Saturday, February 15, 2014

Gifts

This year winter is the gift that keeps on giving.  And giving.  And giving...


Or maybe it's the booby prize.  Whatever.  
After receiving three snowstorms in the last ten days,  I'll be glad to see it gone.  As I know most everyone will.

I want to thank all of you for your kind comments about making it through this very long and trying season and the resulting depression.  I did see my doctor.  She did prescribe an anti-depressant.  After taking it for a week and feeling like I was in a head fog, I decided it was not going to work for me.

You all have written such positive messages, some in the comments and some by private email.  I appreciate your help!  I am feeling better just knowing that there are people out there who share the same affliction.
I titled this post "Gifts' because your support is indeed a gift.

And a very sweet gift came in the mail too!  Very unexpectedly!
Briony from the Crafty-Cats-Corner blog sent me this lovely notebook for which she made the lace and bead embroidered cover.  Isn't it wonderful?  I was so thrilled to get such a nice surprise in the mail.  And the whole way from across the ocean in England.


Thank you, Briony!
Be sure to visit her blog and check on the fun things her kitties are up to.  And also enjoy her beautiful artwork.  http://crafty-cats-corner.blogspot.com/

In my last post I showed a picture of my spinning wheel that I was hoping to use in the near future.  I did not notice a problem until I tried to spin.  The pedal went right to the floor and the wheel did not go around.  Whaaaaat???
A small technical problem right here:



The nylon connector between the pedal and the drive arm snapped, probably from being old and dried up.
So I called the Mannings spinning and weaving supply store.  They had another one in stock, so Zip and I made the 45-minute drive to East Berlin on one of the coldest and windiest days to get it.
I didn't have time to put it on right away so...
Well, where did I put it???  It was in a little plastic bag in my purse.  I got it out to look at it.
After that, who knows???

I didn't want to make another trip to Mannings so decided on a makeshift solution.  The piece has to be stiff with just a little bit of flexibility so I decided to use heavy leather.  Couldn't find anything thick enough so glued three strips together to make it about 1/4 inch thick.  Then shaved off the square edges so it would fit in the round hole.


So far, so good!


I spun a test sample of yarn to see if I could match the weight and twist of the yarn I used in the Fairisle vest.  The original Fairisle yarns are the two pieces on the left.  My samples are the
two on the right.  The yarns are shown twice the actual size.
I think I've got it!





A friend of mine will be giving me some dog hair from his Border Collies to spin and make into a scarf for him.  I'm looking forward to that interesting project.

So hopefully some new projects will do wonders for my mood.  Spring is on it's way regardless of the fact that the snow is still falling outside.
Blue skies and green grass will be the ultimate gift.

One last happy picture before I close.


Don't you just love those eyes???
Penny, you are so darn cute!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Long Cold Winter

Please, please make it go away!

It was pretty for a while.  That first snowfall is always magical.



BUT.....
It has gotten OLD!  and COLD!  Not just cold but FRIGID!
And it doesn't seem to let up.  I know here in PA it is not nearly as bad as other parts of the country, but it's still horrible.
The furnace is running full blast, slurping fuel oil like a thirsty racehorse, and it;s still cold in here.  This has become my best friend lately.


Seriously, this is the worst winter I can remember, not only for extremely cold weather, but for depression.  I feel like my life is at a standstill until I get warm again. Sometimes I don't go out of the house for four or five days in a row.  Zip has been going for groceries.  I just can't face it.
All I've been doing is sit around wrapped in a blanket, reading, eating and drinking hot coffee.  I've gained back weight that I fought so hard to lose.  Can't think, can't focus.
The creativity has been frozen out of me.

Brad and Kami brought my loom downstairs.  It needs threaded, but I can't decide on a pattern.  So there it sits.  Haven't even dusted it off.



The old computer that I use to run the loom is ready to be set up.  But not yet.  More dusting.


