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02 April 2017

Happy April! Welcome, Spring!

I have been away from our visits longer than I intended.  My "holiday" break became extended, first by illness and then by, well, life in general.

At the end of January, just when the grandchildren were getting over their sniffles, the man of the place and I came down with our own cases.  Colds turned into sinus infections, and then to bronchitis for him, and ear infections for me.  Between the two of us, we ended up with nine prescriptions, and were sick for the entire month of February.  (A real bummer, since my birthday falls at the end of February.)

We were on the mend in March, when our younger daughter was involved in a bad crash on the interstate.  She suffered only minor injuries, but the car is a total loss.  Thankfully, she was alone in the car at the time, and didn't hit any other vehicles.  The front passenger side tire blew out on a bridge over the Big Sandy River.  The state trooper who investigated told her she was lucky, not to have gone over the side of the bridge and into the river.

Only a week or so after the accident, our nearby grandlittles lost their paternal grandmother to lung cancer.  She'd been ill for about a year, and had been in hospice care for almost six months.  She passed away at home with her dog at her side.

So with all that behind me, I'm gearing up for more gnome adventures and some cooking adventures, too!  Although I've used pressure cookers for several years, I recently got an Instant Pot, which is a multifunction electric pressure cooker.  It's a fantastic timesaver, and I'm learning so many new recipes from the online community of  Instant Pot cooks!

Yesterday, I ferried all my little gnomes to the Clark County Public Library in Winchester, Kentucky.  All except the fall/winter/Christmas themed ones will be on display there through April 29.  Several library patrons stopped to chat while I was setting up, and they seemed very interested in my little wooden friends!  Here's a photo of the display, taken from my phone:

It's not the best photo -- I'm consistently disappointed by the quality of my phone's camera -- but it gives you an idea of how they appear.  The background of painted felt and the scenery was created by friends John and Julie Maruskin.  Julie is also a dollmaker, working mostly in small scale.  

Hopefully, I can get back to weekly visits with you!  In addition to sharing what's on (or off) the needles, I'll share reports from Instant Pot land.  Did you know you can make cheesecake in the pressure cooker???  And it's GOOD! 

Until next time!

15 March 2017

Lemon Blueberry Pudding for the Instant Pot

No time to explain right now, but if you use an Instant Pot, here's a great recipe by Karen Mendonco!

Photo credit: ©Karen Mendonco

Lemon Blueberry Pudding

1 egg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups milk
8-10 slices bread
Pinch salt
6-8 tsp butter
Grated lemon rind
Handful fresh blueberries
Roasted unsalted cashews

1. In a bowl whisk an egg, to that add some sugar, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 & 1/2 to 2 cups milk. Mix all ingredients well until the sugar dissolves. 

2. Now to the mixture add as much bits of bread as will get absorbed in the milk (I used around 8 to 10 slices of whole grain white bread, you can use any bread of your choice) 

3. Then to it add a pinch of salt and 6 to 8 tbsp of butter, some lemon rind and a handful of blueberries . Lastly I added some roasted unsalted cashews. 

4. Now take a Pyrex 4 cup bowl and coat the inside of it with butter. Now sprinkle some granulated sugar over the butter. Thereafter pour the batter into the Pyrex bowl. Grease a piece of aluminum foil and cover the bowl. 

5.  Add 2 cups water to the Instant Pot.Place the bowl on a trivet. Cover the pot and seal. Set it to 20 minutes manual settings and allow NP release. Once done remove and serve .

29 November 2016

Happy Holidays!!

Dear folk, it has been quite the hectic holiday season around here.  There's a lot going on, both on and off the knitting needles, and I am definitely not ready for Christmas! I don't even have a tree up yet!  I'm guessing that it's much the same around your house -- shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking, all wedged into an already-full schedule.  And that's not even considering the holiday concerts, pageants, plays, get-togethers with friends, etc.  Although it's a joyous season, all this celebrating can be tiring.  An overcrowded to-do list makes me a bit forgetful; would you believe that I've forgotten to photograph the last four projects that I've finished since we last visited??  The only photo I have of any of those projects is one that my little friend's mother sent me, of her daughter wearing the cardigan I made for her.  Yes, I'm smacking myself for stuffing things in envelopes without taking a picture first!

