Saturday, April 30, 2011

Beadin' Fun

We've had perler beads around forever! Feels like it anyway, as I am always finding a lone bead lost under the couch, stepping on one, or even, as some roll into the sliding door groove as we open and shut to let the dog out and the chickens peck what crumbs they can find in the groove, in the chicken droppings! They come and go, the girls get into a beading frenzy and it's several days of constant making things and me ironing endless little plastic pictures and then there are long stretches of nothing where the containers sit on top of the fridge, gathering dust.

Lately, interest has been high and the girls are finally starting to play around with their imaginations instead of strictly following the pictures on the containers. It used to be only hearts, stars, squares and whatever shapes the boards allowed them. I tried to show they could do pictures of their own, but they adamantly refused to stray from what the labels showed. Evelyn shows great promise with her color choices, but it was always the same shape, again and again.
They got a Disney set with clear boards you place over a picture and you place beads over it until you've finished, but some of those projects were pretty darn big-- they'd get halfway through before dumping all the beads off, giving up.

Yesterday, with a burst of enthusiasm and a promise of help from me, they completed some of the big Disney ones and then inspired by the feeling of accomplishment, they came up with many more all on their own!

Evelyn's finished Disney castle with a bridge that helps it to stand upright. A princess to go with it, made up by Evelyn.

Sylvia's BIG, BIG Disney princess that took a long, long time to finish. Too big really, there's not much you can do with such a big princess when all the other little toys are less than half her size. I caught Sylvia pretending she was a giant and smashing through the castle, stomping on all the other princesses. Guess that's about the only thing Big Princess is good for. (she's supposed to be Belle from Beauty and the Beast, but Sylvia changed the dress color from pink to blue)

The girls got little perler bead kits in their Easter baskets-- they were for $1 at Michael's. I picked ones with different board shapes that we didn't have and the owls were from one of the kits. The green owl came from the original beads and had enough to make two, which Evelyn made, then she made the pink girl owl from beads we had. So cute, I asked for one and I'm going to glue a magnet on it for the fridge. The other kits were bugs (caterpillar and butterfly) and a cat.

Evelyn wanted to make a prince for the princess to go with the castle, but when we made him, he was taller with his crown. Forgot a crown for the princess, so the crown-less princess got bumped down to princess assistant and a new princess was made, along with a little green chameleon.

The little green chameleon made Gretchen think of the iguana from Tangled and she asked me to make the tower, Rapunzel, Flynn and the iguana for her. Only fair, since I helped Sylvia and Evelyn with theirs. I totally winged it and it came out better than I imagined! I really like the tower and I made the center piece so it can stand upright, too. The girls are having lots of fun with this!

This morning, Sylvia begged for an Ariel mermaid one, so I came up with this and of course, the sisters each want one, but with a different color bikini top for Evelyn (pink), different color hair for Gretchen (yellow) and Flounder and Sebastian, too!

I'm so happy to see the girls are finally thinking out of the box and realizing they can make stuff up. Hopefully I'll see less hearts, stars and squares and more random items being made!

Friday, April 29, 2011

More Milestones

We've had lots of milestones lately. As the family grows, the milestones come more frequent and I am constantly reminding myself to take photo evidence of each event. When Evelyn was born, we easily filled several photo albums of pictures with nothing but Evelyn. Along came Gretchen and we barely filled one album of photos. Then the digital camera entered our lives and along came Sylvia, then Peter, and I have yet to even put one photo into an album since. I'm so grateful to this blog, or else the kids will grow up and wonder if perhaps they were adopted, as there are barely any pictures of them to show otherwise!

Sylvia lost a second tooth recently. Another easy pull and pop! it was out. She still has the remnants of sun blisters on her cheeks from the sunburn we all got while in Florida. Evelyn has a bunch of loose teeth and Gretchen has been wiggling one... We may have to start a fund for the Tooth Fairy!! :o)

Gretchen got her ears pierced! I always told the girls that when they felt ready, they could get their ears pierced. She's been fretting over whether it will hurt much and here's what Evelyn told her: "First, Sharon will numb your ears, then you'll feel a pinch, and the next thing you know, you got a hole in your head!" It was a little more complicated than that. :o) She burst into tears after the first earring was in, wailed that it hurt and tensed up. I could see that if it had been me doing the piercing, she would be pushing my hands away by now. Sharon, the piercer, was wonderfully patient with Gretchen and offered soothing words of comfort. Plenty of experience guided her to know she needed to move quickly and while I was bribing Gretchen with a milkshake afterwards, she deftly pierced the second ear and it was done! Four days later, she is happy with her decision and following orders to keep turning the earring and keeping it clean. She is eyeing the pink dangly earrings I am wearing and I promised her she could have them at the end of her 6-week healing period.