Brad and Kami have been helping me to clean the upstairs.  We found tons (not quite TONS, but...) of spinning fiber, more than enough for three lifetimes of yarn.  So I got the bright idea that I would spin yarn for another Fairisle sweater.  Remember that really cool Fairisle vest I knit last summer.  Well it no longer fits because of all the sitting around feeling sorry for myself and taking consolation in eating.  I had such a great time making it that I thought I'd do it again only this time instead of spending money on more yarn (since I already have several tubs of it, just not the right kind) I would spin enough yarn to do another vest and maybe a sweater.  Ha!  There sits the spinning wheel.  And more dust.


But instead of pursuing anything constructive or creative, I'm battling the kitties for the comfy recliner that's right there near my dear friend the woodstove.  And I'm losing.

Sometimes one.  But more often two....


And even the triple whammy.


Isabel, you know you don't want to hear that weather report!


Oh, yuck!  It's snowing AGAIN!


Dang it! I was all ready to go shopping!



I just can't face another cold snowy day.


Mom, Deiter took my chair!  He's such a lump.


Guess I'll have to sit with Daddy instead.


Snore!

Try to stay warm, friends.
Think thoughts of Spring.  It will eventually get here if we don't all freeze solid in the meantime.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Cake Adventure

We've had several days when the temperature lingered around 30 degrees and the sky was gray with a steady wind.  Already I'm feeling the hibernating urge.  Zip has been kind enough to make the trip to the library and the grocery store for those two essentials in my life, books and food.

I want to spend my winter in cat mode.


Curled up in the recliner near the woodstove sounds like a plan to me.


No, little sweetheart, I'm not going to attempt dislodging you from the chair!

I haven't posted for quite a while because I really haven't had anything to write about.  Life goes on, same stuff, different day.
Zip's birthday was on Saturday.  Number 71!  Yeesh, how did we get so OLD???
On Friday we went out with Brad and Kami to one of our favorite restaurants, Issei Noodle in Carlisle.
Then on Saturday we had a get-together with our grand-daughter Emily, her Mom and boyfriend at Lincoln Diner in Gettysburg.





The family picture minus me, I'm behind the camera.

 And with Kami taking the picture.
It was also Zack, Emmy's boyfriend's birthday too.

Now for the cake part.  Zip's mom is 93 tomorrow so we had her birthday dinner last evening.
About enough birthdays to make your head spin, isn't it?

Every year a different one of the brothers and sisters in Zip's family are responsible for providing the birthday cake.  This year it was our turn.  I get really tired of cakes from the grocery store with cool whip frosting and garish colored decorations.  All that food coloring can't be good for a person, right?

So I decided I would make cakes.  Even though I haven't baked a cake in years.

WHAT WAS I THINKING???

My first thought was to make them all from scratch, but then I came to my senses and decided to use cake mixes and just make creative fillings and frostings.
My sister Linda had made a wonderful cake with white cake mix and then you poke holes in it and let a can of cream of coconut soak down in it.
Seemed like a good idea until I tried to get the soaked cake out of the pan and it all fell to pieces.

I also found that with some cake mixes the layers can be cut in half with thread and moved to a plate, and others crumble to pieces because they are too delicate.
Several such attempts went into the trash.

I finally made three cakes with successfully divided layers, one chocolate and two yellow.  I think it was the Duncan Hines mixes that worked the best.  Betty Crocker cakes were nice and fine and moist, but crumbled easily.

The fillings and frostings were actually the easy part.  It was fun making lemon curd and chocolate mousse.  And I made some of the most yummy chocolate frosting ever.

Dark chocolate cake with tree layers of chocolate mousse filling and chocolate buttercream frosting.



Yellow cake with chocolate and maraschino cherry filling and white buttercream frosting with cherries on top.


And my personal favorite.
Yellow cake with two lemon curd  layers with vanilla buttercream frosting. and lemon curd in the center of the top.


So you can see how exciting my life has been lately!  ha-ha!

I started another sweater.  Decided cables might be interesting for a change.


Already finding out that it isn't challenging enough to old my interest for long.
This is the back.  I think I'll all two more panels of cables to the front.  Just one panel looks like it will get lost between my boobs.

It's time to bet back to the recliner and that nice warm stove.  With a cup of hot coffee and a good book.


