Horse Head Bracelet Opener

Check out this nifty horse bracelet I ordered recently. I can wait to experiment with it! I plan to braid or hitch horse hair around the wire between the two heads (FYI: braiding and hitching are two different types of weaving). It should look very cool when it’s done. I’ll keep you posted.Gray Braid

But before I can start on a new project, though, I need to finish a custom piece for a woman in Kentucky who is very patiently waiting. She sent me the hair at right from her horse who died a while ago.

What I find interesting about working with horse hair is the range of colors or, in this case, lack of colors. Take gray, for instance, which is what you’d probably say this hair is. Gray doesn’t seem to exist in horses (and probably people, too). There are black strands and white strands and when you put them together they look gray. Check out gray-haired people and see if it’s true.

Okay, maybe that’s only interesting to me, but it makes a huge difference when I braid the hair. Before I weave the bracelet, I have to make pulls, which are groupings of 12 to 20 individual hairs that are twisted together to make a single strand. It’s similar to spinning wool into yarn so you can knit it. If I put all the white hairs in some pulls and all the black hairs in other pulls, when I braided the whole thing, it would look striped. To get the gray effect, I have to put both colors in each pull.

Gray PullsThese are my pulls before I braid them together.

Even though I’ve done this many times, I still don’t really know what it’ll look like until the end. I heard a podcast the other day on Craft Sanity from a printer who said the same thing. After she carves her block, she thinks about what it will look like, but once she runs it through the press visuals she hadn’t expected pop out and others fade into the background. As soon as I’m done I’ll post a picture of the completed bracelet.Swirl of Red and Blonde Hair

A few weeks back I created a custom bracelet with horse hair that was very dark at one end, red in middle and blonde at the other. It’s a bit difficult to see the variation in the photo at right, but you get the idea. I had no clue what that was going to look like in the end. In creating pulls I count out the same number of hairs each time. Maybe that’s a waste of time, but it makes the pullsPull of Red-Blonde Hair consistent, which makes a better braid. The photo below shows the hairs tied together before I twist them into a pull. To keep the diameter consistent from one end to the other, I flip half the hairs around before making the pulls. Just like people hair, horse hair is thick at the scalp and becomes every so slightly thinner by the time it reaches the tip of the hair. So in flipping the hairs around with the red-blonde horse, I got both colors mixed in the bracelet. In the end, it looked red because most of the blonde color was overwhelmed by the red, as you can see in the photo below. Still, it looked pretty cool in the end and the horse owner was happy. Which is what really counts.

Red Blonde Bracelet

A Toast To Spring

Toast To Spring Opener

Raise your glass to spring! The first day of spring was on Thursday and now it’s Easter (already!). Time to look forward to planting seeds and being outside 15 hours a day.

To help you with your toast, I have a wonderful Peach Wine recipe that’ll give you a taste of the summer to come.

Recipe:Toast To Spring Wine Making

Add 15 to 20 ounces peaches in simple syrup to any white wine. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. Drink. Yum!

In summer I freeze peaches in simple syrup (sugar boiled with water). Adding the peaches to the wine gives it a sweetness and a reminder of all the good fruits and veggies to come. If you don’t have frozen peaches in your fridge, I’m sure canned peaches in light syrup will work just as well.

Toast to Spring CookiesEnjoy the day!

Tag, I’m It


Seems I’ve been tagged by Kris at Monkeyfoot Designs to answer some questions about blogging.

Somehow, this reminds me of taking a Cosmo quiz in high school. I did try to wiggle out of it by claiming a rarely cited rule about not being able to answer questions if you have less than 5 blog entires, but alas, that did not work. So here it goes. (I included a few fun spring photos in case you get tired of all the words:))

1. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging for a few reasons: 1) I’ve been looking for new and different ways to expand my business 2) I was hoping to find a way to stay motivated and 3) planning to get myself on a regular work schedule. As I was rethinking/redesigning my web site, a blog seemed a good way to accomplish many of these things all at the same time. Plus I had a lot of familial influence, with my husband and his sister being bloggers.Crocuses

2. How did you come up with your blog name?

My blog name is the same as my business name, which was inspired by a red-tailed hawk. For many years I have been involved in wildlife rehabilitation and education. I was training a red-tailed hawk for use in education programs, and often wondered what the hawk thought about me in its life. For days I pondered this and then it occurred to me that this red-tail probably called me a red-tail. I have red hair and usually wore it in a pony-tail when working with the bird, so I sported my own “red tail” on a regular basis. It seemed an obvious name for my company.

3. Do your friends and family know about your blog? What do they think of it?

My husband helped me design my blog and most of my friends and family know of my blog. About half of those people look at me kinda funny like, “a what? a log? a smog? a frog?”

