Possum family

Mission Im-possum-ble

If you grew up with Disney, like I did, possums were the cutest thing ever!

Bambi Possum

When we moved to possum country, my image of them changed. We started seeing them on the side of the road, and they were flat enough, we knew they weren’t just playing possum. We even saw one waddling down the street on her own Sunday morning walk of shame. Their noses are pointy, their teeth are sharp, and their tails have just enough hairs on them to make them really yucky looking. Over the past few years, my mental picture of possums changed to something like this:

Vicious

Needless to say, I was less than happy when Peanut brought me….this:

maybedead

Even in the dark you can see its teeth. Shoot! It looks dead. But those teeth look awfully sharp. Charlie’s out of town, so I’m on my own to decide what to do with it. And then actually do what I decide. This is going to involve touching the possum. Did you see those teeth? I know, I’ll post this picture to Facebook, and see if it’s still there when I come back.

Oh, my gosh! Um. It moved. I’m so glad I didn’t pick it up by its tail. That would have left those teeth open to bite me. Wait, I know, the dogs must have moved it. Except they’re now all inside with me. Hmm. Now what? I look a little closer, and it’s actually breathing. I should have known Peanut would bring me a critter she thought needed help. She doesn’t usually bring me dead presents. I guess that whole “playing possum” thing is real.

MovedNow that I know it’s alive, all pictures will be taken through the window. Because those teeth are an active threat. As she starts coming out of her daze and looking around, she really pretty cute. And now that her mouth is closed, the teeth aren’t nearly as threatening.

If I go out to check on her, she might jump on me and attack my face. But it’s cold and raining. I could bring her a towel and some food. That would help her feel better. But the towel will just get wet. I know, I’ll pull something over her for shelter. Like a table. Hmm. The patio table is too big. The kids’ tables are too small. I know, the plastic patio table would be just right, and it’s easy to move.

I grab a towel and find a jar lid to put food in. A little dog kibble with an egg on top should do the trick. I’ll cover her up, give her the food, and bring the table out so she doesn’t get too wet. Maybe if I’m nice to her, and feed her, she’ll come back and visit. We could have a possum pet. That would be pretty cool! Because she really is pretty darn cute.

But when I get to the back door, she’s up and moving. I don’t want to scare her by opening the door. (I also don’t want to find I’ve misjudged her, and have her run into the house and terrorize us all.) I guess I’ll watch and see what she does.

Upandatem

Now I’m sad. She waddled off into the night. I tried to see which way she went, but she disappeared. I put the food out, anyway. She might come back hungry.

Scarf

Peg Loom

Charlie and I have wanted to try weaving for some time, but didn’t want to invest in a pricey loom until we knew it was something we would do. In our imaginations, we would make large, beautiful pieces on a big, complicated floor loom. In reality, we’re very aware that something that large could easily become an expensive coatrack, that takes up a lot of room.

We went to the Fiber Fusion show in the fall and discovered something new: a peg loom. Even when we had our weaving tutorial at Spinners Guild, peg looms weren’t mentioned, so I have to believe other people haven’t heard of them. Then again, if anybody has seen one on a shelf, with nobody using it, you would have no idea what it was.

Loom and pegs

Yep, that’s it. A board, maybe 1″ x 2″, with holes drilled in it; another board, I’m guessing 1″ x 3″, attached to the underside, blocking the holes; and a set of pegs. I don’t know about you, but I would never have looked at this and thought, “Yeah, I could weave something with that.”

Peg looms come in different widths, from about 6 inches to 3 feet. I imagine you could make it as wide as you want, but if it were too wide it would become pretty difficult to work with. We selected one with two rows – one row of big pegs and one row of small – but they are also available with a single row of one or the other.  The thick pegs would be used for something like a rug or blanket, while the thinner pegs would be used for something like a scarf.

