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Monday, December 31, 2012

Year in Review

We are now again cresting upon the end of one year and the beginning of yet another one. This time every year we make promises that are never kept (for most people that is). We say we are going to be better in the new year an some people are. Right now the world is in a hard spot the economies aren't good in many places of the world. Job’s are still hard to come by and governments can’t figure out how to fix the problems (or they do find a way and can’t get everyone to agree). So this is the end of the year, pretty much just like the rest we’ve had in the past few years.

As far as my end of year, well lets just say I would like to be happier. I don’t want you to think that I had this offal, horrible, terrible year. Because I really didn’t, you always want things to be better like be able to stop smoking, win a million dollars, win two million dollars, maybe three million (ok so I got a wish list that has money on it, in this day and age you can’t do anything with out it and besides it’s what you do with it that matters). To get a better look at the kind of year I've had you can look back at my blog history.

This year well I got to do some fun stuff, work allot, do more fun stuff, work a lot more, get some fun stuff and STOP SMOKING. Yes this year was the year I stopped smoking. I haven’t had a cigarette since September and I don’t plan on going back. That is one of the reasons I didn’t tell anyone in October. I wanted to make sure I had quit first before I said anything. So that has been my year how about you.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone had a good holiday. I went to lunch with my parents to the Chinese buffet. Then went up to my sister in laws where Ed was waiting for me. Since I’m the only child Ed and I have holiday dinners apart.

Ed and I both got some cool stuff from Santa, I got books a on tapestry weaving, two on embroidery stitches, palm weaving, how to make liquid soap, a local farms cook book, cookies and a gift certificate for seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. Ed got a cook book about salty snacks, Lancaster Farming, a seed sprouting kit and a butter making kit. We also got clothes and things you tend to get every year. So we had a good Christmas and today is a lacy day since it has decided to snow so we went and did some running around and are now home for the day.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cleaning

I just wanted to let everybody know that I have officially finished Fall Cleaning (and its still fall too). It took me a week alone to do the kitchen and I took a week off because I wasn't feeling well and returned to cleaning last week. Every room and the hall way has been cleaned and it needed it. There is a different smell and of course look to the place. Now if you ask Ed he will tell you that the place is sterile enough to do an operation. It’s not that clean put could be close.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Early Christmas Gift

My Father in Law on Monday was at an auction, one he goes to regularly. While he was there he picked up some things

he thought I mite be able to use. Ed came home from the farm Tuesday and told me there was some stuff in the bed of the truck for me. I had to stop my cleaning (yes I’m still cleaning, I am almost done though) and go get my surprise.

When I got the bundle up stairs I found four embroidery frames the kind that work like a scroll. One of them even has feet to stand on a table. A separate stand that I can put the frames on to keep a hand free when embroidering. You can use it with frames or hoops. The piece de rĂ©sistance is a Schacht tapestry loom it is the 18” model and was made in 1979. So I’m cool with that and all pieces are with it.

So I am more than happy that my Father in Law was thinking of me while at the auction. He saved me a couple  of hundred dollars on equipment that I can’t afford right now or just would do with out.

O by the may he only spent two or three dollars on all the pieces.

New York

A week ago Ed and I went on our yearly Christmas Shopping trip to New York City. We enjoyed ourselves as we always do. We went to Chelsea Market, Strand, Union Square (Christmas Craft Fair and Farmers Market), Macy’s (got to go too Macy's), Eataly, Donut Planet, Lord and Taylor (that one was a first for me and so was Donut Planet), Grand Central Station, Trump towers, FAO Swartz, St Patrick’s, Rockefeller and of course Time Square. I think I named all the major spots, I’m sure I left out some place we ducted into along the way Since it was raining most of the day.

While I was up there or over there how ever you want to look at it. I of course picked up some things. Like a couple of books, ok three to be exact (Thumbelina is telling me to tell the truth) two embroidery and one on palm weaving which is really cool, I finished reading it and can’t wait to get some palm come spring. You can also use native grasses and or straw, your not restricted to using palm.

