Wednesday, December 10, 2008

White Christmas

The boys were amazed to wake up to the Christmas tree this morning. By this afternoon, they had all ready knocked it over! Tate can't wait for Santa Claus to bring him more toys. He has been impatiently waiting for Santa since the first snowfall.

The dogs have been enjoying playing in the snow- here they are along with their rooster friend. The dogs sleep in the garage at night since it's heated, and the rooster must have gone in and slept in the dog house at night. I didn't notice him when I put the dogs in, but they all got along, so I left him. He even went up to the bowl and ate dog food with them.

I have been crocheting like a wild woman, trying to get all my projects done by Christmas. I have always been a procrastinator, I work much better with a deadline looming. I have finished a few things- I only have a quilt, a bed scarf, an amigurumi monkey, and a hat to finish. Here are some of the things I have finished:

Lilac bed scarf for my mom.

American Flag afghan for my dad.

Camouflage hat and mittens for Tate and Sullivan.

Amigurumi monkey for my niece, Samantha, the monkey nut.

Here's hoping I get everything finished in time for Christmas! I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday season. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hamster Heaven

Here are some new additions to our family! We are now the proud pet-parents of three hamsters. Above is Juju, a long-haired Syrian. She was my first hamster, and I picked her because she was running on the exercise wheel like crazy while all the other hamsters slept.

She's really funny and has the food bowl empty within an hour of me filling it. She carries it all up to her sleeping room and sticks it in a pile in the corner. Another corner is for peeing and another corner is for sleeping, with her bedding piled in it.

Then I rescued Vega (above) and Nova (below) from the humane society. They are female dwarf hamsters. Vega is 4 months old and Nova, who is her daughter, is 3 weeks old. Nova escaped from the exercise ball the other night and I about had a heart attack, but she was found hiding in Tate's room. The kids love watching the hamsters!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

From Tate, the construction worker:

And Sullivan, the train engineer:

And my niece, Samantha, batgirl:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let Sleeping Babies Lie

I decided to do a blog post on my boys sleeping after checking out fellow blogger, Jenn's, adorable sleeping baby pictures at The above one is Sullivan, and yes he really was sleeping like that!

Have you ever heard the saying, "never wake a sleeping baby?" Well, if you are a parent, you know exactly how true that is. Not to mention how cute they are sleeping. I could stand and watch my kids sleep for half the night.

Sully can not sleep without his blankie, as a matter of fact, he has four of them the same material so that they can get washed regularly. Though at the moment he has 3 of them in bed with him, which he was very insistent on. He also has two stuffed kitties he couldn't sleep without. Here is the picture of him I took just minutes ago:

He's really growing like a weed, as you can see he no longer fits in the crib sideways without being crunched up, which apparently he likes.

Someday Tate is going to bring home a girlfriend to introduce to me, and I am going to embarrass the bejeebers out of him with pictures of him as a child, especially the above one of him sleeping in the car with a Barbie head. ;)

Tate likes to sleep with furry stuffed animals, though he is starting to get away from that a little. He has been getting by with just one, instead of 3 or more he usually has. His three favorites are Josie, a black & white Shih Tzu just like our real one by the same name; House, a stuffed Yorkie he named himself; and Kolby, a gold & white Shih Tzu just like our real Kolby.

Sometimes, our real dogs have stood in for the stuffed ones. Most of them don't have a problem with Tate playing with their fur or using them as a pillow.

Both boys suck their thumbs, but Tate is a lot more attached to his. Once the thumb is in the mouth, nothing will do but sleep, no matter where he may be.

Here he is tonight, with his beloved Kasey Kahne pillow I made him. Out like a light!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall Splendor in Clayton County

Fall is definitely here! We took a little roadtrip through Clayton County last week to check out the leaves. Every view was picturesque- this is just a small sampling of my pictures from that day.

Tate and Sullivan had fun looking at trees, rivers, and trains. I was of course on the lookout for fossil-collecting sites. I knew of some road cuts near Millville which I scoped out on the way by. I also found several washed-out places that might be good collecting.

