Friends and Fresh Eggs

What a fabulous day we had today …

A breakfast of fresh eggs (some still warm from the chickens) and the company of friends.

Multicolored Eggs - Fresh from the Chicken

And then, as if that’s not enough wonderful for one day, we went to the RV Show at the Volusia County Fairgrounds. For five bucks, I walked in to heaven! I’ve posted before about my “RV envy” situation … well, today I got to walk in and around dozens of RVs and 5th Wheels and Travel Trailers. I was so excited I felt like a little kid … all wound up and ready to jump up and down and clap my hands.

It was a blast!

Gone knitting.

A Weekend with Annie Modesitt

Knit or Knot Group

OMG! She is fabulous!

Day 1 – Friday

Classes on Friday were Embellishments and Heel! Learn Toe UP Socks with Mutt-Luks!

Embellishments Swatch

You can see we did several different embellishments. I, personally, love love love the little dreadlocks! Anyway, you’ll see that there are several rows of garter stitch (just to warm up our fingers!) and then the first embellishment was the “dreadlocks”. Next, bobbles. These are nice perky bobbles with no droop or hole underneath. I love the idea of using these as buttons. Next we did a few rows of cables … without a cable needle. A great technique because, Annie says, using the cable needles stretches the yarn and sometimes makes for a gap or hole in the fabric. This technique will not! Last, but certainly not least, we did a couple of different bind offs … a picot bind off (on the right) and an i-cord bind off (on the left). The picot bind off could be used as closure for a cardigan sweater, for example, with some lovely bobbles as buttons. The i-cord band could include i-cord loops or frogs. I’ll be playing with a few of these ideas. I’ve played with adding i-cord to a flat garment but never edging a garment with i-cord!

(PS) My swatch is sitting on one of the books that I bought at the classes which Annie has written, Confessions of a Knitting Heretic. The second book I bought was this one:

Cheaper than Therapy is a collection of stories that were gathered by Annie. Since I’m a one book at a time kind of girl, I’ve not really dug into either one yet. But I am looking forward to them both!

The second half of our technique classes on Friday was a toe-up sock with a different (and better) toe and a different heel … an after thought heel of sorts, made with short rows. We didn’t really make a sock but we started (duh!) with making the toe and then knitted several rounds of the “sock” before adding some scrap yarn to mark where the heel will go. I still need to go back and finish the “sock” and I’ll show you pictures at a later date … or I’ll add them to this posting.

Day 2- Entrelac Lace

Saturday we did entrelac. Lots of entrelac. Mind-boggling entrelac!

Entrelac Swatch

We started out with our work flat, working back and forth in entrelac. I really like the look of  the entrelac (especially in two colors). It’s such a harlequin look. With the idea that entrelac can also be worked in the round, we then joined our work and then made the squares bigger and worked the top ones in lace. It was fascinating to think about taking a somewhat complicated technique and making it more complicated but the lace skirt pattern that Annie used as her example is really lovely and I would love to make something similar!

Day 3- The Universal Mitered Bag/ Modular Knitting

Sunday we made a small Mitered Bag. Using three colors, we learned how to form the interlocking triangles in different sizes and how to construct a bag (to be felted) using the technique. I found this technique really easy to follow and really enjoyed it. Annie even knitted on my bag to show how to do some of the steps … thus, I have a bright orange and a couple of tiny gray “diamonds” (on the left) which she gave me permission to pull out – but who in their right mind would pull out Annie Modesitt’s knitting? I think it makes my bag all the more special!

My Mitered Bag

This is the bag before felting. Notice the really cool “edge” at the top where the purple and cream yarn are twisted.

Two Rounds of Twisted Edging - Looks like Herringbone!

I originally had gone around again (because this round was done by Annie. Yay!) but it was too wide and I went back, after making sure I could actually DO the technique, and tore it out and bound off. I do think I’ll buy some good wool for felting and make the next size bag because it was really lovely and a good size.

