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What Our Family Dogs Mean to Us

The family, but me, with all of the dogs Jan. 2012

I did an About Us section for our blog awhile back, and I decided I needed to introduce you to more of our family members. Today, I’ll start with the dogs.

It all began with Skipper. He’s our miniature dachshund that we have had the pleasure of being owned by for 13.5 years, yep he owns us…have you ever met a mini doxie?. It all started with dogsitting…we had some great friends in Texas who had a miniature dachshund, Buster, that was so sweet to watch; he would just curl up with you and nap. He was smart and would bark like he was a big dog (albeit he was barking at butterflies at times), he made me laugh. As a young couple, we didn’t have any pets and were really thinking about a getting a dog, but knew the commitment and expense that would be. Our daughter was only 1 year old and we wanted to have a dog with a great temperament around children too. When Buster had puppies with our other good friend’s mini dachshund, Sammie, we got the awesome privilege and gift to pick our first puppy…what a special gift Skipper has been to us. We picked Skipper out of the rest of the litter, because he ran to us and was so loving; he “skipped” he was so happy. Being a huge perfectionist (which isn’t a good thing a lot of times), I read lots of puppy books to try to learn the proper way to potty train him, crate train him and how to play with him to be the best puppy he could be. It sure takes a lot of patience to potty train a puppy, but Skipper and I made it through and he still comes and “tells” me with his eyes and little whine when he needs to go outside.

Skipper January 2007

Anytime you sit down, Skipper is always there to keep you company right beside you. You can’t feel lonely long if Skipper’s able to be there. He will lick you to let you know how much you are loved, if he gets any chance ūüôā I am thankful for Skipper’s clean-up duty that he took upon himself when all of my children were in highchairs….he would jump up there and clean any food particles up and of course take care of the floor for me (but he had to go on diet food to watch his waistline when he started that habit). What a great dog he is, his tail is always wagging!

Skipper is brave too…one day when walking in our suburban neighborhood, two dogs came running out of their yard toward my 4 year old daughter who was just ahead of me a ways with Skipper on the leash. Skipper jumped in between her and the dogs to protect her causing him to get bitten and scratched on his little belly that he exposed in a submissive way to the other dogs. My daughter still remembers that day and still talks about Skipper’s bravery.

2004-Skipper and the Children

Next Sammy came into our lives. I went to a little party at a friend’s house and heard about a dog that needed to find a new home. He was still only a puppy of less than a year and for some reason I just fell in love with him before even meeting him. Of course, I talked with my family and we had to talk with the landlord to see if it would be OK to have an extra dog in our rental. When we got the go ahead from the landlord (even though it would be $50 extra rent per month), I asked the owner if we could see how Sammy fit with our family for a few days before making a decision. Sammy is a cockapoo which is a lot different than our little daschund; he would need to be groomed when his hair got too long and curly. We were a little nervous about grooming and the commitment and money that would take, plus his fluffy feet did bring in more mud than Skipper’s little feet ever did. But, Sammy was so fun and full of life. Well, when he wasn’t sleeping that is, he was tired at first…our busy family of six gave him a lot of excitement. He fit in well with our family, he loved to go on car rides, walks and just run around with the children while they played outside…he was sure fast! We decided to get him after talking with my mother-in-law who encouraged me that he would make a great family member. Sammy likes to stay by me most of the day, he’s my “entourage”, even sleeping at the foot of my bed most nights. He also alerts me to any noises outside, using his awesome hearing in those fluffy soft ears of his. At first, he didn’t like vacuums or blue things and would bark at them, but he is not as afraid anymore. He is a cuddly teddy bear type of dog and the grooming has been taken on by my husband. When Sammy starts looking like a sheep, we give him a haircut. Thankfully, the children love to give the dogs baths, so that has been a blessing to keep him nice and clean. We also use towels to wipe their feet at the door during muddy seasons.

Not long after getting Sammy (on the left), Grandma Mc visits with her rescue, Beau ~ 2007

Sammy was a puppy and went through a chewing stage for a long time…he liked/likes to play with the children a lot!

Silly Sammy playing with Gladiolus, probably trying to chew her footie feet. He was a chew-er. 2007
Sammy has mellowed a bit in is middle age…he doesn’t chew everything, yay! He still loves to run and have fun, especially on the sledhill with the children. 2012

Our Great Pyrenees, Anna, came into our lives a year after we moved to our house out here. We realized we needed help to watch our goats, chickens and ducks and protect them from marauding foxes, coyotes and roaming dogs. Anna is our awesome livestock guardian dog who allows us to rest easy at night knowing that she is watching out for our animals as they sleep in their beds at night. It is Anna who allows us to come home a little later than dark when our chickens are sleeping on their roosts trusting that no predators are coming to get them; Anna has deterred those predators from even trying with her vigilant barks and patrolling runs around the pasture. Anna grew up with some friends of ours until they realized that she needed more work to do to be happy as they were busy building a house and there weren’t many animals on their farm at the time to watch over for Anna to feel useful; she wanted to work. A mutual friend had heard that I was looking for a guardian, because our goats had just had a big scare from a random dog running them around in the pasture; it was frightening how quick the goats could have been killed had we not been home and scared the dog away.

