Saturday, December 31, 2011

Waiting For a Train

Recently, while travelling, I stopped in a charming Missouri town.  My plan was to fill my car's tank with some gasoline and maybe grab a snack for myself.  Like many midwest towns, there are train tracks right across main street.  This particular day a train was on the tracks and wasn't moving.  The train was just stopped.  No train engine could be heard.  It was just sitting there.  The gas station is on the other side of the train from me. 
I am on the wrong side of the tracks.  Do you ever feel that way?  On the wrong side of the tracks?  There's a big fat obstacle between you and your destination and it just makes you feel grouchy.   

Looking under the train, I could see a motorcycle.  It kind of felt like the motorcycle was taunting me.  The gas station is right over there next to it.  The motorcycle rider is probably enjoying his snack.
At first the situation was exasperating.  I was looking around my car in frustration and there was my camera.  Hmmm...  My camera.  Perhaps there is something interesting, beautiful, or amusing nearby.  Hmmmm...  Maybe I can find some joy!  
At first, pictures were snapped out my car window.  Here's the railroad crossing and the train.  Red blinking lights make me think of Christmas decorations.  Check out the pretty colors in this store's display window.   

Then I snapped some pictures out my car's sun roof.  There were these interesting old building all around me.  Some were in better condition than others. 

There's duct tape on the fire hydrant.  Hmm...  'Wonder what happened there. 

At this point, I am hoping the train hangs out for a while.  I kind of like waiting for a train.  Why do I hurry and rush so much?

Stepping out of the car, this sign catches my eye.  I'm not sure why this upside down sign cracks me up, but it does.  It made me think of the circus.  Have you ever been to the circus and there are performers that don't walk into the spotlight, they tumble and cart wheel and flip into the spot light?  This sign made me wonder what it would be like if we all stopped walking, and started cart wheeling, flipping and tumbling.   

Then this nice pedestrian starts talking to me.  She was a sweetheart.  Don't you love nice pedestrians that share their day with you?  I wondered if she could do cart wheels, but wasn't sure how to ask.  She said it was OK to take her picture, but she didn't want to smile.  Can you see her sweet spirit? 
  We heard the train engine start, so I hopped back in my car. 

On to my destination... 

I have to wonder if life is about destinations or obstacles.  This particular day, it was about an obstacle.  A big, fat, charming obstacle filled with joy. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Chicks!

With this post, I am sending a special wink to Pee Wee who asked to hear about our chickens.  *wink*

The Chicks

Part of the fun on this one acre farm just happens to be chickens.  We have seven hens.  You can see from the photos we have a mixed flock.

In the above photo - Ruby is the soft buff red hen.  Lily is black.  Rachel is red and black.  Sunshine is black and white.  Aren't they gorgeous?!?!

They are such sweet girls!  'Kind of like dogs, but with feathers.  The ladies all have names and distinct personalities. 

Here is Sunshine.  She has always been very friendly.
Ruby, the Matriarch of the Flock.  No one messes with Ruby, not even the dogs!
Lily is one of the younger hens.  Her feathers shimmer green and purple when she is in the sun.
  Violet is an interesting smoky gray with red on her neck.  She almost looks blue.
 Scarlet is the same soft buff red color as Ruby, but she's not as heavy or as bossy.
 Daisy is a lovely bright red hen.  She is very shy.  Can you see her behind the old redbud tree?  Lily and Violet are so pretty posing for the camera!
If you're wondering about having chicks of your own, here are some benefits:

1.  Fresh Eggs - On average, a healthy hen will lay about five eggs per week.
2.  Japanese Beatles don't stand a chance against a chicken.  'Just sayin...
3.  Chickens are so dern CUTE!  They make great pets.  When we arrive home, our five dogs come racing to the fence with a wonderful welcome.  Well, right behind them are the "dogs with feathers" clucking another welcome!  It's nice to feel so loved! 

