Sunday, November 27, 2011

Welcome home

We have been in the Alabama woods for a week... a wonderful family thanksgiving break. We have been welcomed home by our garden with a lovely carrot bouquet ---

...and by our chickens with a six egg day! We have six chickens but they don't each lay eggs every single day, especially not during the darker time of year.... so the getting an egg from each one on the same day is unusual.

Can you tell that I have now joined instagram? Now I too can have cool looking pictures of everyday things ;)
speaking of cool pictures, here is one my sister-in-law took with her phone while my brother-in-law was doing a family photo shoot for us... Even though the kids were being almost as difficult as a two year old and a four year old can be, we still have more great photos than I know what to do with! We are so proud to have t2photography as our in house photographers!

We have much to be thankful for... Even after a doozy of a year, our hearts are full of thankfulness... The good so far outweighs the bad!

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Look at my boy! He is morphing from a little preschooler into a boyish big boy. He has started to eat like a bottomless pit... I'm beginning to imagine how hard it will be to keep enough food in the house for him when he is in high school! I am waiting for him to shoot up several inches overnight and grow out of half of his winter clothes. He is holding his pencil correctly and learning about bullies and girls who aren't ready to be loved...all the lessons of pre-K. And the boy noises have increased. Don't know if I'm really ready for it... The goofy sputtery giggles and so many more crashes and explosions---constantly! Growing up without the constant noise of brothers has left me little prepared for this;) But, I am soaking up all the sweet snuggling and kisses.., I know they can't last too much longer.

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Location:Big boy

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Itsy bitsy spider

YouTube Video

{anna's skirt is a scrappy skirt-- not quite as fluffy as my tutorial, but plenty fun}

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Monday, September 26, 2011

full chicken report

I just wrote and article for our community garden about our experience with chickens, so I am sharing it below... finally a good update!
this is Anna with Little Bird during week one!
Baby Princess is getting some loving as a teenager.... much bigger, but still no comb or wattles. Elisha told me the other day that the reason he loves her so much is because she is so yellow ;-)

our first egg! a lovely blue egg laid by our Araucana- Little Bird.
Little bird has lovely feathers and funny beard-like fluff around her face... this is typical of her breed.
Baby Princess is helping in the garden.
This is one of our Barred Rocks, either Glitter Rainbow or Henny Penny (Andrew wants to be sure you know that he didn't name any of the chickens ;-)
This is the home sweet coop... you can also see our two Rhode Island Reds: Sally and Kate.
So proud of our girls for laying their first eggs!

I think it all started with my mother... She brain washed me into thinking that you simply cannot have a kitchen without chickens. The chickens I grew up with were in paintings or on plates. Years later when I was registering for things to fill my family kitchen it was inevitable that the rooster plates and metal chicken would end up on the list. I little imagined that the sense of home I felt when surrounded by images of chickens in my kitchen would lead me to nurture a little flock of chickens in the backyard of my metropolitan area home.

A friend from Decatur told me about the Chicks in the City: Urban Chicken Symposium , so in January of 2010 I attended the Saturday morning workshop and decided that while I was pretty intimidated, this was something that I really wanted to try. Andrew and I spent the summer planning and building our coop and pen.
We worked on it here and there and finally decided that it was time to get some spring chickens just before Easter this year. At first we were hoping to get full grown birds so that we wouldn't have all the work of raising little bitties inside... but we finally decided that our chickens would need to be acclimated early on to life in our family with two small children and our dog. We bought our eight chicks from a feed and seed store in Roswell.They just happened to have a new shipment of the breeds we wanted at the time we were ready for them. We started with two Auracanas ( a South American breed that lays blue eggs), two Rhode Island Reds( a good laying reddish brown breed), two Buff Orpingtons (an English breed that is very friendly and lays consistently) and two Barred Rocks ( a lovely black and white checked breed).

All of our chickens are known as Dual Purpose, meaning they are good egg layers and have enough meat on them to be good for the soup pot when they stop laying eggs. Dual purpose breeds were in serious decline since practically the only chickens around have been commercially raised and therefore bred to be either enormous, fast growing, fat chickens for eating, or skinny egg producing machines. As backyard chicken enthusiasm has been spreading these dual purpose breeds are once again sought after.

