October 29, 2010

(Not Really) Ready!

Well, I havne't cooked a single things for tonight yet. (Those are cute, yes, but the mummy dogs were an experiment a few weeks ago, sadly not sitting on my counter ready for tonight)
The house is, um, not a wreck, but not really what you'd call clean.

I'm down to one squirrel chewed pumpkin, everything else seems to have gone rotten in this weird humid weather we've had and

The President of the United States is speaking three blocks from my house at the same time as the party (no, I'm serious, he is!) which is sucky because I'd really like to go but people would probably notice if we weren't at our own party, right? Right?
Oh but I did come up with one (three) of those last minute projects that I knew would pop into my brain (at three in the morning, no less). Nice. But those shelves really did need painting. Honest. And it looks so much better in the kids room now. Or it will, when I put all the stuff that was on the shelf away now that the paint is dry.

Still, I have to say...
Totally excited! Halloween, here we come!
Woot! (I mean Arg!)

Have a safe one everyone!

October 27, 2010

Crafty Afternoon Fun

This week Briton doesn't have homework. At all. They are doing some kind of assessment in class which, I guess, means their brains are too friend by 3 to be taxed anymore. So they get a free week. Now I'm usually a big proponent of homework. Even when I'm explaining for the thirtieth time that if you would just DO the homework you'd be DONE with the homework, I still think it's a good thing. I've been known to give extra homework when folders and packets are "accidentally" left at school even. But that being said, it's been really, really nice to not have to deal with it this week. To have the afternoons filled with playing outside with friends and upstairs with sisters and just not having to make sure that the word problems have been solved two different ways and the spelling words are all correct. To just have time. Time to do something fun. Like make crayons.
Whoops, did I say make crayons? Ok, not really make make them, but melt them down into something more exciting than a stick make them.

Every year I try to have some little activity for the kids to work on at the Pumpkin Party. We've painted gourds and plastered stickers on pumpkins and made masks, standard Halloween party fare. But this year I decided to go simple and stick with coloring. For one thing it's usually the little kids who want to do the crafts, so coloring is a pretty good bet for fun there, but also, there are a lot more kids coming this year, so for the sake of economy, we're going with crayons.
OK, OK, I just wanted an excuse to play with hot wax and candy molds.
This afternoon, instead of estimation and word study and reading logs, Briton helped me sort two boxes of crayons by color, peel the paper off of the oranges and blues and purples (and a few pinks, because he's a good brother and knew someone would want a pink one) and broke them up to be melted in the double boiler.
Except the double boiler thing was taking forever, so really we just put the top of the double boiler straight on the stove (good thing that thing only cost 50 cents!) Once we had thing nice and melty, we poured the crayon wax into skull shaped candy molds so we could have fun, scary (well, scaryish, how scary can a pink skull really be?) crayons.

Obviously an adult should handle the hot wax but Briton was old enough to help steady the molds (which, by the way, are all of $1 at Michels at the moment - yay for procrastination!) and both kids had fun ripping apart the crayons. And now I'm envisioning all sorts of themed crayon fun...numbers, Christmas trees, lollipops to give people on April Fools Day....too mean? Ok, maybe not the candy ones then. :)

Now It Is Fall

It finally smells of fall here this week. For weeks it has been fall, I know. The colder weather, sometimes dropping down low enough to leave the beginnings of frost on the leaves in the morning, has said that fall is here. The knitting on my lap - Briton's socks, which are coming along way faster than anything I've made so far - fall, fall, fall. The tights and wool skirts and fleece jackets, all say fall. The leaves on the trees, and now more often on the ground, yellow, scarlet, rust colored, they say fall too.
But some how it hasn't really felt like fall yet. And then, as I walked home from dropping Evie off at school, I passed my favorite tree, a gnarled old maple a few blocks form out house, and it smelled like fall.
This is my favorite time of year for walks. Walks down the street, up in the hills, around town. Walks anywhere. It's not too hot or too cold, it might be a little muddy, but a pair of wellies takes care of that.
We've on plenty of walks in the past few weeks. Been back to our favorite spots, some that we hadn't seen all summer due to the heat and then the breaking down of the car.But this was the first walk of the fall where I could smell it in the air. It must be the maple trees that do it. The bright yellow leaves piled up, wet and bright on the ground, slowly drying up and decaying (but in a nice way!)

