Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's looking like fall!

This is my market booth last Saturday. I had a little help, Autumn, from the next booth. Her and her little sister and mom came out to the farm several months ago. She calls me Farmer Kris. I love it! She likes to hang out with me in my booth. So I let her set out my little needle felted critters. She loved it.

Here is my Basil and Peaches-n-Cream soaps I made last week. They really turned out pretty. The basil smells amazing. And I love the peach soap.

Yesterday, I went over to the studio and made a bunch of dryer balls. I made a lot of plain white one and 12 of these cuter ones. I really have fun making these. I never know how they'll turn out. Wool kind of has a mind of it's own.

Here they are, all wrapped into the hose and ready to be dunked in the hot water in the washer. Then they get tossed into the dryer for awhile til they are felted really good. Then into a cute basket and taken to market to sell. Don't know if I already mentioned this, but last week a sweet lady came by my booth and just fell in love with all my woolie things. She ended up buying most all of my decorated wool balls and several felted pumpkins and the cute ewe and lamb that I had made the week before. And she was not going to use the dryer balls in the dryer. She said they were just too pretty to be hidden in the dark dryer. That made me feel so good.

This is the Peaches-n-Cream soap a few days later. I took it outside and am very pleased with how these turned out. I love the sunbeams in this one.

And this one has the old milk room in the back ground. And all the leaves.

And this is the raw milk yogurt with clay soap I made the same day as the other day. It was just a little 2 pound recipe, so not many bars.

And here's my poor momma. She fell Saturday, right on her left side. She's a mess. Broke her left thumb pretty good. Her knee is a whole lot better. Her eye is really a cool color now. She really is so fortunate to only have broken her thumb. She will be looking better in a few weeks. She would have been pretty scary for Halloween, don't ya think? She's so sweet.

And we're hoping my sister will be able to just get the front of her house redone. Still talking to insurance people. Just takes a long time to get anything started. But she will be fine. And have a new house soon.

I'm going to have produce to take to market tomorrow! I have really nice looking baby kale and radishes. Plus dandelion greens and maybe some apples. Seems like there's something else I'm not remembering. I had to borrow another table from mom so I'll have a place to put all that. Plus some eggs too. I need to make more money to pay for my spinning class in November.

Monday, September 29, 2014

What a weekend!

Well, actually started Friday. I have all day on Friday with Mrs. T. who is 97 now. And can hardly walk. I let her go to the bathroom by herself and stayed on the couch, knitting. The bathroom is only around the corner from her chair in the little tv room. I can hear everything from the couch. But it sometimes takes her 10 minutes to get there. I was on the 2nd half of my hat I'm knitting and was on the 4th or 5th cast off on the knit section, when I heard a kerplunk coming from the bedroom.  Got up and looked around the corner and saw feet and legs. Yep, Mrs. T had fallen going into the bathroom. She was right outside the bathroom door, up against the wall, sitting on the grate with both legs straight out. She was ok, thank the Lord. But a little shaken up. Got her up and in the bathroom. And she was in the wheel chair the rest of the day if she needed to go anywhere. I was not taking any chances. I felt horrible for not going with her. I will from now on. And all the other caretakers will too. She cannot be left alone for a minute anymore.

Then Saturday, I went to the farmer's market. Had a great time. Had a missed call from my niece. Then my mom called. My sister Heidi had burned her house down earlier that morning. Heating up some coffee on the stove. Left the kitchen and forgot about it. Went back in and the stove is on fire. She grabs a towel and starts trying to put it out and gets burned. Her daughter calls 911 and they get out with the dogs but she's burned and having trouble breathing. So ambulance comes and takes her to the hospital. Her arm is burned real bad and her hair. But she'll be fine. I think it's mainly the kitchen and dining room. Plus all her brand new windows busted out and everything has smoke damage, so a loss of everything. Meeting with insurance people today and will find out more later. Please pray for her.

Then, on the way home through Ft. O where mom lives, mom calls and said she needed help, she'd just fallen.  So I was at her house in a few minutes. Oh my good Lord! She had the biggest knot on her left eyebrow I had ever seen. Her left thumb was totally bent backwards. Her knee was 3 times as big as it should have been. She was standing at the door when I got there. In nice clean clothes like she was ready to go somewhere. And she had just been mowing the back yard. She was taking some trash out the back door and had the leash n the dog. The leash got stuck in the corner of the door, the dog kept going and mom tripped right over that darn leash. Right on her face. Her deck is wooden so thankful it wasn't the concrete walk. 

