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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls

😉 – Would I know?

(Seriously this is my favorite song right now. just click the link, it’ll open and play in a new window. Oh and get tissues.)

I got the best belated birthday box yesterday and it came with an awesome and totally unexpected and overdue surprise. Seems my gift was arriving at the same time as hers. Ms. Marti and I have been blogger buddies pretty much since I started and every once in awhile we ship little boxes off to each other (I have one halfway full for her at the moment) I have watched her get married, buy a house and move all the way across the country and now she and her Mounty have welcomed a little girl. So how floored was I that she though of me in the midst of this dreary winter and her uber long pregnancy! 

New purse and minibag – minibag comes with stitchmarkers!!!

new-purse1new-mini-bagzipper-with-stitchmarkers

I am making a purse from this!!!! 

knitting-chickens-fabric

and something wonderful from this

lang-tosca

and I cannot stop wearing this.

cinnamon-and-spice-love-tammy-new-hat-love

Maybe its the impending arrival of spring, maybe the impending arrival of my 13th wedding anniversary, maybe the impending arrival of 4 babies (well 3 now, one is already here ) in my life in the next 5 months, maybe the one-car crunch in our home this winter that has had us spending much more time together and appreciating the little things, but I’m like, stupidly in love right now – with everything. I’m just happy. happy happy. I hope you are able to find some of that this year cuz man, its awesome!

 I am the luckiest.

Toots

till my arms fall off

😉 – I want to hug ya

New Pattern!

Gail is just one of the most generous persons I’ve ever met and recently she gifted me with 3 lovely skeins of her own hand-dyed handspun yarn just because I helped her carry some boxes from her car. So, I made a little something for her as a thank you and now I’m sharing it with you.

Hugs for Gail

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Enjoy!

Toots

A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere

😉 – And I cannot guess what we’ll discover

(Dude, watch the video. I so totally want to make the ripple afghan on the keyboard!)

Guidelines:
1) Link to Green Meme Bloggers
2) Link back to whoever tagged you. 
3) Include meme number
4) Include these guidelines in your post
5) Tag 3 other green bloggers.
Green Meme #2
1. Do you use baking soda toothpaste or baking soda shampoo? If not, would you consider it?
Actually I used to. When my Dad’s youngest sister – read: totally cool, hottest chick I’d ever know, totally wanted to be her for years! – was dating a dentist he got her to brush with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. She did it so…I did it. But man it was SO gross!!!! My kids would never brush their teeth if we did that, and I think Patrick would rather eat sand. Instead we use Tom’s and I’m looking into making my own soaps and shampoos next year, growing stuff in the garden and searching out local suppliers for the stuff I can’t make for myself. But I really like the soap we use now.

2. Do you make any home cleaning products?
That’s also on the list for next year. For awhile a couple years back we made our own laundry detergent and I’d like to get back to that, and I’m making some dryerballs for when we’re not using the clothesline. I made my own swiffer covers – we have all hardwood and linoleom floors – no vaccuuming 🙂

3. What is your top green issue at the moment?
um. Oil dependance, I think. We have to do more. And I’m sorry but the fact that installing a solar set-up will cost 30K after all the rebates and tax breaks is RIDICULOUS!! The gov’t should be begging us to build them.
4. Given unlimited cash, what is on your fantasy green wishlist?
Geothermal, solar, green home on an awesomely cool  – read: tourists come check it out! – completely sustainable fiber farm.
5. Have you implemented any new green act/behaviour/product this month?
Well nothing totally new but we really started using the timer dial on our oil burner in November. The Hubby wrote about it here. I love this thing – I don’t think my Mom does. Our heat is not ON. Those of you who have rads/radiators/radient heat served up by piping hot water or steam up into your house know just how much oil you can burn through just keeping that tank warm so its on standby for when you want heat or hot water. Well, ours is tankless but it is OFF most of the time and I just turn it on when we need it. We seem to average 2 times a day for 1 hour each time, instead of what we used to have whicj was the oil kicking on once every our or so. Now I crank the dial once in the morning to heat up the house (When I wake up at 5:30 its around 54 F) and provide hot water for showers and in the afternoons when I get home with the girls, hot water for dishes, showers, and to warm up the house a bit. Sounds like we’re shower freaks :0 And even when we heat the house I’m not talking about 75 degrees, we live quite comfortably at about 60-65. Sweaters and socks will do wonderful things for body heat, wonderful, homemade, wooly sweaters and socks. Oh and we’re still using the same tank of oil that we bought in April!
I’m not tagging anyone, participate if you wish, I’m sorta doing this as a way to keep myself on track. I think.
Also I was nominated for  a Tree of Happiness Award!
Thanks Kittyboo.
tree_of_happiness_award_thumbnail
The rules of this award are:
1. Link to the person who gave the award to you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. List six things that make you happy.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the person who awarded you, know when your entry is up.

