Winter Has Arrived

It’s officially that time of year!!

  The wind, freezing rain, and snow have arrived and brought with them a sense of winter and Christmas.  The Engineer and I weren’t even planning on being home this weekend, we were hoping to go down to Momma MisHappening’s to spend the weekend trying to fill my turkey tag.  That just isn’t going to happen.  Nothing about sliding down an ice coated interstate for 80 miles and then sitting in a blizzard waiting for a turkey to waddle on by sounds like a good time.  So instead…..I shall be catching up on laundry and crafting!  I’ve got several craft projects I’m working on, and some I can’t share until after the holiday….but there is one I can share and maybe you can use for some Christmas decorating!

CRAFTING TIME IS HERE!  

(Best said in the Charlie Brown sing-song style) 

So, let’s say that hypothetically you’ve been hunting , and that those hunting trips have been successful.  Let’s also assume that you’d like to take a more nose to tail…I prefer snoot to toes….approach to using the animals you bring home.  Top that all off with seeing some expensive feather spheres and wreaths in shops about town (Here’s looking at your $70 foam wreath at Scheel’s :/ )….and you’ve got yourself a full blown holiday crafting project on your hands!

You may or may not have noticed, but pheasant feathers are frequently used in boujee arts and crafts.  I happened upon some expensive pheasant feather spheres while we were on vacation in Virginia, and instead of paying I decided I could make my own.  Nothing like some feather decorations for The Engineer’s upstairs man loft!  Sadly, the only pheasants that have made it home to me have already been cleaned and vacuumed packed breasts.  While delicious, pheasant breast doesn’t contribute a ton in the crafting department.  So, I used the next best option….duck feathers!  The ducks have been arriving at a fairly steady rate, so I’ve had my choice of some nice feathers.  They are a little bit more work then pheasant feathers, but they get the job done nicely.

To start, you’ll need to prep your feathers.  I plucked the bellies of 2 gadwalls and 1 northern shoveler specifically, but any variety you have that you think looks nice will work just fine.  I kept the species separate as they are slightly different colored, but feel free to mix if you like that look.  It would be better if you have some early season ducks before they become fully plumed and downy soft for winter.  

Duck feathers are very oily, and that oil can slowly degrade the feathers once they are removed from the ducks, so you’ll need to clean the feathers.  This is the hardest part of the project honestly.  I filled the kitchen sink with some warm water with a few drops of regular Dawn dish soap.  Place a colander down into the water, and slowly and carefully add handfuls of feathers and swish to clean.  Pull the colander up and rinse the feathers well with clean water.  

Now…..to dry the feathers……ugh.  I placed the feathers into grocery bags and then used my hair drying to blow the feathers dry.  You’ll need to maintain a firm….but not too tight so the air can’t escape…..grasp of bag around the neck of the dryer.  Also, make sure that the air hole you leave isn’t too large.  If it’s too large, the feathers will shoot up and out of the bag as they dry….which will lead to feathers floating all around you bathroom…….been there done that!  Honestly, this isn’t a great method for drying feathers, but it got the job done.  It’s annoying and VERY time consuming, but it works.  You’ll probably want to leave the feathers sit for a couple days and stir them occasionally to make sure they dry completely.

So fresh and so clean clean!

Now that everything is clean and dry, we can officially get crafting.  You’ll need to pick up a few supplies from your local craft shop.  Some good craft glue, tan or brown paint, a cheap foam brush or two, and some floral foam spheres of whatever size looks good to you.

Start by painting your foam.  If you can happen to find foam that is already dirt colored feel free to skip this.  I didn’t want to risk any of the green foam poking through so I gave them all a rough coat of paint.  It doesn’t have to be pretty or even, we are just looking for some camouflage here.

I recommend using a good tacky craft glue to place the feathers.  There are some cons to such a thick glue, but the pros greatly outweigh them.  You’ll want to start placing feathers from the center top and work down.  Begin by smearing a layer of glue on about the top third of the sphere.  Start layering on the feathers working in concentric circles around the sphere.  If you find that your feathers aren’t sticking, or if portions seem to be lifting, it might be helpful to put a tiny amount of glue on each feather before you place it.  I found that putting some glue on a foam brush and dragging the feathers carefully across it worked to smear on a very thin layer.

If the bases of your feathers are especially downy…or quill-y….you might want to gently trim them.  I ended up having to trim every single one of the gadwall feathers, they were just too fluffy.  It can be hard to cover up all the downy fluff, although if you don’t mind some fandom fluffy tuffs then just glue the feathers as they come.  

Every 3 circles around the sphere you’ll want to apply another ring of glue.  Use the foam brush to carefully dab on the glue.  You’ll want to be carful not to get too close to the previous row of feathers.  If you snag one it’ll pull bits of feather in weird directions, or maybe even pull the feather off depending on how recently it was placed.  Just use your finger or a toothpick to smooth the feathers back down, and if that doesn’t work just layer another feather or two on top.

