Bird in Hand Farm

Bird in Hand Farm is an imaginary place.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bed Socks

LizzieK8's socks are in the mail!  The pattern is Mother Socks.  I modified it down to 28 stitches for the Lion Bran Suede yarn which is labeled as bulky but knits up thicker.  These are a comfy, warm, and really easy sock pattern.  Last year I made about 10 pairs and gave them away as Christmas presents.

Lizzie, I hope you like them.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Homemade toothpaste

The Big-Ass Book of Crafts [Book]After three days of deserts, we need to turn our attention to dental hygiene...

I spent a couple of days in Las Vegas for a conference.  While wandering around the Miracle Mile Mall, unsuccessfully looking for a Barbie-type doll, I checked out Urban Outfitters and saw the Big Ass Book of Crafts.  Thumbing through, I saw  how to make a vase out of colored pencils and a recipe for homemade toothpaste.  Humm.  I like homemade stuff and ever since I learned that you are not supposed to swallow toothpaste because it has toxic stuff in it I have been a bit freaked by it.  But it never occurred to me to make my own.  I didn't buy the book and of course it is not in my library system.

I have now read a bunch of recipes on line.  Homemade toothpaste recipes come from three basic types of websites: sites that focus on saving money, folks who want to go "all natural", and sites interested in sustainability.  Wonder which category this blog falls into?  Anyway, recipes all seem to contain the same two ingredients: baking soda, and peppermint or another essential oil.  Sometimes they also have coconut oil, salt, xylitol, glycerin, or hydrogen peroxide in them.  So far, these are all ingredients that I have on hand.  I rejected any recipes that were called "tooth soap" or contained soap/soap products. 

When I got home, I started experimenting...

Tammy's Recipes Homemade Toothpaste was the closest to what I was thinking about.  I basically followed it, but I added 2 teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide.  I melted the coconut oil because it is in the low 60's here and it was rock hard.  Initially it appeared grainy and was not combining well, but once the coconut oil cooled, I was able to mix it well.  

It does have a baking soda taste, but it is not too bad.  Better than I expected, actually.  The big difference is that it does not foam.  My teeth feel really clean.  I'll let you know what the dentist thinks.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apple Tart

The apple pie filling had some leftover syrup, so I decided to save it and make a tart.  This is the recipe I went with: Simple Apple Tart

This recipe is a bit more fru fru than I would usually go for and I did not  follow it exactly (no surprise there).  The kiddo and I made it together.  She really liked rolling out the dough and running the apples through the peeler/slicer/corer.  Sometimes it did not peel properly for her.  We used them anyway.  I substituted our syrup for that in the recipe.  I think it came out pretty.  The crust is a keeper.

How many apple recipes do you think I can post?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Apple Pie Filling

We made apple pie filling last year using the recipe from Pick Your Own.  I think we got 7 to 10 quart jars.  Even though we thought there was a fair amount of room for improvement with the results, we used them all.  We learned a few things: the Pick Your Own recipe was really spicy.  Also the apples get mushy when we used the spiral cut peeler-coring tool.  The ring slicer works better.   
This year, we went with the recipe from All Recipes.  We made some modifications:  We substituted brown sugar and honey for portions of the sugar.  We also cut back the overall sugar amount because we substituted 6 cups apple juice instead of  part of the water called for.

It made 7 quarts of filling, just as the recipe called for, with a little bit of syrup left over.  It also used 8-10 pounds of apples instead of the 6 it said.  The house smells great.  The bad news is that there are still apples left in the laundry basket...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Apple Pan Dowdy

6 apples down... Before adding the batter.
We have no more room for apples in the fridge, and have resorted to apple storage in a laundry basket in the kitchen.  The week of hard core apple cooking begins...

I decided to make an apple dish for breakfast.  Surprise!  I was going to make a Brown Betty until I discovered that the bread was a bit furry.  Pan Dowdy it is!  A Pan Dowdy is a cobbler-type recipe, traditionally made in cast iron and served straight from the pan. Most recipes looked a lot like this: Fabulous Foods Apple Pan Dowdy.
Not much to look at, but it sure tastes good!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Goats and Gifts


We don't have goats.  Yet.  The Farmer wants Nubian Goats.  They have a really high fat content in their milk.  They also have a reputation for being really loud in the barn.  You can tell Nubians by their long floppy ears. 

I want the fuzzy ones on top. Angora goats.  So maybe a small heard of Nubians and one or two wethers Angoras.


