Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December Days

I thought I ought to pop in for a quick post. I sure didn't intend to go without posting for this long.
Like many of you, my days and thoughts are immersed in all things Christmas and I'm trying to figure out how the days are speeding past so quickly. I'm not ready, but ready or not, Christmas will be here in 2 days.

Michael Buble' has crooned his way into our hearts, bringing the Christmas spirit along. The snowflakes and reindeer have been multiplying and are now in their new homes. The last of the Christmas gifts have been stitched: Pillowcases for the kiddos at North Camp:

Actually, that's the only Christmas sewing I did. I don't know how y'all are finding the time to sew and post all of these wonderful projects so close to Christmas! I glanced at my Feedly and had over 250 blogs to catch up on. With a house full of company, there simply isn't a quiet moment. It's quiet at 4:30 a.m. though, so I am stealing a few minutes away, curled up in a corner of the sofa, under a quilt, next to the tree:

I wanted to make some handmade cards for my mom this year so I pulled out card making supplies and racked my brain for ideas a few days ago. I'm a messy card maker:

Our girl was home and she curled up on the bed and kept me entertained as I worked. We collaborated and enjoyed a good visit. When I asked for ideas, she laughed and said that 'any creativity I might have had as a child has been crushed under the piles of  Organic Chemistry formulas, bovine feed formulations, and a pile of dirty clothes". LOL.
Having her for company made it all the more fun

We were all visiting the other evening and I said, "I probably ought to move the mouse head before Omi gets here." DH and college girl burst out laughing and she said, "Now that's not something you hear every day." LOL. Just to clear things up - we have cats outside and they frequently like to deposit lovely gifts in front of the house. We think nothing of it, but we don't want to be completely uncouth when company arrives. :)

We had 2 Christmas parties to attend and they were both on the same night. We kicked off one and shut down the other. It'll probably take me a year to recover, but DH and I decided we could handle one late night a year.

My sewing machine has been in hibernation, but I finished the hand quilting on DH's wool quilt in the evenings and its wrapped and under the tree.

I don't know if I'll be popping back in before the New Year, but I sure didn't want the holiday to go by without wishing y'all a very Blessed Christmas!

Here's hoping there's less hustle and bustle and more  'Silent Night' to your  'Christmas Can't Be Very Far Away' December days. Wishing you and yours a very Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year! May your days be filled with all the things and people that bring you great joy!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Quality Time with the Backhoe

Around here, Christmas preparations are often interrupted. Yesterday, I had fought my way into the deepest, darkest corner of the shed in an attempt to begin pulling out the boxes of Christmas cheer.

 I had just found the perfect one-footed, tip-toe position in order to reach the box I was after when the phone rang. "Can I get you to...." Many of our conversations begin like that. :)

This time I was called to load up the socket set and drive out until I found him in Mesquite. DH has been logging in lots of extra hours on the tractor. He's been burying water lines and repairing washed out roads:

The old Case Backhoe has seen better days, but it still chugs into action when duty calls. You could say the same thing about me.

Thankfully, I haven't needed to replace my hydraulic fluid line. :) Poor thing had sprung a major leak.

The proper tools were selected:

and DH set to dismantling the bolts:

and lines:

And the culprit was removed:

I'm the official hold-er of loosened pieces and the hand-er of tools. 28 years of marriage has given me the ability to do so before DH even needs to ask.

I guess its not everyone's idea of fun, but I love it. DH always laughs when I say that it is. Is he married to a crazy woman? Perhaps.

We climbed into the pickup, made a flying trip to town, spent less than $200 at NAPA, treated ourselves to a Spicy Chicken Sandwich and Jr Frosty at Wendy's, and headed back out to the tractor.

Before long, the shiny new hydraulic hose:

was installed:

Laundry day's going to be lots of fun!

hydraulic fluid was added:


See, fun:

And after a little TLC,we were back in business.

Even after all these years, I am still in awe of how handy DH is. He is a master at fixing things and building things and I have yet to see him not be able to tackle something successfully whether it be construction, welding, plumbing, electrical, mechanical, farrier, equine, bovine, forage, survival, firearm, or hunting related. He's one smart cookie.

He doesn't do technology, but that's what he's got me for! Well, that and comic relief.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sheryl's Brown Sugar Pound Cake

I discovered another wonderful recipe and after trying it out on DH and the sale barn crowd, it has been declared a hit and worthy of sharing and that sale barn crew is a tough crowd! I even had one cattle buyer complain that he heard how wonderful it was and that the others were supposed to save him a piece, but they did not. So another Brown Sugar Pound Cake must be baked. After all, I need to keep on their good side!

I found this on Pinterest and made it that very day. The recipe comes from Sheryl at  Lady Behind the Curtain and she was sweet to give me permission to share it with y'all.

