Sunday, April 17, 2016

Around the homestead...

It’s been warm around here. Not summer heat kind of warm, but enough to make the rains we’ve had feel sticky at times. The dogs are not enjoying the rain, the pups are certainly not enjoying it, but the goats seem to be resigned to the fact that rain will come every few days at best.  
I won't bother telling you about how there will most likely not be a garden space this year. I'm a big old record on repeat with that story. It's been a mud pit out here and I'm already getting behind on mowing, let alone thinking about tilling. I will barter some herbal cuts from friends perhaps, rebuild the raised beds, but that will probably be all there will be. As usual.

In the Sewing Basket…I’ve been working on some peasant style dresses and tops for summer. A peasant style is one with a wide neckline with encased elastic all around, and often there is an elastic casing for a high, empire style waistline as well. They are super comfortable and suit cotton fabrics pretty well in terms of draping nicely. They are also very forgiving for a round shape (ahem…me…) and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more easily adjustable fit than this design. Dress length, short length, shirt length…you can easily adapt it to whatever need you have. The photo is one I made for Emily a couple years back. Shirt length is nice...I extended it out full length for a summer nightgown for her as well. This general design is what we will be making for Chris and Amber's wedding in mid June. I have the fabrics selected, just tweaking the pattern a bit to fit my round self better. 

I am also working on rebuilding the dishcloth basket here. I'm splitting my efforts between fabric-backed cloths and some knitted ones. I do up my knit cloths with 2 strands of coordinating colors of the Bernat Handicrafter Thread. This is similar thread to the Aunt Lydias #10 cotton that everyone seems to use for stitching doilies and other delicate edgings. I prefer the Bernat in terms of the thickness and thread quality, and working it in 2 strands gives me so many color combinations, as well as  a sturdy, yet not too bulky dishcloth. Plus Joann's has a good sale right now so it's a win-win situation all around, LOL.
In the Kitchen...we have herbal tinctures going, salves being made, and I am working on some essential oil "whips" for the shop as well. I've done up the Pain Away Whip and some Headache Ease Whip and I love them. The oils are easily mixed, and some blends can be found pre-made for use as well. I was using a roller bottle, which I like, but for me they don't seem to be ideal. There is always a bit of seepage I found, not so much you are wasting product, but enough that I am not pleased. Dropping one or two drops of oil can be problematic as well...running off your hand, hard to apply just where you want it, etc. Maybe it's just me and I'm not coordinated enough, LOL. Whatever the case, I wanted something easy to apply right where needed, diluted and ready for use. The perfect choice seemed to be salve, and while I like them done up that was also, I thought more of a whipped lotion might be even better, so I crafted some base, stirred in the oils and blends of choice and voila! I love them. And they are perfect for the tiny tea tins that are sitting here needing a purpose. Too deep for a hard salve, but perfect for a Whip. 
I'd like to say I've been baking and putting that incredible new commercial Kitchen Aid mixer to use, but I haven't yet. I have used it...but not to it's full capacity. I know, I know...what's wrong with me??? This mixer is AWESOME, heavy weight, commercial grade power and quiet like you wouldn't believe. Here is a great video comparing a couple mixers and discussing the perks of the commercial KA if you're interested

This is what mine looks like...a big, black, shiny beast. I will definitely get years of use from it. My last Kitchen Aid was about 23 years old or so, a professional grade 6 quart. I worked it like a mule almost daily, weekly for sure, for every year I had it. This new one might just replace the monster 20 quart Varimixer  I use for the big double batches of our bread recipe. I can easily do a 6 loaf batch in the 8qt Kitchen Aid. Farm Market here we come...loaded with baked goods!!
 Around the Homestead...I have been cutting back on the Facebook time and enjoying the connection over at Instagram. If you're interested in following me there, here I am. I am keeping Facebook going because I do have several friends there that are not active anywhere else, plus the Walking Thru Scripture Bible study group, and eventually I will keep the Hands and Hearts Farm shop page updated regularly, but for now, I am here and at Instagram mostly. Summer is just around the corner and I need to be busy with things outside the internet realm if you know what I mean. It's easy to get distracted by the almost instant, all too easy venue of Facebook. It is for me anyway. 
Once the farm market season kicks in, we will be busy with crafting our items during the week, and then at least 2 full days of nothing but baking to keep stocked. I think we will start with a 1 day a week farm market plan and see how that goes. Between Liam here everyday, schooling, regular homestead chores and more, I don't expect we can handle much more than that anyway.

I have been back into the letter writing circles again. Our original Pen Friends robin group has grown over its 8 years...or are we into 9 already??...but recently the robins have been slower moving. This year we have one simply robin making the rounds to just 5 of us who have stayed the course with it. I rather like it that way truth be told. It's a closer knit group of friends that way, and we have each been there for almost all of the groups life. It's nice to catch up with everyone, especially as most are not on Facebook, or even blogging regularly. I am looking forward to writing among some other friends as well, but they are busy with LIFE and we don't always keep up. Letter writing is definitely a lost art that not enough people practice anymore. Technology has all but killed off the pen and paper. Still, I love a pretty set of so hard to find these days...and a few good pens and some cute little stickers and other embellishments :-) 

And who doesn't like going to the mailbox and finding a special visit from a friend waiting inside??


Yvonna said...

Letter writing circle? Robin making rounds?

Mrs Dewey Smith said...

A Round Robin, or Circle Letter, is one that makes the rounds between several friends. One would start the circle off by writing a letter and sending it to the next, who reads that letter, writes one of her own, then sends it to the next. If there are say 5 friends on the circle, when it gets back around to the 1st person, there will be 5 letters in the envelope. The 1st person then removes her original letter, reads the others, writes her own new letter and the circle begins again. Each removes their previous letter as it returns to them and writes a new one.

Our Circle started off with just 7 ladies. We shared a year long quilt block project together for one set of letters. We have shared a recipe circle, sharing our favorites...a gardening chat circle, sharing our plans, our garden projects, etc. Usually we share Bible studies we are working on, verses that have become our life notes, and just general chit chat about our lives and families. We are scattered about the US and Australia, but are down to just 5 ladies currently. That's the sad part of letter writing these days I guess. Technology has made it too easy, to instant, to hop onto Facebook or even a Yahoo group, and catch up with idle chit chat. There are few who will take the time to really connect with friends by taking pen in hand these days and sending it off to wait for a reply :-(



Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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