Making a Pillow, a Beginner’s Sewing Project

I have a friend who started a small ranch-based combination animal rescue and learning environment for people with brain injuries (and at-risk youths). From her web site, Hope Farms Project (yes, I made her web site):

“Inspired by her son who suffered a stroke before birth, Lisa is committed to offering children, youth and adults with disabilities an opportunity to live up to their fullest potential. She believes that nature, nurtures. Lisa’s personal experience watching her son grow and heal in nature with animals has motivated her to leave the political job she loved and pursue her passion for animal-assisted social work. Hope Farms Project is the result of that decision and she has never looked back.”

pillowI’ve been volunteering my graphic design services to Hope Farms whenever I can and have also helped in her garden. This year she got the great idea of teaching homesteading skills to her students and asked me if I would do the honors. She knows I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, make a lot of things from scratch and have a few homesteading skills myself. I jumped at the opportunity!

How to make a pillow

Homesteading students

Classes will be held the first Wednesday of the month and so the first one was April 6. The theme was sewing, the first project was to make a 12″ pillow. I thought it would be nice if I chronicled the classes here and it would give me extra things to write about. This was a good project to get the students familiar with a sewing machine, sewing by hand, using a pattern and how things “go together.”

Sarge waiting for his new pillow…

Learning how to sew at an early age has been the basis, I think, for many of my other skills, having used the knowledge to do things like build fences, tile my kitchen splashboard, design my own clothes and inventing a fabric pet-related product that I had sold on the internet for five years.

I’m trying something new with the project instructions: I’m using a plugin designed for recipes for the instructions! I think WP Ultimate Recipe would be pleased. You can find my instructions here: 

Pillow Making, a Beginner Sewing Project
Print Recipe
how to make a throw pillowHere's a little project that can be put together in an hour or less. The size of the pillow is your choice. The instructions here are for a small (12") pillow. Note: You can print these instructions, the instruction photos will not print.
Servings
1 pillow
Cook Time
1 hour or less
Servings
1 pillow
Cook Time
1 hour or less
Pillow Making, a Beginner Sewing Project
Print Recipe
how to make a throw pillowHere's a little project that can be put together in an hour or less. The size of the pillow is your choice. The instructions here are for a small (12") pillow. Note: You can print these instructions, the instruction photos will not print.
Servings
1 pillow
Cook Time
1 hour or less
Servings
1 pillow
Cook Time
1 hour or less
Ingredients
  • sewing machine
  • 1 - 13" x 13" pattern (optional) This can be made from printer paper, newspaper, etc.
  • 3/8 yard fabric
  • 1 pkg batting/stuffing
  • 1 spool thread & needle
  • several straight pins
  • 1 pair scissors or rotary cutter
  • iron (optional)
Servings: pillow
Instructions
  1. Fold fabric in half, right sides (outside of fabric) facing together.
  2. Optional: Make a 13" x 13" template/pattern out of paper, pin or weigh down on your folded fabric and cut (two pieces). Otherwise, just cut two 13" x 13" pieces of fabric.
  3. With the two pillow pieces still right sides together, pin them on all four sides.
  4. Sew seams on 3 full sides of the pillow with the sewing machine, 1/2" in from the edges. Partially sew the 4th side, leaving an opening large enough to fit your hand into.
  5. Trim corners to an angle (a little bit, make sure you don't cut the stitches). This will keep the corners from bunching up when the fabric is turned right-side-out.
  6. Reach into the pillow, grab the far end and pull it through the hole -- turning the pillow right-side-out. Push out corners by sticking a finger in them.
  7. Optional but helpful: Iron the pillow flat, folding the unsewn seam edge to the inside. This will help you later when you hand-sew this last opening closed.
  8. Stuff pillow with the batting. You can make it as full (firmer) or loose (softer) as you want.
  9. Pin the opening closed with straight pins.
  10. Hand sew the opening closed. That's it, you're done!
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My Secret Ingredient and a Camp Potatoes Recipe

secIngredPeople often ask me what seasonings I use to make my foods taste so great, so today I’m sharing my secret ingredient. I call it, no surprises here, Herban Farmer’s Secret Ingredient. I make this myself, hand-grinding the peppercorns in an antique coffee mill which gives them a nice variety in consistency, adjusting the ingredient proportions and using sea salt, so that I finally have it the way I love it. And do I ever love it!

