Saturday, June 30, 2012

Okay so I overdid yesterday......

I came inside for the last time yesterday (from the heavy yardwork) at 11:30.  My shoulder ached, sweat was dripping everywhere and I was WHUPPED!  I went into the house and grabbed a large bottle of water and tottered out to the porch.  Sat there a minute and knew that I needed a cold cloth and some ibuprofen.  When I saw the flushed scarecrow in the mirror - I knew that if I had been working with me, I would have sent me inside until my cheek redness calmed down.... So I knew I was right.. it was definitely time to quit for the day :-)  I guess I have to remember that I am not an experienced yard person... and it WAS over 100 degrees..

But... oh what a feeling of accomplishment.  I have no idea why housework does not give me the same feeling... but I am definitely going to spend more time outside.  Trimming trees, hauling dirt, planting and transplanting.... brings me joy.

What is the funniest thing to me is the feeling of changes in my life and relationship.  In my marriage, my husband has always shouldered the responsibility for yardwork (which he HATES).  Therefore he expects housework from me.  He has come to the point where he does some of the heavier house stuff because I simply - well... SUCK at it.  I can keep it up fairly well.. but I am really not good at making it neat to begin with.  So I have spent resentful years inside trying to do something I don't enjoy and so has he.  And projects I want to do outside have simply waited because he doesn't get around to them.

We are getting around to some dialogue about this dilemma.... now that there aren't kids to educate and keep me busy.... he sees the joy I come inside with daily after my "workouts".  He is amazed.... but he agrees.... HE should be the one to do some of his more immediate paperwork business needs.... HE should be the one who vacuums and does more house-y things.... and he should leave any yard stuff I can handle - to ME :-)

I am loving the opportunity that we have to get to know each other once again.... without all the demands on our time we had while raising our family.  It's that courtship time again for we are definitely different people than we were so many years ago when we married!

This morning I am off to see if there is a farmers' market in my community (and my beloved has decided to join me :-) and then back home to pick up limbs downed from last night's storm....  and maybe CAN produce (if I can figure out the pressure cooker)!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hot Muggy Days :-)

So it's muggy today..... close to 80 degrees when I walked the dogs this morning.  I'm home today so I will do yardwork early.  These days I find solace in being outside putzing around.  There is plenty to do and I am taking pleasure in the small changes I am making!

Today I will do a little bit on several projects before the sun gets too beastly.  I watered my little raised beds of late veggies.. and then got started on my other projects....   I started with my trusty wheelbarrow and pulled out some branches my hubby had cut and left behind.  He's great at focus on a single task.... but sometimes I need to go behind to clean up :-)  So.. one load of limbs to my current burn pile....

I have a burn pile left from a prior renter that is FULL of metal.... I think he burned every possible thing he could.  That pile is going to be gone by the end of the summer!   One wheelbarrow load of coal/dirt.. sifted as I shoveled to rescue nails and chain and whatever.... that got dumped into my compost pile.

Back to a dwindling pile of wood chips left from the last time we had trees removed..... filled the wheel barrow and moved to one of my flowerbeds.  These beds are full of weeds... but I've been meticulously pulling them lately.  I want to put woodchips down to neaten them up.  BUT I forgot to bring out the newspaper that I want to put down first to try and smother some of that nasty wiregrass!

So here I am now, cooling off for a few minutes and sharing some of my progress....  I will go back out with newspaper and limb loppers.  I plan to spread the load of wood chips.  I plan to cut a load of limbs off a shrub that is shading one of my tomato plants.... and I have a BIG patch of iris that needs to be moved.  Again.. I will do one load.   So, I guess I will finish nothing :-)

      have wandered around bending, squatting, stooping, reaching, lifting, pulling and generally using all my muscles....
      have spent a few hours in the sunshine manufacturing Vitamin D
      have made a noticeable, if small dent in several projects
      be more than ready to come back in and get to work on paperwork & housework that is waiting for me :-)

And I will still have the afternoon to play with my container gardens on the back porch and deck.... starting some plants for fall planting and digging up / repotting plants friends have asked for.  It has been years since I have focused on my plants and yard the way I want to.... and I feel blessed!

