Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hats for Japan

Joining Ginny at small things for the Knit for Japan

Adult sized in Barley, wool-ease which I find is disappointingly only like 10% wool, I still like the yarn but it is not what I wanted. 

In Sumptuous Brown acrylic yarn. Very soft and thick.
Mom said I needed to stop using dark depressing colors - I thought I was picking neutrals that would work with whatever they already had - but I decided to take her advice not that you can tell in this shot.  This is lion brand Portland Wine.

This one is Green Mountains also Lion Brand.
So I have four done (nearly as I have to chain the ties on one yet) not sure how many I will get to yet as I am running out of time on other projects.  Here are the ones I have done on my amazing stand.

Garden News

First I have a helper - Beaver has agreed to tend my garden while I am digging for artifacts - in part this is because of the visitor in his garden but more on that in a different post. 

Shh... The Garden Gnome is napping....

Pepper plants are by each white stake.

Second, I got all the tomatoes and peppers in the ground!!! A friend always starts too many seeds, so he donates his orphans to the rest of us, threatening to compost post them if we don't take them.  So naturally we take them.  I am horrible at starting my own seeds - committing mass genocide year after year - this year I decided (and stuck to) not doing it.  I was planning on buying a few things and direct seeding everything, but due to the orphans I will not be buying any!

18 tomato plants in composting bed.

Horseradish blossoms

While digging them in a dear friend showed up suddenly and sat out in the garden planting and weeding, we even had the help of a passing Badger.  She is actually very patience and mostly helpful.  We also got a squash plant, a row of beans and a row of peas in the ground before going in to a yummie chicken stew Jim made.  After dinner and getting littles to bed, we sat up looking at wedding dress designs for her and planned.  I love that she never feels like company she shows up and I am gardening she joins in or just sits down and chats while I work, or whatever else I might be doing.  I walked into my messy kitchen and she helped the kids wash up for dinner while I got the dishes done.  It is always like that with her.  No judgment just affection. I am excited to be a part of her wedding next year and happy for her future.  I look forward to seeing her marry next year and start her life with a great man.  They are one of those couple where everyone can look at them and go well of course, they are perfect for each other!  I am hoping to put together a really stellar gift - hope chest filled with handmade stuff for the house.

A wonderful afternoon and evening.  The next morning I took these photos to share.

I hope your garden is growing well and your good friends know that they are welcome anytime! - Julia

Friday, May 27, 2011

Finished Object.

I made this Quilt for my friend's auction.  Her 10 year old cousin was struck my a train losing his leg.  She is trying to raise money to help with medical bills.  Check it out.

Such a little bit

Of fuzzy lint got in my way this weekend.  I am busily working on my cousin's quilt and the machine started to catch.  After opening it up I found this pile of stuff.  So little maybe half a teaspoon, but it stopped my work completely.  Now it is gone and I have to get on with the project.  I have cut enough backing squares to make 16 squares which I consider the minimum I must get done to have a blanket to give her.  That will make a throw about 40 inches square.  After I get that done I can work on going up a row or column at a time.

Hope you are easily able to sweep the little things out of your way and get on with that which you love. - Julia

Heartsore, weary, and wary

Herb garden outside the Tavern
Percheron foal.
 I am feeling all three and it has put me off of writing for a while.  I am involved with a wonderful organization but the longer I am associated the more I wonder if that is the best thing.  I see so many careless (or worse) errors standing in the way of their mission and can not help but wonder if it is a lack of caring or just a lack of organization at the heart of it.  Some of these problems are large and some very minor, but I feel like if this were my full-time gift to the world and the generations that follow which many of those active feel it is, I would be horrified - I am - at all my efforts wasted in such a way.  I am active but live far away so my day involvement is not full-time. Maybe I should not complain, maybe they are just not seeing the problems, maybe if I point them out they would be horrified and correct them or maybe it is easier to allow them to continue.  None of the problems endanger anyone's life or safety, some of them are picky and easily solved. 

I am being vague as I do not feel it is fair of me to be openly critical of them.  I have been muttering under my breath about this all week.  Should I being the problems and my criticisms to their attention?  Should I let it go and enjoy the place as best as I can? or Should I just walk away? 

 I am disillusioned again.  I view myself as cynical and jaded but keep finding out I have a much more pollyanna outlook and it hurts me to have these illusions taken from me.  I want everyone to want to do their best at their chosen field, and love it enough to do it without pay or recompense.  I want science for science's sake and history to be accurate. 

Here are some animal photos from our weekend to lift us up after my distressing post.  
Rare breed sheep.

Bunny butts

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yarn along - a little progress.