Or maybe not...

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Already???

Waaaah!
The end of September already!
When I woke up this morning at 6:30 it was still pitch dark outside.  I hate getting up in the morning when it's dark outside!

It's been a busy month starting with a cookout at Brad and Kami's the weekend after Labor Day.  It was a gray day, but we had a nice time relaxing and eating in their screen porch.  Right outside the door is their lovely little pond.


On the other side of the brick path is a fountain made from an old Gem cistern pump and a half whiskey barrel.


Inside the food was delicious.  I am not usually a lover of ribs, too much fat and bone for my taste.  But Brad made the best beef ribs I've ever eaten.  He has his secret recipe that he will not share with me!  Mostly because he doesn't remember what he puts in the marinade and sauce from one time to the next.  Like me, he is an 'experimental' cook.  We had several salads and fruit from the grocery store and an assortment of cheesecake for dessert.


After dinner we sat around and talked.  Brad and Dad (Zip) are bonding!


Speaking of bonding, Isabell loves to lay close to Deiter and have him wash her ears.  She has wanted to be friends with him since the first week she came to live with us when she was a little kitten.  At that time he didn't want anything to do with a tiny girl kitty.  As they grew older he became more tolerant and not they are great friends.


She will find him where he is sleeping and approach very slowly and respectfully and wait for him to acknowledge he before she lays down with him.  Then they share a nap.





Recently we drove to Biglerville to Hollabaugh Brother's Orchards.  The have such a nice store full of wonderful fruit and produce.  Their fall displays make it so inviting.


They were having a harvest celebration day with cider and cookies.  Aren't the mums lovely?


And what a porch full of pumpkins!


Inside are attractive displays of all kinds of edibles; sauces, vinegars, honeys, baked goods, ice cream, soap and so much more.


But the apples are why we were there.  We love picking from the huge bins.  There were about two dozen varieties to choose from.  You buy a bag and then fill it with your choice.  This picture only shows one row of bins.  There are many more outside under the porch roof.


Last year I dehydrated apple slices.  This year I'm going to make and can applesauce.

A friend and I went to the Healthy Grocer in Camp Hill a few weeks ago.  I guess from the name you can conclude that it's a health food store, organic grocery, specializing in vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.   I forgot to take pictures while I was there.  I did buy something that I've wanted to try and hadn't seen any available until now.
A seed sprouting device.
This one is very simple, just a series of plastic screen lids that fit on a wide mouth mason jar.  I love sprouts in salads and use them in chow mein.

These are lentil sprouts that I lightly saute until browned and add them to omelets or put them in soup.  Cool, huh?


I said the last time that I would show how to make raw spring rolls.  Since summer is over, I'll save that for another day.  Instead I'll share one of my favorite soup recipes.

Chicken Posole

1 large boneless skinless chicken breast (about 12 oz.)
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 large jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 box low sodium fat free chicken broth (approx. 4 cups)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon bouillon paste, Better Than Bouillon (or other broth enhancer of your choice)
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
1 can of hominy (15.5 oz.)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

Chop chicken breast into bite sized pieces.  Spray large Dutch oven or stockpot with cooking spray.
Add chicken, celery, jalapeno and onion and saute until chicken is lightly browned.  Mix in the garlic, cumin, and bouillon paste and cook for another minute or two.  Add the chicken broth, water and smoke flavoring.  bring to a simmer and add the hominy and cilantro.  Cook another 15 minutes to blend flavors.

Easy peasy and very low in calories.  One and a half cups is only 4 of those thingies that Weight Watchers count.

As with all my recipes  the amounts of ingredients are open to interpretation.  Nothing is engraved in stone in my kitchen.  So experiment and make it your own.


The uniform sewing business has been slowing down so I've had time to sew for myself for once.  I've been needing a jacket for fall.  My stash of wool fabric for jackets has been growing for several years thanks to some of the great 50% off sales at the PA Factory Outlet in Lemoyne.

I decided on this very basic Connie Crawford pattern from Butterick.

