Monthly Archives: January 2013

DIY Primitive Heart Wreath

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

A little more Valentine’s Day, anyone?

This is a pretty simple way to make a basic wreath in virtually any shape you want it.  I had in mind a sort of primitive-style wreath, but of course, you could add as much embellishment and material as you want to fatten it up and make it less simplistic.

I started by using two strands of raffia-covered wire (bought in the floral section of the craft store), twisted together to make one, strong strand long enough to make the wreath about the circumference that you want it to be.  Make a rough circle out of it and twist the loose ends together. Because this is a heart shape, the fastened ends make a natural spot to make the point of the heart:

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

Now, roughly form this into the shape of a heart.  Again, I was going for imperfection, so I wanted it off-centered:

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

Now, forage for some supplies in your yard.  Woodsy vines work the best: wisteria, grapevine–anything that will hold its shape when dry.  I have a ton of wisteria, so that’s what I collected:

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

Take one strand of vine, and another of the raffia-covered wire.  Place the vine along your heart form and using the new piece of raffia-wire, wrap and anchor the vine to the form, all along the shape of the heart. Take a shorter piece of raffia-wire and anchor the ‘valley’ of the heart to the lower ‘point’ of the heart, so that the thing keeps it’s heart shape (as you add vine to the form, it will want to flex the heart shape right out of the form).

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

Now, we’re gonna switch from raffia-covered wire, to some sort of thin-gauged metal wire:

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

Begin adding more vines to the form and anchoring them into place with little bits of the small wire:

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

Add as much or as little vineage as you want until you get the rough shape/thickness you’re after–I only used about four or five pieces of vine:

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

Now, to change up the texture and bulk it up a bit, add in some other types of branches, moss, etc., adhering them in with a glue gun.

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

This is about the shape/size/thickness I was after, so, time to embellish with ribbons:

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

I chose a selection of narrow, Valentine’s-inspired grosgrain ribbons, and began cutting small pieces that I then tied into simple knots.  Some I tied directly around vines or branches in the wreath, others, I tied and then glued on.  Clip the loose ends of the knots short.

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

Add a ton of them in all different colors, in a totally random fashion.

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

Affix a hanging ribbon to the top of the wreath (I usually tie it on and hot-glue it just for extra hold), and hang it!

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

DIY Heart-Shaped Wreath from Farmhouse38

Rainy Day Trespassing

Slipping Passed the Sentry

Yellow dog! You had ONE JOB.

When I let the girls out this morning, it was really pouring, and because of that, I didn’t expect them to venture very far from the coop, let alone all the way up to the house.  So….I left the side door open, and as I worked away at my computer, I happened to glance up just in time to see that our perimeter had been compromised.  On Chance’s watch.  He didn’t even bat an eyelash as a very drenched Millie strolled right on inside, passed him, through the dining room, through the kitchen, and to my computer nook.  Usually, the No House Chickens rule is in full effect, but this bird was on a mission.  I had to see what she was about.  Clucking with her special brand of chicken self-importance, she marched dutifully up to me where I was hunkered over the space heater that I have running under my desk.

Wet Chicken

Don’t cross a wet chicken.

After assessing the situation for a moment, and realizing that I wasn’t immediately tossing her out as per usual, she went right on up to said heater.  Oh, the joy of a wet chicken standing in front of a heater (as was also illustrated after the infamous Gertie Bathing Incident).

Drying Out

After witnessing a couple of minutes of preening and fluffing and other such poultry shenanigans, I finally opened the french door next to my desk, and with one last indulgent fluff of her feathers, she went right on back outside into the rain without a single cross word from either of us.

Rain Bird

Right back into the rain and the mud with her cohorts.  The No House Chickens Rule went immediately back into full effect.

Frolicking in the Mud

DrenchedI will never not be entertained by the sight of a drenched chicken.  Especially when she’s doing an entertaining drive-by of my space heater.

Drenched Gert

Gert had to get one beauty shot into this whole silly Millie business.

