This past weekend The Husband and I decided it was time to get out of town for the weekend.  Lucky for us, there was a fiber fair in nearby Idaho Falls, Idaho.  We left town on Friday afternoon with the intent to travel to Idaho Falls, drop off our stuff at a hotel, and then head up to Jackson Hole to snoop around.  I think we forgot what it’s like to sit in a car for several hours on end.  By the time we got to Idaho Falls (which isn’t really that far away, 3-1/2 hours maybe), we decided that getting back into the car was not an option.  We had thought that Jackson Hole would be another hour away, but it turned out it was more like 2 hours.  Somehow the thought of sitting in the car for another 2 hours there and then another 2 hours back was just not appealing.  So, we spent the evening in Idaho Falls just hanging out in our room and then a brief trip through town to make sure we knew where we’d be going on Saturday for the fiber fair.

Saturday morning we took our time getting checking out of the hotel and heading on over to the fiber fair.  There were signs directing us to the correct building.  Since I’ve never been to this particular fiber fair, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I’ve been to a fiber fair in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas and the Snake River Fiber Fair seems to be about the same size, maybe a bit bigger.  It was held in a building on a college campus and the classrooms were used for classes and the hallways were packed with vendors.  Several vendors were familiar friends from Salt Lake City, including Three Wishes, Fiber Optica, and Greenwood Fiberworks, Wasatch Watercolours, and Judy’s Novelty Wool

I had a particular target when we headed off to Snake River Fiber Fair and that was Notlwonk Springs, or the Knowlton’s, and their Corriedale cross fleeces.  The Knowlton’s hold their Spring Trek every year on the first weekend of May and I had planned to go to this year’s trek, but ended up getting the flu.  Seriously disappointed at having missed this event, I was determined to visit their booth at Snake River Fiber Fair.  I didn’t take pictures of them or their booth and I really wish I had thought of doing that.  I did, however, remember to take photos of the fleeces that I bought from them!  If I remember correctly, this first fleece is from a 6-year-old Corriedale cross ewe.  I love the color variations in the fleece.  The crimp was lovely as was the staple length, which was probably around 3 inches without stretching.  It was also seriously sooooft!

The second fleece I bought from them was a dark brown fleece from a lamb’s first shearing, or a hogget fleece.  Look at those golden, sun-bleached tips!  Gorgeous!  As you can see from the picture, the fleece is sitting between two other bags of fleece.  This picture was taken in the fleece judging room as my fleece had been entered into the fleece judging contest.  I’m happy to say that my fleece won a third place ribbon!

Speaking of fleece judging, once we heard that the fleece I was buying was entered into the contest, we decided to stay for the judging so we could listen in and watch the process.  The judge, Ingrid Painter, was an incredibly generous judge, sharing her thoughts with those of us in the room and taking questions.   She checked through each fleece and talked about what she was finding and what she looked for.  For example, while she was judging my fleece, she mentioned that the staple length was a bit shorter than she would want.  However, she also showed that it measured from the tip of her thumb to the base of her thumb, a way of measuring staple length to check for minimum length for spinning.  She said it was a lovely fleece that would be a pleasure to spin.  She thought it might be a bit tippy with those golden tips, but they didn’t seem to break off.  Also, she commented that there was some debris in the fleece, but it was generally clean. 

In general, she shared that when looking at fleeces you look for consistency in the fleece, look for breaks in the locks and tips.  She also mentioned that you could take a lock and hold it the tip in one hand and the base in the other (about 7 pounds of pressure)  and then flick the lock with your fingers and listen to the tone it made.  If there were crackles in the tone, the fleece was brittle and would break apart…not something you want!  There were approximately 4-5 divisions of fleeces:  Navajo-Churro fleeces in the first division, the Corriedale crosses and a Rambouillet fleece in the second division, Romney crosses in the third division, Romney fleeces in another division, and Alpacas (both Huacaya and a Suri) in the last division.  It was fascinating listening to Ms. Painter talk about her thoughts on each fleece and I learned a lot.

