Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dog Sitting

For the past few days we’ve been watching our friend’s dog. And for the past few days our dog has been exhausted by the middle of the day.

Every reason we have come up with for not getting another dog seems to be receiving an equally compelling argument to go to the humane society and find one. When my sister couldn’t care for her dog any longer we had originally offered to take him in but had concerns about the impending vet bills of two dogs when neither of us are employed. Funnily enough, my cousin overruled his mother and kept him. He’d probably be a better fit with their family anyway, as he’s too sweet of a dog and we really need a dominant male to put our bitch in her place. I can say bitch because, well, she is one.

Rufus may be a small dog (he doesn’t even reach our Lucy’s elbows) but they are equally dominant making for an even playing field, possibly because they are both spoiled little brats as most only children are. I did say MOST so please, no nasty comments from all you perfectly acceptable single kiddos out there, okay? The only issue we’ve had with Rufus is that he isn’t very fond of cats, and our almost twelve year old calico, Tuesday, isn’t fond of anything but food. Needless to say, we’ve had to keep them separated.

I find it humorous how sweet and cuddly Rufus is and how Lucy, normally quite jealous of anything receiving more attention than she does, including laundry, doesn’t seem to mind. Perhaps it is because she is getting older and less anxious. Or perhaps it is because this little ball of energy wears her out and she simply can’t summon the oomph to protest. Whatever it is, I find it refreshing.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Roof: Part 1

For a few years now we’ve had a hole in our roof that eventually led to a much larger issue of rot until the gutter wasn’t attached to anything. A few days ago my partner decided to do something about it.

Sometimes the advantages and disadvantages of home ownership seem to be warring with each other. If we were still renting this house this wouldn’t be our problem to solve. Of course, if we were still renting we wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of things we’ve done over the years. So when my partner decided to take a closer look at the damage to the roof by prying apart the soffit where we first noticed a hole, a fairly good indicator of water damage, my first thought was, “Don’t go too far, we can’t afford this.” However, walking outside a few minutes later to find what looked like a demolition site, I literally bit my tongue as I saw just how much this was going to cost someone else to fix, because this was more work than we could possibly do ourselves without the know-how to do it. Literally biting my tongue until I drew blood, I simply walked back into the house.

A couple hours later my partner informed me that one of our friends, who happens to be a roofer, will be by in a couple days to help fix the damage. While this was a minor relief, there was still the cost of supplies to contend with. The fact that he said he’d work for beer was major relief as beer is cheaper than labor, even the imported microbrews he drinks.

And so work started on the project yesterday, with even more tear down and a trip to the hardware store to pick up supplies. The only thing we still had was the primer and paint from a previous repair project we tackled a few years ago to fix a similar, albeit much small, problem on another section of the soffit. While I was busy baking and decorating a cake, my partner and friend were busy repairing the roof. They got a lot accomplished yesterday before calling it quits, and hopefully by Saturday when work resumes it will be complete. I just hope they don’t find anything else that needs to be fixed in the process!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chickens in the Yard... Mostly Ours

I let the chickens out yesterday while I watered and weeded the squash and bean gardens. I did not anticipate visitors from the other side.

No, this isn’t about ghosts, but rather other chickens. That is to say, chickens other than ours. After I was done weeding the squash and bean garden along our back fence behind the vegetable garden, I came inside to get a drink of water and wash up as well as sit and cool down. What can I say, manual labor and I are not friends, even fifteen minutes of weeding gets me all hot and sweaty and out of breath. No sooner had I swallowed my first sip of water, my partner asks, “Is that one of the neighbors chickens in our yard?” Sure enough, it was.

Now, a logical person would have simply gathered the bird and taken it back over the fence to go back to its home, but I grabbed the camera and snapped a few pictures of the bantam chicken and watched her as she had her first taste of freedom in perhaps her life. You see, the neighbors behind us keep their chickens locked up at all times and they never get to scratch around in the grass. Upon further inspection of both their coop and our fence, I found where she had escaped her home and found sanctuary in our yard. My partner and I decided to watch her for a while then just let her be and perhaps she’ll find her way back.

The new chicks are now growing quite quickly and spending a lot more time away from their mother. It’s sad they have to grow up, but at the same time I can’t wait to get our first chocolate eggs from Harmony, the Cuckoo Maran! I’ve noticed that of the three new chicks, the Speckled Sussex, Joyce, still spends most of her time in Kendra, her mother’s, shadow.

Eventually the mystery guest found her way back into her own yard but needed help from one of her owners to get into the coop. It got me wondering why people keep chickens if they have no intention of letting those chickens be, well, chickens. I’m not saying that they should let them free range or anything, but perhaps a plywood floor that absorbs all their droppings and releases the nasty odor into the surrounding air isn’t the best option for their health or anyone else’s for that matter. I’m sure that if they were to get rid of that floor in most of the coop except where they have the dog kennel the chickens use as a nest box and sleep on top of it at night and simply had a dirt floor they’d be much happier. Then again, the small amount of dirt around the perimeter has much evidence of previous escape attempts, or perhaps it is the only way they can properly give themselves a dust bath.

Anyway, I’d hate to end this post feeling sorry for chickens that don’t belong to us, so I also took pictures of the garden, namely the leek flowers that have been covered in bees since they bloomed. Our dog, Lucy, ran up the steps to the upper part of the backyard just as I snapped this picture.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Moving Friends's Stuff

One part about being unemployed is you feel obligated to help out when someone needs you. Yep, I’ve got nothing else to draw you in here.

Friends of ours are in the process of buying a house, however before they move in they are having work done on it. In the mean time they are living in a hotel and having their stuff put into storage. My partner, being the person that he is, offered his assistance and our trailer to help haul anything ready to go into the storage unit. Figuring I had nothing better to do, I decided to help out too.

Here’s the thing. When moving, it helps to have stuff, well, packed and ready to go. A majority of the stuff was, but the biggest issues that hinder their ability to quickly pack up and move is that one of them works full time and the other not only has their three kids to watch and clean up after, but also has a bad hip in need of replacement. Plus they were planning on hiring movers and when they were suddenly cash-strapped due to unexpected costs they were not informed about over the house, had to scrap those plans and scramble to get everything out of the house they were renting by the end of the month.

So, after loading up the trailer and back of our Blazer, we headed over to the storage unit and began rearranging stuff and putting boxes and furniture in. Sadly, the unit looked like there was more space in it after we put stuff in than before. I’ll gather that probably had to do with the fact that we were smartly utilizing the vertical space better by stacking what could be stacked. Of course, the house they are moving out of is still filled with tons of stuff, including a huge television none of us could move that sits above their fireplace. Fortunately we convinced the other half of the moving equation it would be best to sell it rather than risk injury to ourselves and/or the floor below. Besides, it’s big and bulky and eventually they’ll want a newer TV when their home is ready anyway.

