Double rainbow all the way across the sky!

;) – OMG! OMG! OMG!

It started here.

Then the kids heard this.

Saebra decided she wanted a Double Rainbow Birthday. So, she got one.

We spent a week making a batch of ice cream each night, coloring it in sequence, and freezing it a spring-form pan. The whole thing was set on a crushed Oreo base.

Then we made rainbow cupcakes. A double cake recipe split into 6 portions, each colored and then spooned into cupcake papers in sequence.

The kids had a basket full of rainbow balloons to play with, faux tie-dying with markers and balsa wood gliders to toss into the sky.

She got lots of great gifts but my favorite is the dress that my sister made. She used a simple tank top and added a skirt, but what a skirt! Its made from this awesome rainbow fabric that she’s had in her stash for 15 years – I’ll try and get a pic of the girl wearing it :)

What did we get? One Happy Kid!

Happy 8th birthday baby-girl :)

Toots

Beneath the sheltering sky

;) – With their cups still full of sand

This is the first year we’ve really had a rockin garden. We had high hopes for our tomatoes-only approach last year and then late blight set in and we lost everything pretty quick.

This year we tried raised beds and a decent variety of plants and we’ve been happily surprised at the bounty of our 16, 36x18inch beds. The snap peas were a little late and thin but but delicious, the radishes were amazing, the beans were picked clean and have just decided to flower again so we’ll have a second, and completely unexpected, harvest.

(garden picks from the morning of 8/14/10)

The first bed of tomatoes started to ripen last week and we planted in 3 groups so we should have fresh tomatoes through to the first frosts. Carrots and beets are all just about ready to be pulled – some already have been and were declared super yummy. We’ve had lettuces, swiss chard, small onions and japanese eggplants for a couple months along with the summer squash that have just expired. Our potato plants look like they’re waning and the butternuts are slowly turning peachy. Also, there are cucumbers.

(photo from June 2010 – taken by our friend,Kimberly Fletcher Gendreau)

All of this has made me amazingly happy and completely frustrated. I have two daughters and while they are pretty good about eating whatever I set on the table for dinner they are less than enthusiastic about a whole meal of just vegetables. Then there is the husband.  The joke in the family is that,  “If its green, he won’t eat it, unless its Jell-O!” Although he is just as excited by the yield of our plantings I sometimes have to be creative and conservative with the amount of veg in the meal.

So what is a girl to do with all this produce? Pickles and Preserves!

I have a garage full of canning jars and it was time to put them to use. This past weekend I put up 36 jars of pickles and 2 jars of tomato sauce.

I finally picked up my copy of Put ‘Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton and what a fantastic copy it is! Pickles, preserves, freezing and drying all kinds of fresh from the garden and wild find foods. Apple butter, pickled asparagus, lemon curd, leather britches, fruit leathers and so much more. She has put together a book that is not only full of great recipes and adaptable at that!,  but gives you what other books usually lack, the “Why”. Not only why you need to follow the rules but why you should preserve you own food.

I’ve also been following a few foodies this summer, most notably Eating From the Ground Up and Local Kitchen. I love reading posts from creative woman who not only care about feeding their families but that the process should be enjoyable, adventurous and in the end, delicious. Also, it doesn’t hurt that they both take great photographs :) This post about pickles is what really got me going and I can’t seem to stop. What do I have that I can pickle?

Cucumbers? obviously. Summer squash? Why not, I watched my sister do it a few weeks ago and tasted the amazing results hours later. Beet Stems? whacka-whacka-what?! You heard me, beet stems. Dude, you can pickle anything.

Dilly sandwich slices, Saffron Summer squash and Sweet Fennel beet stems.

So, go forth! Raid your garden, the farmer’s market, and your CSA share. Get you some vinegar, some spices, some basic canning supplies (or fancy ones), a good recipe and method book(hint* – see above) and try your hand. I think you’ll be surprised and your taste buds will be happy.

I’m planning some Dilly Beans from that impending second bean crop, maybe some more watermelon rind pickles and lots more cans of tomatoes for the depths of winter.

Toots

Dig it like a shovel

;) – I’m the lyrical Jesse James

Its lunch time, I’m hungry and the Hubby isn’t going to go grocery shopping till tonight. What to do?

Make soup.

2 minutes in the garden =

12 snap peas, 1 young onion, 1 small japanese eggplant, 4 large swiss chard leaves, a sprig of oregano.

Saute bulb of onion, eggplant and chard stalks in local, organic butter till soft.  Add chopped snap peas, chard leaves, chopped oregano and a splash of Long Trail Double Bag. Bring to a quick simmer. Add 1 cup chicken stock, 1/2 cup milk or half and half, chopped onion greens and salt and pepper to taste. Bring it all back to a simmer then enjoy!

