Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The tale of the green tomoatoes

(...or Catch-Up, part tres)

Look at this.

That's about as red as any tomato got in my garden this past summer. Something aobut our weather here in MN this summer just did not jive and I was left with 7 vines full of green tomatoes.

The ones that got semi-red eventually turned enough to nosh when left on a sunny window sill, but there was no way I could contemplate tossing the rest in the compost. Something had to be done.

Once again, google provided an answer. First, I toyed with this Green Tomato and Red Onion Relish recipe (with judicious advice from veteran canners to make sure my mods weren't going to end up poisoning anyone, ya know) and ended up with a moan worthy condiment that more closely resembled a savory jam. Here are my tweaks:

regular onions versus red
no red peppers...more tomatoes!
whole head of garlic cloves roughly chopped
tsp red pepper flakes
no anise (BLECH, I so do not like anise!)
lots and lots of simmering time (like the whole afternoon)

18 jam jars of that pretty much took care of about half of the backlog. My thoughts then turned to pickles. Is there anything more enchanting than bright gems of veggies floating in a pickle jar? (OK, there most likely are many, but when faced with legions of inedible tomatoes, pickle jars begin to seem a bit magical...) This commentary I found on brine jars on the BackWoodsHome webpage (scroll to the end) nabbed my fancy, perhaps because the concept was so simple. I followed her instructions for canning them (adding a bit more garlic and of course some spice) and here they sit, awaiting their big reveal.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pretty pretty pictures

(or catch-up, part deux)

Sample made for Jennie the Potter with her fabulous Home Brew DK silk.

Blue version of the Briar Rose scarf I talked about last time. Turned out nice and swoopy.

SHHHHH! Secret!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Picture time, picture time!

Projects first: (watch out...this gonna take some TIME)

2 projects made for Chris at Briar Rose Fibers:

This one is officially "Dawn's Scarf" and is one of their $1 patterns available at shows and festivals. Done with their lovely Grandma's Blessing yarn. It's a super deep V shaped scarf to keep my front bits warm in the winter...I don't like zipping up to my chin when I'm running in and out while doing errands. LOVE the texture.

Next, a crochet edging I did for their After Hours Shawl.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


How snowy was it? This snowy:

That's Olive, our newest addition. She's a bulldog rescue we ended up fostering after a friend became insanely allergic to her...and of course she's never left. Funny how that happens, eh?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter harvest

What does one do when home with sick kids for 11 days straight only to then be buried in 18 inches of snow for 2 more?

If you're me, you become totally obsessive about marmalade, that's what.

Turns out marmalade is a super simple concept many make mind-numbingly tedious. My first batches followed Alton Brown's marmalade directions to the letter and it is absolutely perfect, pure orange sunshine in a jar. Second batch used his process with the fruit proportions from this cranberry orange marmalade recipe on the Free Range Living blog. It is also perfect in a very cranberry type of way.

The beauty of both being that Alton's genius for food science (not to mention the inherent chemical make-up of oranges) makes extra pectin totally unnecessary....that and the fact that it absolutely tickles me to be able to put whole unpeeled oranges into my food processor and have fabulousness result.

20 half-pints of preserves later and I'm well on my way to having my holidays in hand.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Early harvest

Things go slowly in the veggie patch here in Minnesota. While we've only picked a few cherry tomatoes and have yet to see cucumbers or zucchini, there have been bumper crops of other kinds. Our exceptionally warm, wet weather is apparently much appreciated by our berries and rhubarb.

While things are tapering off now, for most of the month we gathered at least a pint of berries a day...including blackberries almost 2 inches long!

...and we've cut the rhubarb down to dirt twice already. With the freezer filled with more than we can likely use over the winter, there was a bit of Rhubarb-palooza going on:

The before:

The afters:

rhubarb strawberry apple sauce



crisp, syrup (for drinks), custard bars

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Drum Roll, Please!

It's big announcement day! I've been dying to let everyone know that I've been working on some crochet design projects for Chris, the master dyer behind the subtle, earthy, dramatic fabulous-ness that is Briar Rose Fibers.

I first met Chris at the Michigan Fiber Festival, on my first road trip with my friend Jennie the Potter, where she generously let us huddle around the little TV in her trailer to watch the spectacle of the summer Olympics. After many years now, I staunchly maintain that a more big-hearted, lovely person with a more big-hearted, lovely business ethic you will never meet. (well, unless it is Jennie...soul sisters these 2 are, you can't help but want to be a better, more shiny person being around them.) Chris, it turns out, is a lapsed crocheter, and my ever optimistic crochety-ness eventually rubbed off on her and she has asked me to work up a few things with her various yarns.