Here’s how the set up works:

First, decide how long you want your project to be, and cut your warp strings to twice that length, plus 6 extra inches at either end. (Warp: the strings that are set up ahead of time, that you will weave through) The measuring part can be a little tricky. Since each warp string will be doubled, they will need to be cut 2 feet longer than the final length – 6 inches at either end with each string becoming 2 ends. Since I wanted my first piece to be 5 feet long, I measured my warp strings to 12 feet each. I put two chairs, spaced 6 feet apart, and wrapped the string around and around and around. It may seem weird, but I really didn’t want to measure out 12 foot strings, one string at a time.  After I had enough threads to fill the loom, I only had to make one cut through the top row of threads in order to have 12 foot segments.

Set up

Next, you thread your strings through the little hold drilled at one end of each peg. Our loom came with a threader that the pulls the string through the hole. Remember, the wider you want your project to be, the more pegs you have to thread. Pull the string through until both ends are even.

Peg threading

As you thread each peg, place it in the loom. I felt pretty lucky that my dining table has these handy dandy grooves along the sides. It helped to keep the strings from tangling while I got the whole thing set up.

Loom threaded

Once all the pegs are threaded and inserted into the loom, tie ten or so strings together into a loose knot at the end. This prevents the strings from getting all tangled up while you’re weaving.

Threads tied

The first project I set up took about 2 hours, but part of that was figuring out the easiest way to cut 12 foot lengths of string. I imagine future large projects will probably take about an hour to set up.

Once you’re all set up, find a comfy place to sit and start weaving! The project in the following pictures in going to be a scarf, made from the alpaca yarn I spun last summer. (I used just 16 of the thinner pegs, instead of using the whole width of the loom) All you do now is slalom your string back and forth through the pegs. These strings are called the weft. scarf weavingAs your strings reach the top of the pegs, pull each peg out, push the string (weft) down the threads (warp), then return the peg to the hole. Since the string is threaded through the peg, it will just pull through as you go.

Scarf

When there are about 12 inches left at the end of your project, stop weaving. Push your strings down until there is 6 inches of thread at either end of the project. At the loose end of the project, tie together 4 strings at a time. Then remove the pegs from the loom, cut the threads, and tie them like you did at the other end.

The weaving goes very quickly, and is very easy. There are limits to the designs or patterns that can be done, but it’s a great way to start.

Originally, Charlie and I looked at these looms and thought, “We could make one of these!” Of course we could, but then we also realized we wouldn’t take the time to make one. If you wanted to make your own, I’m sure you could. Just Google “How to make a peg loom” and lots of tutorials and videos come up.

If you’re like Charlie and me, you can get one from Lavender Acres Alpacas like we did.

Lavender Acres

Ray and the Girls

2015 Review

Wow! I thought about doing my annual review, so I started out by looking at my 2015 To-Do list. http://redmonwoods.com/2015/01/01/to-do-list-2015/ I was so disappointed to see we had only accomplished 4 out of 10 items. (Of course, a lot of that was because we weren’t able to move forward with the back pasture. I’m going to move all pasture-related goals to the “wish list”. We still want to expand, but when we are able to access the area is up to the landlord, not us.)

I decided to go back through the year’s pictures, and saw just how much we accomplished this year. Two big events happen in January, which helps us to focus for the year. St. Distaff’s Day is the first weekend in January, and the Country Living Expo – which we just call Farm School – is the end of January.

One of my first 2015 projects was lotion bars. I discovered them at St. Distaff’s Day, and love them. My hands get so dry during the winter, they actually crack and bleed. Lotion bars have a good amount of beeswax in them, which seals in the oils and keeps the skin moisturized for a long time. The are easy to make, and last a long time. http://redmonwoods.com/?s=lotion+bars

0120151029aThe next project was dying alpaca fleece, using turmeric. I dyed a few different batches of fiber, after learning how at Farm School. (My kool-aid dyed, red, alpaca yarn even took first place at the Fair.) For Christmas this year, Charlie got me an outdoor propane burner with a 30 qt. and a 60 qt. pot. This may seem odd to some people, but these pots will allow me to dye large amounts of fiber outdoors.

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We brought in more laying hens, as well as several meat chickens, and 4 turkeys. For the first time, we raised our own meat, and are quite proud that we were successful.

