Wednesday, November 30, 2011

And the Seam Ripper Goes to...

Oh my goodness! Y'all are so much fun! I loved all of your comments. Thank you so much for sharing them with me! Makes me wish our children were still young because there are so many traditions I want to add! It's hard to choose just one favorite tradition because like, y'all I am sure there are many.

One of the other things we did was let the kids sleep under the Christmas tree the first night we put it up. It's a tradition my friend, Amy, shared with me years ago and we adopted it. It was always so fun to pull out the sleeping bags and string popcorn and cranberries in our pj's.

Another favorite tradition is baking Jesus' Birthday Cake. It's always the same cake and it's the only time we ever bake it. We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and blew out candles. If we spent Christmas at Grandparents' homes, I took the cake with us.

I also want to welcome my new followers. I'm so excited that y'all actually read my little blog. I guess this is the modern day equivilant of gathering together for coffee and cake. Makes me want to bake something, but then I would be sad because no one actually shows up. So thank y'all for taking the time to stop in and listen to me chatter.

Time to reveal the winner of the seam ripper! I'm so excited. Honestly, I am writing this Tuesday night and waiting for midnight so I can close the giveaway and find out who wins. It's actually after midnight, but I'll give you west-coasters your extra hour. LOL. I'm not a night owl and it'll be a short night, but I told you I was excited. :) But, it's 12:20 and I'm fading fast and sleeping in is not an option.

Yep. Sure enough, I fell asleep so I am dragging my feet this morning and viewing the world through bleary eyes. However, the magic random number generator is bright eyed and bushy tailed and it cheerfully popped out the winning number:


I have got to figure out how to post that little box.

Barbara said:

Hm. My favorite Christmas tradition is seeing all the old ornaments on the tree that have been in the family for years. Each one takes me back to a special memory. Also setting out the ceramic nativity my grandmother made for me. The date on the first piece (baby Jesus) is 1965. I still have all the pieces and none are chipped or broken. I hope this stays in my family long after I'm gone. It's very special to me.

Congratulations Barbara! What a treasure you have in the nativity your Grandmother made for you. I've sent you an e-mail to let you know that the seam ripper will be headed your way!

Thanks to all of you!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Avoiding Black Friday with a Giveaway

This Giveaway is Now Closed. Thanks so much for your comments!

 So, how many of y'all are out fighting the crowds?! Better you than me. Ugh. I may be missing out on all the deals, but I have a hard enough time going to town on a normal day. The day after Thanksgiving? I'm digging a deeper hole and taking my Thanksgiving leftovers with me. No thank you. I'm not a shopper and no amount of 'don't miss this hot buy' can convince me otherwise. (Insert shiver here.) However, I hope that y'all find everything you are looking for and that everyone arrives back home unscathed.

I'm hoping that y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving that included all the things, and people, that bring you joy. Ours was almost perfect. Our daughter is home and it is such a joy to hear her infectious laughter and see her  sweet smile. The only thing missing is our son who is in Camp Pendleton. We did get to visit with him on the phone and he drove north to a friend's house where they cooked a turkey. So at least he's not eating in the mess hall on base. He'll be home for Christmas though and we're counting the days! This is the first holiday we haven't all be together so it was odd, but we're so proud of our Marine and we are abundantly blessed.

So, in honor of my avoidance of Black Friday, I am having a giveaway. I have been hearing and reading about these new seam rippers from Mighty Bright.
 I have had my one and only seam ripper for 20 years that came with my $75 Kenmore sewing machine. I am so proud of the fact that I haven't lost it. These days it seems I spend much of my time hunting down my glasses, but by golly I know where my seam ripper is.

 I ordered a couple of these seam rippers and one of them is for one of you! At first it felt a bit awkward in my hand because I'm just so used to my old standby and I'm a creature of habit, but it's really very comfortable and I am amazed at how much the magnification helps. Apparently I've been using the 'stab and hope I catch the thread' method. This seam ripper has a very handy LED light that also makes me think I've been ripping with less than adequate light.

