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Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Feature - Crowley Manor

This week's Friday Feature features Crowley Manor - fabulous handmade soaps and skin care products! I have tried many different brands of handmade soaps over the past few years. I used to use body wash and bath gels exclusively because commercials soaps made my skin so dry and itchy. After getting a handmade cold process soap as a gift in one of my fleece orders, I decided to try it and was amazed at how great my skin felt. I discovered Crowley Manor on Etsy last August and tried three of her soaps. OMG - they are hands-down the best cold process handm
ade soaps I have ever used!

My personal favorite soap is the Orange Truffle Kahlua soap - Coffee Sweet Almonds Vanilla Orange and shea butter - aka the OMG II Soap.

1. How did you get started making soaps?

As long as I can remember, I have felt the need to create to be content, I draw, paint on silk, owned a stained glass design studio, designed unique one of a kind handbags. It is what drives me and defines me. The longing to put out a great product, and most importantly to bring a smile to the receiver of the product, is the driving force.

One day I decided it would be fun to try soapmaking. Colorado is a very dry climate, and very unkind to my skin. I buried myself in books researching the soapmaking process, took classes with a certified soapmaker who specializes in certified organic products, began studying herbs and essential oils and their effect on the skin and how people respond to scents, and how it may set the mood for a moment or a day. Also, knowing that goat milk is a wonderful humectant and very close to the skin’s natural ph level , I choose to also offer goat milk soap. Being aware though that some of us, wish for natural products which are vegan as well, I also offer an extensive line of th
ose, aiming to keep all of us happy!

2. How long have you been making soaps?

For approximately 3 years.

3. How do you get your ideas for scents and fragrance combinations for your soaps?

Ah… soap scents, my mind always wonders…happy, sad, energized, relaxed, depending on my mood, I begin playing with the essential oils, or driving in the mountains I want to relay a certain feeling. Imagine the warm sun on your skin…..maybe transports you to the tropics. Close your eyes, can you smell the ocean, or the scent of sweet almonds and oranges. Perhaps it’s in the midst of winter and you can’t wait to get home and away from 6 feet of snow piling up outside, turn the key, open the door and a wonderful aroma of hot tea and cinnamon wafts through the room…that’s how the ideas pop into my head. My favorites in the winter Oatmeal Milk and Honey, it is a very comforting scent or the Fireside Orange Spice, Spring I enjoy the Into the woods unisex bar or Lavender and for those hot summer days the citrusy bars are so refreshing and do they ever smell good.

4. How long does it take to make a batch of soap?

It depends if it's a new creation and I have to work with new essential oil combinations, then it can be up to a day or more. If it is for an existing time proven recipe, it takes me about an hour from start to clean up for one batch. This of course does not include cutting up the bars, putting them away to cure and the packaging process that comes afterwards as each bar is wrapped in it's own paper packaging to allow it to breathe and mellow even more as time goes by. The longer a bar of soap cures the milder and harder it will be, but it retains all of it's goodness, as in the naturally occuring glycerin that is made during the saponification (soapmaking) process. My soaps are all made from natural organic base oils, never from melt and pour bases. I wholeheartedly believe that it is important to go back to basics for what we put into and on our body. The skin our largest living organ , it protects us, so why not treat it with reverence.

5. What is your favorite item in your etsy store right now?

I love them all...or they would not be in my store to share :o)! That fresh batch of Almond Sunset (orange essential oil and almond essential oil) does smells quite good right now's kind of intoxicating.

6. Where do you sell your soaps and body care items?

Most of my soaps are sold online, with clients anywhere from the Pacific Rim, Europe, Down Under lovely Australia, to Africa. My husband teases me telling me that I am global. Nothing has been mailed off the planet yet though! I do have a few stores in the States, including Colorado who retail my products as well.

7. Do you use goat’s milk from your own goats to make your soaps?

Yes, to make a long story short, I didn’t wish for store bought goat milk and researched dairy goats, ones which had the highest butterfat content (for the creamiest soaps and if by chance I ever find the time, I will also make Chevre cheese) I searched for just the right goats for over a year, crossing Colorado from one end to the next, as I wished to see the stock first hand. I fell in love with the Nigerian dwarf breed, due to their demeanor, size and that almighty yummy milk. I feel privileged to have the pleasure to hand milk my does twice a day right now. They look forward to their one on one time with me...well maybe they look forward to their big helping of goat grain, while I milk them!

