Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jack Frost Nipping At Your Nose

I have been enamored with frost for as long as I can remember. It is beautiful and peaceful, nature in stasis. I could stare at it all day. This morning I do not have to drive anywhere so I don't even hate it on my windshield. Instead i grabbed my camera and waltzed out in my slippers to take a few pictures and show you what I see as beautiful this morning.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Peter Pan Flies Again

Most of us have written a letter to Santa as children. Hopefully we all received presents under the tree from Santa and woke up to baskets from the Easter Bunny at the foot of our beds. But I wonder how many received letters from Peter Pan and Tinker Bell and woke up to presents magiced into our bedrooms from Neverland. I can say yes to all of these.

My friend Brie recently wrote on her blog about her love of Peter Pan and it reminded me of this unique present my grandma gave to me and my sister. The present that magic and fairies were possible. That Neverland might actually exist and if we really needed to escape it was there waiting for us.

When my sister and I first saw Peter Pan we were swept away by it and my grandma helped spur us on. I would receive letters in the mail written on flimsy tissue paper stationary. Peter Pan would tell me about his adventures in Neverland and how he came to visit me at night and watch over me. My sister would receive similar letters, except hers were signed by Tinker Bell. Sometimes I would wake up to find presents at my feet with a note from Peter Pan saying he had found something he wanted me to have. It might be a new book, or a pretty necklace, or some other thing I had been secretly wishing for. One time my sister woke up to see that Tinker Bell had visited her in the night and left a framed picture of herself that was all glittery like she had dusted it with pixy dust just before she left.

I think my grandma wanted us to believe. She wanted us to believe that anything was possible. She wanted us to believe that life was magical. She wanted us to believe that we could create a place where we would only grow as old as we want to.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spinning on Through

I have been absent, but busy. The biggest news is that I finally got my spinning wheel! I decided on a Kromski Fantasia unfinished and with a little guidance from Mark, finished it myself.  Mark insists on reminding me he did the first coat of linseed oil. Never mind it was followed by 5 more coats while he was galavanting about with his buddy on a 4-wheeler. Boys like to feel they are an indespensible part of your project if it includes construction of any sort I suppose.

I also painted the MDF with a hammered copper spray paint, along with a portion of the grass in the front yard. Who said a lawn doesn't appreciate a little adornment once in a while too?

After everything had ample time to dry I began assembling. I nearly cried when I discovered a very vital piece was missing. The crank that connects everything to the pedals so the wheel actually moves was nowhere to be found! I dumped all of the wrappings out of the package and filtered through them in case I had missed it, but no. Thankfully Paradise Fibers came to the rescue and quickly shipped the item to me though and while I was at knit night Mark put the last pieces together so it was waiting for me when I got home. I told you he likes to be helpful.

A week later I have already produced a few hundred yards of finished yarn, and that is not including what is waiting on my spindle. I will come back later with pictures of the first yarns produced by my little beauty soon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blackberry Adventures (the final installment)

I realized I never finished our journey de la blackberries.  The fourth way I bent the blackberries to my will was blackberry crisp!  I followed the recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (you can never go wrong with a classic).  Whenever a recipe calls for nutmeg and love to use the real stuff. It gives a great punch, or maybe I just like the excuse to use my mircroplane.

The blackberries were starting to get a little thin by this point, so they needed a little help from my other berry, the huckleberry. The mix of the two berries is amazing. Once the berries and flour were mixed they just need the crisp added on top and off to the oven they went.

The tasty result of their marriage....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Blackberry Adventures (Parts 2-3 of 4)

I decided to tell you these two Blackberry Adventures together since they are both types of preserving, just one preserves with liquor and the other preserves with pectin.  Both are good things.