I also picked up a body brush. This type of brush is soft and is used to clean the skin naturally with out soap. You only use this brush once a week and not on your face that skin is to sensitive. To use it make gentle circle motions, starting on the arms and working up. once you are done you rinse of in cool water and you can use a light moisturizer. You feel very invigorated when your done and the use of the brush not only exfoliates the skin it also helps with blood circulation. I got it at Whole Body which is part of Whole Foods.

Even with the rain Ed and I had a wonderful day in New York. We both say every time we go we could live there. Now all we have to do is come up with a million to buy a place.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What I've been up to

I have been busy with fall cleaning (Yes it's still fall). When I say clean I mean take everything out of the cabinets and off walls and so forth. To give the place an excellent cleaning before the new year. I only got the kitchen cleaned so far. I have also decorated the front porch for the holidays. We got a Moravian star that we have hanging and we got some greens and had some fun. I have the rest of the place to clean and we are also on Christmas cookie duty this year. We have no clue what kind we are going to be making but we'll figure it out. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Surprise

I was at an auction on Saturday, which had your typical house hold goods. Some furniture, lots of books, china, house hold items, tools and the like. Going through a coupe of the boxes on one of the tables I found some cool stuff. So when they got to that table I bid and got 2 boxes for three dollars a box. So what was so cool in those boxes you may be asking. I will allow you one guess so take a chance and think about it before you scroll down.

 

 

How's it going, do you got an answer yet?

 

 

Ok ready for the answer (you may be saying, God this better be good the suspense is killing me).

 

 

The first box was filled with craft books from 1946 and earlier. From tatting to crochet, knitting, weaving, sewing, mixed media and I even got 2 women's day magazines as well. A very large amount of wealth for three dollars and the really cool thing is out of this box I now have a Jiffy Loom and Weave – It book. I have PDF copies of both but I never thought I would own an original.

The second box is cool just not as old. That one is filled with mixed media, crochet, fashion and the lot form the 80’s. like I said cool not as exciting as the first box, but still a wealth of knowledge and one of the crochet magazine I used to get from that time period.

So below you will find a photo album with pics of the books and magazine for you to look at. Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rooster 2

I have completed the first quarter of the rooster including all the detailing. I wasn’t sure if I should finish all the cross stitching first and tPB130003hen go back to do the backstitching or just do it all at one time. I choose the one time method I figured it wouldn’t hurt and it made more sense to me to do it all at once. So now I have three quarters to go, I will post a picture when I get the cross stitching done.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rooster

Back in August Ed and I where in Hobby Lobby (if I've been good sometimes Ed takes me there). While we where PA230011 walking around we got to the needle art section (next to the yarn, knitting, tatting section). He got a phone call and while he was talking I found a cross stitch rooster. The really cool thing was instead of grapes, this rooster is surrounded by olive branches with olives amongst them. I thought that was the coolest looking rooster. Ed finally got off the phone and I showed it to him and he liked it as well. So I got it.

I started it about a month ago, after I got the Christmas pieces done. This is the upper right hand corner. When its done it will be 12” – 12”, once  I finish the cross stitching in this section, I will put the detailing in this section. Then I will work on the upper left corner. When I get the detailing done I’ll post about it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Antique Pattern Library

I was searching the web for some cross stitch patterns and came across the Antique Pattern Library. This Library as some very old pattern and pattern books that are free to download. The site remains a free site by taking in donations (which can be made on the site). If you have a chance check it out I just started checking it out my self and what I found thus far is really cool.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Christmas

Ok not really Christmas the holiday, just a couple of items that I was working on for Christmas. Back in July when we where selling at Saylorsburg the couple set up next to us had a lot of craft items. I was looking through them to get something to work on in between customers. I did, it was a watermelon with a crow. A nice little country piece (which is currently MIA, so sorry no picture of that piece).

