Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pottery Exhibit with Tina Granville



I had the privilege of viewing the pottery collection of Tina Granville. Part of her inspiration of working with her hands came from her father who was a skilled brick and stone mason and was often in his workshop fiddling with a project. What started out as hobby has turned into a teaching position. It all started in January, 2001 when she attended an art class at Sertoma Art Center with a friend. She has done a variety of crafts, but she found her niche in working with clay as a potter.


This is my sister Andrea with her teacher Tina Granville who has been a teacher at the Sertoma Art Center in Raleigh since 2005.


Tina sells her work at a couple different venues and has traveled to several “pottery camps” as she likes to call them. The places she recommends for courses besides the Seratoma Art Center is Penland School of Craft in Penland, NC and Haystack School on Deer Isle, Maine. The craft sales she has attended include the Oaks Pottery Fest in Wake Forest, NC which is on the second Saturday of September and the Holiday Home Show later in November/December. You can also purchase pieces from her on Etsy at You can also e-mail her at You can tell her that Elizabeth Mann of Elizabeth’s Secret Garden recommended her work!

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Tina loves to make useful, simple, and beautiful pieces of pottery. Her favorite part is throwing pieces on the wheel. She loves how a ball of soft clay can turn into a master piece. It is all up to the potter to decide. So whatever you do get creative and don’t be afraid to express yourself! It may not always turn out exactly as you originally planned, buy hey that is the joy of it all. Some of the greatest inventions come from mistakes! Every baker learns that.

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For the pet lovers…


All ready for Christmas!




Lastly, I asked Tina Granville what advice she would give to beginning potters and budding artists. She said, “To practice, practice, practice. Get into the studio as much as possible outside of class time.”

Special thanks to Tina Granville for letting me do an interview.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Alpaca’s at Rita Dee Farm



My family took a trip to Pfafftown, NC for a tour of Rita Dee Farm where Alpaca’s are free to graze and are raised for their soft fiber. Denise and Spencer Yost own the farm and Denise offered to give us a tour. Our tour was special because of the new babies that have joined the herd! Winter Bliss (baby Alpaca above) and Hearts Desire are the new babies. They both had their own jackets to keep warm. I was able to bottle feed Winter Bliss as you will see in one of the photos below. The Alpacas are very gentle and a bit shy at times, but they couldn’t resist the allure of food!

Check out everything they are doing on their website. You can also find them on Facebook! 


Special thanks to Denise Yost for giving us a tour.

Alpaca facial expression

Alpaca’s are social animals and I think they enjoyed the extra attention. Alpaca’s are definitely one of a kind. I couldn’t get over how cute they are! They are smaller than llamas and are bred for their meat, fiber, and leather. Llama’s are bulkier so they can be used as pack animals, but Alpacas are not used for that purpose. Alpaca’s were originally from South America and lived in the Andes mountains. They do well in cooler climates. They live in Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, and are domesticated within the United States.

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Alpaca’s are eco-friendly and don't damage the habitat because of their padded feet, they fertilize the grass with their droppings, and they don't pull up the grass by its roots which makes for a more appealing pasture.


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Winter Bliss is posed and ready for a meal. We had to bottle feed her because her mother was not being responsive to her. It was tricky at first, but I got the hang of it.


Winter Bliss had to be held in order to feed her. Once the bottle was in, I could tell she was thirsty. It took some time and patience, but she finished most of the bottle. Stroking her nose at times helped to make her more relaxed.



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On the left is the mother of Winter Bliss. She was calm and we were able to stroke her back. Part of the goal for starting the farm is to have Alpaca’s that can be used for therapy. They also want to have educational programs to continue blessing the community.

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We learned that Cuz is a prize winning Alpaca. He won his first blue ribbon at The Royal Alpaca Challenge in Conyers, GA on November 2nd.


Heart’s Desire was born at 9 a.m. 2 hours before our arrival. It was a special day to be able to see the new baby. The mama was making a fuss and moving around a lot which made it challenging for the baby to get nourishment. We were able to hear all sorts of interesting Alpaca noises!


Hearts Desire all bundled up.