I did not make the Caramel Drizzle because at the sale barn everyone slices off a piece and walks around with it on a paper towel and I though the drizzle would be too messy, but it was so cotton pickin' good without it. I also baked it longer. Its a very moist cake and I baked mine for 1 hour 45 minutes. Sheryl says to not worry if it sticks and mine did just a little bit, but not much. This one made it to my forever favorite recipe book. Thanks so much for sharing it Sheryl!

Brown Sugar Pound Cake
  • 1-1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 – 8 ounce bag toffee bits
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 recipe Caramel Drizzle
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Spray a 12 cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray with flour. Set aside.
  3. Beat butter until creamy. Add sugars, beating until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Stir in toffee bits and pecans.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake until a wood pick inserted near the center of cake comes out clean, 75 to 85 minutes.
  6. Cover top of cake with foil to prevent excess browning if necessary. (I did do this)
  7. Let cake cool in pan for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack. NOTE: Don’t freak out if some of the cake sticks. Mine did too. It’s because this cake is so moist. GOOD NEWS! We get to cover all the imperfections with yummy caramel!
  9. Spoon Caramel Drizzle over cooled cake.

Caramel Drizzle
  • 1 - 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 C light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine condensed milk and brown sugar; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly.
  2. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking constantly.
  3. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and vanilla.
  4. NOTE: Make sure you drizzle the caramel while it's still HOT. When cooled the caramel does somewhat harden.
Notes:This recipe is from The Taste of the South’s Southern Cakes Magazine.

Let the Christmas baking begin! 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Beware of Snakes

Warning: for those of you who do not want to see a really cool picture of snakes, you may opt out now. For the rest of you, scroll down. I detest rattlesnakes, but those of you who know me or have been reading here for a while, already know that. However, I took this photo the other day and I have to post it because this blog is a journal of what goes on around here and one day future grand kids will think their Pap and Gran were cool for taking pictures like this...or crazy...or both!

It was really cold in the morning and when snakes are cold, they won't move so that's the only reason I got as close as I did. I just took the picture. DH caught them and we added the baseball to give you a perspective. Each snake is 5' long. Anyone wanna play catch?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Reindeer - Tutorial


I thought I had posted a tutorial  for these fellas at some point, but I guess I was mistaken and I've had a few requests on how to make these. I worked on some this week and took some photos of the process.

Here are the supplies:

Tan yarn
tan felt
brown felt
small red pom pom
large brown pom pom (optional and not pictured)) - this is for the tail and I usually just make a small pom pom out of the tan yarn, but I have, on occasion, used a large brown pom pom in a pinch..
wiggly eyes
red bow
printed tag
hot glue gun
Xacto knife

First step. Find a good movie to watch as you sit down to make pom poms. I suppose you don't need an entire movie unless you are making a whole herd like I do. You need three sizes of pom poms. A large one for the face -a medium one for the muzzle - and a small one for the tail.


For the large one, I wrap yarn around 4 fingers:


For the medium sized one, I wrap yarn around 3 fingers:


And for the small one I wrap yarn around 2 fingers:


Then you trim the stuffing out of them. I find it the easiest to have a large bowl at my feet and trim into that or you will have yarn fluff everywhere.

Sketch out some antlers onto the tan felt, fold it over, and cut a matching pair of antlers. I can not draw to save my life so comical antlers is what you get:

Glue these on to the front of the Whopper box:


Then cut little ears out of the brown felt. I wait to glue them onto the antlers after I have glued the pom poms so that I have a better sense of where to place them, but this is not rocket science so do what works for you.


Next, hot glue the large pom pom on to the front of the Whopper box and then add the little brown for the ears:

Then glue the medium pom pom onto the large pom pom:

 Next glue on the eyes:

And the nose:

String a bell through the wire on the bow, twist to secure, and glue to the box just under the face:

Print out a label and attach to the reindeer with double stick tape:

Turn your Whopper box around to the back and cut a rounded U shaped flap a few inches from the bottom of the box:

Make sure you can easily shake a Whopper out or you may have a constipated reindeer. Sorry. Don't ask me how I know this.

 Finally, hot glue the smaller pom pom over the flap, being careful to not glue the flap shut.

And there you have it!

I make these for everyone - Marines, college kids, professors, little kids, our UPS man, cousins, the Culligan people where we get water, the Farm Store, the mailman, the neighboring ranches, the propane man, the equipment operator who is working on our roads, and this year the sale barn crew and the Safari Club.

Hope y'all enjoy making these. They're fun to make and to give.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Machine Embroidered Snowflakes

Well, my goodness! Y'all sure do know how to make a gal feel good! Thank y'all so much for taking the time to stop by and leave such lovely comments on my blog hop post. I begged off from ranch duty on Saturday  in order to reply back to y'all. :) If you haven't heard back from me, you came across as a non-reply blogger.

