Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Wooly Field Trip

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Sunday, I took the three kids on a little field trip. We loaded up the car full of snacks, water, a well stocked diaper bag and left Scott at home to figure out how to untangle our new drip tubing in relative peace. We drove over to the next town over, Petaluma, to visit Windrush Farms (check out that link!), a sheep farm. They were inviting folks over for Shearing Day. I’ve bought a small handful of skeins of wool from Mimi at Farmers Markets over the years and was so eager to see her farm. We walked into their barnyard courtyard and were greeted by women spinning yarn on drop spindles and picking over freshly sheared fleeces on wire racks. All were either wearing a beautiful hand knit sweater or hat.
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It was pretty amazing watching this man work. He gracefully tossed 200lb sheep onto their backs with the greatest of ease to shear them. It reminded me of a book I recently finished: The Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd

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Though I don’t talk about it much here, knitting is a big passion of mine. I always have something on the needles (my ravelry link) and I’ve gotten to a point in my knitting where I’ve made enough things to notice that some wool pills more than others. Some are scratchier than others, some worsted wools are lighter than others, some feel like they’d keep you warm through an arctic storm. This curiosity has had me wondering about what the difference is between wools.
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Of course it wasn’t nearly the educational experience it could have been with three kids in tow, but we all had a great time.
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(would you look at that pizza oven?!?)
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You’ll have to excuse me now, I have some knitting to do!
Marigold Scarf
(scarf knit from marigold dyed yarn from Windrush Farm’s wool, many years ago)

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Filed under Life in Sonoma

Things to Know Before Starting Your Spring Garden

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Spring fever has hit hard around these parts. The weather has been sunny and in the seventies. This weather has spurred us to order 15 yards of compost, 15 yards of mulch and 1000 feet of drip tubing. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us! The past couple of weeks I’ve been collecting a great little list of links for you to peruse before you start your spring garden. Have you found any good gardening links lately?

My parents recently went to go visit Annie’s Annuals in Richmond, not too far from here and they brought back last years catalog. Stunning! The most beautiful plant catalog I’ve looked through. Annie’s Annuals focuses on both annual and perennials that do well in our California climate. My mom has been slowly collecting California natives to plant in her backyard and Annie’s is a great source for her. Please go sign up for their catalog, it’s gorgeous! Even if you are not in California, it’s worth getting the catalog and I’m sure you’ll find one or two things that can grow where you live.

What veggies are the most profitable to grow? I’ve often thought about that as we’ve chosen what’s going to go into our garden. Not that we are in it to make a profit, as we’ve never sold anything we’ve grown. But if one of the reasons you garden is to save money, doesn’t it make sense to skew your seed purchases towards things that are expensive to grow in the store yet easy to grow at home? This blog post gives a breakdown of what’s most profitable to grow at home. Cilantro…who woulda thought.

I LOVE this site. You simply enter in your zip code and it tells you exactly what seeds to plant this week. It even gives you a sneak peek into what to start in future weeks so you know to stock up on seeds. Brilliant! I have it set to Sonoma, but you can change it to your zip code.

Do you know what zone you are in? It’s a good thing to check before the growing season begins. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (I’d say they’d be a reliable source), we’re in zone 9b. (via Urban Farm & Beehives)

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Filed under compost, seeds

the men of the neighborhood

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Pardon my absence from this space. Things got a little overwhelming over here when my new years resolution of taking on more design work again got a little out of hand and the candle was certainly burning at both ends. Well, in my absence, we got a rooster. Scott came home from the feed store one day and said, ‘there’s a beautiful rooster at Broccos, should we get him?’ We quickly went over all the worst case scenarios, he could be too aggressive with the hens, he could be too aggressive with us, he could rattle the hens so much they’d stop laying etc… In the end we took a chance, found a big box and went to rescue the poor guy. On the drive home we named him Francesco. A little Italian love for our fair hens. He’s a Golden Lacewing Wyandotte.
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Turns out he’s a dear. He follows Scott all over the yard. In a dog-like way, not an ‘I want to peck your eyes out’ way (as our former rooster did). The hens don’t seem too put out by his presence, we’re still getting eggs. But what’s that you see over his head? That’s Mr. Peacock. He lives next door. He’s been our resident rooster since we’ve moved in. He comes over everyday to check on the ladies and makes sure everything’s all right. We sometimes let them out during the day to roam around and it unnerves poor Mr. P., he likes to see them all herded together and preferably in their coop. He’s not mean about it, he just likes things to be the way they should be.
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When we tell people we have a peacock next door they usually make a comment like, ‘oh they are so loud.’ Yes, I suppose he can be loud, but we don’t mind the noise one bit. We love this guy. He wasn’t too sure about us for a long time, but now I think he’s warming up to us. He’s been spending a lot of time over here now that we’ve got Francesco. Trying to figure out where his spot is in the pecking order, I suppose.
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Isn’t he gorgeous?
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Well, rest assured Mr. P is still at the top of the pecking order. The other day I saw him take a literal peck right on Francesco’s rump which made him jump about a foot in the air. It had me laughing for a good long time. It’s a good thing to keep a rooster humble.

Cockadoodledo!

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Filed under chickens

A Whole Lotta Love Lotion Labels (free printable)

Whole Lotta Love Lotion Lotion
In previous years I’ve often dismissed Valentine’s Day. I aligned myself with the whole ‘it’s a Hallmark holiday’ mentality and brushed off the event almost entirely. But this year…I don’t know, I’m catching the Valentine’s spirit. Suddenly red and pink hearts look kind of cute. So while the spirit has caught me, I thought I’d make you a printable lotion label in case you are going to give your love ones either the Hand Lotion, the Winter Hand Salve or the Beeswax Lotion this Valentines.
Remember to print out at 100% on full label paper ( I use Avery Sticker Project Paper). Cut out and you are good to go.

Download the label here

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Filed under recipes

Making Summer Flower Wreaths on a Winter Day

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Besides that little patch of rain the other week most of our days have looked pretty much exactly like the above, sunny and beautiful. It’s hard to believe it’s not spring. I think the plants are having a hard time believing it’s not spring too. This picture was taken between Christmas and New Years when I had a rare moment of quiet. Usually I fill those up with household chores or work projects, but this day I indulged in doing something I’ve been wanting to do for a long while. Make a wreath.

Last summer I was so amazed by all the beautiful flowers we had here. I cut many and put them in all sorts of arrangements around the house. I left many outside to admire, but I also cut this stash above, hung them upside down and left them in the garage to dry. I’d never made a dried flower wreath before but I went off of instinct and bunched up little mini bouquets, wrapped them in floral wire and attached them to a grapevine wreath base. I realized about half way through that I didn’t have enough flowers to make the wreath as full as I wanted too, but I didn’t wallow in my imperfection. I just tried my best to enjoy my hour outside being creative with the winter sun on my back.
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Mixed up in there are purple and white statice, yarrow, love in a mist seed pods, lavender, and scabiosa seed pods.
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I plan on drying a lot more flowers next summer to play around with more wreaths. I even planted a new kind of poppy seed that are grown for their decorative seed pods. We’ll see how they grow.

Do any of you have any bookmarked images for dried wreath designs? Or know of any other flower that looks great dried? I’d love a little inspiration.

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Filed under what's blooming