Friday, January 31, 2014

Celebrating Chinese New Year

For Chinese New Year this year, we did a couple of special things. Sophia, Olivia, and I went out to lunch at China Panda. The food was so good and there was plenty for more than one meal.

Olivia and Sophia at China Panda for lunch.

Earlier in the day, we volunteered at the nursing home and did a 'Round the Radio activity with the seniors. While they were listening to old-time radio programs like "Charlie is Broke" (an episode on Barrel of Fun) and "The Skunk Must Go" (an episode of Father Knows Best), some of the seniors colored a picture that was for Chinese New Year (January 31, 2014).

John and Olivia coloring together.

I saw a pin on Pinterest of a horse that had lots of lines through it. Each of the little sections could be colored a different color to result in a colorful horse in celebration of the New Year.

The image came from The Imagination Box.

Annabelle  coloring the horse picture for Chinese New Year.

My birth year corresponds to the Year of the Horse, so I was interested in reading what the description is for people who also fall under the Chinese sign of the Horse.  I found a pin that led to Behance that described Horse people:

For those not born in the Year of the Horse, I found a chart from Coconut Head Survival Guide that lists the other signs and the corresponding years:

The pin that leads to that site also has a lot of great links to recipes and crafts for celebrating Chinese New Year. In future years, this would be a great reference.

So, although we may not have celebrated Chinese New Year in a traditional sense, it was a meaningful way for us to celebrate the holiday. In many ways, it reflects what we value and want to strive for in 2014: caring and compassion with others; and the closeness of family.

Crazy Quilt Journal Project (CQJP 2014) - January Quilt Block

The Crazy Quilt Journal Project is about promoting the art of crazy quilting and expanding each participant’s individual artistic creativity and technical knowledge. Quilt blocks are any shape and can even be a finished item that meets the size requirement.

The goal is to construct and complete a crazy quilt block each month (January through December) in 2014 that measures at least equivalent to a 6-inch square block. For my quilt squares, I am doing an 11 3/4" square (this includes the seam allowances).

My finished crazy quilt block for January 2014.

As I did for January, I plan on creating the quilt squares from a wide variety of different all-cotton fabrics.

The start of attaching pieces of fabric to one another.

I have quite a bit of fabric on hand, so I'm using only what I have and not purchasing any new fabric.

After all the different pieces were machine-sewn together,
I ironed the fabric so everything would lay flat.

By using what I have in bins in my home office, it will free up some space by the end of the year.

After ironing the fabric, I put down the white 11 3/4" square piece of fabric
to use as a pattern to make all the quilt blocks the same size.

As I'm going through the bins, I'll donate whatever fabric I don't care for any longer or don't plan to use in the next year or so.

When I was done trimming the machine-sewn fabric,
it was close to the same size as the white fabric.
Now it was ready to be embellished.

I'm going to embellish each of the quilt squares with trims, buttons, and other items that can be sewn onto the quilt square.

Another view of the completed quilt block.

Another goal of the Crazy Quilt Journal Project is that the blocks should challenge the participant's individual skills. I'm definitely at the start of crazy quilting. This is my first crazy quilt...and the first block I've done.

There are different types of trims used.
All are attached to the fabric using cotton embroidery floss.
Some of the trim has beads and sequins added to it.

Participants are encouraged to set individual goals so that the work does not get overwhelming, and discouraging. Keeping this in mind, I've set some personal goals in 2014:

=> Create 12 different quilt blocks using Pinterest for inspiration, but doing my own designs.
=> Incorporate at least 10 different embellishments per quilt square.
=> Use a combination of embroidery stitches I learned through Take a Stitch Tuesday in 2012 as well as my own stitches that complement the embellishments.
=> Combine the quilt squares at the end of 2014 to create a functional item (e.g., lap quilt, bed quilt).

I like this trim with the circles since a sequin and bead 
fit perfectly in the center.

I took a look at a pin on Pinterest that I found that I liked. There was a Block of the Month for August  and two different patterns - Pattern 1 and Pattern 2.

The plain blue fabric needed to have some textural elements on it 
as did the polka-dot trim. 

I also looked for examples of stitches that would be good to use with a crazy quilt. One pin led to nothing...just an image of the different stitches. Another pin linked to Crazy Kwilter Too on Flickr. Although I didn't use the examples of stitches for this block, I would like to in the future.

To submit photographs to the challenge, they need to be of high quality and not "reduced" before sending. Participants email photographs for posting on the CQJP2014 Block to .

Participants who complete the challenge will have their finished photographs also added to the permanent CQJP Blog for the year the challenge was completed (e.g., CQJP2014, CQJP2013).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Artist Study - John Singleton Copley

John Singleton Copley, the child of poor uncultured parents and only briefly the stepson of artist Peter Pelham, was the colonies' supreme artist. From 1760, he held this position until he departed for London in 1774.

