Saturday, April 30, 2011

Another Banner & Blooming Peach Trees

On Palm Sunday Ryan came home from church council and told me that our church didn't have an Easter banner. So after I got over my disbelief we didn't have an Easter banner, I went through my fabric stash.
This one is just raw-edge applique for the butterflies and letters, and and I didn't have enough purple to make the background purple so I made the butterflies purple. I think it turned out OK for something I whipped up in a week or so. 
I quilted the background with Easter lilies.

I'm also super excited that our peach trees are blooming!!!
Why does this matter so much? Well, we had peaches our first year here. They are white and sweet and scrumptious and are planted right at the edge of their approved agricultural zone. By that I mean a bad winter renders them perfectly healthy, but peachless. So the winter of 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 were bad. I even blogged about it here. They were full of ice and record low temperatures. But the winter of 2010-2011 was pretty normal! Therefore the peach trees are blooming and I'm hopeful. This may be a year with peaches!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Review: Precious Norman Honor by A.L. Stumo

Supporting local can extend to more than just food. So when a friend of mine asked me to review her debut novel, I jumped at the chance! So this is my book review for Precious Norman Honor by A.L. Stumo from Pella, IA. 
While I am not generally a historical fiction reader, I do love young adult novels. Precious Norman Honor takes a slightly different slant on historical fiction by emphasizing the historical before the fiction. Although I thought this would make for a flat, boring novel (not being a history buff myself), I found the opposite was true. Not knowing very much about Medieval castle sieges, I loved realizing that the castle citizens valued even the weeds in the garden for nutritional value while I cheered Maud on in her attempts to see outside her rapidly shrinking world. Stumo does an excellent job of developing relatable characters and throws in some truly unexpected plot surprises. While our heroine Maud does not seem to suffer the most, she sees the suffering of her friends (such as her best friend Rowena) and family through the eyes of a 12-year-old. As I reader, I felt her pain and that of those she observed acutely. 
  Stumo also shows her literary background with strong imagery threads through the story. Fish are a subtle extended metaphor, and my favorite use of this device is when Maud narrates, "My questions were as numerous as the fish in the Severn River" and later notes, "I sighed as I realized these questions would swim downstream and not be answered." I always appreciate this level of attention to detail in a novel, and Stumo did not disappoint. I would recommend this book for anyone of any age, history buff or no. I am eagerly awaiting her next novel and hope she writes many more to come. 
Precious Norman Honor (paperback)
Precious Norman Honor (Kindle)

Other historical fiction young adult books I've enjoyed
The Golden Goblet
Switching Well (sorry this one appears to be out of print; I still highly recommend it!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Little I-Spy & Home Improvement

I finished a little I-Spy quilt for a friend last week, she's leaving for Colorado soon and I wanted to give her a going away present. It's just a little one, but I adore I-spy quilts. 

Something about them just appeals to me. I tend to make mine nature-themed.

I've also discovered that I have spring cleaning fever. It makes me want to fix things. So starting on about the first of the month, I installed a bannister in our staircase, which previously lacked one.
The baby gate on the landing is actually not for the baby. It's for the dumb pets who like to nap upstairs, then wake up and jump down from whatever perch they are on and wake the baby up. So maybe it is kind of for the baby...
A couple of months ago, I drew up some plans on engineering paper for a spice rack to fit above my oven (yes, I know, you shouldn't store spices above the oven. But that's where I like them and so that's where they go in my house). But my carpentry skills are limited, so I commissioned a friend to make it for me. He got it done last Friday, and I just love it!! Other than fitting my space, I designed it to fit the short little Tone's spices. Has anyone else noticed that you just can't get a good spice rack for those suckers? Everything is too tall and ends up wasting space! Or, you're supposed to transfer the spices from the Tone's spice containers and put them into pretty glass containers that only have certain spices labeled. It's all very silly. So now the chaos that was my tiny spice rack and spice cupboard is beautiful once again. Thanks Paul!
Last, but not least, we hung a magnetic knife rack this last weekend. Just ignore the dirty dishes starting to stack up under it, that's not the point.

Anyway, I had been meaning to do something like this for some time, but last week Hazel got tall enough and smart enough to get into the knife drawer. I looked over and she had the handle of the wicked looking shark-shaped bread knife in her hot little hands. Yeah, that was not cool. So now the knives are out of her reach! On another plus side, they are way easier for me to get to and some of the knives that never got used are getting used again. 

I am, as usual, thrilled spring seems to finally be here. It's sunny and beautiful, and snow is predicted on Friday. Yeah, we live in Iowa.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Farmer's wife

Yesterday around midnight I posted on Facebook the following status:
I am officially a farmer's wife. I have now been crapped on by a chicken while trying to get a weak newborn lamb to nurse. 

One of my friends responded that she wasn't sure what the bar was for the title of "Farmer's Wife," but that one seemed like a good one. This made me reflect on the question: when did I really feel like a farmer's wife? So here is my list, in the order I thought of them, of times I felt like a farmer's wife. 

1. My first Thanksgiving, cooking a turkey we raised for 14 people
There's just something about cooking the Thanksgiving turkey and hosting everyone at my house that always makes me feel like a matriarch, in the nicest possible way.

2. Building a storage tower for my quilting projects out of milk crates
I can't take a picture of this one for you because my daughter is asleep upstairs where this is. But trust me, I built it from milk crates and ny-ties, and it's classy.

3. Helping a ewe give birth
My regular blog readers know about this one. It was an . . . interesting . . . evening. I won't repost the picture here because it's kinda gooey.

4. The day I went into labor and got to the hospital an hour late because a ewe was also in labor
Yep, this one is true. I called Ryan who was out in the pasture from the passenger seat and said, "I need you in here NOW!"

5. The afternoon I came home from work early because the cows were out
I blogged about this one too. There's a trend here.

6. When I patched my husband's Carhartts
I used a pair of jeans he wore out. Then he promptly ripped the Carhartts again, right above the patch.
 Also, I should have a sub-bullet here for the PFI patch. Ryan's Carhartts aren't complete without it. 

7. When I bought my rubber boots
I bet you can guess which ones are mine. I decided that even though I'd need rubber boots, they didn't have to be totally ugly. 

As I wrote this list, I realized I already blogged about quite a few of these. When I was pregnant, one of Ryan's friends told him that you don't become a dad right when the baby is born. You pretend to be a dad for a while and one day you wake up and realize you are one. 

I think this is the same way.