When we first introduced Anna to her new home, Nov 2008. She’s beautiful.

When we brought Anna home at the end of 2008, she fit in with us right away; she is very good around our goats, chickens, ducks, cats and Skipper and Sammy. I seriously love her and appreciate her work that she does for us on a daily basis. She usually takes the night shift and sleeps in the sun during the daytime. If its raining, she will sleep in the barn on the straw and the goats respect her space. The goats don’t respect her food; however, so we have to feed her away from them or she will let them eat all of her food out of deference to them as her charge (even though it would be bad for her and them, she is that sweet, so we have to protect her food from those silly, greedy goats).

Anna is very smart and instinctively protective. Our first winter she was here was the first winter it got snowy enough to sled down our hill. My son, Cactus Jack, had just turned 5 and we had explained that he wasn’t to go on the pond as it wasn’t safe to walk on or around. I stepped into the barn to watch a hen laying an egg and came back out to the pasture hill. My son had walked on the pond telling by his little footprints on the snow covered ice, but he hadn’t been alone; Anna’s footprints were right beside his. Thankfully, they were light enough that they hadn’t fallen through the ice. I am still thankful for Anna’s watchful eyes when mine weren’t there, yes I have mom-guilt for those few minutes I was in the barn and I am still grateful that there isn’t more to that story to tell. I just love Anna and her love and care to all of us.

Anna and Petunia Fall 2011

August 2011 brought Marmaduke into our lives. On our way home from church, we found him walking down the center of a country road. He was very skinny and staggering a bit, we didn’t even know what he was, he was so large we thought he might of been a small horse who was loose on the road. We drove up beside him and talked to him, he looked so skinny. I jumped out of the truck’s passenger seat and opened the back gate and told him to jump in if he wanted to come with us, he hopped right in. We drove to neighboring houses to see if he belonged to them; he didn’t want to get out and they didn’t open their doors. We decided he needed some food, water and rest so we brought him home for a respite. He had sores on his feet from traveling, open sores on his hips from being so skinny, scratches on various parts of his body and he was very thin. My children named him Marmaduke right then, cautioned by us that we didn’t know if he had an owner that was missing him somewhere. We didn’t even know what kind of dog he was, because his hair looked too long to be a greyhound’s…they are supposed to have slick, short hair like Skipper’s. We took him to the vet after letting him rest for a day at our house and after checking him for tattoos and chips, the vet agreed he was a sighthound, a greyhound. Marmaduke had no chips or tattoos and we held our breath standing in the vet’s office that we may have a new family member. We had done some research and learned a bit about greyhounds and knew that they needed to be indoor dogs because of their short hair, plus we learned other characteristics that we were able and willing to adjust to if/when we found out that he didn’t belong to anyone else. The vet called the greyhound rescue nearby to ask if he belonged to them, since we had found him close to their home; he didn’t belong to them, but they would be happy to take him, if we didn’t want him. My children and I all exclaimed that we wanted him, we had already fallen in love with his sweetness and we wanted to take care of him. He was ours and we were happy to nurse him back to health.

Thumbs up, Marmaduke gets to stay with us! Aug 2011

Marmaduke slowly regrew his hair (his hair was long since he hadn’t had any new growth in awhile due to his body being under stress) and his sores got better. He also had a case of whipworms and hookworms which took about 8 weeks to get rid of, about 4 trips to the vet every other week for worming meds and collecting and disposing of each of his bowel movements to keep the worms from spreading to us or our other animals; parasites are a constant battle around a farm and I didn’t want to add to their population.

Marmaduke after one of his many vet visits to deworm him, he is happy here, I think he’s smiling.

Marmaduke is better now, healthy and very energetic, he’s our morning alarm clock…we haven’t had to use one since he started sleeping in our room at night, he wants to get up and GO!. He loves to go on trail walks with Pat in the morning and he even gets to play with Anna sometimes too, before the goats wake up, he kind of finds them fun to run with, so he isn’t trusted with the farm animals off the leash. He likes to show off how fast he can run to Anna, he’s funny.

Marmaduke looking better and loving Pat

Marmaduke gets afraid of lightning and thunderstorms, but we have started tying a towel around him like a cape and it makes him feel safer…I want to make him a cape with an “M” on it, so he can look like Super-Marmaduke. He likes to sleep on his cozy bed cushion and he loves to give hugs, he’s such a loving dog, it makes me wonder where he came from and if they miss him. He’s a sweet boy and we are so glad that he is in our lives.

Charlie on the first night here after almost hitting him on the road. He was flea bitten and ridden and had sick eyes that needed cleaning.

At the end of October 2011, I almost hit little Charlie with the truck within inches of his life. I swerved to miss the little guy in the middle of the dark road and I still remember his eyes looking back at me that moment before it could have been a horrible outcome, still makes me shudder. Fortunately, I missed him and ended up picking him up out of the road while making traffic slow down. I called our neighbor to see if she knew whose dog it was, she didn’t but had seen a dog like that a few miles away a few days before I found him. We put up signs and took him in, the children decided his name would be Charlie, I just heard the other name in contention was “Swerve”…Charlie fits him better. He was flea bitten pretty bad and the vet gave him his shots and thinks he is around 2 years old. He was “fixed”, so we figured someone was missing him. We called around and drove to ask if he belonged to people who had advertised missing dogs. We decided to give it a month until we could officially welcome him into the family. It was right around Thanksgiving when we made the announcement; he was in the McCartney family.

