Thursday, July 2, 2015

Smith Mountain Morning - Greens [Hrs 0 - 4]

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to create one of your quilts, start-to-finish?  Have you ever kept track completely of the entire process? 

I was feeling some inspiration the other day due to a recent fabric purchase of some gorgeous greens and purples.  I purchased them together with no project in mind, and despite really liking the look of them together, after sifting through my countless magazines and books, Bonnie's Smith Mountain Morning struck me with the most inspiration!  With greens and browns!  I've made a SMM already in browns and blues (as written), but I have also seen it done in browns and greens.  Simply amazing colors together -- like a forest.

The idea of keeping track start-to-finish didn't hit me until after pulling fabrics.  Therefore, I'll be adding another half-to-full hour of time to this project for fabric pulling.  Not to mention the HOURS of sifting through magazines and books for the 'perfect' pattern!  ;)

Hr #1 -- the stacks of browns were pressed and cut into 3.5", 2" and 1.5" strips.  Greens just started...

Hr #2 -- green 3.5", 2" and 1.5" strips cut;  both green and brown 3.5" strips cut into HSTs and TRIs.  No sewing yet.

Hr #3 -- 2" brown and green strips were pressed right-sides together, cut and fed through the machine to start the pinwheel units

Hr #4 -- 2" brown and green strips still seeing action;  pressed right sides together and cut with the Companion Angle to start the hourglass 3.5" (unfinished) units.
These four hours have not all been accomplished on the same day.  Whenever I leave my sewing room, I pop the battery out of the clock and simply pop it back in when I return, even if for only 15 minutes.  ;)
Stay tuned...

If you've kept track of your log-time during the quilting process, I'd truly love to hear about it.  Please consider sharing a link and/or URL addy in the comments for me to peek at :D

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ducks, Meat birds, Teen-chicks and Hatchlings

I know.  I know.  I'm waiting for a quilting post too!  There's never a lot of downtime around here lately.  (and soaping doesn't take much time). ;)   Three weeks into summer vacation, and I've been in the quilting room twice -- maybe three times.  SOON though!  (I hope!)

For the past week -- it's been birds of one sort of variety or another.
Paul has been dutifully working on a quaint lil' movable coop.  Initially, it was being built for our teen-chicks that were hatched out about four weeks ago;  they have outgrown the brooder box!

However, after seeing how big the ducklings have gotten at seven weeks old (!!!), they got first dibs on the new digs!  Even with 'pond' installed :D

Our two older (and only remaining ducks from our seven we had earlier this spring :( have migrated over to the teen-duck area.  They stick fairly close to the teens, but no intermingling will happen for a while yet.  King, the white Pekin, picked on our ducklings and teens last year something awful, so... nope.  No intermingling.  Yet.  Prince, the mutt male, had been one of those teens last year.  He started taking over as dominant 'big meanie' when we still had our female, Angel, this spring.  However, since we lost our last female, both of the boys calmed down and have become good buds.

And Afro-Jack seems happy!!!!  Goofy duck.  If he ends up being female----(?).... I guess Afro-Jackie doesn't sound too bad.

Moving the ducks opened up one of our three ground-brooders.  The other two were housing our cross-breed meat birds.  And it was time to take care of those guys too!

Processing 18 meat birds was a family affair.  I know there are mixed feelings 'out there' regarding posting pictures of the process, but.... really?  I think this is our fourth (fifth?) year now of raising birds for meat;  I wasn't really involved much up until this year.  With a nearly empty chest-freezer (low on chicken, hardly any pork, beef mostly gone, zilcho venison!), I now truly APPRECIATE the fact of having full chest-freezers of meat and other garden goodies!  
These chickens here-- these are NOT EGG-LAYERS!  Good lordy.  I love my chickens that I/we hatch and raise for eggs.  They are more like pets to us than simply birds that provide us eggs.
  
But these guys.  They are like beefers, but only chicken versions.  They are bred to grow quickly.  Quickly!  At 10 weeks, these guys are a hefty size for processing.  They NEVER receive names from us, but we take care of them; feed them, water them -- raise them to grow :D

We waited until week 12 almost to the day.  This is the second (or third?) year Paul has used his DIY chicken-plucker.  Yup!  It's another one of those things that I rolled my eyes at when he purchased all the supplied to make one, but now I see the awesome purpose of this machine!  It makes such quick work of plucking those chickens.

The final outcome after a LONG day of processing?  Chicken!  We didn't weigh the final poundage we processed, but this was one of the larger chicken breasts we raised!  That's just a single breast, folks.  The average breast -- probably 1 1/4 pounds.  We sealed some half-chickens, but mostly breasts, legs/thighs and wings.
And, of COURSE, I made stock and rendered down chicken fat (schmaltz).  But that's for some other time.

Since all three of the ground brooders were now empty, the next day was spent reorganizing all the new and old pens in a new location.    The brooder box was hauled down to the new location for easy removal of the teen chicks...
The new-found freedom for some was too much to resist!  As they grow, they will eventually be free-range chickens, but we keep them safe from predators until they reach a few months old.

Watered and fed.  And it was only an afterthought--- we STILL never took the time to count how many chicks there are!!!!! **forehead slap!!**  In this picture----we're still sticking with 34 as our best guess.  One of these days when we start spreading the flock out, we'll get a good count.

These ground-brooders are roughly 8x8;  after another few weeks, these chicks will need more space, but for now, the new house for the next few weeks will be just perfect.  We attempted to remove Mama from the picture and return her to her coop/flock that evening.  It only took about 5 minutes for her to run back down to the babies.  *shrug*  It's all good.  Eventually, these babies will get mingled in with the new coop flock (Mama's flock) anyway.   

