Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Tourist Season has Begun!!

We have just completed our first Cycling Tour with the most fantastic people and it went better than expected!! We need to do some tweaking and make a few changes but that was to be expected.

We took a break from all our work one weekend and took the kids out for a cycle. This hill was a bit of a problem, in fact we scrapped this route from our tours -- too hilly. Although if you are an avid cyclist we have an alternative route and this is the hill you would be going down!!! Needless to say, my children were cursing me under there breath while I took this photo. FarmerBoy and DS2 were behind me and there was quite a bit of mumbling going on with them as well!!!
Today, was like Christmas of sorts. I received my first shipment of fabric for my little shop!!! 50 bolts of Moda Marbles. They are 4.5metere bolts which is perfect for a small operator like myself and a great way to bulk up your shelves without spending a fortune. I have ordered 16 bolts of Thimbleberries and they will be shipped out in June from the states (I can't wait to see if I make out better purchasing through the states). I am also considering another order of some Henry Glass fabric that I have had my eye on.

After the Spring Market I will be putting in an order with Moda for some of their upcoming lines. As well as purchasing some nice patterns. I have a small budget to get this up and running so hopefully I will make some good choices - - I will be doing some serious praying!!!!!

I have been spending what little free time I have had putting together some nifty little classes that I am going to offer this Autumn and Winter. Please send me lots of good vibes!!!!
See that big patch of dirt??? That is our vegetable garden, all 45 ft x 90 ft of it! We have sown about 500 potato seed and we are going to be constructing a 20 ft x 13 ft poly tunnel on it tomorrow. We have broccoli, beets, turnip, pumpkins, strawberries, beans, parsnips, carrots and cabbage!!!! In the poly tunnel there will be tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, courgettes and basil. We are so exhausted from all of this but it will be well worth it when all is said and done.

Well, I am off now to the Garden Center. I need to buy special spray for our potatoes since we have already had blight warnings!!!! I also have to replace some of my strawberry plants, it appears that the sheep love strawberry plants!!!! This prompted FarmerBoy to go out and put up the electric fencing!!!!

Bye All!!!!
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Busy Busy March!!

It has been a very busy month, March that is! We have been doing alot of work on the house, painting mostly - both inside and out. I have also been building a new website all by myself!!! I am meeting up with some of FarmerBoy's relations on Sunday and hopefully we can get it up on the internet, keep your fingers crossed!

The first picture over there is my driveway, or rather the lane that leads to my home. It is a quarter of a mile long and is the greatest asset we have. A guest once told me that it reminded him of the show Dallas!!! Okay, whatever!!!! We certainly don't have JR's money but the thought was nice... The downside with a lane like this is that it requires a tremendous amount of maintenance, the gravel has to be raked, holes have to be filled, and the goarse (the prickly green brush) has to be trimmed back. Can you guess what else has to be done? If you guessed the fence you were right! We have been painting the fence on every nice day we get and child labor laws be damned -- crack the whip and let's get painting!!!! We are a third of the way done or maybe a little more than that. There is sheep wire on the fence so it really slows you down and FarmerBoy is a perfectionist so it is pure torture.
The kitchen has been painted, sitting room painted, one of the guest bedrooms has been painted and hopefully the downstairs hallway and stairwell will be done soon. The vegetable garden has been plowed and we are planning to harrow it soon, need to get my potatoes in. The seed trays are done and are in the mini greenhouse. Hmmm, what else have we done!!!

The darling children have all started their GAA season and training is going on, I am in the car non-stop! Middle son is prepping for his second music exam and has sung a solo at church and will be singing at the First Holy Communion this year with the choir.

We purchased a 9 seater bus for our cycling/walking business. I have a meeting with Failte Ireland Business development this week about marketing supports for the activity holiday business. We seem to be going non-stop and hopefully things will come together soon. It took us two weeks of phone calls to find out where to get public liability insurance for the cycling business and it took a week and a half for our insurance agent to give us a quote for our mini bus. Talk about frustration, sweet mother of Jerusalem there are moments when you want to scream!!!!!!

Last night I finally got to sit in my small cubby hole and sew. What a delight it was and I am now up to date with my BOM Mystery Designer Quilt. I have some bindings that need to be sewn down and two quilts that need to be machine quilted which I will hopefully have done soon. I have also decided, after some encouragement from some of my Irish friends in the village, to give quilting lessons one morning a week in the local community center. I will put a notice up in the village in late August as well as the local notes in the paper and the two churches in our village. I am meeting with a rep for a fabric company this week and am going to dabble in selling fabric as well. Do you think I just might have a full plate?? So, now you know why I have been absent for the past few weeks and hopefully I will be less negligent with my blog going forward or at least until all the guests starting flooding in (I can dream can't I!!!!).
All the best!
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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cute Little Lambs...Not!!!

