Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Pretty and The Painful of a sunny weekend...

The rain has stopped (for now) and the sun has come out.  This combination led to a simply lovely weekend.  


Time spent with friends and family over a holiday weekend is always fun.  

My flower beds are beginning to really fill out and spill over with hostas and periwinkle.



The pots by the front door are enjoying their time in the sun.



And on another note, my shoulders are now the same color as the front door.  
(yes, I know what sunscreen is)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Crotch Curlers Revisited

If you were lucky (or unlucky) enough to have read the post dealing with what looked like curlers in the crotch of doll pants before Blogger wigged out and destroyed such literary genius work, you will remember the baby sweater.  It is now done, just needs a little blocking and a little baby...I can help with the first but not with the second and my sons had darn well better not help anytime soon either!


The last time you may have seen it, albeit for such a short time, it looked like this:




Weird pants and curlers no more:




Moss Stitch:




In other fiber frolics, have now had two spinning lessons.  Each week we have been sent home with a huge hunk of fiber to spin with the drop spindle before the next class.  At the last class, we spent a little over an hour on a wheel.  I am officially in love.  Being the overacheiving dedicated student that I am, both my blobs of fiber have been transformed into two good sized cakes of single ply.  Umm, Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is a wheel...purty please?


I am spinning no tales here, when I suggest you pop over to Tami's to see some great FO's.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ready for a rainbow...

Wow!  It has been one wild week.  The storms have been wreaking havoc all through the area.  We have been very fortunate to not have any damage and the biggest inconvenience has been roads closed and <gasp> struggling to function without internet access.  The cable being out, thus knocking out the TV did not bother me, since I am a fan of the archaic practice of holding and reading an actual book, but I must admit, I felt a little bit lost without my internet.  Others have not been so fortunate with the impacts of these storms.  My heart goes out to all who have experienced tragedy during this weather phenomenon.  


Here's a peak into the events of this past week:


Monday, some pretty intense storms and high winds swept through the area.  During our drive home from work, we were stuck on the interstate for close to an hour due to a semi-truck that had been blown over onto its side from the wind.  As we approached the last turn to get home, friends were texting me to ask if we had any damage at the house and if we had power.  Well, we soon came to a standstill again, as the road leading to our last turn in front of the dam was closed because of storm damage.  From the looks of things and the amount of debris, it appeared as if the tail of a funnel may have dropped down.  The next day when I was able to travel down this road, this is what could be seen.  Keep in mind that this is only one of the many trees that fell victim to this same event:





Tuesday, the day was spent enjoying the fellowship of friends, fiber, and soapmaking.  A bunch of friends came out to the house and we spent the day eating, laughing, knitting and making soap.  



Green Tea Lemongrass with Lavender, Sugar, and Green Tea Leaves:


 
The ever popular Chocolate Mint:



Coffee Vanilla Cream with Caramel Swirls and Coffee Grounds:



Goat Milk Citrus Herb (Basil, Lime, Orange, and Rosemary):



Jasmine with Poppy Seeds:



Orange Clove with Turmeric:




Last night, well last night was a doozy.  More storms, more winds, more tornadoes, more hail, more power outages, more cable/internet loss.  By the time we got home, there were some pretty horrible storms looming.  Most normal people would take cover in the face of tornado warnings.  Which, of course, meant that we headed out to the back porch to watch the weather show.  Lemme tell ya, it did not disappoint.  As we had no internet or cable, my in-laws were keeping us up to date by cell phone regarding what was showing up on radar (yeah we could have turned the radio on, but sorta forgot about it).  We knew that the storms bearing down were full of tornado activity.  The hail started out small, then quickly increased to golfball and larger sizes.  It looked like cannonballs landing in the lake.  At one point, we were informed that a funnel was reportedly on the ground fairly near us, but the truly odd thing was that it was apparent we were in the eye of the storm.  Suddenly, the sky above us cleared, sun rays shone through while all around we were encircled in the black swirling mass of nasty storms.  Sitting on the porch offered a unique view of literally watching the storm come across the lake:



Then running out the front door to watch it pass on over us.




With all of the weather related loss the country has endured, don't forget to hold your loved ones close while still reaching out to help those affected.