 
The black and natural herringbone twill was a light weight wool so to give the jacket enough body, I interfaced all the pattern pieces with a knit interfacing fabric that would 'give' with the drape of the wool.


It actually looks better on me than it does hanging on a hanger.  I just wasn't dressed to model when I took this picture.  I'm very happy with the outcome.  It fits perfectly.  I even made a scarf to go with it.  Now I have something other than a fleece-lined hoodie to wear to weddings and funerals.  HA!


 I also just finished these socks.  No, not to go with the jacket!  Just for the fun of purple and lime green...


Guess I've rambled enough for one time.

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you're having a great fall season.  Soon the leaves will be changing colors and the frost will be on the pumpkin.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Catching Up

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The summer is flying by!
What have we been doing???
Some days are busy and then there were the very lazy days during that heat wave in July.

Some of us sat in front of the fan with our water bottle and a good book.


 Others got a funky haircut.  Much cooler!  And Reggie is the only cat in town with a Mohawk.


Some helped Mom with her knitting.


We had special visitors.


These guys landed on our ratty old tractor shed  early one morning.  They paraded up and down the slope of the roof and spread their wings to dry them in the warm sunlight.


These birds are turkey vultures.  They are huge with a wingspan of up to six feet.  I know a lot of people don't like them because they are nature's clean-up crew, but I find them fascinating.
I wish the pictures were clearer.  I took them through the screen on the kitchen window with the zoom so as not to have to open the door and disturb them. 


 Unfortunately they only stopped by that one morning, stayed for about 20 minutes, and went on their way, soaring up into the sky once again.

Even in the heat we managed to go a few places.  Since we don't have a/c in our home it was nice to get into the car and take an occasional drive.
One place we went was the Country Market between Carlisle and Mount Holly Springs on route 34.

They have an outside flea market on weekends.  We didn't spend too much time there because it was in the high 90's that day.


 Inside it was nice and cool so we didn't mind lingering.  There are several booths with crafts and decorative items.  I especially liked the work of this local photographer.


 And being a farmers' market, there are produce stands with local as well as shipped-in fruits and veggies.


 The meat counter has really nice quality at reasonable prices.  We can personally recommend the filet mignons.


 My favorite stand is the Vietnamese food vendor.  They make the most yummy raw spring rolls, which they offer with chicken, beef, or vegetarian.  They have different entrees and sides each week depending on the choice of the cook.  I've tried most of their food and it has all been good.


 Raw spring rolls, corn-on-the-cob and zucchini sticks.  A good lunch or dinner on a hot day.


 While the weather was at it's hottest I did a lot of sitting, listening to books on CD and knitting.
I finished this lace rib top.


 Then I started on the fun project of the summer.
I was seduced into a class on Craftsy, the Fair Isle Vest- Stranded and Steeked by Mary Jane Mucklestone.

What a fun project!!!
There were two yarn kits offered for the class.  One was an expensive Shetland wool from Jamieson's and the other was a much more reasonable Cascade 220 sport yarn.  Well, you know I'm a yarn tightwad!  I opted for the Cascade, which to my dismay were the brightest colors imaginable!
The yarn almost blinded me!  ha-ha!

Yikes, bright orange, hot-hot pink, fluorescent yellow! 

So I decided to dull the colors with a little dip in the dyepot.


 So much better!

Fair Isle is a type of color knitting that looks complicated but is really very simple.  It is knit from charted patterns and the beauty is that there are only ever two colors in each row, making it one of the easier types of color stranded knitting.
The body of the vest in progress...


The whole vest is knit in the round on circular needles, even up past the armholes and the v-neck.  Then it is steeked.  The knitting is carefully reinforced with along the armholes and neck with either hand or machine stitching.  The knitting is then cut open and the ribbing bands are added to finish the edges.
Wish I would have taken pictures of the whole process, but I was so enthralled with the colors and the fun of knitting with the two strands of yarn that I didn't even think of it.

The finished vest!


Hope all of you are having a fantastic summer!
Thanks for stopping by!

p.s. Next time I will give instructions for how to make the spring rolls at home.