After the judging was finished, I went to look at some of the fleeces that hadn’t been entered into the judging since they were owned by the judge!  They were mainly Navajo-Churro fleeces, but there was also a Jacob fleece that was simply gorgeous and, of course, it had to come home with me too!  Notice that both dark brown and white fibers are included in the fleece.  Both colors grow on the same animal.  We talked with a gentleman who had assisted Ms. Painter in the judging and he told us about the various characteristics of Jacob sheep.  They are, apparently, great meat animals as well.  They have horns which you can use to make buttons.  He also mentioned that they way between 90-120 pounds and are very agile.  Hm.  Their point of origin is in the Middle East.

I learned so much while I was at the Snake River Fiber Fair and I had a wonderful time talking with vendors and friends.  I would love to go to another fiber festival this year, maybe the Black Sheep Gathering or the Estes Fiber Festival.  Everyone I meet at these things has something in common with me and I love that!  The people are so friendly and just as excited about fiber as I am.  It’s a community that’s spread around the world and these fairs or festivals give us all a chance to get together and realize that we’re part of that community.


Last Wednesday was the spinning guild meeting.  We were told to bring 1 ounce of fiber in a brown paper bag for a challenge project.  I dutifully packed up some fiber I had dyed and headed to the meeting.  We all exchanged fiber (via a passing game) and I got 1 ounce of alpaca, white.  We were then issued the challenge to spin the fiber and make something from it, to be creative.  Yikes!  The very word sends a little shiver of anxiety up my spine.  I’ve never seen myself as being adequately creative.  I know, sad, right?  So I’ve decided to take this challenge seriously and really try to stretch myself, maybe prove to myself that I’m more creative than I give myself credit for.  I’ve also decided to keep a journal for this particular project to both help the project along and as a reminder of what I did.  Since I want the finished object to be a surprise, I’m going to wait until I’ve made the object and given it back to the person who gave me the fiber in the first place and then I’ll blog about it here.  I might even make a special page for my creativity challenge.  =)

In The Kitchen

I’m back to cooking from cookbooks again.  My sister turned me on to the cookbooks by Ellie Krieger (So Easy and The Food You Crave) and my sister-in-law told me about a cookbook by Tosca Reno called The Eat-Clean Diet.  So I’ve come up with a few menus and snack ideas from these three books.  I’ve actually already made two recipes from the So Easy cookbook, the Spicy Egg and Avocado Wraps and the Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats.  The wraps were a nice healthy lunch for The Husband and myself (mine being minus the avocado since The Husband stole all those for Himself!).  The wraps include lettuce, tomato, avocado, hard-boiled egg and cucumber plus other ingredients.  The Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats were an excellent sweet ending to lunch.  They’re like the rice crispy treats we made as kids, minus the processed sugar/marshmallows and with the addition of peanut butter and dried fruit (or chocolate chips or just about anything else one can think of).  I made mine with dried cherries.  Seriously yummy!  I did have to put them in the fridge a bit longer than suggested to firm them up and I made my typical mistake when making rice crispy treats – I didn’t press them down hard enough.  Shoot.  Oh well, I just pressed them down again after they had chilled enough so they weren’t quite as sticky.  I would give this recipe a double thumbs up.  More recipe auditions to come.

In the Craft Room

I’m still working on the Evenstar Shawl.  It’s coming along really well.  We’ve received the second-to-last clue and closing in on finishing this thing.  I’d put in a picture, but it really does look like a pile of snarled yarn at this point (well, maybe not that bad).  Believe me, when I’m done and it’s been blocked, I’ll probably be posting pictures everywhere!

Another project I’m working on is learning to darn socks.  I asked my sister to send me her hand-knitted socks that had holes in them so I could learn how to fix them and she kindly obliged.  I was all ready to go until I saw that thread, not just yarn, was involved.  Hm.  What you have to do with the thread really isn’t that hard, it just means I have to go find it in the craft room.  Hrmph.  That might require some excavation and several days of wandering in the jungle of yarn and fiber.  Never fear, I’ve a flashlight around here somewhere.