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Rotisserie     Boiling stock Canned

In addition to meat birds, we expanded the garden. Charlie hung gutters to plant strawberries, and built net covers to protect the garden from bunnies and birds. I made potato bags to grow our potatoes and they worked great! The garden didn’t produce as much as we would have hoped because of the drought. 2016 is supposed to be a bit cooler and a lot wetter. Fingers crossed that we will have a lot more to harvest next summer/fall.

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0420151210a (351x500)We also sheared Spike and Tajo for the first time this year. We hired a professional shearer to do the work, but we were hands-on and learned a lot. For the fair, Spike’s is the fiber I dyed and spun, and Tajo’s was spun naturally.

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Charlie also started his rabbit project. The thing is, rabbits don’t always breed like rabbits. We have yet to have a successful breeding. Charlie knows he’ll have to do something to “help”. I’m not asking for details, and he’s not looking forward to it. We’ll see how the rabbits play out over the next year.

Getting Acquainted

And, we can’t forget my pressure canner! I was able to can vegetables, like green beans and relish, that I wouldn’t have been able to do before. I also canned chicken stock from our meat birds.  Again, hopefully our garden will produce more and I’ll get to can more next summer.

Ready for takeoff    SimmeringDone  Jars

We got the city girls up for a visit this summer. It was a totally different experience for them. We really weren’t sure how they would take to country life. They liked it well enough, they’re coming for 2 weeks next summer. I know Shelby is hoping she’ll be tall enough to work the spinning wheel.

Waiting for Cows

Picking Peas Feeding Pacas Spinning

The locals say the floods this year were worse than they’ve been in years. Everybody is drying out, the mountains are getting a good snowpack to get us through summer, and weather-wise life has gotten back to normal.Roof

Of course, the BIG event of the year was the arrival of Miss Riley. She’s a happy little monkey, and Raymond and Reta Jean LOVE her. Reta Jean loves to tell her stories and make her laugh, and Riley smiles, giggles, and talks back. Raymond sings “Ri-ri-ri Ri-Riley Ann” when she needs to be calmed down. Riley always looks like she’s up to something. I’m sure she’s going to keep us all on our toes once she’s more mobile and verbal.

Riley Ann    Cheeks

There were many more project and adventures, and there will be even more in 2016. Through it all, the kids and grandkids were here to keep us entertained. We may be getting spoiled by simplicity, but I go to bed every night thinking how lucky we are, and that life really is good.

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Waiting for Cows Troll Bridge 2

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center

Christmas Curtains

Since we have cats, dogs and kids running around, I decided it would be safest to set up Christmas in the sunroom. We can put anything in there we want, and not worry about it getting knocked over or torn up. And since the sunroom has windows on all sides we can see it from everywhere. Of course, these windows also pose a bit of a problem. It’s December in northwest Washington. Cold.

There is a heat vent in the sunroom, but with all the glass it gets really chilly.  I decided some simple curtains over the main windows might help keep some of the chill out. Christmas fabric costs more than I wanted to spend for this little project. Tori spent years on the stage crew for her high school theater department, and I learned from her that muslin can be used for darn near anything. I could get 12 yards of muslin for the same cost as 2 yards of holiday-print fabric. I have 5 windows that are 32″ x 36″ so this is much more cost effective. A little creativity and I can make this work!

mulsin

I haven’t used my Cricut much since I stopped teaching, but I thought I might be able to use it to cut out stencils. I didn’t know if the Cricut would cut plastic, but it was worth a try. And it worked! (Hint: I set it at the slowest speed, highest pressure, and deepest blade length)

stencil

I originally made single stencils, and used red dye. The dye ended up looking more like rust, and the single stencil was going to take a long time.  Fortunately, I had enough panels for 6 panels, and I only needed 5. The first panel ended up being my experiment piece. Plan B was a stencil with multiple characters cut into it, and red paint. I learned regular acrylic paint can be mixed with “textile medium” and it works like fabric paint, without the stiffness. You can also make larger amounts, instead of dealing with those little dinky bottles of fabric paint. I found the paint and textile medium at the local craft store.

paint prep

I like the way this looked much better than the dye.

stenciled

Once I sewed a pocket for the tension rod, the panels were going to be just a bit too short. I decided to get a little fabric to sew across the top to create a rod pocket, and make it a little cuter. I then zipped around the edges with the serger to finish them off.

top

I’m pretty pleased with the way they came out. If I were making these for something more permanent, I would be more precise with the stencil placement, and take a little more care to make sure each panel is even. I’ve decided the imperfections add to the charm.

