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May. 27th, 2010

dark haired girly

I'm back-just in different way...

..and I have the links to where I am now-in three places in fact. I decided to not only relocate and start anew, but to separate my interests for better cohesiveness, and closer attention to those different subjects.

This is my new art blog, where you'll find acyrlic paintings, colored pencil drawings, art rants, and how to's:  http://katesfineart.blogspot.com/


This is my new garden blog-just for gardening, and anything that is related to gardening-like pickling or jamming produce for instance, or drying flowers: http://katkingardenseverywhere.blogspot.com/

...and lastly, my craft and knitting blog: http://knits4uandme.wordpress.com/

Anyways, I'll catch you over there! Thanks for stopping by, and do take a peek at my other blogs.


Apr. 20th, 2010

dark haired girly

it's been a long road.

...and I've enjoyed it. Through the ups and downs of my gardening, crafting and baking experiences. But as I get older (hey, it's been a long year) I've stretched myself thin doing a lot of things-and continue to do that. I garden, knit, play musical instruments, compose music, bake, cook, and craft.

So what I'm working up to is this: I don't have time anymore, at least not at this point in my life, for a blog. I'm giving it up. Someday I might return to the blogging world and start fresh and anew, and you can be sure that if I do I'll post a link here so you can find me. 

Anyway, so so-long, people. My blog will still be up for perusing and reading. Enjoy, and thanks for having me.

Apr. 6th, 2010

spring pink

my camera...

...died...

One day I was taking pictures of our flowering saucer magnolia, and the lens got stuck out. Huh? I wondered. I poked at it, examined it. It wouldn't turn on or off, deciding on a dull grey color instead. I thought, it needs to be charged!

So I plugged 'im in. The charging light refused to come on. I thought, oh well, I'll just wait. A day later, the camera's lens is still stuck out, the light has not come on, but the charger is nice and toasty warm.

My old, battlescarred sony apparently needs a battery. Which will take a bit of hunting around. Anyways, just to let you guys know I didn't croak or anything.

I have been doing a lot of gardening. Moving Transplants out. Baking. Not so much knitting since it's been 90 DEGREES!! Holy cow, what is up with Mother Nature?

Anyway, yeah, hold on people. I am going to find a way to post about grapevine pruning. I think everyone should have 1 grapevine for their own pleasure and use, and to do that they should know how to prune it.

Mar. 23rd, 2010

giant blue pansy

lavender cutting, books of note, wattle, and back panel of niece's easter sweater finished

So I know I promised to show a how-to on spur pruning grapevines-and I will-but I had things I wanted to blog about first, before I forgot. One is that yes indeedy, you CAN start lavender cuttings in water, but it must have a LOT of heel wood on it. The water must be changed often to prevent rotting lavender stems on your windowsill. After letting the roots progress for a few days I planted my cutting in dirt, and made sure it had nice damp soil to echo the conditions of the water jar. We'll see how it goes.



Also, I finished the back panel of my niece's Easter sweater yay! And to my satisfaction, too, which is no small thing.

 

I also have been reading a couple books of note. Two are the Jelly Roll Quilts-the photos inside of them show these really beautiful quilts which make me want to go fabric shopping immediately. :D

  and

Both are by Pam and Nicky Lintott. Yes, they are both really good. Yes I am going to start another quilt soom because of them. :p

Also, this book is awesome. It tells you how to make your own jerky, smoked turkey, marshmallows, jams and jellies, etc. etc.



I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but I know I'm going to. A lot. Did I mention they also tell you how to make fries, potato chips, and crackers? Mmmmm....

On another strand of thought, this is what I'm going to use for the gate of my garden. The technique is called wattle. I'd never heard of it before until I'd read a country life by Paul Heiney. 




Making wattle fences are like like weaving placemats...except out of wood, bigger, and you use it for gates and fences. It sounds awesome to me, personally, and it's been around forever.









  

  









So yeah, those are my thoughts today. That and holy crap what am I going to do with 55 cherry tomato seedlings?