Latter in the day I looked through the boxes of craft stuff again and picked up a dozen different cross stitch and needle work pieces. PA050008 From those I picked up two Christmas Pieces. One is a free standing Santa, with his bag of toys.  A very bright and colorful piece. The second is a pillow done on linen not aida, which was a first for me. I have never worked on plain fabric before, other then stamped cross stitch. This piece could have been framed or turned into a pillow, I chose the pillow. This piece is more country and a lot of fun to work on.

PA050004 So I had vowed to have these two pieces completed for this years Christmas. I did just that and in plenty of time for the holiday season too.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lehigh Valley Style

Lehigh Valley Style is a local magazine, the cool think is that Ed and I are in it. Sustainable Country Gentlemen llc is featured in thimage0e life in the valley section of the magazine. The article is very well written and I would like to give them a big thanks for having us in there magazine. The picture is a scan of the article .

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Zoo

Yesterday I had the privilege to attend Party with P4210077the Planet at the Lehigh Valley Zoo. I attended this event as a demonstrator,  for the first time I got to demonstrate only the fiber arts. Normally when I do a demonstration I do it along side us selling produce. This time it was all about The House of Bickert (bik – AIR) with the fiber side of things.
As a child growing up I had visited the zoo, but then it was called The Trexler Game Preserve. They had monkeys, some wild cats, farm animals and birds of prey. It was a neat place to visit for a child of 4 or 5. I had gone back as an adult when I was married. The area where they had the monkeys was there but no monkeys. Every thing else was pretty much the same as I remembered. This time not only was the name changed so was the zoo itself.
They had me setup right has you walked in the front gate. So as you entered the zoo P4210081 you where greeted by one of the zoos residence and me on the other side. The day was filled with allot of inquisitive minds not just asking questions but also knowing what I was doing and asking questions to confirm  what they have learned in school. I had taken with me my big loom (aka table loom), lace pillow, inkle loom, drop spindle, Chakra, braiding looms and some pieces I had done, some of them where ribbon winners from the Allentown Fair. Every one that had stopped by was very interested in what I was doing P4210080-001and as I said above they asked intelligent  questions.
I was also impressed in the zoo itself, that for a small zoo they have a diverse amount of animals. The list includes penguins, wolfs, owls, eagles, falcons, hawks, palomino horses, camels, wild cats, kangaroos, otters and much more. Ed and I are planning on going back to the zoo when we are able to spend more time there. All in all in was a wonderful day and both Ed and I had a lot of fun. Please look at the photo album below for more pics from the day.

Friday, March 30, 2012

What’s New?

I apologize for not getting to blog sooner. I have being trying to blog for a while got sick and then got real busy. So I’m able to blog today. the last couple of months have been busy I was able to get to a lace days, gathering of the guilds, the New York restaurant show and I’m working on a new project.

The first weekend in February was lace daysP2120001 at Lost Art Lacers, while I was there I picked up a few things. A new lace making book, more bobbins of course (you can never have to many bobbins), a spool holder, a lace holder (this is used for long pieces of lace so it doesn't get dirty) and a bolster pillow. For any one that knows about bobbin lace, those people know how pricy a lace pillow can be.  While I was walking around I saw a round bolster pillow at a good price. I continued to walk around and get my other goodies.

Before I go any further let me explain what type of pillow this is. The pillow is 18” round in the center there is a rectangle cut out, what is placed in that rectangle is a tube pillow. It is this tube that you make the lace on. This type of pillow lets you make very long pieces of lace, since you can just turn the tube and continue make the lace until you have the length you want.

This pillow was used so right there the price should be reasonable. The pillow was also created with a patriotic theme (flag, red, white and blue fabric was used to make the pillow). It was a whole set It came with a pin cushion, bobbins, pricking cover and dust cover. I picked this pillow up for $40.00, to those of you un-familiar with bobbin lace equipment price, I’m sure your saying that not a bad price. You would be correct and that is why I bought it. What we have yet to discover was, what is was the original price.

