2016 – A Multi-Focus Year

Every year I set a focus – that area of life I want to focus on and try to achieve something that goes with that focus.  Some years I am successful – some years not so much.

In past years I have focused on Minurism – minimal consumerism – and was fairly successful in cutting down my spending.  Last year was my Money year – and I was likewise successful in increasing the cash flow into the home both through working hard on increasing the amount of billable work I produced each month and in increasing the number of assignments that came my way by being diligent in meeting deadlines.  Hawk Studio also took a big step forward by going back to Faire and carried us through some iffy times during the summer.  But without the Minurism aspect being combined we still were not pulling ahead.

There was also a negative that came from focusing on work all year – I spent alot of time sitting behind my desk and that just was not good for my health.  Both Chip and I knew it, so I promised that 2016 would be my Health year.

But as we got closer to 2016, I realized that I have to learn how to integrate it all.  I need to learn to be healthy and still bring in the higher level of income because we still have to build a booth for Hawk and finish rehabbing the upstairs apartment and meet our monthly bills.  We also have to reduce our non-necessary spending so we can do those things and get out of the debt that necessitates this level of work.

So I decided that I need to build on the prior years – to continue what I started when the focus was Money – and Minurism – and to add a new focus on Health to that mix.

But there was one more thing to add to that grouping – and that was Completion.  I found that another negative of focusing on work was that I was drained at the end of my day and let too many other projects fall by the wayside – Chip did too.  We have so many unfinished projects in the home and in the craft room and they need to be completed so we can let go of that feeling of being overwhelmed all the time.  That means we need a more focused down-time.

So you may see a different direction with this blog as I try to do it all and to (hopefully) show you it can be done.  I hope to show you projects we did using what we have rather than what we bought to support Minurism.  I hope to get your support in making healthier choices in activities and food choices.  (I may have to throw in some great recipes from some new cookbooks I got this year that are why I will never be able to be TOTALLY healthy but moderation in all things, right?)  And I want to show you projects being finished!!

My family is coming on this trip with me – mainly because I don’t give them alot of choice in it.   🙂

So I have already started.  I signed up for a yoga class that starts today.  I am walking a mile in the mornings with a goal of running a 5k in August.  Believe me when I say that this would be a big deal for me because my craft work and day job have always been pretty sedentary.  As a result, it is going to take some time for me to get strong in my legs.  I also went cold turkey for the last week on sugar to give me a jumpstart into the New Year.  Okay, the family did not agree to go along with me on that, but their sugar consumption will start to go way down if I am the one (not) baking the sweets.  I can say that I already saw a difference in how I feel just from that short a time.

I have also chosen the first knitting project for completion – a sweater for Chris that will also be his Xmas present – so that will go toward both Completion and Minurism.  I will show you that in a later post.

So starts 2016.  I have lots of goals – I will need LOTS of support and hopefully it will be an interesting year to blog about.  So here we go.

Onward and Upward.

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Hawk Studio – Some Custom Work From Faire

One of the great things that comes from being at Faire is that Chip gets the chance to make alot of the things he really enjoys making which are not your standard fare.  Many of these creations are inspired by the ideas of our patrons.  I thought I would post a few pictures of some of the pieces he did this year.

The first is a knife sheath he did to fit a wonderful dagger made by our friend Lars of Lundegaarde Productions.

hawk soccer kilt boys 008

Next is another knife sheath he did for a friend who works with the raptors in the Birds of Prey show – the blade was made by our Faire’s blacksmith and the handle makes a fine perch for his lovely friend.

hawk soccer kilt boys 009

One of the musicians at the Faire asked Chip to help him with designing a cool way to carry his penny whistles.  The came up with a small version of a quiver that he could wear on his belt.

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Early on Chip started working with a young man who wanted a cool sheath for his sword.  Because of the size of the blade, they decided to also fashion a back rigging so he could carry it on his back during Faire.   Here it is.