Continue until you reach the bottom of the sphere.  You’ll end up with a quill end or two visible at the bottom of the sphere, but it’ll be alright….no one but you will ever even know.  Plus, just put that side down!  Let your spheres dry and then use them however the wind takes you.  Mine are destined to be nestled into a garland upstairs in the man loft!  I didn’t apply any sealant to mine, but depending on your intended use you might want to hit them with a thin spray coat of a sealant.  I wouldn’t recommend anything you’d need to brush on, it will just disturb the flow of the feathers.

My New Fluffy

She is glorious, thick, and warm….and I took her out and about with me twice this week!  She also sheds….a ton….but that comes with the fluffy territory I suppose.  If you think I’m talking about a new puppy, sadly your wrong.  I can understand your confusion on the issue, and honestly if you follow the #adoptdontshop mantra…….you can probably get a new puppy companion for less money than I spent on my glorious new fluff!!  I would love a puppy…..but that’s something for another time!

I promised last post that once I got my new scarf completed I’d write an update post.  Well…..she’s all done, and was surprisingly easy!  I say easy like I didn’t get two dozen rows in and decide to rip it all out and start over…..minor technicality.

I can’t take credit for the pattern, all of that goes to the wonderful Knit Collage and their glorious, chunky yarns!  If you love to knit, what to learn how to knit, or want someone you know to knit you something amazing……Knit Collage is the place to go.  Cheap and easy to follow patterns paired with interesting hand spun yarns you won’t find anywhere else.  If you can’t get inspired by clicking through their website there is not a ton of hope for you.  Their yarn skeins are more expensive than what you can get at a big box store, but they are all hand made by a handful of women in India.  This creates small batches of each yarn and also means that every skein will be slightly different.  They are random in the best way possible…..lumpy, shimmery, wooly…….perfection!

First things first….you’ll need to pick your pattern!  I went with the Wildcat Fringe Scarf because it was something unlike other scarves I have hanging in my closet.   Might as well go big and step outside your comfort zone right?!  The link and picture for the scarf are below if you’re wanting to whip up your very own fringed beauty!  If fringe isn’t your cup of tea, pick out your favorite sweater, scarf, or hat and get to knitting!

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Photo and pattern by Knit Collage : https://knitcollage.com/collections/cowls-scarves/products/wild-cat-fringe-scarf-pattern

The pattern calls for 2 skeins of their shimmery Pixie Dust yarn, and one skein of Spun Cloud yarn.  There are several different color options in both yarn types, so you’ll need to start the creative juices going before you even cast on your first stitch.  I wanted my Spun Cloud skein in a grey…..specifically a light grey.  I wanted to do this project and I wanted to do it now, however the light grey was out of stock…..so I improvised!  A quick swap of a skein of Sister yarn for the Spun Cloud and I was back in business.

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Pixie Dust in the color Midnight and Sister in Soft Grey Heather

Sister yarn isn’t quite as thick as Spun Cloud which probably accounts for the reason I needed to rip everything out and start over.  I wasn’t getting nearly the length recommended in the pattern.  I’ve always been and probably always will be a very tight knitter.  Apparently I take a lot of tension out on my knitting projects.  Anyway, the scarf has recommend lengths that should be achieved at various stages of the project.  I won’t give them here as it isn’t my pattern to share.  However I will tell you that a good mantra to recite as you knit is…….just let it be loose!  I don’t think you could possibly knit this too loose, but too tight is for sure a thing and you’ll just end up with a mess.  Too tight is a bummer because you’ve spent good money on this yarn for its hand spun textures and variation, but if the stitches are too tight and small you won’t be able to see and appreciate it.

My finished scarf ended up a bit shorter than the pattern lists.  It’s still plenty long, plus I had plenty of both skeins of yarn left to make the fringe.  You’ll have enough to fringe even if you knit the full length, but you’ll end up with only a handful of fringes in Pixie Dust.  I’m moderately obsessed with it’s texture and lumpiness though so I happily sacrificed some total inches for the chance to show it off on the fringe.  Plus since I know I knit tight, sometimes guesstimating length versus yarn remaining gets tricky….I always vote better safe than sorry!  I used both skeins of Pixie Dust completely up and I have some Sister yarn left over to maybe make a pom pom or something in the future.

Overall, it was a quick and fun project.  It only took maybe 8 hours?!  It’s hard to say what with the starting over, the drinking, and Netflixing that was also occurring while I worked.  It was New Year’s Eve weekend….it was really too cold to do anything other than drink spiked hot chocolate and lounge around with a pile of thick wool yarn in your lap!

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In case you’re worried I just boozed away my whole weekend, I did not.  The Engineer and I got fancy, bundled up against the cold, and went out for a nice dinner and some fancy drinks.  We then proceeded to come home to set alarms and nap before midnight.  I think that’s adulting right?!  Can’t pop corks at midnight if you aren’t awake….so just set alarms for 11:45 and power nap your way into the New Year!  I’m not sure what 2018 has in store for me, but I promise I will bring you all along for the ride!

The “Let’s Take a Nice Picture” process…..

