Monday, January 16, 2012

PFI Conference & Mr. Fix-it

Last weekend was the annual PFI conference, at which they asked us to present! I love presenting. I know it's weird, but put me in front of a crowd of people and tell me to talk about something and I'm happy. 
I know, I really look happy in this picture, don't I?
There, that one's better. Hazel had a ball playing around and trying to steal the show.
We were presenting our business plan to a panel of experts, one of which was a small business financial expert in from Connecticut for the conference. 
We got some good feedback and people said our session was good. Hazel did not do well traveling, however. She just really didn't sleep on Friday night at all! It made for a long Saturday. 

One of the questions from the audience was something along the lines of asking if we were handy since we were doing things on a shoestring and I'm an engineer. Ha! I laughed out loud. It was very inappropriate. But when I recovered, I basically said that we either didn't do handyman type things, or we bartered product for them. Seriously, our tractor hasn't had an oil change since we got it. It's a miracle the thing runs. But then our dumb soft maple tree tangled its branches in our TV antenna on top of the garage.
This called for drastic measures.
So here's Mr. Fix-it on our garage roof, working it.
Go Ryan Go!
And now we have ABC back. I guess we can be handy when we have to be. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Roosters and Angel Quilt

Roosters are interesting creatures. Watching our roosters and their hens in our farmyard is a lot like having a fish tank. I don't know what it is about them, but just watching them hunt for tidbits, fluff their feathers, and cock their heads to look at things is fascinating. Everyone who comes on our farm always asks about the roosters, so I decided they needed a blog mention. 
This is our first rooster, he's the non-dominant one. He's prettier than our other guy, but really he's a weenie when you get down to it. He's supposedly a Cuckoo Maran, but we think he has some Barred Rock in him too. He doesn't really have much of a posse, and is a bit of a loner most of the time. He was hen-raised (that makes them a tiny bit wilder), and we bought him with a couple of other gals about 2 years ago. 
And this is the rooster I call our "stealth rooster." Now, I say that because he really shouldn't be here. He and many of 2010's hens are the Red Star breed, which are a sex-linked chicken breed. This means that when you have chicks, the hens will be red and the roosters will be white. This lets the hatcheries figure out very easily what gender the chicks are, because determining gender on a day-old fluffy chick is really hard. People actually make professions out of doing it. 
So do you see how he has a lot of red on his wing? Well, on a baby chick there is a high wing-to-body ratio. So as a chick, this guy looked like a gal. Hence, stealth rooster. He's a big boy, you can see him next to his hens. That's why he's dominant, and he has some wicked spurs on him too. 
We don't mind him, though, it's good to have a few roosters around. For the large part, they kind of keep the flock together. I don't think they do much to defend from predators since I never see any battle scars on them, but at least they're intimidating. I know Nermal's kinda scared of him. 

This is a quilt top I finished from a commission. I have a gal at work who has a quilt like this for her son and wanted one for her daughter. The hardest part of this was just that the small calico prints aren't really in style right now so I had trouble finding fabrics that were the same style as her existing quilt. The blocks themselves were simple, and there's some handwork for the angels' heads and halos. Each angel is a 6" block and the sashing is 2". My client (?) says she'll have her mom do the quilting, so this will probably go to her some time in the next couple of weeks.
I had two extra angels who didn't really fit in the main quilt, so I made a little doll quilt/wall hanging for her daughter. I think it's cute! And if I ended up machine quilting the big quilt (the original is hand quilted), I think I'd do something like this with the clouds. But I'd make the clouds a little bigger and I'd mark them out ahead of time so they end up in balanced locations. 

Lastly, Hazel pictures! These were taken by my dad and brother while we were in California for Christmas. 
Here I'm putting Hazel in her Christmas dress as she plays with her uncle David. David had this cute playhouse that is used to pack the solar cell kits his company makes. They decided to make their packaging also functional instead of a waste of a bunch of cardboard. So much fun!
She also figured out how to do somersaults there, but hasn't really done any since. 
And I love this one. These Mardi Gras beads became a new favorite toy (they came back with us), and my brother really has an eye for photography. Love the way he composed this shot!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Finger Paint & Failed Houndstooth

A few days ago, I made finger paint using an online tutorial. Oh my gosh, so much fun! Finger paint, like play-dough, is a magic material. It goes from liquid to proper consistency on the stove and is super easy and cheap. Love it! 
Now that we have the magical internet at our fingertips for recipes, I don't think I'll buy finger paint or play dough again. I did just buy some icing coloring (which is more concentrated than liquid food coloring and is a gel) and I think that will make colors brighter next time. Although Hazel's favorite part of finger paint was when I would take a cloth and wipe it off her hands. Toward the end of the activity she kept dipping her fingers in the paint and coming straight over to me for me to wipe it off. 

Before I made my Houndstooth table mat for a gift exchange...
... I tried a different method and had a bit of a fail moment.
It was generally concluded (by my quilting compadres) that although this was not houndstooth, it was cute in its own right. So off it went in the mail as a Christmas gift! Waste not, want not, right? Hopefully its new owner does not mind the distinct lack of houndstoothness that defines its existence.