Friday, September 30, 2011

A trip around my kitchen and therefore my mind.

 If you were here in my kitchen this is what you would be smelling.  I am trying my hand at making my own mince meat.  The kind with only fruit. Every year we wrap sugar cookie dough - my great-great grandmother's recipe - around mince meat, apple filling and cherry filling, in addition to making cutouts.  Normally, that mincemeat comes out of a can, not this year.  This year it is coming out of a jar that I put it into, with apples from my own trees.  Picked by me and the kids.  Some day maybe even the grapes will be from my land.
 This is my entire potato harvest taken up about a quarter of the garden space and at least ten hours of my time. Most expensive potatoes ever.  They are causing me to think seriously about how my garden grows and how I grow it.  I plan to take a hard look at what I like to grow, what we actually eat, what grows well with the climate and attention I can give it, and why I want to grow it.  This 6 pounds may change a lot of things.

This is the leftovers of the cream of potato soup I made for last night.  Um, yeah... Way too Much doesn't even come close to covering it.  But it tasted good.  It still will, wish it froze well, for lunch and dinner and maybe lunch tomorrow.

 These two shots are of the candied ginger I made this week.  One with, one without flash.  I like them both.  The ginger is good, very strong, so Jim should like it.  He will be home today!!
 Some of the products of the week.  I still have about 14 pounds of apples to use and am looking for unusual recipes for them. 

It is so chili here, the wind is hard and bitter an I think it will be a fast, hard and long winter.  I am actually wearing slippers and a long sleeve sweater.  Realized last night, when Chris looked down at the sweater and said "that looks nice you make it you have plenty of time until Christmas", that I need to get moving.  On the sweater and on everything else I want to get done in time.

Hope the day finds some warmth for you, in candle, in love, in completion.  ~ Julia

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

self portait a day late.

I forgot sort of, I was busy and running around and did not have time for a shower and to brush out my huge amount of hair. I am embarrassed, both of the excuses and the tiny red bumps all over my face.  In really life I am not shy, I had almost too much personality and confidence so unless there is a mirror or photo... I am always surprised at how different I look from my self image.  The bump appeared when I was pregnant for Butterfly, I hoped they would go when she was born but the only time they have not been on my face since was the week I was in hospital for very much too low potassium.  I should call the doctor and get something, but I keep buying different face washes instead. 

This picture is 3 weeks old and I promise you a new one next week. 
joining Courtney at A Life Sustained

Yarn along - and on and on and on

I am knitting with Ginny and the other amazing craftswomen of the yarn along hosted at Small Things, I can't wait to see what everyone is working on.

I am working on Butterfly's sweater.  Finishing the made me feel like I was almost done, now it seems like I will never be done.  I think I have about 4 or 5 more inches until I decrease by three stitches then knit another inch.

I broke my no fiction during the term rule because a book put on hold became available.  The sixth book in the Clan of the Cave Bear series came out in the spring.  So I read it.  I read the first one when I was 12.  Long favorite and long awaited.  Should not have bothered.  Her previous book was poorly edited and often she seemed to forget what she had already told us, with long draggy descriptions that she seemed to insert in multiple placed just to lengthen the book.  Literally the same descriptions.  This one was worse.  Only about a hundred pages or so was given to the characters, the other 600 where used to describe every single cave in France, and not in a way that made you see them in your mind.  The only sign of a plot was literally copied from a chapter in book three.  I am left frustrated and irritated.  I would like to say I won't read the next one, but I said that last time, when I was dating the man who is now my husband of 7 years.   So I put a good book in the shot.  The girls love it.

He is working in Texas this week and I am utterly exhausted.  I miss him.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My kitchen smells wonderful...

my hands are tired.  The kids and I picked more than 35 pounds of apples yesterday, I chopped up a third of that at dinner time and made apple sauce - I finished canning at 11:30.  My hands are mad at me and at the food mill.  I have a smaller batch going this morning.  Last night's batch yielded 4 1/2 quarts.  I also started candied ginger  for my husband.  I am also rendering fat I cut off last night's roast.  Soap-making as a diet plan.  Seriously, I have been rendering fat for awhile now, but have yet to make the soap.  All this adds up to making my kitchen smell like ginger apple doughnuts. 

