Thursday, December 1, 2016

House Update

It's been a while! Our house has come a long ways since June when I last posted. We have been very blessed with help from people at our church. We spent most of the hot summer framing the house up with help from friends. The roof went on in August and we bought lumber for siding in September. Then progress came to a grinding halt as we waited for the local re-saw to become available. We had bought inch thick poplar and needed to saw it down to 1/2 inch. In October, Jeremiah's brother helped us saw all 1000 board feet.

We also traveled north to my home state of Massachusetts to help my family make apple cider over Columbus Day weekend. While there, we packed up and moved most of my things back to TN. The day we got home, some friends from church came and unloaded our moving van and house wrapped our house for us.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, 10 people came and helped us begin to put siding on our house. One and a half sides are done! They also installed and trimmed the doors and windows. I think it's really beginning to look cute!

Coming down our driveway. This is the half sided side of the house. See the pile of siding at the far end?

My adorable front door. That's one of the kitchen windows.

The fully sided side. Actually to be precise, its missing one row of siding at the top.

The view from the front door. The raised beds are to the left in the foreground, the creek just beyond the pole, and the road even farther along.

Excuse the mess. The far room is our bedroom and the little room behind the door is the bathroom.

My future kitchen

The view out the side door, aka Winshaw
I hope you enjoyed the little tour of our corner of land!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Large Project!

Jeremiah and I have a new big project! We are building a house! OK, more of a cottage really. Or maybe a tiny house. Regardless, it is a place of our own! The plan is to make it of a size and sturdiness that will allow us to move it on a trailer when we get our own land. For the past few weekends we have been clearing a spot of land on Jeremiah's parents' place to put our little home. We have been blessed to have one of Jeremiah's friends help a lot with the clearing process. There was a lot of scrap metal to move, trees to cut down, and lots and lots of chipping to do. Thankfully we have easy access to a tractor, a chainsaw and a chipper! I've now got a nice pile of wood chips to turn to mulch.

Downed trees
Jeremiah and his friend cutting up a sweet gum tree

Me running the chipper

Then yesterday, another of Jeremiah's friends, who does construction, came over, and we started the building process. First we laid piers of concrete blocks and leveled them. Jeremiah's brother Jordan was instrumental in getting it all nicely done (you can find Jordan and his wife over at Home at Winshaw).
The first haul of materials

Blocks laid and shimmed
Then cedar beams that Jordan had sawn were laid as a base for the floor joists. We squared up the end joists (again, thank you Jordan for your awesome help with that!) and then next thing I know, all the joists are there!

Hubby fetching the beams
One beam laid
Floor joists on!
The last thing we did for the day was attach the sub flooring. Once that was on, it was pretty neat to be able to walk around and see what sorts of views I would have from my kitchen and such!

Oh look, the house ate Jeremiah!
The view from my future kitchen!
I am so thankful to the people that have helped us and will help us with this large project!

End of a long work day

Historic Mansker's Station & Circa 1796-1806 Lewis & Clark Era Front Closing Gown

The second week of April was an event at Historic Mankser's Station in Nashville, where my mother-in-law is a weaver sometimes. So clearly, I needed an outfit for the event. It just so happened that I had been sitting on a piece of fabric that my best friend gave me for my birthday a few years back and I knew exactly what I wanted to make. Enter Past Patterns #031. I loved the way the dress looked, and once I made it, I loved the way it fit. I had to make no adjustments at all to the bodice (!!). I hand sewed the entire thing in just 7 days! The fabric is a 100% cotton print from the Old Sturbridge Village collection by Marcus Fabrics and lined with muslin. It is sewn with 35/2 unbleached linen. The handkerchief is also muslin.

The only thing remotely tricky about this dress is the sleeves. You can see how they come to a point over the shoulder blade. As a result, it's a bit tricky. But hand sewing is by far easier to manipulate funky corners like that. And this wasn't really tricky, but somehow my shoulder straps didn't line up right in the fashion fabric and were too wide, so I turned under the extra and voila, it worked. I would definitely use this pattern again!

The event was two days long and bitterly cold (50 degrees but a constant biting wind), which was totally unexpected (I was assured I would be roasting to death!) Hence the polar fleece cloak from my childhood - it USED to be a floor length cloak! :)

Thusly I took about 1 hour when I got home and a few hours in the morning in the car and at the beginning of my day there to whip up the wool mitts made from the Kannik's Korner pattern. They went together so easily and were very warm. I am thankful my mother-in-law had the wool laying around!

A recreation of Mankser's Station

The drawstring front led to some minor gaping, but that's totally normal
Note the narrow diamond shaped back - talk about creative shaping!

A "Transition Stay" Fashionable Circa 1796-1806

I made Past Patterns #030 transition stays because they were designed to go with a dress by the same company I really wanted to make. I bought the kit from Past Patterns with the linen thread. I had some issues fitting them and I still don't think they fit properly. I ended up taking over 4 inches out of the bust to get the compression the pattern said is appropriate. However I still had issues with the bust slipping. They are made of 2 layers of a heavy weight linen, boned with reed, and 100% hand sewn with 35/2 linen thread. It took about 2 weeks of dedicated work to finish them. The pattern came with 3 different boning patterns for the front. I took the recommendation to do the fully boned one due to bust size. The back and sides are only half boned however. The stays are front lacing. The main issue with this style of stays is there are no tabs at the waist edge, so it digs in somewhat. However, I wore these for 2 days straight and it really wasn't that uncomfortable. I don't think I would make them again, however, they did serve their intended purpose, and it was a good exercise in hand sewing.

Stays while flat. Ignore the missing eyelets!

From the front. Note the spiral lacing - correct for the time. The actual lace itself, not so accurate.

