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! 

Friday, September 3, 2010

You know that awesome tea I told you about last night?  She announced a giveaway today.  Check it out!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sip With Me

I am a tea lover.  There is no way around it.  I have my own little tea shop on a designated shelf in my cupboard.  That's right.  A whole shelf overflowing (seriously, sometimes it attacks you when you open the door) with delicious tea.  I have every type of tea and all kinds of flavors all waiting to complete the next cozy mug and join me on a knitting adventure.  There is a recent addition to the pack that I must introduce you to.  What makes these so special they deem their own mention?  First and foremost, they are hand blended numminess (hey my words).  Second, they are blended by the lady (and lovely one at that) behind Fall Creek Fibers, Brie.  She recently sent me a few samples to wet my taste buds on and I am loving them.  So far I have tried September (pumpkiny sweet and fall spicy) and Celebration (you have to love a tea with sprinkles in it).  By the way, check out the mug.  I got it on our Oregon Coast adventures in a little yarn shop in Manzanita.  Knitting IS sexy!

While I am sharing etsy goodness, check out these finds I have gathered over the week:

I am in love with this ring, and it has nothing to do with Taylor Swift having her own.

And this necklace makes me think of sweathearts twittering secrets to each other.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tickle Me Pickled

Join me on my first adventure into pickling.  I am fairly comfortable with canning on general principle, but have mostly kept myself limited to jams, salsa, chutneys, and spiced fruits.  Therefore, I chose to have my first foray into pickling be on the simple side and opted for a refrigerated dill pickle recipe as opposed to the full blown canned pickles.  My recipe came from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  It has served as my "canning bible" for several years now and has never let me down. 

This year we grew lemon cucumbers in the garden for the first time.  These are wonderful cucumbers that I had previously only enjoyed from the farmer's market.  They are great on sandwiches because they make a large round slice like a tomato and they are also great in salads.  They are so named because they are round and a pale yellow with small white markings/stripes.  I failed to take a picture of the lemon cucumbers before I attacked them with the mandoline, but here they are awaiting their brine bath.  The recipe called for 8 1/2 cups.  Thank heaven for mandolines!

While the brine was slowly bowling on the stove I placed dill seed, mustard seed and peppercorns in the mason jars.  The recipe had an optional ingredient of garlic cloves for this step, but I forgot my shopping list when I went to the grocery store and therefore forgot to get the garlic.  I reassured myself after I finished berating myself that the recipe did indeed state "optional" so they really can't be a deal breaker.  Right?  Guess we will find out.

Finally, all ingredients were ready to join the party.  The cucumbers have to marinate in the frig for at least two weeks before we can call them pickles and start munching.  There are then good to eat for 3 months.  I doubt they will last that long.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sock Nirvana

I did it! I knit my first pair of socks ever! While I have been knitting for years, I have always been intimidated to try socks.  I am not sure what I was a afraid of, though this pattern did not use the dreaded kitchener stitch, so I may still be in store for a sock horror.  The part I was always fearful of was turning the heel. When it came to the turn I just took a deep breath and followed the advise I give beginning knitters who shake when they think of venturing beyond the scarf...break the pattern down to one stitch at a time.  Don't try to figure out where you going or what all the stitches together are going to do, just trust the pattern (and yourself) and knit (or purl) one stitch at a time and let the magic happen.

Even while I was working I knew I was falling in love with socks.  They are portable, practical, great way to try new stitches, and they only use 100gr of yarn so you don't feel gulty splurging on yarn.  I have already started gathering or have been gifted some wonderful sock yarns that are lobbying to be the next pair of socks I knit.

Line up:  Ella Rae Lace Merino, Fall Creek Fibers Meadow Sock, Kollage Sock-a-licious, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock, Fall Creek Fibers Powder Mill Sock, Cascade Yarns Heritage, and Schoppel Wolle Crazy Zauberball

Friday, July 30, 2010

Oregon Coast Refreshment

Have I told you how much I love the Oregon Coast?  I am not sure there is a better place to relax, unwind, and watch a sunset.  So Mark and I were ecstatic to enjoy a well earned vacation that included one night in Portland (seriously one of my favorite cities) and five nights camping on the coast near Cannon Beach.  We imbibed in a few of the plethora of micro-breweries and wineries in Portland and along the coast, investigated some of the great gardens or Portland, enjoyed walking gorgeous beaches, watching breathtaking sunsets (really aren't they all in their own way), and sitting by the campfire.  It was the perfect break.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Photo review

In light of the fact that I have been MIA lately I thought it would be easiest to update with a little photo anthology of the last few weeks.  Between being gone nearly every weekend and trying to work my butt off (literally) for the Biggest Loser competition I feel like I am hardly home which equals to little to no time to blog.

First rose of the summer.

A chilly 4th of July.

A crazy storm while camping.

With the necessary campfire.

Gorgeous campsite views.

And very tired pups.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Garden Glory

I decided to try a few new things in the garden this year.  A few are not quite camera ready yet, those being the yellow watermelon, lemon cucumber, and a couple new varieties of tomato.  However, a few are ready for their close-ups full of promises for bigger and better prizes in the new future.


Red cabbage

Yellow bell pepper (tried green and red in the past, but not yellow- I promise it will turn yellow).