What are YOU doing that gives you pleasure?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Crochet Post! Dishcloths #271-274 and 275-278 and more....

I don't know if it is the sunshine or the renewed interest in being outside in the garden, but I am feeling so much better about most things in my life!  I'm not sure I am getting more accomplished - but I am more philosophical about it.... and am definitely spending more time enjoying it!

I think I told you I finished up an afghan project I've been working on for a while... and I can honestly say that I am glad to see the end of it :-)  It was an interesting challenge and I did learn how to join granny squares without stitching them - and I will use this technique as often as I can!  I can also say without a doubt that sock yarn is not my chosen yarn :-)  Nor are these colors ones that I would choose.....

 BUT... I made it from a pattern a friend sent..... FOR that friend... and I made one for myself so that I can think of her.  It was a FUN thing to do simply because I wanted to - and that is a blessing all in itself :-)

Other than this, I am working on a couple more granny afghans in martial arts colors.... and I have 11 babies to create for this year!  A couple have already been born (sorry, friends) but most are due between August and October.... so I gathered up several colors of Pound of Love pastels and am working on several hat/sweater/bootie sets for the newborns.  For those babies who are already here, I hope to finish up an afghan or get a 12-month sweater/hat done for this winter!  Planning is happening!  

On to the dishcloths:

#271  Summer Lime Lines Crochet Dishcloth pictured below on the upper right - I enjoyed doing this one... it has a nice nubby texture and was quick to work up... it will be a nice complement to a gift basket - and would be fun to do in different colors for friends

#272 - Puff Stitch Crochet Dishcloth - below on the upper left...  I don't mind doing puff stitches, though they are not my favorites... but I didn't care for the way they turned out on this cloth.  It's okay but not a repeat

#273 Tea Pot Crochet Dishcloth - can you find it??  This is a cute cloth to give to a tea drinking friend.  It's just cute - and easy to do :-)

#274 Kitten Crazy Crochet Dishcloth  Bottom left  Supposedly this pattern looks like little kittens.. and I confess that their cloth resembles kittens more than mine... I THINK because of the variegated thread confusing the issue.  Still a pretty cloth and good instructions!

the next 4 cloths are pictured below:

#275 Wavy Ripple Crochet Dishcloth - pictured below on the bottom left - this one was fun to do!!  I had to pay attention.... and used mostly scraps for it.. but it turned out cute and makes me smile :-)

#276 Purple Puffs Crochet Dishcloth - below on the bottom right.  So I had to go BUY more yarn for this one... I could hardly use any color BUT purple with a name like this :-)  I like these puffs a little more than on the last cloth.  My main concern though is that one of the threads will pull and the pattern will mess up... especially if this is used as a cleaning cloth.

#277 Dips and Stripes Crochet Dishcloth - pictured above on the upper left.  I used the last bit of a variegated color & the only color I had at the time to go with it... an interesting pattern with a good texture to it.. I think it is a good basic cloth

#278  White Diamonds Crochet Dishcloth  Pictured above on the upper right.  This one is really pretty and was easy to do....  I like it but am not sure I like it as a dishcloth.  This is another of those that I think would make a great afghan square!  (especially for an Elizabeth Taylor fan :-)

Bread Adventures - Lavash plus Sticky Caramel Rolls

     Baking along with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

I have to apologize that it is taking so long to get through it but baking is a foreign p[roject to me and I have not had the time to devote to it.  Plus, as you probably know, I am fairly frugal so we eat what I cook...... I have to have an occasion to share OR we have to have eaten up what I already made... so it takes a little longer for me to move on to the next bread!

