Saturday, April 30, 2016

Doll making Journey- April

At the beginning of the year i decided to finally put my focus into my dolls and commit to making and selling them. It's really been a process and a long time coming. i dealt with some insecurity issues, and problems with the pattern but have finally created a pattern that i am really happy with and am creating doll that i'm confident selling. 

River was the first to sell.  The mama that purchased her wanted to sweater and extra outfit, plus owl hat and bag. i was so pleased with it all. She just came out amazing, it was very hard to let her go. i truly become quite attached to these dolls. i know she was heading to a wonderful home and i'm sure the family that received her loves her as much as i do. 

"She arrived!!!! Oh my god, she's even more beautiful and amazing than the beautiful photos. Tree, you are not charging enough. I don't know how you do it. All the details on the doll herself and then the flowers on the shoes, the beaded necklace!!!! Melody is so happy and she loves her soo much. Oh, the underwear!!"

This is why i love to make dolls.

So, what did i do with the money i earned from my first doll sale? Bought more materials of course!! i order from which is out of Ann Arbor Michigan, my old stomping ground. :)  i grew up in a town just south of Ann Arbor. 

i'm a disappointed that they are discontinuing their organic interlock knit. i still have some of the peach/blush and i purchased a few yards of the tan, but they are selling out quick and won't be restocking it. i'm not sure where else to purchase the organic, but i'm going to keep looking. i wanted some other skin tones, so i also bought some of the mocha and cocoa fabric.  i love the mohair boucle yarn and picked up several different colors of that as well.  Doll making supplies are very exciting! i can't wait to make some beautiful dolls!

i currently have lots of doll parts, dresses, sweaters and shoes made up and ready to go.  i can sew these parts pretty quickly, but the actually construction of the dolls takes a good amount of time, and then the finishing takes even longer. Sometimes the finished dolls sit around for a week or two before i have a vision of who they are and then am able to pick the outfit and accessories that bring out their personality. i have several that have been sitting here for over a month, just waiting patiently for the perfect sweater or bag. i love the process of figuring them out, and really am not in a hurry to finish them. It will happen, everything in it's own time.

i recently finished and sold my second doll.  i had named her Juniper, but the mama that purchased her requested a name change to Luna.   So this is Luna, although i still think of her as Juniper. :) 

 i made several sweaters before deciding on this one. i was afraid the purple was too much with her purple hair. The wooden tree branch button helps to bring some of the brown into it, and the headband is made from the same fabric of her dress and breaks up all the purple from her hair.

Of course now i'm totally in love with her. She is a little bit spunky, care-free and fun-loving. She loves to gather fresh herbs and wildflowers.

She is made with the organic cotton knit, stuffed with clean carded wool and her hair is a wool/mohair blend. She's wearing a batik dress with matching headband and purple tie dyed bloomers. Her bag and shoes are eco-fi felt.

i would really like to eventually start using the wool felt for the shoes and bags. i bought some felt sheets a few years ago and they were too thick to use.  Perhaps the next time i put in a supply order i'll get a few sheets from Weirdolls to see if it works better than the stuff i had before.

This is the latest girl i'm working on. She is quite hobbity looking. i named her Molly, because something about her she reminds me of  Molly Weasley.  i gave her a skirt instead of bloomers, but think i may change it to a patchwork skirt instead of the solid green. She is very earthy, and will have a bag with trees or leaves on it. Still working through the process, but eager to see her personality emerge. 

With spring here, i'm having a bit of trouble staying focused on the dolls. So much garden work to do, butterflies to chase and birds to watch. :)  i cherish the rainy days though, and do as much sewing as i can on those days. i'm still feeling very good about the direction i'm heading with these, and am excited to keep creating! By adding a beaded necklace and crocheted sweater to each doll, i'm able to continue sewing, beading and crocheting and don't feel completely limited to one craft. i really feel in my heart like this is what i was meant to be doing. 

Be a Butterfly Hero- free Milkweed seeds from National Wildlife Federation

National Wildlife Federation is offering free butterfly kits again this year! 

Be a Butterfly Hero

Monarch butterflies need our help. Join the National Wildlife Federation and help plant monarch butterfly food so we can continue to enjoy these iconic butterflies. Pledge now to be a Butterfly Hero and plant a garden that provides food, water and places for monarchs to lay their eggs.

How to pledge

Enter your photo on our Butterfly Heroes Pledge of you, your family, or your community making the American Sign Language sign for butterfly. The sign for butterfly is made by linking your thumbs and crossing your two hands in front of you at the wrists with your palms facing you.

