Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Good Year

To All,

We wish you the very best and hope you have a wonderful 2014.

Happy New Year ~

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Milk and Cookies

Every once in a while you click with someone instantly. It's as though you've known that person for a long time even though you've just met. Barbie and I clicked when she started working a 12-week Traveling Nurse assignment. When her time was up and before she started her trek back to Texas, I was able to knit her a Cable Lace hat with Leche yarn. It turned out pretty well and I'm sure it will keep her nice and warm this winter.


Before she left she baked Christmas goodies for us: a variety of cookies and biscotti. It was doubly-good since she forgot to bring it when she came over and made another trip over The Grade the next day just to bring us her delicious gifts.  We tried to dissuade her but we're glad she returned with the baked treats.

Barbie, my friend, Happy Trails to you….

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Central Coast Christmas

Merry Morro Bay

And Goodwill to All

Last week The Man and I took our cars for our biennial Smog Inspection. The County of San Luis Obispo requires a smog check in order to renew your yearly vehicle registration. After dropping off the cars we walked over to the Goodwill store to pass the time.

We've been to the Atascadero and SLO Goodwill locations in the past. It's fun looking for a bargain and I enjoy browsing the household items and have found a space in my home for several glass carafes and vases.

We didn't even get in the door before we were drawn to the lineup of bicycles outside. There we spotted a sharp-looking Trek Navigator 2.0 Comfort bike. It was the counterpart to my granny bike, in very well-cared-for condition. We weren't even sure it was for sale until we saw the price sticker. It had just been dropped off that day and it was priced under $150. What a find. I urged The Man to give it a spin in the parking lot.

But wait, there's more.

While The Man was pumping up the bike's tires and testing it out in the parking lot I came across another good find. Someone had donated a radial arm saw and cabinet. At first I thought the store was doing some construction work. The large saw sat in the middle of an aisle and it looked like it had just been turned off: there was a dusting of sawdust covering it. Then I saw a price sticker. I opened the cabinet and discovered lots of extras: new blades, packs of sandpaper, bits and bobs. I went outside to flag The Man down.

But wait, there's still more.

While The Man was busy dismantling the saw and loading his truck I took another look at the Household section. I came across a new, still-in-the-box, Potholder loom for $1.50. It's the Harrisville Designs metal one not the cheapo plastic loom. I have an idea that I can use my yarn stash and not just to make potholders. Yes, another fiber tool. I bought it.

One of the helpful ladies working there told us they get items from the families of people who have "passed on". She commented that she had just put the bike out a few hours before we saw it. We're impressed at the generosity of people that donate items to Goodwill and other thrift stores. Merry Christmas and Thank You for your kindness.

 "Nothing in the world - indeed nothing even beyond the world - can possibly be conceived which could be called good without qualification except a Good Will." Immanuel Kant

Sunday, December 22, 2013

All Fired Up

Yesterday, was the official first day of winter. We've been enjoying our fall/winter weather, even the freezing temperatures at night. The Man starts a fire every morning and manages to keep the house cozy and toasty all day long. He and his log-splitter are getting quite the work out.

Everyday Fireplace

When it gets really cold: the Big Stove

Friday, December 13, 2013

Yum: Life is Sweet

(Thanks to Sandee for the inspiration of this week's post.)

Thanksgiving 11/28/13

Thanksgiving Treats for the Boys and Girls

The Goaty Boys

The Girls

Fresh Eggs!

Life is Sweet

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rockets Red Glare

Wonders never cease here on the Central Coast: we were able to watch an Atlas V Rocket launch from the comfort of our own home.

Vandenberg AFB is about 70 miles south of Atascadero.  Driving distance is about 1 hour 15 minutes.  Traveling via Atlas V Rocket is much much quicker.

Atlas V Rocket, December 5, 2013 11:15 pm PST

Saturday, November 23, 2013

It's Not Easy Being Green

Due to a change in the weather, Talley Farms Fresh Harvest gathered some of their field fruit early. This week's CSA produce box included seven green tomatoes: very hard, unripe, green tomatoes. We've been loving their vine-ripened luscious heirloom tomatoes all season and I was a little disappointed.

Three of the tomatoes had a tinge of red on them so I stuck them in the plastic bag that contained the kiwis and added a ripe banana. (The banana gives off ethylene gas and will speedily ripen both fruit.)

Talley Farms Fresh Harvest (ganked photo)

For the clueless uninitiated like me Talley Farms includes a recipe for their more unusual produce. The recipe, Fried Green Tomatoes with Panko and Parmesan, looked easy enough and I had all the ingredients in my pantry.

Oh My Gosh. Oh-So-Delicious! It's difficult to describe the taste. Let's just say I quickly checked the other green tomatoes but, too late, they had already turned to red. Take my word for it and seek out those green gems.

It's Not Easy Being Green

It's not that easy being green
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow, or gold
Or something much more colorful like that.