One: Quiet reading time. Now that Saebra is really reading on her own, today she likes this, the girls have 15-30 minutes each night before bedtime to read, alone, to each other, to me. It great and it has slowed down the madness and almost completely ended the chaos and mess that bedtime used to be.

Two:The alone time. Have I mentioned this yet 😉 . Time that is just for me with no one else. Patrick worked third shift for the first 6 years of our marriage, he switched to days after Saebra was born. I used to think that my sometimes short temper and freak outs came from our family expanding from 2-4 in only 18 months but it wasn’t until last year that I realized it was the quiet, alone time that I was missing.  I am NOT a solitary creature but I love my occasional – oh who am I kidding, daily – solitude.

Three: My husband’s sense of humour. That man can make anything funny, at least to me. I laugh everyday with him. Saebra says that as long as he keeps me laughing then I won’t have to divorce him. Funny how kids can boil the whole thing down, huh. But, if he did stop making me laugh would I really HAVE to file for divorce? Who would enforce that?

Four: A few good friends. Friends that will come hang out at my house while I do dishes and make scrumptious goodies. Friends that I can call on short notice and know that they are there for me. Friends that I can go hang out with and let the kids battle it out while we laugh. Friends that know they can call on me when they are stuck or add me to their emergency contact list. Friends that give great hugs, that like to go to the movies (or watch them at home:) ), that also bake scrumptios goodies, that are just good friends. Thanks ladies, you know who you are.

Five: My kids. My girls. They are the best things I’ve ever made.

Six: Music. It has always been important to me. My Dad was a musician, Mom sang me to sleep, I sang in high school and after for a bit, at friends weddings,I belt it out in the car, sang the kids to sleep, i like music. I have pretty eclectic taste, there is almost always music in our house – even more so now that we don’t have tv. Way back in pre-baby days we bought a stereo system that included what was the late 90’s equivalent to and i-pod shuffle, the 51 disc CD changer. We still have it and its fully loaded. If I don’t have stuff playing on the computer then I just turn the stereo on – hours and hours (well, days really) of music. I like something with a great bass line that makes me want to dance, I was into house music for awhile, I still like it for long car trips. I like big band – love Sinatra, New Wave, everything really. I’ll try it all once. Its part of why each of my posts starts with music. The titles are lyrics from something i’ve listened to that day and if you click on the wink, or that second line of lyrics, you can go and listen to whatever it was that got stuck in my head that day. Who knows, you might find something new that you like, and that makes me happy too.

I tag…

Marti

Ellen

Olivia

Sarah

Carina

Melissa

Maybe you lot could do the Greene Meme too, but ya don’t hasta do either – I’m just adding to your traffic stats :).

Toots

But my heart is still unknown

😉 – Now inches from the water, about to disappear

My week started off in a wonderful place. 

Patrick has had Mondays off all month and we’ve been able to spend some nice days in each others company. This week we took a slight road trip north for goodies.

See, Kristin mentioned awhile back that she and The Farmer had this amazing old abandoned apple orchard on their farm, then she went and said that if anybody wanted to come pick apples they could! We don’t live all that far away and I’ve been trying for 2 years to get together with her, so we decided we would go make a morning of it!