Monday, May 23, 2011

And still we clean...

Ever wish you really could consolidate cleaners and use something truly inexpensive, "green", and that actually works?  Me too, which is why the following recipes are tried and true in my arsenal.  


Window Cleaner


1 cup rubbing alcohol (preferably with higher than 70% alcohol)
1 cup distilled water
1 tablespoon vinegar


Store in a spray bottle.
When you first start wiping, it looks as if it is going to stay wet and cloudy, then all of a sudden BAM! crystal clear.  I also prefer to use newspaper but it works fine with paper towels.


Furniture Polish


1/2 cup mineral oil
8 tablespoons vinegar
about 20 drops of lemon essential oil


Can be stored in a spray bottle, be sure to shake  before each use.
 


All Purpose Cleaner


2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon borax
1 cup hot distilled water


Mix together until borax is dissolved.  Pour into at least a 16oz spray bottle.


Add 1/4 cup castile soap and 15 drops of essential oil (I like peppermint or lavender) and fill the bottle to the top with distilled water.  Put spray top on and shake.  Give it a shake before each use. 


Spray Disinfectant Cleaner


In a 16 oz spray bottle, add 3 tablespoons liquid castile soap and 30 drops tea tree oil.  Fill to the top with distilled water.  Shake before each use.


Why do these work?  Vinegar, tea tree oil and borax all have natural disinfectant properties. They were used for years and years and years before someone convinced us we need to spend a lot for cleaners in pretty packages with cute commercials.  I use the cleaners through the whole house, from the kitchen, to the bathrooms, to the laundry, everywhere.

I will admit to a failure...Dishwasher Detergent.  I have tried several recipes and they work at first, but then our dishes develop a film.  Personally, I think it is related to the hardness of our water and less to the recipe.  Still working on this one, and will get it solved...need to tweak the vinegar and a few other ingredients.


Anyone care to hear about deodorant and toothpaste?  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Loads of fun

How many loads of laundry do you do a week? a day?


The cost of laundry detergent and fabric softeners is huge.  Or it was until I discovered an alternative


We have been using this recipe, along with white vinegar as the rinse aid and wool dryer balls in the dryer since sometime in late September / early October of last year. 


What we have noticed:


1.  The washer (a front loader) no longer has that funky smell.  The ingredients in the soap, combined with the vinegar help clean out the washer and keep it fresh smelling.  


2.  Our clothes are every bit as clean, if not cleaner!


3.  The clothes have a nice clean smell and no over perfumed scents.


4.  The combination of vinegar in the rinse and dryer balls in the dryer keeps everything soft and static free.


5.  Our towels are waaaaayyyy more absorbent...did you know you really are not supposed to use fabric softener on your towels as it builds up and keeps them from drying well.

6.  It seems that everything dries a little bit faster now, too.


There are loads of recipes to be found, but this is the one we like (it is powder form):

2 cups grated soap (1 regular sized bar...I was using Ivory until I started making my own soap bars)
1 cup washing soda...I use Arm and Hammer Washing Soda...DO NOT confuse it with baking soda!...
1 cup borax


Mix well and store in an airtight container.  Use 2 tablespoons per load.  Use white vinegar in the fabric softener compartment.


Wool Dryer balls are just that, wound up balls of 100% wool yarn that have been felted.  Here is one of the multitude of tutorials available on the web.


Gotta run now...laundry is done and it's not gonna fold itself.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What happens before hair did day...

For some time now, a few of my favorite people have been pestering sweetly asking me to post the recipes for the HBA and cleaning products that I make.  


As a side note, we have been making a very concerted effort to rely less and less on commercially made products when there is a viable alternative that is better for you, does not include scads of difficult to pronounce words, uses items found in most every home, and/or is based on ways that our ancestors used for years and years before some marketing "genius" convinced them they HAD to buy X, Y or Z in order to be healthy or whatever.  Our experience to date has been that most of the things we have tried, actually work better than the previously purchased version.


The first success story:  shampoo and conditioner.  


Our water is a tad on the hard side and my hair is a tad on the wavy/curly-crazy/frizzy in humidity side.  This is not a good mix in most instances.  I have tried just about every product under the sun.  And then <beautiful beam of light shining down>, I started making my own shampoo and conditioner.  