Go Paint Rocks

Glittered Heart Rocks

In yesterday’s Cupid’s Arrow Doormat post, some of you may have spied these two little glittered heart painted rocks tucked amongst the front porch decor….Painted Rocks and Porch Decor

I love me some painted rocks, and I must say that I am obsessing over the glittered ones even more!  Painting rocks (and using them mainly as door-stops) was something I started doing in college, when I was broke but living by the ocean where there was an unending supply of nice, smooth, wave-worn rocks to collect and use for whatever I could possibly turn them into.  This was like 15 years ago, people–where the heck has the time gone!?  In more recent manifestations, these painted rocks have been moonlighting at the Farmhouse as bookends, mantel decor, garden markers, and hostess gifts.  They are so easy and inexpensive to make that I thought I’d better share the tutorial.

Bookend.

I have a thing for monogrammed rocks. This is a completely normal thing to have a thing for.

A family of monogrammed rocks for my favorite neighbors.

A family of monogrammed rocks for my favorite neighbors’ front stoop.  Shout out to H, N, R & Q!!!

During the holidays, I made a set for my front porch decor that never actually made it into a post:

but Baby it's Cold Outside

My text-transferring method for the rocks is one and the same as for my Hand-Painted Signs.  You start, of course, by finding yourself a decent rock.  The smoother the surface, the easier it will be. Design up your words, letters, or shapes on the computer, and print.

Design

Cut each word (or design) out, and then heavily color the backside of it with a grease pencil.

Grease Pencil Love

Scotch-tape it where you want it on your rock of choice, and then trace the design, pressing firmly.

Tracing

You should get a pretty well-transferred image if you slathered the grease pencil on there thick enough.

Outline

Now, paint!

Painting

If these are going to sit outside, it’s best to use some sort of oil-based exterior-grade paint. Finishing with a clear, protective sealer always helps, too.

If you’re adding glitter, sprinkle it on before the paint has much time to dry.

I must confess that I simply free-handed these hearts….nothing wrong with winging it now and again!

Hi.

Cupid’s Arrow Doormat

Cupid's Arrow Doormat from Farmhouse38Cupid's Arrow Doormat

More Valentine’s crafty decor!

I’m a big fan of making my own doormats.  Plain coir mats like the one above are sold for around $10.00 at Home Depot, and with some transparent contact paper (also from the Depot) to make a sticky-stencil and a bit of left-over spray paint, this is a relatively easy, inexpensive, and versatile DIY project.

For this design, I decided about how big I wanted my arrow, and then created it in a design program and printed it off the computer.  It took two standard-sized pieces of paper, which I then taped together into one design.

Arrow Template

Lined Up

Now cut a piece of contact paper big enough to fit over the top of this, then tape it to the print-out, as well as your work surface so nothing slides around.  Use a sharpie to trace your arrow image onto the contact paper.

Tracing

BTW….this is a great method to create a stencil for other craft projects.

Now comes the first tricky part: using a small pair of scissors, cut the arrow cleanly out of the middle of the contact paper. The contact paper is gonna wanna roll up on you, but keep calm!  It feeds off of your frustration.

Cut-out

Now, for the second tricky part: CAREFULLY remove the backing to the contact paper and stick your image where you want it on the doormat.  Nothing wants to stick to that coir very much, so you’ll be able to shimmy it around to get it lined up just right.  Tape it into place with painter’s tape and then use contact paper and/or painters tape to cover the rest of the mat to protect it from over-spray.

Stencil

Now, you’re ready to paint!  Hit the image with spray paint in short bursts from directly above, as again, the contact paper just barely adheres to the coir and if you blast it from an angle, it will lift right on off of there and ruin the whole thing.  Hit it with one, good coat of paint.

Paint

Let it dry for a few minutes, remove the template, and then let the rug sit and dry for about an hour or so before you put it out for use.

Cupid's Arrow

Another simple version of this went to our side door:

The chickens are just fascinated by this red heart on their doormat.

The chickens are just fascinated by this little red heart on their napping-mat.

Valentine’s Candy Box Roses

Valentine's Candy Box Roses from Farmhouse38

I have a confession….I heart Valentine’s Day in all of its ridiculous glory.  I love the blatant pinks and reds and hearts and sparkles and chocolates and redundant red roses.  It’s all just so darn cute and girly, and I embrace it and accept it despite its pathological commercialism.  I’m really an enormous sucker for some adorable packaging no matter what.