The only thing that would make this the perfect lunch would be a slab of fresh baked bread but I haven’t gotten that far today. Soup and beer it is.

Lunchtime reading? Popular Mechanics - Energyland: The race to cheap, sustainable power. by Elizabeth Svoboda.

Toots

The smile on your face I live only to see

;) – Lay here and watch the trees sway

How to have my Tuesday in 7 simple steps.

1:Wrangle with your insurance company and that of the other party involved over the fault of the rear-ending that you experienced 5 months ago and finally get them to come to the conclusion that it WAS NOT your fault and that you can now get your car fixed.

2:Drop your car off at the body shop which also has a rental place and drive off in a spiffy PT Cruiser.

3: Get a job teaching at WEBS so you meet awesome people who will bring you fresh Hadley Grass from their garden for NO reason, out of the blue, while you are happiily crocheting away at Drop-in.  Thank you Joyce!! ;)

marinatin' aspargus

4: When you get home from work with the kids marinate the asparagus with some chives and oregano from your garden and a bit of the real balsamic vinegar that your sister brought snuck back from Italy almost 2 years ago that you totally hoard.

5: Fire up the grill and get it ready for some steaks and the super yummy asparagus.

a broken door

6: Counsel, comfort and bandage your almost 7 year-old after she shatters the glass on your garage side door and scares the SH!T out of herself, her sister and you. (Breathe a sigh of relief when you clean up the Van Gogh worthy amounts of blood from the side of her face and ear and you only find superficial cuts. *sigh*)

sidewalk of glass

7: Clean it all up and be ready to sit down to a delicious meal just as the hubby pulls in.

grilled cow and hadley grass

You could probably get away with steps 4, 5 and 7, or you could make up your own, but that would be simple and easy. The best things in life are more enjoyable if you toss in some drama, and a full belly.

a belly so full 

SO full.

and no, that is not some secret allusion to me being pregnant, I’m just super full of asparagus.

Toots

Hold your breath, make a wish

Count to three

canning-fixins

The kids have been watching this movie like crazycakes the past month, not that I mind, I would rather spend hours with Gene Wilder than 10 minutes with Hannah Montana.

jars-of-jam-on-the-boil

I bring up Willy Wonka because the name came up twice in my life this week.

First: We made jam on Sunday. I had gone to the Twist Fair on Saturday with Melissa, Kristen and her amazingly well behaved (you put me to shame) daughter and Rue and we had a lovely time, and a lovely lunch at which I mentioned wanting to go home and make violet jam, I have mentioned this in past years. Melissa loved the idea and demanded the “receipt!” Oh the calm repose and patience that woman has ;) Then I went back to Twist with Annie and had a second loverly time. I ended up with not a lot of loot but good loot. I bought some super cute hair clips from Tina, got a beautiful necklace from Malea – I’ll shows you later, soap and lotion from Bunny Butt and I ran into all sorts of people I know and love. Now, if  I could just get off my ass a little more and make some stuff I could maybe vend at one.

jar-of-violet-jam

Oh the Willy Wonka thing, right, its because Violet Jam is an insane color and Saebra commented that it looked like a candy that Willy would make.

open-jar-of-violet-jam

Second: My friend Matt picked cahsews this week, he’s in El Salvador with the Peace Corps for the next 2 years. He and his host brother went out to pick cashews and he’d never realized they came attached to fruits. He said,  “…looks like something from Willy Wonka’s health food store.” Unfortunatly they don’t taste so good. And for those of you that followed his link, please ignore the mustache. Somewhere under there is the cutest boy in the world, I swear.

dollop-of-violet-jam1

So what do you do with electric purple jam? you eat it of course! and it is delicious. Melissa says it tastes like spring and she is so totally right.

violet-breakfast

If you’d like the recipe, here you go:

Violet Jam – referred to by my husband as his brothers as violent jam

Makes  12, 4oz jars

3 C violet blossoms                                5 C sugar

Violet Jam – referred to by my husband as his brothers as violent jam
Makes 70oz (my notes say 12, 4oz jars, his says 70 oz, hmmm)
3 C violet blossoms                                5 C sugar
3 C water                                              2 – 1.75oz packets of powdered pectin
2 tsp lime juice
Clean blossoms and toss in blender with 1 1/2 C water and 1 C sugar blend till there are no visible blossoms. Add remaining sugar and lime juice and pulse till mixed. In a medium saucepan over med heat bring remaining water and pectin to a boil and let boil for one minute. Remove pan from heat and pour violet mixture in to pectin, stir to fully incorporate and pour into prepared jars.
Refrigerate and use once cool and set. Will keep in fridge for 4-6 weeks. May be stored in the freezer indefinitely.