His swift ascent and sustained eminence were the result of an innate ability to handle paint and produce images that was unlike anything created by his predecessors in America. He worked in various media to please patrons, creating pastels, paintings, and miniatures.

Copley had another extraordinary skill: he achieved his position as portraitist to the merchant elite of New York and Boston because he thought and behaved like a gentleman. He closely identified with his patrons and, until their world collapsed on the eve of the American Revolution, captured their values and hopes.

According to art historian Paul Staiti, Copley was the greatest and most influential painter in colonial America, producing about 350 works of art.

Below are six pictures that Sophia and Olivia looked at for a period of time. Then they shared what they remembered.


Paul Revere, 1768-70.

Sophia Remembered:
=> In the picture, Paul Revere is sitting at a table that is a dark brown. 
=> He is sitting with his right elbow on the table underneath his chin, and his left hand on the table on top of a big round dark golden pillow.
=> In his left hand, he's holding a silver tea pot. The tea pot top looks like an acorn top.
=> Next to the hand there are two things that could be either writing utensils or maybe little bottles of ink.
=> Next to his other  elbow, there appears to be a pencil.
=> He is wearing a white flowy shirt that Colonial men used to wear. Over that is sort of a dark green vest on.
=> He has relatively fair skin, but his cheeks are rather pink.
=> He has slightly long hair and it is brown and slicked back.
=> Part of his face is in shadow so you can't see many details. 
=> He doesn't look like he's in thought...he just looks like he's staring.
=> The room behind him is dark and there aren't any lights.
=> He's not particularly handsome, but he's not unattractive. He's someone you probably wouldn't notice if he was wearing modern-day clothes.

Olivia Remembered:
=> He's wearing a white shirt with a black vest with white buttons.
=> There's a table in front of him that looks like mahogany that looks like it is polished...if they even had that back then.
=> In his left hand there is a silver tea pot or kettle with a black handle.
=> By his right arm there is a pencil and a little towards the middle there are two pipes for smoking....I don't know.
=> On his cheek, there is a peachy-color. 
=> In the background, there is a plain black wall. It was all black. 
=> His hair is kind of the same color as the table which is dark brown.
=> His eyes may be a hazel color.
=> His mouth is in a straight line. You couldn't see any teeth.


The Copley Family, 1776-7.

Sophia Remembered:
=> There are two men, a woman, and four younger girls. 
=> It looks like they are posing for a picture or a portrait. 
=> The background is a lake and hills; and bordering the sides are trees.
=> The younger man - maybe the husband of the woman - is leaning against a pedestal; and seated in front of him is an older man who has the youngest girl on his lap and she's reaching up towards his collar.
=> To the left of him on a sofa is the lady with dark brown hair, and her hair is piled up on top of her head. She is wearing a royal blue gown with little white slippers.
=> Underneath her feet is a pillow that's the same color as the couch.
=> The second oldest girl has her arm around the mom's or lady's neck. The lady is reaching down towards her as if giving her a hug or something.
=> The second youngest girl is on her other side and reaching towards her.
=> The oldest girl is standing between the older man and the couch.
=> They aren't really smiling except the little girl on the older man's lap.
=> Both men are probably wearing wigs.
=> All the little girls are wearing white dresses with different color bows. The top part of the oldest girl's dress is white and the bottom is striped, and she has a bustle in the back..

Olivia Remembered:
=> There were seven people in the picture - 4 girls, 2 men, and 1 woman.
=> Four little girls are dressed in white; and the woman is dressed in a blue satin dress.
=> The two men are kind of dressed alike - wearing black and a little white.
=> There's a doll on the ground in left corner.
=> There are mountains that look like hills in the background because they are rounded at the top.
=> The woman is seated on a sofa which has fabric that has gold designs on it.
=> Also on the left there is a curtain that is the same fabric as the sofa.
=> There are some trees in the background.
=> There's a hat by the doll...or what looks like a hat.
=> Two of the small girls have blonde hair; and the woman and the other two girls have brown hair.
=> The men were wearing white wigs.


The Death of the Earl of Chatham, 1779-81.

Sophia Remembered:
=> There is a large room with intricate paintings on part of the ceiling and the walls.
=> There may be 200 people in the room, and the majority of them are wearing red robes with gold trim and white underneath.
=> In the far back of the room, there is a canopy that might house a chair - as if for royalty.
=> Towards the front of the picture to the right hand side, there is a man who is laying on a red couch. He probably is the Earl of Chatham since he doesn't look alive.
=> All the people are crowded around the Earl, but not too close, and they are looking at him.
=> One of the men is standing behind the Earl and his right hand is sort of gesturing towards the paintings on the wall as if saying a prayer or something.
=> The room has a sort of a dark feeling; and there aren't any windows that you can see.
=> A little ways from the Earl is a desk with some papers and stuff on it. Sitting behind it is a man in a red robe that has a little black on it.