So off to the ER we go. Which is just a few blocks away. Mom volunteers there a few days a week. They took her right back in and a doctor came right in. Looked her over. Gave her several shots in her thumb and put it back in place. Took her back for x-rays of hand and knee and CT scan of her face. Came back later and said there was no internal bleeding in head or knee. No breaks or fractures there. But the thumb was broken. Doctor said someone needed to stay with her a few days just in case. 

So I stayed the night. She did great. She's a strong healthy woman. I did some things Sunday to make it a little safer. Did some house cleaning. There will be no more leashes on the dog if in the back yard. Ever again! It's just too dangerous. That was only for training purposes anyway. 

Yesterday, her eye kept getting redder and redder, til now her whole eye, all around it, is red. I told her she needs to color the other eye to look the same now. It would have looked great for Halloween. Her knee is much better and swelling is down. Some blue color but not too bad. It's her thumb that is really hurting now. And she's really sore. Kind of like a car wreck I guess. The few days after is the worse. She hit the deck pretty darn hard.

So, not the weekend I had planned. Chattanooga and Walker Co hosted an Ironman Triathlon and the race went right past my house. I kinda sorta wanted to see it. But missed the whole thing. My husband stood out by the road for about 30 minutes, waving at the bikers as they raced past. They all waved and thanked him for coming out to support them. It was really cool. They had to swim first, in the Tn. River in Chatt. Someone found a dead body. Then later, right before out house, someone had poured out about 50 gallons of motor oil and tacks on the Southbound side of the road, where the bikers would be. About 30 bikers had flat tires before they got it all cleaned up. Some people are just sick. 

So all the excitement out this way is over for awhile now. We had the fair, then the race. Hope that's all. Now back to normal?

I sure hope your weekend was less eventful. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014


my name is Kris and I am a soap-a-holoic. Yep. I am. I went to the studio this morning to work on wool. I need more dryer balls. More pumpkins. More little needle felted sheep and other critters.

But no. I made soap. Yeah, 3 more batches of soap. I cannot help myself. I lay in bed at night, thinking of soaps I can make. Different combinations. Different things to use instead of water in the lye. Ways to use more natural scents and colors. I have a problem.

But look what I made! Isn't this pretty? It's basil soap. I used fresh basil from a friend and my garden that I ground in the grinder, then added to the oils. I also used dried parsley that I made into powder by grinding it. Also had some basil EO I added at trace. I love this scent. I just wish it would stay this pretty color.

Then I made this. Peaches 'n Cream. With 1 1/2 fresh peaches, skin on, cut up and grated. And some raw cow milk yogurt from my friend Sarah's Jersey cows. No scent. I kept a little out and added some Wilton Cream Peach Icing gel to that and put it on top. Then swirled it a little. You can see on the sides the color before I added the dye. I wish this would stay this color. But I peaked and the dye color is almost red. It and the green soap has to stay in the molds for 48 hours.

Then this is a soap I saw on a soap video. She gave the ingredients and amounts too. It's European clay with yogurt. Just a 2 pound batch. This will be a facial soap. No scent in this either.

I did go back over after dinner to work on wool. But when I walked out the door, there were hundreds of dragonflies, flying all around the house. It was amazing. I have never seen so many of them together before. Wonder if they were migrating? Or getting ready to? I have no idea. Sure was cool. And the sunset was beautiful tonight.

Just a beautiful day here. I was home all day. I love being home. I am so thankful I am able to be doing what I'm doing.

And, when I went into the milk room to get some burger out of the little freezer for dinner,  I found the package of nettle seeds I had lost! I am so happy! I had prayed about this and just asked God to lead me to where He knew they were. And He did! ( It only took a week) I don't know how many times I had been right there to get feed for the chickens every night. The seeds were right above the barrel of sunflower seeds on the shelf. Right there this whole time. I don't know what made me even see the little white envelope this time. But I had to look twice. And when I realized it was the nettle seeds, I almost shouted! God is good! So I will go plant them Sunday. We are supposed to get rain that afternoon. I am so glad I found them. Now we will have our own patch of nettles next year. And I hear they make  soap a pretty green color too!

