Saturday, September 28, 2013

Making A Burlap Wreath for Fall Into Christmas

Maybe it is the cool weather, but I have been feeling inspired and craved creating things.  My friend texted me that she wanted something different for her door, a wreath for fall but nothing that you could purchase in the stores.  She wanted something natural and something that could transition into Thanksgiving-maybe to pre-holidays.
My favorite objects are twine and burlap so I decided to try my hand at making a wreath using them.
I took a round Styrofoam wreath, wrapped it with burlap ribbon and held the end down with a pin.
The twine is large, so I took an upholstery needle with a large eye, threaded it with the twine and ran a running stitch just below the white stitching on the burlap ribbon.  Because burlap has such an open weave, I tied a knot at the end of the ribbon where I started so the twine would not pull through.  As I went along, I would gather up the burlap into the amount of gathers I wanted around the wreath.  I didn't cut the burlap, just kept doing the running stitch, pull on it to make the gather until it fit all around the wreath.  Then I cut the ribbon, tied a knot in the twine and pinned it to the inside of the wreath.  Out came the hot glue gun and I glued the gathered ribbon to the wreath.
Then I turned the wreath over and did the same thing on the opposite side of the wreath.  You can position the second row of gathered burlap so it is glued more inside the wreath to make it shorter than the opposite side; or glue it higher on the wreath form.  The behind burlap should look like it is wider than the front burlap.
I had a length of upholstery webbing that I tied into a bow and glued it to where the gathered burlap met, the seam, so you can not see the seam with the bow on top of it.  Hold down with fingers a while until it is dried, add more glue if needed.
Then the fun part, I cut some small pomegranates from our trees, bunched them together.  I tied twine to them and wrapped their stems and then took the twine ends and tied them to the wreath.  This is what I plan on changing in a few weeks when the leaves on the permanganates die.  I will make another bunching of either leaves or small pumpkins or use bats and glue them around the wreath for Halloween.
Fairly simple, the wreath cost me about $6 because I wanted it today and didn't wait until I had a sale coupon from Joann's.  The burlap ribbon comes in various widths and textures, I use it all the time in my floral arrangements.  It costs about $1 a yard and I estimate you will need about 2-3 yards, depending on how ruffled/gathered you want it to look.  You have to do it twice, so that is about another $5 and whatever you use for your bow.  If you use the same burlap material, I think it would be hard to see it against the burlap of the wreath and it needs to be fairly substantial in size.  So you can have less than $15 on a wreath that will take you from Autumn to Winter to the Holidays.  Just change the hanging decorations.
We had a visit from an Alien yesterday.  I took a picture and sent it to my daughter to see what she thought.  She showed it to my granddaughter Carli who is 8 years old and she said, "Oh Grandma, that isn't an Alien, those are feet marks from a chicken whose feet are muddy."  Kids are so smart!!! 
What do you think?
Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Roses In Bloom Again; Cutting Hydrageas

