Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The enemy of my enemy...is my friend

Ancient Chinese wisdom there.  I'd never seen it in action until...

Yeah.  These two just watch the chickies for hours on end.  They oftentimes sit right next to each other...watching...waiting.

Mine.

You mean...mine.  Scruffy mongrel.

Puss is so moody.

Our cute little coop.  So far the chickens hate the ramp and want to bed down at night in a corner on the ground.  Right.  So, this means every night, I get to crawl in as best I can, grab however many of them I can and remind them that their nesting box is where sleeping happens.  They're all pretty well behaved...except for Starlight who is too wily to be caught.  She gets to make her own way up once the others are safe and sound.

Can't wait for the chicks to get a bit bigger so they can defend themselves against the rabble. 

Thanks for reading!



Heather

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The awkward teenage years!!!

The chickies are getting bigger every time we look at them.  They continue to lose their fluff and their feathers are growing in.  I might have fluff everywhere in my basement bathroom...you know, the perfect place to keep baby chickens until they're feather-y enough to live outside.

Who you looking at?

Henny Penny.  She's the biggest of the bunch.  Look at that long neck.  She's also the mellowest.  She does not mind me holding her.

Loretta. Look at her comb growing in.  Just an FYI, chickens recognize each other by the shape of their combs.

Dolly is growing such pretty feathers!  She's got naturally puffy cheeks.  It's a characteristic of Aracauna chickens.  You can really see her chubby cheeks in the photo 2 above this one.

Poor scruffy thing.  Lilly is half fluff and half feathers.  On the bright side, her feathers are coming in leopard print.  She's such a fashionista.

And finally the runt of the litter.  Starlight.  She is the tiniest of the bunch and the one with social anxiety.  She puts up the biggest fight when I am trying to grab her to go on an adventure...you know, to see the great outdoors, her new coop, or to go back in the box.

Thanks for reading!



Heather

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nightingale...Done!

Any time I can claim a completed project, I am thrilled!  It doesn't happen all that often.  Usually the things I am making...take months.  Even Nightingale has taken about a month.  I don't like to rush myself.  I like to take my time and really enjoy the process.

But, I sure am happy when something is done.

May I present....

Nightingale

I have two iris in bloom...figured I better show them off cause they're so pretty...but only for about a day.

I've given her a gi belt.  Girl's for real!

Don't you just want to squish her face?  Loving her eyelashes and coy little smile.

Sassy little flip-flops!

And her patchwork shell...alright, granted the shell is a little wonky, but it was hard to keep it straight.  I still like it.

Here's how I made the shell...I just sewed together a little patchwork square, cut it into an oval and then I sewed a gathering stitch around the edge.  Pulled in the gathers, stuffed it with fluff and....there you go.  A sort of shell shape.  Then I simply used needle and thread and stitched it on her back.

Don't mess with this ninja.  She'll take you down like she did this flower...the flower had it coming.  Hi-Yaaah!!

Mmm hmmmmm...she's a toughie. 

Thanks for reading!

Shared here:
Feather's Flights
Redoux
Mop it up Monday
create with joy
Blackberry Vine
Mostly Homemade Mom


Heather 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Scrappy Trip Round The World...and me.

I wasn't going to do it.  I have too many other things going on.  No time.  And then a surprise came in the mail, my first ever jelly roll.  It was destiny stepping in, letting me know scrappy trip round the world is in fact in my future.

I would recommend using this tutorial as it gives clear and concise instructions.  Peruse the web and you will see a million versions of this quilt, this way you can find a version you really like.  Many just use scraps.  Which is awesome, because how many of us have a giant scrap bin just waiting to be used.  Mine is using Moda's Spring House line...and it is so bright, the colors really are perfect for spring and summer.

So, since I've given you the tutorial link to make this quilt, I am not going to give step by steps here, but I am going to give you some tips that I've discovered as I make it.

Lay your strips out.  You are going to sew this into a tube by stitching strip 1 to strip 6.  It's nice to make sure these two strips have a nice contrast as they are going to be next to each other in your block.

Iron the seams like this.  You want to alternate which strips have the seams ironed over it...this is for when you are lining them up later, you get a nice clean join.

Once you're done ironing, fold the strips in half, right sides together and sew them into a tube.  This is why making this quilt goes so quickly.  You don't have to cut and sew a million individual squares.

