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Archive for the ‘Sewing’ Category

Happy New Year!  We’ve had a slow start this year, trying to take things at a more relaxed pace, and enjoy the little things.  Like sewing with my daughter.  On Monday Eowyn when to her first “Friend Birthday Party”.  She gifted a handmade doll that we made together…or more I made, and we stuffed together, but that started her on a quest to make another doll.  Tonight we sifted through mama’s fabric scraps where she spied a perfect Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy
fabric!

We cut a simple shape from the fabric.  Then cut a circle and hair.  She stitched the hair to the face, and the face to the body.  I embroidered.  She and I used the machine to stitch the front to the back.  We stuffed her, and Eowyn stitched the body closed.  We added wings to her back, and tied a bow around her neck.  Eowyn was proud, and well she should be.  The doll is darling, creative, and fun.  Eowyn exhibited great listening skills and followed directions very well.  She also showed an aptitude for stitching.

I have no doubt there will be more doll making in her future.  She already mentioned plans for a doll that has a dress…

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Today was one of the most peaceful days I’ve had in a while, and it was very much needed.  I think one of the keys was time spent wandering around our little farm yard.  Just checking in on everyone, with the sun shining, birds singing, ducks squawking, chickens announcing that they just laid and egg.  Today smelled sweet and fresh.  I watered the seedlings, did some actual work in my shipping room, cleaned a “long overdue for some attention” section of our barn garage…I dream of barns, by the way.

Lunch was a couple slices of some fabulous sourdough bread, brie cheese, Berry Basil Jam and Elderberry juice.  The sourdough bread was made with wheat from Brookford Farm by  Sunnyfield Brick Oven Bakery. I got to meet someone from the bakery at the Exeter Market on Saturday.  She was great fun to talk with, and I got to sample some of the bread she’s made with Brookford Farm Wheat.  I brought home a loaf of the Sourdough, though they were all delicious.  The Brie was from Sandwich Creamery and the Berry basil Jam and Elderberry Juice were made by from local and wild crafted berries from last summer.  A lovely, hearty, simple, local lunch.

During the afternoon, I started a shirt for myself.  I used a pale green linen, and added an antique doily.  It goes very nice with a skirt, that I have, that has needed a companion top for a while.  All that remains is the hemming.  I always find myself in a quandry at this point.  It’s linen, my options, as I see it are:

  • Serge the edge and leave it.
  • Serge the edge, roll it under and stitch in place.
  • Run a simple stitch line 1/4″ in from the edge and fray it.  The stitch line should keep it from fraying more than I want.

I’m really not sure, so I’ll figure that out tomorrow.  I’m working on a summer sweater, that is going to go perfectly with the top, and I’m very excited!

I finished reading  The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love.  I really enjoyed it and think it’s one I’ll read again.  It has certainly inspired me.  It reminded me of the long summer days, of falling into bed exhausted from working hard all day.  I’m even kind of looking forward to the envigorating exhaustion that is sure to come…soon.

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I really never thought that I would ever say, “I am in a rut with my rabbit, and need to change it up.”.  I hadn’t even eaten rabbit until last year sometime…okay, maybe as a little girl I had wild rabbit, once.  But it’s one of the family favorites, and Istra’s hands down favorite.  I usually saute some onions, or recently leeks, garlic, herbs, add wine and stock, rabbit and simmer.  Very yummy, crowd pleaser, no complaints, ever.  However, tonight it seemed so “ordinary”.

I didn’t have time to really dive into the many recipes online, which I will, and fried rabbit is on the horizon, especially since I have a nice supply of duck fat in the refrigerator.  Instead, I just did the same ole, and then made a fun gravy out of the drippings.  Basically, I added flour to the drippings and a couple tablespoons of autumn olive jam.  I  heated until thick.

The rabbit was served with quinoa, and a side salad of baby greens and micro greens.  Delicious.  Everyone was thrilled.

The girls received a very fun gift from Grammy and Grampa.  A clothes line for their doll clothes and a wonderful set of cleaning tools; Broom, Dry mop, dustpan and brush.  The clothesline came with adorable little clothes pins, but needed a bag.  I decided to stich one up, while they sleep, for a morning surprise.

It’s just a rectangle, with a button hole in the top, and the ends fold over on one side.  I put a clothes hanger through the buttons hole.

The girls, Istra especially, really like helping with chores.  The favorites are laundry and sweeping, so I’m sure that real laundry, like socks and underwear will find their way to the clothesline, and the floor has already been swept.  I love these “tools”.  They are solid wood, have really nice, functional bristles. The dustpan is metal.  Very nice.

