Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's Coming Out

Bye bye, green fabric! (Thanks, Casey, for the push towards what I was already thinking of doing!)
Yes, I just couldn't take those green squares any more. So while watching Season 1 of HGTVs Design Star (love that show!), I ripped it all out. Yippeee!

Well, I'll Be!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Top is Finished!

Today I finished the window pane quilt top. Hooray! I am a little miffed about those stupid green squares, but I didn't really have a choice. I just didn't buy enough of the other fabric. I'm slightly tempted to go back and see if I could get some more and redo those squares.... The perfectionist in me is screaming to be heard! But, oh well. I'll just ignore that side of me and be happy that I actually finished something! Well, the top at least. Next up will be putting together the backing, making the sandwich of top, batting, and backing and then figuring out how I'm going to quilt this thing without driving myself insane like with the last quilt. :-)

Those ridiculous green squares! They totally ruin the look! Arrrgg......

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gardening in July

Lightning Bugs Love My Little Flowers!

We've been hit with a massive heat wave. It's not only been hard on me and my family, but on my plants as well. They're struggling along in their containers the best that they can. I have been a lot better with watering them every day than I was last season. With the heat wave we've also had a bit of a dry spell. I try to be conscious of my water usage, even living in a rain-rich state, and it makes me happy to conserve water even in little ways like reusing the water I use to wash my produce to water my plants.

A quick garden update: I pulled out my potatoes. They had cute baby tubers growing, but they were so infested with black flea beetles that I felt like it was too late to redeem them. I also didn't want to infect my jalapenos next door, so out the tubers came. And we had to clip off the runners for my acorn squash. They were taking over and it was getting hard to mow around/under them. The plant was never the same again, so I ended up harvesting two small acorn squashes and pulling out the vines. And I had to take out my cucumber vines. The leaves had gotten some kind of mold and the cucs weren't doing well. On top of that my tomatoes were getting blossom end rot from too much dedicated watering. So I had to pluck those off and start watering less. So sad! I am learning more every season. I'd say my green thumb is more neon yellow...

On the happy side, my jalapenos are doing fabulous. They are growing fat, green, and happy. (I've noticed that wasps really like jalapeno plants, but not much else does. Hmm...) I harvested my dill. I think it's done for the season. And I've made 2 batches of pesto with my basil. Note for next year: plant a whole bed of just basil. My son loves pesto pasta which is a nice surprise for me. I even made one batch half basil/half spinach and he didn't even notice the difference. {evil cackle} My strawberries have sent out runners and one plant even has a few more strawberries! Tomatoes are still growing, but no ripe ones. My Tumbling Tom tomato plant was looking sickly for a long time, but after some pruning and regular watering it has come back to life. My red onions in my front flower bed are finally coming up! I must not have been watering them enough. I tend to neglect watering the front for some reason....

I've seen some interesting bugs this season too like a baby praying mantis, many lightening bugs feeding on my little white flower ground cover, and tomato hornworm caterpillars (which I found out turn into the hummingbird moth. I even saw a hummingbird moth feeding on my morning glories and was so shocked! It looked so much like a hummingbird, I had to do a double-take!) There was also this totally bizarre round flat green bug with spikes all around its edge with a black head thing. It was kind of gross. When it comes to bugs I get a little queasy. I'm not sure what kind of a gardener that makes me, but at least I try! :-)

King Dill!

Herb Garden

Baby Purple Prince Tomatoes

Strawberries. I need to plant the runners in new pots...

Acorn Squash before it's downfall
An interesting caterpillar that adored my dill... the little booger.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Good Ol' Uncle Amos

Awhile ago I mentioned to my dad that I was thinking of learning to play the banjo. And he said, "Oh. I have a banjo." I was really surprised! I mean, I know my dad and step-mom combined have a lot of stringed instruments including an upright bass, a harpsichord, a mandolin, and a few guitars. But I seriously had no clue about the banjo. It turns out that my great great Uncle Amos (my grandmother's uncle) played the banjo and my dad had inherited that very one. I begged my dad to let me borrow it. Heritage is really important to me and knowing that music flowing in my blood went as far back as a great great uncle was totally awesome! And I could hold his very banjo in my arms and strum on it just like he did was so exciting! He told me that as he got talking about the banjo he wasn't sure he wanted to let it go. So, I kind of gave up on it (secretly thinking I'd beg him some more later. heh heh heh....)

Well, while we were out staying with my dad for my brother's wedding he said he had the banjo all tuned up and ready to go. Whew, was I excited! I went downstairs, took it out of the case and then cradled it in my lap. Holding onto the neck, and not knowing what the heck I was doing, I started plucking away making tuneless music. And I was sold. That sound was so beautiful. I knew it was what I wanted to learn.