It's not easy being green

It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over
'Cause you're not standing out
Like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky.

But green's the color of spring

And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean
Or important like a mountain
Or tall like a tree.

When green is all there is to be

It could make you wonder why
But why wonder, why wonder
I am green, and it'll do fine
It's beautiful, and I think it's what I want to be.

Kermit, the Frog

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bits and Bobs: Using it All

I've mentioned my yarn stash before.  So now it looks like my stash has a stash ~
  • single skeins of yarn (what was I thinking?)
  • souvenir yarn ("grab and go")
  • small balls of leftover yarn - too little to make anything, too much to throw away.
You get the picture.
And, besides, fiber folk don't won't can't throw anything away.

I thought I would take some of those odds and ends and knit up charity scarves.  I cast on 250 stitches on size US 10 needles that took forever.  It just about put me to sleep.  Then I started knitting long rows of garter stitch.  Again, it just about put me to sleep.  I was shooting for 4" wide by 60" long and ended with 3.75" by 72".  Good enough, I had to stop.

Long Skinny Scrappy Scarf

There had to be another way to use up the scraps.  A quicker less boring way.

I dusted off my 10" Cricket Loom -it's been awhile- and gathered all the bits and bobs of yarn: acrylic, alpaca, cotton, lambs wool, merino wool, mohair (looking at you Souvenir yarn), silk blends, and various other yarn blends.

Scrappy Woven Scarf

Souvenir Yarn Section

I love how the woven scarf turned out and I'm making a wee bit of progress using up the stash, inch by inch.  Good thing too since I just received another box of yarn and I'm embarrassed that it was so heavy and huge.  I mean humongous!  SABLE here I come.

Yikes, more yarn!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Spicy Hot

Last week's CSA box included a nice Napa Cabbage (Won Bok). Coincidentally, Sandee and I had just visited an Asian Market in SLO and I brought home a spice package to make Hawaiian Kim Chee. We haven't tried the finished product yet since it needs to sit awhile to develop it's full spicy-hot flavor. I'm looking forward to making Kim Chee Fried Rice with the eggs we're getting from The Peeps.

Over the last several days our photovoltaic system was installed and right now we're making electricity. Solarize SLO was a group purchasing program offered this summer to go green. We signed up and now that we've solarized our all electric house I'm looking forward to a whole lot of cooking and baking over the long dark days of fall and winter.

Yesterday, our friend Jerry and family were ready to evacuate from a wildfire behind their house. Luckily the conditions were right and the fire burned away from their home. Cal Fire were in "full wildland dispatch" and used ground crews, helicopters, and air tankers to control and contain the Toro Creek Fire. Scary. We haven't had enough rain to quench the dry landscape so we still need to keep up the fire vigil.

Our Bone-Dry Vista

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Impeckable Timing

I am happy to report that The Girls are growing some mighty fine looking feathers. Baby (Frankenchicken) is looking sleek and shiny; her new feathers are a deep dark auburn color. Sweetness (aka Countess Dracluckula) still looks a bit scruffy but otherwise healthy.

More good news: The Peeps have started laying eggs. We received our first egg a week ago, three days before their six-months-old birthday. So far we've received five good-sized creamy brown eggs.

Cafe Au Lait eggs

All the eggs were found in the pen: one on the ground and four in the Igloo dog house. I'm not sure what possessed The Man to look in there but I'm glad he did.

I suspect Brandy is the egg layer. For a couple of days she's been doing the Chicken Squat. But on the other hand, both Brandy and Mrs Bond have been loudly singing the Egg Squawking Songs. For all I know they could both be sharing the Igloo.

Buff Orpingtons: Tandy (l) and Brandy (r)

"My name is Bond. Mrs Jane Bond."  (Barred Plymouth Rock)

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Molt

A spooky story just in time for Halloween.

Fall was coming, the weather was changing, and the animals were getting ready by shedding their summer coat for thicker winter coats.

It started innocent enough, a fluff of feather here, a fluffy feather there. Then more and more till it looked like a pillow fight. Every day, every night, everywhere. A severe case of alopecia, the older hens were looking bald and bare. They also stopped laying eggs.

This was our first hard molt and quite unexpected. Since feathers are mostly protein, I increased the protein in the Girls' diet: BOSS --black oil sunflower seeds-- and soybeans ("No, Honey, the boiled soybeans are for the chickens, not for us."). I also watched them carefully, if they pecked at one another I was prepared to protect and isolate the injured bird at the first sign of blood. Chickens can be cruel like that.

Then it happened, the new immature feathers appeared. They're called pin feathers. They look like porcupine quills. Or, bones. Yes, bones. My chickens looked like walking skeletons. Little nightmares.

Frankenchicken (aka Baby)

Countess Dracluckula

Now that a few weeks have passed since the molt began, the Girls' feathers are coming in nicely. Thankfully, we haven't had to deal with any bleeding or broken pin feathers or a pecked on, picked on, chicken.