My market booth

 I dreamed about this new way to set up my space at the market. I have a canopy and have always had the long table in the back with the 2 smaller tables on either side. So people would have to walk inside to see things. The soap is always on the bigger table, since I have so much soap. Then the salves on the medium size table and felted things on the smaller one. So sales haven't been that good the past month. This is the new set up. I love it! And I sold a lot yesterday. Don't know if this is why, but I think it helped so much. People don't have to actually come inside now. The bigger table is sort of katy-corner with the other 2 tables tiered at the other side. All the other vendors liked it. I do too. And I can always flip it around  too.

I love this little wicker laundry basket I found at Michael's. It's perfect for wool dryer balls. And I found this pumpkin table cloth at a thrift store a few years ago. So cute for fall.

And all the soaps go on this bigger table. I just love making soap. I have so many ideas for more soaps floating around in my head right now.  I used the milk crates for height in the back which ads more to the table. I just love it. I need a farm sign now to hang  in the back. I might try to make one. There is a quilting class Oct.4th I think and I may just quilt a farm sign instead of the baby quilt. That'll make me thread up my brand new machine.(So sorry for another horrible blurry picture. But you can see what the soap table looks like anyway.)

I really do think this new way made a big difference in sales yesterday. I sold a lot of soap and some dryer balls and a pumpkin. But about 5:30, this lady came by and just fell in love with all my wool things. She ended up buying all my pretty dryer balls that were decorated real cute, several pumpkins and the set of sheep I had made last week! Over $100 worth of wool items! AND, she's not using the dryer balls in her dryer. She said they were too pretty to hide in a dryer. She has a better idea for them. I just love her! I told her she just made my deposit for the JC Folk School class on beginner spinning I want to go to in Nov. She was happy she could help out.

I just love fall. Just a perfect time of year. Do any of you who read my blog go to farmer's markets? What do you look for when you go? What draws you to certain booths? I would love to hear what you think. I know some of you are vendors too. I'd love to see pictures of your booths.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Last Saturday, I went to another knitting class. A friend has a camp not too far from me and is wanting to start a school to teach things like knitting, quilting, crochet, sewing. Hopefully a soap class too.

I can knit the basic stitch already. I have knit a few prayer shawls and scarves. Even made a hat a few years back. But I tend to forget things if I don't keep doing it.

This was a class on knitting a hat. For a baby. But I got big yarn. So this will be a hat for a big person. Or I may just keep it for me.

I really learned a lot of different stitches. Or whatever it's called. This hat is more like a sampler. It has 6 different stitches. Can't remember them all. But the girl who taught the class made this pattern. It's going to look good when it's finished.  Just not so good right now. But you can see all the different types of knitting here. This is half way done. Then I start over with the knit stitch. So fun! And I am actually following a pattern. When it's done, but not sewn together, I have to wet it and tack it down to shape it. Or stretch it. I'll get it done at Mrs. T's, I hope.

Today, after spending most of it with my mom, I came home and made jewelweed-plantain salve. I had to remelt it because it wasn't solid enough. Had to add more bees wax. I hope it sets up tonight.

I also made several more batts from Adele's wool. Finished picking it to be ready to card.

And I found some alum in Lafayette at this little country grocery store. I figured they would have some. So I got all 7 little bottles of it. I now need to look up how to dye fiber with natural dyes. And find a whole day to do it.

And I hope I am able to get into this beginner spinning class at the John Campbell Folk School in N. Carolina Nov. 14-16. I REALLY want to go to this. And they have classes in sock making, natural dyeing, soap making, knitting... So many classes I want to take. I need to learn so much.

I also bought a bottle of red wine with a citrus flavor to make some soap with. I saw someone's wine soap on-line in a soap forum and it's beautiful. So I'll try it. Also want to make soap with yogurt too. My friend Sarah, who has Jersey cows, makes the best yogurt. So got some from her today. Now I need some good organic peaches. I want to make a peaches and cream soap. Doesn't that sound good?

And want to make some more soap with green colors. I made a lime-patchouli yesterday, now wish I had waited. I got some parsley flakes. Someone said they grind them and add to their soap and it's the prettiest color green. That would have been perfect for lime soap. I can always make more! I love making soap.

More garden shots...