A trick I learned is once your tube is sewn, iron it one more time.  This will help to flatten it out a bit so when you cut, it's smoother.

It should be nice and even on all sides, making it easy for you to cut your 2.5" strips.

 You'll have a 1" snippet left at the end.  Save this.  You can use them as leaders and enders, or as I plan to do, incorporate them into the back of the quilt. I have a vision of a 1/4" strip going across it.  I hope it works.

See, a tube!  At this point, you want to decide which fabric you want to go through the middle of your block.  This will be the longest continuous diagonal of fabric.  I liked to pay particular attention to this so that all my diagonals were different.

Get out the seam ripper and snip the stitches by the fabric you want to be square #1, you are making your tube into a strip of 2.5" squares.

Now you are going to unpick each of the other tubes in the right spot so you have a diagonal pattern on your block.  This takes a bit of concentration.  Here's what I did.  I paid attention to the last square and the 2nd to last square in the previous strip.  In this case the pink and upholstery looking square.  I am pointing where you need to unpick the tube for strip #2.  Directly between the last and 2nd to last squares.  This is because the pink  is going to become the first square in strip #2 and the upholstery one is going to be the last one in the strip.

Now for strip #3.  See how I am pointing between the last and 2nd to last squares from the previous strip.  Unpick there.

I like to lay all my strips out next to my sewing machine.  This makes it easy to know which order to sew them in.  Plus I get to enjoy my handiwork.  

It's important to remember which strip is #1, just so you always sew in the correct order.  Because of this I like to put a safety pin in square 1 of strip 1.  Keeps me honest.

When you are sewing the strips together, you'll notice, because of how you ironed earlier, the seams of the squares alternate which direction they face.  This now comes in handy because they join up so neatly.  Put a pin there and on every seam join, and when you sew you'll have perfectly lovely points.  No gaps.

I can't wait to see how it turns out.  I have been having so much fun sewing it...partly because it's a quick pattern so you see progress almost immediately.

And lastly...a snippet from my spring garden.  The peonies are blooming and looking fine right now.  



Thanks for reading!



Heather

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Because a Million People Can't be Wrong...Spanakopita Crescent Rolls

My good friend Mary, from...

...has reached a milestone on her blog.

She has had over a million views, I know, right?!?!... and the ladies from Inspiration Cafe figured, well, a million people can't be wrong!  So we decided to see for ourselves what Mary's got that makes her so special, and show you all.  And trust me, girl has got it going on!

I decided to make her Spanakopita Crescent Rolls and they were so good.  These have been on my list of things Mary makes that I want to make since...well, she made them the first time.  They did not disappoint.  Of course, I have the attention span of a gnat sometimes...especially when it comes to reading recipes, and so I deviated, just slightly from Mary's recipe. 

I didn't remember to defrost my frozen spinach before hand, so I unwrapped it and defrosted it in the microwave for a few minutes.  Maybe 2 minutes, not enough to make it mushy, but enough so it was no longer frozen.  Then I squeezed the heck out of it.  You want to get as much moisture out as you can, probably so you don't have soggy crescent dough.

Mary says to saute your onions and garlic and then put your spinach in and mix it up a bit.  Well, I mixed the spinach in with the feta and dill.  But it worked out fine.  I just poured my onions and garlic into the feta and spinach and stirred it up good.  You add 1 Tbl. of lemon juice according to Mary, I just squeezed some in.  I like cooking more when I can cook on the fly.  It tasted amazing.  I don't know how much dill or lemon juice I put in, but, as every single crescent was devoured, it was just fine.

Clearly I just had wonky crescent rolls...otherwise they wouldn't have looked so weird.  Luckily the recipe is basically fool proof.  I proved it here.  Mine don't look nearly as pretty as hers, but I am guessing they tasted just as good.  With a little pushing and pulling and finagling of the dough, I got a nice seal around my filling and they cooked up real sweet.

So, if you're looking for something a little different to feed your family, give these a try.  They were easy and fun and a real husband-pleaser.  He even took the couple that were left over to lunch the next day.  They are pleasantly salty from the feta, with the tangy kick of lemon and the bite of dill.  And they meld so nicely in the flaky crescent dough.  I am thinking these as a side dish with some chicken kebabs and a cucumber salad, would be the perfect summer dinner.

