Saturday, January 31, 2009

Check Out This Quilt Shop Sale!

Attention all quilters...I just got home from Quilts Plus. My all-time favorite quilt shop. They are having a huge sale through midnight tonight and for the first time are offering the discount on online orders. Everything is 20% off! Check out their kits, they are to die for!

I'm off to horde my stash... mwah, ha, ha...

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Rooster With Nine Lives

I'm thrilled to announce that I've found a home for Bob. He won't be coming for Sunday dinner after all. He's going to a farm to replace a rooster that passed away a few weeks ago. He'll have his very own flock of girls. And you'll never believe what the former rooster's name was... , it was Bob! I think this was meant to be.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Somethin's Gotta Give

This is going to come as a great surprise. Are you ready? Are you sitting down?

I have too many roosters.

Shocking I know.

I have too many roosters and not enough space to keep them. We have big plans for the barn, but that's just it. They're just plans. Plans that can't take place until spring. Which means they won't be completed until summer. And summer is a looooong way away when you have a rooster living on your back porch. Somethin's gotta give. So eeny meeny miny mo, who should stay and who should go?

In theory, I could recreate Little Jack since I have his parents. So I've found a breeder who wants him and now we are just working out arrangements to get him there. He'll live a long happy life fertilizing eggs. Every rooster's dream.

Then there's Bob. Bob's a good looking guy, but he's not what you would call breeding quality. He's not been very nice lately and he loses out on the not being a sentimental favorite thing. I put up with a lot less from his brothers who ended up at freezer camp. So I'm looking for a place for Bob to live happily ever after. If I can't find a place then he'll be invited for Sunday dinner. Not my first choice, but it's actually more humane than keeping him and letting Blackbeard beat him up every day. And trust me when I say the girls will appreciate not being fought over.

A sad day for me. Tough decisions. But it's the right thing to do.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Meanwhile Back in Sheville...

I can't remember the exact age I first learned to sew. Under ten years old for sure. My first sewing project was a cross stitch alphabet sampler. Lucky for me I come from a long line of pack rats. My Mom saved it for years and years. When my daughter was born she framed it and gave it to me to decorate the nursery. My daughter will be old enough to buy alcoholic beverages this summer, so that's a been more than a few days ago. But not one to forgo family traditions, I saved it all these years. It now qualifies under the definition of antique. I decided the other day that it seems appropriate to display in Sheville.

While I was digging through things I also found the second sewing project I made. A pretty little bouquet I embroidered and framed for my Grandmother. Of course I'm going to display that too. Right next to the gazillion old buttons my family has horded for years. I really need to come up with a creative use for all these buttons.

Then I finished the quilt top I've been working on. I tried Amelia's advice and turned the reds all the same direction and you know what? I like it. Can't explain why but I do. So I left them that way. A couple couldn't be turned, but I like having something intentionally not perfect in my quilts. Not that I need to goof up intentionally. I'm pretty good at that naturally. I shopped for fabric and found the exact red print in sufficient quantity for the border. Apparently it was meant to be. So stripe for the binding it is.

I don't have the color of quilting thread that I want to use. I won't be going out any time soon. So I started cutting the next project. An antique reproduction spools quilt. I don't like the instructions in the book (I hate bias squares) so I'm going to try and just wing it on my own. This could be a disaster waiting to happen. Or it may turn out delightful. Either way it keeps my mind off being snowbound with a crowing rooster on my back porch. He never stops. I may need therapy soon.

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

We are snowbound again. Twelve inches of snow on the ground and still snowing. There will be no running of errands today. So the Cookie Monster has had to resort to making his own cookies.

I believe they call this "a teaching moment". Little does he know I have a full fledged home economics class planned for him this fall...

Monday, January 26, 2009

They Need Constant Supervision

We think we figured out how Old One-Eyed Calico Jack ended up with only one eye. Blackbeard must have decided he would no longer tolerate Little Jack Scallywag's advances on the ladies. He beat the snot out of the poor little bugger. Literally. Then Bob and even some of the ladies joined in the fight. I found Little Jack huddled in the corner between the wall and a feeder trying to protect his head. His eye, and the surrounding area is swollen and bruised.