While a lot of the big stuff is out, they’ve still got a lot of work to do to get the rest of it packed up or thrown away before the end of the month, which, if you’ll notice the date, is only a few days away. I for one do not envy them.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rethinking a Quilt

Last week I began work on another quilt. This week, after looking at the simple design I originally planned on, I’m thinking it best to scrap those plans and start over.

While technically I started this particular quilt nearly four years ago when I purchased the fabric, the idea then was to just have a random patchwork of eight inch squares for the top and so I had cut out quite a few squares. Simple. Boring. Years later, as I approach the project again, I thought it would look better as triangles, so I stacked alternating solids and patterns and cut them all in half diagonally. Again, keeping it simple. And again, boring.

So now I’ve got 36 blocks of two triangles each, 12 solid patterned blocks, a quarter to half yard of fabric left uncut from the various ones used, three yards of coordinating fabric for the back and a solid for the border. Currently, with only the triangle blocks sewn together by chain stitching (my new favorite thing about quilting ever) I’ve still got plenty of options out there. Part of me wishes I had more fabric choices to create buckeyes, but at the same time I think that limiting my choices is going to be the real challenge on this particular quilt.

I keep thinking I could halve the current blocks and sew those into smaller triangle blocks, but I’m not sure if that will make me happy with this project. I could turn the solid blocks into four-patches instead, but then I’m afraid the pattern will look off. Too many damn choices and too many quilt designs to think about! And so then I think my rethinking was a bad idea and try to make my original plan (well, original as in the last post I wrote about), something that to me looks like open envelopes, will work for the center of the quilt if I make an interesting border, do simple straight line quilting through the center of every other block and hand quilt a design of some sort in the remaining areas. Then again, we’ll see how involved I want to be on a project I plan on parting ways with. Of course, if I’m uninspired, I’ll probably throw it all back into a plastic bag and ignore it for another four years.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Trying to Cool Down the House

During the summer it is near impossible to keep the house cool. Of course, it helps if the nighttime temperatures ever got low enough to make a difference too.

The last few nights we’ve had open windows and fans blowing in every direction to create cross-flow in order to attempt cooling down the house that heats up quite quickly during the few days a year the temperature gets above 85 degrees. I mean, if we had air conditioning I’m sure that would help, but seems illogical to invest in one for the rare use it will get. Then again, some days I wonder why we haven’t ever gotten even a cheap little window unit and I’m reminded of our single pane aluminum windows inability to actually use one of those cheap units and instead would have to fork over practically the same amount of money a ductless air conditioner would cost.

Even though our home is equipped with ducts that are hooked up to a natural gas furnace, the efficiency of any ductwork is crappy compared to nearly all of their ductless competitors. On the flipside, with ductless you either have to keep all your doors open or install a unit in every closed off room, so the monetary savings from efficiency might be dissipated from equipment costs.

However, until money exists in our lives once again, we will continue to employ the nightly open-window-fan strategy. Thank goodness our Great Dane, Lucy, is so large, intimidating and protective, otherwise I wouldn’t feel so safe keeping the windows open at night.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Black Beans

Last night our supper club from church got together for the first time in a while and the theme was Mexican food. We were in charge of the beans.

So while both my partner and I had busy days yesterday, him being the good friend helping our friends move and me being the good son going to a family barbecue, we both were looking forward to our supper club reuniting that night. For the first year we met every month and the second year about half as often and then we, well, stopped. Scheduling conflicts and general everyday business got in the way. Deciding to ignore all of that, our friends in the supper club all were eager to start our monthly meals back up.

Each month a host sets up the date and menu or theme and sends out the invites with a suggestion of what to bring. Sometimes a recipe is attached and sometimes just a general side dish request for something that falls into the theme will suffice. Of course, not everybody follows given recipes, me especially, so when we were asked to bring the black beans my initial thought was to start them with bacon, because, well, I’m a baconholic. However, I refrained, instead opting to search through my Mexican cookbook for an authentic recipe, but the only one I could find was one for black bean soup. So I figured to heck with it, I’d try to translate that into a side dish and took a quick glance at the ingredients before making the beans. As it turned out, they were a hit and were extremely delicious… even without the bacon!

This recipe was for a dinner party and was easily enough for twelve to twenty people so feel free to halve or quarter the recipe to suit your needs. Of course, leftovers of this are great for making enchiladas or adding chicken stock and pureeing to make soup, so it might be a good idea to just make the full batch.

Black Beans
4 cans black beans
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeños, finely diced
10 sprigs fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet or stockpot over medium-low to medium heat, slowly cook the onions in olive oil, stirring often to prevent them from browning. Lower heat if needed. When they are just starting to turn translucent add the garlic and season with a couple pinches of salt and pepper and stir together. Add the black beans with liquid, jalapeños and oregano and stir to combine. Simmer for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. I usually add a few more cracks of black pepper right before serving.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Heather Ross

While I don’t have nor ever used any fabrics by Heather Ross, I’m a fan. That’s why I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear her speak.

Last night friends and I went to the Pacific Northwest College of Art for a lecture by Heather Ross, most famous for her whimsical fabric designs. It was refreshing to see a speaker actually giving an honest opinion about her experiences in the textile industry. It was also quite eye-opening to find out just how little the designers who create the fabrics we, The Material Obsessed, love so much.

During the lecture, Heather Ross talked about her experiences with licensing (not so great) and print on demand with Spoonflower (great) and how she’s a little bitter about manufacturers of her work still making money off of her designs while she, the designer, is not receiving anything from those sales. While she pointed out that there are a few success stories, she said it really isn’t worth the effort just for name recognition for all the hard work that has to be put into it, namely the 80 hour work weeks for 3½ percent profit from each yard of fabric sold at wholesale, which if you have an agent gets split in half. The focus of the lecture seemed to be finding what makes your style unique and going with it.

While she seemed to be slightly disgruntled at the lack of control she had over her designs through her work with major fabric producers, with the exception of her current line with Kokka, a Japanese textile company that prides itself on original and unique offerings, she was quite upbeat about her new projects. One of those is a book focused on uses for her various designs that can be printed by the consumer utilizing the enclosed CD. She was really excited about the idea of people being able to do stuff creatively and was optimistic that this Do-It-Yourself movement isn’t just a fad, but a growing awareness that we as a society have forgotten how to make stuff ourselves. Working with a children’s book editor, she is also creating the illustrations for two children’s books, and even asked my second cousin who joined us for the lecture for her address to send her a proof of the book for her opinion. How awesome is that?

Going to the lecture, I was expecting to hear about how great it is to design stuff for the big boys of the fabric industry, and instead what I got was lesson on staying true to yourself. Sometimes unexpected pessimism can turn into optimistic hope.

To find out more about Heather Ross, please visit her website:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Starting Another Quilt

Last night I decided to dig out some old fabric I’ve had lying around for years and finally do something with it. While I like the patterns and colors, they aren’t my style, so it’ll be an Etsy shop quilt.