Marmaduke and Charlie hang out on Marmaduke’s bed

Charlie loves helping Pat in the morning chores around the farm. He is good around the chickens, ducks and goats. He took a while to warm up, but now he zooms out the door for his morning chores and walk with Pat and Marmaduke. Charlie doesn’t need a leash, he runs around and then comes back to check on Pat and starts sounding like a snorting little piggie when he gets really worked up and energized; he’s so funny and cute. Charlie doesn’t like lots of commotion and likes to go in his crate for security. After he was here for 2 months, he got brave enough to come out to be with us on Christmas day and sit on our laps…he doesn’t like floor threshold changes, I don’t know if he had ever been inside before.

The first time Charlie came out of the kitchen himself, he doesn’t like changes in floor texture and is working up his courage. Dec 2011

He still doesn’t trust our son, although Cactus Jack hasn’t done anything to cause Charlie’s distrust. I wonder if Charlie was around a boy that wasn’t very gentle? I hope that one day Charlie feels safe around all of us here. He is a happy, bouncy joyful reminder that going outside to take care of our outside animals is fun and exciting every day! Charlie is our chore cheerleader!

I read someone write that having a dog is expensive and I agree, having 5 dogs is also expensive. It may seem that we have it easy and that’s why we have these 5 dogs, but we have to budget just like most families, it’s not easy. These dogs are in our family and we take that commitment to them seriously and pray that we can always provide for them until theirs, or our, dying day. Yes, it costs money and time to keep these dogs healthy and happy, but what they contribute is great too and I believe they make all our family’s lives fuller for their being a part of it.

My Home Goals/Projects – 2012 – The Laundry Room

This blog thingie has been great to get all of the stuff floating around in my mind out. It feels good to make it concrete out in the world and allow my brain a breather. In October, I “met” Jules from Pancakes and French Fries over at Pinterest when I saw a picture of her shoe organization and spent time reading her blog about her William Morris Project on my phone while laying in bed suffering from insomnia. I called my sister, Carmen, and told her about The William Morris Project the next morning, I was so excited!

The William Morris Project is based on the quote by William Morris who apparently was a textile designer and artist and had many other interests; his artwork and textiles influenced the decorating of churches and homes in Europe (thanks to wikipedia for helping learn who he was). His quote is simply this:

Jules over at Pancakes and French Fries has invited others to share how the William Morris Project has helped them and she encouraged us to share our progress every Thursday. I love Jule’s list where she wrote about her home and the intentional plans she has for each room. I have a list like that in my brain that I may eventually organize and share here, so I can have more space in my brain. Today, I’ll share how I got motivated to work on my laundry room and what plans I still have for it.

My husband went on a business trip not long after reading Jule’s blog and I decided it was time to tackle my laundry room; it was a bit out of control.

Yep, that’s my gardenia that needs to be indoors in the winter and someone’s lone underwear…it happens OK?
My growboxes were in the dining room, which made for interesting conversation starters, especially when we had a state trooper and his family over…

I didn’t want to have my garden growboxes in my dining room anymore, I thought they could work in my laundry room if I made a few alterations, thus begins the laundry room project…

There was a cabinet that was hard to reach over the deep counter, I thought the growboxes might fit here.
Cleaned off everything from the cabinet and on the countertop, some of this stuff was here when we moved in.
Trying to unscrew the cabinet…I ended up finding a drill to help me, the manual screwdriver was killing my hands. I used my laundry soap to catch it when it gave. One screw was hidden and it took all my patience not to try to rip the thing out of the wall before I found the screw under the cabinet.
Found a basket that had been outside for ages that could hold the dog grooming supplies.
Now to find room for the basket of dog grooming supplies. The lady who lived here before us left most of these cleaning supplies, I have probably only 4 things that I have put in there. She was a much better “cleaner” than I am, but I appreciate her Goo-B-Gone and the stainless steel cleaner and am slowly using stuff.
One of the cleaners in that cabinet…it’s scary how old it is…I think next Tox-Away day, I will clean out this cabinet of any cleaners that I will never use.
The dog grooming supplies fit!
Vacuuming the dusty and dirty countertop
I found some sweet pictures that my children made and got some magnets to put them on the freezer. I’ve never put a magnet on the freezer…I always thought it could only be on the refrigerator. It makes the laundry room “happier”.
While cleaning out the shelves, I found some stuff to get rid of and decided to use some pretties that I love, but hadn’t used in a long time.
I wanted to hang some little plant vases in front of the windows, but had to screw in these hooks, it helped to use a washcloth to save my fingers.
I like them!
Both plant hangers are hung up, yay!
The growboxes fit. My husband put them on a timer too, so I don’t have to remember to turn them on and off, thanks Pat!
The milk pasteurizer fits right by the growboxes.
This coatrack was in the laundry room closet taking up space; my husband had made it for the children’s winter clothes and supplies when we rented a house and didn’t have a closet. I want to use the hangers to put in the closet for their winter gear and use the wood to make a Pinterest project that I am excited about. But, I want to use an old door that I bought at an auction for $1.00 for the top with some plexiglass on it…I think it will work.

