August 19, 2017

A First Time For Everything...

Pickling Cucumbers
I've never tried canning cucumbers before. I've done beans, tomatoes, and lots of frozen vegetables, but I've never tried pickling cucumbers. Today will be a first.

I'm off to the local Walmart to get my supplies, and I'll be in the kitchen until I'm finished. I'm making dill pickles, bread & butter pickles, and also canning dilly beans from the wax and green beans I have from Shelly. The pickling cucumbers came from a FaceBook friend just up the road. 

I'll let you know how it goes. I really love our life here at Hickory Hill Farm. Wish me luck! 


August 18, 2017

Potions Class...

Ingredients for Lotion and Soap Making

Yesterday was Soap Making and Lotions 101 class. My stepsister (and even longer friend), Sherryl came out to share her expertise with me. I told her that I'd seen a recipe for Dandelion Lotion Bars from The Nerdy Farm Wife blog (HERE) and had harvested dandelions in the spring anticipating this day.

I probably looked like one of those "farm wife gardening" yard ornaments to anyone who might chance up the drive as I picked dandelions to make the infused oil. lol But I did manage to pick quite a few, which I promptly dried and then put into a jar with sunflower seed oil. It's been steeping for at least two months, perhaps as much as four months, and yesterday was the day to put that healing oil to good use.

My Stepsister, Sher, Sharing Her Expertise

Our first try for the lotion bars was one of the suggested methods for forming the melted ingredients. It didn't work. Here Sher is cleaning out the last of the first batch out of the jar lids. (The minute we filled them, they started oozing out between the cover and the cap. Bad idea. I won't use canning lids for molds again.)

While Sher was cleaning out the lids, I was behind her, remelting the salvaged mixture to try again in another mold. The second time it worked, and I'm much happier with the shape we decided on, too.

Finished Lotion Bars and Salve Jars

Rather than rounds, the lotion bars actually look like...bars! These won't be as easy to disintegrate to nothing (from body heat) as it might have been for the smaller molded pieces.  Simply rubbing your hands on one immediately makes them soft. This shape is much better.

We chose lavender buds for this batch of bars. The recipe for these is what I saw from The Nerdy Farm Wife blog. We thought they looked (and smelled) so lovely with the buds infused into the lotion bar.

We also made two jars of unscented salve for Handsome. He's quite sensitive to perfumes, so we're making life a little happier by making his the salve scent-free.

Rendered Bear Fat Soaps

Last spring, Sher spent a few days rendering bear fat. She brought some of the resulting soaps for us to try. Who knew bear fat could end up so useful? (Well, aside from pioneers and Sher!) Aren't her molds wonderful? Look at those shapes.

Homemade Jellies and Glycerine Soaps
We also made a batch of glycerine soap. I know they look like Jello, but trust me, they're soaps. Sher also brought two of her favorite jellies for me. Wild blueberry and hibiscus! Can't wait to try the hibiscus. I bet it's delicious! Morning toast will tell.
Today is another busy one. There'll be lots to tell you about, too! Be sure to come back Saturday to see what's new here at the farm.

August 17, 2017

Completed Crossbodies...

Custom "Labrador" Grab & Go Crossbody Bag

I completed two custom Grab & Go Crossbody Bags yesterday.

Custom "Labrador" Grab & Go Crossbody Bag Embroidery

 This one has a chocolate Labrador retriever embroidery.

Custom "Labrador" Grab & Go Crossbody Bag Interior

 The interior is my client (and friend's) favorite teal color. I hope she loves it!

Custom "Golden" Grab & Go Crossbody Bag

The second bag features a Golden retriever embroidery.

Custom "Golden" Grab & Go Crossbody Bag Embroidery

 It's also stitched out onto the lovely natural cork fabric.

Custom "Golden" Grab & Go Crossbody Bag Interior
The lining is also a paw print fabric, but they resemble hearts, too.
I love that.
These bags will mail out today, and then I'm starting on another commission.
I can't wait to show you some of the progress on this one. It's really different.

August 16, 2017

Life Is Art...

Web Image
 I'm making art. I'll see you again tomorrow with updates.
Make today awesome!


August 15, 2017

Tuesdays With Tag - Hummin'birds...

Brynwood's Taggart - August 2017

 Hi, Everybody!

Welcome back to another week on the farm. Actually, Dad says it's not really a farm these days. We don't have any livestock (ya know...chickens and such); crops; or even a proper garden. Mom says, this property has always been a farm, and even if we never do anything different, it will always be a farm. I'm goin' with that.

Did You Hear That?

It's been fun watchin' the changes every week on our property. There are always different smells, flowers, animals and birds. Every time Boo and I go outside, all we wanna do is run around to make sure we don't miss a single thing.