For everyday use, this mixture is easy.  I mix it up and pour it into smaller bottles.  It is not creamy, but is very watery.  That was a hard adjustment.  It took about a week to get used to it and for my hair to get used to it also.  


Basic Shampoo:


1/4 cup distilled water
1/4 cup liquid castile soap
2 tsp jojoboa oil
1/8 tsp peppermint essential oil
1/8 tsp tea tree essential oil.  


I must admit that I am still a slave to a little mousse and hairspray, so every few weeks I will clarify by using 2 parts of the basic shampoo mixed with 1 part baking soda.  Talk about squeaky clean!


Shine Rinse/Conditioner:


1 to 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 cups distilled water


Drizzle over head after shampooing and rinsing.  Try not to think that you have turned into a salad and someone is pouring dressing over you.  Don't worry, after you rinse the vinegar mix out, there is no residual smell at all.  


Works for us.  My hair stylist commented the last time I was there that there was something noticeably different about my hair...it was not as damaged looking, much better texture, more body, overall healthier.  No, she did not know about the change until after those comments.  The other plus...it is dirt cheap!


Give it a try if you are so inclined.  What have you got to lose except, well nothing...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Madge says you are soaking in it...

otherwise known as "cute-ifying" the kitchen sink area.


I have a dislike of having ugly bottles of dish soap sitting around the sink (don't even get me started on the topic of sponges!)  Ultimately, my goal is to use up the large stockpile of dish liquid I have and switch to homemade liquid dish soap.  Until that time...plus the whole I've got to actually make some liquid soap thing, we are using up what is there.  But, I still don't like the bottles, may have already said that, in case you missed it...I don't like the plastic bottles.


A couple of months ago one of my boys was traipsing around the woods, poking around, digging, and generally being a boy.  He dug up a very old Dr. Pepper bottle that nature had turned into a terrarium.  He brought it back to the house because that's what boys do, plus it was pretty cool.  I soaked it and shook it out, rinsed and repeated multiple times.  Finally it came clean after the final deep cleaning with some rice thrown in the soapy water to agitate and scrub the inside.


Then, like a bolt of lightning, it hit me...ooooohhhh, this would make the perfect dish liquid dispenser. 


Are you ready to learn how? 

My process was quite involved.  

First, you have to wait until your planned trip to Cincinnati to go to Findlay Market, Ikea, and Jungle Jim's.  After you load your cooler to the brim with lovely things from the market, you have to go to Jungle Jim's where you get cheese you can't live without and buy a bottle of wine you pick simply because you like the name, then you wander to the back and pick up a vinegar bottle spout.



Then, with the oh-so-cool old soda bottle from which you have lovingly cleaned the dirt, moss, bugs, and other things better not mentioned...



Fill 'er to the top with the soap, stuff in the spout and TA DA!!! Way cuter than a stinkin' plastic bottle!




Now, just don't get confused when you get up in the night to get a drink and think it IS a bottle of soda!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Friday the 13th...

from Blogger!

Noticed there were problems in The Bloggersphere yesterday and yay for today when it is finally back up.

The bad news is the post from Wednesday has disappeared into the world of who the heck knows where!

On that lovely note, I've really got nothing for today.  No knitting, no cooking, no cleaning, nothing, zip, nada.

I take that back, I've got a couple of memories to share...

Thanksgiving before last, we were back home in Arkansas.  The weather was lovely, so we went out to the farm to play with guns, rifles, finger guns, scissors, and pockets.  After mutilating several targets on the bank of the little pond, I really have no clue what we are doing here.  Channeling our "inner Charlie's Angels"???

Me and my dearest darlin', love of my life...


About this time last year, the big goofy boy on the right had just graduated and 5 of my favorite people were all lined up teasing the fish off my sister's dock.


Ahhh, sunshine, bodies of water, and fishing with family...summer is a comin'!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happiness is...

a delivery from one of my favorite stores...




and a loaded labeler, ready for action!




No, I really don't get out much.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weekend Recap...

First a belated Happy Mother's Day to all!

