Sunday, November 25, 2012

A wonderful Thanksgiving and a fabulous giveaway!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was one of the best we have had in years! I finally broke down and bought a turkey roaster and all I can say is that I wish I had done it years ago! We have a very large turkey for Thanksgiving and I have a single wall oven, so needless to say it is a juggling act at it best! But this year was so easy! The turkey had its own oven - and it turned out fabulous - and the broccoli casserole and the naked sweet potatoes had the wall oven so NO juggling, No rushing, NO clock watching! Hooray for me!

I wanted to get the Nesco 18 Qt. but everyone sold out last weekend before I could get one, so I had to settle for an Oster 22 Qt. I was very hesitant to get an Oster brand because it didn't get the best reviews, but honestly, based on my experience, it had to be unseasoned cook's error because mine came out golden brown and juicy and so may delicious drippings we had more than enough gravy and plenty for everyone to take home for leftovers!

My table turned out just lovely this year. I always try to do something a little different and I think it was just perfect! What do you think? Those chocolate coins are for our two grandchildren. I always keep my eyes out for these and put them on their plates for major holidays. These were actually good this year. they were from the Netherlands and the chocolate was tasty!
Now for the giveaway! Kylie Parry from Kylie Parry beads is having a fabulous giveaway! She is one of my favorite ceramists and she is giving away a 'Birds of a Feather' Bead Set!

And she is not just giving away one of these beads above! This is what you get:
1 bird bead
1 feather pendant
1 egg charm
1 birds on a wire pendant
all tucked inside a cute gift pouch.

So make sure you check out her blog and also her Etsy Shop. You will probably not be able to leave without making a purchase! Especially, since she is having a sale too! Good Luck and many blessings!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What to do with all those sea shells!

I love the beach and I love to collect sea shells! I think I probably have way more shells than the average bear, but I still can't resist collecting bags of them when I am at the shore. Yes, those of us that grew up in New Jersey call the beach the shore! My family had a home on the bay in Stone Harbor, NJ which is in South Jersey about 60 miles east of where I grew up, so I was lucky enough to spend summers at the "shore" and I never knew it as anything but that until I moved south.

And even though I own bags and bags of shells, I have a hard time letting them go. For the past few years I have been part of an ornament swap and I have made 6 ornaments each year and I have to say, it takes some effort to come up with a fresh and unique idea for my ornaments. Last year I decided that as difficult as it may be, I would part with some of my shells to make my ornament for the swap. Well, it didn't take me long to figure out I needed to come up with a better idea. Not because my first plan didn't work, but because they were heavy as heck and would cost a fortune to ship all over and one of my ornaments had to go across the pond! So I decided to finish them and give them as my special Christmas Eve ornament to my two daughters-in-law, and a special gift to my closest family and friends.

I started by sticking a large Popsicle stick into solid Styrofoam balls then I coated them with white glue and then covered them with glitter. I used Martha Stewart Glass Glitter. and it was a mess but after they all dried for 24 hours, they were ready for the shells and the hot glue gun.
Many of my shells came from Sanibel Island in Florida - known as one of the top four shelling beaches in the world. We lived just minutes from Sanibel for two years and I was in heaven! During the month of February when the shelling conditions are at their peak, you can find the most amazing shells! Every tide brings in something special and new! As you can see below, I had plenty to choose from! And I also decorate with them. I found this huge ironstone bowl filled with those same shells at our local SPCA Rummage sale years ago for $6.00. What shell lover could pass that up even though she already had plenty!
During the process, I rested the balls in a small Pyrex dish while I picked the shells and then used a hot glue gun to add them to the glitter balls. I can't even begin to say how many times I burned my fingers as each shell had to be glued, one by one. It was so much fun digging through the shells to find just the perfect one to fit into the puzzle! It also brought back a lot of pleasant memories of time well spent walking many beaches! As you can see, each bag of shells has something to fit into every spot from large to tiny, tiny small!
I ended up making 7 and to finish them off, I added freshwater pearls and some beautiful braided cord for hanging. Six special people got one of these and I kept one for myself. I often wonder when I gift something that means so much to me if the recipient fully appreciates the gift, but based on the reaction of those who got these, I believe they did! Now I have to try to decide what to make for this year's special ornament. The ornament exchange is no longer happening, but my friend from across the pond and I plan to do our own exchange!
To give them a beautiful finish I also sealed each ball with polyurethane to bring out the color in the shells. I think it really made a difference. What do you think? Mine hangs in my family room from one of my wrought iron lamps all year long and every time I look at it, I think of shelling on the beaches of Sanibel Island and all those wonderful ladies that got one of my ornaments last year.

 A sea of shell ornaments!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alpaca Heaven!

Today is our fourth full day since the herd moved in and I must say, I am loving my time spent in the barn in the mornings! Previously, my daily routine during the work week was get up at 6:30 (actually, I am always awake at 5 because that is when my husband has to get up to be at work by 7), drink my coffee while watching the financial news and then putzing around the house getting some things done to lighten the evening load.

