Here, There, Everywhere

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The busiest time of the year is here. No other time during the year am I being pulled in so many different directions. I am appreciating each morning here at home because by 10:30 I am out of the house and sometimes don’t return until night time. Suppers are a real challenge. They must be easy, quick and healthy! We did have hot dogs last week though. Sometimes it is the only way. One day this week we may have to grab something out!

I went to visit my son last week at the Carpenter’s Boat Shop and spent the night. It was so nice to see the things he is working on. I even worked on one of the boats!  Everyone was very welcoming and I was quite comfortable.

I went on a knitting retreat in Portland. I had the best time. Who wouldn’t? Yarn, knitting, wine, chocolate. We went out to eat. We knit. I learned how to double knit. We had a party with door prizes and yarn swaps. We knit. We had cocktails together and knit. It was really fun to be around so many like minded women.

Softball season has begun. The girls are on different teams. One is playing through the school, the other through the recreation department. Pretty much every night there is softball. One in the afternoon, one in the evening.

This is gardening season too. I have been out planting early things like greens and peas. I went to the Fedco tree sale and picked up some tomato seedlings. I wanted to get blueberry bushes to replace the ones that were damaged this year but they were all out! My asparagus is up and the garlic too. Next week strawberries are being delivered! So excited about that.

We are trying to keep up on our homeschooling too so we don’t have so much to catch up on during the summer. Both girls are on the last parts of their math. We are reading about the ancient empires right now. Just finished reading the Iliad. Now we are reading the Odyssey. We still have to finish biology. Waiting a bit for that. It is all the summer things like caterpillars and frogs. I went for a walk in the woods last week and found some owl pellets. The girls couldn’t wait to dissect those!

We have started our daily walks again. Last week we even got a bike ride in, dodging all the rain drops. Boy has it been rainy!

This weekend all my sons came home for a visit. One had just got back from a road trip out in California! I wanted to see pictures. I did and it looked like he has a wonderful time. Another son helped me put my flower garden back together. It got ripped up during some pipe work. That is how the blueberry bushes got damaged too. He helped me see that it is still pretty and all will be well.

In between all the running around I have put together a quilt block. Quilted a block or two on the picnic quilt and finished a sweater. I will show that in a future post. I have to make time for my crafts. It is for my mental health.

So things are pretty busy. I know it will settle down after softball ends. And the garden is all planted. Then I can sit outside, with a glass of wine or a cup of tea and relax.

Yea, right.

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Nesting

As it is Spring, I have felt the urge to clean, organize, tidy up, and beautify. Many times this hits me in September. It may again. I guess it makes sense, every 6 months or so I need to restart.

I ‘Spring’ cleaned the house. It took me four days. I was battling some kind of virus but that wasn’t going to stop me. It was time. I don’t think I have cleaned the house this well in a few years. I still have to do the outside windows but that will wait until it is a bit nicer out. For now though, the curtains, floors, walls, cabinets, and inside windows got a good cleaning.

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When I say beautifying I mean switching things around, putting out new candles and changing where the plants go. I went outside and found some early blooming flowers and trees to bring in. Every year I fill little vases with small bits of flowers from outside. I love seeing them at the kitchen window. There isn’t that much color outside right now but when I see it at my window it tricks my mind into thinking that flowers are blooming everywhere.

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Dean brought out the table and chairs for the deck. I put out a vase of Forsythia that is just about ready to bloom. It really is quite inviting of a space now. I think we may eat our lunch out there today. Spring really has arrived here in Maine now. I have been in that nesting mood even though there are no babies on the way!

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The girls and I planted some flowers and broccoli last week and many of them are up and thriving. It is time to start the battle of the broccoli! I have a history with broccoli. I will not quit trying to grow it by seed. We eat a lot of broccoli and my dream is to grow enough to freeze it like I do green beans, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. I will succeed!

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I harvested my first batch of spinach last week. I topped pizza with it, put it in a salad, and added it to smoothies. More to come this week. Gardening season has officially started here. I may even plant some peas soon.

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This blog can’t have enough pictures of pizza! One of my favorite foods. I have a lot of favorite foods. By the looks of the pizza I also like cheese.

I feel quite energized right now. Probably because of the warmer weather, I am over my cold, and I have a very clean, beautiful house. Seize the day!

