Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Morning here at Windmill Farm.  Santa came for the grand kids in a big Star Wars way,   Even remembered to bring new John Deere Gator seats for Frank. Funny thing, they arrived on the porch a few days before Christmas.  Frank knew what they were and said to go ahead and wrap with garbage bags so he can open Christmas Day.  (He didn't want to waste wrapping paper because they were so large). You will see them stacked on top of each other in the one photo.  When he opened them up, he said they were damaged.  I looked at them and thought, OMG, how horrible, they are really damaged with slits in the upholstery and fading!!!  Then I looked around and saw the joke was on me, everyone knew he had already installed the new seats the day they arrived and put the old Gator seats in the boxes and re-taped them up.
I knitted a few things, always like to get my Grandma gifts in there.  The hoot owl is a tablet holder.

 These little guys are hedgehogs.  It didn't take long for the dogs to think they were toys for them.
 We got Carli a robot for Christmas, was put together like the old rector sets with metal pieces, screws and bolts,  instead of those plastic Lego pieces.  It lights up and moves by voice commands.  And even dances on demand, really cute.


 This is it walking with eyes lighted up.
 Christmas morning excitement and surprises are still the best feeling anyone can have..
 This is actually what I made the dogs for Christmas, not the hedgehogs.
Wonderful time with the family, great food, lots of fudge using my mother's recipe that we all remember.  We are so blessed.

Frank and I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and enjoy the New Year celebrations.  Talk to you in 2016, lots of changes happening here at the farm after the New Year and hope to share them with you. Come back soon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Windmill Farm Decorated A Barn For Holiday Event

We are fairly new to putting on "events" and have opened our eyes to the possibility of expanding it into our farm business.  You have to go where the business threads lead you and try them out.  Farming produce and flowers is not an easy business but you have to enjoy what you do too.  CSA baskets have deadlines that have to be met and so do flower events and weddings.  We are used to those business stresses. "Events" have a whole new set of stresses, but I believe our farm can pick and choose which ones will work for our size farm and our abilities to do them ourselves and do them well enjoy to make our clients happy.
Our daughter, Celli was asked by the owner of three Dutch Bros businesses to decorate a large barn in Loomis, called the Blue Goose.  She was having her Christmas Employee party for around 115 people, full dinner, music, stage, gift giving.  Celli asked me to help her, which I gladly did.
The barn was toured to see how large, where different parts of the party were going to be held, such as the bar, the buffet tables, the music, etc.  Luckily, the Blue Goose is set up beautifully; lots of plugs everyplace; clean; the tables and chairs were going to be arranged early, clean up supplies and they even had a room to store items such as our ladder and boxes until party was over so we could clean up our decorations.
We got together and made our plans for the the budget given.  Since the barn is so large, we had to have large impact areas for color, lighting and festive fun.  I was in charge of making some chandeliers; we each made large paper flowers for a large 8' long and 7' tall photo op wall; Celli arranged for a large tree and made decorations for the tree using Dutch Bros cup and lids.  We also used the Dutch Bros coffee bean burlap bags as part of our decorating them, around the tree, on the entry way counter.  Together we worked on the table decorations to be a natures wonderland-tree branches used for votive candles; pomegranates; pine cones; hydrangeas, greens; rosemary; eucalyptus; carved out wood with candles inside; berries.  Celli and I painted branches from the orchard white ready to be placed in cute galvanized and farming containers.  Why not?  It is a barn!!!
The evening before the event, Frank was so helpful in loading the van.  I didn't think it would all fit and was going to use the truck, but he believed it would work and it did!! Celli went to the barn early and with help from her wonderful friend Ashley, they got all the tables ready and tree almost done before I arrived.

Our good pre-planning really worked well, we understood the basic decorating concepts in our heads and went to work.  After we got the wall panels secured, Ashley went to work placing all the paper flowers on it.  The tables were decorated with the bags and bags of layering pines, eucalyptus, rosemary, berries. 


Celli took a large galvanized bucket and used it as the tree base and put the coffee bags around it as tree skirts.

Then she put out the decorations of the Dutch Bros coffee lids, that she painted gold, and had decorative string to hang the coffee cups.
Up went the chandeliers I made, using hola hoops as a base were hung with the help of Chris, our son-in-law who showed up with the grand kids after school.
 It was so fun because it became a family decorating event!!!

All the fun farm and flower containers I brought were placed on the entryway counter which showcased all the natural elements of this time of year, lighting, color, Dutch Bros products.  Each of us took a section and started placing painted tree branches, pine cones, moss, holiday bulbs, Christmas bags, lighted bark trees.
The party started at 6:00pm, so we set ourselves up with certain time limits to have the projects completed, giving us enough time to do some final tweaking and then clean up of all our messes.
It all worked perfectly I must say, it was so beautiful as we turned down the spot lights and turned on all the holiday lighting.  Poor Celli, she had to stay and meet with the Heather and her hubby, Dutch Bros owners to make sure all was well and then go back after the party was over (after 10:00pm) and clean up everything.  I had 1 1/2 hours to drive home, so I left before the party began.  She said she got home with a car full of stuff after midnight.