Olivia Remembered:
=> There are lots of people, and most of them are wearing red, white, and gold.
=> Pretty much all the people are men and they are wearing white wigs.
=> There are three men who are wearing black.
=> There looks to be a bed in the background and it has a canopy that's red and gold.
=> There looks like there's a lot of paintings or that the walls are painted.
=> There's a man who must be the Earl because he's kind of laying and he's very pale.
=> They are all crowded around the person who died.
=> Some of the people looked sad and others looked shocked.
=> The ceiling looks like one you'd see in a Cathedral. It kind of has a dome.


The Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, September 1782, 1783-91.

Sophia Remembered:
=> There are two ships out on the water and one of them appears to be on fire because there seems to be copious amounts of smoke coming from its mast.
=> On the shore there are quite a few Red Coats and one of them is sitting on the horse. That person appears to be the general.
=> He is facing the two ships that are burning and watching as the people on board the ships are coming ashore.
=> In one of the boats coming ashore, there is a man on board and he's looking towards the Red Coats.
=> The sky is a dark reddish sort of color. There isn't much light.
=> It appears that the British just sank the other ship and are ready to take prisoners.
=> The general who is on the white horse is wearing a black hat and has a rather determined expression on his face.
=> The picture was done in vivid colors. They stood out.
=> There isn't a lot of greenery. It's mostly just browns and darker colors.
=> There's a tall white horse that has a bridle and a saddle.

Olivia Remembered:
=> There are two ships both are destroyed. One of them has a pointy thing that I don't know what it is called. It looks like a dog head with its mouth open.
=> Above the ships, the sky is dark gray and orange and red and yellow.
=> On the other side of the picture, the sky has white clouds or smoke and blue.
=> In the water there's a small two row boats. One looks to be sinking.
=> On the other side away from the ships there are the British soldiers. 
=> There's a cannon by the white horse.
=> The white horse has a fancy bridle and a fancy thing on its chest; and a nice-looking saddle.
=> The people are the Blue Coats on the side where the ships are on fire, and they look scared.
=> The people on shore were all kind of clustered up. They were wearing red coats, black boots, white shirts, tan pants, and black and gold hats. 


The Red Cross Knight, 1793.

Sophia Remembered:
=> In the picture, there are three people standing on what appears to be a balcony. On either side there appears to be curtains framing the open area.
=> On the left-hand side of the picture, there is a man who is holding a shield in his left hand raised, and in his right hand he is holding a spear.
=> The knight is wearing black armor that is sort of shiny with a red cross on his chest.
=> He also has a sash that is the same color that is on his chest that is holding his sword.
=> On his head, he has a black helmet with a nice, big white plume.
=> On the right-hand side of the picture, there are two women. One of them is wearing a light-color dress. It looks like she is holding a cup or something. She looks like she is half-turning away, but still smiling.
=> The other lady next to her is wearing a darker greenish-bluish dress. She doesn't look as impressed by the knight. Her eyes are kind of raised upwards.
=> The knight looks like he's stepping on one of the dresses.
=> The room isn't exactly very bright; and the colors aren't super vivid; but it's still a nice picture.
=> It's a white stone balcony and beyond that it appears to be a lot of greenery. 
=> The room is darker colors and there's a lot of red.

Olivia Remembered:
=> There are three people - two are women and one is a man. 
=> The man is a knight with black armor and a red cross on his chest. He has a red sash that has gold trim on it that holds his sword.
=> One of the women is wearing a white dress with a cream-colored sash. In her left hand she is holding a goblet. It looks like it has a snake in it because it's kind of sticking it out. She kind of looks annoyed because the knight is stepping on her dress.
=> The other woman is wearing a dark blue dress with a light blue sash. Her right hand is on her friend's right arm; and her other hand appears to be holding a small book.
=> Behind the two women is a column with a red curtain that has gold designs on it.
=> They are standing on a balcony overlooking - maybe - a garden. You can see some trees and shrubbery. If you look closely, you can see the peak of a small mountain.
=> The woman with the blue dress - her eyes were kind of looking up; and the other one's eyes were looking directly at the knight.
=> You couldn't see the knight's expression because of his helmet.
=> His helmet has a big fluffy plume that kind of looks like hair.


Saul Reproved by Samuel for Not Obeying the Commandments of the Lord, 1798.

Sophia Remembered:
=> The sky is a slightly reddish color. In the left hand corner, there is a billowing track of black smoke that's going across from the right to left of the picture.
=> In the middle of the picture, there is a man with brown hair and a gold crown who has a rather ashamed look in his eyes. 
=> On the left side of him, there's a soldier who is holding his arm and on the right side of him there's a white horse with a slightly frizzy mane who is being held by a man in a blue outfit who has no shoes.
=> The man in the blue outfit is holding the horse by the reins. 
=> In front of the man with the crown (probably Saul) there's an older man with a longer, white beard. He is half-turned as if to reprimand Saul. 
=>The older man has yellow shoes and the top of his robe is turned back and it's the same color as his shoes.
=> He has a stern look on his face and he's pointing at Saul.
=> In the background are soldiers who are holding long streaming red banners.
=> The horse is wearing a brightly-colored red bridle. On his back there is a saddle with cloth on either side.
=> The horse looks a bit skittish.
=> Saul has his head sort of turned down. You can see a little spot of color on his cheek.

