Yarn Along

Hello! Joining Ginny today for the monthly Yarn Along. I have been knitting a lot this winter. Not really finishing much at the moment but I am enjoying the time sitting in front of the fire watching snowflakes fall. Still winter here in Maine and it will be for some time. Good think I like it.

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I did finish some dishrags. We really needed them and so one weekend I just decided to whip them up. I like them on the small side because they fit into cups and glasses better that way. I have so much cotton in my stash that it was nice to have some color choices.

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I read “Plain and Simple”. It was a nice read. I have always loved reading about the Amish. I don’t think I would want to live that simply, but the peacefulness that it conveys does appeal to me.

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I am working on a sweater from the magazine “Making”. It is called Canvas Cardigan. It is out of the Making No. 3 Dots. I am enjoying the knit and learning something new. Set in sleeves with short rows.

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I have also been reading all the Making magazines that I have so far. My husband got me the subscription for my birthday. I love looking at all the ideas. Not just knitting, but sewing and cooking too!

We are getting yet another snow storm. Much needed in fact because right now we have mostly hard icy snow that isn’t all that fun to ski and snowshoe on. Enjoy your day what ever it brings!

 

 

 

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Don’t Boil the Soup!

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I make a lot of soup for my family. Especially in the winter time. It is a meal that can be made ahead of time and put on the stove to simmer until it is time to eat. Great for those days you want to be outside snowshoeing or skiing. It is also nice if someone you love is fighting a flu or cold.

Over the years the soups I make have evolved into works of art. I know it sounds like I am bragging, but I don’t mean to. The soups I used to make were dull, bland, and too salty. Somewhere along the way I learned how to make a great pot of soup. The one secret I feel is the key is to not boil it! Boiling it makes the veggies mushy and tasteless and it makes the meat tough. Plus it makes the soup too hot to eat!

The soup above is a throw together soup made mostly from leftovers. Hamburger and black beans from our tacos. Lentils and rice that we had last week. Green beans that were from our Monday meal. Beef broth, and a package of frozen mixed veggies were the only thing not ‘left over’.

Lots of my soups are born from leftovers but many are made intentionally. It seems like there are many steps but really it isn’t too bad. I start with a broth. Is it a beef, poultry or veggie soup? If it is chicken or turkey then use the carcass if you have one and make the broth from that. I already made a post about that here. Store bought broth is just fine too. The second thing I do is prepare the veggies. I saute them in a pot or pan. Don’t cook them all the way, just until slightly tender. I don’t usually saute spinach or kale or other greens, they get thrown in later.

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After the veggies are done I put them in the broth. At this point the broth should be hot, but not boiling. Now you can add in any other things that are wanted in the soup but making sure that everything is cooked like beans, tomatoes or rice. Barley can be added now uncooked because it will cook while the soup simmers. Sometimes uncooked white rice can be added depending on how long the soup simmers.

Now I would saute any meat. The leftover soup had hamburger that was already cooked so I just threw it in but when you make a soup with carcass meat or boneless meats you want to wait until the end to add the meats. I saute up any raw meat in a pan with oil or butter (or both). Add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Then I add the meat close to serving time. I let it simmer for just enough time to be cooked but not overcooked.

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The last thing to add is any pastas and greens, and herbs. I never add pasta to the actual soup. I cook it up separate and add to the bowls afterwards. If you add them directly to the hot soup they are always there through all the second helpings and leftovers and pasta cooks fast and gets mushy. Leftover soups with pasta already in the soup are never that good.

So it is pretty easy but just has extra steps.  Broth, veggies and other additions, meat, then greens and pasta. Season to taste and enjoy. Just remember; most ingredients get cooked separate then added to the broth. Just don’t boil the soup!

 

 

Ice, Ice, Baby

Just a quick stop here today. I snapped some pictures of the recent ice storm we had. These ice storms are much more frequent than I ever remember. Mostly I cringe when I hear or see that we are having one because I really hate losing my electricity. I stay very warm and toasty but none of our water works. That is a pain.

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But I do stop to see the beauty in it after it is all over. It is so sparkly. Today the birds were out chirping away, the turkeys were traveling through. The squirrels were chasing each other in attempts at some early mating maybe? The sun was shining and to me it seemed like Spring. Of course it is only January but that is the feeling I got.

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Today, like many days I took a walk in the woods. I find it incredible how much the wood can change from day to day from storm to storm. My tracks get covered, trees are bent and block trails. I can get disorientated pretty easily. Have you ever followed deer tracks just to see where they go? I do that a lot.

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I like following deer tracks because they make a path but also because the snow is usually packed down where they have walked. Many times when I don’t wear my snowshoes it is much easier to walk where even just one deer has passed. I think they sense where the shallow snow is and choose their path with that in mind. Almost always the deer bring me to water.

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On the way home I bumped into Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street. He was frozen. I am sure you can see him. I was able to!

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Anyway, as always it was a lovely walk. I hope you are enjoying this sunny, warmish, day.