So, FINALLY!  Teen ducks and chicks are happy in new housing!
And just in time....

Seventeen new hatchlings (so far) from the incubator have now taken up room-n-board in the brooder house.  We're keeping track of how many chicks we get this time!!!

How many more do we expect??  Another two have hatched since moving these guys this morning, and there were 35 total eggs in the incubator.   There are always a few that don't survive the hatching process;  always such a sad time.  Your guess is as good as mine.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ginger Patchouli Oatmeal & Honey soap [Rebatch soap]

Continuing on my soap-making adventure...
Some research was done about incorporating oatmeal and honey into soap (it's actually quite simple), and how to naturally color soaps without dyes, clays, or even proclaimed "natural" soap colors.

The game plan...

The result...

Yes, it's quite pretty;  overall I'm pleased with using spices and other true natural colorants to soap, but.....
This screams a bit more like "Spiced Pumpkin," instead of "Oatmeal and Honey" to me, wouldn't you say???

SO.....
A rebatch was planned.
Using the microwave method...
All but one bar was grated into a microwavable-safe glass bowl.  The soap weighed about 2.5 pounds as it entered the microwave.  ONE Tbs of milk was also added.

This is FRESH CP soap;  it was made up two days ago, so the melting of this rebatch didn't take much time at all.
In minute-long spurts, the final 'melting' lasted 4 minutes.
After the last minute, 12g of Ginger Patchouli fragrance oil (a sample from Brambleberry with my last order) was added and mixed well.
OH WOW!  LOVE this fragrance!!!!

Spooning the sloppy mixture into the mold did lend a few difficulties, and I feared a few air-pockets would be prevalent.  However, this afternoon, the unmolding was seemingly unceremonious.

To be cut tomorrow, but let me just say.....

OH MY GOODNESS!  This Ginger sample fragrance from Brambleberry -- nailed it!  What an amazing smell!  By no means is my nose a fragrance connoisseur (is that word used for fragrances???), but...
there's an underlying musky fragrance (the patchouli, most likely) -- AMAZING!!!!  HUGE hit!  Can't wait to cut this and for the bars to cure!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Caitlyn's Lemon Energy yogurt soap [CP Soap]

The craze of soap-making has spread to daughter #2.  Caitlyn had been eyeing up the stash of yogurts in the fridge, and hinted (heavily) about a soap made from lemon-chiffon yogurt.
Who was *I* to say no????

Using soapcalc.com, I kept the recipe small and simple!  
Also, towards the end, we swapped out the Lavender essential oil for "Energy" essential oil.

Prepping the yogurt/water mixture, she learned how to tare out a scale and how to toggle between pounds/ounces to grams.  All measurements were performed in grams.  This was an EXCELLENT opportunity to have a mathematical conversation about "precision measurement" (after all, 'precision' is one of the mathematical process standards) ;)

A VERY thin pouring was placed into ice cube trays;  she shares my (lack of) patience.  The thin pours should freeze quickly!  She was mixing as dinner was being prepared;  and we had all intensions of making up the soap after dinner, however... it just didn't happen. *shrug*

Directly after summer school the next day, we got to work!  She was allowed to mix the oils and measure out the fragrance, however I handled all of the mixing involving the lye.  Even still, she protected her eyes with the stylish sunglasses (since I was wearing the safety goggles), and wore a long-sleeved shirt.

Cassie and I had spent an hour or so shopping at St. Vincent's and at the dollar store earlier in the day.  We scored on a few items!

This lil' container seemed ideal to use as a soap mold (for only $0.65!).
Now that we've unmolded though... it wasn't such a huge hit afterall.  Perhaps I'll give it one more try and wait another 12-24 hours before unmolding?  It's rigid, and after some coaxing and prying, the soap released, leaving soap in the small indentations :(

Another score Cassie and I found was this little purple silicone baking mold -- $1.00.  It's a bit flimsy, but one of those drawer space-savers worked perfectly as a reinforcement.  
Little sister, Candace wanted to be part of the action as well, grabbed a couple of toothpicks in order to add some texture to the top.

This little batch is a great size to try out future sample additives and fragrances;  super simple with only two oils.  Will be saved for sure.   

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Family and a 'home' visit


Reunion Siblings, 2015
Reunion weekend brought me to the homestead.  Saturday morning began overcast, drizzling and gloomy, but cleared up perfectly with light cloud cover by reunion time.  The size of the party was smaller than in the past, but still relaxing and fun to catch up with family members (immediate and extended).  There really is something about getting older and becoming more appreciative of family.

In fact, how much do I love my family?  (specially, my sister?)  Knowing I'd be seeing my sis, Cassie and I spent Friday morning picking strawberries from the patch in order to make up a couple batches of strawberry jam.  For my sis.  She loves it!  
just a quick taste from the bowl scrapings :D
An ongoing observation with the girls is how TALL they are all getting;  Dad is 6'6" after all.  ;)  Aunt Jenny is getting dwarfed, certainly.  

I don't always make a stop at Hancock Fabrics when visiting 'home,' but on a whim, I drove into the parking lot at 7:20 last night, and left by 7:40.  How's THAT for a quick stop???  These fabrics simply leapt off the shelves.  I can't wait to brainstorm a top.  Bonnie's Pineapple Blossom may be on my list (again!).  Love that pattern.  Or Jared Takes a Wife.  ?
AND -- the best part of this purchase.... it essentially was FREE.  After coupons, sales and gift cards, this $100.00 purchase dwindled to $0.00!  As Andee said on FB -- "Score!!!"