First, let me dispel some ideas that some of you may have!! Lambs may be cute but they are a nuisance and they bite!!

These pictures were taken on Friday, the pet lambs have become soooo impatient about getting their bottles they have now taken up residence in our garden. All four of them parade around the house baaing all day long and leave you know what all over the concrete footpath that winds around the house!!!!

Imagine coming down first thing in the morning for a cup of coffee and the first sight you see when you enter the kitchen is four faces peering in at you through a set of french doors!!! And not only are they peering at you but banging the door with their heads and baaing non stop. When you open the door they all charge to come in and let me tell you folks they have hard little heads....

Even the kitten is dismayed, she slinks around them and when they come over to say hello she leaps up onto the window sill. Our golden retreiver, Sophie, ignores them and refuses to look at them when they come up to her and poke her... It's as if she's thinking, "if I don't look at you, then you simply don't exist"!

Can you imagine some poor American or Dutch couple coming to our door and being attacked by this marauding group of hooligans... it might be funny if you were in your car watching and certainly the next morning after breakfast we would all be chuckling, but during the assault -- not so funny!!!

The last straw was this morning, the little suffolk lamb (her picture is below or rather her mug shot!) bit my DD, yes they have teeth and they can be quite sharp!! She broke the skin and we had blood. This happens every year, we disinfect the cut and move on, but still it hurts. They also took up camp around my rose bushes and started eating all the new leaves as well as trampling down the spring flowers that are starting to pop up through the ground.... This was an act of war as far as I was concerned.

I have been scrubbing and scrubbing for days; we are getting the house ready for the upcoming tourist season and they were creating havoc outside which simply means more work for me.... cute lambs my foot!!!!!
FarmerBoy and I had to expel them immediately. We pretended to be their friends and coaxed them with their bottles, once they had finished and were too full to realize that we were not their friends, we grabbed the two biggest ones and carried them to the field with the best security and put them over the fence!!! The two little ones wanted no part of this and ran like bats out of h*ll, squeezing their little bodies through the rails of the fence and running up the field. They must have met up with the rest of their gang because we haven't seen them for two hours. My only hope is that they aren't hiding somewhere preparing to ambush me when I go out for firewood, trust me people if they were just a little smarter they would be a force to be reckoned with!!!!!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Long and Winding Road!

Hello everyone!! Sooo very sorry that I have been absent for the past week. I have been thinking about my blog and thinking about projects that need working on (that I would love to share), but to be honest with you I have been mostly trying to earn a living!!

Times are really tough right now for people all over the globe. FarmerBoy and I are very blessed in many ways but as some of you know we are facing some truly challenging economic problems in this house and my priorities are focused on those challenges, not quilting!! I have been finding it particularly difficult to focus on projects and sewing, my lack of interest and motivation makes me sad sometimes but this too shall pass. We faced yet another difficult challenge today and spent a good part of the day discussing how to overcome yet another hurdle!!! Enough said!

I hope that you will come back and visit and forgive me for my lack of inspirational posts -- hopefully by the end of this week we will have reached the end of this road and things will be looking a little bit more cheery!!!!

This picture is of a road that we love to travel on!!! I took this picture in November while FarmerBoy and I were out mapping our cycling routes. We never encounter cars on this road and it takes you up into the Mt. Leinster Park which has the most spectacular views of Carlow and Wicklow. I so wish that I could share this beautiful countryside with you!! Our business goal is to get people out of their rental cars and travel these back roads with us, this is the real Ireland!! Whenever I map out itineraries for people that are staying with me for a couple of days, they get a little nervous when I inform them they are hitting the back roads!! Trust me I tell them!!! I will send you to places and you will see things that are gorgeous and are not in your guide books. Well, they return to the house in the evening sooo excited and bursting to tell me about all the great villages and people that they met!!!!!

Now I just need to get my quilting mojo back!!!!!
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Machine Quilting Lesson 2!

First, I took a picture of the bottles that are used for the lambs! We have to make formula several times a day and fill up 5 bottles and head off to the field. Because we have a young family there is always alot of help getting the feeding done. The only problem is being here to do it. If we have activities like most families we have to plan quick trips home between these activities to feed the little lambkins. We were in and out alot yesterday!!! The things we can accomplish when we set our minds to it!!!!