Well, everyone else is saying it, so I will too.  There is fall in the air!!!  I had forgotten about having winds, so the other morning I found 2 of my large patio umbrellas blown into the yard.  It had gotten some good gusts in the middle of the night and then we had that wonderful rain storm and cleaned up all the dust off the trees and shrubs. The air smelled heavenly.
My roses are blooming again so they are enjoying the nice cooler weather too.  I had been so busy, I did not have a chance to dead head or cut off the rose hips.  I am glad now, though because I am having my Floral Design class on Thursday and I think I am going to cut them to have Lisa show us how they can be used in an arrangement.  My rose hips are all these nice orange/dark pink color and some are absolutely huge!!  I have seen some recipes to make rose hip jelly and the teas, but have never made them myself.
I have hydrangea bushes planted all over my yard and they never disappoint me with their beauty.  I almost think the drying flowers are more beautiful than the fresh blooms.  In this photo, there are only 5 hydrangea flowers in this vase.  One measures over 12" across and almost a full circle.  I just put them in water and when the water is all used up the flowers are dried and I have them for all winter.  Not all hydrangea blossoms work that way but most do, some actually wilt and those I just eventually toss.
With the CSA business being finished, I have had some time to slow my pace; not be so frantic about trying to get everything done.  I had my canning classes and did some more canning with a friend and once a whole day on my own. 
On Pinterest, I saw this recipe to can applesauce and combine with other fruits, strawberries, blueberries and peaches.  I still had some fresh peaches and I had a few bags of strawberries frozen in the freezer from our garden.  I made 5 batches of applesauce, 2 just my regular applesauce recipe; 2 using peaches; and 1 batch using strawberries.  I was pretty tired by this last strawberry batch and my kitchen was a disaster or I would have made another one using strawberries again.  The flavor is so wonderful and the colors in the jars make me think that they will make great Christmas gifts or the applesauce will look great on the table during the holidays.  Out goes cranberry sauce and in comes applesauce!
Speaking of Pinterest, I took a great class last week on using Pinterest for Marketing your business.  I LOVE Pinterest and am out there pinning away almost every day but had NEVER thought about how it could be used in business.  It was provided by the NEC (NorthEastern California) Small Business Center through Butte College. Fabulous!!!  I was so inspired and learned a great deal in a very short 1 hour time span.  The instructor was very knowledgeable and SBCD offers free one-on-one meetings in the Butte, Glenn and Tehama areas; to help small business owners with any part of developing, starting, running, marketing, anything to do with business.  My blogging abilities really do need to be improved so I am hoping this winter to make some time to have them work with me.  I know many fellow bloggers have moved over to Word Press to write their blog, but I am determined to learn as much as I can with Blogger before I abandon ship.
If you are local, our Floral Design class still has a few openings.  In case you don't know Lisa Hunter, she is a Gridley floral designer who does the most beautiful weddings and other events and is going to teach the class.  Set for this Thursday, September 26th; 6-8:30pm; $25.  Hope you can make it.  Please call me if you think you can make it.
My goal for myself this next week is start to get back to taking walks; enjoy the seasons colors; and stopping to smell the roses (or hydrangeas) along the way.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Windmill Farm Published in Edible Shasta-Butte Magazine!! Reminder about Canning Classes

We are so darn excited.  Our CSA farm article has been published in the Edible Shasta-Butte magazine.  If you have a chance to find the magazine, check us out.  My friend said the library has copies; I know that the downtown Gridley Business Office has copies; Mary Lake Thompson Store has copies and I actually have some extra copies too.  Can always leave you one out at my roadside stand.
There will be future articles about our farm as we progress over a year of running our membership produce business.
Our CSA business is over for the year, we delivered our last basket on Wednesday.  We will be having a special Fall Harvest basket sometime in October when fall items will be ripe such as kiwis; persimmons; walnuts; pomegranates; pumpkins; carrots, etc. 
Farming is so challenging in itself, but to have a farm business that grows so many different plants AND has many varieties of fruits is not easy. Most farmers stick to one fruit; or stick to one vegetable and have all the equipment and expertise needed for that one variety; and once picked, the business is over. But that is what makes it so much fun too, for Frank and myself.
Each year we discuss what is working well and what is not for what we grow; how we grow it; and where we grow it in the areas designated for vegetables. And we follow our sustainable practices of rotating our crops; no sprays, use of low volume drip systems and an integrated wildlife management practice. We found this year that we did not have as many gophers as we had in the past. It may be just a fluke year, but I think our owl boxes all around our property have helped AND maybe the 5 cats my neighbor has too have helped!!!Also this year Frank used a new system to trap insects. They are called sticky traps that you hang in trees; or around plants; under grapes; etc. They are either pheromone traps, visual traps or bait traps. They are a fairly new organic practice that we read about and you purchase specific hanging sticky cards that draw a specific bug that are known to come to that plant. It came about because we have been fighting Leaf Hooper bugs on our grapes. We have so many grape vines that start out beautiful; have beautiful fruit and then it is completely devastated. These hanging sticky tapes worked pretty fairly well on the grapes, but we learned that we needed LOTS MORE them.  It is so shocking to see how many insect specific are stuck on those cards.