The years are beginning to catch up with me.

So, who wants a fun, helpful, new notion to help you get all of those sewing projects completed?
 I hope you'll be doing more sewing than ripping, but we all know that it's inevitable and somewhere down the line, unsewing will be required. I would love to send it to you so just leave me a comment and tell me  your favorite Christmas Tradition.

I know, it's hard to pick just one. One of the things we did when the kids were young was wrap 12 Christmas books and 12 days before Christmas, we would unwrap one each night and cuddle up to read. I kept them in a wooden chest in the living room and being the bookworms that we are, it wasn't long before we had 24 and we were reading 2 each night, always saving the story of Christ's birth for Christmas Eve.

I know y'all are all busy with family and friends so I'm going to keep this open until midnight Tuesday night. Mr. random number generator will choose a winner on Wednesday morning. It should be safe to come out of my burrow by then. Please make sure you leave me an email address if you are a non-reply blogger or I will be unable to contact you. Thanks so much and while y'all are out braving the crowds, I will be spinning Christmas music and dragging out the decorations.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sew Not Ready for Christmas

 I like Christmas as much as the next person, in fact, I love it, but I'm in the 'no Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving' camp. It just makes me shake my head to see Christmas trees and ornaments hanging in store aisles in August. The first week in November I do not want to be inundated with Christmas Carols when I walk into the grocery store. Makes me sound like a grinch, but really, I'm not. The day after Thanksgiving I am decking the halls and belting out Amy Grant's "Christmas Can't be Very Far Away" while I'm slinging omelettes. But don't jingle those sleigh bells in my face until I have put away the leftover turkey.

However, I'm a crafter. I sew and quilt and like to make things as gifts and waiting until after Thanksgiving to start making said gifts just doesn't cut it. I thought I had it handled, but y'all keep posting cute projects and tutorials and making me add things to my list. I've already repeated the 'Next year I'm going to start on Christmas gifts in January'...multiple times. You know y'all have said that too. I'm trying to avoid the stress of getting it all done. I suppose its unavoidable. Some people thrive on it. I am not one of those people. I'm a list maker and it works pretty well for me...until I start adding things to the November.

So I've been furiously making pot holders...and table runners...and gift bags...and gathering supplies for a herd of reindeer. And the only thing I can share with you are these 2 drawstring bags I made for the 2 darling children I made the pillowcases for in my last post because they are not for Christmas:

Aren't they the cutest things?! The little boy likes Curious George and his sister loves dance class. I couldn't resist these monkeys:

The dancer fabric has glitter on it and it just made me smile and think of sweet Katy. It wouldn't make a very good pillowcase, but it makes the perfect gift bag! The first photo is a better representation of the color. Don't know why this one is so wonky:

Jeni posted this wonderful tutorial on her blog, Color Order, and I had to make a couple. Then I REALLY fell in love with them after making them and went a little wild. I cut out 8 more and started sewing them. Thank you for sharing this Jeni! I'm hooking up with the Sew Darn Crafty Party over at Sew Many Ways. So hop on over there this week and see what everyone else is up to, but don't blame me if you end up adding something else to your list! ;)

So for the time being, my Western Many Trips quilt and my wool quilt are sitting on the back burner while I'm sewing up a storm in an attempt to get ready for Christmas...before Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Proof That I Still Sew

 Sewing around here comes in spurts. Some days (or weeks) the closest I come to my sewing machine is when I dust it, but on others, I may actually get through an entire bobbin. Today was a good sewing day. I sewed through 4 bobbins! I don't remember that ever happening. I don't know when I last had to empty my scrap bucket, but today I did:

And this afternoon I took a peek under my bobbin case:

Yikes! It's been a while since I cleaned this out. Please don't report me to the sewing police.

I made 4 Stockings for Soldiers after seeing them here:

and just about have them filled. It was fun gathering stocking stuffers for them. These are quick to make and I'm already looking forward to making more for next year. It's a small way to let our military know how thankful we are for their service and sacrifice. I just need to write cards and a note and they will be ready to mail.

I stitched up 2 pillowcases for a dear family whose little girl is waiting for a heart. One for darling Katy and one for her sweet little brother:

Wedding Dress Blues posted these cute pot holders a few weeks ago and I had to make some. What a great way to use up scraps! This past weekend we went to the World Championship Ranch Rodeo and I stitched the binding on one pair on the drive to Amarillo:

I love this Texas print on the back:

And I used the same black print I'm using on the western quilt. I love it and am thinking I need an entire bolt. More pot holders are waiting to be bound.

The strips are stitched to muslin and there is a layer of warm and natural batting as well as a layer of insulbrite so they are thick and already hard at work in my kitchen.

I have a side story from our trip this weekend. There is a horse sale that takes place during the weekend and there was a memorial fundraiser for the young family of a man who died in a horse accident. Lots of great items were donated and auctioned off as well as a couple of horses. One of the horses was purchased for $5200 and donated back. He sold again for $4200 and was once again donated back. He sold a third time for $3800. Very cool.

I've also been working on my Western Many Scrappy Trips Quilt. I've got 26 of 110 blocks made:

With 20 more 'in progress'. I tossed a few on the bed and snapped a photo:

I'm a scrappy kind of gal so this makes my heart sing and I'm anxious to get this quilt top together.

These long winter evenings are perfect for hand stitching and I'm ready to start hand quilting on my wool quilt that I pieced last year:

 I'm thinking black perle cotton and am searching for a place that carries Presencia #8 unless anyone has any other ideas. I have no experience with wool, but just HAD to make this quilt.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Old Grey Mare Just Ain't What She Used to Be...

Whew! What a week! For those of you who have asked, my inlaws are doing well and on the mend.  Thank you for your kind concern. I spent a few days with them just helping out and nagging my MIL to eat and drink water. I felt a bit out of my element and didn't want to overstep my boundaries as an inlaw. Didn't want to be fired and become an outlaw! I'm not very good at bossing people around, but she was a good sport and I think I'm still hanging on the family tree.

Fair warning. This is a long post with lots of photos.

I've been helping DH and last week, in a span of three days, we weaned the colts, solved a mystery of finding 3 yearlings dead in the pasture (diagnosis -after scouring the pasture on foot, bringing in some unfamiliar weeds and identifying them through the use of our extensive library on plants, researching some medical journals, and playing a bit of medical examiner-, Polio, which is a sulfate toxicity), started drenching a yearling who was sick in hopes of saving her, moved bulls:

 , and fed cattle for hours on end. I won't go into detail on finding the yearlings, because it's not very pretty and although I'm all about keeping things real around here, I really like all of y'all who read here and I'd like to keep y'all coming back. Ranching has afforded us an amazing life, but it's not for the weak of heart...or stomach. I've shed many a tear with a baby calf in my arms.

No pictures of us drenching the yearling because my hands were full and we were actually thrilled to see that she was feeling well enough to fight us, but let's just say that the brand new pair of Wranglers I had pulled on that morning were broken in very well by the time we finished. :). As far as the wrestling match goes, well it was me against a 600# heifer. Enough said.

As we were cleaning up the equipment, I was ready for a nap (never mind that it was only 8:30 in the morning) and really not paying attention. See the nozzle at the end of this drencher?

I suppose I should explain. Drenching means we run a tube down into the critter's stomach and pump water into them (similar to intubation in humans). And they can hold a lot of water, thus you pump until your arm falls off and then you switch arms and pump some more. Then you fill another 5 gallon bucket and pump some more.All the while DH is holding her head and making sure she doesn't swallow the short tube we put in to keep her mouth open and keep her from running over me. I was fired from that job the first time so I am now the official pumper.