If you want to read about something that is actually happening and not just my random pipe dreams, go check out Five Cats From Crazy.  Dina was my stalkee in the Blog Hub swap and she is already at day 4 of the goodies.  So far she seems to like her presents.  I'm nervous about the last one.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beware! Evil Apple Recipe

Country Apple Dumplings Recipe
This recipe is evil.  Dangerous.  Addictive.  Add to that, it does not use up enough apples.  Bad, bad recipe.  Which, of course, is why the moment apples came into the house, the farmer went out to by crescent rolls and Mountain Dew...  Not my usual scratch ingredients.  Here it is: Country Apple Dumplings.  I'm not going to get into theology here, but this recipe helps me understand apples as an object of temptation.

I will probably post some redemptive apple recipes in the next month, but this is not one of them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A little bit of redemption

Any type of place where I can buy fabric, yarn, or crafty stuff is dangerous for me.  A year ago (or more), the kid and I went to check out Hobby Lobby.  It was a neat store.  I had recently seen a pattern for making your own pillow cases, so I bought some flannel fabric to make her one.  She picked out flannels in a blue Hello Kitty print and a pink and white stripe.  The fabric got washed, folded, and put up in my sewing room.  There it sat.  The spark of creativity that said "making a pillow case would be a good thing" had left.  I have more unfinished projects than I would like to admit.

This weekend, the kid saw the fabric and asked what they were for.  She still likes Hello Kitty.  I hate that I spent the money a year ago for nothing.  I started researching how to make a pillow case.  I found the original tutorial I had looked at months ago.   Vanilla Joy Pillowcase Tutorial

Last night, the kid was bouncing around making the Farmer crazy, so I decided we would do the pillow case project together.  The stuff I had read said that this would take less than an hour.  With her "help" it took longer, but it was good to spend time together and she got to practice some fine motor skills and get more familiar with sewing.

It was pretty easy and came out very sweet.  The lesson here is to just do it.  Pick up one of those unfinished projects and spend an hour on it.  See how far you progress.  The kid is sleeping with hers tonight.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I wanted a yarn bowl.  I was thinking of the beautiful ones by Knitwitch.  So I google "yarn bowl."  I find the link I want but also a bunch of links for DIY yarn bowls that look like they would be a fun project with the Kiddo.  I have yarn.  She has balloons.  The farmer bought us glue and we were good to go. 

Above is the picture that is all over the internet when folks talk about making a yarn bowl.  Isn't it pretty?

I read directions from several sites.  They all read pretty much the same.  After all, this is yarn, a balloon, and glue.  It's not rocket science, people.  We cut up a mess of my acrylic yarn.  I use it to make the critters and other assorted silliness, so this is the perfect project for a bunch of it. So far so good.

We get gluing.  Suddenly, there is glue everywhere. (!) I am so glad that I covered the living room floor with rag towels.  The yarn does not want to stick to the balloon.  We are just getting started and already half the glue is gone.  We regroup and downsize to one balloon.  The yarn is sticking to our hands.  There are fuzzies stuck to everything but the balloon.   The kid tries to glue her hands together.  Working together, we get it to stick and stay where we want it.  We are done when we run out of glue.
Ya know?  It kind of looks cool.  It has that dorky, homemade look thing going, on but it still has some charm. We leave it to dry.  It takes 15 min and half a bar of soap to get all the glue off our hands. 

The next day, the kid accidentally knocks it over.  We start to hear these odd hissing, creaking, and snapping sounds as the balloon starts to deflate and pulls the yarn with it.  But only in some places.  The thing is pulling itself apart.  I gently pry the rest off.  We have a yarn something, but it is not a bowl.

I originally wanted this:
I got this:


Monday, September 20, 2010

Last day of the swap...

I opened my last package this morning.  Inside was beautiful sock yarn.  There was also a pattern for Most Basic Kids Socks. Kiddo has asked for socks.  She likes the yarn a lot.  The farmer, on the other hand is disappointed...  He read a post card that promised German goodies and I have opened all the packages and none of them contained beer.

Okay, not really.  But he does like beer.  

Thank you Laura!  Your presents were wonderful.

On Friday, the box for my swap recipient went into the mail.  I really, really hope she likes it. Some parts were easy.  Others, I agonized over.  I suppose we will know in a few days.  I'll post a link.  I already know of one mistake.  I had written a note to go into the box and somehow left it on the table where I packed up the box.  So...the anonymous box from upstate NY is from me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Treat day...

Blog Hub Swap Day 6: German candy!  The kiddo loves Laura...  The gummy bears were opened before I could get the picture.  She likes them.  I do to.  I was mean and made her wait till after breakfast to eat them.  

Then after lunch, we went apple picking.  The first place we went to was Deer Run Farms.  They have a nice orchard off the beaten path.  Unfortunately, they got hit by a bad late spring frost and lost a lot of their crop.  No u-pick this year.  So we went to another favorite orchard: McLusky Orchards.  Prices were higher this year: $14 for a half peck bag.  The famous place to pick apples around here is Beak & Skiff, but it is a mad house.  They have pony rides, etc.  Cars will back up for half a mile just to get in.  At this point I would only go there on a weekday.  It is too insane on the weekends.  We wound picking half a peck of McIntosh, half a bushel of  Empires, and bought half a peck of  Honey Crisps.  Coming soon to a blog near you...  Many, many apple recipes....