There is nothing wrong with the good old standby of jamming.  It may not be fancy.  It may not require great skill or large amounts of time.  But I don't think any of us have ever been disappointed with the magic that occurs when fruit and sugar are combined.  Through in a little pectin and that perfect combo is preserved for years.  I usually make a traditional jam where you boil the sugar and fruit together before adding the pectin, but in light of the fact that I had 5 pounds of these gorgeous blackberries to process I opted for the easier and faster method...freezer jam.  I started by smashing the berries with a potato masher. 

Then I mixed them with sugar and freezer jam pectin.  Next you ladle the gooey goodness into your freezer safe containers.  Let it set up for about half an hour and pop them in the freezer.  They will keep there for a year, that is if you have to worry about such things around your house.

The other great preserving adventure is a first for me.  I found this super easy recipe for cordial.  You start by layering your sugar and blackberries in a quart jar.  Then you add your choice of vodka, rum, or brandy.  I opted for our left over White Christmas (a combo of rum and brandy) from making hot buttered rums last winter.  Fill the jar and wait for 2 months, shaking the jar every week to stir the ingredients.  How easy is that!

Stay tuned because there is one more blackberry adventure to come.  I would just like to say that 5 pounds of blackberries is a LOT.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blackberry Adventures (Part 1 of 4)

Hearing that loud motor whirring?  Is it...?  Could it be...?  Homemade ice cream for dinner!

That noise was always a welcome sound growing up because it meant Grandma was making ice cream for dinner.  My sister and I would fidget in anticipation of creamy sweetness and the twang of frozen peaches.  It was always the same recipe, handed down from my Grandpa's sister (my Great Aunt Merle) to my Grandma.  And it always had peaches in it.  Even to this day, Grandpa swears peach is the best.  When I make it and use different fruit (strawberries, huckleberries, or any other I feel like trying) Grandpa still enjoys it.  It's still the best darn homemade ice cream ever, that could only be better if it was peach (so says Grandpa).  It is the best darn homemade ice cream ever, no matter which two cups of fruit you choose to throw it (so says me).  I will never use another ice cream recipe, but I will always experiment with it, adding chocolate, mint, or even BLACKBERRIES.

Mark and I kept the time honored tradition I grew up with when it came to homemade ice cream.  If you are going to bother, you shouldn't bother eating anything else.  Sometimes between the four of us (Grandma, Grandpa, Summer, and I) we would nearly finish off the entire 5 quarts Grandma made.  That might mean we all had to take one for the team and have a two bowls, but it was never so pleasurable to sacrifice yourself.  Mark was such a good sport to keep up tradition.  I am sure it was hard on him. 

So two bowls each for dinner while I thanked the Lord above that I am not lactose intollerant!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Exploring Greenbluff

The main reason we went to Greenbluff was because I have been majorly jonesing for some blackberries.  They are one of my absolute favorite berries/fruit.  Huckleberries are the only ones that beat them out in my book.  We tried growing some last year, but I was honestly a bit neglectful and they didn't make it.  We need to try again though.

As long as you we were going to head that way to treat my blackberry fever, we figured we might as well do some exploring on the way.  First stop was that Two Sisters Boutique, owned by the same sisters that own the Super Suris Alpaca Ranch next door.  I received some alpaca lessons while I was there, namely that there are two alpaca breeds: colca and suri.  This was news to me.  The colca breed are the ones most of us have seen with super curly fur.  However, this ranch breeds Suri alpacas that apparently make up only 10% of the alpaca population and they look like that are sporting long dreadlocks.  I would have snagged some pics to share the dreadlock love, but they were all recently sheared.  Bummer.  However, I did gain a gorgeous and butter soft skein of Baby Suri fingering weight yarn in a barber pole ply of the natural black and natural brown from her animals.  Seriously.  I wish you could feel this stuff.  Amazing.

After that we mostly enjoyed the views and did a little browsing at all the cute little harvest shops all over on the bluff.

Then we were on the real reason we were there.  Blackberries!

Once we got home I began tackling all 5 pounds of blackberries.  I think I will save those adventures for future posts though.  Maybe a series of blackberry adventures. 

I hope your labor day was as soft, sweet, and juicy as mine!