When I got home I of course was examining my treasures I found at lace days. When I got to the pillow I took out the bolster and in side was the original price. I will give you a moment to come up with a guess.

the original price was

$350.00 

So all in all that made for a wonderful day.

 

The next trip we took was to the Gathering of the Guilds in Harrisburg. As the name implies about two dozen different guilds came togP2250044ether in one place. There where weavers, spinners, beaders, basket makers, wheat weavers, lace maker, embroiders, polymer clay crafters and quilters. This was a really cool show, you got to see some amazing pieces of work and they had seminars throughout the day. I was able to pick up something for myself. About ten years ago a friend taught me some basic wheat weaving. While I was at this show I was able to pick up a book and since the author was there she signed it for me. One of the embroidery guilds was handing out little counted cross stitch kits for free. They where complimentary from DMC so I picked up one of them as well. Again another good day.

The New York Restaurant Show which of course is in New York City. I personally have been to a couple of theses shows back when I was in school. They are a lot of fun and you literally eat your way through them. this was actually a couple of weeks ago and we got so much info that we haven’t had time to go thru it all. we did pick up a lot of information for products to sell at the markets so we shall see what comes from that.

The last thing I have to talk about is a new project Ed and I are working on. We have been given the opportunity to rent some space in Coopersburg, PA. This space is going to be used for a year round farmers market, we are currently in the incubation period and are working on having the market open in the middle of May. So keep checking back for more info on that.

So I have been busy just not able to blog. I will try to work on that.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Inkle Belt

Every week aP1160034t the market I take one of my many hobbies with me to demonstrate. This past Wednesday I took my Inkle loom with me. I figured I would demonstrate how to use the loom and make my self a belt as well. i finished the belt last night and as you can see I have already started to where it. (I do have a better picture below.)

I went with the more neutral colors except for the borders which are in the purple family. This design is a pick up design of a Celtic knot, the back ground of the design is a gradation of beige, ecru and white. I have it going from dark to light back to dark.P1160035 I did an experiment on which side I like better, positive or negative. After I did the first section I looked at the back and thought the negative was pretty cool. So I decided to do the next section in negative to see which one I liked the best. The positive side one out, when I saw the reverse I liked how the gradation worked. But when I really looked at it, it’s hard to see the design. The positive side is more pronounce just like it’s supposed to be. After I finished it I did wash it to  shrink and strengthen it.  It also hides any mistakes, not that there where any. So here is my first official project of the year completed. Cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Soap

A few blog posts before I had a teaser about soap. This is something that Ed and I have P1150033talked about for nearly a year. Our concept is to make our own soap and sell it; continuing with the sustainable concept. Well today we made our first batch of soap, Ed made a comment that its like being in chemistry class. I would agree except I thing this is more fun.

The soap we made is called Homesteader’s Soap. The original homesteaders or farmers would save all the fat though out the year from there cooking, to make their soap. The different fats where bacon, chicken, beef, pork and so on. They would render this and use it for their  soap. The soap we are making is not animal, only vegetable, and is used fryer oil. Our concept for this soap is not a bath soap, but a laundry soap. As the original homesteader soap was a bit harsh for bathing, I’m sure this would be also.

The first step is to measure out your lye and water. For safety sake you should wear rubber gloves, goggles and old clothes. P1150023This is for your protection from splashing lye. The lye has the potential of burning you severely. Once you have both the lye and the water measured out you need to add the one to the other. The reason I’m saying it this way is because the way I did it was adding the lye to the water. After I did that Ed said to me that, that is a big no no. You are supposed to pour the water into the lye. I have another soap book that says to do it the way I did. So I don’t think there is a difference. Once the two are mixed together and you are stirring to dissolve  the lye. The water heats to between 150 degrees and 250 degrees. Ours was about 200 degrees. After that you let it cool to 100 degrees.