Complete

Raymond was more interested in getting the Christmas lights hung, but Reta Jean liked my curtains. When she saw them she said, “Did you make these, Gabba?” When I said yes, she patted my arm and said, “Good job!” Yes, I live for the approval of a 3-year-old.

Supplies:

  • Muslin
  • Tension rods
  • Stencil plastic
  • Acrylic paint
  • Textile medium
  • Paint dobber

 

Gifts

Christmas Eve Goody Box

I love Christmas! I’m going to say it again: I LOVE Christmas!!!

It’s not about the gifts, unless I’m the one giving them. In my book, there’s nothing better than finding the perfect gift for someone. I’m not talking about things that are expensive or fancy. I’m talking about things that are perfect for the person in mind. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s a major dance-around victory!

Gift giving aside, I believe that Christmas is for children. Santa, Rudolph, decorated Christmas trees, holiday lights, fancy cookies and presents under the tree. My goal is to make Christmas as magical and full of memories for the kids as possible. This time of year, I can’t go to the store without picking up a candy cane, or little gift, before stopping off to see Raymond and Reta Jean. And every time they’re excited, and laughing and clapping, and their faces light up, I feel like I’m doing it right. (It’s really not about the things. I want the kids to be as excited about the magic and surprise of Christmas as I’ve always been.)

My dad insisted we get new pajamas every Christmas. He said there was nothing better than getting up early, opening gifts, spending the day with family, then taking a bath, putting on your new jammies, and climbing into your warm bed. And he was right. Our kids got pajamas every year when they were children. Now that they’re adults, if we find perfect pajamas, we still have to get them…Like pizza print footie pajamas for Tori.

Family traditions are an important part of making the holiday special. We got pajamas, macadamia nuts and oranges every year, no matter what. There were other gifts, too, but notice what I remember the most: the traditions.

Years ago, Charlie and I both saw a “Christmas Eve Box” on the internet. The idea was to pack it full of things to make Christmas Eve special, too. The picture we saw looked something like this:Pinterest Box

We decided this fit right in with our desire to help all the kids make Christmas memories. Our two branches of grandkids have three kids each, so our boxes have to be a little bigger. I also had to add some Gabba touches.  For instance, there has to be a fun activity, because I always want the kids to DO things.

The first year, I made a quilt and pillows for each box. I thought the kids needed something to snuggle up with. We also put together pajamas, a movie, a book, and hot cocoa. The activities are things like cookie decorating kits. As much as I like to make things from scratch, I don’t want the kids’ moms to hate me for giving them one more thing to do. I count on kits, in hopes of making things easier.

Amazon has become an important part of the process. When you’re trying to get a different book and movie every year, it helps to remember what you’ve already gotten. Yep, I count on my Amazon history to help me out. They also make it easy to find matching/coordinating/specific pajamas in all the different sizes.

Since it’s been a few years since we made our first box, Charlie thought it was time for new blankets. So, new blankets it is!

Here is this year’s box for the California girls:

Gifts

Contents:

  • Holiday quilt – specially picked out Christmas Farm fabric to help them remember their summer trip to visit us
  • Pajamas
  • Gingerbread village kit – the girls like to do their own thing and this one gives them each their own house
  • Hot cocoa
  • The Little Drummer Boy movie – it was my mom’s favorite and continues to be one of mine
  • The Pajama Elves book – it’s a new one and I thought it was appropriate since pajamas are always a thing
  • Personalized ornaments – they’re not here yet, but on their way

Once it’s all packed up, everything fits in a 12 x 12 box. All ready to be shipped, and opened up Christmas Eve!

