Friday, August 27, 2010

Cool Weather August

Well the warmth seems like it's all gone for the summer, though looking at the forecast it is supposed to return over the next week. We shall see.

I even actually found some trees with leaves already changing! I'm not sure I'm ready to give up summer but I have to admit I do rather enjoy those cooler breezes and bundling back under a blanket to go to sleep.

Isn't it funny that September always seems to be about beginnings even though it is technically in the middle-ish of the year? Is this just because we have all developed that back to school attitude that we carry even into adulthood? I kind of like thinking of September as beginning a new phase and I've intentionally over the years started major changes in my life in September because I kind of like it starting then. Weird? maybe but it makes me happy and feel young, like buying all those fun back to school shiny new crayons and binders and cool new outfit.

Tim is jumping into a new phase and is now working with Rene at Scout Design. We are both of us thrilled about this and it's awesome that Tim has some great creative people to work with and interesting jobs to play with. It will be a real change having Tim working out at an office rather than in his studio in the house. Today was the first day of that and it was really quiet, especially since Quinn and Leah also where off to their Grandma's for a visit.

This transition will be interesting to see where it takes us and how I'm going to fit in my teaching around the Galloping Goat Gallery schedule. I love the teaching but it will be nice to have a little less financial pressure off of me and trying to squeeze in more work into already busy weeks of the store and the schools.

Life is never dull or slow around here. Life is just good!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

No Dig Gardening Method

This is seriously the best idea I have heard of in a very long time! For those of us who don't enjoy the thought of tearing out sod and trying to start a new garden this is brilliant!

The idea is that you just use those bags of triple mix or top soil (personally I would go with the triple mix since it is a much richer bag of dirt for nutrients and such) and place them on the ground and cut an opening in the top and a few drainage holes in the bottom and garden directly in the bag! No weeds since the bag is not allowing them to come through!

My Mom read an article about this idea and then I found this one online at the Vegetable Gardener

For me I need to move our very large vegetable patch to a different area of our yard. The problem is that the trees shade it for a good part of the afternoon. I imagine that our veggie garden was there from the beginning in this spot behind the barn a hundred years ago but someone planted trees about 20 or 30 years ago and the are now very big! The thought of trying to dig up a decent sized patch is a bit daunting so I thought that getting a few bags each year would be a good start on the move.

My plan is to lay out a thick pad of newsprint and wet it down on the grass to keep grass and weeds growing between the bags. Then lay about 9 bags of triple mix 3 x 3 on the newsprint with drainage holes punched through the back. I know the plastic isn't going to look all that nice but it will be great to kill the grass in that area. I'm going to plant in the bags this year and then next spring I will remove all the plastic and leave the dirt on the decomposing newsprint for the new garden. Each year I will add a new section of newsprint and bags so that eventually I'll have the veggie patch the size I would like.

I love the idea that you get the rich soil and not have to try to remove all that sod and eventually you'll have a great garden without serious back injury from all that digging!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Count Down!

Well this is it my last offical days off until after Labour Day weekend! Ack, that sounds awful but the perks are good. I get to be home and at work at the same time but of course that means there is no escape unless I leave the property.

It's been fun in the barn/shop that last few weeks since all my regular customers and friends have all been stopping in to say hi and check out all the new garden stuff that I collected up over the winter. It always feels like a reunion when people come in after not seeing them since before christmas.

It's fun too meeting the new people just visiting "The County" and telling them all the great places to see and places to eat. New people are often amazed that the County has been hidden from them all this time considering it's only 2 1/2 hrs from Toronto and 3 hrs from Ottawa. I guess all the advertising of the wineries and restaurants is starting to pay off.

It's hard to believe it is the first of May this Saturday and the start of the busy season. Boy is it going to be busy. Tim and I just finished up our after school Art Club programs, though Tim has the kids animation they did to download to DVD's for them still. Tim wasn't too sure about doing the Art Club teaching but he ended up really enjoying it and the kids had a great time doing stop motion animation. I'm looking forward to seeing the DVDs of their work when he finishes putting it together on the computer.

Now we are starting to ramp up the Summer Art Camp for kids and flyer the neighbourhood, schools and libraries. I'm also putting together a press release, which I admit intimidates me a wee bit but I'm pushing forward and going to do it anyways. Our local papers are pretty laid back so I probably have nothing to worry about. The only problem is I don't have hardly any pictures from the summer camp last year. I guess I was too busy teaching to keep the camera at ready. Also you have to be so careful about not having the kids faces in the pictures when using them for online stuff or advertising, this tends to make for some unexciting photos!