Many of you commented about how much I got done. It just looks like a lot when its all shared in one post. Truth is, these photos are from last year and the year before. I participated in a project called Christmas Through the Year hosted by Darlene, a dear lady. The idea was to make a Christmas gift each month. Brilliant! It was so nice to give so many hand made gifts to friends and family. I didn't do that this year, but you can bet I'll be doing it from now on!

So there you go. I am not super woman - FAR from it! :) If you saw my windows right now, I promise you would be fussing at me - they are scandalous.

I had some requests for more information on how to make these embroidered snowflake so I'm sharing more details on those today. These are the best kind of snowflakes - not only are they pretty - they don't need shoveling!

As for you reindeer lovers, I'm working on a tutorial and hope to have it ready to go on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

I bought the snowflake pattern at Embroidery Library a few years back. They often run great sales and I have never had a problem with any of their designs. They stitch out so nicely. Here's the link.

There are 6 different snowflakes in this set:

                                           Machine Embroidery Designs at Embroidery Library

I use Fabric-solvy to stitch on:

I can get 36 snowflakes out of this 9 yd roll. Once your design is stitched, you simply place your snowflake in a warm bowl of water and the foundation dissolves, leaving a pretty embroidered snowflake.

These designs take a bit to stitch out. It varies with each design, but it averages just over 40 minutes per flake.

I don't have to baby sit it much. I just go about doing other things while keeping one ear open and peeking in every now and then. My machine was stitching up a storm...a snowstorm. :)

Until I ran out of thread:

I've only made them in white, but you could of course use any color. I wouldn't recommend using a metallic thread because it may tend to break and snarl with this much stitching, but you could spray some glitter on them for a sparky effect if you wish.

I am charmed by these little snowflakes. That is, if one can be charmed by a snowflake. :)

If you stop in on Friday, I'll have that reindeer tutorial. They're kind of charming too! :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

'Twas The Night - My Day

Today's my day to share some ideas for quick Christmas gifts so if you're here via the Twas The Night Blog Hop, welcome to the end of the dirt road!

                               Twas the night....Marlene has the schedule
Thank you Madam Samm from Sew We Quilt for all you do to inspire us throughout the year and a special thanks goes out to Marlene from Stitchin' By The Lake for organizing all the details and emails that kept us all on track - your time and dedication and patience is truly appreciated!

I've already added many a project to my gift making list and I hope you've found inspiration as well these past couple of weeks. And now I get to share what Cathy from Cate's Linens ,  made for me. I  received this darling set of  a snack mat

and a mug rug,

just perfect for adding a bit of Christmas cheer to my stitching time in the evenings! I'm all about nibbling on a good cookie while enjoying a good mug of hot tea and now I'll smile and think of sweet Cathy every time I look at this pretty set. Thank you so much, Cathy for your thoughtful gift!

To see what I made, hop on over and visit  Thearica at Pig Tales and Quilts . I sure did have fun putting her package together and what I made for her is one of my favorite gifts to make. And a little birdie told me that Thearica is having a birthday today so y'all be sure and wish her a happy birthday when you pop over there! Happy Birthday Thearica!! May your day be extra special!

 I wanted to share a few other projects that I've made in the past that are quick to put together.

It seems my go to gift these past few years has been these potholders originally found at Deanna's over at Wedding Dress Blue. Here's the link to her tutorial for the string pieced potholders.

 I've lost count, but I'm fairly certain I am in the neighborhood of making 50 sets of these potholders and just when I think I've made all I'm going to make, I get requests for more!

The same thing has happened with these Reindeer Whoppers:

I've been making these for nigh on 20 years and every year I tell myself I am NOT making any more and then every year I end up making yet another herd.

I mean honestly, how can I NOT make them for just about everyone at the sale barn this year?! You know those cattlemen will get a kick out of them, whether they admit it or not. In fact, now that I've written that, I think I ought to start hoarding Whoppers and making reindeer because I just found out that we have to take something for the Safari Club Christmas Party too.

And last year I made a dozen of these pretty snowflakes.

Well, I didn't actually make them, my sewing machine did. If your machine has embroidery capabilities, these are a fun project they take a lot of thread, but I think they turn out so pretty. They are nice additions to packages and trees.

And then for the finishing touch, these bags from Jeni over at  In Color Order  , are a great quick project. I've made a couple dozen of these as well and there are more to be made because I keep giving them away.

I often give a set of potholders in a matching bag as a gift:

Here are the the rest of my fellow bloggers rounding out today's schedule.

Friday, Nov. 21

Whew! That was a fun hop! Thank you Madam Samm and Marlene! Now I had better get to making some of these gifts instead of just writing about them! Thank you again for popping in!
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