Friday, June 27, 2014

In my yard-en

Its a jungle out there!! We've been getting good rain these past few weeks and everything outside is growing non-stop. We added a new bed on the back corner of our lot. It does make mowing a little more difficult but we are hoping those boxwood and the rose-of-sharon will get large enough to provide a little bit of a break for the wind and snow that howls through the wind-tunnel that is the back side of our subdivision. It is nice to put things in the ground that we won't see reach their full potential. Most of the flowers and many of the shrubs are enjoying their fifth summer with us, so they are plenty full and will need dividing this fall, but the plants in the new bed will grow, grow, grow long after we are gone.

We are working on our second batch of sparrows in the nest box just outside the kitchen window. They peep all day long. The noise of the patio slider makes them pop up to the house hole but if I get close enough to get a picture, down they go. It took me days to get this bitty beak bump in my camera.

How does your garden grow?

{this moment} stormy skies

Thursday, June 26, 2014

This week in my kitchen

bone broth :: homemade pizza :: cooling cake :: dressed up cake :: parmesan meatballs :: gooseberries + blueberries + blackberries (all of which we grew here at home) = "home berry" jam :: ultimate nachos

I have decided to keep a log this summer of all the things that I manage to put up and store for the winter (top left sidebar). I have never made my own broth before but this past weekend, we cleaned the freezer and made an inventory of everything we had in there. There was no sense in having old pieces and parts that were waiting to be made into broth when I could just have the broth, so I took care of that this week.

I also had our friends' girls for a day and I told them we could bake something if they wanted. Their request? Chocolate + chocolate + berries. Despite the cake being beautiful, I was NOT happy with how either part turned out. The procedure was peculiar for both of them, and I ended up with sub-optimal results, despite having had great results with the cake recipe. Long story short, I will tweak and when it suits me, I will share the recipes.

Join me for the In My Kitchen Bloghop @ Beauty That Moves

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

{Yarn Along} Halfway there

My shawl is coming along nicely and, thanks to much World Cup soccer kind-of-watching (I don't knit during games that really matter, and I did see the bite, despite knitting), I am att he point in the pattern where I start the eyelets. Very exciting. This project has come along so quickly!

 I am reading this same book little bit by little bit. It seems there is just not much time for reading, perhaps that is why the knitting is coming along! 

On audio, I am listening to A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy. Have you read her books? This is my first one and I think I like it but I am struggling with the fact that I've only finished the first part and 30 years have gone by. The characters are just having a conversation and you think they are newly-weds and then someone says "for all these years," and then there is an 11-year-old!

I have also spent a bit of time in my Ball canning books, because I've been making jam! I really want to avoid store bought jam/jelly because it takes such a dent out of the weekly budget.  The brand we like (because it tastes homemade!) costs about $4 a jar and depending on what we eat in a week, we could eat a whole jar. I've got nine half pints put away for winter already - that's $36 saved!

What are you crafting and reading?  I'm joining Ginny and Frontier Dreams

Saturday, June 21, 2014

{Recipe} Very Berry

Ahh... one of my favorite things about sprimmer (this season we're in, you know): berries, berries, berries. Our blueberry bush gave us almost a full pint, our gooseberries are picked and waiting for a recipe, and our blackberries are giving us just enough for each of us to enjoy one or two, warm from the sun, each day.

It feels great to be so early in the season and already have jam put up for the winter months. This recipe made seven half pint jars. One was eaten within the week, one was taken to my mother-in-law, leaving me five trusty jars for January. This is a delicious jam so I definitely recommend making it now, while the fruit is in season.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam 
 From the Ball Blue Book

2 c. strawberries, very ripe, crushed
2 c. rhubarb, small diced
one package of commercial pectin
1/4 c. lemon juice
5 1/2 c. granulated sugar

1. Prepare jars, lids and canner in the usual way.
2. Put strawberries, rhubarb and lemon juice and pectin in a large saucepan, stirring well to combine.
3. Bring to boil over high heat. Depending on the liquid of your strawberries, you may be inclined to add a few tablespoons of water to help the process along.
4. Once boil has been achieved, add sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring back to a full boil.
5. Boil hard one minute, stirring constantly, in only one direction to lessen foaming.
6. Remove from heat and add a teaspoon of butter to help reduce the foam, stir, stir, stir.
7. Ladle jam in hot jars, wipe lids and affix screw rings.
8. Process in boiling water canner for ten minutes.

Use extreme caution when handling hot jars and hot jam. Attempt to resist the urge to eat it all immediately. It really will taste even better when snow is on the ground.

Options: If you wish, you can add a bit of grated ginger, some scented geranium or basil leaves to the pot while boiling, removing them before jarring the jam.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sweet Beulah Land

I'm kind of homesick for a country
to which I've never been before.
No sad goodbyes will there be spoken,
And time won't matter anymore
Beulah Land I'm longing for you,
and someday on thee I'll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
Beulah Land... Sweet Beulah Land
I'm looking now across that river
to where my faith is gonna end in sight.
Theres just a few more days to labor,
Then I'll take, my heavenly flight
Beulah Land I'm longing for you,
and someday on thee I'll stand.
There my home shall be eternal.
Beulah Land, Sweet Beulah Land

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Good Eats

the view from here :: breakfast for dinner :: homemade liquid hand soap, peppermint :: pound cake

I'm not one to try a new poundcake recipe. My late grandmother-in-law's recipe for a giant pound cake is perfect in every way, and named accordingly: Julian cake. On the other hand, my mother-in-law never met a poundcake recipe that didn't pique her interest and prior to being diagnosed with Celiac's, she had a three ring binder of magazine clippings that was, I am confident, 25% pound cake recipes. 

