Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Samwise!

Samwise, Aramintie, and Frodo are "celebrating" their fifth birthday today! This exciting news seems to have done little to affect the normal activities of their day, but they're not opposed to a small candle in their evening wet food --- though it is really only the wet food itself that they care about. :)

Gramma and Kelly have headed up to see Aunt June and spend two nights with Carol. We spent yesterday morning at the produce auction, and Gramma bought tons of stuff to take back to Aunt Susie and Aunt Lori. She bought so much stuff, in fact, that she and Kelly are going to have to come back by here on their way back down to Tennessee! Our kitchen floor is so full of boxes that we can't even walk over to the butcher-block at the moment. Elizabeth and I are going to have to spend tomorrow afternoon consolidating it all into as few boxes as possible. Here is a picture of most of the food that we got. There was some more, but it's in other spots!

Last night, we ate a fun Dinner of cheese fondue with sourdough bread, Empire apples with caramel dip, pumpkin butter and pineapple. It was the best fondue that Mom's ever made!! Wow. This morning came too early, since we weren't to bed until midnight. It's been dark, grey and rainy-looking all day, but except for two tiny little drizzles the deluge held off. So, we went up to Stan Hywet Hall in Akron. They were having their annual "Ohio Mart" --- an outdoor show of crafters from all over the state. We got free tickets with our pass, so we went for that and took a house tour. I got a really cute mushroom statue for my garden, so pics of that ocming soon! Gramma and Kelly continued on up to Carol's house, and we stayed to finish looking around. I just love that house, and we actually got a tour of the Master bedroom by one of the Seiberling granddaughters. She grew up just a block or two away and went over there all the time to play with her cousins. She said it was the best house to grow up in, and that it still looks exactly like it did when she was growing up. Cool.

So, Mom and I are hoping to go to the produce auction again tomorrow to get some more decorations for my garden. The farmer behind us was nice enough to give me about thirty corn stalks to decorate with, so I can't wait to put those up! More later.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Needle-Felted Doll: Louisa May Alcott's "Jo March"

It's another wool doll that's finally finished. Well, she's finished as far as the felting goes. Elizabeth is going to make a small copy of the book Little Women that will go in the doll's hands. But it would be forever before I could post pictures if I wait around for that, so here they are! :)

She is the largest doll that I've made yet as she stands 8-1/4" tall without a hat and she weighs three ounces. She is made of 100% Merino roving that was felted with .40 and .42 gauge felting needles. It took approximately 56 hours of work, spread out over a period of two months, to make her. She has dark brown boots and light pink socks with dark pink wheat sheaves on them. Her bloomers are all white, as well as her petticoat which is wired along the bottom to serve as a hoop skirt. The dress is dark brown with pale yellow trim on the sleeves. The pinafore matches her socks and has a little pocket handkerchief to go with it (it has her initial on it in light blue). Of course, she had to have a patch in the back of her dress since Jo is always sitting too close to the fire.

The hair took a bit of work. I really wanted to use the hair-do that Scarlett wears in Gone with the Wind during the Christmas scene when Ashley has to rejoin his regiment. I made that one first, and it looked just like it --- the only problem was that it didn't lend itself to the lighter colored hair, so I'll just have to make another Civil War era doll with dark hair.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Goldenrod, Straw Bales and an Apple Gourd

Mom and I went to the Farmer's Market yesterday, and we got a bunch more pumpkins and gourds. They all found a lovely home (for the time being) in my Gnome Garden. I spent a while out there yesterday decorating and fitting all the new stuff in. Finally got around to putting the mini straw bales in place. We got those at the produce auction on Friday, and I'm hoping to pick up a few more this week. They should last all Winter, so I want to incorporate them into the Christmas decorating!

The sun finally got around to breaking through the clouds, so I was able to get the grass mown. It looks like I might have one more mowing before the grass is done for the year. It's pretty dry now, and starting to go dormant. As I was out mowing next to the bank at the side of the road, I noticed a gorgeous stand of goldenrod. Well, that gave me an idea, so I went out there and cut it down to about two and a half or three feet long. After digging out some string in the garage it turned into two really nice bunches. That wasn't quite enough to do anything with, so I went down to the raspberries and cut most of the goldenrod down from in there. In the end, I had ten bunches, so I put some nails on the fence in the garden and hung them up there. It's so pretty --- and it's a great way to enjoy this lovely wild flower that can't come in the house!

