Seasonal Cloth Placemat and Napkin Sets

This whole idea started back in June of 2016.  I love to decorate my house in little ways to match the seasons.  One of those ways is by decorating the dining room table.  I had always wanted to have a set of placemats and napkins that matched each season.

So in June of 2016 I decided to start working towards that goal.  Each set was made with the placemat being reversible, and a different napkin to match each side of the placemat.  And then, because there were a lot of little triangle shaped scraps left from cutting the corners off of the placemats, Little Miss and Sunshine made trivet pads with the scraps to match the sets as well.

I made a Summer/4th of July set first.

Then I made the Autumn/Thanksgiving set.

I skipped Winter/Christmas that year for several reasons, and in the spring of 2017 made the Spring/Easter set.

Then I just now finally finished the last of the sets with the Winter/Christmas set.

It is so great to have all the sets done!  Our whole family really enjoys having the table decorated with each season and holiday and I am so glad I made all these.  They will last for a long time and we will have many family memories shared while using them.

If you want to read the post about how to make these, click here.  With all the fabric choices out there you are sure to find something that matches your style just right.  They make great gifts, too.

Sunday Homestead Update

We have been oh-so-sick this week.  Croup, strep, and pneumonia.  Very.  Sick.  But thankfully everyone is improving and the terrible part is over.  By next SHU we should be recovered and doing much better.


Mr. Smiles couldn’t sleep in any position except on our chests in the recliner for 4 days, so Mtn Man and I took turns overnight and Sunshine and Young Man also pitched in a few times during the day.  But for the most part he was in my arms or asleep on my chest all day for four days.  Thankfully, I was able to do some knitting when he was asleep, because I was getting very antsy and bored.

Dog Yarn?

We had an interesting “first” in the mill this week.  We made our first dog hair yarn.  The hair came from a standard poodle, and was mixed 50% with wool from a Lincoln Longwool sheep.  It turned out really cool.

The dog hair definitely needed plenty of support from the Longwool, but it is indeed possible to make dog hair into yarn.  It turned out pretty and is quite soft – softer than I expected.


We got a good 15-inch dump of snow this week.  It is safe to say fall weather is gone and winter weather has arrived here in the Rockies.  Last year was a very long, mild fall, this year it was short and colder.

We still really need to get the firewood chopped and stacked for the winter, but illness put that off for now.


Mrs. Arabel successfully hatched out 4 chicks.  That is a pretty low percentage, considering she started with 10, but that sometimes happens with hatching, especially at high altitude.  And the cold weather could have something to do with it as well.

But I am happy about the four.  We don’t usually hatch in the fall, and with winter cold arriving early I think it will be good for her to only have four because it will be easier for her to successfully keep them all warm even as they grow.


I have started working on the Winter/Christmas cloth placemat and napkin set.  Once I finish them I will have all four seasonal sets done!

While I have been working on those, Little Miss and Sunshine have taken it upon themselves to make matching trivet pads with the scraps from all the seasonal sets we have made.  When I cut the placemats’ corners off, we end up with a lot of little triangle scraps from the two different placemat fabrics for each season.

We felt like it would be wasteful to just throw those out, so the girls are piecing them together (there are a million different ways to arrange 36 triangles), adding a couple of layers of batting, using the larger scraps of fabric for the back, and making these cool trivet pads that will coordinate with each of my placemat/napkin sets.

Here is a peek at the Autumn/Thanksgiving set, which we are currently using.  These are the pads they made:

Which go with these placemats and napkins.  Left is Autumn, and right is Thanksgiving:

Once I finish the Winter/Christmas set, I will do a post that shows all four different sets, and the trivet pads that go with them.  If you are interested in finding out how we make these, you can click here for the post that shows how.

Sunday Homestead Update

We have begun having a lot of cold weather, as well as a lot of harsh wind.  We are coming to the end of our season of getting things done outdoors and scrambling to get what we can done before we really can’t anymore.  Pretty much all that is left is firewood, and hopefully we will get to that next weekend.


Sadly, our sweet English Angora bunny, Oliver, died this week.  He was a very wonderful pet and fiber producing animal that we all miss very much.

