Friday, September 19, 2014

Made from scratch

This is my third attempt at making a sourdough starter from scratch.  By just mixing flour and water in equal parts every day and leaving it out on the counter, you should be able to capture the wild yeasts in the air and have the makings of fresh bread without using commercial store bought yeast.
I don't know what's happening in my kitchen, but it ain't bread.  So I'm going to keep trying until I nail it.  The little bubbles you see in the second picture means the yeast is active.  My last batch had bubbles too, but I probably got overly excited at the bubble sighting and used the starter too early. My bread loaf didn't rise worth a darn and could have been used instead as a weapon or door stop.  A friend of mine fed her starter for several weeks before making bread (whoops! I only waited a week!)  I'm going to have to find some patience and just feed the little yeasty beasties for a while longer.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

The nosegay block pattern above is something I have been meaning to try since last year.   I copied the templates from here, glued them to thin cardboard, traced them onto the back of the fabric and then cut everything out with scissors.  Those scary Y seams aren't going to intimidate me, no sir.  Even though it's a slower pace, sewing them by hand makes me feel like I have more control and I like how it's turning out so far. 
Sourdough bread and quilt blocks from scratch.  It doesn't get much slower than that.

p.s. Thanks for the kind thoughts about my Dad.  He's home from the hospital and back to his usual shenanagins.  Whew!

Friday, September 12, 2014

A few things

I figured I better pop in with an update since I haven't been around lately. I've been going to physical therapy 2 times per week for a low back issue that's working it's way down to my foot.  I haven't been able to go on my walks for a while now and it puts me into a funk. I know it's important to keep up my appointments, (and it's helping a lot!!) but it sure sucks time out of my day.  Also, my dad is in the hospital with an infection of some kind, so there's an element of worry floating about.  As a result I don't feel very creative lately.  I open the door to my sewing room, throw something on the cutting table, close the door behind me.  Ugh.
A few things though, helped improve my mood.


 I received some yarn in the mail for a wrap I have been dreaming about for a while now.  It's an alpaca, rayon blend (Berroco Folio) which feels amazingly soft against the skin.
The first part of the pattern is a mind numbing 22 inches of single crochet.  Just the kind of project where you set yourself on auto-pilot and hook away while watching baseball games and taped episodes of Property Brothers.  Perfect.

Then my new cookbook arrived.

 Lots of fresh simple ingredients and everything made from scratch.  The book is organized by seasons so you can cook with what is available during summer, fall, etc.  There is also an ongoing commentary in the side bars about the authors' life on her farm, so it makes for a very enjoyable read.
morning glories sharing sun with the cantaloupes in my garden

You will find ideas for cooking with all those great fruits and veggies you grow in your backyard (or buy at the farm stand), like carrots, kale, butternut squash, corn, beets, rhubarb and berries.  Recipes for paella, Thai shrimp, pot roast, molasses cookies and a tomato tart are on my list of things to make.
Oh yeah.  Feeling better already.


This small grove of Redwood trees is at the side of our property.  I was walking around checking it out yesterday, because we have had a family of 7 raccoons (!!!) and 2 feral cats hanging around the house and in the garage.  But all I found was this...
I think it's a Robin's nest.  It fell from the tree and didn't even break apart! I love how it blends right in like it's always been there.  I almost stepped on it!
Thanks to the birds for sharing their gift.
And thank you for visiting! 







Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September

I dug out an old crochet blanket WIP the other day and added more blocks.  I have four (!!) crochet blankets on the go, in various states of completion, and this one seemed as good as any to work on.
Still not feeling the quilting love.  Guess I'm a bit burned out. And September is here with all it's seasonal changes so I'm distracted.  Here's what I notice about September...

I want to crochet something warm and cuddly

Noisy Canadian geese flying overhead

Baseball and football on television at the same time



No one is interested in swimming in the pool lately except the dog

The leaves are raining down from the willow tree in the front yard reminding me to rake

Halloween candy is on display at the supermarket

The grasses and fields are dry.  Farm equipment stirs up dust in the air while harvesting wine grapes and the last of the tomatoes

The nights and early mornings are cooler so little dogs need their hoodies

He has black whiskers on one side and white on the other. Cute eh?