PackedCharlie and I have fun selecting the items for the Christmas Eve box every year, and hope the grandkids enjoy it as much as we do. And now, I have to get back to work on quilt #2 for the Washington grandkids.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

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Homemade Homegrown Thanksgiving

Well, we did it. We pulled off our down home Thanksgiving! After doing this, I understand why pioneer women stayed home to cook and clean. It takes a lot of time. Maybe not the cleaning part, because dirty floors and outdoor toilets don’t require a lot of attention. But, boy, the growing, prepping, cooking takes time. Even with electric appliances.

The final menu:

  • Turkey
  • Corn bread and sausage stuffing
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Glazed carrots
  • Green beans and bacon
  • Pattypan and Ricotta quiche
  • Dinner rolls
  • Deviled eggs
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Holiday cookies

My shopping list had a whopping 7 items on it, including spices, half and half, whipping cream, and celery. Yeah, I had to break away from the farm for celery. Not only were we not able to grow it here, but we couldn’t find it at farmers markets, either. Still, not bad. The sausage and bacon came from our friends at R Heritage farm. The one item that was sadly missing was corn. Rats got to our cornfield before harvest. Everything else came straight from our backyard and kitchen.

While it was nice to head out to the backyard to gather Thanksgiving, it was the longest prep timeline ever. Besides the big projects like planting and processing, there is also the daily feeding, watering, and cleaning, etc.

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  • Buy chicks so they will be laying eggs in time (Hens start laying around 20 weeks)
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Green beans
  • Squash
  • Pumpkins

 

Summer prep:

  • Buy turkey chicks (Turkeys are processed at 4-6 months)
  • Harvest and can green beans
  • Process and can chicken stock

November:

  • Harvest potatoes, pumpkins, squash and carrots
  • Make pumpkin puree

Week of:Turkey hunter

  • Catch and process turkey (this is harder when it’s been raining and the yard is muddy and slippery)
  • Bake corn bread
  • Prepare pie crusts
  • Slice carrots
  • Bake dinner rolls
  • Bake cookies

Everything else was pulled together on Thanksgiving.

Now, we missed some holiday standards because I was determined to bring as much as possible from the back yard.  There were no cranberries, and no sweet potatoes, which are my favorite. Next year, we can probably grow sweet potatoes, and some mushrooms would be good. I don’t see cranberries happening anytime soon. Something about a bog, or something.  Hmm. Maybe we could do that. We’ll see.

Christmas is right around the corner, and our Christmas dinner will be as much from home as possible, but I’ll have to bring in other goodies, too.

Thanksgiving will continue to be homegrown, and I’m sure will evolve over the years. It’s not a matter  of having or making MORE. For us, it’s about doing it ourselves, appreciating where we are and what we’re able to produce, and providing for our family. It also reminds us to be thankful year-round. And that’s the very best part.

 

Cover

Flood!

So, here’s the thing. It rains in Washington. A lot. Not nearly as much as people would have you believe, but still a lot. The good news is, the wonderful people who built Washington knew it rained a lot. Homes and roads were designed to withstand lots of water.

Now, that being said, sometimes it rains more than a lot. We’ve learned that we can count on the roads not completely washing away. From time to time they do end up under water, though. One of the roads that washes away a few times a year is the road we take to town. That means we get to take the long way around. It takes a little longer, but it gives us the chance to see what’s going on. Want to see some pictures?

These are all fields and pastures in their regular lives. Not lakes.

Flood 1

Corn Field

Cow Pasture

Cow Pasture

Sheep Pasture

Sheep Pasture

This is a farm on the other side of the river from where we live. Those are 4 ft. fence posts, and the roof of what is probably an animal cover.

Fenceposts

Fence posts

Roof

Roof

To put things in perspective, this is a picture of the river. And not the river. The water beyond that thin strip of land is the actual river.  The water between that strip of land and the road is NOT river. That’s usually pasture, with cows wandering around.

