Crazy Party Weekend

I haven’t had a weekend this packed with events in a while.  Usually we’re only busy with chores, but this time there was acutual fun to be had.  We have several birthdays to thank for this.

First, my friend Amy’s kids all had birthdays this month and so they threw a wild Mexican- themed fiesta Saturday night to celebrate all 3.

Hello, food table.  I loved you.  I swear Amy could’ve fed an army.  Which is just as well, since about that many people were there!

Love this dog.  I’ve never seen a more well – behaved, CALM lab, ever.  Think they’d trade for Pippa????

The always – fabulous Amy in her margarita glasses.

My beautiful friend Sallie and her daughter.  I just love these two.

Somehow, with three kids and a full – time job she still has the energy to plan and organize a huge bash like this complete with games for the kids.

Sombreros for all!!!!!

Even the littlest birthday boy gets a pinata………..

While the oldest gets a face full of cake.  At least it matches her skirt!

My girls had a blast, I got to hang out with some great friends and stuff myself with all kinds of good food and then I got to go home and plan for today: Neve’s 7th birthday.

That’s right!  My middle terror turned 7.

So sad.  Seems like just yestereday she was a toddler trying to steal mama’s “crappucino”.

Yes, she asked for the Cyndi Lauper Barbie doll.  This both amuses me and makes me feel very old.

She’s had quite an eventful 7 years, and she’s got the scars to prove it.

This world does NOT know what it is in for.

If they can learn how to share, this little one just might help her older sister take over the Universe some day.

Along with their butthead llama who is easily bribed with food.

PS – mom and I got Jerry half shaved today.  Who knew electric shears could make such a difference??!!  We’ll get his other half when he’s calmed down a bit from having the first half done.

My What Big Horns You Have

My boys are getting so big.  They can’t fit under their mama to nurse anymore, though they sure try.  They’re more difficult to hold in my arms, though I sure try!

And their horns are growing pretty large now, as well.

I’ve been out in the ungodly heat and humidity with them because………drumroll please…………..

I GOT A NEW CAMERA!!!!!!!!!!!!

My Nikon D3000 came today and I have been mokeying around with it all day, trying out various settings and so forth to see how it works. I still have a lot of learning to do in terms of how the camera works, but even my first go round with it has made me ridiculusly happy, since the quality is leaps and bounds beyond my last camera, without having to do much more than point and shoot.  Wait until I get the knack for the various features!

They like to wrestle on top of the chicken tractor.  Goats are  climbers, afterall.

Wish me luck.  I’m off to take pictures of everything I can.

The Fattening

The pie/cake fairy came again.  I hate that witch.  She is determined to thicken my waistline.

Forget about losing those last ten pounds! she says.

Besides it’s fifteen now anyway.  Ha!

She knows I hate working out.  She knows I have zero will power.  So tonight she brought me this:

Strawberry Shortcake – Cake from The Pioneer Woman.

My favorite part of the recipe is where she says, “Bake for about 45 – 50 minutes or until no longer jiggly like my bottom”.

That’s when you know it’s going to be goooood.

It’s Me Again

Way back in August 2008 I played that Mosaic Game on Flickr and got this result.

I thought it was pretty great, and an accurate pictorial expression of my personality.  I also thought it might be fun to do it again, since almost two years has passed.

Here’s what I got this time:

I love it. I’d love to share the credits for all the photos as well but firefox blew up on me and didn’t save the html.
The directions for playing along may be found here.
Go! Play!

Livin’ in the (Craft) Projects

I elected to forgo house cleaning for the weekend to get some projects finished instead.  My house is sticky and filthy…..but I won’t be throwing my weekly hissy fit about it until later.  I am forcing myself to ignore it so I can enjoy myself for once.