Off we run to keep the wheels turning and creating our own employment. I wonder do you think the government counts Tim and I as one of the unemployed or employed? Neither of us have been an employee of another company in a very long time, although those benefits people get sure do sound nice and weekends off, wow! I mean seriously that would be awesome!
We've been freelance so long now and it's become 2nd nature to be constantly looking for creative ways to pay the bills. A "real" job, or should I say a normal job with normal hours and scheduled days off would be a real luxury but I imagine both of us would end up walking away from that because I think we are basically nuts!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hats, Hats and more Hats!

I love the colours in this green hat, it was a surprising mix that just seemd right to me. A bit of tangy orange, fizzy purple, magenta and a real sage like green. A lady bought this hat in the fall for her daughter, I hope she loved it as much as her mom did. I should try and make this hat again or at least follow the colour palette, there was so much attention paid to it!

This red fizzy hat was another good colour combo. The turquoise just popped on this. It's funny how certain blues next to a certain colour that leans to the orange will make it vibrate and then you can't hardly look at it! This blue seems to almost do that, nothing like giving people eye strain when they are checking out your hat!

This blue hat is very similar to the red hat in that I used the same boucle only in blue rather than red for the ear flaps. I've heard alot of people complain about knitting with this yarn since it tends to split apart on them. Personally I haven't really had any problems with it. I like because of that bit of sheen and it's rather woolly so it knits up nice and quick. It is also fascinating to me how the same hat style with a different topper, as in a pompom or a tassle looks completely different when you wear them. Certain people look way better with the tassle and others need the pompom. I'm more of a pompom wearer, the tassle doesn't suit me as well, no idea why that is.

This hat just seems icy, shivery and reads coolness, as in the temperature though I'm sure you would look cool in the other respect as well wearing it!
I love citrus lime green with turquoise together, my favourite colour combo these days. I even painted my house using those colours. The colour of water and spring and bright days, love all of those things so to live in the middle of that is the best. Especially true on the grey days of February!

Here is Leah wearing Hanna's Christmas present from her mom that I whipped up for them. Hanna is 9 and opposed pompom's quite vigorously so I decided to do a twist tail on a hat that was in the store and Hanna saw that and was in love with that style. Her mom emailed me later to ask for me to make a similar style in pink with a touch of grey to match her snowsuit. Unfortunately I couldn't quite get Leah to tilt her head right so you can't see the pearly grey in the hat. It turned out to be a beautiful colour combo that I'm glad I was asked to play with. I'm definitely going to do that again!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Sprained Ankles and Crutches

Well apparently the universe is telling me to slow down since I went down the front steps the wrong way on my ankle and now get to hobble around on crutches for a while. Definitely not the cool fashion accessory that it was in teenage years.

I haven't got the shopping done for the festive season, I hate handing the job over since I actually like going shopping and finding cool things. Tim is busy with a few small projects and for him that usually means he only wants to focus and work on those and every mundane task around the house or chores needs to take a back seat or in other words, "Not going to happen". This should be interesting the next week or so since he is going to now have to do the grocery shopping, goat feedings, and run laundry up and down the stairs and make some meals plus keep up with his deadlines. I am usually the multi-tasker in the family and don't mind it at all, though the grocery shopping and meal making I would gladly pass on. It's just kind of boring and food preparation is the worst when you have a never ending complaining 9 and a half year old that hates everything and sits for hours (litterly hours) picking at his food and trying to stop gagging with every mouthful.

I'm in the Christmas Craft show called Busy Hands that is upstairs of Books & Company this weekend and I don't really know how the heck I'm going to manage it. My mom is coming to take care of the shop at the barn and Tim was supposed to go to Waterloo with the kids for the extended family xmas dinner with all his aunts and uncles. I'm taking my knitting and some other things to sell along with Tim's concrete sculptures. I think Tim is going to have to do the carrying in of all the stock and setup and then drive to Waterloo and be back in time to take it all down and load it into the van on Sunday. We are trying to figure out if I can manage to do this show on my own while he is away or that maybe he will have to skip it this year.

Too bad this weekend wasn't so busy and of course that I hadn't fallen down some steps and ended up on crutches! So here I sit with my laptop and knitting and watch the kids having a blast outside on their first snow day of this school season. Poor Tim is stuck with all the chores for a while and the kids are already getting annoyed with my requests to help here and there or to get me something. This is only day 1! Hopefully for everyone's sake I'm a fast healer!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

All Handmade Show coming up!

