Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Baraboo Steam and Gas Engine Show 2016 ... Lots of Photos :)

I seriously look forward to the Baraboo, Wisconsin Badger Steam and Gas Engine Show every fall.  For those of you that have never attended, it is the third weekend of August every year.  The forecast called for showers on Saturday with the main bulk arriving on Friday night.  The weather man wasn't fibbing!  Those poor exhibitors and vendors saw some serious showers.  Friday was very busy with spectators trying to beat the weekend precipitation.  Mr. Hollow and I arrived at 8:30 am on Saturday morning hoping for a dry day... Well at least from the clouds that were passing over anyways. 

We only endured two cloud bursts in the afternoon hours, but the grounds told the tale from the previous night.  Those exhibitors and vendors stuck it out, and it was a wonderful day.  Not too warm in the morning hours and delightfully cool after the cloud bursts.  I was very happy that I packed a t-shirt and light jacket to change into; although, the book building offered t-shirts and tank tops for sale. 

I was so happy to see the engines running.  This gentlemen took the time to start and explain the function of his engine.  It made me smile.  The puff and toot reminded me of the contraption from Willy Wonka... Right down to a bit of water shooting from the pipe !  :)

Such a nice tribute to the ladies who went to work for the war effort.  It always makes me smile to look at the photos and read the articles.

Can you imagine these huge machines still run flawlessly?  I just love watching the smooth effortless power.  It is a blessing that they have such a wonderful home and are shared for spectators to enjoy.  At the other end of the building was a machine creating huge amounts of steam, I walked through the steam as I exited and probably took every wrinkle out of my clothes! LOL ;)

I know this photo is hard to see, but it is a sea of farm tractors.  Can you believe the turn out?  Even with rainy weather being forecasted.   Simply fantastic! 

While Mr. Hollow visited friends at the chainsaw competition, I took a few photos from my favorite spots.  The printing presses are one of my favorites.  The gentlemen there are so fun to be around and extremely knowledgeable.  At this machine, the gentlemen was asking the kids which way the letters and arrow needed to go.  They did really well and was amazed at the final product.  :)

The guys demonstrating their blacksmithing skills were probable relieved by the cooler temps!  I purchased a cross from this exhibit area a few years back.  Quite a fascinating art!

The gentlemen one window over made this terrific bird.  As he worked, he put wax from a candle all over it.  I never got to hear the reason behind this.   He set it in the vice to cool... all in a days work.  That was pretty awesome!

Can you believe someone built this?    Do you know what is more amazing?  The little engine on the left makes all of the other little machines run.  And let me say from seeing it with my own eyes,  they ALL do run as working machines.  That is some seriously crazy talent!

I have a fondness for the large engines.  Looking at this photo, I can still feel the heat.   Such power harnessed in  iron... You can just feel it standing next to it. 

I never tire of the big saw! 

I am sorry to have not gotten photos from the Women's Center.  Kind of odd really, since it is home to  the lovely sewing machines that got me even more hooked on quilting.  And let's not forget the spinners who are responsible for me taking the leap into that arena.  Also to the chainsaw exhibitors, where Mr. Hollow spends his day while I run! ;)  There are so many exhibits that I am so sorry for the various ones not shared.  Those will be the ones I showcase next year... I gladly promise. :)

Before I forget, here are a few of the items that I picked up at the flea market:  The brushes and pick will be great for a few projects looming in the distance.  You all know I cannot pass up on some good fabric.  (Actually I did, the lady had a ton... but I refrained!)  Then I met a really nice lady who had this beautiful baby quilt of verses.  (It is so soft and cuddly... Very well made and for 5 bucks!)  Also over at the shingle making exhibit, they had some cedar wood pieces.  These thin planks will be wonderful to put in with my wool bins to keep the insects at bay... plus, they just smell wonderful!

Here is a block from the quilt.  Definitely perfect for me!

I spotted this vintage testor set.  Isn't it odd what strikes my fancy?  It is so cool.  Mr. Hollow walked back and bought it for me.  It will look great in my future studio next to my natural wool dye jars.

I also was lucky enough to get a half gallon of Maple syrup... Some really dark syrup this year.  I forgot to pick up some cornmeal on the way home.  Drat!  But at least,  it made the bacon this morning so much better. ;)

An enormous Thank-you for those wonderful souls that make this show possible!  All of the exhibitors, vendors and behind the scene magic makers who take the time to make this weekend great for all of us spectators.  You are truly the best! 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Summertime... Fleece, Fabric & the Return of ...

