Distractify

Staying distracted and busy is the goal for today. That’s what happens when you’ve been hit with a nasty Norovirus and you have to miss your best friend’s baby shower.

Yeah.

I am so unhappy about that.  Not only did I miss out on cake and fun and seeing Susan in all her giant belly glory, I missed seeing a whole lotta other friends I’ve been missing.

I guess I can take solace in the fact that the puking/diarrhea/fever train seems to have left the station.  Now it’s just lingering hot flashes, dizziness, sensitive stomach.  I can function, but who knows how contagious I might still be?

Maddie had the crud, too.  It’s possible she gave it to me when we met at The Alley Light last Sunday for dinner with our old friend Kim. Or maybe I gave it to her. Either way.

Since the miserable sickness seems to be on its way out I can finally move around and eat, and sew.  Because what else do you focus on when you’re wallowing in shower-missing sadness?

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I re-threaded my serger, figuring I need to practice with it if I’m going to get serious about sewing apparel for myself. As much as I’ve enjoyed making things I’d still put my skill level at novice.  There’s a lot I need to learn about finishing techniques.  And putting together-y techniques.

You know what I mean.

I think my biggest obstacle is a total lack of decent fabric sources locally.  I’d have to trek out to Richmond (okay, that’s not terrible, but I AM pretty lazy).  Ordering online means taking a gamble if you’re not completely sure what you’re looking at. And trust me, good fabric makes aaaalllllll the difference.  Especially if you’re sewing with standard-issue machines, as I am.

Anyway, I worked on a three-quarter sleeve tee shirt today.

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I’m loving the clean edges with the serger. Unfortunately I can’t use it exclusively to sew the pieces together since I seem to be having a lot of tension issues with it.  Maybe because I’ve got the cheapest serger on the market.

Whatever.

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I love this Renfew shirt pattern from Sewaholic for its ease of use and how simple the dang neckline is! I’m pretty happy with how well it turned out, even though my stitching could be better.  I thought for sure when I sat down today that I had a twin needle to work the hemlines, and as it turns out, I don’t. So…….I sewed one line, moved the fabric, and tried to make the next line as parallel as possible.  It’s not bad, but it’s not fabulous, either.

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See? This is the sleeve hem. Not bad, not great. (I did order a twin needle. It’s coming next week).

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The one issue I have with the pattern is the banded bottom hem. I want just a simple, regular ol’ tee-shirt hem.  Again, no twin needle.  What I’ve ended up with is a hem that doesn’t look terrible, but there’s a stretch issue now that’s making it kind of ripply and weird.  I’ll be revisiting the hem on this when the twin needle (and more stabilizer tape) arrives.

I did have a lot of success with Cake Pattern’s Espresso Leggings.  They were super easy to assemble and I had fabric already that I knew would be perfect for leggings (just a standard Ponte de Roma knit from fabric.com).

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I love that they have you put a looped ribbon in the back so you know which side is which.  It looks a little more polished somehow!

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They went together in less than an hour and fit perfectly.

No, you will get no pictures of them on me today, due to the previously mentioned illness. I’m not looking my best right now!

Next I think I want to try Papercut Pattern’s Ooh La La Leggins.  They have more visual interest and look challenging in a very fun way.

Also, I should mention that THIS BOOK has helped me tons.  It’s a great reference for sewing knits, and I need all the help I can get!  If you’re new at sewing knits or, like me, need extra help, I seriously can’t recommend it enough!

Winter Weekend

More snow!

I know, I’m probably the only person on the eastern seaboard right now who gets excited over seeing snow anymore. Can’t help it.  Even after trudging out in it in the morning to put out fresh hay and again for evening feeding (and to knock the accumulated snow off the shelter) I was still smitten with it.

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The kids stayed mostly in their pj’s all day, snuggled on the couch with hot cocoa and popcorn watching Rise of the Guardians and Bob’s Burgers.

We also spent a not-insignificant amount of time watching the cat, who was watching the birds.

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She knows how to keep us entertained!

I was able to get a decent amount of knitting done on my Shepherd sweater. I’ve got one sleeve finished and I’m about a third of the way done with the second. I can’t believe how slow it’s going.  Not that I am a quick knitter or anything, but man! All that cabling really slows me down.