In this photo, Mr. Big Stuff is feeding Rachel, Violet, Daisy and Ruby.  It's funny how they follow him around.  This is a much better photo of Daisy.  Can you see her bright red feathers? 
If you're now sold on getting yourself some chicks, here are some warnings:

1.  They need protection from predators.  In our neighborhood, that means house cats and a pesky hawk.  (We have a pen that is completely enclosed in chicken wire.  That's where they spend the night in a nice warm house Handsome Husband built.  During the day, they are loose in the back yard with our dogs.)
2.  Chickens are not allowed in all municipalities.  Please check local city codes.  It would be terrible if your local dog catcher became the local chicken catcher!
3.  They can be messy.  For a while, ours wanted to sit on the table on our patio.  ACK!  Hens train easily though.  Consistently shoo them and give them plenty of room elsewhere.  Everyone is clucking happily now. 
Handsome Husband calls our dogs "The Other Children" and he calls our hens "The Other Dogs".  I don't think our Stone Cottage Adventures would be complete without them!  They fill our days with happy clucking and lots of joy.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chubby Fashionista Christmas Cape

Would you like to know what Chubby Fashionista wears to church on Christmas morning?  Let me show you.  A humongus feather bow and a winter white cape covering a cream and gold dress. 
Doesn't she have the prettiest eyes and the cutest nose? 
Would you like a tutorial for the Chubby Fashionista Christmas Cape?  Here is your supply list:

1 Old Sweater
About 1 yard of 2 inch Ribbon
Sewing machine
OK.  So I've had this winter white boucle' sweater for a couple of years.  It had been a favorite, but now I'm just kind of tired of it.  The sweater had been washed several times so it is all kinds of soft.  Hmmm...  It's always fun to sew things for Chubby Fashionista!  She makes everything look good! 

Start by laying it flat on a Christmas quilted bed.  I like that the bottom of the sweater is already kind of swingy.
I decide to cut the sweater just above the swingy part.  My plan is to use the couple inches above the swingy part to gather the cape and add a ribbon tie. 
 Here is the sweater after cutting. 
I sewed a straight line using my longest sewing machine stitch with the hope of gathering the top part of the sweater.
The boucle' was just too poofy to gather that way, so on to Plan B.  Using a one inch ruler, I pleated the top part of the cut sweater.  I had to do this on the machine.  My straight pins were no match for the poofiness of the boucle'. 
It was nice to have the straight seam there, as I used it for a stitching guide.  Using the ruler, I would measure a one inch pleat and stitch it about halfway.  With the needle down to hold everything in place, I would measure another one inch pleat and sew it halfway.  I kept repeating this until it was pleated all the way across.  
It felt like a tedious process, only sewing about one inch at a time, but here is the swingy part of the sweater with pleats.  I love that there will be lots of sweater fabric for snuggling our gorgeous little girl. 
Next, I sewed a two inch ribbon over the pleating.  I kept it low enough so that only soft sweater will be against Chubby Fashionista's neck.  
So, here is our stand in model that will actually hold still while photos are being taken! 
 I'm thrilled with the end result! 
Why, yes, of course, I will post the tutorial for Chubby Fashionista's Hat !
I know.  I know.  Bring out the real Chubby Fashionista!  Here she is...  ready for church on Christmas morning!

I hope your Christmas morning was filled with joy!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake

There are probably a lot of great cooks in your family, along with plenty of great recipes, but if you ever have room for one more recipe...  WOW!  You gotta check out this one! 

This is my new FAVORITE desert recipe for Christmas.  Pretty Girl made it for our celebration, and oh, my,  I am so glad she did!  Red Velvet Cheesecake from Willow Bird Baking .  (Willow Bird Baking has an entire page dedicated to cheesecake recipes !) 

'Sorry.  No pictures.  That's how fast we ate it! 

I hope your Christmas was filled with joy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I've Been Featured!!

This is so EXCITING!!

Stone Cottage Dog Biscuits *  have been featured over at The Rhinestone Beagle !!  It is the cutest blog.  If you have furry family members, you absolutely must check out the action at The Rhinestone Beagle ! 
Rhinestone Beagle
I'm just dying to make these darling dog portraits!  We have five dogs.  I'll need to buy construction paper in bulk!
Rhinestone Beagle
The name of the blog  The Rhinestone Beagle  just makes me smile!  Give them a visit!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kickapoo Joy Juice

Handsome Husband was at the refrigerator getting a drink for Mr. Big Stuff.  He asked Mr. B if he would like some Kickapoo Joy Juice.  Everyone laughed.  I asked if he had just made that up.  Handsome Husband said it was a drink for sale at Dogpatch USA, where he worked as a teenager. 