Mom has been feedin' hummin'birds this year. She makes their food and fills two different feeders that they come to. They're teeny tiny and sound like bumblebees when they fly, and these ears always hear them when the drop in.

Honeysuckle At Hickory Hill Farm

Our honeysuckle vines are bloomin' again, and the birds and bees love stoppin' by for a little sip. (There aren't any in this picture, so you don't have to squint or enlarge it or anythin'. I just wanted to show you the flowers.) Wait! I think I hear 'em now!


There are three hummin'birds zoomin' around. I think they're havin' some kind of races. Man! They're fast! Mom managed to snap a picture with two of them comin' in for more nectar. We were pretty lucky to get both of 'em in one picture. They fly off again in the blink of an eye.

Brynwood's Taggart

I'd love to hang around and chat, but you know the drill. I'm a busy boy, and there's always somethin' interestin' for me to do. I'm gonna be here for a little bit. 

I can see the road, and if anyone heads this way, I'm gonna throw Mom and Dad a warning bark. But, I'm a versatile guy, too. Later, I might have to check out Mom's little garden, or chase Bella around, or just doze off for a while. 

I'm gonna ask Mom to take me on a little adventure to share with you next week, too. Let's see how good my powers of persuasion are!

I'll see you again in seven. 'til then...  
"Chase A Dream - Or A Squirrel".

August 14, 2017

American Pickers' Gift...

American Pickers Metal Tile

Dear friends came to visit us at Hickory Hill Farm yesterday, and they brought gifts. Some for the farm, and some for me.

Linda and I have been friends for forty one years. We met in 1976, when I moved across the state to Portage, Wisconsin. I had worked all the way through high school as a cashier in a grocery store, so I naturally looked for a job as a cashier when I moved to a new city. I quickly found work, and met Linda at my new job. We immediately hit it off, and our friendship has endured all these years.

She and her husband had three children, and their daughter, Marie, Linda and I used to sew together every evening after work. I had a new outfit to wear every week. In fact, I became so accustomed to sewing with the two of them over the years that when I first moved back to my hometown, I couldn't sew for years. I didn't like sewing alone anymore! (You know that I've since overcome that.)

When Marie and her fiance' Tim were married, I was one of her bridesmaids, and I've watched their family grow with four children of their own, and now they, too, have beautiful grandchildren.

Marie and Tim brought a beautiful, old tin tile for me, and Linda brought two acorn gifts. One was a tea strainer painted to resemble an acorn. The other is a hanging ornament featuring a real painted acorn with fabric leaves. (They're wonderful!)

American Picker's Tile Source

Marie and Tim took a trip to visit the home base of American Pickers and they purchased three of these green tin tiles. They were actually "picked" from a Wisconsin location.

Marie's suggestion was to attach one to a piece of barn board, and add hooks or something interesting to create a wall hanging. She gave one of the tiles to me. I'm going to think on this for a while to create something useful for the farmhouse.

Crocheted Shawl from Linda
Linda also crocheted a gorgeous shawl for me in my favorite shades of blue and purple. She does lovely work, and this is already a treasured gift.

We spent a wonderful afternoon together, and caught up on so much lost time. I promised a trip to see them again yet this fall, and I sent them home with gifts from our kitchen...homemade banana nut bread and Cornish saffron bread. I'm looking forward to our next visit.

Before I close for today, I wanted to let you know that our younger son and our granddaughters visited on Saturday. We were able to give the girls their Birthday gifts, and they were a big hit! I took pictures, which I shared on the Brynwood FaceBook page.

Today will be a homekeeping day. The garden needs weeding and laundry awaits. Once those chores are done, I'll be working on custom orders until I'm caught up. It's going to be a wonderfully busy week.


August 13, 2017

Sunday Scripture...

Brynwood Needleworks via

August 12, 2017

Friday Night Fun...

Friday Music In The Park - Cedarburg, Wisconsin

We attended another concert last night. This time, Handsome was in the audience, as we proudly watched our younger son on stage. It was another perfect and slightly overcast. We wore sweatshirts and enjoyed the show.

Band: The Dirty Knots - Drummer, Out Younger Son

Their band was the opening act for another group (we hadn't heard of before, but they were good). The guys were in fine form, and I liked watching Dad watch his not-so-mini-me on stage. Dad was pretty proud.

Proud Dad and Younger Son

Of course, I took a picture of the guys together after our son came off stage. They really are two peas in a pod.

Grandma Donna With Our Granddaughters and Daughter-in-Love
I sat with our girls and their mama. It's always wonderful to see them and to hear their latest stories. I can't believe how quickly our little girls have turned into young ladies. They just celebrated a thirteen and tenth birthday! We now have a teenage girl in our midst, and we couldn't be happier.

Being back in Wisconsin this summer has been such a blessing. We're looking forward to making many more happy memories together.


August 11, 2017

Finished Today...

Main Panel - Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone

This is the second Birthday gift that I've been working on. When Kathy and I were shopping, she found the Harry Potter quilt panel that was the perfect starting place for what I had in mind.

After I got it home, I knew I wanted to add machine embroideries to enhance the design. I found some beauties, too.

Embroidered Golden Snitch

The panel has a quidditch match in progress in the upper left corner. I added a golden snitch, stitched out in gold and white metallic threads. I purchased this design from BitzandBobbins HERE on Etsy.

Embroidered Dobby

Dobby wasn't on the panel, but he's a character I really love. He's so sweet, and he's devoted to Harry. I purchased his embroidery HERE from Thanks4TheAdventure on Etsy.

Embroidered Sorting Hat

Of course, the Sorting Hat was an important part of attending Hogwarts. I purchased this design from Thanks4TheAdventure, too. HERE'S the link.

Embroidered Patronus (Daylight)

My personal favorite is this "Always" Patronus. If you're familiar with the Harry Potter stories, you know that the Patronus is conjured by the wizards (and talented Muggles, like Hermione). Each Patronus is unique to their wizard.

The doe belonged to Harry's mother (and Professor Snape, who loved her all his life - "Always"). It's really quite lovely. Of course, Grandpa and I love our grandchildren always, too.

This embroidery came from DesignedByGeeks on Etsy. You can find it Here. It stitched out beautifully, thanks to their digitizing and my Babylock Destiny.

Embroidered Patronus -  Glow In The Dark Thread (Dark)

My idea for this embroidery was to stitch it out in glow-in-the-dark threads. Kathy happened to have the color I needed, so just like the Patronus in the movies, this embroidered version will be visible in the dark.

Harry Potter Quilt

So, all the embroideries were stitched onto the panel, and then added the borders. The black and white panels on the top and bottom are Harry Potter with the Griffendor crests in a repeat pattern. The quilt's final measurement is 66" long x 45" wide.

Back of Harry Potter Quilt
I chose an allover pattern for the back that features Harry, Ron, and Hermione interspersed with the words "Dumbledore's Army" (from Jo-Ann Fabrics). The fabric down the center was from Spoonflower (Marauder's Map).
I'll add the binding this morning and then it will be finished today - ready for our granddaughter. We'll be giving the gifts to both our girls this weekend. Just in time...

August 10, 2017

Summer Nights...

Fond du Lac Symphonic Band - Summer Band

I worked on my quilt project during the day yesterday, but the evening belonged to Handsome and music. We went to Buttermilk Creek Park in Fond du Lac, and the weather was perfect for a concert in the park. Prior to the downbeat, the band took time out to pose for a group picture.

Fond du Lac Symphonic Band - Summer Band

I had a perfect seat on the hillside, and there were no bugs to interrupt my enjoyment. After I took this picture, more people arrived to fill in the spaces, and a nice crowd settled in to listen to the music. 

Fond du Lac Symphonic Band - Summer Band
Any time I can listen to my husband music is a perfect time in my book. It was a night for music under the stars. 
**My post title is a nod to the passing of Glen Campbell. The more I learned of his career, the more respect I had for him. Alzheimer's stole the life of a truly talented man, and he'll be missed by many.

August 9, 2017

Meet Jane...

Babylock Jane Semi-Industrial Sewing Machine

My machine family is finally complete. Destiny, Jenny, my Imagine Wave serger (yet unnamed) and Kenny have a new sister. Her name is Jane.

Babylock Jane Semi-Industrial Sewing Machine

Jane is a semi-industrial, straight stitch only machine. She's not a computerized machine, and only sews forward and back. There's a reverse button, thread cutter and stitch length button. She also has variable height settings for the feed dogs to accommodate various fabric thicknesses.

Babylock Jane Semi-Industrial Sewing Machine

You'll notice the gap between Jane and my Sew Eze table. I ordered a new plexiglass insert, customized to Jane's footprint, and I've also ordered adjustment "shims" so that I can easily switch between Jane and Jenny. (She's sitting on an empty cardboard bolt here, so I could use her right away.) They'll be here tomorrow, and then she'll be complete.

Babylock Jane Semi-Industrial Sewing Machine
I used Jane to make my recent backpack project, and truthfully, I couldn't have done it without her. Destiny is high powered and heavy duty, but I don't want to abuse her computer or mechanical abilities by asking her to do jobs like that. I have many other plans for her. Jane and Kenny are my heavy lifters, and Jane has a larger sewing area than Kenny, so there are definite advantages to having her in my family.
Another talent she has, is that she can also do quilting for me! She came with multiple presser feet, including two free motion feet. She's going to get her inaugural quilting workout later today. 
Now that I have the semi-industrial Jane, our family is complete. I'll be working on the optimum studio arrangement to accommodate her. I won't can't take long. I have lots to do.


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