Thanks Mary for the inspiration and wonderful recipes and ideas you come up with on a weekly basis, and thanks Mel, Danni and Nat for being in cahoots on this fun secret mission to expose even more people to Mary!

Remember to check out Sweet Little Bluebird for no-fail, great tasting recipes and fun crafts!  You won't be disappointed, I mean, a million people can't be wrong!

Please check out the other ladies of the IC's blogs, and see what Mary inspired them to make...

Thanks for reading!

Heather


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Let's get down to business. Sewing the top...Making a table runner

The time is nigh.  I have given you as much information as I think you need in my "How to Quilt from the Beginning" tutorials.  There are more tutorials to come...but come on, let's stop learning and get to the creating!  The Sewing!  The good stuff!

Wait, you didn't figure out the math?  That's alright.  As long as you have some fabric, and it looks like it's enough, let's just go for it. If you run out...you can figure something out.  I am fan of fake it when you make it.  You can always say you meant to make it that way!

Cut your fabric.  If your table runner is 3 blocks across, you need 4: 1" x 5" strip, 3: 5" x 5" blocks and 1: 1" x 16" strip.  Except for the very first row, then you need 2: 1" x 16" blocks.

1.  Line up your blocks with a white strip pinned to the left side.

2.  Sew.  It's faster if you sew a bunch at one time using the chain method with means one right after the other. The first block is going to have a white strip on the left and right sides of it.  All other blocks will only have a white strip on the left side.

3.  Place 2 blocks right sides together and sew.  You are sewing the 2nd block to the 1st blocks white strip.  Continue until you have all your blocks sewn together in a row.

4.  Press.  I liked to press out from the white strips.  This way you don't see the seams through the front of the fabric.

I like to line my blocks up like this before I sew them, this way I stitch the correct blocks together.

Once you have your row done.  Sew on the 1" x 16" horizontal strip on.  Press.  Again I would press away from the white strip.  I like to number my strips, this way I always know what order they go in.

Repeat.  I line up the new row underneath the previous row.  I include the white strips in it so I don't forgot to sew them on.  

One last tip.  You want your vertical white strips to match up in a straight line as closely as possible...so what I do is: place them right sides together, then I fold back the top block far enough that I can see if my white strips line up.  If not, I shift them over a bit until it looks good.  Once I am satisfied, pin in place.  Do this for each set of vertical strips.  Once everything is pinned where you like it, sew!

 Keep going until your table runner is as long as you like.

Next time we'll talk about attaching the back to it...and then you'll have a beautiful table runner!

Thanks for reading!

For a refresher on my "How to Quilt from the Very Beginning", please Click here


Heather


Thursday, May 2, 2013

New babies in the house!

For a while now, I have wanted chickens, but my experience with chickens is this...playing in my Great Grandpa's chicken coop...but only the first two, maybe three rooms of the coop.  The rooms further back were scary!!  There were all kinds of farm tools, and spider webs.  I clearly have a lot to learn, but I'm eager and willing to do the work necessary to keep them healthy and happy. I do not know anything about chickens, except for what I have read, and I've read a lot!  So....after much persuading on my part, The Mister finally agreed that we could get our own little flock.  This is going to be one serious learning experience. 

The ladies.  Aren't they so fluffy right now.  Fluffy stage isn't going to last long.  I'm kind of excited for adolescence...they're gonna get kind of gnarly looking.

My girls and I named them.  The Mister is now outnumbered 10 to 1, Female to Male ratio.  What a lucky guy.  Want to meet them?

 Lily, one of our Araucana's.  The darker of the two...and a red head.  Fits right in with our crowd.  She should lay blue or green eggs.  Maybe even pink.

Dolly.  Araucana #2.  We got a dark and a light one so we can see the difference in the eggs they lay.  She was formerly Sally...but Mama decided she looked more like a Dolly.  We're turning country over here.

 Loretta, our Black Sex Link.  She's kinda shy.

 Starlight.  She's a Silver Laced Wyandotte and is so pretty!

Finally, Henny Penny, our Rhode Island Red.

Their accommodations.  In our basement shower.  They can have warmth and peace and quiet...and as long as our family follows the rules, hopefully the cat and dog don't make a snack of them.  The #1 rule is...don't open that door unless Mama or Daddy are with you.

Thanks for reading, excited about our chick adventures to come!



Heather
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