Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Little Things

I don't feel I've accomplished much lately due to lots of little things getting in the way. For example, I spent the entire day yesterday, with my three children, in Florida, so my computer could spend the day "in the shop." It has taken to freezing up periodically. Often times, it will not reboot after freezing, but will play dead for hours at a time. I thought it had died once and for all Thursday afternoon. It made some very bad noises and then, did nothing.

Naturally my computer rebooted with no problems Friday morning at the shop. And after a full day of testing I received a bill for services rendered and was told nothing could be found wrong with my computer. At least nothing fixable and those were the only tests run.

I had my knitting with me yesterday, of course, but I had to spend the day with children who are not used to being confined to a car or being ferried around running errands. (I had to try to redeem the waiting time after all.) So no knitting got done which in my world means I had a lousy day. There have been way too many knit-less days lately.

Despite all of the little things conspiring against my knitting, I have managed to complete a few of the projects I needed to get done. I finished the socks for John, my husband's landlord in Fairhope and Gregory's beloved Sunday school teacher.

These are my favorite basic ribbed socks for men from the book, "Vogue Knitting, Socks 2."

I also completed a pair of socks for John's wife, Cindy. They are "Simplicity" from "The Eclectic Sole" in Tia Dalma from Enchanted Knoll Farm.

I couldn't get a good picture of the color of these socks. They are actually quite lovely. I struggled with giving these socks away while I knitted them. I just love the purple and teal with a bit of pink and blue and the soft superwash merino yarn. I might try to hunt down another skein of this yarn in the future. Well, that is if things stop breaking around here. Did I mention my dehydrator broke the other day? The one we use a couple times a week? My husband Kurt managed to get it running again by substituting a wire heddle from my loom for a burned out part. While Kurt feels confident his fix will work indefinitely, I immediately ordered a replacement dehydrator. That way if the house burns down from a defective dehydrator at some point in the future, I won't have to deal with our insurance coverage being invalidated because we knowingly used an improperly constructed appliance. But then I think about stuff like that. A lot.

The saddest bit of knitting I finished is a chemo hat for my new friend Clara at our new church.

My prayer is for a miracle that will keep her from needing it.

I've continued to spend lots of time in the kitchen. We cook almost everything from scratch in order to accommodate various dietary issues and that keeps me in the kitchen. However, I like convenience foods as much as anyone, so I make my own. Last week some friends from church gave us some more venison. I used a portion of the meat for chili.

I added between 3 to 4 gallons of chili to my pantry shelves. I love a full pantry.

Now if I can only keep from eating/serving all the pantry foods immediately because I am too tired to cook from all the little things that keep demanding my attention.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Slowly in January

Things are seemingly moving at a snails pace and it feels like I cannot get even a fraction done of those things which must soon be done. Spring planting looms and we are still amending the garden beds with leaves and compost.

Actually, I have bribed my 12 year old. Since Michael, my 3 year old wakes up grouchy and demanding and early, it is tough for me to sneak out in the mornings to work in the garden as I like to do this time of year. So Gregory, my 12 year old, has been getting up to work in exchange for which I get up and prepare him a big, fancy breakfast. He likes to read "Farmer Boy" from the "Little House" series. The story line revolves around a young boy growing up on a family farm and food and eating. Lately, Gregory fancies himself an old fashion farmer boy and enjoys working in our "fields." The "food for work" arrangement works out well for both of us, though I feel like most of my time lately is in the kitchen.

In addition to preparing lots of large meals to fuel Gregory's "farm work" and fatten the rest of us, I've been doing a bit of canning. I grabbed one of my 6 gallon stock pots and cooked up a pot of chicken soup a few days ago.

I ended up canning 4 gallons of soup for the pantry and freezing some as well.

Some friends from church blessed us with some deer meat and I picked up the ingredients to make chili the other day. I hope to can some chili for the pantry soon.

Kurt celebrated his birthday on Thursday. I made him a hat with the same pattern I used for the children at Christmas.

Since Kurt had to work over his birthday, we were not going to see him or help him celebrate. Not liking that idea, we made some arrangements with one of the ladies at work (she organized a pot luck) and then the kids and I baked Kurt's favorite birthday cake, the one he had requested for this weekend, and showed up at his work for a surprise birthday party. Kurt said it was a very good birthday and I am glad. He still wanted me to make him another German chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting this weekend since he had to share the other one with so many people. So I've baked two birthday cakes for Kurt this week.

