Sunday, October 16, 2016

That's NOT your spot...

Dear Bella,

I understand that 8oz of Blue Faced Leicester and silk blend that has been painstakingly stripped down and rewound into little bitty random bits for some crazy spinning looks like a pillow made just for you.  Let me clear up the confusion.

That's NOT your spot!


Move along Miss Priss...


Friday, October 7, 2016

Giving you the raspberries...

Not really.  I'm going to hoard them all in the freezer for myself.  Then, in the dead of winter when I have nothing else to do, heavenly bits of berry sweetness will transform into jars of jam.



The garden has basically died off.  Can't say that I am terribly saddened by that.  The pantry has been filled to bursting with the fruits of said garden and will keep our bellies filled with summery goodness until next year.  Popcorn is hanging to dry from the rafters in the garage.  Potatoes and sweet potatoes are waiting to be dug.  Sadly, my Fall crop of peas is pitiful.  Chickens are molting and egg production is decreased temporarily as a result.  The sheep are fluffing up and are beginning to resemble white, tawny and black clouds with legs.  The grape vines are in a holding pattern. The bees are busily working filling out the last super that was added (you know you have strong hives when you can smell the beeswax/propolis/honey from many feet away...some people find this to be an offensive smell, but to me it is earthy and a reminder of everything good that they are building).

And then there are the raspberries.  We planted 40+ canes early in the Spring, but they did not make it.  Fortunately, I was able to source local heirloom canes and obtained replacements.  They went into the ground and have been thriving.  We did not expect to get any fruit from them this year.  Happily, they did not get that memo.  It's kind of late in the season for them to be producing to this degree, but it has been a weird weather year, so who am I to complain?



Every single plant is fairly dripping with berries.  The bees are having a wonderful time buzzing about.  In the afternoons, we pick the ripened jewels and inspect for the next day's anticipated bounty. The sheer volume is astounding.  Yay for berries!





Friday, August 26, 2016

It's getting krauted in here...

Heads are rolling.  Cabbage heads that is.

Growing up, I never liked sauerkraut.  Wow, what a taste explosion I was missing.  Homemade/canned takes it to another plane.

Last year our cabbage production was more than enough to keep us supplied with coleslaw and extra for making kraut.  According to my husband, 18 pints is not enough.

This year we planted six plants with the intention of sharing most of the cabbages with our neighbor that is no longer able to put in his own garden.  He took most of them, leaving me with two heads to deal with.  Instead of making slaw, because honestly, I'm the only one that really likes it, the most prudent decision was to make more sauerkraut.





Easy peasy.  And now it sits in the dark in my basement perking away for several weeks until it reaches the ideal level of krautiness, at which point it will take a little soak in the water bath canner and join the ranks of canned goods in my "grocery store".  

In other sort of related news...only because it involves food memories from my childhood...another recipe experiment was also conducted this past week.  Besides sauerkraut, as a child, I detested meatloaf, stuffed bell peppers, La Choy Chop Suey and chili made from those frozen orange blocks of nastiness that were chili only because that's what the label said.  As an adult, sauerkraut and meatloaf have made it into my personal recipe repertoire.  This year's garden has also blessed us with far more bell peppers than we can eat or I can chop and freeze for use in a timely manner (there's still peppers in the freezer from three years ago!!!!...relax, they do just fine in sauces and MY chili).  But what else to do with them?  Stuffed bell peppers.  Yeah, I went there.

I called my father to see if he knew where my mother's recipe was, but he was not sure where it might be.  My sister wasn't sure if she had it and a dear friend did not have a recipe either.  A search of my cookbooks turned up nothing.  It was not even in my recipe box of favorite family recipes.  Although, since I hated the suckers, I can't even begin to imagine why I would have written it down all those years ago.  Finally, my sister located the recipe and I got to cooking.  

The result:  they were every bit as nasty as I remembered.  It's possible that the recipe could be tweaked, but not likely that it's going to happen.

Now if only the tomatoes would hurry up and do their thing.  I have travel plans coming up and would bet a dollar that the bulk of them will ripen while I am gone!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

By hook or by crook...

Several months ago, okay maybe it was over a year ago, I got the idea to make a sock yarn blanket.  If you visit Ravelry very often, you know that sock yarn blankets abound.  It seems that the most commonly produced version is one with a bajillion little mitered squares.  I don't like mitered squares that much, nor am I a big fan of picking up stitches.  So, no thank you.

It is no secret that sock knitting is probably my favorite.  That being said, it should be painfully obvious that there are loads of bits of leftover sock yarn lying about...or stuffed unceremoniously into a plastic tub in the basement.

Back to my blankie:  no mitered squares and no picking up stitches...solution:  something like 300ish (I've forgotten the exact amount and it doesn't really matter as you will soon see) stitches on US2 needles and the ever popular garter stitch.  What could go wrong?  How about:  garter stitch is beyond boring, tiny needles (nothing more need be said about that), eyeballs that are growing older and have trouble with tiny stitches,  the pain in the arse that it is to pick up a dropped stitch that you find after several more rows are done, and most importantly that lonnnnnng row of garter stitch does absolutely nothing to highlight the gloriously beautiful sock yarns that I love to purchase.