Saturday dawned a little bit gloomy, but my dearheart and I jumped in the boat for a little early morning fishing.  



Not that I wish to toot my own horn, but I caught more keepers (crappie) than him!  All was fine until it started to drizzle and the wind picked up and I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of rainy, cold, windy fishing.  So, after trolling around a couple more docks we headed back to the house.  But not before I saw this house and got a little creeped out.  Perched on top of the chimney, along the roof line and in the trees, I counted 18 turkey buzzards.  Guess you could call this house the Dead Zone!



Heading back into our cove...can't wait for the flower pots to really explode up and down both sides of the staircase... if you look reaaaalllllyyyy closely, you might be able to see a kitty cat out on the back porch...



Painting trim took up the rest of my day, while Wes went back out on the water and filled the live well.  

Sunday was spent doing a little bit of cleanup from the day before in anticipation of my in-laws coming over for dinner.  While I was gone to a spinning class at Sheep Street Fibers, Wes and his Dad went fishing.  After this weekend and last weekend, the freezer is getting re-stocked.  So far this year, he has caught two very nice sized walleye...yummy eating...snow white flesh and so delicately tender, flaky and mild tasting. 

Sunday night's dessert and tonight's entree are two recipes I know just about anyone would enjoy, and since every Mother says it's nice to share, I'm gonna do just that.


Lemonade Cake


1 box Lemon Supreme Cake ... prepare as directed and bake in two 9-inch cake pans.
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1-16oz tub of Cool Whip
1-6oz can of frozen lemonade (thawed)

After cake is baked and cooled, slice each cake round in half horizontally.  Gently fold the condensed milk and lemonade into the Cool Whip until well blended.  Put first layer half on cake plate and generously cover with the topping.  Place other half and repeat.  Continue so that you have a gorgeous four layered tower.  Frost with the remaining topping mixture and put it in the fridge.  Let it cool for at least 30 minutes.  When not being devoured, keep the cake in the fridge.  For a little extra pretty, zest some lemon on top.  This dessert is light, refreshing, and just the perfect Spring/Summer dessert.


Panko Crusted Walleye (or crappie or blue gill or white bass or striper) Parmesan
**probably would work on most any fish, but these are my tried and true for sures
****Confession, this recipe is quite un-scientific since I don't actually measure anything for it, but go by feel and smell so all measurements are guess-timates

4 to 6 good sized fish fillets
~ 1 to 2 cups plain panko crumbs
~ 1/2 to 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
~ 2 tbsp melted butter
3 or so big pinches kosher salt
4 or 5 cranks of the pepper mill
5 or 6 heavy shakes of ground thyme, paprika, basil flakes 


Preheat oven to 500.  Line a baking stone with parchment paper.  In one bowl, pour melted butter.  In another bowl mix panko, parmesan, salt, pepper, and herbs.  Take a sniff of this mixture and add more of whatever you think it needs.  Dip the fillets one at a time in the butter and then dredge in the breading.  Cover them thoroughly.  Place on the baking stone and sprinkle any remaining breading over the fillets.  Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes.  OMG, so good...


Enjoy!

Friday, May 6, 2011

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12...

and repeat and repeat and repeat over and over and over and over again!  Adding to the craziness of the season, one of our employees is on a short vacation.  When someone is gone, then someone (me) has to fill in on the shop floor.  We are in the midst of a very large run, and I got the lucky spot of being the catcher...pulling shirts off the dryer belt after they have been screen printed, and counting them into bundles of twelve, then boxing them up.  If you go too slow, or miscount, or take too long getting the next box ready to fill it quickly turns into that famous episode of I Love Lucy where she is working at a candy factory. 


 

This week has been a snowballing escapade of one thing after another.  Be that as it may, I did manage to finish a couple of projects.  

Although today I demonstrated the ability to count, at least to 12,  on Sunday I discovered a slight problem with the progress of the Ruched Yoke Tee.  Having been so intent on simply carving out knitting time and paying attention to the repeats and multiple repeats, I didn't notice that what was supposed to only be 15 1/4 inches from the underarm had somehow grown and grown and was approaching mini dress length <insert slapping hand on forehead and moaning at the prospect of ripping out>  This little bitty error (HA) was found when we were at the bowling alley with family.  Luckily I had a ball of yarn and a pattern book with me to start a cutie pie little pair of booties.  Cast on and did the first two rows EXACTLY as the pattern dictated.  It didn't work.  Rip/do over...still didn't come out with the right number of stitches, tried again and still no luck.  Sheepishly stuffed everything in my bag and pouted as everyone questioned if I really knew what I was doing!

