Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mountain Biking...

Let me just start by saying we have never been mountain biking, do not own mountain bikes and did not plan on going mountain biking... it just sort of happened.

What a wonderful adventure it was! We went to Cooper's Rock State Park and planned to bike the paved road for about three miles out and back and record the birds we saw, since the fall warbler migration is on. When we were driving in the truck, we kept seeing people on their bikes on the trails in the distance, and thought, "What the heck!"

So off we went on the roadside trail. Surely with a name like that, it can only be but so frightful. We followed the roadside trail for a little way to a pond. Then turned off onto another trail that was leading us down to a place we'd been before - we knew where we were going, no big deal. Two miles of straight downhill rocky path and we arrived at the Henry Clay Iron Furnace. I thought, "Even though we're all downhill and not getting much exercise, at least we are having fun." Whoa, I was wrong.

What we hadn't bargained for is that by going the two miles down hill the one way, we had to come back five miles up hill the other way... and then there was a torrential downpour. To top it all off, the park closed at sundown and we were miles away from the truck when the sky turned dark. So Julian raced ahead to get to the truck and come back and get me.

Its a good thing that it doesn't happen like in the movies - we didn't end up with pneumonia and had to stay and Pemberley for the week.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

In the kitchen, deep fried

my male hummer at the kitchen window :: pasta in process :: the pasta maker :: angel hair :: tomatoes from the garden :: wide noodles with shrimp and garlic butter :: swedish rosettes :: plus sugar :: making donuts :: table ornament from the yard

So, I think this was the un-healthiest week on record here in my kitchen. We might has well have gnawed on sticks of butter all week. Thanks to some really productive yardsale-ing, we had a donut batter dropper ($.50), a rosette maker ($1.00) and a pasta maker ($2.00) to try out! What's even more crazy is that they all worked perfectly, once we got the hang of it.

We tried pasta both skinny and wide. When in doubt, add more flour. We ended up with a few trial noodles that didn't pass inspection and we didn't know what to do with them... so we deep fried them, too.

The donut recipe is here. I used both the orange and the old-fashioned. We agreed that the texture of the orange was perfect, but the flavor of the old-fashioned was best, so if you make them, use the orange recipe, add the old-fashioned spices, and sub out milk for the OJ.

For the record, that is the first time I've even come close to getting a hummingbird in a picture this summer. AND I abuse that dahlia every year by tossing it in the garage through winter and only bringing it out when it is fighting for life, and still it rewards me with the most perfect blooms year after year.

What's happening in your kitchen??

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

{Yarn Along} in Fabric

One of our local quilt shops is going out of business! Happy retirement to Jenny and happy stash bash for me! I picked up some of the prettiest prints today for $3 a yard. I've got my heart set on making a twin sized quilt with them, likely a periwinkle quilt or an album quilt with a periwinkle component.

In the same vein, I'm taking a break from the knitting needles for a short time so I can get a jump start on my quilting project, my Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt. The original quilt has 111 6-inch blocks and believe you me, I'm not a long-haul kind of girl. So after staring at the book for over two years, my aunt finally convinced me to pick my favorite twelve blocks and do them at 12 inches. Whew! Good thing there are people out there who are more in touch with creative liberty than me! {Why didn't I think of that before?}

So I've been trying to do one block a day and except for two bad days, I've stayed on that course. One block a day? Yes. Only one. That's because I also decided to stitch them all by hand. I want to piece the blocks, piece the top, quilt and bind it all by hand throughout the winter. I'm half way finished the blocks so by this time next week, I hope to be ready to get something back on the knitting needles. Here they are. (I'm using my instagram photos so some of the colors are not completely true.)

Which is your favorite?

As far as reading is concerned, I've got so many books in the queue that I don't know where to begin. I need to take the car to the shop on Thursday, so undoubtedly a book will go with me, likely Between, Georgia. I'm wrapping up the last little bit of Jayber Crow, and oh my, it is so complex and rich. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all shakes out.

Joining Ginny and Frontier Dreams - what are you reading and crafting?

