Friday, August 30, 2013

A quick fly by...

I haven't seen a real butterfly at the house for ages but this guy has been flitting around all morning. He just can't get enough of the flowers on the deck!
Double Swallowtail, Two-Tailed Tiger Swallowtail

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Everything is just peachy

I was happy when Jo's hubby brought me a box of peaches from Washington. This morning I got up with the plan to get them canned. However, only half were ripe enough, the others need another day or so to ripen. Hmm, what to do? Can peaches or peach jam.... the peach jam won out!
I lost my original recipe but found a very similair, if not exact, recipe on the internet:

Peach Jam
6 cups peaches, mashed
6 cups white sugar
2 cups crushed pineapple
6 oz orange Jello
Peel peaches. To keep them from turning brown while you do all that peeling, place them in a pan of water to which 2 T vinegar per gallon of water has been added. Then when all are peeled, remove peaches from the water and mash.

Combine mashed peaches, sugar, and pineapple (I drained mine) in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil. Cook 20 minutes (or until it begins to thicken and peaches are cooked through) Add the Jello cook the mixture for about 2 more minutes to be sure the Jello has dissolved.

Fill the jar with jam. Wipe rim of the jar with a damp, clean cloth, take a lid from the hot water and place on top of the jar, seal tight with a ring. Turn them upside down for just a few minutes to be sure the seal is warm enough then back upright. If you want to process them in a water bath and process for 10 minutes.

While I was at my knitting class, Hubby brought home some more corn. Just guess what I will be doing tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hubby's getting into the swing of things

Hubby was delighted with the pie filling I canned a couple of weeks ago and so when he had the opportunity to bring home several dozen ears of corn from down the road he jumped on it. You can't beat free!
Years ago I used Mrs. Stapleton's recipe for freezing corn and so I pulled it out again today:

  • 4 quarts fresh corn (cut from about 20 ears)
  • 1 quart hot water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • In a stockpot, combine all ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to large shallow containers; cool, stirring occasionally. Freeze in resealable plastic freezer bags or freezer containers,  Yield: 3 quarts.
Tomorrow, PEACHES! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Another pair for The Big Boy

Pattern: My own vanilla pattern
Yarn: Berroco Sox
Colorway: Light blue, gray, brown stripe
Amount: One skein
Needle Size: US Size 1

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Oh no, look what she's done!

Is she crazy?
I am a podcast junkie! Probably because I can knit and listen at the same time. So when a favorite podcaster mentioned placing ones iphone in a mug or bowl amplifies the sound producing better sound quality, I gave it a try...lovely!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Doing some stash busting

I finished another pair of Stashbuster Spirals! Love these little socks they're for one of the grandkiddos...
Pattern: Stashbuster Spirals by Janine Hempy
Yarn and Colorway: Friday Studios Self Striping in fireworks, Premier Yarns Serenity in black, Stroll Fingering in watermelon
Amount: Way less than a skein each
Needle Size: US Size 1

I swore I'd NEVER go down this path but then something snapped one day and I jumped down the rabbit hole.  At first I thought I'd just give it a try and, "See what everyone's talking about." Then it became something like the potato chip addiction - you can't have just one, you keep reaching for more...Yes I'm addicted to the Sock Yarn Blanket!
Pattern: Sock Yarn Blanket by Shelly Kang
Yarn: Leftover Sock Yarn, 80% wool, 20% nylon
Colorway: Any  but neon
Needle Size; US Size 1

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Retirement, it's a blast

All summer people have been asking, "How do you like being retired?" and it's been hard to answer, well until today.

For many years I've not had to go to work in the summers. Now let me make this clear, teachers do work during the summer. Continuing ed credits and creating new curriculum units don't just appear out of thin air. Also, summer means rejuvenation, a time to get back some of the energy and enthusiasm drained right out of them during the school year. Teachers are currently taking a beating but it's hard work with very little thanks.

Yesterday school started, and to everyone who has inquired: I love retirement. No more sleepless nights worrying about student success, no more going in two weeks before school starts to clean and pull my room together (See above paragraph. I don't believe any other profession would take vacation time to get ready for the first day back from vacation!?)

Instead, I visited The Chick. We went on a long hike and I finished a pair of socks. Total relaxation! I can live with this...
Pattern: February Lady Socks by Kate Atherley
Yarn: Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn
Colorway: Yellow
Amount: 1 skein
Needle Size: US Size 1

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An added bonus

This spring, when I brought home the white petunias, I didn't expect to get the added bonus of a vegetable garden.
It wasn't until the middle of July I noticed a couple of extra plants straining toward the sun...tomatoes, and a short time later the cucumbers made an appearance. Only the petunias brought home the free veggies but I'm quite happy to have them and will plant tomatoes and cucumbers in the planters next year.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sock it to me!

I recently finished the Sockhead Hat everyone is talking about. It is fun fast knit!

Pattern: Sockhead Hat
Yarn: Berroco Sox
Colorway: Humerside 486
Amount: 1 skein
Needle size: US 3

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Prize Winning Socks

Although not my intention AT ALL, I won this yarn while at the Rockin’ S Retreat! A friend had gotten it while on Germany, lovely!

Pattern: Peace Rose Garden Socks by Diane Edgerly
Yarn: Zwerger Garn Opal Regenwald/Rainforest
Colorway: Robin Hood
Amount: 1 skein
Needle Size:
I had been worried a bit about the fit of these socks but blocking them made a BIG difference and the fit is great!