Mar. 21st, 2010

spring pink

gardening photos of mid March

Okay, I have a lot of photos to show you-so I hope you like them. I was thinking about how I shouldn't have gotten quite so many seeds last year-I tried to use a lot of them up this year, only to have most of them not come up. Ones that I've now had to sow twice are cukes, yellow squash, zinnias (okay, that was because of over-watering), bell peppers and jalepenos. But! I will not give up. A good gardener never falters in his/her resolve.

  


Some new seeds. Yellow squash, cukes, and jalepenos because my other seeds were too old-green beans because I didn't have any-period.

Freshly picked dafodils. I adore their woodsy, modest fresh scent.

Grape hyacinths in a garden caddy with miniature gardening tools. I used the hand rake and one of the shovels yesterday, and they are marvelous. They make working around plants and tight spots very easy, and so much gentler on the back muscles, too. They were a birthday present from my brother-in-law (thank you again if you're reading this!)


    A hanging basket I freshened up by removing debris and topping with more dirt. I planted sprawling hot pink petunias in there (I'm not normally a pink person, but these looked nice).

 

I also got an idea one day when I was trying to make sense out of my mad pile of seeds. I thought, what if I could flip a page and seed what seeds I have? I decided to put my seed packages into photo albums. I have one for perrenial flowers, one for annual flowers, and one for veggies. Needless to say, I need a much bigger binder/s to hold them all.



And here is either a tray of banana or cayenne peppers, I don't remember which.

and the other one:

and after a second sowing, my bell peppers are finally responding.



Also, I tried an experiment and planted two chickpeas beans from a bag I got from the grocery store into a pot of dirt. They came up fast and are growing vigorously. They're fun to watch growing.



Also, I've had some more avocado success! Three are coming up in earnest.



And a lot of cherry tomato plants.



Some sweet basil sprouts:



A tray I started yesterday of jubilee watermelon, crimson sweet watermelon, and cantalope.



and my trays (pardon the blurry picture) of romas, yellow pear tomatoes and better boys tomatoes.



My asters:



vinca, zinnias and other which I can't remember at the moment.



Eggplant seedlings:



Our white saucer magnolia is in bloom. It's very happy this year, what with no late frosts to ruin the buds.

    

My little rose bush is pushing forth buds:



My garlic is doing nicely:



Two little spinach plants:



Inside the polytunnel, broccoli is sprouted.

 

My cilantro, dill and lettuce have come up in the cold frame.



The apple tree I started from seed in August of 2008 is budding:



Here's a picture of my yellow squash polytunnel:



And some spur pruned grapevines. My next post will be a tutorial on how to do this.

 

Also, I'm planning on starting another quilt in the new future, so stayed tuned for more crafting and gardening folks. Enjoy the break in weather.

Mar. 9th, 2010

golden nasturtiums

garlic sprouts, a fresh start on easter sweater, and cold proofing my plants

I was researching how and when to grow garlic today, because when I checked my garlic tub, it had twenty or so sprouting cloves, along with the seven or so garlic cloves that I had potted. They said early spring or fall were fine, so that made up my mind to plant them today. The gorgeous weather was not to be ignored.

Oh. And by the way-what is up with the ladybug invasion? It's driving me insane. As I type I'm reminded of Alfred Hitchcock's movie, The Birds. That's how many ladybugs are tapping and flying around the windows. It's disgusting really-I found one on my coffee cup and in my hair the other day. Eww...at least they don't bite. I think.

Anyway, here are my pictures from planting the garlic.

   

 

Mmmm...nice soft dirt. I hoed it twice.



And planted.

 

Also, I've been reading this really interesting book. It's about reusing everything. It has some really cool ideas in it.



The author had a suggestion for mini cold frames-milk jugs with the bottoms cut off as hot caps. So I made a few yesterday, and planted cucumber seeds that I saved from last season.

