Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Just a Little Crafty and A Crafting Fail

I am not what most people would call artsy. With me function is king. When my wife told me she really wanted a bedside table I said, "We have those old potato crates that can be stacked and make a real nice bedside table". I thought it would look nice, but that was not the look she was hoping for. She still doesn't have that table, it was not that high on the priorities list.

If I were to try to define my style, I would call it Rustic Chic. Before today I didn't even know that was a term and I still believe it was only coined so folks like me could feel like we are at least a little in style with something. In fact the term is being debated as to whether it is a complement to rural/country people or an insult. Let's see, city people buying things to decorate their homes or offices to look like what they think country peoples homes used to look like. Hum, I don't care. Some people just want to be offended. I wouldn't care if they called it Rural Chic. Hey I may have coined a new term.

It is the holiday season and we are rapidly coming up on Christmas. Fresh cut Christmas trees have arrived by the thousands at local home improvement, department stores, and even vacant lots. Before these beautiful trees go to homes and are decorated for the season the bottom branches are removed and part of the lower stump is cut off and discarded. That is where the gears should start turning in our heads.

As you can see in the picture above I took some of the limbs that were trimmed and decorated the hearth. We had the artificial poinsettia blooms and the painted pine cones already. Total cost of this decoration zero dollars.

On To The Trunk

From the trunk I decided to make drink coasters. I am not sure where I got the idea, but a friend of mine and myself both decided to do the same thing. He was lucky enough to work the Christmas trees on Black Friday, so he was able to use the electric chainsaw and cut pieces to the right thickness from the very beginning. I wasn't so lucky so I took all of the larger pieces I could find. I have found that larger pieces are easier to work with and you can get more coasters out of each piece.

This would be really easy if I had a band saw, but I don't so I am using the fold-able pruning saw that I keep in the truck with me. The most challenging parts are trying to keep a consistent thickness between the pieces (or at least close enough) and keeping each piece the same thickness all the way across. Some variation is acceptable and adds character to the coaster, but I do not want the glass to look like it is leaning. I had to throw a couple away due to uneven thickness.

There you go. Just a little sanding and a coat or two of spar varnish and these coaster will last for years. Great for the home, great as gifts and if you don't varnish them they only cost you some time and sweat. By the way you cannot find coaster like this on Amazon, at least I have not been able to and on eBay a set of 4 runs from $10.00 to $20.00 a set.

The coaster pictured above is large enough to be a pot holder as well.

A word if warning if the 12 coasters I cut 9 cracked. I don't know if this is unique to Douglas Fir. I have never had wood crack this bad before.

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May you have Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes.

For instructions on making a homemade wreath you can go here. You can always scale it down to fit your need.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Incredible Homemade Christmas (Giveaway)

Erica Mueller's photo.

During the Holiday season we tend to focus on others. We buy or make gifts for those we care about. There is something special about a hand made item. Something that someone has taken the time to craft themselves. They have put a part of who they are into these items.

We as a culture spend way too much time at the big box stores and then many of us complain about the slow death of small business. Well here is your opportunity to win some great stuff and help promote small and cottage based businesses. With over $240 worth of prizes one lucky winner will receive several small gifts in the mail over the next couple of weeks. Just imagine never knowing if one of these great things will show up in your mail each day. I really encourage all of you to share this giveaway on any social media you might participate in. We are helping the little man and woman stake a claim in the modern economy.

Just look below and tell me this is not a huge haul of wonderful homemade items. Good luck.

I wish you all Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes.

Total Giveaway Prize Value - Over $240
  Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Goat Milk Soap from Yonderhill Farm Goat Milk Soap and House. Barn. Farm. - $6 value Yonderhill Farm carries a great selection of Goat Milk Soaps made by hand.. We use the milk of our sweet nigerian dwarf dairy goats to create beautiful, creamy, luxurious soaps for everyday use
Lip Balm
.. Peppermint Lip Balm from Green Eggs & Goats - $3 value Hand-crafted products straight from our farm to you! We sell lip balms as well as honey and jams when they are available. We are also working on some feather crafts that should be ready to list soon!