Wheel barrel o pussy willows

4. How do you write posts?

Being trained as a journalists, I write my posts like one. I write stream of consciousness, then go back and edit and make it a story with beginning, middle, and end. It will be interesting to see if that changes over time.

5. Have you ever had a troll or had to delete comments?Pussy willows

Thankfully, no.

6. Do you check your stats? Do you care how many people read your blog? If you do care, how to you increase traffic?

I do check my stats. I find it interesting to see how people get to my site, what words they search to get there.

7. What kind of blogs/posts interest you?

Right now I read many sewing and crafting blogs. I like seeing how people put together materials that wouldn’t normally be associated with each other. That inspires me to try different things.

8. What do you like and dislike about blogging?Snowdrops

I like how people can connect and get fabulous new ideas from blogging. I don’t like that I don’t have enough time to do it as often as I’d like and that my pictures are as fabulous as I’d like them to be.

All done! I am going to tag Melody, Hedge, and Ken to continue the Cosmo Quiz blog questions. While they’re doing that I’ll be off to tackle my pile of birthday goodies I got this week. Lots of old issues of Mary Jane’s Farm and a new book called Doodle Stitching. Can’t wait to see what they inspire next!

Doodle Stitching

Sugar On Snow

Sugar On Snow Opener

I just returned from the north, visiting my sister-in-law Kris and her family in New Hampshire.

As a fellow stay-at-home who is nursing babies and fledging business, we spent a lot of time talking about balancing family life and trying to be an adult with goals and accomplishments. The conclusion from the weekend can be summed up rather simply. Raising babies and raising a business are very similar: both are hard but rewarding, and with both you never seem to have the time to do everything you want to do.

It snowed about 10 inches while we were in New Hampshire. This is real snow, not the snow-sleet-rain stuff (affectionately referred to as a “wintry mix” by the Weather Channel) we so often get here in Pennsylvania. Nothing worse than having a “snow day” only to find no snow on the ground but an awful lot of slush or ice.

All this snow inspired a Little House on the Prairie moment as I decided to try my hand at making Sugar on Snow. This ultra-simple yumminess entails pouring boiling maple syrup over fresh snow so it hardens quickly into a taffy-like candy. If you like maple syrup as much as I do, you have to try this. The only thing better than this is slurping the syrup right out of the jug (please note: not something I’ve done, but something I’ve contemplated when clearing the table after pancakes).

I searched the Internet and found many Vermonters happy to share directions, not that you really need a recipe for this. Vermont Living provides specifics about the best temperature for optimum candy-making.

With only a meat thermometer reading to temps of 220°F at my disposal (above 230°F is the best boiling temp for the syrup), I winged it. Here are Sue’s direction for making Sugar On Snow.

Sugar on Snow Scoops 1. Pack some fresh snow into a bowl. Salad tongs make good snow scoopers





Sugar on Snow Good Boil
2. Bring the maple syrup to a rolling boil, to the point where you fear it’s going to boil over. Sugar on Snow Bad BoilI began with about 1 inch of syrup in the bottom of the pot and it boiled all the way up the sides. The picture to the left shows a good boil. The picture on the right shows the syrup that hasn’t reach a good boil yet. But never fear: if you don’t let it boil enough it just melts the snow instead of hardening and you end up with a maple syrup snow cone, which is darn good, too. You’ll know it’s not hot enough when it looks like some animal did its business in your snow.


Sugar on Snow Spoon

3. Without stirring, pour maple syrup over the snow directly from the pot. I scooped out the last dregs with a wooden spoon.




Sugar On Snow Closeup 4.Wait a few seconds for it to harden, then dig in. Yuuuuuummy!Sugar on Snow Yum Eat it right off the snow. Don’t serve it on a plate like I did here (right), because it melts onto the plate into a gooey mess if you don’t eat it fast enough.

I did try the Vermont tradition of eating a sour pickle after eating some maple taffy. Although this tastes much better than it sounds, it’s not something I need to do again.

There’s no reason we folks here in Pennsylvania can’t make sugar on snow. In fact, you can use shaved ice rather than snow. Pollution is an issue for me, however. I live in the city so the rock salt seems to get everywhere. It pains me to tell my kids not to eat the snow here, but alas, they eat the vast snowcones that are grandparents’ backyards.

In addition to satisfying a sweet tooth, I also got to satisfy a long-standing Little House on the Prairie fantasy. Laura Ingalls Wilder details the sugar on snow party in Little House in the Big Woods book. As a young girl with long braids, I too, wanted to be Laura Ingalls, or more specifically, Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls on the TV show. I wished for the bonnet and petticoats and lace-up boots. I wanted to tumble down a hill of wildflowers like Carrie in the TV show introduction. So finally my wish has come true to live like Laura and experience a little colonial life. And I didn’t even have to put up with Nellie to do it.