 

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Today was beautiful!  The weather was so inviting.  I worked outside in my nice wool sweater and was very comfortable.  I pulled the plastic off the winter growing bed, and removed the sadly abused leeks.  The flavor of the remaining stumps is amazing and the soup I made with it for dinner tonight was superb, but they were very tattered.  I did not secure the low tunnel, as I ran out of time, or ambition, or both, in October, so I put some sand bags to hold the plastic down and hoped for the best.  If I had harvested 2-3 weeks earlier, I would have enjoyed some lovely kale, arugula and tat soi, but I didn’t, figuring I’d wait another couple weeks, and during that time some sort of critter had a salad bar.  I was surprised not to see the little fella lounging on his back, hardly able to move from the full tummy, and if my life was a cartoon, I’m sure I would have, but there was no sign of him, or his comrades, when I found the sad little stumps that were once beautiful greens.  Lesson for next year: Secure the top, making it difficult for critters to get to the food.

I harvested the leeks and ran a hoe along the length to create 4 little channels to plant seeds.  I planted Sugar Ann Snap Peas and Green Arrow Shell Peas, two rows each.  I pulled the plastic over and hope to see sprouts soon.  It was so good to feel dirt again!  It was also exciting to see what good shape the soil is in.  It was easy to plant in.

I decided on peas for that bed because they can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked, and can handle even a light frost, but under that tunnel they should do just fine.  They will like the walk to the house which will be nice.  But the most practical reason is they will be pulled around Late July/Early August, which will make for perfect time to plant that bed again, for the winter crop.  The peas will give the soil a nice nitrogen fix, and the bed should be in great shape for the winter greens.  I’m still trying to figure out planting schedules to get the most out of each piece of land, but I think this one bed will be timed well.

Dinner tonight was potato leek soup and rabbit sauteed in leeks and white wine.  If you have not tried rabbit, recently, I really can’t recommend it enough.  It is a very lovely meat.  It’s delicate and has a subtle sweet flavor.  Simmered in leeks and wine, it’s divine!

I also whipped up a little skunk themed pinafore, today.  Eowyn and Christopher are co-hosting a Skunk Zoo Party, along with the great folks at the Barrington Public Library.  Tomorrow there will be a Skunk Themed Game, winner of the Skunk Zoo Coloring contest will be announced, a  reading of the book, and a live Skunk named Stella will make an appearance.  There will be a couple copies of the Skunk Zoo given away, as well as copies on hand for purchase, part of which goes to support the Barrington Public Library.   Should be a great time.  Mama wanted Eowyn to have something special for her big day.

I used the apron pattern from Carefree Clothes for Girls.  Christopher cut out the skunk, from wool felt and I applied it to the finished top.

If you don’t have a copy of their book yet, you can get one here: Skunk Zoo

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My family caught our first bad cold of the Winter. We all go it, to varying degrees. I am happy to say that herbal remedies and lots of Elderberry syrup was all it took to get through it, but the staggering of sickness had us off our game for over a week. Glad to say we are all back to being well, and were so in time for Istra’s 2nd Birthday!

Momma made the little Kitchen helper a new apron, embroidered with a little blonde girl working diligently in the kitchen! She’s happy to wear her new apron while safely standing in her Little Partners Learning Tower.   Her grandparents got together on this one. I was thrilled, because she’s had a couple mishaps with the chair she usually stands on to help, and there is no way I want to deter her, from what seems to be, an inborn passion to cook and wash dishes!

On her birthday the weather was showing all signs of the approaching Spring. Then, 2 days later, the first official day of this new Season was ushered in by a snowstorm!

The Music wall looks so cool, even covered in snow. I can’t wait for the girls to play with that this year!

The Elderberry plants and raspberry bushes in their Spring regalia.

The fence with the branches that will be a lovely trellis for cucumbers this year.

I love listening to the Ducks complain.

Not everyone on the farm complained.  The Rabbits didn’t seem to mind a bit, nor did the litter of 8 kits that are all cozily snuggled in the nest Clementine made for them.  She kindled 9 a couple days ago, but we lost one, at 1 day old.  Not uncommon, and he was pretty tiny compared to the rest.  The others seem to be doing well, and they are starting to get there orange fur.

It may be snowing, but the Arugula Microgreens are doing just fine, inside by the window.

Flowers will be blooming soon, but for now we can enjoy the bouquet from Istra’s Party.

Grammy can enjoy the felted flower her granddaughter’s made with a little help from their mom. Needle felting is such a kid friendly craft, especially with the great forms they have now. The girls made the petals and leaves and I helped with the assembly.

And while the snow came down, we read our new book. The Gardener. It’s a fabulous story told in letter form. I simply love it. I think we may do a little project with the book. It’s set during the years of the Great Depression, and while it mentions the peripheral events, it does not mention the event by name. I love that. The little girl the book follows is a real trooper, and family is so sweetly portrayed. I can’t recommend it enough.

A similar theme, but a very different book, is the The Curious Garden.  We’ve loved that one for a long time now.  It’s about a little boy, who lives in the city, but finds a small patch of Garden.  The Garden needs a Gardener, and though he’s not one, he decides to become one.  It’s sweet.  I love that the gardener is a little boy.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your first day of Spring, whether it acted like Spring, or not.