Thanks for joining me to see my laundry room project, inspired by the William Morris Project. I’ll try to get my list together and have something to share with you next Thursday, that will keep me motivated. Thanks again Jules for your help and encouragement!

Paper-Piecing Project – Mini Eve (from Wall-E) Pillow

Quilted Eve Pillow

This project wasn’t on my 12 for 2012, but it was on my sewing machine. And, I really want to clean my sewing machine off before tackling the 12 for 2012. My sewing machine is like any other horizontal surfaces in my house…it is subject to fierce piling, my “organizational” strategy.

This is paper piece pattern that liljabs made and is found on Fandom in Stitches.

Liljab is one of the designers at Fandom in Stitches…one day I would like to learn how to design paper-pieced patterns and I appreciate the designers who share their artwork and patterns with the world.

I decided to make a quilted pillow for my niece and I like how it turned out, I didn’t quilt the off white areas, just around Eve in the “space” area. I used metallic thread that doesn’t show up in the picture. The pattern is a 10 inch, but I forgot to turn off the scaling on my printer, so it ended up a bit smaller. When first stitching back in November, I didn’t recognize some of the different shades on the pattern – the greyscale represents different colors. This mess up derailed me for the past two months…does that happen to anyone else? Talking it through with my sister on why I was “blocked” and couldn’t finish the project, I realized that my colors didn’t have a darker shadow under Eve’s arm, so I decided to use a permanent fabric marker to “shade” that area in. It bothers me a bit, because it really should be her “body” and not the background under that “shading”, but I didn’t want to go back and rip the seams. It works good enough and I tried not to give up just because it wasn’t perfect. It could either get done or be perfect and I decided it needed to get done. I watched season 1 of Downton Abbey while working on Saturday too, that was fun.

The pillow has an envelope backing which is what I learned last year when doing the pillow project from Sew Mama Sew blogpost on How to make a basic pillow and finish with binding.

Envelope backing

I wish that I would have stuffed the pillow a bit less or made my envelope “flaps” longer because they tend to show the pillow underneath.

Here is my facebook album on that project last winter with photos…I didn’t have a blog back then and tried to enter the contest, so I needed to take photos and talk about my process. It was my first ever homemade pillow. I like pillows a lot now and think they are fun to make.

First Pillow I Made Winter 2011

This was a fun project to do. It is nice to clear it our of my brain and my sewing machine. Can’t wait to give it to my niece to enjoy. What do you like to make? Are you “blocked” on any project because it has problems? Push past them and get those done, even if they are “good enough” and not perfect ūüôā

Making a Small Ironing Board Using a TV Tray

Not sure where this idea came from, I’m sure it wasn’t my original idea (don’t know who to give the idea credit to), but I have never seen a tutorial, so hopefully this is helpful to someone out there. I like to paper-piece when I am quilting and that process can take some ironing in between lots of little pieces, so I thought a small little ironing board would be helpful and convenient to have and use right beside my sewing machine. I used an old wooden TV tray, some extra cotton batting and some fabric to make a nice, small, personal ironing board.

I used old Warm and Natural Batting from another quilt project…keep those scraps, they come in handy. This tray was from Goodwill and we had been using it for school before this, yay for repurposing.
My husband helped me and decided to take the hardware off the bottom of the tray…I wouldn’t have done that, cause I am lazy and don’t care. I’m glad that he wanted it to last longer, so he unscrewed all of the hardware.
We used a stapler to staple the batting to the bottom of the tray and left the corner “ears” to deal with next.
We “cut” the ears a bit diagonally to take the bulk out before stapling the corners.
Stapling the batting corners down.
I had bought some neat fabric at the local box store when it was on sale, this is thick fabric, but I think any cotton would work well (something that can take the iron heat). We stapled it down just like we did the batting…and left these “ears” at the corner to deal with.
We didn’t cut the fabric at the corners (but you can), we just chose to for the batting (so it wouldn’t be bunchy underneath). We “opened” the ears like this to staple them down nice and smooth around the corners of the table.
When the ear is opened and folded down, it looks like this.
Then just staple it down.
We put plenty of staples to make it secure.
Putting the legs back on the table. We put our tray on upside down at first (my fabric was directional, so it made a difference…just keep an eye on that if you want your fabric to be right side up when the tray is folded down.)
Putting the other hardware on…this is the rest for the leg…this isn’t the safest table around (it can close easily while being moved) so be careful if you have little ones around.
Yay, it’s finished and it works great! Thanks to my husband for the awesome help!