October 26, 2010

And One Day She Could

Last week she couldn't even reach the first bar. And then one day she came home from school.

And did this.
And this

And this
All the way across. And then shimmied down the rope of the swing when she got to the end. Because the last step is too far down for those little legs.
Holy cow. That's just preschool, what's she going to learn in Kindergarten? Scaling a building?

October 25, 2010

One Thing

Happy Monday my friends! I hope everyone had a lovely and relaxing weekend. I didn't quite get that weekend of nothing, but I did get some nice cozy cuddles from my kiddos, a preview into next weekend with our downtown Halloween Festival (too much candy already!), some good knitting time in and a quiet Sunday evening with a cup of tea and Mystery on TV so, you know, not bad. Not bad at all.
This Friday we are hosting our annual pumpkin carving party. It started as a way to get to know a few neighbors shortly after we moved in four years ago and has grown to, um, king of a big old shindig. I love it. It's probably one of my favorite days of the year. I get to make all sorts of foods, often from recipes I've had bookmarked for a while and have just been looking for a reason to try. (Like this or this or this - because I have an ice cream maker now - wheee! Or maybe something totally different). Pumpkins get carved, although generally ours get forgotten, friends we haven't seen for a while stop by, kids run around screaming. It's my kind of evening.

It's also the only time during the year that I buy Velveeta (because everyone loves grilled Velveeta sandwiches, even people who would never admit to it :))

I'm sure that later in the week I'll get into a dither about the party. Worry about having enough food or drinks or knives (interesting combination, I know, but it works for us) decide that something or other must be done before people come, despite the fact that most of the people who are coming have been here plenty of times, clean too much, sleep too little. But for now I'm just enjoying looking through recipes, thinking about the fun ahead. So this week my one thing is to continue that. To enjoy the week ahead pick the recipes to make, decorate for Halloween just a little more and finish Briton's costume, (er, I mean start and finish Briton's costume).
How about you? What are you up to this week? Doing anything special for Halloween?

**P.S. Can I just say my boy is a chip off the old crafty block! Since we didn't have his costume ready when we realized the festival was already underway he came up with that golfer get-up all on his own and in a matter of minutes. That's my boy!

One Thing
A new Monday habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Click to enter below and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!
So, what will you be up to this week?

October 22, 2010

House Rules

For about four years now we've been making a family list of rules that we post somewhere in the kitchen to keep us all in line (hahaha). I know, I know, another one of my lists. Will likes to tease me about all my lists. He claims that none of the other guys in his "book club" (which has no books, but plenty of karaoke and beer) have lists. But then I didn't make any lists for us last weekend and he asked me for one. So I think it's fair to say it's a family trait at this point! :)
This week we (and by we I actually mean Will this time, this is his favorite list :)) decided it was time to revamp the rules list for the year. So last night Will and Brion and I sat down, and Evie danced around between us, while we made up this years rules.

They are mostly standard "respect yourself and your family, follow the rules" kind of things. We have had some funny ones over the years. My favorite came off of last years - "No toys at school, no sticks at all". Thankfully the stick ban has been lifted now that we are mature enough to behave with them :).

The whole, making the rules as a group thing is definitely a leftover from my teaching days when I used to have my class make up our rules at the beginning of the year. That was always a hilarious lesson, especially with kindergartners who always focus on specifics like "If you have a red crayon and you want a blue one because blue is the color of your favorite dinosaur shirt and you couldn't wear it because mommy said it was dirty then you have to put the red one back first."
I'm sure Evie will come up wiht some funny ones in the coming years as she gets old enough to contribute (last night she smiled, nodded "yes" that she agreed to the rules then asked if we could all sing "So Long, Farewell.", so not a whole lot of help on the rule making front, as yet)

But it got me wondering how other families handle rule-making. Do you write your rules down or is that uneccessary in your house? Did you have strict rules as a kid? I don't remember having them written down but I was sort of a dreamy kind of kid so they may have been and I just floated by without noticing them. I didn't like to get in trouble anyway, so maybe they weren't very important in my house. :) But what do you do?