   

I also made some mini polytunnels from wire hoops (like for croquet hoops) and some plastic sheeting. See the condensation? That's what I wanna see. It means it's insulated. I have broccoli in the one and cauliflower in the other.



 

In my cold frame I have peas, cilanto, dill, and lettuce. Nothing's come up yet, but I am not dettered- it's barely been a week since I've planted.



I am so glad the weather has broken. I can not possibly paint the relief that I feel to you. This has been one, long, winter. Here's proof of spring, even.

 

Here is my renewed effort at my niece's sweater. I am finally satisfied with the way it's turning out.



I am also trying to root rosemary and lavender cuttings again-the rosemary I know will work, but what of the fickle lavender? I chose the lavender sprigs more carefully, picking out ones with more 'heel wood' on the stems. We'll see how that works shall we?



That's it for now. Soak up the sunshine everyone. And don't get sunburn on the back of your neck like I did.

Mar. 3rd, 2010

dark haired girly

quilting fetish and a finished shirt

So a few months ago I decided to pick up sewing. I started a tailored, collared, button down shirt, because, I figured, I've done a few skirts before, time for a shirt!

I got most of the way through, and gave up, because the sewing jargon was driving me positively insane. I put it away.

Then I read the Everything Sewing Book. It said, essentially, that you took what the pattern said with a grain of salt. They were correct, but if something made sense with a rough read through then do it. So I did. And I managed to finish my shirt. Now I want to get more fabric so I can have a shirt for each day of the week.



So, yesterday I was going through my fabric stash. I wondered, what on earth would I do with these strange amounts of odd fabrics? What haven't I done yet?

A quilt.

So here was my pile.



I made a five inch cardboard template and started cutting squares, so I would have a nine squares block. 4 of one kind of color, and 5 of another.





And I made another one.



...In my dimension scribbles, I worked out that it would be three blocks by five blocks long with two five inch borders. That would fit out to be a roughly 90 x 70 inch quilt, which is how big a quilt for a twin sized mattress is.

Here are the pictures:

   

 

 

Instead of top stitching, I used a tapestry needle and chocolate brown yarn, and I made ties on the back of the quilt. I made a single stitch for each corner of each block section.

 

And that's what I've done recently. Oh, and I started my niece's Easter sweater again. And, it's turning out (knocks nervously on wood). Soon, I will show pictures of my progress. Until then, drink hot tea and dress warmly. It's perfectly pneumonia catching weather out there.



Mar. 1st, 2010

braided rug

Confessions, A bread recipe, and a snowman with a mohawk

Okay, so first things first. I always like bad news first.

I ripped back the work on my niece's easter sweater. I was just really unhappy about the untidiness of the work. It looked homemade-and not in a way that I liked.

So yeah, I'm not giving up on it, just...well, I'm starting over.

Again.

And onto the bread recipe. I've been tweaking my artisan bread recipe, and I'm pretty satisfied with it. I'm probably going to keep tweaking it some more, one, because that's just the way I am, and two, I would like to figure out how to incorporate some more bread holes. I'm a bread holes kind of person.

So, here is my recipe, it does turn out a beautiful and delicious pair of loaves.

My Artisan Bread Recipe (Makes 2 loaves)


1 1/2 cups water

1/8 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp yeast

3 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 tsp salt

5 to 7 cups of all purpose flour

Start this dough after dinner.

Taking your stand mixer, put into the bowl the water, the yeast, and the sugar. Let sit for about five minutes so your yeast can absorb the water a little.

Add the oil. Put in two cups of flour and the salt. Turn mixer to medium speed and incorporate.

One cup at a time, incorporate the rest of the flour until it forms a soft ball.

Keeping the mixer speed on medium, let it knead the dough for 8 whole minutes.

Take dough out of bowl and put it into a large lightly oiled bowl. Coat the top with pam or brush lightly with oil. Take plastic wrap and cover the top of the bowl. Set the bowl into your pantry or on your counter top where it's out of harms way.

Right before you go to bed, peel back the plastic wrap, punch down the dough to deflate it, and put the plastic wrap back again.