Sunday, I was washing the dogs. I saw the alpaca boys standing behind me, not moving. I realized they were waiting for me to spray them with the hose. They love that! So between washing and rinsing the dogs, I'd spray the alpacas down. I love to multi-task, don't you?

                                                   Some pictures of the garden flowers.

                       1 of the rows of kale, growing so fast. I can't wait for some good kale now.

I just thought this was so pretty. I love all the colors of the produce and flowers. These will probably be the last of the zinnias. The okra is still bearing. We had some for dinner last night.

Monday, September 22, 2014

More weeds to harvest...

 This morning was amazing. So cool and crisp. Like a perfect fall day. No humidity at all. Just a great day. And tomorrow is the first day of fall. I think I'm ready for cool weather. But not for freezing cold and snow or lots of rain again. Not ready for all that yet. Just some cooler weather, please.

I went out again this morning to pick some flowers and weeds out of my garden. Almost forgot about the marigolds. I got a gallon bag of them in the freezer.

And finally found out what this obnoxious viney weed is. It's actually a pretty cool weed, called Smartweed. The leaves are supposed to be very hot and peppery. They are good to use as a seasoning in salads and soups. I picked some of the little flowers, which the honey bees really like. I simmered a little pot of them to see what the color would be. It's not pink. It's a kind of dirty-ish color. I will see what wool dyed in it looks like.

I love that a lot of the weeds and wild things that grow here are good for something. Lots of medicinal weeds here.

Also some dandelion flowers. I am so happy to see them again. I just got a few today and they went in the freezer too. I'll add more as I pick them. I want to use them in dyeing wool too.

Also picked some plantain to add to the jewel-weed. And some zinnias and goldenrod for the table. Also a basket of okra and some bell and banana peppers. For dinner.

The okra is still going strong. Some is a bit hard and I'll leave to dry on the stalks to use in arrangements. They are really pretty dried. This is one of the last sun flowers, bending over and hiding from the sun now.

I had a pot full of Sumac berries that I simmered today. I LOVE the color. I strained off a half gallon, then simmered them again. Got a totally different color. Also did the goldenrod and got a gallon. I will go tomorrow to see if I can find some alum. Then I'll start dyeing some wool.

I also made another soap, with lime and Patchouli EO.  I just love making soap. Still need to make a spiced apple soap.

What's going on in your gardens and kitchens these days?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Harvesting weeds

This morning, I went down to my friend's family farm land to harvest some weeds for dyeing. This horse greeted me. He's so friendly. I smelled mint when I saw him. He is walking through some wild mint beside the fence. It smelled so good.

                                             This is a lot of jewel-weed to the right. Lots of it.

And more jewel-weed along this creek bed. I didn't want to get too close. It was hot out and I am so afraid of snakes. I just felt them all over the place out there.

Also got some of these Black-eyed Susan. And there was more of these on the way home, so stopped and piked some more.

And found more goldenrod. Also thought about Sumac berries. So I grabbed some of those that were lower on the high trees. I am now wondering if this might be a waste of time. The berries, or seeds, have a nice red color that stains my fingers when I pull them off. But I'm wondering if when put in water and simmered, with they just turn brown? I might do a little just to see.

                            I went ahead and pulled off all the yellow goldenrod flowers. That's fun.

And here's the jewel-weed, in a pot of olive oil. I haven't warmed it yet. I need some more little jars first. So will let it sit til I get some in a few days. Also need to get some plantain and add to it. This will be a salve for poison ivy rash. This stuff is amazing.

Lots going on over in my little studio these days. I finished washing all of Adele's wool. Got it all pulled and ready for carding. I am really surprised at how soft her wool is. There is some that's course that I'll use for felting or dryer balls. But the majority of the wool is really soft. I added a little of the white alpaca and it's even more amazing. I love it!

I am really enjoying working with wool. I looked up the John Campbell Folk School in N. Carolina. There is a beginner spinning class Nov.14-16 that I really want to go to. I so want to learn to spin. I think I know the parts leading up to spinning now. Just need to learn to spin. I bought a drop spindle today at the Chattanooga market. Thought I'd give it another try. But this school has so many classes I'd love to take. Like knitting, dyeing, soap making. And it's not too far away. And hubby is here to take care of the farm. It's only 3 days.