October 21, 2010

What's Clickin' Chicken?

Remember those sweet little chicks we got during the spring?
Well they grew up to be huge meanie hens. All hens. We thought we'd end up with at least one male in the lot, probably two, but oh no...all gals.
Our ladies were getting a little stressed with overcrowding, so we gave three away last week and ahhhhh.... so much better. No more crazy fighting over food (even pumpkin seeds!) Our coop is peaceful once again.
Except for the fact that they are laying in the hay storage instead of any of the THREE fancy nesting boxes they have. Ah well.

October 19, 2010

Two Slippers Down

Or at least the sock parts of them. I'm still looking for gigantic leather soles to add to them so I don't have to harvest the well worn bottoms of his old slippers. I've also got to figure out how to block them, I'll go check at the knitting shop to see, but I kinda doubt they have size 13 sock blockers. Any ideas?
This weekend I'm hoping to start Briton's slippers. While I had planned to make him a pair of felted booties, had gathered all the wool and needles and patterns, I'm sort of leaning toward another pair of leather bottomed socks. When he was younger he has a pair of slipper socks that he loved so I know he'll like them, plus, they are just more fun to knit. I'm still waffling.

I've also been chipping away at Evie's sweater but I swear it's the slowest knitting sweater EVER. If I'd started on this when I came back to knitting I think I would have given up by now. Maybe it's the red yarn or the size of the needles, who knows, but it's dragggggging oooooonnnn. I guess I need to go hang out at the kids museum again for a couple of hours and see if I can make a dent in it :)

The other project I've started on is also for Evie. Maybe somewhere deep down I'm not sure I can finish this flippin sweater. When I was a little girl I loved the photos of the dolls that came with a little box full of clothes that showed up every year in the Christmas Wish Book. I had plenty of dolls, and lots of doll clothes, but there was something about that whole set that I just couldn't get over. Evelyn also has plenty of dolls and the beginnings of a doll cloth collection. At the moment, most of her dolls are naked which may not bode well for my project. Which is to knit a Waldorf style doll and sew/knit a wardrobe full of clothes for it. Or at least a few fun outfits. I started off with a pattern but it was smaller than I wanted, so now I'm just winging it, fingers crossed. I'm hoping that in the end it will be about the same size as one of her other dolls so the clothes can switch between the two.

I've been keeping the doll out of sight, or the pieces of the doll out of sight, so that she doesn't know about it, knitting in the evenings while she's asleep or while she's busy in the pool at swim lessons. So when she told me out of the blue yesterday that she was going to ask for a doll for Christmas I wanted to do a little Jig. Of course, then she added "With Pink Hair". What a shock.

I'm really enjoying making gifts. I've always made little things, hair clips and ornaments and things like that, but I haven't ever made something more substantial for each person and I love it. I wish I'd started earlier, or that I had more time, because I keep thinking of more things I'd like to make them before Christmas come, and more people I'd like to give handmade gifts too. It's gotten me thinking about doing an entirely homemade Christmas. I'm not sure it would really be possible with and eight year old "Playmobil is my life" child in the house, but maybe it would be a good thing to shift down to something simpler. Goodness knows there's not another inch on their shelf for more Playmobil. Would a launchable rocket kit count as a homemade gift?

Have you ever done an entirely homemade Christmas? Would you ever?

Soup's On

So it's cold out. Not freezing cold, just yay! time to wear a hat and scarf in the morning cold. Remember those slippers that took me forever to knit? Well I'm loving them now. Worth. Every. Stitch. And cold weather means soup in our house. Lots of soup. I would eat soup every day but the wild things probably wouldn't go for that, so for now, I'm trying to limit it to once a week. Ok, maybe twice a week.