I experimented with sprouting some soft white wheat to grind into flour for Kurt's cake. Since I can't stand coconut, I haven't had any of the cake, but I understand the soft white wheat made a huge difference in the texture and taste of the cake. I will have to get some more of that type of wheat for making cakes and pastries in the future.

With all the gardening Gregory has been doing lately, he has been feeling strong. Michael emulates Gregory in most everything. The other day Michael found my 3 pound weights.

Raising them up and down over his head, Michael told me he was s t r o n g.

He is a funny little guy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Flower Garden Stole and Eggs

Periodically, Kurt and I ponder whether the eggs laid by our free ranging chickens are truly superior to any we can purchase. Usually such ponderings occur during the heat of summer when coop bedding must be cleaned out and replaced or after a trip to the feed store in the winter when our bank account takes a hit because there are no excess eggs to sell to offset the cost of feed. This winter has been particularly rough. Our chickens are more than 2 years old and laid few eggs while the days were short. In fact, we had to buy eggs for the first time in 2 years shortly after the start of the New Year. We bought expensive organic eggs from the grocery store thinking they would be equal to ours.

Our chickens finally started laying a bit again and I used the last of the organic store bought eggs yesterday morning while making muffins. In fact, I cracked 3 eggs into a bowl, 2 store bought and one of ours.

Understanding the healthier the egg, the deeper the color of the yoke, I am once again completely convinced we can raise eggs superior to any we can purchase. The difference was obvious.

Now I just need to remind myself how great our eggs are and how great chicken bedding is for vegetable gardening when the heat of the summer comes and it is time to clean out the coops.

I finished weaving my Flower Garden Stole a couple of days ago.

I used 5/2 Perle cotton from Webbs for the warp and hand dyed cotton yarn from Heritage Yarns for the weft.

I used an 8 harness pattern I found online that is supposed to be little diamonds with flowers inside. The weave pattern hides behind the color pattern however.

I really like the stole and Kurt couldn't say enough good things about it. Even Michael wanted it.

Now I just have to figure out how to wear a stole. I have a few of them but can't seem to figure out how to get comfortable in one. I tend to be more of a shawl person. But I really like weaving these stoles so I am going to have to figure out how to wear them comfortably soon.

For my birthday, Kurt was going to mount a new light on my loom. He picked up a really nice one in town. However, I didn't know about his plan and the really expensive light I had been balancing on the castle of my loom toppled off and on top of me while I wove my stole, shattering the "too expensive to replace right now" light bulb. So I bought a cheap light from Wal-Mart for Kurt to mount. In the end, Kurt mounted the light I bought (I thought smaller would be better) and he is returning the one he purchased when he gets back to town.

I feel bad about ruining the surprise he had planned for my birthday, but I needed light and my birthday is still a couple weeks away.

And now, to plan my next weaving project!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Year's Gifts

I love yarn stashes. And today I really love destashing. Other people's destashing that is.

Carolyn is an amazing knitter, but apparently decided a little while back she is not a weaver. After reading about Gregory's and my beginner weaving efforts, she sent us what remained of her weaving yarn stash. I've been waiting for the mystery box to arrive all week. The mail woman brought it this morning.

Wow! Such pretty colors and so many fibers I've never tried. I can't wait to get at this beautiful yarn.

Someone around the neighborhood is burning something BAD. Putrid smoke fills the air creating a haze around and within me. The migraine resulting from the poison in the air awoke me in the middle of the night, just prior to Michael waking me up to crawl into bed with me, apparently with the intention of beating me all night while he thrashed about. My world is a nightmarish place of sickness and dizziness right now. I feel cut off from the world, lost in a haze, trapped with a mind reeling in smoke and toxins. The pulses of pain at the base of my head threaten to spread around and in front. My stomach can barely hold onto its contents and I have allowed the children access to unlimited time with their Christian movies in my desperate attempt to escape noise and movement. And through my confusion, pretty weaving yarns greet me and beg me to come play. What a delight in what will otherwise be a really bad day.

That sounds pretty melodramatic, but I will let it stand. It is a melodramatic kind of day I suppose.

I finally started Mr. John's socks.

Mr. John allows my husband to live in a house on his property in Fairhope while Kurt works in Foley and we try to sell our Brewton house. (Or even our Gulf Breeze property.) Mr. John and his wife Cindy are wonderful people and a total blessing to us. Mr. John wears wools socks while hunting to keep warm. I'm hoping a hand knit pair of wool socks will bless him and remind him how much we appreciate them.

I just need this headache to go away so I can think and knit and weave!