Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lester's Dressed

Lester's all ready for fall now with trousers, sweater, scarf and boots. I now don't have anything on the needles, which is a weird feeling.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bump Update

I warned you I was going to start hiding in the corn.

Here's 35 weeks, 5 days. Baby's still resisting turning head down but we've got inversions 3x daily, chiropractor and acupuncture appointments, and a lot of talking to the baby about how great head down is. Hopefully something will work soon.

Foxy Mugshots




Here is Lester the Fox from Interweave Knits Weekend 2011. I've been waiting to post until his clothes were done but I've kind of been dilly-dallying and wanted something up before the weekend. His trousers and shirt are done, his scarf is in process and his boots aren't started. I always forget how fun it is to knit toys, especially when it's all yarn that was already in the stash. Speaking of the stash, here's today's project...
Considering that that's every bit of yarn I own, I feel like I'm pretty good about not hoarding too much but I don't know if this amount of yarn being "normal" in my mind is just another symptom of the disease. :) It's a tricky question - asking non-knitters or knitters will each get opposite and equally biased answers in my experience. The two cardboard boxes at the back are acrylics from the liquidation of Q's grandmother's stash. I'm trying to decide what to keep out of them. They could be handy to have around for very specific projects (i.e. keeping the 3 skeins of olive green for a knit farm play mat in a couple of years) but I also really don't like the results when acrylic is used for garments. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Corn as High as My Eyes...

And I'm slowly taking on elephantine proportions so maybe the Oklahoma lyrics are pretty close. We had quite a cool rainy patch but the sun's out again and the garden is coming along. I weeded for a couple hours yesterday but I really need to weed for a couple of hours every day, which is awfully hard on my hips. I can't believe baby's due in less than 5 weeks!

No ears forming yet but it's getting to be quite respectably tall. I think it will be about 2 weeks before I can hide in it!

The first planting of edamame is starting to form pods.

The first planting of oats was getting snacked on by the birds so we threw the net over it.

Heads on the first planting

Heads on the second planting

The blueberries have done quite well and ours are just finishing up (although the season, in general, is heating up) This bush is the last one that has whole section that's still ripening.

The second lettuce planting is doing well in the shadow of the peas' trellis. Radishes and spinach are also coming in.

We got a cantaloupe and a watermelon plant for $.50 each on clearance a couple weeks ago and the snails ate the melon plants I started from seed and so far they've done well. We may luck out and get a long enough season to produce something.

The winter squash starts are doing well. I think the Dumpling squash even has its first fruit.

The pea trellis with carrots and a volunteer tomato (complete with fruit) in the foreground.

All the cauliflower and eggplant (hidden by the onions) starts have managed to survive so far. The onions I planted this spring have come up well. I'm going to dig them up and spread them out to finish growing soon.

Baby Basil

Our first grapes

Baby Zucchini

Baby Tomato

Baby Crookneck, oh so many baby crookneck.

Baby Cucumber

More Canning Stove Pictures

I managed to get a few more pictures from Q from the second day - including finished pictures.

Beautiful, yes? And the cookies were tasty too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Canning Stove Workshop

This weekend we got to attend a natural building workshop at Vistara, a new intentional community being created a few blocks south of us. It was put on by Firespeaking, a very cool couple who are true experts at natural building. I overdid it a little on the first day so I spent a lot of the second day watching but everybody was very understanding and I learned a lot.

On the previous weekend, they built a barrel oven that we put the finish plaster onto. Our lunch on the first day also featured potatoes cooked in the new oven and later that afternoon we had cookies!

We don't seem to have ended up with a picture of the finished oven. Above where the pot was set, there are another few courses of bricks that go up to just below the handles. The stovepipe comes out the back. The wooden form was removed, the sides were shaped smooth and a base layer of plaster was put over the entire thing to provide a smooth layer for the finish plaster to be applied later. They're also planning on potentially tiling the top, which would end up looking beautiful.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Berry and Cherry Preserving

I've been rather busy preserving this spring. We ran out of jam this winter so I needed to stock up. We've also discovered that 1/2c of dried cherries thrown in with the oatmeal to cook in the mornings is delicious with a little cinnamon and nutmeg and it sounds like a fantastic winter treat. I loved last year's cherry pie filling so much that I've done one batch and I have another 10 pounds that are going to get processed tomorrow.