On The Bookshelf

I’m currently reading a book by Warren Fahy, “Fragment.”  So far, it seems to be one of those novels that means to scare you with what nature can, does, and could come up with.  Think along the lines of “Jurassic Park.”  Hm.  Not my favorite type of novel since I’m generally not in favor of making nature seem like our enemy.  I’m going to stick with it though.  I’m hoping that there’s some redemption at the end of the novel and that the apparently scary aspects of nature and evolution are being misinterpreted.  I’m crossing my fingers here.

Also on the bookshelf, are “Villette” by Charlotte Bronte and “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde.  I’m still reading both books, but they’re a bit on the back burner as “Fragment” is a library book and needs to be read first.  I love “Villette” but have been frustrated with the huge amount of French in it.  The French is not interpreted in footnotes and I’m one of the few who didn’t study French in school.  So, I’ve taken to using an interpretation program on my computer.  This does not make “Villette” a particularly portable read.  I pretty much have to read it while sitting at the computer.  It may take a while to finish it.  I’ve just started “Dorian Gray” for a book group, so I don’t really have too much to say about it so far.

More updates later.  I’m hoping to have more updates on the garden in the next week.  It has finally warmed up and is sunny, so there should be more opportunities to plant.  I’ve planted three blueberry bushes in the backyard, but I’ll save that for later.  Oh, and I’ll also have to post pictures of Bailey, the poodle, and her new haircut!

Back in the Kitchen

Yes, I know.  It’s been a while since I posted.  Between the cloudy weather and it being Tax Time, I wasn’t particularly in the mood to blog.  It’s still Tax Time, but at least the weather has warmed up.  Today it’s a sunny 63 and it actually feels like spring might be on its way.  Daffodils have just started blooming and there are some trees in bloom too.  Some of the trees are just starting to show a mist of yellow green and the snow has begun to melt on the lower parts of the mountains.  So, since Mother Nature has actually shown some signs that she might actually consider giving us a spring, The Husband spent the afternoon out in the yard cleaning up the downed branches, trimming bushes, and getting two of the garden plots ready for planting.  He also planted the Arugula seeds and the Daikon Radishes.  Everything else either needs to be planted indoors or needs to wait until the end of the month or later.   Hurrah for Spring!!

In The Kitchen

Yep, I’ve been back in my kitchen and playing with my food (grin).  While listening to Stitch It, I heard Meghan mention a website that has recipes for people on a no gluten/no processed sugar diet.  I don’t have an allergy to gluten, but I do try to limit my processed sugars, so I headed on over to Elana’s Pantry.  She has a TON of recipes over there and some of them look really, really good.  The Lemon Kale Chips will probably be a future kitchen experiment at our house.  However, today’s recipe was a special request from The Husband.  He was craving chocolate chip cookies, so I made Elana’s Chocolate Chip Cookies They’re made with almond flour, agave syrup, and dark chocolate.  I had to go pick up the almond flour and the chocolate chips, but I had everything else on hand.  After I mixed everything together, I thought the batter looked pretty runny, so I went back to her recipe to double check my measurements.  And, there at the bottom of her recipe, I noticed a little warning about Bob’s Red Mill almond flour NOT being recommended.  Guess which kind of almond flour I bought.  Sigh.  So, I decided to try making some adjustments on my own.  I added probably another half cup of almond flour to the batter (I essentially used the entire bag of flour.  Hey, I didn’t want that little bit of leftover flour anyway.) and then baked the cookies longer than I normally would.  The cookies were still extremely tender after 2 minutes of cooling, so I let the cookies cool completely on the pan. This made it possible to get the cookies off the pan without them falling apart.  As far as taste, they taste pretty good.  They don’t taste like normal sugary chocolate chip cookies, but they’ve got a pretty good flavor.  The dark chocolate chips are a lot more noticeable in these cookies than regular chocolate chips are in normal chocolate chip cookies.  The texture is really different too, but in a good way.  These cookies are not crisp and light, like we were taught cookies should be and like we’re used to eating.  They’re soft, dense, and curiously chewy.  With this particular flour, you can really feel the bits of almond in there.  So, I’d say these cookies are a winner, I’ll just make sure to get the correct brand of almond flour next time!