The photos don't do it justice, I am never good at taking evening pictures, but the next day we saw photos of the barn filled with happy Dutch Bros employees having a great time, singing karaoke on the stage next to the tree or having their pictures taken in front of our gorgeous photo op wall.
Bring on the future Windmill Farm events-give us a call.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fresh Holiday Wreath Making Classes and Christmas Coming

We had our two wreath making classes, one on  December 2nd and the other one on December 3rd.  A few days before, the race goes on with people wanting to sign up late and those that want to cancel.  Each event/class we have her at the farm, I try and make myself have people pay via paypal as I still have to buy supplies; get the food ready and all the products that are needed ahead of the class.  Our farm is in a rural setting, so going to get supplies takes a bit of time so I have to have each class planned out early and shopping done as early as possible.
The Wednesday, December 2nd class had 2 people cancel and 2 no shows, rude!!!  The Thursday class, I allowed extra people to sign up since I was going to loose money on the class the day before.  It was crazy, Frank kept asking me how many people are coming, how many people are coming.
The biggest challenge is to make sure I had enough wreath making greens to use.  We had 2 varieties of eucalyptus; Douglas fir; noble fir; redwood greens; olive tree branches; magnolia leaves; heavenly bamboo berries; privet berries; rosemary; I had fruit tree sticks; I had wisteria curvey branches; pine cones; I had pretty
yellow/orange kumquat branches with the fruit on them; Christmas balls; ribbons to make bows.

We cleaned out Frank's shop and as we cut branches and limbs down, we piled them all around the room and I set up the 6' folding tables on each side of Frank's huge center work table.  I gave each person their own clippers, wire cutters, wreath making wire; wreath forms.  I also had door prizes of fresh Meyer Lemons; Fuyu persimmons, fresh dozen eggs; a wreath form; and some other items.  The grand prize was the person won the wreath made by our instructor, Florist Lisa Hunter.

I wanted to make a photo op booth, so I made all these paper flowers along with some gold ones.  Cellii and I are going to be decorating an old barn in a week or o for a special Dutch Bros Christmas dinner.  We are making 2 off these boards for that event, but since I had one finished, I decided to use it.
The food was another project.  I made juice using our fresh pomegranate juice, 7Up, sliced lemons, ice and it was a big hit plus it looked so pretty in a glass container.  I ordered trays from our local grocery store of small sandwiches and a spinach dip along with some cookies.  People got all of this for $35, a real bargain and people went home with their completed wreaths.
Each class had friends coming with friends; Moms who brought their daughters and daughter-in-laws.  One group had 5 people, another had 4 family members.
It is all fun, but the worst part was cutting down all the fresh items in the rain!!!  Of course, it had to rain the day of the classes.
These Windmill Farm classes are a lot of work and expense.  But over the past few years, we have gained such a grateful following of people who enjoy making things; coming together with friends; helping a farm find ways to keep going.  We thank these people for coming.  What better way to get into the holiday spirit then laughing, being creative, breaking bread together; learning, just have a really good time.
Here are some photos of happy Fresh Wreath Making people from our classes:







Everyone had big smiles!!! A special thank you goes out to our instructor Lisa Hunter, local wedding/event florist.  She is so patient with all of us and a joy to be around. Unfortunately, I forgot to take of picture of her whole person, this was one of the wreaths she made.  Sorry Lisa.
And here is a photo of my Annie, she was tired of being out in the shop and wanted to have me and her go back into the house.
  Christmas is getting close!!! Hope you all are having fun and have your trees up.  Write sometime, would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Advent Calendars For the Grand Kids

Every year I would have Advent Calendars on my list to make for Collin and Carli, our grand kids.  Along with about 10 possible knitting projects to make.  I always feel like I need to make hand made gifts to carry on the memory theme to their generation.  That not all gifts come in an Amazon.com box.
Well, I had a couple of rain days where I decided it had to happen before Thanksgiving so they could take it home with them after they stayed for that week.  Setting a time limit helps me finish projects.
I found some tree branches in the yard and painted them silver and then lightly dusting of spray snow.
When I was shopping at Walmart a few weeks ago, I picked up a few fishing items and some small toys to add to the calendar gifts.  My grand kids love to fish, so a box of bobbers, hooks and some lures were perfect.  
But I realized that I needed to get someplace where the prices were even cheaper since I had to get 50 gifts=25 each grand child.
A trip to the Dollar Store along with some candy and I was ready to wrap.  Collin's gifts were wrapped with the brown Kraft paper.  
Carli's gifts were wrapped using small patterned bags purchased a year ago at Hobby Lobby, along with some white ones.
 I used cute checked thin ribbon for hers and brown twine for Collin.  While listening to my music, I wrapped and wrapped until all of the little gifts were done.
I was going to just write the numbers on each package when I received a great blot post from someone I read often.  She too, had done an Advent Calendar for her children but she is more artist and talented than myself.  She had Christmas drawings on the tags and they were free downloads.
 Only problem was that they printed out the circle around each number, but I had to cut them out-all 50 of them!!!
When I went on Pinterest, I loved seeing other options that clever people made, the only thing I noticed was that all the gifts hanging or clipped were the same size.  How is that???  My branch of wrapped little gifts looked a little cluttered but in the end, I liked it.
Carli and Collin arrived for Thanksgiving and love, loved the tree branches.  I would find them several times over at the packages, looking at the cute holiday pictures and touching the presents, and talking to each other about what "day" they wanted most to open.
Since the kids are getting older, I knew my time was coming to an end when they actually would find it a fun thing to receive.  So I am feeling pretty good that making these calendars is now on my Mission Accomplished list.  And I still have 3 weeks to keep knitting and knitting away at the scarves, Kindle cozy and even to make a stuffed hedgehog.  Maybe I will finish them, maybe not.
Come back soon, my Holiday Fresh Holiday Wreath Making Class is this week, two full classes.  I should have lots of fun photos.  And I am making a photo op wall to take pictures on-made up of large paper flowers in white and gold.  Will show photos next time.
Paula
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