I’ve got some patterns pulled out that I am hoping to get to work on soon as well. I want to make a few more Renfew tops, some Espresso leggings, and at least one more Lady Skater.  I’ve also got some lovely Moda Crepe that I want to use to make another Lonsdale.

It probably won’t happen today, but it’s an exciting prospect to have it lined up.

I’m also toying with the idea of making a rain jacket with Minoru since I will need one in June, because……and here comes the super big news of the year……I am heading to Europe for 15 days with my sister and middle child!

Specifically, we are flying into Edinburgh, Scotland and staying there for 3 nights.  Even in June I will likely need a light jacket or sweater in the evenings.  My friend Jessie and her family will be there at the same time. We are already looking ahead to having a pint together in Scotland!

We are then taking the train to London (where a rain jacket will be a must) where we will stay for 5 days before taking another train to Paris. Happily, my friend Jennifer lives in London and we will be able to meet up with her while we are there.  We are also lucky enough to be able to stay with my friend Aurelie at her apartment in Versailles for 3 nights.  I haven’t seen her since before Oona was born, so I am crazy excited!

After Paris we are heading to Wiesbaden, Germany to stay with my friend Diana, who’s been there for work since August.

I am still amazed that we will see someone we know in each European city we are visiting!

We’ve got our tickets and our hotels in the UK booked and I can’t even tell you how hard it is now to just wait. I’m throwing myself into my knitting and crafting and garden planning  to stay occupied.

Before we get there, spring will come. The garden will be planted and the bees will be out gathering pollen and nectar. And most important of all, Susan’s baby will be here!

It’s going to be an incredible year!

 

 

First Snow!

Yesterday we finally got visited by Old Man Winter. When it was all said and done we ended up with at least six inches, though we were expecting up to twelve. The sheep have been enjoying the colder weather and when I went out for evening feeding there was a lot of sproinging and prancing, even with the snow!

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Wembley

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Alabama

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Pretty McPhee

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Orion can’t allow me to wander the field without being about 2 inches from my pockets, just in case I’ve brought treats out.

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Lyra

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Sabine and Lucy

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We removed the sides of the shelter after the high winds the last few days did some damage, but it’s still enough shelter to keep the hay snow-free.

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The chickens had ZERO interest in going out in the snow.

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The goats don’t much like getting wet, either.

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Yeardley

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The sun is out and it is very, very bright today.

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Lucy’s been enjoying playing in the snow with the kids.

And now I’ll leave you with pictures of Samantha and Roquefort’s nightly post-feeding frolic.

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Sort Of Snow Days

We have had a “sort of” snow day.  We had a dusting overnight and we’ve been enjoying watching the fluffy, light flurries we have been seeing off and on all day.  Though the snow has long since melted into the mud, we’ve been slow to start today, and slow to accomplish much. That’s what “sort of” snow days are about; things like enjoying that the Paperwhites finally bloomed.

 

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And that Mr. Cini is snoozing happily by my feet.

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I’ve also been enjoying my new little llama ornament I got for Christmas.  I have a fierce ache where Jerry belongs, and I love having this little guy as a reminder of him.  One day we will bring home another llama, I promise. Until then my task is keeping this one safe from the kitten, who likes to climb onto the fireplace mantle where he lives and secret him away to chew on him.

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Lastly, days like today are perfect for getting some serious knitting done.

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My Shepherd sweater. Still stuck on the sleeves. Or as my friend Tanya says, “stuck on sleeve island”. I feel like I’ve been working on this one sleeve forever and ever and ever. It’s killing me.  I want to be done so I can wear it. And start THIS year’s Shepherd Sweater!

 

Random Wednesday Ravings

I’m not going to lie. Right now, getting any school done during the day has been a real effort. I have very little desire to keep everyone on task, and they have even less desire to do so.  The weather has been weird, there’s a lot of chores that need to be done (and furry friends needing to be snuggled) that I’d rather take care of, there’s other things that everyone would rather be doing.

Yet we slog through it as best as we can anyway, and hope it sticks. Today I cut Neve off before math because she couldn’t sit still and I sent her into the kitchen to make these:

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This book is full of wonderful recipes for baking that are perfect for Neve’s current abilities.

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It calmed her down, avoided the usual math tantrum, and kept her from distracting Emily. And bonus! She has to measure stuff, so…..math!