In the Craft Room

There isn’t a whole lot of new stuff going on in the craft room, but I did finish a few projects.  I spun up some 1-ounce dye samples from last year’s spinning guild dye exchange and came up with this light worsted weight yarn.   I really liked the way it came out, but had no idea what I was going to do with it.  After visiting with Kristine at Three Wishes (one of my local yarn stores), I decided to knit it into a Gothic Revival Shawl.  I was concerned about the yarn looking too busy, but I think that it will be alright.  It will look more blended, overall, from a distance.  The shawl is knitted up but still needs blocking.  I’m hoping to get to that this week sometime, I just have to find someplace to block it that the cats will leave it alone.

Also finished in the last week is my Mondo Cable Pulli.  Finally, a sweater that came out perfectly!!!  Now, this does not mean that there aren’t mistakes in there, I’m sure there are some.  No, my definition of perfect is that it fits(!), I like the color, I like the way it feels, and I like the way it looks.  I’m soooo happy with this sweater!  It was a lot of fun to knit and the Malabrigo yarn is really soft.  I know it will probably pill, but I’m so happy with the sweater that I don’t care!  The only difficulty I had with it was the ribbing at the bottom.  I knitted it too loose the first time around and this made it flare out a bit.  So, I ripped it back and knitted it again with smaller needles.  It still curls up a little bit and, if I really wanted to, I could rip it back again and try a different rib pattern (a 4 x 2 rib as opposed to a 4 x 1 rib).  I’m not that upset by the curling.  I might try basting on some grosgrain ribbon to help hold it down or maybe baste in (very loosely) some elastic thread, but I’ll probably just try steaming it first, if I ever take it off!

Well, that’s it for today.  The sun is still shining out there and it’s still warm enough to sit outside.  I think I’ll go sit on the porch and bask in the warm sunshine and enjoy the smell of spring in the air.

You know how sometimes you have a brilliant idea that later turns out to be not such a good idea?  Well, it turns out that cooking from one cookbook for weeks on end is probably not a good idea, things get a bit, well, stale.  In the last week, I tried three more recipes from said cookbook, and none of the three were winners.  In fact, the two I cooked tonight will probably be thrown away.  Sigh.  What a waste.  Also, The Husband has been grumbling a bit for the last couple of weeks around mealtime.  The comments were muttered and not entirely coherent, but I got the feeling they had to do with the type of food showing up at mealtimes.

The Husband:  Mumble, grumble, mumble.

Me:  “Is there a problem?”

The Husband:  “No.”

Me:  “Don’t you like my cooking?”

The Husband:  “There is absolutely nothing wrong with your cooking.  I love your cooking.  Your cooking is great!  There’s never been anything wrong with your cooking, etc.”

(Hm, that last comment seemed a bit over-zealous, but I decided to let it go.)

Me:  “Well, then, do you dislike the dishes I’ve been cooking lately?”

The Husband:  Mumble, mumble, mumble.

So, I was pretty sure that things were heading south in terms of all the healthy and veggie-centric dishes I’d been cooking lately.  Just to test that theory, last week, about mid-week, I asked if we could maybe eat out the next day.  The Husband responded that that would be great.  To further test my theory, that weekend I suggested that maybe I just wouldn’t cook the next week and we could eat out most of the week.  Oddly enough, The Husband again agreed, even though he knows it costs three times as much to eat at restaurants versus eating at home.  Then, today, when I tried out two more recipes from the book and realized that they were not going to pass muster, I came to the same conclusion my husband had come to a couple of weeks ago:  This cooking from the one cookbook was not working out.  When The Husband came home tonight we talked about the “culinary adventure” and decided that it was time for me to let it go.  This is not to say that I won’t be cooking from that cookbook anymore, because I will.  This is also not to say that I don’t agree with eating locally, eating what is in season, and eating a diet that has a lot of healthy vegetables in it.  I think these are all great ideas.  What I will be doing is pulling out some of the old standby recipes that we’ve made for years and love.  I’ll also be pulling out some different cookbooks and trying new recipes from them.  I’ll go back to playing with my food and cooking recipes as if they are suggestions, not rules.  I’ll throw a few things together in a pan and call it a meal.  And I’ll probably slip in some junk food now and then.  =)  What’s that saying Mom always says?  Oh yes, “Everything in moderation!”

