Saturday, December 17, 2011

Some things that we did


:: Made the annual 'kraut
:: Celebrated 1 year 
:: Fetched and put up a tree
:: Played in snow
:: Made Gingerbread Dinos (what else did you expect?)

Sorry for the delay between posts, we were having fun!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Finally, finally I finished that summer picnic blanket! I used the Playing Along Quilt pattern from Seams to Me, but backed it with an Ikea bedspread and didn't quit anything. Simple binding with quilter's bias tape (purchased from the store in the interest of time).

For you fabric geeks (are there any? Jods?), these are vintage fabrics with some Robert Kaufman, Denyse Schmidt Katie Jump Rope, and some run of the mill JoAnn calicos. I call it my Tupperware blanket, because it matches my wonderful seventies Tupperware collection. But since it's not really picnic weather, it's taking up residence in the living room for now.

Oh yeah, and that living room rug finally came. That room is starting to feel finished too. But that rug: it really ties the room together.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Sure enough, we got back in the scullery. With a poor harvest but a strong hankering, I scooped up some tomato poundage at the market and Oliver and I set out to make ketchup.

We borrowed a food mill from the Cookmans and Oliver whirled away. Then we boiled the stuff down. And down. And down. This new recipe we tried (it's practically the same as the last one we did, from the Ball Blue Book) said it would take about an hour of simmering. I think it was closer to 4. Maybe 5. I don't know. But I do know I wanted to go to bed and my boiling water bath was losing water. So our ketchup is not particularly viscous. I'm okay with that. It's quite yummy. (And it actually set up a bit more on cooling.)
So we've tested our canning setup a couple times now and it's working great. We have the apartment sized (20") stove in the scullery and all the canning jars/lids etc in the cabinets there. Next to the stove is a butcher block for working and setting the cooling jars. And of course, up above are our Nicki McClure inspiration art. So far - so good, despite the rickety stove. Next up? Saurkraut!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Of Dinosaurs

I took some time off last week. I needed a little recharge and some quiet time to myself. A sort of girls' weekend, without the girls, since no one was available.

Sewing was on the docket. Oh yes, heaps of other things as well, but mostly sewing, which is so neglected since the babes were born. And I miss it. So I planned to do some sewing. And lots of it for me! And nesting in the house! But also, for those 2 little babes that minimized my sewing time. Pajammies and dresses and cozy pants and bags. Very big ideas and too much for just a couple days, but I still had fun.

I found this dinosaur fabric at the thrift not too long ago. Oliver spotted it by my sewing machine and wanted me to make him a fabric something! with it. What sort of something? A fabric game! How do you play the game? It has dinosaurs! yes, well, he didn't quite understand the whole concept, but I decided that it would become a bag. He's super into sorting and organizing and collections (is this an age thing? or the apple falling close to the tree?); I thought a dinosaur bag would be most appropriate for his current interests. 

I tinkered with another backpack (Made-by-Rae sewing pattern), but then decided to opt for something different: a shoulder bag. I was going to do the messenger bag pattern from Oliver + S Little Things to Sew, then I copped out. I really didn't want to learn and follow a pattern. I'm rather lazy like that. (Then why did I buy all of these kids' patterns recently?) So I winged it. But he LOVES it. And that is so so rewarding. At supper, we give thanks and Oliver said he was "thankful for my great dinosaur bag!" So good.

I crammed out another dinosaur project that wasn't originally in the plan. I got an urge, though, and went with it. Rather than sticking to my project list. It's a growth chart. I think he'll get it at Christmas, but I'm awfully proud. I hope he loves it. It was originally supposed to be owls, but I thought he would really love the dinos, even if it is just a phase. What do you think?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Yes We Can!

This year was a failure for the garden. Our container garden was burned out from a hot dry summer in a full sun location. We didn't think we had time to do much, but we tried a few tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, in big pots in the yard. A failure. 

The rest of the homestead had variable success. Our grapes and raspberries couldn't take the drought and will probably need to be replaced next year. Our blackberries and rhubarb held their own, but focused on getting established, rather than producing fruit (or stalks, in the case of rhubarb). Our asparagus looked pathetic. We may need to relocate it, if it pops up next year at all. Our peaches were remarkable and the blueberries and huckleberries took center stage, but both seasons are short-ish. The apples are our constant, thank goodness. 

We process our apples into cider annually, but given the lack of harvest of other fruits and veggies, we had little reason for canning. But strangely, I had a pretty strong urge to can. Maybe it was the nesting I should have done last autumn when we had babies and built houses instead. Luckily, this hankering combined with a generous gift of grapes from our buddy Kyle.


We used the old farm fruit press to squash the grapes into juice. It worked, but the resulting juice lacked the deep purple color and slight tang that Concord grapes have. Next time, we think we may try the cheesecloth method. O helped press them. He grimmaced with the effort. Little ham.
Darling and Etta went off to make supper while Oliver and I stirred our jelly pot. After some initial confusion of pectin or not, we skeptically poured our jelly into the jars and put them in the canning pot. 10 minutes later, and pop pop pop, we had some jelly. I was still skeptical, but after the jars cooled, sure enough that slop set up and is holding firmly.  I know, it's not a deep plummy purple, but I think they're gorgeous. And if it's all the canning we can muster this year, I'll take it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Of Ottomans

I am not satisfied with the living room. Well, this living in betwixt is tricky for me anyway. I would like to go through a room and finish it - art to rug - and be done. But cost and time make the entire house remain a work in progress. The living room, though, is tough. It needs a rug, we couldn't afford a rug, we couldn't decide on a rug, we could finally afford the rug, we finally decided on the rug, the rug is sold out. So the living room, even with the fire, seems not quite cozy to me. Yet.

I think this thought is shared amongst the dwellers here, because last weekend we took a small step toward making the living room cozier and it was extraordinarily well received.
We got a grey wool rug from Menard's. It's not beautiful, just a simple chevron pattern in solid grey, but it is very soft and was affordable. I plunked it down next to the wood stove and dropped a little ottoman there that I thrifted some time this summer. The rest of the weekend was spent on the rug. Really. On Sunday, Darling worked outside and Etta took a colossal nap, and Oliver and I sat by the fire and knit and read and puzzled and spent the weekend. After lunch, I asked him if he wanted to color and he said, "yes, let's go sit on the rug."

There you have it. Of course this space isn't finished either. That ottoman is working (quite well) but it needs an ottoman buddy (I'm thinking this uber-trendy Morrocan one, perhaps in an orange?) and it needs a new outfit. Hmmm. Haven't tried my hand at re-covering furniture yet...

Friday, November 4, 2011


We took the sling out of the Chariot. It was time, even though Etta runs on the smaller side of things. Now, there are 2 kids cozied down with blankets and no one up in the air by themselves. Probably one of our last bike rides of the year - time to swap out the hitch and wheels for the skiis! Even if we aren't getting the snow that some of you are...