Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Getting Ready

Oh, how I've missed posting here on a regular basis. The activities of this month have kept me so busy that I've hardly had the mental capacity to string together words here in this space.

We belong to three homeschooling groups this year (4-H, a co-op, and writing club) which has kept us hopping every week. Although we don't have all three of these groups each week, they are scheduled in such a way that we always have at least one day a week out of our home at one of the groups. This is a new thing for us this year, and I had to weigh the various benefits versus the negatives when making the decision to participate in all three groups. This year we (meaning Brad and I) found it necessary to participate in all three for various reasons. It has, admittedly, been a nice change, but it has kept us out of the home more than what we've been used to in the past years.

Ian just played his last soccer game last weekend, which will free up two evenings and a Saturday morning each week. He enjoys playing soccer, and I enjoy watching him play, but it's always nice to see that busy season come to an end for several months.

A Lovely Yarn has also kept me quite busy between custom orders and preparing for a couple of upcoming shows. I'm hosting another Handmade Christmas Open House here at our home on December 6th. I'm looking forward to having various local artisans bring their wares in for the community. Our last open house was quite a success, and I have added a few new potential artisans to the schedule. I also have another one-day show coming up next month. This show benefits a local elementary school.

Oh, and winterizing the outdoors and the animals... Brad was finally able to find the time to complete the installation of the electric out to the alpaca barn. That was a big thing to cross off of his to-do list. I'm always so thankful for his handyness. It's quite helpful when you live the lifestyle we are trying to live.

I'm working with one of our alpacas who has proven himself to be quite stubborn. He is the most pleasant, curious alpaca of the bunch until he needs touched for vaccinations or anything else. And when I put him on his halter and try to walk him he either braces his front legs and refuses to walk or lays down in rebellion. Oh, he's driving me nutty, but I refuse to give up on him. Just as Majestico was a challenge to gain his trust, I was determined to do so and now he eats out of our hands and hangs around us. So I am mustering up the same determination as I work with Gandor.

And we are acquiring another new animal. This Saturday, we will be receiving a donkey named Tyke from friends of ours who need to re-home him. Tyke was trained to guard the goats at our friends' home so I'm hoping he transitions into the same role in our alpaca pasture. I'm really excited about this new addition, and it took us all summer and part of fall to commit to it simply because of this being our first winter with the alpacas and not knowing how it will go. But I, being the huge softie that I am, as well as my kiddos (who are equally just as soft when it comes to animals) somehow got Brad to cave and commit. Haha. This is how it always seems to go. I see an animal and immediately want to take it on, where Brad is the more logical and practical one and considers the finances and such. Yep, good thing we have one another to balance things up a bit. All teasing aside, Brad is excited for the newest addition too!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Updated Shop

I'm dropping in to let you know that my Etsy shop has been updated. This is my busy time of year and my fingers have been working non-stop in all of my free time so that I can offer my handmade items to you all. Each item is made with love and care (and even some prayers thrown in there for good measure.)

If you would like to check the updated shop out, please use this link.


Majestico visited with us the entire photo shoot...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Her first...

Lily received a big package of yarn from her Pap and Nana last Christmas. She had specifically asked for the yarn because she wanted to make an afghan. 

Now, almost a year later, she has finished her very first crocheted afghan. She worked on it here and there throughout the last year. In fact, most of my photos of her on my blog in which she was crocheting were photos of her working on this afghan. 

She was so eager to finish it over the last several days as she knew she was getting close to the end. I kept encouraging her to work at it, knowing how satisfying it feels to finish a big project. 

She finished yesterday, and her excitement was wonderful! I truly appreciated and understood how she was feeling when she knotted off the last stitch because I feel the same way when I finish a project. I helped her weave in the ends because, let's face it, that's the worst part of a project ~ the finishing. 

She was very happy to be able to snuggle up under her brand new, made-by-herself afghan last night. And I was happy that my little girl stuck in there and completed this project by herself.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Crafting weekend :: Felted Acorns

The boys were away for a long weekend of camping. Since we were without a car, Lily and I stayed home and lounged around the house. I definitely don't mind hanging out at home after all of the recent busyness, but it felt strange to be at home with no where to go but church on Sunday.

