Thursday, May 28, 2009

Victorianesque Embroideries

Here is a cute little (17 in long) victorian shoe piece I did. You can't see it very well, but it is complete with gold filliment and beads.
I paid to have it mounted, but not framed yet, as it will be a custom job. It goes very well with the next piece.....

This was a pain in the neck to complete! You can't see it in this photo, but it is done in about six shades of scarlett - all about a shade apart. So keeping the floss straight, and figuring out the color graph was a job! I actually mounted this one myself, and framed it.

This is a piece I did all from vintage fabric remnants. I pinned a piece of netting to a piece of unbleached musiln, and free-handed the letters; then I embroidered them. To finish, I appliqued the lace remnant and floral motif onto the piece. The quote is by John Keatts; and it is a sort of motto for me. I did several verions of this, but this is my favorite.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

My Family and I spent a lot of time at our pond this weekend, hanging out, grilling, and fishing. The weekend started on Friday with the cutting of hayfields, and my brother, Noah, and his family coming up form Charlotte with a couple guests wanting to experience the counrty life. Saturday, I took myself off to a Mary Kay Facial party where I had my face and hair done, a photo taken, and ate some cheesecake before trotting off to the barn where I rode for a little while. On my way home, I drove by one of my brother's hayfields and saw half of the family out there picking up hay - nobody told me! We picked up almost 400 bales of hay and it took up until dark; when we quit and ate pizza at my house.

Sunday, we unloaded hay into our barn amidst a rainshower. Some how, I got a miserable sunburn on Saturday, despite the overcast skies. We all hit the back pond for a little fishing and tailgating. The kids loved fishing, and were pulling them out of the water one after the other. Abi got a fishing lesson from Uncle Kevin. Eli and Sherry grilled the steaks and hamburgers; and we made a small campfire for toasting some marshmellows before everyone headed home. Noah and his friends camped out in the cabin he built at Mom and Dad's farm.

On Monday, all the guys came over to plant a cornfield and do some other field work. Noah and I cooked breakfast for them: one and a half dozen eggs, two pounds of bacon, home made buttermilk biscuits, with sweet butter and marmalade, and coffee in a mason jar. I packed it all in a picnic basket and Noah carried it back - where they consumed every morsel. After the field work was done, they decided to stay back at the pond and do some skeet shooting; while I sat on the porch with my sisters-in-law and the kids and chatted.

Everyone was at my house for dinner, after which we hit the pond for more fishing. I didn't fish, I took pictures and dug up worms for the kids. It was a long, and totally fun weekend. Kevin and I agreed, it was super fun; more so than Christmas! This was a weekend that will go down for the record, as the most awsome Memorial Day weekend ever. I highly reccomend weekends like this; they are good for the heart - even with the greasy hot dogs, sausages, ptoato salad, baked beans, cole slaw, and potato chips.
Posted by Picasa

Country Kids

Equipped with insect nets and a carrying cage, Ethan, Alana, Lexy and Brendan venture into the meadow, led by Uncle Eli, to gather bugs for fishing bait.

Ethan and Alana make sure the bugs aren't escaping.

Later, at our pond, Ethan catches a small bass - which he threw back so it could grow some more.....
......... and Alana catches a sun fish!
Nothing "city" about my nieces and nephews at all! They're country through and through. Bugs and fish alike, be afraid - be very afraid.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Chair Story