Trying lavash was a unique experience for me.  Like many of the breads in this book, I've never had it... I've never SEEN it... so I am going by description, following instructions!

To make this Armenian bread, you can use one of several types of dough from the book - I typically use the light wheat dough, though I really like the European Peasant dough as well.

The bread was soft and chewy - though obviously by the photo below, I should have left it to brown a little longer

But the taste was good.... my taste-testers tore it up and polished it off!  I suppose I might make it again but it is not enough like a bread we enjoy with our meals for me to repeat often.  I think it is a preference though.... I can see where it could be used well like a tortilla or wrap!

Ahh........ The Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls.......  (simply Sticky Caramel for us) I jumped ahead a little for this one!  When I made the Challah the other day, I had dough leftover and thought I'd look ahead at the enriched breads section and see what I could make with it.  Someday maybe I will be able to do this without a book - but not yet!

Anyway - What fun!  Another baking success story!!

No pecans per my husband's request.... but lots of butter as you can see! Overbrowned on one side but absolutely delicious!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bread Adventures - Za'atar Flatbread

One of the all-time success stories!

It starts out in an intimidating manner.... za-atar.... a middle eastern word which means... well, I don't know.. but that is part of the adventure, right?

And the recipe calls for za'atar spices.... okay, now what on earth is that?  A blend... okay - well, frugal me.... a blend is cheaper when you make your own, right?

Except that THIS blend calls for sumac berries... something I don't exactly have in my cupboard and couldn't locate anywhere around..  so I went hunting online!  I found it right away at - my favorite 'go to' spot for spices and nuts.... It isn't particularly expensive - but I had to buy a pretty large quantity of something I only needed a tablespoon of...

This was pretty fun - the dough is simple..... roll it out and poke finger holes on the top!  And then drizzle olive oil in it... yummmmmy!  And then - the spices!  The za-atar blend smelled pretty good but I still had no clue!

My house sure did smell good!  Kind of like Italian spices...

This was another of those that I timed the baking of it to go to a church function.  Mostly because I am never sure what my husband will like.. my boys don't usually even try the breads..

Just because I wasn't sure - and because it is around St Patrick's Day - I pulled another recipe off  There are often new recipes to try over there - so go check it out!

These are "Green Four Leaf Clover Broccoli and Cheddar Buns" - They took forever but I thought they would be better received than a strange bread with a weird spice.  They turned out to be pretty tasty but not really worth the trouble (in my opinion - the opinion of the kitchen-challenged person who doesn't like to spend too much time cooking!)  Now that the grandgirls are a little older though - I bet I would have fun rolling all the little balls to make the clover muffins with them!

So - as you can see.. you roll four little balls for each muffin.  The dough includes broccoli which gives the muffins a green look to them :-)  And then sprinkle Cheddar cheese on top.  Pretty fun to take to a St Paddy Dinner!

To continue the story of the Za'atar Flatbread... below is the photo of the one that went to the church potluck.  The family fell on the first one and ate it up.  All of it.... and I had to bake another.  Needless to say, I am no longer worried about using up the spices :-)  My husband has declared it a favorite!

So - have you bought the book yet or gotten it out of the library?

Which ones have you tried?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Crochet Post! Dishcloths #263-266 & #267-270 and more!

 Life is perking up a bit for me.... I feel like I lost so much ground when I went on my anniversary vacation in May.. maybe I'll have a little reflecting on that later....  I've been in a bit of a funk... okay, not the best choice of words - putting the positive spin on it as usual :-)  Maybe I should say depressed?  Or maybe I should just say STALLED..... kind of like a sailboat.. just moving along until all of a sudden, the wind stops and you are paralyzed.  Direction-less.  Confused - even dazed - and not able to make sense out of how to move forward.

It's probably silly because I have no real reason.... but, be that as it may, there I find myself sometimes.  And the way I get out of it is to keep moving...somehow.... some way.