Friday, September 19, 2014


I get now how some people get happy about where they live or what they do. Yesterday, after having a bad night and waking up way too late, and the mower wouldn't crank, I thought my day was ruined. But I went over to my studio and made 2 batches of soap. And washed the rest of Adele's wool. My studio smells so good. And the wool is so pretty on the drying racks. And the sheep over in the yard are so pretty and sweet. I can look out just about any window of the house or studio and see sheep, alpacas, a cow and some chickens. And horses across the road too. Pretty dang cool! And I can pick herbs and weeds to put in my soaps that are grown right here on these 3 acres at Outback Farm. Pretty dang cool! And I have a studio! My own little place to go to work on anything I want to work on, at most any time I feel like it. Pretty dang cool! Plus being here in this valley, between 2 beautiful mountains, almost at the end of a beautiful scenic road, is amazing. And I feel so fortunate. I should be happy all the time.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lovin' my sheep!

 I love my sheep. Sometimes they can be so annoying though. But most of the time, they are perfect. I can go out there and sit with them and they will all come to me. They are peaceful animals. Very trusting. But sometimes very demanding too. And I get so upset when they get sick. They've been really good the past month.

The 3 little bottle lambs had gotten a heavy load of worms and I treated them for it. They were all better. But yesterday, I noticed little Campbelle with some puffiness under her jaw. I got the Safegaurd out and gave her a dose. And then the other 2 had a little bit of puffiness last night. I gave all 3 a dose this morning, even though the other 2 looked normal. But Campbelle was still a little puffy. I just hate it. All the others seem to be fine. I was thinking having Louise here has helped a lot with the worm issues. And it's been quite dry lately. I just don;t know.

Here's little Campbelle to the left. She's so small. She is one of quads. Her sister Cameron is a little bit bigger than her but not much. The 2 boys are so much bigger. But they were raised by the mother. You can see the 2 boys in this pic. The black ones. Then Cara is to the right. She's bigger but not too much. She's a big ole fluff ball more than anything! I just love these guys. This morning, I put a little sheep feed, sunflower seeds and kelp in the trough so I could get the lambs the worm meds. Later, they were all around me, wanting petted. So sweet! I just having sheep and being a shepherd.

And I am so glad I don't have a ram this year. I decided not to breed the ewes. And I am fine with that. I'll wait til next year and see how I feel about it. Maybe the little bottle lambs will have grown by then. The other ewe lamb is as big as the older ewes now. She's a twin.

I am really enjoying working will all this wonderful wool too. I love the whole process. It's so fun to see it all dirty in the bags, then all washed up and clean. I am ready to learn how to dye some of it too. Been wanting to try some natural colors. I have all kinds of goldenrod all over. And just did find out what ragweed is. It's every where on my farm. It's such an amazing weed! Full of medicinal properties. I just went out and picked some seed and flowers of both plants and simmering them now. The ragweed is supposed to make a red dye. I shall see. I am needing some Alum now and can't find it in any stores I've looked in so far.

It's really beginning to feel like fall. Last night, I turned the AC off and opened windows. The sun was behind the mountain by 7:30 and almost dark by 8:00. It just has that fall-ish hint in the air now. Not much humidity at all. But still warm during the day. But the nights and mornings are wonderful! I need to make soup and stews and chili again!

And the garden is growing great! I love fall gardening the most any more. I think I will just skip summer gardening from now on. The kale, collards, radishes are growing like crazy out there. And the lettuces and spinach I planted a few days ago is already popping up! I till, then throw the seeds on top. Then go get wheel barrows full of all the composted cow and sheep and chicken manure mixed with old hay that the chickens have composted up for me, on top of the seeds. Then water real good. I've been watering them every day too. I am very pleased with the garden so far.

I'm home all day today, so have things that need to be done. Hope you all have a great day where ever you are!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Around the farm these days...

 Went out this morning and took lots of pictures. Saw honey bees loaded down with pollen. All kids of business out there right now. Getting ready for winter. Are you?

Kale and radishes and lettuces and spinach, all in beds, growing really good right now. The weather is perfect for fall gardening. My favorite time of year to garden.

My place to sit and read or knit and watch things grow in the gardens.

Getting ready to plant some Stinging Nettle seeds that Linda sent me. This is the "wild garden" down here, so they can do what ever they want. There is all kinds of busy going on down here these days. Butterflies, wasps, honey bees, bumble bees. I love seeing all the business of life these days.