A few weeks ago he got a wool block (intestines blocked with fur) despite the fact that we were using papaya tablets regularly to help keep that from happening.  We were able to clear the block with pineapple juice and more papaya tablets.  But despite that, Oliver never fully recovered.  It was a hard loss.  He was a sweet bunny that loved being pet.  He was litterbox trained so we would let him hop around outside his cage and play.  We enjoyed watching him do his “happy hops” and kick up his heels.


Mrs. Arabel is hatching out her chicks today.  We can hear the peep-peep-peeping sound underneath her.  We are excited to see how many hatch in the next couple of days!


We have continued with knitting, sewing and crafting projects for Christmas.  This week I worked through the mending pile as well.  Buttons sewn back on, holes in pants patched, etc.

One thing the girls love to have me do is take a pair of their favorite jeans that still fit their waist well, but have been patched and re-patched and are worn out in the legs, and I make them into a skirt.  That way they still have the comfortable pants top, and the worn out legs are removed and a skirt is added.  This week I made one for Little Miss using her favorite jeans and a dress that didn’t fit her top but had a cute bottom edge that is longer in the back and shorter in the front.

Wind Storm

We had a bad wind storm this week that busted the top off of one of our pine trees.  Thankfully it didn’t hit anything.  It was about 12 inches diameter, but it did have some rot on one side, which is probably why it broke off.

Cozy By the Fire

Despite the cold weather, our indoor kitty was careful to not let his belly get chilled.  He warmed it by the fire.

And his brother enjoyed the warmth of the fire from up on the recliner.


Easy DIY Bibs for Your Toddler

Easy DIY Bibs for Your Toddler

Mr. Smiles is 20-months-old now.  Oh-how-time-flies!  He is learning to feed himself and man-oh-man mealtimes can be very messy as he perfects his skills and gains his independence.

14 years ago when Young Man was a baby, a friend gave me homemade bibs for him.  They are great because they tie at the neck (my kids have always yanked off velcro bibs), they are a good amount of coverage, including the short sleeves, they are fabric so they absorb moisture instead of running it down to his lap, and they are washable.

Surprisingly, those same bibs have lasted through four children before Mr. Smiles, and 14 years of life.  And they are still going!  Yes, there is some wear and tear on them, but they are still totally functional.

Despite that, I decided to make him a few more so I wouldn’t have to rush them through the wash so much.  I apologize ahead of time for the poor pictures.  I am up to my eyeballs busy right now, so I just quickly snapped pics with my cell phone while we were sewing them.  Little Miss is learning how to sew on the sewing machine, so she helped me make them, doing the easier parts while I did the harder parts.

It took about 2/3 yds of fabric and 1 package (3 yds) of bias tape for each bib.

We used the old bibs as a pattern.  We had to detach the bias tape that works as the underside of the sleeve so we could lay it out flat.

Since I don’t have a pattern for them, I laid out the cut fabric with some measuring tapes so that if you would like to make them yourself you can estimate and figure out how to cut them out.

Once we had the two fabric pieces cut out, it was time to put the biased tape on.  You could just do them single thickness of fabric, but I like the double thickness for sturdiness and absorption.  We put the two piece wrong-sides-together before we attached the bias tape.

First, we sewed on the two top edges, and cut off the extra.

Next, we sewed on the neck section, with 8 inches of tape hanging off each side of the neck for the ties.  We finished those ties by sewing the bias tape closed along them, and tucking in the end and sewing it as well.

Then we sewed the bias tape that went all the way around the sides and bottom.  We left 3 inches of tape, sewed closed, but with an unfinished end, at the top shoulder, and then sewed down to almost where the sleeve curves in.  Then we stopped and tucked the end of the tape into the edge and sewed it into the rest of the tape as we went.  This creates the “sleeve.”

We continued around the whole bib, stopping right before we got to the same spot on the opposite side (where the sleeve needs to be sewn in again).  We backstitched there and took the bib off the machine.

Then we laid the bias tape along the bib where it would need to go, cutting a tail off 3 inches from the top of the shoulder.

Then, starting at the 3-inch tail, we attached the bias tape for the sleeve the same as the other side, sewing the raw tail end into the other bias tape right where the curve starts.

