Monday, December 29, 2014

Apples Galore: Fruit and Fiber

We're fortunate to live in an area with fresh fruits and vegetables year-round. It's been almost three years since we joined our local CSA and have been receiving a weekly produce box of farm-to-our-table yummy goodness.

If that wasn't enough, we're even luckier to have friends who are willing to share their own home-grown deliciousness.




A couple of years ago The Man bought me an apple peeler to keep up with the annual bounty from Jerry and Jan's apple trees. This year I'm saving a step and not peeling the apples.

The core and the buggy parts are cut out and saved for the Goaty Boys and the Girls. The unblemished skin-on-slices gets tossed into a big pot with a bit of water (to prevent scorching) and it slowly simmers and softens on the fireplace's cook top.


Apples for everyone: no waste at our house.


An unwatched pot.


A few swipes with the immersion blender purees the apples and peels into a smooth, creamy applesauce.

Yesterday's project was making fruit leathers with the applesauce in my new Nesco Dehydrator.




The dehydrator came with two fruit leather trays and I used parchment paper with the other three trays. The parchment paper doubled as a wrapper. I just cut, rolled, and secured.




Easy-Peasy and tasty too.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Bravo Christmas Carol



It's beginning


to look



a lot



like


Christmas.


Everywhere


you


go.



Wishing everyone a very Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year, 2015.



Singers Zeke, Wyatt, and Maestro Duke.



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Technical Difficulties

Hi All:

It looks like the tree video doesn't work when viewed via Subscriber email or from a device - iPad. All I know is when I post a picture, a video, or publish a post I just click and click. Where it goes or how it works is beyond me. Sorry.

Anyway, try it again, it's a good one: Tis The Season.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Tis The Season

"YeeHaw, Honey, I'm bringing home a tree!"

The weekend after Thanksgiving we saw this Cowboy on Highway 101, north of Atascadero.



 


The dialogue in our car ~
The Man's Mom: "Do you think he knows?"
Me: "Is that a Christmas tree?"
The Man's Mom: "Yes, it is!"
Me: "I guess they'll put that side to the wall."


Credits: iPhone video with added audio by The Man.
"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" sung by Bing Crosby.




Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Express Train

The rain started at 9:07 pm. I wasn't sitting by the window watching for it or anything so how do I know? Because all of a sudden it got quiet. Eerie silence. You know like the eye of a hurricane . . . a lull. I came downstairs and asked The Man if he heard it. "What?" he said, "I don't hear anything."

Exactly.

The wind had started in the wee hours of Thursday morning. It blew, and blew, and blew. It found a little space between the weather stripping and the door and wailed and screeched it's way in. Like a banshee or an Obake. The dogs looked at me and I looked at them. We almost nodded to each other in agreement: It was freaking us out.

It gusted, it shook the house, and roared like a freight train. It was as though we were in the middle of the track. Which in a way we are. The wind was coming from the south and the only thing standing  in it's way was us. And our trees. Luckily, we lost only one large oak limb towards the back of the property far away from any structures.

Even though we had secured our perimeter we still found objects tossed about. The Weber gas grill threatened to skitter across the deck along with the glass topped outdoor table before The Man tied them both down.




The wind gusts became a steady blow just before the rain started. In the dark we stood out on the Vista being buffeted about, I put on safety goggles since I could feel myself being pelted by oak leaves and small twigs. The wind was wild and exhilarating. Yeehaw.

Overnight we received almost 3 inches of rain. For us it was a nice, slow, steady rainfall. No drama - no lightning, no hail, no thunderstorms. Just much needed, much appreciated, rain.


The Day After


It was a good day to hunker down and stay out of the way of the Pineapple Express.




Sunday, December 7, 2014

Butt Bread

I have a freezer full of sliced bread. Two pieces per bag - heels of bread loaves. I save the bread to make panade (bread paste) for moist meatloaf, meatballs, or juicy burgers. But mostly I can't seem to throw them away. Which is to say they're taking up valuable freezer space.

Recently The Man "helped" by gathering the ends, repackaged, and relabeled them.




Since he came this close to throwing the bread out I guess I better use them up, pronto. What better use than homemade croutons.




I'm lucky I didn't burn the bread cubes. I got a little distracted when I looked out the kitchen window and saw a rainbow. A Hawaiian rainbow is pretty; a rainbow in Atascadero is a miracle. I had to go outside and try to get a picture of it. Of course all the animals had to show up to see what all the to-do was about but I did manage to get a small peekaboo rainbow.