I finished a few small projects for them earlier in the year, a cowl and a very deeply v-d shawlette that are available in their little dollar card patterns at shows. (...and of course I don't have pictures of those...was too excited to ship them out as soon as they were finished) BUT, my first major on-taking has just been released. May I introduce you to Arachne's Path?

Isn't it a great picture? Those Briar Rose folks are just so talented. It's a one skein scarf out of their Sonoma, which is a 100% wool I would categorize as on the lighter end of the bulky yarn spectrum, worked in motifs you interlock as you go along. The openwork semicircles overlap one another giving quite a dramatic effect. Here it is on me:

...and here it is blocking out:

Hopefully I'll catch up with the other booth samples soon and have pictures to share of those as well. This is an ongoing project, so you can expect other crochet lovelies in Chris' fabulous fibers to pop up throughout the year as well.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This is becoming one very baaaad habit...

...but if I keep up the blog procrastination trend, I can keep posting entertaining catch-up notes. Here we go. New this summer:

1) Very much less hair. (about 6 inches)

With which I am trying new and exciting hair care things that involves much less sulfate-y shampoo product, banishing silicone from my head, and hopefully embracing the naturally not so straight mannerisms of my hair. If you need to know more, you can find a fabulous overview of this approach on this blog, or in the great comprehensive resource of Live Curly, Live Free. (There is also a website called, that I find hugely overwhelming, but it might just be helpful to you.)

2) Lots of brain-inflaming crochet designing. Thing like this:

...that I will be able to tell you about soon, soon, soon. More things that are not so soon to appear, but I can maybe arrange to slide in some sneak peeks now and again. Starting so many new things means there are not so many other things being finished, and that huge basket of packages still awaits me. I figure the longer it sits, the more surprising those surprises will be, right?

3) A puppy that isn't so much of a puppy anymore, who has decided that he is a swimmer:

4) Kids that cannot possibly be this big:

5) Family drama that just might finally knock me off my duff and make me build systems of self-care....if I can figure out how to do that amid spur of the moment eruptions of fever and vomiting whenever I even think of leaving the house without small people in tow.

6) Random spontaneous rants that seem to run rampant whenever I listen to or read the news. What news, you may ask? Really, any of it. State, federal, international. Is it just me, or is the world increasingly populated by the brainless? I really don't mind well reasoned, rational, fact-based discourse...I tend to learn something even if I don't agree with the conclusions...but where is that happening?? I see a lot of "just because I say so", and that makes me NUTS. Making things up and saying it over and over and over again does not at some point mean it is true. People are not evil or damned or your enemy, or even *GASP* wrong just because they don't agree with your perspective. Rational, respectful discourse is all but extinct and compromise seems to have become a taboo subject to even broach. Absolutism is more and more becoming the be-all-end all. It makes me want to institute mandatory remedial reading of some serious Dr. Seuss. Sneeches anyone? Zax? The Lorax? What's the one where everyone is dashing about thinking something's hot on their tail out to get them and as you follow the chain back it ends up being a frog stuck in a bucket or some such? Yes, Dr. Seuss could possibly be the savior of our times if only people would listen.

7) A shiny new cleaned up blog. That hopefully will see more regular use. ;)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Building it better...

*insert flashback to the million dollar man intro complete w/ cool bionic sound effects that really are from the bionic woman intro here*

In years past I've fallen all over myself joining in on swaps, clubs and -alongs...only to be generally nonplussed. Don't get me wrong, I've hand fun and had some fabulous surprises, but in general things have fallen flat. Adding that to a rather tight financial year cemented my resolve to steer clear of the bright shiny joiner bling. Kind of sad, but you know, doable. Or at least that's what I told myself a grownup responsible mom of 3 would decide.

Being an adult is just so BORING sometimes.

I do love me a good surprise though, and is there anyone that doesn't like a spontaneous present now and then? Yup, the kid in me held a wee small rebellion, which grew to tantrum level when people in the yarniverse started making noises about a certain rockstar status yarn club opening registrations soon. At which point the biggest boy glued our budget to my glasses. Party-pooper.

Then this tweet from the Yarn Harlot ran across my screen:

"Maybe taking my own advice and matching stash sock patterns w/ yarns for a random sock of the month club. All in a box, pull one a month?"

OOOOOoooooooooo!!! I've been sitting on TONS of great stuff I've picked up on my various travels and adventures over the past few years. We're talkin' lots of Handmaiden. Dream in Color. Lisa Souza. Skeins lovingly hand-dyed by my friend Meg. Briar Rose Fibers. Mine own handspun. Socks that Rock even! Every once in awhile I take it out and play with it, but in general it just sits, patternless and longing for a function. (Quite sad really. Bordering on neglect I think. Please don't turn me in.) Now this stuff, I would LOVE to find in my mailbox.

Now wait, with a little effort I CAN find it in my mailbox!