So folks, head on over to Crowley Manor and grab several bars of your favorite scented soaps! You won't be sorry. And, here's an insider tip, Crowley Manor usually has Saturday Night Specials with nice discounts on soaps and other products in the store. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Contest - Win 10.000 EC Credits

A fellow blogger, Vanilla Seven, is giving away 10,000 Entrecard credits to the winner of his contest. Here's what is posted on the blog:

Prize: 10.000EC credits!

Blog about the contest and link back to this site also put a comment of what are they doing!

Winner: the most creative and funny comment will win the contest
Dateline: May 29, 2009

My Comment on what these birds are doing is: Are you SURE this is where you lost your colorful tail feathers?!

UPDATE: I WON!!! Thank you so much to Vanilla Seven for having this contest and for selecting my entry. I really appreciate the 10,000 Entrecard credits!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Last week I finally got a chance to dye up some fibers. I had some fabulous 50% Rambouillet Lamb/50% Kid Mohair skinny roving in my stash that I dyed up in the crockpot in Bronzed Burgundy (Golden Yellow and Burgundy and the Bronzed Burgundy created when they combine) and Lemon Lime (Sky Blue and Yellow Sun and the shades of blue/green created when they combine). These rovings were processed right here in Colorado from Colorado raised animals!

Then I decided I needed to try dyeing up some 100% Alpaca roving that I bought from my friend Jen at Hanks in the Hood. She bought the raw alpaca fleeces and had them processed into this beautiful roving. Again, my Bronzed Burgundy colorway on this alpaca. It didn't take the dye as deeply as the skinny rovings but it is very soft and should have a nice fuzzy halo on the finished yarn.

And, last but certainly not least - This is my entry for the May 2009 CJ Kopec Creations Spin-A-Long. Handspun two-ply yarn spun from rovings purchased from CJ Kopec Creations on etsy. 100% Corriedale wool in soft peachy/coral and buttery yellow. Plyed with a gold thread. Corriedale is not ultra soft but this yarn turned out fluffier and softer than I expected. Beautiful color. Coby called the roving Cupie Doll but I renamed the yarn Seashells because it reminds me of a big Conch Shell.

174 yards and 1.7 ounces. This is a fingering weight yarn with 1600 yards per pound. Hand wash cool, lay flat to dry.

21 wpi - 1-3 needle recommended or hook size B, C or D. If I was knitting with it I would use a larger sized needle to create a more open look to show off the colors and the gold sparkle!

I have more of this fiber available and will be spinning more skeins of this yarn up.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Feature

Welcome to a new weekly (or perhaps bi-weekly, depending on my schedule, etc.) addition to my blog! This is Friday Feature where I will feature another artist or blogger. My very first Friday Feature is Inspiration by Karen. I met Karen when she purchased my Critter Creator Kit fibers and she started making these adorable needle felted dogs. Above is a custom Sheltie she created for someone who had lost their beloved dog and wanted a remembrance to cherish (real dog photo right, felted sculpture left, above). Below is another photo of the finished creation (real dog photo top, felted sculpture bottom, below). You, too can send Karen a photo of your pet (dog or cat) and she can create a lifelike sculpture for you!

1. How did you get started needle felting?

A friend told me about Etsy because she knew I made the nice Adirondack ladies I opened up a shop there, and that night I found the needle felted stuff and I couldn't stop looking at it and wishing I could do it. Finally had to buy a book and teach myself, so I did, then I met you and bought your critter pack which REALLY got me started in the dogs and then from there I went absolutely crazy doing every animal and bird I could find the time to create!

2. How long have you been needle felting?

I have been doing it for about a year and a half

3. Where do you get your ideas and inspiration for your work?

Everywhere and anywhere I see nature and animals, some right in my back yard, others from all of the years of hiking and snow shoeing in the wilderness with my sons, especially Zack - he used to cast all of the animal tracks he could find, so we spent a lot of time in the woods! I am at home in nature, I feel complete when I am outside just looking at the awesome Universe and wildlife that God has given us.