Don’t berate me just yet for not having pictures up, I promise I’ll have them on the next post about this particular topic. Now, I originally bought these fabrics four years ago with the intention of making a quilt for a friend, but me being me, never got around to actually making it. Besides, turns out the friend doesn’t like the color pink anyway and there’s a hellalotta pink!

And so trying to figure out what next to put into my sad little Etsy shop, I decided to make a quilt. I didn’t want to make anything involved or incredulously time consuming like my previous framed 9-patch quilt that I worked on for over a month and a half, just a simple design that worked well with the prints. After researching various patterns, it appears I’m stuck between Buckeyes, Windmills or a couple of random styles, all utilizing triangles. When I first bought the fabric I started cutting it into 8½ inch squares, so I figured I’d use these squares to make triangles and figure out what to do with the remainder of the fabric.

To make the triangles, I first took each dark and placed it facing a light and made two identical pairings, which would make a total of four triangles. Stacking the squares onto my cutting mat and using rotary scissors I cut them in half diagonally. I then chain stitched all 36 of my triangles together before separating them and ironing the seams all toward the dark fabric.

I then played around with various patterns once the blocks were done to see what looked best. So far, nothing is catching my attention as being, well, all that interesting. I’m thinking I may want to either make 36 more blocks of smaller triangles or go ahead and make them 4-patches for the Buckeye pattern. Perhaps I should start with a couple and see how it looks in case I don’t like either.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Heat and lettuce don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Bolting is inevitable, but doesn’t have to mean it is time to toss those heads out of the garden.

For some reason this last growing season was our best for lettuce yet, and these seeds are over 3 years old now. I’m sure the extended spring weather and rains helped with that. However, once the heat came quite unexpectedly the lettuce decided it was time to bolt. Bolting is the process of forming a flower stalk in the middle of the head to form seeds. This usually means the lettuce has gone bitter, a defense mechanism more than likely to prevent being devoured before the plant is able to spread its seeds and die.

So our lettuces have all started to bolt now. It began with the romaine, the lettuce we use most often, and seemed to not happen to any of our mixed greens until we left town. Figures. The chickens don’t seem to mind the slightly bitter taste the romaine lettuce has taken on and so every few days I pull a head for them to munch on. However, wanting to make a salad for dinner last night, I decided to check on a few of the mixed greens to see if any of them were edible. Taking a small sample of the lettuces, I tasted them. As it turned out a few of them were still slightly sweet and delicious, a sign that they’d make a great salad, with only one bitter and one very slightly
bitter which will soon be chicken food.

Okay, so with a couple heads of lettuce in hand, red oak and butter if you’re interested, I took them into the kitchen and washed them thoroughly in cold water a total of three times to make sure that any soil and bugs were off. If time had allowed and I thought of it earlier, a few hours in the refrigerator would have crisped them up further. But for the simple salad I was preparing it probably wouldn’t have made a difference.

Strawberry and Feta Salad
1 large head lettuce, such as romaine
6-8 strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup feta cheese
½ cup croutons
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Quarter lettuce lengthwise and cut into bite sized pieces, or simply buy a ready to use bag of lettuce or mixed greens. Instead of croutons, try 2 tablespoons sliced almonds. Toss all ingredients together and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


After a week of family from out of town and going out of town to visit, it is finally time to catch up on some much needed sleep. That is, if our animals will let us.

Last night was the first night in a long while I was able to get a continuous seven hours of sleep, which is normal. More than that and I still feel tired for a majority of the day. Less than that for days in a row and I’m Oscar the Grouch. I won’t let you know just how long I slept, but if the lateness of this blog posting and the fact that I was in bed before midnight are any indication, you can probably take a wild guess.

I don’t know what it is, but around family it is nearly impossible to get to bed at a decent hour, but waking up at one seems to be inevitable. Especially when staying in a house with ten people, nine of whom are sharing a bathroom. If I didn’t get up by seven at the latest it’d be forever before the shower was available. Of course, once home we had our nephews who wanted to start watching Jaws just before midnight after a five and a half hour car ride so the chances of starting to get a little more sleep that night wasn’t going to happen.

It seems the older I get the harder it is to recover from a varying sleep schedule. I’ve gotten so accustomed to going to bed and waking up around a certain time that messing with that messes with my whole day. And I’ve been like this for years so it isn’t something that has happened since my unemployment. Then again, I think a big part of that is that our animals are on a pretty routine feeding schedule and they let you know when it is time to feed them in the morning, usually by ramming the bedroom door.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


We had our nephews from out of town with us yesterday and decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and head up to Mount St. Helens. We couldn’t have picked a more perfect day.

Even though we had just gotten back from a five and a half hour road trip late the previous night, my partner and I thought it would be fun to take our nephews up to one of our many local volcanoes, Mount St. Helens, since they haven’t been there before. First, however, we had to tend to the chickens and garden and I had the enthusiastic help of one of our nephews who was eager to collect eggs. He ended up doing most of the mundane chores for me because he wanted to do whatever he could to help out. Yeah, our nephews are cool like that. The drive up was somewhat unadventurous with the exception of the hundred questions about how long it was going to take, how long we would be spending there, how many fossils they might be able to find and how illegal it would be to take any of the rocks at the National Monument.

Once there they seemed to have a good time looking at the various features at the Johnson Ridge Observatory and the clear day produced a spectacular view of the volcano as well as the top of nearby Mt. Adams. Of course, boys being boys, they were hyper as all get out so my partner had them race each other to the top of the upper viewing area. That certainly seemed to help, but to the casual observer we had a somewhat behaved ten year old and a spastic twelve year old on our hands. Eventually we made our way back to the car and headed toward another gift shop so the boys could pick up a few souvenirs and then we were going to the 19 Mile House for cobbler, which turned into dinner and dessert as the boys were starving.

After we got home, we had them pack their bags and went to meet my dad for ice cream so he could have a little time with his grandkids before taking them over to my mom’s house for the night. My dad was just as surprised as we were at how much they had grown, especially the oldest who seemed to be growing an inch a day. They got to talk a little about their interests and activities and such before we had to get going, and while I wish it could have been a longer visit, there really wasn’t much time allotted to do so due to various schedules and such. The youngest told him to come to his grandma’s house so they could visit more, but my dad graciously declined and told him that next time he was in their neck of the woods he’d call him to set up a time to get together. After hugs and goodbyes, we left for my mom’s house.

When we got to my mom’s house, there were more people than I thought there would be, but then again, I have two aunt’s who live next door to my mom so it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise to see them there with their families visiting with my brother. The boys quickly found kids to play with and were pretty much out of sight for the rest of the night. Sometimes I wish they didn’t move so far away, but they seem to be really happy and I guess that is the important thing to keep in mind. I just hate knowing there is so much we are missing by being so far apart.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Oh, the joys of returning home after a few days away! Especially so if you have an excellent housesitter.