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One of Chip’s friends had contacted him early on and had wanted to replace an older belt Chip had made him with an 8 inch wide new one.  After looking at the sizing, they agreed to reduce it to a 6 inch wide belt with a triple belting system.  Here is what it looked like from the front.

End of Faire 008

 

And here is the back

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End of Faire 012

It came out great – loved the colors.

That’s all I have for now.  We were so busy that I did not stop alot to take pictures.  Chip has more on his phone that he will be sending me so I can post more of these.

Today’s bonus pic is a rare one – since I am not one for posting pictures of myself.  Something I got from my Gram I guess.  She didn’t like it either.  But this one taken by one of our boys of Chip and I at Faire is one that I like – maybe because it feels like us in our element.  So here we are – the working folks at the leather booth (and yes, he made my belt and my dagger sheath – and the backpack over his shoulder).

roxy hawk faire 007

Now we shift onto the next year for Hawk Studio.  Hopefully with a nice new booth at Faire.

Onward and Upward . . . . .

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Hawk Studio – Coming Home

For those who don’t know, I met my beloved husband at the New York Renaissance Faire.  (You can see my post of May 31, 2011 if you want any background – I wrote about him there).  He was a leather craftsman at the time, working with his mentor/partner in their booth – LeatherWorx.  It was 2001 and his 11th year as a leather craftsman at the Faire.  He continued working for LeatherWorx at the Faire the following summer – 2002 – though that was his last year working at LeatherWorx as we made our relationship official shortly after that when he moved up to our village full-time and Hawk Studio was founded.

Hawk Studio has functioned on many different levels in the past 13 years.  We have had stores in two villages, we have had booths at different types of community events and we have had booths at smaller weekend Renaissance Faires and the New York Faerie Festival.  Throughout this time we continued to take our growing family to the New York Renaissance Faire during the summer because, well, that is just a part of who we are.  Chip maintained his friendships with all those wonderful folks we would see each summer and we would regularly talk about whether it was time to go back – to have our own booth at the Faire.  We thought we would do it in 2014, but we always seemed to have reasons why we could not do it each year and 2014 was no exception.

But this spring we took the plunge.  Chip contacted Dale – who coordinates the vendors – and put in an application.  Not surprisingly, he was accepted.  But by the time we knew for sure we were in, we had only a short amount of time to pull it all together.

The first hurdle was a booth.  Were we going to build a booth; rent a booth; rent a tent; buy a tent, try to make a tent, build a vardo/booth on a trailer base – we went all over the map with ideas and research.  Chip spent hours on the internet researching tents and how to construct them and we did field trips to look at our options on building a portable booth on a trailer base.  There was a possible booth for rent at the Faire but someone else had first dibs on it – and they took it.  We were not many months ahead of opening day and we still had not figured out this issue.  The only thing we knew was that the screen house we had been using for shows was NOT going to work at Faire.

That is when our friends Kevin and Hildy Hallisey jumped in.

Kevin had a 10 x 10 tent that he was not using which he offered to Chip to use for the season to help get us down there.

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Whew!!  That offer made it possible for us to not only get to Faire but to finally stop worrying about  booth space.

This is what is great about Faire.  People look out for one another.  We try to help each other.

It was soooooo good to be back with those friends again.

Once we knew what we were going to use as a tent and the size, the next problem was where at the Faire should we set up.  So Chip and the boys went down to the site with their tape measures and looked at sites.

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14 feet from son to son

They found a perfect site near the Chessboard – shady, no shops on the other side of the road and best of all – right next to Kevin and Hildy’s Halfmoon booth.

There was alot of running back and forth to Faire while we were setting up and it was a little wearing on the boys.

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Vash on the way home

We were able to get gravel for the floor of the booth from Chip’s brother Jimmy and pavers were lent to us by the Faire.  Jesse did alot of the work on setting the floor of our booth.  So much so that he earned some extra money helping to lay gravel at another booth too.  He is turning into my construction dude.  🙂

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Jesse filling in between the pavers

Chip worked on ways to enlarge the booth by removing the walls of the tent and expanding beyond its perimeter.