The maternal instinct kicked in immediately and I swooped the poor boy up and brought him inside to nurse him back to health. He was mighty appreciative considering he can barely see and was having a really hard time defending himself. Then I went back out and read the riot act to the offenders. I explained that sort of behavior simply is not acceptable and I was sorely disappointed in them. If they could, I would have forced them to write "I will not beat up Jack" 100 times on a chalk board. Instead they had to go to roost without their evening snack. I'm sure that'll teach 'em.

In the mean time we have a rooster in the house. He's injured but he still likes to crow. Especially at 6:00 a.m. It's now a MAJOR priority for me to get alternate living arrangements set up to separate these roosters. Somewhere OUTSIDE.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Take One Down, Pass It Around...

One hundred thirty blocks of a quilt on the wall,
One hundred thirty blocks of a quilt,
Take one down,
Pass it around,
One hundred twenty-nine blocks of a quilt on the wall...

There are 1,560 pieces of fabric in this quilt. I counted them.

I'm starting to lose it a little.

The blocks are up on the wall. If you notice any glaring arrangement issues speak now or forever hold your peace. My eyes are tired and weary of looking at it. Once I sew them into rows there won't be any goin' back and changing things I can assure you.

The whole thing was designed around this border fabric, but now I'm worried maybe there should be a small, thin border before this striped one? Of course I've scoured my stash and nothing is suitable so I'd have to go buy something. So maybe the stripe would be okay by itself? Or maybe I buy something and use the same fabric for the binding? Hmm...I may need a few glasses of wine to make a decision like this.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

No Boyz Allowed

I've finally found my final resting spot. No, not that final resting spot! The perfect space for my sewing room. I've moved it around several times since we've moved in here at the farmhouse. Nothing ever really worked as far as layout was concerned. And it never felt very cozy. The most recent spot at the top of the back stairs is a main traffic thoroughfare. It's also pretty dark. I'm not getting any younger and therefore my eyes aren't getting any better. And I wasn't getting much sewing done because the space just didn't flow for me.

When you live with a bunch of men and animals after a while you start to crave a little solitude. But not some dark and gloomy room. Nope, I wanted a light and bright room that oozed all things girly. A woman cave. Where I can create. Where I can watch HGTV and Lifetime television and have complete and utter control of the remote.

So I picked the girliest floral wallpaper I could find and went to town on one of the spare bedrooms. Then I moved all my girly stuff in and after the guys were done lifting the heavy stuff I declared the room off limits to them. No body's allowed in Sheville from now on unless they know the password.

I tried to set up the room to be as efficient as possible, you know, cause I'm lazy. Placing the desk, cutting table and ironing board in one corner created a nice work triangle. Hanging a full size sheet of batting made a workable but inexpensive design wall. (Those are rails for an antique quilt frame laying on the floor under it, in case you were wondering.)

The other corner became home to my old Standard treadle that still works like a charm. A cozy chair, a bookshelf and a place for my hand sewing supplies is my new nest. Although the cat is attempting to claim it. She's allowed in because she's a she.

Corner number three is a nice sized closet. I don't keep a large fabric stash but what I do have fits in there protected from the sun.

There is no fourth corner. It's kind of an odd shaped room and that corner is angled. There is enough room though for a small dresser to hold notions and batting. But most importantly my very own TV. Mine. All mine. ALL mine. With absolutely no sports channels! I can see it easily from the desk, the chair and the ironing board.

And if I don't feel like watching TV I can listen to the radio or a book on CD with my handy dandy reproduction radio. I also have a small basket for leader & ender scraps and a crazy-quilt-patterned pottery bowl for a thread catcher right next to my sewing machine.