For that reason, I've decided to take a short break from the blog.  You can still follow me, and my current projects, on Facebook and on Ravelry.  I'll see you here again after the holidays, when life returns to normal, and we're all concentrating on the best way to peel the pounds off after weeks spent with cookies, cakes, cheese balls, eggnog, etc.

So, I wish you and yours the very best of holidays.  Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, may it be filled with love, light, and laughter.  May you be surrounded by friends and family, and may your table be full.  I'll see you here again in 2017!

PS.  I'll leave you with this photo that I did remember to get -- Grandlittle #3 in her new hooded sweater coat.  Pattern is "Lavanda" by Elena Nodel (available on Ravelry); yarn is Rowan Pure Wool worsted, colorway "Papaya" (color has been discontinued).  Buttons purchased at JoAnn Fabrics.  Size 6 pictured.

27 October 2016

And Then THIS Happened .....

I had intended to write a long, newsy post this week, with lots of awesome photos and stuff.  That was the plan, anyway.  But, as dear old Robert Burns once observed, "The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley."  My week has definitely gone "agley".  Everything was going swimmingly .... and then, THIS happened:

Yes, that's our car.  Yes, it's burned.  The man stopped by the laundry to pick up his shirts, and when he turned and looked out the shop door, the car was on fire.  Having been a volunteer firefighter in his younger days, he ran out of the shop (leaving the shirts), jumped into the car, and rolled it backward, away from the building, before the mounting flames could ignite the shop's awning.


It was quite a bit of excitement, I'm told.  Himself, with a borrowed fire extinguisher and the help of a policeman (wielding his own fire extinguisher), had most of the fire contained before the fire department arrived on scene.  The firefighters gave it a good hosing, and pronounced it "toast".  The passenger compartment was spared; but all the expensive and fiddly bits in the engine compartment are ruined, as well as a number of seals, gaskets, and other mysterious parts that connect the exhaust to the engine.  The grill melted.  The paint on the hood (bonnet) and front fenders (wings, for my UK friends) blistered.  The hood lining is gone.  The protective sun tinting at the top of the windshield is crazed, also from the heat.


So, we're temporarily driving a Chevrolet "muscle car" that belonged to our son-in-law's late father.  It rumbles like a thunder demon (I'm told it's supposed to sound that way), but it saves us the trouble of a rental.  I always say, I have the best sons-in-law!  Not only did Will ride to the rescue, but he's loaned us a set of wheels.  And now, we have the joy (for the man) and/or pain (for me) of finding a new car -- one that's new to us, anyway.

The weather also sent "agley" my plans for photographing my most recent projects.  After a few days of idyllic fall weather, all sunshine and soft breezes and reasonable temperatures, today dawned dark, windy, and rainy.  So, instead of the usual photos that I try to artfully arrange against a natural background, this week's projects are photographed in the porch armchair.  Not as lovely, but hopefully you'll find the projects cute!

Last week, I showed you this set, now complete with dress and hat:

Photobomb courtesy of Steve the Cat.

I've gone on quite a rampage with the Baby Dress pattern by Diane Soucy for Knitting Pure and Simple, and now have two more to share.  The first one ...

 ...was inspired by a button I bought a few years ago from the Tessa Ann shop on Etsy.  I intended to use these buttons for a cardigan project, but I never could get the curved front edges of the cardi finished to my satisfaction.  So that turned into an UFO (UnFinished Object) in one of my many canvas bags; and the buttons lay, unused, in my button box.  The yarn is Swish DK by Knit Picks in Carnation, with the candy stripes worked in Serrano and White.  The hat pattern is "Gnome Hat" by Ravelry user Skruddevutt, and is available for free.  Just scroll down past the Swedish directions to get to the English part, unless, of course, you read Swedish.  I tweaked the pattern a bit, to add the button at the top.  And the "candy stripe" colorwork?  I made it up as I went along -- it seems to work!

The second set ...

... is for my friend Mindy's granddaughter, due in February.  Now what could be more appropriate for a February baby than hearts!  The dress pattern and hat pattern are the same as the first set shown above.  The yarn is Swish DK in Rouge and White.  The heart patterns came from one of my old, out-of-print SandnesGarn books, Till Fjells #0411.  If you like doing Norwegian-motif colorwork, I really recommend you pick up the old SandnesGarn books, if you have the opportunity.  They're a treasure trove of designs.  The button for this dress came from JoAnn Fabrics (in fact, the man brought it home the day the car burned).