Another thing I secretly love?  Those super-cheesy heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.  You know the ones in the drug store, just to the left of the shampoo aisle?  Yes, those!  It isn’t so much about the chocolate (I swear), as it is about that nostalgic heart-shaped box:

Come on, you know you love this!

Come on, you know you love this!

After the chocolates have evaporated, what does one do with such an adorable box?  At my house, you fill it with flowers, of course!

Here’s how:

First of all, you can do this arrangement in either the lid or the bottom (or both!).  I chose the bottom, which had built-in candy compartments that had to be gently ripped out, first.

This doesn't look so cute.

This doesn’t look so cute.

Now, because this is a cardboard box, we gotta waterproof it.  You need to line it with some sort of thick-gauged plastic lining, whether it be a bit of garbage bag, ziplock, etc.  I happened to use a piece of some left-over painter’s tarp.  Cut it roughly to size with a little bit of overlap.

Fit the Plastic LiningPush the plastic lining into the box, and then, using your trusty glue-gun, run a bead of glue, bit by bit, along the top edge of the box, adhering the plastic just well enough so that it sticks, not so well that it melts through the plastic (which if you are using sturdy enough plastic and a low-heat gun, shouldn’t be a problem).  This doesn’t have to be a perfect, solid bead of glue–just enough to hold the plastic in place.

Glue the Lining

Once you are done, it should look a little something like this:

AdheredNow, run scissors along the top edge of the box and remove the excess plastic.

TrimAs long as you didn’t accidentally pierce or burn through the plastic, you should now have a cardboard box capable of holding some liquid.

Easy waterproofingUnder normal circumstances, this is where I would cut and fit wet florist’s foam into the container.  Lately, I have been trying to steer away from using the stuff unless I just have no choice–it’s really rather environmentally unfriendly.  But this is a personal choice and I chose to go without.  Instead, I cut and fit a double-layer of paper towels into the bottom of the heart, then filled it about half-way with water.  The paper towels serve as a grip for the roses, and also to keep things damp with minimal water (as this is a shallow container and you don’t want a ton in there sloshing around).

Cut your roses real short–right at the base of the bloom:

Cut Rose

Go ahead and start lining them up in the container, making sure the cut stem makes contact with the paper towel.

Flower Assembly

The flowers might tip over a bit as you work–don’t worry, the more you get in there, the more they hold each other upright.

Two dozen roses (straight from Home Depot) should about fill this size container (approx. 12″ wide at its widest point), but I went and tucked in a few coral-colored roses just for effect, so my total came out to 30 roses.

Roses and roses

Now, you’ll probably be able to still see a bit of plastic liner around the edges.  We’ve got to do something about that!  I chose this adorable lacey, felt ribbon to edge the box in, but any ribbon or trim will work.

Edging

Run a bead of hot glue around the outside top edge of the box, and apply your decorative trim so that it overlaps the flowers just a bit and hides that unsightly edge.

Pretty trim

Pretty!  But why stop here?  In the spirit of Valentine’s bling, let’s add some sparkle, shall we?  Give your roses a fine mist of water across the top:

Misting

Pick your poison:

GLITTER!!!!

I give you….Martha Stewart “Candy Apple”!

And then literally blow it like fairy dust across your flowers.  If you don’t like glitter everywhere in your house (then you have no soul!  Just kidding….kind of), please do this step outside!

Pretties

How I love me some sparkly roses!

Now, you just want to top the whole thing off with a nice, diagonal bit of ribbon and a tailored bow to mimic the way these candy boxes are usually trimmed out.  Cut a piece of your trim ribbon to fit across one lobe of the heart, anchoring each end of the ribbon to the inside upper edges of the box with hot glue (so that the glue and ribbon ends don’t show above the trim).

More trim

Now, glue together a little bow:

Cute bow.

Then adhere this to the middle of your diagonal ribbon, adding bow tails if you wish.

Candy Box Roses

Add a cute tag to complete the package!