So, what makes this photo of a frumpy chair worthy of a post, you might ask? A really good laugh, that's what!
So part of my weekend included going to the dumpster to unload some trash and junk collected in my truck. Upon arriving at the dumpster, I discovered this old, red velvet covered chair in the extreme bottom of the "green box." Well you know me, saving the world one vintage/antique piece at a time; I sat there, trying to figure out a way to get it out by my onesie. The sides of the "green box" are a good seven or eight feet tall, well over my head, and slick metal. It is the big kind they bring in on a tractor trailer and leave until it is full, then cart it away to the landfill.
I looked around.
Nobody in sight.
I thought about going home and fetching Kevin back to help me. But then I knew what he'd say - "Why do you have to have that piece of junk? Here's the checkbook - go buy one from somewhere else, in better shape....."
I could climb down there, throw it out, and pile up some other junk to get out. But I was wearing flip flops - not good for climbing.
A search of my truck revealed a shovel from the barn with a handle on it. I could maneuver myself down far enough to catch the leg of the chair, and hoist it up........
So grasping the shovel in one hand, and bracing myself against the rim of the green box with one knee, I balanced on the edge with one leg flung behind for balance, and eased myself halfway down the slick wall of the dumpster, reaching my shovel handle out for the chair leg. At some point, these fleeting thoughts raced through my brain:
"Maybe I should have put my cell phone in my pocket in case I fall in here and need to call for a rescue."
"What if I fall in here and get hurt - is this stupid chair worth it?"
"How long will it take for them to miss me, and will they know to come looking in the dumpster?"
And, of course, "What must I look like, perching here on the edge of the dumpster with my butt in the wind?" (Vain, I know.)
A couple of tries, and I had it by the leg. I hoisted it up just enough that I could snatch it with my free hand and haul it over the side, into the truck.
Gloating over my prize, and laughing at the thought of what that must have looked like to a passer-by, I went home.
There was Kevin, with my brother, Eli, in the driveway, working on a piece of farm machinery. Kevin glanced at the frumpy, desheveled chair in the truck and glanced at me. Laughing, I told them the story. "That's the last time you go to the dumpster by yourself," Kevin said. If the worst had happened, I can just see him, telling his buddies at work, "Yeah.... I had to rescue my wife from the bottom of the dumpster this weekend, after she was missing for hours, and we looked all over creation for her, and the State Police were called.....all on account of a worthless, broken, vintage chair."
"That is just like Mom," Eli said. "When we lived in Miami, Mom got stuff from the dumpster all the time." I remember Mom regailing me with stories of her dumpster tresures fromMiami. I think she still has some of the stuff.
Anyway, I don't know what I am going to do with the old thing; it was in worse shape than I thought at first. The seat is stuffed with horse hair, so it is pretty old. Maybe I'll paint the wood after it is repaired, and upholster it with something else..... butI'll be darned if I throw it out, after all the trouble I went through to get it!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 18, 2009

I'm a Chicken Mother

I will be gathering that many eggs in a few months! (I hope.) That is the cover of a 1948 magazine I found in a box buried in one of our barns upon moving here. It is in perfect condition, whereas other magazines in the same box are damaged. How about that?

We put pebbles in their "drinker" so they won't emmerse their whole head and drown; as chicks sometimes do. Here in the US, it is called a chick "waterer", but I was watching some videos on You Tube of baby chickens, and a Scottish lady called it a chick "drinker" so I thought that was appropriate. One "waters" the garden, the houseplants, or the lawn; To "water" the chicks would imply to some that you take the hose and douse the chicks with water; when in fact they drink of their own free will........ so calling it a drinker makes sense. :)

We tried to start them off eating from a chick feerer with a lid; they didn't quite get that, and only ate when I sprinked the feed out onto the paper so they could peck at it. So I transfered their feed to a small open dish and they loved that, and learned to eat from it right away. And sleep in it. And poop in it. And play in it. One night, one of the yellow chicks cought a small moth that was fluttering around the light in the brooder, and went parading around with it. The others wanted in on the kill, and started a commotion that sent me running to check on them. I though at least one of the cats was threatening them, but instead discovered the moth fight. I was puffed up with pride over my day-old chicks already doing a great job of eating free-range! I only hope that most of them are hens, so I can keep them, and a few lucky roosters. The surplus roosters will be made into chicken and dumplings....... such is the fate of unlucky, annoying roosters on farms. Yum..... chicken and dumplings are delicious, though. Wait a second..... what am I saying?! :)
Posted by Picasa

Baby Chicks!

I never really understood why people call them "baby chicks"; that's an oxymoron. "Chicks" are, in fact, infant chickens. So, a few weeks ago we got some fertile chicken eggs from a friend, and popped them into the incubator. Thereafter, for 21 days, I faithfully turned them morning and night by hand. They were supposed to hatch out on a Tuesday - and nothing happened. I was extremely dissapointed.

Then, on that Thursday morning, Kevin called me into the kithcen. There was a tone of excitement in his voice, so I knew he was not wanting to know what happened to his coffee filters! I ran to the kitchen like a kid on Christmas morning. "Listen", Kevin said. I stood there listening and then I heard it: small peeps and chirps coming from the eggs in the incubator! I had a styrofoam box of chirping eggs! Sucess, after all!! After several hours, I took this photo of the frist one: the tiniest egg hatched out first.

That evening, we had more. I was thrilled, because I thought I would get none from my first try! I had never seen a chick hatch out before, and I was as facninated as a kid doing a grade school science class experament. They are soooooo cute! My kithcn is cluttered with chick accessories and supplies, and the little blighters make a noisy racket when they hear someone. The cats are seriously disturbed, and I am grateful, as they seem to avoid the area entirely.

We left them in the incubator until they fully dried out and were fluffy. The other eggs continued to shake and chirp and little holes appeared on their surface. They continued to hatch out thrugh Sunday; and there are still a couple drying out in the incubator, waiting transport to the chick brooder set up in the kitchen. They are all so cute and fluffy. I feel like a true farm girl now! I hatched chicks!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 15, 2009

Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

My Mom taught me how to make this, and her Mom taught her. This is real old-timey shortcake. They're not a sweet as sponge cake so the flavor of the berries is more detectable. They are sort of like a scone.