 

 

 

The Sweetness of Spring

The girls have Spring Fever like never before. One of my daughters said that if it snows again she will scream! They both have been reminiscing summer days where they can run outside without shoes and forage around in the woods. Days where they are outside all day working on their shelters and playing together. Well my dears those days are coming I promise. But we are living in Maine and always have and this is the way it is.

There are some Spring things going on. Not outside the window of course where there is still two feet of snow and the forecast says more today. Inside is where we have proof of spring. The cauldrons are full of sweet sap and it is slowly boiling away and turning into syrup. That syrup will be used all year long for baking and for pouring over our breakfast of pancakes and waffles. Yum, Yum!

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It doesn’t look very pretty in the beginning. Especially if you look really close and see the bugs that have gotten stuck in there. No worries, it all gets strained out later. It is a slow process and one that needs constant attention. When the sap really starts to turn into syrup you can turn your back for five minutes and it would have turned to candy. All over your stove. What a mess! Once, we under estimated the amount on the wood stove . We left for the day thinking that the wood stove would cool down and no boiling would take place. When we got home it smelled like burned syrup and sure enough when we checked the pot there was hard, black, burned syrup. So really you cannot ever rest unless you take the sap off the stove and put it in some snow to keep cool. It is a fun process though and the outcome, when done properly, is so worth it.

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So, Spring is here because the syrup is being made. The girls are starting softball soon. The Red Sox just played, and won their first game. My seeds should be coming this week too and then we will get busy inside, planning and planting the garden! Before we know it we will be out digging and transplanting. All in good time. In the meantime I will watch my sap, knit a sweater, and sew some blocks!

Happy April!

 

Signs of Spring

Spring has arrived. That is what the calendar says. Some people would say there is no way that Spring has arrived to the state of Maine but I have noticed that there are signs of Spring here. Not in the form of flowers or buds. Signs nonetheless.

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The sun is higher now. This photo was taken at 4PM. The sun is setting much later now. I know the time change helped with that but still, it is later.

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I went for a walk this weekend. It just felt like Spring.

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We dug out one of the hoop houses this weekend too. I was thinking that there must be something in there since the sun has been higher. We had to dig about 3 ft down to be able to lift the plastic.

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I was not surprised to see some green. Most of it is overwintered but I did notice a little new growth. I guess this means gardening season has begun! Now I need to get out there and plant some more lettuce and spinach seeds.

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The sap is flowing as well which is always a sign of Spring. I didn’t collect sap last year and I really missed the syrup. It is so expensive to buy in the store. This year we should have a nice amount. It is simmering on the stove as I write this.

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Another sign of Spring is the sun on my face is warm and I love the feeling. On my walk I put my hand up to block the sun so I could see something that was on a tree and I felt the warmth of the sun on my hand. It is so strong.

Happy Spring to you! Hope you are seeing some signs around you.

 

Knitting Saved Me

I know that sounds very dramatic. It is true though. I learned to knit during one of the most stressful times in my adult life. It was a distraction to say the least. It was calming. There are many things that knitting has done for me, but the most important for me was the way it stopped me from obsessing about particular things. No, it didn’t solve all of the problems going on at the time. It certainly helped me handle them a little better.

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The above picture was one of my first projects. I made two poncho sweaters for my daughters. They were quite little and still growing and they did not wear them for long. But I didn’t care. It took me about a year to make them, but again I didn’t care. The act of knitting was so meditative, so fun that I would knit just to knit.

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In time I learned how to knit, purl, increase, and bind off. I learned how to block. I made hats, scarves, and cowls. Now I am making sweaters, and socks and mitts.

Knitting gives me something to do. Just sitting and waiting is hard for me. I believe it is hard for most people. I bring my knitting pretty much everywhere. On car rides, appointments, when I wait for one of my children, to watch movies, recently I even brought my knitting into a restaurant and knit while we were waiting for a table. My daughter did too, which was great.

Knitting has taught me how to fail. How to mess something up and own it. Knitting has also taught me how to try and try again. Not to quit when I fail. Valuable lessons and never too late to learn. I will be 50 this year!

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Once I saw a pattern for a lacy scarf in a book and just had to make it. So I learned yarn overs and how to count. Of course I knew how to count but I think knitting counting is harder. This was the project that I learned about a life line. This project taught me a lot about patience. I was never a very patient person. Didn’t like to wait, didn’t like to not know something. I am also a perfectionist and that was hard as a new knitter. I am very good at ripping out projects and starting over so that I can get it right. I still mess up my knitting, still frog it, and still keep on going and get it right eventually. That takes lots of patience.