It was one of those great blustery autumn days with really warm sunny patches and cool breezy patches – just a beautiful day. We got there around 11, said hi to Kristin, the Farmer, lovely neighbors, the dogs, chickens, mamma sheep and their fall lambs, the guinea fowl and the orchard – oh that orchard.

They are the wildest apple trees, there is such life and a magic about them, all tangled together, gnarled, broken, canted, wild, rose covered – you should see al the little cuts on my hands and all the little thorns I pulled out that afternoon 🙂 – and quiet, so quiet but alive with sound at the same time. I remember days like that as a child spent wandering the hills behind my grandparents place and spending hours without hearing human sounds. I loved every minute of it!

After an hour or so of picking we were at hauling capacity for our little station wagon and we headed back up to the house for a bit. Kristin showed us around, introducing us to the reasons for patricks newest blog posts, showing us her studio, piles of works in progress and recently returned test knits for her latest book-in-progress. Truly amazing stuff. She also gifted me with a nice little stack of postcards of some of her pictures and paintings – she has them for sale on her site scroll down a bit.

The apples were hard to get to in places and we only explored and picked in a very small portion of those 4000 trees. Most of the fruits are very high in the trees now – one of the reasons comercial orchards prune their trees is ease of picking – but we had a wonderful time and filled a huge bin with a falls worth of cider fodder! This weekend, when Patrick isn’t working on his sugar shack, we’ll be grinding and pressing apples. 

The girls have 3 soccer games this weekend but I’m sure I can get them to help me wash the apples inbetween. I can’t wait for that fresh cider!

Thank you Kristin!

Toots

all of our dreams would come true

😉 – what else can a poor boy do

I feel like Quasimodo, or Sloth or John Merrick.

I’m slogging through a nasty first cold of the season. The kids both had it two weeks ago and Patrick had it last weekend. I’ve had it for 3 days and today is the worst so far. I’m achy to the point where my body feels strangey proportioned, totally congested, I can’t breathe through my nose and find myself slurping occasionally to keep myself from drooling – hence the above mentioned names.

Patrick went grocery shopping last night and I told him to bring me home a whole chicken so I could make soup today. I started it this morning and then, knowing that my FIL was on his way out here today to help Patrick with the construction of the new sugar shack, my MIL called and offered to send lots of freezer goodies including soups!! Yeah! I live on soup when I’m sick and nobody else in the house really likes it so its all mine. She also sent a couple roaster chickens from the grocery store – now I don’t have to cook dinner. love my MIL!

In my couch bound lasstitude I’m working on projects for my crochet 1 class. I keep all my goodies for the class in a little suitcase. See, examples of all the finished class projects all laid in there so nicely.

This is the rest of the stuff that gets piled on top! HA! I’m not as organized as you think! ( that awesome little chicken stapler was a gift from Bonnie who was a student in my last session – isn’t it the best!!)

So back to finishing up my latest two-sided potholder/hot pad and I’ll probably start the scarf since its a longish project, but I also have a sweater vest I’m test knitting and my own scarf/shrug project to keep on keepin on with.

Ah the comfort of soup and fiber, makes a girl feel better. 

toots

Give me the grace to hold my line

😉 – there’s nothing to waste, it’s only light

Welcome to everyone traveling over from Susan B. Anderson‘s lovely site. Click on the winking smile for my musical inspiration of the day. C’mon in! The crazy is fine.

Some days I think, “Children be damned!”, I want to pull the bus over and grab my camera and live in happy-picture-taking-land. Alas, the schools, the parents, and the company I work for, I’m sure, wouldn’t be so keen on all that. I bet the kids would be fine with it though. “Sorry kids. You’re gonna be a little late to school today. There’s a leaf over there with really cool bug damage that I just need to snap a few pics of, and OH! is that a red tailed hawk!?! Hey look at ….”

Today I saw 5 separate flocks of wild turkeys with a wide range of ages from almost grown juveniles to mere chicks – poor littles are in for a tough fall. Its pretty impressive to see that many of these birds on my little 16 mile loop when you consider that they were almost completely wiped out in New England (the last known native bird in Massachusetts was killed on Mt. Tom in 1851) and only reintroduced in 1972.

