Sunday, February 26, 2012

New work and inspiration

Dragons!!! i've been having so much fun making dragons for the past couple of weeks.

i've been playing around with the pattern a bit, and decided to soften the face and get rid of the beard. This gives the dragons a softer and gentler look.

i really love the way they turned out. If i would have had the right materials in orange and yellow, i would have made a rainbow set. :) Both of my kids really like the original dragons too, so i will continue to make some with beards as well. They make a slightly scarier dragon.

While sitting around sewing dragons and seahorses i remembered a character from a childhood book that seemed to be a mix between the two. So i started looking around for an image of the Serendipity Sea Creature.

Do you remember these books??

This is my version of the Sea creature. :)

i loved it so much i had to make a second. This time i added a matching mermaid. :) i like the way they turned out, but i'm going to play with the pattern a bit more to widen the face. i think it could really add to the overall cuteness. :)

i've also been working to make a few more family sets. This set is already sold, but i will be making lots of new ones.
Over at my facebook page someone had suggested that they would like to see the family from The Children of the Forest books. Aren't they adorable??

This is my attempt at them. :) i tried two different mushroom cap styles. The first is a hat i've done before, but the second looks more like that hats in the book i think. i'm going to work on the mama and papa inspired from the book later this week.

i'm really getting excited about my new designs, and have so many more ideas i haven't had a chance to create yet. i am really enjoying this surge of creative energy and i hope that i do not lose it when garden season starts.

i've been trying to set up a Vendorshop throught FB, but still do not have it up and running yet. All the creations in this post are sold, but if you are interested in similar items you can get updates on my FB page. i post new work once or twice a week.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New introductions!

Over this past weekend, we acquired a second chicken coop and some new laying hens off of our local Craigslist. Have i ever mentioned how much i LOVE craigslist? i am always stalking it looking for dairy goats, laying hens, old barn wood, solar fencing supplies, hay etc. The farm and garden section is by far my favorite. :)

When we first went out to look at the coop, i was pretty excited about the coop itself. It is a good size, smaller than the one we have, but much more functional and ideal. It has a heating lamp, nesting boxes and heated water dishes. It's really cute too, looks like a miniature version of our house. Kenan is going to give it a coat of the same cedar stain we have on the house, and he has some scrap green tin to replace the roof (which is currently a red tin). i'll post more pictures once it is all set up. It is really a nice little chicken house.

i was also pretty thrilled that it was coming with 7 laying hens. Although we have quite a few hens already, we get very few eggs from them. The wild ladies are always hiding their eggs, and i very rarely find them until it is too late. My Bantam D'Uccle is the grandmother of the bunch. She hasn't laid in a few years. i also have a Barred Rock and Americana that are going on about 4 years and rarely lay, if ever. My Speckled Sussex is STILL BROODY! Poor girl, none of her eggs hatched and i eventually had to get rid of them (they were starting to stink) and she is still try to set.
So right now my only layering hens are the two Black Star hens and the White leghorn. The leghorn lays pretty consistently, but the other two...not so much.

So, i thought some introductions were in order!! This lovely white hen is my girl's new best friend. She is so tame, and has been following Sage around everywhere. She has no problem being picked up and carried around. She is a Delaware and such a sweet bird!

This lovely lady is a Buff Orpington. She is a large fluffy hen, with a very sweet disposition.

This crazy girl is a Polish. They are known for their crest of feathers. The kids absolutely adore her. She is also extremely tame, and you can walk right up to her and just pick her up.

This girl is rather petite and is already my favorite. She is about the same size as most of my wild birds, and has similar coloring, but her patterning is unusual. She is a Golden Campine.

This girl is enormous. She looks almost identical to one of my Black Star, but is about twice the size. She is a Black Australorp.

This beautiful girl is an Auracana/Americana. She has really nice colorings. She lays beautiful blue and green eggs.

Lastly, is the Cuckoo Maran. Marans are sometimes called Chocolate egg layers because of their Dark Brown eggs. She looks very similar to my Barred rock, but the patterning of her feathers is more blurred and not as crisp as on the Barred Rocks.

My Black Star and Black Australorp checking each other out. They look like long lost sisters.

After all of our years of having more rooster than hens, we are actually down to only two roosters. Gimli is the older of the two, but is disabled. My goat Delilah broke his hip when he was little, and although he is able to get around...he just can't keep up with the ladies. Junior was hatched out last summer. He has just starting to crow, and without any competition, he is in hen heaven. :) Here he is getting acquainted with the new ladies. He's been following them around and trying to court them. So far they have not been returning his affections, but i think they'll eventually come around. ;)

The very first day we had the new hens, we were already getting eggs! i'm loving the color variety!! It's been a couple years since we've had any green/blue eggs.

The new birds seem to be adjusting well. There has been a bit of the expected pecking order conflicts, but since the new birds outnumber (and outsize) my current birds they've been pretty much leaving them alone. i will post more pictures of the new coop once it is all set up.

i'm a week behind, but this post is part of the Rural Thursday Blog hop. Click the button below to see more posts on farm life, animals and rural living.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Snow Day!

Yay!! We finally had a snow day!! The snow began Sunday morning, and didn't stop until sometime after midnight.

All of my windows are covered in bright colored stars, hearts and snowflakes, but you can see the snow coming down behind them. :)

We got the phone call for no school on Sunday night. So, first thing Monday morning we were out sledding!! We have a great sledding spot, this is the cow field right across the road from us.

This old farm house is empty. It is the original homestead of our closest neighbors. They now live in a brick house about 1/4 mile down the road from us but gave us permission to sled in their field. There are lots of great hills to sled down.

