Thursday, March 26, 2009


So, Paprika (affectionately known as Pappy) met his end on Tuesday morning. He is off to the butcher now and will be going home to my dad's freezer next Monday. Although I am comfortable with my omnivorous eating habits, I don't take lightly these animals giving up their lives for us to eat. Paprika and Renauld were fighting more and more and the last thing I wanted was for one of them to get injured or for them to injure our soon-to-come lambs. I never intended to keep Pappy. A flock with only 3 ewes just doesn't need 2 rams. He was just too small to butcher in the fall when the rest went. So now he is gone. And for a few weeks until Brida has her babies, we are down to 4 sheep.

Out of respect for him, I am using as much of him as possible. We fed his heart, testicles, liver and kidneys to the dogs, the rest will go to my parents. Only his head, lungs and guts were disposed of. So that leaves his skin.

One of the slaughtering guys from the fall had said that it is easy to cure your own skin. He gave me brief instructions. I got part way with Oregano and Tarragon and then put the skins in the freezer where they remain. I don't really have room for another skin in my freezer so I have been learning how to do this on Paprika. Let me tell you, 'easy' is not a word I would use to decribe this process....

First I laid it out on the picnic table outside and cut and picked out burs. He had a lot of burs in his wool! And he had never been shorn so his wool is rather long, too. Here is what it looked like after I finished 'de-burring' it.

Then I put the skin in the washing machine and ran it through a cycle.

Then I stretched it out on a piece of teak plywood my old neighbours gave me for this purpose. I used my staple gun to attach it. See all that stuff? I am supposed to scrape all that off... The kids were in bed and I turned on CBC and started working. After 2 hours and little improvement, I started to wonder what I was thinking... This is what it looked like after 2 hours. And lambskin/sheepskin is very thin - one of the thinnest hides, actually. I kept making holes in it. My dreams of having a beautiful lambskin to give my dad when he got here, started to slip away.... I started to think about putting the whole skin in the compost... I went and looked up stuff on the internet - it seems there are many ways to cure a hide. In the end, I worked on it for another hour and then put a layer of salt over it and went to bed.

The next afternoon after people complaining about the smell (not to mention the sight) in my kitchen, (it smells like you are in a store full of leather shoes), I took it outside and leaned it against a tree. Next I poured 3 buckets of salt water over it and used a plastic scrub brush to clean it. Its looking a lot better, don't you think?

Last night I brought it in and worked on the scraping part - so many little bits of fat stuck to it but they are getting easier to take off as it gets drier and I haven't made any new holes... Again I covered it in a lyer of salt. I'm about to take it outside and give it another salt water rinse and scrub. In some places it is looking like the most gorgeous, fine leather.... Although I am only going for rawhide, I think. And once I have this side done, then I have to finish cleaning the wool on the other side. I am debating on whether I should cut it all down to 2 inches long. I'll have to wait and see how it looks...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Girls Weekend

editted to add that you can now see great pictures on Laura's blog here.

Well, I forgot my camera and no one else has posted pictures yet so I can't steal some for you. Girls Weekend happened. We left here right on time, Erin, Rhiannon and I, at 12:15. We drove without too much incident and my Dad's directions turned out to be pretty good so we pulled into my parents place just around 6. Everyone else started to arrive at pretty much the same time. Pretty soon the place was packed full of girls and babies and the fun began.

The food was fantastic - we took turns making meals, so each one was a feast. We took our largest chicken (9.9 lbs), Erin made a chocolate mousse torte from the Rebar Cookbook and Amy made yam fries and we had a yummy salad with "Little Creek" dressing from the Okanagan.

Friday afternoon we started with the crafting for those who were interested. We worked on Bethany's baby quilt and a rag quilt for Adriel (I'm waiting for that picture, Sarah!) and finishing the binding on Katie's "I Spy" quilt for Elizabeth. So there was lots of cutting and sewing. Thank goodness my aunt Mina was there or I am sure we would not have been able to finish.

Saturday morning was Rhiannon's favourite time. We went to the bird sanctuary in Ladner. We got to see some sandhill cranes which was pretty amazing and a different kind of heron and lots of different kinds of ducks and some hissing canada geese. Her favourite part, though was playing in the bird blinds with her cousins. They were pretending that they kept moving to bigger and better homes...heh.

I got to see my cousin I was very close to growing up. She came with her sister and mother for an afternoon visit. We went to BYU together and I hadn't seen her in years - around 20, I think. It was a happy, if brief, reunion.