*Stay tuned for a fun post tomorrow about what's been going on in my kitchen this past week!*

Thursday, August 21, 2014


always more iced coffee :: acorn squash, already :: elderberries :: 
breakfast for two :: boiling maple syrup :: maple cream

This week has been a bit slow in the kitchen. We had our friends over, two couples and five kids, for dinner Sunday night and it seems like we've been coming down off that high ever since. There have been a few things of note, though. For starters, there are chokeberries.

Have you any experience with chokeberries? They are also called aronia berries and are pretty good for you but there is not much out there (and by out there, I mean on Google) about how to deal with them at home. They are so high in antioxidants that in Russia, they are grown commercially, juiced, then the juice is made into gummie vitamins. I got these from picking them off a bush in my neighbors yard... then I learned more about them... then I dug up the neighbor's bush and moved it to my yard. {Really, I did. But he was getting rid of it and told me if I wanted it, I could do the digging instead of him.}

Also, there was maple cream. This is a new thing for us. Basically, you boil maple syrup and stop just short of candy stage. You stir for, oh, about 19 minutes longer than when you lost the feeling in your arm and it becomes whipped up, like butt-ah.

Linking up with Heather @ Beauty that Moves - join us there!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

{Yarn Along} Jayber edition

Need inspiration to finish up a project? A good friendly "scolding" from Karen works wonders! The redwoods shawl, or  "calico" as I've been calling it, is complete with the exception of weaving in its ends. I will give it to my sister for Christmas. It has a very lovely lacey feel. I was a bit timid blocking it because the directions said to block it hard to open the eyelet but I didn't want it to look batty. Do you like it? I do!


So I have a friend who has often (many times over the past 7 years) recommended that I read the work of Wendell Berry. I had a mental block against it because I have actually known two Wendells in my life and neither were inspiring. One was the chorus director at my university and was a bit too rasta-ish for my liking. The other was dude who lived in my mom's best friend's basement, and I later learned that he was a good guy and had a nice daughter my age, but the baggage is still there.

Moving on, I actually did what she said and started Jayber Crow this past week on audio. Wowzer. The only thing I don't like is that this book makes my book from last week (still 40% left to go) seem so shallow, predictable, and not well thought out. 

When I am reading The Ladies Room, I am reading a novel that was written about the typical "crazy southern lady" that is in SO MANY BOOKS. You know the one - she wears a size 16 elastic waist jeans because they are practical and comfortable, she talks about her dead great aunt and about what God and Satan have to say about painting the baseboards. Just last week I was reading it and had to roll my eyes - the author clearly doesn't understand that no woman with kinky curly hair runs a brush through it on a summer day before bee-bopping out of the house. That's all well and good when you want a "light" read, or a "cute" read. 

On the other hand, reading Jayber Crow is like overhearing a one-sided conversation on the sidewalk, an old man telling his story, all of it. 

“Perhaps all the good that ever has come here has come because people prayed it into the world.” 

“But love, sooner or later, forces us out of time...of all that we feel and do, all the virtues and all the sins, love alone crowds us at last over the edge of the world. For love is always more than a little strange here...It is in the world, but is not altogether of it. It is of eternity. It takes us there when it most holds us here.”

“He never complained. He seemed to have no instinct for the making much of oneself that complaining requires.” 

Berry, very much like Tolkien and other favorites, has the same gift of knowing exactly which word and in what order to express exactly what he means in a way that seems so natural, so sensical, so why-would-you-do-it-any-other-way?  Suffice it to say, I like this book. 

Joining Ginny. What are you knitting and reading??

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My swap package!

My swap package has arrived from Maryland, courtesy of Heather @ Getting Greener. She sent me a pint each of curried tomato jam and root relish. I've never tried anything of the sort, so I'm looking forward to it. They both seem like things that are good for warming up cold days, so I will put them aside with my other jars and we shall see come winter how we like them.

She also sent a baggie holder for plastic bags and two balls of Hap'i cotton yarn in the most wonderful sherbet-y color. I have not made many things with cotton, and although I love the color, both the color and the texture have me thinking "baby knits". Any recommendations for a baby pattern I can work up with 264 yards of lovely peachy aran weight cotton?

I might just make myself a hat. So there. The brioche hat. Yes... maybe.

Many thanks to Heather for my wonderful box of goodies and to Amanda for putting it all together! As is the case, each time I send off my box, I have new ideas of things I could have done. Maybe I just need to starting making and stashing, so I don't get caught in a rush again next time!