Tuesday, while knitting with my fellow fiber fanatics, the Tee error got fixed and is finally blocked and off needles.  

(Sorry about the less than stellar picture quality you are about to view...someone that looks an awful lot like me <might have been, but I'm admitting nothing> accidentally flipped the "on" button on the camera when it got put in the car this morning and by the time I had a few minutes to commit the projects to a photographic legacy it was deeeaaaddd)





Guess I should try it on sometime...


The little bitty baby bootie of horrors pattern was shared on Tuesday and confirmation was made that I do know what I am doing, as there was an error in the pattern!  The pattern is "Baby's Wool-Tencel Booties" from Luxury One Skein Wonders.  Yarn used was some Duke Silk Yarn leftover from the Butterfly Pullover.




Be still my heart!  They are soooo stinkin' cute and soft and cuddly-wuddly...




That's all she wrote for this FOF.  You know you can always "count" on me to share my latest foibles!


Linking to:

P.S.  Amos update...his boo boos are healing nicely and he has learned that when I sweet talk him now he's gonna get a dropper of icky liquid shoved in his mouth.  Sophie on the other hand is still being a grumpy butt and all I can think of around her is "Simma down now"




Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I vant to...

suck your baby bottle?


My mind is tired, my body is tired.  So, when I was taking the pic for this week's WIP, the first thing I thought when looking at the shots was...hmmm, that looks like a peachy knit bat.  Which is a pretty disturbing thought considering it is a baby sweater!


This week and the next several weeks are c.r.a.z.y busy.  It is the end of the school year, plus the end of the year for a few volunteering things I do.  Add that to some pretty big runs at the shop, and there's just not a lot of time left to get much of anything else done.  


Enter a tiny project for the tiniest of people.  


"You've gotta see the baby"  or in this case the little bitty baby sweater.  Now, I don't actually have any babies, nor do I know anyone that is about to pop, but they are fast projects and are great for using up stash.  You may recognize the yarn from a previous project.  




It is the "Beautiful Baby Bamboo-Merino Sweater"  (Ravelry link) from Luxury Yarn One-Skein Wonders.


Linking to: 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Sophie's a pain in the b**t!"

If Amos could speak, I am quite certain that is what he would say.  The rest of the dialogue directed at Miss Sophie might go something like this:

"Thanks a lot for having the brilliant idea of pushing the porch screen door open and leading the rest of us out into the great outdoors.  You said nothing would happen, that it was our yard and all other animals knew better than to enter our domain.  Yeah, I know we live inside that house and the ONLY time we get out usually involves YOU! But you promised..."

"Because of you, this afternoon, I got stuffed into this plastic boxy thing and put in this big loud thing that moves.  Because of you, when I came out of that boxy thing, I was on a cold metal table.  Because of you, this man squirted cold stuff all over the base of my tail.  Because of you, that same man poked me with something really really sharp!"

"Because of you, I got stuffed back into the boxy thing and back into that other thing.  Because of you, my hiney hurts!!!"

Recently, all the cats were out on the back porch for the evening.  Sophie, instigator that she is, shoved the screen door open and they all escaped into the backyard.  Once in a while, Sophie or Bella escape, but they hide under the porch until they feel the adventure is over.  This time, they were all out over night.  As we lay in bed on the sleeping porch, we could hear what was very likely a cat fight.  Over the last few days, Amos has been licking at the base of his tail, to the point that there were visible, nasty looking wounds.  After trying to treat them myself, I gave up and took the poor boy in to the vet.  Dr. B confirmed that Amos had been bitten.  He scolded Amos for trying to poke his tail into another animal's mouth.  The bite is beginning to abscess.  After irrigating the wounds, my kitty-boy got a shot and sent home on antibiotics.

Poor thing...

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