I should mention that I put all three sets through the washer (delicate cycle, cold wash/cold rinse) and the dryer (delicate cycle, very low heat) to fluff them up a bit.  Yes, they've lost a bit of their crispness, but they look oh-so-warm and fuzzy now.  Cuddly, even.

The only thing left to do before sending them out to the little ones for whom they're destined, is to add some tulle to the wrong side of the work.  It protects little fingers and toes from getting caught in the "floats" (carried yarn strands) at the back of the colorwork.  It's not something I do for hats, nor for garments made for older children and adults; but it's hard enough to get a little one dressed -- rather akin to dressing an octopus -- without having to deal with the frustration of tiny fingers or tiny toes tangled in bits of yarn.  I'm hoping to get a bit of a video, to show you how I do this.  Maybe next week!

And that, dear friend, is all I have to share at the moment.  There's another project on my needles, something warm for a friend's great-nephew, and there's at least one more waiting in the wings to be cast on.  Thanks for stopping by today! Hopefully, life around here will get back to normal (well, as normal as it ever gets!) and I can go on a good photography romp around the neighborhood this weekend.  As always, you're welcome to share this post with anyone who might enjoy it, and you can follow me on Facebook, Ravelry, and Instagram.  (I'm also on Pinterest, but I'm so rubbish at updating that account!)  I'll see you next week!

PS.  DOES ANYONE HAVE FRIENDS OR FAMILY IN NORWAY?  I'm trying to get a brand-new SandnesGarn book (Baby Ull #1618) that just came out, but it isn't available here (and may never be -- it's written in Norwegian and SG has no plans at this time to translate it).  Having exhausted all options to purchase it directly, I'm now on the lookout for someone in Norway willing to take my money, buy the book and send it to me.  Let me know!

19 October 2016

Chickens, Lace, and a Little Hat

Well, hot weather has returned to the farm for the past several days.  Old-timers call it Indian Summer, but I think this spell should be called Indian Scorcher.  It was almost 90°F/32°C here yesterday.  When I went outside to feed Steve, the wind was warm and moist. Rain is predicted tonight, with cooler, more seasonable temperatures to follow.  I'm ready for sweater weather!

Speaking of Steve...

...the mighty hunter continues to bring us the fruits of his labors.  Last week he brought us a chipmunk (or ground squirrel, as some call them), and last weekend, a rabbit.  I'm certain he's quite proud of himself, decimating the local wildlife so efficiently, but I do wish he'd read up on conservation a bit.

Last Saturday, we went to the local chicken swap.  It was the last chicken swap until spring, and it was booming!  To define the local vernacular, a "chicken swap" is an outdoor market where farmers can buy and sell poultry, rabbits, etc.  The one in our county began in the parking lot of our Tractor Supply store.  As it grew, larger quarters were needed, and it moved to the parking lot of the local Wal-Mart.  But it kept on growing, and now it meets in a field, donated by a farmer for the purpose.

Of course, at a chicken swap, one expects to see chickens ...

I'll bet this one is undisputed king of the roost!

English Buff Orpington -- my favorite breed!

"And then Hazel said that Mildred said ..."
...and other poultry, too.

This dove reminds me of Bette Davis!

There were pumpkins, mums, and farm products made by local folk -- honey, soap, baked goods, etc.

Pink pumpkins of the variety "Porcelain Doll".

We saw old dogs...

...young dogs...

...and kids loving on a puppy.

We saw a trailer full of piggies...

...and some folks taking home a very noisy goose.

My best photo of the day was of a girl and her rabbit.  Her smile says it all!

If you live in Kentucky and would like to find a chicken swap near you, I found this list on the Rowan Tree Roost website.  They're lots of fun, and ours has food vendors and porta-potties, too! :D

Despite the unseasonably hot weather, there are definite signs of fall, both here on the farm...

...and in the neighborhood.  There are certain trees on the road to town that I think of as my "special" trees, because they are such good heralds of the changing seasons.

I also found a big, fat woolly-worm crawling on the porch.  Appalachain lore says that woolly-worms predict the severity of the winter:  black fuzz is bad weather, brown fuzz is temperate weather.

This woolly-worm suggests that we'll have bad weather early in winter, followed by a temperate spell, and close out with more bad weather.  I've never found any scientific basis for this belief, but it's fun to look at woolly-worms and check their forecasts!  By the way, there are fall festivals celebrating this fuzzy meteorologist in Beattyville, KY and Banner Elk, NC.  Check out their websites for more woolly worm info.