We had our first corn-on-the-cob this year, here. We had cobbed corn in Florida, but this is our first at home. Not grown by us, obviously, but we couldn't resist and boy, was it ever tasty! A common summer meal for us is BLTs and corn-on-the-cob and we had an early start on it this year.

Just seeing Peter enjoying that corn so much makes me want to eat one, too! I'll try and refrain from buying any more corn unless it was grown locally, but just this one time... :o)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


After weeks of itching to get into the garden, we finally tilled the soil the other day. It was too wet to plant, but all the chicken manure and compost and leaves got rolled over and it was looking good. It rained almost continously after that and got cold enough to start a fire one day, too. Yesterday was a lovely day and we tilled again then planted all those onions we bought. Many had sprouted, some went mushy, but I think we planted about 3 lbs each of white and red onions. I think I'll plant another row of each after supper tonight, I hate to see the remaining onions go to waste. Hopefully the ones we did plant do well and we'll have enough to see us through the winter.

Potatoes are next, those will go in the ground tonight. Funny story, while my Aunt and Uncle were house-sitting for us, my Uncle spotted the potatoes and served some up for a meal. He liked them so much he went to see what kind they were and whoops! Found out they were seed potatoes! Good thing there are plenty of potatoes to plant.

While planting onions yesterday, Andrew mentioned trying corn again. I must be a glutton for punishment, because I want to try again, too. I used up all our corn seed last year, so will need to buy more. We have enough space in the garden to try corn again, so hopefully, with the addition of plenty of chicken manure this time around, corn will do better for us.

Everything is in bloom here. Dogwoods, forsythias, redbuds, peaches, apples, cherries, buttercups, phlox(es?), lilacs and more. So pretty to see everything greening up again. We will have to go through the yard and pick up fallen sticks, it will soon be time to mow the grass.

Once again I have failed to start my own seeds this year. Lack of space and a 2-year old that doesn't listen very well had a lot to do with that. A big goal this year is to set up some sort of green house so next year I can do my own seeds. Doesn't need to be a big one, I have seen many ideas on the Internet, just a matter of choosing which one works best for us. If I could, I would get the big hoop-style green house and keep the chickens in the back half and use the front half for the usual green house uses. Maybe someday, but not now.

After seeing plenty of other homesteading bloggers mention this book, I picked up a copy of my own and am in the middle of reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. This is not a book I can read though at my usual fast pace. I am often reading only a few pages at a time then walk away to think about what I've read. There are things she talks about that I knew of, but not at that level. I am also learning much and sharing my discoveries with Andrew and Mom. Reading this book makes me want to take our homesteading goals further and speed things up a bit to make it happen sooner. If you haven't read this book, I suggest you go and get yourself a copy and read it, it's worth it.

Eating an early supper tonight so we can work in the garden later. I count myself lucky that Andrew has taken over the kitchen and we'll be eating bacon cheeseburgers made by the chef himself! Why does food taste so much better when someone else prepares it? :o) It will be good to take off the chef's hat tonight and just eat.


Thursday, April 21, 2011


Every year, the same people hold a yard sale and I always look forward to seeing their address in the newspaper advertising their sale. First, they sell great stuff. I suspect they either own an antique shop or lease out a booth at an antique mall, because they are meticulously priced with item numbers and such a large variety of choices. We always find good stuff to bring home. Second, they have peacocks!

It's a beautiful area they live in, about 10 miles down the road from us. A great old farm house, I'd love to peek inside! Lots of land, cool barns, gardens and peacocks! It's so fun to see them and hear their calls. The kids really enjoy watching them and it's one of the few sales we can go to and know where the kids are!

There was a nice group of peacocks in the garden area and in the back there, one of the males had his feathers up in full display.