In the morning, put two oven racks in your oven, putting the first one on the lowest shelf and the second one right above it. Put a cast iron skillet on the lowest rack, off to the side. Place a pizza stone on the second rack off to the opposite side. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fareinheit.

While the oven heats (and it will take a good 45 minutes to an hour to preheat) take bread dough out of the bowl. Grease a large baking pan with pam or vegetable oil lightly.

Divide your dough in half, form each into a nice tight ball. Cupping your hands around each loaf, smooth the dough downwards and keep tucking the bottom of the loaf underneath it until it has a nice smooth tight skin.

Place loaves at opposite corners on baking sheet.

Using oiled kitchen shears, snip slashes into the loaves, going no deeper than 1/2 inch.

Using a mister or your sink sprayer, gently wet the loaves.

When your oven is preheated, put about a cup of icecubes into a bowl.

Gently slide your baking sheet with the loaves onto the pizza stone. Quickly toss the icecubes into the skillet below. Close the oven door quickly but gently.

Let it bake for 10 minutes. Lower temperature to 425 degrees Fareinheit. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

Take out of the oven and let cool before slicing and eating. If you want a crisper crust, slide the loaves directly onto the baking sheet onto the pizza stone after they've baked for five minutes. Enjoy!

What's cool about this recipe is that technically you could have fresh bread every morning for breakfast by 8 o clock or so, if you get up at seven, and it only takes about a 15 minutes prep in the evening.

And, as I promised, a picture of a mohawked snowman that my brother and I made. Yes, I know it's silly. Yes, I know he's awesome.

     

..and that's a wrap. Hopefully by the next post I'll have something to show you for my niece's easter sweater.

Feb. 27th, 2010

braided rug

a braided rug how-to, update on a yellow sweater, and pictures of course

So, recently, I got this cute looking book called, a Prairie Girl's Guide to Life.



On the inside it tells you how to milk a cow, sew curtains for your bedroom, dress a chicken, make ice cream, brew the perfect pot of tea, knit a shawl, darn a sock, etcetera etcetera. Needless to say, it was just my cup of tea (non intended pun).

One of the other things it told you how to do, was make a braided rug. Okay, maybe not every home has a decor best suited for a rag rug, but it does seem like something everyone, at least, every girl, should know how to do. So I'll tell you. I'll even show you.

Pull out you basket, bag or whatever or old t shirts, sweat pants, old clothes that you put into your rag bag for car washing and the like. I used 8 fair sized t-shirts, a small pair of sweat pants, and two medium sized sweaters for a four foot diameter round rug. Don't use really thick articles of clothing for this-for one thing it's too hard to cut, for another, too hard to sew.





Cut each shirt or whatever in such away so you have one large flat piece of fabric laid out (you may  want to cut the sleeves off) and begin cutting. You want nice long strips, but if you end up with shorter ones, keep them to use anyway. Make each strip three inches wide.

   



When you've done this to the desired number of shirts/clothes, toss them into a pile until your colors come out nice and random.



Taking different colors, take three strips, and sew them securely to each other end to end. Do this two more times so you have three yard longish strips. Tie these three strips together at one end and loop them onto a door knob or the leg of a heavy chair and start braiding, or, if you're confident and adept, just braid it in your lap. As you go, keep stitching on more strips, and keep braiding. Do this until there are no more strips left.



Take the end of your rope, and, using a flat surface like the floor, another rug, or a large table, curl a small length of rope around the end, once. Taking needle and thread that's been doubled, sew the middle 'knot' in place. A little at a time, use a whip stitch to sew the rug to itself.
Inotherwords, you take your needle that's been threaded. You pull it upwards through the loop of the braid that's on the outside closest to you. Then you put the needle downwards into the loop of the braid lying adjacent to it. You work like this-in a circular pattern. You turn the rug a little as you go as you slowing sew the rope onto your circle to make it bigger.

When you've used up your rope, tuck in the end of the rope underneath your rug and sew it into place.

