Monday, January 31, 2011

Not for Vegetarians

Hubby and I are avid meat eaters, but we like to be conscious of where our meat comes from and are always looking for fresh and local sources of meat.  Some folks don't eat meat for various reasons and we respect those opinions.  Of course, we feel that animals raised for meat who have been well taken care of are the best sources and we look forward to the day we can raise our own meat.

We are both agriculture geeks at heart, so when we heard that Hubby's uncle was slaughtering a few pigs on the same weekend we were visiting, Hubby was excited to see the process!  We made the trek to GA to visit Hubby's grandparents this past weekend and Hubby and Pop decided to hop in over to Uncle D's to watch them slaughter their pigs they had raised.   I stayed at home with Nanny but asked hubby to get some good pictures of the process. I have never seen a pig slaughtered and was actually anxious to see the event!

Pop and Hubby got to the farm right about the time they were finishing up one pig and starting on the next.  Aunt J was cooking up sausage as it was coming off the pig and canning it for later use.  Hubby was lucky enough to try a piece of this fresh sausage from a pig that had been walking around not more that 3 hours before.  Hubby says, "It doesn't get much fresher than that, unless you take a bite out of the pig's butt while it's walking around." 

Warning...pictures not for the faint of heart or those who do not want to see the process.



Removing the hair
 
 The "in-ards" Aunt J is using the liver for liver mush
 Ribs

Sausage making

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Watch them grow!

My sister-in-law's sister (that's a mouthful!) and her hubby are due to have their first baby sometime in the next two weeks.  I decided a while ago  I wanted to make handmade gift for the baby, but since I have no knitting or crocheting skills, I was at a bit of a loss as to what a new little babe might need.  

That's when the grand idea of making a wall hanging or art for the nursery came to me!  The only obstacle was how the heck would I be able to make anything that resembled art?  Realizing this was not a likely possibility, I begin to think of things I could make out of cloth.  Finally, I settled on making a growth chart for the nursery!  

Aren't yall just dying to see what it looks like!  Well...just hold your horses cause here it is!
(Disclaimer: I apologize for the crummy pictures, the low light conditions paired with a not-so awesome camera and a mediocre photographer yields not-so-good results!)

This is made out of cotton canvas fabric.  I hand-stitched the name using a stem-stitch (again, the crummy light means seeing the name in the picture is not so easy...I promise it looks better in person!).  The numbers are made of fabric and heat-bonded to the canvas.

Along the side of the chart, I hand stitched inch-markers using embroidery thread. 

I made each of the flowers out of material and sewed them on the the canvas.  The cute little bees were an awesome find at the Scrap Exchange.  They are pewter and I added the black beads for little heads.  Then I hand-stitched their "flight-patterns".  
The chart is hung using a dowel rod and some pretty purple ribbon.
 To mark the height on the growth chart, the parents will either use tags pinned on to the canvas, or write the date/height/age with a permanent fabric pen. 


Much inspiration and excitement over how Baby Bella's gift turned out, I just couldn't stop there!  So prompted by a commitment to make homemade gifts for 5 of my friends, I decided to make a growth chart for another good friend.  

Her little girl just turned one at the end of last year.  So I set out to make another growth chart using a similar pattern but a different theme.  Here is what I made for little Riley!
 I used the same fabric for this one, cotton canvas.  

I stitched the name again, using a stem-stitch.  This time I filled in the entire name, which took a lot longer than expected, but well worth it!
The clouds are cut from fabric and heat-bonded to the canvas.  

I made each of the birds from fabric and stuffed them with cotton batting so they are slightly plush and 3-dimensional.

The owls are by far my favorite.  I made these the same way as I did the birds with the exception of heat-bonding fabric to make their "masks".  
Each of the branches as well as the numbers are hand-stitched.  I also hand-stitched the inch-markers along the side of the chart. 

I am so excited about the outcome of this chart as well.  I have to say that I have surprised myself with both of these projects.  I do not claim to have any noteable crafting skills but I am happy with what I would call a successful accident!  

I would have to say that the very best part of working on these growth charts was the constant reminder of the wonderful folks who would be receiving these gifts.  And that my friends makes it all worth while. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Caught in the Act

You may remember when I posted this picture a while back...
 Look closely, that's the back end of our German Shepard Kyra, hunting for eggs in the main chicken house.  How she manages to get her old body in that little hole is beyond me.  She knows good and well she is not allowed in there, and she will only attempt this when she is very sure you are not looking.  (No kidding, I have actually watched her from the house and she looks both ways and up towards the house before sneaking into the chicken pen!)  
Since then, we have takin' to keeping the pen door closed with just enough space for the chickens, so Kyra is no longer able to get into the chicken house.

Well, this is what I caught with my camera yesterday...
This is our "chicken tractor", essentially our retirement home for our two older hens.  And yes, that is Kyra, inside the tractor.  Again I am amazed, she is a nimble old girl!

You can see Bandit out in front.  Our older hens don't really lay anymore, so I am sure there are very few times where there are eggs in that house, but Krya likes to check it out anyway.

And this is when she realized I was watching her (she can't hear worth a flip anymore, so she didn't hear me walk up).  
" What mom?  I was not in the chicken tractor, I swear!" 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When sharing a bath, expect no privacy!

For those of you who may not know, chickens love to take "dust baths".  It is an essential part of their well being, helping to keep their skin healthy and bug-free.  Not so good for your flower beds though!  