Ugh. Actually, no. It’s nice when you see homeschool people and blogs talk about using fun activities that incorporate learning math and science, and that’s great when your kids are like 7. But Neve really needs to be working on more complicated geometry and elementary algebra that she isn’t going to learn from whipping out a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Sorry, unschoolers. I’ve seen what happens when a kid isn’t well prepared for the SAT’s and college. You pay for two years of “Math for Dummies” and the like at the local community college before your kid can even start working on their degree requirements.  As much as we don’t love math, it is far easier for them to learn it young and keep building on it than trying from nearly scratch at 18.  And that whole argument about how kids will naturally learn what they need based on their interests? Also no. Not every kid is born motivated to work on improving their brains. It’s a discipline that for many has to be taught, along with time management skills.  And when at 16 your kid suddenly has to cram an entire school  lifetime’s worth of math into a year to prepare for college…it isn’t pretty.   Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan of our public school systems. But there is a level of base knowledge everyone needs, no matter how they are educated.

This is where my brain is these days. It’s mired in the many things that have to happen each day and it certainly feels many days that we are just getting further and further behind. So we keep at it, knowing that this time is finite, and we will never get it back.

 

 

Chore Day!

I don’t usually sing the praises of warm weather in January; mostly because it’s enough of a tease that it makes those bone-chilling February days seem cruel after the fact.  Today, though, we were lucky enough that it was both a holiday AND the weather was nice enough that we could tackle some more important farm work with Paul home. And BONUS: I had my phone with me so you can see some sweet sheepy noses!

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One of our lambs, Finchley, has been scouring (he has diarrhea), and since they can get super dehydrated, super fast, I’ve been giving him a supplemental bottle of lamb milk.  The dogs absolutely LOVE it.  Here’s Orzo having a bit after Finchley’s evening dose.

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I’ve also discovered that I can’t mix this stuff up in the kitchen if the kitten is around or she will tear me to bits trying to get at it.

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Lamb congregation. They were expecting me to produce their evening food.

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Yeardley and Wimbledon seem to be having a conversation.

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Mabel got moved to the back coop.

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Fairfax is looking sassy.

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Get my good side.

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Fresh bale, delivered into the new shelter……

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….which hopefully can withstand Caramel.

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Check out Perivale’s spotted ears!!!!

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Staunton.

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Perivale.

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Wembley still likes to get all up in your business.

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Suspicious Wimbledon is suspicious.

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We also finally got our Christmas tree out to them, and they dove right in.

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Hannah loooooooves the taste of pine!

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We also got some fresh bedding into the prison coop and discovered an egg had been laid.  Fingers crossed this means we will start seeing some production out of these girls at last! (We’ve been threatening them with the stewpot but they’ve been unphased.)

Now that we’ve had this lovely mid-50’s weather I wonder how long before I’ll be posting super snow pictures!

Winter Work

Now that we’ve finally started seeing some winter-appropriate temperatures we finally ventured out for the weekend motivated to achieve some important farm progress.

It was apparent after last winter that having our water lines partially buried out to the back field was not a great idea; the above ground portions would thaw out in the sun and allow water to flow in the warmest portions of the day, whereas underground saw no benefit whatever from those warm rays. Not wanting a repeat of that this year we dug up the buried hoses and moved them into a different field along with the water troughs. After a long year of wet weather the troughs had begun to sink into the mud, which never seemed to dry or freeze completely. I was sick of the mess, the sheep were sick of the mess, and we were hoping by moving the water we could keep them out of the muddy areas altogether.

After that we decided it was time to install a better shelter against the possibility of freezing rain AND take back the chicken coop that we’d been using as a makeshift lamb shelter.

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There’s plenty of room under there for everyone when they want to get out of the weather – it’s about the same size inside as the run in shelter on Susie’s old barn.  I even put their feed troughs in there. Not that it made any difference at all in yesterday’s monsoon; they would have zero to do with it.  I will probably put their next bale of hay inside both to encourage them to go in and also to help pad the ground a bit with the waste hay.

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We started putting hens from the coop out front into the back one now that it isn’t overrun with goats (there is fencing in front now to keep said goats out!).

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Look at all the room for chicken-related activities! (One of which better be laying eggs, because I’m tired of this egg drought we’ve been having).

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Obviously we will still have to knock off any heavy snow that might come our way, but the pitch of the roof on this shelter will make that far easier than the flat-topped ghetto shelter of years past. Our biggest concern was simply a wind/sun/rain break for them, and I think this will accomplish it marvelously.