Olivia Remembered:
=> There are four people and one horse.
=> There are some spears that are pointing up in the background. Above them there appears to be an angel, but Sophia pointed out that it wasn't an angel. It was a banner.
=> There's a man with a white beard. Underneath his robe is another robe, but it's blue. The robe is kind of turned back and it is a very bright yellow. His shoes are that same bright yellow. They look kind of funny.
=> There's a man wearing a red cloak who has a gold crown. He's looking to the side. Around his waist there's a belt with a sword in it. 
=> There's a knight holding his arm and holding his spear.
=> To the left of him, holding the reins of the horse, there's another knight and he's wearing blue and is barefoot.
=> The horse has that kind of that strange thing that they wear for jousting. It looks he isn't wearing a saddle. It has that chest thing and a red bridle with gold lines along the edges.
=> The horse's mane is kind of sticking out. 
=> The horse looks scared.
=> There are knights behind the king 
=> There is black smoke in the left corner, and a little black smoke in the right corner.


Sit-Spot for a Nature Journal

One of the things we value about homeschooling is having nature woven throughout our days. When we look outside, we are surrounded by views of trees, clouds, the sky, and constant visits of birds.

Winter on the Farm
Things around our farm in the winter.

So, when I came across a pin on Pinterest for "Sit Spots in the School Yard" that led to Partners in Place. I thought it would be a nice way to kick off this year's nature journaling.

The pin leads to a trio of images where students filled in a circle throughout a year with their observations of the same place...a "sit spot" outdoors on the school grounds. (Partners in Place has a beautiful gallery of images and ideas for which their round wheels can be used.)

Students spend time alone there each month, observing the plants, animals, and weather and recording in their observations in the nature journal. At the end of the year, students refer to their journals to create a Wheel of the Year to summarize and communicate their experience.

Partners in Place said, "There is surely something magic about a circle, the way it influences us to be both grounded and expansive at the same time. Most of us have been taught to think of the passing of time as linear, with one event following another in sequence by day, by month, by year. Placing the same events in a circle helps us discover patterns and use them to communicate about what is really important to us."

Two Pinecones
Snow-covered pine needles and pine cones in the backyard.

In our case, the girls each made their own circle by tracing the edge of a bowl. They made an interior circle by following the exterior line.

Sophia's circle with one block filled in.
The next one she does will be in March.

Next, they chose one of the sections to use for their January observation.

Pasture Looking NW
Sophia picked the oak tree in the front, west pasture.
It is in the center of the picture above.

They are leaving the center open at this point so they can either use a photograph to place in the center or draw a picture later in another season when there is more to draw.

Evergreen and Willow Tree
Olivia picked the willow tree which is out 
in the back, south nature area.

They will go to their "sit spot" in March, May, July, September, and November - six times total. In this way, they will have a year-long view of how one spot on our farm changes throughout four distinct seasons in 2014.

Chasing Utopia - A Hybrid - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 6

This week I'm continuing with both of the reading challenges I'm doing in 2014: Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks and an alphabetical progression through book titles that I want to read. This week is the second book that begins with "C" and next week I move onto a book title that begins with "D."

The book I selected this week is Chasing Utopia - A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni. As I looked at the reviews on Goodreads, there were many four- and five-star ratings. Although I didn't feel as strong of a connection with or inspiration from this book (which is a combination of poetry and short stories) as I anticipated, I still enjoyed the format and content of it.

There were a few parts of the book that especially resonated with me, especially those that related to caregiving for parents. For example, in the short story And Everyone Will Answer, Nikki writes "...then my father had a stroke and I moved to Cincinnati....Details take a lot out of you. I was up in the morning to make breakfast...Worked on the house. Worked on my poems. Things. Things one does to keep things running smoothly."

It reminded me of the all-too-many details it takes to coordinate health care services with my mother - who also suffered from a stroke and two TIAs (mini-strokes) earlier this month. Although she is back home now after a stay in a transitional care facility, the day-to-day overseeing of her health care with two different agencies plus hospice is a lot. Plus, I'm homeschooling Sophia and Olivia and running Harvest Moon by Hand in addition to helping with the care of my mom.

Those responsibilities in and of themselves are quite time-consuming (though each an honor and privilege to be able to do), leaving little time for other things - like personal hobbies and interests. There will be a time for those things in the future...just not right now when other things are needing my attention.