My Personal 12 for 2012 – Quilty Goals

Jen Ofenstein's 12 for 2012 large graphic

Jen Ofenstein

over at

and lots of other places too ūüôā ¬†came up with this great idea…try to get motivated to get our UFOs (Un Finished Objects) finished in 2012, here’s her blogpost describing the details Jennifer’s 12 for 2012 blogpost. ¬†I loved the idea and I have A LOT of quilty UFO’s in my closet. ¬†Jen even said that we could use her awesome graphics on our blogs, thanks Jen…I am still new to this bloggy thing, so any help I can get is so great ūüôā


Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

January 2012 Project 1/12

Bagladies Quilt Club Quilt Blocks- (2010)

  • 2011 Status – Through 2010 and into 2011, I got to make a block for each lady every month using a new technique that we learned throughout the year. At the end in March 2011, I got to be surprised with the quilt blocks made just for me. It was wonderful to be so loved and thought of; each block was made with love thinking about my own interests and family. I learned a lot that year, it was my first time learning a lot of the techniques and I enjoyed it.
  • 2012 Goal – The year 2011 has been the hardest year of my life and I really fell off the sewing train, even though I enjoy it so much. It was emotional reasons that kept me from sewing and having fun, plus it was difficult to accept the love that this quilt represents. But, I have decided this quilt needs to be my first to finish in Jan 2012, just because I need to accept the love that it is to me and that I do deserve to experience and feel that.
  • Update: Progress on this quilt top can be seen here.

    Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    February 2012 Project 2/12

    Small “Hamster” Batik Quilt (2009)

  • 2011 Status – I didn’t even touch these blocks in 2010 and 2011. These were a block of the month 2009 at a quilt store that I try to go to when I am in town visiting the doctor, but I felt bad that I didn’t get the last two block instructions for the last months. They used Thangles, which I don’t like anymore (they work fine, but after learning a quicker way to make half square triangles, I gave up on Thangles and got bummed about the little quilt, that my husband lovingly refers to as a “hamster” quilt.
  • 2012 Goal – I would like to make my own blocks (I’m not sure how many more I need to make to make a small quilt (for a babydoll or a wallhanging). I would like to give it to my daughter, Gladiolus, who has a pillow that I made out the same color fabric last winter 2011. I need to make a border and backing for it as well. I have enough batting from other quilt scraps to use and will probably piece the backing. I will make a hanger on the back if my daughter wants it as a wallhanging.
  • Here is the finished February 12 for 2012 project! Woohoo! I even wrote on the back with permanent marker which I never usually remember to do when I am finally finished.

    Mini Batik Quilt is finished and Gladiolus is happy!

    Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    March 2012 Project 3/12

    Starlight Block of the Month 2011

  • 2011 Status – I made only a few of these, I thought they would look neat using my daughter’s favorite colors of purple and blues…but the instructions were poorly written and the one on the left side of the picture was so baggy, I got fed up. I still went and got the fabric every month and I even bought most of the finishing kit…I still need to get the binding for my kit though I just remembered. I think I just need to rework that one on the left, quilting it will only make it more wrinkly :/
  • 2012 Goal – I want to finish the blocks and put it together and quilted in March and it would be great to give to my daughter for her birthday in April.
  • Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    April 2012 Project 4/12

    KidsPlay T-shirt quilt (2011)

  • 2011 Status – My oldest daughter graduated from the KidsPlay, Inc community theater in Spring 2011 and we started making her t-shirt quilt then hoping to have it finished shortly after graduation. We got the last t-shirt that we were missing and we have already put interfacing on most of the t-shirts
  • 2012 Goal – I would like to finish this T-shirt quilt for my oldest daughter and make sure that I am saving my youngest children’s t-shirts for this express purpose too (it’s hard to come by old show shirts, I have found). Getting these shirts all faced, buying the sashing, backing and quilting it is my goal for April 2012.
  • Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    May 2012 Project 5/12

    Philodendron’s Surprise Flowery Quilt (2011)

  • 2011 Status – I really liked this recipe from Moda’s website by Amanda Herring. I don’t even remember when I first saw it, I think I heard Amanda Herring on Pat Sloan’s radio show the year before? and checked her recipe out on the website, there are lots of cool freebie patterns on Moda Bakeshop.
  • 2012 Goal – My second daughter wanted a flowery quilt and I would love to put this one together, quilted and bound (I already have the top finished and have a green minky fabric backing and the cotton batting) for my daughter’s birthday in May 2012.
  • Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    June 2012 Project 6/12

    Summer Quilt Block of the Week (2010)

  • 2011 Status – I didn’t touch this quilt-top in 2011 either, my sister and I had worked on it together in the Summer 2010 following Brady Sparrow’s awesome tutorial and instructions on her free quilt block of the week. IT was free then, I had to buy the last pattern on etsy, it doesn’t show up on Etsy right now, but you can probably contact her if you are interested in the pattern. I finished the quilt top in Dec 2010. I did piece the backing (using leftover fabric) in the early months of 2011…I found all of these fabrics in the remnant section of the quilt store, SCORE…and I was making it for myself.
  • 2012 Goal – I would like to have my Summer quilt put together and quilted and bound in the month of June 2012.
  • ¬†

    Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    July 2012 Project 7/12

    Panel that I liked and thought I would make for someone (2010)

  • 2011 Status – I saw this panel and thought it would make a cute present. In fall of 2011, I tried to quilt it using the John Flynn Quilt Frame, but I think the panel was too narrow for the frame and the tension was weird. Plus, I was using my sewing machine that isn’t adjustable with the pressure foot pressure, so I got totally discouraged and stopped. I really want to get better at free motion quilting and like Leah’s website The Free Motion Quilting Project
  • 2012 Goal – Just quilt the thing without the frame and decide who I want to give it to, or what to do with it. I have the backing and batting already, it would be a wallhanging.
  • Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    August 2012 Project 8/12

    Placemats that I bought for a Friend in 2009…I can’t find the panels to take a picture, but her birthday is in August and I want to find those things, put borders on them, quilt them and give them to her for her birthday at the end of August.

    Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    September 2012 Project 9/12

    Project of Doom (2011)

  • 2011 Status – I began this free paper piecing block of the week following Jennifer Ofenstein’s great tutorials and group Project of Doom Free Paper Pieced Patterns. When I began in Jan 2011, I thought it would be finished at the beginning of the summer and I wanted to give it to a friend, but it was like a 30 week time frame. I really wanted to get it finished to possibly display at our local Arts and Crafts fair this fall, but never got it finished. Again, I only have about 6 blocks left to put together, but I have just fallen off the sewing band wagon. I still want to give this away to my friend, but I may ask her if we can display it at the local library and the arts and craft fair still.
  • 2012 Goal – I want to finish the last 6 blocks, put the top together and figure out the border…I thought this red would look neat, but now I have doubts. I will probably piece the back using the extras from the blocks that I can put together. I would love to have all this done in September 2012 (it’s kind of a fall-ish quilt) and have time to enter it in the local quilt fair.
  • Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    October 2012 Project 10/12

    Philodendron’s Lap Quilt (2010)

  • 2011 Status – I don’t think I helped Philodendron on this at all this last year, we were almost finished and got off track…all she needs is the binding finished.
  • 2012 Goal – Up until this point, my daughter has sewn the binding herself (the whole quilt has been her first quilt and she has done most of the work, but I may help her, so she can be finished and feel her accomplishment…after putting this list of 12 in 2012 in order, I really don’t think this has to wait until this point; in fact I want to go do it now! I feel bad that it has been put off. Mom guilt is tough :/ I sometimes get a bad case of it.
  • *Update 1/3/12 – Finished Philodendron’s quilt, she is happy ūüôā

    Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    November 2012 Project 11/12

    My first Block of the Month – Batiks (2009)

  • 2011 Status – I didn’t touch these once in 2011. These were my first sewing project since I tried to sew a bit in high school and made stuffed rabbits for my sisters with a lot of my mother-in-law’s help (well, before my husband and I got married, thanks Nancy again for your patience and help!) My sister, who had been wanting to quilt with me and I am so glad that we did start this journey, and I did these at the same time at a local quilt shop (they gave us some of the colors and we could pick one other color) and I got the pattern to place them on point and I cannot find it anywhere.
  • 2012 Goal – I have lost the pattern and am hoping that by November 2012, I will have found it and can put this quilt together (or just figure out how to put it together on point). I have the backing and sashing material. I think I will use the extra blocks to make pillows or something. These were my first ever pieced blocks and some of them are rough, but I still like them and want to remember them.
  • Jen Ofenstein's 12 in 2012 logo

    December 2012 Project 12/12

    Wool Applique Quilt 2010

  • 2011 Status – I didn’t touch these once in 2011. I went to one class about an hour away in the summer 2010 and thought I would continue to go and finish this quilt, but I never got back there. I loved the bright colors and soft wool and felt feel. I have collected wool sweaters from goodwill and garage sales and can’t wait to get this together
  • 2012 Goal – I have the pattern for this and all of my foundation pieces sewn together. Now I just need to cut out all of the snowmen (it’s a calendar quilt with 12 blocks) and begin piecing them. It would be fun to do one every month this year, but I think I have my work cut out for me…I will try to work on this in December and see how far I get. I guess it’s good to shoot for the moon, cause if I miss, I’ll at least reach the stars, ha!



    Making Apple Cider Vinegar, our Journey

    Folk Medicine Book

    I’ve had this little book for a long time, Folk Medicine by D.C. Jarvis. It’s a book about a home doctor out in Vermont that was called on for people and animals back in the day. ¬†He used Apple Cider Vinegar for a lot of ailments. He also talks about honey, kelp and castor oil. I want to include his table of contents (its a book with 192 pages). I found this at a garage sale and see them sometimes.

    His table of contents contains in chapter 5, “Your racial pattern and Vermont Folk Medicine” and I just wanted to point out that his “racial pattern” was speaking of where your family came from originally, like he points out Nordic people who ate lots

    Table of Contents for Folk Medicine

    of seafood have had a more difficult time adapting to land based foods, like wheat and animal meats.

    Personally, I didn’t see any evidence of racism in his words and wouldn’t want to recommend a book that promoted anything of that sort. If he were to write this book today, I hope that he wouldn’t have used such a pejorative term.

    Apparently, apple cider vinegar has some good minerals as well as an alkalizing property, which I personally have never understood since it is an acid…something to study more in the future I guess.

    Apple trees were here before we moved here and in fall 2010, I thought I could give it a try to make a batch of apple cider vinegar. ¬†I found the “recipe” on the internet, but of course, haven’t been able to find it since. ¬†I am pretty sure that all I did was use the good peelings (not bruised or bug bitten) and the good cores (no wormy-ness) and put them into a large glass jar. ¬†I wish I had a crock that isn’t see through, but any that I have ever bought at a garage sale ended up with cracks in them. ¬†So, we used what we have.