 


And, yes, the croutons turned out delicious. The TJ Multigrain bread made excellent croutons - a little sweet and nutty, crunchy on the outside, and a tiny bit soft on the inside. Perfect.

I wasn't worried, after all, it was garbage. I had nothing to lose.




Topic inspired by Jenny who also hoards saves her bread and makes croutons.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dream Come True

It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down . . .


Thanksgiving Day 2014


Yeah, runnin' down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads
Runnin' down a dream

I felt so good like anything was possible . . . . 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers



Sunday, November 23, 2014

Frozen Food

If you peeked into my freezer right now you would find various meats waiting to be turned into delicious meals: lamb chops for the grill, chicken breast for burritos or enchiladas, and beef stew meat for  . . . well, beef stew.

You would find three packages of Swiss cheese, six pounds worth, for sandwich-making. They were on sale at Costco; the Checkout person commented, "You must really like cheese!"

You would see fresh fruit vacuum-sealed at their peak of sweetness: strawberries from the farmer's market last summer, and magenta-colored dragon fruit flown in from Maui yesterday with The Man's Mom. The Man's sister grows the dragon fruit in her Upcountry Maui garden. (Thank you Connie for the home-grown yummy goodness.)

You would also find two gallon-sized Ziploc bags of luscious yummy yarn. Yes, yarn. Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in hand-dyed happy crazy colors and Malabrigo lace-weight skeins in colorways of greens, blues, and purples - of which I hope to make more woven pooled scarves.

The yarns are not in the freezer because my stash has runneth over or because I'm hiding them from The Man. Rather, they're in quarantine, a little time out before they join up with my regular yarn stash. The freezing cold will kill off any hitchhikers - nasty moths or moth babies - that feast on natural woolie fibers.


Bon app├ętit ~ but not for you little larvae.

(The Man just asked me why there's a book in the freezer. That, is another story.)


Sunday, November 16, 2014

In The Dog House

Last weekend we learned an important lesson: People and dogs do not learn important lessons.

It was the end of a lazy Sunday and The Man and I were enjoying the last of the daylight, sitting out on the Vista, before we headed indoors. The Man was eating peanuts and tossing the shells on the ground for the Goaty Boys to eat in the morning. A thought flitted through my head but I wasn't fast enough to grasp onto it. A couple of minutes clicked by. The next thing we know the dogs are fighting; they're at it again, tooth and nail. (Belatedly, the thought was, "Maybe it's not such a good idea to eat around the dogs.")

When the dust settled we checked both dogs over carefully: Two puncture wounds on Mele's right leg; not a single scratch on Mattie. I patched and wrapped Mele up and gave her an antibiotic pill from the Emergency Vet Hospital (they gave us quite a bit extra - go figure). In the morning The Man took Mele to our Vet when we noticed the leg had swelled overnight. The leg wasn't broken (yes, X-rayed) but the Vet changed Mele's antibiotic (yes, more expensive), kept her wound open to air instead of the Coban wrap I had used. We put her back in an e-Collar.




Sadly, we're back to square one again. The dogs spend most of the day separated with only brief periods together. They do sleep in the house together but in different corners of the room. We're hoping that once Mele's e-Collar comes off they'll be able to work it out and be friends again.

We've learned that the dogs cannot be trusted around food, no matter what kind of "food" it is. Even though they had been eating meals together, we'll feed them separate from now on. The Goaty Boys and The Girls will get their treats in the pen. For us, no snacking around the dogs. Absolutely. Period.

Last evening The Man and I noticed Mattie sniffing around the shoe rack and sticking her nose into one of my shoes. Not once, not twice, but several times. The Man said, "Maybe there's a dead mouse in your shoe." (Yes, that has happened.) I picked up the shoe and out fell a few dry dog food pieces. Luckily, only Mattie was with us in the garage. I looked at the kibble, showed it to The Man, and we both agreed it looked gnawed on. Probably mice. I tossed the food in the trash.

A few moments later, Mattie started sniffing a different pair of shoes. Yeehaw, the mice sure have been busy!




We found a quarter-sized hole in the unopened Science Diet dog food bag.

Sheesh, I'm worrying about the dogs fighting over peanut shells, apple cores, and other non-edibles and a mere inches away from their super-sensitive food-seeking noses, mice are storing dog food in my shoes. 

It's hard to be vigilant when the Universe is against you.

 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Good Eats

The little bit of rain we had on Halloween provided tasty surprises for the animals.