Charcoal Felt Dahlia Brooch Pin from ktnunna Handmade Jewelry & Accessories and Colored Egg Homestead - $9.50 value I started making jewelry when my daughter was just a baby. I began creating pretty little things for her and myself to wear. At the suggestion of my friends and family I opened ktnunna in 2009. I have been surprised and humbled at the support and encouragement I have received since beginning this little business. View the brooch here!

Fingerless Gloves with Lace
  Fingerless Gloves-Navy with White Lace from Timber Creek Farm - $25 value Homegrown wool creates Hand spun homemade yarns and accessories. The wool is from our sheep and Pygora goats and we also sell other types of wool and natural yarns. The accessories are handmade and embellished with vintage style lace and buttons to create a unique accessory. For the giveaway, we are donating a pair of fingerless gloves embellished with lace at the cuff.


 Beautiful and functional! 2-color Paracord Bracelet from Handmade by Blair and Survival at Home - $10 value Hand sewn crafts and paracord gear made with love by the Blair family. NOTE: This will be made to order for the winner. Winner will be put in touch with Patrick to select colors and size.

  Natural Wool Dryer Balls from Joybillee Farm - $30 value Joybilee Farm is a fiber farm and artisan studio located in British Columbia, Canada. Each product in our lineup is handcrafted from our own sustainable harvest, and will help you live the JOYful, fearless, creative life that lets you "laugh at the time to come." Check out the drier balls!

  Toddler No-Sew Blanket from Lil' Suburban Homestead's Etsy Store - $35 value Hi I am KarenLynn at Lil' Suburban Homestead currently we are selling no-sew fleece blankets! I have a beautiful toddler no-sew fleece blanket that we will be giving away for this wonderful Homestead Bloggers Network Holiday Giveaway! NOTE: Blanket pictured and linked to is a larger size. This giveaway is for a toddler sized blanket!

Neck Pack

  Neck Pack with Eye Pack Included from Simply Herbs Country Store and Simply Living Simply - $25 value We are stocked with a distinctive selection of individually hand-crafted and organic herbal products, and a few other products specifically chosen by me that I think you may like. Our current selections include Herbal Packs, Kat's Herbal Teas, Goat Herbal Tea Soap, Organic Essential Oils and Herbal Kits! Read about the Neck Pack here!

  Charlie the Robot Mug by MereWare and ImagineAcres - $25 value I use a pottery wheel powered by my imagination to create monsters, robots, and gnomes out of clay. Some of these creatures are functional- in the form of mugs, bowls, and jars. Others are made for the pure fun of it, and serve as loveable pieces of art. Meet Charlie.

  "Here Comes Santa" Vintage Hallmark Keepsake Ornament from Once And Again and Spring Mountain Living - $25 value A collection of fabrics, vintage and handmade items - from the UP to you! See the ornament.

  3D Abstract Pendant - One of a Kind from Ever Growing - $25 value One of a kind 3D pendants & paintings, handcrafted with lots of care, intention and attention to detail using joint compound and acrylics. This pendant is 1 1/2 inches X 1 inch abstract yellow, green and silver teardrop shaped.

Washcloth Pattern PDF
  Easy Rectangle Crochet Dish Cloth Crochet Pattern PDF from The Mind to Homestead (on Etsy) and The Mind to Homestead blog - $4 value The Mind to Homestead carries pattern PDFs for the crochet patterns that I have written.

