Thursday, March 6, 2014

Quilt Blocks and one of our horses story

I haven't been sewing, Ive kinda been obsessed (and yes... crazy obsessive) with other things lately and I really feel I need to get balanced. I have been so freaking moody lately too. Watching a 2 year old when you just feel irritated most of the time is challenging to say the least. Who knows this blog may end up being one woman's crazy account of menopause. I think some of the emotional upheaval and obsessiveness has to do with hormones... the weird thing is I know I'm not acting like myself, I know im off kilter and have no idea how to get back to normal!

My first attempt is to redirect! lol Yesterday morning I made a to do list for myself for the weekend and I am trying to just keep plugging away at it instead of this emotional, mental wandering around doing nothing productive thing that I've had going on for the last month or so.

First on the list... snap photos of my block for the Dream Circle of Do.Good Stitches. Here it is. I am feeling very insecure about this one, I hope it is what she wanted. Im sure my confidence will get better as I make more blocks. (i actually did this a couple weeks ago)

I also wanted to help Little Island Quilting with some blocks for quilts she is putting together and sending to an orphanage in Mexico City. She is taking donations of 12 1/2 in blocks and she is assembling them. Appropriately I went to my orphan bin for the orphanage!

A couple plus blocks. These were left over from the big X quilt I made for a customer and I just put a border around them.

A little of this:

And a little of that:

And Finally... I put the labels on the two donation quilts i finished months ago and have them ready to ship!!!

There... now dont I feel better! All of my donation projects are done and I can move on to finishing that dang tshirt quilt!!!

The garden is coming along we have planted so far red potatoes, leeks, shallots, garlic, red onion and texas sweet onion. We have two more beds constructed and ready for compost and dirt. I have started indoors some beets and sunflower seeds.

I also have a little project of extending a water line to the garden on my list this weekend. Ive had the parts for a year and just need to dig the trench.

On the Ranching side.... I have the story of King to tell.  King is a 29 year old horse with really bad arthritis and this winter has been a tough one on him, his back legs visibly hurt and I wish there was more we could do for him. He has a sad history and has lived off and on at the ranch for the last 15 or so years. He either belongs to us or the methamphetamine dealer next door. (since we have bought him more than once I really think us... but the neighbor doesn't see it that way.) Sidetrack here... Yes.. we know that our next door neighbor deals drugs and we know that he is the one who was supplying our boys with them. We have called the sheriff about it many times and they never do anything. Right now there is a story that went national about a murder (and drugs were related)  in Hemphill Tx, that they suspect the local sheriff covered up.. well... that would be the same sheriff I reported the drug dealer next door to. The murder cover up doesn't surprise me and I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't make a little something off of our neighbor.  Its so bad that when this guy was shooting at our home (yes, shooting a gun through the trees over our house with our grandchildren playing outside) and my husband called the police they told him there was nothing they could do (he has felony convictions so therefore cannot own firearms so they COULD do something) when my husband said "then my only recourse is to shoot back at him" they threatened to come arrest my husband. I know it doesn't sound real to me either... how stereotypical southern small town with crooked cops can we be?

But back to poor old King. In his day he was a barrel racer for the neighbors daughter. He did  well and could fly those barrels, he was a spitfire. She is grown with children of her own now and King when he lives with us is our babysitter, he is a gentle old gelding that teaches our weanlings and yearlings manners. He is patient and mellow and eventually the babies end up mellowing out right along with him. I think as well as our stud throwing some of the brightest and gentlest quarterhorse genes, King's babysitting also plays a roll in the sweet, curious, mannered babies that we end up with.

King has been laying down alot this winter. When we see him laying down we make sure he can get up and the poor horse must think these humans are crazy and wont let an old man take a little rest!!! I dont know what were going to do if he isn't getting around a little better this summer. We like to let them choose when its their time to go and a part of me is expecting that one of these times he will have taken that time and I will know that he lead a full life and he is free of pain. Another part hates to see our King gone... he has served us well. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I won!! and the Why...

I won a survival Seed Vault from Blue Yurt Farms and these other great blogs!!

Five Little Homesteaders
Faulk Farmstead
This Original Organic Life
Earthworms and Marmalade
Homestead Honey
The Jahner Farmstead
Learning and Yearning
Green Eggs and Goats
The Toups Address
The Farmstead
Little Homestead on the Range
The Randazzo’s

I have been reading these blogs lately and have learned SOOO much from them. Great garden tips and some really good recipes. It isn't all milk cows and acreage either... many of them are urban gardeners and homesteaders.