Not river

River

We’re on our road here, and town is waaay down there, at the base of the hills over yonder. See? We’re high above the major flooding.

 

Town

Down to Town

Closer to home, we have a lot of water, but it’s where it’s supposed to be. The “little creek” that runs through the property has turned into a churning river, and the pond is pretty high.

Creek

Little Creek

pond

Full Pond

The farms and ranches here have high and low pastures. This is also a community that doesn’t hesitate to help out. If anybody’s animals are in danger, they are moved to high ground, or a neighboring property. I haven’t heard of anybody’s home being flooded. Even in flood zones, the houses are built on high spots. When roads are closed, there are alternate routes. Most people pay attention, and don’t sneak around the barricades.

Flooding here is pretty cool. It creates extra work, and makes trips to town take a little longer, but it really is beautiful. I may be speaking too soon because we’re supposed to have rain for the next 4 days. But, we had sun today and everything had  a chance to dry out a little. We’ll see how I feel about it by the end of the week.

Roast Turkey

Thanksgiving Prep

The time has almost come! I’ve been looking forward to this Thanksgiving since last year, and now it’s almost here.

I come from a family where holidays are looked forward to. Not only do we like each other, there is never any pressure for things to be “perfect.” I have a lifetime of happy holiday memories, and do my best to provide the same for our children and grandchildren.

This year is particularly exciting because our Thanksgiving meal will be 100% homegrown. (The exception will be ingredients like flour, sugar and spices.) We wanted to do this last year, but underestimated how long we would have to raise a turkey before it’s big enough to eat. This year, we researched everything early in the year to ensure we would be ready.

I went through Pinterest and found recipes that only included items we’ve grown here. Everything looks delicious. Mine may or may not end up looking like this, but hopefully they’ll taste as good as all of these look. Take a look at the planned menu:

https://www.pinterest.com/TracyRedmon/thanksgiving/

We’re hitting freezing temperatures at night, and have had lots of rain in the past week. I wanted to leave everything in the ground as long as possible, but I had to start bringing it in this week. I wanted to show them straight from garden. Now, we’ll have some real before and after pictures to look at.

We have potatoes, carrots, and squash, plus green beans that I canned this summer. I haven’t decided how many different ways I’ll use the pumpkins, but there will be some yumminess there.

Potatoes  Green Squash  Carrots   Squash

The one obvious absence is corn. It takes a long time to ripen, and the rats got to it – all of it – before it was ready to be harvested. I’m disappointed, but I’ll get over it.

In addition to our garden offerings, we HAVE to take the opportunity to use some of the eggs. This is just one of the stacks in the pantry. Carly and the kids will be in charge of deviled eggs. It will be totally OK if some of them get messed up, or if the kids have to test them. We have plenty of eggs to use.

Eggs

And, of course, no Thanksgiving would be complete without the turkey! We got these turkeys as chicks in August.  Charlie knew if I grew too attached to any of them, they would become pets. Matilda will be granted the Redmon pardon. She’s the one in front, and is always the first to greet me at the gate, and follow me around waiting for me to drop something for her to eat. Charlie will decide who becomes Thanksgiving dinner and who will stick around until Christmas.

Turkeys

I have my work cut out for me. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.

Mug Shot

Bird Bullies

I have a theory. Meat birds are jerks! I think that’s why they became meat birds. Early food eaters were probably perfectly happy just eating eggs. Then, one of the birds had to go and be a jerk. It didn’t take long to figure out that somebody had to go. Yeah. Meat birds.

People shake their heads and smile when they see how great our animals get along. No joke. They hang out. They share. They even play together. Alpacas, chickens and ducks, in perfect harmony. And then. Meat birds.

Harmony

My egg birds and ducks are peaceful and friendly. I love the calm, quiet quacking, and the friendly clucking. If you think I’m being overly sentimental, you haven’t spent time on a farm. They’re perfectly happy to swim and peck and lounge in the sun. I can actually feel my blood pressure lowering when I’m around them. (Relaxing sigh.)