I love all soups but recently I've really been into beans. I think I had a bean-phobia before because I really haven't cooked with them much beyond warming up black beans for burritos. But between my "eat less meat" thing and my "make healthier food" thing and my "crap, let's lower the grocery budget again" thing, well, beans are making a stand in our house. And boys howdy, I didn't know what I was missing. Beans are good! No, really! Beans are GREAT! WHo knew (ok, everyone else knew)

I've been filling up our weekly menu with bean meals. White bean and chicken enchiladas, homemade falafel, beans and rice and our favorite - white bean and sausage soup. Or if you want to get fancy, cassoulet.

Now I am neither french nor any kind of trained chef so when I say this is cassoulet, I'm using the term loosely. I read a bunch of recipes, mixed them all up and then cranked out this soup with what we basically had in the pantry and freezer. But it was a winner for us. Will even went back for seconds. Usually he patiently eats his bowl and then fixes himself a sandwich, soup just isn't enough food for him I guess.

But this is more stew-y than soupy. It's yummy and filling and easy, although it does need a little time to simmer away. I've been making it at lunch for the evenings dinner but I've also noticed that it's even better the next day so I think it would make a great night before kind of meal.

1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 T soup mix *
3/4 cup sliced carrots
3/4 carton chicken stock
2 cans of navy beans
4 chicken apple sausages, sliced 1/2 in thick
salt to taste

Sweat the onions in a teeny bit of oil until they are golden and slightly translucent, add the soup mix and sweat a few minutes more. Dump in the rest of the ingredients, give it a stir, pop the lid on and let it simmer on low for three hours. Add a little more stock before serving if you want a thinner soup. Serve with sour cream and minced parsley.

*Soup Mix - this is a homemade bouillon of sorts that I made in August which I LOVE and will make a ton more of next summer. Actually, I probably make more later in the winter because it's fantastic. The basic recipe came form my favorite canning book but I adjusted the ingredients to utilize what was coming out of the garden at the time.

2 cups carrots, finely chopped
2 cups parsnips, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 cup of parsley

Whiz this in a food processor (or crappy mini chopper if that's what you've got, don't feel bad, me too) until you have teeny tiny pieces. Weigh the veggies and add 1/4 the weight in kosher salt. Stir well and spoon into jars. The salt preserves the veggies. You only need a tablespoon or two to start off pretty much any soup, stew, casserole, really anything you might add bouillon too.

What's you're favorite cold weather meal? Any good bean recipes?

October 18, 2010

One Thing

This weekend we did something that we haven't done in ages. We didn't work on the house. NOT ONE BIT. I honestly can't remember the last time we were here for the weekend and didn't do a single bit of painting, scraping, nailing, sanding, something. And it was kind of lovely. Not that I could go too many weekends without it. I think renovation is my vice. But it was nice to have a break.
While we didn't work on things renovationy, I did keep busy switching out everyone's summer and winter wardrobes. I get a weird sort of satisfaction from this. I love rediscovering clothes I'd forgotten about. Scarves and hats and furry boots and corduroy shirts that have been packed up under our bed all summer long. I pulled out all of Evie's tights and little wool skirts and Briton's down vests and sweaters (I didn't do Will's closet, he's in charge of that one) and took a huge amount of stuff to Goodwill, plus packed up a bag of clothes to give to Briton's school and a bag of clothes to pass on to a friends daughter who is a little smaller than Evie. It felt good. The closets and drawers are clean and close easily and we're a little more prepared for these cold mornings.

But, during our crazy weeks of renovation and cleaning up and painting and all the things that we've been trying to get to this fall, I kept thinking "what I really want to do is spend a whole Saturday doing nothing." And by nothing I mean nothing but cozy, relaxing things. When the weather gets cool I have the strongest urge to curl up on the couch and read and knit and watch movies and not leave the house except for a nice long walk up in the hills. It's a hard thing for me to do, much as I'd love to. I think I have duel personalities sometimes, or maybe dueling personalities. I love to just be lazy, except I love to be super busy. I need to be both at different times, but the lazy is definitely the harder of the two for me. So this week that's what I want to do. Be lazy. Have a lazy Saturday. Or Sunday. I'm not picky. I'd take both but I've just been informed that we need to clean out and reattach our gutters this weekend so somehow I think that's a bit too much to expect. That's OK, one will do. (Half a day would do but I'm not going to advertise that!)