4. How much time does an average piece take to complete?

Average design (seeing as how they are all of my own designs) takes me anywhere from 20 to 35 hours to create!

Here is where you can find more of Karen's beautiful work:

The story on my Needle Felted Dogs was featured in our local newspaper on the Arts page, here is the link if anyone is interested in reading about me:

And the final question - what is your favorite item in your etsy store right now?

I would have to say the Bald Eagle! I loved the way it came out so real, I took it in our local town hall to show the girls and one of the men that works there thought it was a real eagle because I had it on my hand like one would hold a real bird!! It was pretty cool!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Another Treasury!

One of my handdyed rovings, Aspens & Pines, is in another Treasury today!

First Rain Storm of the Season

We got our first rain storm of the season last night. It started out as a light rain and quickly turned into slushy hail with lots of rain driven by winds. We really needed the moisture, especially since lightning started a fire across the road behind our house right before the rain started. In fact, last week a fire started across the road, lasted for four days and burned over 30 acres. They even brought in a slurry plane the first night of the fire - the fire was headed straight north towards a new home built at the top of a hill. The area across the road is now a gated community with 35 to 40 acre lots that start at $250,000 just for the lot. Right now there are 3 houses built on those lots and they are all huge expensive homes. The lake is actually Wrights Reservoir and the water rights are owned by Canon City, a city about a mile southeast of here. Fishing is allowed at the lake if you belong to a sportsman's club (which is very expensive - at least for our budget). And a rancher to the south of us grazes her cows in that area around the lake.

The photo is of Pikes Peak as the sun was setting. The eerie coloring only lasted for a few minutes and I managed to get a couple of photos before it disappeared. The horse in the photo is Puff, our 29 year old POA (Pony of the Americas). She was completely unphased by the storm and continued to munch on hay throughout. The llamas, on the other hand, were very upset by the storm because they couldn't find a dry spot to kush in. Llamas generally lay down during storms - ours usually lay down under one of the pine trees in their pasture. But, that means they are covered with splattered mud after the storm ends. Today they are all dry and have rolled to remove the mud caked dirt from their fiber and are out happily grazing this morning.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy Sunday!

I'm back from my little vacation. My friend and I had a great time sitting in the hot springs, talking, shopping, talking and walking, eating, talking... you get the idea - lots of catching up to do!

Now its time to get back to work. We have to do some llama transfers today - two big boys to move from the little boy llama pasture into the big boy llama pasture and two weanlings to move from the weanling pen into the little boy llama pasture. Should be fun - neither of the weanlings has had a halter on yet so halter training needs to be done before we can move them. And, we have to go pick up a load of hay today, too, so I'd better get off the computer and off to work.

Here's a photo of Clementine (our first llama - she's the one with her head in the hay box), her daughter Winona (the black/white llama on the left - her sire is Handel, our very first llama - see the post from two weeks ago with the jet black male llama), Winona's daughter Dazzle (the silver/white cria in the front) and Rhapsody (in the middle - another Clementine daughter) So that's three generations of llamas!

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Happy Friday!

I'm leaving this morning to go with a friend to check out Pagosa Springs, Colorado. She will be attending the Parelli training this summer and she invited me to come along with her to scope the area out this weekend. We'll be staying at a hot springs resort and have no agenda other than to get a feel for the lay of the land and to relax and catch up on what is going on in each other's lives.

Yesterday morning I spent a couple of hours doing my 300 drops on blogs to get my credits for Entrecard. Last evening I went in to check Entrecard to see if they had fixed the little glitch they were experiencing since Wednesday morning. I realized that I had 0 drops and they had taken at least 600 credits from me! I was serious ticked off. I did my 300 drops again last night and this morning I was up before sunrise to do a few drops before doing my chores and heading out the door for the weekend.