An oval rug is made by sewing the rope onto a twelve in length of rope instead of a 'knot' to begin with.

This does take a while, a couple of days for me. But it is very satisfying, and I'm pretty sure your cat will like it if nothing else.

Note: You will see some thread showing, that's just the way it is-so make sure you use one that blends with your rags.

And without further ado, the finished product.

 

   

I also have an update on the easter sweater for my niece-not much progress, but I've gotten a hold, however tenuous, on the cable pattern.



I had some sprouting garlic cloves, so I planted those. They're coming up nicely.



My roma tomatos have also come up. Still no sign of the bell peppers. I think my packet of seeds was too old. :(

I've also been experimenting with bread making techniques, especially with the concepts of cold overnight rise for a better texture and deeper flavor, and with steam, by throwing icecubes into a preheated skillet in the oven when I put the bread loaves in to bake. Both of these things have improved the breads by a lot.

  
                               



That's it for now. Warning: next post may include a picture of a snowman with a mohawk.



Feb. 24th, 2010

dark haired girly

the tale of a yellow cardigan...and day knitting versus night knitting

This is the tale of a yellow cardigan that became no more...at least, until I decided to change that. A few months ago I decided to try to make my own pattern. I have this long, cloak like green cardigan that I adore, but I wanted a springy baby yellow one. So I got some nice, light, baby yarn, which was baby yellow (baby, baby), anyway, and I knitted it up halfway. Well, for one thing, there wasn't enough yarn for what I was trying to do, and it was shapeless. I put it away, completely disinterested.

Until yesterday. There's this adorable child's sweater that I've been wanting to make for my five year old niece, as an Easter sweater. I hadn't gone to the yarn store (Michael's in this case) for a while, so I was hunting around in my stash. I found the old half made cardigan and extra yellow yarn, sitting there, just being wasted. It was/is beautiful yarn, I hated to see it languishing unusefully there. So on a mad dash, I decided to make the sweater.

So, onward from that story, fast forward to last night. I thought the cables on the other sweater were challenging!! Those look like eating brownie batter compared to this.

For one thing, there are bobbles. For another, the legend key to the cables needed is astonishingly lengthy. However, I need to get to the point. There are some projects which count as night knitting-you can be winding down to moderately tired for these. Then there's day knitting, where you need to be winding up, instead of down, so to speak. This, I'm afraid, at least for now, is one of those projects. Every single darned stitch counts. Or it will end up looking like a mess. A yellow mess that gets thrown into the closet on the floor in the deepest, darkest dungeoned corner of the closet.

The baby yellow yarn wouldn't be able to cope with that.

So I have to treat it right. And for that, that means daytime.

Anyway, so without further ado, here's the meagerly amount that I've started. Oh, did I mention that I stopped counting the number of times I was ripping back when I got past five?

The pattern is from Melissa Leapman's book, Cables Untangled, by the way, for anyone's who's interested.



Also, I finally got down to doodling a little rough sketch for a cold frame...and....I BUILT IT! I used plastic sheeting instead of glass, and I'm going to use foam to fill the side cracks between the lid and the box.



Also, in gardening news, my cherry tomatoes are doing well; I've managed to save my asters from damp off, by lowering the amount of water I using and exposing them to more sunlight; my eggplants came up, my sweet basil came up, my banana peppers and cayennes (some) came up. I'm still waiting on the green bells peppers and tomatoes.

That's a wrap. Hopefully by next post I'll have more to show on the Easter sweater.

Feb. 18th, 2010

baking grrl

red cables, plants, and cake, too

I was looking through my yarn stash (which, like most knitters, there is much of, but not enough of each color to make a solid colored sweater)
and I spotted several of my half started scarves.

I'm not sure if I'm the only person who has this problem, but I am in the habit of not finishing what I started. Granted, I'm better than I was a couple of years ago-because I really want to get a goal accomplished, but still.

