Posted in Gardening, knitting, Ravelry knit projects, Shopping, Williamsburg, VA, yarn

Wool Sweaters

I haven’t knit myself a sweater since 2017. I felt this needed to be remedied. So I joined the Olive Knits January Gansey Sweater knit along.

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Photo credit to OliveKnits, Marie Greene from Ravelry

The January Gansey Sweater is a pattern written by Olive Knits. There is a KAL group on Facebook and on Ravelry where people are sharing and asking questions. There also are weekly videos discussing the technical aspects of this sweater hosted by Marie Greene of OliveKnits. as luck would have it there happen to be a few other people besides myself making this sweater at the LYS, Flying Needles. I’ve chosen to knit mine with Berroco Ultra Wool DK in a pretty moss green color. I’m using the color #83118 in the dye lot of 7C4778. I’m modifying where I start the cables to what I feel will suit my charming Apple Shape a bit better, but otherwise will be following the pattern.

I chose this specific knit along because it included a technique I always wanted to try, underarm gussets. I would not be surprised if you just read that last sentence and it didn’t even sound like a real thing. Underarm Gusset, indeed. I assure you, all the non-knitters and knitters alike, that it is indeed real and it’s a very old and useful technique.

A Gansey or Guernsey Sweater is a traditional woolen knit sweater often worn my fisherman. Now, I’m not a fisherman, but I will be wearing this sweater. And, I do enjoy learning about historical clothing, especially when it also incorporates knitting.

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As I was working along on my sweater it occurred to me it might be a good time to also go ahead and strip off the lavender flowers from the bouquet I bought at the Williamsburg Farmers Market this fall and make new sachets. While doing this I took this opportunity to add a couple drops of Lavender essential oil to some of the older lavender sachets I had made in the past. I now have freshly protected drawers in which I can store my sweater once I finish it.

I have six or so sweaters I’ve knit and a dresser full of other things knit. Mostly I knit with wool so protection against moths is really important.

So for the next week, I expect I’ll be plugging along on the stockinette body of my January Gansey Sweater. This will have the added bonus of making the fussy cabled section to be minimal. Allowing me to focus on my two oldest sons, Charlie and Ricky,  while they are here for a visit. They will be here this coming weekend. I am very much looking forward to seeing them.

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I will be starting the cables a few inches before the underarm gusset. I expect both these things will require my undivided attention. And in truth, I really want to give my boys my undivided attention, too. So I may have to set the sweater aside when I get to this point. Good thing I have several other projects I can knit as a back-up. You can never be too prepared.

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Wool Sweaters #protectwool #woolprotection #lavender #lavendersachets "lavenderesstionaloil

Happy knitting.

Posted in Home, Shopping

Some ways I save Money

I have broken down some of the ways I save money into sections. I take advantage of apps, store programs, and loyalty cards to name a few.

The biggest way I save has to do with Harris Teeter. Harris Teeter and Kroger are the same company so it’s possible Kroger has similar deals, but we don’t have a Kroger, so you have to check if that’s the store local to you. When you make a purchase using your loyalty card at Harris Teeter they give you fuel points, as well as their VIC loyalty card sales. One point for every dollar you spend, but if you buy gift certificates you get TWO points for every dollar.

We do grocery shop there but I definitely take advantage of that GC deal. I buy GC for restaurants, all sorts of stores, including Harris Teeter and even Amazon. We almost always have enough points to get the maximum of $1 off of our gas purchases. That’s for both my car, Chuck’s car, and even the lawnmower for $1 off per gallon of gas all the time.

Allow me to point out that many of the GCs, especially with Amazon, I then use Ebates for the actual shopping, getting the cash pack for that. I then upload my receipts for Points on Receipt Pal. Then I use the Ibotta App for individual items I purchase to get the coupon refund. Remember, many of my purchases were made with the GCs I bought at Harris Teeter earning those fuel points.

One the ways to save money is with Ebates. Anytime I do online shopping I try to do so through Ebates. You simply log into Ebates and then either search for the store you want in the search bar or look through all the store icons. There’s even a way you can save by shopping in physical stores by linking your credit card. I’ve done this at Plow and Hearth just this past month, I got 12% cash back on that purchase. If you sign up via my link you get $10 and so do I! This is my most used app for how I save money.

