Fabric Shopping and Local Flavor

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I know I told you all weeks and weeks ago about my new sewing machine and how I had visions of textiles dancing in my head, and you’ll just have to take my work for it that I actually did make something wonderful (two somethings! Eeeek!) a full two weeks ago.  I made an Envelope Cushion Cover that I found here, and another project that I will refrain from mentioning until the intended recipients receive their surprises in the mail.  It was so much fun!  It was one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever had to hold my finished projects and know that not an hour previously they were just piles of fabric (much like when I did this and got so excited).  It was definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into some more complicated projects.  I’m really keen to try out a dress, like this, or a quilt, like this.  I’m going to keep practicing with cushions and, ahem, other things, until I feel really comfortable with my machine, but after that, it’s anything goes!

I actually made my first fabric purchase from Joann’s, because I have one only about 10 minutes down the road, and it was very convenient.  But I actually had another place in mind that I wanted to check out for textiles called The Fabric Peddler.  I spent several of my college years in Carrollton, Ga, and it’s a pretty cool little town – a typical old southern town in that it’s got a great town square surrounded by all these cool old homes and buildings.  The one I had in mind is a former railroad depot that has been turned into a combination antique and fabric store.  The Fabric Peddler has been there for years, but I think the Feathers & Twigs is a fairly new addition, and I really had fun looking around. The fabric selection is pretty good, and I found two things on the “$3/yd” table that I’m looking forward to using.  I’ll tell you more about those another time, because, honestly, I had the most fun browsing the antiques.

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I’m usaully skeptical when I see an “Antique” store, because most of the ones I wander into end up being just yard sale junk.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good yard sale, but I don’t think your IKEA coffee table that has seen better days qualifies as an “antique”.  This place was a typical consignment style antique format (one big space seperated into small areas for each seller’s items) but there was some great stuff here.  Things that were clearly aged, but of good quality, and lots of solid wood furnishings.  There was a good range of newer “lightly used” items likes those rolling pins, and some actual antiques, like the colander.  Everything was arranged beautifully, and there was plenty of room to move around.  All in all, a great little shop that I’ll be visiting again.  Hopefully soon since I found a chifferobe that I absolutely love, and if I can convince Jacob, I’ll be moving it into my bedroom next weekend…

After my browse through the store, I was heading out of town and so enjoying the beautiful weather (74° out on Saturday!  Lovely!) that I just had to stop and walk around the old part of town for a minute.  I took a few photos that I had to share some with you.  It’s hard to explain what is about places like this that I love so much, but they’re just so full of character and charm…and some other quality that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Whatever it is, I love old neighborhoods like this, and I could happily wander around for hours enjoying the view.

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I hope all of you had equally lovely weekends, and a great St. Paddy’s day!

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The Farm Family

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This is where I grew up…in fact, I cleared that pasture when it was all blackberries and brambles, and you couldn’t walk through it without the fear of sticking your foot in a hole that you couldn’t see or stubbing your toe on a giant rock half-buried in the ground.  When my parents bought this place in 2000, there were no pastures at all – there had once been, but they had been let go, and had grown up until they were impassable with any sort of motorized vehicle.  I’m not kidding – you’d have needed the mars rover to get through it.  We cleared the land by hand – my mama, my stepdad, my sister and I.  And now it’s covered with grass (mostly.  When it rains anyway.) for most of the year, and populated with Red Angus cattle, Katahdin sheep, and Tamworth pigs.  My parents raise all natural, grass-fed animals with no antibiotics, no hormones, no bad-for-you additives.  They get grass and hay; even the pigs graze, although being natural omnivores, they do receive a supplemental pig feed in carefully measured amounts, as well as whey, a natural by-product of the cheese making process that they love and is full of nutrients.

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Mostly, they just roam around chowing down on all that grass and providing me with endless entertainment and photo opportunities.  You can see that they’d much rather cool off in their drinking water than use it for it’s intended purpose. They are all well-fed, well-cared for, and well-loved – they’re not very shy, and will usually come up to investigate when we visit their domain.

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That little cutie is the first lamb of 2013, although judging by the size of the lady on the left, he will (very!) soon be joined by twins or even triplets.  My parents lost their ram last year – the stud of the flock – and it’s possible that this little guy will be stepping up to fill his hooves.  He’s anxiously awaiting his name – it’s taking a while to come up with something suitably impressive.

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I really miss being on the farm every day – when I was kid it just seemed like work, work, and more work, but now I can see how valuable our experiences there were.  We learned how to work hard – pasture clearing, see above; we learned skills most people have no concept of – for instance, can you deworm and vaccinate horses, sheep, cattle, pigs, dogs, and cats? or shoe them, or trim their feet or toenails? or clean 18 stalls before 10 am?; and we got to experience some of the coolest things ever – like a half-hour old lamb/calf/horse try to stand up and find it’s mama for the first time.   It’s work like you wouldn’t believe.  Folks aren’t joking when they say “up with sun” – I had to be at the barn to feed at 7am everyday, including holidays, and we didn’t go in the house until everyone was fed and watered at night, and that might be 6pm or 10pm depending on how your day went.  I’ve hauled 400 bales of hay in from the field, off the trailer, into the barn, then into the stalls in an afternoon – but I’ve also ridden through the Talladega National Forest in the springtime when everything is blooming and the horses are frisky.  All of the work is balanced out by some miraculous event, or birth, or experience that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.   I learned so much, and gained so much appreciation for the land, the animals, the seasons, that I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Adventure Awaits!

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Ohmygoodness.  Do I have the best husband or what?  I showed you all my birthday surprise last week – as if flowers, chocolates, and a sparkly surprise (I didn’t show you, but take my work for it, it’s lovely) aren’t the best thing a girl could ask for on her birthday, I got this in the mail a couple of days ago.  I told you how I’ve been feeling so inspired lately; well, now I have an outlet for all those creative juices bubbling about.  I’ve been contemplating buying one of these bad boys for a while now, but I’ve been dragging my feet since I know absolutely nothing about sewing (unless watching 12 seasons of Project Runway counts as experience? No? Oh well).  Well no more excuses!  I’ve got my eye on a beginners sewing class at the Atlanta Sewing Center, and hopefully I’ll be making Tim Gunn proud in no time.

In other news: I’ll be heading out to my parents’ farm tomorrow to lend a hand – and I’m taking volunteers.  Anyone interested in hard labor with few immediate benefits, but extremely enticing long term rewards including, but not limited to increased muscle tone, access to high quality grass-fed meats and abundant fresh air, and the likelihood that you’ll fall asleep immediately upon becoming horizontal is welcome to join me.   Oh, and did I mention the breathtaking views of Alabama farm country?  There’s no place like home!

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That’s me feeding greedy guts there a couple of years ago – I love being on the farm, and especially when there are adorable critters like that to visit with.  Here’s hoping for good weather tomorrow so I can get some pictures of this year’s new additions – lambs and pigs were born recently, so photo opportunities abound if we can get some decent sunlight.

I hope all of you have a lovely Friday!