I took a picture of the second step in my machine quilting lesson!! I wanted to quilt flowers on the border and I practiced with pen and paper first, then I practiced on some fabric and wadding. As you can see I then progressed to the quilt with my hands shaking, the thought of having to unpick a messy job was foremost in my mind LOL!!!!!

Not bad if I do say so myself, I think I'm getting the hang of this. I have come to the conclusion that if you want to be proficient at machine quilting you have to work at it every week. I usually let my quilt tops pile up and go months between machine quilting because I have never learned to do it properly or better yet given myself the chance to learn how to do it properly.

I spent some time on the internet looking for instructions and videos on machine quilting and this is how I have been teaching myself. I have half a pad of paper full of continuous line drawings. I thankfully had saved all the remnants of wadding that had been trimmed off previous quilts and used those to practice on.
The last photo is the back side of the quilt. I am glad that I have taken the time to do all this practicing and research, I can confidently say that I have conquered my fear of machine quilting. I can piece quilts with great precision and I have some seriously good sharp points but I was always let down with the final step.

All the best and keep quilting!!!!
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Machine Quilting - Lesson 1

I have spent a few hours last night and an hour this morning finishing up the machine quilting on this quilt. There are plenty of people who can machine quilt circles around me!!! I am a true novice although with each project that I have worked on this week my skills are improving!

This is one of the quilts that I made for the twin grandnieces of FarmerBoy's, he is putting serious pressure on me to get both quilts done so that he can deliver them. With much trepidation I got them ready and away I went. I wanted to keep it simple yet add a bit of whimsy, every so often I would quilt a few hearts! These pictures don't really do justice to the quilt, it has turned out ok!! I have a pile of quilts to machine quilt so I should be fairly proficient in no time LOL!!!!

Finding time to do the above quilting is proving to be more difficult, we seem to be constantly on the go and I have had to take over some of the farm chores this past week. FarmerBoy has picked up a few odd jobs but of course they are time consuming and the jobs have to be done immediately or else they will find someone else. He has been putting in 14 - 16 hour days away from home so myself and the kids have had to pick up the slack. We are getting ready to go load up the jeepwith sugar beet and then spread it around the field so that the sheep have something to eat. Grass is becoming sparse so we need to get them taken care of until beginning of March. The grass is starting to grow, in fact my front lawn needs to be mowed and today would be a perfect day since it is quite warm.
We are going to the garden center this week to start preparing for a veggie garden. I am also going to start my trays of flowers so that my window boxes are blooming in May!!! The house looks so bare without flowers, spring is right around the corner -- Yea!!!!!!!!!
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Anyone care for a Cuppa?

I just finished this, it only took me 6 months to complete!! I came up with this little design myself -- just winged it or rather I flew by the seat of my pants!!!

Last spring and summer everything was about cupcakes... I wanted to do something for my kitchen table or a wall hanging with said cupcakes but I had no patterns. So off I went and thought about it!

A cupcake is usually in a paper liner and it gives the appearance of a fan-fold, how could I achieve the same look?? I made up a square with 1 inch strips (about 10 strips), then I used my steam-a-seam lite and ironed that to the back. after this I drew out the shape of the cupcake base. I had never done any applique so this was a learning exercise for me as well as an exercise in embroidery since I did a back stitch for the cherry stem!!!!

This table runner has also served as an exercise in machine quilting, something that I am not fond of doing. I did a small stipple around the cupcakes and lettering, and a then a floral vine on the border which I am very happy with.
I of course had my companion sitting by my side, basking in the sun!! My DD's little kitten was sleeping on the chair next to me -- what a perfect day.

We have a very busy afternoon here at Casa Kilbora, I have to go get the children, bottle feed the lambkins and then run off to our local town to fulfill my volunteer requirements for an organization we are involved in. I'm glad that I set aside some time this morning to get this finished, now I have to find some fabric for the binding!

All the best and keep smiling!!!
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Sunday, February 8, 2009

When is Spring Coming?

Very soon my little friends, very soon! Here are a few photos that I took this past week while out amongst my flock!!!

I feel so sorry for them, the snow melted with in 24 hours but still it must be miserable for them. The lambs look at me as if to say, please let me go with you into the white house over there.
The mothers let me get fairly close to the lambs which was amazing, the must be getting use to us being around them. Come summer time they will run the minute we climb over the fence.

