Yarn Along

knitting

Whew, haven’t played this game in a while.

Joining Ginny of Small Things and her sweet Yarn Along, here’s what I have going on in the reading and knitting department this week: a copy of Watership Down that my mum sent me, randomly, in a care package from the home land. It has the flawless, flowing script of her signature in the upper right corner of the front page, and it just so happens that I’ve never read this book, so it’s a Very Nice Thing all around. I happen to be enjoying it very much.

I am also beginning to enjoy my Turmeric Sweater after a brief falling out. Somehow, tinking back 370+ stitches takes about ten times longer than knitting them, but now, the sleeves are separated and the going is simple and steady. The yarn was dyed by the fabulous Adrian of Knittink, and the colorful fabric growing in my hands is playful and happy-making. It’s a nice, seasonal transition piece that will warm me up for the next project, for which I’ll be leading a Knit-Along for the Wonderland Yarns Ravelry group (if you didn’t know, I’m the fiber division at Wonderland/Frabjous Fibers, which is why The Spun Monkey has taken a bit of a back seat).

Even though TSM has been on the backburner, there are several things of note coming up:

On September 5th, I’m teaching a class at Fiber College of Maine called Spinning Your Story. There’s a plethora of amazing workshops, and the whole event is sure to be a blast, so come check it out if you’re near!

On September 6th, and for the rest of the month of September, my work will be on display with other talented area artists at the Crowell Gallery in the Moore Free Library of Newfane, VT for the Windham County Sampler of Weavers and Felters exhibit.

On November 1st-2nd, I’ll be repping the aforementioned fantastically awesome Adrian of Knittink at the Fiber Festival of New England. I’ll have some Spun Monkey goodies there, too, but if you’re worried that she moved away and took Knittink with her, I’ll be ensuring her presence at the FFNE, don’t you fret!

Also, I’ll be scheduling some classes in felting and spinning at Madison Wool this fall, so stay tuned for that.

Heh. Well, that almost looks like a schedule of events! Whew.

Pick a Color, Any Color

my post on Luminous Traces Collective this week…

studiobird

I had something completely different in mind…a hue lively and bright, to help me pretend summer has not yet begun its exit while my tomatoes are still young and green (hint, hint)…but then, this guy paid a visit to my workplace and changed everything.

I spend so many of my waking hours adding color to whiteness, that it only seemed fitting and, perhaps, necessary, to celebrate a blank canvas.

And then we dyed him teal. KIDDING.

Anyway, full set of images here.

in celebration of curvilinear shapes

Because, why not?

beetweb

I didn’t realize when we’d planted “cylindra” beets that they would actually grow into a cylindrical shape rather than a sphere. I had been wondering what was wrong with them until C reminded me of the name. Oooohhhhhh, right. Of course. Ahem.

lilyweb

The anthers on this thing are unbelievable.*

 

btw, that beet is the farthest I got with kitchen photos this week, so no kitchen blog hop for me. If I thought it was miraculous getting dinner on the table every night last week, well then I was a bit naive. Amazing things did happen, though…the sorts of delicious, serendipitous Throwing Together of Things that I couldn’t repeat if I tried, and if I made an attempt to record a recipe, no one would believe me, anyway. I will just say this: beautiful things can happen with the Chevre That Wasn’t.

 

*How often do you get to say that?

the deep well

pathweb

This is the well-worn path between our house and our neighbor’s house. And still, sometimes I forget that I am part of a community. Sometimes, I forget that I am loved unconditionally by my family. Sometimes, I forget that our small trials are not the end of all things. Sometimes, I forget that I have something to offer in this world that can be such a damned overwhelming place to live in.

The forgetting is usually fleeting, but there have been a few times I’ve fallen in the well. I haven’t stayed terribly long there, compared to some, but I know its darkness, and the trip to the bottom comes without warning. In the well, you don’t see the hands reaching down, and you don’t hear the faint, distant voices that float down to you from the top. In the pitch-black at the bottom of the well, you are utterly alone, and there is no hope for a way out.

I had written a looooong post about how my stone cold sober, always and forever unintentionally Straight Edge self could also get sucked into the abyss, repeatedly since I was a teenager, and how it’s terrifying until you don’t even care that the dark is scary, and how shitty I think it is to use words like “selfish” when describing victims of suicide (victims, yes…and if you use the word “selfish” or “cowardly,” please read this), and about how I once did my art thesis on depression and eating disorders and no one commented but to say “nice work” except for one of my instructors who opened up about his wife and her similar experiences because people are afraid to look the Darkness in the eye and to really talk about it. But, I erased it.