Ebates Link

Another great way I save money is with the Receipt Pal app. You take pictures of all your receipts, upload them and you collect points. Then you can convert points into gift cards. I usually convert them into Amazon gift cards. Then I go to Amazon through Ebates and earn cash back!

Receipt Pal App

I use the Ibotta app as a way to save money with their electronic coupons. Choose your store, go through the list of items with “coupons” and check the things you will buy, make your purchases, and take a picture of your receipt. That’s it. You can even link loyalty cards for a quicker process from some stores. They often run specials for people giving and using referral codes so use my link below, please.

Ibotta App. Referral link.

Now let’s talk about Amazon. We belong to Amazon as a Prime Member so we get free shipping and many other perks. [There is a yearly fee for Prime.] But the biggest advantage, if you ask me, is their Subscribe and Save. If you use this and have at least 5 things each month, regardless of how much or what the items are, you save an extra 5% off the already discounted subscriber price. I use this for all kinds of things and I change it around each month as my needs change. I usually use it for things like dishwasher detergent, dog and chicken food, coffee, and Frontline flea and tick for the dogs. You get reminders to edit your cart before it ships, you don’t payuntil it ships and I have it set up to use those GCs before a credit card. And it is delivered right to your door.

Amazon

Another way I save is with Grove Collaborative. This company is a subscription type shipment that I can change monthly as my needs change or even skip shipments as often as I like. They carry brands that have fewer toxic ingredients and more natural alternatives from cleaning to paper products or anywhere in between.

The products are sold at a discount from 7-40% off. And, Grove also offers price matching! SO check around for the best price and just let them know. They have free shipping with a VIP membership that has a $19.99 annual membership fee and VIP’s get free products throughout the year so it’s well worth it. You don’t actually have any minimum amount or obligation to purchase anything at any time. I use many of their cleaning and body products.

If you sign up with my link below you will get whatever the special is, right now it is a free 5 piece cleaning kit and I get $10! Plus you can shop them via Ebates for $2 cash back. Like Amazon, your orders are delivered right to your door. Plus, staying out of the store is another way I save money.

Grove Collaborative

How do I pay for all these things? With my Capital One Venture card. Including the purchase of the gift certificates. I earn points for all my purchases using this card. I can then use the points for things like airfare, hotel stays, rental cars, and restaurant purchases. It is, however, imperative that you pay it off every month. If you don’t pay it off every month all the above things are useless.

This post contain affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

What other ways do you save? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

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Happy saving.

Posted in Christmas, Holidays, knitting, Ravelry knit projects, yarn

Bountiful Snowflakes

We had our first snow of the season last Sunday. It didn’t begin to stick until we had a few inches. So even though we had about four inches it was rather sparse on the ground. It was still beautiful.

The previous day Chuck had trimmed some holly bushes and I used the trimmings to add into the pots and window boxes to bring some Christmas cheer to the curb appeal of our house.  

I knew I wanted to add some pine branches in and I considered picking some up when we were at Sam’s Club but I really didn’t want to pay for them. We have many Pine trees in the neighborhood and I thought I might ask one of the neighbors if I could trim some branches from theirs. As luck would have it, with the weight of the snow there were several downed branches from pine trees laying around on the sides of the road. Tim and I stopped and pick up several of the smaller ones. I popped them in the pots with the Hollys and I love how they look.


Let’s talk about a different type of snowflakes. Crocheted snowflakes! I purchased some of these charming snowflakes in the past at craft fairs in New Mexico. I previously hung them, with my particularly tall daughter’s help, from the sky light over our kitchen island. In our new house I needed a new way to display them. I decided to hang them from the window valance in our main living room. it has a large picture window and looks over our backyard. I had the perfect amount for that window. I hung them with command hooks and fishing line. They are so enchanting here. I really wanted to hang them from all our windows! But I didn’t have a source to purchase them here in Virgina.

Now you must understand that I don’t really crochet.I’m really just a knitter. In fact I thought I was rather terrible at crochet. But I started researching for some patterns. I thought if I could fund some simple ones at least I’d give it ago. I came across this book on Ravelry, 100 Snowflakes. I was able to find it for purchase on Amazon and immediately ordered it.

Much to my surprise its very well written. It has written patterns as well as charted patterns for each snowflake. There pictured steps of each crochet stitch in the beginning of the book for quick reference. The snowflakes are grouped by Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. I began with Snowflake #1 and have currently worked through Snowflake #48. I’m proud to say my crochet skills have grown as I’ve moved through the book. I’m using Aunt Lydia’s #10 crochet thread and a size US 6 crochet hook.

