Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ice Art- Surviving Snow days

We really have not had much of a winter this year.  We got our first big snow in November, but it melted quickly and we haven't had much of anything since. Just lots of cold weather.  We finally got hit with a pretty good storm on Valentine's Weekend.  The kids were out of school all last week, and on Monday and Tue of this week.  Today is their first day back, and we are expecting more snow tonight.  i would not be surprised if today is their only day of school this week. 

My husband and daughter both had the flu last week, and were pretty much stuck on the sofa.  My boy and i somehow managed to avoid getting sick, but the cabin fever started to set in pretty quickly. 

The week before the storm, i had picked up a puzzle at the goodwill for my boy who loves puzzles. So we pulled it out and decided working on it was a good way to spend the snow days.  The puzzle is called Lost in a Jigsaw II and we picked it for $0.95.  It is not your typical puzzle. All the edge pieces are the exact same shape, and all the center pieces are the exact same shape. The picture on the box shows the puzzle put together incorrectly, so it's not helpful at all. Puzzle must be completed by logic, not by color or fit. Puzzle can only be solved by figuring out the maze. 

It took us three days, but we finished it!!  Nothing like a few missing pieces to make a challenging puzzle, even more challenging.  We all worked on this puzzle, but my boy and i did most of it. It was by far the most challenging puzzle we've ever done. The stone maze path has to pass by each of the animals in the zoo so they can be viewed from the path. The animals have to be arranged so that the predators are no in with the prey.  It's a crazy puzzle, but it was a lot of fun to complete.

  With all that snow came unbearable cold. For several days the temps were dipping down below zero.  The only positive thing about below freezing temperatures is that we can make ice crafts.   This is one of those things that helps me embrace the season, and keeps me from going completely batty. Rainbow ice Lanterns are a favorite. Click on the picture for the tutorial.  You have to freeze one layer at a time, so they take all day to make.  i like to make several at a time.

At the end of the day when all the layers are frozen and you ad the candle it makes it all worth it.  They are just so gorgeous glowing at night against a snowing back ground. 

There are a bunch of fun ice crafts tutorials on pinterest. i came across this one below for freezing water balloons awhile ago, and am not sure who to give original credit to. 

This one is really easy. Add a couple of drops of food coloring to your balloon, and then fill the balloons up with water and tie the ends. Swish the water a round a bit to mix the color up, being really careful not to pop the balloons. We made ours in the evening, and set the balloons outside in below freezing temperatures.   

In the morning we found them frozen solid.  So we used scissors to snip the top of the the balloon and then peeled the rest of the balloon off. You have to do it quickly, because they are really cold and begin melting quickly indoors.

i was expecting the ice balls to be solid colors, but our were not. They had the coolest patterns and designs in them.  

We decorated the snow in front of the house, and were really thrillled with how pretty the looked!  We used really small balloons, so the ice balls were only 6-7 inches tall.  i would love to try this again with large balloons.  The very next day the temperatures went above freezing, and all of our ice crafts melted overnight.  It was a little disappointing, but also part of the fun of ice crafts.

The kids are home from school again today, so we'll be looking for some more activities to keep us entertained.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Variety in the Chicken Coop- Fun Egg Colors.

We have been raising chickens for eggs and pets for over 10 years now. When we first started out, we were given a hen and her three chicks by a neighbor.  We knew nothing about chickens,  and our new birds did not act like typical chickens.  They refused to sleep in the coop, the hen would hide her eggs, and they would constantly find a way out of their fenced pen. We eventually figured out that the chickens we were given are a type of game breed. They have much more natural instinct than the domestic breeds. They prefer sleeping in the trees, they fly quite well,  they go broody often and make excellent mothers.  The three chicks we were given turned out to be 3 roosters, and it wasn't long before we were trying to find a few more hens.  The smallest of the roosters was named 'little brother' and he became our main rooster for over 6 years.  We still have one hen from Little Brother's bloodline, and she is a favorite. 

Since getting those original chickens we've raised many different breeds. i've purchased a variety of domestic chicks from our local farm store. We've had Rhode Island reds, Barred Rocks, Americauna, White Leghorns, D'Uccle Bantams, Speckled Sussex and Black Star production layers).   

 In 2012 i started looking for some of the more unusual breeds. We purchased a second coop, and it came with an interesting variety of birds. They included a Cuckoo Maran, a Polish, a Campine, A Buff Orpington, a Black Australorp. The Cuckoo maran laid the prettiest dark brown eggs and this was the beginning of my obsession with different egg colors and flock variety. We were on our way to having a really nice flock. 

Then in 2013 our house burned down, and not long after our dogs who were incredibly stressed by the trauma of the fire and by us not being around, broke into the chicken coop and klled almost all of our birds.  The only survivors from our original flock were the Speckled Sussex, the Black Star, the Black Australorp, and the little black hen who is a direct descendent to Little Brother. 