I am Joining along with Ginny and the other wonderful crafty women at the yarn along, check out what everyone is working on.  Thank you ladies for the inspiration and the pseudo deadline!

I have gotten a lot more reading, gardening and housework done than knitting or other crafts this week.  I went to the Library last week to grab a book for Beaver - his paper was due the next morning and he had not even gotten a book for research!  Needless to say I was irritated and in a rush.  But I managed to get him three books that would work for his paper on Anime, renew the boys card, pay my fine (overdue) and Butterfly's fine (Badger ripped up a book checked out on her sister's card,) and was feeling quite accomplished.  I spot a rack of paperbacks and figured I would grab some for myself really quickly.  I grabbed alright.  About 7 books by Linda Howard, 1 by Kay Hooper, and 2 by Karen Harper - you can tell what rack I was on!

I am on the 4th Linda Howard and read the Kay Hooper book this week as well.  This one is Son of the Morning - a good versus evil, time traveling story about a linguistic anthropologist.  I am enjoying myself. 

Knitting wise I am working on the rug still, some how I stopped mid way through a row and did not get back to it for several days by which time I could not remember which way I was going and was certain I was wrong.  I worried for a while and decided - it's a rug, just get going.  I was going in the right direction, anyway. 

I am also working on the Loomed sweater for Mouse - shown is a sleeve - I don't know how much yarn this will take so I am doing the sleeves to match then if I have to get another yarn it can just coordinate with them. 

I also started my hat for Japan!  I am doing this cap.  It is super fast (part of my plan!) but I am enjoying it.  I chose a wool blend Lion Brand wool-ease in Barley figuring it would be warm, washable and go with most colors.  Hoping to get a couple done but we shall see as I really need to get my cousin's wedding quilt done too. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In a Pickle

Spring?  Autumn?  yes that right we are suffering from weather confusion.  I raced outside at 10 in my nightgown to wrap baby blankets on the grapes I planted two days ago.  I found some old buckets and covered them with those too. frantic cold and irritated yet connected to nature in a way I would not be without the garden.  This morning I got to worry about when to uncover them.  Was I leaving it too long?  was it warm enough yet?  It is chilly today not so cold that I am uncomfortable running out in my sandals to hang towels on the line but if I was staying out even long enough to walk the two blocks to my son's school I would want a jacket.  Spring in Wisconsin. 

I was reading Rhonda with her post on pickled onions and decided to make some pickled Veggies and share the recipe.  I wrote the recipe down years ago and mostly just grab the spices by hand now (I suspect I use more than the recipe calls for but oh well) I really like pickled cauliflower, onions, carrots and celery and play with other veggies but I always have those.  I also did up some Brussels sprouts this time. I used to eat pickled Brussel sprouts as a kid and loved them.  So fingers crossed!!!  I know the recipe was originally Jacques Pepin by do not remember which book. 

1 cup white vinegar
1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 T salt
1t pickling spices(Thyme, bay peppercorn, coriander)
2 dried hot peppers
2 sprigs dill
2 sprigs oregano
3 gloves garlic

Don't they look pretty. 

As you can see I add a lot more spice that the recipe calls for, though this is 4 batches.
Cut veggie, fill a clean jar with them, boil rest of ingredient together, pour over veggies, close lid.  Wait 5 days.  They hold several weeks in fridge.  I have kept them longer, but that is me.  For the brussel Sprouts I blanched them and as the ones I had as a kid are spicy, I added red pepper flakes, extra dried peppers and to one jar mustard seed. 

Soon I will have yumminess - hope you are enjoying something yummy too! - Julia

Monday, May 16, 2011

Crafty morning.

 Ever bought something you loved only to own something you hate?  Me too.  I loved this fabric.  I bought the shirt and discovered I hated it. It didn't fit well, was not flattering, and ever bra showed with it.  So I decided to make it into dresses for the girls.  Off to a pile it went, but this morning Butterfly pouted because I would not left her wear her Easter Dress around the house and garden today.  Clearly it was time.  To the sewing room I went.  I cut the shirt on the side seams and cut off the top (of three) ruffles close to the top of the second ruffle.  That way each girl would get a ruffle.  I sewed fleece double width binding on to sandwich the seams at the tops of the new dresses (I laid the first ruffle on the back of the shirt to get the second dress) Then stitched the backs closed, checked the fit on the girls and attached straps.  Presto, an hour later I had two dresses which I love - and so do they.

Garden in progress or everything hurts.

I worked for hours in the garden on Sunday.  Tilling, digging, hauling, cleaning, moving and now it is closer to how I want it and I can hardly move today even the muscles in my fingers hurt.  I put in paths and mulched them with straw, covered the tomato/pepper bed with cardboard and mulching, planted onions and grapes, would have planted rhubarb but the garden center sold me rotten crowns, built a new bed for asparagus and planted that.  Set up the compost bins in a new spot (old one is now the new bed) and cleaned out the tool shed.
Looking north. On the left of the chives will be my herbs, tomatoes and peppers to the right.  The new location for the compost bins is along that fence.

Chives, a path and Horseradish, the onions are along the far side of the same bed as the horseradish.

Looking South.  The kid's play sets and gardens.  Soon Mouse's Morning Glories will block the view of the little house.
Asparagus Bed, edged in logs from tree trimming. 
One of the four grape plants I planted.  When I first got married I ordered six very expensive grape plants and kept them in a bucket in the garage 'while I got ready' to plant.  Yeah soon I had 6 dead expensive plants and an irritated husband.  It is a huge deal that I bought these not expensive ones and planted them, because of the past and because I have been dreaming about it for a long, long time.  

We also burned about a quarter of the brush pile.
One of the Apple trees flowering, hopefully not too mad about last week's pruning.  Hope your week promises great things for the future! - Julia

To market & new diets

This Saturday we woke to go to the farmer's market and it was raining.  We had a nice time anyway, returning home with kettle corn in kid tummies, coffee in mommy's and green onions, rhubarb, Blueberry Jam and Goat's Milk soap. 

 The ducks loved the weather, and the kids loved the ducks.  This momma was not happy I was taking pictures, but never moved away.

 This momma did not know we were there, as her babies were fussing.
 Papa did and tried to distract us by hopping in and out of the water.  Wonderful.
We had been planing a fire to burn the brush and roast some marshmallows but the rain worked against us.  Also, we have put Beaver on a diet for AD/HD.  I feel that changes to his diet, some work on study skills, organization, handwriting, reading and spelling over the summer plus making sure that he spends more time running and playing than watching things will solve his mild problem. So, navigating the maze of a new diet has not been fun.  Although, we are normally a eat when you are up and hungry for breakfast family, I think he liked sitting down to breakfast as a family - I know I did.  So no store bought marshmallows.  I will be making some later this week so we can do the roasting.  Mostly, we are increasing his protein, lowering simple carbohydrates, removing dyes & processed foods (no soda, candy and gum have not been well received).  Lots more cooking from scratch, we are all following this but I am letting the other kids finish up the cereal when Beaver is at school.  Here is Butterfly helping to make buckwheat bread. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Garden works

I made a stupid mistake yesterday, I told the girls we would not go outside until after they cleaned up the mess they had made in the living room.  Um... yeah....I wanted to go outside, they were completely content to sit quietly in the living room playing nicely with each.  Grr... I mean it was nice but....

 As I wanted to till the garden I had to wait until Beaver came home to go out.  He helped by cleaning up the living room and watching the girls.  I got about 2/3rd of the garden tilled and the kids gardens tilled before I ran out of gas. Mouse and Butterfly planted their seeds (watermelon and cantaloupe for Mouse, Radishes and Marigolds for Butterfly) with plenty of room for more.  Badger (& hopefully I will too) will plant today.  

 This is the front yard weed area, soon to be Beaver's Garden.  There are some raspberry canes growing there already and he want more.  So we are cleaning it out, planting some more canes, some blueberries and strawberries.  Hopefully a few flowers too.  I want to find some large rocks or brick to form a boundary for the edge of this too.   

I also hope to get the kitchen garden edged in and a fence up this year.  Rocks by preference but if necessary I will just use boards, as I want to slow the grass from getting in our gardens. 

 Here are the apple and pear trees fresh from the trimming.  I sure hope we get a nice crop this year and that we did not over prune the trees. 
Monster pile of brush to burn.

How does your garden grow? - Julia

Yarn along - going in too many directions.

Good Morning to all the wonderful crafters at Ginny's  Yarn Along.  I join you today as a work in progress, actually as many works in progress.  I am working on Grandma's Christmas present (you can see why I started it early!) it is kind of boring and because it is three balls at once not a great take with me project, so slowly it is getting bigger.  I like it but it is dull to work on. 

The other project is a market bag I started a year ago and have frogged about 14 times.  It was beyond my skill when I started knitting it and frustrated me because just when I figured it out I would fine the mistake (usually ten or more rows back) that was causing the pattern to not work!  After the last frogging I tucked it away.  I will finish it I've started it too many time not to, and actually the pattern is making a lot more sense, coming so much easier this time.  When it is done it will be mine and I hope to feel pride in it not just have a symbol of my stubbornness.

I am reading In The Dark by Heather Graham and enjoying it but I did not notice when I picked it up in the store yesterday (shopping while irritated with Husband is not good) that it is actually two novellas by different authors.  I have not read anything by the other author so it will be surprise time.  The kids and I are still reading Little House in the Big Woods, it has been hard lately to find time when we are all home and I don't want anyone to miss a chapter.  Mouse and I are still working on Tumtum and Nutmeg which is an amazing book!  For summer reading I have a stack of serious books I want to read and will likely read a ton of novels as I have decided that come fall I am not reading fiction again to help me have more time for family, school, and crafting.  I can read a non-fiction book over the course of a few weeks reading when I have time, but a fiction book sucks me in and I have to stay with the story.  My non-fiction start for the summer is Historical Archaeology - A Comprehensive Guide for Both Amateurs and Professionals to the Techniques and Methods of Excavating Historical Sites. I have used parts for reference in the lab but never read it so here goes. 

The quilt square in the background is a project I am working on for a friend.  Her cousin was hit by a train and lost part of his leg.  He is 10.  She is requesting donations of crafted items which she is auctioning off to raise money for his medical bills.  She is setting up a blog for the auction and I will post the link as soon as it is done. 

Monday, May 9, 2011


I have two finals today and then I am done!  I finished my paper last night - or this morning not sure a little bit zombie this morning.  By dinner my semester will be over.  I am very happy the stats class is over, but the North American Indians class could just go on forever I could pick a new culture to focus on this morning and start working on them - maybe I will.  But not today.  Today I am happy to be done.  Today I am happily looking forward to garden and housecleaning tomorrow.  There is joy in something as simple as having all the laundry put away.  Hope you find your joy today. - Julia

Weekend of goodness

View of the farmer's market from the riverbank.
We went to the farmers market opening weekend.  It was so nice.  They have expanded taking over more space and re-organizing it a bit.  So we'll need to get used to the whole extra aisle.  Mouse, Butterfly, and Badger came with me, each with their market bag.  Actually Mouse was using the first one I ever made a felted bag.  He tells me he wants his own.  Another thing on my list.  Several people, including two vendors, asked if I had made them and suggested I get a booth.  Someday maybe! We got kettle corn for the kids to eat while wandering and a cup of coffee for mom.  We looked at everything and danced with the music but only bought a one of raw honey and a bag of dried mushrooms, but we had a wonderful time and handing Jim back half the money I took with me was nice.  We disagree about lots of life-way or political issues but don't let the arguments affect our marriage as each is more important to the other than ideology. (This is more work sometimes and quite easy at others.)  I normally have cash and so having to get some from him for the market did affect what I bought as I know he thinks it is a silly way to get food.  

Badger watching the bear statues at the Market.

We had dear friends over for games, food and a quick spinning lesson.  They have three daughters the oldest one has a bit of crush on Mouse, the feelings are returned.  Is this how it used to go watching your child play and grow alongside a friend's child until someday they where partners in all things?  I am fully aware that I am well a head of myself with this idea but I expect all mothers wonder what kind of life partner their children will end up with.  She is sweet and smart. The girls and I made cookies, I also made pita chips, curried lentil dip, yogurt cheese with chives, and the most wonderful strawberry cake using the yogurt whey in place of buttermilk.  The was not cool before it was gone.  

Sunday, I got up early and went to the gardening center, for Mother's day gifts.  I got each of our mothers rose plant and told them if they wanted the roses came with planting service.  Three years ago we picked up orchids from home depot for them.  Jim's mother likes to tell us that for two years it did nothing and she was sure it was dead, but it has been flowering since.  I also picked up a bunch of stuff for our garden, figuring two trips to the garden store was too dangerous for me.  Not sure that plan helped much as I got 4 grape plants, 2 raspberry, 2 blueberry plants, 2 bag of onion sets, asparagus crowns, rhubarb, and seed potatoes.  So tomorrow (today is finals) will be super get the garden going day. 

Our parents came over and helped us trim the apple trees.  I had been planning on burning the brush but forgot to get this years permit, so no marshmallows for us.  In one of the trees, we found a woodpecker duplex!  I'll post pictures of all of that tomorrow with the garden transformation!  While the Grandpas helped Jim and me with the trimming the Grandmas watched the kids in the driveway - opposite side of the house from the chainsaws.  Mouse got his training wheels off and rode briefly on his own, but mostly there where too many people in the driveway. 

I hope your weekend was lovely and filled with goodness! - Julia