Eating Gluten-Free at Events: Clothespin Craft for 4th of July

Eating Gluten-Free at Events: Clothespin Craft for 4th of July

Almost 11 years ago several of us in the family were diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and we have all eaten gluten-free ever since then.  It has gotten much easier over the years as GF awareness and food labeling have changed drastically.  But, despite that, eating at events and parties can still be tricky.  We have found a way to deal with the problem over the years, by making clothespins that are labeled with “GF” and clipping them to the dishes on the food table that contain food that is gluten-free.

The girls and I decided we wanted to make festive 4th of July themed clothespins for our upcoming BBQ with extended family.  We also made some that said “DF” for dairy-free because some people coming need to stay dairy-free.

They were simple and fun to make.  First, we got the supplies we needed at Hobby Lobby: wooden clothespins (we took them apart once we got them home), wooden stars, acrylic paint, paint brushes, painters tape, and hot glue.

We painted all the stars white (2 coats), and all the clothespins white about 3/4 of the way to the top and on the sides.

Then we taped off half of the clothespin, lengthwise, and painted the uncovered half red.

Once that was dry, we taped off 1-inch down from the top, and painted the exposed area blue (2 coats), including the sides and the back.

Lastly, we labeled the stars with a permanent marker, glued them on half of the clothespin pieces with hot glue, and put the clothespins back together with their springs.

Now everyone at the BBQ will easily know what they can and cannot safely eat with their special dietary concerns, and they will add a decorative touch to the food table!

Sunday Homestead Update

We had a somewhat calm week here on the farm.  Calm compared to the busy-ness of late.  It was hot for our area, so the animals all mostly laid around in the shade trying to stay cool, and us humans spent a lot of time indoors.

Heritage Arts

When we cleaned out the sewing room, I found a pair of socks, hibernating, that I had started March of 2016.  I decided it was high-time to finish them.  I made them summer-length, so it didn’t take long to finish them up.  These were my first socks made with hand-dyed yarn.  I knit them 2-at-a-time, from each end of the skein, and found that the coloring is slightly different on each.  I guess one end of the skein was a bit different in color than the other because of the hand-dyeing.  But I like them nonetheless!  I always wanted to make socks with different colored toes/heels/cuffs – and this was my first pair doing that.  I am very happy with them.

I am also continuing to press on with the sweater for Mr. Smiles.  Still on the sleeves and at that boring part in the middle of something easily repetitive where it feels like you are not making any progress at all.

And since I got those socks off the needles, and am at the boring part in Mr. Smiles’ sweater, I had a strong desire to cast something new on.  🙂

So I got out the baby alpaca/silk/cashmere oh-so-soft and luscious fingering weight yarn that Mtn Man bought me at Fiber Train a few weeks ago and cast on a shawl.

We didn’t get to any sewing this week except more mending, mostly patching pants.

Impromptu Hatch

Eve decided she wants to set, and since I haven’t let her set and hatch eggs since January of 2016, it was time to let her have a go.  I want to continue to encourage her to brood and raise chicks, and not get rid of that tendency in her.  She is an excellent mama hen.

Being that she is a Silky, she can only handle about 6 regular-sized chicken eggs under her.  I bought hatching eggs for her since our roosters are not ready to breed quite yet, and they came by the dozen.  So I put the eggs into the incubator, and put ceramic eggs under Eve to keep her in the mood.  Once the eggs are in the incubator 5 days I will check fertility and put the fertile ones under her.  If there are more than 6 fertile then I will leave some in the incubator and add the incubator chicks to her chicks after they all hatch.  Even though she can only set about 6 eggs, she can raise 10 or so chicks.

We moved her to the broody coop to set and hatch.

The hatching eggs are just some random mixed breeds, nothing we are interested in keeping, I just needed something to put under her so she could go through the process.  We will sell and butcher them when they are big enough.

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!


Defy the Fly

If you have been following us for awhile you know that each summer we struggle with flies biting the ears of our LGD, Tundra.  We have tried everything and nothing has worked for more than a few hours.  The poor guy spends the summer with gaping wounds on his ear, and us scrambling to find any way to help him.

Normally the struggles don’t start until the end of July and they run through September.  But this year the flies are out and working on his ears already.  On top of that, they have decided they like our new LGD, Anya’s ears too.  On both dogs they bite the back of the fold of the ear, the soft and tender part.  Poor puppies!  They definitely are torturing Tundra more, and the poor dog is constantly rubbing on the fence, and rubbing his ears with his paws trying to get away from them.

We found something we hadn’t tried yet.  Defy the Fly dog collars.  They are a collar the dog wears that is supposed to repel flies for up to two months.  We decided to try it and ordered them right away.  Tundra’s arrived Monday and we put it right on him.  It smells like a citronella candle.  We were so happy (as was Tundra) when we saw immediate results.  The flies stayed away from him completely, especially his head.  Sweet relief!!!

I have no idea how long they will actually last, but at about $9 each I am willing to keep replacing them as needed to keep the dogs’ ears healthy and keep them from being driving mad by the constant pestering of the flies.  I will let you know how long they last and if we are still happy with them as the summer progresses.