Monday, August 27, 2012

Harvest Time!

Harvest time is here . . . and with Russ' help, we are canning and freezing and enjoying fresh, fresh home grown fruits and vegies!  A bigggg thank you to Mom and Vern for their gift of vegies and peaches.
A good day of canning peaches, and a friend called to say she had many more for us . . . so, here we go again tomorrow - Thank you Lord!

Plus, the girls are laying and we are starting to fill the egg cartons with thier precious gifts.

We took a walk down to the river this afternoon and had lunch by the river.  We definately need to do this more often . . . just beautiful!

Fall is starting to peek in the mornings with the cool, fresh air.
Winter is on the way and it's time to plan for the hen's house needing a bit of weathering and all the possible foods put up for next year. 
I pray you all have a special blessing tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Deck Decor

We were recently given a lovely cafe' table and chairs and after cleaning them up, we decided they might be a keeper.

The chairs are comfy, but, of course they need some "cush", so I've decided to make up a couple chair pads for comfort.

I still have some yarn scraps to use up, so I gathered them up and started on the cushions.  Russell saw my beginnings and stated that he thought I might've used white yarn . . . what?!  Not when you have lovely, silly colors to play with !!!  Of course, he conceeded as he knows he has no other choice to do when I have a whim . . . so we are off and hooking!

The colors don't show true here - the yellows aren't showing bright - smiley shades - love them!

If you should want to fashion a same circular pattern, I used the pattern from Lucy at Attic24 and you can find this pattern and many other lovely projects here.

The only thing I have done different from her directions is the way I attach the yarn color change.
Many of you most likely have a set way you do this, but, I will put my way of doing this here just in case it helps someone make this change easier.

Here I have the start to the cushion . . . I am using half double crochets because it's my favorite stitch and moves along quickly.  I started with 12 hdc in a magic ring, followed by two hdc in each for the second row.

Then pull through your new color just to the left of ending row tie-off.
Since I am working with half double crochets, I start with 2 dc . . .
Turn your work over and tie a snug knot, twice, with the new color and the previos color . . .
Now, you can continue on with Lucy's instructions by crocheting in your loose yarns for several stitches so you don't have to darn them in later.  Just a suggestion for another way to add the new color that I have found helpful.

I'm thinking that these cushions will have solid color backings so Russ can flip his over if he isn't feeling in the "silly color" mood.  They will also match the ripple colorful seat cover I completed for the deck bench . . . yay!!!
See the lovely cast iron verdigris girly I found and soooo adore?!
Isn't she just the sweetest thing you ever saw?  
Until next time . . . have a blessed day!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First Day of Summer in Oregon

Beautiful First Day of Summer

It was a truly beautiful first day of summer!

Spring cleaning wrapped up yesterday inside, and today was time to head to the deck to prepare for many days of enjoying the sun, and yes, the June rain in Oregon . . . at least for a while yet.

I am so ready to head to the outdoors to work on my projects and enjoy the sounds of the baby birds asking for momma to feed them.
As you can see, the bench will benefit from some flash and color from a soft, ripple seat cushion.
The Silly Sally chair is waiting in the background for it's turn to be transformed into what "I think" is it's true self.

  And Crochet Kitty is ready and waiting!
Some of the plants have been brought out to spend some time in the sun, and as you can see, there is at least one waiting on the left, for a new home in a fun pot.

Little Loo is already sunning herself on her pink blankie, enjoying spending time in the sun!
A break for some lemon squares and raspberry, lemon refreshment.
Home Sweet Home
Ooh, how about a close up of me and Sis Kathy in our younger years . . .
Aren't we a pair?  I love the memories!
Back inside for the evening, and to dinner, and to prepare for tomorrow.
The kitchen crew!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

New Project . . . Hmmm

Which New Project to Move on to . . .

Okay . . . always the decision.  I always have so many ideas and wants and need to do things going on . . . so . . . I'm thinking between needing to finish the hexagon baby blanket, the ripples blanket for the summer bench, and the newest; the cutest chair I got for five bucks that needs to be refinished and seems to be nice oak wood under the exterior.  I'm thinking it might be a nice addition to the deck for others to visit and crochet or quilt and share the Word.  Ooohhh . . . maybe to finish the ripple seat cover!  Or the chair . . . arghhh!!!  I love them all!