So, I did what I do best...ripped it out (sort of).  Instead, one day (the 4th of July to be exact)  I grabbed a hook and began crocheting a granny stripe blanket with the end of the latest yarn bit in use.  Two rows in and I was hooked (hahahaha).  Why did I not do this in the first place?  What was plain and boring stripes of random bits of color in the blanket quickly transformed on the hook into a beautiful colorful metamorphosis of yarn that was perfect.


Simply create a chain that will make the desired width and go to town with the basic stitch of granny squares all over the world.  Mine is about 4 feet wide.  I will keep going, adding new yarn leftovers as desired, until I think it is long enough.  In my mind's eye, a simple border will be added.  It's a yarny version of a crazy quilt.


What a difference technique makes in showcasing beautiful yarn color ways!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sometimes advertising works and I don't have to cook dinner...

It's Wednesday.  The full moon is past.  And, I am exhausted...and a little punch drunk giddy from the tired.  Every single month I do not sleep more than 2 or 3, maybe 4 hours a night (if I am lucky) the couple of nights before and the night of the full moon.  Don't have to look at a calendar or even the sky to know what the lunar phase is.

We have been busier than normal at the shop and I was helping on the production floor for a little while this evening, when I became fixated on one of the sponsors listed on the back of the motorcycle ride shirts being printed.  With every shirt, my eyes went straight to that sponsor.

 Seal and Tocq with the rest of the crew impatiently waiting to be let into the chicken yard for their nightly feast of plantain and clover.

I was tired and beginning to get a little hangry as my lunch of ham/swiss quiche and watermelon was wearing off at warp speed.  Taunting me with mental smells and imagining the tastes of salty peanuts, honey cinnamon butter melting, a big slab of beef and the fluffiness of a baked potato all washed down with a short.  (can you guess where?)

 Something has taken up residence under the concrete slab in the barn.  We are currently playing a game of dig in/dig out catch me if you can.

Fortunately, my dearest was in agreement with my proposed plan of ditching the menu board at home that said I was going to be baking hamburger buns and he was going to be grilling burgers for said buns.  No, no, no...must be waited on tonight.

 Poor Earl, he has such a rough life.

We went. We ate.  We drank.  Perhaps the waiter was perceptive enough to notice my need for sleep.  He chose to ignore my order of a short beer, bringing me a tall instead.  The frosty mug and puffs of cold air when I took my first gulp were enough to convince me there was no need to point out his mistake.   After all, who am I to second guess waitstaff that intuitively knows that a short would quench my thirst, but a tall would make me sleepy sleepy sleepy.

 
Shhhh, don't tell the other four kitties, but this guy is my favorite.

And that, my friends, is the story of how a stupid t-shirt helped me take a nap.

Proof that there is still some fiber processing being done.  The first bobbin of Rose is nearly ready to be plied.  



Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Bees are Back in Town

We had plans to go pick up two nucs (nucleus colony) this evening and all day long there has been a soundtrack running through my head of a variation of "The Boys are Back in Town"...subbing boys with bees.

Last year's attempt at beekeeping started out great. Two nucs successfully installed. One seemed to be a far more docile hive that was slow to grow, while the other was more aggressive and rapidly reproducing.  So much so, that the aggressive one swarmed while the docile one died. 

After the swarm, the bees left in the hive appeared to be doing fine. They continued to build out frame, brood cells looked good and they successfully produced a new queen. 

And then the robber bees (yellow jackets) came. The hive was done for. 

After placing an order for two nucs several months ago, we have been patiently awaiting notification that they were ready to go. Tonight was the night.  
                       
                                   

         


The first box looked great and was transferred to the hive without incident. And then things got interesting as the sun went down. The second box was not too keen on being transferred...to the point of flying into our hair and my nose kept being used as a landing spot. (No, we don't wear gear...usually only long sleeves/pants...of course shorts and a tank top were my beekeeping outfit choice tonight). Out came the smoker to calm them. 



And just like that "The Bees are Back in Town"!




Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Growing Season...

It's my favorite time of year.

Unless you count my other favorites...the rest of the year.

For most of my adult life, winter was absolutely NOT a favorite time of year because, c'mon:  cold. With maturity comes the wisdom that every season is important.  Winter brings with it the quiet stillness of sleep and basically a resetting of your soul.  Spring cannot be beat with temperate weather, new growth and a world bursting with new life.  Fall allows one to bask in the glow of the burnt oranges and golds as the fury that unfolds after Spring and Summer begins to slow down.  Every season is necessary and beautiful in its own right.

So, where are we now?  Ahhh, those glorious early days of summer are here. (I'm sorry if the calendar date does not match up with the official start, but in my book, once you see a lightning bug...it's summer baby! And that happened about three weeks ago.)

The first harvest of lavender has been made.  There are eight large bunches hanging from the herb drying rack on the sun porch and new blooms are waiting to be picked.