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The booth in action

He built wooden walls for the back of the booth to hang our product from and set up tables and benches for display and work.  We even had our “back room” where we kept most of our stuff in our trunks and extra production was done.

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Chip worked late into the night at the booth, building inventory by candlelight.

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What was really wonderful was how we were welcomed back at Faire.  We literally sold almost all of Chip’s work.  We found out that we won best new booth at the end of the year vendor/actor’s party.  That felt really good.

There is alot of work to show you that Chip did that I will save for later posts.

For now, I want to wish you a happy December 26th – my personal favorite day of the year (yes – the day when its all finally DONE!!) and get to working on some new blog posts to get us moving into this next calendar year.  It is going to be a busy one.

I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season, whatever your holidays are, and that life has treated you well this year.  2015 was a lot of work for our family and we are really hoping that 2016 just builds on what we were able to accomplish.  I am hoping to show you alot of that in the coming year.  Thank you for checking in.  🙂

Onward and Upward.

 

 

 

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Adventures in Real Estate – Back Porch Steps

The past year and a half has been kinda crazy – we probably have taken on more than we should have but what else is new.  Chip and I both have a habit of saying yes as our initial response to just about anything, and  a couple of years ago we said yes to buying a two family apartment house.  It has been an. . . .

Experience.

While there are ALOT of stories I can tell about this . . Experience . . lets focus on what a great learning Experience it has been.  We have learned that our Jesse has an aptitude for woodworking – and Chip can build staircases from scratch.

When we bought the place it came complete with an upstairs tenant who had not paid rent in 10 months and did not believe in bringing her garbage to the street for pick-up.

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Yeah, she just left it all for us when she finally left.

The porch was in pretty rough shape when we got the place and the whole thing had to be replaced.  The stairs were a real mess and just were unsafe for use.

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So over the summer Chip and Jesse got to work on it.

They did the floor of the deck early on, but when Chip laid out the boards, the deck had about a 3 inch overhang.  That was when Jesse jumped in.

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He used his math skills and worked out a new pattern for the layout of the boards which removed any overhang.

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He was pretty proud of that.

He also worked with Dad with putting in the new posts.

20150704_181904(1)Chip did alot of work on this.  The angle of the staircase meant he had to build the stringer and all the steps, 20151027_135159as well as build the railings.

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Including around the entire deck.

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The last part was putting in the balisters and it was done.

20151105_125432Well, it could be painted but Chip tells me that the wood has to age before he paints it.

I am pretty proud of my boys.

We have all put alot of hours into rehabbing this apartment house – though Chip has done the grand majority.  I don’t really think we will ever really make our money back on this place, but Jesse discovered a new skill, and the house will be a much nicer place when we are done.  Hopefully we can turn a negative space into a brighter spot on the street.

We are trying.

I am sure I will be showing you more on what we have been doing with this place down the road.  It will get finished . . . it will get finished. . . it will get finished. . . . .

Onward and Upward.  🙂

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How About A Halloween Blast From The Past

The boys are all getting big now and with how busy everyone has been, we just did not get around to making those special costumes for this year and the boys are going to use their Renaissance Faire garb for the holiday.  So I thought that I would just post a few of the pictures from yesteryear just to remember why I try to find the time to do the costumes.  So here goes. . . . .

In the beginning we went store-bought.

One of my favorites is the first costume we ever got for Vash.  His favorite toy in the world when he was little was his Chicken Elmo (who wore a chicken suit and did the chicken dance).  While running through stores looking for something we finally found him a duck suit which looked more like Chicken Elmo’s chicken suit than the white chicken pajamas did, so we grabbed it.  He loved that costume so much he just walked around the house carrying it for days afterwards and even slept with it at night.

Chicken Vash and Chicken Elmo

Chicken Vash and Chicken Elmo

Markus was Superman that year and Jesse was his very favorite character at the time. . . Thomas the Tank Engine!!