From the side

One back angle

Another back angle. I am not sure why the big wrinkles on this side

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Women's Shift, 1790-1820

About 2 months ago (March), I finished an early 1800s shift. I used the Kannik's Korner pattern by the above name and completely hand sewed the entire garment. It is made of 3.7 oz linen and 60/2 linen thread from W.M. Booth, Draper. I'm not sure how long it took me to make because I worked on it in bits and pieces since last October. It's my first 100% handsewn garment and lemme tell ya! I'm hooked on hand sewing.


To make the shift front and back with gores, you cut out a wide rectangle and a narrow one, and sew them together, then lay it flat matching the seams and cut diagonally. that gives you two identical pieces and you haven't wasted any fabric!
The back has gores to conserve fabric.
As you can see in this photo, the sleeves are set on using gussets, a very common style. Every piece of this shift is either a square or a rectangle.
Another view of the back gores
I wore it for the first time at Historic Mansker's Station in April.

Friday, February 19, 2016


 So living on a farm, there are animals. Some ours, some Jeremiah's folks. But today was such a nice day to wander around, they all got photographed. Introducing the menagerie!

Our cows - A purebred, registered Dexter cow and her now full grown bull calf (also purebred but not registered). We bought them thinking we would keep the cow and try to breed her and then milk her, but she is waaaaayyyyyyy too wild. I can't get less than 4 feet away from her or she spooks. Also, they are master escape artists. Or maybe my fence building skills are lacking. Either way, we play rodeo frequently. So, they are both for sale. (

Her name 
Our sheep - We have 2 Jacob sheep (ram and ewe) and an Icelandic sheep (ewe). We are hoping for a lamb this spring! Our sheep are kept with Jeremiah's mother's sheep.

Dodge - The one with the massive horns. He's the head honco
Freckles - Our baby. Dodge is her daddy and Jeremiah bottle fed her last year.
Sheepy - aka nameless sheep - She's the gray one in the background. She's also super shy but has lovely fleece!
And these are the mother-in-law's sheep.

Onion - MIL's ram - He insisted upon being photographed  first. 

Lipstick and her twin (a ewe and a ram) lambs born Feb 9
All the sheep!
Theres also 4 cats, a dog, a duck, 2 chickens, 6(?) rabbits, a horse and a mule inhabiting the farm. The cats and dog stopped me for a photo shoot on the way back in!

Callie aka the mama cat
Kevin aka the daddy cat
Kitties!! Born Jan 7, one long haired and one short haired.
And Buster, aka the crazy dog. He is a Treeing Feist aka a squirrel dog. He followed me the whole time!

Syrup Season!

In Middle TN, late January into February is maple syrup making time. Jeremiah and I got a tad of a late start, but we pulled out all the equipment and got started the first week of Feb. We were able to find all our taps but only 14 buckets, so we tapped 14 trees and began a mad hunt for more buckets and a 55 gal drum to collect sap with. After driving around from Dickson to Waverly and back home and more than half a day, we did find someone with a barrel, but he wanted to trade them for syrup! So commence frantic syrup making! Now, we have 30 trees tapped and have made about 1.5 gallons of syrup so far and have another 50 or so gallons of sap waiting for us! So how does one make syrup? My northern friends may know, but for those who don't...

1. Determine when your weather is right. The days have to be above freezing and the nights below freezing. This is what causes sap to flow!

2. Tap trees! We use 5/8" PVC pipe as taps. You drill into the tree until the wood shavings are wet (about 1/2-1") and pound your tap into the hole. Then stick a nail in the tree and hang your bucket! You want to make sure to not drill too near a scar from previous years tapping. Sugar maples are the best, but you can tap any maples. Alternatively, you could tap hickory or cherry tree for other kinds of syrup.
This is a 5 gal bucket for size comparison. 
3. When your buckets get partially full, collect your sap. You want to make sure you do this regularly and then cook it soon after, or the sap will go sour and you will be in for lots of scrubbing and bleaching to clean your buckets. We run our sap line with the tractor and a 55 gal drum. This is sap from yesterday.

4. Boil the sap. We have a 31 gallon stainless steel pan set up on a cinder block stove. The old syrup stove got run over and rusted out, so we had to improvise this year. Truthfully, we need a bigger pan. This year we are getting by, but in years past, Jeremiah has tapped over 100 trees and then there is way too much sap for a small pan like this one. When you are boiling the sap, you want  to make sure to skim off any debris or foam and to not let the level get too low. However, you don't want to add and add and add sap, or you will end up with a very dark and strong syrup. SO...

5. Finish it off inside. When the syrup starts to get amber in color or gets too low in the pan, transfer it to small pots. We have some on the wood stove and some on the electric stove. You want to cook it until it is a dark amber, tastes like syrup, and begins to coat a spoon. Or, 230F for the more technical people. 

6. Enjoy your homemade syrup! This is some we finished yesterday and by this morning, Jeremiah's younger brothers had already got into it! For the trees we use in our location, it is about 35-40 gallons of sap to 1 gallon of syrup.

We have no idea how much finished syrup we will have this year, but we hope to pick up production next year! This year hasn't been the best weather either, so hopefully it will be better next year. 

What We've Been Up To

I am back to the blog after a winter away! Lots has happened since I last posted. In late November we were laid off from our jobs at Parelli and moved back home to TN to live with Jeremiah's parents. We spent a good bit of the fall deer hunting and Jeremiah got 2 deer. Thus I learned how to butcher deer, We spent Christmas in FL with my family. Most of our time has just been spent as life as usual on the farm. Now it's syrup season and fixing to be spring. Hopefully I can be a little bit more regular with the posts!