The Kit

Once you have taken the pledge to be a Butterfly Hero, you will receive your Butterfly Garden Starter Packet. In this kit you will find:
  • Seed packet with native milkweed or a flowering nectar plant
    • Monarchs drink nectar from flowers and their caterpillars eat only milkweed
  • A list of milkweed and nectar plants native to your region
    • Ask your garden center for the best plants on our list to add to your garden
  • Ranger Rick Wildlife Notebook
    • Observe your garden and the butterflies, caterpillars, and other wildlife that make it their new home!
After receiving your kit, check out our Learning to Garden page to get helpful tips on starting your wildlife garden! For example, be sure to plant your seed packet in a sunny spot with some protection from the wind. Use your Ranger Rick notebook to make notes on the wildlife in your garden and the types of caterpillars your garden attracts. Your butterfly garden seeds will sprout in the spring, grow in summer and fall, and then come back next year! Share a photo of your garden on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

reblogged from 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Apalus Magnetic Screen Door- Product review

Last week my husband got the green house all set up and i have already filled it with seed trays and plant starts. He built a raised on one side, and a garden bench in the back. i'm completely in love with it!  He showed me how to open the vents at the top to help adjust the temperature, but it still gets really warm in there! i put the temperature gauge in it, and it's been averaging around 110 degrees.  i needed to be able to keep the doors open, but i knew that if i did that the chickens would get in there and tear up my plants. i'm also trying to avoid a lot of the insect pests that plague many of my garden veggies, so leaving the door pen without some kind of a screen just wasn't an option.

My husband and i were discussing what we could use as a screen when i received an offer to try out the Apalus Magnetic Screen Door. After reading the reviews and description on the site, i thought it might be just what i was looking for!  According to the product description

  • Minutes install and instant remove, no tools required. Size 36"X83"(90x210CM), fits doors up to 34"X82" (86x208CM)
  • Powerful magnetics perfect gap free seal, 16 magnets sewn in the reinforced seam
  • Toughest mesh keep bugs out and let fresh air in, strong durable best quality polyester flying mesh
  • Sewn in strong velcro along the frame, extra push pins are provided, strong enough for years traffic
  • Walk through hands free, Pets enter & exit freely

Above is what i received. It's the magnetic screen door, with velcro strips and tacks. There were no instructions included in the box, but it's pretty self explanatory and there are full instructions with pictures on the Amazon page. 

As you can see, it's very easy to install. Just affix the velcro to the door frame, you can use the tacks if you have any gaps.  i wasn't entirely sure how it work in my greenhouse, because of the sliding glass doors.  It fit perfectly in the center space when the doors are fully open.  i affixed the side velcro to the metal sliding door frames, so when i open the doors in the morning, i just velcro the sides in place. Then in the evening to close the doors i just un-velcro the sides and close it up. 

i'm really pleased with the #ApalusScreenDoor !! It works perfectly for my greenhouse. It was really easy to install. This is exactly what i needed for the greenhouse!! Now i can open the door to regulate the temperature when it's too hot inside. i can go in and out easily with my hand full of plants without having to try and open and close a door. The magnetic strips in the door close it automatically after you walk through. It keeps the chickens and bugs out, but my cat can get through it if she gets left in the greenhouse and i don't have to worry about her getting too hot. It took her a few minutes to figure out how to push through, but she's figured it out and can now go in or out as she pleases. i am really happy with this product!


My daughter demonstrating how great the door works.  This magnetic screen door can be purchased on Amazon for $19.99. It's a nice alternative to regular screen doors, and i love that it's so easy to install, you can walk through it hands free and pets can enter and exit freely.

i received the Apalus Screen Door at a discount ($1) for my unbiased opinion. It really is EXACTLY what i was looking for and serves it's purpose well.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Baby peeps and Broody mamas! It's definitely spring on the homestead!

Last week, we were surprised when this mama hen hatched out 17 baby chicks!!  We had one pass during the night, so we ended up with 16 total!! Wow, that's a lot of chicks! Especially when we were not trying to hatch out anymore of these wild/ game bird chickens.  i've been trying since last year to hatch out a few of the olive eggs and Marans, but ended up with ALL roosters. Even after giving away around 9 roosters, we still have too many roosters. So this year i was not going to hatch out any.

My wild gamey hens had other ideas.  These wild hens tend to hide their eggs and then disappear for a while. We never really know whether a predator got them, until 21 days has passed.  They either reappear with a clutch of chicks, or they don't...and then we know they are gone. 