One poem that I did like a lot was I Am At That Point. Here is an excerpt from it that I like:

I am at that point
In Life
When I reread
Old books
Bake my mother's favorite recipes
Snuggle with a sneezy quilt
Listen to my old rock and roll records
Feel comfortable
And comforted in my old nearly ragged bathrobe
I am keeping my house shoes
With the hole in the bottom
Though I no longer wear them
And yes the smell is long gone
From that bottle of Joy
Which still sits on my bathroom dresser
Embracing the old things
Is a good new thing

In the short story Cooking with Mommy, Nikki continued to write about how she, her son, and dog moved to Cincinnati to help her mother who was caring for her father who had a stroke. She says, "Always being a mama's girl it was a natural thing to do. Plus I must admit I hate it when people know you need help and then make you ask."

She proactively helped her mother and father, rather than waiting for them to ask. That's such a good quality to have...and one that is valued not only within one's family but circle of friends and acquaintances.

It always gives me pause for thought when I hear people say, "Let me know if there's anything I can do to help" when they know that you are going through a rough patch in your life.

For example, while my Dad had Alzheimer's Disease and after he died, people would say things along that line, but rarely would follow-up...or be proactive either do something without being asked (e.g., bring a meal over) or ask to do something helpful (e.g., I'd like to watch your pets and horses for a day so you can get away on a break).

I, too, have uttered those same hollow words more than once. From now on, though, I'd like to be much more careful with my words...and especially follow through if I make an offer to help.

This is especially the case after recently having a friend spend a half-day with Sophia and Olivia by taking them to a contemporary art museum, sculpture park, and out to eat. They had so much fun...and it also gave me some time to rest and get caught up with caregiving responsibilities. It truly was a gift. I am so grateful to this friend for her compassion and care.

Another poem which I re-read a few times in Chasing Utopia - A Hybrid - each keeping a different situation and/or person in mind - was I Give Easily:

I give
because I have
taken It's incredibly
to let people
give you what you need maybe
as difficult as
giving you what you want
with and between
humans can certainly be

Towards the end of the book she writes about inspiration. She says, "I am a lover of history...[of] being enchanted with heroes, with quests, with the search for the difficult and the unknown. Human beings are worthy of our interest. I continue to be fascinated by who we are and of which greatness we are capable."

These heroes can be people who lived in times before us...or who are currently with us. People who have done amazing...incredible...things with their lives; and even those who have led quiet lives but who have made their own difference in the world and in others' lives. It's good to search for all types of heroes and be inspired by them.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blue - P52 Photo Challenge - Week 5

This week I focused on "Blue" as a theme for both the 52 Weeks Photo Challenge 2014 and P52/Sweet Shot Tuesday.

After a string of incredibly cold days with dangerous temperatures and windchills, today marked the first day of what felt like a "summer-like" temperature: 27 degrees.

After -40+ below zero windchills, 27 feels very warm. Warm enough to be outside in only a t-shirt, sweatshirt, one layer of pants, one layer or socks, and boots. No hat...mittens...or face protector.

At any rate, the sky was a beautiful blue today and there was an interesting cloud formation that criss-crossed itself.

There's a  faint circular shape of rainbow colors near the intersection of the contrails.
It's on the contrail that is leading to the upper right of the photo.

The clouds were actually contrails - short for "condensation trails"/also known as "vapor trails" - that are long thin artificial (human-made) clouds that sometimes form behind aircraft.

According to Wikipedia, "Their formation is most often triggered by the water vapor in the exhaust of aircraft engines, but can also be triggered by the changes in air pressure in wingtip vortices or in the air over the entire wing surface. Like all clouds, contrails are made of water, in the form of a suspension of billions of liquid droplets or ice crystals.

"Depending on the temperature and humidity at the altitude the contrail forms, they may be visible for only a few seconds or minutes, or may persist for hours and spread to be several miles wide. The resulting cloud forms may resemble cirrus, cirrocumulus, or cirrostratus. Persistent spreading contrails are thought to have a significant effect on global climate."

In the case of the picture I took, the contrails were visible for less than five minutes before they slowly dissipated and completely disappeared from the sky.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Two Dimensional - LEGO Quest #4

This week's LEGO challenge on LEGO Quest Kids is to create a two-dimensional design.

Olivia's two-dimensional house that she made from 
LEGO bricks in blue, red, white, yellow, black, green, and grey.

Two dimensions is having only the dimensions of height and width, like a square. Three dimensions is having height, width, and depth, like a cube.

The description on LEGO Quest Kids said, "A two-dimensional design can be almost anything. It can be a representation of an object, a piece of artwork (realistic or abstract), a mosaic, a color study, or a picture from your favorite book.

"The idea is to keep it flat. Pretend like you are drawing or painting or taking a photograph, but try to create it out of LEGO. Have fun, only play along if you feel inspired!"

With those directions in mind, Olivia thought about what she wanted to represent in two-dimensional form. Because she often builds homes and other structures in three dimensions with LEGO bricks, she wanted to do a flat representation of a house.

She said it was harder than she thought it would be because it's like doing a puzzle: there are only certain sizes that she has of the flat bricks, so her  color palette and number of bricks within each color was limited.