Before leaving for my aunt’s wedding we had to scramble for a housesitter. We found someone who could come over twice a day to feed and water the dog, but not much else. Fortunately a cousin of mine (on another side and with no relation to the aunt whose wedding we were attending) was available to spend a little more time with our dog to prevent her from going stir-crazy during our absence. Of course, this wasn’t without its ordeals, but fortunately once food was involved she said our dog was fine with her.

When we finally arrived home after a long drive last night, the house was immaculate. The only signs that we had guests staying there was that our clothes that were in the dryer were folded and the towels in the utility sink in the laundry room were washed and waiting in the dryer and clean dishes were in the drying rack next to the kitchen sink.

While we had a great time visiting family and cramming all those people into three houses, there really is nothing like coming home to sleep in your own bed. Especially if you’ve been sleeping on your old camping air mattress that has a slow leak in it.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Few things in life can be as stressful while at the same time exhilaratingly fun as a wedding. Why not take as much of the stressful part out as possible?

My aunt got married last night and the wedding was, in her words, fairytale perfect. I’m not sure if she was smoking something funny or if she just woke up and told herself that no matter what, that day was going to be perfect and nothing could ruin it for her, but the attitude she displayed was far beyond the typical bride.

I guess when you are marrying someone you truly love it makes no difference if the cake had a few issues in the 100 degree heat in an air conditioned car for four minutes, or her niece decided the bridal path was the best place to continuously booty scoot causing a few rips and tears an hour before the ceremony started, or even the fact that her father didn’t want to leave the house (Papa unfortunately has dementia.) The day was perfect according to her. Of course things worked out anyway. I was able to fix the cake and make sure the back was hidden from view (brides take note, there is always a back!), the rips and tears on the bridal path were fluffed to be nearly hidden, and Papa came after all and had a great time once he was there.

Funny how things have a way of either coming together or suddenly not being all that important if they don’t. Perhaps my aunt’s attitude of waking up and saying no matter what, today is perfect is something that can be applied to every day.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Something about family brings out the best and the worst in us. Thank God for copious amounts of alcohol and ibuprofen!

I spent a majority of yesterday baking cupcakes for my aunt’s wedding in my grandma’s kitchen, surrounded by various aged humans. To say this was what I had in mind during the small amount of time we had together would be a bit of an overstatement. But it really is my own damn fault as I should’ve said no when asked to do the cake, which the bride would’ve understood completely.

First of all, the logistics of making a cake in somebody else’s kitchen, out of town and surround by curious folks at every angle is nerve racking enough, let alone the sheer amount of stuff that needs to be transported from Site A to Site B to pull all of it off and create something edible in the process. And to think I didn’t pack my mixer. I mean, Grandma’s will work, but it was in need of being replaced sometime in the early 80s. It is so lightweight I’m afraid to make frosting for fear the thing will burn out or tip over and fall off the counter! But, it is a mixer, and as long as I hold it in place and keep an eye on it, it should work.

Second of all, it is no coincidence, nor surprise, that the number one cause of death, according to a little family history book some of the people were reading while I diligently slaved away in the kitchen, was consumption. However, I believe without consumption, the number one cause of death would be dealing with each other as that would, without a doubt, be too much for the body to cope with without the aid of an alcoholic beverage or six.

And of course when there are 24 people staying in 3 houses and gathering at various locations throughout the day, it can be slightly hectic trying to simply get to where the kitchen is that I’m making these cupcakes for the wedding, especially when you get pushed out of the room you had and are now in the living room and a couple people want to hook up a video game system and play all night and nobody wants to wake up at a decent time! Oh well, gives me a little peace and quiet before the chaos that will soon consume my existence in my quest not to completely screw up my aunt’s wedding cake.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Road Trip

Stopping for gas can be a great time to explore the area. Why not drive further into town and find a place to eat.

While driving to Wenatchee yesterday for my aunt’s wedding, we stopped in Goldendale, Washington to fill up our tank. We were both hungry so we decided to drive into downtown to check out what options we had. Unbeknownst to us, downtown Goldendale has a cute Main Street and a few eateries and pubs, but the place that caught our eye was on the street we drove down as we approached Main Street. And so we drove back to The Glass Onion.

The Glass Onion is a converted old house a couple blocks from Main Street. Owned by a husband and wife team, he is the cook and she is both hostess and a server. First impression of the menu produced pretty much what I expected, sandwiches and salads and a pasta dish or two. However, reading over the ingredient lists and the fact that they use as much fresh and local ingredients in their cooking as possible, as well as for their wine and beer list, I realized we might be in for a treat.

We each ordered a glass of iced tea, freshly brewed and organic at that, my partner ordered the turkey club and I ordered a steak and arugula sandwich. We both figured it would be deli sliced meats and weren’t expecting much and were okay with that. However, when the plates were brought out, they not only were plated beautifully and with a couple pickled peppers (and I really wish I had gone to the car to get the camera to take a picture because my words seem to be failing me) but the turkey breast was a large thick cut of turkey breast that was freshly grilled, and my steak was a whole steak also charcoal grilled to my medium-rare preference. And the bread they used was amazing.

After talking with the owner, who happened to be our server, we found out that the place had been open for two and a half years and the couple actually refurbished the old house themselves, turning it into the restaurant and gallery it is today. We also ordered dessert, which for the day they had a choice between a flourless chocolate torte and crème brulee and we opted to split the brulee. All I can say was that it was delicious, and that we devoured it quickly.

Had we decided to just stick to the highway after gassing up, we wouldn’t have discovered this place. Might I suggest that next time you arrive in a town to get gas while on a road trip that you take a little time to drive downtown and take a little walk or if you’re hungry find a place to eat. You never know what might be awaiting you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Since the heat killed my poor little peas, we decided to pull them. Perhaps tomatoes will fare better.

While at the feed store yesterday, my partner and I noticed that they were having a 99 cent sale on all of their plants and vegetable starts. Figuring the peas died and there was a empty space where I pulled up all the spinach that had bolted, we bought four tomatoes all with names we’d never heard of.

Once home we began the arduous task of pulling the peas up, which for the most part came up in one big pull as they seemed to be completely attached to each other, probably for support. Being that there were so many we didn’t bother putting them into our composter because, well, they wouldn’t all fit, so instead opted to put them into the yard debris bin. Peas in, bin full.

The thing about tomatoes is they should be planted deep to develop a sturdy root system. Equally important is making sure they have supports to climb to prevent fruit rot. So after digging holes, filling them with a handful each of crushed oyster shell (to prevent root rot) and Epsom salt (makes the fruit sweet and tasty) we planted each plant and put two of them in the typical wire cages. The other two, since we only had two wire cages, we simply used garden stakes with once down the center and three around the edges to form what looks like a teepee, tying them together with garden twine.