What about you? What One Thing do you want to do (or not do as the case may be) this week?

One Thing
A new Monday habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Click to enter below and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!
So, what will you be up to this week?

October 15, 2010

Projects, Projects, Everywhere

Sometimes I get into a creative funk. I can't seem to get really interested in much of anything craftwise. Because I write about crafts for a living (well, a part of a living at least) I still do crafts, and take pictures of them, and write articles about them, but I'm not always super excited about them. It comes and goes, and I suppose that is the way of any profession, sometimes you're gung ho, sometimes you'd rather be lounging on the couch watching National Geographic Documentaries on Netflix. Ok, maybe not everyone would rather do that, I'm strange like that, always have been.
For the past few weeks I've been in that kind of funk. Not really surprising with all we've been through. But it frustrates me none the less when I just can't seem to get into a project. I've been knitting all the while but I felt like I needed more creativity, and none was coming. This week something changed, I'm not really sure what, maybe I just really like the projects I dreamed up to write about this week, or maybe it's the fact that I had good feedback from editors or maybe I'm just getting my mojo back, but my brain is suddenly buzzing with projects that I want to do.
As a result, there are little piles of crafty type things all over. On my desk, on Will's desk, in a basket on our couch, on the dining room table (though those always end up floating around since we use the dining room table to eat too much for them to linger there). Felt bird ornaments, wool scrap pumpkins, funky, half painted stacking dolls, a partially assemble snow man kit (which means, of course, that there will be no snow this year, now that I'll be ready for it, right?) A little embroidery, a new, quick, knitting project, the beginnings of a stenciled wall (FYI, there is a reason they make stencil paint, because craft paint doesn't work so well, live and learn) It makes me a little giddy, I almost want to rub my hands together with glee and laugh a wee bit evilly. Just because.
I haven't so far, found a trigger to get me out of those funks. I jest keep plugging along until the vibe returns. But I wish I had a better way out, because I'm much happier when my workbasket is full and I'm more interested in my projects than in the latest theories about Stonehenge (although, that's always pretty interesting too, I can't help it, it's the wanna be anthropologist in me). What do you do when writer's block of the crafty mind hits? Any tricks for getting back in your groove?

October 14, 2010

Garden Clean Out Chutney

I've had it on my list to make chutney all summer long but somehow it always got pushed aside by jellies, jams and sauces, not to mention everyday cooking. But finally, finally, I got around to it yesterday and now I have two lovely jars sitting in our pantry waiting to be eaten up throughout the winter.

I haven't always been a chutney person. When I was doing my student teaching, my mentor teacher gave me a jar of kumquat chutney for Christmas. It looked beautiful, but I had no clue what to do with it, particularly on our ramen noodles for dinner budget. It sat in our fridge for ages, eventually getting stirred into some kind of stew I believe, before it went bad. What a waste. But hey, I was young and clueless.

When Briton was about two I fell in love with Indian food. Hard. I'd had curries before, but mostly of the homemade and basic variety. It wasn't until we were living in Dublin, where curry take-out is the norm and fantastic Indian food can be found cheap in almost every neighborhood center that I really discovered it, and chutney.

And then our supper club had a burger extravaganza and one of the offerings was a lamb burger with goats cheese, good mustard and sweet-savory chutney (try it! you'll never look at a burger the same again!) and I finally got what all the chutney lovin was all about.