I think I'm addicted to dropping on blogs... we'll see how it goes being away from computers for several days - I may have some serious withdrawl symptoms. Breathe deep, close your eyes, sink down in that hot springs and RELAX!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Entrecard issues

Yesterday morning about half way through my 300 drops on Entrecard blogs the system crashed. At first I thought it was my computer (yet again - time for a new one) but I could go into other internet sites without any problems. So, I went away from the computer and took care of other things and came back later to check on it. I was able to get into Entrecard but there was an error message. I went and did more things away from the computer and came back later to check on the status. I was able to get back into Entrecard and start doing drops again but I noticed that the stats remained exactly as they were when the system crashed hours earlier, including the number of drops I had made but I knew I had made more drops than what was shown. The number of drops and credits were going up in the upper right hand bar of the dashboard so I know I got credit for those drops but the stats are still messed up and say I haven't done any drops today (I just finished 300) and it says that there were no drops on my blog today. So, I assume our ranking will remain the same regardless of how many dropped on us yesterday and today until they get things straightened out.

I will be going on a little road trip with a friend tomorrow and Saturday so I won't be able to do any posting or dropping while I'm gone. I'll probably suffer from withdrawal symptoms. I hope there's lots of chocolate available... ;o)

See you all again on Sunday!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In the Dyepot this week - Remington

Here's the latest out of the dyepots this week. I did a test roving on Colonial superwash wool to see if I liked the colorway I created. I really like it; it came out more intense than I anticipated but it works. I named this colorway Remington. It is the May Split Rock Ranch Roving of the Month Club colorway, available only to members of the club. Want one? Just purchase a Roving of the Month Club membership from my etsy store!

I am going to try some different colors soon to see if I can create what I orginally envisioned. I always say there are no dyeing mistakes, only fiber art you didn't plan on!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Clementine's first cria - Willie B Goode

This is Clementine's first cria - a male we named Willie B Goode. This photo is a scan of a snapshot we took almost ten years ago so the quality isn't that good, but since I found it I wanted to post it - I didn't even realize I had a photo of Willie.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Llamas 101.2

This is Clementine, our first female llama.

Last week I talked about how we got into llamas and about our first llamas. Since then comments have been left about the female llamas. So, this week's post is about the female llamas. Several months after we moved to Split Rock Ranch we decided that we wanted one female because we thought the babies, called "crias" were so adorable. We found a young female named Clementine who was already bred and was due the next summer. We bought her and brought her home to live with us. The gestation period for a llama is 345 days but anything from 340 to 370 days is considered "normal". We have had llamas go 375 days from a known breeding date before delivering a normal healthy cria. It was exciting and educational preparing for our first cria. We built a little shelter (which they never used) in the corner of the newly fenced in llama pen and put straw into the shelter and anxiously awaited the birth. Of course, she gave birth while we were at work/school so we missed the big event. Llamas general give birth only during the daylight hours. We have only had one evening birth (approximately 8 pm) and she had been in labor most of the day so she just didn't get the cria delivered before it got dark.

Crias are usually up and nursing and running around within an hour of birth. The momma llamas are generally very protective and attentive to their new crias, rarely letting them get very far away for the first few weeks. After that first few weeks, they get less and less anxious about their crias going exploring. We try to plan the breedings in our herd so that the females deliver within a few weeks of each other so that the crias have other babies to play with. It is so much fun to watch them run and jump and play together out in the pasture.

We have also discovered that raising the crias is a group effort. Our gelding watches the crias while the moms graze and when the crias go find their mommas to nurse, only then does he relax and rest. For the mommas who have had girls and then other crias, the "big sister" spends a lot of time with the new cria. We had a female die when her baby was 14 weeks old. The older sister took over for momma. She couldn't nurse her little sister but she ate with her, slept with her, hung out with her and did everything else a momma would do. Both of these girls have grown up and become excellent mommas themselves. When danger is sensed, the entire herd will gather together and keep the crias in the center of the herd.

Crias are generally weaned after at least 5 months of being with their mother. Sometimes the momma starts the weaning process herself, pushing the cria away and only allowing them to nurse first thing in the morning and later in the day (more to keep themselves from getting too bagged up and uncomfortable than for any other reason I think.) We base our weaning on how the cria is progressing. If they are smaller and momma is still letting them nurse frequently, we leave them together. We also wean the babies at the same time so they have a familiar buddy to hang with during the stressful weaning process. It is far more stressful on the cria than it is on the momma! By that time most of the mommas are glad to be rid of a cria following them around begging to nurse.