Hopefully these tomatoes will fare better than our peas, most of which had completely dried and papery pods. Figuring I’d test their ability to be saved, I pulled about ten pods and put them in the garage to dry until next year. If they dry correctly, I won’t have to buy new seeds for next year, and if they don’t, well, they were stupid peas anyway since they couldn’t take a little heat.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fondant Roses

Few things in life cause me to want to pull out my hair screaming. Few things, that is, except making fondant roses.

You see, the last few days have consisted of making fondant roses for my aunt’s wedding. They aren’t particularly difficult, just time consuming. I mean, when I started making them I was lucky to pump one out every ten minutes or so. For some reason I thought that I had cutters that would make the workload faster, but alas my largest cutter I could make work was too small for anything but the centers of small roses. And these aren’t rose buds either, but fully opened roses, which are two to three times more work, hence the ten minute creation time when I’m in the groove, which doesn’t include the time required to knead the fondant, color it correctly, perform the centers and cut out the shapes.

So, yesterday before I started up again, I decided I was going to locate the correct cutters I could use to make the job go by faster. After finally locating them at the second store (and final location in Vancouver before I’d have to venture into Portland) I brought them home and began testing them out on the fondant I had ready to go from the roses I had already started. These cutters certainly improved my timing, but were still a little bit more time consuming than I had anticipated. I mean, four every ten minutes sounds great, but there was also about ten minutes prep work to take into account.

Let’s just say I’ve got another long day on my feet again forming as many roses as my hands can physically make and then the rest are going to have to be five-petal posies, which look a lot like wild roses. Hopefully they will transport well during the five hour drive to the wedding destination, and hopefully someone in my family will be kind enough to lend me their kitchen to make a couple hundred cupcakes, and hopefully my aunt won’t get all Bridezilla on me!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Heat KILLED My Peas!

Out of nowhere we got a heat-wave that lasted about a week. While the basil and tomatoes are adoring the warmth, the peas decided it was time to die.

We had an obscene amount of peas growing in one of our garden boxes and while it seemed they were taking their time blooming and producing pods, the pods formed and I patiently waited for them to reach shelling size to I could freeze them for future culinary uses. Well, typical of Northwest weather, we had no transition between sweater-heavy pants-jacket-just-in-case weather and oh-my-gawd-do-I-have-to-wear-clothes weather. Literally overnight we went from daytime temperatures in the low 60s to high 80s and the mercury continued to rise throughout the week. Needless to say the peas decided they were done, and when I went to pick a few pods to check their progress, the peas were hard as a rock. I’ll still pick them, just let them dry further and can them for split pea soup this autumn.

Now, this harvest isn’t going to be a complete loss. There were a lot of peas that were still in the beginning phase of forming pods so hopefully they will produce some edible peas to freeze, but I’d say we lost over half of them. However, I’m not holding my breath that they’ll be okay, and today I plan on harvesting and shelling as many of the non-mummified pods I can. With any luck I’ll be able to fill a quart-sized bag.

Of course, if we decide to plant more peas for a fall harvest, we’ll plant them in another box and maybe not quite so many. The other box is for crop rotation, which isn’t necessary with legumes, but a good idea to replenish the soil in another box as they put nutrients back into the soil that many plants leach out, and not so many because, again, an obscene amount were crammed into that 4x4 foot box. Then again, I might be over peas… at least for this year.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I used to draw a lot, to the point where we would constantly be running out of paper. I’m thinking it’d be a good idea to further my artistic capabilities and pick up a pen and paper again.

When I was younger it seemed like I drew all day, coloring in my artwork, creating stories to go with some of them. It even got to the point where on nice days my parents would kick me out of the house… albeit they wouldn’t forbid me taking my art supplies outside and so I would continue on the front porch or back deck. But those days were a very long time ago and I haven’t really focused on anything much since, with the exception of the occasional painting (I think it’s been 3 years since my last) or simple drawing for a quilt appliqué pattern.

At the very least I want to start illustrating again. I feel like my artwork isn’t what it used to be, mostly because I feel so out of practice. I think I’m going to go back to my old sketchbook and work myself back into using my Wacom Pen and Tablet on the computer because it seems like I’ve forgotten the feel of a brush stroke on canvas or a pen stroke on paper or the joy of blending and coloring with colored pencils. Plus, while talking with my pastor on Saturday as we were representing our church at a booth in Esther Short Park he asked if I had thought about doing illustrations and I had to sheepishly reply that I used to a long time ago. It got me wondering, why did I stop?

Life. Stress. Responsibilities.

Many of the things that have happened over the last decade and a half have caused me to grow up, and with that my creativity slumped in the process. Instead I found myself focusing my creative energy into practical things like food and baby blankets and gardening. You’d think that with this now almost two year gap in employment I’ve been in I’d have found some time to draw or paint, but my artistic side has taken a beating from years of neglect and I found myself not even wanting to drag out the paint and brushes or pull out a piece of paper and the container of colored pencils sitting on my desk in my craft room.

I may not get to the point again where you couldn’t drag me out of the house without a multitude of art supplies, but I’d like to just carry a sketchbook around again at least, just in case the mood to draw something strikes me. Maybe if I start working out some of the random thoughts that continuously flow through my head when they are actually passing by I might just feel like I’m not wasting what talents God has bestowed upon me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Is there anything that doesn’t taste better with bacon? Let me rephrase that: Is there anything food-wise that doesn’t taste better when bacon is added to it.

Hello, my name is Cory, and I’m a baconholic.

It is true that I love bacon and all the wonderfulness that bacon can impart upon the dishes it enhances. I also know that I am not alone in my love of bacon as I have been to people’s houses for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and barbecues and found bacon in a plethora of offerings, from deviled eggs and potato salad to pasta dishes and breakfast casseroles. Yes, bacon is truly a beautiful thing, releasing its salty punch to whatever dish a person can imagine. I’ve decided it’s time to make a cupcake utilizing the Power of Bacon.

As we all know, Elvis, The King of Rock n’ Roll, loved his peanut butter and banana sandwiches with bacon. Using this as my inspiration, I’m making some banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting sprinkles with coarsely chopped thick-sliced bacon and taking them to a family barbecue today to test out on, well, family. Some people say that family members are the worst people to offer opinions, but I come from a very large and pretty honest family who are usually quite blunt. Trust me, I’ll know if they suck poop.

But more than that, my house will have the lovely aroma of bacon in the air as I fry up a few slices before church and allow them to cool before chopping and sprinkling it onto the freshly frosted cupcakes. Something about that smell brings back happy childhood memories. I don’t know why that is because we rarely ate bacon, but it must be because we had bacon in our lives on occasion those memories are so vivid.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Garden Watering

Summer is here and with it summer watering. The time of day you water can help lower your water bill by needing to use less and also reduce harmful bug infestations.