Saturday morning I got up extra early (ok…..8 am.  But to be fair I had stayed awake until 2:30 the previous night) to take delivery of a big bale of hay from the nicest people ever.  Then I returned to a nice quiet kitchen (older girls were in their bedrooms, Oona and Paul were still asleep) brewed a cup of coffee and made sour cream pancakes from the Pioneer Woman Cookbook. I added some blueberries and they were quite yummy.  I even had some time to listen to some Norah Jones and Paul Simon on my iPod before everyone came down to eat. All Saturdays should start off like that.  And end like this:

I finished one of my WIPs from Alabama Chanin (all of her stuff makes me drool……..I want to make every single project in many different colorways and I challenge you to not want to go right out and buy 800 lbs of cotton jersey once you look at her site).   This skirt is from the first book, The Alabama Stitch Book. The under fabric is pink and the top fabric I dyed to be a light grey.  The contrast stitching is in a cream color.

I am very pleased with how it turned out.  It fits perfectly. Plus being that it is made of pure cotton jersey, it is also quite comfortable.  Once it was complete I decided that instead of working on the chiffon tutus I have planned for the girls (for Neve’s birthday next week) or the Noro Silk Scarf or Oona’s sweater I wanted to start right in on another Alabama project, this one a tank top  from the second book, Alabama Studio Style. So far I am enjoying it immensely, and here is a sneak peak at it:

Relief appliques.  Am totally in love.  The only snag is that I need some light brown embroidery floss to edge the painted – on stencil bits that don’t get appliqued.  I swear I have every other color of it known to man. But not brown.  Do I drive half an hour and battle Charlottesville traffic to get some more or do I work on other things today instead?  Dilemmas, dilemmas.

P.S. We are up to 4 baby chickens that have now hatched.  Six eggs left.

Over-run with Goings – On

First the big news:  Truffles the hen, who has been sitting on a cache of eggs (which keeps getting added to by her pushy peers who keep bullying their way into her nest and laying more eggs on top of her), has hatched a little baby chicken.

I am really hoping it’s a girl.  I am on the fence about the whole situation, honestly.  On the one hand, it’s pretty cool hatching your own baby chicks, and the kids are way fascinated by the whole thing.  It’s a spectacular learning opportunity and it makes me happy that my kids will grow up understanding where food comes from, where baby animals come from and how they are cared for from day one.  (btw: her back feathers are missing because before she went broody she was the roosters’ favorite hen)

On the other hand.

I have WAY.  too.  many.  chickens.

Getting fresh eggs every day is a pretty great thing, and when you get enough to share, it’s even better.  I picked fresh arugula and lettuce out of the garden the other morning and carried it into the  house along with 6 fresh, warm eggs.  I felt like a real farmer for the first time (I know…..I’ve been a real farmer for awhile now, but somehow I’ve always kept of felt more like a “wanna be”).

But we have plenty of laying girls.  Plus the babies we bought last month – Magpie and Penny.  There are nine – that’s NINE – more eggs under Truffles right now, and you just know half will be roos, so they will have to be re-homed or eaten, right off the bat (no I don’t have anything against eating them per se – it’s great to have fresh free – range chicken.  I just don’t think I can bring myself to kill them).

Chickens are fun, funny, friendly when properly raised,  entertaining, they eat lots of bugs, and they destroy everything in their path.  DESTROY. The reason that the animal pen has no grass in it has nothing to do with the goats or the llama.  It’s the chickens.

See how they dig down and tear up all the hay and grass to get  into the dirt?

Plus they poo indiscriminately.  It’s everywhere.  The coop, the water trough, you name it.  A dozen chickens?  No problem.  A few dozen?  That becomes a much more dirty situation.  It’s something I will have to ponder and work with until we can get around to expanding the fence out.

As for my boys, they couldn’t be better.

Well, maybe they wouldn’t quite agree with that, since Susie came over today and helped me put the castrating bands on them.  I went yesterday to Tractor Supply and bought the tool and bands (how many people get to say they spent their afternoons shopping for a castrating tool? I’m just sayin’) and today she showed me how to use it.

They took it just fine and were off jumping and playing again in no time.

I went out this afternoon to get some pictures of them, which is never easy since they are both so very snuggly.  Whenever I go out there, this happens:

They crawl into my lap and lay down.

They’re like little puppies with horns.  I won’t be de – horning them.  It’s just completely unnecessary for us to do so.