  Feminine, Rustic Stacked Turquoise Bead Necklace on Antique Copper Chain from Original Organics - $24 Value Original Organics features natural, earth-inspired jewelry handmade from recycled materials as much as possible. In my shop you can find mostly earrings featuring wood, turquoise, and beads of all kinds, natural stone yoga/stacker bracelets, delicate necklaces, and antique spoon jewelry. I also use 100% biodegradable shipping materials from EcoEnclose - being as eco-friendly as possible from my studio to your doorstep :)

TGN original
The Gardening Notebook cd or download from SchneiderPeeps - Value $10 The Gardening Notebook you will help you create a custom gardening notebook. With over 100 pages of gardening information and printables you can create just what you need to keep track of your garden. The winner can choose to have The Gardening Notebook on CD or instant download.

At Home Canning DVD
  At Home Canning DVD from New Life on a Homestead - $19.95 value In At Home Canning For Beginners & Beyond, you’ll get almost 2 full hours of step-by-step instructions on how to can fruits, veggies, meats, and meals-in-a-jar.

HBN Holiday Recipes2 300x300  BONUS! Every item here was donated by a member of the Homestead Bloggers Network and most of these great bloggers have come together to bring you a brand new holiday cookbook, Homemade Holiday Recipes and we're including a copy as part of this giveaway. Please note that this is a digital product and will be sent to you via email.


a Rafflecopter giveaway  This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada. Giveaway runs from Dec 9th through Dec 16th at 12:00am CST. Winner will be notified via email and given 24 hours to respond. Gift items will be shipped directly from the small businesses that donated them, so prizes will arrive in individual packages over a period of several days.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Rural Wisdom and Know How #4

Thanksgiving has past. Black Friday and Cyber Monday has come and gone. People are spending money like there is no tomorrow. All to buy the latest gadget that will keep them entertained for a little while. I work in retail and had to work on Black Friday. I will say I am more than a little concerned with the trends that I am seeing. We truly are in a consumer based society.

Don't get me wrong gift giving has been a part if the Christmas season for as long as there has been a Christmas. Originally, though the gifts were more personal and most were homemade. Some of the best gifts I have ever received have had the emphasis on thought. These are truly the best gifts. I have included a link below about the birthday gift my wife gave me this year. It was incredible and I used items from that gift weekly till this day. Read The Best Birthday Gift

Part Time Homesteader

I have come to the truly horrifying realization that I do not have enough time or energy to do all of the things I want to do on my homestead. Both my wife and I work full time jobs on different shifts. My job if fairly physically demanding, some weeks are worse that others. This has put a major strain on my body. As a result I am not accomplishing near what I had hoped. I see others doing so much more than I am and I feel as if somehow I am failing on my goals. That is until I take a closer look. Those that are accomplishing more than I am have one or more of the following advantages when it comes to the homestead: (1) They make more money that we do and can thus hire out some of the labor of building an outbuilding for example (2) One or the other of the couple do not have a traditional job, some are contractors and consultants so they only work in spurts or (3) One of the couple works at home.

Rather than throwing my hands up in defeat and becoming just another spoke in the wheel of the system, I have decided that I need to extend my planning period. All of the things that I wanted to accomplish next year, may take two or three years to complete. That is not a bad thing as long as I continue to work toward my goal.

The thing I want you to take away from this is just because you are not getting as much done as you would like does not mean that you are not moving forward. So times we have to re evaluate our situation and change our timeline.

We are pleased to announce that The Rural Economist has a new affiliate. Trayer Wilderness Inc. Please click the link to the right to see what they have to offer the outdoors person on your Christmas list.

Questions for The Week

(1) Have you started planning for next year on your homestead?
(2) What is your favorite Christmas carol?
(3) I ask this on The Rural Economist Facebook page, but if you could have one thing for Christmas and not worry about price, what would it be?
(4) I know this one sounds strange but, what time of year are power outages most likely where you live?

My Answers
(1) I have started planning. We are going to put in a lot more tomato, jalapeno, and bell pepper plants than we did this year.
(2) My favorite is I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day (lots of people have never even heard of it)
(3) I would like to have the land right across the road from our house.
(4) Winter is our most likely time for an outage. Normally caused by ice storms. We haven't had one in a couple of years. I think we are due.

The Rural Economist