Keep the bugs who would like nothing more than to eat your delicious flowers and vegetables to a minimum by simply watering in the morning or early afternoon. This allows the leaves and ground level soil to dry out before nightfall, when most bugs are active. However, if the only time you can water your plants is at night that is better than nothing, just expect there will be a few unsightly spots that occur, either from bugs or just from water damage. Yes, water can damage a plant too, especially if not allowed to dry out for long periods.

Oh, there are plants that thrive on being wet all the time such as bog and pond plants. In fact, if you have a small whiskey barrel pond like we do with a fountain that has some splash-out at times, have pond plants inside and put bog plants in pots around it. However, plants like daisies (with the exception of the African varieties) aren’t very fond of having water splashed on them and can quickly lose their beautiful flowers, which if you also planted alyssum will seize the opportunity to take over. Yes, I’m speaking from experience.

My rules for watering depend on the weather. Most of the time during the summer here in the Pacific Northwest we can get away with watering every other day, possibly more for well established plants. However, when the temperature gets above 85º I find it best to water daily, especially for shallow rooted plants and vegetables and any perennials planted that year. Hanging baskets and pots usually get watered daily regardless due to their quick drainage, which can quickly cause a plant to dry out.

When we see a plant wilting, we immediately think we need to water it, but I caution against such actions. Plants like pansies wilt in the heat to conserve water, actually draining their water down to their root system and resupply it back to the stems and flowers when the heat passes. This is its own little defense mechanism. If one were to water a wilted pansy in heat they’d probably kill it. I say probably because I did this one time and all the small pansies died but the larger ones survived. So my advice is to wait until early morning to water to make sure they have enough water for the day and not worry too much about wilting. However, if you see dried leaves, that is the biggest indicator your plants aren’t getting enough water and I’d suggest watering it right then and there. Also if a rose is wilting it is telling you it is thirsty and should be watered immediately.

More established plants and shade plants don’t always require a daily dose of water, or even an every other day watering. Pretty much everything in our rock garden, even though it is in full sun all day, only gets watered once a week during the summer. This, of course, also has to do with the plants we have there, most of which are drought tolerant. Hopefully this will help you not only conserve water by not watering unnecessarily, but also use it when needed. Of course, if you are in an area where water is at a premium, I’d suggest the drought tolerant varieties for your garden as well as anything native to your climate, as these will require not only the least amount of water but also the least amount of upkeep.

Friday, July 9, 2010

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad...

The good news is that the chicks and their mama seem to be fully integrated into the flock. The bad news is that we unexpectedly lost a hen.

After four days together in the coop, it seems Kendra and her chicks, Harmony, Joyce and White Witch Willow, are getting along fairly well with the rest of the flock. Occasionally I will catch Anya desperately trying to hold on to her place in the pecking order but she seems to be relenting to the fact that her status as Number 4 is now back to Number 5. The chicks have also taken a real liking to Dawn, our head “rooster” and Number 2 in the pecking order (Buffy is Number 1, of course, and nobody messes with Buffy) and like to hang out with her, much to her dismay. She seems annoyed when the chicks want to hang out next to her, kind of like I am with kids, but goes along with it until she finds a way to focus their attention elsewhere or just walk away when they aren’t looking, which is also a lot like me. Hmmm… I think my chicken and I have a lot in common. Is that weird?

Anyway, so yesterday as I was checking the temperature I watched the little ones fly out of the henhouse for a drink of water, and all the hens were busy having a dust bath or walking back and forth between the food and water. About ten minutes later I decided to go collect the eggs for the day. Now normally when I open the back door all the hens will line up at the front of the coop to see if I am going to let them out and I saw all but one… a cause for concern normally, but only ten minutes before I had seen them all so I wasn’t too worried even though Cordelia wasn’t there. As I walked up to the coop I saw why. Now this isn’t the first dead chicken I’ve come across, but it is the first time I’d seen one appear fine and then just die a few minutes later. I took her out of the coop and examined her for signs of trauma but she had no wounds of any sort on her. The only thing I noticed on my second examination of her after collecting the eggs was that she appeared to have a prolapsed vent, but I didn’t see that a minute earlier so I don’t know if that was the cause or if it happened postmortem. Either way, our green egg layer is gone.

And so it is that the three new additions to our flock seem to be doing well, while one member hasn’t fared well at all. I’m not sure what killed her because she’d been eating and drinking normally and even layed an egg that morning. It may have been the heat or maybe she was just good at hiding her illness if she had one. The only thing abnormal about her was that her eggs appeared to have extra bumps on the shells rather than being smooth like the rest of our layers. I just wonder if I had gone out there fifteen minutes before if things would be any different. But…

… you take them both, and there you have, the facts of life.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I don’t do well in heat. Seriously, once the thermometer gets above eighty degrees I wilt like a pansy.

With yesterday’s temperatures here topping out at only ninety-five I had a day of doing nothing. Okay, so I watered all the vegetables, plants and flowers and went grocery shopping, but once home I was completely unmotivated to do anything. Something about hot weather causes me to shut down and drink a lot. All I could think about at one in the afternoon was making a frozen margarita but I fought the urge and I’m not exactly sure why, opting instead for copious amounts of water… and a Corona Light with a lime wedge with dinner.

I thought that maybe being trapped inside, because it was a whopping fifteen degrees cooler, I’d attempt some sewing or puppet making or even start working on the fondant flowers for my aunt’s wedding, but instead I opted to watch a movie because the act of doing nothing would keep me from overheating… or so I told myself. And so a half an hour into watching Little Ashes, a steamy biopic about the poet Federico García Lorca and artist Salvador Dalí, I noticed that our television’s color issues were back with a vengeance.

We’ve been having problems with what we thought were the colors resetting themselves, causing dark areas to become muddled with green and purple and eventually make the picture look like a really low quality stream for some time now, even before the TV had its final service before the warranty expired. Understandably we assumed that issue was resolved when the repairman fixed it, but apparently this is an unrelated issue that has to do with the color wheel, a small glass wheel that spins in front of the light. My partner said he’s been hearing what he described as a whirring sound when the television tries to turn on and apparently that sound is the worn out gear that spins the color wheel at 9000 RPM when working properly. Fortunately research I did provided valuable information that this part is available for around a hundred dollars and if you’ve ever worked on a computer could replace it. Unfortunately this part costs a hundred dollars and I wish we would’ve known that was the problem when the repairman came out and replaced the digital board and light bulb, which he would have clearly seen any wear or damage to the color wheel since it is attached to the light box.

And so with today supposed to reach into triple digits, a television that is all wonky, and various animals to watch for heat exhaustion, I may, if I’m lucky survive. If not, I love you all. Well, most of you anyway.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Netflix, How I Love Thee

With my partner out of town for a week chaperoning a youth event in Montana (I know, lucky) I’ve been filling my evenings with movies. And thanks to Netflix we can stream movies through our Wii, since we already have three discs out that both of us want to watch.