Well I'm jumping in with both feet and Tim's feet too! We are going in Vicki's very awesome craft show which has become more and more successful every year. The rules are you can only sell the things that we created ourselves. I'm going to take my hats, Tim's concrete sculpture, and my latest venture... dat dat dat daaaa... all natural scented soy candles!!! We are going into production work to create scented candles that don't dirty the air with nasty chemicals like those paraffin wax ones. I love scented candles and the paraffin ones are now starting to bother me and my asthma. I also want to get creative again and have something that we can sell that is "County made" and then offer the candles at a wholesale level to other stores so we can have a business that will keep us going all year round. The shop is great but it's only open seasonally and it's too quiet for us on the shoulder seasons so we need a business to keep us going financially and fill in those gaps when the shop is quiet. Tim was offered a job back in the city of Toronto that would be for about 14 months and we made the commitment to turn it down. This is very scary since it would have made a very nice financial cushion to see us through for a while. It is really hard on all of us when Tim is gone all week and exhausted on weekends. Not to mention us missing him and him missing out on everything the kids are up to and of course all the drama that happens in a normal school week!

So decision was made to say no and find work here for Tim. He is going out and shopping around his unique style of Graphic Design, and Illustration work and hoping that will bring him some jobs and he is vamping up our website and ads to show that he can do that kind of work. He always takes unique approaches to design and everyone he has worked for and created ads, logos, business cards and such have been thrilled with his concepts and he is an incredibly talented artist. He makes some wickedly funny character drawings and comic style illustrations.

Of course these types of jobs are all found through word of mouth so pass around the word and thanks to the joys of the internet long distance creations are completely possible! Tim is currently working on our very funny family Yule card. He did a caricature of all of us and we printed it on cars to mail out last year. This was last year's version. He managed to add in all our individual quirky bits that makes it so perfect for us. I can't wait to see what this year's will look like, hee hee!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Our Baby Goats Are Here!

We finally went to visit Little Blessings Farm, a short drive from us, where Tricia Daley raises her pygora goats. Pygora goats are a cross breed of a small pygmy goat with an angora goat with the long curly coats that can be spun and turned into mohair yarn.

These two sisters have a pygmy mom and an angora dad and were born this past spring. We will hopefully get their birth date from Tricia soon so we can celebrate it when it comes around.

Right now they are super timid and nervous since we brought them home in the dark last night. It was only 6 pm but it was completely black outside. The poor girls stood on the ramp most of the night so I imagine they are pretty tired today. This is the first time they have been separated from their mom and the rest of the herd.
We brought food out this morning and with some coaxing only one would eat from our hands. As soon as we left the pen to get the kids on the bus they started naa-ing out for us to come back. They sound oddly like a child crying right now. The one girl seems to have more of the angora coat with lots of curls and length while the other one is a bit shorter and less curl more like the pygmy's coat.
They need names and we are all a bit stuck so we are giving them some time to get used to the place and for us to get to know them and see their personalities. I kind of like the idea of coming up with something very girly for them. I like the idea that it has something to do with the colour white or the moon and so far Luna is the only thing I can come up with I sort of like.

Names are so tricky at first and then the name seems to just be taken on by the animal and you can't imagine it being any other name. Our cat Baxter, a big black and white boy was named Pixie at the humane society but it seemed so wrong for him. Now he could only be a Baxter or Bax for short and it suits him to a tee. I'm liking the names Cora, Holly, Molly, Lu-lu, and of course the kids don't like those at all and want Frizzy and Fluffy! Short names work better with animals or at least ones that can have a short nickname so you can call them easily.

I really hope these girls are less timid and will be able to be good pets for us to play with, walk and have customers visit. We were spoiled by Coco, Smore and Nana Aggie since they were so easy to have around and had no problem being fussed over and petted. Really they were more like demanding the attention than anything.

I moved 2 cords of wood in our barn a week or more ago on my own so that we can create an indoor pen area for the girls. Goats don't like the rain and with the snow not far away we need to give them a better shelter from the wind and snow. We've got all the things we need to make the pen, Tim just needs some time to nail the thing together. We might even have chickens this spring to live with the goats, we'll see how it goes this winter. I just hope the coyotes don't discover our baby girls. I don't think they could get into the pen but they sure will scare the goats and us! Not to mention once they know they are there they will return over and over to work on the problem of getting into the pen. This year we have a higher number of coyotes in the County and you can hear them most nights and they come pretty close from the sounds of them. Once the river freezes they use that as their main route to move around. Those paw prints are pretty big on those things. Apparently we have hybrid coyotes that have mixed bred with wolves so they can get pretty big. We live very close to McMann Bluff where a few packs live since it is all heavily wooded and a large acreage where they can live undisturbed by people. I need to get one of those crazy horns that they blow at sports games since I don't want to ever own a gun so if the coyotes show up I can run out there making a hell of a wracket so they will be scared off. Or I'll have to start practicing with a slingshot and stones!!