With a little time on Ravelry and some printing assistance when I squeezed the last drop of ink out of my printer, the great unearthing began:

Happy patterns. Happy fibers. Hours of organizational geek-out. Ah, the ecstasy. A bit later, here's what I gots:

Close to 30 anonymous packages of various sizes and shapes. Absolutely no identifying marks. Nice mix of knit and crochet. Some are small and quick, some a bit more elaborate...and one project I'm even a bit afraid of. All ready and waiting to please. Here are my rules:

1) I get my pick on the 15th of every month.
2) I get my pick when I finish a hibernating or temporarily-exiled-and-then-promptly-forgotten-about project.
3) I get my pick when one of several select people deems it necessary for mental health reasons. (you know who you are...use the power wisely my pod.)

How fun is that? A year of surprises! A year of surprises I know I'll LOVE! And no more fabulous-but-languishing-yarn guilt! BWAHAHAHA! This is genius!

[and for those that must know, here's the list, totally cross referenced to Ravelry for you. all patterns, with the exception of one pair of socks from a booklet a wonder friend brought me back from Rhinebeck, are free (that was part of my no-expense deal with myself):

Fawkes socks (knit)
Chevron Lace Cardigan (crochet)
Diamond Ridges hat (crochet)
Poinsettia (knit...Knitty rules!)
Springtime Bandit (knit)
Silk Kerchief (knit...but mine will be alpaca)
Edelweiss Mittens (knit)
Flapper hat (crochet)
Crocheted Mesh Scarf (duh!)
Kalajoki socks (knit)
Zagnut (crochet)
Falling Tears socks (knit)
Knotty but Nice hat (knitty rocks!)
Earl Grey socks (knit)
One Row Handspun Scarf (knit)
Susie's Reading Mitts (knit)
Hedgerow socks (knit)
Mojo socks (knit)
Magic Mirror socks (knit)
Crochet Lacy Shawl (duh!)
Cross Skull Cap (knit)
Abby (yup, more knitty!)
Sunday Swing (...and more.)
Pebble Lace Crochet Tam (hooks and needles both, it's a 2-fer)
Elissa set (crochet)
Alpaca Angel (crochet)
1 pair of socks from the Thistle & Fox book
crochet ripple out of my own head (becasue it's malabrigo lace i bought for that purpose) ]

Monday, January 04, 2010

Well Helloooooo!

Wow does July seem a world away. Was it ever really warm enough here to pick berries and do projects outside? Crazy talk.

I feel like every post I've put up this past year has been playing a bit of catch-up. I hope to do better this year. I do get a lot out of having a forum in which to clear my brain...and you know pretty pictures and a bit of brag are always worth the effort too. Yes, the blog shall be part of my ever ambitious "it's a brand spanking new year, so let's build a brand spanking new me" action plan.

That said, let's do play a game of catch-up shall we?

Summer's end saw us once again at the MN state fair. IMO outstanding fiber craft entry o the year being the quilted game of Candy Land, vintage style, not the lame modern retake...scaled so you can be your own piece. Serously. Cool.

We also adopted what we thought would be a new resident of our abode and our long awaited second dog, Mazey: ( I know, blurry, but I love the look on her face)

She's actually Gus' champion of a grandma, recently retired from breeding. The dogs got along fabulously as Gus loves nothing better than being bossed around by a pretty girl. Initially it seemed like a great fit, she was super submissive to all humans in the house, but in the long run the unpredictable energy of a 3 yo was just too much for her and she tried to keep him in line as she would a back she went to the breeder. She was with us for almost 4 months by then, so quite a few tears were shed going into the holidays this year. We miss her, and that also makes us miss Emma and Willy. Sometimes I wonder if the hurt will ever ease.

Gus has been out of sorts ever since, and that breaks my heart. He's lonely and a bit bored with us at times...and the long stretch of below zero temps is not helping one bit. He's a cutie though, and quite a cuddle bug. Love the 55 pound lapdog.

The kids went back to school and I became engrossed in righting the wrongs of public school funding by taking a leadership roll in the PTO which has basically turned into a full-time job. There's always more to do, and not enough people willing to do it. They're getting a stellar education, but sometimes I wonder if the constant fight it takes to keep a charter school up and running is worth it. When I look at our alternatives, I know 100 and 10 percent that it is, but wow could things at a state and federal level be organized to make things saner.

On the fun side o' life, we picked innumerable apples this fall and turned them into much yumminess:

I spent some time playing with handspun (from my own batts even!)and crochet post stitches:

...made children deliriously happy with fiber goodies:

...and in general fell even further in love with my Kitchenaid mixer:

That about brings us up to date. I'll leave you with this reminder that wrapping paper, though bright and shiny, is not to be the next taste sensation: