months.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Two down, one to go

I got the second of three quilts done that I mentioned earlier.

I love how it turned out. Thank goodness for the women at my local quilt shop. They are so good at helping people find just the right fabrics to coordinate with any project. I found the green border color and couldn't figure out what to use for the outer border. They turned up the cute blue fabric with all the multi-colored squares. Perfect match.

Looking back I realize all I've been going on about is sewing, sewing, sewing! It must remind some of you of last year when all I could talk about was construction, construction, construction!

There are one or two other things going on around here. I'll try to talk about something else, like chickens or mushrooms, soon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A little more procrastination

I did another little procrastination project over the weekend. Not quite the same as my last one. I've been wanting to make something like this for some time.

The first Christmas present Jeremy got me was a stack of fabric and a couple ideas for quilt patterns (so sweet, isn't he!?).

I've been carrying that fabric around for years! I've been wanting to make him something out of it and recently it seemed like a good idea to make a little cover for his bedside table - to protect it from spilled glasses of water or whatnot.

Here are the pieces laid out:

And then, fast forward, all sewed together, quilted, and finished!

It looks very nice on his table - and he was very surprised when he came home and found it!

In other news, I finished one of the three quilts I was working on recently:

It's rather stunning, I think. And it's on Etsy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Making something old, new

Maybe that title should be "making something crappy, not crappy." 'Cause crappy is the nicest way to describe my ironing board. I've had it for years and it shows. The cloth is threadbare and kind of looks burned in some spots. I've accidentally cut through it in a number of spots. The batting layer (between the cover and the metal grate of the board) is threadbare itself, even though I've put in more layers. Sometimes when I'm ironing that metal grate pattern is transfered to whatever I'm ironing. Argh! And for some reason there is a huge dent in it which means I don't have much of a flat surface.

So, I drew up my plans.

First step, I had my hubby cut a piece of wood to attach to the frame.


Next, I cut a piece of batting (the 80/20 stuff) to fit over the top.

Then I cut a piece of fabric to go over that and pinned the whole thing together. I think people often use muslin, but I had a nice big piece of white fabric so that's what I used.

I sewed around the whole thing, just to keep the two layers together. Not a pretty job, but no one is going to see it. Then I made these marks at intervals along both of the long sides.

I sewed zig-zag stitches around these to make button holes.

Then I put the fabric on the ironing board and used some old twine to lace it together. I cinched it tight so the cover won't be riding around on the board.

And, voila! A new top for my ironing board!

What is really nice about this is that I can actually iron a yard (or more) of fabric. A standard ironing board is pointed at the end (for pants or sleeves) so you really don't get that much space to iron a big piece of fabric. I hate ironing only one half of a piece of fabric, turning it over and ironing the other half.

Now my board is big enough to have some project laid out AND have the iron AND some pins or scissors or something.

Ah, the simple pleasures in life.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Okay, while I was searching around for the snow picture I found the Christmas pictures, so I just had to show-off. Here is most of what I made this year:


This pair for my nephew, plus a pair each for my sister and brother-in-law (though theirs were in thick grey fleece).


No, I do not knit! I bought a couple wool sweaters from the thrift store, cut them up, and made mittens. A fun and very satisfying project to do.


For my niece. She loves twirling in skirts or dresses so I whipped this one up for her. I didn't get a picture of it myself, or I would have gotten a close-up of the tiny yellow rick-rack I sewed to the bottom hem. Very cute, if I do say so myself!

Table runner

This was my mom's present. It matches the one I made her for Thanksgiving. Once again, I'm glad it got there in time for the holiday!


Jeremy's mom and her partner gave me a box of t-shirts last year after Christmas and asked if I could put them together into a quilt. That was their order for a Christmas gift. So that was one of my big projects toward the end of the year. Not the quilting though. A friend of mine did that on her long arm quilting machine, for which I will always be grateful. She did a beautiful job (if anyone needs recommendations for a quilter, I will pass her name on gladly!).

I also made an awesome set of pot holders for my brother, but also failed to take pictures. Oh well.

Jeremy even got in on the action and made these ornaments:

They're made from leftover bits of our upstairs project, flooring and trim and whatnot. We all think he should make these and I can sell them at the market. But I don't think he's into mass-producing crafts. =)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Circles, squares, and triangles

I've got three little quilts in process.

The oldest is this very simple pinwheel quilt with cute little bugs. This originally started out (about two years ago) as two little pillows. But then I realized no one buys pillows, so instead of finishing them I made one more square and sewed the whole thing together as a quilt. It is quite small though - about 24" square. I had a little bug material left for a border (as you can see) and I picked up some more fabric for more borders. I have one more border to add, then quilting and finishing.


You might recognize this from last year. It's not the same quilt though. This new one is much smaller and made from the leftover scraps of the other one. For this quilt I cut squares and then cut circles out of the middle. Then I sew the opposite color into the circle. What to do with all the circles I've got left over? This quilt! Now there are left-over circles from this quilt, but I think they're just the right size for some yo-yos. I just got some border and backing fabric for this one, so that has to go on, then the quilting and finishing.

And lastly:

This was sort of a boredom project. I needed fabric and thread for all the other projects on my plate and the fabric store was closed. And I've been thinking a lot about how to use up all the scraps and bits I've got. (Tons of scraps!) I rather like the way this turned out, though I'm still thinking about whether to make it a little less rectangular. And I don't know if it will get a border or not. I've kind of been into borders lately, so it probably will get one. And then, the refrain, quilting and finishing!