Milkshakes is happy for it – it gives her a break from their constant wanting to nurse.

She’s getting antsy to get out and do some more weeding.  I haven’t had a chance the last few days due to all the rain we’ve gotten.  The garden is loving it, though.  Everything I planted out back – the potatoes, butternut squash and corn – are all coming up nicely.

I also got some sewing done since we were all stuck indoors.  I finally finished Neve’s Easter dress.  The pattern is Jump Rope Dress from Oliver & S.  It took me forever to get started on it but it sewed up pretty fast.

I used Heather Bailey’s  Nicey Jane fabric.

Yes I know it’s an awful picture.  My campaign to convince my husband I need a real camera has so far been a failure (I’d really love a Canon Eos Digital SLR – something that takes great pictures without constant adjusting and re-setting and blah blah blah) .  I’ve tried the whole “a blog is only as good as the pictures on it” approach, but he didn’t buy it.  I even tried to guilt him by reminding him how many people I know who are neither artists nor bloggers who have waaaay better cameras than me.  He responded by saying  real artists like me don’t generally  have money for things like a good camera anyway.


Musical Mama

Last week I took Maddie, Emily and Neve to a big concert in Charlottesville.  Emily and Neve’s favorite band, Paramore,was in town and when they had heard about the concert back in January they went nuts.

I may have mentioned that last year Emily got Rock Band for her birthday.  It was probably the best money we have ever spent.  They play on it all the time – singing, playing guitar, banging on the drums.

My kids have always had music around them.  I love listening to just about anything – with the exception of country.  I am sorry to all of you country music fans out there.  I know there are an awful lot of you and I mean no disrespect, but I would rather claw out my eyes than listen to it.  Just about everything else is fair game, and my girls and I like to listen to a lot of the same stuff.  Sometimes it’s funny stuff we’ll sing to amuse each other (cartoon theme songs, for instance), sometimes we’ll crank up a great song on the radio and for a few minutes no one’s arguing or complaining about who is touching whose stuff.

Emily zeroed in on Paramore a few years ago after hearing them on the radio and it’s been quite a love affair ever since – though Lady Gaga is the current flavor……wrong as it seems for your 6 year old to be singing Love Game or your 2 year old to light up whenever Poker Face comes on. I’ve done my best to balance things out a bit and am proud to say that both younger girls have taken to Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots quite nicely.  Because killer robots are so much more wholesome than taking a ride on a disco stick, right?

ANYWAY.  Moving on.

They had a total blast at the concert.  It was loud, it was late, and Neve fell asleep 3 songs into the act, but the sheer bliss on their little faces seeing that band take the stage was worth every penny those tickets cost.  I even had fun, I have to admit, and wasn’t the only parent holding a sleeping child for much of the show – two rows down there were two little girls that could not have been more than 4 who also didn’t last too long before passing out.  The only downer to the whole thing was getting patted down by security before being allowed in – even Neve.  (I’d like to add that no one got patted down for the John Mayer concert or for The Wiggles).

Lately Oona has begun singing Paramore as well and it’s so cute I can’t stand it.  She’s starting to take an interest in what her sisters are doing with Rock Band and trying to play along.  Maybe one day she’ll even be able to rap a Beastie Boys song, like Emily.

Uncle KB, this one’s for you:

Got Poison Ivy?

We won’t.

This little girl is a mighty ivy eater.  She inhales it like fine cuisine.

I’ve been taking her out of the fence to eat all the weeds that are cropping up.  Today I’ll be turning the electric off and having her walk the perimeter – there’s a ton of the poison stuff threatening to overtake the wires, which would short out the fence.  The bad thing about poison ivy is it’s very difficult to get rid of.  If you pull it all out you have to be very careful to wear protective clothing and thoroughly clean whatever tools you use.  You also run the risk that it will all grow right back if you don’t remove all the root vines and seeds.

Spraying weed killer is another option, but then you’re using poison (and I personally don’t like using poison unless I have to; more so because we have a well, and whatever goes into the ground…..eventually goes in the well.   Hear that Chem-Lawn???  Stop sending me flyers!) Plus we broke down the second year we lived here and sprayed like mad after I got two heinous cases of poison ivy rash.  Let me tell you…… all came right back.

