Sunday, October 28, 2012

Puttin' Up, Week-end Edition

As the season winds down we're putting up apples galore.  Special thanks to my friend Anika for being generally awesome and sourcing cheap local organic apples for my friends and me in an apple-poor economy.

We've put up 10 quarts of applesauce and 6.5 pints of pectin from apple leavings.  (Much of this was done in group canning sessions, but I didn't take pictures.  Sorry, friends!)  It's hard for me to keep apples around for canning since my family prefers to eat apples off the core.  They eat them as quickly as I can bring them into the house.  I was lucky to can what I did.

I also did a major fridge and freezer clean out this week-end.  My fridge and freezer are both chronically over-crowded--something I'm trying to fix.  This clean out resulted in 17 1/2 quarts of vegetable broth all pressure canned and gleaming.

This Fall, I'm working on mastering sourdough.  The above pic shows my second attempt at actual bread.  I used this recipe.  Next time, I'll reduce everything slightly to account for my oven, which wasn't able to cook this loaf through without burning the crust a bit.  Still, the bread was delicious and requires NO KNEADING!  I'll keep you posted on my sourdough progress.  I'm determined to get this figured out.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Last of the Garden

Ah, green tomato season.

We pulled in the last of ours over the week-end and cooked up some delicious green tomato and poblano chili.  If you have green tomatoes left, I highly recommend this recipe.  My dear friend Anne introduced me to this recipe and I'm so glad.  It's a truly fabulous dish with just the right amount of complication to make you really appreciate how delicious it is.  I substituted green tomatoes for the tomatillos and it was just as good as with tomatillos.  Poblanos add just the right amount of quiet heat while the pumpkin seeds add a surprisingly awesome texture.  I wish these pictures were going to do it justice, but they aren't.

I doubled the recipe, so we'll be enjoying this for quite awhile.  It yielded over 6 quarts.  The whole thing was made even more delish by my first giant batch of veggie broth cooked up in my thrifted stock pot.  My old biggest pot was 6 quarts.  This one is 16 quarts.  However, I only made 9 quarts of broth.  Any more than that and the pot gets too heavy for me to lift without fear of giving myself a boiling broth bath.

What I didn't use for the soup, I put up in my brand new pressure canner.  My friend Robin and I were sharing a pressure canner for the past year.  As we learned the ins and outs of pressure canning, it became clear that we each needed our own.

Isn't it shiny?  I love it.  It's a Presto 23 Quart.  I'm looking forward to many years of canning with this baby.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The World's Longest Drum Kit

Ellis took the childhood cliche of banging on pots and pans to a whole new level this week-end.

"Look, Mama!  I'm rockin' out!"  Further proof that kids don't really need toys.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Full-On Autumn

It's officially very Autumn-y around here.  Pumpkin and applesauce canning.  Halloween costume-making.  Heat on when we wake each morning.  I wore my winter coat the other night.  There's no denying that the wheel of the year is turning.

And of course, green tomato salsa is a dead giveaway.

The salsa turned out very dry.  I suspect that our paste tomatoes were lower in moisture than average.  The salsa will need some love as we open each jar.

As a lifetime lover of Summer, I can't help but feel some sadness at this time of year.  Although Fall is lovely, I seriously dread the Winter to follow.  I do not like being cold.  For me, one of the best parts of being pregnant was always being warm enough.  I do not like the danger of driving in the snow and ice.  I do not like the dinginess of the landscape.  I was not designed for Winter.

I was happy to wake this morning to sunshine after several days of clouds.  It's a chilly sunshine, but I'll take it.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Funny Cat Pictures Revealed

My artistic impulse continued through the week-end.  Sadly, I ran out of the embroidery floss and muslin and had to go to Joann's two week-ends before Halloween.  It was generally a nightmare.  But even a major delay like that didn't dissuade me.  The new project is rocking along.

I also made split pea soup with ham and spicy black bean vegetable chili.  All on a rainy Sunday.

I didn't, however, take pictures.  Bad blogger.  Please enjoy these cat pictures from last week instead.  Josie loves her some Bloody Mary Mix.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The New Piece, In Progress

The new piece wants to be made.  I keep finding myself sketching, rummaging through fabric, sitting at my worktable with my journal.  I guess I'd better get working.

I'm using a vintage textile that I think used to be a pillow.  The images are going to be framed by a thick, embroidered frame.

This scrap of vintage embroidery has been looking for a home.  I thrifted it at an estate sale last year.  The women who embroidered it had tons of linens, but her needlework skills weren't stellar.  I've often wondered if maybe her eyesight had gotten bad over the years.  

I reinterpreted the scrap here.  I used tracing paper to trace over the actual fabric.  Before transferring the design to fabric, the tracing paper assists composition.  I can move the design around and decide how I want to use it, let it speak to the other elements.

And then I can iron it onto the fabric.  I used Sulky transfer pens to trace the back side of the drawing and then set it to the fabric with a hot, dry iron.

I'm using a split stitch to embroider the design.

Waiting in the wings are embroidered and printed lines, birds and flowers, dense circles and pinwheels and bands of color.

As ever, I am thinking about composition, feeling limited by my knowledge.  I am considering perfection versus messiness, precision versus speed, planning versus spontaneity.  I am trying not to get bogged down in the details.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloweening Up The Place

When I was a kid, my family really only decorated for Christmas.  Sure, we'd get a pumpkin for Halloween, but that was about it.  As an adult, I love putting up the holiday decorations.

After we visited the apple orchard, Ellis and I created our Halloween display, spiders and all.

Pretty spooky, huh?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Art Content Two Days in a Row?

Here's a good reminder to myself to just voice my goals.  Yesterday I was all, I haven't done any art in forever.  And here we are.  I spent the whole day doing art.

I finished the first fingerless mitt, despite some thumb-issues (not pictured).

I have germs partially to thank for this.  Ellis landed his first full-fledged case of strep throat (my childhood favorite) and so required rest and relaxation (tv) all day.  What's a mama to do?

When you're done knitting, you should sketch, obviously.

New embroidery is coming, new glasses or not.  Some inspiration:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Our Regularly Scheduled Program

I just checked.  The last time this blog had any art or craft content for anyone over thirty was August 4th.  Unacceptable.  You'd think nobody around here does anything but can.  You'd be mostly correct.

However, it is Fall so I do have some projects on the needles:  Fingerless mitts for me and a blanket for a Christmas gift.  Frankly, I'm struggling with both.  I've redone the thumb gusset on the first mitt twice and have messed it up both times.  I have messed it up differently each time, so at least I'm learning. 

As for the blanket, well, I'm just not loving it.  I've started various versions over and over.  I need a clear vision.  I'm waiting for inspiration.

As for sewing and embroidery, I pretty much have done nothing.  Partially, I really have been busy with cooking and canning.  But I'm also in dire need of some new glasses.  I can't see well unless the light is very very good.  Alas, the light is rarely that good.  Once I can see again, things should pick up on the art front.

I did trick out some too-short pants for Ellis.

Too bad for me that he'd already grown out of the waist and hips, as well.  They are cute but don't fit anyone who lives here.

As long as I had the machine up and running, Elly decided to get in a little sewing action.

I'm proud to say that he worked the machine all by himself.