August 31, 2017

Thank You Gifts Mailing Today...

Thank You Gifts

This was my dilemma...Create something nice to say, "thank you" to everyone who contributed their idea for Jenny Janome's name. Criteria: must be useful for anyone (not everyone sews or does needlework); needs to fit into a First Class postage envelope (mailing twenty of anything can get a little pricey); nice enough to be appreciated by the recipient; and unique to Brynwood Needleworks.

It took a little thinking on my part, but while I was reading a book Granddaughter #1 loaned me, inspiration struck. I'd make bookmarks for everyone. I chose cork fabric as the base, added some of my favorite printed twill tapes from Lillalotta, and then one of my Brynwood acorns from a custom tape Anna (Lillalotta) created just for me.

Thank You Gifts

Of course, I added one of my labels on the back, so each recipient would remember from where they got their bookmark. I'm pretty happy with my results, and I hope they will be appreciated by each of the participants, as much as I appreciated them taking the time to share their idea for a name for my newest sewing machine.

Winner's Thank You Gift
I made a new Grab & Go Crossbody Bag for Laura, who submitted the winning name...Jenny Janome! She's in England, so I made her bag using navy blue cork on the back and strap, and my favorite Union Jack fabric for the front. 
It's only about 1/2" smaller than my usual bag size, but there is still plenty of room inside for a cell phone and just about anything else she may want to carry. Think she'll like it? (I hope so!)
Thanks again to all who submitted a name. I hope you'll remember my gratitude every time you use your gifts.


August 30, 2017

Be Joyful Always...

MilkandHoneyLuxuries on Etsy
I'm sure you're wondering what else I've been doing. Book work yesterday. Book work. It was so necessary for me to purge, clean up, and backup my laptop and my desktop computers. I couldn't ignore this task for one more day. 
At the end of it all, I was as happy as a clam. (Isn't that a funny term?) I managed to clean up over 350 GB of storage on my desktop! I also purged and cleared out a lot more space on my laptop, and moved important files to removable drives. It was a good day.

That means, today I can play again! I'm completing the gifts I'm sending out to my blog friends who suggested names for Jenny Janome. I want to have them all in the mail by Thursday morning. I'll show you what I've made as a little "thank you" to everyone except Laura (who won a crossbody bag for her winning suggestion - Jenny).

With all the possibilities to see bad, sad, or hurtful things these days, I hope you choose to find Joy instead. 


August 29, 2017

Tuesdays With Tag - Prayin' For Texas...

Tag and Bella
Hi, Everybody!
Bella and I have been really concerned about all the animals in Texas and Louisiana this week. We know that lots of pets have been abandoned or lost because of Hurricane Harvey.
We're pretty lucky dogs. We're safe and sound here at the farm, but so many dogs are fightin' just to live tonight. We're prayin' for them...and for all the people in the path of the storm. We know there are rescue organizations in both states, and they're workin' hard to help all those animals.
Mom said that we're gonna send some money to help. "Austin Pets Alive" is one group helping those pets now. Here's a link to one of their stories. Here's a link if you want to send a few bucks their way.

There are lots of other shelters helpin' Texas dogs, by giving them food and a warm place to sleep. Mom Googled this page that has a lot of stories about rescues and shelters that are helpin' pets from all over the country. Maybe you'll be able to help, too. 

We think that everyone can help in one way...that's to pray for everybody in harm's way as people and animals do their best to survive the awful effects of the storm. We're gonna do that, too. Please keep them in your thoughts.
I'll see you again in seven. 'til then...  
"Chase A Dream - Or A Squirrel".

August 28, 2017

Picked, Peeled And Preserved...

Fresh Pears From The Farm

These were all picked (or windfalls, picked up), over the past week. Sunday was rainy, so it was perfect for a day of canning.

Ready For Peeling

We went to a farmer's market in Elkhart Lake on Saturday, where I found two of these great wooden racks. I'll tell you more about those later this week, but I can tell you each one holds a lot of produce! I was determined to keep after it until this rack was empty.

A Day's Work
I started by bringing up all the canning supplies from my cabinet in the basement, and set up my pots, tools and jars. Jars were cleaned, and they and the lids were sterilized. I made the first batch of syrup, and started peeling at 10:30 am. 

At 5:15, my produce rack was empty, the last of the jars were in the canner and I started cleanup. I ended the day with 19 new pint jars of pears. (23, counting the four we did on Friday.) Handsome volunteered to do cleanup, and I put away all the canning supplies until it's time for tomatoes. (They're next in a week or so.)