On the note of dieting, it is hard to be good when you are hungry, especially when there is no reason you are hungry, and it is late at night! I did a bit of knitting but really was too tired to do well and eventually just set it done.  By the time I was actually done, I could not sleep.  Finally, got to sleep at one!  As I was back up before 6, I am dragging a bit now.

I tried out the tomato jam recipe on the roast last night.  I need more tomatoes!  So do you, the stuff is amazing.  I smeared it on the raw meat tossed it in a crock-pot with a cup of water and a chopped onion.  Added carrots, celery, and potatoes about an hour before serving and nothing else.  I did salt and pepper my plate but it was the best roast ever.  I ended up pouring some jam on my plate and dipping the meat in.  My kids thought I was nuts.  I have tucked the leftovers juice and all into the freezer and some day next week, Jim will get a surprise for lunch!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu planning.

The swans have gone for the season.  I think only one of the babies survived. 
 Since Jim is away for the week the cooking falls to me, I am every bit as good a cook as him but he is better at planning and I am better at the kind of menu that starts with 'I saw this recipe...' or 'what is in the house?'  He does the shopping as he does the cooking and is much better at only buying what is on the list than I am.  So I had to come up with a list for him.  I figured I'd share our menu for the week, along with a couple of pretty pictures from my drive home last night.

Lunch - tuna salad and left over cheddar puffs
Dinner - roast of beef with roasted veggies, fresh bread and a salad
Lunch - Homemade ravoli
Dinner - Whole chicken roasted with extra drumsticks, fresh bread and salad
Lunch - Tartine (can you tell I have been reading french cookbooks?!)
Dinner - Chicken salad pita
Lunch - Chicken soup
Dinner - Cream of potato soup, fresh bread and a salad.
Lunch - left over chicken in Quesadillas
Dinner - we will all eat at different places and times.

I am also starting a diet this week.  Not that this is diet food, but if I only eat sensible portions and skip candy, fruit snacks and soda I should do okay.  I am going to track calories and exercise.  I have an image in my head of what my body looks like - it is not the same one the mirror shows me - if I get those two images closer I think I will be happier in getting dressed and healthier.  

The weekend's productions

Small onions roasted in oil. 

The skein is done, I have another 5 inches or so to go, so I hope the new skein is not too far off.

Tomato jam.  I will be using this on a roast today.  It was supposed to yield 2 pints.  I gave mom a jar already.  So that would be 4 1/4 pints yield.  
I also made a night gown for each girl out of an old chemise of my from when I worked the Renaissance Faire.  They are so excited by them, and wearing them still in bed!!  I want to turn an old dress shirt of my husband's into a nightshirt for Mouse this week. 

Monday musings....

I am taking part of Monday morning musings with Nadja at patch o' dirt farm.

Right Now...  I am sitting at my kitchen table, drinking my first cup of coffee.  Beaver was just picked up from school. Mouse is awake early, he wanted to take cold lunch and woke up nearly an hour early o pack it himself.  I think he may have been trying to wake up early enough to say good bye to Daddy, but as he left at 4am, I am glad it did not happen. 

This weekend... The kids and I went to a s'mores and hot cocoa party at a old friend's house.  She is who I call when I need someone to listen to me and help me see the other person's perspective.  Likely, she is the nicest person I know.  When I am angry with someone and talk to her about it I can usually be more reasonable after.   I made some tomato jam (recipe from food in jars) with tomatoes from my garden and a friend's as my tomatoes have told me goodbye.   When I stopped by to pick up the extra's she promised the girls jumped out of the car and demanded play time with her daughter.  We had a nice bit of girl chat while the kids ran around in the yard.  Saturday, we cleaned up the house as every other weekend we have people over for board games and munchies, no one came, we had been so busy that we did not send the invite out until Friday but as we have been doing this every other weekend for 5 years we figured people would have just expected it.  Jim & I had a nice time sitting at the table reading together, him from a cookbook on curing and me the 6th book in a series I started reading at twelve.  Reading with him is fun as he argues with the book and you end up talking about the book and recipes instead of just sitting there.  Sunday, He let me sleep in with a cuddly Badger while he played a game with Mouse and Butterfly. 