This was an earlier one and I missed three of the loops in the final round.

In order for the snowflakes to really shine they need to be blocked with starch. Starch is surprisingly hard to find now a days. I looked at both Target and Walmart. There was spray starch but I needed the liquid kind so I could soak each snowflake and then pin it out. Amazon to the rescue. I ended up ordering Aleene’s Starch from Amazon. This is the exact starch suggested in the book. 

Today I started blocking the snowflakes. It’s going to take a few rounds as I don’t have enough T-pins. I used some push pins put that doesn’t work as well since I can’t see the finer details because the pins take up more the visual space.

It’s been fun and I want to make all 100! I’m not sure that will happen before this Christmas because I just purchased a Snowman pattern by Susan B. Anderson that I really would like to work on. 

Very exciting! 

Happy Knitting! Or Crocheting as the case may be. 

Posted in Chickens, Homesteading, Youtube

Broody and other Chicken things

What came first, the egg or the chicken? In our case it was the chicken. We have ten of the twelve we originally started with. Shortly said, we had one chicken that developed a cross beak and she was unable to eat enough to sustain life and she went to chicken Heaven. Bea was very friendly and sweet as could be. You can see a short video of her looking for me on Instagram here.

This is Bea, her beak is obliviously crossed here. She was born normal but as she aged it became worse and worse. 

 Then there is Frida. Frida was one of two straight run Polish Crested Chickens we purchased. These were the only straight runs we bought, all others were sexed and determined to be pullets or female. They were an, OMG! they’re so cute, impulse buy. We knew we had a chance of having one and possibly two roosters. But I was optimistic and named one Frida and the other Ester.

And, yes, I’ve been told Ester should have an H and it’s spelled ESTHER. Having said that, I don’t care, I have spent my life spelling my name (and the names of our kids) so why not give sweet, little, Ester her own spelling, too?

Anyway, I’m telling you about Frida. Frida turned out to be Fred. When I told this to my son, Rick, he asked why I needed to change the name just because the chicken was now known to be a boy? He was right, damn it! Gender equality and self identifying for everyone and I kept referring to him as “her” anyway. SO, Frida the Rooster was hence forth known as the Drag Queen Rooster, Frida!

If you want to see hime crowing click this link

You might note- Frida as some Purple feathers. Well, Frida is all black except for the feathers on the very back of her head, those are white. When the hens weren’t pulling every damn one of the white feathers out! I swear. She looked like a Friar, no pun intended. So I kept spraying the white feathers with a thing called Blue Coat which is an antiseptic for animals. The spray dyes the skin blue and as it happens, white feathers purple. 

As we moved further into the summer and the chickens were all reaching maturity, eggs were getting laid and Frida was getting frisky. The more Frida matured, the more aggressive she became. That in itself isn’t a bad thing. She protected her flock. Frida gave Cali (one of our dogs) a lesson in messing with chickens 101 and as a result she now has a very healthy respect for chicken personal space. Eventually Frida decided she didn’t like me collecting eggs and started kicking dirt and jumping at me. This continued to progress and I researched how to handle it. In spite of my efforts she became very agressive and even drew some blood from me. It seemed she was destined to go live on a farm somewhere.  

So Chuck listed Frida on the Williamsburg Trash and Treasure FB Group and someone called and said he would like Frida, he was hoping to cross breed with his hens and see what interesting mixes a Polish Crested would bring to his farm. Off Frida went. And peace reigned in the run again.

That’s how we ended up here, months later with a Broody Hen and no fertilized eggs for her to hatch. Instead she has been spending the better part of two months sitting in nesting boxes whether they actually had any eggs or not. She has long since stopped laying herself, which is too bad because she lays pretty blue eggs. She is one of two True Blue Whitings we have and her name is Louise. She is a pretty yellow and golden brown and very sweet. I removed her from the nesting box several times each day and at night to put her on a roost. She never stays out long. 

Today. Today I took drastic measures. It’s a brisk 55 degrees and sunny. After spending lots of time debating on different ideas I decided to take the plunge, well for Louise to take the plunge actually. It is recommended to but a broody chicken in cold water with the thought that this will lower their body temperature (which is elevated when the go Broody.) I put her in a big bucket of cold water and held her there for 4 minutes. At first she was very unhappy but quickly relaxed and waited it out. Once I released her she ran off and spent quite a long time preening herself and fluffing all her feathers as they dried.