Annie also gave us some tips for felting (and told us about her online classes that she offers … I would encourage anyone wanting to learn more about our craft to check out her classes  … click here to be magically transported to her site! She’s a wonderful and thorough teacher and I learned a lot!)

So, add in a potluck lunch that lasted into the next day, some great knitting women in the Orlando Knit or Knot group – which, by the way, is the local Knitting Guild Association group – and a lot of laughs, and you get the general gist of the weekend.

I had a blast – and I’m still recovering from the mind-bending concentration. I took some notes and will share some of them with you “down the road”. But for now …

Gone knitting (maybe my heel)!

Looking at the Open Door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m ready to start a new life. Not really a new, new life. Just a new one. While I know that this is somewhat confusing to all of you, I know exactly what I’m talking about. I am ready to stop revisiting the old stuff. I’m ready to forgive and forget and move on. I want to be surrounded in positive, healthy and forward-looking.

What’s done is done. My old life is old. It will never be the same again. I can’t go back there. My life has been forever changed by this divorce and everything that I believed to be true was proved false by a cheating (now ex-) husband. But he didn’t just lie to me and our kids; he lied to himself and he has to live with that for the rest of his life. I can forgive him and move on knowing that I did everything I could to make our marriage work. I did everything I could to make the process of separating and divorcing be fair and kind. I hoped to be able to have a friendship (of sorts) because we will forever be connected by our children. He doesn’t know how to play fair and won’t take responsibility for his behavior then or now and, again, he will have to live with the consequences of his choices.

I am working to be forward thinking. Today. Tomorrow. And for each day thereafter. I am so fortunate to have a roof over my head and food in my belly. I have three healthy kids and two darling puppies, wonderful siblings, friends, and a man who loves me. I’m counting my blessings even as my ex is trying to undermine my positive attitude. He sucked me back into his whirling dervish tornado of abuse and sick thinking for a brief time today and I allowed it. But I’m back on track tonight and next time (if there is one) I will do even better at keeping my pledge.

I have a good feeling about 2012! I’ve turned around and I’m looking at the open door!

Gone knitting (after a bit of sleep!)

Philosophy of a Business

We had dinner at a restaurant called Avatar in Sausalito. The owner, Ashok, is at first glance, a happy man. Sit at the “bar” at his restaurant and you’ll find out why he’s so happy – he’s a food scientist and psychologist who will make you the best food you’ll ever have in your life. “You’ll want to lick the plate,” he told me. (And I did – want to, that is!) Ashok loves what he does every day. He loves his life and business.

Every year on the day before Thanksgiving, Ashok opens his door to the community and feeds all the people who walk through the door – last year it was over 1,000 – for free. Wine, beer, food, all free. FREE! Last year my brother worked in his kitchen for the event and this year both he and his beautiful wife will be there.

I’ve always heard that if you want to receive, you have to give and the bounty that this good-hearted man receives is (in part) due to his participation in giving back to his community. Or, I would contend, he really gives to his community – daily! He’s giving of himself – tell him what you FEEL like eating and he’ll prepare you a delightful dish. He’ll also look you in the eye, shake your hand, smile at you and remember your name. He’s thankful that you’ve chosen to eat at Avatar.

Blessings – gone knitting.

 

Left Coast Living

So, here I am on the “left coast” visiting with my brother Rick and his lovely (relatively new) wife and their four little dogs. It’s such fun to be with my family and to see where they live and to meet their friends. (I’ve even extended my stay already!)

I’ve had my first vegan food, spent a couple of days with my cousin and his family, feted my aunt (a bit prematurely) on her 70th birthday, had my second vegan meal and am feeling very happy to visit my brother and his lovely wife and their four shih tzus.

Cafe Gratitude in Healdsburg, CA is my new favorite place to eat. My son raved about it when he spent the summer out here with his uncle and now I know why – first hand. Yummy. Who knew that vegan food could be so yummy?