There are different shades of white and blue LEGO bricks
Olivia discovered as she was creating her two-dimensional design.

Nonetheless, she was happy to create something new; and liked doing a different project than she would have ever done on her own.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Water - P52 Photo Challenge - Week 4

This week the theme for the 52 Week Photo Challenge 2014 is "Water." The middle of January in Minnesota does not have a lot of outdoor opportunities to photograph water. 

In thinking about sources of indoor water, faucets came to mind. One of our cats, Shadow, enjoys drinking from faucets. Apparently, fresh water from the tap tastes better to him than water in the pets' water dish.

I was curious as to why he does this and the other cats don't drink water from the faucet. One reason I found on Animal Nation is this:

Dr. Cathy Alinovi of the Hoofstock Veterinary Service agrees that it may have to do with the water's freshness, since fresh water "is cooler than that which sat out on the counter all day." She suggests that cats who eat corn-based foods are pickier about water temperature, too, because these foods can "make the stomach hot and make the cat dry."

Another theory presented on Animal Nation is this one:

Dr. Valarie Tynes of Premier Veterinary Behavior Consulting thinks that finickiness might derive from their ancestors: "The cat evolved from a desert-dwelling animal that does not require a lot of water anyway. That may lead to them simply being pickier about the source of their water since they will be consuming a relatively small amount." She agrees with Alinovi that cats might consider "moving water, such as that from a stream … safer than still water, that might be stagnant and therefore not only not taste as good but possibly have a higher chance of being unsafe."

I learn something new every day!

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175 Homesteading and Self-Sufficiency Skills

I recently saw on The Prairie Homestead a list with 121+ skills for the Modern Homestead and on Granny Miller a list of 101 basic homesteading skills. Looking them over, I was curious to know how many I had done already and what ones I wanted to do.

So, I read through the lists and put each item in one of three categories:
=> Skills I Have/Things I've Done
=> Things I've Done, But Need More Practice
=> Things I've Never Done

There also are some things that I would like to do that weren't on either lists, so I've added those to the list of homesteading skills below.

Skills I Have/Things I've Done

1. Compost both kitchen scraps and animal manure.

2. Make a great pie crust.

Blueberry Pie
Blueberry pie.
The crust recipe is from my Grandma who used to be a baker.

3. Learn how to cook a whole chicken.

4. Grow a vegetable garden in your climate.

Olivia Planting Beans
Olivia planting seeds in the garden.

5. Learn first-aid and CPR.

6. Know how to dehydrate foods and herbs to preserve for later use.

Drying Catnip
Sophia drying catnip in the dehydrator.

7. Assist with foaling, kidding, lambing, and/or calving.

8. Make sausage gravy from scratch.

Sausage Gravy
Sausage gravy I made with Olivia.
It is served over biscuits.

9. Know how to drive a manual transmission in a car, truck, and/or tractor.

10. Learn how to fish.

11. Learn how to tell if your chickens are molting.

12. Know how to tell if you can doctor an animal at home, or if it needs to be taken to the vet.

13. Dry laundry using a drying rack or clothesline.

14. Make your own laundry detergent.

15. Know how to build a fire.

Fire by Lake Superior
Fire I built next to Lake Superior.

16. Cook over an open fire or on a wood cookstove.

The Girls Making Cinnamon Rolls Over the Campfire
Olivia and Sophia cooking over an open fire
on a camping trip we took.

17. Make sourdough bread and rolls; and maintain your own starter.

Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
Amish sourdough cinnamon rolls.

18. Make basic yeast dough which can be turned into loaves, rolls, buns, pretzels, etc.

Caraway Rye Bread
Caraway rye bread that I made.

19. Incubate fertilized eggs and hatch your own chicks.

20. Learn how to identify and manage a broody hen.

21. Make your own jellies and jams.

Spreading Homemade Blueberry Jam
Sophia using the homemade blueberry jam we made.

22. Learn how to darn a sock.

23. Mend damaged clothes so they don’t have to be thrown away.

24. Sew clothing and fabric items from scratch.

25. Learn how to knit.

26. Learn how to quilt.

27. Learn how to crochet.

Mom in the Prayer Shawl I Made for Her
My Mom wearing the prayer shawl I made for her
as a Christmas gift one year.

28. Heat your home with wood or other sustainable sources.

Fire in the Wood Stove
The woodstove in the living room.

29. Use a water bath canner to preserve foods.

30. Learn how to prepare for a blizzard.

Ready to Brave the Backyard
The girls dressed appropriately for playing outdoors in the winter.

31. Understand the basics of animal breeding.

32. Learn how to make butter.

33. Learn how to use essential oils properly and safely.

34. Build/use a greenhouse or cold frame to extend your growing season.

35. Learn how to harvest, split, and stack firewood.

Sophia Learning How to Split Wood
Sophia taking a turn at splitting wood.