Superman and Thomas the Tank Engine

Superman and Thomas the Tank Engine

The following year I was working in New York City on Halloween and Chip handled the holiday at home.  That year we had Lions and Tiggers and Thomas!!  Oh My!!  I think this was 2007

Lions and Tiggers and Thomas!  Oh My !!

Lions and Tiggers and Thomas! Oh My !!

The following year Chip made one of my all time favorite costumes EVER!! with just a box, some spray paint, some foam and some green duct tape.  He did this for Vash so he could be his very FAVORITE character in the world at the time. . . .

WALL-E

WALL-E

WALL-E

While we still bought costumes for the other two boys that year, Chip’s homemade costume was so much better than any of the other Wall-E’s we saw that it sparked the costume making bug in us.

That year Jesse finally left his Thomas behind and moved onto Superman.  Markus opted for Batman (and so the epic superhero debate would begin at a young age. . . . . )

One of these things is not like the other. . . . .

One of these things is not like the other. . . . .

I expect at this point I am missing a year – not that we don’t have pictures, just that I think they are in a box that is waiting to be sorted and put into the albums.  So we will jump ahead to 2010 which was the year that I had two pirates and a ghost.  I posted one of those pictures on the blog I posted earlier this week with LadyBug.  Chip had an entire story line built around the pirates searching for buried treasure that was being guarded by the ghost.  He even had the boys act it out while I videotaped them.

As an aside, layering cheesecloth will give you a great flow-y ghost.  Just staple it onto a foam hat to keep it in place or you will lose your eye holes.

Arrrrrgh!!  Booooooo!!

Arrrrrgh!! Booooooo!!

This is also the same year that Chip created the gaping mouth of the beast on our front steps – complete with lower tusks and a slide/tongue!!

Do you dare to walk into the mouth of the beast?

Do you dare to walk into the mouth of the beast?

2011 was the year we made our most viewed costume yet – the Orange Storm costume – which was an orange tornado and the mascot of our youth football team.  Vash just really wanted to be this and I said “sure, we can do this” – and somehow we did.  He won first prize at our local fire department costume contest for this.

The Orange Storm costume

The Orange Storm costume

Markus also had one of his best costumes this year – Harry Potter.  What made this costume so great was the fact that his friends and teachers had no idea it was him, the transformation was so complete.  We made this one too.

Our very own Harry

Our very own Harry

Who is that kid?!!

Who is that kid?!!

Jesse also picked a costume that took alot of time – this was his leopard year – which meant that he was following in our family tradition of being a leopard.  His big brother Christopher, his Uncle Ricky, his Aunt Danielle, his Aunt Liana and I had all worn leopard costumes as kids.

Jesse at his feline best

Jesse at his feline best

In 2012 Jesse left the animal world behind and took his place besides Harry as his best friend Ron Weasley.

Harry and Ron - an unbeatable pair

Harry and Ron – an unbeatable pair

Vash, of course, took his rightful place as a dementor intent upon bringing them down – or at least annoying him.

Hey - why pick on the little dementor?

Hey – why pick on the little dementor?

In 2013 the boys had moved on to The Lord of the Rings.  Markus became Legolas – and spent the year growing out his hair just so he could have the Legolas braid.

Markus as Legolas

Markus as Legolas

back view of the Legolas costume

back view of the Legolas costume

Jesse was Frodo.  Can we just say that we had moved way beyond the days of store-bought super heroes by this point.

Jesse as Frodo

Jesse as Frodo

Look at that face!!

Look at that face!!

And Vash – again – took on the role of the bane of their existence – the Witch King – the King of the Ringwraiths!!

Beware the Witch King!!

Beware the Witch King!!

Last year the boys repeated these costumes and then this year they are wearing their Renaissance Garb – which looks really really good on them.  Here are a few pictures of them taken by our dear friend Lars over the summer that shows what handsome young men they are in their garb.