The past couple nights have gotten pretty chilly, so the leaves have been falling like crazy. It's a good thing we took this trip last week! I haven't been able to spend as much time outside with it getting colder, because of the kids, but I have managed to hike and fossil-collect while keeping the kids occupied when cutting firewood.

We are getting quite a supply of wood built up for the winter. I am starting to get tired of loading firewood, but it's good exercise! We had the cement poured for the wood burner and the chunk of sidewalk Joe had to break up to trench for the pipe. We had a fun time trying to keep the kids, dogs, cats, and chickens out of the cement!

The sidewalk now has little cat and dog paw prints across it, but it's really cute, so I left it. The kids put their footprints on the slab for the wood stove, which made Sullivan cry, of course. :)

I hope you enjoyed my autumn pictures of Clayton County, Iowa!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Clinging to Summer

I do not want summer to end! I have been spending as much time outside as I possibly can to enjoy the weather and scenery before it's cold and snowy. Yikes! I don't even want to think about snow yet! The picture above I took at Backbone State Park in Delaware County, Iowa. I have been obsessed lately with rocks and fossils and living in northeastern Iowa gives me a great opportunity to study the Hopkinton Formation- Backbone in particular being a great place to observe the karst terrain, such as caves and springs. You can learn more about Backbone State Park and the Hopkinton Formation here:

Another project I have been working on outdoors, is cataloging and photographing headstones at rural cemeteries in the area. I have started with Plum Creek Cemetery, just down the road a couple miles. Once I was finished, I got really interested in the people buried there and have done a ton of research on the people who were pioneers to this area in the mid to late 1800s.

A lot of the stones are almost unreadable and some have been broken and repaired. I wanted to get pictures before they are completely unreadable and for people researching their genealogy who don't live in the area. I plan to start a blog or site with my pictures and the information on the people I have gathered, but that sounds more like a winter project. :)

After having an udder full of milk for four weeks, Nellie finally gave birth last week. To a whopping four kids, no less. Here she is with 3 of her kids, the fourth was very weak and cold, so I had taken her into the house. She couldn't stand, could barely hold her head up, and couldn't suck, so I fed her with my finger and a syringe and warmed her up with my rice bag. A few hours later, she was walking and sucking strongly, so I took her back to the barn and Nellie welcomed her back. I sat with her awhile and helped her figure out nursing, and now she's absolutely fine!

This picture was taken shortly after I brought her in, so she doesn't look very good. I need to get out and take more pictures, because they are running and jumping and going crazy out there! There are two doelings and two bucklings and they are in a variety of sizes! One of the boys is huge- easily twice the size of the smallest- and he was trying to eat oat straw on the day he was born!

Here's Tate and Annie perched on a trailer load of the oat straw. Tate loves sitting up there and watching the goats and chickens in the front hog lot. He made me sit up there with him the other day and tell him all the names of the goats. Several times, actually! Annie climbs on top the pile every time she walks by it, rather than walking around, she goes over.

Not to leave Sullivan out, here his is with his newfound storage method for food he has no interest in eating. Which isn't very often. The pea fit nicely, but tonight he was trying to stick in pieces of his pork chop, which didn't work so well!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Boys, Cookie, and Yarn

It's been a busy summer so far. Joe and I floated the Maquoketa River from Hopkinton to Monticello- last month we did Delhi to Hopkinton. Someday we hope to be able to say we floated the entire Maquoketa. I'm fried to a crisp and am trying to do my best to stay out of the sun today because the sun beating down on my shoulders and face doesn't feel very pleasant. The boys kept Grandma and Grandpa Picray busy for the day while we floated.

Tate has been loving to color lately. Unfortunately, most of this coloring has been on himself or Sullivan, if he can get him to stay still long enough. Sullivan has become a talking machine, even saying two and three words sentences. His favorite word is still "No!" He just loves to disagree with anything.