We’ve known the joys of Netflix for a couple years now and it has made our movie purchases practically nonexistent. Working for the biggest retailer in the world I used to simply buy new releases we either wanted to watch or wanted to watch again and quickly that overwhelmed our office closet with DVDs. Eventually when the need for cash arose, aka, the layoff, we began the process of downsizing our collection, selling the movies we no longer wanted, some of which were still in their original shrink-wrap and packaging. Thank you Amazon Marketplace!

After careful deliberation we picked a plan that worked for us, which turned out to be three discs at a time, which is especially helpful during those television season and series marathons. However, with the Watch Instantly feature we had to hook up the laptop to the TV and stream that way… until recently. When Netflix created a disc for the Wii to stream movies through it we quickly ordered a copy. My partner and I have pretty similar tastes in movies, but I have to admit that I also enjoy some of the quirkier, darker and wittier independent movies, most of which he wouldn’t so much want to watch. Also while we both enjoy sci-fi flicks, I have a much broader appreciation of the genre beyond the box-office hits. And of course, growing up on horror films I still like to watch the occasional slasher movie. So what better time to view them than while he is out of town?

Let’s face it, I’m a movie geek. I love watching movies and when I was younger even had aspirations of becoming an actor, writer, producer and director of them. I enjoy well acted, well written, well directed and especially visually stunning cinematography. I’ve seen some pretty awful movies that failed in the first three things but was filmed so amazingly that everything else didn’t matter. Then again, I’m weird like that. And if I am watching a period piece, like, say, The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn and Olivia deHavilland and can clearly see a car drive by in the background, I’m okay with that because the movie as a whole is great. Of course, it doesn’t help that Patric Knowles as Will Scarlett was a hottie.

But alas, while my partner is away I shall enjoy my evening double features of weird and quirky independent movies he probably wouldn’t want to watch. Then again, of the four movies I’ve watched so far I think he’d like them all so I might have to watch them again with him.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


In theory the caged chicks and mama should be fairly familiar to the other hens by now, after all they share a common space. Of course, theories are just that.

Wanting to make sure that our mama hen Kendra and her chicks were completely back into the regular coop and not inside the cage inside the henhouse before we leave town so our housesitter wouldn’t have to deal with two sets of chickens, I simply opened up the cage, threw down some scratch and kept them all in the coop. For a few minutes this seemed to be working just fine and the other hens were keeping to themselves, busily scratching around for cracked corn bits. But as soon as the scratch was gone, it was apparently pick on Kendra time.

The hen I was most concerned about pecking the chicks is Dawn, our head “rooster.” She is really a hen who has a dominatrix complex and has taken up the duties normally performed by the rooster. However, she seems completely at ease with the new chicks and Kendra, as does our head hen, Buffy and the other oldest hen, Tara. The middle girls, or as I commonly refer to them, the Mean Girls, Anya, Vamp Willow, Darth Rosenberg and Cordelia (which, now that I think about it, they were named appropriately as these were all mean girls on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) were especially aggressive towards Kendra. Every once in a while one of the chicks would get a peck, but nothing out of the ordinary for new chicks, but poor Kendra seemed to be getting the brunt of their wrath.

I’m not sure if it is jealousy or if they all enjoyed their time one up on the pecking order, which with Kendra back, they were challenging to retain their status. I don’t know if Kendra will stick up for herself while the chicks are still relatively small at only four weeks old, but hopefully she’ll put them all back into their place in a couple months when the chicks are bigger and no longer require her protection.

So with them all out together all day yesterday I went to check on if I needed to put mama and babies back into the cage for the night, but instead came upon Kendra with the chicks under her wings on the top roost in the henhouse. Upon further inspection a half an hour later when the rest of the flock went up to roost she was on the lower roost but with the same stance so I left them alone. Today I will see just how well they do and am hoping that by tomorrow the majority of the pecking will stop so I can take the cage out of the henhouse and open up the third nest box. I’m thinking that in the meantime I should still keep their food in the henhouse at least until I run out, just in case the Mean Girls decide they can’t eat from their hopper.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Week Alone

My partner is out of town for a week chaperoning our church conference’s youth in Montana. What am I going to do?

First off, I apologize for getting today’s blog up a little later than usual, but I just returned from dropping my partner and our church’s Christian Education Coordinator off in Cedar Hills to caravan to Montana. Secondly, I apologize if this blog isn’t coherent as I’m running on very little sleep.

So with the week alone, okay, so with the dog, cat and eleven chickens and God knows how many fish I won’t be technically alone, I’m not sure what to do with my time. I’ve got a ton of projects I could work on: Testing cupcakes for my aunt’s wedding; starting decorations for same aunt’s wedding; getting stuff together for yet again aunt’s wedding; getting our flock used to mama hen and her chicks… before we go out of town for the aunt’s wedding. Hmmm… I’m sensing a theme here?

Okay, so I’ve got some work cut out before my aunt’s wedding, but there are so many other things I’d like to get done too, and so many sewing and craft projects I want to at least get started if not complete. I’ve had plans for patterns to put up in my Etsy shop for some time now, but no longer have a camera to take pictures as it went to Montana with my partner. Oh wait! I have another camera! Oh wait… my sister has the other camera so she could take pictures of my other sister’s baby being born and afterbirth stuff too and hasn’t given it back yet. Figures… the one time we actually might both need a camera is the one time we only have, uh, one. That’s a lot of “ones” in that sentence.

I do have gardening to do as well, planting a few more things and pulling other stuff out. And weeding, weeding, weeding. Apparently when you put compost on the ground and work it in, the weeds are really appreciative. We’ve even got new weeds I’ve never seen before popping up that will be getting hoed or dug out. Alas, the never ending business of keeping up on the garden. However, with the rest of the week shaping up to be super damn hot, I’ll probably try to get as much of that done today as I can. That way, I’ll have plenty of time to bake while it is in the 90s in a house sans air conditioning. Pleasant.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

I make a damn good shortcake and anyone who has had it can tell you so. With today being a traditional Strawberry Shortcake holiday, I thought I share my recipe for the delicious biscuit shortcake I make.

Mind you, it takes years of trial and error to come up with the perfect recipe, and also mind you there is always room for interpretation and improvement. This was my thought process as I began delving into the world of biscuits. Following the traditional methods I would fail every time. I don’t know why, but something in those traditional recipes left my biscuits flat and chewy instead of light and fluffy. Eventually I employed the services of a food processor and my life would never be the same.

Instead of only making the butter pea sized, I processed it until it resembled bread crumbs before adding the liquids. This is quite contrary to most biscuit recipes, but has yielded the most superb results for me and hopefully will do the same for you. Just make sure your butter and buttermilk are cold.