 

 

The Great Outdoors

We live in Maine. It gets cold. It snows. Sometimes it snows a lot and gets really cold. So far we have had just that kind of winter. Lucky for us we love to get out in it and play!

A few days after Christmas we took a little trip to Boston to skate on Frog Pond. We are not city savvy so it was an adventure for us. It was a blast though. It happened to be a warm 0 degrees in Boston that week. You could say we headed south to warm up because Maine was in the double digit negatives! Despite the cold though we had a wonderful time. 1228171351_resized

The girls have started cross country ski lessons again. I snowshoe while they ski. I enjoy walking in the woods, thinking, and seeing nature up close. Winter gives everything a different look. My husband bought snowshoes this year so we have been going out together at times.

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The place we go to a lot has a nice warming Yurt. It really is nice on these extremely cold days to be able to go inside to thaw out.

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I would love to go to some different places here in Maine. I know about the Maine Huts to Trails. We have never gone but would love to. I am more interested in finding some trails that are free! If you know of any could you let me know?

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Yesterday we trudged through the woods with our ice skates in hand and skated on frozen pools throughout the woods. It was so beautiful and the ice was so smooth. The air was cold, but the sun was shining. I didn’t get any pictures! That’s okay though, we were in the moment, and enjoying every bit of it. This is why winter is one of my favorite seasons. There is time to enjoy the outdoors. There are minimal outdoor chores to do. I love the crisp clean air. No humidity. Once you get moving you stay warm. I hope you are able to get out and enjoy this beautiful season!

Public, Private, Charter, Home?

My oldest daughter is 14. She has been homeschooling all her life. It is getting time to think about formal education of some sort. If not for the education then for the social opportunities. Rural Maine living makes it very hard to meet other kids and it is even harder when you homeschool. Where we live right now the choices for teen socialization is very limited.

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My daughter tried Jr. High school at the public school last September but realized it just wasn’t what she wanted. Maybe it was culture shock, maybe it was the work load. Maybe it was a combination. She is currently attending a democratic style private school program that meets twice a week. It is about 45 minutes away. She spends the night with a friend that is also attending the program. Normally it would be pretty expensive (for us) but they offered her a full scholarship because they are just starting out and want to attract other students. It is working for now.

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“For now” are the key words. I always have to have my eye on what is next. I won’t be able to pay for the tuition next year. Unless they offer another scholarship I really don’t see her going there again. Also, two days is kind of a disruption in a way. She does some math and reading here at home and a couple of subjects at the school but I am not sure she is really delving into anything deeply. Maybe she doesn’t need to.

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We just heard about a new charter high school that may be opening up. It is a bit closer and would be free because my state recognizes charter schools and my town would pay the tuition. I haven’t been to a meeting yet but I imagine it would be every day. I would need to drive her there and then pick her up.

There is always public High School. My daughter didn’t like the Jr. High but maybe high school is different. She would be able to continue being in the orchestra program.

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I have been a parent long enough to know that this has to be what is best for her. I am a little worried that at her age she may only be thinking about sociability. I am not worried about college. If that is what she wants then it will be possible even if she stayed home through high school. I want her to make an informed decision about education. Where will she have the most opportunity to learn new things. Find her passion. All at the same time as making quality, lasting friendships.

I guess I’ll keep you posted.

I Want a Warm Quilt!

Sometime in the beginnings of winter my daughter told me she loved the quilt I made her and it was really pretty and all but that it just wasn’t all that warm. She felt because it was quilted quite heavily that all the holes in it was making it not warm. She may have a point there but it was probably that it had cotton batting in it. She asked if I would make her a warm quilt. Music to a quilter’s ears!

I decided to make both daughters warm quilts for Christmas. Simple quilts, tied, and with wool, high loft batting. I also used flannel on the backs. They came out very nice and both of my daughters love them.

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I had the girls choose two colors they liked at the fabric store and then I built on that. I used a simple brick pattern. All the blocks are the same shape and size then sewn in brick layer pattern. It was very easy and quick to make. Good thing since I didn’t really start until a week before Christmas. It is amazing what you can get done when you push through it. The only thing I didn’t do before wrapping them was attach the binding to the other side of the quilts. But doing that after Christmas kept me warm in the sub-freezing temps we have had here in Maine.

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And now they are finished and on the beds and declared ‘very warm and cozy’! Success. Did you make any of your Christmas gifts this year?

Yarn Along!

I am so happy Ginny started up the Yarn Along again. I didn’t join in every week but now that it is a once a month venture I may be able to do that.

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I have been slowly reading The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I love it so far. I have been busy and busy always means I fall asleep reading pretty quickly. Things are slower now thankfully and I am hoping to delve into it. I began reading it to an older friend. She could no longer see or walk and being read to was one of her remaining joys. She passed away last month at the age of 92. That could be another reason I haven’t gotten very far in the book.