Now I get up and enjoy my coffee and catch a few minutes of our local news, then head out to the barn around 10 minutes till 7. I find it may take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes and then I head in to have my cereal and juice while I get ready for work.I have to admit, I am probably much better off for not hearing about all the BAD news that I personally cannot do anything about! And I have been getting out the door at least 30 minutes earlier then I used to and that means getting home earlier on the evening! I actually got home before it was pitch black last night!

Now that we have gotten all the animals home, we need to focus on getting our 2nd pasture prepared and building another shelter for the boys! Humo del Fuego is just too darned randy so we need to get him out of eye shot of the ladies. Naughty, naughty, Humo!

My next chore is to get all of my fleeces sent out to the mill! I had every intention of getting them out before now, but I thought I was going to be able to take them over the mountain to Lexington to a new mill over there, but she can only process Huacaya Alapca. Is nothing ever easy! That is not only a major inconvenience, but it ups the price of the finished product because instead of 2 trips over the mountain, I have to pay for super expensive shipping fees. Suri Alpaca fiber is much heavier than Huacaya fiber, but is is so shiny and luscious!
I can't wait to see what these bags will become, but that is part of the holdup! Before it goes off to the mill, I have to fill out a separate order form for each fleece and I have to decide right then and there whether or not I want it to be simply washed and carded for roving or batts to sell to spinners or spin it myself, or if I want it washed, carded and spun and what weight do I want the finished product to be and do I want it mixed with something else like silk or merino wool. And that is just a few of the things I need to decide before it goes in the box to be shipped off!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Welcome Home!

Yesterday was the fulfillment of one of our big dreams here at Old Cedar Knoll Farm! It was time for the delivery of our Suri Alpaca herd. We had been hoping for this day for years; but we have been preparing for this day for months. Like many other days of late, the day started out with lots of tasks still to complete, but it ended exceptionally well!

Our barn stood ready and it was empty and clean. The original barn was easily 50 plus years old with a very pointed lean and Kevin had devoted most of the past two months dismantling and reconstructing it into a barn that would suit our Alpaca's needs perfectly. It now offers the perfect shelter from the wet weather that Alpacas require with a large rear stall in the back for the males, an extra large front stall for the females and a nice wide center aisle for caring for the animals needs and storage and a place to shear them come spring. When Kevin started to clean it out at the beginning of the project, I couldn't believe how much "stuff" was in that old bar - most of which was already there when we bought this place years ago! But the old structure was worth saving because the roof was sound with no leaks and all the old boards are rough sawn 5/4 oak. Boy I wish we had more old buildings like this on our property!

It was 1:30 in the afternoon when I received the text message from the folks we had bought the herd from that they were about 10 miles away, so it was time to put the dogs in the house and open the gate to our lane. I got my camera ready and waited for the sound of a truck and trailer coming up our gravel road. They had arrived!

Up to this point, I hadn't really allowed myself to get too excited about this new venture, but then it hit me! They were here!

We had laid out the pasture with a gate for the girls and a gate for the boys, so since the girls were in the back of the trailer, they got to get out first. They came right out and seemed to be happy from the minute they hit the ground!

They were no worse for the wear and the 90 minute ride and immediately did their business and starting checking things out and eating grass.

Needless to say, this made us feel extremely relieved and were now able to turn our focus on the boys. The Nulls had saved shots and worm treatments for two of the boys to give us a chance to get our hands on things right from the start, so we got in the trailer and had our first lesson in Alpaca husbandry!

Words can't express how we felt yesterday and how blessed we are that I can finally sit down and write this post. We have our work cut out for us finding our way and trying to turn this little venture to a profit, but I know we are in good hands.

Jeremiah 29:11 

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

And like yesterday, today was another exceptional day. Our son brought our two grandchildren over to see the 'Pacas as they call them and spending time with them outside and in the barn and around the farm just made me feel doubly blessed. They are two of the most wonderful little people you could ever want to meet and they are a part of what makes this whole journey we call life worthwhile. They are happy, enthusiastic and full of joy and always make Kevin and me feel so good about ourselves just for having spent time with them.

I think this last picture sums is all up for this weekend. Our grandson Tate just wanted to sit out in the middle of the pasture and be still so the 'Pacas would come visit us. I got to be his cushion and eventually our granddaughter Lyla joined us and I got to be her seat while we just sat there in the bright sunshine waiting for something magical to happen. But for me, the magic had already happened.

Psalm 118  

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This Week's Featured Artisan!

 Featured Artist

This weeks Featured Artist is Regina Mcdonald - Chrysalis Designs by RM. Stunning creations, works of art you can wear! Quality handmade jewelry created by Gina. She truly has a gift in designing jewelry pieces! Her cuff bracelets are beautiful works of art and she now has beautiful upcycled vintage flatware, silver plated, serving piece bracelets too! All of Gina's designs are One of A Kind!

You can find Chrysalis Designs on:

Grab the code for your blog HERE
Are you On Fire for Handmade?
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