Update: In other news today, I was able to sit down for some lovely uninterrupted craft time and I got one more block of my farmer's wife sampler quilt started - and finished! This is ye old churn dash.  What do you think? 

Linking up with Frontier Dreams. Go there to see more crafty goodness from around the blog-o-sphere. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

'Round the house

It occurred to me last week that I only ever post kitchen things and garden things. So much goes on in our home and life besides eating and gardening, though sometimes I wonder. We are such homebodies that it really is our favorite place to be, so I try to keep things so that even on our messy days, life is at least pretty.

We had a great last weekend of summer, though it wasn't really extravagant. Classes start at WVU on Monday and Julian is teaching for the first time here instead of full-time research. He will spend his off days writing his dissertation and we are in our chrysalis phase now, we hope. Hunkering down, keeping life simple, prioritizing so that in a year, the PhD will be done and life will move forward in a completely new way.

Th weather is the same as last week, the length of the day is only just the tiniest bit shorter and yet, there seems to be such a profound difference. The summer isn't over and yet, it is gone - we are on to fall whether we want to be or not.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Swap Is in the mail

Something for cooking, something for caring, something for crafting.

Argh! I love doing these swaps but this time, the timing was all off. I had a big work deadline this week so I spent lots of time on that.

Inside my swap parcel, I put this little hedgehog pincushion, a cross stitched/embroidered tea towel, three covered buttons the I made from my Liberty scraps, and a bar of my homemade soap.

Let me tell you - those buttons were hard to let go of. They were beautiful and I kept touching them, rolling them around in my hand like marbles. This was the first time I'd ever made fabric covered buttons and it worked so well. I am hooked. I just kept imagining them on a homemade sweater for my swap-ee's little girl (though I can't imagine she wears many in SoCal). Dress! Buttons on a dress.

The pincushion... she never told me her name. Either I was too busy or she was too shy. I hope my swap-ee has enough quiet in her home to work that one out.

I can't wait to see what she thinks!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

This week in my kitchen

pasta salad with salami, baby kale, cucumber and avocado :: breakfast every day this week, ciabatta and a poached egg (poach pod) :: tomatoes all around :: i love my food mill :: i wish i'd taken more pictures...

Homemade Chili Base

4 quarts chopped tomatoes
3 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped carrot
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped chili pepper, optional
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp salt
4 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin

Combine tomatoes, onion, carrot, celery, peppers,  garlic and salt in a large (non-reactive) cooking pot. It may help to smash the tomatoes a bit with a potato masher.

Bring to a boil; cover and bring down to a slow simmer for 30-45 mins, until carrots and celery are tender. Cool slightly and press through a food mill or sieve to remove seeds and skins.

Prepare five pint canning jars, lids and a water bath canner in the usual way. Combine sieved vegetables, cumin and chili powder in cooking pot; cover and bring to a boil.  Using canning funnel, pour chili base into prepared jars, seal with lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from canner and allow to cool.

One pint of chili base will make two hearty servings of chili when combined with one can of kidney beans and 1/2 lb. browned ground beef.


Homemade V8 = Omit cumin and chili powder, add 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
Big batch = double all ingredients and double to ten pint jars or use five quart-sized jars instead of pints, quart jars are better for families

What's been happening in your kitchen this week? Link up with Heather to share!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Yarn along, new books

 I am posting MORE pictures this week to distract you from the fact that I took my knitting ALL the way to Tennessee - over 13 hours in the car - and didn't pick it up a single time. 

Wait! That's not true. I picked it up while I was at my aunt's house, waiting for my cousin to arrive, and I started doing what I could to fix the part I messed up that I posted about last week. My uncle said, "Something strange and unusual is going on here..." I looked up with a questioning expression. He said, "I've never seen you do anything and look like you've got no idea what's going on!" I must have been a sight!

So Natalie and I had such a great time visiting in the car that I talked 'til I had no voice. Since I've been back, I've been trying to get the stuff done for this blog swap. But! I have added some new books to my Kindle with eager anticipation of finishing the ones I posted about last week

Have you read either of these??

Joining Ginny