Some plans for the week... Cleaning, canning applesauce, candying ginger, shampooing the carpets. I have started adding layers to skirts that fit the girls but are too short and I want to make a couple dresses into skirts as well, so hopefully I will get a bit of time to do that.  I would like to get some spinning done and work on Butterfly's sweater.  Start a diet.

If I find some time for myself...  I would still like to make some skirts for me.  I didn't get to it last week but this week is bright and shinny (raining) and new.  So maybe I will.

I am grateful for... A man who thinks I am completely nuts, but loves me anyway.  Four little monsters, as much trouble as the can be what would I do without them.  Good friends, who listen to you then help you to think. My studio to hide in and create in. 

Some prayer intentions for this week... I continue to pray for my grandmother, sister and friend's mother.  I am praying for my uncle who is having surgery today.  For my friend who has an interview for her dream job!  She will do so well at the job, she just has to get through the interview process.  I am going to try to let go of my feelings of anger, they do not serve me well and as I can do nothing to change the situation I need to let go. 

Something that makes me smile... Beaver racing up the stairs nearly an hour after being sent to bed last night to tell me that he finished his book and really enjoyed it.  Read is a bit of a struggle for him so this series, while I am tired of vampire novels for teenagers, is really great as he is reading beyond the 30 minutes a day required and really getting into the story.  I feel like a world just opened up for him.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Family of wills

Hands and cards on the table. I had a hard thing to deal with this week.  While I was meeting with my father and his sister, mom watched the kids, the girls came back with these pretty nails and afraid of being alone because grandma let them watch a scary movie (as the girls find Care Bears to be too scary this is not a difficult thing.) 

The background: Before I was born my parents & my grandparents brought some property together, two lots, one for my parents to live on and one for my grandparents to live on.  With the idea that when my grandparent passed both lots would be my father's.  At the same time, my grandpa gave my aunt the house they lived in down here, figuring he then had given a house to both of his kids.  He was a great papa and passed when I was 8, but I think he was not a great father, always making his son feel indebted and instilling a great sense of duty, while making his daughter feel un-loved and un-worthy of love.  He loved them, he was a chauvinist and reacted from that ideology.  My grandma did not have a great life but a good chunk of that was because she went out of her way to play people off of each other and hurt people.  When grandpa died she changed the title on the property to include my aunt, did not tell anyone and then spend years, decades even playing on everyone's feeling and stirring up bad feelings. Most of that time she lived with my parents, drank way too much, and the whole time she hated my mother and resented that my aunt had loved her father more than her mother.

She got very sick more than six years ago, heart attack, renial failure, and congestive heart failure.  My aunt was her power of attorney and found that she was deeply in debt, she began rapidly paying off the debt and got a bit aggressive about her mother's spending habits at the same time everyone found out about the property transfer.  My aunt mistakenly thought her father had done it.  My parents where crushed added to the shock was the fact that my aunt found out first and did not tell her brother.  Dad and mom felt betrayed. My sister & I felt it too, added to which it caused me to really examine my grandmother's actions.  I spent a long time trying to find a happy memory with my grandmother.

She ended up in a nursing home, which my aunt now mostly unable to deal with being in the same room as my mother liked.  Then the nursing staff left her in a dirty diaper for most of the day.  They held a meeting to discuss her situation and select one person from the family for the nursing home to deal with due to the conflict.  My aunt arranged for the meeting and sprung it on my parents expecting to be named that person, but my grandma likes to cause problems and my aunt made the mistake of mentioning she approved of the care grandma was receiving (right after they talked about how bad it was that she had been left in the diaper.)  My grandma shocked the room by naming me.  I did not want the job, but have strong feeling against warehousing our elderly, and felt it was my duty to step in.  I thought maybe I could even smooth things over between my parents and my aunt.  My aunt and I were close, we had worked to together for years.  Though things had gotten rough when I got married, 6 months pregnant and had a big wedding.  My grandfather forced her to marry her first husband calling her a slut and a whore and threatening to disown her if she did not marry the man she was living with.  She compared us and thought I was getting better treatment than she had, I was I had a much better father, and I would have told my grandfather off if he had said such things to me.

My aunt lost it.  I mean completely. Told grandma she was dead to her. walked out and only talked to anyone through a lawyer for years.  Threatening to sue my father and grandmother (whose health improved greatly when we took her home to live with my parents, she hated my mother to her dying breath but my mom is one hell of a nurse and a nag.)  For her portion of the property.