However, a hungry goat is a great option.  A lot of towns all over the US use goats to clear out invasive and unwanted plants from public lands.   Check out this one.  It’s a win – win.  In many cases the goats are loaned by a local farm for the duration of the clearing.  The farmer gets free food for his goats, the town gets free weed control.  Goat droppings are not an issue; they’re practically pure compost.  (just like llama droppings!)

Milkshakes is really in her element when we’re out clearing plants.  She mows it down fast and efficiently.  As we clear out our property we hope to be able to move the animals around as needed to clear out brush – both for their benefit and ours.

The babies have also been eating grain and hay and soon should be ready to partake in weed control as well.  Milkshakes is growing impatient with nursing them.  As a mother who breast – fed 3 babies for almost 2 years each……I can totally relate.  Having someone hanging off you all the time can get rather old.

Jerry will get his turn outside the fence eventually.  First he needs to learn to respond properly to haltering and walking on a lead.  I’ve gone out a few time since his “brain removal surgery” and gotten the halter on him – not without a fair amount of trouble I may add – but I can do it.  Then he can help with the stuff growing higher up.

The chickens and guineas…….we’re getting about 4 eggs a day now, but the ticks are pretty bad.  Guineas are fabulous tick control, but we only have two.  If we had a lot of land and not a lot of neighbors I’d get a whole flock of them and make darn sure we didn’t have ticks.  But the thing is….they’re really, really loud (don’t believe me? This is what we hear every day).

So, no more guineas for now, and the chickens will have to deal with staying inside the pen to avoid being eaten by something.

Someone should tell Mabel.

Can I come in????

Mud Slinging

Somewhere in this picture there is an epic fail.

Need a closer look?

Still don’t see it????

How about now???


Paul’s got this thing, you see.  This thing where he has to get something stuck in the mud at least twice a year.  I don’t even bother mentioning it anymore because it’s no longer newsworthy.  Plus he generally is able to manage the situation on his own.  Occasionally, though……he gets in over his head.  Or in this case, WAY over his head.

This is a rented bobcat.  We’re clearing out the back acreage to make room for the pool, the animals, and a big garage.  Our neighbor Jack is likewise extending out his yard, fence, and house.  So they rented this big toy.  It’s the kind they recommend for work in muddy, swampy conditions.  Because it’s not supposed to get stuck.

He tried digging it out with shovels.  I felt pretty sure that if he kept up with that he would just make that thing sink deeper and deeper.  The place where the machine got stuck is smack dab in the middle of the stream out back and the water was rising every time more mud was removed from the scene.  Time to call in a tow truck.

Big truck.  With a winch and lots of pulling power.  Oh, and a total wuss behind the wheel.

The winch wasn’t powerful enough.  He didn’t want to back the truck too close to the mud, and he certainly wasn’t going to drive down the powerline path on the other side of the stream to pull the bobcat out that way.  He wanted to try driving it out instead.  I don’t know why he thought it would work.  I think he managed to get it stuck even worse.  $175 later we still had a stuck machine on our hands.

So our neighbor, Jack, did what the tow truck guy wouldn’t.  He drove down the power line path to try and pull it out from that side.

This is when I started to feel the frustration that these guys must have felt.  Jack’s truck just didn’t have the power to pull it out – but that tow truck could have done it without a doubt.

So we called in further reinforcements.

Another neighbor, with a much more powerful winch.

Who then got stuck and had to be pulled out.

Jerry snacked on some trees while keeping one eye on the excitement around him.

He doesn’t understand why we would want to play with such big toys to begin with.

Once all of the rescue vehicles were unstuck we hooked up the big, bad, super duty winch to the bobcat……….and after almost a day’s worth of trying, failing, worrying, trying again, failing again and worrying some more……they pulled it right out.  Just like that.  Like it had never been stuck at all.

After that Paul drove it down the power line path and out onto the road to come around back home.

Wonder why he didn’t just drive through the stream again????????????

p.s.   I need a shower now.