36. Make your own vinegar.

Making Dandelion Vinegar
Sophia making dandelion vinegar.

37. Make your own skincare items.

38. Make your own cleaning supplies.

39. Know how to use non-electric lighting.

40. Put food scraps like eggshells, coffee grounds, apple peels, and whey to good use.

41. Know how to protect your livestock from predators.

Frosted Fence with Trees
The woven wire fence between pastures.

42. Learn how to spin wool.

Wool Vs. Non-Wool Items

43. Know basic plumbing skills (e.g., unclog a toilet or sink).

44. Make your own paper.

45. Learn how to weave.

46. Understand how to propagate plants through root cuttings.

47. Learn how to clear pasture and brush.

48. Learn to cook with a sun/solar oven.

Solar Cooker Ready to Go
Sophia with a solar cooker made from tin foil and a bowl.
We also have a more complex one with a lid.

49. Learn how to read the weather.

Storm Clouds to the West - May 31st - Clouds Swirling Around
Storm clouds rolling in.

50. Learn how to cook 10 basic meals from scratch.

51. Learn how to thaw out frozen pipes without busting them.

52. Learn basic astronomy.

The Moon Against a Dark Sky
The moon in the early evening.

53. Learn how use a wash tub, hand-wringer and washboard.

Going through the Wringer
Washing clothes by hand at Gammelgarden Museum.

54. Learn the mental skills necessary to jury rig anything with duct tape, baling twine and whatever is on hand.

55. Learn how to read an almanac.

56. Learn how entertain yourself and live without electronic media.

Dad and Olivia Playing Dominoes
Olivia and my Dad playing dominoes.

57. Learn how to swap, barter and network with like-minded people.

58. Learn how to refinish furniture.

59. Learn the mental and spiritual skills to realistically deal with life, death, and failure.

60. Learn how to tell the time of day by the sun.

Sunrise and Waves
The sun rising over Lake Superior in Duluth.

61. Learn how to plant a tree.

Olivia - 1st Day of School
Olivia by a tree my Dad and brother planted.
We've planted lots of fruit and evergreen trees 
here at the farm since 1995.

62. Learn how grow kitchen herbs.

63. Learn how to use electric netting or fencing

64. Learn how to make fire starters from corn cobs or pinecones

Things I've Done, But Need More Practice

65. Milk a goat, cow, or sheep.

66. Know how to properly prune and graft a fruit tree.

Olivia Pruning a Tree
Olivia trimming back a tree by the vegetable garden.

67. Know how to properly handle, shoot, and clean a gun.

68. Make cheese – master simple soft cheeses and hard cheeses too.

69. Learn how to make yogurt.

70. Keep bees and harvest honey.

71. Make your own candles.

72. Learn the art of no-till gardening.

73. Learn how to candle eggs so you can tell if they are fertilized.

74. Learn how to build and fix fences.

75. Grind your own wheat for baking.

Olivia and Sophia Flaking Wheat Berries
Olivia turning the handle on the grain mill.

76. Re-purpose everyday items to save them from the landfill.

Handmade Gift Bags from Vintage Children's Books
Bags I made from a children's book we were done reading.

77. Learn how to tie a variety of basic knots.

78. Learn how to train animals (dogs, horses).

79. Learn how to make baskets.

Trio of Autumn Woven Baskets for a Nature Table or Children's Purses
Baskets made from wool felt and cotton yarn.

80. Learn how to work together with your neighbors to accomplish more and foster a sense of community.

81. Learn how distinguish healthy plants and animals from unhealthy plants or animals

Bleeding Hearts - Long Row of Hearts
Bleeding hearts in the spring.

82. Learn how to use a pressure tank garden sprayer

83. Learn how to make and set traps for unwanted vermin and predators.

Things I've Never Done
(The ones that are italicized are the ones I would like to learn how to do.)

84. Give an animal an injection (the muscle, in the vein, or under the skin)

85. Know how to assist an animal with a difficult birth. (Thankfully, all the sheep I had did not have difficult births.)

86. Grow a windowsill herb garden. (I've always had enough space to grow outside.)

87. Learn how to make sausage. Did this in November 2016 by taking a class at Gammelgarden Museum about how to make two types of potato sausages.

88. Learn how to safely cut down a tree.

89. Learn basic metal working skills and welding.

90. Master basic mechanic skills so you can fix your tractors and vehicles.

91. Learn how to hunt wild game–both large and small.

92. Learn the laws and regulations regarding hunting wild game in your area through a Hunter’s Safety course.

93. Learn how to humanely kill, gut, and clean an animal.

94. Know how to butcher an animal and the proper cuts of meat.

95. Learn how to kill and pluck a chicken.

96. Use a smoker to smoke cheeses, meat, bacon, hams, etc.

97. Learn how to clean, fillet, and cook fish.

98. Learn how to cut, bale, and stack hay. (I've stacked hay, but never cut and baled it since we don't have the equipment to do that.)

