Friday, February 29, 2008

Knittin' and Crochetin'

I have been doing some knitting on my looms lately. I made a pair of fingerless gloves (right) for myself and a pair for Tate. They were pretty easy and fairly quick to make. I plan to make some more, now that I'm getting the hang of it. The only things I had made on my knitting looms previously was hats and scarves- I'm having fun trying different things with them as a lot of people are putting up different patterns for the looms. Way easier than knitting with needles, which I have tried, but never mastered.

The past couple weeks, I have been busy teaching myself how to crochet. On the left are some samples of stitches I made while learning the basics. My grandma is a crocheter and tried to teach me when I was a kid, but I guess I just wasn't ready. I'm really having fun with it now, and once you get the basic motions down, it's very relaxing and enjoyable. My first project is a baby afghan for some friends who just had a baby. Usually people make baby things in pastels, I decided to go a different route and use brights. My babies always loved staring at bright things!

Here it is about 2/3 finished:

I have been working on it several hours a day for 3 days now. I hope to get it finished this weekend. Then I want to work on learning some new stitches, so I will be cruising the internet a lot looking for interesting stitches and patterns to try. I have some crochet booklets from my grandma to look through also. Now I just need to get the dogs to stop taking off with my skeins of yarn and unravelling them all throughout the house and I'll be doing good!

Another favorite craft I have picked up is making Aunt Philly's toothbrush rugs. They are rag rugs you make with an altered toothbrush or else you can buy the tool. On the right is the one I made my sister and brother-in-law for Christmas. You can find out more information on available patterns at I bought the patterns at my local quilt shop and found them very easy to follow. No knitting or crocheting experience is necessary- anyone can do it! I have fabric to make myself one, but I seem to have this problem where I make stuff for others and never get around to making anything for myself. Oh, well, it's worth it when you see how much others appreciate a hand made gift. Hopefully in a few weeks I'll have a bunch more crocheted projects finished to post pictures of, so keep checking back!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Potty Training Triumphs and Tribulations

My son Tate just turned 3 years old last month, and now we are working on potty training. Previously, he would stand at the toilet and pretend, but never went. A couple weeks ago, he finally peed in the toilet, so now he thinks he's pretty cool! He gets a sticker to put on a sheet of paper on the bathroom door when he goes potty, which he thinks is just great! The picture on the left I took the other morning, when he took off his pajamas and diaper and put on his big boy undies himself. One morning when I went in to get him for breakfast, he had his shirt and pants on, too. He even matched, which was very surprising. Maybe he could teach his dad!

At the right is a picture of the morning I wasn't laughing when I went in to get him up. Needless to say, he went directly into the bathtub! He hasn't pooped on the toilet yet, but I am waiting anxiously! His diapers are all used up and he just has pull-ups for at night and when we go somewhere, and undies and training pants for at home or short trips. He has gone potty at both grandparents' houses- next I want him to go potty when we're out and about. He has laser surgery tomorrow morning on the birthmark on his forehead, so we will try there next. Yesterday, he wanted to sit on the toilet awhile, so I saw the opportunity for a funny photo (boy, is he going to be mad at me when he gets older-especially when he graduates high school and I make a photo collage!) He was busy reading the new Grit magazine- checking out the tractor ads, like usual! That's my boy!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Here We Go Again

Another winter storm is projected for Monday and Tuesday. Monday starts with rain and freezing rain turning to snow Monday night and Tuesday. We are in the 3-6" range- just what we need is more snow! The road crews are running out of places to put it! The drifts and pushed snow in the ditches is so high, road signs are barely sticking up. My husband took some pictures of the roads after the storm two weeks ago, we have since had a storm that dumped on us 1/2" of freezing rain and 6" of snow last week.

After the storm we had last week, it took 5 days for the roads to be cleared enough to leave our place in the car. Luckily, we have the Jeep, though it isn't very fun to have to put the kids in and isn't very warm. At least it's there in case of an emergency, and my husband can still usually get around, though he has gotten it stuck 4 times this winter and put it in the ditch once.

The horses don't seem to mind the snow too much, though the ice is a different story- that they will avoid at all costs. I saw them out laying in the snow in the sunshine today and they looked pretty comfortable. I've heard a lot of horses around here haven't been doing well and some even dying because of dehydration when their water freezes so quickly. We bought a stock tank heater this fall, which works very well and keeps our horses' and goats' water ice-free. To the left is Stetson, my stallion, also known as "Big Butt."

Above are Kassie and Cinders. Kassie is the white one and is broke to ride. To the right is Whisper. These three are all mares. Cinders is the oldest at 16, Kassie is 9, and Whisper and Stetson are both 2 years old. Kassie is always the first horse at the grain trough, though the others are never very far behind. If Kassie makes it to me before I have a chance to dump the bucket of grain in the trough, she sticks her head in and helps herself. Sometimes I have a heck of a time getting her head back out again, which allows a chance for the goats to stick their heads in as well. Then I'm in big trouble! If I see them coming, sometimes I am quick enough to hold the bucket on top of my head, which works very well when you have miniature horses and pygmy goats!