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening OR
1/4 cup shortening and 3 Tbsp. cold butter
1/2 - 3/4 cups milk

Sift together dry ingredinets. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add enough milk to form a soft, not sticky, dough. Don't over-mix. Roll out to 3/4 inch thinkcness on a floured surface. Cut with a 3 inch biscuit cutter. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 20 min. or until golden brown. To assemble: once shortcakes have cooled, slice in half. Place bottom half on a plate or bowl. Top with desired ammount of berries, and remaining half shortcake. Finish with a dollop of real sweetened whipped cream (or Coolwhip, if you like) and enjoy!
I have more great strawberry dessert recipes, so if anyone wants more, leave a comment with your email and I will email them, or I can post them also.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Strawberry Pickin'!!

The strawberries are here! Mom and I took my nieces, Abi, Lexy and Alana picking one afternoon. We pulled in and the farmer showed us where to pick. "These here haven't been sprayed," he told us. All the better! Organic strawberries are fine with us! Off we went into the field with our buckets.

Being pesticide free, we ate all we wanted. Alana took a little convincing, though. She insisted they needed washing first. I said she could blow on them and it was just as good as washing. :)

Weary laborers pause for a snack of..... yep, strawberries.

One last photo of the cousins before packing the berries home to make jam and SRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE!
Posted by Picasa

Makin' Strawberry Jam!

Abi and Lexy washing the berries after we got them home, happily making a mess in the kitchen....

Abi and Lexy capping and slicing the berries.

Alana watches me get lids on the jars. We are both wearing vintage aprons, by the way; mine belonged to my Grandma, Alana's belonging to my Mom's Gramma. Yes, the drywall in our kitchen is not complete yet, as we are in a constant state of remodeling one thing or another.............

Finished product: Jam, and Shortcake!! Yum!! We all enjoyed a plate of it after the jam was done; and there is nothing quite like strawberry shortcake made with fresh strawberries you pick yourself.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Tribute To Moms

This should have been posted yesterday, but my weekend was nuts, so I am late getting it done. Better late than never, I guess. By the way, just so everyone knows, my "kids" Brutus, Cosette, Splat, and Sebastian didn't to one thing for me on Mother's Day. Ok, so they're just three cats and a dog...still.
In the photo are my Gramma, little sister Noelle, and my Mom hanging out at a Mother's Day cookout at my brother's house.
It would be impossible to laud my mother without commenting on her mom, my Gramma, Dorothy Rose Kelly-Bird, who turned 89 this year and is, sadly, in bad health.
My Gramma grew up during the depression and because of that childhood experience, is the first save and reuse, recycle, organic woman I knew. Bits of string, fabric, paper, glass jars, plasitc flatware, you name it she saved it. I used to think it was nuts, saving all those little plastic katchup thingys from fast food joints, or the styrofoam tray that comes with the steaks and the chicken from the grocery store. That is, until recently, when I find myself doing the same thing. "HEY! Don't throw that away!" "What? It's only the string from the horse feed bag!" Yep - that's me, channeling Gramma. I even dig things out of the trash after Kevin has tossed them, if he is not looking. My little sister and I hung out with Gramma a lot when I was a little girl, doing crafts and art, having little tea parties, wearing the dresses she made for us from a lacy vintage dress she found at a thrift store; playing in the sandbox. "DON'T get in that sandbox until I clean out the CAT POOP!" She'd instruct us. I thought my heart would break when Gramma moved back to Florida to take care of her mom, my Great Gramma. The morning that she left in her laden down yellow Volkswagen Beetle, I ran to the neighbor's horse barn and cried into the mane of her horse for an hour. He seemed to get it. Gramma moved back twelve years ago, when her health went downhill.
My mom didn't have an easy time raising us 7 kids. She stayed at home to raise and homeschool us, so my dad's income had to stretch a lot of ways, but we were happy. Mom is a great seamstress and sewed me countless dresses and play costumes, ball gowns and things. She was my greatest supporter when it came to my Horse Indoustry and Riding Instructor Career, and always advised me to perservere and endure. She was at almost all my horse shows, concerts and recitals.
She taught me cooking arts; oh how I used to love to watch as she frosted birthday cakes, made her famous Christmas doughnuts, and her chunky spaghetti sauce. Mom taught me how to drive, how to embroider, and made me stick to my piano lessons. She was there for me when I had a horrible horse related accident; driving me to the hospitial, riding with me in the ambulance, held my hand during my surgery, and was with me for every Dr. and Surgeon appointment afteroword.
My mom is my diet and health guru, and I ask her advice before I take any vitamins, herbs, or drugs. My mom isn't perfict, but my mom rocks.
I laughed my heart out last evening when I had this talk with my 4-year old niece, Alana, about Mother's Day:
"....... it's a birffday," She suggested.
"It's like a birthday, but only for mommies," I said.
Later, as I was cleaning up the dinner mess:
"Hoseyanna, whatcha doin?"
"Cleaning up the mess so your mom doesn't have to," I explained.
"Beycuss it's Muffer's Day!"
"Yep, it's Mother's Day!"
"I wannit to be Alana day."
"Nope, Mother's Day."
"Alana Day."
"Alana Day is later this summer."
She scampered off grinning. Happy Muffer's Day, all you Muffers!!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 1, 2009

Gone with the wind.........

