Wednesday, December 27, 2017

December 27, 2017

There is always something to do at a farm/homestead.  We made Christmas presents and had a great celebration with our families.

We used the skills that we have learned here to make a custom slipcover for a sofa for my daughter and her husband, build a glider for my son, sew presents to warm up his girlfriend and make a leaning ladder bathroom shelving unit (an Ana White design) for my oldest daughter.  The part that I enjoyed most about the gifts was spending enough time with them to figure out what they really wanted/needed.  I think, too often, we forget that part.

A gift to ourselves was our "solar clothes dryer."  We wanted to make it so that it is convenient to use, so we put up the kind with pulleys and ran it from our back deck to our barn.  We also made a clothespin holder out of an empty apple cider vinegar bottle.

It was also time to plant our pollinator flower seeds.  As we are planning to change our front pasture into a rotational pasture where everything is rotated (including the animals and the garden), we decided to plant the seeds up front.  The seeds were a gracious gift from RAFI, Rural Advancement Foundation International for their pollinator project.  They can be found HERE   Thanks Kelli!  We first tilled a row all across the front of our farm, scattered the seeds by hand from buckets, then drew a log across the row to press them into the ground.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

December 19, 2018

We have been spending much of our time making Christmas presents, and since Christmas is not the "ghost of Christmas past" yet, I can't show what we have been working on.  However, I can show you what looks like a character from that movie.  My husband read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" for his school's Band concert (the band(s) are excellent - we so enjoyed the show.  Go ERHS Band and Ms. Perez!)  I made his costume to look like the character I remembered from the book.  He did an excellent job with the reading as well.  I am so proud!  We also used this picture for our Christmas card which includes our own Twas the Night Before Christmas poem. 

Another adventure I have had is something I have been wanting to do for a while now, and that is making soap.  So many times you read about how to do something, and it just seems to bring fear about trying it.  I am here to say, "Fear Not!  I bring you good tidings of great joy!"  It is not as hard as some people make out, and maybe not as precise as some make you believe.  I mean just think about the pioneers and what lack of equipment they had.  What I didn't have, though, that the pioneers probably had is someone to show me how from another generation.  So for the first time, it is good to follow the directions and be safe.  I got the scale and the stick blender, and we already had safety glasses and gloves.  Little did I know that after four twenty second intervals of use, the stick blender would die (the instructions that we went back and read said not to run it for a full minute.  Even though I let it rest between the 20 second intervals, it apparently needed more rest.)  We made the soap mold out of scrap lumber.

The soap did not come off perfectly per the instructions and the stick blender dying did not help.  Even after much hand stirring, it didn't seem to "trace".  However, I poured it into the mold anyway, and it seems to have done just fine.  I decided to use my food dehydrator to cure it on, since it is already equipped with the ventilated shelves and I am not using it at the moment.  I found out from a youtube video that lard soaps seem to require more stirring before they trace, so that may be why.

One Christmas present I can show you is the angel my youngest daughter crocheted for me to put in the package for my four year old Angel Tree recipient.  I just traced and and stuffed an angel to sew it to.  I am so glad God stocks families with persons that have different strengths!

Home Theater

I realized as I was going to show yet another person our home theater system that we put in this summer that I did not include it in the blog.  It solved so many problems for us.  We got rid of those ugly cables, we added a sound system and imbedded the speakers into the wall (which also brought back the ability to listen to music), and we focused the screen area in a place that can be seen by anyone in the kitchen, dining room or living area.  While we don't watch TV much and don't subscribe to cable, we like to watch occasional movies and youtube videos and love being able to put it on a big screen.  While we were putting in the floors and had places to run the cables readily available, we went ahead and added the home theater.  Because the hole in the wall need to be off center (and I need a symmetrical layout for peace), we had to problem solve for that and came up with painting a triptych and putting one of the paintings on drawer sliders to cover the hole.

The other side of the wall is our pantry, and since we still had temporary shelving in there, we decided to go ahead and build our pantry shelves to coincide and accommodate the stereo equipment.  You will see a painted screen made from scrap lumber and a roll of screen we already had is covering the equipment to allow it to breathe, but not be seen.  I mean, the whole point was to get rid of the wires, right? 

The other thing my husband did that we love, is when he was putting in the electrical for the surround sound, he put in a switch to turn all the equipment off at once, including the sound piece (subwoofer?) on the other side of the room.  Since we are trying to go off grid, we want to make sure there is no wasted electricity.