A really cool find at the Market yesterday is an "apple-shaped" gourd. It looks like a really big green apple. I saw it and had to have it. We also got a Long Island Cheese squash, which really looks like a pale pumpkin.

Mom thought there should be a picture of me in the garden, so here it is. This is after digging through the berry patch for all the goldenrod, so I'm just a bit hot!.

Dad spent yesterday stacking wood into the woodshed. It's really feeling like Fall. In fact, it's really feeling kind of like Winter is just around the corner! Gramma Gail and Kelly are coming up for a couple of days this week, so we're getting ready for that. More later.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Wonderful World of Squash

It was another produce auction this morning, so all three of us went up there. The prices were crazy today, so we didn't buy much. Actually, we only bought two pecks of green bell peppers and four dozen eggs. Mom and Elizabeth saw some "pickled eggs" at the store, so that is something that they are dying to can. There were also a ton of yellow jackets buzzing around everyone's head, so we were pretty glad to get out of there.

We headed out to run a few errands this afternoon --- pick up bread, etc. On the way, we stopped at three "farm market" type places to see what kind of squash, pumpkins and gourds they all had. We got a peanut pumpkin, which looks pretty weird --- like a pumpkin with peanut-shaped warts all over it --- but is apparently really tasty when baked. We also picked up a "turban squash", a buttercup squash and some acorn squash. On the decorative side, we got a bunch of the little gourds, some little pieces of Indian Corn and three beautiful Mums. I just finished putting them all out in the garden, so here are the latest pictures. Two of the Mums are a deep burgundy-type color, and they are going into pots at the front door. The other one is the white-flowered one in the pics below. It looks and smells just like daisies!

We tried to get the little gourds spread out, so a bunch went into the bird feeder, along with the little pieces of Indian Corn. Then some of the other little gourds were added to the little basket that's tipped on it's side. It's amazing to see the variety in squash and gourds! I'm really looking forward to trying all these different kinds. The "Cinderella" pumpkin was fabulous.

I also figured that another picture of the Swan and Eggs gourd set wouldn't hurt to post. Isn't it just so cute!? There were eight more of them at the auction today, but none of them quite as cute as this one. We're hoping to get some straw bales to decorate the front yard, and I'd love to get some corn stalks to put in the gnome garden. We've never had a garden area that was suitable to seasonal decorating, so this has been really fun this year. I've got plans for some expansion next Spring --- time for Dad to break out the hoe!

Well, it's off to work on some felting!
More later.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Swan and Eggs Gourd Set

Guess what!? Mom and I went to the auction yesterday and we got one of those "Swan and Eggs" gourd sets!! I'm so thrilled. Wow. It's a beautiful one, and I put it out in the gnome garden this morning. It came in a little wooden crate filled with straw, so that the swan has her eggs all around here, but Mom found out that there is a good chance she'll dry out in three to six months if she has air flow around her --- so she's out on the bed of straw in the garden without her crate. Apparently, there is no "science" to drying a gourd, other than making sure that they have plenty of air around them. I really hope that she'll dry out, as I'd love to be able to bring her inside and make a permanent decoration out of her. The gourd is supposed to dry into a very light natural color, so she'd look a lot like a swan. She's just the cutest thing you've ever seen, and the picture can't really do her justice --- but it gives you an idea!

We also got some other decorations for the gnome garden yesterday. Hoping to get some more tomorrow. I won a box of nineteen small gourds for thirty cents each, so we kind of spread those around. I got an old basket that was squished on one side and laid it down in the mulch with gourds coming out of it. We also got four "Cinderella" pumpkins --- which are the wide, flat ones. They originate from France, apparently, and look just like a fairy-tale pumpkin. A young Amish guy brought two of them into the auction while we were standing there and told us all about them and other pumpkins. All thin-skinned pumpkins and squash are edible. All the hard-skinned ones (gourds) are not. So, we came home and baked the smallest Cinderella last night. It's really cool, and tasted nice. Over the next few weeks we'll work on the other three, but in the meantime they make great garden decorations!

