Thursday, June 25, 2009

Completed Nalbinding Project

I've completed another project in nalbinding. I'm finding it much more fun than tablet weaving though I still love the woven patterns. I really need to try to do more weaving I guess.

Baby Slippers, made from Ultra Soft, worsted 100% acrylic.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A-Frames and Herb Beds, OH My!

PeterC took an extra day off from work this weekend which gave us a lot of time to get some of the projects we've been needing to get done at least started. He spent most of the time stacking and splitting firewood for this coming winter. We will be getting a few more cords of wood over the next few weeks and that will have to be split as well. I spent part of the weekend splitting the kindling using some scrap lumber given to us by a coworker. As our summer building projects get done we'll be adding to the kindling bin slowly.

Work, as always, continued in the garden. We built a couple of A-frames for the beans to climb up. The beans seem really happy as a couple have already shot up a couple of feet since the frames were added to the garden. Besides weeding, which is an ongoing project, I replanted a couple of rows of beets. Whether due to birds, insects, bad seed, or bad luck we only had a few beets coming along. I filled in the bare spots with left over seeds from this year and last. With luck they will sprout and fill in nicely.

Otherwise, the garden is doing great, well except the cucumbers which are stunted and not growing well. The soil in the blue bins seems weak and the water leaches it further every time it rains or we water. The spinach has gone to seed already, but we are going to let it reseed itself so we have fresh spinach this fall. The carrots, potatoes, and broccoli are putting out extra efforts to grow well this year. Even the squash is starting to really put on growth, now that the cool days have become a thing of the past.

We also built the herb bed frame yesterday. I was originally planning on filling it with soil and planting herbs this year but plans changed. Instead, we are going to fill the frame with grass clippings this year, let those compost down over the summer and winter, and top it all off with soil next spring. Then we'll plant a variety of herbs is the very rich soil. So far I'm planning on chamomile, rosemary, sage, oregano, transplanting the tarragon, chives, mint, and thyme. These are all perennials in this area. I also plan on planting basil and summer savoury , annuals, and anything else that catches my eye next spring.

Even the sweet potatoes are growing like crazy. Soon I'll have to add a stake or possibly a tomato cage so the vines and grow up instead out like they did last year. I put the smaller planter on the deck and look forward to the pretty purple and white blooms later in the summer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekend Fun and Games

This weekend was the 2nd annual Medieval Festival at Upper Canada Village. It was a four day event. Thursday and Friday the Festival was open to all the schools in the area and all accounts say they were packed both days. As I understand it the interpreters all did a great job giving historical accounts and demonstrations of jousting, sword fighting, archery, and more.

Saturday was our day to attend the festival. We got there early, thankfully, and were fifth or sixth in line to get our tickets. We went ahead and purchased annual tickets to the Village so that we could not only see the festival but so we could come back several more times through the Summer to see Village life progress through the year.

The festival was set up in an open field behind Louck's Farm, hidden by rows of trees and the farm buildings. I was surprised to find that unless you knew the festival was going on the only indication within the village itself was the occasional visitors who were dressed in the style of their choice. In all honesty they didn't really stand out that much from the 1800's style unless they were dressed as noble people or the older styles of the Celts and Vikings.

Once we reached Louck's Farm we followed a small wagon road up and around to the gates of the festival proper, where we were met by Queen Elenore and her daughter Matilda. They officially opened the gates and welcomed all early comers to the grounds. Through the gates we found the Jousting Ring, the Birds of Prey display, the Viking Encampment, a Medieval Bowyer & Arrowsmith display, and the food and souvenir vendors.

Across a wooden bridge and into the old hay field we found the "Gypsy Encampment" which was the home of several vendors, with everything historical and fantasy that a person could desire, The Ottawa Medieval Sword Guild, the Ottawa Lacemakers Guild, The Knights of Valour camp, the Farakan Belly Dancers, the Archery Demonstration Field, South Tower Armoury, and of course the centre stage for all the various events.

My favourites were the Lacemakers, who were making some lovely laces, and the Bower who was more than willing to answer all my silly questions. The lacemakers because of the obvious... its another fibre art I don't know how to do and could see myself learning. I definitely have something in my blood for learning ancient fibre crafts.