Oh, and we still have 3 jars of applesauce left.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

LizzyK8 Won!

LizzyK8 was the first person who entered the 1,000 page views giveaway and she won!  Now I need to knit a pair of socks...  I'll post about them because it is a great pattern.

Blog Hub Swap Day 5:  It's notions day!  Wrapped in fabric were: the bar of beautiful glycerin soap you see above, a label for the fabric (100% cotton), and Lovelabels.  I love all things handmade.  I guess mostly, that is what this blog is all about.

Thanks Laura!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Oh, wow. I don't know what to say.

the back...
Day 4 of the swap

I opened today's gift this morning and was completely taken by surprise.  I was surprised that I was surprised.  I knew from the feel of the package that it would be a note pad.  But I had no expectation that Laura would create something so sweetly, funky for the farm.  I love it.  I don't know if I will be able to use it.  It is too special.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

I don't get it.

The cats love those little fur covered mice cat toys.  They will play with them for hours.  But they also love to drown them in their water bowl.  Why?
Oh, you want to know about the swap?  Okay.  More presents from Germany!

Today's gift was squishy and round.  I love yarn.  Shocking, I know.  It took me 10 min to "get" the significance of the colorway as I assumed that the label would not be in English.  Do you "get" it?  I am looking forward to knitting some funky socks.  Thanks Laura!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Coffee! aka Swap Day 2

I love coffee.  Really.  A lot.  Today's present was peeking out of it's wrappings, and I knew I would not be able to resist snooping.   So, even though the squishy ones were calling, I opened this one.  I had actually guessed that it might be coffee.  I'm happy.  Coffee is good. Really good.

Tonight, I asked the 6 year-old kid to take the pictures for the blog.  She showed me the closeup of the coffee cup photo from the German Kronung coffee.  I told her that she takes really good pictures, and she replied: "Well, I am a meteorologist." 

She also took a closeup of the fabric for me.  I am not sure what I am going to do with it yet, but I have a few ideas simmering.   You know when I do use it, I will tell you all about it...

Thank you Laura!

The rest of you, seriously go check out Laura's blog: SuddenExpression

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A package came!

The Blog Hub on Ravelry is hosting a swap.  Eskimimi is the swap Mom.  I have never done a swap before.  Basically, you sign up, complete a questionnaire, and get randomly assigned to put together a package of goodies for another person in the group.  This swap was designed to be incorporated into our blogging.  We each will send seven individually wrapped packages and be able to write about what we receive.  The "spend range" is around $40.  There are required items: yarn, notions, embellishments, and a pattern.  The rest is up to us.

Laura from Sudden Expression got me.  Laura has been really supportive of my blog and has a wonderful blog of her own subtitled: Ranting and Raving About Yarn and Life.  Check it out.  Her amazing photographs of the German countryside and fun take on life and everything make it one of my favorite blogs.  I'm really excited to see what treats she has found in Germany and grateful that she got my name.

I'm also grateful to Laura because she is a military spouse.  We are now much quicker to recognize our service men and women and thank them for their efforts and sacrifice.  That is good.  But it it is not enough.  Behind each person who serves in the military is an entire family who loves them, supports them, and most of all worries for them.  Especially the spouses.  They live in foreign countries, put their careers on hold, struggle to be able to go to school, and somehow hold it all together.   We need to recognize their sacrifice too. Thank you Laura.

Now back to the box...

There are six wrapped packages.  The 7th present is the fabric that the packages are wrapped in.   I was going to be obnoxious and guess what is in each package, but I won't.  My Dad used to guess each of his Christmas presents by shaking the boxes.  Shake, shake, shake: "Humm.  It's a yellow sweater."  He was usually right, so my aunt started wrapping a little box with two pennies in it into each of his gifts.  Problem solved. 

Since I opened the box tonight, today's gift is the fabric.  It is a very elegant brown floral on a plum background.  Funny how I dusted off the sewing machine last night...  Ideas are already percolating.

Thank you Laura!

Monday, September 13, 2010


I saw geese flying south yesterday.  It's soup season.  

I also had a loaf and a half of sourdough bread sitting on the counter going stale.  No one else ate it and I'm not sure I love sourdough as much as I thought I would.  I decided that I would try to make croutons.  Sourdough croutons might be pretty good on soup.  I found this great article: How to Make Croutons.
20 minutes later they were done, cooling, and perfect.  Holy cow!  Why didn't anyone ever tell me how good and easy these are?  I'm never buying croutons in a box again.