I also decided to “lock” her out of the chicken run all day in hopes the colder day would aid in the cooling of her temperature. Since the gate is shut I have had to play gate keeper to the hens in order for the other hens to have access to the nesting boxes, since they are still laying. I haves pent the better part of the day outside or looking out windows to see who is trying to get in the run. And unfortunately Lou has been up there more than I had hoped. I keep chasing her off and she goes but reluctantly.

Maybe I should have kept my Attack Drag Queen Rooster and let her hatch some. Maybe next time I’ll ask Stephanie to purchase some fertilized eggs from her friend on my behalf.

Today is the first sunny day after rain on and off for the last few so the chickens have found a nice sunny, dry spot to take a dust bath. Click this link to watch a couple minute video. If you haven’t seen chickens dust bathing they look rather strange. I find it entertaining and I’m sure you will, too.

Happy days, Happy chickens. 

Update- It worked! Louise is no longer broody!!!

Posted in Uncategorized

Trunk-or-Treat

We live in a very social neighborhood. There’s always something going on. This month was the Trunk-or-Treat and we decided to give it ago as I mentioned earlier. I did the Witch’s Apothecary. I’ve set up my this before as part of our Halloween decorations.

a snippet of last years Apothecary

For Apothecary supplies I use a lot of things we already have in the house. Such as my collection of fossils and Max’s shark jaw he was given when he was a kid from my uncle Jim. I also use the cotton bolls we grew and harvested one year as “Bunny Tails” and assorted other things like this. 

This is the one I set up at Trunk-or-Treat

I was surprised how interested the kids were. I guess because it was rather interactive and some of the things were real, and I let them touch whatever they wanted. The bird’s nest was from the Robin that built it and raised a brood in one of the hanging baskets on the front porch. The nest was popular as was the shark jaw. The kids also really liked the Spell Book I made last year or the year before. I had a young girl, maybe ten years old that was also dressed as a witch, spend much of the time at our car. She was extremely interested my book, she must have looked through it 6 times.  

Chuck made Carrot Cake Cookies that went over really well, too. And my candy packages were well received I think. I was really glad the kids and adults alike were interested in hearing about the Devil’s Claw seed pods collected in the desert in New Mexico and the  Petoskey Stones I had, which were collected in Michigan. 

I was surprised there were only about twenty cars participating. I guess with all the kids in the neighborhood I thought there would be more. I gave out maybe 50 packs of candy, but I know a few kids came by for an extra one. But in general all the kids were great and most were honest and said that I’d already given them one when they came around again. And many did come around again as their friends arrived. 

It was a fun night and to my surprise there was a contest for Best Trunk. The kids vote for their favorite. And even more surprising- We WON! I call that a bonus. They gave me a cute trophy that now I can add to our Halloween decorations. 

I’m not sure if we were to go again next year what I would do. It seems people change their themes each year and I’ve only done the witch theme for so long. I have about 11 months to decide.

Until then I’ll have our house lights on Wednesday and see how many trick-or-treaters we get at our actual house. 

And I’ll be the one dressed as a witch. 

Happy Halloween. 

Posted in Chickens, Christmas, Holidays, Our House

It’s fall Y’All

I haven’t had a true Fall for several years having been lost in a desert oasis. There aren’t many trees in a desert and it’s still rather warm this time of year. So, it’s basically just like the summer only a slight bit cooler, like in the 80’s instead of 90’s. This year it’s different. We live in a beautiful neighborhood with trees galore. Our neighborhood is named Queen’s Lake and we are in Williamsburg, Virginia with the leaves beginning to fall and the nights getting pretty cool now.

I’ve always decorated pretty enthusiastically for Halloween. This is year was a little slower in that regard. I only just yesterday would say I finished decorating. Stevie and Hanna are both big fans of the Halloween time. Stevie got married on Halloween and her rehearsal dinner was a costume party. Which was really neat.

I think I had a harder time getting in the spirit of the season since Hanna is in Oklahoma and Stevie is up in Alexandria. These girls always go big on costumes along with their respective men. And I really enjoy seeing their creativity.

For me this year was a little sad, and anticlimactic, particularly because I don’t have my friends coming over every Monday to knit and share in the joy of a holiday theme.

Moving on.