Most of my bus route is pretty rural and I drive it 4 times a day but I get to see some pretty beautiful stuff. The only bummer is that everything is SO beautiful in the dawn/early morning light that trying to go back and capture it later in the day with my camera just isn’t the same. This morning there were dozens of spiderwebs all decked out in morning dew between the power lines over Knights Pond, the turkeys, a moose – if I happen to mention how absolutely huge these creatures are, in the case that I see another one, believe me! I drive a school bus and the things head was almost even with mine! 

So, no wild turkey pics but I do have lovely new yarn to show you!! See, I’m all about the mollifying.I have 3 Twilight inspired bits on the needles/hooks right now. Two are mine and one is a test knit. This:

is for a scarf and fingerless mitt set called “Reminder and a Promise”. SO yummy, the Shibui is to die for! I want to crawl into it. And the pearl cotton was a total steal at Webs – 10 little skeins for $3.50! 280yds for less than 5 bucks. I can’t wait to get this one out of final design tweaking and really get working with it.

Thats it for today. The Hubby is off to CT to pick up a load of bricks and cinderblocks to build the arch – essentially the oven – for the new in-progress sugar shack for 2009. That’s right a REAL sugar shack, not pallets and plastic wrap anymore! And we even have a name for it. Ready?

Occasional Creek Maple

*giggle*

Toots

New Moon on Monday

😉 – A smile that you can’t disguise

What a week. It has been “get it done!” central around here for the last 10 days or so, and I see no end in sight. Patrick has a post about our list of to do’s and we’re steadily chipping away, of course we keep adding to the damn thing as we go. – (check out my little orange visitor, he’s been hanging around outside my backdoor for almost a week, in a different place each day)

I’ve gotten piles done this week and I’ve had time to spend with friends – how did that happen? Hmm, maybe this list thing works.

I finished the twilight sock – I’ll be writing up the final pattern this week, I made a couple small projects – a washcloth and a crochet swiffer cover (no I’m not joking, Mom), I scrubbed the dining area – walls, floor, breakfast bar, I made curtains for 3 window and our closet which is now sans door for easier access and of course there are always projects for my classes. Phew, that’s a lot! I also managed to whip up a quick pair of earrings and post a tutorial for them.

Have I mentioned that? the tutorial thing? Hmm, well. A couple weeks back I got an e-mail asking me to be a contributor to Craft Tutorials and so far I’ve posted 2! I’m contemplating the next offering and I have several ideas swimming about in my head – I just have to settle on one. I’ll let you know each time I post for the next couple months but I expect you lot to bookmark or bloglines the site!! There is a bunch of great stuff over there and they could use the extra traffic! 🙂 So go already – enjoy!

Now I’m off to shop for a few things for Seab’s birthday. I’m making her a Mimzy bunny and a new backpack for her birthday and maybe a pigeon. Her party is next Saturday but i have almost 2 weeks till her birthday so I’ve a bit of time. I may also make Re a new bag, I try to do something for each of the girls on their sister’s birthdays.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Toots

Unusually hard to hold onto

😉 – ’cause you asked for it

Busy busy busy. I’m in the final edits of 3 different patterns that I hope to offer soon on Ravelry.

Yes. I know. They’re all black and you can’t see any detail. Thats OK. The detail part is on the back of the calf – Ill get to that (again).

I’m a jewelry making fool – there’s a tutorial for This over here. Make one for yourself or friends!

*Edit – Annie says I need to tell you that I wrote the tutorial 🙂

The girls and I headed out to the Springfield Science Museum with my Aunt and cousin yesterday. The girls had a great time and we managed to get out of the house on a miserable day. There were no huge fights, no one got lost and no one had a hissy fit – me included. I call that a successful day. We had a super lunch at Fitzwilly’s and headed home for a quiet evening.

We’re off to a game night extravaganza with friends tomorrow night – friends we haven’t seen since before Christmas! Yowza.

More crafting in the weeks to come.

toots