Here's a cropped close-up of the above picture. Andrew and I were explaining to the girls about why the males were more colorful than the brown females you can see in the foreground, then we started ad-libbing: "Hey baby, look at me and my lovely feathers. Don't you want a handsome feller like me on your arm? That's right, I got it and I got it good. Let me turn around and give you the full scope of my fan here. See that baby? I'm working it! You know you want me! I'm all that and a bag of chips!"

Wouldn't that be nice in real life? The men all dressed up and parading in front of us ladies, begging to be chosen? :o)

The kids chased this one around and he hopped through the fence to get away. Wait til you see the views on the other side of the fence!

Oh! If I lived here, I'd never move! Such a great place to go to for the afternoon-- nice people, good stuff to dig through, peacocks for entertainment and gorgeous views to soothe the soul. They usually host a yard sale twice a year and I am already looking forward to the next one! :o)


Tuesday, April 19, 2011


We've returned from our trip to Florida. Burned, crispy and now peeling. Remind me to visit Florida a little earlier in the year-- we went from 40 degree weather to temps in the 90s. For us mountain hillbillies, that's HOT!

I forgot how intense the sun can be at the beach and I did not put enough sunscreen on all of us, so our first foray into the full sun with exposed bodies did not do us well. We had lots of fun at the beach, and the water was a little chilly for our Floridians, but for us West Virginians, it was great! The kids stayed in the water most of the time and the waves were quiet enough that they could play safely without worrying about the undertow.
We collected seashells...

...Dug in the sand...

...and buried ourselves.

It was a great time for sure. I'm also quite positive that if my sister had not brought the tent for us to hide from the sun, our burns would have been that much more severe! Thanks for bringing that, Teena, along with everything else you brought!

We spent the next day at my sister and her husband's place and swam in their pool. I was more diligent with the sunscreen this time, but 2 days out in the sun was just too much. Poor Evelyn suffered sun poisoning and her face swelled up to where she looked like a different girl! We had plans to go to the zoo the next day, but knowing that would be more time in the sun, I cancelled that and we stayed inside, out of the sun. It took about 48 hours for her to look like her old self again, with lots of water, children's pain medicine and rest out of the sun. The other kids were luckier, and did not have poisoning, just a few blisters and peeling everywhere.

Evelyn got to do a scroll-saw project with Grandpop and they had fun doing that. Being 8, she's the right age for doing that, and scroll sawing is similar to a sewing machine, just a different medium, and Evelyn is already good at that! Dad got a bunny bowl pattern, which is perfect for Easter. If we had stayed longer, he would have tried to get time in with all the kids-- well, maybe not Peter, but each of them would have had a bunny to take home. After cutting it out, Grandma helped Evelyn paint it and got the other kids other little wood cut-outs to paint. I wish I thought to take pictures, but I didn't. We were just having so much fun and really lived in the moment that a camera just never made it out.

The time went so fast, it hardly seems like we were there for 4 days, and it wasn't long enough. Andrew and I seriously thought about the pros and cons of moving to Florida to be closer to my family, but then we'd be far away from his family and my Aunt and Uncle, too. Living near the beach is awesome, year-round fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer's market is a BIG plus, easy access to shops is nice, but we're happy where we are. sigh.. Too bad we're not closer. It takes a full day of driving to get there, which is not so bad, but it's not easy to get away either.

Definitely, we'll have to visit more often.. three years between visits is much too long, especially for the kids. I really want them to know Grandpop and Grandma well, not just someone they see only once in awhile. While on the way home, we were texting our progress to them and Dad made me laugh, saying, "the house got QUIET all of a sudden." Yeah, 4 kids leaving your house will do that! :o) The kids were pretty good though, except for Peter and his curiosity-- we really had to keep an eye on that one! He got into a few things, (sorry!) but we were able to keep him occupied most of the time.

It took a few days to get back to normal around here, once we got back. I miss everyone like crazy and the kids ask when we can go back, often. One day, I had the kids with me to the store and on the way back, Evelyn found my mapquest directions to Florida. She pretended she was me telling Daddy where to go and I played along, making imaginary turns. Sylvia burst into tears when I pulled into our own driveway, fully expecting to arrive back at Grandpop's and Grandma's house in Florida. Sorry baby girl, we're not going back yet.