Visiting Dogville in San Anselmo

We have visited several great pet stores – and bought my littles a new harness and leash (Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday!) Had a spa day for the dogs and got a fun (and stylin’) new hair do and the fun’s not over yet.

We drove with six shih tzus from Healdsburg, CA to Lake Tahoe, NV without any growling. How do these little dogs know who belongs to the pack (and who doesn’t?)

 

Travel with Lola and Martin

Boq (front), Emma and Gus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We start every morning with tea (with some warm goat’s milk) and then head into town for a “muffin” and another cup of tea at the Flying Goat Cafe. They are currently renovating the space inside so the coffee shop has been moved to the alley outside under a tent. It’s really lovely sitting in the alley outside and might be a good permanent additions. Sitting on the sidewalk with six “matching” dogs is sure to attract a crowd – partly because the dogs are so cute and partly because it’s an unusual sight!

Tomorrow it’s off to the office for a couple of hours of work and then we’re headed into the city for the evening – manicures and pedicures are on the agenda for the ladies and business meetings for my brother. Guess we’ve got the better end of that deal!

Off to bed for some beauty sleep … another big day of fun is ahead!

Definitely not knitting!

A Two-lighthouse Day

Owl's Head Light

We headed out Sunday to see the ocean and a light house. Since Kelly hadn’t ever been to Maine and the Maine coast being my favorite thing, it was a cinch to decide to head eastward.

First stop, Owl’s Head Light near Thomaston, Maine. Thomaston, by the way, is one of my favorite childhood memories. We used to visit this adorable vintage Maine town with the white homes on either side of Route 1 and where the Maine State Penitentiary used to be. Connected to the state prison, there was the prison store. My brothers and I loved visiting there to purchase some little trinket carved by the inmates (and there were real inmates at the cashier’s desk with armed guards). A bit of wonder and a bit of fear made this a great place to visit. They’re open every day but Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day (a couple of days in January and Maine snow days.)

Owl's Head LightBut I digress… the land for Owl’s Head Light was purchased in 1824 by a Congressional appropriation of $4,000.  Owl’s Head marks the entrance to Rockland harbor and the light was first lit by it’s first keeper in September 1825 (the project was completed for a cost of $2,707.79 … way under the appropriation. Bet that wouldn’t happen today!)

Today, you can visit the lighthouse (the keeper’s house is still standing but not open to visitors. It’s a bit of a climb into the tower but the view is worth the effort. The lens of the light is simply amazing.

A 1,000 watt hallogen bulb lights the light today

It’s a Fresnel lens which replaced the original in 1856 and it’s simply amazing. It was originally designed to turn (and has wheels) but they decided to keep it a stationary light as all the others in the area were blinking. Did you know that each lighthouse had it’s own pattern of blinks? Ayuh, they did.

From the Foot of the Tower

From the tower, the Rockland Breakwater was pointed out to us by the volunteer at the top of the tower. (It was a beautiful sunny day and it was hot up there!) She said we could walk out the mile long “jetty” (made from rubble granite) and visit the keepers house and lighthouse. SO, who could resist? Off we went.

View from the Lighthouse over the Breakwater toward shore

The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is going through a major renovation and it’s going to be a beautiful place to visit. Well, it was a beautiful place to visit and I could imagine living there as the keeper (all lighthouses in Maine today are automated.) While I think the volunteers could have designed a more professional display of the history of the lighthouse, it’s a fun visit and it’s a treat to see the keeper’s house as well as visit the tower. My camera died so I can’t share with you the views other than the two I took. One above is toward the shore over the breakwater (wear sturdy shoes for this hike) and another looking toward the Owl’s Head light across the harbor.