Hugs and kisses

To maintain the freshness, drizzle a little new water into the center of the arrangement every couple of days.

Sparkles and sparkles

I adore the red-on-red-on-red monochrome of this presentation, but it would be so cute done up with some different colors thrown in there, as well.  I may have to do up a pink version using the left-over lid!

Enjoy! :-)

Yes. I Bathed a Chicken.

Gerts Bubble Bath

So, it has come to this.

Yep.  I’m really committing this to the internet; flying my crazy flag high.  When I called the Texan at work to tell him that I had given one of our chickens a bath, he said, and I quote, “There are really just some things I wish you wouldn’t share with me.”

I didn’t want to do it.

But Gertie forced my hand.  Every once in awhile, chickens get a little bit mucky in their nether-regions.  Sometimes this is because they are sick, sometimes they are just having an extended ‘not-so-fresh moment’.  Hey, if you had all those fluffy petticoats to keep track of, you’d probably have a mess every once in awhile, too.  Well, Gertie got dirty.  I’ve been keeping an eye on it the past few days, making sure she seemed healthy otherwise, keeping tabs as to whether the situation was worsening or improving.  It seemed to be getting gunkier (though she seemed in perfect health).  This can be a bad thing (beyond just being disgusting), because the caked-on poop can actually create a roadblock, if you know what I mean.  Today, I decided, it was time for drastic measures.

I have chosen to spare you a ‘before’ photo.

After reading up on it, and assuring myself that I wasn’t the first person to try this, I sought advice from Lisa, over at Fresh-Eggs-Daily.  While she’d never actually had a chicken get dirty enough to bathe, she’d had to bathe egg-bound hens in the past (this helps to facilitate the laying, apparently).  She assured me that chickens were surprisingly agreeable to the process.  The basic method seemed pretty universal: small tub filled with warm bubble bath, set your bird in it, gently scrub gunk off, rinse.  COME ON.  There was just no way it was that simple.  I pictured a squawking, flapping, emotionally-damaged Gertie, and a squawking, flapping, emotionally-damaged me.  This just couldn’t end well.

Fortunately, my mom was visiting, and volunteered to both take photos and laugh at me.

I found a water-tight container that would fit inside our guest bath tub and filled it about 3/4 of the way full of warm water mixed with a bit of liquid dish soap–just enough to make it good and bubbly.  I wanted it deep enough that her bum would be underwater for a good soaking.  If I got that far.  I’ll admit it, I was S.T.R.E.S.S.E.D as I went out and picked up the bird–the last thing I wanted to do was get her partially wet and not be able to finish the job.  But I tried to remain calm, so that she would remain calm.  After a little bit of cuddling and a few words of encouragement, I steeled myself and gently set her in the bubble bath.

Gertie goes in the tub

Expecting a whirling banshee, I was dumbfounded that she remained quiet.  I loosened my grip, and she hopped calmly up onto the edge of the little tub.  I picked her back up and set her once more into the water, and this time, I kid you not, she just stayed where I put her.  For a bit, we had to just sit like this, conversing softly with each other, while the water and suds loosened the spackling.

Someone's having far too good of a time.

I may be enjoying this.

Finally, it was time to start kind of gently working the gunk out of her feathers.  I’m not going to lie, this was seriously gross.  But you gotta do what you gotta do.  Slowly, but surely, it all came off like a charm.  At this point, I pulled the bird from the bath, wrapped her tight in a dry towel, and then I dumped and cleaned the basin, filling it again with warm, clear water.  Then I set Gertie back in, and again, she just let me do my thing–totally relaxed.  I proceeded to rinse her all off.

Rinsing the birdAt this point, with all those wet feathers, there was a lot of bare skin showing.  This was a great moment to kind of inspect her rear-end and make sure there was nothing that looked amiss.  Everything looked good and clean and healthy to me, so back out of the water and into a new dry towel she went.  She seemed all too happy to have some cuddles while she was wrapped up in that towel.