We spent a good portion of the weekend crafting. Friday morning we went on an acorn treasure hunt. We have many oak trees on the family property, but they are mixed in with even more maples and poplars. Our tree swing is attached to a big old oak, but I had just mowed the grass on Thursday and so most of the acorn top were mulched.

It was a beautiful, sunny fall morning and the walk through the woods was quite enjoyable. There was the crisp scent of fall in the air from the chill and the wet leaves that had already fallen. We took Midi with us who quite enjoyed romping through the woods.

The actual felting process was quite easy. We used the wet-felting technique for all but a few of the acorn bodies. Lily did a couple of the acorns using needle-felting. I did not anticipate the amount of wool that we would need for each acorn body and was quickly regretting my earlier quest to find the biggest acorn tops that could be found. We had to do some digging around in the acorn bowl to find the smallest tops!

We left everything out on the coffee table and worked on the acorns throughout the day. Perhaps it's just me (because I love working with fibers so much) but the whole process was quite rhythmic and very relaxing. And the end result was quite gorgeous!

Perhaps you'd like to try making your own felted acorns? They're not as difficult as you may think. 
A good link explaining the wet-felting process
A nice variety of different colors of wool roving
And if you don't have access to oak trees to gather your own acorn tops, you can find sellers online that you can buy them from.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cruising right along...

"Good grief, Charlie Brown!"

I have found these words escaping from my lips A LOT lately. 

Whew. Busyness! We've been on the road more than we've been at home these last three weeks. And this homebody of a gal just isn't quite used to this lifestyle. 

But I suppose that it's just another season in our family's life. As our kids are getting older, we are finding ourselves a bit more involved with activities and community. I think it's Brad and me who are having the most trouble adjusting to all of it, but even that seems to be coming a little easier this past week. 

I'm not sure what's been happening in the atmosphere here above Western PA, but we have been blessed with an unusual amount of sunny days. It really has felt like the perfect fall weather. I am, admittedly, prone to some melancholy as a result of the many, many gray days of the year here in Pennsylvania, so this sunny weather has been a God-send to my serotonin levels and has left me feeling a bit chipper than I usually do this time of year. We've also been experiencing some early-morning fog that I've been quite enjoying. It's the low-lying kind that burns up as the morning progresses, revealing the big, bright, blue skies above. I find early morning fog a bit magical.

The kids and I spent the first half of Monday doing a photo shoot at a local alpaca farm. Well, I spent the time doing the photo shoot while the kids enjoyed playing with the many, many alpacas and crias (baby alpacas.) 

This is one of the farms where we purchased two of our alpacas back in the spring. Diane and I are doing a bit of a barter of services, which I absolutely love. Why pay cash for something if a good barter can be made?

After being in the midst of all of the female alpacas and the twenty-some crias, I definitely found myself wanting females. Right now, we only have a pasture and a building for males. The two genders cannot be mixed so adding females to the mix would require another pasture and an expansion on the present building. We burnt up the alpaca fund this past spring, but we are setting a goal for the near-future of possibly adding to our herd. I most certainly don't desire a huge alpaca herd. The thought of that overwhelms me, but I would like about 10-12 animals. I think that would be a good number for where our family stands now in terms of financial means and time limits. We're waiting to see how our first winter goes with the four we have now, and then we'll have more information and experience to make a more educated decision.

So with the grand, beautiful entrance of fall has also come the yumminess of maple-syrup slathered pumpkin waffles. Ian and I whipped up our first batch of the season earlier this week. I just may have eaten WAY too many of them. We made them gluten-free and dairy-free, and since I don't indulge in these kinds of high-grain foods very often, I do indeed indulge when given the chance. 

The chill of the fall weather has certainly provoked the desire to whip up some kitchen goodies. I fear, however, that my time has been lacking and so, other than the waffles, I haven't churned out anything sweet or baked. That must change!

I've also found the necessity in starting some Christmas gifts. I really do detest thinking about Christmas before Thanksgiving, but when one is handcrafting gifts, the creating must start early. In fact, I'm probably a bit late in starting. I'm currently making a linen-stitch afghan for Ian and have some other things in the early stages of creating, things I can't really mention on here for the fact that some of my readers may be the gift recipients. {wink}

Well, the day is calling me. We actually have no where to go today until Ian's soccer practice tonight, so my goal is to get a good, solid school day in. 

Many blessings!