I was able to learn some techniques for spinning on a drop spindle. Alpaca fiber works well for this. It can be dyed or used in its natural coloration. We plan on going back to see the annual Alpaca shearing. I look forward to sharing it with all my blog readers.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Sustainable Living at Ray Family Farm, NC



Sustainable living for the Ray family is more than just a practice it is an integral part of their faith and beliefs. It is a way of life they have chosen and take pleasure in sharing it with others. This following sentence in their own words sums up the reason behind their sustainable living choices. “We take the charge very seriously God gave us to have dominion over and provide for all creation.” Creation and natural resources are a gift from God and should be treated at such. It is the simple everyday choices that add up and make an impact. It is one thing to say something and another thing to do it. Sustainable living is a continual process and we will never master it, but if we make a conscious effort towards it, we will see results.


The Old Thyme Farm Market is a source of income for the Ray Family Farm. They also have a well established online store. They are well stocked with beef and the cows graze a pasture that once was occupied with row crop tobacco. They have a long list of products available. Their meat selection include chicken, turkey (thanksgiving is around the corner!), free-range eggs,  hogs, and even lamb. They go quick so check out their online selection as soon as you can! Their selection isn’t limited to just meat. My salivary glands began kicking in after seeing Jodi’s Key Lime Pie and a Southern Bourbon Pecan Pie. Note – The bourbon is only for flavor and they made sure in the description that that was clarified.


Wildflowers are an important addition to the farm. What sustainable farm is complete without an array of flowers? Flowers are attractors of beneficial insects, bees, and of course butterflies. The Ray family knows the power of flowers and has dedicated 20 acres to native switch grass and wildflowers for wildlife.


Free-range chickens add character to the farm as you will notice below! The two males were having an one-on-one combat. They must have been determining who would be the new chief in the pecking order at “The Chicken Inn.”

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These cows were deemed the “Oreo Cows” because of their color patterns. They have black on each side with the cream in the middle. They are a heritage breed and their actual breed name is the Belted Galloways. They were very calm and used to attention. They even gave me reason to believe they enjoyed the extra attention.


The hogs are part of the farm as well. Mama hog was busy while the rest of the bunch (picture below) were outside taking a snooze and just being plain lazy! I guess that is just what hogs like to do.

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The farm’s number one goal is to educate family’s on sustainable farming. They do this through tours for families. Their a living example of what can be accomplished through family team work and provision from the Lord. The verse they try to live by is Proverbs 3: 28 – 29.

Proverbs 3:28-29
Do not say to your neighbor, Go, and come back, And tomorrow I will give it, When you have it with you.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Horne Creek Historical Farm, NC


Horne Creek Historical Farm

What I love about Horne Creek Historical Farm is that is makes you feel as if you have taken a step back in time. It takes you back to the 1900-era of rural North Carolina. Manual labor, raising animals, producing food, and creative crafts such as quilting were a normality during that time. This time period appeals to me because of the central importance of community and family. People relied on each other for giant harvests, bartering, and fellowship. The modern busyness we all face distracts from cultivating friendships and being with family. Yes, life was most certainly harder during this time period, but it must have been more fulfilling with a greater sense of purposefulness and closeness.


Making apple butter

We visited the farm during the 22nd Annual Cornshucking Frolic. Though it was cold and rainy, it was enjoyable to watch demonstrations of different tasks that would have been part of daily life on a North Carolina farm. This demonstration was of making apple butter.

 Apple chips 

The drying trays for making apple chips. A lot of time goes into preparing them.

Apple chips in bags

Finished product.


The main attraction of the festival was cornshucking! A lot of free labor and then they roast it up.


Beside roasting corn, they also made cornmeal. To the left are the bare corn remains and to the right is the ground up corn kernels.


My dad and brother hard at work with sawing. It is a lot harder than it looks. I didn’t attempt it, but I have sawed before and know how challenging it is.

13-IMG_1679 Mashed apples

An apple press for making apple cider.

Mule drawn carriages

Mule drawn carriages.

 John Deere powered corn meal maker

I thought this John Deere powered cornmeal maker was really nifty.


They had several booths with artisan’s displaying their work. The one I found most intriguing were these tools that created the sounds of different bird calls. The owl and crow calls were very interesting. When you rub the stick against the pad that is on the wood, it duplicates the call which is useful in hunting.


This was my favorite hand craft piece. It’s amazing how every unique work of art reflects the individual who makes it. In the same way, we reflect the God who created us. Beauty is all around us and if we take the time to look we will discover that everyday is full of small miracles.