Although I have an entire kitchen cabinet devoted to spices, seasonings, oils… this is the one seasoning that I use so much that I have to make a new batch several times a year. Plus, I have a few friends that are addicted to this stuff and come to me with their empty jars for refills. Not to mention it makes great Christmas gifts! This seasoning just seems to disappear… but considering that I use it for breakfast (it’s great in egg dishes), lunch (great in salads, on sandwiches, in soup, etc), dinner (awesome on meat, fish, poultry, seafood, vegetables, mashed potatoes, in sauces, stews, soups, jeez, even on cottage cheese!) and anything in between (yes, try it on grilled peaches or vegetables, you can’t go wrong) it’s no wonder I’m always having to crank up the old coffee mill.

potatoesI’ve even had friends joke that it makes a great sachet for the underwear drawer and will also do in a pinch to melt snow off the driveway… but enough of the jokes. This seasoning has become my ~secret ingredient~ and I have decided to spread the wealth and sell it on my blog. Every bottle is filled with my personally hand-made Secret Ingredient. The price includes shipping and packaging (and that’s not cheap these days!). If you order any of my other products such as the fermentation kits, I’ll throw in a sample packet of my Secret Ingredient.

So… try it, you’ll LOVE it!

Here’s the perfect recipe to begin with. I’ve been making this for decades. Not only is it easy to make, delicious and satisfying, but it’s also the perfect dish to make when you’re camping. I’ve even backpacked into wilderness and made this—it’s so easy when all the prep (cutting up of food) can be done in advance and carried in baggies. You could also add some meat to this to make it a meal rather than a side dish. Diced ham is a nice addition. Want to get even fancier? Add some grated cheddar to the top and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes.

Potatoes with Peppers and Onions
Print Recipe
potatoesThThis side dish is delicious, satisfying and easy to make. It's also a great camping dish since you can do all the prep at home. This goes especially great with grilled trout. It can also be served as a meal, just add some protein (ham is good) and cheese at the end. It's also a VERY good breakfast dish paired with eggs.
Servings Prep Time
2-4 servings 15 mins
Cook Time
25-30 mins
Servings Prep Time
2-4 servings 15 mins
Cook Time
25-30 mins
Potatoes with Peppers and Onions
Print Recipe
potatoesThThis side dish is delicious, satisfying and easy to make. It's also a great camping dish since you can do all the prep at home. This goes especially great with grilled trout. It can also be served as a meal, just add some protein (ham is good) and cheese at the end. It's also a VERY good breakfast dish paired with eggs.
Servings Prep Time
2-4 servings 15 mins
Cook Time
25-30 mins
Servings Prep Time
2-4 servings 15 mins
Cook Time
25-30 mins
Ingredients
  • 2 large russet potatoes unpeeled, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 large bell pepper red or green, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 large yellow onion cut into 1" pieces
  • olive oil about 3 TB or so
  • 1 tsp HF Secret Ingredient or to taste
Servings: servings
Instructions
  1. Cook potatoes in boiling water for about 2 minutes. This will remove some of the sticky starch that would otherwise make the potatoes stick to your skillet. It also speeds up the cooking process. This step can be skipped, but just know the potatoes will stick more to the skillet. Drain and rinse potatoes.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet, then add peppers, onion and potatoes. Sprinkle liberally with Herban Farmer's Secret Ingredient and sauté until the vegetables are soft and browning nicely, about 20-25 minutes if you've parboiled the potatoes, about 35-40 minutes if not. You can add about 1/4 c of water and cover at this point to deglaze the pan.
  3. If adding ham or cheese, that can be done at the end. Serve hot and enjoy!
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4 thoughts on “My Secret Ingredient and a Camp Potatoes Recipe

  1. Joe Tropf

    Hi Deb,Just read your article in Mother. I’ve been playing with sourdough for close to 30 years. Cakes,breads and pancakes are #1. I started seeing a naturopath a few months ago and she wants me to get off of processed foods including flours so I’m looking into different flours to use for my sourdough with the help of a friend that is vegan and now she has gone grain free so more changes to the recipie. Anyway while reading Mother you mentioned the term ” To die for”. My question for you is, have you ever been close? Because if you have you would change it to “to live for” if something is that good you would want to eat it again. You see 7 years ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer and went down hill from there. 4 months without eating watching the food channel 24–7 because eating was something to live for. If you haven’t gathered I don’t like that term or “Bucket list” either. To enjoy every day that I,m on top of this earth is what I told God I would do if given the opportunity. I hope to try your recipie someday. Until the next time enjoy life and have a good day. Joe Tropf

    Reply
    1. Farmer Deb Post author

      Hi Joe, Sorry, the terminology was not there to offend you or anyone. It’s just an expression. I grew up in the NY area, it’s commonly used. Imagine it being said with a NY accent. And yes, I’m also a cancer survivor, but I didn’t have as extreme an experience that you did. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through, I can’t even imagine.

      I do hope you try the Einkorn flour, I don’t use anything else these days. You may want to take a look at the Jovial web site for more information about it’s nutritional value. I have a biscuit recipe if you want to try something quick with the Einkorn. It’s “to live for” good. 🙂

      Thanks for the good wishes and your comment. The last time I told someone to have a good day, they said back “have a great life.” I thought that was a wonderful response, so, Joe, have a great life!