I try to invoke a witch atheistic. But, basically, a lot of my decorating consists of covering everyday stuff with spider web table cloths. Then I might throw in a pumpkin or two.

This is a very simple thing with a big impact. I’ve been collecting the table cloths, table runners and such for a few years. I find them mostly at Target and Michael’s and I try to pick up a couple new ones each year.

I always set up my “The Witch is in” spot. This is my favorite thing. It’s different each year but always includes this broom that I’ve had for probably 15 years.

I really need to upgrade my rug, but overall, I like the way this turned out. I even had some help from Mother Earth with making this feel authentic. Notice the spider just above the witch hat? It’s the perfect touch. [As a side note, I used a heavy duty magnet to attach the hat to the suitcase so it can’t blow away.]

A nice big Daddy Long Legs, or whatever they’re really named. This year I added the old suitcase I found for a couple bucks at an estate sale a few years ago. The suitcase was living in my fireplace in the living room. My sister-in-law, Ruth, asked why I had a suitcase in the fireplace. I say, why not?

Here’s the first level of Fireplace decorating I did when we moved into this house which included said suitcase. I thought it was charming. I really don’t like having and empty hole in the fire box.

For the fall I changed this fireplace up a bit. We probably will have fires in this fireplace and not in the other one in the family room. I will change this again to allow for that when I decorate for the Christmas season.

The bit of change was adding a old toolbox, cedar shavings and a few pumpkins to “Fall” it up. The big Pewabic tiles hanging over the fireplace have a fun story. You may know of my love of reading and of all things books. I also have a great big spot in my heart just for libraries, and specifically, the Detroit Public Library main branch building.

The Friend’s of the DPL did a fundraiser a few years ago, coordinated with Pewabic Tile, to replicate the story themed tiles that are on the fireplace surround in the children’s room in the DPL’s main branch library.

This is the library fireplace, These are original, one of a kind tiles, that were made for this fireplace.

Following is are the two tiles above my fireplace up close. They are replicas with more contemporary colors that happen to suit my decor style perfectly. These are the “Steadfast Tin Soldier” by Hans Christian Anderson and” Midsummer’s Night Dream” by William Shakespeare. They measure approximately 11×14 but as they are individually handmade they vary slightly, adding to their charm. My brother made these frames using our wet bar counter.

I have two other tiles from this fundraiser. but they currently are living with my brother. I think I should do a full blog post just on Pewabic and these tiles.

But today I’m talking about Halloween decor. The last bit I’m sharing today is the dining room table. I added some table runners to the chandelier and hung my ghosts, too. A simple table cloth and runner I’ve had for a while and some red candles with ghosts from Party lite that I’ve also had forever. Then I added more table cloths to cover up the everyday things, including the chairs that forever are living stacked in the corner……

It’s a pretty low key style with my Witch aethtic going strong. I left the burned out lightbulb to add to the effect, or maybe I just don’t have one to replace it with, whatever.

These are some of the favorite bits. There’s more. Come on over and see. And you can grab a dozen eggs while your here. We have a few. A few dozen or so.

I’ve also finished some knitting projects that need photographing and I’ll update those soon.

Happy Halloween and happy knitting.

Posted in Chickens, Home, Homesteading

Chicken Chat

 This is Frida, but I’m thinking she is a he, so really this is Fred. When we decided to have chickens we knew we wanted all pullets, which are chickens that have been sexed to ensure they are female. You pay a bit more for the guarantee. When I went to pick up our White Leghorns they had also just received in a bunch of Polish Crested, they were so cute, I tried to resist. Not very hard, obviously.  I chose two, a black and white one and a brown one. Because these were a straight run, not sexed, I knew I could end up with a rooster, or two.

The brown one is Ester, she is half the size of Frida/Fred. They both are friendly and easily let me “catch” them and hold them a few minutes.

Our neighborhood, Queens Lake, is in Williamsburg but we are considered rural residential. There are different rules for different districts within the city. Because we are rural we can have chickens, one chicken for every 2500 square feet of property with a maximum of sixteen chickens. We hope to have them free range the back yard but so far they are sequestered to the chicken run. I have worked hard to make the run a fun chicken space. I understand chickens can get bored and I don’t want that. That’s when they find trouble.