    Here’s the jist of what I put into the two gallon jugs (I didn’t measure anything):

    • Good Apple Peels and Cores (I used the apples themselves to dry)
    • Some clean cold water to cover it all up
    • Molasses, I’m not sure of the type…I got it at the store and I think it is unsulfured (you could use sugar too, it’s just extra energy for the bacteria to work)
    • A “glug” of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (because it has the “mother” in it…it helps get the vinegar cultured and ready to go)

    Then I covered the top with cheesecloth and tied it up. ¬†You really want to keep it tight or “vinegar” flies, aka fruit flies will come and have a swimming party in your growing vinegar.

    I put my jugs in a northern unheated room in my house and waited for about 3 -4 months and I noticed the “mother” forming on the top. ¬†I can’t really explain the mother…it’s a thick “skin” that forms at the top of the vinegar and it is called a SCOBY which stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (which I think is too cool). ¬†I mean really, I always wonder who figured this stuff out, “Hey, Mildred, this layer of tough slimy-ness seems to have turned our wine into a lovely salad dressing?!” ¬†OK, it probably wasn’t like that, more of a grandma showing her grandaughter that the “sour” wine isn’t bad, but can be repurposed…sort of the ultimate recycling ūüôā

    I could go on and on on how I am amazed at the lovely microbes that help us everyday, heck we are mostly microbes in our guts. ¬†Too bad the “bad” microbes get all the publicity, maybe SCOBYs need a new PR machine? ¬†But I digress.

    Our unheated room smelled like an alcohol factory (or what I imagine one to smell like, I guess I haven’t actually been around an alcohol factory) for a while which makes since as the peelings were fermenting first and that alcohol is what the vinegar microbes likes to eat. ¬†That’s why wine needs to stay corked, so those microbes don’t start breaking it down to a lovely vinegar. ¬†Depending on the alcohol, the vinegar will be different: white wine turns to white wine vinegar, beer turns to malt vinegar…neat huh?

    Around the end of January, I noticed it was time to bottle our ACV (that’s the acronym for apple cider vinegar and I think it makes it seem so NASA-ish to use acronyms). ¬†We made youtube videos of the bottling process and took a close look at the mother. ¬†I thought I would try to freeze the mother for later; I think I read that somewhere, but that did NOT work, I killed her. ¬†It took me awhile, but later I realized that the mother was growing on the bottles ACV (we didn’t pasteurize it), so we could use that mother as a sustainable culture if we made more ACV in the future.

    ***Also, I think that my vinegar is stronger than what you would buy in the store…I dilute it with water in 1 part vinegar 2 parts water. ¬†I say this because one of the youtubers I follow said her dad made some ACV when she was growing up and she took a taste of it and it literally burned her mouth because it was so acidic. ¬†So, take care. ¬†Mine wasn’t that strong, but I also didn’t start with a strong alcohol (sugar content determines that, I believe).

    We still have the ACV in jars in our pantry and I use it for anything I need ACV for. ¬†I still haven’t used it for the animals like I want to…I read in that book that spraying ACV on their hay will increase milk production, but I haven’t tried it yet. ¬†I’ll let you know if I do. ¬†I will link the playlist of ACV bottling here:

    Video Playlist for Bottling Our Apple Cider Vinegar

    People have asked for a video of the “recipe” that we used…I wasn’t “doing” videos back then, and didn’t use my apples this year. Fortunately, they didn’t go to waste, since the chickens and ducks love them. Just didn’t get to it this fall.

    Carla Emery-My Small Tribute to Her

    My Ninth Edition of The Encyclopedia of Country Living

    I sure wish I would have had the opportunity to meet Carla Emery at one of her speaking enagagements or her writing workshops that she set up across the country. But, at least I have met her in her writing. My first major “farm” book that I bought was The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. I remember buying it while living in Texas before planting my first garden out in our backyard. I believe it was around 1998-1999 that I found it at the local Barnes and Nobles bookstore down the road; it was wrapped in plastic and I couldn’t wait to get into it and read…and boy, did I pour through that thing, flitting from one subject to another, finding her books that she recommended at the local used bookstores and garage sales sometimes. Dreaming, that’s what I was doing, dreaming of our land…the possibility of being a producer of our family’s food. It was ironic that I had that dream, as I really wasn’t a great cook, or that interested in cooking (I still am not much of one either). I don’t remember where I had first heard about Carla’s book, maybe a forum or an email group? I can’t remember, maybe it was from a thread at Whoever introduced me to her, I am forever grateful and changed.

    Since moving to our small farm, I haven’t opened the book much; I think I am in mourning (oh, I’ve recommended it to many of my friends and family, loaning it out for long periods of time, but I don’t really want to look at it myself). You see, I miss Carla, she passed away in October 2005, not long after we had moved up here to Indiana. But, I also miss my youthful “dreaming” self too, I think. It sure is easier to dream than to do, you know. When “doing”, it is more obvious to see my character flaws: my impatience, my self anger at my failures and mistakes, my laziness. Wow, I didn’t know that this post was going to become so introspective, but that’s what Carla also taught me…share, let it out. Her writing, although very fact oriented also contains her heart; her journals through her time having her young children, being happily married until her divorce and her singleness (she eventually remarried). She shared it and it somehow changed me. I am a more somber person since reading the other book she wrote, Secret, Don’t Tell. It is a much more sobering book, but as she states in the introduction of the book it is to bring the Light into the darkness of a very scary subject. I guess that through reading that book, I have matured and am not as trusting as I once was; but thankfully, focusing on our land and striving toward being producers, not only consumers, is making me happier and less apt to sulk and brood.