      Reply
  2. Joe Cisneros

    Hi Farmer Deb. Do you ever do workshops on for instance making soap and other’s. If you do how do I find out about them or if I sign up for your post will you let us know that way. Where in Colorado do you live as I live in south central Colorado
    Joe Cisneros.

    Reply
    1. Farmer Deb Post author

      Hi Joe, I don’t really do workshops but have done demonstrations on making sauerkraut, for instance, for the local garden club. It’s interesting that you ask, because I have a friend that has a therapy ranch of sorts and wants me to do monthly demonstrations for making soap, bread, personal products (lotion bars, etc.), hopefully for homeschooled kids and others. If we she does get around to getting this organized, I’ll write a post about it here and include the schedule. Since you’re signed up here, you’ll get the post via email. But… this would be at her ranch in Elizabeth CO which sounds like it would be far for you. I’m near Denver myself. Maybe some day I’ll make some YouTube videos. 🙂

      Reply

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Gallop intentionally!

This is a short story about a funny, profound (or profoundly funny) statement.

Spoiler alert: There’s a recipe at the bottom for a seriously delicious carrot cake.

horse portraitA couple of years ago I was out at the barn riding my horse, Joe. He’s a sweet and personable horse and usually pretty low key. I had been lungeing and riding him in the indoor arena and afterwards decided to ride him around the property. I had a bareback pad on him (essentially just a padded piece of fabric, with no stirrups) and a bitless bridle that I was trying out.

bareback pad, bitless bridle

This is a barepack pad and bitless bridle.

We were outside the back end of the indoor arena. Inside, I could hear a couple of women chatting and riding their horses. Joe suddenly noticed the activity, decided it was a saber-toothed tiger or something worse, pivoted 180° on his left front leg and took us off at a full gallop. We covered about 500′ in less than a second (or so it seemed), just long enough for me to start looking for a soft place to fall. In the meantime I pulled back on the reins and shouted “whoa Joe.” He stopped fairly quickly, bucked a little then settled down. I got him walking again and soon enough he acted like nothing had happened. I was amazed that I hadn’t fallen off. It all happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to squeak out some adrenalin (or pee for that matter). It was also nice to learn that bitless bridles do work! We walked around the property for another 10-15 minutes and then I decided it was time to call it a day. I took him back to the barn to untack and do the usual end-of-the-ride stuff — brushing, picking out his hooves, sharing treats (peppermints, horse cookies, carrots, apples or his favorite—my carrot cake).

terolyn training

A beautiful day to ride.

Later as I was heading out, I ran into two friends chatting in the lounge area. One already knew about my speedy adventure with Joe and the other didn’t, so I shared my little story. One woman commented that she always gallops when bareback, which is very true. She and her friend have Arabian horses that they’ve owned for years and they ride like they were born in the saddle. With mere bareback pads, they gallop all over the place, up and down small ravines, over gullies, even ride their horses backwards—and never, ever fall off. I’ve NEVER ridden like that (sadly, I just realized right now, I probably never will).

gallop intentionallyWhen the one woman said she gallops bareback, the other looked at her incredulously and asked, “but do you gallop intentionally?” The other replied solemnly, yet very emphatically, “I always gallop intentionally.” I had to laugh at the exchange—from my position, it all looked and sounded so serious. I was also tickled by the expression, “gallop intentionally.” It just sounded so profound, like “live consciously,” but with more gusto. I told the girls that would be a great bumper sticker. So I went home and made one!

SO: If you want to remind others to live their lives intentionally and with passion, to gallop intentionally just as YOU do, you need one of these bumper stickers! They are 10″x3″, removable waterproof vinyl and professionally printed. Click here to buy one for the amazingly low price of only $3.99. Postage is included!

Ride like the wind, Bullseye!

 

Carrot Cake, Joe's Favorite!
Print Recipe
carrot cake recipeThis carrot cake is dense, moist and bursting with warm flavors. I'd recommend baking it in a bundt or similar cake pan. It can be served slightly warm, with whipped cream, a little ice cream or your favorite cream cheese icing.

 

Off label use: this makes a really great breakfast food!

Servings Prep Time
12 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
12 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Carrot Cake, Joe's Favorite!
Print Recipe
carrot cake recipeThis carrot cake is dense, moist and bursting with warm flavors. I'd recommend baking it in a bundt or similar cake pan. It can be served slightly warm, with whipped cream, a little ice cream or your favorite cream cheese icing.

 

Off label use: this makes a really great breakfast food!