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Knitting is just for me. It is time for me. Even if I am waiting for someone to get out of class, even if I am teaching math, playing a game with a child, I can knit, for me. Even when I am making something for someone else, the knitting is for me.

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Knitting is exciting. Most people would look at me funny if I said that out loud but don’t you agree? Isn’t it exciting to be in a yarn store and see and feel all that fiber? I love going to fairs and touching the animals that make the yarn and then going into the booths and feeling all the different fibers. Wool, angora, alpaca! I love it all. It is exciting to learn new skills. Sometime this year I want to learn to cable. Right now I am learning how to read a chart. Something new!

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The above picture is the beginning of a sweater. I have to read a chart. So far I am on the third try. Finally it looks the way it is supposed to. I may even put in a life line soon in case I mess up farther along. I am proud of myself for learning something new and for not quitting. (I almost did but my daughters talked me out of it. Boy do I love them!)

So, knitting has done so much for me. It calms me. It keeps my mind and hands busy. Knitting has taught me patience. I am keeping my brain healthy with all the new skills. It is something just for me and that is a wonderful thing for anyone that does things for other people all day. Knitting adds so much to my life and I am glad I learned.

How about you? Why do you like to knit?

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Snow Again!

Interestingly on the day I decide to do a blog post there is another blizzard blowing its way through Maine. The very last post before this one we were having a big storm as well. It is almost pure white outside my window.

I brought some Forsythia inside a few weeks ago, as I always do every single year. I love forcing them to bloom. It gives us a bit of color and warmth during the white and cold of winter.

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I have been sewing and knitting like crazy. I know Spring and gardening are on its way so I am trying to fit in as much stitching as I can before I get busy outside. The girls are doing their classes at the outdoor adventure school again on Fridays and that gives me a whole day to myself. I don’t really need the day though because my night sewing and afternoon knitting have been consistent enough to make progress.

I made these cute little zipper bags for projects or whatever will fit in them. I love the fabric so much and I have been trying to use up some recycled denim.

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They were so easy to make and I plan to make more! I am really excited that I was able to get over my fear of zippers. I also have been making journal covers and some drawstring bags.

While the snow is blowing and coming down in sheets I am cooking a whole chicken in the cast iron pot on the wood stove. It is smelling so, so good that I want to eat it right now. I will cook up some rice and make a nice salty, creamy gravy.

In future posts I plan to show you all my sewing machines. I just got another antique one. And I want to tell you what knitting has done for me since I learned. Stay tuned. And thanks for visiting my blog!

 

 

Piles of Snow

Here in the northeast we are getting a good old fashioned blizzard. It is very exciting. The girls have been measuring it since last night. So far in about 12 hours we have 18 inches of snow.

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We are warm and cozy inside. Working on our projects. My husband is working from home today too. We had a nice pancake breakfast with apples, blueberries and bananas. The work of clean up will come later. It is still snowing like crazy.

I still have not found my camera. I guess it is officially lost. I will have to use my phone for a while until I save up enough extra for another camera. I will do a little research on them too.

My menu is a bit simple this week. My husband leaves for RI tomorrow and it will just be the three of us here until Friday night. I have quite a few leftover meals in the fridge and the freezer. Time to clean out.

Monday:  Stew beef and gravy over rice with salad

Tuesday:  Grab it

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Grab it

Friday:  Whole Chicken, mashed potatoes, and carrots        

Saturday: Pork Chops Rice and broccoli

Sunday: Seafood Chowder

Enjoy the weather whatever it is for you! 

 

 

Five Stars Picnic Quilt

Did you ever start making a quilt and not really know who it was for or why you were making it? I started making a quilt before Christmas. I purchased a pattern that I loved from Cory Yoder on Coriander Quilts. She named the quilt Persimmon. It looked really easy and it was so eye catching. I have never been very good at reading directions from start to finish. I didn’t surprise myself much when I started making this quilt the blocks were huge. I started looking at the pattern and realized that if I continued to make as many blocks as was called for in the pattern, the quilt would be big enough to cover my roof. After a little research, and reading the directions a little more carefully, I found that there are jelly rolls and there are also Honey buns. I was supposed to buy a honey bun. So my blocks were about double the size they should have been.