It was a good trip, went too fast, and it's good to be home again. Hopefully, next time will be longer than 4 days. :o)


(Thanks for everything! Love to you all and miss you much! xoxox)


Monday, April 4, 2011

Chicken Feed

I've had a custom chicken feed recipe borrowed from a fellow blogger friend for awhile now and I've been wanting to check around local mills to see if anyone could/would make it. There's a mill not too far from us that has been in business for 100 years. They were the first place we called and after reading off the ingredients, they could have it ready that afternoon! Talk about service!I wish I could have gone with Andrew to pick up the feed, but all 6 of us don't fit in the pick-up and it's silly to take 2 vehicles. Lucky for me, Andrew took his camera along! It's the original building and sits right on the corner of the main road. There's a 2nd building across the street where they sell garden supplies.

Inside the mill, still using all the original mill equipment.

Love the look of the gears on this. I'll definitely try and get there myself to see it in person.

Someone else's bulk order, waiting to be picked up. Such nice people there, they already entered our recipe into the computer, with our permission, so if we order from them again, and we will, the recipe will already be in the system. While there, Andrew looked around in the garden center and they had onion sets for sale. He called and asked if I wanted some and I said to get both red and white onion sets. Silly me, I said 5 lbs of each; silly him, he didn't correct me. When he got home and I looked in the bags, I nearly fainted! That's a lot of onions!! We are now itching to get the garden tilled so we can get those onions in the ground!

Feed on the left is commercial feed from the co-op. Feed on the right is the custom recipe from the Mill. We have 900 lbs of feed stored away that, hopefully, will last us a while. I already marked my calendar so I can figure out how long it goes for. Price-wise, it's cheaper for us to buy in bulk like this, so it's a good fit for us. I don't expect to go back to commercial feed and with Spring coming on, pretty soon there'll be plenty of fresh greens and bugs for the chickens to nosh on.


In other Chicken News:

A Buff died yesterday. She hadn't been looking well lately and the past couple of days she confined herself to the coop. I had a feeling she might die. When I opened up the coop yesterday morning, there she was, face down on the floor, dead. Poor girl, she was 2 years old. After we buried her, I cleaned out the coop and laid down fresh wood shavings. Old chicken manure and bedding went to the garden where it will get tilled over with the dirt.

Makes me extra hopeful that I'll get a hen or two from the 3 chicks we have. Fingers crossed!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Show And Tell

Yard sale season is gearing up around here. These past few weekends, I have spotted a few signs here and there and even stopped at a couple. Last week, on my way home from errands, I spotted a moving sale sign, but I was in a hurry to get back home before Andrew needed to leave for work. With Mom away at my sister's house, we don't have that freedom of flexibility anymore and we have to be more aware of the time.
Anyway, the next day, Andrew didn't have to go to work, so I suggested we hit a few yard sales. The moving sale I spotted the day before was first and it looked promising, but upon closer inspection, much of it was junk. Nothing more disappointing to see lots of stuff and nothing worth even making an offer on. The stuff was dirty, in poor condition, or just plain broken. They were even selling a microwave with a busted glass door! It was almost as if they wanted to see if they could sell the stuff before hauling it to the dump.
On our way out, right by the door, was a pile of games. Dusty and dirty, but an old scrabble game caught my eye-- I've been looking for an extra game for crafting purposes with the letter tiles. A wooden box with a drawing of a castle looked interesting and I grabbed that, too. Boy, am I glad I did!! It's an old wooden block set for building castles, made in Germany. An awesome set!! I'm trying to figure out what it says... I know that baukasten means blocks and 150 teile is 150 pieces, and that's all I got. An online search gave me little to go on. Anyone out there read german?? What does Schlob-Baukasten mean? How about "Ungif tige lacioerung"?? There are some vintage German block sets on Ebay, but nothing like this with a castle theme. Anyway, we've played with this several times and it's lots of fun coming up with different castles. I haven't counted to see if there are 150 pieces yet. I'm sure there are at least a few pieces missing.

It's definitely a keeper! I wish I could find another set to double the fun. There's plenty of bickering among 4 little ones on who has more pieces or 3 kids wanting the same turret. This is one of those toys that gets put away and only comes out with parental supervision.

Not bad for a buck! :o)