When we tell people about our chickens they almost always ask if we are going to eat them... we hope that someone will benefit from our kindly raised healthy chickens when their job of egg laying is done, but we don't want to traumatize our children by forcing them to eat our pets. As it turns out this dilemma may be more of an issue for us than for our kids. It is amazing how normal all this seems to them since they have been exposed to the reality of the food chain from a young age. I overheard my son talking to his favorite chick, Baby Princess, when she and her flock mates were still living under a light bulb in our bathroom. He told her, "One day you are going to die and you'll get eaten up, but you have a happy life!" Speaking of being introduced to the food chain- my daughter's first sentence was "hawk eat chick"... a truth that she learned first hand! During our flock's first days outside one of the many neighborhood hawks got into the pen through a crack in the netting and left a little pile of feathers...well, we added more netting and thought they would be safe. The next day I heard my three year old son yelling down at the coop. He saw a hawk in the pen and went in after him. He was wielding a big stick trying to "teach that hawk not to get our chicks!" Thankfully, the hawk didn't get a chance to teach our son a lesson about threatening cornered animals. After the hawk escaped the pen we seamed all the overlapping pieces of netting shut and have not lost anymore of our remaining six birds. And now that our hens are full grown they have enjoying free ranging in the yard in the evenings... maybe the hawk decided that between our dog and our son, these chickens aren't worth the fight.

Although I was excited about having chickens, I didn't expect to feel so attached to them. Getting our chicks when they were just one week old fluff balls has really brought out the nurturing mother hen in me. People usually think of petting a soft dog or cat when they talk about how comforting pets can be... well, let me tell you-- having a warm fluffy chicken nestle into your arm and make sweet cooing chatter has been such a delight! And the entertainment is non stop... we love watching them busily scratch and peck around our yard in the evenings. Our dog got used to them early on and despite his bird dog heritage has become a chicken herder. Watching our chickens and our dog slyly steal leftover corn on the cob from each other was more fun than I expected.

Now, I was expecting to be excited about fresh backyard eggs and I have not been disappointed! A few weeks ago I was looking in the coop to check on their water and food when I was startled to see a beautiful blue egg nestled in the bedding by the door. Since we only have one Araucana chicken left I knew exactly which chicken laid that first egg. I was SO proud of her. You would think she had performed brain surgery judging from the amount of pride that swelled my chest every time I thought of her! Within a few days at least three of our chickens were leaving a daily egg in the coop. The only time we can hear the chickens from the house is when one of them is cackling an announcement to the world about the miracle she is about to perform... I'll go down 10-20 minutes later and sure enough, there will a fresh warm egg waiting for me. Chickens really are wonderful pets; you give them your leftovers and table scraps, your weeds and grubs and a safe place to sleep and they will give you beautiful healthy eggs, nitrogen rich manure for your garden, endless entertainment, and they will even go to work in your garden eating unwanted bugs and roto-tilling your plots.

I just went to my first backyard chicken meet-up group and got an excellent book written for city dwelling chicken owners. City Chicks: Keeping Micro-flocks of Chickens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-recyclers, and Local Food Producers by Patricia Foreman is very informative and is great for gardeners. She gives detailed information about composting and all the ways you can put your chickens to work in your garden. It could be the only book you get because it covers all the topics related to small scale backyard chicken raising, start to finish. The meet-up group would be a good place to go if you are interested in starting and want some moral support along the way.

End of the season

Oh! The delight of a late summer beach trip! We are taking full advantage of having young children who can miss preschool for a September beach trip... It was a delightful time. We spent time with some of my family ...

The kids wanted to be with Pops as much as possible. Aunt Mary was a favorite playmate as well.

We got plenty of vitamin d the last day;) as we made huge sand canals and waited as the tide came in to see who would win... E was so determined that he could build walls strong enough that the waves couldn't knock then down.... Needless to say- he learned an important lesson about the strength if the tide.
{anna's dress is based on the free heather ross sundress tutorial}

We had a glorious evening boat ride... Perfect golden light and well timed after an early dinner, so there was no rush.

{anna's hat is great elastic fitted hat that I created a pattern for based on a store bought one my friend had-- maybe i'll do a tutorial sometime??}

And Anna learned an important thing as well--- she learned to swim! Elisha learned a month ago, so it has definitely been the swimming summer! Don't they look like little tadpoles ;)
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Little miss is growing up

Check out the fairly outrageous Christmas dress she is wearing... I went to an enormous consignment sale and - let me say this, we are SET for the next season! I saw the little number she is modeling and just knew that it would satisfy her girlie twirly heart (not to mention her grandmothers and great grandmothers;) I should add however that we did garner some looks as went on our errands.... Because there was no way she was going to take it off after she tried it on!