I'll be back in the studio today. I'm taking photos and listing up more fabric for my online shop. I think I'm really getting the hang of this Balance thing. (wink)


August 27, 2017

August 26, 2017

Girls Day...

Granddaughters One and Two, and Their Beautiful Mama

Our granddaughters and their mama (our younger daughter-in-law) came to visit yesterday. We'd planned to have a movie day, watching Guardians of the Galaxy and hanging out together.

When they got here, they helped me pick pears first. Then, their mama suggested an impromptu canning session together. We were all on board. I went downstairs and got jars and the canner. Then, we sat down to peel pears, chat and share stories while we worked.

Granddaughter #2 was in charge of the bowl into which we put the cut-up pears. She made sure they all got covered with lemon/lime water so they wouldn't turn brown. Our daughter-in-law and I peeled the fruit, and Granddaughter #1 said that if we didn't get them canned quickly enough (while she nibbled), she'd eat them all first.

Canned Hickory Hill Farm Pears

By mid-afternoon, we had jars filled with gorgeous, delicious fruit. This was my first foray into canning pears, but there are many more pears on the tree (and in my rack in the kitchen), so I'm confident now that I can put up the rest of this year's bounty. Although, we are planning another get together in the near future.

When the girls left, I sent them home with jars of pickles, some homemade lotion, and jars of canned pears. Then, I went upstairs and finished my sewing project...

A Birthday Gift
It's all finished and wrapped. This is a traveler bag - perfect for an overnight - and it's a Birthday gift for our elder daughter-in-law. We'll see her today so we can give it to her. I hope she likes it!
This was actually a quick sew for me, so there will be more in my future. Christmas is just around the corner (eeeeekk!), after all.

August 25, 2017

Creative Chaos...

Latest Project

I started this mid-morning yesterday and almost finished it, but Handsome and I took a timeout to watch our grandson play football last night. I'm making a Birthday gift for our elder daughter-in-law.

Project On My Work Table
I know I can't be the only one who makes a huge mess when I'm creating, right? Tell me I'm not the only one. I even tidied this up a bit before taking my picture! I just couldn't bring myself to share a photo of my machine area. There are thread schnibbles all over the floor from "unstitching", with bits and pieces all over my sewing table. Whew! I'll have to clean up just to make space to get this done.

Guardians of the Galaxy Web Image

This morning our granddaughters are coming to visit. We're going to have a movie day, watching Guardians of the Galaxy". It will be some fun "girl time". 

I'll finish the travel bag I'm working on later today. I only have a little bit left to do, so it won't take long. I'll show it to you tomorrow.


August 24, 2017

We Love It Here...

Morning Glories On The Farm

The morning glories are blooming again. They bring their happy color to our days.

More Color For The Garden

 The sun is shining. They weather is perfect for my taste, and the flowers are in bloom.

Ripening Pears

The windfalls from the pear tree are ripening in the sunny window in the kitchen. The ones that are still on the tree are getting closer to ripe, too. It won't be long before I start canning them. Perhaps they'll be ready by the weekend. I'll continue to collect the windfalls until then.

The days are getting shorter, and I continue to savor every second we share at the farm.


August 23, 2017

The Clothesline Bag...

Detail of Clothes and Flowers

This is my latest finish. I began by creating the little articles of clothing to go on the line. The dress is 3" long, and the pantaloons are each 2.5" long. After I made them, I stitched them down to the pocket fabric, which is black linen with a Pellon SF101 black woven stabilizer to help keep its shape.

I did the applique' work on Monday, and I finished creating this handbag yesterday. I thought about adding tiny clothespins, but am leaving that option for my client.

Completed Clothesline Bag - Front

This is the completed bag, showing the entire front. My client requested black and bright colors. She did not want pastels.

I chose black linen, a sage dot fabric and Laurel Burch bright-colored fabrics for this piece. The completed bag measures approximately 12.5" at the bottom, 9.5" tall and 5" deep. The black linen portion on the front is actually a large pocket, lined in the same green dot.

Completed Clothesline Bag -Back

There is also a large pocket on the back (with a nickel piece on the bottom corner that reads "Made For Me"), and a zippered pocket with a "Handcrafted" zipper pull.

Completed Clothesline Bag -Rear Zipper Pocket and Tag

I used a sweet yellow dot fabric for the zipper pocket lining.

Completed Clothesline Bag - Interior

The interior is finished with a Laurel Burch multicolor cotton. I also included a slip pocket on the inside.

My client has already seen pictures of her completed handbag and said she can't wait to receive it. I'll treat it with Scotchgard™ today and send it off tomorrow after it's completely dry.