Markus - as photographed by Lars

Markus – as photographed by Lars

Jesse at work at the booth

Jesse at work at the booth

Jesse

Jesse

Yeah – that one of Jesse looks like a painting.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Lars’ gifting us with these pictures.  I wish I could take pictures like that.

I took this one of Vash

Vash working at the leather bench

Vash working at the leather bench

Luckily I had a really cute subject.

This coming year promises alot more work in the area of garb and costuming as we get ready for our coming year at Faire.  If you like to see what we make and do, please check in with us – more is coming.

Onward and Upward.

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Monday Project Report (Running a Little Late) – Beagle Vampire Cape

As anyone who follows this blog knows, we have a long history with dog rescue. Though we stopped working in rescue about 5 years ago (though I am happy to say that the rescue we founded 11 years ago is still going strong) we are still a definite dog family and our youngest is a beagle person. He just loves beagles!!

This year we both lost our oldest beagle – Lady Bug

Ladybug in her Lady Bug Halloween costume 2010

Ladybug in her Lady Bug Halloween costume 2010

And gained three new beagles – Birdie

Markus holding Birdie

Markus holding Birdie

Mattie

Jesse and his Mattie

Jesse and his Mattie

and Roxy

Roxie in her favorite place - Vash's lap.

Roxie in her favorite place – Vash’s lap.

They came to us from their Mom, my friend Jessica. The girls had all finished their show ring careers (Birdie had won best of opposites in Westminster in (I think) 2006 and Roxy is a grand champion in her own right – and the daughter of Birdie) and it was time for them to get their own boys.

So why am I telling you about our beagles in the Monday Project Report?

Well, Birdie also had a son – Kirby – who is still tearing up the show rings gathering awards and titles and he still lives with Jessica. This is Kirby when he was a puppy.

Kirby when he was a wee puppy.

Kirby when he was a wee puppy.

Not too long ago Jessica told me that she and Kirby were going to take part in a Halloween walk to raise awareness about domestic violence and she wanted him to have a purple costume to wear for it and could I make him a purple vampire cape. I did not have a lot of time to work on it to get it there on time (okay – I thought he needed it a week later than he did and when I found out the date of the walk – and that I had to mail it to arrive before it – I realized it had to be done that day) so it is fairly simple. However this is the only project I completed last week so . . . . . .

So the first thing I needed was a beagle to size it off of. Kirby is bigger than Roxy so we used Birdie as our model.

Birdie

Birdie

I just laid the piece of fabric – a great stretch velvet I found in the Halloween fabric section of Joann’s Fabrics – along her back, using the woven edge of the fabric as the end of the cape – and cut a piece of fabric to fit.

Using Birdie to measure the cape length

Using Birdie to measure the cape length

Then we took a piece of stiffer black felt and basically wrapped it around her neck to determine the size of the collar and then cut it so it would fold in half with the pointed ends.

Cut felt into collar shape

Cut felt into collar shape

Folded felt in half

Folded felt in half

fitting the collar on Birdie

fitting the collar on Birdie

gather top of cape to fit collar base

gather top of cape to fit collar base

Nothing here is being really “finished” – this is only going to be worn once – maybe twice – for less than an hour total so I wasn’t going crazy with this one.

Then I gathered the top of the cape to fit the collar. . . . .

sewing cape onto collar

sewing cape onto collar

and sewed it onto one end of the collar – this I did seam hoping it would give some lift to the collar.

collar sewn onto outside of cape

collar sewn onto outside of cape

Then I folded the other end over the seam, sewed it down, and sewed two ties to the neckline to tie under Kirby’s neck, and two ties for around the belly.

cape with quicky ties

cape with quicky tie

Rather than have the ties under the belly drag, I added velcro strips to the ties.

quick sewn velcro strips

quick sewn velcro strips

Then came the fun of trying to get a beagle to stand still for a picture – especially when the other girls wanted to know what was going on.  After we herded the rest of them into the dining room it got better. . . .

Mom, are you calling all of us?

Mom, are you calling all of us?

What do you want Birdie for?

What do you want Birdie for?