Oh my heavens... Where is the summer going?  I have been so busy!  Here is a little bit of my summer antics.  First, I got some cool new combs and another carder for processing all of that Shetland wool.   Also, I have been doing loads of reading on Ravelry regarding the processing and spinning of raw fleeces.  I have learned so much that I will need to revamp my tutorial on "how to wash raw fleece".   And oh the lovely fleeces!!!  There are many wonderful caring shepherds selling their wares on Etsy and Ravelry... got to have more than just Shetland to spin. ;)   (More on that in future posts!)
Here is my latest processed fleece.  The taupe colored fleece is from Farmerboy's Ariel.   The gray bun in the upper left corner is from Lego.   They were two of the original 3 that started out this crazy group.   Beneath the gray, there is some Targhee / Rambouillet fiber from Kami over at "Ranching Traditions".  I haven't spun the fiber yet, but this stuff is spongy and destined to be socks.  So, let the fine spinning begin!

At present, I'm still messing around with combed top purchased from "Edgewood Garden Studios" on Etsy...  Love her colors. :)  It is really good practice.   And hey... It  actually looks like yarn!  LOL 


Did you think I was too busy for the Flea Markets?  Of course not! ;)   Mr. Hollow and I just went up to Jefferson, Wisconsin this morning and had to bring home some vintage fabric.   Although we did not go on the 127 this year (the first time of being a no show in 14 years),  we have been hitting a lot of the smaller venues.   One of the vendors today had an old Viking machine in its original case (heavy metal at its finest)  and also there was an old treadle White, but I managed to pass them up without too much regret.  I am in the process of getting a studio area set up in my house, so my spending has been sparse until my room is semi functional... At least for bigger items anyways! ;)   There aren't enough words to convey how thrilling it will be to get my sewing machines and fabric easily accessible to me... Whenever, I feel the need.  Yipee!!

At the beginning of the summer, Mr. Hollow and I discussed removing the pond from our back yard.  It was June already with no sign of Gary, and Farmerboy is moving out with the purchase of a farmette.  (How cool is that?)  The pond had always been his project.  And as of the last few years, Mr. Hollow has gotten stuck with the cleaning of it anyways. :(  LOL  Not two days later after discussing the demolition, I looked out the back window and guess who was walking across the yard?  Yeah, you know who.  Mr. Gary made his appearance ambling around, sniffing the air and going plunk right into his pond.   Apparently, he winters in our back yard under one of Farmerboy's sheds that he is not planning on moving... Lucky for Gary right?  ;)  Guess that means the pond is staying.

The "Gas and Steam Engine Show" will be in Baraboo this next weekend.  I am very excited to attend.  Hopefully, the rain they are predicting will move out of the weather forecast. :(  I finally purchased a new memory card for my camera and will get plenty of photos. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cast Iron Skillet Cookies

Have I mentioned that I love Cast Iron cookware?  ;)   My vintage pieces mean the world to me, and there is a story behind each one.  But every once in awhile,  a cook has to turn to a modern company to fill a need.  This is what happened to me when I learned of the skillet cookie sensation.  I know.... I could have used one of my smaller skillets, but single serving cookies were on my mind.  Unfortunately, not one of my pans fit the bill.  (Sigh of relief at the thought of my family taking forks to my beloved Griswolds and Wagners!)   To fill the bill, I turned to a wonderful modern maker of cast ironware, Lodge.  They are so reasonable and hold on to your chairs folks... They are Made In The USA.  How often do you see that?
Below is the four that arrived in their gorgeous cast iron glory.  Trying to stay with a single serving size, these little beauties are 5 inches.  My confession may as well be right now, "I could not make it half way through a cookie at this size."  It would have been even less if there was ice cream on top! :(
At any rate, these cookies were made with the addition of mini M&M's and chocolate chips.  Subsequent cookies have been made with the addition of chopped up candy bars... Reese's in particular for Mr. Hollow.   I made the dough with a recipe from Cookies and Cups blog that can be found here.

Here are a few photos of the process.  It is important to me to show that the amount of butter is accurate.  The batter starts out crazy runny but do not fear...

It turns into a butter infused dough with the addition of the flour... I am talking some serious butter!

To make it easier, I divided the dough and mixed in the diner's choice of candies.  (Extra dough can be refrigerated or frozen.)  Be creative.  This dough is a fabulous base to any additional sweets.

The dough is all pressed in place and ready to go!

Viola!  Chocolate chip cookie in a skillet... YUM!

And don't forget the M&M's.  :)

Trust me, it tastes as good as it looks... The flavor is just awesome.  If you are looking for a cake like cookie, this is NOT for you.  If you are looking for a ooey gooey cookie, this is what you have been waiting for.  And if you are tougher than me, try a scoop of ice cream in the center. :)

A big thanks to Shelly over at Cookies and Cups blog for such a wonderful recipe!  And just in case you were wondering, I still cringed as the forks touched  those beautiful new pans!  LOL

Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring has Sprung with Baby Lambs!

Our first babies of the year are twins!  These are Trix's first lambs.  They are so tiny.  Reminiscent of Levi when he was born.  :)

The lamb with all of the white is a little girl, and the chocolate faced lamb with touches of white is our handsome little guy... They are yet to be named.

I couldn't get a great photo for scale.  They were only hours old in these pics.  And since I was in too much of a hurry to break out my Rebel camera, the Sony with its necessary flash was used. I hate to get to close to newborns with it!

Notice that Luke is taking a drink out of Trix's water.  He is never far away with newbies in a stall and will give an unsuspecting viewer a smack with his head as a reminder to keep a safe distance.  He takes his job VERY seriously!  Wouldn't want him any other way.  :)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Bucilla Alphabet Quilt WIP

Has this been a crazy winter or what?   Believe it or not, I actually have the window open while typing this post, and the sun is shining cheery and bright through the window.  Fresh air and sunlight... Aaaah...  It renews the spirit.  :)
While cleaning in the living room, my eyes wandered over to the Bucilla Alphabet quilt.  Obviously, it has been awhile since my last update.  As you can see, a few more rows done.  The colors are a true reflection of the 60's and 70's.  They would definitely grab a baby's attention!  LOL.  I just love this quilt.  I really do!

If you want  a lesson in embroidery, this quilt is it.  It has made me do some stretching.  The King's eyes really gave me a time!  LOL   I remain positive and dedicated.  Only 9 letters left, I know... it should be 10.   I jumped down and did the U already.  Not sure why... Just went crazy one day a few rows back! :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Home Spun Yarn

I cannot say enough about the classes on Craftsy.  I am learning so much!  It has been a blast, and I am hopelessly and happily hooked on spinning wool... Which is a good thing, since there are fleeces stored in bins all over my house. LOL
It doesn't look that pretty, but below is a photo of my first plied yarn from Farmerboy's ram, Brick.  This was an unbelievable learning experience.  It also inspired me to sign up for two more classes on drafting and plying on Craftsy. ;)  My technique is getting there, but it could use a whole lotta help.  Isn't it amazing to think from sheep to yarn... all with my own hands?   Major accomplishment! 

After a good wash, the two brown twists are my very first yarn.  It looks like yarn too!  Albeit not perfect but yarn just the same. ;)  The third cream twist is from some comb top Corriedale that I received with my wheel.  It is a longer staple and was spun after my completed class with Amy.  This skein was so much more uniform than my initial go with the wheel.  I think Amy would be very proud of my progress.   This spinner sure is!

So now, I signed up for Jacey's drafting class and Jillian's plying class.  Plus, two more classes are sitting in my cart for hand embroidery and colored pencil techniques. :)  They are running some crazy sales on the Craftsy site, and it is unbelievable how exceptional these classes are for such little money.  Isn't it an amazing age we live in?  Such wonderful teachers are available at my own pace right at my fingertips.  I feel blessed. 

Farmerboy has been busy making some barn board creations for a spot he rented in Elizabeth.  You can see a small glimpse of his beautiful pieces in the last photo.  I will be sharing them in the next post.  Maybe I should switch gears and work on some stitching this weekend.  A few primitive candle mats might look nice with his furniture! ;) 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review of a Fancy Kitty Mini Bench Picker for Wool

The sub zero temps in northern Illinois are finding me held up in the house, and I couldn't think of anything warmer to do than pick some wool. :)  For those new comers to my blog, below is a shearing from our ram Brick.  He is a busy guy that taught Farmer Boy to never turn his back on him, even when there was a fence between them.  YIKES!  (You can read about Brick here.)  As you can see by the vegetation, our sheep do not wear jackets.  They live their lives without the hassle of keeping their wool clean... That job is left to me!

There are a few in our flock (in my opinion)  that apparently must love to roll profusely in their bedding.  Those little beasties' fleeces are always hard to pull apart after being cleaned.  A few have been left unprocessed in their holding tubs.  I honestly cringed at the thought of trying to get them fluffy enough to run through the drum carder. (Please check out the Baby Brother Drum Carder here.)   After much research, I decided to break down and buy a wool picker.  After checking out several reviews, I opted for a Fancy Kitty. 

All I simply have to do is push the wool up through the left, make a few passes over it with the sharp projectiles ( located under the handle and on the base) and viola fluffy fleece gathers up at the right.   This piece of fleece went through a few passes, and it was amazing the amount of vegetable matter (VM)  that fell out.   For my high vegetation beasties, the Fancy Kitty will save me hours of picking and pulling by hand.  Makes me wonder how I lived without it!  :)

A matted looking section of Brick fleece before picking...

A fluffy picked cloud of Brick fleece, after the Fancy Kitty Picker got done with it!

A few passes through the Brother Manual Drum Carder, and I have some spinning material!

I was very impressed with the construction of the wool picker from Fancy Kitty.  It really did perform like a dream and will be getting a work out over next few weeks...   I signed up for Amy King's  "Foundations of Spinning" class on Craftsy and am in desperate need of some fiber to spin. ;)

***Note*** If you have the winter humdrums, check out the classes on Craftsy.  They have Quilting & Embroidery, Drawing & Painting, Wool Processing & Knitting/Crocheting, along with Cooking/Baking & Decorating...  Supplies/ Patterns and so much more!   Their classes do not disappoint, and the new ones are currently 50% off.  What better than to learn and ask questions at your own pace?  And your classes become yours to view... even after completion!!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Kitchen Aid Pasta Roller & Drying Rack Review

I have to do a review of the Kitchen Aid pasta roller with spaghetti and fettuccine attachments that arrived just in time for Christmas.  Santa did not have a very big list from me this year.  Not sure if I am really content with my life or am just a boringly lazy individual... I am going with option one! ;)     Anyways, these attachments have interested me for years.  They made the perfect "What the heck" gift.  I needed to channel my inner Julia Child who was a huge believer in embracing new devices for the kitchen.  Well, this is about as new and crazy as I get. LOL
My first batch of egg noodles went very smooth.  It makes me nervous to have such a weighty attachment hanging off my beloved Kitchen Aid.  I was sure her motor would blow to pieces, but she rolled out the dough like a pro.  The motor was placed on the #2 setting (which was fast enough for me), and only bogged slightly when the folded over dough was put in for a second pass.   The pasta roller was positioned at #2 for the first three passes.  A necessary flour dusting was given between each pass.  (My dough was a tad sticky!)   Then, the roller was set at #4 for the final run through.  The whole process went smooth and relatively quickly; even though, I was working through an obvious learning curve.  The final pass yielded some flawless dough-- very thin and even.
On to the fettuccine attachment...  Once all of the strips of dough were dusted and lined up on my kitchen island, the fettuccine attachment was locked onto my Kitchen Aid.  A simple lining up of the dough, a pass through the slotted rollers and I was catching sheets of egg noodles.  Not all of the noodles were cut free in strips, but they fell apart easily upon drying.  Okay, I am impressed with these attachments!    They not only get the job done but are durable, weighty and built to last.  Just as solid as my beloved hand crank machine.

To dry my egg noodles,  I invested in the Kitchen Aid drying rack.  The legs pull down and out like a tripod, and a twist of the top knob sends a flourish of acrylic arms to transfer the pasta onto.  The unit is space friendly and could hold up to two batches of my noodles.  I draped the noodles over the arms by hand, but inside the center of the rack hides a pasta wand that can be pulled out from the top.  The pasta dryer is exactly what this pasta maker has wished for.  Makes me wonder how I got along without it!

The Kitchen Aid pasta roller and attachments are going to be a great addition to my kitchen.  They will be seeing a lot of action during the soup making season and beyond.  While turning some of our left over prime rib into beef and noodles tonight, I noticed how thin the noodles were. The cooked up quickly and were just the right thickness after boiling.  Even Mr. Hollow was impressed.  I would say this gift was a huge success!