3 C water                                        2 – 1.75oz packets of powdered pectin

2 tsp lime juice

Clean blossoms and toss in blender with 1 1/2 C water and 1 C sugar blend till there are no visible blossoms. Add remaining sugar and lime juice and pulse till mixed. In a medium saucepan over med heat bring remaining water and pectin to a boil and let boil for one minute. Remove pan from heat and pour violet mixture in to pectin, stir to fully incorporate and pour into prepared jars.
Refrigerate and use once cool and set. Will keep in fridge for 4-6 weeks. May be stored in the freezer indefinitely.
Just be careful if you do a waterbath for longer storage. Sometimes there are casualties.
broken-jar-of-violet-jam
Toots

How can I hold the part of me that only you can carry

;) – I will not take these things for granted

The girls got new bikes last week from their Uncle Kevin and Auntie Jamie. Today we put their old bikes out by the road so some other lucky little kid could have a new bike. Saebra has a very hard time letting go.

saebra-missing-her-old-bike-1

She’s alright. We talked about how special she felt when she got her new bike and how special the child that gets her old bike is going to feel. Then she got to go get ice cream, its all good.

Our neighbor dropped by this morning and asked if we liked fish. Um, yes. Her nephew had gone fishing on Friday and bagged a bunch of trout, she wasn’t really interested in it but would we like some. Um, yes.

2-river-trout

river-trout-scales-and-herbs-1

And oh was it good! Saeb ate half a fish all be herself. Marinated all day in olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, hot pepper flakes, terragon, dill and ginger, wrapped in a few bacon slices, wrapped up in foil and grilled to perfection. I’d show you whats left but skin and bones is just not attractive.

potholder-edges

Today I also finished my 12 potholders. Here is my prototype and the one that Melissa picked out, its her fault I’m doing this swap, she told me about it. oh, shiny pretty swap…

my-prototype-and-melissas-potholder

The swap is only for 5 but I have 6 other people to whom I promised handmade goodies so I figured that if I was going to dive into potholder mayhem I might as well go whole hog. The pattern is my own based on something I saw on Ravelry that had no available pattern. Maybe I’ll write it up. Would you want me to?

This is what I started with

potholder-yarn-and-prototype

This is what I finished with – minus Malea‘s, she got hers yesterday :)

dark-green-edge-potholders-frontapple-green-edge-potholders-frontpale-green-edge-potholders-front

dark-green-edge-potholders-backapple-green-edge-potholders-backpale-green-edge-potholders-back

Tomorrow I’ll go back to finishing a tank and neckwarmer that are promised to other folks and contemplating some pattern ideas rattling around in my noggin.

Oh and some serious thank-yous to Melissa, Grill-Master Gene and all the ladies at the chocolate party yesterday. I had a grand time, my ribs still hurt. 

Toots

You grow up and learn that kinda thing aint right

;) – But while you were doin it-it sure felt outta sight

I have had SO MANY post in mind for you in the past 2 months and as the days go by and I move further from the initial idea of the post I find myself losing interest in it. Silly me. I also have had plenty of projects that I couldn’t post about because the recipients stop by here occasionally or because they are out for publication. What does that leave me with? Humdrum daily life, thats what,  and as exciting or interesting as that may be to me in the moment it doesn’t always translate so well for the blog. So I’ve decided to give you a bit of a pic heavy post with minimal details of recent completed projects and I’ll save the funny one for last, trust me.

Also, my blogiversary slipped by on March 1 and I know I talked about a contest but I just haven’t had the energy or attention for it. This summer we’ll do something fun. I have a collaboration project in the works and I’ll pull a little something from there for you. 

On to the pics!

powrie-buttonpowrie-front-rightmyceria-left-hand

 

 

 

This was a hat idea I cooked up last summer and as I made it in January a mitten idea snuck in. I’ll have more details soon, like when the pattern becomes available through WEBS!

grellow-hanging-detailwatermelon-skies-1watermelon-skies-4

 

 

 

I whipped up a granny scarf for myself, which has become a class for this summer, and I made this awesome silk cowl for my MiL. With some tweaking and a slight fiber change, this will also become a pattern for WEBS. She loves it :)

for-de-bebe-blanket-done-3x3for-de-bebe-carseat-bundleelizas-favour-birdie

 

 

 

My sister’s baby shower was Valentine’s weekend and I was working furiously to get everything done that I wanted to for her. This is The Wool Eater blanket by the lovely Sarah London – its a free patern! I worked it up in the colors of my new neice’s room, but my sister decided that at 3×3 it was the perfect out-and-about blanket. And lest you think I am the only crafty one… that little felt birdie was my sister’s gift to everyone that came to the shower. The night before we (me, sis, and her long-time friend Marissa) stitched up the ones she hadn’t finished yet and tied them onto little bags of color coordinated peanut m&ms, her pregnancy candy craving. 

chicken-asses-a-baby-mobilechicken-ass-blue-with-a-hearttwo-baby-kimonos

 

 

 