Getting closer

Getting closer

Ta da!!!

Here's our girl looking spooky (Not) - well, at least she is looking purple.

Here’s our girl looking spooky (Not) – well, at least she is looking purple.

The picture shows the cape before I added the velcro, but you get the idea.

The good news is we got it to Kirby in time for his walk, though I don’t have pictures of Kirby in his cape yet. When I get some I will post them.

This is not meant to be a how-to post – I know this could be made much better. But this is what we do around here. Someone suggests a project and we try to do it. Sometimes it is great – like our orange tornado costume – and sometimes it is just okay – like the doggy cape. But it made Jessica happy, it helped Kirby be purple for his walk and it was pretty inexpensive since I only bought a half yard of fabric, still have most of it left and everything else was in my craft supplies. The boys were instrumental in keeping the beagles steady while I was measuring and fitting and most importantly taking pictures. All of the dogs wanted to get in on the dog treats that we were using to keep Birdie still (Hah!)

Hope you all are having a great October.

Onward and Upward . . . . . . .

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Monday Project Report – Hawk Banner

Life is starting the transition to the next phase. Every time I think I want to change my “job” I start planning and working in that direction 5-10 years ahead of when I am going to make the change. Now I am looking toward that point when the kids are out of school and I can be more mobile. I fully realize that there is going to be a point where my business takes a back seat to Chip’s business of Hawk Studio so I am starting to work with that transition now.

To start that process we finally went back to the Renaissance Faire this year. (I will write more about it in later blogs.) Funny how once we knew we were going back I was not worried about making our garb or product for the booth – I was worried about getting the banner done.

The way it works is that every day someone from your booth has to carry a banner in a villagers’ parade that precedes the Queen onto the Joust Field. We didn’t have a banner.

For some reason, that was the biggest hurdle to get past to do the Faire in my mind.   Should it be leather or fabric, rough edge or Renaissance, how big, what shape, what design. Chip was no help initially. I think he had an idea for it but he wasn’t telling me. I finally decided it had to be made of fabric because I don’t sew (yet) on leather and I was making it so that was that! I wanted it to be readable so we just went with the word Hawk instead of trying to fit Hawk Studio on the top. We used the flying hawk silhouettes to symbolize Chip and his three sons (Vash is the contrary one so I had him flying in the opposite direction of the rest – hah!) but what for the other side.

Hawks fly together - almost

Hawks fly together – almost

I could not get anything out of Chip so I was thinking I would do a fabric portrait of him (which was not something I felt confident about) and had purchased everything to do this when he told me that was not what he wanted. Aaaaack!!  You can’t leave it up to me and then tell me you hate what I thought of!!!  Now what. . . .

Two more days of debate before Chip said he was thinking of something more heraldic – and it hit me that I could just do stripes in his colors – green and brown on a field of yellow/gold for me (well, I WAS the one making it after all and my favorite color is yellow – and I am such a sunny person (HAH!!)) and we had the design.

As we lie in Fields of Gold. . . . .

As we lie in Fields of Gold. . . . .

The execution was not that hard. I did not take pictures while doing it – things were just so rushed at the time that I was not thinking blogging or memorializing any of it – just get it done so we can get to the next project before the Faire opened. However I will tell you that double-sided fusible interfacing with a paper backing was the greatest find of this entire process and is what allowed me to produce the letters and the hawks for the banner and to adhere them with minimal sewing – which mattered because I did not want the stitches to take away from the design.

So here is the final product!!

Our Hawk Banner

Our Hawk Banner

Chip made the wooden pole to carry it through the Faire. We used a tab/button top so we could adjust it down the road. Because I used a rubber backed upholstery fabric for the base I did not have to sew in button holes – just cut them in.

Buttoned on Banner

Buttoned on Banner

We left the banner on the side of the booth when it was not in use.