And then there are all the plans for the strawberry jams for the freezer that Mom already has done, and the dilly beans, and peaches, and more to can coming up.  The busy season is ahead. 

I admit that I love the lazy days with the wood heat and the thundering rain that lends to stitches of lovely yarns and thick warm soups that Russ is very good at (ohh, the split pea soup with ham), with my baked breads.
Now . . . to move on to the next project . . . as I said, I love them all!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Changing Seasons

I am proud to be an Oregon native and wouldn't know how live anywhere else!  I'm getting anxious to get back out on my bench to sip coffee, listen to the birds and my audio Bible studies, in turn . . .  and crochet.  I absolutely love our Oregon rain, and boy did we have a wonderful thunderstorm last night!  We stood out on the deck and watched the wind whip and the lightening light up the sky - what wondrous glory is this creation of God.

Every season has it's turn, and I truly enjoy them all.  Always giving each it's attention, I am then so ready for the next turn of weather.  Now, the flowers are blooming, and the chicks are becoming young women, soon to provide us with blue and brown eggs come late summer.

I adore our laughter here in this cottage home, and the time spent together hoping for a beautiful future for all we love.  Little Loo is cozy in her bedding after her bath, the bread is baking, the sun is starting to peek through . . . and my heart is happy!

Oooh . . . a big thank you to Russell, who graciously does a share of this typing when my eyes grow too tired.  He does a fairly good job of not making teasing smiles at my words, and my interests that range from a raging love for colors in yarns, to carefully picking lichen off the Oak trees for my mini terrariums - I love you big Russell.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Granny Square Spring Flower Baby Blanket

My Granny Square Spring Flower Baby Blanket is finally complete.  Yay!

I have been crocheting for many, many, many years and for some reason had never made Granny Squares.  I also had never messed much with changing colors, thinking it would be too much of a hassle.  I saw a beautiful afghan and decided a baby blanket might be a smaller project to give these Granny Squares a try for once.
I actually misinterpreted the pattern I found, not realizing it wasn't in U.S. abbreviations, and by the time I realized it, I had too many squares done to turn back - I actually love my squares now, and am pretty happy with the overall finished blanket.  Since my eyes get tired so frequently this project took much longer than I wanted, but I had a lot of fun with it.

Crocheting is in my blood, as my Mom, my Grandma, and my Great Grandmother always have had a ball of yarn in their lap and a crochet hook in hand.  Anyone who loves to crochet most likely can't remember the last time they watched a tv show without turning a few rows on their afghan.

Running low on useful dishcloths?  Whip up a couple for the drawer.
Dog needing a new sweater?  Dig through the yarn bin and get 'er going.

I love making things for my home, for gifts and even for a few extra dollars for more yarn.

Since I hate to think of using the vintage potholders I have in my hopechest from Grandma, I managed to figure out the pattern and now enjoy using them in the kitchen.  With the vastness of the internet, one can find a pattern for almost any project.  I recently completed a grocery tote that will be used over and over and washes well. 
I'm planning on posting my Granny Square Spring Flower Baby Blanket on my Etsy store site, so if by chance anyone is interested in this, please see it here.      I would love for you to share your current project with me, so don't hesitate to leave me a comment with pic or link!                                                     

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sourdough Bread in Cast Iron Skillet

This is by far our favorite sourdough bread recipe and the easiest I have made to date.
And . . . once baked in the cast iron skillet, the crust is the traditional crispyness and the inside soft and the perfect texture for toast and sandwiches.

The night before you want to bake your bread, you will make the starter, which will provide you enough for two loaves.  You can either make new starter each time, or save back 1/4 cup to "feed" and continue to use for as long as you like.  I will describe this easy process at the end of the recipe.

The Sourdough Starter

3 cups very warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar

Mix these and let sit 5 min. til foamy

Add 3 cups flour (I use breadflour), stir vigorously, cover with towel or parchment paper and let sit in oven with the light on for 8-12 hours.