Then comes the fun of trying to dump a bucket of grain into a trough while 5 or 6 goats are standing in it, another 2 or 3 have their heads in the bucket, another has it's hooves in your arm, and the rest are standing by to maybe try and knock you down when you bend over. Then you will stumble, usually catching some part of your body on a pair of goat horns, and if you're lucky, a goat will be standing close by to break your fall. And if you're not lucky, you fall down in a pile of manure. Never a dull moment, that's for sure!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Feltin' and Quiltin'

I have been thinking about what projects I want to work on with the cold and yucky weather that continues here. Crafting is the only thing keeping me on the saner side of things lately! Cabin fever is setting in to even people that actually like winter, so I guess I'm lucky to have so many hobbies to keep my hands busy (when they're not busy with kids and animals, that is). One of my current addictions is making felt pins, thanks to Grace's (katmom) felt pin swap on the MaryJanesFarm forum. I had thought it sounded like an interesting swap, and I had tons of felt laying around that I use in scrapbooking, but I had no idea how addicting they could be! The ideas keep pouring in and I find myself with more felt now than I started with, as I feel the need to have each color and shade of felt I can find! Here are some of my creations:

Another thing I have been doing a lot of in the past couple years, is learning to quilt. I love fabric and colors, so what better to use that for than in a quilt! I really enjoy the process of chosing a quilt to make and then going to the fabric store and picking out fabric. Definitely my favorite part of the process! Next comes cutting, which isn't one of my favorite things, but with a rotary cutter, isn't so bad. Then comes lots of sewing and ironing, which I like to do, but sometimes can get tiring, running back and forth from the sewing machine to the ironing board. Next is putting all the layers together and actually quilting it, which I'm still learning. My previous quilts I've done by machine, but I have a huge one I'm working on that I want to do by hand. I have been working on a quilt sampler so I can get the feel of it first. Last is doing the binding, which is one of my favorite steps. I love whipstitchin' the binding on and seeing the quilt all come together!

This is a quilt I made for my niece for Christmas. It has a lot of fun fabric with cats, birds, ballerinas, and flowers in pinks, blacks, and blues. This is the first real quilt I've ever made, and it turned out really well.

I also tied some fuzzy periwinkle blue yarn in the corner of each block.

This is another quilt I made for my niece when she was younger. It was made with different pink flannels and each piece was quilted individually, which made it easy to handle and quilt on the sewing machine.

It is in the shape of a cat and is from Simplicity pattern #4993, in which a bear and a dog are also quilts that can be made. I'm thinking of doing those for my boys. The way my sons like soft things, I know one of these quilts would get lots of use!

Next is a quilt I made my dad for Christmas. I saw this fabric, which has fishing, hunting, and camping scenes on it, and inspiration struck. I designed this one myself, which was a first for me. I quilted it with clear nylon thread, which was somewhat difficult to work with.

I have a few other quilts in various stages of construction. Some I just have the fabric, or just the fabric cut out, and I have one that the top is almost finished and ready for quilting. I am also working on a yo-yo quilt for myself, which will probably take me years to finish, as I usually chose to do projects that are intended for family before anything else!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Miserable Winter

What a cold, miserable winter it's been! With all the snowstorms we have been getting here in Iowa, the drifts have become huge! My dogs all escaped the backyard by walking over the fence and my 2 big farm dogs have been jumping in the chicken pen. They killed one chicken and one duck, plus 2 other ducks are missing. Needless to say, Corky and Annie are now being corralled in the barn for their misbehavior. The goats and the horses seem to be fine in this weather, but they have to be getting sick of it too!

That's Nellie in the foreground, she's always first to come running. She was my first goat and is very friendly. Almost more like a dog. My other goats names are Noah, Garry, Glory, Freedom, Liberty, Helga, Hester, Lester, Cookie, Intrepid, Caliber, Ram, Charger, and Avenger. Plus there's baby Magnum, who is still living in the house, trying to get over severe frostbite from the day he was born and being bottlefed. He probably won't ever want to live in the barn!
I raise chickens for meat and eggs for my family. My breeds include Rhode Island Reds, Delawares, Buff Brahmas, and Cochins. I want to try some other breeds this spring. Last year, I hatched a lot of my own eggs, which was really fun. Actually watching a chick break from its egg has got to be one of the most miraculous things to see.

Last night's lunar eclipse was really beautiful! It took me forever to get a few decent pictures of it, as one of my dogs was sniffing me and putting his paws on my back. Plus it was -5 outside and my fingers and ears were freezing. It was still worthwhile to watch for awhile, but I was glad to get back inside!