When fruits or vegetables are ripe, that is the time to be canning, right from the fields to be packed fresh into jars to be enjoyed the rest of the year.  I always try to tell people, even though the time may not be right, like it is too hot; or just not interested at that moment, the time fleets by.  Then when you are ready, the apples or tomatoes or peppers; or peaches are no longer available.  Well, they may be on the grocery store shelves, but they won't be farm fresh and you will pay a lot more per pound than when they are ripe.  Actually, my favorite time to can is late at night when it is cooler; no stress of the day; just fun time canning.
In the next two weeks I will be giving my canning classes. I will only be giving them once this year so hopefully you can be available to take them.
Applesauce Canning - Wednesday, September 18, 2013 6-8pm $25
Tomato Canning - Thursday, September 19, 2013 6-8pm $25
Floral Design Class-Thursday, September 26, 2013 6-8pm $25
Hope you can attend one of the classes and enjoy our Windmill Farm article in the Edible Shasta Butte magazine. 
See you next time and don't be afraid to leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!! Otherwise, I think I am only talking to my computer screen.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Treehouse, Mr. Fixit Frank, New Farm Signs on Van

Poor Frank, he has spent 3 days on his knees digging in a hole looking for a water leak.  Gridley soil is so darn soft, any time you need to dig a hole it generally takes seconds.  But this particular sprinkler water leak was at the base of our huge maple tree where he built the grand kid's tree house.
Do you remember what the tree house looks like that Frank built?  Here are some pictures.  It is so darn cute, has a large star in the door and a deck.  We see it from our kitchen window and off the patio.
Frank made all the windows
This is the side of it has a rope with basket so grand kids can bring up supplies!!

They have their own lawn furniture

The waterline that goes across the back of the yard goes under the tree put in a very, very long time ago.  Of course the roots just curled around the water pipe like a boa constrictor.  So Frank had his hack saw, the chain saw, shovels, a real pile of tools to try and get down to the leak and past the leak so he could repair it.  He made several trips to Mac's to purchase various pipe fittings and saw blades but after the 3rd day, the yard water went back on and everything is working well.
Frank's other project has been making a bunk bed for grandson Collin.  Our daughter Celli and Frank drew out the plans and off he went to build it.  I helped paint it which took many, many coats-2 of primer; 2 coats, each side; then touch up.  It is drying now but should be ready to set up in Collin's room next week.  He wants Celli to make curtains on the bottom part for a little fort area, have a light; and he wants all his Lego's in there. I will take a better picture when all together and post next time.
This week we finally got our farm delivery van sign done.  It has been one of those projects that keeps going and going like the Every Ready bunny.  Each time we talked about the sign, none of us in the family could decide.  When we did get our logo done for my business cards, etc, I had an on-line magnetic sign made from Staples.  But it was so small, it looked pretty stupid.  Frank has a friend at Grass Valley Signs and he took the van up there and within two weeks, we had it done.  Frank installed it himself because, well, everyone knows, he can do anything!!!

Annie and Bella wanted in the picture too because they think the van is their van, the dog van-not a farm van. 
Reminder about my up coming classes;
  Applesauce canning class-September 18, 2013 6 pm- 8pm. $25
  Tomato canning class-September 19, 2013 6 pm - 8pm. $25
  Flower Design Class-Instructor Lisa Hunter - September 26, 2013 - 6 pm- 8pm. $25.  Space is limited so make sure you call or email or Facebook me to sign up.  All classes are fun, get hands on canning instruction, door prizes, refreshments and meets really great people.
Until next time, hope you all have a wonderful week.