Our gals like to take their "baths" along the side of the garage in the blueberry bed.  That spot is warm year round since it gets lots of sun and the soil is nice and loose.  Today is a really nice winter day in our neck of the woods (about 50 degrees and sunny), so the gals are taking advantage of the nice day to take a little bath....


Chicken's have no modesty...those girls were taking a bath...right out in the open...for God and everyone to see!  And apparently the Americana gal is quite the "tub-hogger".  Sharing the space with her greedy friend seems to be getting this Buff gal in a huff!  

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Not only that...now everyone else wants to see what going on in the bathroom.  The poor girls even get stepped on at one point by another Buff!  I tell you...lesson learned...if you are going to share a bath, expect no privacy!

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Not to mention that moments later, this entire bath-time shin-dig was rudely interrupted by a curious and slightly jealous pup!

On another note, Hubby asked me yesterday what was tearing up all the grass in the yard....
I have no idea ;-)

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why needlework is a perfect hobby for a diabetic...

So I have been teaching myself to cross-stitch...well I should really say "re-teaching".  My mom used to cross-stitch and she taught me some things when I was little.  However, since it has probably been 25 years since I learned those tips, I have had to re-teach myself.  The lessons are going along swimmingly.  I am using a few books and referencing a few very helpful stitching websites and I have to say I have been quite pleased with some of my work.

I find the hardest thing to get used to is finding that groove where I can move the needle effortlessly through the fabric.  I am still in the stage of constantly undoing knots and untangling thread, taking out stitches and generally just mucking up most of my projects.

There is one thing I have found less of a nuisance than most folks who sew or stitch by hand.  I was in the fabric store the other day and was considering buying a thimble, you know to protect my fingers while I worked the needle.  Ironic, huh?  Why is this ironic you ask?  Well, I realized (like I could ever forget), I prick my finger 10 times a day....ON PURPOSE....to check my bloodsugar.  My fingertips are callused and tough and generally don't feel much pain anymore. 

That's when I knew that needlework was the perfect hobby for a diabetic.  I laugh in the face of needle pricks.  No thimble needed here, do your worst cross-stitch needle, do your worst!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Lost in fabric and thread

Good morning all!  I know you all have been so worried about my whereabouts these last few weeks.  I promise I have not fallen off the face of the Earth.  I am still here, procrastinating my way through the new year.  It's always hard for me to get back into the swing of things after the holidays, including blogging.  The wintry weather we have had around her doesn't help either....makes me want to stay inside all day and not venture out into the cold world!

I have however, been practically living in my new craft room...emerging for short periods of time to eat and sleep and take care of my other chores.  But most days you will find me hidden away among piles of fabric and thread.  My new craft room has been somewhat of a blessing and I am happy to have a new place to work on my hobbies (some hobbies I didn't even know I had!) 

Currently I am working on some exciting projects.  I want to share so bad, but a few of these things are gifts for folks who read my blog.  So until these secret projects are unveiled to the recipients, I can't show you!  Stay tuned though!  In the meantime, here are some pictures of my new craft room.  I plan to do a little more decorating (curtains and such).  It's nothing fancy but I love the space. 

 This is my new workstation.  Hubby just hung my "inspiration board" yesterday so I have yet to add too much to it!  That's my grandmother's sewing machine, a Kenmore 158-1913.  It's about 30 years old and runs like a champ. 
 My craft storage...fabric, beads, notions, and paint!


My reading corner, sans chair...hopefully coming soon!  

Humphrey, the chinchilla is not sure what to think of sharing his room with me.  Here you will notice him giving me the stink-eye for bugging him.  Up until I remodeled this room, he had it all to himself...now he has to deal with my noise and disturbances.  (He is active mostly in the evenings and very shy, so often my crafting wakes him up from his mid-day naps.)

But he is warming up to the idea of sharing his room...

Often waking up from his naps to check out what I am doing...

And demanding I give him a treat for being so accommodating regarding this new arrangement!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  We were lucky enough this year to ring in the New Year with my brother and sister at their annual New Year's Eve Party.  Good times were had by all!  My brother and I have always been close and I am so grateful for that....even more grateful that he married an amazing woman who I like to consider the sister I never had!  Anyway, enough of the mushy stuff...the point is we had a great time and I am so glad I got to spend the first hours of the new year with family and great friends.

I have really enjoyed reading the New Year's Resolutions of fellow bloggers and friends.  Unfortunately, I have never been very good at resolutions.  I don't like to make resolutions for things that I really need to get done (i.e. lose the extra weight I gained since my back injury last summer) because the pressure of a resolution often makes me doubt my ability and get frustrated with myself.  I like to look at things I have to get done as a necessity, no choice in the matter, it's easier that way for me.  However, there are new things I would like to learn and some things I would like to do. 

I have not always been very crafty.  Lately, I have been perusing a lot of crafty bloggers' sites and I have craft envy!  I would like to learn a little more about some crafts, maybe pick up a few and try and perfect them.  I am working on cross-stitch now and have been learning some new sewing techniques.  Winter is often a slow time for me, so I figure crafts may keep my mind busy. 

I would also like to spend more time with friends.  I would like to get back into yoga in the evenings to relax and read a little more.

I want to maintain control over my diabetes and continue to stay as healthy as possible.  I want to stop worrying so much about insurance and money.  I want to quite my diabetic mind at least an hour a day (that's the part of my mind that never stops worrying and thinking about my diabetes).

I want this year to be a great year full of great things.  I want new traditions and exciting adventures.

What grand adventures are you pursuing in 2011?