Now, banjo music has usually annoyed me. Come to find out, it's the Bluegrass style that is notorious for the bright-sounding feverish plucking that rubs me the wrong way after 5 seconds. I had heard about the clawhammer technique which involves more strumming and it was what I was interested in. Luckily, there's an Appalachian string shop not too far from where I live (yippee!), so I headed out there solo since my husband was a sweetie and watched the kids. 

I stepped into a cozy shop full to bursting with the rosy, gleaming woods of guitars, mandolins, ukuleles, fiddles, dulcimers, and banjos. It was a beautiful sight and I felt totally lost. I wandered for awhile soaking it in, and wishing I could just soak in the stringed instrument vibe. I stopped in the ukulele room, and was pleased to hear someone in the banjo corner pick one up and start strumming away. I was totally riveted. It sounded just like what I wanted to play! He stopped playing and I finally wandered over to the counter to ask one of the shop guys for a banjo mute (since they're kind of loud and I have kids and neighbors) and he offered to show me how it worked. I agreed and we went back to the banjos and he showed me how to slide the mute on and off the bridge. I asked if they offered lessons and he said they did. When I asked if they taught clawhammer, he said no, they only had instructors that taught Bluegrass. Bummer!

Then, out of the blue, a guy behind us said, "I teach clawhammer." The shop guy left, happy that I'd found someone into clawhammer too who could answer my questions. This guy was a student who taught clawhammer banjo on the side and even though I hadn't seen the mysterious banjo player's face from before, this guy must have been the one playing. He was really nice and was so willing to talk to me about the banjo and showed me the differences between the Bluegrass style verses the clawhammer style. He shared tips and played a little. The music was sweet, mellow, and melodic. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard and I was blown away. I had no idea the banjo could sound like that (aka not annoying)! Man, if I hadn't been sold before I was sold now. He gave me his contact info for lessons during the summer before he goes back to school.  

It has been awhile since I've had such a freakish meeting with fate. Of all the days to wander into that shop. Ha! But, boy am I excited! I'm hoping to have a couple lessons to learn some solid technique and then be able to teach myself from there. I can almost feel the banjo cradled in my arm as I strum out an old mountain tune. :-) Good ol' Uncle Amos! (And thanks, Dad!)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Root Beer Sherbet

Do you love root beer? Do you love ice cream? Do you love root beer floats?

If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, then you have to make this stuff. Yes, you have to!

We tried making this in our ice cream maker and since it was our first time using our ice cream maker, somehow it didn't turn out. Undaunted, we just poured the mix into a baggie, froze it and then scraped it out. It was uber crystallized, but it didn't matter. This stuff is amazing. It takes like a frozen root beer float. HEAVEN! 

Root Beer Sherbet

2 – 12 oz bottles of GOOD root beer (Virgil's is an excellent choice. No corn syrup too!)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whole milk or half and half

Open the root beer and let it sit in the fridge to get a little flat and get well chilled. Make sure all your other ingredients are chilled too. Mix up all the ingredients. Let the foam die down a little.

Pour into your prepared ice cream maker. It takes about 20 – 30 minutes, I’d say. Enjoy it pure and plain with a honkin' big spoon. Nothing else needed but a bowl. Or you could just eat it out of the ice cream maker. It's up to you.
From JustJenn Recipes with my own comments added in. :-)

Vacuum Sealing

We've been out of town for my brother's wedding and the summer has been a little crazy, so I haven't posted in awhile. Right before we left I used some of our budgeted "emergency preparedness" money and got a FoodSaver vacuum sealer. I found a fairly inexpensive one on amazon and am super happy! My 4-year-old son and I have had lots of fun sealing up jars of nuts, raisins, grains, etc. This vacuum seal thing is going to be great in helping me cut back on my plastic bag useage. Now I'm going to have to get some more glass mason jars!

We've also had a few trips to Larriland Farms to pick our own cherries and raspberries. I had to stick everything in the freezer because I couldn't mentally deal with canning that much fruit. (I picked waaaaaay too many cherries!) I finally got around to canning half the cherries as cherry pie filling. I was forced into it really, because I needed the freezer space. :-) Next I need to can my raspberries into jam, because I can't live without my raspberry jam! And then at the farmer's market yesterday they had a big box of tomato seconds (imperfect ones) for $10 and I couldn't refuse! I'm going to skin and can these as diced tomatoes and I'm going to do that sometime today or tomorrow.... (yeah right!) Here's hoping anyway, because I seriously do not have any freezer space. Man, it's hard canning stuff all by your lonesome. Where's the group of women that come by and can stuff all day together?? Please come to my rescue, ladies! haha!

And The Winning Border Is...

Peacock Blue!

I love this fabric. It reminds me of looking into deep space and seeing a beautiful galaxy. It's even got gold flecks in it. Thanks for voting!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...