***If you didn’t want the hassle of sewing the ends into the bias tape, you could just sew the bias tape all the way around, leaving a 3-inch tail on each side up at the top corners.  Then you could take the tails and tack them in place at the curve with a few stitches.***


We made three different ones.  I am hoping to buy some more fabric and bias tape soon to make enough so we have about 7-9 bibs total, that way he could have one each day and I could wash without running out.

Sunday Homestead Update

Feels like summer around here!  Beautiful sunny days, early afternoon showers, and cool, fresh evenings.  We are enjoying all our regular summer activities – gardening, animals, popsicles, sprinklers, hiking, crafts, farm projects, reading, visitors, outings….etc.


June is the time of year for hail in the Rockies.  Knowing this, I have left my WOWs on the tomato and squash plants longer than necessary just to try to protect them from the hail as long as possible.  This week we had a doozie of a storm, and thankfully there was very little garden damage because of the WOWs, plus the pest control fabric over the cabbage, lettuce, spinach, turnips, and beets.  We were home when it happened, so we ran outside and threw sheets over the strawberry patch, the few tomatoes that were unprotected, and the celery.  So almost everything was spared from the storm.  The rhubarb and beans did sustain a lot of damage, as well as many of the herb seedlings we had just put out into the garden.  Thankfully we still have several herb seedlings indoors under the grow lights.  We will put them out in a few weeks when the major hail danger has passed.

Thankfully, somehow the grapevines didn’t get hurt.  I think the angle of the hail was slanted enough that the patio roof protected them.  The older vine is doing SO well this year.  It has about 50 flower clusters on it.  Hopefully, some of those will turn into grapes for us.  Our goal for the younger vine is just for it to grow and spread this year, it is still very small and not doing as well as the older one.

I love the purple chive flowers each year – so pretty!

The cabbage are all very happy in their tent tunnels.  The fabric and arches for the tunnels have been quite an annoyance and need constant upkeep, but they seem to be helping thus far and they definitely protected them from the hail damage.

Heritage Arts

The girls and I decided to clean out and organize the craft room.  In the process we found several half-finished projects and a lot of mending.  So we set to work on all of it.  I am teaching Little Miss how to use the sewing machine, and she wanted to make curtains for her playhouse, so we did that.  We mended several pairs of pants and a couple of shirts.  We finished the last of the Spring/Easter cloth placemat and napkin set.  And now we are left with two bigger projects that we are working on.

First, we are making some cloth bibs for Mr. Smiles.  I will post more about that this week.

The second project has to do with some leftover scraps from the cloth placemats we made.  When we cut the corners off the placemats we were left with a lot of fabric triangles.  We didn’t want to just throw them away so we have been piecing them together and have been putting together different pattern ideas to make them into hot pads/trivets to go on the table under hot dishes.  It will be nice because they will match the placemat/napkin sets for each season.

Hopefully we will get those done this week.

In addition, we have found a new hobby (like we needed another hobby!) – Needle Felting.  Sunshine was the first one to have interest in it, but now Little Miss, Braveheart, and I have joined in the fun.  I bought this kit from the Felted Dog and made this cute Christmas ornament.


The cockerels are 17 weeks this weekend, which is usually when we butcher them.  But we decided to wait another week because a couple of the ones we need to butcher are a little smaller than we hoped.  We did assess them all (there are 8) and begin the process of deciding which will become the future breeding rooster for the flock.


Anya has now accomplished the next step in her training – she has been allowed to meet the chickens off-leash and spend time with them in the barnyard.  We still wont leave her alone with them for awhile since she is only a year old and still has some puppy behavior, but so far she has shown no signs of wanting to hurt them and has done very well hanging out with them.

Tundra’s Defy the Fly collar is definitely losing its potency already.  It has only been a week and the flies are beginning to get at his ears again.  They have also added his nose to the menu since it is farther away from the deterrent collar.  We still have the collar on him and have also been rubbing some human spray bug repellent on him to boost the fly control.  The flies are just terrible this year already, much worse than normal for our area.  They are bothering the goat and even the sheep.  We have never had the flies go after the sheep before.

The Fiber Mill

The Mill has been getting very busy, which is such a wonderful blessing.  Mtn Man is making all sorts of amazing yarns and fun blends.  He has been working with Navajo Churro and several other types of wool, Alpaca, and Goat Mohair.  Some of the blends include silk, bison, and merino into a few of the Alpaca and Mohair yarns.  So many options…so much fun!