Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ox-Cart Man

All the inspiration I've been getting lately to want to be more homegrown has reminded me of a book I used to read as a little girl. It was one of my favorites.

Ox-Cart Man follows an early American farmer through the calender year, as he and his family use the resources around them to create their livelihood and income. It's a very easy read - for younger kids really, but I think it's very charming. And it has wonderful illustrations. It shows some aspects of early American life and homesteading, speaks to the idea of being sustainable and not being wasteful, and challenges me to be creative with what I have.

Because I am a sentimental fool (and hang on to things) I was able to dig out of the closet today the same copy I read as a girl, and I read it to my son for the first time. :) He liked it too.

Anyway, thought I would share it with you. Have you read it before? What are some of your favorite books from when you were young?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Potato Leek Soup

I am so glad it finally started raining. There is nothing quite like the smell of the fresh, clean air after the rain. And there is nothing quite as cozy as a nice bowl of soup or cup of hot coffee, watching the raindrops run down your windowpane.
This is a yummy recipe I just tried for the first time today for lunch and it was delicious!
My brands are shown in parentheses, for anyone who might be interested. :)

Potato Leek Soup

6 Tblsp. butter (Kerrigold unsalted)
1 leek, sliced (from farmer's market)
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth (Trader Joe's organic free range)
2 tsp cornstarch
2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced (TJs organic)
1 cup 1/2&1/2 (TJs organic)

In a large pot, over medium heat, melt butter. Add leeks, salt and pepper. Cook leeks in butter until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir cornstarch into broth and then pour broth into pot. Add the potatoesand bring to a boil. Pour in 1/2 & 1/2, reduce heat and simmer at least 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender. I like to break up the potatoes a bit into smaller pieces.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

A new species of flower: florus chroshaydus

My friend Noreen and I made a date one night last year to have coffee and "swap talents." She crochets and I knit, so she taught me and, although I'm not the best teacher in the world, I did my best to teach her. Both of us commented on how weird it feels to hold the needles a certain way when you're used to something completely different. But we had lots of fun and it's a memory I treasure, since shortly afterwards she moved to another country. That night, she taught me single crochet and double crochet. I liked the double crochet much better because it knits (ha!) crochets up faster. I was so excited to finally be learning this, I went home and practiced and practiced. When I felt confident enough to start a simple project, I knit up a small baby blanket for a friend of mine who became new mom recently.

Not long after that, I finished a similar blanket for my new baby cousin. These were both made with Nature's Choice organic cotton - my new favorite yarn. It's soooo yummy!

I'm still feeling a little timid about doing anything complicated, but I decided this afternoon to attempt something with some shape. Starting small, and taking my time, I just finished my first flower! It is such a little thing to be so happy about, but in some ways this one flower is 15 or 20 years in-the-making. I'm kind of surprised I actaully finished it. I won't even tell you how long it took me. Haha.


Ok, it was like 30 minutes. The video I learned from is only 6 minutes long, so... :)

Anyway, this one will go on a hat for another baby friend who will be born later this year. (Must be baby season!) I think flowers will be a great thing to crochet up quickly for fun or to add onto other projects. And it's a neat way to use up little scraps of yarn! I feel like a whole new world is opening up for me - all those cute crochet patterns that I had dismissed before are now possible...

Is there something you have always wanted to learn? Or something new you've been meaning to try?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Photo project: Seasons

This photo was taken in Lower Bidwell Park on the first day of winter

I like how it represents the cold death of winter - in the stillness of the water, the skeleton-like trees, the vague smokyness from the chimneys nearby, and the profound lack of park visitors.

...it was taken *checks her calendar* yeeeeah, over two weeks ago.
And it has taken me this long to share it with you. :)
Which gives you an idea of my pace of life right now.

Anyhoo... this is a photography project I've now started, and by the time I'm done it will be over 9 months in the making. I plan to take this exact shot on the first day of spring, summer and autumn as well. It will be fun to see how the colors change, the sunlight moves, the water becomes more and less filled with life. I have taken shots in a couple other places to and recorded in detail my exact positions and time. Looking forward to seeing it come together. I plan to display and share them kind of like a triptych, but in a set of four obviously. What is a four paneled triptych? Hmmm...

I just looked it up. It's a tetraptych. Hahaha. Well, you learn something new every day, I guess.

Anyway... It's been a long time since I've pursued my artistic ambitions outside of sewing and it feels good to do something with photography again. I'm hoping to have more posts like this in the future! 

In the chill of this winter weather, here's wishing you a warm hearth and happy new year.

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