I was asked by my sister to make a chicken mobile and it took me a long time to figure it out. She and I have always had, what most girl children of the 80’s have, an affection for rainbows. Once I had that in mind I worked up the chickens and as I worked on them one day someone commented that I would damage my poor soon-to-be niece by making her look at chicken asses for the first years of her life. That’s when I decided to add the little shapes to their butts, this way its education chicken ass that she’s seeing.  This past fall I had found 2 great pillow cases and I just waited till I found the right pattern. Nothing is cuter than babies in kimonos, and yes, that is my homemade bias tape.

buerkshire-bulky-granny-squarespractice-patches-for-winter-09-crochet-1carrot-soup-and-pumpernickel-bread

 

 

 

I’ve been working on a block of the month crochet blanket, for another class and those colorful grannies are the fill-in squares, 12 blocks does not a blanket make. I also started the winter ’09 round of my Crochet 1 class and I spent an afternoon working up little practice patches for the students. Starting each student group with these has become the key to my success with that class. And somewhere in there I got sick and needed good food that was just for me. Homemade carrot soup and pumpernickel bread anyone? Oh it was so yummy.

test-motif-1test-motif-3test-motif-4-for-scale

 

 

 

I’ve been working up some miniature crochet motifs for a jewelry class this summer. Yeah, that is a dime. Even I can’t beleive I made these. 

The Hubby is out on a man-date tonight, watching the Watchmen with some friends, I saw it last night. 

um…. if you get this film and the GN, then I need not say anything to you because, well, you get it. If you don’t then I can’t help you. Seriously. 

Rorschach. oh boy. If ever there was a tempting, mysterious, broken man in comics/sci-fi that a comic geek-fan-girl would love to fix, for me, it would be you (the shadowy pre-teen echo that is left in me screams that I have to include Snake -Eyes here).

Ok, I’m off to finish watching seaon 4 of Spooks, thats MI:5 here in the States. Oh Adam Carter, would that I were an imaginary beatiful British spy girl and we could make beautiful British spy babies together. Woof.

Oh yeah, I promised funny, huh?

olivias-pincushion

The girls had schol friends over during winter break and Re decided to teach her friend how to embroider. Re has a little mushroom pincushion and said her friend would need a pin cushion. So I let her little friend pic our felt and I sewed one up for her. It wasn’t until I looked at it in pictures after she left that I saw its particulat resemblance to, well, a penis.

bad, bad, me

Toots

Gone now is the Willow Wren

;) – The leaves will fall to feed the ground, and in their falling, make no sound 

It  is Silent Poetry Day.

I was thinking about our maples and their winter nakedness and my recent birthday and my husband, love that man, and in my searching for a poem for today I found this. I love the last 3 lines. I can imagine the two of us there.

Bare Trees

Quietly falling, 
Painting winter’s captives
Bare trees sleep shimmering 
Beneath ice and mist.
In the frigid air your breath scrolls 
A pattern from gently spoken words 
The cold wind has kissed.
We follow the Trail 
Passed the sleeping orchard, 
Recounting old stories 
Like a well read book.
Your warm hand outstretched 
To help steady my step 
From faltering on
The frozen path we took.
The hour’s a guess, but it doesn’t matter.
So much to remember, too many years gone.
We’re like two bare trees, 
Dusted white, and laughing, 
Winter’s happy captives, content to walk on.

Maria Dalonas

Tonight we’ll be having oatmeal cookies and a glass of milk to honor St. Brigid

Toots

They keep trying to tell me all you want to do is use me

;) – Oh you just keep on using me until you use me up

We listen to lots of NPR around here. Mornings, afternoons, weekends, its a staple. So, imagine my surprise when this appreared in the ole inbox:

Hi!

I’m a producer for a public radio show,
and I’m contacting you because we might be interested in using one of the photographs of your cake on our website. Please email me, and I’ll tell you more about the show and the context in which we’d like to use the photo.

Thanks!
Jonathan Mitchell

Well, they used it.  For those of you unfamiliar with Weekend America it is unfortunate that this is your introduction since this weekend was the final show. You can access their archives and see what you’ve missed for the last 5 years, there is some awesome stuff over there.

The original pic is my little coconutty heart cake from last Valentine’s Day. You’ll see – here- it sitting on my washing machine. They dolled her up a little and gave her a velvet curtain. Enjoy.

 

(can I just say….awesome!!!!!)

Toots

Chasing the rainbows end

;) – I get my heart full here

Off to Dad’s for good eats that lead to groaningly full bellies. I successfully made stuffing turnips and 3 pies yesterday – no left over work for this morning, I’m quite proud of myself. I will leave you with a pic of the girls in the new aprons that AUntie Kari brought for them, they’ve worn them for 3 days!

girls-in-new-aprons

I’m going to go take a minute and appreciate just how lucky a girl I am.

Toots

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