Monday, February 28, 2011

Let's Talk Chickens

In late July 2010, we became back yard chicken owners. This is what the chickens looked like when we first got them. The mom (Velma) and her four babies. We optimistically named all the chicks girl names, except KC (the white one) because my son was being very practical about the possibility that one might not be a girl.

We've been getting quite a few eggs lately, so we suspect that we have at least 3 layers (including Velma) maybe even four. The problem is, being novices and all, we are having problems figuring out if 3 out of the 5 are male or female, boys or girls, roosters or hens. That isn't an easy thing for me to admit...I took biology in school and I feel like I should know these things. But chickens are different than the beings we studied in biology.

This is Caroline. For the longest time, we have been thinking she is a rooster - so we've also been calling her "Carlos". Now, we think she/he may be laying eggs.

This is KC. We thought KC was a rooster, then a hen, then a rooster, get the picture.

This is Hilda. I think we're pretty sure she's a hen. I tried posting photos on the chicken forum I belong to, so that we could get some expert advice. However, the website has been experiencing a lot of spam lately and since I'm a new member, I've been banned from posting photos or links. They have to check me out first to make sure I'm not a spammer. So, if you happen to be a chicken expert and would like to offer an opinion, I'd love to hear from you.

We do know for sure, someone is laying eggs. Beautiful, wonderful, amazing, tasty eggs! Every day it's like a treasure hunt and every day it's exciting to see how many eggs we have. We are truly blessed! I look forward to the day when we are getting enough eggs to share with friends.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Daily Planner by Geninne

Artwork by Geninne Zlatkis

Like many other people, I could spend hours upon hours lost in the online world. I am often amazed at how much time goes by and how lost my focus becomes when I'm looking for something. This is especially true if I'm looking at art online or if I'm reading blogs. One click leads to an amazing blog or website, then to another, and another until I have forgotten that my original purpose in turning on the computer was to see the weather forecast.

Sometimes when I am looking around I stumble upon an Etsy shop or blog that takes my breath away. I get that feeling of awe and wanting to see more and more of what the person has created. One of the artists I've found that keeps me continually amazed is Geninne Zlatkis. I don't know when or where I first saw her art, but I've been a fan for awhile. In fact, I follow her blog and on facebook. Sometimes I feel a little like a cyber stalker, but I try to keep it under control. :)

I'm not very good at buying art for myself - which is something I have in common with a lot of creative types. But for the longest time I've been telling myself that when a birthday, Mother's Day or some other gift giving opportunity comes around, I'm just going to have to buy a print (maybe this print) from Geninne. Her art work is gorgeous, beautiful, amazing and fabulous! She works in brightly colored watercolor with white acrylic ink highlights. She often does mixed media collage and makes her own hand carved rubber stamps.

Back in January, she announced on her Facebook page that she had a new daily planner available. It had several of her paintings throughout and I decided this was my opportunity to own some of Geninne's work. I'm not sure how many she had available, but they have since sold out. I wasn't surprised since around the same time she had come out with some mini books that sold out in a flash!

My daily planner arrived on Valentine's Day and I love it! It has many sections to help keep me organized: monthly calendar, checklists, weekly calendar, notes pages, contacts and even a section of drawing paper - which I used to doodle on this past Sunday while I listened to the sermon at church.

The best part of course, is every day on every page, seeing one of Geninne's beautiful birds, butterflies and flowers. It's very inspiring!

Be sure to check out Geninne's blog and Etsy shop to see more of her beautiful artwork - you'll be inspired too!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Craft Gene Hiding in the Family Tree

Most of us who are creative can remember when we first started making things. Some of us can't remember a time when we didn't make things. Do you ever stop to think about the family members who have influenced your creativity or if maybe there is a "craft gene" hiding in your family tree?
When I was growing up,  I spent hours in my room drawing, coloring and writing. I always took art classes in school.  Even though there wasn't anyone in my family who would have called themselves an "artist", there was definitely some creativity floating around. My mom took a few art classes through the junior college when she was in her 30's. My uncle Dan was (and is) talented at painting and drawing, and my paternal grandma knitted, crocheted and embroidered.

Photo by Geral A. Hiebert 1978
But when I think back, it was my great grandma who was the most actively crafty/creative. Grandma Porter was a rag rug weaver. She weaved on a big loom that had belonged to her mother who bought it from an upholstery factory.  I don’t know how old she was when she learned how to weave, but by the time I came along, weaving was a huge part of who she was.
In the 1970's she and my great granddad moved from their farm into a house in the "city". It was the first time they had electricity and indoor plumbing - no more outhouse! They probably thought they were living the high life when they moved into that little house in Butler, Missouri. 
The single car garage had a separate workshop that included a wood stove and plenty of room for Grandma's loom and the piles of discarded garments waiting to have buttons, zippers and hooks, removed so they could be cut into strips and made into rugs. The shelves of her shop were lined with jars of buttons and hardware that had been removed from the clothes. 

We always knew that when we outgrew our clothes or they were too worn out, we would just put them in the carpet rag pile. One of the reasons I have such a hard time getting rid of my old clothes now is that the first 29 years of my life were spent saving old clothes so they could be ‘upcycled’ - a word that didn’t exist back then - into functional, wonderful rag rugs.

From my earliest memories, I remember Grandma Porter either weaving, selling rugs or tearing strips to use in making rugs. There were many conversations in my family centered around weaving: about rug colors, who wanted to buy rugs, what rugs were made of, what garment might make a pretty stripe in a rug. She even made rugs out of old pantyhose, which I thought was really funny when I was a kid.  Those were some amazingly sturdy rugs! My mom once had a light blue tarry cloth robe that she loved.  She wore it until it had holes and was falling apart. Knowing how much my mom loved her robe, Grandma Porter made a rug for her out of it. Mom was able to enjoy her robe in a whole new way.

My grandma (Grandma Porter's daughter) would return from a visit "down home" with the back seat of her car piled with rag rugs to sell.   Selling rugs helped supplement Grandma Porter's income. She sold the big ones for $8 each. Recently, I was looking on the Internet and found similar rugs that were selling for $75-$95 a piece. Grandma would have never imagined that someone would pay such a high price for a rug.
When the grand kids got older, we got to pick a rug for our birthday - a treat that was wasted on me. I loved the rugs, but they were always around and I couldn't appreciate the labor and skill involved in these amazing works. 

Grandma Porter died in 1992, a couple weeks shy of her 97th birthday. The things I inherited from her was a big jar of buttons that serve as a reminder of Grandma and her craft, a pile of woven rag rugs and I suspect, the burning desire to create things with my own two hands.