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It's a sad state of affairs, really.  There is a little fabric store in Manchester that is stocked with bolt ends from NY.  In years past, it and it's predecessor, Lavine's, were bursting with all kinds of amazing fabrics, so many it was hard to narrow the pile.  It's still a great place, don't get me wrong.  There is a lovely assortment of fabrics, especially fleece, but their wools were lacking, and there is no hope for more to arrive, as the next buy is in Spring.  The reason for all this, is the fact that all our clothing is being made overseas, so all our fabric is being cut there too, hence not bolt ends.  It's sad really, not just because I don't have the amazing selection of fabrics I once did, at the wonderful prices; 100% wool suiting for $8.00 a yard!  Amazing.  But it speaks to a larger problem.  The US has given up so many of it's backbone industry.  It's a shame.  They did have new fold over elastic, so I picked up some tutu pink and a lovely steel blue.  A yard of flannel, but no wool.  The prospect of Joann Fabrics being my only garment fabric option is really getting me down.

On the flip side of all that doom and gloom was lunch!  Mom and I were trying to figure out where to eat, what would be the least offensive option, when I remembered an ad, or spot on NPR, or maybe it was an article, I read, or a combo of all of the above.  Republic, a new cafe/bar/restaurant on Elm Street in Manchester!

Republic

Local meats, produce (when in season), dairy products (including cheese, except parmesean), oh my!  The price points were fair and quite varied.  You could enjoy an appetizer or salad for less than $10.00, a sandwich or lunch special for around $10.00 or entrees in the $15-under $20 range, with one meal hitting $23.  Mom and I decided on the same thing, but it was delicious.  Farm Fresh eggs poached in a lovely tomato based sauce, topped with a piece of fried polenta and local mozzarella. 

We had a lovely chat with Claudia, co-owner, about their practices, and how things are going.  They have some great partner farms, that they list on a board in the front (I was very happy to see Brookford Farm listed, as Yogurt supplier), and she told us the story of a farm that they work with that is going to be making some changes to be able to provide a great amount of diverse produce through the entire calendar year, for 2011.  They are struggling with local produce now that winter has hit, but are still going strong with their meats, seafood, and dairy options.  I made a couple suggestions of farmers she wasn't familiar with, that might still have something other than squash (which she still has a source for).  She's excited with how well they did this year, and anticipates even more, next year.

I highly recommend stopping in. 

Upon arriving home, I decided to take advantage of the warm weather and headed to my unheated glass studio.  I've been having so much fun being back at the torch!  I have a couple more sets of buttons to bring on Wednesday, to Spinning Yarns.

I have had a couple folks ask about buying my buttons online.  I am not offering them there yet, but will update here when I do.   My current plan is to add them to my Etsy Store in January, if I can keep up with the demand at Spinning Yarns and online.  I'd like to think I can, but as I said, I'll let you know here, when they are available outside of Spinning Yarns.

 

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My grandparents spend their winter's in Florida now, and Gram didn't want to wait until the end of December to make the trip.  For this reason, this year, that side of the family celebrated Thanksmas.  We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner, followed by the family Christmas gift swap, followed by Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner, including fried stuffing!  Everyone seemed okay with the idea, so this may be the first of a new family tradition.

This means I get to start early, this year, sharing the handmade gifties I gifted.  So here they are.

My cousin got a necklace, but forgot to photograph it…poo.  She also recieved some of Irma, my sourdough starter.  I built her up to be able to gift 1 1/2 cups of her, and my cousin and her husband were excited at the thought of sourdough bread.

Their daughter looked adorable in the velvet bonnet I made.  I used the Angry Chicken pattern, for a baby, as she's 6 months old.  It come out perfectly, and Mini and The Baby will be recieving one soon, too.  Who doesn't want a cotton velvet lined hat, this time of year.  Not only did she look great in the hat, she liked wearing it!

VelvetBonnet
My other cousin recieved a couple goodies.  First a pair of wool/cotton pot holders.  She's a baker, an amazing baker, at that (oh, the pumpkin whoopie pies she brought..oh!).  So with the potholders she recieved an 8oz bottle of my homemade Vanilla.  She also received some local popcorn!  The potholders were so much easier to make this time, thanks to my fabulous Walking Foot for the sewing machine.  It allows you to sew through several layers of fabric without getting the annoying puckering that can occur when you do that with a regular foot.  It's the best sewing accessory I ever bought.  I'm glad to be reminded of how smoothly it makes the process of making potholders go…it's very helpful when making bibs, too.

Vanilla
Finally, I owed her a gift from last year, since what I was knitting for her became a problem, and I didn't have time to recover.  I tried another project that wasn't working up nicely, so frogged it all since the weather was too warm for warm woolies.  This fall, I found a pattern that worked up great.  A nice bulky, cozy, wool, cowl, adorned with a glass button I made.  She lives in Boston, and has short hair, so anything to help keep her neck warm gets a big thumbs up.

Neckwarmer

NeckwarmerButton
I recieved gift certificates for knitting, and book buying.  Perfect. Now I'm going to dream, fondly, of the pumpkin whoopie pies, with the cream cheese filling, that my cousin let me take a half dozen home…I'm only going to dream of them, because I'm quite full!  But, they are in my fridge for tomorrow.  Happy Thanksmas!

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