We googled it.  Sure enough!  We found a site for Dogpatch USA

and for Kickapoo Joy Juice

Kickapoo Joy Juice 1

How funny!  When I was a child, my family would visit Dogpatch USA one weekend each summer.  It was a small amusement park in the back woods of North Central Arkansas based on Al Capp's Lil Abner comic strip.  (I didn't remember Kickapoo Joy Juice though.)  The gift shop had all kinds of hillbilly items for sale.  I actually found a family photo with some goofy kids wearing Lil Abner inspired hats.  My brother is wearing a Confederate soldier hat, while my sister and I went for the trend setting hillybilly hats complete with corn cob pipes.  Yeah, we were trendsetters all right!  'Not sure why we are all leaning over.  Kickapoo Joy Juice?  Just goofy?    
According to Wikipedia, the theme park opened in 1968, but was opened and closed several times as ownership changed hands.  It's been closed since the early 90's and appears to be in shambles today.  I don't really know about all that, but I do know I have some fun memories of Dogpatch USA from my childhood. 

Mr. Big Stuff got a little confused about Kickapoo Joy Juice and has been calling his drink "Kick a Boy Joy Juice"!  He fills our Stone Cottage with laughter! 
I guess a little bit of Dogpatch USA will live on for our family!  Thank you for sharing our joy!

Edit:  We found Kickapoo Joy Juice at Atwoods!  It tastes kind of like Mountain Dew

;-)  -Marci

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I've Been Featured!!

'Exciting news!  One of my posts has been FEATURED over at Ladybird Lane in such a lovely Christmas-y way!
Please take a look at all the joyous inspiration at Ladybird Lane's features for this week.  You just have to see it for yourself.

Please have a very Merry Christmas filled with joy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Word about My Sponsor

Last week, an exciting email was received!  Someone wants to sponsor my blog!!  How thrilling!!  Maybe I am posting something that is readable?!  Maybe a photo here or there is OK?!  Oh, and get this - It's a company I recognize!  A company I already love!

Thank you, Shabby Apple!  You absolutely made my day! 

I could gush over so many of their products!  Take a look!  There is a wide range of dresses for work.
Grey Cotton T-Shirt DressA swath of soft jersey gathers at the hip for a twist on the comfy day dress in El Dorado.  The cayenne olored frock features a v-neckline and elbow length sleeves, with a knee-length circle skirt.  Effortlessly comfortable and chic on its own, or dolled up with a shrunken blazer and boots for cooler weather, this dress will soon be traveling with you wherever your next adventure takes you.Green Floral Dress with Exposed Zipper and Cap SleevesA true fashionista need not sacrifice style for utility, and with the Antisuyu dress, you get an extra dose of each. A cool white poplin top, ruched and gathered at the bustline and cap sleeves, floats above a sturdy canvas skirt equipped with a grid of cargo pockets.   Perfect for a night out (who needs to carry a handbag when you've got a dress to do the job!?) with snakeskin heels and a woven belt, you'll never have to worry about where to stash you keys and phone while you salsa the night away.
And for special occasions, but my favorite dresses are for the Lil Fashionistas! 
Floral little girl’s dress that hits below the knee and tie around the waist.Patterned tuxedo little girl’s dress with ruffles on bodice and three quarter length sleeves.Floral little girl’s dress that hits below the knee, has cap sleeves, and brown sash.Red flowered little girl’s dress with patched pockets at the front and puffy cap sleeves and snap button closure.
Don't you love these sassy little models.  How stinkin' cute are they in their Shabby Baby dresses!! 

Shabby Apple also has accessories and home decor.

So, anyway...  Wow!  I'm tickled to have a sponsor.  Get to know them.  I bet you will be tickled with Shabby Apple, too!  Thank you for sharing my joy!