It's a good thing I finally got around to making some then, eh? I'm calling this Garden Clean Out Chutney because most of what's in it was what was left when I ripped out everything from three of our four beds. But I could also call it Pantry Clean Out Chutney, because it also has some strange-o things that I pulled out of the back of our shelves (chili spiced mango from Trader Joe's anyone?) After reading a bunch of recipes though I think you can use pretty much any combination of fruits, veggies and spices that you have hanging around, but here is what I made:

Garden Clean Out Chutney

4 cups diced green tomatoes
1 cup diced green apples
1/2 cup raisins
1 small jalapeno, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped dried chili spiced mango ( you could just dried fruit, but then you want to add chili powder to taste)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 T salt

Mix all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan. Simmer on medium until everything has muddled down and reduced by about a third. Pour into sterilized jars (this makes about 2 pint jars, I used 1 pint jar and one of my tab top jars because I needed an excuse to get down my Wide Mouth Jar Rubber Box and have a laugh) and process as you would with jam.

October 13, 2010

Blue House. Red Door

It's amazing what happens when you bring in the professionals. Bam, it's done. Just like that.
We'd done as much as we could safely reach. Ok, correction, we'd done the first coat on everything we could safely reach and the second coat on everything we could easily reach. But there came a point where getting any higher on that ladder just seemed a little too crazy for two people who aren't super fond of heights. So in came the real painters. Yesterday. And they left today. Finished.

If only all our project could go that fast!

Actually, where would the fun be in that, right? But it was nice to drive off to swim team this evening and leave behind this
Instead of this
I love my blue house.

October 12, 2010

On to the Next

What's that phrase, no rest for the wicked? I must be crazy bad then because even as the dust settles from the chaos from the last month, my fingers are itching to tackle just one more project. No I promise, then I'll take a break. Ok I wont. But that's what I tell myself, and Will, and the kids. After this one, we'll take a break. After I fix up the kids closet, I'll rest. (HAHAHA!)
This project has been on my radar for a while now but we've been so engrossed in other things that I haven't gotten very far. But now that the house is (mostly) painted and while we decide what we are doing siding wise with the mudroom (could take months) I'm going to get moving on this. Because here's the thing.

When I was a girl I had probably the most fantastic bedroom possible. No, it wasn't one of those frilly, decked out rooms. In fact, the furniture wasn't fancy, well made, well loved, but no canopy beds or jeweled mirrors. The decorations were pretty basic, I chose wallpaper with my mom and after that my parents pretty much let me run with whatever. It was the room itself that was so great, and most specifically, the closets. Yes, closets. Plural. I had two closets as a kid. I know, you're jealous. I'm jealous.

But it gets better. One of the closets was HUGE. I mean gigantic. It was as long as a normal bedroom and about a third the width. It was so big it had it's own window. Along one side were enough bookshelves to satisfy even my book obsession and a long hanging bar where I was supposed to hang my clothes (but didn't, it was so much easier to leave them on the floor) The other side was lined with deep, over sized drawers, big enough that even at seven or eight I could fit inside one with all of my dress up clothes and still close the thing. I'd like to say that closet was wasted on me back then and that I would appreciate it more now, but I don't think that's really true. I loved that closet back then. I could spread out my games into it, shove all the stuff I was supposed to be putting away in it and, best of all, when it was just too freaking cold to go outside (it was Northern Idaho, so that happened frequently) I would put one of our old green nylon sleeping bags at the entrance to the closet and run at it from the other side of the room, hopping on as I reached the bag and sliding wildly all the way down to the end where a pile my pillows kept me from getting a concussion whacking against the wall.

So that was closet one, but as I said, there was another closet. A teeny, under the eaves closet that was the real gem for me. It was my castle, my tree house, my ocean cave and my cottage in the woods. I spent hours in there, not caring that it wasn't really even a finished space. The insulation poked out in places, the floor was plywood (probably put down by my dad so that I didn't fall through the ceiling below) and a single bare bulb hung from the ceiling. I loved it. My little yellow kitchen was kept in there along with my most precious treasures. Rocks and feathers and a freeze dried turtle that my parents thought was gross but that I loved. A raccoon skin, a cat skull, a giant set of letter stamps that I made my own newspapers and stained most of my clothes with. My favorite dolls and favorite books. I once almost burnt down our house in there when I hung strawberry shortcakes dress over the bulb so that it could be my "darkroom" where I developed pictures in the cracked sink of my play kitchen. It was my space. All mine.
I want my kids to have that. When we moved in, Briton and Evie choose to share a room and have a playroom. And when Will and I started working from home they lost the playroom so that we could have an office. They haven't minded at all. In fact, they seem to prefer having their toys in their room where they can sneak them at night and play when they are supposed to be asleep. But they don't have a space that is just theirs, no grown-ups allowed.
Their closet is tiny and under the eaves much like mine, and when we moved in it was one of the first places that they hung out. In there all by themselves with a lantern and a bucket of toys. I've been planning to make it a real "space" for them for a while, have gone so far as to move out all the clothes and junk and put in the play kitchen and a few other things. But that's about it. Briton and I have decided that it should be a house. A house inside a house. So that is next on the ticket. Because I want them to look back and remember that they had that magical, special place where they could play and dream and laugh. All kids need that.