Servings Prep Time
12 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
12 slices 30 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c oil (coconut oil is especially good)
  • 4 eggs room temp (esp. if using coconut oil)
  • 2 c flour (can use Einkorn)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 c carrots grated (medium)
  • 1 c pecans chopped
  • whipped cream (optional)
Servings: slices
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350° (This recipe seems to work as is at this temperature, regardless of elevation.) Butter baking pan if needed.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients (flour, soda, powder, salt, cinnamon) and set aside.
  3. Grate carrots and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream the oil (mix with fork) into the sugar.
  5. Add four eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add pecans, mix.
  6. Add dry ingredients, a cup at a time, mixing well. Add grated carrots, mix until all ingredients are blended.
  7. Pour into baking pan, bake for 1 hour or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean or cake springs back when pressed with a finger.
  8. Cool for about 15 minutes on a rack, then remove from baking pan.
  9. Slice and serve with your choice of a dollop of whipped cream, ice cream or cream cheese icing—or plain (my favorite).
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8 thoughts on “Gallop intentionally!

  1. Susan E

    I really enjoyed your story, it reminds me of a couple of my horses from years long past. And BTW, thanks for sharing the carrot cake recipe, I will definitely try it out soon.
    I was reading a comment you had posted on another site, it was about chickens, hens specifically, there was a pattern for making saddles to protect our little darlings from the Roos. You commented that you sew for animals, and in the comment said something about a fly mask.
    So my question to you is, have you come across or came up with a good pattern that would protect the face from sunburns? My boy Sterling, a beautiful sweet Arabian/Quarter Horse is grey w/apron face, he burns if he doesn’t have sunblock on every other day. He HATES having sunblock put on! Looking for a long term answer besides a lifetime supply of sunblock!
    Thanks, Susan

    Reply
    1. Farmer Deb Post author

      Hi Susan, wow I forgot about the chicken saddle pattern. I should probably write a post about that, huh?

      I haven’t ever looked for a pattern for a horse sun/fly mask, I’ve always just bought from Schneiders or locally. I BET your horse would hate sunblock! Schneiders has some pretty creative masks. They won’t last forever, but what does on horses, really? http://horse-supplies.sstack.com/search?w=sun+mask&asug=

      Reply
      1. Susan E

        Hi, & thanks for the link. I have looked at these masks before, but just never spent the money on one because I’ve been skeptical of how well it would work & survive my boys! (That’s why I am thinking of going homemade). I also don’t really know how I feel about having a mask on him everyday for 1/2 of the year. I probably will go ahead and buy one that can be used without a bridal or halter, and hopefully it will last more than a week. LOL. Sterling is lowest in pecking order of 3 geldings. But the middle horse happens to be a miniature. He & Sterlings had a great dynamic before the third wheel came in to the picture. They were best buddy until my husbands horse came to live with us and and he is a bully. Sterling and Lyle, (he has crazy hair/mane like Lyle Lovett) still play and pick on each other all the time, it is really very cute… But it does make me worry that anything I put on Sterling won’t last long.

        So, did you make the saddles for your hens? I think you should go ahead and write about that. It is always good to have current information when searching for something!!
        I am going to be making some saddles for my girls as soon as I get to town for some fabric. I have 18 hens, 4 of them have no feathers on their backs. It is not only the rooster pulling the feathers out, but the higher rank hens do it at times too. They have even fought at times. Very odd. They are a docile breed so it is strange behavior to me. But hopefully the saddles will give some relief to these few gals that just can’t catch a break.

        Reply
        1. Farmer Deb Post author

          Wow, horse politics, go figure!

          Yes, I made saddles for my chickens, but only because of injuries. I don’t have a rooster, so that’s not an issue for the girls. Things have calmed down here for my chickens, they’re not laying as it’s winter and they are getting older, so less pecking/picking on each other. I live in the suburbs, therefore the urban farm as opposed to a real farm. But they do have their pecking order.

          I decided to make another saddle (or two) to test out/perfect my pattern and will end up posting about it at some point. If you need the pattern, let me know. It’s really pretty simple and easy to make and a great solution.

          Reply
  2. John

    Looking at hoop frame in Mother Earth News. I don’t understand the photo which shows a horizontal pvc pipe on the wood frame behind the hoop attachment.

    Reply
    1. Farmer Deb Post author

      Hi John, that horizontal pipe is not part of the pipe/clamp assembly. I’m in the process of making “rails” on which I can slide the 10′ pipes back and forth, so they can be slid out of the way when not in use, rather than disassembling them. Sorry for the confusion, I wrote this article after I’d already started adding the rails.

      Reply
    1. Farmer Deb Post author

      I don’t know a thing about strawberry towers, so I searched on Google and came up with this image. I can’t find the actual web site. Not sure if that’s what you meant, but it sure looks practical and easy to make. 🙂

      Reply

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