Of course a girls get-a-way needs to be cute as well as organized. I happen to have a thing for old boxes. I love to use them for storage. Here I have an old file box to store patterns and the blue box holds snaps and needles and such. The toy sewing machine I've had for years and years.

Under the cutting table I have three scrap baskets. One each for darks, mediums and lights. Once they get full I cut them into strips and sort them into plastic drawers in the closet. My laundry isn't even sorted this well.

And just for fun I have a primitive make do pin cushion and thread holder. I fell in love with it on e-bay a couple years ago and I'm thrilled to have a place to finally hang it. It feels like it belongs here. And so do I. If I just had a refrigerator and a bathroom I'd never leave.

Thanks for stopping by, but don't forget next time you'll need to use the secret password...CHOCOLATE.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


You don't get too many snow days when you homeschool. But we did today. There was no way I was driving all the way into the city for fencing lessons in this weather. So we stayed home and played instead.

I worked on my latest quilt all day. And according to my calculations I'll still be working on it this time next year...

I really, really need to work on reading the fine print on things. I picked the Buckeye Beauty pattern out of the book 101 Fabulous Rotary-Cut Quilts. I like the book because it has this cute little grading system for each pattern. One, two or three spools depending on difficulty. Seemed like a no brainer way to keep from getting in over my head. Yep, I picked a one spool pattern but failed to notice that I would need to make 520 of these no brainer blocks. It's taking FOR-EVER.

Anyhoo, I found these photos on my hard drive tonight and realized I've never shown them to you here. Since it's going to be a year or so before I get this other one done I'll show you these instead.

A quilt I made for my daughter last year.

The Tattered Pioneer quilt I made for the Engineer.

I'm hand quilting this one, I'm almost done only a few more days work on it. I've been dragging it with me everywhere on and off for a year.

A Turning Twenty I made for my stepdad.

And the very first quilt I made.

So there. Now I have a feeling of accomplishment even though I didn't finish anything today. I feel better already.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

One-Eyed, One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater

There was a day, not long ago, that the Pirates would have nothing to do with me. They shot out of their cage that first day and made it explicitly clear they were not interested in human contact. Since then I've done my best to establish a relationship. Tried to teach them some manners and civilized behavior. Tried to promote social skills and acceptance of others. Yet they stayed at a distance and continued their fightin' ways.

So it was Old One-Eyed Jack, the most hen pecked and skittish of all that I deemed my target of interest. I gave him his own place. Provided him with some lady friends. And soon he decided maybe I wasn't so bad after all. He started liking the deluxe accommodations surrounding him. Every day he waits at the screen door for me to bring him some treats and he and his ladies take them from my hand. Never dreamed he would do that.

Then came the day that things went awry. Somehow Old Jack ended up on the wrong side of the screen door. Bob's side of the screen door. Where Bob, having been tired of being tormented by Blackbeard saw another little rooster in his coop as a dire situation. So much so Bob proceeded to chase him around the coop and try to kill him. It's hard to find a good hiding spot when you only have one eye so when I saved Old Jack and returned him to the safety of his own coop a connection was made. I think Old One-Eyed Jack actually started to like me.

I thought he would appreciate it if I allowed him to take his ladies for a private romantic stroll. Not realizing how difficult it is to be the flock leader. Blackbeard makes it look so easy. But it's really hard to keep one eye on predators and one eye on everyone else if you only have one eye to begin with. I think it just stressed him out. Had I not witnessed him consummating their relationship myself I would have worried I did the wrong thing by giving him some ladies. His solution was to round up the girls after a short walk and head back inside the coop. Where it seems he wants to stay.

I go in and visit every day. And every day he's waiting at the door to greet me. It's a screen door so he and his girls can see all the other chickens and watch the goings on. But that means all the other chickens get to watch me feeding Jack. Of course now they're all wanting to be fed treats by hand. Which is okay. It gives me the chance to inspect them up close. And I enjoy it.