Other than putting all the fun stuff out in the garden this morning we've spent all day canning. Today it has been red bell pepper relish, sofrito and broth. We've got to have everything perishable canned up at the end of the day as we're going to the auction tomorrow and off to Columbus on Thursday. Everything is just about finished "cooking down" now and getting ready to go into the canner. Since there are still a few hours left, Dad's making dinner --- that means driving out to Domino's to pick up some pizza!

Well, it looks like our Gramma and cousin will be driving up here for a quick visit some time next week. I hope that works out, as that should be lots of fun. Maybe we can take them out to Stan Hywet Hall, as there is some big event going on up there then. Dad was out at his fishing meeting last night, so we had a girls' night "in" and watched Meet Me in St. Louis. This is the first time that we've ever seen it restored on DVD. Wow. I love the songs in that, and the colors, and the ending. Oh boy. More later.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Peck of a Cat

Finally! Some pictures have gotten downloaded from the camera! We had a nice, easy Sunday yesterday and did nothing. I played on the computer for a while and felted. I'm working on a head now, so it's almost finished.

Mom and I are off to the produce auction again today, but it looks like it might rain. We've gotten so much cool stuff canned this year! This is a picture of me shelling the edamame soybeans last week. That was some job. All together we canned/froze twelve quarts of those things. I really like them, but they're time consuming to shell. I spent about six hours at it that day. I had a little helper at the same time --- hence the title of this post. "A peck of a cat" = Oliver (in a peck basket). See photo below.

Elizabeth decided to lay out everything that we got at the National Stamp Show yesterday. She wanted a picture for her blog, so I had her take some for mine, too. ;) She's in there with all of her stuff to give you some scale. Isn't that amazing!! I can't believe how much stuff she got. All of my stuff is shown in the second photo. It is more stamps than postcards and paper, so it doesn't look like as much, but believe me that's a lot!

Looks like another week of canning, etc. We're on the tail end now, since the weather is turning so cold. All of the plants are just about finished. I'm hoping to pick up some pumpkins to decorate the yard --- and maybe even some Indian Corn! Mom and I have come up with a great way to expand the gnome garden at the back door, so I'm working over that in my mind right now.

As far as Pesto is concerned --- we made five quarts of it on Saturday!! It's fantastic, too! We froze almost all of it, except for a jar that we gave to the neighbors and a jar that we're eating now. I'll take some pictures of the pesto and post another entry. More later.

Friday, September 16, 2011

No sight so beautiful as this . . .

It looks like Fall has really started. The golden rod is in full bloom, the corn fields are drying out, the bean fields are golden and the maples are beginning to turn. There's no sight so beautiful as a field of golden rod. It's my favorite wild flower --- well, right up there with Queen Anne's Lace, anyway!

I mowed the lawn the other day for the first time in two weeks. It looked like prairie grass in a couple places, but nothing is growing quite at the same rate as a month ago. There can't be very many times of mowing left in the year.

Mom and I spent all morning out at the Amish Produce Auction. We bought some beets to can, some red peppers to make pepper jelly and a lot of fresh basil. That's for making pesto. Mrs. Keultjes's pesto recipe at that. There's nothing like it. Mom made one batch tonight and we tried it. Wow! It's just delish! Tomorrow we're going to work on making all of it. Mom and I are off to the Farmers' Market in the morning before we get canning. We're figuring that we're in the last month of being able to get anything.