I took the blocks I had already made and placed them in such a way that there are four colored stars and one big white star in the center.

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I really love it now that it is hanging and I can see the stars. I decided that we would use this quilt for our picnics and beach days. The fabric has little girls doing cartwheels and jumping rope. It is super cute and the colors are bold and bright. The fabric is from a line by Aneela Hoey and it is called Posy.

The quilt looks pretty cool on the backside as well.

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I am going to take Cory’s advice on quilting it and use long stitches and hand quilt it. I started quilting last night. I am using an old, big hoop I have. It may be a little bit too big but all my other ones are way too small. So I am making do, and it is going well.

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I plan to quilt in blue, pink and yellow embroidery thread. It is fun quilting with the big stitches. Much easier than the tiny ones.

What are you making this week?

 

 

Outside in February

Well of course the groundhog saw his shadow. Six more weeks of winter. That is fine with me. I really enjoy winter. I always liked it mostly because I used to love being inside and being cozy. Lots of time for reading and sewing. As I have grown older with my children I have realized that there are lots of things to do outside in winter and now I like it even more.

My girls are taking cross country ski lessons. They love it. Twice a week they are in the meadow and woods learning to ski. I take advantage of the time and go snow shoeing. It is a quiet, beautiful walk out in the woods. The trails are nicely packed down and there are many different trails to walk on. I feel at peace out there all alone.

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On Friday we left town for a couple of days. We drove to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. We visited the Ice Castle’s in Lincoln NH. They were beautiful. I have more pictures on my camera but I seem to have misplaced it. The castles were up the road from our hotel so we were able to walk to them. We went at night when the colors were bright and we could see the stars up in the sky. It was very cold, but breathtakingly fresh.

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These are the pictures from my phone. I have much better ones on the camera. Crossing my fingers that I find it.

Here is this week’s menu:

Monday:  Pizza or Calzones

Tuesday:  Baked chicken parts, brown rice, and cauliflower

Wednesday: Hamburger Patties, cubed potatoes, brussel sprouts

Thursday: Bean and cheese quesadillas

Friday:  Lasagna              

Saturday: Ribs, roasted sweet potato and beets

Sunday: Chicken soup

Fun with Pasta!

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Pasta! My absolute favorite food. I really could eat it every day. I love it with sauce like the above picture. I love it plain with just butter and salt. I think I would be 500 pounds if I ate it every day so I control myself.

This past Christmas I got a pasta maker. For years I had wanted a nice Kitchen Aid mixer for making bread (my second most favorite food). I saved up for the mixer and honestly it is one of the best appliances I own besides my sewing machines. I use it all the time. I use it for bread and cookies. It is great for making mash potatoes. It makes things so much easier. I mentioned to my family that there was a pasta maker attachment for the mixer. You see, they love pasta too. Kitchen Aid products are very expensive. For us we need to save up for it. Well at Christmas all my sons and husband split the cost between them and got the pasta maker attachment. I love it. I think I have said love a lot in this post.

The girls and me have made pasta by hand before. It was really fun and so, so, tasty. But it took all day. Now I can make a pot of pasta in about an hour. By the way this is not an affiliated post. Not enough people visit my blog yet for me to be getting paid to advertise. This is just my true feelings about an appliance that I really bought. 🙂

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The pasta dough recipe we use is from Serious Eats  website. So far I have just used egg, salt and flour. No semolina. I do have some and plan to try it. I wish blogs had a way to let you taste. I am not being over dramatic when I say home made pasta tastes so, so good. It is lighter than the boxed. This pasta cooks up in half the time too. Of course boxed pasta is great for a throw together meal that you need quickly.

We have had a blast playing with the one I got. The girls and I made ravioli once too. It was good, but we followed the recipe and it said to add nutmeg in the ricotta mix. We didn’t really like that part. Making the ravioli was fun. You take sheets of pasta and a wavy pastry roller and make squares, fill, and cover. You press the sides and you are done. Again the home made ravioli cooked up so much quicker.

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There are lots of pasta machines out there. Kitchen aid isn’t the only one. If you ever get the chance to use one or buy one I would recommend it. You won’t be sorry. If you do have one let me know what your favorite recipe’s are. We are looking for more.