Amazingly all the quilts got finished and some movies got watched while babies got held, food got made and the the kitchen got cleaned. We had about 25 people there for most of the time. I even made it to that yarn store in Steveston where Amy picked out some yarn for a hat. It was a very nice yarn store, I have to say but I think Art of Yarn in Kelowna is a close rival. I forgot to look for more yarn, though, to match the gorgeous yarn that Laura gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago. I had one adventure that involved going out to buy some peppers and ended up in me getting lost and crossing both the Queensboro and Alex Fraser bridges as I tried to return the few blocks to my parents place.... I still maintain that Vancouver is one of the poorest marked cities in North America!

We left Sunday morning, picked up a load of Erin's stuff from my brother's garage and made it home just after 3pm with a niece in tow for a week's visit. I am filled up with sister loving, mad quilting and good food. I am still tired! I try to think of what was the highlight for me, but I can't. Would it be the first night sleeping on an air mattress with my oldest daughter? Seeing her dark head beside me on a pillow? Was it holding my youngest nephew (3 weeks old) and having him fall asleep in my arms? Was it Carmen who so charmingly kept insisting for me to teach her how to knit? Was it hardly seeing Rhiannon as she was completely involved in many kinds of play with her cousins? It would probably be just being there with my sisters, laughing, talking, comparing boobs... a time worth having, that's for sure!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It All Evens Out In the End

I grew up with brothers. Lots of them. I am the firstborn in my family but at the tender age of 14 months, I got a brother. 20 months after that I got another one. Two years after that, I got another one. A handsome bunch I'm sure you will agree. But let me tell you... THREE brothers... That's enough for a tribe. A tribe I did not belong to. Sometimes I felt it was their tribal duty to torture me! Ah, don't get me wrong, I gave as good as I got and I love to tell Doug's kids the stories of the gross things he did as a kid.... And there were times that we got along... honest! But I yearned for a sister. A lot. I prayed and prayed and prayed for a sister. Every night. For years. When Layne (brother #3) was born, I was furious. Okay, turns out he is a great brother. But still...

The prayers began to pay off. I got my first sister just after my 7th birthday. And less than two years later I got another. So here in this picture at 12, I had 2 cute sisters. (and another brother, not shown)

Just before I left home for University, my parents had their 10th child - another sister. Things had finally evened out. There were 5 girls and 5 boys in my family. When I was 18 I had 4 sisters - Katie, age 11, Larua, age 9, Martha age 4 and Sarah who was a newborn. We didn't really get to swap clothes or have girls movie nights or talk about boys together.

Later, when I was almost 21 and 3 months pregnant with my own first daughter, my mom gave birth to twins - the last of our bunch - 2 girls. So the score settled at 7 girls and 5 boys. My younger sisters got to grow up amongst lots of sisters. I think they can thank my years of nightly prayers for that!

Now sometime when I was a 'too-cool' teenager, my mother instituted 'girls week-end' when our father and brothers were all gone for 'father-and-son-campouts'. I don't remember much of these first girls week ends, unfortunately - being so cool and so much older than my sisters. But girls week end went on after I left. Getting better and better, or so I have heard because I haven't been to one since I left home.

So today, I am packing. And my oldest and youngest daughters are packing. There is a frozen chocolate mousse torte that Erin made that we are packing, too. Along with all my knitting and crocheting stuff, and stuff to make lip balm and stuff for wearing to the bird sanctuary. We are heading to a girls week end tomorrow around noon at my mother's house. 5 of my 6 sisters will be there and 3 of my 4 sisters-in-law and many of my nieces and a cousin and aunt or two. Movies, good food and sisters.... I can tell you that it was worth it - all those years of praying! I think I have this coming, don't you?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Long, Sweet Grass

Look what Freya did with the grass in our pasture? She turned it into this. Isn't this just the most amazing yarn you have ever seen? I just got this today from my spinning friend who cleaned and spun the wool I had shorn in the fall. This here is Freya's. I am in awe. What is not to love about sheep, I ask you!? Especially Icelandic sheep that give you the most amazing yarn! Now... what to make, what to make?!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happiness 7

Happiness is making Borscht with my own beets who (why, yes, I used 'who'... beets are people, too!) have been waiting patiently in the bottom of my fridge for this very day. And of course, I used my very own chicken, too. The last of those noisy roosters from my laying chicks. This was a 2.8 lb Ameracauna rooster.

See? There he is!

I can't tell you how good this Borscht is. All others pale in comparison! Dean, who eschews borscht loves this borscht. You have just got to try the recipe. Its not that hard. You can do it!

Inspired by Angry Chicken I made these. Indeed! Why leave home? (gotta put a dent in my 25 lbs of coconut somehow!) These were awesome. So good!

Yup! happy, happy, happy!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Happiness 6

I have been a cat lover all of my life. It is a testament to how much I love cats and how much my husband loves me that we have as many as we do. He's allergic, after all. However, he seems to be able to tolerate our black and grey cats.

I love this picture of Sampson and Rosco. They are both asleep and didn't wake up when I took the picture, even. Rosco with is arms around Sampson's neck....