I'm thinking they need a little faux window and a braided rug and a cookoo clock. I'm obsessed with the cookoo clock idea for some reason but haven't found one yet (well, not one I'm willing to put in the closet for the kids to mess with). They have the kitchen and a little rocking chair and Evie has her doll high chair. There isn't much room for more but some small things could be squeezed in. I want to do something fun with the back wall, something red. Maybe stencils? Maybe wallpaper? Probably not wallpaper actually since my budget is ZERO, but something. And they need a light. Because it's dark in there. But any ideas would be much appreciated. What do you think?

October 11, 2010

One Thing

Well howdy! The house tour is done (yay!) the upper parts of the house (the bits where we were too scared to get to on a ladder) are being painted by a professional, the car is back and the stomach flu is gone (fingers crossed) It's a good kind of day. In fact, it's a day to start digging out Halloween decorations.

With all that we've had going on the past month, I hadn't really woken up to the fact that it's OCTOBER. Which means that my second favorite holiday is coming up fast. Time to get the pumpkin party invites out to the neighbors, sew up some costumes (Briton is debating between a character from Harry Potter and Frankenstien at the moment, Evie has already decided on being a tutu wearing ladybug - who knows) and woo-hoo, get the Halloween decorations out of the basement.

One of the best parts of being a craft writer is that I get to make things like Halloween decorations for work. Of course, the flip side is that I was making most of them in August, so I have to dredge up what I did, what I wanted to do but didn't get to and what I have from last year to get my Halloween spirit on. But since I do so love Halloween I'm going to drag my brain away from Christmas and New Years (which is what I'm working on now) and shift back into spooky time.

So this week my one thing is to get my house Halloweened up. This little project is already out because it was my favorite craft in the past few months, so fun and so simple.... which is how all the best project are, really.

What are YOU up to this week? Anything fun?

One Thing
A new Monday habit. Share the one thing that you want to do this week, just for you. Click to enter below and link back to your blog so we can see all the fun things you do!
So, what will you be up to this week?

October 10, 2010

A Picture is Worth...

Some weekends are made to be remembered. I have a whole basket full from my childhood. Most often they involved spending the days out on our old boat till my skin was tight and prickly form the sun, lounging next to our old springer, Maggie, who I would use as a pillow despite the fact that she smelled of lake water and wet fur.
This was that kind of weekend.
The kind when nothing eventful happens beyond catching a crayfish (which I'll tell you I thought were called "crab heads" when I was their age, I'm not really sure why), and life is all the better for it.
And then we got to come home to a really, really clean house, which was kind of blissful I have to say. Not that it's clean now, because, you know, we've actually been in the house now, but to walk in the door and know that nothing really needed doing, at least not today. Ahhhhh.

The perfect weekend.

October 9, 2010

Boots and Saddles

"Boots and saddles kids" was a line we often heard growing up. Any time we went anywhere. I didn't realize it's origin till I was in college. At the time I just thought it was a my dad kind of thing.

I find myself saying it these days. Including today. The tour is started. The car is back, packed and hitched up with the trailer and we're heading out.

We'd hoped to get of earlier but after the stomach big took me out for the day yesterday and between last minute to-dos (oh yeah. We need porch lamps to cover the wire hanging out of the side
Of the house, and business cards, and flowers,and,and,and...) and just plain Saturday lethargy we're only heading out mid day. Still cards and games
And good food and great friends and mountain air await. Ahhh. Cant wait. See you Monday friends. Have a great one!

