Sunday, January 31, 2010

More Nalbinding Projects

With all the wet, snowy, or cold weather we've been having I've had plenty of time to finish some more nalbinding projects. I finally got PeterC to use his amazing photography skills to take some photos of the finished projects to share online.

All of the projects have been made from acrylic yarn because it is the cheapest yarn I can find at the local Wally World.

My most recently finished project was this snood. It originally was a practice piece but it turned out looking so good I thought I would share.

The snood combines the Mammen stitch with an open loop stitch. It is quite large in the back and would easily accommodate someone with much longer hair than I have.

Here are a couple of pair of mittens I finished. The purple ones are mine and the blue ones are for PeterC. I made these using the Mammen stitch. It seems to be my favourite stitch but I think that has more to do with how easy it is and the fact that it was the first stitch I learned.

These mittens are quite nice in mild winter weather. For colder or windier weather I think I will have to make a pair out of wool. Unfortunately, I have had severe reactions to wool in the past and so haven't bothered to make a wool pair yet.

I also made a couple ear warmer bands. Like the mittens they work really well in mild weather but they don't stand up to a lot of wind very well. I think a thicker stitch, like Aisle, would work much better next time.

And, finally, I have finished a button up lounge coat for PeterC. It is very long, reaching mid-thigh on him. He has been known to wear it as one of the many layers he tends to wear on the colder days, but more often than not he wears it while vegging in front of the TV at night.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Squash Pancakes

If you want a delicious and different way to eat squash that is so rich it should only be eaten once a year, boy do I have the recipe for you.

Squash Pancakes
2 cps cooked squash
2 eggs - beaten
1/3 cp milk
1.5 - 2 cps flour
2 Tbsp Garlic
2 Tbsp Tarragon
1/2 tsp Caraway
1/2 cp diced onion
2 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Vegetable oil - for frying

Mix squash, eggs, milk, onion, and spices together.
Add just enough flour to make a medium thick batter.
Heat 1/2 inch of oil in heavy skillet to medium high.
Pour 1/2 cp of batter into hot oil and cook until pancake no longer sticks to skillet. About 3 minutes.
Flip and cook on other side. Both sides should be light brown and crispy around the edges.
Enjoy while hot or they will get soggy.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Slow Week

This has been a very slow week here at Sparrow Haven. Winter is always slow but this week has been slower than normal. I don't know if it is the mid-winter blahs, that always seem to hit after the fourth straight week of cloud cover, or if it is the lingering effects of the head cold I had last weekend.

The only real activity has been my various hobbies in front of the television. I've carved out and finished several more sets of nalbinding needles to sell. I have finished another set of mittens, using a hybrid stitch of my own design. I have carved out several small lucets to sell once they are finished. I have carved two new baby spoons that are almost ready to put up on Etsy. Last night I worked on the nalbound lap blanket that has been gathering dust since October.

The weather has been fairly mild, hovering just around freezing day and night. The chickens appreciate the mild weather and have been giving me 9 eggs a day. Today I collected 11 eggs. That will make our customers happy as they have been asking for more eggs. PeterC came home Monday saying we had already sold 3 dozen eggs for Tuesday. It is nice to know we won't have eggs wasting but sometimes it would be nice to eat all I want without worrying about whether I have orders to fill or not.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Winter Musings

There is something about winter that gets me into a contemplative mood. Maybe it is the lack of sunlight or maybe it is simply because with little to do outside I can think, dream, and plan for the future without feeling guilty for not getting chores done. All this while working on my fibre work or wood work.

The seed catalogues have started arriving so my mind has been working on what I want to grow and where. I'm not ready to set anything down in stone yet but I'm thinking corn, cranberry beans, sugar baby watermelon, winter squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, and hot peppers in the garden.

Then I have to populate the herb bed which is even harder since there are so many herbs we use on an almost daily basis here. Right now I know were are growing chamomile, rosemary, sage, and basil in the herb bed. We'll grow catnip in a separate box so it doesn't take over the yard. I'm also thinking about chives, garlic, cilantro, dill, and fennel/anise. Of course the herb bed is only 2 x 6 ft so it isn't like I have room for everything.

As I use the chicken coop more I find myself thinking about things I wish I had done, which is just a fancy way of saying I want to make additions/ changes to the design or setup. I wish I had placed it further back in the yard, behind the tree row rather than in line with it. This change is the least likely to get done as it will require dismantling and the plying of alcohol and BBQ to four burley coworkers.

I wish I had a raised platform or porch across the front of the coop. When it rains or the snows start to melt the area in front of the run and coop become a miasma of slippery muck. I can't imagine the chickens like walking around it and I know I don't. This is the easiest change to implement and I suspect will the the first thing we do once the snow melts.

I wish we had extended to roof further our over the walls. When it rains, or the snow melts it drips over the sides and swells/ freezes the doors, egg hatch, and windows shut or open depending on which we don't want to happen. This change is going to take some serious re-engineering of our roof and I'm not sure if it will happen as soon as I would like it to. The doors and the egg hatch are the most important as I can't do anything in the coop without access at those two points.

A few other things I plan on adding to the whole chicken setup is a feed trough the hens can't step in or bill feed out of, a raised platform inside and out for the water, a couple of exterior roosts for the girls to sleep in the sun, and a couple of removable nest boxes under the coop for those days when everyone wants to lay eggs at the same time. I also want to plant a small 2 z 2 ft patch of rye or wheat for them to snack on, rather than hopping the fence to get at the garden.

Of course these are just the near future things I've been contemplating. When I start thinking about the far future I think of a small self sufficient farm with several kinds of animals, rotational pasturing, market gardening, cheese and butter making, and all the other things that go along with these pursuits. This dream is a more romantic dream and will of course change as the reality becomes more important than the dream. But, until then I can dream.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

2009 saw a lot of changes at Sparrow Haven. We've added chickens to our menagerie at home and added two horses who are stabled off site. I took the plunge and started Chestnut Tree Creations to sell my home made items, and in the last three weeks I have sold enough to pay for all the special wood, tools, and other stuff I have invested this year. All in all it was a good year.

We rang in 2010 in typical Sparrow Haven fashion. We ate fried pierogies baked with onions, cheese, and salami chunks for supper, watched a movie, and went to bed before midnight. Snuggled in a warm bed with spouse and cats is the best way to ring in the New Year.

Today we spent the new year doing chores. I actually had to clean the chicken coop completely out as the chickens have taken to dumping their water each night. Today was actually warm enough to get the wet shavings and straw out of their coop and put in fresh ones. The old wet shavings went into their run and tractor which seem to have made the girls very happy as they are using their tractor again. I guess it gives them some insulation against the frozen leaves.

I am making a big feast of glazed ham steaks, steamed veggies, sweet potato fries, and cake with caramel sauce. Yum! It'll be good to eat something substantial and with side dishes. We've chilled a couple bottles of wine; a sweet passover wine for myself and a Boca Noir for PeterC. I'll give the Noir a taste but I suspect I'll stick with my sweet red.

I'm looking forward to the new year. Plans for the garden are already running through my head, as are ideas for changes I want to make to the chicken's living space. I'm really hoping my recent sales is just the tip of the iceberg and I find myself making sales every week. Not only will that bring in some extra cash to cover future costs of my hobbies but it will let me do something with my hobbies other than filling up boxes with unused items. I'm looking forward to another year with my spouse. Thirteen years has been a good start but thirteen more would be even better. And, finally, I am looking forward to learning, living, and loving.

Here is hoping 2010 brings many new delights to you and yours.