After-bath Cuddles

It is extremely important not to let chickens get chilled, which is why I chose to do this indoors in a heated, small bathroom.  But, I was not about to let her wander around wet (even though it was pretty warm today, it is definitely winter!).  So, at Lisa’s suggestion, I pulled out the blow-dryer.  Once again, I thought, “NO.  WAY.”  No bird is going to let me blast them with this loud machine.  I turned it on low, and pointed it away from her.  After she didn’t spook, I turned the very gentle airstream onto her, and again, she didn’t freak–she wasn’t sure about it, but she didn’t freak.

Blow-out Time

After a bit, I could tell she was really loving it, and so I let go of her.  Eventually, I was able to switch it to high.  I always kept my hand on her (except when I was snapping a photo), helping her to fluff her feathers so that I made sure she wasn’t getting too hot.

What's this?  Why are my feathers ruffling?!

What sort of sorcery is this?!

Headless chicken preens her feathers as I direct the heat on her.

Headless chicken preens her feathers as I direct the heat on her.

Oh, yeah, leaning into the current!

Oh, yeah, leaning into the current!

Gotta fluff that butt back up!

Gotta fluff that butt back up!

Oh, the stink-eye I got when I turned the blow-dryer off!

Oh, the stink-eye I got when I turned the blow-dryer off!

All dry and shiny and gunk-free, she actually scolded me when I turned the blow-dryer off.  When I set it on the ground, she went and inspected it, as if trying to figure out how to turn the thing back on.  Though she felt completely dry to me, and because I had already broke the ‘No House Chickens’ rule, I allowed her to lounge with me at my computer desk for a bit just to make sure she was good and dry before returning her to her natural habitat.

My gorgeous Gert all clean and shiny, back in the dirt immediately.

My gorgeous Gert all clean and shiny, back in the dirt immediately.

Glad to have that fluff back back in order.

Glad to have that view back in order.

It is safe to say that as I was endeavoring to take on backyard chickening, I never expected or intended to give a bird a bubble bath.  Where was that chapter in the instruction manual?!  I am not going to sit here and recommend that anyone do this with their birds, or claim that it would even go this smoothly–I just wanted to share this crazy experience.  Against all logic, it went well for us.  We bonded.  I feel so much closer to her now.

The end.

The end.

Cheddar Beer Bread

Cheddar Beer Bread

I’ve made this bread a few times in the past, and I just love it because A). it’s so easy, and B). it combines beer and cheese.  Yes, please.  The following recipe is my adaptation of Alton Brown’s Beer Bread.

***For a condensed, printable version of this recipe without all the obnoxious photos, scroll to the bottom of this post***

You will be requiring:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar

4-1/2 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese

12 ounces cold beer (I used, shockingly, Shiner Cheer, because it’s what we had.  Usually, I use Shiner Bock)

A bit of extra shredded cheese for sprinkling along the top

Yes, cheese.  YES.

Cheese.  Yes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and grease up a 9×5 loaf pan.

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.

It's okay to take a sip of the beer.  No one will know.

It’s okay to take a sip of the beer. No one has to know.

Add in your cheese until well-mixed, and then add your beer, a little at a time, only until the mixture is just combined.  You should have some beer left in the bottle.  Do not pour this down the sink.  Drink it like a man.

Well-mixed

Spread the mixture evenly into the loaf pan, then sprinkle with your left-over shredded cheese.

About to go in the oven

I took this photo, then panned to the right….

....and took a photo of this.

….and took a photo of this.

Put it in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes (mine was perfect at 45).  Remove it from the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then let it cool completely on a cooling rack.

Cheddar Beer Bread

This bread is darn good with butter on it….

Bread and butter

But if you really want to blow your mind, try it with butter and honey drizzled over the top.  YUM.

Cheddar Beer Bread with Butter and Honey

Printable Version of Cheddar Beer Bread:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons sugar

4-1/2 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese

12 ounces cold beer (ale or stout or whatever you feel like!)

A bit of extra shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Coat inside of 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray or butter.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients, then add in the shredded cheese.  Add just enough beer to mix thoroughly.  Spread the batter evenly in the loaf pan and sprinkle with leftover cheese.  Put it in the oven for 45-55 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then let it cool completely on a wire baking rack.

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