Nowadays, the Goaty Boys are much too big to climb trees so a broken oak branch laden with tender oak leaves and yummy moss is a rare treat.



The Man noticed the Girls pacing back and forth, staring outside of their pen. He went to check on them and noticed the ground moving with tiny insects. They looked like ants with wings.





I arrived at the pen just in time to see the chickens pick off the last of the swarm. We all watched the Girls pecking happily away. I held Mattie on her leash just a few feet away from the Girls and after a few minutes The Man took Mattie off her leash. It was the first time. Mattie didn't seem to care that she and the Girls were no longer separated by wire and I guess the Girls were too busy to notice.

It's been over a week and the Girls are once again free-ranging (which is supposed to make for better eggs). Maybe it will help them start laying regularly again. Currently, we're only getting one egg per day from either Tandy or Mrs Bond.

I'm also happy to report that Mattie has not tried to sample a new tasty delicacy: fresh chicken.



Tandy, a good girl, still laying every other day.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Wet Stuff

It rained. Ahhh . . . (sigh of relief), granted it wasn't all that much but, hey, it rained.




We received almost 1½ inches. (And just in case you were wondering we have a very small front lawn and we don't use much water keeping it green. Just saying.)




Friday, October 31, 2014

Under Cloudy Skies

It's a big deal. We're expecting rain today.

For the past week, we've been watching the elements of a storm system coming together. Though unlike the slow steady flow of lava closing in on the Big Island homes, we gladly welcome this other force of nature.

After all, it's been 188 days since we last saw measurable rainfall. On April 26th we received a torrential third of an inch. When you consider that we report our rainfall as "tenths of an inch" or "hundredths of an inch", it's not hard to understand our excitement.

Consider also that our annual average rainfall is a mere 18 inches, well, the possibility of half-an-inch to (gasp!) two inches would certainly be a treat.


Truthfully, it's hard not to roll my eyes and snicker when I hear that we're on "storm watch". After all, I am from Kaneohe, Oahu - with almost fifty inches of annual rainfall.



Instead, I think we should say T minus 5 hours.

Happy Halloween: No trick, all treat.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What In Tarnation?

Boro-boros (Hawaiian Pidgin): worn out, worn down (usually used when describing clothes); the most had-it clothes you own.

Gathering up donations for our local Goodwill store, I came across my colorful collection of tank tops - my daily wear in Hawaii - not used as much anymore. Despite the fact that they were quite threadbare and holey I was still hesitant to throw them out. They were perfect boro-boros for bathing the dogs, washing my car . . .  yeah, right, they gotta go.

I took a deep breath and cut off the cute little buttons from the Henley-style placket. (You never know when you might need cute little buttons.) I was almost to the garage door to toss the tops into The Man's rag bin when I thought to myself, "I bet I could make something with this stuff."

Well, sure, why not?

I looked at a few online tutorials about how to cut a continuous strip of fabric from t-shirts then I cut a long ½-inch width strip, cutting in a circular shape to avoid sewn seams. I was making t-shirt yarn: tarn.

I got out my Mason-Dixon Knitting book and started knitting up the Dizzy Rug pattern with the tarn I had made.


It didn't take me long to realize the problems with making a rug with my tank top yarn: It took forever to cut the ½-inch strips and the cutting made my hands hurt, the pattern called for 3 lbs of tarn, the little bit I made weighed an ounce, and lastly, I was leaving little purple pilly balls everywhere. Everywhere.

One day, there may be a Dizzy Rug made with t-shirt yarn in my future but not today. My little pile of tank tops will be recycled and added to The Man's rag bin. It won't be wasted.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Playing With Cotton String

With the success of my first pooled warp I was eager to start another weaving project. I spent many moments online this past week coveting the beautiful hand-dyed Lorna's Laces yarn. But before I purchased more yarn I thought I'd better take a look in my own Stash first.


 

Lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised to find yarn that I thought would work. I had purchased 10 single skeins of Cuddly Cotton Multi, 100% cotton made in Romania, from Little Knits (it was 82% off - a Super Sale - how could I resist?). When I untwisted a skein I found that the yarn had been dyed creating bands of color that lined up, a palindrome skein.

Unfortunately, a single skein was not enough for the wider, shawl-like, project I had in mind. So I took two similar colored skeins and was able to warp them in a coordinating color pattern.


                               I used these guys     ^   ^


Woohoo, so far, so good. It could be amazing or it could be a disaster (I'm hoping for amazing).


