Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thanks to yesterday's comments

I'm now faced with a real hankering for blueberries. I even woke in the middle of the night and thought about where I could put a couple of blueberry bushes. It didn't help that it was 46 and sunny yesterday, so I was outside feeling like spring is around the corner. Last night the temperature dropped 30 degrees and it is winter again. Blargh.

Speaking of yesterday, I spent the afternoon doing cleanup work. It was lovely. It's funny how something that is so objectionable in July is an absolute joy in December. I picked up all the limbs that had fallen during the ice storm of a couple of weeks ago, raked the pile of leftover leaves to where the garden will be in the spring (I plan to choke out the grass with them, newspaper, and a healthy layer of compost. Don't laugh! I read right here on the internet that it totally works!), swept the garage, and I climbed out on the roof and cleaned the gutters. The gutter cleaning was cut short, though, because the metal roof on the garage was a little slippery. Not to mention that I wasn't wearing waterproof gloves and my fingers were getting cold.

Anyway, the dose of vitamin D I got out there was much needed. I hope it's enough to get me through the next few weeks, until the next sunny and "warm" day.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And one of that, and three of those, and a couple of these..

You know how you go to a church potluck, and everything looks so good that you have to have a bite of each, and by the time you head back to your table the plate is heaped with a 5" mountain of food, with no reasonable ability to consume all of it?

That's how I felt yesterday while looking through the first 2009 seed catalog that came in yesterday's mail. I was picking out carrots and peas and new tomatoes and beans and even trying to figure out how to find enough sunny spots in the yard for a few blueberry bushes. I won't even get started on my desire to grow those sunflowers that grow to 12 feet tall. And then I looked at the groundcover section and dreamed of getting rid of those overgrown yews along the side of the house. I was practically drooling by the end.

But like the potluck, there's no way I could do all of that here. I have too much shade, not enough time, and a paltry budget. I should note that I have plenty of motivation right now, but know that although we've had plenty of cold and snow already there's lots of time to go before I get to start playing with seeds. My motivation levels experience precipitous drop each year as soon as the humidity and temperatures hit 85 degrees. By mid-July, I usually regret all the work I made for myself and want to hide in the air conditioning until fall.

Today, though, I dream of lush gardens and warm soil.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I made bread yesterday that does not suck. That would not normally warrant a "woot!" like this post's title, but you might have read in the last weeks of my slump. I've had breads fail at an astonishing rate (nearing 100%) in the last 3 months, so any success is momentous, indeed.

Last week, King Arthur Flour company had free shipping on orders placed that day. I jumped at the chance to buy some proper sourdough starter and some really cute snowflake-shaped cookies sprinkles. After 3 days of feeding and growing my starter, I set out to make a real loaf of real sourdough (I've been through the sourdough deal before, and it didn't go well). Of course, being me, I decided to do it the hard way; the rustic, super-sour, no-added-yeast recipe.

This loaf took time. You feed the starter, wait 4 hours, then put it in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Take it out, add make the bread dough, then let it do its thing for 5-6 hours, then shape the loaves and let them rise for another 2-3 hours before baking. I got nervous after the overnight rest because of the lack of bubbles, so when I added the rest of the flour, I kneaded in about 3/4 teaspoon of instant yeast. I don't know how much that did, but it made me feel better.

Yadda yadda yadda, At 6pm last night, I had fresh-baked sourdough. It's not nearly as sour as the recipe acted like it would be, but I have to take into account that the last sourdough I tasted was brought back from San Francisco. Nothing tastes quite like San Fran sourdough. Anyway, it's good, and I cannot wait to make toast out of it this morning.