A visit to Rockland after our lighthouse adventure for a bit of lunch at the Rockland Cafe … where we shared a cup of their seafood chowder (yummy, especially with a dash or three of hot sauce) and ordered a couple of lobster BLTs and a “small” plate of whole belly fried clams. The BLT was tasty (the bread/roll was unoriginal) and the clams were delish. Rockland is also home to some great shops, an excellent (new location is quite a step up) coffee shop and book store (Rock City Cafe) and the fabulous Farnsworth Art Museum, home of many of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings and always a good visit!

Fun day with friends, good food, a bit of exercise and we learned a bit, too. Not typical for us but a great day in Maine!

Getting it Done – a Lazy Sunday

I planned to do nothing today. It was a bit grey and dreary … a lazy kind of Sunday.

Porch View - Grey-ish Sunday

I woke up late, had my coffee (soon it will be tea in the morning and no coffee but that’s a whole other story) and a rather sad looking pumpkin scone with the texture of a muffin, really. Then went outside because N. was going to mow the lawn … and I decided to weed the little perennial garden that we added by the big rock outside the front door. During the month of August, it went to heck and really needed some TLC!

We’ve been collecting the bits and pieces of scrap metal left behind by the railroad workers who’ve been upgrading the train tracks behind the house. And I decided that my garden needed to be edged with railroad spikes. I love it – and it’s so appropriate for this house that is so close to the tracks! (And we’ve still got a bucket and then some of pieces of metal for N. to practice soldering with!) A little bit of mulch and it will be done. Yippee! What do you think?

"Rock" Garden

After doing nothing this morning, I made a pumpkin pie. I thought I bought a can of pumpkin but it was organic pumpkin pie filling … and the recipe on the back of the can didn’t ask for any sugar so the pie needs a bit more sugar but it’s OK with some homemade coconut ice cream on the side!

We took the dogs for a walk down the street and chatted with neighbors and then I got to sit and knit a bit with a lovely cup of tea on the side porch.

So, for having planned to do nothing done today, I feel like I accomplished a little bit!

PS – We have been working on repainting the front screen door and the fence that surrounds the garbage cans. Though we didn’t do any painting today, we nearly have it done and it looks so much better! Now, on to the back of the house (or the wood shed or the bedroom door and window or …) Here’s the “before” … “after” pictures when we’re completely done!

Before #2

Before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gone knitting!

Now THIS is More Like It!

Yesterday was a hot one. Plain and simple. When it’s that hot, it’s best to leave me alone … it was too hot to bake, too hot to knit, too hot to sit with my laptop on my lap, too hot to hug. The only thing I managed to do yesterday was to get a load of sheets washed (and dried) and read a chapter for my Human Bio class.

Just a few days ago ...

... and today!

I’m already into today and have accomplished several rows on my Noni bag, have a load of wash going in the machine, and am into Chapter 5! It’s warm in my summer office today and I have to admit to some perspiration, but the strains of music are floating over the lake from the Music Camp and I am feeling much better and more productive.

 

 

One of the things that I am marveling about today are the wonderful banana blueberry muffins I baked last week. I made a double batch because I had six bananas that were too ripe to eat. Now, I love the recipe that I’ve been using for years, but for some reason, with my new gluten-free flours, the muffins (and breads) have been a little bit different consistency. This time, however, it was amazingly light. Could it have been because when I read baking powder (and added it to the mix) and then saw that it was really baking soda (and added it to the mix) that I added the right balance of ingredients to change the outcome just that little bit? Well, I guess I have to wait until the bananas are too ripe again – as they always are! Or, I could try some other muffins … we’ll see how today pans out.

Banana Blueberry Muffins

1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
2 cups sifted flour (or 2 cups gluten-free baking mix plus 1 teaspoon xanthum gum)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen (Maine) blueberries (you can buy them from another state but they won’t be as tiny and sweet!)