Here Fly Hawks

Here Fly Hawks

What was interesting is how many folks came up to the booth asking if they could buy the banner. Hmmmm. Maybe a banner booth down the road? It certainly has me thinking. It would push me to be more creative and allow me to work with the fabrics I enjoy working with. It is a back burner idea now but one I am giving some serious contemplation to. I may make a few and list them in the Escape to Evermore Shop on Etsy to see what response they get. I will let you know if I do.

So that is today’s project report.

Onward and Upward. . . . . . . .

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I Hear A Symphony . . . . . . .

Wow!! Has it ever been busy. But I have been gone too long and folks have been kind enough to keep visiting this blog and following this blog and commenting still and I feel that I need to find time to keep up this blog because you are all so nice to care. This blog is really just about what life is like in a busy crafting family full of growing boys and dogs and all we do just to keep afloat. Blogging makes me stop and look at it and let you know what it feels like to be in the middle of this life. It also helps me keep all that we do organized and recorded somewhere. Things are just moving at a fast pace and hopefully it will still be of interest to most of you.

I have to say that there was an event which kick-started this. One of those things that just needs to be shouted about.  Well, okay, maybe not shouted about but at least mentioned with a “hee hee!!”

I got my Kromski.

For those who don’t know, Kromski makes spinning wheels – and they are made in Poland. And I have wanted one since I first learned about spinning. And the Kromski I wanted was the Symphony.

To begin the story, I was at the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend – otherwise known as “Rhinebeck” in the wooly arts world – and I went to a booth for Misty Mountain Farms (Led Zeppelin reference? Was to me – obviously a sign) where they had the Symphony on a shelf with a sign “Show Special”.

I stopped.

That’s a Symphony.

Regular $715, on sale for $595. Plus they covered the sales tax. Plus you get a free pound of fiber. It comes with the lazy kate and two more bobbins.  I was with my Mom.

Should I get it Mom? Yes.

I walked away. I shouldn’t get it.

Kept going. Being good. Not really spending money. Well, we could go look at it again. Still there. Hmmm.

Texted Chip. They got my Kromski. What do you think. Should I get it?  Yes, and I have a friend who might want to buy your Ashford.

And as you already know, I did it. Heeeeeeeee!!!!!

My Kromski Symphony

My Kromski Symphony

That’s my Symphony.  I’m still a little giddy.

So today I went back to meet with his friend (who is now my friend) who might want to buy the Ashford and brought it to her so she could take it home and try it out. And we both went shopping for roving. Have I mentioned that I LOVE roving? I do. I really really do. And we had a ball as we went from booth to booth petting and pulling and buying roving. We were good – we said no much more often than we said yes – but we still said yes a lot. We had soooooo much fun.

So here is the roving haul I brought home today.

2015 roving from Rhinebeck

2015 roving from Rhinebeck

The grey and white is icelandic wool, there is a Fiber Optic gradient merino roving there, another gradient loose orange-red merino/bamboo roving, a white Finn roving, a white Wesleydale roving, a grey Gotland roving, some merino silk rovings (green, brown, multi-colored) and a merino cashmere roving (red blend).

I have written about the zen of spinning before. It is one of those things I do when I have the time to just be. Nothing else. Just watch as the fiber moves through my hands and my foot taps the rhythm of the wheel. . . . . .

I can make yarn this way – but it really isn’t necessary in terms of my love of spinning. It is one of the few things I do that does not have to have an end purpose. I am not trying to sell it. I certainly don’t need more yarn. I just love the act itself.

These are days that I miss my Gram. She would have loved to have seen me spin. She would have loved that the wheel came from Poland.

This weekend a little bit of Poland entered my home. Seemed like the time to restart the blog.

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Monday Project Report – The Prudence Vest

Okay, today’s post is a quicky for a couple of reasons.