Once the lye is nearing 100 mark, you need to warm your oils and fats to the same temperature. P1150026Once that is achieved then you add your lye to the fats and oils. (Both books agree that you should add the lye to the fats, just saying.) As you are adding the lye to the fats you must stir and not stop until you are ready to pour the soap into the mould. This step can be as quick as 15 minutes or as long as an hour. It all depends on the types of fats and oils used, the lye absorbs each fat differently. The really cool think when you do add the lye to the fat, the reaction is instantaneously happening. You can feel the soap getting thicker, it took this batch about 45 minutes to be able to pour into the mould.

You know the soap is ready to be poured into the mould when you have what is called “trailing”. The best way to describe P1150030 this is by thinking of pudding when you pick up the spoon a trail of pudding is left on the surface from the spoon. The same thing happens with soap. Once you have achieved that you can pour it into its mould.

You will notice that the mould is sitting on top of a wool blanket and a quilt. This is so you can cover the mould so the soap can cure slowly. As a matter of fact the mould is going to stay covered for 48 hours. Once that time P1150033 period has passed you can un-mould it. Now when we do unwrap it and un-mould it. It should still be warm to the touch, I of course can’t say yes or no to this yet. But in a couple of days I will be able to.

So later in the week I will post so everyone knows how we did and what we will be doing with it from this point on.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Farm Show 2012

I got to th2012-01-13 13.50.46e farm show this year. Just not on Wednesday like I usually do, this year we went on Friday and I must say the vendors are tired and just want it to be over. But the Butter Sculpture still looked good. I think its a law that they must have a cow in the sculpture, which makes total sense of course, since that is where the butter comes from. But you would think that they would switch it up a bit. Never the less it is an amazing  site to be hold indeed. This year the sculpture is of a boy and his cow wining a ribbon at the country fair. The ribbon giver is the Dairy Princesses. The sculpture is kept in a temperature controlled cooler and you have a 360 degree view, just by walking around the display.

Since the Sheep to Shawl and the fleece auction where both on Wednesday, I wasn’t coming home with fleece or pictures of the competition.694392098_2483017445_0 So instead I got to spend more time with the animals them selves. Yes I wanted to take some home with me I just wasn’t sure I could get them on the bus. Some years when you are looking at the animals they are shy, and stay away from humans. not this year they where trying to eat my jacket. I had one ram that wanted to come home with me, he just went nuts. So yea i have to work on getting some animals. Below you will see some more picks of the animals that wanted me for lunch or my jacket.

All in all the show was an excellent show we had a good time. Of course we are looking forward to next year.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

I must apologizenewyear2012 for not getting out my New Years Eve post. One of the big themes for last year was not enough time. I realize that everyone has this problem and every time I had a little extra time I was so tired I feel asleep. So obviously this is something I need to work on this year. 

Very quickly the biggest hump we had to get over last year. The most prominent is all of the rain, we need water just not as much as Mother Nature as been giving us. The water is still laying all over the farm, when it dry’s up a bit then we can continue butting in raised beds.

The only other major thing is not having enough money. I know that is everyone's problem and I’m not going to delve into it any further.

Now lets look at this New Year and some of the positives from last year. We where able to make some connections last year that brings us into a better situation this year. First we did a first time festival called Vegfest, that was phenomenal for us. From that came the opportunity to sell over the winter at The Market at Westgate (which is a year long farmers market). This also is helping us to sell in more places, when we get back into local season produce. We have expanded are line to offer herbs and dry good. Some other things we are looking to add are home made soap (again time problem). I would like to sell some of my fiber items (woven to be specific and others). If I can get a fire under him I’m going to get Ed weaving baskets (we’ll see how that one go’s). For the spring we would like to offer Heirloom seeds, so this is what we have setup for this year we will see how it go’s.

I of course would like to weave more and I am going to try. I have many ideas I just need to organize my time to get them all done. Another goal for this year is more animals on the farm (this is more the money and time issue then anything else). So this year has a lot of potential and we will do everything we can to achieve these goals. All we can do is try.