Sourdough Bread Recipe in Cast Iron Skillet

2 cups flour
1 1/2 c. starter
3/4 tsp. sea salt

  • Mix well and knead 10 min. and set in warm place to rise, approx. 1 hour or til doubled.
  • Punch down, knead lightly and shape into ball by working sides down and to the bottom and pinch together.

  • Set in an 8 or 9 inch cast iron skillet and set in oven with light on for approx. 1 hour til close to doubled.

  • Mist lightly with water on the top.
  • Leaving skillet in the oven, turn on to 400 degrees and allow to bake 45 min.  NOW, since ovens differ (mine has a convection bread setting so it may be way different for yours), start checking the bread in 40 min., but could take up to an hour.

  • Remove carefully since the skillet handle and all will be very, very hot.
  • Transfer to  cooling rack and let sit 20 min. before cutting.

  • Sourdough breads need to be very brown and sound hollow when thumped.
  • You can rub butter on the top when warm for a nice finish.
I hope you give this bread a try in your skillet - Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From Chicks to Chickens

Almost two months old - My how they've grown!


Tilda, Amelia, Bluebell and Tunce -
The four little chick girls, who turned out to be three girls and one boy are growing "like weeds".

We had downsized from acreage to a cottage home on a creekside and were missing all the benefits of having chickens, so . . . off we went to the feed store for some new babies.  Not to be gender favored, but after having a rooster that crowed at 3 am and all day, we were hoping to be lucky enough to pick out four hens.  Oh well, we got one rooster.  We can only hope he's the quiet type.

So what are the benefits of having chickens?
  • Fresh eggs
  • Bug control in the yard
  • Entertainment to watch
  • easy care pets that love to consume kitchen scraps
  • the clucking announcing of a new egg
I just love the girls and since we spent time holding them while young chicks, they trust us and come running to say hi when we come out to the henhouse.  Of course the bread and vegie scraps help :)

Having had a dozen chickens before, this was a breeze to set up, but for those of you who are considering chickens, I will throw out a few general tips.  If you are truly new to the world of raising chickens, you may want to check out a book or puruse the internet for detailed information.  Just know that the venture is truly worth the efforts.
One thing to consider is that even if you are in an urban area, many cities allow a certain number of chickens in your yard - not always roosters because of the noise, but often the hens are accepted. 
The thing to remember is that each chicken needs at least four square feet of space to live comfortably.  Trying to squeeze too many chickens in one area can lead to pecking on each other and other health issues.  Also, if you get your chicks as youngins, you will need to set them up in a box or large pet cage with a heat lamp until they are getting in their feathers vs. the chick down and the nights are at least in the 40's.  The cage will need to be changed regularly as being chickens, they do eat, poop and sleep - in that order, and ALOT.

Once outside, the chickens will be thrilled to discover the world of bugs and greens! 
Having a henhouse, or in our case, a converted 16 sq ft dog kennel is optimal to ward off preditors at night and for them to have a safe haven in bad weather.

We obtained one bale of hay for bedding and have more than half left over to freshen up the house.

Being birds without hooked bills, the chickens will need grit to grind their food in their guts (parrots with hookbills hull their food and don't need grit).  As chicks it is also best to buy chick food that is medicated til they are 18 weeks to ward off nasty bacteria.  There is little else needed, besides plenty of fresh water to give them a great start.
At five months old, we should be seeing our first eggs.  Russ took a tall tupperware cabinet, turned it on it's side and rigged it up on the dog pen wall (chickens like them at least 3' off the ground) for their roosts.  With wood planks to walk up to the roosts, the girls are already finding their favorite spots to settle in to.
The bottom door will eventually be lifted closed for privacy and then the top doors we will be able open to pop in and lift out the eggs.

The breeds we chose for our little flock include -
2 Bard Rocks - Excellent layers and produce the popular brown eggs
1 Ameraucana - Good layers, extremely hardy with colored eggs
1 blue Andalusian - Russ loved her coloring, good layer and self reliant w/ white eggs
Tunce is the darker Bard Rock and she had a harder start, being unsettled and pecking on the other's feet constantly.  After spending a few nights with me rocking her in the chair and providing them all with a protein snack treat, she settled in after a few nights and has been my close buddy, coming to me in a sprint to say hi and get a nice petting.  Ah . . . I love these girls (and boy :)