Monday, March 26, 2012

Garden plans!

The sun is beginning to tease us here in the Pacific Northwest. Just like the cool girl in high school, it'll show up to your party for a few minutes (just enough for you to bask in all the beautiful glowy-ness) and then leave for a cooler scene. It's just enough to keep us happy, though, with thoughts of the coming sunny weather.

With that in mind, garden plans have started happening! I am not productive enough to have tried cold crops yet, so the garden has been hibernating over winter. That isn't to say that I haven't been daydreaming about the next projects on the list, though. Oh yes, I have been plotting away (get it? plotting? garden plots? eh? eh?)...

I want chickens!
I want an espalier fruit hedge!
I want blueberry bushes!
I want more raised beds!

...the list of wants could go on and on and on.

First project on the list will be the espalier fruit hedge. Espalier is basically this super awesome way to train fruit trees to grow in a non-traditional way - think u-shapes, grids, freeform. We'll be training some apple and pear trees to grow along the side of our house by our neighbor's fence. We'll be able to get some privacy out of it, and some tasty fruit! The trees have been ordered! Whoooo!

Second big project will be the chickens. Our city allows people to keep backyard chickens, as long as they aren't roosters and as long as your neighbors are cool with it. I'm pretty sure our neighbors will be cool about it, especially if I offer up some eggs once the hens start laying. I've "chicken sat" for our friends while they were out of town a few times now, and that has created a gigantic obsession with getting a small flock of my own. Chickens are super rad.

The biggest issue I have is that we have a challenge in terms of space. Since we don't have a super huge yard, I am trying to be smart about the best uses of space. I recently picked up this book, which has a few cool ideas for gardening in small spaces by "growing up".

I've already seen a couple of ideas that I'd like to try and incorporate into this year's projects. We'll see!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Elephants and polkadots. A quilt for baby Van.

Well, it has friends are beginning to breed! This means crafting! This means quilts!

Evidence that I am alive and well and crafting:

A friend and I went in on this work together, which definitely helped with the whole "holy crap I need to work on this quilt" thing...well, that and a deadline of a baby shower! We used the "hopscotch" pattern from the book Super Simple Quilts #1 by Alex Anderson and Liz Aneloski. I have made one other quilt out of this book, and it has been very easy (as quilting goes) and full of any tips a beginner may need. Highly recommended.

I have to say, I find this whole quilting thing a very fun activity!

Monday, September 26, 2011

domestic goddess level +1

This past week, I acted upon a yen for adventures of the culinary persuasion.

For some reason, whenever my "better half" goes out of town I get an intense desire to make and eat a bunch of home-made bread. I have a feeling it is timed this way so that I don't have to share all of the deliciously golden carbs. Last week was no different...the hubs hit the road and I started preheating the oven! Bread is my secret boyfriend. 

I am not very experienced in the art of bread baking (although I would like to start doing it a whole bunch more), so I went for a recipe that looked nice and easy. Photo evidence of white velvet batter bread! 

It was quite tasty, especially when toasted and slathered luxuriously with blackberry jam. Definitely worth the risk of sticky jam hands. The book in the background is where I got the recipe. It is actually supposed to be made in something round/cylindrical (traditionally in old coffee tins), but I didn't have anything like that so I just used a regular old bread pan (booooooring). 

The next adventure was canning peaches. My buddy scored a good deal on a box of peaches at the farmers market and let me tag along on the canning adventure. All in all, I was surprised by how easy it was to do. But, then again, she had all the equipment ready to go - huge-ass pot with a shelf set up on the bottom, can-grabber tool that saves you from scalding hot water...all the necessary tools of the trade. Another bonus was that we had three people cutting and skinning the peaches, which greatly cut down on prep time. Anyway...peaches were cut, plopped in the jars, bathed in sugary syrup water stuff, sealed up, all ending with a nice dip in boiling hot lava (water). The result...a tasty snack all ready to hang out until the middle of winter when I remember that I have canned peaches. 

Ok, finished bragging. Now off to see if I can get myself to sit down long enough to get some knitting done. Minimalist cardigan...I will finish you!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

playing a never ending game of catch me if you can with my creative aspirations (a.k.a. - long time, no blog)

Isn't it funny how you can get that uncontrollable urge to be creative and do fun stuff when you are working, especially when working on tight deadlines and projects with quick turn arounds? Then, when the deadline passes and you've shown your magnificence and skills and met said deadline, the creative rush decides to hide away and you get lazy and stop looking for it and sit on the couch or whatever instead?  Funny, maybe...frustrating, hell to the yes.

Summer is nearly at an end, and I have been able to keep myself busy with the garden and other fun things but little to no artsy fartsy-ness. I am still learning this whole time management skills thing while working from home (thankfully things have been busy and I am lucky to be so flustered). I also will always be learning to keep the to-do lists, even the one with the fun stuff on it, short and sweet. That will be a lifelong lesson.

So I suppose the main purpose of this post is to say that I am still here (for anyone who ever looks at this, and mainly for me). The chill is creeping back into the air. I am getting excited about sweaters, both wearing them and knitting them. Perfect time to pick those needles back up and get to work/play. More to come.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sock it to me...yeah I went there.

Recently, the hubs and I took a trip to Illinois to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. I usually bring knitting with me on plane rides, but I couldn't fit the minimalist cardigan into my carry on bags without freaking out that it could get messed up.
I had decided to try and run a Thanksgiving Day 5k while we were there, so we went to pick up our registration packets and stuff for the race the day before at a nice little running shop in the Arlington Heights Neighborhood. Low and behold, there was a local yarn shop right across the street called Fuzzy Wuzzy Yarns. I went in to check it out and decided to buy a little souvenier of the fibrous persuasion, and felt it was time for me to tackle the art of sock knitting.
The woman working in the shop was nice enough to print out a free pattern from ravelry for self striping socks and point me in the direction of a basket full of self striping sock yarn.
It took me a second or two to remember how to use dpns, and adjust to the very tiny needles but I was able to get a bit of knitting done while we recuperated from the gigantic feast my mother-in-law had made for Thanksgiving dinner.
Although I am back to focusing on the minimalist cardigan, I am pretty pumped to get these socks going. It's a bit of added incentive.

Minimalist Cardigan update

Well, I am very very close to having the back piece finished so that I can move on to the front panels. I just finished the sleeve holes and all I have left are the shoulders. Which is great. Except....I messed up a few rows a little ways back! Blarg! It is at the very beginning of the sleeve hole area. I messed myself up on the pattern when I was decreasing stitches. I caught myself a couple of times and ripped rows out, but I must have thought that I had ripped all of it out...oh man.
Here is a shot of it...

You can see a small line right at the beginning of the sleeve holes. You can also see the small indentations made by kitty feet at the very bottom. Apparently someone thought I was laying out a blanket for them to get comfy on.

So now I am debating on whether or not I should rip out all these rows to fix the ones that are wrong, or if I should let it go and keep going.

Part of me knows that I will see that flaw anytime I look at the thing, and part of me is going to be very upset if I have to re-do all those rows. Another part of me wants chocolate...but that really doesn't have anything to do with me eff-ing up the sweater.

It is the back of the thing....but this stitch pattern really seems to show any wrong-doings.

Any suggestions or words of wisdom are welcome from anyone who may stumble across this post.

Friday, November 5, 2010

the moths made me do it

Yep, there it is. My freezer stash. After reading about moth prevention on the ravelry discussion boards, I found out that freezing your fiber is one of the better ways to prevent moths from setting up shop. It isn't pretty, but it works.

Just thought I would share this sad state of affairs. 

On a positive side, it keeps me from hoarding frozen pizzas and ice cream.