I was pleased this last week to finish a small project.  I have a LOT of babies to crochet for this year, some of whom I am already late for.  But I have not been able to put my brain to getting back into "baby crochet" mode.  Anyway, small progress.... this sweater and bootie set.

Not a huge project - but significant :-)  The sweater has been sitting in my WIP collection since I ran out of blue yarn!  I was aggravated when I put it down since I would not be able to finish my little blue sweater.   It is only this week that I saw the possibility of using WHITE to finish it up and trim the booties.  See?  STALLED.  But no more.... baby stuff is coming... watch for it!

First stop: the WIP Collection!  In the interest of using 2012 to clean out and use up, I am NOT buying yarn for my baby stuff.... I have plenty in my stash and a bunch of 'half done' projects that will be on my agenda...

Dishcloths to share for the week are below:

#263 Wagon Wheel Dishcloth - pictured below on the upper right  this one is cool because of the unusual shape.  Definitely easy and quick, it is another high success craft item!

#264  Straw Flower Dishcloth - pictured on the bottom left.  Pretty and easy, it makes use of a lot of chain stitch which is not a fave for me.  The cloth also turned out a bit smaller than feels useful.. but I'll see when I actually use it.  Not my favorite cloth, but not one I hate either - probably not a repeat, though - with all the other fun free flower patterns in this collection, why do one I'm not in love with?

#265 Zig Zag Dishcloth - pictured above on the upper left... this one was just fun!  I used 3 colors that I didn't have much of and played around with this simple V-stitch.  It makes a generous sized cloth that will be a good addition to a gift basket

#266 Orange Slice Dishcloth... what a pretty cloth!!  I had fun figuring it out and think it is simply gorgeous.. but the white spokes are loose - not stitched down.  I am not sure if they will get in the way when using it for cleaning.... IF I find that they are not a problem, I could see making several of these in citrus colors for a summer gift!

#267 Just Ducky Dishcloth.....  Oh my - this thing is HUGE!  It gets a photo all on its own because it is SO big!  I have it laid out on my footstool if that gives you any idea :-)  It was fun to do but I would be inclined to do 4 of them - stitch them together - give it a pretty edging and give it as a baby afghan!  TOO big for cleaning unless you are maybe washing a car or can't find the wet vac...

The next three cloths are pictured below:

#268 Autumn Mum Dishcloth.... below in the center.  Alternating colors for each round makes this cloth work up quickly and very pretty!  A good choice for bits and pieces of different colors..

#269 Indian Blanket Dishcloth - above on the upper left.  The colors I chose had more to do with yarn I had available than southwestern native types of colors.... but you can still see the zigzag-y pattern that gave this cloth its name.  It has a nice texture to it too..

#270 - Flower Frenzy Dishcloth... above on the upper right.  This cloth turned out pretty but was a serious pain in the patooty to do!  First off it uses a smaller hook size so the flower part itself worked up a little tighter than I like.... then, of course, since there are 4 motifs to do, it sat in my sewing basket for a bit... and then the edging.... interesting but a little tricky!  I think I may try it again BUT.. use a larger hook (which will make a larger motif).  Use ONE motif as a cloth and attempt a similar edging

Remember all these patterns are free on Maggie Weldon's site    They are part of the Dishcloth a Day challenge for 2011..

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bread Adventures! Olive Fougasse and Fougasse Stuffed with Roast Red Pepper

Using Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day... at my own pace... I have learned how to make all kinds of bread over the last year!  What a great new skill - and fun to share...

As of this entry I am still baking different kinds of flatbread.  I didn't have much experience with flatbreads before (eating, not baking) but I am finding that they are a really nice accompaniment to a meal.  The thin crusty breads can be either soft or hard depending whether or not I am paying attention to the oven.... but are always good!

The olive fougasse was fun!  Made in a similar fashion as the olive loaf in an earlier entry, it is rolled out quite thin and then you get to make cuts in the dough....

You need to spread the bread out a bit so that the dough doesn't rise up and bake closed... 