The Now:
Grandma died right before Christmas, and I am her estates' personal representative. The first time I had seen my aunt  six years was in court this June.  It went well as far as the functionality of distributing my grandmother's things.  On a personal level it was aggressive,  heartbreaking and awful.  I had always hoped that I would get my aunt back when grandma passed.  I left knowing that was unlikely.

I did nothing wrong during this mess except for agreeing to help my grandma. My sister did nothing wrong. My mother did nothing wrong, allow I will grant she is one of those people who never forgets a wrong done to her and can be hard to deal with at times, and she saved grandma's live many times.  My father did nothing wrong, but feels badly for caring for his mother out of duty only. My aunt did very little wrong, she should have told her brother when she found out and she kept secrets that should have been told, she reacted very badly and childishly.  My grandmother caused this mess and almost all the hard feelings involved, but she is not the one to clean up the mess.

My aunt is suddenly being very reasonable about offering my parents a way to keep the property, essentially offering them a loan of the money to own the property out right with pay back terms that are what he determines he can do right now.  She only wants it set up legally.  She asked for pictures of my sister's wedding and I asked if she was wanting to be our aunt again.  She is not sure it will depend on how this all turns out. 

My mother and sister are too caught up in their anger.  I thought for certain my sister would see the value in this, my parents get their dream back and my dad who really has had a hard time with his mother's betrayal and his sister's abandonment, gets her back at least a little bit.  Maybe we can never be the family we were, maybe we were never as much a family as we could have been, but what does holding on to this anger serve? isn't an uneasy peace better than a open anger.  Maybe I am trapped by my desire to have my aunt back, and am willing to gloss over this a bit.  My sister actually things my aunt should just sign over the property for nothing and that even if the intervening years of separation and anger had not happened she would be charging my parents.  I don't think so but the situation is was it is and there is no way to determine which way she would have gone.

The future:
I don't know what will happen, I don't know what is supposed to happen.  Everyone has choices in this, I guess I just realized that, maybe if I had called her after she threw her fit rather than waiting for her to apologize we would not be here.  I don't know. But I do know I don't have to let my family's choice be mine now.  I am not sure I am strong enough, and while I want my aunt back I know I am not the niece she really wants back, she has held the anger in her heart a long time and my sister was always her favorite.  That hurts too, but my hurt is not caused by her but a reaction to her.

Busy, busy, busy...

I started a lot pf projects all at once.  I did keep me from being bored, but I did not make as much progress as I might have if I picked one thing and worked straight through.  My husband is great at washing laundry, but never folds it, so it gets piled on (and around) the chair in our room.  I started tackling Mount-fold-and-put-it-away. I did not finish but I did get a lot of it put away.  We do the same with cardboard, there is a mountain of it waiting to be folded in the garage.  I got about half of that folded and taken away to be recycled.  I did some canning, but have more to do today.  I got further on the sweater, and bought more yarn for it. I took a bunch of stuff to Goodwill.  I cleaned out a cupboard I had no intention of cleaning this week. And I even remembered my course work, I remembered the yarn along and even had the picture, but never got the time to do it.

Mouse and Butterfly watching Beaver's cross country meet.  I will not be taking them to anymore by myself, why too stressful!  Badger almost ran into the course while the runners where running. 

The girls did the flower arranging, the jar is my apple cider/science project. 

Four quart sized jars of pickled veggies. Three are me standard refrigerator pickles and the last I canned to see how it affects the texture of the veggies.  The other three jars are salsa. 

This was supposed to be my photo for the yarn along.  I have made a bit of progress since them. 

This has been a running around like a chicken with it's head cut off kind of week and I think next week might be worse.  I have this can of paint for the bedroom and my husband will be gone.  He hates the smell of paint.  Wouldn't it be a nice surprise?  It is a totally insane plan but.... maybe.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Musings

I decided to join Nadja at Patch o' Dirt Farm in her Monday Musings.

Right Now... I am eating a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of french onion soup.  The girls have finished eating and we are all pretending that if I let them watch Strawberry Shortcake they will fall asleep. 