Last year we began to slowly rebuild our flock. Instead of just purchasing domestic layers i began seeking out different breeds for the variety and egg colors. 

i currently have too many roosters, but they have created their own mini flocks and for the most part they get along fine.  The rooster is a Black Copper Maran.  He's the largest rooster we have ever had, and the sweetest.  i named him BB King, which actually stands for Big Baby King.  He may thing he's the king, but he's my big baby. The first rooster i've ever been able to walk over too and pick right up. :)   The hens in the picture are my survivor gals. The Black Star, Black Australorp, Speckled Sussex and my little black hen.  Olive, my Olive egger on the right also likes to hang with this bunch.  i also have a Mottled Java who isn't pictured.

Mr. Beardy is our primary Rooster, he was given to us by a neighbor after Little Brother disappeared. i'm hoping that he may be ameraucana, because of that beard, but i really have no idea.  He likes to hang with the wilder girls. This a Campine, who acquired last year. Behind her are two of my three game birds, two Cream Legbar cross and one of my three silkes.  i got the game birds in fall of 2013, when  was just trying to rebuild the flock. They are rather plain looking, but are really good layers and make excellent mothers.   also have two Tetra tint, that are not pictured. 

During the fall many of my hens began molting and stopped laying for several weeks. Soon after the Winter Solstice, my birds began to lay again.  i was really thrilled with the color variety. Many of my birds just lay a light brown/off white colored egg, but there is a subtle difference in them that is really quite lovely. 

i'm loving the egg color variety i am getting right now. From left to right, i've got a golden cream/beige (Mottled Java), light brown (Silke cross), white (Campine), light brown tint (Tetra-tint), Olive (olive egger), Pink tint (Cream Legbar cross) and extra large brown speckled egg (Black star).  The only thing i'm missing is blue and dark brown. The legbar cross were supposed to be blue egg layers, so the pink eggs were quite a surprise.  i had purchased a Black Copper Maran (dark brown eggs) this past fall, but she died before she had even started laying eggs.  

i'm pretty happy with my flock right now. A few weeks ago  purchased a few Black Copper Maran chicks, so hopefully i'll have a hen or two in this batch. i really don't need any more chickens, but i'm hoping to get a few americuanas/easter eggers this spring for the blue eggs. i'm also hoping that once  have blue and dark brown egg layers  can hatch out a clutch of eggs to end up with different shades of brown, blue and green. 

If you've ever wondered how to get olive green eggs, this little chart shows how to get different shades.  i borrowed this photo from the web, not sure who to credit for it. This chart shows some of the beautiful colors that you can come up with by breeding the different egg layers.  My Olive egger is an  F1 (first generation)  i believe. She is a cross between a Cuckoo Maran and an Ameraucana.  If breed her with my Black Copper Maran rooster, her chicks should then lay the really dark olive eggs. If i breed her with a blue layer, we could end up with some crazy colors. i'm looking forward to hatching out some chicks this spring, and really changing up my egg colors. Right now the majority of my birds lay an off white/cream egg. By next year, i'm hoping that the majority  are laying various shades of dark brown, green and blue.  

It will be a fun experiment for sure, and we always love hatching out baby chicks. :)

Friday, February 6, 2015

When did life get so busy? Lots of new work.

i'm in the process of publishing some back posts, so i apologize if you start seeing posts from Dec and Jan popping up. 

i've been really motivated to get back into my crafting this year, so that is where most of  my focus has been. i've been doing a lot of beading, crocheting, sewing and still making a few bendy dolls now and again. i wanted to share a few of the things i've been working on. i sell my work on my FB page, but am still hoping to eventually get my website back up and running. 

Beaded Ammonite pendant. 

Brick stitched mermaids

Brick stitch winged goddess

Valentine bendy dolls with pouch.

Monster high, Clawdeen Wolf style hat.

These are just a few of the things i've been working on.   You can see more and get information about my new work over on my fb page   

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Missing Person, Grand Rapids Michigan. Please share.

Hey folks, this is a childhood friend of my husband.  The photo and information were taken from his stepmom's facebook page.  i'm sharing here in hopes that others will see it and share it, and the family will finally get some answers.  

The search for Timothy Groenhout in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan continues.

Missing since Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.
Timothy Groenhout, age 39
Caucasian male, 6’ 1”, 175 lbs.
Last seen on foot downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Dressed in black from head to foot. Wearing a large black backpack.
Head & beard recently shaved.
Wears a black scarf wrapped around his neck & head.
If you've seen Tim or think you remember seeing him, 
please contact Detective Jeff Bouma, GRPD, at 616-456-3403. 

The 125 person search party from Saturday, 1/31, produced credible evidence for us to continue our search.

Here's how you can help: We need security video from local businesses dated 1/21/15 from 2-4 p.m. by the 4th Street dam & boat launch, Monroe St from the 4th St dam to the Leonard St bridge, from the fish ladder up Front St to the Leonard St bridge. We believe Tim was heading on either of those paths to cash a check at the Mercantile Bank by Leonard & Scribner. The check has not been cashed. If you are a business owner in this area or know a business owner, will you please check security video for 1/21/15, 2-4 p.m. Tim is 6' 1", 175 lbs., dressed in black wearing a large black back pack, head & beard recently shaved. Maybe has a black scarf wrapped around head & neck. If anyone has video that might show something, please contact Detective Jeff Bouma, GRPD, at 616-456-3403.

Please share this post  on twitter and/or Facebook. We appreciate all the help we can get.