Thursday, February 26, 2009

What I've been working on

Just a small project review today.

First, I got this sweater when a friend of one of the ladies in my spinning guild's mom died. (Did you follow that?) It was all completely done except for some closure. I wanted to put some pretty, vintage-esque buttons on it but for the life of me couldn't figure out why she hadn't put any button holes in. I won't tell you how long it took before it dawned on me...duh, she didn't intend to put in buttons. That nice firm, non-buttonholed front edge is for a ZIPPER.

Anyway, my attempt at using the sewing machine to put it in was more trouble than it's worth. Even with a million pins, the stretch hand-knit bunched and moved around too much for my remedial sewing skills. I'll hand sew it.


I ordered some luscious Superwash Merino and Tencel in the "Chocolate Covered Cherries" colorway from Susan's Spinning Bunny a few weeks ago. It was supposed to become a moebius scarf for Mom since she liked the first one I made. I wasn't too sure I liked the colors though. So I gave her the first scarf I had done and decided to play with the new colorway.

I'm still not sure I like it. More correctly, I'm not sure if I like all the pink. It's way more pink than I expected.

The two bumps were very different in how the colors changed, too. They may have been dyed at different times. The first one is pictured below had some really nice color transitions and less pink, so I was hopeful. The second and one in the picture above, was less subtle in its color changes and was supremely pink. You can definitely see the difference even with them on the bobbin. I'm still debating on how to ply it. Chain ply? Regular ol' 2 ply? I dunno. We'll see.


After last weekend at New Haven Gardens, my wheels have been turning over raised beds. I did a little recon work at Home Depot yesterday, and man oh man, are cinder blocks cheap. And easy to work with, and sturdy. So I've been drawing out designs and mulling over how to make them look nice.

I had thought about Hardie Board siding, but I don't know if you can glue it up or not. I could also stain the blocks, but they'd still be pretty flat and ordinary in any color. Right now, I'm thinking about the plywood Dad used in the basement. It has a look of rough-cut boards. That could probably be applied as a facing. What was that stuff called, Dad?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Gearing up for spring..with sweet potatoes in my tummy

This morning I made some seriously yummy Sweet Potato biscuits. They were very easy and the best thing about them is how healthy they are. Not even a pinch of added sugar or butter. I liked the first batch so much, I made a second double batch tonight for freezing.

Having made them twice, my recommendation for prepping the sweet potatoes is to peel them, slice them, then put them covered in the microwave for a few minutes until they're soft. Then mash them by hand or use the food processor. Just in case you want to try some yourself.


We also made a trip to North Haven Gardens this afternoon. Not only was it Organic Day (meaning I scored some Organic Gardening magazine freebies), Patti Moreno was there. Check out the Urban Sustainable Living link in the right sidebar; that's her. She was a fun speaker and I got a few ideas to improve my raised beds. Plus she and Big I got along great.

North Haven has some nice demo raised beds that gave Craig and I some inspiration for the yard, too.

I was very good and only bought two tomato plants (almost time to put those out!), some Swiss Chard to supplement what I planted from seed, and some cilantro.

Oh yeah, and some expanded shale for Craig to put in a new bed tomorrow. Muwahahaha.


Ah, I hear my friendly neighborhood Great Horned Owl has come out to say hello. I guess that means it's time for bed after a busy day.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A little of this. A little of that.

Beautiful day here today. Somewhere in the 70's I think. There's onions and carrots up in the garden finally and a new blackberry bush in the ground. Over the past couple of days it's been a bit cooler though, so we've been inside.

While Big I did this:

...I put up a couple of glass shelves in my bathroom that have been waiting to be pulled out of the box for a few months now. I got the heights a little wrong, they should be lower and closer together. But it's nice to have something up on the wall even if it's not paint. I also repotted my orchids recently. I hope they like their new sunnier location.

I also went in search of a good dye pot at the local thrift store the other day. Didn't find a good pot, but did find some great sweaters to cannibalize for the yarn.

The striped one is angora, ramie and nylon and could make a nice soft striped hat or scarf. The vest is wool that's been fulled a bit. Don't know what I'll do with that. They were each $1 though, so I'll figure something out.