One more thing I want to cover in this post. Another common question about llamas is "do they spit?" The answer is yes, but generally only at other llamas and only when their space has been invaded or over food disputes or territorial disputes. They rarely spit at humans unless you are doing something that is painful or aggravating to the llama (brushing really hard and pulling their fiber, giving shots, etc.) A well socialized llama will very seldom spit at a human. Dogs bite and cats scratch - I would prefer being spit on by a llama to being bitten or scratched any day! I've had a rabbit lay the end of my finger open and a horse take off half the flesh on one of my fingers - I'll take spit any day over those unfortunate events! And, llamas will give warning signals prior to spitting - they will lay their ears back (think of a dog growling or a cat hissing) and if you ignore that signal they will make a clicking noise prior to actually spitting. Anyone who ignores those signals has deserved a well placed spit wad.

More coming next week on llamas 101.__

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Latest handspun yarn fresh off the spinning wheel

My latest spin was a 100% merino wool roving from CJ Kopec Creations in the colorway Copenhagen. (Shown above, middle photo) It consisted of BLACK, PEACH, RUSTY ORANGE, KHAKI and DUSTY GREEN. I split this roving down the middle - 1/2 of it was the peach, rusty orange and a smidgen of black (WARM), the other 1/2 was the khaki, dusty green (which is more of a blue than green) and black (COOL). I spun each half onto its own bobbin and wasn't sure if plying a cool with a warm would work. (See the two colors on bobbins above, bottom photo.) I started plying and OMG the more I did, the better I liked it. This is one awesome skein of yarn. Nice and soft with lovely luster to it.

I ended up with a beautiful skein 192 yards and 3.8 ounces. This is a worsted weight yarn with 808 yards per pound. Hand wash cool, lay flat to dry. (Finished skein shown above, top photo)

I listed this skein in my Etsy store yesterday morning and went to do something else. Came back to the computer and wanted to check my store and the yarn was gone. I thought perhaps I had somehow messed up and the listing didn't get done after all. I then checked my SOLD items and OMG - it was already SOLD! Woo hoo! I'm going to order more of this roving because I love how it turned out. I can only hope that I can be as successful in my next attempt at spinning it. I think it would make an awesome scarf with matching fingerless mitts.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kreativ Blogger

Karen at Will Oaks Studio sent me this Kreativ Blogger award. It is always nice to be recognized for something that you have done and even nicer to know that someone enjoys what you do! Thank you so much for visiting my blog and reading about the things I find interesting in life.

When you receive this award from a fellow blogger you are supposed to list your 7 favorite things and then pass the award on to 7 other bloggers.

7 Favorite Things

1. Friends and family that I love and that love me in return
2. Animals - any and all of them (except maybe snakes) They enrich our lives in so many ways and ask for so little in return
3. Nature's beauty - beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the mountains, etc.
4. Fiber and fiber art - creating beautiful things with fiber - batts, dyed rovings, knitting, crocheting, felting, etc.
5. Feeling needed, loved and appreciated
6. Being able to do what I want for "work" - I am a full time rancher and fiber artist
7. Gardening - although I don't get to do much of that where we live now

Now to pass this award along to my 7 Favorite Blogs:

1. Daisy the Curly Cat - I love reading Daisy every morning!
2. Leanne Wildermuth, Artist by Nature - Leanne is a fabulous artist!
3. Beaded Tail - Cats, dogs and beaded jewelry - what's not to love?!
4. Is this Heaven? No, this is Iowa - Claire has more to write about on her farm than anyone else I know!
5. The Mare's Tales - Gypsy Mare Studios - Jen is another fabulous artist - LOVE her equine art!
6. The Maaa of Pricilla - Pricilla is the best blogging goat on the planet!
7. Audrey's Country Crafts - Audrey does so much to promote other artists and crafters and always has great features on her blog

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I've Been Tagged!