  

This time I'm using lace-weight yarn for the weft. I figured this way I wouldn't be covering up the beautiful vibrant warp colors with thick yarn. I'm not certain about the mix of fibers though - 100% cotton and 100% Merino wool, but . . . what the hey.


Deep Stash 2009: DIC, Baby, colorway "Petal Shower" (1 of 2)


Lastly, I had to borrow some Man Tools while warping the Flip Loom. The weight of my sewing machine and two 4 lb hand weights were not a match for the cotton warp's tension and I found the loom's stand tilting. I used a couple of The Man's dive belts for counterbalance.




Boy, those two dive belts were heavy! I think if The Man wants them back he'll need to come get them from upstairs. They'll be right next to the plunger, I mean, felting fiber tool.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Most Beautiful Thing

Star Trek Yarn. It was those three words that hooked me and reeled me in. A fellow Ravelry member was paring down her considerable yarn stash by letting a few go. The "Star Trek yarn" turned out to be a limited edition colorway from hand-dyer Lorna's Laces called "Live Long and Prosper". The colorway was bright bold colors - gold, red, blue, and brown - the uniform colors of Starfleet. 


As you know, I do enjoy Star Trek and I do love yarn but I was hesitant to purchase more yarn as my yarn baskets runneth over.

At the same time I was admiring the yarn, I read about how certain hand-dyed yarns could be woven with a pooled warp - a technique by which blocks of colors are lined up and create controlled symmetry.

The clincher for buying the Star Trek colorway was that I could make an accompanying scarf to David's hat. I'm not sure if he's a scarf guy (or a hat guy for that matter) but I know he's a Star Trek guy. He and his wife Lori have their own American Cancer Society Relay for Life team called, the "Star Trekkers". I had to make a prayer scarf for them.

The warp turned out to be magic. Lorna's Laces hand-painted yarn was a true palindrome skein: brown-blue-red-gold/gold-red-blue-brown/brown-blue-red-gold, the colors repeated itself forwards and backwards. (I'm geeky about palindromes too. You know, like: "Madam, I'm Adam" or Nurses Run.)



Halfway through warping the 10" Cricket loom the color blocks started shifting and getting wonky. The lightweight Ikea table was moving and being pulled in by the warp tension. The heaviest thing in my craftroom was my sewing machine and it worked well for holding the table in place.


I chose mmmMalabrigo sock in the colorway Chocolate Amargo for the weft color because, well, chocolate. It turned out to be thicker than the Lorna's Laces and the weaving was becoming more weft-faced, i.e. the warp was being hidden by the vertical brown yarn. It was starting to look like a secret Star Trek manly scarf.

The scarf took a little over a week from start to finish and yesterday I cut the scarf off the loom and twisted the fringe with my nifty Conair hair-braider.



I gotta say this woven scarf is the most beautiful thing I've ever made. It's soft, drapey, and the pooled colors are amazing. The Chocolate Amargo ("bitter chocolate") is shades of brown with streaks of silver - like the tails of shooting stars.


Just when I thought the weaving experience couldn't get any better - the prequel Star Trek movie played on TV last Sunday - twice - while I was weaving. Then a few days later I watched Into Darkness via Netflix streaming. The scarf was truly infused and woven with Star Trek virtues: Goodness, Courage, Friendship, and Hope. It's a beautiful thing.


David and Lori, my dear old friends, Live Long and Prosper.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

But Wait, There's More

"F" is for . . . 

furry (wet) friends. We're having a last-ditch heat wave (at least we hope it's our last). The unusual weather pattern has kept away the marine layer and the coastal areas have been in the 90's, instead of the usual 60's. Although we're ready for cooler temperatures - and rain - we took advantage of the perfect beach weather and loaded up the dogs and headed to dog-friendly Cayucos beach.

We brought along our new Chuckit! dog toy. I bought it online and didn't realize it would be almost 2½ feet long and very heavy-duty. There's a learning curve to using it which I haven't figured out yet. I'm calling it Chopit! since I hold it over my head with both hands like I'm swinging an axe downward, that's the only way the ball releases for me.



No matter, The Man and the dogs have it all figured out.



feather(less). It's a good thing it's warmed back up because we've got a naked hen. The Girls have been slowly molting for weeks, loosing a few feathers here and there. But last week Sophia lost most of her feathers seemingly overnight.



I had to do a head count to make sure everyone was accounted for when I found two big piles of feathers in the goat house. In addition to feather loss, egg production has drastically changed and the only layer still in service is Mrs Jane Bond - the feathered black and white hen.