Something that I just have to buy at the auction soon: a "Swan gourd with Eggs". That's what they call it anyway. It's a green gourd that is big and round on the bottom that comes up in a thin "neck" and widens to a "head" on the top. The grow in all different "positions, so some of them look like they are looking up, some look like they are looking down into their nest and so on. Well, they take that gourd and make an egg crate, fill it with straw and then place the swan gourd in the middle. She's surrounded by little white "egg" gourds. It's the cutest thing you've ever seen!! I'm hoping to be able to get one next week. It'd be really cute to build a little house in the gnome garden for it and paint it really cute. :)

Well, it's about time for Dinner, so I better get going. More later.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pictures of the Needle Felted Dolls in the State Fair

Finally! Here are the pictures of the needle felted dolls in the State Fair. Pierrette and Pierrot won second place in needle-felting, while "Pat and Mike" won first place in the same category and Best of Show for all of felting! I was so thrilled. Elizabeth and I already have an entry planned for next year --- which I'm going to start this Fall/Winter.

Pierrot had kind of "keeled over" when we got to the Fair, so they let me into the case to stand him back up. I ended up just linking his arm inside of Pierrette's arm, and that kept him up just fine. The way that he is bending makes him too heavy to stand without some kind of doll stand, but I don't know how to put one on that wouldn't look strange. Something to work on, anyway.

Mom and I ended up spending about forty-five minutes talking to the couple that runs the whole DiSalle Building at the Fair. That means they are in charge of the Fine Arts, Creative Arts and Culinary divisions. They just took over and are really trying to introduce some new things so that entries will go back up. It's hard for the fairs these days, town, county or state, since people don't do as many crafts and arts as they used to do.

I've got another needle felted doll almost finished. Five to ten more hours should see it finished, and I'm really happy. The Wool Gathering Fiber Show is coming up weekend after next. I don't need much, but we're going to go and look for stuff anyway! Well, more later.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Social Butterflies in the Midst of Canning Season

Canning season has finally started up at a real pace. We made 13 pints of salsa and four quarts of spaghetti sauce on Thursday. It's beautiful stuff --- even if that was the second hottest day of the year! Mom canned it all up on Friday, as the two of us weren't here. We went down to Buddy and Kay's house for the day. They needed Elizabeth's help with some electronic hook-ups, so we met up went down to their place early in the morning. Kay and Elizabeth worked on the technical stuff while Buddy and I just kind of watched and conversed with each other. They did so well that they were ready for Buddy to record into the track machine by the time we finished lunch! After a couple more hours they had everything up and running!

Buddy and Elizabeth went outside to throw his tomahawk. She did really well, and had her best streak yet --- 13 hits in a row! Kay and I acted as spectators. Cricket spent a very enjoyable time looking for frogs in the pond. She got so muddy that Buddy actually had to give her a puppy shampoo before she was allowed back inside the cabin. Ugh. Here she is on the hunt.

We stayed around playing music and having dinner together 'til late, so we didn't get back to our house until after nine! Buddy and Kay ended up staying another hour visiting with Mom and Dad, as Dad and Buddy were practicing some fishing knots together, so it was a pretty late (but fun) night for everybody.

The four of us were up early on Saturday morning to head down to the Farmers' Market. We got a bushel of "Strike" green beans and some wax beans, along with some edible soybeans, little pears, a few tomatoes and some cherry peppers. We spent all day canning three-bean salad and pickled pears. We also froze beans for soup and stir-fry. Boy, were we pooped by the end of the day!!

Yesterday evening, after church, we went up to the Keultjes's house for dinner. We hadn't seen them since Easter, so that was really tons of fun! She made some great food --- including her magnificent should-be-famous-all-over-the-world cheesy apples. Not to mention homemade pesto. There's nothing like friends who have known you forever, and the two of us are thrilled every time we get together. Mr. Keultjes is going to come down to give us some pointers on square-foot gardening this week if things work out. We're hoping to get some land "plowed up" and ready for a nice little garden next year.

We didn't leave their house until after ten o'clock, so it was another late night. Everybody's been dragging a bit today, but we got a bunch of stuff done around here. All in all, we've been little social butterflies lately! Looks like cool (almost cold!) weather is setting in. I'm not ready to heat with the stove yet. We're hoping to go up to Stan Hywet with Buddy and Kay before Winter sets in, but it sure looks like a really early Fall is just literally around the corner. Well, off to do some felting. More later.