Jeremy just asked if I'd been blogging lately. Not really, was my reply. Nothing is really going on. I suppose that's not entirely true, and there are still blogs I'd like to post about Christmas presents I made and the fate of our rooster from last year, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

It's hard to get up the energy to do creative homesteady things when it looks like this outside:

Okay, it's not as bad as that anymore. This is from our big snowstorm last month. But still - 'tis the season for snuggling up inside with a hot drink and a good book - not working feverishly on the homestead!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Just when you thought it was safe to can your own food...

This may be a tired subject for some people, but not everyone has heard about it.

So, you know about BPA? That's Bisphenol A. It's an organic compound used in a lot of products, and has been for some time I guess. Recent research has begun to show that this stuff is bad. It is banned as a toxic substance in Canada and several places ban its use in baby bottles. Yes. Baby bottles.

But my post isn't about baby bottles - because BPA is also present in canning jars. It's in the white stuff on the lid. I swiped the following quote from treehugger.com (and they swiped it from elsewhere, etc):

Jarden Home Brands manufacturer of home canning lids: Ball, Kerr, Golden Harvest, and Bernardin brands follow the same rigorous FDA standards used by the commercial food packaging industry. Like the majority of commercial food packagers using glass jars with metal closures and metal sanitary cans, the coating on our home canning lids is designed to protect the metal from reacting with the food it contains. A small amount of Bisphenol A is present in the coating. The FDA does not limit Bisphenol A in commercially packaged foods, and is aligned with the international scientific community’s position that a small amount of Bisphenol A in contact with “canned foods” is not a health concern for the general public.

Uh... not a health concern!?!? I've heard about a few studies and it's shocking all the things that could be linked to BPA. And frankly, I don't trust the FDA at all. I'd like to be in charge of what chemicals and toxins go into my body, thank you very much!

Jeremy and I started hearing about this a year or two ago and we haven't been sure what to do. Many people are shifting over to Weck jars. They are all glass (no BPA) and are fantastically beautiful. Unfortunately, they're fantastically expensive! We've got dozens and dozens and dozens of jars - we could never afford to replace them all.

So I did a little research a month or two ago and found Tattler Reusable Canning Jar Lids. BPA free! There is a plastic lid and a rubber ring that fit onto it for the lid. You can still use the same metal ring as with canning. And this lid is reusable!

I hate the huge pile of used canning lids we have that can't be used again. In fact, I think I'm going to box them up and send them back to Kerr/Ball and ask if they'd kindly stop using BPA!

Anyway, we put the lids on our wish list and got a whole box full for Christmas! Wahoo! It's pretty likely we won't be canning until this summer (unless we get the energy to can some soup or chicken broth) so I'll let you know how these work when we first use them. In the meantime, I thought this review was very helpful.

So hopefully now it is safe to can again...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010, By the Numbers

I've noticed a trend among homesteady bloggers - posting the number of pounds of produce grown, number of things canned, frozen, or stored for the winter, etc. We have a sheet with this tally and I was going to post it, but it's kind of pathetic next to some of the other numbers out there.

Afterall, Jeremy was desperately trying to finish the house this summer; I started a job and was doing the Farmer's Market every other weekend; and it was our first year with a garden at this house. I was very impressed with Jeremy's efforts at starting everything from seed though.

Jeremy is already talking about taking over an entire garden bed for mushrooms. I'm not discouraging him. With a CSA share and neighbors handing over veggies, we haven't wanted for veggies in the summer yet! We just need to decide what things we really can't do without.

So, the first Number for this post: Jeremy grew an astounding 189 pounds of Shiitake mushrooms last year! (At least, I think it's astounding!) He also got a few pounds of Oysters and almost 30 pounds of Wine Caps. He's not going to do Wine Caps again this year since they're so particular. He's pouring over his mushroom catalogs even now, planning for the new year. Such a mushroom farmer. =)

The other numbers are from me. Instead of posting vegetable totals, I thought it would be an interesting exercise (for me anyway) to post sewing totals. So, here's what I was busy sewing in 2010:

29 - the number of pants, coats, skirts, dresses, or whatever else I hemmed

25 - the number pants, shirts, dresses, skirts, etc I patched up or otherwise repaired

8 - the number of zippers I replaced or repaired in various pieces of clothing (I really thought it was more!)

6 - the number of garments I sewed new buttons or clasps onto

4 - the number of skirts I replaced the elastic in

2 - rug fixes

2 - curtains made or hemmed (one of those was a set of 6 panels made in velour!)

1 - boot repair (something to do with the laces, I can't recall now though!)

1 - coat alteration (turning a pullover into a zip-up)

1 - replacing the lining in a coat

1 - sewing reflective stripes on a biker's winter coat

1 - wedding veil

1 - wedding dress

1 - wedding bridesmaid dress

1 - t-shirt memory quilt

and one pair of stockings!

And that's not including gifts for the family (mittens, hot pads, 2 table runners, a quilt, socks, cup cozies, a skirt) and all of the crafts I've been making throughout the year for the Farmer's Market and various art sales (pillows, quilts, bags, purses, tea cozies) plus sewing table covers for my market booth; and of course the quilt I worked on for Jeremy and I. Phew!

I feel like I've been quite busy sewing this year, though for some reason this list doesn't seem as impressive as I thought it would be. That's probably partly because my records haven't been all that detailed. I'll have to remedy that for 2011 so I can give a better accounting next year.

This is as good a time as any to let folks know that I've repopulated my Etsy store. Depending on how it goes, I might let it all expire come April or May so I can take what's left to the Market. So don't delay! =)