I had four scarves, each half done. What's up with that, anyway? And they were decent, each and every one of them! Somebody was lacking commitment...

Anyhoo, I picked up the red cabled one that was actually more than half done, and I finished it yesterday. What do you think? The cabled pattern was of my own doing-the cable itself is put two stitches on the cable needle, put behind work, knit two stitches, knit two stitches off cable needle.

Here's my pattern as follows:

Cast on 44 stitches, using size 8 straight needles.

K1, P1 for 4 rows.

Row 1(right side):( K2, P2, Put 2 stitches on cable needle, K2, K2 off cable needle, P2, ) repeat this sequence 3 more times then K2, P2.

Row 2 (wrong side): (K2, P2, K2, P4) repeat this sequence three more times, then K2, P2.

Row 3 (right side): (K2, P2, K4, P2) repeat this sequence three more times, then K2, P2.

Row 4 (do like Row 2)

Repeat these four rows for the pattern until the scarf is as long as you desire it to be. Add fringe if desired.

When at the end, do the four row ribbing as prescribed for beginning.

Here are the pictures of the scarf:













Aside from that, last year, I really, really really had wanted yellow tomatoes. The seedlings I grew last year died, and I was too busy to replace them. This year, I WILL have yellow tomatoes. And what's more, I decided to try to grow the yellow pear variety, because I think they're really pretty-and I've heard that they have a neat, mellow, sweet taste.



       

I am waiting for those to come up, along with my big boy tomatoes, my romas, and the rest of my peppers. I hope the peppers come up soon-I really don't want to have to reseed the trays and have to wait another two weeks for them to germinate.

Also, my apple sprouts are doing nicely. These little guys are easy to grow. Take the seeds from the apple you bought from the grocery store, clear them of apple debri, wrap in a wet papertowel, put the package in a jar with a tight lid, and put into the back of your fridge for about a month to two months. You will have at least a couple germinated seeds (that's being extremely modest!).

 

My chives are doing well, which is a first for me.



Celery:



A tiny eeny weeny snapdragon. My first try at growing them.





And my vinca, violets, and zinnias (in left to right order) are pretty happy. My asters I did not show here-they are not so happy. :( I think the spot they're growing in is too cold.



and my cherry tomato sprouts.



Lastly, here's a recipe I came up with. I was trying to copy IKEA's apple torte cake. I made the crust (actually from an oatmeal fudge bar recipe)



Crust

1 c. butter
2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 c. oatmeal

Filling

10 granny smith apples
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour

Frosting

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/2 (of an 8 oz package) of cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp milk

I greased a springform pan with nonstick spray, and pressed 2/3 of the oatmeal crust batter onto the bottom and sides of the pan.

I thinly sliced 10 granny smith apples, and tossed them in a bowl with a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of flour.

I put the apples into the springform pan.

I then took the remainder of the oatmeal crumble batter and put it on top.

I put the springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet (to keep it from oozing on the oven) and baked the whole thing at 350 for 40 minutes.

I made cream cheese frosting and had it in a separate bowl so that people could have the option of putting a spoonful on top.

Oh, and let the cake rest in the pan for about thirty minutes or so before removing the pan wall.

Note: It is kind of messy to serve. For a better presentation, let the torte set up for a day or so in the fridge before removing the pan wall. Use a wooden skewer to run around the edge of the cake before removing the pan wall. Enjoy! Oh, and that's a wrap on today's long post.


Feb. 14th, 2010

knitting grrl

happy valentine's day!

Go forth, eat:

pancakes

waffles

chocolate (do I need to mention that?)

cheesecake (I did. Double chocolate wammy!)

steak

or whatever food makes you blissfully happy

Watch:

Princess Bride

French Kiss

Chocolat

Paris When it Sizzles

Love In the Afternoon

An Affair to Remember

...and make sure your party's pizzas don't have the occasional hole in the center of the crust so they stick to the pizza stone and smear the entire inside of the oven by the time you wrestle it out. Just a random suggestion...couldn't possibly mean anything...

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