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My weeks leading up to Christmas were filled with knitting and sewing. I have a sweater (for me) on the needles but I just recently picked that up again. I knit up two hats for my daughters and we are happy with them. They are from the pattern Hats for All by Carrie Bostick Hoge. I got it from Ravelry. I love the pattern so much that these hats were the second set I made for my girls.

Thank you Ginny for reintroducing the Yarn Along. Can’t wait to see what everyone has been up to!

 

First and Full

I woke up early this morning. Before 5. I was rested and couldn’t sleep anymore so I got up. It was clear and cold and bright as day but of course the sun had not come up yet. The moon was full.  The first full moon on the first of the year. That is pretty special. It was so pretty I had to go outside. I could see every tree, every shadow of every tree. It was beautiful. What a way to start a morning.

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I am back to CurlyCueCreates after a bit of a break. I haven’t been blogging for a couple of months. I haven’t been reading many blogs either. Truth be known I find myself on my phone more these days. I am not happy about it and mean to change it. In all fairness to myself, I have been pretty busy getting ready and enjoying the holidays.

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Like many people I do use this time of year to reflect and resolve. I don’t have any big resolutions this year. I did some new things last year. Went outside my comfort zone so to speak and I am happy with that. This year I resolve to get better at what is working and do better at what is not. How is that? Enough for me.

Since I was last here it did get considerably colder. I wrote how it had been such a warm fall and that I didn’t think we would get winter. Well, of course we have. We have almost two feet of snow and the temperatures have been very, very cold. Over a week now of single and negative digit temps. Brrrr! We decided to go a bit south after Christmas. Only to Boston. The temps were a bit warmer but still quite nippy. We went to Frog Pond to skate and visited Little Italy for supper. It was so fun!

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I have been knitting and quilting! Lots of sewing and creating. I made my sons pillowcases and bought them new pillows for Christmas. My husband and I put together many home made food items for them too. Granola, salsa, and apple rings. This year I made my daughters new winter quilts.

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I will post more about the quilts but for now just snippets. I am still sewing the bindings on. I wrapped the quilts with the bindings on but not sewn to the backside. I just ran out of time! But they loved them and thought they were beautiful. They are very warm because I used wool batting. As I sew on the binding I am covered up in the quilts and now I really want one for me! Something to cover up with on these very cold nights.

Today my husband returns to work after a long vacation. The girls and I are not getting right back into our full schedule. Music lessons start up as does ballet. Cross country ski-ing does too. I think some baking, reading, games and crafts are still in order for a while before we get back into our real schedule.

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Enjoy the New Year!!

Bringing it Inside

Today is warm-ish. It is 58 degrees on a November morning. The house is warm without a fire. The weatherman says that November reality will hit tomorrow. I am ready!

I harvested the last (maybe) of the spinach, arugula, and lettuce yesterday. I picked raspberry leaves to dry for tea. I picked the last of the flowers that were blooming and made a nice bouquet.  I dug up two pepper plants that were still flowering and re-potted them. I am hoping for some winter peppers. It felt good walking around and realizing that soon everything will be covered in snow. Hopefully. I like snow.

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This is the season for apples! Pie making is in full swing and I peeled, cored, and sliced many apples to dry. My kids love dried apples. They are so sweet. I will need to do another batch though, since they get eaten so fast. They are great in oatmeal, granola, or just eaten like chips. Healthy chips!

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Even though it is warm, it is rainy and it feels as though we should be inside. So here we are, tucked in. The birds are at the feeder, girls are doing their thing, and I am ready to make some soup! How are you getting ready for winter?

 

I Made the Plunge! I’m Teaching!

For a while now I have wanted to teach sewing classes. I hoed and hummed about it. Planned it out in my head. Thought about it some more and then one morning I got on my computer and posted classes! I got a huge response and was very encouraged.

I started with a four week beginner sewing class. I was so amazed that I had a blast! It wasn’t stressful at all. I enjoyed teaching these ladies (no men signed up) to sew. I just had my second session beginner sewing class the other night and I have added a beginner Quilt class to my list that starts this Saturday.

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I started out teaching about the machine. How to thread it. What the parts all did. We took it slow. I had amazing students. They really wanted to learn to sew.

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Our first project was a pillowcase using the burrito method. My classes include everything. I have a lot of fabric to use up! I think including everything is helpful to a beginner anyway. I remember when I started to sew I didn’t even know what types of fabric were good for what!

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I am using my home right now. I have a finished off basement that is cozy and warm and inviting. I have a big table and desk and ironing station. It worked out well. I did have an offer from a store owner to teach there but once I made it clear that I include fabric and supplies in my classes and that I would not be ‘selling’ fabric she decided it wouldn’t work. Oh well.

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Next up we made drawstring bags. It was so fun to see their faces when the bags started forming. I think one of the best things about teaching is seeing how happy the students are about sewing.

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My first Beginner Quilt class starts on Saturday. Last night I spent some time preparing. I can’t wait!

If you are in Maine and are interested in classes here are the links.

Quilt class and Sewing class.