Instead, I’ll just say that I only wish that every time it happened to me, I came through with a “fear-proof exoskeleton”:sad5alt4

From: Hyperbole and a Half, Adventures in Depression

I’d like to think it’s not a sugar high, and that perhaps I could encourage exoskeletal growth with goat kefir smoothies and time spent in the garden.

Peace.

This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop

Another awkward summer week of limited childcare, evening shifts, and general overwhelm, so I really have to give myself (and C, for his part) a small pat on the back for somehow managing to keep us all fed (and photographed to join Heather for This Week in My Kitchen blog hop):

kitchen2

Smoothies are the staple around here, especially in the warmer months. We have so much kefir now that I have to keep up on the culture every day, and prefer to dress it up rather than drink it straight. I keep it simple, and just throw bananas, berries (still using up frozen from last year’s picking!), and sometimes nut butter, coconut oil, and/or flax. The extra gets poured into popsicle molds for cool probiotic treats anytime.

kitchen3

So, the oven is broken. Again. It needs a new, expensive part, so I’m not sure how long it will be, but if I can get my hands on a cast iron pizza pan, then my whole world will change. Because, really, my first thought was…but pie season has only just begun! As long as the grill holds out, we may make it through just fine. With pie.

kitchen1

No kitchen post would be complete without sharing whatever wound up in a jar this week. Our lemon balm patch is diminishing…weird, I know, but there it is. I was only able to harvest just enough for one batch of our new (since last year) family favorite, Honey Lemon Balm Jelly, but no more for drying. Although Heather says this “isn’t really the kind of jelly one would slather between two slices of bread with some peanut butter,” that is our preferred way to use it! Of course, it’s wonderful with soft cheese on crackers, especially a tangy chevre, but for school lunches and on-the-go snacks, cheeses never fare well (for us). If you make this, please do give it a try with nut butter, also! The sweetness is subtle and the herbal bouquet soothing. It’s like delicious tea that you can spread. I’m encouraged now to try it with other teas, like earl grey…anything that wouldn’t be too weird with lemon juice.

What’s happening in your kitchen?

the things that are okay. good, even.

The last several weeks have brought many challenging and painful moments, from the usual blah blah financial hardships blah blah to the extremes of loss and all the dark and deep contemplation that accompanies death and moving on. I’m tired. But, I am alive, and I am healthy, as are those who are closest to my heart. I am simply exhausted of the many reminders this year that every moment we find ourselves to be alive and healthy is a moment to be celebrated and treasured. I know this, but it’s easy to forget amongst the daily grind, and the forgetting is often met, eventually, with a hard slap to the heart. So, you know, time to (wo)man up and just fucking celebrate or, at the very least, acknowledge. Here are some good things immediately in front of me:

harvestweb

  • There’s enough garlic hanging from my porch rafters to get us through until next year’s harvest.
  • Onion greens are soft and silky and so much less a beast to braid than hardneck garlic. Our onions may be small, but we weren’t able to grow them at all last year, so it’s a step forward.

gardenblog1

  • I’m attempting a fall crop of shelling peas. I have no idea if it will work, as it depends on when Jack Frost brings the icy hammer down, but just getting them in the ground felt pretty good. I have faith that the odds are in my favor.
  • The boy is suddenly reading. And, I mean really reading. The kind of reading where we have to ask him about fifty times to please put the book down and come to the dinner table. That kind. I find it hard to be exasperated because I think it’s awesome.

gardenblog2

  • This was supposed to be a garden post, hence a photo of my weed-ridden cabbage patch. The good thing here is that I’m not beating myself up for not keeping a pristine garden with our busy schedules. At least I can see the cabbage plants.
  • I actually wanted to spin this week, after not touching my wheel for months. I haven’t sat down to it yet, but the feeling was there, which is a damn good thing seeing as how I’m teaching at Fiber College next month and was feeling less-than-inspired to create samples and a new template for my class. I’m getting excited about it again. Phew.

gardenblog3

  • Some of my basil looks like this, but some of it doesn’t. I feel okay about this for at least two reasons. I already made a ton of garlic scape pesto, so whatever I manage with the basil is a bonus. And secondly, tomatoes aren’t near ready yet.
  • I think it may be possible to woo our baby girl goat with raisins.