First, I finished this vest last year and don’t really remember alot about it at this point and second, my real job insisted on taking my time and attention today.  I represent kids in Court and sometimes you have to just jump in and work the phones and do some investigating and schmooze and threaten and persuade and, if none of that works run into court and beg the judge to force everyone else to bend to your will.  I did everything but run into court today – and some of it worked but not all so tomorrow I will be running into court – wearing my lawyer costume.  🙂

I guess that also explains why I knit this particular vest.  When I meet with kids I don’t dress in a lawyer suit – what 6 year old is going to feel relaxed with that.  So I usually wear my good blue jeans (no holes) and a sweater or vest.  When I saw this particular pattern it just looked like it would work – it is casual and comfy.

It is the Prudence Vest pattern by Berroco and it is a free pattern on their website.

I had previously posted pictures as I was working on the back of this vest – here is how it ended up.

prudence vest backKinda boring, right?  Well it is better in the front.

prudence vest frontI never like having to pick up stitches around a neckline to add ribbing or a collar but it wasn’t that bad in this.  It all fit pretty easily.

The negative is the yarn – which has since been discontinued by Berroco.  It doesn’t really hold its shape and when it gets wet it loses all structure and has to be completely reblocked.

But it’s comfy, and mom-like and perfect for my life.  So I am happy with it.

Okay, I better get back to work on my second knee sock – I’m on the gusset now.  I would love to be able to show you that as a project report sometime in 2014.  Hoping your projects are moving faster than mine.

Onward and Upward.

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Food on Friday – Strawberry Almond Chocolate Chip Muffins

Markus has turned into our baker and has been very busy lately baking muffins – which in turn has had everyone in the house very busy eating muffins. So this week, armed with both his mixing bowls and my camera, we turned over the Food on Friday blog post to him to memorialize his wonderful strawberry/almond/chocolate chip muffins.

🙂

Start by pre-heating your oven to 350 degrees.  Grab some parchment paper muffin cup liners and put them in your muffin tin. Then gather the ingredients.

muffin ingredients

You start by creaming 6 tablespoons (3/4 of a stick) of butter at room temperature in your mixing bowl.

creamed butter

Then cream ½ of a cup of sugar into the butter

creamed butter with sugar

Next you beat one egg – we prefer eggs laid by colorful hens such as this red one here . . . .

red egg

and add it into the butter and sugar.

butter, sugar and egg

Next beat in 5/8ths of a cup of milk (which is ½ a cup plus 1/8th cup or 2 tablespoons).

butter, sugar, egg, milk

The milk never beats in completely and it will look lumpy.
Add ½ teaspoon vanilla . . . .

butter, sugar, egg, milk, vanilla

And then add your 2 cups of filling – in this case 1 cup of chopped fresh strawberries. . . .

chopped strawberries

½ cup of toasted almonds. . . .

toasted almonds

and ½ cup of chocolate chips. Markus forgot to get a picture of the chocolate chips – but I am sure you can visualize this part pretty well on your own. 🙂

Mix the fillings with the wet batter.

fillings mixed into basic muffin batter

You mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. I use my whisk to blend them all together.
Mix together the following:
2 cups of unbleached white flour – pastry or all-purpose
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder (optional)

Then you pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and very gently mix the two together.

muffin batter

Fill each muffin cup about 2/3rds full and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

muffins right out of the oven

These muffins do not rise a lot but they are surprisingly soft in texture.

single muffin

And are full of wonderful ingredients in every bite.

open muffin

We hope you like Markus’s muffins. He took all the pictures for this blog post and will be doing more in the future. He gets full credit since I never even entered the kitchen while he was working on this.  I fully believe in supporting a budding baker in our midst.

This recipe is a fairly basic muffin recipe that allows you to improvise to your heart’s content  You can change up this recipe by using different filling combinations. I like doing straight blueberry muffins with this recipe, as well as mixing of peaches with walnuts or pecans. We are going to try banana walnut using this recipe soon. Mangos would be real interesting too. Let me know if you come up with more interesting fillings.

Have a great weekend. I appreciate your stopping by and checking our blog. Markus really appreciates it because he is betting Chip that he can get more views on his post than Chip got for his Hawk Studio post yesterday. 😀 Nothing like a little blogging rivalry in the family.

Onward and Upward. . . . .

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