(What’s that I hear?  I do believe that’s The Husband ordering pizza!)

Busy in the kitchen

In the Kitchen

This past week I’ve spent a bit more time in the kitchen and 4 more recipes from Simply in Season got cooked.  It seems like I’m averaging about 2 meals a week that feature recipes from Simply in Season.  I could probably cook more often, but I think we’d end up wasting some food.  The recipes are generally written to serve 6 and, since there’s only 2 of us, there are plenty of leftovers.  By this evening, I’ll have added 2 more recipes, Turkey Barley Soup (currently bubbling away in the crock pot) and Southwestern Potatoes (gotta use up more of those potatoes!).  So, recipes last week included:

Apple Rice Stuffing:  I made this to go along side a roasted whole chicken.  The rice is cooked with apple juice and then added to onion, celery, apples, walnuts, a bit of brown sugar, and some herbs to taste and cooked in a pan.  Then you have the choice of either cooking it in the chicken or separately in a casserole dish.  I chose to cook it separately since I was roasting the chicken in the crock pot.  This was a pretty tasty stuffing, sweet from the apples and brown sugar, but savory from the herbs, and the walnuts added a nice crunch.

Wild Rice Vegetable Bake and Pork Apricot Skillet:  The Wild Rice Vegetable Bake was okay.  It included wild rice and barley plus lots of vegetables.   The rice was pre-cooked a bit and the barley probably could have stood with some pre-cooking as well.  The vegetables included parsnips, winter squash (I used acorn squash), and sweet potatoes.  I’m not a huge fan of parsnips and, if I was rushed for time, I’d probably leave out the squash since it’s a bit harder to handle and harder to peel.  I did enjoy the flavor of the squash though.  So, overall, I’d say this recipe was just okay.  The Pork Apricot Skillet, on the other hand, was pretty good.  It’s a really simple recipe with just pork, onion, and dried apricots.  The flavors go well together and I love apricots!  I’ll be making this one again.

And, finally, I also made some more granola, the Mostly Oats Granola.  This is a typical granola but had a few ingredients that I’ve never put in granola before, including raw sunflower seeds and vanilla.  It’s not a very sweet granola (no added brown sugar and not as much honey as other recipes) but it has a touch of sweetness and the sunflower seeds add a new flavor.  Impression:  It’s an okay granola, but I have other recipes I like better.

I’m hoping that I’ll have time this afternoon to also make a dessert.  I have some peach slices thawing in the refrigerator from last summer and there’s a Whole Wheat Peach Kuchen recipe that looks pretty yummy.

In the Craft Room

I’ve been spinning a lot lately.  Now that the Ravelympics are over, I can get back to spinning up my fiber club installments from Crown Mountain Farms.  I’ve finished up February’s Finn fiber in Shiva/Shakti and will begin spinning up March’s installment next.   March’s fiber is Shetland Top in the colorway Bannockburn, gorgeous greens and yellows, very spring-like.  The Shiva/Shakti yarn is a 3-ply fingering weight that I’m planning to knit up into socks.  I think I’ll spin the Bannockburn into a 2-ply fingering weight and, if I get enough yardage, maybe make shawlette.  It’s kind of bright, but a shawlette in spring greens might be just the thing to wear on a coolish spring day.

Other spinning as been for the fleece study.  So far, I’ve spun up the Polwarth, the Shetland, and I have singles for the Finn that need to be plied.  The fleece study group is meeting on Wednesday and I’m hoping I’ll get maybe one more sample carded and spun up by then.  Pictures of those samples later.