The skirt, by the way, was also $1 and is from Ann Taylor Loft. That's a store I go into, see lots of things I like, see the price tag, and then sigh and walk out. It fits perfectly.

The yellow sweater was most exciting, though. It was mostly wool with some angora and a touch of nylon. It's very soft and there's a lot of it. I dislike the color, so I over-dyed a sample with some Kool-Aid this afternoon.

I dunno, it seems a little too much like, well, Kool-Aid. I'd hoped for a softer look with a little yellow still showing through. I may do a natural dye and solar dye it.

We'll see. I have plenty of other projects in the wings.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Busy as bees

Busy around the house this weekend. It was the first time in a long while that Craig didn't have to work at all. We headed to both of the big box home improvement stores first thing Saturday morning.

A new fan was purchased and put up in the family room and the old one was moved to the living room.
I finally found a green ash cultivar (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) for sale, a Cimarron Ash. (At one of the big chains no less; I was surprised.) A little research convinced me to give it a try in the yard. We'll have to cross our fingers and see how it adapts in the heavy clay. Ashes are pretty versatile, but for a tree costing less than $100 we'll just have to see.

Craig dug...
and dug some more.

I dug some too.

All elbows and backsides. See?

Then we placed the tree and back filled and watered and mulched.

Even Big I helped.

He also played in the dirt clods.

Speaking of dirt clods, it's no surprise how people made sod houses out of this blackland prairie clay. It makes bricks all on it's own. Just imagine how sturdy they'd be with long-rooted prairie grasses instead of this blasted Bermuda.

Edited to add: Forgot to put in a shot of the finished product!

Craig did a bit more tree work by cleaning up the poor neglected Live Oaks out front. They'll need more work, but they look better already.

We weren't worker bees the whole weekend. We did stop to check out some really cool clouds brought in by a front yesterday.

Great weekend. And as if this post didn't have enough pictures already, here's some more.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mmm, toes...

To make up for my terrible picture earlier, I give you some gratuitous baby pictures, albeit most still lacking in good photo quality.


And by the way, we had the the apple pie with our friends Sarah and JR tonight and it was delicious. Just in case you wondered.

Budding out all over

From the title of this post, you might think it's about more gardening, but it's not. (Though there is plenty popping up in the beds, thank you.)

Nope, Big I has his first tooth just popping up. I noticed it swelling a bit yesterday and then I looked this morning and there was a bit of honest to goodness white. I know the picture is terrible (how do you convince a 6 month old to open up and say 'ahh'?), but it's there, I promise.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Coming along...

Finished knitting Mom's Tuscany shawl yesterday, just hours before they had to leave. It's shown here in its unblocked state. I had to send it along with Mom with some instructions on how to bring it to its full potential.

No Sheep For You's Tuscany Shawl. Size 6 circular needles (Knit Picks Harmony), Ella Rae Silkience, color 07. I'm very pleased.


In gardening news, I was so busy getting ready for guests last week that I didn't get adequate rabbit fencing around the raised bed. They got the early spinach unfortunately. All they left were little nubs, but they seem to be coming back already.

Dad decided to make a nice fortress for the bed while he was here. He and Andy took a few hours to make two removable frames and put in some wire mesh. So far so good.

More and more is popping up: spinach of course, peas coming on strong, and lots of lettuce. Still waiting on the onions and carrots though.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


This was the weekend for Big I's baptism. My whole family came in minus a couple of spouses and kids.

We started the weekend with breakfast with grandma and grandpa.

We went out to dinner with everyone who could make it that night. At the pope table no less.

From left to right, brother Andy, SIL Stacy, sister Cari, Mom...

sister Melissa, Dad...

SIL Jen (behind Pope Benedict), BIL Sonny with AJ, B-man...

friends A., Sarah and JR.

And of course, the man of the hour...ready to party as always.

Sunday morning, he was on his very best behavior for his baptism.

He prepped for the big event with Grandpa and with Grandma.

He was a very big boy for the wet part of the experience. He really likes Father Matthew.

All in all, a lovely weekend, but tiring...a nap was in order all around.