The Next Fabric Combination
I've already chosen the fabric for another bag in this same design. This is my color palette, and my plan is that others will be special order to the client's taste.

Today is a stitching day with my pal, Kathy D. We're starting a series from Kathy Schmitz, which I'll share with you tomorrow. I'm looking forward to just sitting and visiting with her for an afternoon.


August 22, 2017

Tuesdays With Tag - Spa Day...

Taggart with Miss Joy

Hi, Everybody!

I know you're gonna find this hard to believe, but Mom says I'm pretty scruffy these days.
She made an appointment for a spa day for Bella and me. I'm thinkin' peanut butter treats,
swimmin' someplace fun, chasin' a squirrel or two, and a big, fluffy dog bed for lyin' around.

Miss Joy and Moi

 What did I get?
Clipped toenails (the horror!), a bath, blowdry and brushin'. What's up with that?

When Mom and Dad lived in Wisconsin before I was born, they had a kennel and a bunch of dogs. Mom had mostly yellow Labradors and Dad had mostly Golden retrievers. Dad used to call Miss Joy who had a business called Canine Design and a mobile van for bathin' dogs. They always loved when she came to visit.

When Mom and Dad were in Plymouth recently, they saw that Miss Joy still has her business, but now she has a storefront where people take their dogs. Mom said we should go there, so she made an appointment.

Feeling Fresh Now

Look how handsome I look now! (I smell a little funky for my taste, but...whatever.) I really like Miss Joy, and she has the sweetest voice. Look at the kerchief she gave me to wear home. Man, I'm totally stylin' this look!

Boo's Had Enough

Miss Joy's assistant had Boo in the tub so fast that Mom didn't get a "before" picture of her, but here's how she looked after she got all "buffed and puffed". I have to admit, she doesn't smell as bad as she did a couple of weeks ago.

Back Home and Beautiful

Mom took our picture as soon as Dad got us home. She knows that I'm gonna go find somethin' dank to roll in at the first opportunity, so she's not takin' any chances at all. (I think Bella is makin' a statement in this picture.)

What Can I Say?

So, I have to share this with you before I close. A couple of nights ago, this is what I have to look at...the Black Dog's snorin' and yippin' in her sleep - with her tongue stickin' out. I was laughin' so hard I rolled over onto my back. It's one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.

Black Dog cracks us up. Really. I've gotta go. I need to catch my breath.

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

August 21, 2017

Filling The Pantry...

Hickory Hill Farm Sweet Basil

Sunday was a day of rest, even though I spent a little time putting up this harvest of sweet basil. I wanted to cut it before it started flowering. This is a fairly large basket, and I filled it to overflowing.

Sunday's Harvest

I started by chopping up enough basil to infuse a bottle of white vinegar, one of apple cider vinegar, and one of olive oil with garlic. I also made enough pesto to fill six half-pint jars. There was still enough basil to hang to dry. The house smells great!

Saturday's Project

Yesterday, Handsome helped me put up all these pickles! He chopped while I prepared the canning supplies, mixed up the canning liquid, and processed filled jars.

In the end, we'd canned 18 pints of Bread & Butter pickle chips, 2 quarts of Bread & Butter pickle chips, 11 pints of Dill chips and midgies, 7 quarts of Dill pickles, and 3 quarts of Dill pickle spears.

We were both well-pleased with our combined efforts, and look forward to our next canning project. What could that be, you ask?

Pear Tree

We share a tree line with our wonderful neighbors. We have multiple hickory trees, and a tall pear tree. This year, I'm going to save some of the pears for them for nibbling, but the rest will be canned.

Almost Ready To Harvest
They're not quite ready yet, but they should be soon. I've already picked up the windfalls and they'll ripen on the shelves in the kitchen. I'll wait until the rest are ready and then can them.
I'll also be doing tomatoes as soon as the local varieties are ready. Roma tomatoes for sauce, heirloom tomatoes for diced, chopped and whole canned versions. I'll see what's available at the next farmer's market, and if they're ready, I will be, too. It will be so nice to see the pantry filled with the fruits of our labors.
Time to get back to the studio. I'm working on another commission (and those gifts for the participants in my "Name My Janome" contest. I haven't forgotten you, I promise!). Tag can't wait to visit with you tomorrow. (You won't want to miss this one! lol) I'll be back on Wednesday.
Image Courtesy of

Oh, and be careful if you're going to watch the solar eclipse today. We're going to stay safe and watch it on the NASA channel.


August 20, 2017

Sunday Scripture...

Courtesy of

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!