In knitting news, I’m working on a new sweater!  I’ve joined a knit-a-long for one of the podcasts I listen to (Knitmore Girls) and will be knitting the Mondo Cable Pulli by Bonne Marie Burns of Chic KnitsI’m knitting it out of Malabrigo in the Marron Oscuro colorway.  The photo was taken outside on my porch (we have sun today!) and, at least on my screen, appears to be true to its color.

Other projects on the needles include a pair of socks (of course) and the Evenstar Mystery Shawl.  I’m still working on clue number 2 of the shawl and the third clue was released this weekend.  Guess I’d better hurry up on that.  It is lace though, so it requires total quiet and a lot of concentration.  That’s going to be harder and harder to come by as the weather gets more spring-like.

In the Dye Pot

The dyeing for the spinning guild’s dye exchange is finally done!  The fiber that I dyed up last week ended up felting horribly, so I had to buy another pound of fiber and dye it this weekend.  I was super cautious this time about not agitating the fiber and didn’t add as much dye to the dye pot so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time rinsing.  The newly dyed fiber came out beautifully!  What a relief!  Here’s a picture of the fiber I dyed with the Earthues Logwood Purple extract.  A picture of the fiber I dyed this weekend will have to wait as it is still down in the basement drying.  All that’s left to do for the dye exchange is to divide the fiber into 1-ounce bundles and wrap the labels around them.  Then, on Wednesday evening, I’ll hand out all the fiber I’ve dyed up and come home with 2 pounds of new fiber dyed by other guild members.  I can’t wait to see all the colors they came up with!

In The Kitchen

Yay!  Three more recipes accomplished in my attempt to cook my way through Simply in Season!  They were all done yesterday, March 7, 2010.  Now, usually I avoid cooking on Sundays since it is Sunday and the last day of the weekend, which is when I spend time with The Husband.  However, I just wasn’t in the mood to eat restaurant food, we had finished up all of last week’s leftovers, and we had just spent around $180 on groceries (which The Husband was not particularly pleased about), so venturing into the kitchen to make a nice healthy supper seemed liked a good idea.

The first recipe I made was Potato Soup.  I decided on this recipe for two reasons:  1)  how hard could soup be?  and 2) an accidental over-abundance of potatoes.  I don’t know how I ended up with 2 bags of potatoes, but I did, and these were from the last time we bought groceries!  Note to self:  Do not buy groceries until you have checked to make sure that you don’t already have what’s on the grocery list!  I used up one bag of potatoes on the Potato Soup, so there’s one bag of potatoes gone.  Luckily, these were thin-skinned potatoes, so I didn’t have much peeling to do (I decided to peel 2-3 of the potatoes that had started turning a bit green).  However, there was a lot of potato dicing!  The soup also included a bit of celery (I used up the leftover celery from last week) and carrots.  The broth was frozen leftover homemade chicken broth from a chicken I cooked a couple of months ago.  It was then enhanced with 2 cups of milk and some flour to make a cream broth.  The Husband tends to like having meat with his meals, so I also added some cooked ham that we had bought at Whole Foods.  Add some salt and pepper and you’ve got a very yummy potato soup! 

Beside the soup, you can see the results of the second recipe, Peanut Apple Salad.  Now, this recipe took a wee bit of trust.  =)  The apples, celery, raisins, peanuts and coconut were all fine additions, it was the dressing that had me tempted to ignore the instructions in the recipe.  The dressing was made from peanut butter, sugar, milk, and mayo!  I was fine right until the addition of mayo.  However, when I started this little adventure I had decided to follow the recipes and then, if I didn’t like the results, I could change it the next time I made the recipe.  So, in went the mayo.  I must say, the dressing was good!  You couldn’t even really taste the mayo in there.  It was about the consistency and flavor of a peanut dipping sauce you might get at a Thai restaurant.  Yum!

The last recipe I made from Simply in Season yesterday was the Chunky Crunchy Granola from the All Seasons section of the cookbook.  This granola has some milk and flour added to the usual ingredients of granola (plus brown sugar) to make it chunky.  It also has cinnamon and ground ginger added!  It smelled and tasted like the oatmeal crumb topping you might put on a cobbler.  For the fruit and nuts, I added raisins, dried apricots, and slivered almonds, but you could add anything you have on hand.