In other slump news, I've made two scarves and half a hat with the 9.0mm needles, and I think I'm now ready to stop working with tree branches and go back to normal knitting. I have the toe of a sock to finish, a shawl to work on, and some alpaca that still is calling to me. Time to get back to work.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I've attempted to bake bread about 4 times this month, and it has gone poorly each time, for different reasons. I used to be good at it. I've tried two different yeast recipes (one is my old standby) and banana bread (again, an old standby recipe). Mr. Deplume thinks I've hit a slump. He swears that all the greats do, and that I'll get over it soon. I hope so. In the meantime, I made chocolate chip banana muffins. I did not screw those up. They are so good, in fact, that I ate about 8 of them in 2 days. oops.

Speaking of slumps, I am still battling my winter knitting funk. To combat this, I picked up some US13 (that's 9 millimeters thick!) needles and have made a couple of garter stitch neck warmers out of *gasp* novelty yarn. It's almost embarrassing. I like to think of myself as an appreciator of the finer side of the craft, but dang if these aren't fast! I don't even know what I want to do with them yet. I just want to have completed projects under my belt.

If I get a minutes later on, I'll take pictures. But I probably won't post them on Ravelry, you know, due to the shame. ;)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

erm, a 90 percent chance?

The weather report shows a 90% chance of snow this morning. Somehow,looking at the current radar, i think that number might be a little low.

And we're almost out of cheese and bread. oops. I guess I'll be baking today.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sweater drying- you're doing it wrong

I washed the two sweaters I bought at the thrift store last month. I still haven't decided what I'm going to do with one of them, but it needed to be clean regardless. The reason it took a month is that I don't have a lot of good places to dry my woolens. If it were summer, I would take them outside, but it's cold here, so the dining room table has to do. As it turns out, my cat Penny likes sleeping on sweaters even when they are completely wet and cold from the basement. who knew.

Luckily, she's the tidy kitty, and left very little fur behind. If Yoda had plopped her ample butt on there I would have had to re-wash. She's a big ball of ungroomed fur and dandruff.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What movie is our Christmas most like?

For once, one of these silly quizzes has me accurately pegged.
Fa ra ra ra ra,
ra ra.

Your Christmas is Most Like: A Christmas Story

Loving, fun, and totally crazy.

Don't shoot your eye out!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Random Christmas Memories

When I was a kid, our artificial tree’s stand was mounted on a 2’ x 2’ piece of plywood to steady the base, then there were eye hooks mounted on the window casing about 4 feet from the ground (these remained there year round, obscured by the curtains). Once the tree was assembled, a length of twine was wrapped around the tree's trunk and secured to the hooks. Apparently, between the kids and the cats, they had had some problems, and my dad decided to put an end to tree toppling forever.

Next time I see him, I should ask about the incident that prompted him to break out the saw, drill and twine. Fun memories.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mah new two-day hat

Winter has arrived here in Illinois. I have very short hair, so my poor ears are just out there in the elements, at the mercy of the cold prairie wind. I try to walk outside some every day, regardless of weather, so this hats are a big must-have for me. Back in July I knit the star crossed slouchy beret, thinking it a nice combination of style and warmth. I still really like the look of the hat, but after its initial winter wearing, I deem it a failure in the "keeping earlobe frostbite at bay" department: just too loose a gauge for my needs.

So I set out on Sunday to find a new pattern for a hat, one that would keep my ears warm and not make me look like a chemo patient. When I did a search on Ravelry, there were 90 pages of free patterns from which to choose. And yet none looked just right.

A while back, I knit the Architect's Hat from the Knitter's Book of Yarn, as a commission. I liked the hat a lot, but it had to go live with its rightful owner after I finished it. I decided to make it again, this time for me. But my copy of the pattern (the book is owned by the hat's commissioner) has turned up missing. So I did what any moderately masochistic person would do-- attempt to knit the hat from memory and pictures.

You know what? It turned out just fine. And in a day and a half, as well. Yay for me! I kinda wish the two yarns I used were closer in tone and I still need to block it, but I wore it out this afternoon when I walked to pick my daughter up from school, and it kept my head warm. Bonus. :)

Maybe this marks the end of my knitting funk. But this could also be a fluke. one just never knows.