And right now we have a visitor who came along with Erin when she came back home. This is Saetia. She is a rather crabby cat but the way she hisses makes me laugh - she gets so 'into it' that she snorts between hisses. Rhiannon can mimick her perfectly.

Rhiannon took this picture of Saetia making herself comfortable in Erin Traxel's guitar case.

Cats know right when you need some loving. I know when I am counselling and it is intense, Rosco makes his way in and curls up comfortingly on their lap.

My cats. They make me happy!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Happiness 5

It is true that I knit and crochet a fair amount. However, I almost never make anything for myself. Of all the hats I have made, only one is for me. (although all my children have several). So, I set about to correct that. After all my practise making wee socks, (most of my wee nieces and nephews and baby friends have a pair) I thought I would make myself a pair. I bought some Noro sock yarn and was about to start when.... I saw this post on Soule Mama. How convenient! I already had all the supplies! Socks slipped by the wayside and I made myself this simple shawl FOR MYSELF!! What's not to be happy about that?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happiness 4

Sunshine streaming through the windows (ignore that it is -13) and listening to Fleetwood Mac, Rumours CD. Especially this song... ignore the cheesy highschool band. It was my favourite recording on Youtube because of Lindsay Buckingham's energy. I love this song! How can you not dance and sing on the top of your lungs to this song?

Happiness 3

This is related to the first post. This makes me happy. This is pasta sauce made from my canned "Dr. Wyche's Yellow Tomatoes". I sure loved my yellow and orange tomatoes last summer! And they have looked so beautiful canned - bottles of yellow, orange and red tomatoes on my shelf. And then of course, is the joy of eating them in this simple and delicious pasta sauce!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Happiness 2

Things have been pretty creative around here lately. Here is another scene that makes me happy. Two of my girls busy creating in 'my studio'. It has been a happy productive place!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Happy Week

Okay, the weather is discouraging. It is -5 right now and there is fresh snow on top of the snow that has not melted yet from December. And it looks like it will be too cold for washing windows until at least Wednesday... -14 in fact. Or so they predict. I can only hope they are wrong.

In the meantime, though, I have a lot to cheer me up. Everyday I will be posting pictures of things that make me happy. Today I am ecstatic because of this:

Yes! Sprouts! Tomato sprouts to be exact! Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple (from you! Amy)Silver Fir Tree, and from seeds I saved myself which I called 'random mid-sized' and 'huge round tomatoes'...hehe

I think today if I had a camera on them all day, I would have been able to see them push through the soil. This morning when I checked there were 3 and then a few hours later, there were 5!

Rhiannon says, "what's the big deal, they're just sprouts?" I said, "oh no they're not. These are potential pounds of fresh, delicious tomatoes!"

I did an experiment this year. I have planted seeds regularly since Feb 21 - planting 6 more every 2 days and making note of the date I planted them. I wanted to see if they were really affected by the moon.

I believe that what we believe really affects the things around us and there is growing scientific proof of the power of our beliefs. And I think it could be possible that if one really believes that the moon affects germination, etc. that this belief could have some affect on germination.

My belief is that love is the most powerful force there is. So, I wrote on all of my paper pots how much I loved my seeds - lots of different love notes and then on the sides of the trays, I also wrote love notes to my seeds. And I have been loving them and sending them loving thoughts daily as I water them and keep them comfortable. This morning seeds planted Feb 19, 21, 23, and 28th have all sprouted. (that is all the days I planted them on except for some days in March) The ones planted on the 28th are under a grow light.

Anyways, today I am tomato loving and it makes me happy!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Banana Head

So in my quest for bottle-less conditioner I can report a couple of successes. My first success was using this recipe. My hair was soft and not greasy or stringy and quite curly. However, it was a bit 'fly-away' as my mother used to call my hair when it had static electricity. And the very fine hairs at the nape of my neck were not conditioned quite enough. I did rinse my hair with baking soda and water before applying the banana conditioner. And it does have the added problem of bananas not being grown anywhere near here...

This week I tried a recipe that I can't find the link for now. But it was:
2 Tablespoons of honey
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon of almond oil
1 Tablespoon of yogurt

I melted the honey and then poured all the ingredients into the food processor. I rinsed my hair first with baking soda and water as usual and then applied this mixture and wrapped my head in a plastic bag for half an hour and rinsed out this concoction in the shower and then rinsed my hair with the juice of one lime in a gallon of water.

Again my hair is soft and very shiny and curly. The little hairs at the nape of my neck are better than the previous recipe. I think it is the lime juice that makes my hair so shiny. And this recipe is mostly available from very local ingredients (except the almond oil or the lime!).

I thought Amy would like the fact that these both include honey! And they taste great if you accidentally get any in your mouth!