The boys got a new puppy. Annie has been depressed without Corky, so we got this new puppy, who Tate named Cookie. She is very good with the kids, and they adore her. Joe was working on building her a fenced-in area, but hit himself in the head with a T-post that broke and had to stop. He had a nice gash on his forehead, which scared Tate a bit. Cookie has been living in the house with us until her pen is finished, and she really likes all the dogs. The other dogs don't really care about her, except Zoie, who loves to play with her.

I have been working on yarn-dyeing and jewelry for my etsy shop. I also listed most of my vintage clothing collection, because with two kids now, I really don't have the space. Also because of having two kids, I don't fit into most of it anymore anyway. :)

I used Wilton's food coloring for the skein of yarn above. My inspiration was jewel tones, and it turned out exactly as I imagined it.

These yarns are available at my etsy shop at check it out!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Plum Creek Creations

I have recently opened an etsy shop called Plum Creek Creations which you can visit at I have been busy creating jewelry for the shop lately and have been having a blast doing it! My beads and wire and findings have actually pretty much taken over the living room!

Rainbow Reverie available in my etsy shop for $19

I'm not sure where my ideas are coming from, sometimes I just see a bead I like and design around it. Sometimes I pick a color or two and go from there. Tate loves looking at all the beads and seeing the finished jewelry. I may have a budding designer on my hands, as long as he didn't inherit his dad's colorblindness!

Imperial Elegance available in my etsy shop for $19

All this jewelry-making has put all other works-in-progress to a standstill. I haven't crocheted in quite awhile, but I really need to get back to it, as I have several ideas for Christmas gifts. It's kind of difficult to believe how quickly the holiday season has been sneaking up, with the high temperatures we have been having.

Earth Goddess available in my etsy shop for $19

Things have been so busy around here lately. Cleaning up from the floods and doing a lot of refencing is most of it. Three baby goats have been born in the last few weeks, and a couple does are due any time now. Helga had a boy, named Nitro, and Hester had a boy, Wrangler, and a girl, Cherokee. I have to get out and take some pictures!

Springtime Fantasy available in my etsy shop for $19

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Idyllic Iowa

Joe, the kids, and I took a drive today in the Jeep and I couldn't resist taking some pictures of these cows. They looked so content to ramble around the hillside. Tate loved the brown calf and keeps asking where it went. Tate was the reason we stopped in the first place, as he was worming his way out of his seatbelt and we had to stop the vehicle to get him to put it back on.

Joe thought Tate was talking about the cream-colored cow, because he was asking "Es bloun cow go, Mama?" and Joe interpreted it as "blonde cow." Tate loves riding in the Jeep, even more so today because Joe took the windows out so we could all see better.

There have been some beautiful sunsets lately and I have been quick enough with my camera to capture some of them. It's nice to have had mainly clear skies for about the past week. Things are finally starting to dry out!

With the warm weather finally here, I have been working on shaving the Shih Tzus fur. Chester looks so handsome with his fresh haircut-he probably feels a lot better, being a black dog. So far I have Chester and Kolby finished, and Bailey almost done. So that just leaves Josie, Daisy, Violet, and Zoie.

I finally figured out where Big Stripe's litter of kittens under the trailer is. I found a hole in the plastic that holds the insulation, so I took my camera and stuck it in the hole and took a picture. Sure enough, I saw a kitten, so I stuck Big Stripe up there to get all the kittens to come out and took some more pictures. As far as I could tell, there are 3. She has started moving them to the barn today; I saw 2 of them down there and actually caught and pet one of them, who tried and tried to bite and scratch me, but eventually he calmed down a bit.

I have also really gotten into dyeing my own yarn with Kool-Aid. I bought a bunch of undyed wool for socks, and also some worsted weight, and I have been doing some experimenting. It is really easy to do and nearly impossible to screw up. The pink with bits of green is to make something for myself, though I don't know what, yet. The blue, orange, and green is to knit some socks for the boys. Now if I could just stop dyeing more yarn and actually knit or crochet with the stuff I have done :)