99. Master the art of intensive grazing so you can better manage your pastures.

100. Make your own soap.

101. Cook outside with a dutch oven.

102. Trim the feet of your goats and sheep.

103. Master basic carpentry skills so you can repair outbuildings or even build basic furniture pieces.

104. Learn how to tan a hide.

105. Learn how to save seeds.

106. Learn how to use lacto-fermentation to preserve foods.

107. Learn how to use a pressure canner and/or cooker. Did this on September 22, 2014, when I made tomato soup in the pressure canner.

108. Make your own sauerkraut.

109. Forage for wild edibles in your area.

110. Learn how to identify the difference between edible and poisonous mushrooms.

111. Learn how to identify the difference between harmless and venomous snakes in your area.

112. Learn how to sharpen a knife or ax.

113. Learn how to prepare for a wildfire.

114. Know how to halter-break and train an animal.

115. Learn how to start seeds indoors.

116. Store food in a root cellar or in a cool basement.

117. Learn how to make herbal extracts, infusions, poultices, and tinctures.

118. Learn how to render lard or tallow.

119. Learn how to chop ice. (I'm thinking this means blocks of ice for refrigeration or keeping things frozen.)

120. Learn how to make and apply whitewash.

121. Tap trees for maple syrup.

122. Learn how to repair a roof.

123. Know how to humanely euthanize an animal.

124. Understand how to identify the weeds in your yard/pastures and figure out which ones are edible.

125. Learn how to back up a trailer.

126. Know how to purify water.

127. Learn how to make bone broth.

128. Put together a 72-hour kit for emergencies.

129. Learn how to cook eggs in a cast iron skillet without a sticky mess.

130. Make your own bacon and cured hams.

131. Learn how to make your own chicken feed.

132. Live within your means and get out of debt.

133. Learn about aquaponics or fish farming.

134. Make your own ammunition or reload ammunition.

135. Shear a sheep and process the wool. (I always had someone else do this for me.)

136. Learn how to install/use a composting toilet

137. Learn how to use vermiculture (composting with worms) to create nutrient-rich food for your garden.

138. Make your own fishing lures or spears.

139. Use alternative energy sources like solar or wind to power your homestead.

140. Implement natural pest control measures.

141. Know how to clean, dress, stitch/staple a wound in the event of an emergency.

142. Learn how to make natural dyes.

143. Know how to do small engine and care repair and maintenance (e.g., change a tire, change oil, change spark plugs).

144. Learn how to lay bricks or stones to create a pathway.

145. Learn some basic electrical skills for repairs (e.g., wire a lamp).

146. Learn how to harvest rain-water.

147. Learn how to use grey-water.

148. Learn how to properly store bulk food for long-term storage.

149. Learn how to sprout nuts and seeds for optimum nutrition.

150. Learn how to safely use a chainsaw.

151. Learn the differences between trees and the unique properties of various types of wood.

152. Learn how to pasteurize milk.

153. Learn how to witch for water with a forked branch or a bent metal hanger.

154. Learn how to set an ear tag or tattoo for animal identification.

155. Learn how determine an animal’s age by its teeth.

156. Learn how to cut and glaze glass.

157. Learn how to hand thresh and winnow wheat or oats and other small grains.

158. Learn how to build a stone wall.

159. Learn how to use an awl and basic leather repair.

160. Learn how put in a new post and mailbox that's been damaged by the snowplow.

161. Learn how to dig and properly use a shallow well.

162. Learn how to sew your own underwear.

163. Learn how drive a draft animal.

164. Learn how to use a scythe.

165. Learn how to graft baby animals onto a foster-mother.

166. Learn how to castrate livestock. (This was done by a veterinarian or farmer...never by me...when I had sheep.)

167. Build and use an outdoor oven.

168. Build a backyard pond or creek.

169. Braid a rag rug.

170. Use a push-reel lawn mower if the lawn tractor is not working. (My grandma had one of these that I remember using, but we do not have one at the farm currently.)

171. Make natural food treats for pets and livestock.

172. Grow your own mushrooms. We bought an inoculated log with shiitake mushrooms in June 2014. The mushrooms started growing and we could harvest them in September 2014. It would be nice to expand what we grow to more varieties and a larger quantity.

173.  Make and use a bow and arrow.

174. Invest in proper clothing for outdoor wear for all four seasons. These ideas came from The Barefoot Tribe:
  • strong work overalls/coveralls
  • solid work boots/rubber boots/winter boots 
  • thick wool socks, mitts, hats, work gloves, etc (learn to knit them yourself)
  • wool sweaters and work shirts
  • rain jacket and pants
  • winter jacket
  • cotton clothes for summer
  • wide-brimmed hat (e.g., straw hats for summer)
  • good sunglasses
  • moccasins for indoor winter wear and/or outdoor summer wear
175. Operate a HAM radio. In a disaster, a HAM radio is your communications lifeline to the outside world.