(I love living in Montana and I like to show off the big beautiful blue sky...but it's been cooler than usual and a bit cloudy with an unbelievable 86% humidity. The usual is around 25%. I must admit it's nice for a change!)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

No more flitting around - well, for a while....

Home is looking pretty good! I've been back for almost two weeks and not much is going on. Napping, knitting and cleaning, it feels great!

A couple more projects are under my belt:

Baby Girl Gift
Pattern: Pepita by Martina Behm
Yarn: Babe
Colorway: Lavender
Amount: a smidge more than 3 skeins
Needles: US Size 2 (next time I'll use the needles called for!!)

I also made  the blanket behind. We call it the"Mrs.Stapleton Baby Blanket." When The ChickWho Flew The Coop was born our neighbor made one for her. It is a large square of doubled flannel (if the yardage is 44" wide buy a length 44" long) wash, sew the square minus 5 inches, trim corners, turn and sew 5 inch opening shut. Press seams and tie blanket with yarn.  It's bigger than the usual receiving blanket and can be used for a long time. It was perfect to cover baby on summer nights and great for laying baby on the floor to play.

Wagon train socks
Pattern: Vanilla socks from my own creative juices
Yarn: Patons Kroy Socks Striped
Colorway:  Black
Amount: 2 skeins plus a little black for the tips of the toes
Needle Size: US Size 1

I started these socks for the trail because they are so simple, I have the pattern in my head. However,
I didn’t knit much on the trip - just to much other things to do! I did take them on my second adventure, onto Northern California and then Oregon. I finished them all but the tips of the toes. Because knit them on size 1 needles I ran out of yarn at the tip of each sock and just sat down today to add a bit of black and finish them off!

Friday, August 2, 2013

The berry snobs have got me going!

While traveling in California and Oregon I rediscovered berry picking. When I was young there was a lot filled with blackberry bushes across the alley from us. I would pick the first berry ripe to the very last one in the fall. Mom would give me a bowl and a bit of sugar and off I'd go indulging myself completely. We'd also pick in the height of the season and make blackberry jam and cobblers. Mom never mentioned that these were "weeds" and always encouraged picking. Blackberries are my favorite probably because of this memory! Image the first time I heard they were weeds and was laughed at for picking them....I was an adult and thought THEY were the crazy ones and I still do!

When I was in California the kiddos and I picked the berries and added them to our fruit salad. When I arrived at the Oregon Family's home and saw the berry patch across the street I was delighted. It took some coaxing but I was able to get the boys out to do a little picking. Then I showed Cosmo how to make cobbler. He's a pretty good baker and knew his way around the kitchen. The boys were impressed at the delicious results and I hope they've made several more batches.

I took home enough berries in my carry on to make a cobbler for Hubby which was very much appreciated. Once, in our pre-kiddo travels we stopped at the side of the freeway and picked an entire ice chest full of berries to take home to the family. So Hubby knows the value!

This week Jo called and asked if I'd like some cherries from her trees. They are producing a bumper crop and she has plenty. I went down and picked enough to can some pie filling. Hubby's favorite pie is cherry and so I was doing a good deed for both, helping consume cherries for Jo and keeping a smile on Hubby's face.
I hadn't canned for a long, long time. This was so much fun! When I'd finished canning the pie filling I texted Jo and asked is I could pick more for some jam., next time I go to Oregon I'm canning some BLACKBERRY JAM!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

And I'm off vacationing again!

After a week of relaxing at home it was time to get the grandkiddos back to their house. It had been a glorious three week visit but their other grandparents would be arriving and were demanding equal time!

We flew to California and our first stop was a visit to Bake Sale Betty's! I've told friends her establishment reminds me of The Soup Nazi only friendly! Customers line up outside the bakery hoping their favorite cookie (molasses) is still there....
When ordering you better have a second choice ready, FAST. You pay and then move aside to wait fir the order to be made -DON'T slow down the process! This is accomplished very politely, but QUICKLY, there is a line waiting. I'll never forget the time the line was so long that Betty came out and gave each of us a cookie for our trouble - she completely won me over!

Ginger Spice Cookies (makes about two dozen)
from Bon App├ętit, March 2000
- 2 cups flour
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup candied ginger, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (or more butter)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup molasses
- Additional sugar (about 1/4 cup) for rolling dough
Mix the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and shortening, then add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Blend in the egg and molasses. Add the flour mixture in two parts, beating until combined, then stir in the candied ginger. Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour (preferably more).

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper (you can butter them if you don't have parchment). Put the additional sugar (use white) in a bowl and use your hands to roll dough into balls of about 1-2 inches in diameter.
Roll the balls in the sugar to coat them and place on the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 minutes or until the surfaces of the cookies have cracked. Let them cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to cooling racks.  
(A close facsimile I'm told)
Then it was off to sunny Northern California to meet The Oregon Family for a few days. We had a cabin for a few days near Mount Shasta.
Then it was time to say good-bye to the California Dreamin' crew and travel on with the Oregon Family. We took the long way home and stopped at beautiful Crater Lake.
It was great to visit them in their new town and home. Nice to know they are in a great place and very happy. Thanks for a lovely visit from start to finish!