This Weekend... I worked on tons of butter and jelly, did homework and got a lot further on Butterfly's sweater.  Jim will be gone all week, so he told extra time with each child, showing them their very own accounts on the household computer and playing legos.  It was cool and rainy and everyone is feels sniffly, so that is about all we did. 

Some Plans for This Week...  Jim will be gone for the first half of the week and all of next week, so I am hoping to surprise him with a clean bedroom and porch and clean out part of the garage.  Beaver has two cross country meets and a long practice so lots of the week will be moving him around.  I hope he has run and is trying his hardest.  Some progress might be seen on the mess that is closing my grandma's estate, as I have called a meeting, hopefully we can get this behind us and move on.  I am ready.  I also want to get some more canning done.

If I find some time for myself, I would like to...  Look for a pattern for Beaver's requested fingerless gloves (in place of the sweater I was planning.) I would also like to make a new skirt for ME.  Then I am going to wrap it up and label it from my kids for my birthday.

I am grateful for... My friends who jump to my defense, when someone picking on me goes too far.  My family.  Cooler days, my father's abilities with wood, my kids schools, the road in front of the house, my grandmother still being alive months after they told us the cancer would take her. The apple trees abundance.

Some prayer intentions for this week...  My grandmother. Healing for my mother, sister, for a friend's mother, and for my cousin.  For jobs for some friends.  Patience for all of them and for myself.  I'd really like to get everyone into a more thoughtful and meaningful routine. 

Something that makes me smile... My little girls dancing on the apple pulp to press the juice out.  I really want dad to make me an apple press, but the girl carefully moving around on the ice cream lid I put on the wrapped up pulp is a wonderful imagine.  I was too busy holding them steady to take picture though.

jelly & butter everywhere

 From left to right:  Apple butter, apple jelly, mulberry jelly, carrot jam, pineapple vinegar, mulberry butter.  The large mess to my kitchen not withstanding the weekend was very productive.  I wasn't certain it would be.  I woke Saturday to the sound of glass breaking.  Badger was up looking in the fridge for strawberries, she knocked out a 64 oz glass jar of apple juice pressed for jelly.  I was not happy, glass and juice I had worked for was everywhere.  Looking back I would not have had enough sugar anyway but we picked those apples, I washed, weighted, cut (I got blisters from cutting apples) and cooked those apples.  Oh well, now I have a lot of jelly, jam and butter.  Beaver is trying to talk me into more, maybe lemon curd or this lemon zucchini - not that he eats zucchini - I may go for it but this week my remaining sugar is for coffee and maybe waffles.
Tea parties.  Badger, Butterfly, Hippy-the-Bunny, and Daddy's elbow.  I think Daddy was actually eating lunch, but the girls were certain he left work to come to tea!  My parents gave Butterfly that little ceramic tea set two years ago at least.  My dad did the shopping and mom was mad, as Butterfly was too young to play with it, this is actually the first time she got too. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Some updates.

I thought I should give some updates on project and how they turned out (so far at least.)  My wool took 4 days to completely dry and has a greasy feel still, it actually has more leaves than it did when I started!  4 days drying in the sun will do that.  So I need to wash it again.  My reading has led me to believe that I either did not have the water hot enough to begin with or allowed it to cool too much redepositing the lanolin on the wool as it cooled.  I want improve on this whole process - as even though it did not work right I enjoyed it - so I am cleaning our front porch out.  We never use it as the yard is graded just wrong enough that it floods a bit spring and fall and is too hot in the summer (and moldy) and too cold in the winter.  I am going to scrub it clean and rip up the carpeting (who thought that was a good idea?) and use it for projects like wool washing and dyeing and soap making.  I want to make a table out of and old bathroom cabinet we replaced but did not pitch and scrap wood and attach a folding mesh table area for skirting and drying.  At least the cleaning and digging out of the cabinet will have to happen this weekend. 
 Remember the one lonely jar of red currant jam?  I am holding this over my floor and it did not fall.  It tastes wonderful but is set so hard you have to warm it up for spreading.  Hoping I get more berries next year because this is awesome.
 Left to right Apple Butter, Carrot Jam, and Apple Jelly.  The Jelly has the same set too hard problem but is so pretty and tasty who cares.  The carrot jam is amazing!  Seriously, make some, I have had it by it's self, on cheddar scones (the attack of the scones continues), and on ham slices.  Go now - make some. 
 Little sewing kit I made for Butterfly.  Felted heart for needles and I found these tiny scissors to put into the kit that.
 Dress for Butterfly's birthday, I mostly followed the great inspiration at Tea Rose Home for this but added an extra ruffle and some satin ribbon. 
 This little skirt is also for her birthday, the white is an old t-shirt of my husband's and the bottom is leftover quilt fabric from my stash.
Decided not to wait any longer to show this.  I am thinking about adding an ring of ribbon around the waist band but we shall see. 

I had a little scare while knitting the sweater - the sleeve looked to short & reading the pattern I realized I missed a step, it should have been two inches longer.  Panic.  I called her in to try it on and the sleeve fits perfectly!!!  I might go back later and open the sleeve ends and add a few rows of pink, but the pattern is designed to do that anyway. 

Hope all your projects are going well. - Julia

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yarn along - knitting rainbows

Knitting with the ladies of the yarn along - you should check it out and join us.  Ginny at Small Things is our wonderful hostess.

I continue to work on Butterfly's sweater.  Do you see what I have there? A sleeve.  I have one finished and the second started!!!!  I am beginning to worry about the amount of yarn I have left.  I have been listening to audio books while knitting (and doing dishes and sewing and just about any thing else.) the current one is Lost City by Clive Cussler.  Scifi book with heavy good guys bad guys theme but the science is not too far out there and the descriptions of places and time periods are wonderful.  One of my favorite authors.

This is the wool I bought at Sheep & Wool all washed up and drying (hopefully) in the driveway.  (sorry, cream wool on beige sheet does not a great shot make.) I washed it on Monday and really hope it will get dry today.  I think if I start doing this all the time I will need a table that is part solid and part mesh drying rack.

I look forward to seeing what you are working on and reading. - Julia

Beaver's Award

He paints miniatures and builds models.  He is good at it. We entered him into the fair competition last summer but I screwed up and he was put into the wrong category. So judging was a bit like 'you painted that?' yes, 'what is it for and are you happy with the job you did?'  not so helpful on constructive criticism idea right.  At the end of fair week when everyone is picking up their stuff, I took it over to the guy in charge of the area where it should've been and asked what I should have entered it into, what was the category number.  He asked Beaver a few questions and told him he was an apprentice on the US Junior Scale Modeling Team.  We have been taking or sending his work all over the US since.  This August his team sent 5 entries to the International Modeling Championship in Swizterland .  One had to compete as an adult as he was 17 and Swiss law required it.  No US junior has ever gotten a medal in international competition. 

The boy competing as an adult received a letter of merit, Beaver and two others from his team received silver medals - Beaver was 1 point from gold - and the girl on the team won gold and co-champion of the juniors.  Some of the judges from this are movie set modelers who have worked on really wonderful movies.  They are impressed with my son's work and maybe his team will get a chance to tour a studio and get a private workshop with one of them this spring.  Beaver is so excited and proud, I have caught him running a finger over the medal several times now.  He is dreaming bigger dreams now, I am so proud and happy.  He is starting to believe in himself again.

They presented the awards this weekend.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Biting off more than I could chew - almost.

Yesterday, I woke with plans and ideas, goals and agendas.  Enough of them to fill two days at least, but often I find that not knowing you can't do something mixed with a bit (okay a lot) of stubbornness, means you end up getting it done.

Sunday I knit.  I mean I sat at the table with an audio book and knit. All day.  Except for the few minutes I took a break.  During my break I went to the garden and picked a bucket of tomatoes and a over flowing bucket of apples from our tree.  (It produced better this year - after heavy pruning -  but I need a plan for less bugs so if you know what I should do give me a yell.)  I looked up a jelly recipe by David Lebovitz and I was off.  I chopped them up tossed them into the water, cooked them and placed them in a lined colander over-night as described.  Later, I was reading while knitting and say a recipe for carrot jam.  Ignoring the time - 10pm - and the apple jelly makings already started.  I grated a kg of Carrots. 

If we back up one more day we see the rest of the problem, on Saturday I went to Beaver's award ceremony (more on that later) and then to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival.  I wandered in delight and bought 6# of Frisian wool (dirty) and a small ball of  clean carded dyed indigo wool.  I tucked the wool into my studio and shut the down.  When next I went in it smelled very strongly of sheep, very dirty sheep.  So I needed to wash that wool right away, I noticed this on Sunday.

So I bounded out of bed yesterday with plans!  make that PLANS!  Written it does not seem bad, wash wool, make apple jelly, make apple butter from leftover apple parts, make carrot jam, wash and hang old diapers on line to make into wash rags some other time, run to store and get elastic lace, and a 4H meeting. 

I started in on the wool bright and early, I set up a baby gate with a sheet over it to dry the wool on and got out two pots to wash in.  It was amazing, the day just waking up a bite of cool in the air, hot sudsy water, creamy yellow wool.  In it went.  15 minutes later I was startled to find I had white wool.  And so began the process of switching it to a new pot of water every 15 minutes until I got it as clean as I thought was likely.

In those first 15 minutes while the process was still romantic and the day was brimming with purpose, remember that I had been up for 3 hours, gotten two boys to school and been to Walmart for extra canning lids (none there) and lemons (I bought 2 and needed 4,) I start the apple jelly and realized my mistake with the lemons.  Oh well I get them when I get the lace I don't need them until the carrot jam anyway.  *notice the optimism*

Every 15 minutes I ran outside to change the water on the wool.  When inside I was stirring the jelly to keep it from boiling over or scorching and running all the apple bits through a food processor then a food mill.  None difficult tasks but together too much.  When the jelly was done I was on to apple butter - I use equal parts fruit pulp to sugar - and while I changed the wool it scorched.  I dumped it into a new pot and tasted.  It was still good so I was still in business.  By the time I got that done it was 3:20 and time to start the boy retrieval process.  Once I had them, I ran into the grocery store for more lids and lemons, no time to get the lace as we it was 4 and we had to be eating by 5 in order to make the 6 pm meeting.  I actually got up from dinner to move the last batch of wool to it last pot of fresh water, and carried the whole baby gate thing into the garage before hopping in the car with the boys for the 4H meeting.  On the way home we got the lace, and as I was too tired to think clearly, we got elastic thread, and ribbon and various other things I can use but did not plan on buying. 

It is now 8:30 and I still have to make carrot jam.  I started it so it must be done.  It does not set and does not set and does not set.  When it finally does set there is so little liquid left, I did not feel it was safe to can, so I added a cup of sugar and a cup of water and start boiling again.  It set.  It is 11:30 before I find the bed.

I have 6# of washed wool - drying the rest of the way in the driveway.
I have all the old diaper still (oops) on the line but the sun bleaching will help.
I have 5 1/2 jars of beautiful pink apple jelly.
I have 10 1/2 jars of apple butter.
I have 6 1/2 jars of carrot jam or perhaps marmalade might be a better term.
I have the lace. 

Today's plan, straighten house including mopping and vacuuming, fold laundry, find battery charger for camera, study for class and knit.  I think I'll have the girl's paint and glue then give them a long bath.  I will not make jelly!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Projects for Butterfly

I have started working on some projects for Butterfly's Birthday, other than the sweater of rainbow doom.  I am making her a sewing kit, a bag with snap tape closure (yes I started it as a knitting bag for myself,) but I had not finished it, so I added the closure and a handle. I gathered some embroidery floss, and yarn, some plastic canvas shapes and a small hoop.   I found a plastic yarn needle and a embroidery one.  I sewed her a sewing case from scraps of other projects and knit and felted a heart to hold the needles.  I want to find a small pair of snips and tuck some fabric in yet. 

I also made her a skirt from bit of this and that laying around.  The fabric in the bottom picture was a failed attempt at lining the Moses basket we used for her.  I have taken it apart and added a bottom layer to the skirt.  I can't wait for her to see it, but I have to wait, and so do you.

A bit of this and a bit of that.

What I found during a stroll in the garden.  That is 3.8 pounds of red tomatoes and 2.8 pounds of yellow cherry and pear type tomatoes.  The yellow ones are yummy and interesting but I wish I had planted some red cherry ones.  The girls are my tomato eaters and they are complaining. 

I made the Roma style tomatoes into tomato paste, or at least what I am calling tomato paste.  I roasted them in oil, thyme, salt and pepper, cooked them slowly until no liquid was left then let them cool and ran them through a food processor.  I did the same in batches to about half the yellow tomatoes, too.  My kitchen smelled so good. 

I did similar to the other style red tomatoes, but as I wanted sauce, I added garlic, red onions from the garden and oregano.  I also loaded the pan and did not cook them until there was no liquid left.  I now have 10 cubes of yellow  and 12 cubes of red tomato paste and three bags of sauce in the freezer!

 On another note, I got to thinking more about my crafting plans for birthdays and Christmas after the panic subsided. I have not been using my studio for about three months.  Partially, because it was getting on to messy the last time I used it.  Partially, because the last time I used it was a full out panic I waited too long and now it is dig, burrow, toss, drop, grab crafting session time. Partially, because during that last session, both sewing machine revolted and no amount of disassemble or swearing in any language could make them work.  And lastly because mess gathers mess, so in not using it for a few months it had gotten so bad that every time I opened the door I shut it fast. I actually left my machines disassembled under the piles of stuff. 

I waded in expecting to never return... or at least for it to take days.  In about 4 hours I had my studio back and found that reassembling the machine produced working perfectly machines, no swearing required. 

It is not yet the model of organization and efficiency that I dream of but it is ready for work.  I should have taken before and after photos, but I left the garbage can in so you can get an idea.

I turned around and spent a day sewing in it already and made some items for Butterfly's birthday which I will show in another post.  I now feel like the room is full of potential and energy and so am I.

Hope you do something that inspires you today. - Julia

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Christmas planning.

It is coming.  It is sneaking up on us.  Right now it feels so far away, while we sit in tank tops and sandals, but the chill has started.  Sweaters and tights are waking from their long summer sleep.  Christmas is coming. Yule, the season of joy or is that stress...

So the planning much begin.  Well, really I have been thinking about what I want to make for everyone for a while now.  It is just so much more real with a list, when I saw Emily's post at Today, I am... with her list of craft Christmas plans, I decided to post mine too.

Jim - no clue. He doesn't wear sweaters or a scarf.
Beaver - Pj Pants
Mouse -  Night shirts
Butterfly - sewn skirts and a knit dress
Badger - Nighties and sewn skirts. 

I feel stuck already, man this is hard...  I will make some pillowcases for everyone too and doll clothes for the girls.  Part of the problem is I am knitting everyone a sweater for their birthday (yep that's three sweaters to go before Christmas presents. 

Easier ones: (I hope)

Jess - Knit scarf in weird yarn I bought at the fair
Resee - you read this so I am not telling
Becca -
Miya -
Mom - Slippers?
Dad -
Jimsr -
Tina -
Michele -
Jeff -
Jake -

ok so much for easy.  Panic is setting in... I must get on this. So thanks Emily for showing me I was really behind. Racing off to talk to adviser about canceled class and then to clean my studio for marathon crafting.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What is cooking

 Thought I would do a little post about some of the things I have been cooking lately.   I have been playing around in the kitchen a bit and enjoying myself.

First we have the dreaded mutant Dora cake.  I was up late coloring that marshmallow fondant and ended up working upside down and at a diagonal.  If you had seen it from that direction, it would look more like...   well Dora.  Badger's only comment was "I wanted a bigger Boots!"

 These two are the chocolate cakes I made on her actual birthday night.  We ate one that night and the other as a after the first day of school treat.  I baked box cake mix cakes, then cut out a paper snowflake, placed it on top and dusted with powdered sugar.  Voila!  Pretty decorated cake, no fuss, no thick frosting.  Not exactly health food but...  I like it and the kids thought it was neat. 
 I can't imagine wanting the Mutant in place of the sugar dusted cakes!

 This is the start of homemade granola.  In the bowl is oatmeal, wheat bran and coconut.  I mixed them all up, spread them out of a cookie sheet and baked slowed at a low temp until they looked browner and smelled yummy. I let them cool a bit, and then...

 I melted some butter and raw honey and mixed that in.  I spread it out on the cookie sheet again and baked it some more.  Soon I have tasty granola.
 Then I decided to make roasted tomato sauce.  On the tray are 2.5 lbs of tomatoes from the garden, A carrot, an onion, 5 cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, oil and balsamic vinegar. 
After roasting goodness, I tossed in the food processor.  Very good sauce it made about a quart. 

Hope you are having a tasty day! - Julia