I liked the bower, Robin C Van Acker of Chatham Ontario, because not only was he willing to answer all my questions he was congenial and didn't have any problem with the fact that a woman was asking all the wood working questions. I did find it interesting that everyone just looked and didn't actually interact with him until I started asking my questions. I guess they realized he was more than happy to share his information, show them his techniques to a point, and answer any question put to him both modern and historical. He was also very knowledgeable which was great too.

All in all a wonderful day, even if I did get sunburnt.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Spring Cleaning

We spent the afternoon yesterday doing our twice a year clean and organize of the garage. We keep it fairly well organized but over the winter and early spring hectic days it tends to get a little cluttered. When you are working in the yard and it suddenly starts raining, everything gets tossed into the garage willy nilly. Do this a couple of times and you suddenly find it hard to move around without bumping into things. Everything has a place, it just doesn't make it there as it should sometimes.

While cleaning the garage we listened to a CD given to PeterC by a co-worker. Turns out he is in a band called Leaving Beechwood, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually enjoyed listening to them. They are a little bit grunge and a little alternative for my tastes but as a casual listen in the background while I worked they had a good beat. I definitely recommend them to anyone who likes independent groups.

In the spirit of spring cleaning I am going to be changing the blog a little over the next few days. I'm going to be adding more links to websites and forums I find interesting, especially those dealing with tablet weaving and nalbinding. That way any one who is interested in trying to learn these hobbies can have access to the same sites I visit regularly. If you have any specific requests that I miss please feel free to leave a comment requesting more information.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Night Time Cravings

Don't you just hate getting a weird craving at about the time you should be thinking about getting ready for bed? I got a craving for German Chocolate Cake last night at 7:00pm. We had eaten supper and I was full, so it wasn't hunger. It was some kind of random "I want something I haven't had in years" craving.

Now something you should know about me is that I am VERY picky about cake, especially German Chocolate Cake. It can't be to sweet or to dry, and the frosting must taste like coconut and slightly sweet caramel or brown sugar frosting. So with all those variables, and the fact that it was 7pm, I decided I was going to make German Chocolate Cake - a desert I have never in my life made.

Out come the cookbooks and the mixing bowls. I put PeterC in charge of the cake since he makes a killer chocolate brownie that is just the right texture and taste for what I remember the cake should be like. He starts mixing up the recipe while I find and start making a frosting from one of my cookbooks. Needless to say disaster struck almost immediately, though we didn't realize it until it was to late.

It turned out the recipe I had chosen was for a SAUCE, not an actual frosting, but I didn't realize that until I was trying to trouble shoot the recipe. I added evaporated milk to the cooked sugar and water, it frizzled and spattered as promised but the sugar turned into these huge, hard lumps in the bottom of the pan instead of mixing smoothly with the milk. As I was reading the recipe again, I came across the sentence that I must have missed in first reading. "Pour the sauce over the cake". Definitely, not the recipe I wanted to use.

Out came another cookbook. This one had a recipe for German Chocolate Cake Frosting. The ingredients included evaporated milk, sugar, and water so I thought I would try to use the mess I had made to make this new recipe. I added the vanilla and beaten eggs with some success, and eventually it started to thicken and look like a dark frosting. It was darker than it should have been and that was because I had left the sugar and water on the heat longer than I should have and it burnt a little.

Meanwhile, PeterC is working away at his brownie recipe. When it comes time to put it in the oven it doesn't look right. It isn't a batter. It looks more like a really moist chocolate crumble. He decides to add another couple of eggs, which makes it look like the right consistency, and in the oven it goes.

A half an hour, and many dishes and utensils, later we pull what looks like the perfect cake base out of the oven. We flip it out of its pan and frost it. The frosting goes on exactly like I think it should. Out come the forks and the first , oh so much anticipated bite, and....ugh! The frosting is bitter and the cake is so dry it crumbles in your mouth. On top of all that the whole thing is so sweet I can barely eat a bite without having insulin reactions of the negative kind.

By this time it is 9:00 pm, the kitchen is a mess, the cake was a flop, and I am ready for bed. Maybe my next attempt at making a cooked frosting should be done in the daylight hours. I'll be more awake and I can wash away the evidence, of another failed attempt, before PeterC gets home from work.