My light brown crust tells you that I didn't get involved with something else while the bread was cooking!  Quite often I am running around doing something in another area of the house.... anyway my flatbreads were chewy today!

The Fougasse Stuffed with Roasted Red Peppers was a bit daunting for a while.  I really don't understand how to roast veggies.... I mean, I've read about it and have ALMOST gotten around to trying it... but it didn't happen this week..   I bought roasted red peppers in a jar... I guess it was cheating but here we go anyway...  For this pretty loaf, the dough is rolled flat, red peppers laid on one side and slits cut in the other side.

The side with the slits is folded over the peppers.  It looks like a streudel

But oh so yummy!  The red peppers baked in bread tastes like pizza.

I feel like my real goal is an edible loaf of bread... so an ENJOYABLE loaf of bread actually surpasses my expectations!  I am still tickled with my new skill and am grateful to the authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day - Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francoise for bringing successful bread baking to a kitchen-challenged homemaker!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Crochet Post! #255 - 258 and 259-262

Life has been nuts for me just like everyone else... what is it about the springtime that gets us spinning??

I am trying to get back to my writing and goals for the year but it's a slow crawl right now punctuated with a lot of immediate yardwork, housework and family events!  I have grand plans of getting back to a more sensible way of living but will probably be stuck in the day-to-day for a while yet.

In the meantime, there is always my crochet!  It keeps me calm and a little bit sane....

As well as the dishcloths I am sharing this week, I have a little 'finish up'!  I am proud to be pulling some treasures out of their bins and finishing them up...

This newborn blanket has been hanging around a while waiting for me to wind it up ... and there was enough yarn left on the skein to make this:

 Not enough yarn left for sleeves but this little jacket will work well in the air conditioning or over a long sleeve shirt.

I also finished up a couple of gifts but can't post them until I get them to the recipients!

And on to the dishcloths for this week :-)

#255  Before the Pie.... Dishcloth... Looking at the photo below.... which one could possibly go into a pie?   Yep - you got it :-)  I enjoyed doing this apple.. The stem is also a loop for hanging so that is a plus as well!  So here is one that required stitching that was worth the work :-)

#256 Scallops Dishcloth  pictured below on the bottom right.  This one has an interesting texture that will be good for cleaning... It was fun to figure out and worked up quickly!

#257  Baseball Dishcloth pictured above on the upper right.  Oh my, did this one make me nuts!!  The illustration on the pattern is a beautiful ROUND ball.  I did something wrong somewhere along the way.. My baseball would have made a lovely STOP SIGN!  Anyway, it is a total disaster as a baseball (from my perspective) but will be a good cleaning cloth and maybe I can find a baseball aficionado who will appreciate the concept!

#258 Loopy Dishcloth.. pictured on the bottom left.  Another disappointment for me!  With a nondescript end-product (in my opinion, of course), this pattern was difficult to follow!  Not hard to do, per se, but required a lot more concentration than it was worth!

The next four cloths are in the picture below :-)

#259  Sedge Stitch Dishcloth.. pictured below on the upper right.  This one was intriguing!  The stitch was not difficult but was new to me and fun to do.  It worked up quickly and I am thrilled with the texture :-)

#260  Knots and Crosses Dishcloth  Pictured below on the bottom left.  I had fun doing this one.  The pretty pastels & soft cotton yarn make it a nice addition to a baby gift basket!

#261 Sunflower 2 Dishcloth  pictured above on the bottom right.  This one is absolutely beautiful!  The one I did doesn't lie quite flat but that might work out in time... I am still pleased and will enjoy using it in the summer!

#262  Cafe Au Lait Dishcloth  above on the upper left... Another gorgeous surprise!  I really do like trying different techniques and combinations of stitches and this one is really pretty.  I think it would make a stunning afghan square as well

These patterns are all located in the September 2011 archives at  They are part of the 2011 Dishcloth a Day contest!