I wanted cake, needed a dessert to share with friends and was limited to a random assortment of ingredients I had on hand. To my Pinterest boards I went and I discovered this recipe, modified here from its original artificially-smiley-teeth-baring version. It was so wonderful. It is not dense like a pound cake you're familiar with, very fluffy, but still very.... poundy? Is that a word?

For more kitchen inspiration, join all of us at Beauty that Moves. 

Yarn Along, off kilter

We had an unexpected turn of events this past weekend that made for extensive car travel. Bad news for everyone involved, but good news for knitting progress. I had fussed at myself for starting this new project, Light and Up,  but it turned out well having something to keep my hands busy.

I also have a new book! I picked this up on a complete whim from the public library. I have only read the first two lines, but I like those, so it should be good and relaxing. Thistle and Twigg by Mary Saums is about two southern widows who meet and become the best of friends. But trouble is afoot! I'm looking forward to seeing how these two ladies' curiosities play out in this debut mystery (that must have been good because it is the first in a series).

I finished The Quickening and it was... okay. It ended ironically, I think. When I say "I think" I mean that not in an opinion kind of way but rather an "I'm not sure I knew what really happened kind of way." Again, if you like that kind of book, by all means, give it a whirl.

Joining Ginny and Frontier Dreams.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In the kitchen ... camp style

In case you missed last week's post, my "kitchen" was displaced for a few days this past week. We took a mini-vacation to Holly River State Park and had a wonderful time. We had planned to stay in the tent but the weather forecast was calling for damaging winds, hail and up to six inches of rain. We opted, understandably, for a cabin that first night. It was a luxury to have a real kitchen to cook in but it did mean that my menu got rearranged.

fried chicken breasts, spanish rice, and green salads :: apple crisp, prepped in aluminum pan for easy baking and clean-up :: iced tea with mint and lemon, made double strength for the trip, then mixed up table side (I do this with lemonade, too) :: fruit & yogurt parfaits make for an easy campsite breakfast :: nothing is an adventure without PB&J for the road :: we celebrated our safe return to camp with a stop in the restaurant - WONDERFUL strawberry rhubarb pie and blackberry cobbler :: whole wheat hearth bread a la cast iron :: smoked sausage and par-boiled potatoes with butter, prepped in an aluminum pan for easy fireside cooking :: a kettle for hot tea and cocoa, alongside our sawmill gravy (biscuits baked in the pan, too) :: a fried egg on top, to fuel our last day of adventures

It took a fair deal of prep work but I was very happy, when the time came to do the cooking, that I had made such plans. The fridge in the cabin was set too low, so my salad greens and my eggs froze and that changed menu options, too. We didn't starve, so it all came good in the end.

In closing, here are a few scenic shots of our trip.

Joining Heather.

{Yarn Along} Redwoods

I am happy as a lark that this shawl is coming along so nicely. What's that you say? There's but a smidgen of a shawl there? Well, yes, you are right. But that smidgen has come along nicely and I am anticipating great progress as I sit in the car service lobby, waiting to have the tires rotated this morning.

I wasn't planning on starting this project until summer because the hitch hiker was my spring knitting project and I was hoping to focus attention on getting other things finished, like this and this. It was easy to postpone because I didn't have the right sized needles, until my sister in law sends me five pairs of needles from her stash that were duplicates! Now I have a size 8 double points AND circular. Just what I needed.

Also, I am happy to report that this was my first project with a garter tab and I seemed to manage that OK. I opted to do a three stitch tab instead of the recommended two stitch tab so I had to fudge the number of stitches on my needle before starting the pattern, but it all came good in the end.

As for reading... I am currently listening to The Quickening by Michelle Hoover. I am almost finished with it but I still can't form a concrete thought about it. I obviously have been interested enough in the story to keep at it, but I'm not sure why. There heavy themes of marriages being "good" and "bad" and of men and the same. The story is told from the perspective of two neighboring farm women in the 1920's. It seems that all the bad things happen to good people and the bad people make out fine, only they have empty hearts because they lack a sound marriage. I do not recommend the book to anyone sensitive to miscarriage. I do recommend the book to anyone who enjoys dissecting literature for themes and meaning. The book was written by a college writing professor, and it does read a bit like a literature assignment and leaves one scratching one's head, looking for meaning. 

Joining Ginny

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Garden update...

I have a slug problem. Argh. They have never behaved this way before - the hosts remain untouched and yet as soon as a flower blossoms, it is slimed and munched. They've gotten the day lilies, the petunias and the pansies. Suggestions?

On a happier note - it's official! We've got our first little red tomato! I feel like everything in the yard has doubled in size in the blink of an eye. The cilantro and lettuce have bolted, but I'm keeping them on as "wildflowers."

It seems we are in the thick of our third round of blooms (daffodils and other bulbs being first, irises and peonies being second). The roses are up and going, along with speedwell, coreopsis, and the first of the asiatic lilies.

How does your garden grow?