But pt. 2 of whats going on in my head lately....

Ralph and I have talked some about what "turns me on" about the homesteading blogs I'm reading and all of this "hippy back to nature stuff" Don't be offended by the question, he is as much a hippy as I am but being a cowboy he doesn't like to admit it... my first clue is his favorite musician is Guy Clark. He does admit he likes the idea too and I think we have summed it up into a few reasons.

1. That is how things were when we were a child. I remember the full acre garden, eating carrots straight from the ground and planting seeds. He remembers not having electricity, cotton fields, pea crops and feeding the pigs. We both have good childhood memories of those things. (and a few bad.. i had to promise if we get a milk cow we will get an electric butter turn so he will NEVER have to do that again.)

2. We never had time for this before. When we owned Zippys Pizza w were working 16 hr days in a restaurant... who could plant a garden? In fact we have neglected the pastures, the fences... there is a whole bunch that needs to be done. With horseshoeing we usually leaves out in the morning and we are home by 2 pm... we finally have time!! We have been workaholics all our lives and although this has been how I have wanted to live, I never had time to DO it and I do now... so i will.

3. this little guy (and the other 15 grandchildren)

Tristan lives right next door and loves animals. (he is now napping on my bed with both puppies) I think growing up doing chores and working with animals builds character and we want all of our grandchildren to have those experiences.

4. It really isn't that big of a leap. We have horses, 100 acres, we always shop the outside of the grocery store because we believe the stuff on the inside shelves are full of preservatives, sugar, salt and other horrible things (not to mention cost a fortune vs preparing a healthy "real" food meal.) We buy local when we can.... after this winter is clear we have to start collecting our own firewood, why not just garden and add a couple animals to the place???

5. Zombie Apocalypse? I doubt it.. but... there is a chance that something in this world could go wrong: epidemic disease, no power grid, collapse of our economic system... maybe its because so many people on facebook keep posting their conspiracy theories, none of which really seem plausible but then again when we got hit by a hurricane, none of what we saw there seemed plausible before either.  It does make me think.... what kind of shape would be in... really?

6. Ralph said to throw in here I'm cheap like his mother. lol. But it does make sense economically to produce what we can.

Those are the reasons we are going back to our roots and turning the ranch back into a working ranch and farm.

Brood Mares grazing on the back 40 (sadly it doesn't look like this anymore!!)

Next Post... its going to be quilty. I have some blocks Im sending off for the do.good stitches dream circle and for quilts for an orphanage in Mexico City. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The What

Ralph and I both feel like we are on a journey.... I plan to blog about that journey and to begin, I'm going to start with the who, what, when, where, and how....

today I am going to focus on the what... what we want out of life.

Love: we have a wonderful relationship. We have worked together and have spent almost every day together for 13 years. We enjoy each others company and we want to continue to grow in love. We want to spend quality time and improve communication. We both have our bucket list of things we want to see and do and we want to work towards those, together. 

Pulled out an oldie here: This is 2008 at the Western Music Association Awards Ceremony. We used to be the hosts of a radio show called "Ralph's Backporch"
Family: We want to see our family succeed and prosper. We want to see these young adults (Ralph has 7 children) spread their wings and become strong. We have had some battles with drugs, some with relationship problems and we know we can't solve them but we do want to help them become stronger, better and happier.  We want our grandchildren to be a part of our lives, our home and our ranch. (I HAVE to also add... we do NOT want their parents to move in with us ever, ever again)

Tristan, one of our little cowboys

Security: We want to live comfortably. We have been under financial stress for the last few years and we are tired of living that way. Financial security to us is as basic as knowing if it rains for 3 weeks, we don't have to worry about our animals having to skip a meal (or us for that matter) to... knowing that if something happens to one of us... we have a back up plan. It also means for us.. getting out of debt. 

We are Dave Ramsey Fans. Be sure to check out his website if getting out of debt is one of your goals.

Simplicity: We want to live care free. We want to continue to simplify our lives and continue to be self employed. We want to reduce our expenses and needs. To raise and grow our own food, to find a way to produce our own electricity (cuz i wont live without it!). I will say to him that means were going to move to yurt in the back pasture and to me it means were going to get some chickens and a compost bin... we are going to have to continue to define what this means to us and find the common ground. 