I have one more addition to my kitchen experiments this week:  Yogurt!  Now, I listen to Meghan’s StitchIt Podcast (see links) and this week Meghan’s Favorite Thing was homemade yogurt.  I swear, that girl has a talent for convincing people to try new things!  She is so enthusiastic and describes things in such a way that you’re convinced you have to go try whatever it is immediately.  =)  So, I now own a yogurt maker!  LOL!  After quite a bit of research, we went to our local kitchen store and bought a Waring Pro yogurt machine and I made yogurt Saturday overnight.  This first picture is what it looked like while it was incubating.  The jars you see beside it are the jars that came with the yogurt maker.  They’re made of plastic and I wasn’t 100% sure about using them in the yogurt maker (because of leaching), so I used some glass jelly jars I had instead.  I think next time I’ll just make it in a large bowl and then scoop the yogurt into the plastic jars for storage.  Anyway, here is the finished yogurt Sunday morning.  I had some for a snack on Sunday afternoon with honey drizzled over it and had it again for breakfast today with the granola.  The flavor is wonderful!  The consistency is a bit thinner than I was aiming for, but still perfectly fine.  It’s made with organic 2% milk and organic yogurt, so I can eat it and feel really good about getting all the benefits of eating yogurt.

In The Dye Pot

I’ve also been dyeing this week.  The spinning guild dye exchange is coming up this month and so it’s time to dye up 2 pounds of fiber using natural dye materials.  I decided to go with Earthues dye extracts in Madder and Logwood Purple.  The pictures are of the wool in the dye pot.  I’ll have pictures of the dried wool later.  The process wasn’t too bad.  The only trouble I had was getting the water temperature up to 200 degrees without making the water boil.  I figured it was our elevation and emails from the spinning guild forum confirmed that others were having the same problem and were just getting it as hot as they could without letting the water boil.  After I had mordanted and dyed the wool, the next part was giving it a quick wash and rinse.  Sounds easy, right?  Not so.  The rinsing took forever!  I don’t think I got the water to run entirely clear with the purple wool and I ended up enlisting The Husband’s help for the red wool.  The red wool probably took at least an hour to rinse clear.  I’m not sure if this is just the nature of the dye product or if I somehow grossly over-estimated the amount of dye I would need for the amount of wool I had.  I followed the directions from the Earthues instruction book, but who knows.

Next on the agenda for the dye exchange, making up labels for each 1-ounce sample explaining what type of wool, what type of dye, what dye method, etc.  I might also need to do some carding of the wool since the wool fibers got really disorganized with all that rinsing.

Out To The Garden

Just a brief note about garden plans.  I had The Husband go through the seed packages we bought so we could plan when to start planting.  It sounds like the Daikon radishes should go out this week some time.  There are a few others that can be planted indoors as well.  Time to find planting containers (old take-out containers, flower pots, egg cartons, etc.) and decide what planting medium I want to use to plant the seeds in.  I’ll probably just end up grabbing a bag of soil from a local store.  The more difficult question will be where to put the seeds so the cats will stay out of them!  =)

And, finally, I thought I’d share what my garden looked like this past Friday morning. It’s that raised square area towards the middle.  (Ignore the recycling container that was left out on the patio after it was scoured out.)  The square is one of the raised beds.  There is another one off to the right a bit.  This year we’ll be using those two beds plus creating a garden down on the lower level of our yard as well.  Here’s another picture out towards the front yard.  Doesn’t look much like gardening weather, does it.  Luckily, today it is sunny and nearly 50 degrees.  You just never know out here in The Valley.  Of course, I just checked our forecast and it looks like we’re due for more snow tomorrow night.  Spring gardening plans will have to wait a little bit longer.