As I was rinsing it out, I had it pointed in my direction and the next thing I knew, I was sputtering and catching my breath when the ice cold water hit my face. DH looked at me and I could tell he was trying hard not to laugh and kind of looking at me in disbelief. Yes honey, I really am that stupid. I just burst out laughing and DH followed suite. It really was funny.

Needless to say, subsequent drenching parties have been much less exciting and my arms are on their way to becoming buff. I can dream, can't I?

Update: The patient started drinking on her own after a week! Yay!

It's hard to take pictures when you're swinging gates and trotting across traps in order to fill a hole so that the cattle, or horses don't retreat, so you don't get any action shots, but here are a few I managed to snap:

This sweet thing :

threw a little fit when we put a fence between he and his Mama.

We load them up right away and head to the house which is about 6 miles away, but it takes 20 minutes to get there:

We went back and loaded up the remaining yearlings in a couple of trailers and moved them to the pens at the house to keep an eye on them and make sure they weren't showing any signs of illness. Then we ran them through the chute and gave them 3 shots apiece as a preventative.

 Then we hauled them to another pasture on the other side of the ranch and I came back to wash syringes. I wash a lot of these:

DH likes to work horseback, but this place is really big and it's just not always feasible. It takes 45 minutes to just drive to some of these pastures from headquarters.

The colts are growing fast. They are about 6 months old now. They're not show horses. Just working ranch horses and not very good looking ones at that if you know horses, but I think they're all gorgeous. This winter, we'll work with them daily. Just getting them halter broke and used to people messing with their feet and heads and generally getting them used to our touch. From the time they are born we go out into the pasture and spend time around them. When they are that little, they are curious and accept our presence and enjoy having their bottoms scratched.

We weaned them and brought them to the house pens too.

I love spending time with them:

Lovin' on Mama:

But first we walked through the pens and picked up all the rope from the hay we fed to the calves earlier in the week. There are miles of this stuff::


One of the Mares, Tippy, looked like she was trying to prolapse and push her backside out so we brought her in with the colts. Turns out she was probably just constipated and full of mesquite beans. All is well.

Loaded up some cull cattle:

to take to the sale barn on Monday morning:

DH is unloading his trailer and I'm waiting to unload behind him:

 I don't usually spend time in the sale barn. It might or might not have anything to do with the fact that the auctioneer misinterpreted my waving hands as a bid one day. I was just retelling a story to RanchWife about the day the roof blew off of our house when we lived in Texas. Sheesh. You would think he could tell the difference. Suffice it to say, I've not graced the halls of the sale barn since then. Until this day, and I broke out into a cold sweat when I did. However, I behaved and sat on my hands the entire time. Still, I'm fairly certain I heard the auctioneer snicker.

Then we've started feeding. This is my winter chariot:


We have these overhead feed bins

that we fill with cake. Not the frosted kind. :)

Then we fill the feeders and go out to feed the masses. The truck is outfitted with a very, very, loud siren that we turn on periodically. Think of it as a dinner bell! The young cattle don't know what to make of it the first time they hear it and they stand there and look at you as if you had taken leave of your senses. But the older cattle, seem to remember from last year that it means good stuff is waiting for them. They actually come running in and you can see the dust rising from over a mile away. It's funny to see them run up drooling and licking their lips.

We set the feeder to dole out a certain weight of cake depending on what we're feeding. Bulls get more, as do cattle who are pregnant or nursing a calf.

It's not strenuous work, but when the wind's blowing this desert country isn't very fun to be out in.(The homeschool mom in me is fussing at ending that sentence with a preposition).

So, this is what I do for fun y'all! The days are never really the same except you sure are sick of feeding cattle come spring. It's a really good life and I still pinch myself that I get to live it, but good golly I am tired! I guess it's time to admit that the old grey mare just ain't what she used to be...ain't what she used to be...

Y'all can sing along so I don't feel so alone...and old. Humor me.
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