bluetomsblog

  • C is taking down a barn in a neighboring town and bringing it to our place. I want to paint it the color of these cherry tomatoes.
  • We thought we lost one of our ducks, but then discovered she was nesting under our bedroom window. No super-sleuthing skills required. She made her whereabouts known by demanding to be fed at 5:30am with loud outbursts of quacking. Under our bedroom window. This will continue for the next four weeks, if she’s lucky enough to survive outside the coop for that long. Odds are sketchy around here, but we deserve a lucky break. DUCKLINGS ARE GOOD THINGS.

teepeeweb

  • I have managed to grow two healthy axolotls from eggs. They make me smile every day and will require their own post at some point.
  • I’m hosting a batt sale, and also a giveaway on my Facebook page, so stay tuned for a chance to win a fiber prize.

And now, I’m tired. So, good night Ezra, Molly, and Michael. You touched my heart, and I’ll hold you there. May peace come to all those who feel the pain of your passing, and may all of us left behind celebrate daily the good things in our life.

granola1

And good night to Granola, a sweet little lass we were hoping to have here on our wee farm for a long time.

  • One more very good thing of note: our neighbors. Such a blessing to live where we do. When my fingers wouldn’t work to untangle her little body from the fence netting, where she’d wrapped herself too fatally tight in a panic, helping hands came to take care of the unpleasant business. And yet more helping hands came to bandage another of our goats who was wounded during whatever goat-crazy happened while I was away from home. We take care of each other here, and that is a very good thing, indeed.

What are you grateful for today?

This Week in My Kitchen :: Blog Hop (and Lemon Blueberry Pie Kefir Ice Cream…whaaaatt??!?)

So, it’s that time again, already (following along with Heather for This Week in My Kitchen), and there was a week of radio silence in between. Hmmm…reasons for that:

1) Loss and heavy feelings to process these last few weeks, mainly on the periphery of intersecting circles of friends, but it brings up some emotions I had no idea were still so raw. It makes anything I might want to share seem pithy and it becomes easier to just shut down.
2) Working on the launch of a new project somewhat related to Luminous Traces, which has become the Luminous Traces Collective so that I can use the former name as my new business name. Confused? I’ll clear that up soon.
3) I have to put in odd hours at the day job because of this Summer Vacation nonsense. Year-round school makes so much damn sense. At least in my little family, the dreaded SV requires a monumental rearrangement of routine and much less time with each other as I have to make up working hours at night or on weekends.

But, we managed to make delicious things and eat them, together and apart:

boozyberries

It’s blueberry picking season in the northeast, so every week there will be berry projects. Each time we go, I try to just pick one thing to make with the fresh berries, and store the rest in the freezer for winter. The first excursion yielded one blueberry pie, one quart jar of fermented berries in honey (which is as easy as the name suggests: fill jar with berries, pour raw honey in to cover, give it a little stir every day, and when it gets bubbly, use the berries and the syrup to make tasty things even tastier), and a little over two gallons of berries in the freezer, about 15 pounds total.

honeyblog

Fermented berries seemed like the perfect way to use some of the “extra” honey we ended up with after extracting. This is how much was left in the bucket and filter when we set to cleaning them!

kefirblog

There is now enough milk every day to keep milk kefir grains happy. I love its effervescence, and it’s great for smoothies, salad dressings, or anything in which I would use yogurt. It also makes amazing ice cream.

kefiricecreamblog

We followed this recipe for Lemon Kefir Ice Cream, which was pretty exciting because the two main ingredients, kefir and honey, came from our own backyard. We didn’t stop there, though. You see, we had leftover blueberry pie. I know, I know…how does one have leftover blueberry pie? You must understand that we are a family of merely three, and our entire extended family is all 3,000 miles away. They cannot come help us eat pie at the drop of a hat. We often freeze half a pie when we make one, but I didn’t this time, and why not have pie and ice cream at the same time?

Yeah, I felt pretty brilliant.

kefiricecreamblog2

Basically, we just followed the ice cream recipe (quadrupled, because why make 1/2 quart of ice cream when you can make 2 quarts?) and when it came to the point in the ice cream churning when it was thickened up and nearly done, I chopped up the leftover pie into bits, crust and all, and C churned just a wee bit more to blend it all in.

The texture is perfect, as is the pairing of lemon and blueberry pie. Make this, please.

In other news, I was here yesterday (speaking of Luminous Traces Collective). Our theme this week is Parallel Lines.

What’s happening in your kitchen?