As you can see, I’ve updated my recipe ticker to reflect the 4 recipes I’ve made.  But more about that in the In The Kitchen section.  The Olympics and Ravelympics are over.  I’m both relieved to have the deadline met and behind me, but my knitting is feeling a bit aimless these days.  I’ve already knit a pair of slippers since Closing Ceremonies and I have a shawl I could work on, but without the entertainment of the games and the pressure of a deadline, well, it just isn’t the same.  I did have a good time making the slippers though.  =)  They are the Bunny Hop Slippers from Craft Magazine.  Mine aren’t pink bunnies though, as you can see.  I couldn’t find a pink chunky yarn that I really liked.  The colors just weren’t right.  So, I bought some green Plymouth Galway Chunky and then dyed up some fiber in some coordinating (I hoped) green dyes and decided to go for it.  Where is the green dyed fiber?  Why, inside!  They’re called thrums and you knit them in as you knit the slipper.  They add for extra cushion and extra warmth.  I’ve tried them on several times and they are definitely cushy and they immediately began warming up my cold toes.  I haven’t actually worn them around the house.  They’re still too new.  =)  These slippers knit up super fast and probably cost $13 to make with $12 being the cost of the yarn.  The buttons were cheap buttons from JoAnn’s and the thrums were cheap wool bought from The Sheep Shed Studio.   So, the project was fun and cost effective!

In The Kitchen

I’ve been cooking in the kitchen again.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get photos of two of the recipes I made.  The first recipe was called Hutspot.  It is a dish from Holland and seems like it is a basic “boiled dinner.”  The recipe says you can either use boneless beef chuck or venison round steak for the meat and I chose to use beef.  If my brother was somewhere nearby, I might have chosen to use venison since he hunts and does a fabulous job preparing deer.  I simmered the beef for about 2 hours in 2 cups of water.  Then added potatoes, carrots, and onion.  When everything is fully cooked, you remove the meat and mash the vegetables with milk and butter.  It was a warm, filling meal, but not as flavorful as we’re used to eating.  With this dinner, I also made Au Gratin Cabbage.  This was a perfect way to use up leftover cabbage from the borscht.  Again, it wasn’t the most flavorful dish, but it did use up the cabbage and some carrots (add some milk, egg, and cheese).  The milk and egg mixture seemed to settle to the bottom, but the cheese stayed on top and was a nice addition to the dish.

So, that was last week.  This week, I made Black Bean Sweet Potato Burritos and Apple Carrot Salad.  The burritos involved dicing up 3 cups worth of sweet potatoes and some onion.  After that, it was super easy.  You add black beans and then wrap the mixture up in tortillas and bake for 20-25 minutes.   Spices included cumin and cinnamon, so there is the flavor we were missing last week!  The Apple Carrot Salad is made up of shredded apples and carrots (of course) and mixed in a dressing of honey, lemon and orange juice.  You also add some shredded mint and raisins.  Again, a more flavorful dish than last week.  The fruit salad definitely balances out the more heavy burritos and is a wonderful salad for a rather dreary day.  The lemon and orange juice tastes like pure sunshine!

Out to the Garden

The worms are doing well.  We had a bit of difficulty figuring out how much moisture they needed.  I think the bedding gets dryer here faster than we were expecting.  We added some water to their bedding last night and they are definitely more active today!  I went down to the Worm Bin after making supper this evening to add the carrot and apple scraps (more moisture) and there was plenty of movement in the bedding.

Books, Books, Books

I quickly wanted to mention a website I joined late last year.  Goodreads is a place to keep track of the books you’ve read, books in your library, books you’d like to read as well as a place to meet people with similar reading tastes and to join reading groups to discuss books you’ve read or are reading.  I’m currently reading “Persuasion” by Jane Austen (with CraftLit) and am still reading “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” by Anne Bronte for a reading group I’m participating in.  You can participate in discussions and the social aspect of Goodreads as much or as little as you’d like.  Go take a look.

In the Dye Pot

Nothing is in the dye pot yet, but I need to get started on my fiber for my dye exchange which is coming up this month.  I’ve already got my fiber and my dyes, just need to get started.  Hopefully I’ll have an update for that in my next post!