Today though marked a new passage in the chicken/keeper relationship. After lunch I provided them a buffet of cantaloupe rinds. In my coat pocket I had a bag with three slices of bread, well one slice and two heals nobody ever wants. They LOVE bread. They always get excited when the bread crumbs come out but today it looked like the mob on a Black Friday at Walmart. I had pirates flying up, landing on my arm and wrestling the bread right out of my hand. And Jack, Old Jack actually SAT IN MY LAP to eat his bread! I'm not sure I want to establish much more of a relationship than that.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Short, Dark and Handsome

The man of the house. The big cheese. The purveyor of his domain.

He runs a tight ship. Nobody gets away with anything under Blackbeard's command. He's the strong silent type. He doesn't need to make a lot of noise. His presence alone commands respect. But he's not afraid to get in someone's face if he needs to remind them of that.

A regular ladies man, he's good looking and he knows it. His iridescent feathers glisten in the sunlight. He has the ladies at his beck and call. They adore him.

And in case they need some reminding...he's not afraid to woo them by fluffing and warming their nest box.

Maybe I should have named him Casanova?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Eggs. It's What's for Dinner.

There was a day when I complained that my hens were not laying yet. Yeah.

I'm SO over that!

Everybody laid an egg today. Well, every able bodied hen that is. Mildred (one of Blackbeard's Wenches) didn't but she never has. I think maybe she's um, going through the change if you will. I'm sure she produced plenty of lovely eggs in her day. And then there's Sammie, Beth's sister. She's decided to molt in the middle of the winter. Luckily for her she also has a bum foot and is resting comfortable on the warm back porch with Beth. Her foot is healing quickly. Her feathers growing back, not so much. It might be a little chilly for her when she goes back out.

But back to the eggs. I've got big eggs, little eggs, brown eggs, green eggs and now Precious is laying and her cute little eggs are pink! I'm getting fourteen eggs a day. FOURTEEN. A DAY. They're supposed to slow way down or even stop laying during the winter. There are long lists of things you are supposed to have to do in order to get your hens to lay when it's cold, like leaving a light on to extend they're daylight hours, etc. I'm not doing ANY of those things and yet they keep churning out the eggs.

So do me a favor will you? Post your favorite egg recipe. I need all I can get.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Beginner Fencing

The kid said he wanted to learn fencing. So last summer while we were building the chicken garden we had him out there stretching the wire and you know what? He said that wasn't exactly what he had in mind. You would think on a farm if a kid wants to learn fencing that kind of fencing would be a safe assumption. But no.

No, he wanted the poke-someone-with-a-sharp-stick kind of fencing lessons. I told him we could use an old antennae off of a car and he could poke a target on a tree or something. But again he rolled his eyes (he's a teenager and they're good at that) and declared that I was missing the point entirely.

So yesterday we drove a gazillion million miles to the city for proper beginner fencing lessons. We lucked out and one of the other families in our homeschool group has a recent graduate that just happens to be an expert fencer. And he's willing to teach the younger kids (one of the awesome things about homeschooling).

He showed them all the different weapons and equipment that is generously being loaned to the group by The Indianapolis Fencing Club.

He then proceeded to put them through the wringer.

I don't think they were expecting that.

I'm told standing En Garde for an hour while practicing lunges and other fancy footwork is WAY harder than it looks.

Which I thought was interesting because from my point of view it sure seemed like they were having fun. More fun I suppose than poking a tree with an antennae.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Blogger Bob

Not to be left out, or outshone by dogs on blogs, when I told Bob his fans were asking for him he agreed to an exclusive interview...