So these chicks are so freaking cute!!  Once they a bit older and i can tell the boys from the girls we'll be trying to find homes for them. 
So, i had three hens all disappear around the same time. This mama, another hen who's remains we found and a white hen who i suspected was setting on eggs. 

My daughter found her a few days ago. She is behind the house in the woods, really hidden well under some down trees and leaf litter. Trying to calculate when she first went missing so i had some idea of when her chicks might hatch, i guesstimated around 4/28 we should be seeing some new peeps.

So when i went to check her Friday morning, i was quite surprised to see this. :)

Yesterday she finally brought them out of the woods.  She's very wild and will not let us get anywhere near her peeps. i put some food and water under the Rhododendrons where she was hanging out.  She has 13!!!  So that's 29 new chicks this year!! OMGoodness. 

Once they get a little older, i'm going to have to find new homes for them. i've been trying to stick more with the domesticated chickens that lay the dark brown and green eggs.  The game birds are really good layers, IF you can find their eggs.  They are so good at hiding those eggs and disappearing for a awhile.

i have one other broody hen, who is actually setting inside the coop in a nesting box. She went broody before i realized the other hen was going to have 13 chicks!  Although we really don't need more chickens, i can hand pick the eggs she is setting on so she'll have all Olive and Maran eggs. i only have one olive egger and she's 3 or 4 years old, if something happens to her i won't have a green layer anymore, so i'm trying to get the green gene mixed into the flock. So i have a few other laying the olive eggs. Fingers crossed i don't get Olive egger roosters like last year.  :)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Around the homestead- April 2016

April is always a busy month for us. So busy that sometimes it seems to fly by so fast that i'm left wondering what i did all month!  This year has been no different, except that we've made some changes around the homestead so we can actually see all the progress we've made this April.

One of the things i'm most excited about is my new greenhouse!!  A greenhouse was on our 5 year plan, when we moved here 16 years ago.  We just never had the money for it, and so it wasn't a huge priority. i loved the idea of building our own, but Kenan didn't have the time and i didn't have the skills.  i bought a mini walk-in greenhouse last year, and it worked really well for me. However this year, a day after setting it up we have crazy winds come through and they pretty much destroyed it. All the pvc joints snapped, and the plastic around the zippers ripped.

So having a real greenhouse is a dream that has been a long time coming!   This one is quite large, 10 feet high and i think it's 10 x 12 inside. It has sliding glass doors, and vents at the top. i need to find some sort of screens to use over the vents and door, as one of the things i am most looking forward too is growing cucumber without those dreaded cucumber beetles!! We are planning to put raised beds inside and a garden bench in the back. i'd also like to get some wire shelving, so i can have a place to start seeds, but be able to remove/move the shelves as needed. 

This old shed was here when we bought the house 16 years ago. Kenan added on to it, to make the glass shop he used for almost 190 years, i think. The shed has been a horrible eyesore in the middle of the yard. At one time it was painted brown, but over time it faded to a rather sick shade of pink.  This photo was taken when during the process of taking the shed down. Kenan walked away for a minute and the chickens made themselves right at home! 

Down it came!  It was a little bittersweet, as this was the last remaining original structure from when we bought the property.  It was also Kenan's glass shop for most of his glass career.  He spent many long hours in that little shop.  Without it though, it really open up the yard and i can now look out and see the goat field, and the kids play area. So it's really nice to finally have it gone.  

Another reason for tearing it down is that we now have a new shed that is larger and nicer. The main part of the shed has a loft for storing hay, and we can keep all of our animal feed, gardening supplies and extra fencing in it. On the end is a run-in for the goats. Their is a wooden platform on one side for my milk stand and a dirt floor on the other side. We are working on connecting the run-in to the goat field, so we'll have a second smaller fence area for mama/baby goats, when that time comes.

Delilah approves of the new run-in. :)  Once it's fenced in, this can be used as a dog kennel for when we are gone for the weekend. i currently have an injured hen hanging out in it. It's a good way to separate her from the flock, without having to bring her inside the house.

So things are moving along. i have quite a few seeds started in my new greenhouse, and this weekend we are working on building the raised beds. i'm hoping to grow a few cucumbers, tomatoes and squash inside the greenhouse this summer. My cucumber and squash are typically attacked by insects and my tomatoes are always plagued by disease, so i'm really hoping to avoid some of that this year.

Spring is my favorite time of year, so much hope and possibilities! The flowers and butterflies have returned, and seedlings are beginning to pop up in the garden.  i'm really looking forward to a productive garden season and truly believe that this will be a good year!