October 7, 2010

Sunchoke Harvest

When Will, Briton and I (Evie wasn't born yet so sadly she missed it) lived in Dublin, we were devotees of the local farmer's market that was held every Saturday morning in the play yard of one of the local elementary schools. And I say play yard because it was just a yard, no play equipment. I guess Dublin children don't need play equipment at school. They're tough. Or maybe just more imaginative.

Anyway, back to the farmer's market.

This market was wonderful. WONDERFUL. To the extent that farmer's markets here in the US, nice as they are, just can't quite compare and tend to be a let down. To be fair, this market was more like the street markets that are in Paris than a normal farmer's market. You could just about buy everything you needed food-wise for the week there. And we often did. Fresh meat and fish, cured sausages, pesto, mustards, muesli, dried fruit, cheeses that would make a gourmet shop here weep with joy, hot samosas, cold bottles of cider and vegetables...oh the vegetables. Specked eggs sat out in a shallow box nestled in newspaper and you had to know to bring your own carton to carry them home. Truffles, the first I'd ever seen in person, were kept safe in a rice filled container (we splurged and bought a teeny one for risotto..ummmm) and a whole table was filled only with a zillion varieties of potatoes, tiny ones, huge ones, blue ones, faintly pink ones.

Not everything was familiar. I had no idea, for example, what to do with celeriac, wasn't quite sure what a quince was and was a little baffled by those bumpy, ginger looking things called Jerusalem artichokes. But the stall owner, a sweet older man who knew his customers by name and could tell you just the thing to do with that particular variety of potato, was patient and filled me in as I bought something new on each visit. The celeriac wasn't bad, although Will wasn't a big fan, the quince were pretty darn yummy, but kind of a pain to deal with, but the Jerusalem artichokes, now those were a hit.

We ate them quite a bit over the almost two years we were there. Mashed, roasted, pan fried, in soup. They appeared almost as often as potatoes on our table I think, which, given that this was Ireland, is saying something. But in the years since we've been back, I haven't really had much chance to indulge in eating them since I almost never find any here. So when I was puttering through seed catalogs during the snowy evenings last winter and came across some tubers, I had to try growing some.

When they arrived I read a little more about their growing habits and decided that their height (8-10 feet) would be a little cumbersome in the veg patch, and as they are part of the sunflower family (news to me, but OK. Although that explains their other name - sunchoke) I planted them with the flowers.

All summer they grew, and grew and grew. And drove Will nuts because they kept falling over onto our gardenia (which I think they killed, but we're hoping for a comeback). I would tie them up to the fence and they would get bigger, and heavier, and the string would break, and down they'd go again.

Today Evie and I were sprucing up the yard for this weekends home tour when I decided I'd had it with propping the stupid things up. I knew they weren't done growing but oh, well, I'd just go without Jerusalem artichokes this year, and cross them off for next too. Because really, they did fall over all the time, and ten feet of plant splayed across the flowers isn't very pretty. So up they came, and with them, about ten POUNDS of tubers. Holy cow! After forking out all the tuber from the first two plants I pulled, I decided to leave the third (I mean, wow, 10 pounds out of two plants is a lot!) for later.

Evie and I bagged them up. Then she tried to haul the bag behind me as I went to the compost heap which caused the bag to break, so then they got loaded into the doll stroller until the doll needed it when they went back into a pile on the ground and finally back into a bag that I promptly put on the counter in the kitchen, just in case she got any more ideas.

I scrubbed and sliced up a few to saute for my lunch and they were divine, just as I remembered. Nutty and rich and somewhere between a potato and an artichoke, which I know sounds strange but there you go, it's the best I can do to describe them. If you get a chance this fall, pick up a few pounds and give them a go. I know they look weird and knobbly but you don't need to peel them, just give them a good scrub and your ready to get cooking. And if anyone out there is already a fan, got any recipes? That is one big bag in my fridge, I'm open to suggestions...