Cream together sugar and butter. Add bananas and eggs; beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt; add to batter. Mix just until blended, fold in blueberries by hand. I usually sprinkle the tops with raw sugar or cinnamon sugar. Pour into a greased loaf pan (or muffin tin) and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 1 hour (15-20 minutes for muffins). Test for doneness when a toothpick inserted at thickest part comes out clean. Yield: 1 loaf (or 1 dozen muffins)

Another thing I’m marveling about today are my feet. Yes, I know that sounds strange. But I’ve been diagnosed with plantar faciitis (and inflammation of the muscles under the feet that connect the ball of the foot and the heel) and I’ve been struggling to find the right “fix” to make my feet stop hurting. I’ve tried insoles, new shoes with better foot support (and higher prices) two doctors, cortisone shots in both heels, $350 custom orthotics, Birkenstocks with two different foot beds. None of them have helped my feet. (The custom orthotics are the biggest “hurt” to my purse and they will be going back to the doctor!) Anyway, I think I have found a solution that works for me… Teva sandals.

Yes, my toenails are blue!

These sandals ($59.99 here in Maine but they’re also on the Internet) have a most wonderful “anatomic” foot bed and great arch support and I’ve been wearing them for a couple of weeks exclusively. Yesterday, I was able to go barefoot around the house for a couple of hours which I’ve not been able to do in (probably) two years. That’s what I call progress. So, back to the store we’re going today to get at least one other pair. Woo hoo!

So, just for today, my feet are happy, my sweetie’s happy (he’s currently about 50 feet up in the oak tree in the yard) and my dogs are happy because they can lie inside or outside without being too hot.

And bonus – tonight I am going to my knitting class … life is good!

Hey, I’m not Knitting but a Girl’s Gotta Eat!

I believe that I’ve written before about my new “diet” without gluten. The concept was suggested initially by my doctor and supported by an herbalist whom I visited, all in an effort to help me get rid of this allergic cough that I’ve had forever. I sound like a two-pack-a-day smoker and I don’t smoke! I am also looking to drop the baby weight that I gained (nearly 27 years ago!)

I found a cheap-o cookbook (apparently it’s so cheap-o that I can’t find it anywhere!) about gluten-free and dairy-free cooking and, while I’m not living dairy-free yet, it had some good looking recipes and so I decided to buy it and bring it home. So far, I’ve tried two recipes.One for a “Spicy Carrot and Lentil Soup” and another for “Soda Bread”.

The first, while it has come out (twice, now!) a little bit too thick for my taste, is a really yummy lunch or dinner (or both if you’re really lazy!) I added some steamed cauliflower for texture and thinned it a bit with some extra chicken broth. I think it will be even yummier tomorrow when I add some additional cooked lentils. I didn’t have chili powder so I substituted (not one for one, though) some cayenne pepper. Mr. N’ley thinks it would be good with some sausage … I think meatless is good but this is a family issue and best kept at home. 🙂

I’m not at all sure why the “Soda” bread is soda bread because it has no soda in it whatsoever. But, perhaps it mimics Irish Soda Bread … not sure, exactly. Suffice it to say, however that the bread came out quite well. It’s a bit sweet which surprised me  … until I realized that it had juice and four tablespoons of Maine’s best maple syrup in it. I like the bread a lot and when you’re living gluten-free, bread is something that I, at least, crave! There is quite a bit of fruit in this bread and that, combined with the sweetness, will make this a delish breakfast bread. Toasted with a little bit of organic Maine butter … mmmmm.

With that, there’s some Gifford’s ice cream in the fridge and I think I hear it calling my name!

PS – the book’s title is *** Wheat, Dairy & Gluten Free: over 70 delicious ideas published in 2010 by Paragon Books, UK. Good luck finding it! 🙂

*** Queen Bee’s note: I just got a much appreciated email from a caring reader who pointed out what I know but didn’t post any information about on the old posts. The book above uses Spelt flour which is a wheat product and not really gluten-free. It may not give gluten sensitive tummys as much trouble as wheat flour but if you’re really sensitive, you probably do not want to use this book or spelt flour. Be  safe! Use real gluten-free flours!