I used fallen branches screwed into wood stakes for roost space which they like and planted several herbs

This is a kit from Tractor Supply that Max put together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did have two chickens escape this week. I had Covered about 50% of the area above the coop but had run out out netting.  Apparently I wasn’t moving fast enough to get some more. It is now 100% covered. I understand the number 1 killer of backyard chickens are dogs. I certainly will do what I can to prevent untimely deaths. Cali, our Chihuahua/Beagle mix, has a very unhealthy interest in the chickens.

 

I also have a special needs chicken. This is Bea, she is an Ameraucana.

She has developed a scissored beak. If you want more information I am directing you to my favorite chicken blog, The Chicken Chick.

She tells you about this better than I can. But basically so far Bea is doing well. She eats and drinks with the only noticeable problem is she sometimes can’t pick up treats from the ground or my hand. Small things like clovers sprouts can be too small for her to grip. I’m keeping a close eye on her and I always try to hold her for a few minutes to really acclimate her to handling, but she doesn’t love it. I want it to be easy to check her out and if need be give her some help with out her also being afraid to be handled.

This is my Production Black, I think. I have one of these and two Cuckoo Marans, They all look alike. I can’t tell who is who. But they are rather friendly and easy for me to pick up and hold. They are curious little ones and always are right there to see what I might have in my hand. Lately they have been loving sprouts, clover, wheatgrass, alfalfa and such.  I started some sunflower and radish sprouts. I’m sure they will be ready to try those, too.

 

I’m learning a lot about chickens. And there seems to be lots of adjusting as they teach me more and more everyday about what they need.  So it’s petty interesting around here. Next on the chicken run agenda is to create a box garden with wire cloth frame over it.

I think we probably need to name our property. You know, like a real homestead. Since we are installing gardens and have chickens and all. I need a clever or witty name.  We live on Horseshoe Dr so maybe  the Hretz Horseshoe Homestead.  Have and ideas?

Happy chickens. Happy days.

Posted in Home, knitting, traveling

Spring has Sprung

We moved into this neighborhood, Queen’s Lake, the first week of February.  It was a beautiful neighborhood with two pools, playgrounds, and even a lake. I fell in love with it. Back in December when we looked at this house had in no way prepared me for the true beauty of the place. Shamefully, I don’t have any pictures, but I will try to do justice to it.

First off, you drive to the neighbor via the Historic Colonial Parkway. This is a peaceful drive which is tree lined and very much like a step pack in time. This is not a typical road, there are no lines denoting lanes, there are no street lights, and the exits are discreet with the only signs being brown and white street signs set lower than usual of to the side. There are beautiful brick bridges were other streets cross the parkway, they add beauty while discretely hiding the moderns roads. As you travel down this scenic drive you will find many historic plaques telling you of the historic importance of this area, from John Smith and Pocahontas to the Siege of Yorktown where General Washington beat Cornwallis. (If you have ten minutes watch the videos on the history channel in the link.) Not to mention all the exciting this that happened and are still happening in Colonial Williamsburg, also a stop on the parkway. But I digress.

Once you exit the parkway and drive a couple hundred feet on Hubbard Lane you’ll turn onto Lakeshead Dr. This is a mile long street that leads into the east side of the Queen’s Lake neighborhood and also to the Quarterpath Park. Lakeshead is bordered to the right and left by a natural wooded area creating a lovely canopy of green foliage and completely blocking off your view to the Colonial Parkway and smattered into   the left you will see an occasional beautiful home, one of my favorites is the first house which is a charming colonial style, two story, green house. You immediately feel like you have ventured off into the country.  Turning onto East Queens you can’t help but notice how this spring has proved to be incredibly majestic, most of the houses on this street have huge Dogwood trees, both white and pink, and there are hundreds of Azaleas in an array of colors. Red, white, pink, coral, fuchsia and so on. The Daffodils were also glorious this spring, There is so much beauty in this neighborhood. You really should plan to come see us at the end of April beginning of May. It is breathtaking.

I know we are full into our spring, in addition to all the plants and trees awaking the birds are busily making homes and starting new families.  We have not one, but two, bird nests in our hanging plants on the front porch. I have tried to discretely snoop and take a few pictures. We have a Robin’s nest in the one. Did you know Robin’s eggs hatch after only 12-14 days?  The other nest is a Sparrow’s. While the momma Robin tends to her nest solo the Sparrow’s are a two bird production! I’m not really sure exactly which Sparrow it is, the eggs are white with very faint brown speckles.

two days ago the first baby has hatched

note the sparrow has used some of the cotton I placed out in asset feeder in the back yard

I was quite surprised how tidy and perfectly round the Robin’s nest is.  Several years ago my brother, Andy, made a Robin’s perch and Bat house for me as a Christmas gift. I just assumed the Robin would make a sloppy nest. Apparently they do like a platform to build there nest on rather than a house but the are very good architects.