Last evening, Kevin and I attended a bio-diesel seminar at a local community college. Kevin is building the bio-diesel plant at SuperSod (where he works) and he was looking for more info and ideas; while I went out of curiosity about the science behind bio-fuels.
While viewing their bio-fuel reactor was part of the seminar, we were also in the classroom part of the time. We were shown all kinds of charts and graphs showing the world's estimated oil supply, and the old demand of most countries of the world. Of course, we all know that the US consumes most of the world's oil - at 26%. Other countries only use a fraction of that: China, 6%; Canada 2.7%; the UK 2.2%; and so on. We were also treated to the usual Global Warming speeches, about how Americans driving their SUVs and using too much energy is killing the planet. (I strongly dissagree that the planet is dying - changing, yes. Dying, I am not convinced.) All of this prefaced the instructor's teaching on the science of bio-diesel.
It is undeniable that the US uses more oil that anywhere else on earth. While I may disagree with the theory of global warming destroying this mighty planet that GOD created and controls, one would be foolish to deny that Americans over-do on just about everything: whether it be eating, debt, drama, and the Burger King mentality of "Have it your way"........ and oil consumption.
On our way home afterwords, we discussed this matter in depth. I "tested my theory" on Kevin, and he agreed.
I am persuaded that the increased demand for oil began with the decline of the small town an close knit communities; which most likely began during the 1930's. (In my humble, unprofessional estimation.) People moved from their big farms, small farms, and in between farms to the bigger towns and cities. Or if you lived in the counrty, you now had to drive a greater distance to find employment.
The small hardware stores were replaced by Lowe's. Burger King replaced the corner diners. Food Lion replaced a back yard vegetable patch. General Stores were pushed out by Wal Mart.
Farms were shut down, and we now import most of our food from other countries.
The places that produce things have to have them shipped long distances, and then we have to get in our vehicles and drive to town to buy them; several times a week, in most cases.
I have read in many historical books and novels, as well as seen depicted in movies, etc. that not so very long ago in this country, a trip to town was a big deal, and was an all day adventure at times. You got a bath, put on clean dress (or ovralls, if you are a dude), loaded the "younguns" in the truck with a picnic basket of cold chicken and fixin's, and headed off to the town with your list.
Dad picked up a new shovel, seed, and nails at the hardare store, while Mom got flour, sugar, fabric for a new dress for little sister at the drygoods store. Everyone got a Coke for a nickel, and caught the afternoon matinee of some good ol'show at the only movie theatre in town.
These are what is wideley refered to as "the good ol' days". People lived with less then, and were happy. People valued the things they had more; like their one vehicle; their only radio; the things they used in their kitchens.
If you visit small towns and communities like that today, you will find businesses closed; streets empty except for the occasional passing car going to the big town. You will find old houses and farms empty, abandoned, grown over, and run down - with a great few exceptions- such as our farm.
I am not dissaproving of Wal Mart or Burger King in the least bit - I like a Whopper just as much as the next person. I also love my DVD player, 62-inch big screen tv, mp3 player, compurter, vaccum cleaner, blender, and trusty 2004 Ford F-250 truck. I am sure Kevin really appriciates his tractors and convenient hay making equipment, and the fact that we're not gathering hay by hand and putting it into huge stacks instead of bales. I am not suggesting that everyone pack up and move to the counrty and start an organic farm,either! That is unwise and imprcatical. Farming will be for some, and not others. This is just the way things are now....... everything changes. Even Kevin drives 35 minutes to work, and we live on a farm!
Perhaps I am just too traditional, nostalgic, and obsessed with the ways and the things of "yesteryear". But I think if we all took stock of our lives, we would see the areas of excess, the ways we waste, and the things we take for granted.
Will we run out of oil? Only God knows the answer to that. Will our technology catch up and sustain us for years to come? Who knows. Our futures, and the future of the planet, it in the mighty hands of our loving Father.
We can all learn from the "good 'ol days", and remember them with fondness through books, movies, and stories from our grandparents. Those days will never return, though.... they are
"Gone with the wind."