Indoors, I've been a busy, busy bee!  Right now, I have one project on the blocking board, one on the needles, and another one ready to cast on.  I learned this week that my friend Mindy will welcome her second granddaughter in February!  Seems like babies come in bunches, doesn't it?  The first new project I want to show you is a little one.  After looking at my Scandinavian Snowflake Dress for a week or so, I decided that it needed a hat.  So I made one.

I used the same colors of Knit Picks's Swish DK that I used for the dress; the pattern is "Not Only Christmas Hat" by Anna Rauf, and it's free on Ravelry.  I used the smaller colorwork motif from the dress, and combined all three colors in a big, poofy pompom.

Hat and dress together.

For the past few months, I've been following the progress of an online friend in her fight against breast cancer.  Jake Finch has been blogging for several years -- with humor and honesty -- about the joys and challenges of mothering and making quilts.  She has also been sharing her journey with cancer, starting with her diagnosis in August, with the online community.  I wanted to do something for Jake, but I didn't know just what ... until I saw the Ribbon Scarf pattern by Anniken Allis (free on Ravelry).  As it turned out, I'd just ordered three skeins of Shine Sport yarn (60% cotton, 40% Modal® beech fiber) in Blush from Knit Picks.  The pattern and the yarn were, as they say, a match made in heaven.

The pattern is bordered -- ends and sides -- by a delicate lace pattern.  In the center, also worked in lace, is the iconic breast cancer awareness ribbon.  (I think you could also make this scarf in other colors, for other awareness initiatives.)

I should tell you that if you decide to make this pattern in this yarn, you will need four skeins of Shine Sport to make the pattern as written (= eight repeats of the central ribbon motif).  I chose to omit one repeat of the central motif, which still gave a blocked length of 55", because I didn't want to take the time to order another skein.  According to the Post Office's tracking website, Jake should find this in her mailbox today!

And that's about it for news from here!  Next week I should have another button-inspired project to share with you, and maybe a gift for a February baby as well.  As always, you can follow me on Facebook, and feel free to share this post with others who might enjoy it.  Thanks for stopping by -- see you next week!

10 October 2016

2016 Kentucky Wool Festival -- LOTS of photos!

Well, after listening to me complain about the cold spring and the hot autumn, Mother Nature gave me a wonderful gift.  Saturday was the most glorious fall day, with a cloudless blue sky and a bit of morning chill (but not too much!) and a bit of afternoon warmth (but not too much!).  It was a perfect day to make the drive to Falmouth, county seat of Pendleton County, Kentucky, for their annual Wool Festival.  We had such a good time! And I took lots of photos to share with you in this post.  So, before I take you on an armchair tour of the Festival, let me update you on what I'm working on.

I'm making another little baby dress off Diane Soucy's pattern (this will be my fourth!), BUT I have run out of yarn.  (I could have sworn I had more Swish DK in Carnation!)  So until I can reorder what I need, I'm working on a scarf for a friend using Shine Sport yarn from Knit Picks.  Shine is a 60/40 blend of cotton and Modal® natural beech wood fiber, and it's machine washable/dryable.  I don't want to show you the pattern just yet, because it's a surprise gift, and I don't want to let the cat out of the bag just yet.

So, without further ado, let's go ....

To avoid traffic congestion, the Festival organizers partnered with the school board to run buses between the high school and the state park where the festival was held.  It was nice to park at the high school and take the bus to the entry gate of the Festival!  We wound through downtown Falmouth, then out of town through some beautiful woodland that boasted unmistakable signs of fall.

 After arriving and paying the very reasonable $5 per person admission fee, we encountered some wonderful works of art as we followed the walking trail.

There were also some crafts to help bring the robust colors of the season to your home or yard.

One of the most fascinating displays was the old-time blacksmith's forge.  Dennis Sutton demonstrated blacksmithing and wrought ironwork, done the old fashioned way.

I'm not a fan of fur, but I had to laugh when we approached Deborah Taylor's tent of fur and leather crafts.  This "jackalope" taxidermy caught my eye -- reminded me of the man of the place and myself!

Deborah also had something I've never seen before: a purse crafted from a skunk pelt.  Ooooookay ......

 Deborah, by the way, was one of a group of artisans from a group called Campbell County Primitive. CCP gives demonstrations of how our forefathers and foremothers lived in the days before highways, Internet, and other modern conveniences.  I'd love to give you a link to follow, but I'm having a hard time finding any info.  I'll keep looking!