Here's my list so far so I won't forget what I did...

Dried Cherries
Slightly less than 3 quarts were made with 12 pounds of sweet cherries, pitted, halved and soaked in a citric acid bath (2T + 1 gal cool water). I heated a honey dip (1c honey + 3c water) to boiling then removed it from the heat. The cherries were dipped into the bath in two batches for 2 min. each. They were then dried in the dehydrator for 18 hours.

Cherry Pie Filling
I use this recipe but 1o pounds of sour cherries becomes 5 quarts, so I have to adjust the amounts. For 5 qts. cherries, I use 6c sugar, 1 1/2c Clear Jel, 7 3/4c water, 6T+2t lemon juice and just under 1t cinnamon and 2t almond extract. This much makes just under 6 quarts of filling.

Cherry Jam
4c pitted and chopped sweet cherries, 1/4c lemon juice, 5 c sugar, 1 pkg Sure Jell pectin

Strawberry Honey Jam
4 pounds strawberries, 2c honey, and 1 pkg Sure Jell Low or No Sugar Pectin
This jam set up well, only slightly runnier than "normal" strawberry jam.

Strawberry Rhubarb Honey Jam
3 pounds strawberries, 1 pound rhubarb, 4c honey, and 1 pkg Sure Jell Low or No Sugar Pectin
The rhubarb seemed to give good body to this jam and it seems to behave like its full sugar counterpart.

Blueberry Honey Jam
3 1/2 pounds blueberries, 4 1/2c honey, and 1 pkg Sure Jell Low or No Sugar Pectin
This one started out tasting overly strongly of honey to begin with but after about 2 days, blueberry became the predominant flavor.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Backyard Brewing

Q finally got his post up on his recent brewing escapades. Apparently, the bottle he tested tonight was inspirational.

In current affairs, I've got 10 pounds of pie cherries and 12 pounds of sweet cherries in the fridge for tomorrow's pie filling, drying, and jam escapades. All our wet weather has caused the cherries to split but they are plentiful. Hentze's Farm, a few minutes north of us, has a lovely sweet cherry u-pick orchard. They are also the only people in town who have pie cherries, which is again really making me want to plant our own.

At Chez Chicken, Lacey has laid her second egg, maybe slightly larger than the first, and it appears that both of the big girls have simultaneously started to molt - no proper sized eggs for us for 2 days now! Don't know what we're going to do!

The tallest corn is thigh high. The yellow crookneck plants are developing a terrifying number of fruit. Cucumbers and zucchini have tons of blossoms. I need to do garden pics again in a couple of days.

Lester the Fox has his body all knit and is ready to be stuffed and sewn together. Then I get to start knitting the clothes! How could I resist the project when I already had everything I needed in my stash? Nobody would have that kind of self control, I mean, he's wearing shoes, for crying out loud!

Finally, these are some of my new favorite people. I really hope they make their goal - on principle and for selfish reasons, I want to watch the completed videos!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Glasgow Lace Sweater

This is the Glasgow Lace sweater from Interweave Knits, Fall 2006. A friend gave me enough skeins of Berroco Blackstone Tweed to make a sweater so I thought I'd better get it done before baby.

I lengthened the sleeves to about 3/4 rather than 1/2. Below is a picture of me wearing it because I think it shows better that way but remember, it's not a maternity sweater! I'm sure it will look a lot better when not stretched over the belly and I hope it will get a little longer when it doesn't have to be so wide.

It's out of focus but I thought I should post a 34 week, 2 day baby bump picture. We're getting close!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lacey's First Egg!

From left to right: Lacey's egg, Little Miss' egg, and Lily's egg.

First eggs are always supposed to be a little weird as chickens try to get into the groove and the other layers eggs are generally huge (they weigh in at jumbo) but isn't Lacey's first egg just adorable? So tiny and perfect. I think she's almost exactly 20 weeks old. Hopefully this is the beginning of a good layer.