Cory’s Shortcake

Preaheat oven to 450º

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)

Process in a food processor until completely combined, or whisk in a large bowl to make sure all dry ingredients are combined.

1 stick butter, cut into small cubes

Process in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs or use a pastry knife or two knives to do the same.

2/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process in a food processor until a ball forms, adding more buttermilk a half teaspoon at a time if needed, or knead dough with your hands if not using a food processor until it is no longer dry. Place the dough ball on a floured surface and knead 10 to 15 times and flatten it out with your hands to about half an inch, working quickly so as to not melt the butter. With a sharp knife, cut the flattened circle into 8 to 10 triangles and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove shortcake to a wire rack and allow to completely cool.

Once your shortcake is ready, simply top it with some delicious fresh strawberries (some varieties this time of year are so sweet no sugar is needed) and some whipped cream, or for a festive Red White and Blue variation, add a few blueberries too. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fabric Stashes

If you are a crafter, and especially one who works with fabric, you probably have multiple stashes of fabric lying around from various projects you’ve completed. If you are like me, you have even more fabric from projects you haven’t even started yet.

I got to know the fabric department at the store I used to work at very well because my department was right next to it, and thus, I worked there practically every day cutting fabric while they were on break or backed up at the cutting table. During this time I got to familiarize myself with various types of fabric, what they’re used for, the difference between quilting weight and crap that might just dissipate if you ever washed it, and heavy weighted upholstery fabric. Needless to say all this was too much temptation and I would purchase a few yards of fabric each week with the intention of making something from it.

My favorite projects were making the bed spread for the futon in the guest room and the comforter in our bedroom because I love the fabrics used. They are a quality heavy upholstery weight with bold prints and 100% cotton. But the problem is I have so much leftover material I didn’t use that I bought for coordinating pillows and throws and other projects. While I am not so keen on how the comforter for our bedroom turned out, I love the quick fix I did for the box spring. You see, we have a sleigh bed and the box spring is partially seen, so I used an old white sheet and sewed on a coordinating fabric on either edge of it and tucked it into place. This way, because the comforter isn’t large enough to cover the box spring, another design element was added, and helped lower the amount of fabric I have stashed. Of course, I failed to mention that this particular fabric is a Waverly print with bees and dragonflies called Flea Market and I bought the entire bolt of 10 yards. Don’t judge! At $3.97 a yard, it was a bargain, especially since this fabric goes for over $10 a yard online.

Most of my stashes are organized into projects, or as I like to call them, coordinating fabrics I bought to do something with but I don’t know what yet. One of these projects was for a quilt, which I really like the color combinations, but don’t know if I necessarily want it for me. This may turn into an Etsy project just to use up the fabric, or maybe make it for a holiday bazaar if our church is indeed going to have one this year. When we had a birdhouse competition at church for a fundraiser, I did the example and used one of the fabrics as inspiration for the house. A lot of people don’t think about using fabric as design inspirations, but really it is the perfect choice to start with and make a cohesive statement.

While there are fabrics I haven’t seen in years because they are at the bottom of my guest room closet in plastic totes and are quite difficult to get to without taking everything else out of said closet, I also have a lot of scraps from multiple baby blankets. Looking at them all peeking out of plastic bags (my ghetto “organizing” system) I get the sense that they would much rather be organized better, like say either by color or pattern, and folded nicely in an easy to reach area, rather than under a folding table or shoved into the closet that has been terribly difficult to close for some time now due to the contents trying to free themselves. Something tells me it is time to pull everything out again, go through it all and try to organize it as best as I can, come up with a better system to find a particular line or individual fabric and get rid of anything I no longer want. Yes, it is time to finally do something about all this fabric… next week.

Friday, July 2, 2010

New Chicks Outside

Since we were debating on letting the little ones loose with the big ones, we decided to test out how well they interacted during the day under our supervision. The verdict was a definitely another week… at least… in the cage.

While the big girls were out wreaking havoc on everything their little scratching feet and plucking beaks could reach, we opened the cage inside the henhouse with Kendra and the three baby chicks to let them roam the run. Quickly we decided to go ahead and open the run door so they could go explore outside too if they wanted to. This of course meant that it was a free invitation to the other girls to meet the little ones, which my first thought was a fear that Dawn, our head “rooster” (aka, hen with a dominatrix gene that activated with the absence of a real rooster) would attack them, but she seemed either uninterested or had already accepted them into the flock, much like our head hen, Buffy.

Anya, on the other hand, our Black Sex Link, didn’t particularly care for the babies and quickly started pecking them and attacking Kendra. Oddly, Anya is pretty sweet, albeit curious, towards us, but she is above Kendra in the pecking order and Kendra’s chicks would be below her and she was definitely making that point. Intervening only slightly, we moved Anya by throwing down scratch in another area of the yard and all the other hens ran over to gobble it all up.

With a few moments of peace, Kendra quickly showed her little ones, Harmony, White Witch Willow and Joyce, where the water was, where the food was, where the grit is and how to scratch for the bits that fall out of the holder, and how to take a dust bath, which is one of her favorite things. Eventually they all made it outside to wander the yard but I failed to get any good pictures of that, save one where they are all just outside the door to the coop.

The rest of the chickens left Mama and Babies alone, that is, until it was time to put them away. Vamp Willow and Darth Rosenberg both put up a fight with Kendra as if telling her she wasn’t allowed back in. That was pretty much enough for us to realize it was too soon to let them all out of the cage inside the henhouse, so we managed to get Kendra and the babies into the coop first, closed the door, and scooped them up one-by-one and put them back into their tiny one room chicken condo for at least another week. Hopefully by then the little ones will have grown enough to fly out of the way and reach the roosts in the henhouse.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mama and Babies

Okay, so, the new chicks and their mother are quickly outgrowing the ferret cage we’ve had them in for three weeks now. Problem is, how do I safely integrate mama back into the flock with the little ones?

We’ve never let a broody hen raise chicks before so we are a little cautious about how we go about each step. In the past with new additions we’d just put them on the roost at night and let them hash it out the following day, adjusting the pecking order and such. I’m not sure how to do this with a protective mother hen. Will she actually keep her babies safe or will she say, “Sorry kiddos, you’re on your own!”

Now, I know that at three weeks they are a little young, but they are at the right age to start roosting and learning more about chicken life so I feel that it is the best time to get them out of confinement and into the flock. I just don’t want anything bad to happen to them because they are just so darn cute. Okay, so they really look a bit haggard as they are somewhere between fluffy chick and slightly feathered bird. Still, they are little and I don’t want any of the older chicks to pick on them too much. A little is expected, just don’t want the pecking to be the death of them. Paranoid? Slightly.

So I posted my dilemma asking for advice on Backyard Chickens ( and am hoping that someone has a good answer for me. In the mean time, I’ll just worry about them being all cramped up in their tiny chicken condo.