Demonstrations abounded.  There was a gentleman who showed us how sheep shearing was done, in the days before electric clippers ...

... and the Miller family brought their famous border collies, who herd sheep with simple voice commands or even whistles!  The Miller Border Collies are famous in Kentucky.  They're at the State Fair every year; but I have never ever managed to push through the crowd that surrounds their small arena to see them at work.  So it was a real treat for me to see them at the Wool Fest!  You can read more about them on their website or on Facebook.

Roy, age 12, is an awesome herd dog.

Mr. Miller's dogs were a big hit with families and kids.

Two stages provided plenty of opportunity for local talent to shine.  This fellow is part of an old-time mountain band that plays old hymns and bluegrass gospel music.

These young men were with the Campbell County Primitive group.  They camped out in a teepee-shaped tent, and had a hearty breakfast over an open fire. They reminded me of Lewis and Clark, or perhaps Boone and Crockett.

And of course, there were animals!  Sheep, cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens, llamas, alpacas, ponies, ....

This Shetland sheep is named Moses, and he came to the Festival with his brother, Aaron, and their sister, Sheba. ("Ought that not have been Miriam?" I asked the farmer, and he replied, "Yeah, I dropped the ball on that one.")  Aaron and Sheba are camera-shy, but Moses enjoyed assuming a pose befitting a leader of men, and having his photograph taken.

This was a sweet moment between a mama goat and her kid.

And, of course, there's always that ONE guy who hates having his photo taken ...

There was a gift shop, selling Festival-themed merchandise.  Just based on observation, I think they were doing a brisk business in t-shirts -- saw lots of them in the crowd.

Members of the Pendleton County Fire Department were on hand, providing EMS services and standing by in case of emergency.

The variety of food was astounding!!  In addition to typical "fair fare", such as funnel cakes and turkey legs, there were local churches selling home-cooked, stick-to-your-rib foods like soup beans and chicken & dumplings.  Between the caramel apples and the apple dumplings, a lot of produce was required.  We saw boxes of apples filling a shining-clean stock trailer.

There was so much to see and do!  But, as always, I'm drawn like a magnet to the siren song of wool and yarn.  So off to the Sheep and Wool Tents we went, and found things to tempt any spinner, knitter, or crocheter's pocketbook!

The tent on the right was devoted to wool, yarn, etc.  The tent on the left housed the animals.


Spinning wheels, looms, fleece, roving, and yarn -- so much yarn! -- hand dyed, hand painted, in colors subtle and brilliant -- items made from yarn and wool and felt -- it took an effort to keep my hands on my camera and out of my pockets.  There was one yarn in particular that very nearly went home with me, but I resisted.


These little felted Nativity scenes reminded me of my friend, Catherine.

Jessica of Jessica's Creations had the most gorgeous self-striping yarns!

A lace shawl, in peacock colors, with sky-blue beads.  Glorious!


This sign reminded me of my friend Jayne, who raises sheep, and my friend Joy, a master spinner.

Kreations by Phyllis from Lexington, KY has been at every fiber festival I've attended this year.  If she's at the next one, I vow I will buy one of her hats!!  They're fabulous!

Y'all know I love gnomes.  These little dolls were offered as gifts for anyone contributing $10 to a charity.
On our way back to the gate to catch the bus home, we passed beautiful displays of autumn's bounty.  Pumpkins, gourds, dried corn, haybales, squash of all kinds -- everything was there, and at reasonable prices.

In the end, the only thing I took home from the festival for myself was free .... I found a buckeye, the seed of the horse chestnut tree, on the ground at my feet.  I'm going to plant it, and see if I can grow a tree from seed.  If I'm successful, I'll always having a living reminder of our wonderful day at the Wool Festival!

Believe me, all these photos just barely scratch the surface.  To get a broader perspective on the 2016 Kentucky Wool Fest, visit their webpage.  They've posted lots of photos from this year's event on their Facebook page, too. Early estimates indicate that this year's crowd was a record for the 33-year event!!  As for next year?  The man and I are already planning to go again!

That's about it from this end of the country.  I hope you enjoyed my photo tour of the 2016 Kentucky Wool Festival.  I'll be back next week with an update from the farm, and hopefully an update on my ongoing projects.  See you then!