Health: Ok... so our overall health sucks. We both need to shed a few lbs (me more than him) and I need to quit smoking again (i started again last July with all the stress) He needs to see a heart specialist to see how his ticker is doing (that requires health insurance) there are just alot of health things we need to fix about us and we are going to do that. I think part of our quest is to improve our health and live healthier, natural lives.

Creativity: We are both creative people and have expressed that in various ways in the past. Whether it was the time we were DJ's, my experience in graphic design, making quilts, the jewelry he makes or just the art of Pizza. We both find happiness in expressing our creativity. Our goals definitely have to include expressing ourselves creatively. 

Copper bracelet Ralph made for his daughter

I think that about sums up the "what we want from life" question...

I am linking up to the Home Acre Hop. Im doing this because I would love to make friends with like minded people! so... if your visiting from there, say hello, introduce yourself and your blog... and I would love to have you follow mine.

Oak Hill Homestead

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Life Goals

I think we are still in the process of redefining and refining our goals in life. It was hard to get a grasp on them when we were just running in one of those hampster wheels to stay ahead while the family of 5 lived with us. Since they have left we have been able to get more on track with budgeting and bill paying. We are looking at what expenses can we reduce and how can we be more self sufficient. and dang it.. that question of what do we want to be when we grow up??? I am getting tired of that question, really!

We have also talked alot about diversifying our income. We have all of our eggs in Ralph's horseshoeing basket and thats a dangerous job. I would feel more comfortable if it were only 50% of the income rather than 90%... however I have no desire to get a traditional job (and i really dont NEED to... if i did NEED to I would)

Ralph, doing what he does...

We have 100 acres. Being from Michigan.. im not used to land just going unused like ours, so Ive been looking into what we want to do with the land. Up until a few years ago we raised quarter horses but the horse market tanked. It has taken us 5 years to accept that! Cattle is the obvious choice of course.. but, I have been looking at what to do and the search lead me to tons of "homesteading blogs" and I have been obsessed and fascinated with them this past week. There are so many things I like about the homesteading concept....

Ralph on Dry Talos Cutterbill

I just found this picture of my husband... I love this picture!

One of the things I have felt reading the homestead blogs is I miss the personal side of blogging. I started this blog when I quit using my myspace blog and planned on blogging about "just life." It morphed into a quilty blog where I only post about quilty things... but... there are days I want to talk about "just life" I want to talk about my garden, my grandkids, things that interest me other than quilting...

so... im going to start doing that so yall... in addition to quilty blogs I'm going to start blogging about this quest of what are we going to do when we grow up and my quest in gardening, canning... livestock... homesteading ect.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

January Finishes

Wow January went by way to quickly. But it was the best month in a loong time. No I didn't stay focused... in fact I hardly sewed and I did mail one package out really late. Im soo sorry... but it seems like life changed daily and it just kept getting better and better. Ralph and I tried to stay up with the pace... but it was overwhelming at times.

For those who are new. The last year has been trying. My husbands sons both started doing methamphetamine. These were two boys making 25 bucks an hour as construction linemen. Smart hard working charming fathers who I wouldn't have given you 10 cents for when they were doing these drugs. We got custody of a 2 yr old grandchild last year, then in august the other one was arrested and once out of jail, moved in with his family of five. they lived here for 6 months.

I have been miserable for 6 months. I love them, I love the grandchildren... but i did not love sharing my home and life with them. I think over the last 6 months my husband and I took turns sinking into horrible depression then just being angry, then just resignation that until he could get it together... we were stuck.

I knew both boys were beating the drugs. They were no longer doing them and it was as if the one living with us was fighting himself every day. He messed up his life the worst... it may take years to get back on the track he was on. At the same time I just wanted to shake him and say... get the heck over it, you have a family to support. you need to put your big boy panties on and go do it!

the new year came... slowly things started getting better. They all had a different attitude... a little more hope.

CPS closed my grandsons case. His dad is free of drugs and did what was required for him to get his child back. I cant tell you how proud I am of his dad. They live right next door and he will still be dropping him off every day while he goes to work so we will still see ALOT of the little guy. But his dad accomplished a miracle in cleaning himself up and doing right. There have been times that i have wondered if the drugs didn't do permanent damage to him. He was just not "right" in the head. Hard to explain but he wasn't right. But these past 3 weeks... he has been as normal as apple pie.