 

 

Power Prepping Weekend

Just like I do every year….even though I start prepping for Christmas super early…..I’m almost always running around like a headless chicken in the weeks leading up to the big day.  It’s not even that it makes me stressed….I love everything about getting ready for the Christmas season, it’s just a ton of things to get done.

This weekend has been no different.  I’ve been power knitting and baking through the whole weekend.  It’s the time of year for poppy seed bread, and this weekend I will have cranked out a total of 8 loaves.  Yesterday’s loaves were not a smashing success sadly.  I had the dough sitting around all day to rise, except that it just never really motivated.  It did puff up some, but not nearly enough.  I finally had to bite the bullet around 9 pm and start the loaves.  After forming I gave them about another hour in the oven with the light on for warmth….but still to no avail.  I have 4 very dense, brick sized loaves.  They look nothing like what an actual loaf of bread is supposed to look like.  To further rain on my baking parade….all the loaves exploded in the oven, and the top of one cracked while I was trying to de-pan it last night.  Ughs can’t have carbohydrate success all the time I guess.

Today’s dough is looking much more puffed, and I think I only have one knitting project left to go!  It should be a fairly easy something to whip out….so long as I keep count of the rows.  Today is off to a great start and I even had time to prep bolognese sauce for homemade lasagna tonight!  After all, if I’m going to stock the freezer with poppy seed bread I need to get some of the elk and deer meat out.  Plus, cooking today means I shouldn’t have to cook during the week, which is a major plus!  I maybe should have taken photos so that I could write up that recipe….but maybe that’ll be next week.  I have a couple other baking recipes that I could share also just in time for holiday sharing with friends and family!  #sneakpeakmaybe?!

Hope you are all staying warm and feeling festive as the Christmas season moves into full swing.  The only thing missing from my present Christmas view is some snow.  Much to The Engineer’s annoyance….I’ve turned on the crappy Christmas movies on Netflix.  I don’t know what else to do while knitting and crafting.  It must work…..I’ve gotten two big projects finished up knitting-wise already this weekend!

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The Engineer and Scout’s idea of what to do while I’m slaving away with lasagna, crafts, and crappy Netflix Christmas movies!!!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

HAPPY MONTH OF CHRISTMAS!!!!

Every year when December hits I get a little bit…..

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……partly because it’s Christmas time and that’s amazeballs, and partly because it’s Christmas time and I have so much to do!

I maybe got a bit overexcited about having finally bought a tree for the house this year…..and I maybe put up my tree early.  Like maybe too early?!  How early is too early, does anyone really know that answer to that question?  I put mine up before Thanksgiving, but I didn’t decorate it or the garlands until after…..so I think that makes it ok!?  Let’s face it, houses just feel way more cozy and homey when they are decorated for Christmas, and you really only get to experience that feeling for a month….ish.  So, I feel like you should really extend it as long as possible to get the maximum effect!

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The face you make when you maybe decorated early, and you’re worried the neighbors are judging you.

December is also the month of my birthday, and tradition dictates that I do certain things…..namely work as little as possible, workout, and get my nails done!!  I’m happy to report that Friday was a great success in all those categories, except that I did end up work sightly more than originally intended.

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(Insert overly posed picture of manicure and Christmas ornaments)

I also got some sweet birthday presents this year.  Momma Mishappenings got me a blender and some ornaments for the new tree.  Now I just need warmer weather so I can whip up some smoothies and margaritas!!  Lil Sis got me some of my new favorite lotion and some flowers!

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I spent the weekend doing laundry and Christmas prep……exciting I know.  But, crafts and knitting aren’t gonna do themselves, so Netflix, tea, and knitting was my weekend to do list.  I did go to dinner and drinks with the BFB and the Hubby in Law last night so that was always a good time.  We intended to try a fun place downtown, but there was a construction accident there the other day and we weren’t sure we could get to our intended location.  Instead, we hit up the Irish pub, and I discovered they had Shiner Cheer on tap…..which is also a symbol that the best time of the year is upon us.  If you haven’t tried it, you need to….and it’s seasonal…..SO GET ON IT SOON!

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Brewed with peaches and pecans….it’ tastes like the holidays!

The other weekend activity I had to start was Christmas baking.  I only make poppy seed bread for the holidays, but since I can only do 4 loaves at a time, I have to start early!  I’ll link the recipe, it’s a family favorite and definitely worth a try.  Embrace the messy within you, and don’t be afraid of oozing poppy seeds!  I ripped small holes in all the loaves last night and had no explosions in the oven!!  #victory

Pro Tip:  If you have a hole or some oozing….just flip that part into the bottom of the pan…..that will sometimes….usually…..keep the explosion for occurring.  No explosion means a clean oven!

Well, that about wraps up my week of excitement.  Now it’s just onto crafting and knitting like a crazy person to get everyone’s presents done on time!  I know I should work on these things all year, or start earlier at least, but who wants a big pile of knitting in their lap when it’s hot outside?!?  Not this girl, I can tell you that!