I can't keep up with the lettuce picking.  Apparently, I thought I needed to plant enough to feed everyone in a five mile radius.


The raised beds are growing like gangbusters!  Onions, more lavender, sunflowers, herbs galore, lettuces, radishes, peas and carrots are creating my very own Farmer's Market of goodness in the backyard.  Three additional gardens have been planted, the smallest plot being 30' x 50' in size.  Two kinds of popcorn, sweet corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, cabbages, bell peppers, and watermelons are all reaching for the sun.  Come Fall, those crops will be replaced with cooler weather vegetables to carry us into a slower season.  The strawberry bed is filling in. Raspberry canes are shooting up, as are the grape vines.  Elderberry plants are setting their roots.  The cherry trees have been picked; peach trees are becoming weighted down with fruit; apple trees are teasing with a couple of orbs apiece; while the plum trees are not playing this year.





The chickens and sheep are happily doing their thing in their respective areas.


What is NOT growing? That blankety-blank-blank purple sweater that sits in my knitting bag and silently mocks me with its weepy purple dye job and seemingly never lengthening body.  The only thing saving it from being ripped out is my pride and the terrifying thought that I would have to admit to my knitting group that the yarn got the best of me...again.

              

Perhaps it is not purple sweater season...ever...




Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bobble the Sheep


Many years ago I was gifted a stuffed animal sheep.  It was the perfect huggy size and had real wool fleece.  That little sheepy made several moves with me and survived my children.  Eventually, it became so matted, dusty, dirty and sad looking that I got rid of it.

About a year ago, we embarked on the exciting journey of raising our own Shetland sheep.  They are adorable and a joy to be around.  Skimming through blogs one day I stumbled upon the Bobble Sheep Pillow pattern and knew one needed to come live with me.

Knowing that there were only a few short months before my fleece/fiber stash was going to explode on shearing day, it seemed logical to use up as much of the existing stash as possible.  In my stash was a goodly amount of undyed fiber of various types/blends:  some BFL, merino and merino/silk blend to be exact.  A friend allowed me to use her drum carder to blend it all together.


Once blended, the task of spinning to a goal of single ply bulky weight loomed.  I knew there were a couple of skeins of black Shetland that I had recently finished spinning and would be perfect for the head/ears/legs.  They say that once you start spinning consistently, you get in a groove and tend to always spin in the same manner and it can be difficult to change your technique. Boy, is that ever true.  My go to is to seemingly always spin to a lace weight or a little lighter and ply to my desired weight.  It was physically difficult to draft out enough to achieve a single ply bulky.



After all the fiber was spun, then the fun began.  Bobbles.  Bobbles.   Bobbles.  And still more bobbles.  I do not want to ever make another bobble again!



The final yarn, once knit up is a little looser than the pattern suggests, but I love it!






Bobble Sheep...welcome home!


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Not Such a Bad Day...

Last year about this time, I was lamenting the comical disaster that was surrounding the wood flooring for the house.  What had started as a simple, albeit large, purchase of custom milled, gorgeous, wide black walnut wood flooring had dissolved into a comedy of me calling/emailing the millworks regularly and being given empty promises.  And ultimately (as of this writing), has culminated in the receipt of sort of what I ordered, a scramble to obtain enough square footage/similar width and milling from another source and the owners of the original millworks being knee deep in Federal charges of interstate commerce theft due to the extremely large number of customers they were scamming nationwide to the tune of a whole lotta cashola!

In the midst of that whole mess...my floor is now installed and is drop dead gorgeous btw...I stumbled across an indie dyer:  The Lemonade Shop.  Her yarns are beautifully dyed.  Bad Day color way caught my eye and seemed a fitting purchase at the time.

And so I did, it arrived, and has been sitting quietly in my stash...


Until, thanks to the timely reminder from Facebook memories, it came back into my world to become something.  Socks, of course.

One down...


One to go...


So now, when I wear these little sockies, there will be a visual reminder, that even in stormy times, there is always the promise of the rainbow.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Randomosity

Because why not be random...

Sitting on the windowsill above my dressing table are visual reminders of past and future fun times with my sons.  (the cat was a novelty that Chris got me while I was visiting him in Okinawa)  For several years, we have had the tradition of a small toy that gets hidden in the house and whoever finds it, hides it again.  These two are awaiting visits from my boys so that they may be put into action. 

                      

Forget the Love Shack...it's Sugar Shack Season!

                                   

Everything is better with fresh baked bread.

                     

Annisette is the self-appointed guardian of the barn pen and pasture gates.
  
                                  

The other night when I was bringing in the sheep, it was cold and snowy.  So, I snapped a selfie.

                     

The girls are keeping us well fed at breakfast.

                     

My Okinawa trip knitting project is complete.  Vanilla Latte socks using Zauberball Crazy yarn.  No matchy matchy on purpose.

                                 

Sometimes I think the girls are just as surprised by what happens in the nesting boxes as we are.

                                 

The "clean out the fiber stash to make room for the homegrown fiber" continues...

                     

Happy Valentine's Day weekend!








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