All the way home I’ll be warm

;) Let it snow…

Please – snow would be nice.

My mother says I have to post something new because she is tired of looking at chicken lungs, which reminds me – I haven’t blogged in 4 months! WTH?

No deep bloggy updating today though, just a pic of my favorite part of our holiday so far. My youngest daughter spinning. Santa brought both of them a pound(!) of fiber and a Schacht drop spindle.

She says she’ll make enough for me to crochet or knit something for her. I won’t hold my breath :)

Breathe deep and enjoy the season my little chickadees! See you in the new year.

Toots

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

Drawing lines above my head

;) – But the fan keeps spinning over me

Life has been SO busy here the last few months, well its been busy for my hands. I have not been without a hook or needles in my hands in weeks, and there doesn’t seem to be an end to it anytime soon – not that I’m complaining.

potholder edges

I have a series of crochet workshops at WEBS this summer, plus a year long blanket class, my summer run of Crochet 1 and a 6 week tutoring session, and all the samples needed to be done by early May, to be put on display in the store, photographed for the website, and available so potential students could see what they’d be making. Then it was time to start on the samples for Fall classes!

potholder in 2 sizes

Somewhere in there my kids finished up school, I attended 2 baby showers – with gifts that HAD to be handmade, my sister’s 30th birthday party with her handmade gift, my 13th anniversary slipped by, I participated in a hotpad/potholder swap ( I needed 5 – I made 12), weekly trips to the farmers market started, we got to meet the 2 chickens that will come home with us sometime this month, jam making, pickle making and I was asked to take over the Friday afternoon drop-ins at WEBS

decorative discs

Just to see how high I could pile it, I wrote 2 patterns. This one from last week and one more. The potholders that I did up for that swap were my own creation, based on a inspiration pic I’ve had for a couple years, and now you can make your own. The pattern is up in my Etsy shop – have at it ;)

Toots

Don’t stop till you get enough!

;) – Lovely Where We’re At 

I’ve been makin’ coasters – and now you can too! you can buy the pattern or you can buy some of mine. Either way, stop by the Etsy shop to pick out your goodies!

green coaster set

I promise a return to actual, regular blogging in July. Be well my little chickadees!

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

Dip trip, flip fantasia

;) – With the razzle dazzle star I might be

Oh, Patrick and I just came in from a sap run and I’m cold. Not that its really cold out, maybe 40ish, bracing is perhaps a better word, and now I feel the cold leeching away from me in waves and I feel colder for it. I don’t feel warmth soaking in I feel the cold being absorbed away. Its a very strange feeling.

Today I got to the halfway point on the shawl collar of my sweater, I only have 10 more rows and then I can start the sleeves. I should be done by the end of March!

its-too-green-bottom-bind-off

A barter was proposed and accepted this morning at Webs. I will make this:

crochet-yellow-tank

in this yarn – Storm

maleas-yarn

and I will get some of this in return.

Oh holy carp how cool!!

I’ve also been working with tiny crochet and beads. See tiny…

tiny-grey-crochet

see beads…

winters-pearl-pendant

Toots