I just finished sewing her book bag for school- oh my! Can't believe she is heading of to preschool in a few short weeks! She is uber proud... Even though her bag practically drags the floor!

I drew the design on with washable markers (copied from one I saw on etsy and pinned on pintrest- oh how I love pintrest!) then I embroidered it and washed away the markings.

Backside of book bag

I have been working on a quilt for Anna to use when she graduates to a big girl bed... While not EXaCTly helpful, I will always treasure the memory of her helping lay out the squares!

Here she is enjoying a wonderful summer rain... Wish we could have another one of those... Glad we thoroughly enjoyed dancing in the last one we had!
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Monday, August 8, 2011

garden birthday party

don't know why it has taken me so long to post this--- e and a had a joint birthday party this year- along with their friend c... 30 kids in our backyard--- it was fun... no disasters ;-)when i got down lo to take their pic they decided that they should too...

we had some newsprint pots to plant seeds in.

log turned into a tea party spot ;-)

i made some tissue paper pompoms and fabric bunting... loving bunting right now!

more bunting... and initials for the birthday kids.
the bow tie was really easy to make-- i see many more in our future... there are lady bugs on it!
note the cast... luckily she was in such a boot phase that she didn't mind the permanent pink one ;-)... i had so much fun designing and making her dress... makes me so happy!

two and four... wow. how did that happen?!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

263 circles

263 circles have been hand quilted on our queen sized quilt,,,, now I just have the binding! I started this snowball quilt made with Anna Maria Horner voile and linen accents last summer. In february I was finally finished with all the cutting and sewing together each of the 140 blocks... By the end of the month I hope it will be completely finished and ready for a photo shoot;)

I finished the hand quilting on our road trip home from the beach...

I think my little bitties love the beach as much as I do- hurray!

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Monday, July 18, 2011

a few things...

i made a few things for the auction at elisha's preschool---

this was a quick little scrappy skirt and a matching hair bow.
this is a simple drawstring back pack...
i let each child in his class draw with fabric markers on a square and then i sewed them together for the front of the bag. i let each child pick a flash card with a picture of an animal on it as inspiration (i think that helps them focus instead of just drawing scribbles... plus it is always easiest to draw something while you look at it instead of just imagining it...). the lining and the straps are made out of a cute green dot fabric that i got from ikea... i bought a queen sized duvet cover with the intention to cut it up- it was so cheap that it was worth just buying for the fabric.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

hunting for eggs

no, we aren't hunting for fresh eggs in our hen house yet... still a couple more months before we can expect those. i was looking through pics on our computer and realized that i should get some things documented....
easter 2011

it was a very nostalgic easter for me... for the first time my children had an easter egg hunt at my grandmothers house-- just like we all did every year! it was really sweet to watch them and remember what fun i had when i was a child.
i made that cute pink bow tie on elisha... really not very hard to do with the help of some online tutorials.... andrew felt like he was really making a statement by wearing a pink tie... he was curious about what that statement was. i told him it was showing how he could have fun and match his kids(my necklace and shoes were pinkish, so matched a bit, too)... made me smile when we got to church and 4 of his friends also had on pink ties or shirts ;-)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

a winter wedding quilt

for my dear cousin, who is considered the fifth sister in our family. she met and has now married, a man who shares so many of her loves... he is so right for her that multiple mutual friends told her he was the man she was going to marry before she had even really met him!they share many interests in common, but at first their basic design and color leanings didn't seem to have any similarity. this was quite a challenge for me.... but after mulling as long as their shortish engagement gave me leave to ;-) i decided on a design that merges each aesthetic... her loves of rich color and exquisite design is obviously present in the stained glass-esque (yes, that word is also one of my creation ;-) string pieced center. his simple modern aesthetic is nodded to with the more modern square shape of the throw and the gray framing blocks. i love how it is such a picture of the merging and complementing of their personalities.
i paper pieced the string blocks (my first ones to try-- loved making them!)... the gray is mostly linen.
the backing is a gray sateen sheet from ikea... and i hand quilted with gray dmc perle cotton and hand tied the centers of the squares with turquoise. i love to add a little home on wedding quilts ;-)