From Soft Ball to Hard Crack

This photo is from 2010 ... not yesterday!

I got three loads of laundry done yesterday. It’s a bit different here. I always know we’re home in Belgrade when the first load of wash goes up on the line. It’s totally old fashioned or retro or green or whatever you want to call it, but it’s comforting and I love looking out to see the clean clothes flapping in the breeze (or gale) off the lake. Towels were drying in an hour yesterday despite no sun. Everything smells better when it’s been dried outside – the towels are only a bit rougher!

Yesterday was a productive day – may be because the sun actually peeked it’s head out. I made some really yummy toffee with cashews in it (and dark chocolate on it!) Making candy is really a cinch if you can resist touching it when it’s all in the pan. It wasn’t easy the first time I did it but this time, I didn’t mind at all. A good candy thermometer is just about all you need … watch the mercury rise from soft ball to hard crack and then turn off the heat! The candy is yum-ers! If you’d like to get the recipe for the Sea Salt Chocolate Cashew Toffee, visit this wonderful blog … just click HERE and you’ll be magically transported (you may have to search for the recipe, links aren’t working properly, sorry!)! Since I changed a couple of things, you’ll have to know my toffee doesn’t look exactly like this (this is pretty but too “fussy” for me in Maine). I didn’t use sea salt because I used salted cashews. I had no Karo Syrup so I substituted honey. Finally, I used one 13 oz. bag of dark chocolate chips which I spread on top of the hot but starting to set toffee rather than dipping it in melted chocolate. If you let it get warmed up sitting on top of the hardening candy, you can easily spread it around with a knife. Then watch it disappear!

I’m finishing several little side projects.

You’ve already seen the picture of the Senorita Lolita Sweater (the first design for Prima Dogma by Queen Bee Knits). In case you’ve missed it, I’m providing another shot of the first and second iterations here. The first one “placed” in a design contest using Koigu skein-ettes. I am over the top pleased with it! The second, while it is not nearly as special visually, it’s perhaps more special to me in that it means that the pattern is written down and I’m making progress!!!

Senorita Lolita (Copyright 2011 Prima Dogma by Queen Bee Knits

 

I have finished the fingerless mittens … these are a gift for a very special person. The pattern was great to follow and you can find it HEREI did change just a few little things. I didn’t use the smaller needles to cast on (because I like the wider, looser, mitten cuffs and these climb up your arm), I likewise, didn’t cast off two stitches for the thumb (thought it might be too tight). But I love the yarn I used and they’re really pretty – can’t wait to present them to my sweet girl recipient (ha! thought I’d tell you who they are for, didn’t you?! Ha!) I used some yarn that my daughter gave me for my birthday last summer from KnitPicks. Click HERE to be magically transported … I used the “Enchanted” colorway. Pretty!

I did finish the boulette blanket (and wrote down the free pattern which is posted here in my blog) and it was really warm. Ugly but warm for the baby when he was here visiting!

Ugly but Warm - "Boulette" blanket copyright 2011 Queen Bee Knits

I’m finishing all these little already-on-the-needles projects because I forgot all the patterns that I had intended to knit while we’re back East. They’re all down south. Go figure. Lucky we’ve got an event to attend and are flying back there for a long weekend so I can get the patterns and continue my knitting progress.

In the meantime, I have a cowl on the needles and the second design for the Prima Dogma line. Only “problem” is that with all our gray and rainy weather, this designer doesn’t feel a lot like designing.

I have a third pair of Birthday Party socks (thanks to my sister Kathy for the name!) on the needles, too. The first pair was a gift to Kathy for her birthday. The second pair is for sale in my Etsy shop. You can click HERE if you’d like to visit my shop. (Thank you, BTW, for supporting the talented artisans on Etsy.com … if you’ve never visited the site, it’s really quite amazing.)

So, I’m going to go out and brave the wind off the lake and the drizzly rain … just as soon as I have a cup of tea!

Gone knitting!