Ducks   Hens

By the time the meat chickens were ready to be processed, I was ready to see them go. First, most of them were males. Lots of testosterone, and they all wanted to be Big Bird. My peaceful barnyard was turning into a feather-flying peckfest. At least they were about the same size as the other chickens, so it was a level playing field.

Now, we have these turkeys. I’ll admit it. I don’t like them. I thought I would like them. I wanted to like them. When they were little, I DID like them. Not anymore. They’re mean. When they first moved in, I had to stand guard because they were using their beaks to pick up the smaller birds and shake them. Not cool. At first, I thought they would settle down once they settled in.

Gang

They aren’t quite as aggressive as they first were, but the ducks and hens try to stay away from them. The turkeys peck and chase and squawk at anything that gets too close. If we had another enclosure, they would be put in segregation.

The turkeys were supposed to be for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but at least a couple of them won’t make it that long. Next year, we’ll be doing things differently. There will be a separate enclosure, and all the meat birds will be in there. It will be like our own little juvenile hall. I nominate Charlie as Head Warden.

Princess Layout

Love and the Fabric Store

When I was a little girl, my mom sewed for herself, my brothers, and me. One Christmas, she even pulled a Sound of Music moment, and made me a whole wardrobe of Barbie clothes out of her old dresses. I grew up knowing Mama’s sewing machine was just short of magic.

As I got older, I got to help make my own clothes. I remember as early as 1st grade, going with Mama to the fabric store. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I probably made her crazy. I would spend HOURS picking out fabrics that I felt would work together. And then there were the buttons, appliques, or embroidery patterns for the pockets.

During the last weeks of summer, we would work together in the den. I would embroider flowers, or butterflies, or puppies for the front of a shirt, or the pocket of a dress, while Mama did the cutting and sewing. If I was managing to be focused and patient, I was even allowed to sew some of the straight seams.

I was so happy during those summer days. Mama and I working together to take flat, rectangular pieces of fabric, and turning them into something I could actually wear. It was the magic of the sewing machine. Unfortunately, there were mean, snotty girls in my class who made fun of my homemade clothes. This made me so sad because I LOVED making my clothes. By middle school I had caved to the pressure and insisted on store-bought clothes, like everybody else.

My love of the fabric store never died. By high school I was back to spending hours picking out fabrics to make things. Store-bought clothes were still important, because I was a teenage girl, but I had to sew. Mama helped me make formal dresses, and I made shirt, shorts, skirts, dresses, and tote bags. I don’t know if the mean girls chilled out, or if I just didn’t listen to them anymore, but they were no longer part of the equation.

llama fabric

When I had my own kids, I made clothes for them from time to time. We also sewed Christmas outfits, drama costumes, and performance skirts. I didn’t get to spend as much time at the sewing machine as my mother, but I still got in a couple of projects a year. The best part was still the fabric store, picking out the prints and fabrics I felt would work together.

Squares

As the kids got older, and I had more time, I started making quilts for everyone. I don’t have the patience for little pieces and the actual quilting, so I make what I call “Lazy Gabba Quilts.” I sew squares or strips for the quilt tops, and back them with fleece.

Cutting Strips

Now, I enjoy sewing things for the grandkids. Raymond loves superheroes, so he got an Avengers quilt for his birthday. Reta Jean is all about princesses and pink. I managed to find not only princesses and castles, but frogs, too. Riley doesn’t have an opinion yet, so naturally she got llamas and alpacas. And these were just the summer projects!

Avengers

Princess Layout

Rileys blanket

Over the years, I’ve used Abby Cadabby and Santa Claus. Pirates, owls, fish, and maps. Ladybugs, flowers, camo, and birds. I’ve tried to put together all kinds of colors, prints and patterns.

The women at the local fabric store have already learned my “process.” I find one fabric I really like, then roll through the aisles picking out the rest. Hours. Just like I’ve done my whole life. When I’m sitting at the sewing machine, I always think back to those summers with Mama. Taking those random pieces of fabric, and turning them into something, still makes me happy. The thing that makes me even happier, though, is seeing my family enjoy what I’ve made.

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