This was my girl's first time sledding down the 'big hill'.

She had some good wipe outs, but we survived the experience without any injuries or tears.

It's really hard to get good sledding pictures. Most of m y photos were just a big cloud of snow as the kid went whizzing past.

We had a snowball fight!

We even made snowmen!!

We had to fit in all our winter fun into this one snow day. We played outside almost all day. Drank lots of hot cocoa and had hot soup in homemade bread bowls for dinner. We made snow ice cream and snow angels. The kids had a wonderful day, but were sad to see the snow already beginning to melt before the day was over.

"In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy."
- William Blake

Friday, February 17, 2012

Backyard Bird Count- Feb 17-20 2012

For the last couple of years, we have participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count. It is fun, easy, and educational. It also helps the birds, by documenting information for scientists, about the bird populations and where they are being seen. We almost always end up seeing or identifying a new bird each year. Visit the website to print a checklist for your area. You can visit the kids area, for educational games and printable coloring pages.

You can also win prizes just for participating!

We have just started our count, but here are a few of the birds we commonly see at our feeders.

White breasted Nut Hatch. Nutch hatches are really fun birds to watch. They can run up and down the trunks of trees. They are also really noisy. :) We always see a few of these guys around, often running up the oak tree behind the house.

Sometimes we have Purple finch.

We usually have a Red Bellied woodpecker visit our feeder through out the winter. Behind him there is a dark-eyed Junco. They are another really common bird here during the winter.

So far today we have spotted Carolina chickadees, nuthatch, titmice and crows. i have a pair of Pilated woodpeckers that nest behind our house and am hoping they'll make an appearance this weekend. It is always fun to see the variety of birds that visit the feeders each year, for the kids to be able to identify them and occasionally see something new.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Show the birds some love....Bird Seed Hearts :)

Homemade Birdseed Cakes. (vegetarian suet alternative)

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup cornmeal or cracked corn

1 cup bird seed/sunflower hearts/oiled sunflower seeds

1 cup whole wheat flour

* When using cornmeal and whole Wheat flour make sure it is NOT self rising, and does NOT contain baking soda.

Optional ingredients: chopped raisins, dried blueberries or cranberries.

place the shortening and peanutbutter in a saucepan and heat on med. low until melted. Stir in other ingredients until well mixed. Then place in molds of choice. Last year, we made traditional suit style cakes by using a 8x8 casserole dish.

This year we decided to make heart shapes for Valentines day.

This is the heart pan i used for the crayons. It works great for so many things.
To make the hanging heart feeders, we (the kids helped) half filled each heart mold with the birdseed mix. Then we added a ribbon to each one. The ribbon is tied on one end, and we placed the knot in the center of the heart. Then we added enough mix to fill the molds.
Place them in the freezer for about 20 minutes or until firm, and then pop them out of the pan. Place them in a freezer safe container and return them to the freezer until frozen solid (a couple hours).

We made these small birdseed feeder ornaments to adorn our Yule Tree that has been planted back outside.

We also made some of the larger suit cakes. i used a large heart shaped cookie cutter to make these. First, just line a pan with waxed paper. Then we placed the cookie cutter on waxed paper and i let my girl scoop the birdseed mix into the center of it. We pressed it down into the form and placed the entire thing into the freezer. It only takes a few minutes for the mix to set in the freezer, so once the shape is set you can slide off the cookie cutter and make another.
When you have them all made place in the freezer and let them freeze solid (a few hours.)

Now you can set them out in your suet feeders and provide the birds with a nutritious treat during these cold days. Be sure and store any unused cakes in your freezer. These are great for the freezing winter months, but the heat from the sun will cause them to melt during the warmers days.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spin Art Hearts and Recycled Crayon Valentines

We really love to give homemade valentines. Last year, we made recycled crayon hearts and owl valentines . We decided to make the recycled crayons again this year.

These are super easy to make. You just place your broken crayons into heart shaped molds (mine is metal, i've been told the silicon work better). Heat your oven to 275 and bake about 8-10 min. or until all the crayons are melted. Take the pan out slowly, and let them cool until they begin to set. i like to pop mine into the freezer for a few minutes...makes them set much quicker. Once they are completely cooled. You just pop them out of the pan.

We have just recently been having a lot of fun with spin art!! Sage received a Spin Art set from her Great Aunt and has really had fun with it! i remember seeing Spin Art hearts (over at The Chocolate Muffin Tree, i think) and thought they would make the perfect Valentine's this year.
Instead of using paper, we used the small (4 cup) coffee filters to make our spin art.

We made a bunch, and then let them dry.

We cut out construction paper hearts. i folded the paper into quarters, and then cut the hearts. So we got 4 hearts from each piece of 8.5 x11 paper. Here's a basic template if you need one.

Then we cut smaller hearts from the spin art the kids had made earlier in the day, and i let my girl glue them together. She wrote her names and messages on the back.

Then we added a heart crayon to the center of each valentine. i had a tough time finding something to stick the hearts to the valentines. Glues do not work. After a bit of online searching, i found a suggestion for using double-sided foam mounting tape. i didn't have any on hand, and wasn't going to run to the store for it, so we looked for an alternative. Turns out duct tape worked great! i cut a small piece and folded it over and they stuck!! :)

i thought they really turned out nice, and my girl is so proud of them! She can't wait to hand them out at the party on Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Eco Girls T-shirt Winner!

Drum roll please....

Nancy said... 64

Like them on FB: Nancy D_ _ _ _ _ _ .

allibrary (at) aol (dot) com

Congratulations Nancy!! ! i will send out an email later today. You will have 48 hours to respond to my email or a new winner will be chosen! Thank you all who entered!!