    Just looking at The Encyclopedia of Country Living now (I took some pictures of its “well worn-ness”), I see where I could re-read more and take in more details that I didn’t recognize or understand until now. She has a whole section on lard, which is more interesting to me, since I have made my first batch of rendered lard using the crockpot method that I found from this awesome tutorial:

    Carla even has fun tests and exams to see what you learned as you read the book, maybe I could see where I measure up to those tests and see where I can improve and use more of our local resources to produce what we might need around here.

    Maybe it’s time for me to dream again, knowing that the nightmares of my personal character flaws and the bad stuff that exists in this world might be around the corner to make me jump at times, but choosing to dream despite that real possibility. I think I’m off to flip through my Encyclopedia and think about my little farm and how to improve it.

    Thank you Carla.

    Our Raw Honey is Crystallizing, You Can Still Use it

    As you purchase our honey and thank you so much for choosing our honey for your family, you will notice that our honey is crystallizing, meaning, it is difficult to see through and it is not liquid, but thick and almost solid.  The honey has not gone bad, it is crystallizing which all raw (unheated honey) will do at some point, the timing depends on the type of nectar the bees used.  You do not need to keep the honey in the refrigerator, which will actually speed up the crystallization process.  Since it has been getting colder, our honey was in a non-heated room, so it crystallized faster than it would have if kept at room temperature (we may need to change our storage of honey in the future to slow the crystallization down).

    We like to use our honey as a spread and spread it on toast and biscuits and things like that.  Anytime honey is called for in a recipe, I just use a dry measuring cup and treat the honey like I would peanut butter and scoop it into the cup.

    You can also heat the honey a bit, if you like more liquid honey. ¬†Please don’t put it in the microwave, that can cause hot spots and can really burn you if it gets on your skin. ¬†You can gently heat it up under warm running water or in a gentle warming pan on the stove.

    Our honey was never heated during our part of the processing (the bees themselves heat it with their wings to make it the proper moisture level when they are making it, before capping it off…which I think is so cool); ¬†it went straight from the comb into the extractor through a strainer, into a 5 gallon bucket and into the jars. ¬†We believe the raw qualities are worth the crystallization, so we don’t like to heat ours, but just use it like a spread.

    We want you to love your pure, raw honey.  It is so filling and much stronger in flavor than any other honey we had bought at the store before we had harvested our own.  It did take some getting used to and we wanted to share what we have learned with you.  We hope that this blog posts helps you in using your honey when it crystallizes and you can continue to enjoy it.

    This pdf is a great resource in learning about honey crystallization, what it’s made up of, when it¬†crystallizes¬†and ¬†the different nectar sources that¬†crystallize¬†at¬†different¬†rates.

    Here is a blog post from a beekeeper in Las Cruces, New Mexico (where Pat proposed to me :), so I am partial to that area of the country) talking about raw honey and crystallization:


    Cutting Costs-Haircuts at Home

    I think I feel just as happy to cut his hair as he does to have it done :)
    Pat After A Much Needed Haircut

    My husband and I got married before our last year in college. We had about 3 dollars every week that was “discretionary” for each of us…and that was after cutting expenses and being strong budgetters. We lived in married student housing and we ate lots of ramen noodles (still do, just not every day). One way that I decided that we could cut expenses is that I could learn to cut Pat’s hair. At that time, back in 1994, his haircuts were about $12-$15 and he needed one at least every 6 weeks.

    I don’t think that I would have even thought cutting my husband’s hair was a possibility if he hadn’t gotten the WORST haircut ever one night while visiting my family over a weekend. When he came out from behind the wall, he looked like an eraserhead, bad. It was so bad, my younger sister, who is a very easy going person told the lady the haircut was unsatisfactory and we needed it fixed. I think I was so in shock I couldn’t say anything. The manager made him look better than he looked, but he still wasn’t “right”.

    When Pat’s parents asked what I wanted for a Christmas present that first Christmas we were married, I asked for a haircut set…the one from Walmart with clippers, scissors and it even had a video. It was my favorite present and one that gave back over and over. Of course, the first time I cut Pat’s hair, it took like 2 hours. And the haircut wasn’t the eraserhead look, yay! I even checked out books at the library for home haircutting back then and learned some ideas to make him look even better, nowadays there are even good YouTube videos (I found a great way to cut my daughter’s long layers on a cool and informative video, I haven’t ever checked to see if there is a video showing a man’s haircut).

    Pat Really Needed a Haircut

    I now have bought some nicer scissors at Sally’s Beauty Supply, which make a difference in the ease the hair cuts. The only down side is that I feel total guilt when I haven’t taken the time to cut my husband’s hair. I don’t even have any good excuse, he sets up and cleans up the hair cutting “station”, which is just a canvas tarp on the floor with the chair in the middle, close to the electrical outlet for the clippers.

    Some husbands wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice their hair to their wife’s learning curve and I totally understand that, this cost cutting measure isn’t for every family. It has worked for us and it may work for you.