I feel like baking


Irish soda bread, recipe here.  Tim thought it was a giant scone.  Don't do what I did and substitute half the white flour with spelt flour.  It was really good, but too heavy.  Like, I could have used it as a stone on the curling rink, heavy.  All it needs is a handle.  But yummy with jam.  And tea.
 
Summer is leaving.  I can run the oven without breaking a sweat, work on wool blankets and drink hot tea in the afternoons.
Oh yeah, I love September.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Farewell to Summer Blanket

This summer throw was created with big pieces of fabric from my stash.  I didn't use batting in between, just added another layer of fabric in the middle (muslin).  The result is a big heavy sheet.

 If I had thought things out first instead of wildly throwing fabric chunks together, it could have been an Anthropologie style duvet cover, with ties or buttons at one end for closure. But this is pretty much how I pictured it in my head so I'm happy with it.  A large section of the top is Anna Maria Horner voile, which I love, and wanted to be able to keep it in one piece to take advantage of the soft feel. 
My original plan was to hand stitch it across all sections, something like this.  I did exactly one row and realized I have way too many other things I want to spend my time on, so went right over to the machine and quilted along each seam line.

That's about it.   A very simple stash buster.  I figure if the mood strikes, I can always add more hand stitching (said no one with a million WIPs in their closet ever). 

Where the heck did August go? 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A no-stitch weekend

I haven't opened the door to my sewing room in about a week.  I don't want to feel like I have to work on something, so I'm not.  I guess I need a break.  All my unfinished projects are behind that door and I don't want to face them.  I know most of you would say "then start something new!"  Yeah.  I feel a shawl coming on. But first, a mini vacation.
 Tim and I headed out to San Francisco to attend a surprise birthday party for an old friend.  We left Friday morning and stopped in Napa at the beautiful Auberge du Soleil.
We ate a leisurely lunch on the terrace and the views were just lovely.

One of the other guests was nice enough to snap a picture of us.  I was as drowsy as a fat bumblebee at this point, full of great food, a cold Rose wine and warm sun.  I want to go back.
Back in the car we headed just north of San Francisco to San Anselmo.  We moseyed around town for a bit, checked into the San Anselmo Inn, then walked across the street to the birthday bash at Insalata's.  Our party took up over half the restaurant, the guest of honor was quite surprised, and despite my big lunch, I managed to devour a plate of salmon.  I don't think I need to eat for another week.
Saturday we drove south over the Golden Gate bridge, and into San Francisco.  It was cool and foggy, as most summer mornings can be in the city, but still beautiful.  First stop, Pier 39.
sea lions posing for pictures
submarine and ship tours
Alcatraz
 Despite the fact that we've been here many times before, it is always fun to play the tourist.  Finally the sun came out as we headed over to A T and T park to watch the SF Giants take on the Philadelphia Phillies..  This is a beautiful new stadium, built right on the water.  The views are amazing and we had great seats down behind the Giants dugout.  Nothing says summer like a baseball game, hot dogs, garlic fries and a cold beer.


Hope you enjoyed the tour!
I'm now headed over to the Weight Watchers site :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

tomatoes, yarn, fabric

TOMATOES
I have a ridiculous amount of tomatoes right now.  For the last three years, my tomato crop has been awful, but this year is the mother lode year.  I'm picking, cooking, giving away and eating them as fast as I can.  I'm not complaining.  One can never have too much yarn, fabric or tomatoes.
If you find yourself with an overabundance of the juicy red globes of goodness, here's a recipe that my sister in law made for us years ago from the Silver Palate Good Times cookbook, and I have been making it ever since.

Into a bowl add:
Several chopped tomatoes
 a few diced garlic cloves
Cut up a wedge of Brie into chunks (the best you can, I know it's soft, just lick your fingers real good when you're done)
chopped, fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Pour some of your best Olive Oil over the whole mess.  It doesn't have to be swimming in it, just make it sloppy.
Grab a hunk of bread, stand over the bowl and wait 2 hours for the flavors to meld. (Yeah, right. How about 2 seconds)
Sop up the juice with your bread.  Rub your belly when your done, wipe the olive oil off your chin and declare this the best dinner so far this summer, or ever.