  1. What breed are you? A Barred Plymouth Rock. Barred refers to the color of my feathers, lots of chicken breeds can have the barred color but most people don't know that and they think all chickens that look like me are Barred Rocks.
  2. How old are you? I am almost nine months old.
  3. What is your full name? Bob A. Roo
  4. Do you have any nicknames? Bobster, Bumbling Bob, Bubba, Bob the Bruiser and when I bit mom's face yesterday she called me another name that started with the letter b but she said I can't say that here.
  5. Where do you sleep? I used to sleep on the top roost until Blackbeard came along. He's meaner than he looks you know. He threatened to kill me. He stole my spot and most of my girls. I hate him. Now I have to take what I can get. But I have plans to take back my turf. Big plans. You just wait and see, I'm gonna... Calm down, Bob. OK, but I really want that top roost...
  6. What is your favorite thing to do? I'm a rooster. I eat, poop, scratch and cavort. I can't watch sports, I don't have a TV. What else is there?
  7. What is something interesting/unusual about you? Aw, do I hafta answer that Mom? Yes, Bob. But, Moooom. Go ahead, Bob. *in a whisper* I like to sit in Mom's lap when no one is looking.
  8. Who is your best friend? Real roosters don't make friends. But my girlfriends, Beth and Sammie, have disappeared and I really miss them. Mom took them away. She says she'll bring them back once their feet are all better but I don't believe her so I'm not letting her get near any of the other girls without a fight. That's why I bit her yesterday. She keeps stealing our eggs, too.
  9. Did you go to obedience school? Huh? Is that the same as freezer camp? Oh, I don't want to go there. My brothers went there and never came back.
  10. Can you do any tricks? I can dance on one foot while displaying my feathers. Really, you can dance? Yeah, the chicks dig it...
And there you have it. Blogger Bob's debut.

Monday, January 5, 2009

You Are My Sunshine

Ahhh, there's nothing better than a lazy weekend afternoon spent napping in a sunbeam.

You should try it. It's good for you. All living creatures need a little sunshine. It helps you produce vitamin D. It prevents Seasonal Effective Disorder. And it gives you that warm, cozy feeling.

But what if you don't live where the buffalo roam and the skies are not cloudy all day? Then Ethel would recommend you cozy up to a new electric radiator. Make sure you get real close. Close enough to toast your whiskers. Then stay there for an hour or two or three. Whatever it takes to get that warm, cozy feeling.

"Please don't take my sunshine away."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Jack. Over here, Jack.

Poor bugger is blind as a bat. Doesn't even realize he's not looking at the camera.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Go Ahead...Make My Day!

Blackbeard rules the roost.

So if I cross the threshold and he kills me do you suppose he could plead self defense?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Won't You Take Me To Turkeytown?

(sung to the tune of funkytown)

Gotta make a move to a
town that's right for me
Town to keep me movin'

Keep me gvoovin' with some

Well, I talk about it,

Talk about it,

Talk about it,

Talk about it,

Talk about, Talk about,
Talk about movin,

Gotta move on.

Gotta move on.
Gotta move on.

Won't you take me to
Won't you take me to
Won't you take me to
Won't you take me to


Well, it was actually warm here on Tuesday. And the sun was shining. We're getting REAL tired of the roosters being mean to each other. They each need to move on up to a de-luxe apartment in the barn. And we need a home for them if we're going to get turkeys. So we decided the barn is going to become part Turkeytown, part Banty Shanty.

It's not going to be easy though. It has some, uh, challenges. Like the lack of walls for instance. A minor detail.

But we're thinkin' the old corn crib portion could be reworked into separate coops and the run-in shed portion could serve as enclosed runs.

This is the East Wing, which will become the Banty Shanty.

And here it is again after we cleaned it up. Notice the raised cement footing on the floor. This will not be the first time this old barn has been reincarnated. It looks like it was built, then added on to, then added on again. Interesting.

The West Wing, soon to become Turkeytown, is in a little better shape structurally.

And we even ran across some insulation while we were cleaning so the engineer started putting it up. We are planning to bring the ceiling down to that point to help keep in body heat.

Overall it was a good day's work. We found all kinds of fun stuff like horse shoes and primitive garden and farm tools. A ton of tiny clay pots that I'll use to start seeds in. And building stuff we can use like windows and doors and lumber. We have a better idea of what we're getting ourselves into. I suspect this will be THE spring and summer project of 2009. Anybody wanna come help?