Two Saturday’s ago we attended Art on the Square in Williamsburg were there were hundreds of artists selling their creations. We found these super cute birdhouses made by a very charming couple from a farm in the Shenandoah Valley in Virgina. They are the Fly Home Birdhouses, and for all my Michigan peeps they attend the Ann Arbor Art Show.  We scored two of them.  I placed them in the flower bed directly behind our house. Within days we had a Wren setting up home! As luck would have it, it is in the house we placed directly behind the living room window. We have a front row seat to all the action.

If you look very closely you can see the little bird peeking out on the left

here she is with a bit of something to add to the nest

I think this is a Winter Wren. It’s a tiny little thing and seems to be working in tandem with a male to build the nest. It has been great fun watching as they try to fit sticks ad all sorts of seeds and tree fluff into the box.

Since I seem to be all about the birds, let me continue onto the most important birds around here. The chickens! I haven’t updated my blog nearly as much as I would like to, and we have done lots of work around here in the yard. My main goal was to finish updating the chicken coop so we could move them from inside the house to the coop. This weekend that happened!

The previous owners had chickens here before we bought the house and they converted one of the side sheds to a chicken coop. I assume, like the other side it was originally just storage.  The first thing we added another set of nesting boxes as you can see in the picture below. Ours are the unpainted ones and the painted ones were already here.

for reference, the right side of the shed is the Chicken coop

This is how the coop looked before we changed anything. These chickens belong to the previous owners.

The previous owners cut holes in the walls and covered them with wire cloth and plastic sheeting. I assume to create windows but as it was winter they covered the open windows with the plastic. The ground is cement and over all I’d say the coop is  pretty secure from potential predators. The first thing we did was put actual windows in, allowing us to open or close them depending on the weather. We covered the exterior of the windows with wire cloth to prevent access via the screens from predators. I spent a lot of time reading books and various internet things about what is best for chickens. I found the Chicken Chick to be a favorite resource. I love her book and her blog.  I’ve implemented several of her ideas and am so far pleased with them.

We also finished the walls with bead board so that they are completely covered. I believe the leftover bead board from a previous master bathroom renovation had been used to cover part of the walls in the coop. We picked up two sheets at Lowe’s and finished the job. We also used two panels of white plastic trellis to cover the ceilings to prevent the chickens from possibly hitting their heads on roofing nails. We then moved the nesting boxes to the righthand side and lowered them. A tip from the Chicken Chick, she said chickens will sleep on the highest point and you don’t want the nesting boxes to be where they sleep in order to keep them cleaner and therefore have less chance of poop on your eggs. Also, on the Chicken Chick recommendations, we added two roosts and a poop deck. (A poop deck is under the roosts and all the poop lands on this and you can easily scrape it into a bucket to dump into a the compost.) It works like a charm! I painted everything with outdoor paint, mainly so it would be durable and painted wood is less likely to absorb moister than unpainted wood.  We added a couple inches of sand to the bottom, which will dry quickly in the event it gets wet, I can scoop poop out with a cat litter scoop and it won’t decompose and mold.

I’m very pleased with how it turned out. Since I’m a total nerd, I decorated it a bit. We  built some frames that we covered in wire cloth to go under the poop deck. This is for two reasons. One, to prevent chickens from congregating under the deck where I will store their food and stuff in a large tub. Two, in the event of a sick chicken needing separation do to pecking or whatever. This is where we will put any new chicken we introduce to the flock. We still need to build a door but right now the tub seems to be blocking the opening just fine.

The chickens have made themselves at home and are very happy. I snapped this picture last night at about 9pm. They are all tucked up in bed, nice and tight.  On the highest spot in the coop. Super glad I rearranged things.

I don’t know why but the always separate themselves into two teams of 6

I not nearly enough to report on the knitting front.  I did FINALLY finish my Find your Fade for the KAL at Flying Needles. Which I haven’t even managed to get there to show the completed project, ugh. I still have not blocked it, although, I’m thinking I might not. I like that it is extra squishy. I love how it turned out.