I was standing at my bedroom window ironing 2 weeks ago and 2 cars pulled into our lane and a load of people got out, including children. Our home is on a hill and the lane way is 1/4 mile long but you have a clear view of the entrance. Anywho, these people lined up along the fence and I could see flashes going off!! They had no idea they were being watched!!!! The sheep thought it was me (they aren't too bright) and started running for the fence thinking it was meal time!!!!! The flashes were going off at an alarming rate, they were there for a good while. FarmerBoy told me that I should have brought down the bottles and had them do some bottle feeding for us!!!!

We often have guests in the B&B going out to feed baby lambs, my husband rounds them up (the guests!!) and brings them right out to the field. My daughter is the best, she took a group of Italian tourists (at the age of 7) out to the field to introduce them to our pet lambs -- she was talking away to the people and not one of them spoke any English!!! LOL I hope my kids remember all of this when the are older...
Speaking of which, I think they need a lesson in snowman building!!!!!! It looked like the leaning tower of Pisa!!!!!

Have a good one, I need to go and make icing for a special little girl's birthday cake.

Keep smiling!
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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Snow in Ireland!!

Yes, you heard me right -- we have had a good deal of snow this week!! We probably won't see this much stuff for another 20 years so I spent some time taking photos and encouraging the kids to play away in it.

The first photo is around 12:00 on Monday, after which I received a phone call to pick up the kiddos at school. The second picture was taken later in the afternoon, it was piling up fast. Now, just so that you understand how serious this could have been, we don't have snow plows or trucks for spreading salt or grit!!!!! The council grits the roads with sand but mostly the main roads which leaves most of the poplulation stranded in the coutryside. The backroads were frightening, really frightening!

My children don't really remember snow, the oldest kinda does or so he says. They were so overjoyed that they could actually play in the snow before it melted and when school was called off for Tuesday, holy cow you though we had won the lottery!!!

I would like to add however that it was not fun going out and bottlefeeding some of our lambs. Some of the little creatures had sought shelter in the ditch, this meant that FarmerBoy and I as well as the kids had to climb through the briars looking for them. Two of the more delicate lambs died. We speculate that they just weren't strong enough for the cold and wind. By right they should have been in the sheds but FarmerBoy has been helping out other family members and was not able to get home before dark to move them in.
The next morning was gorgeous, bright and sunny and my three darlings pulled out a sled and plastic bags (Feed Bags) and set about hitting the slopes on one of our fields.

I am hoping to get some quilting done this weekend, I have been working on one of my old projects and am planning on getting some BOMs done. I also want to get one of my quilts pinned for machine quilting. So many things to do and so little time!!!

I have been a very bad blogger the past two weeks, I have to get back to doing this more regularly. Maybe I should keep a small notebook and jot down ideas for blog posts. I often find that I don't know what to blog about. Some weeks are filled with family and farm activity and then some weeks I get to do alot of quilting!!!

I have more great photos to share with you which I will do in the coming days!!

Bye everyone and keep smiling!!!!
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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Retreat Irish Style!

What a weekend!! A group of 10 women gathered here in my home from Friday evening until this afternoon for a weekend of sewing and chatting! I had the pleasure of working with two new quilters who are working on their very first projects and it is a great deal of fun to see the sense of achievement with a beginner!!! These photos were taken earlier on Saturday before the rest of the group arrived from Clare/Tipperary.

These gals put in some serious sewing time, I even heard that a few came close to seeing the sun rise this Sunday morning!!! Yikes...

Plentiful food, good wine, Margaritas (thank you Cathi!!!) and a viewing of Mama Mia!!! What more could you ask for?!

I have to say a big thank you to my DH and children for allowing me to do this! My children are very good at not only entertaining themselves and guests but for also being so helpful. DS1 made breakfast for everyone on Sunday morning, Pancakes I might add, while I slept in. He also was great about making pots of tea and pitching in with the kitchen!!

DS2 was his usual entertaining self regaling any willing participant to his "imagine if you" stories -- you really needed to be there to understand that one just ask Laura and Michelle!!!

Of course nothing would be complete without my DD pitching in. She sat with Jessie and encouraged her with her quilting. Jessie is idolized by my children because she is always prying them with delicious treats!!! On her recent trip to Minnesota for Christmas she loaded up on tootsie rolls for them -- my picture on the mantle will soon be replaced by hers!!!!! In fact Jessie's fabric is the second picture, she calls it her Mary Tyler Moore fabric -- it reminds her of the decor in MTM's apartment!!

A very big thank you to Alanna for pitching in and being an enourmous help to me!!! Alanna and Jessie were my students for the weekend. Alanna picked a project out but when we went to start we realized how difficult it was going to be for her. I know it will be slow going but she will be thrilled with the end result.