YARN
 Here comes another wishful knitting post. At the yarn shop I found a few silky skeins of Berroco Folio, an alpaca/rayon mix. Which I bought.
Sitting right next to the yarn was a pattern book. Which I also bought.
Maybe someday I will start one of these lovelies, or, I'm hoping my mom will take pity on me and make it for me.

Meredith, I think you have this book don't you?  Didn't I see this yellow sweater on your blog?
Berocco Folio booklet #344  So cute!!! It's rare to find a booklet with at least 3 patterns that I like.

FABRIC
I started to clean out my sewing room over the weekend.  "Started" being the operative word here.  I ran across an an orphan block from my first attempt at making a flowering snowball.  I added a border, then some random 3 1/2 inch blocks, another border.....
This is turning into some kind of medallion/improv/use what you have /quilt. Maybe a pieced border for the next round?  I guess you could say I'm technically cleaning the room, since I'm moving fabric out of the cupboard and onto the design wall.
Okay so it's a lateral move. I'll clean next week.









Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer treats, sewing and mud

Dang it's hot.  Is it hot where you are?  It's 8:00 a.m. and the humidity is 86%.  High humidity doesn't usually happen around here, so excuse my whining.  I don't know how you people in the South and back East do it.  I felt like Swamp Thing when I crawled out of bed this morning.  Thank goodness I made Popsicles yesterday.
I pulled out my Zoku ice pop mold and set about trying to recreate an Orange Creamsicle.  There are lots and lots of recipes online, so I got a few ideas then just combined what I had and stuck it in the freezer.  The original popular brand available at the grocery store contains around 36 ingredients, including 6 that are some form of sugar, and a few I can't even pronounce.  No thanks.

 Here's what's in mine.

1 can of Coconut milk (I use this brand)
3 fresh squeezed oranges
1 whole cut up pineapple
raw honey (about 2 tbsp.)
vanilla (about 1 tsp.)
I put it all in the blender and mixed it up.  It was still a bit pulpy from the pineapple, but I think that was a bonus.
I'd like to say they were fantastic, but they were just o.k.  Next time I would use more fruit juice and less coconut milk, or maybe use coconut water instead.  Or scrap the coconut milk altogether and use yogurt.  They were refreshing though, and creamy too, in a coconut milk-waxy-coating the roof of your mouth- kind of way.   I'd like to try a chocolate flavor, or combine a bunch of fruit in my juicer, with a small piece of ginger for some kick, and freeze it up for a juice bar.
 Too bad vodka doesn't freeze.  Imagine the possibilities!

Anyway, I can't think of how to cleverly segue my way into the next topic so I'm just going to post a picture.
I made a hot pad and some cotton crocheted washcloths.  The beige one is a pot holder with a little leather cord/button hangy thing.


I had fun adding a bit of kantha style stitching to the hot pad. This set is going into the gift basket.

Now for some mud.  A small town near us (Herald) celebrated their annual Herald Days last weekend.  After the parade, the small park filled to overflowing with booths selling hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, tri-tip sandwiches, snow-cones and other summertime goodies.  The air smelled like barbecue, a country-western band played under the oak trees, and everyone sat around picnic tables or on blankets, eating and visiting with their neighbors.  Ahhh summer!
 But the big attraction at Herald Days is the outdoor mud volleyball competition.
People sign up from miles around (46 teams this year), and all teams must have both men and women players.  The volleyball courts are flooded with several inches of mud and water, which makes for a very slippery and dirty game. Take a look...

I took these with my phone, so not quite good quality, but you get the idea.

My son and his friends put a team together, and have been practicing for months.  Turns out they won the tournament (they have been waiting 3 years for this), so I am the proud Mama of a Herald Days mud volleyball champion. Good job boys!  Now go take a shower.