Sometimes I feel like I’ll never have the free time to produce any mentionable knitting here. I’m still knitting the same pair of Hermione’s socks, I am now on the second sock. I did start a pair NO Purl Monkey socks, this is a fun project. I haven’t even created a project file for them on Ravelry yet.  This weekend we are traveling to Cincinnati, OH. for our niece, Katherine’s, graduation. She is now a Nurse! I’m looking forward to sharing in this special occasion with her. As a  bonus- I have car knitting time! WhhooooooHooooooooo!

Happy Knitting and Bird watching!

Posted in Home, Queens Lake

Making a home

This moving stuff is so much, not so fun, work.  Luckily Stevie came just a few days after we moved in and really made a huge dent in the unpacking.

Then my mom and her friend, Judy, were here last week. They completely unpacked Hanna’s boxes. That was a really big help. Since Hanna is away at school her room will be the acting as the guest room. My mom also worked in the yard quite a bit. She really misses having a large yard, I’m happy to accommodate her love of gardening. She prepped some garden areas, put out lots of garden decor and planted some roses. She was happy and I was happy!

I’m the indoor cat to my mom’s outdoor cat.

I love decorating, moving things around and editing what we have to work in new ways. I have an eclectic style, a bit farmhouse, a bit traditional and now a bit New Mexican. We don’t typically buy new furniture or big investment types of purchases. I like to change things around so garage or resale purchases are better for the budget and frankly my style. We have many family pieces, like the tv that my grandma dragged from someone’s trash to her house, she gutted out the tv parts leaving the shell of the case. She then refinished it, adding glass doors and a glass shelf. I use it to house the various crystal we have, also, mostly hand me downs.  I love this sort of stuff. Historical pieces, well, my history anyway.

This is the TV cabinet my Grandma repurposed

I want our house to be…..timeless, not trendy. You won’t find a sign that says “Farmhouse” or drop cloth curtains hanging from our windows or anything like that. Not trendy, rather, updated and comfortable.

After mom and Judy left I went in and added the little touches to Hanna’s room that make a place special. She wanted to incorporate cacti into the design and I found these cute cacti lights at Pier One so I tucked those under the edge of the upper cabinets. Super cute if you ask me.

Hanna chose a pretty Emerald green but I went with the lightest color on the card, Breaktime, to give a spa like feel. Before she left  for school Hanna picked out some throw pillows and accent pieces to go in her room. plus we purchased the chair and nightstands I previously talked about on my blog. I purchased new all white linens to keep with the spa/hotel vibe I wanted. I’m going to add several pictures of her room for you. What do you think? I love how it turned out.

Hanna loves it, too. And we are ready for guests! Whose coming next? YOU?

I’m hoping to squeeze in some knitting this weekend. I really should get in my craft room and finish unpacking there. I have way too many books. Not to mention I haven’t even opened the boxes labeled yarn or crafts yet, I won’t say it out loud but it’s a hot mess in there. Look at the picture with your eyes closed please.

Real life ahead————–>

Happy knitting.

 

 

Posted in Reading, Williamsburg, VA

The Journey Begins

Today I moved my blog to WordPress from Blogger. I’m trying really hard to update things here regularly as I really want to share my love of knitting with you. I also want to keep track of the new things in my life. The year of 2018 is bringing so many different things. We moved from Las Cruces, New Mexico to Williamsburg, Virginia at the beginning of December in 2017. I’m really excited to live in a place that has such a rich history in the birth of our country! I’m looking forward to learning through the living history at Colonial Williamsburg and exploring Jamestown and Yorktown.

I’m currently reading the Lacemaker By Laura Frantz. It is set in Williamsburg, Virginia during the American Revolution. The Main character, Lady Elizabeth “Liberty” Lawson is charming, resilient and determined. As her world unravels around her Liberty sets her mind to fining a way to be independent using her creativity to make it on her own in a time when woman had little options. She uses her skill as a lace maker to set herself up in the folly behind the tavern Raleigh taking in lace orders and mending. [Raleigh is a real life tavern that saw many important meetings with General George Washington, Thomas Jefferson to name a few. Probably the walls hold all the secrets that went into the development of Declaration of Independence.] As the story progresses you find Liberty putting herself right in the middle of the danger and proving her name is just the beginning of who she is and what she stands for. This book is exactly what a new Virginian needs, I find I’m searching the history books to learn more about the names and places mentioned.

So here I go.

I’m on my way.

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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