Well, I am going to sign off because I honestly can't keep my eyes open and I need to get the uniforms washed for school tomorrow and my DH wants to sit and watch a movie. I am sure you will be able to read all about the retreat from Sherry and Cathi who were present and are also bloggers

Thank you all for participating especially the women who came (Laura, Michelle and Allison) not knowing anyone and jumped right in with Sherry, Cathi, Rebecca and Linda. All the best and looking forward to another gathering!!!
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just Another Day

Not much to share with you this past week, we have been very busy lambing and assorted family duties!

FarmerBoy is out there feeding the ewes and their lambs, this is the view from my little sewing nook. The weather is lousy hence the rain on the window but you can kinda make out the lambs and their mudders.

This weekend is the the quilting retreat here at our house, including myself there will be 13 people participating. I will fill you in on the details on Monday!

Gotta run, too much to do today and not enough time to chat. All the best!

Keep Smiling!
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Today was a Special Day!

Today, 20 January 2009 was a special day! At 1:00pm Irish time, 8:00am Washington DC time, I turned on the computer and found the CBS (large tv station in the US) website and settled in for a day of watching the Presidential Inauguration of the USA.

Why was it so special? This is going to be the only time I let my politics show on this blog, and I am doing it for a reason. I was overjoyed that Barack Obama was elected; I have been telling my children all about him and his life; I have explained to them who Martin Luther King Jr. was and what he stood for; they know the story of Rosa Parks; DS1 is reading Muhammed Ali's new book and loving it; and they know that 45 years ago Barack Obama and his family would not be allowed to dine in restaurants in certain parts of America! When they came home from school their dinner was ready and we sat on the sofa and watched this historic event. They understand the significance of his election and for the first time, one of my children said, "I 'm proud that we're Americans".

Last night on tv there was an American law professor, who teaches at NUI Galway, that summed up what it has been like to be an American living abroad for the past 8 years. It hasn't always been pleasant. I probably have felt it more so than other Americans because I am in the hospitality business and would have people from all over the world staying at my home. The amount of American bashing that I have had to listen to both personally from guests, the community I live in and the media has been difficult at times. I keep my mouth shut and rant to my husband!!!! Even my children have been subjected to the most awful remarks at school. It wouldn't happen every day and maybe you would go weeks without a negative word, but every so often it would happen. ****And just so that you know that I do keep my sense of humor with some situations - I have on one or two occasions where I didn't feel like debating with someone, told them I was Canadian!!!!!!! LOL So to all you Canadian readers I thank you!!!

President Obama has a heavy load to carry right now and I know that he is the right man for the right job. So, today was a special day and I will secretly admit an emotional day, but the tears that were shed today were tears of hope and joy not anguish and sorrow!

I am going to go put my soapbox away and I hope that I didn't offend anyone, but I really felt the need to share!!!!
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Monday, January 19, 2009

Block 1 Revision!

Sorry, I had to post a picture of block 1 with her eyes and mouth drawn on as well as the vine that holds the leaves! I have to press it although in person the block doesn't look this puckered, maybe this picture is before I did the final pressing. My mind is a fog, I just can't remember.

Tonight is a big night for us! We are enrolling our oldest son in secondary school, high school to some of you!!!! I can't believe my baby is going to secondary school. And the scary part is he is almost as tall as me which by the way is 5'11". It seems like only yesterday we were taking him to school for the first time... good god the years are flying by.

Take care and keep smiling!!!
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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tisket A Tasket Block 1

I have been rehearsing fabrics for the Bunny Hill BOM and this is what I made up tonight. My DS#2 when asked said that there should be blue in the block because January is blue!!! OK! I have some simplicity fat quarters and the perfect print for a basket and it's blue...

I have a stack of Lakehouse Fabrics charm packs so I thought what the heck, pull out a couple of those and here we are. I used polka dot fabric for my snowwoman and my children don't like it. I don't think I do either LOL. The more I look at it the more I am beginning to wonder if there might just be too many polka dots. I think I will leave it for now and blanket stitch around the pieces and finish up the embroidery. All of the pieces, with the exception of the basket were cut from charm squares and I had two charm squares in my hand for the basket and that would have worked as well.

Once he has his eyes and mouth he will look much better!!!!

We had horrendous weather here in the Southeast of Ireland today. The rain was unreal and the wind was really rough, my poor baby lambs are out in the field hiding in the hedges trying to keep warm. Poor things!

All the best to everyone!
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