Then the family of 5 that was living with us moved out. As quickly as they moved in, they moved to my daughter in laws mothers house and he already has a job. 6 months!! We supported them for 6 months and within a week of moving out he is working. I have mixed feelings about that one. But it was time. I guess he put the big boy panties on and he got a job, not doing lineman work (he messed that opportunity up too badly) but a paying job non the less.

So... have I done anything towards my goals. Kinda... I have a flimsie made from Bon Jovi concerts. (including Dublin and Sydney) Im not picturing it till its done, I dont want to ruin the reveal for my customer.)

I finished 2 baby quilts:

I used the moda bakeshop pattern "simply woven" for this. Let me tell you if your 1/4 in seam is not perfect... this block will let you know!!! The fabric is upcycled sheet for the white and a jelly roll that I got for Christmas. 

Then another simple vintage sheet baby quilt from 4 1/2 in squares. I sell these quickly in my etsy store and I need to keep them in stock.

and a bunch of these sewn....

Im paper piecing them and I finally have my system down for mass producing them. It seemed like they were taking forever to get even one of the 4 pieces you see done. I now have my piles of precut scraps for the 4 pieces and its moving quicker.

 but that is as close as I got and soon.... soon I will be back in my sewing room but for now Im cleaning and enjoying OUR home. Im sitting by the fire on really cold days (no heat in the sewing room) and my husband and I have reclaimed our kitchen and are cooking some kick butt meals. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Classic Meets Modern Quilt Along Block

I have not participated in many quilt along's but I really liked the idea of this one. Each month she will give a traditional block and we are to reinterpret it modern. Now... I'm not sure what modern quilting is to me yet, I've yet to define it and don't like most of the definitions I have seen. I do know that I LIKE modern quilts and my style lately tends to be a scrappy modern twist on traditional quilts. lol... hows that for a style!

I do like that we will be redesigning something traditional and that's what i like most about quilts...

Here is my polar bear claw block:

and here is a link to the quilt along if yall want to join in too!

Sew at Home Mummy

I guess I am going to make a sampler quilt out of the 12 blocks I will end up with so I am going with the scraps from a solid quilt I have yet to finish. They are to me beachy colors and I like them (my husband hates them... oh well) The "inspiration" block was with 4 paws and a square in the center.

Other things I'm working on.... the quilt for the livestock show.... paper piecing and value... my lessons for January!!! I'm getting the hang of both and having a blast making the little blocks!

But... things just got interesting here in my little neck of the woods... or at least the dogs think so. I have the county clearing the ditches and a whole bunch of beeping trucks in the front of the house and out back I have about 10 weanling calfs making quick work on the hay bale.. problem is we don't have cows, we have horses... have to find out which neighbor is missing some cows before they eat all the horses hay! (and before these barking dogs wake up the sleeping grandbaby!)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My first Class!

I decided a present to myself would be the Color Play class on Craftsy. A few days after Christmas it went on sale and I just happened to have enough on my paypal to buy it!! woo hoo.

I am still taking the class. But the other morning I woke my husband up all excited and said "I GET IT" I have always picked my fabrics by what I think looks good. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I didn't know why when I had a fail. I was picking fabrics for a quilt and one of my choices wasn't working and I knew WHY it didn't work! I was so excited. (Ralph, not so excited... and was a little grumpy)

It starts off slow with making a color wheel yourself from paints.... I live in the sticks and to get these paints would require a trip to a major town at least 50 miles away... so I just watched that part and didn't make the color wheel. I may still someday when I get to town... but i did learn from watching that part. It has been a series of light bulbs going off in my head! So.. if your struggling with color I vote go for it! this is a good class.

Online Quilting Class

I do have to say here... that If you click this link to buy the class I will receive financial gain. I have signed up to the affiliate program of Craftsy. Regardless, the above review is really my opinion. If you would like to sign up as an affiliate to Craftsy and receive commission on purchases from them, you can too! here is a link to sign up. You can choose what and how to advertise and you do get some pretty cool perks in the process. (perks worth the time to join!)

Meanwhile, I am still pulling fabrics for a value quilt... with my new knowledge.