I've been Tagged by Kandice at Coloraddiction! You're supposed to give 8 answers to each of the questions and then tag 8 other blogs. Since I'm tight on time this morning (spent over an HOUR trying to get internet access - turns out they had a bad router or some such thing) I'm just going to toss this out there and anyone who wants to play along is welcome to do so. Kandice made the awesome Tagged graphic and gave permission for those she tagged to use it. Thanks Kandice!

Here are the questions:

8 Things I'm looking forward to:

1. Summer - Longer days and warmer weather and NO SNOW!
2. Riding Maggie Mae (see #1)
3. Jackie coming to visit this summer (see #1)
4. Manifesting my desires
5. Learning how to spin art yarns
6. Shearing the llamas (see #1)
7. Working hard towards my sales goals
8. Spending time with hubby

8 Things I did yesterday:

1. Woke up at 3:30 AM and couldn't fall back to sleep for hours!
2. Dyed up a Finn/Targhee fleece (Esther - hope you like it!)
3. Went to town
4. Mailed my packages
5. Gassed up the truck (for the first time in 24 days and it only took 20 gallons!)
6. Went grocery shopping
7. Played around with Twitter and FaceBook, played on-line games
8. Put a bunch of fibers on sale in my etsy store

8 Things I wish I could do:

1. Ride my horse with confidence (took a BAD fall in Oct 04 that put me on crutches for a month!)
2. Reach my sales goals so I can expand!
3. Make lampwork beads, etc.
4. Learn to play the violin/fiddle
5. Learn how to weave (have the looms and everything but no patience)
6. Learn how to make art yarn and beaded yarns
7. Travel to Australia and New Zealand (I hate to fly...should be interesting)
8. Manifest whatever I want in life

8 Things or Shows I have watched

1. The Kentucky Derby (what a race this year!)
2. Survivor
3. Lost
4. Dancing with the Stars
5. Susan Boyle singing (OMG she's awesome!)
6. House
7. Numbers
8. Ghost Whisperer (I love the vintage clothing she wears)

So have fun thinking of your own list of 8's and pass it along!

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Foster Kittens photos

Here are two of four foster kittens we had awhile back. We had four males - there were these two dark tabbies and two silver/gray tabbies. They were gorgeous cats but OMG, what a handful having four of them at one time running and playing with our other kitties. They were beautiful and very sweet so most of them were already spoken for by the time they went back to the shelter. After taking in these four we decided we could only handle two at a time. We did take in three little females a bit later though that were found dumped along the road and the shelter was under quarantine so they had nowhere else to go.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Llamas - 101.1

I recently had a request to post more about llamas. Apparently we are the only blog on Entrecard that has llamas so I'm going to do a once-a-week series on llamas. Let me know if you have any specific questions that you'd like to have me address and I'll put those in future posts.

I'll start with what most people ask about llamas - "What do you do with a llama?"

I'll start the list with why we got into llamas:

Llamas make excellent companions.
Llamas make excellent pack animals.
Llamas are excellent fiber producers.
Llamas make our life complete.

We bought our first llama in November 1996 - a two and a half month old llama whose mother passed away when he was about 8 weeks old. He was being bottle fed by the owners, who were also caring for another orphaned cria so the two crias were kept together and bottle fed correctly without handling or talking or unnecessary intervention. Bottle fed crias can develop "berserk male syndrome" later in life and become dangerous because they view humans as a llama and can become aggressive.

Our first llama is named Handel. I fell in love with this cria from across the ranch the first time I saw him (his mother was still alive at that time). But, he was far more expensive than we had budgeted for a llama so I kept going back to Stage Stop Llamas to look at other llamas, searching for "The One" in our price range. On one of our trips back to Stage Stop, I saw Handel in the barn and asked about him and was told that his mother had died suddenly and I asked again what his price was and the owners agreed to sell him to us for the price we were looking to pay. I was thrilled! We boarded him at Stage Stop until we bought our house in May 1997 and brought him and our second llama, Nimbus - a 4 year old large male that we thought would make an excellent pack llama, to live with us at our place.

Little did we know at the time that our llama journey would expand and change our lives the way it did.

More next time on Llamas - 101._