The older Girls and Peeps

Basking in the sun and in one another's company.

They won't start laying eggs again till the molt is completely over. Possibly not till next Spring. Now, that's scary.

Happy Fall Friday

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Aloha Friday

Last August, at the Atascadero Lake Car Show The Man noticed a 1970 Mustang. It was notable because of the Honolulu Midweek Newspaper article explaining the car's Hawaiian heritage. When The Man got home he mentioned the car. It didn't take long to find the Midweek article online and that led me to ex-Oahu local Sandee and her blog: Sweet Home Atascadero.

I started reading Sandee's blog and especially enjoyed her pictures and recipes of local kine foods: spam musubi, li hing popsicle, yum. I left a comment on her blog, she emailed me, I emailed her back, she emailed me back, I emailed her . . . so, yesterday, we met.

We agreed to meet at the local Starbucks and then chatted non-stop for a couple of hours fueled by commonalities and caffeine. The topics ranged anywhere from finding a good hairstylist (still looking), best grocery stores, and finding medical care. It's a challenge starting over and we could compare notes and commiserate. This is Sandee's first experience to live on the mainland, it's all an adventure for her.

We didn't even begin to chat about the local kine foods we miss the most or what we've been able to find in SLO. (My tip: Aloha shoyu found at San Luis Oriental Market, 1255 Monterey St.)

Today marks the second year anniversary of The Man and me moving back to the Central Coast. Next month, Sandee and Vince marks their first year anniversary of moving to Atascadero.

Happy Anniversary HI Expats

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Happy Coincidence

Yesterday, I received my third box of charity yarn from Leslye Borden and her organization Handmade Especially For You.  The box contained colorful magic yarn balls to make eight Comfort Scarves.  I thought the recycled box looked familiar so I peeled back the shipping label to reveal the return address.  It wasn't my box but imagine my surprise to discover that I knew the name on the box.  I asked The Man if it was the Kathy that we knew and he said, "Yup".

The Man's Mom and Kathy are friends.  They both belong to The Red Hat Society and formed their own chapter Valley Isle Vixens on Maui.  Together they travel the world and have a great time.  And once again they'll both be here in March before they attend their Monterey Convention.  We're looking forward to their visit; they're fun to be around.  (Note to self: remember to ask the ladies to bring their bambucha knitting needles so we can do a little charity scarfing together.)

The Man suggested maybe it's just the three of us making scarves.  Hehe, I don't think so unless Kathy and his Mom have made 1092 scarves (to add to the eight I sent in).  In September, 1100 scarves were shipped to over fifty Women's shelters in California.

Leslye replied, "Tell your husband we have many, many volunteers, not just you and your family and friends, although you all do a lot for Handmade.  Thanks for everything."

A happy coincidence.  And, yes, it is a small world after all.  A small giving world.

Magic balls of yarn and a Comfort Scarf in progress.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Deep Pools: 9/11 Memorial

Memorial South Pool ~

Memorial North Pool ~

1 World Trade Center and Museum ~

1 World Trade Center at 1,776 feet (104 floors) is the tallest building in the United States.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

NYC, Baby

What I learned from our trip to Manhattan:

  • Public restrooms are hard to come by.  (Thank you, Burger King, I owe you one.)
  • They say don't look like a tourist.  Oh, well, we could never ever not look like a tourist.

 Maybe it's a peace sign, "two",  or "V" for Victory for another $2 in "tips".

  • Get your map of the City ahead of time.  We couldn't find one and asked a couple where they got their NYC map.  They brought it from home . . . Australia.  Since they had two they kindly shared their extra map with us.

Hmm, I thought Matzo Ball soup had meatballs in it.

  • On a clear day you can see forever.

From the "Top of the Rock", Rockefeller Center

What The Man learned:

Don't leave me alone never, ever.  The second day we wanted to explore Midtown Manhattan. We got an early start and it was still dark when we caught the ferry from Belford, NJ.  The Man went upstairs to sit outside on the outer deck.  I stayed in the main cabin.  When my seat mates got up to disembark so did I.

I first noticed the dock looked familiar, then I noticed that I was alone as I watched the Ferry motor away.  At that moment, The Man texted "Plenty of seats upstairs".

Oh, boy.

I texted back, "I got off didn't you"?  His reply, "I hope you're kidding".

Oh, boy.

Ferry and Harbor Gunboat at dawn

At that point I wondered, "why are we texting"?  I am alone in New York City and it's dark.  I gave The Man a call.  He was going to get off at the next stop.

I had mistakenly thought it was an Express ferry to Midtown, get on, get off.  Simple.  I was wrong and had gotten off prematurely at the same dock from the day before in the Financial District, Lower Manhattan.  Since we had covered alot of the area the day before including the waterfront we both knew where we were and which direction to walk.

We met at Battery Park.  From there we caught the subway to Times Square.