Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gettin' Knitty With It

This time of year I'm feeling pretty knitty.  I'm not a person who knits year round.  During the summer I often will not pick up my needles except during long car rides.  But, come late fall, when it is cold and windy, and we actually want to wear something warm, I get my knit on.  No time to waste, we want those sweaters.
I am also aware (and slightly disturbed) that my knitting habit coincides with the prime time television season.  Somehow there's nothing like a little TV drama to get me through those long hours mid-sweater.   And, since I just shrunk Juni's last mama made sweater, and Grey's Anatomy is back on Hulu,  it was high time I finished this one (begun last fall and promptly put away when I realized she could still squeeze into the old one).  So, here it is.  The first 1/3 of the sweater took a full year to knit.  The final 2/3 about 2 weeks.  Its done minus a few buttons.   True to form this was done without a pattern, just a gauge swatch and an idea in mind.  But, when it comes to the raglan decreases I always check in with my favorite pattern, Wonderful Wallaby hoodie sweater.  I've knit three versions of this over the years and I always love it.  Plus the pattern booklet is super cute and funny to read.  The sweater sizes run really big though, beware.

This new sweater is done in Peace Fleece, another of my favorites.  It is virtually indestructible (its even hard to shrink) though a little itchy it doesn't bother her.  Wylie won't go near it.  He did ask if he had a sweater coming soon, "something in silk maybe, so it won't be itchy".  I'm always willing to knit for an eager sweater wearer, particularly if they are family and small in size.  I'll get right on it, but maybe cotton, or alpaca.

Also fresh off the needles (and blocked and gifted since this photo) is this cotton baby blanket for my new niece--coming at Christmas time.  Can't wait to see her snuggled up in it.  This is the first blanket I've knit and I really enjoyed it.  It a simple seed stitch edge with a knit 6/purl 6 check pattern.  I'd like to do another as a throw for the couch, but in a larger block next time.  

Now on the needles, a neck warmer for myself, and Kale's wolf sweater--which I'll hopefully finish for his birthday.

Can't type and knit though, so back to the needles.  Happy knitting!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Morsels:  Tiny bites of goodness from the past week...

I was upstairs gathering towels and goggles when suddenly the kids all started yelling from outside.  The yelling is fairly constant around here, but the tone had changed, so I sprinted down the stairs to find Wylie on the front porch holding a robin in his hands.  Apparently it was hopping about the driveway and chirping loudly but unable to fly.  So we grabbed a lunch bag--because it was available, filled it with shavings, gave him (her?) a drop or two of Rescue Remedy, wished it our best and jumped into the car.  Late for swim lessons again.  The talk all the way into town and home again an hour later focused on why the bird couldn't fly (maybe it flew into a window?) whether or not it would be dead or gone when we returned home, and if we could keep it in the house until it recovered.  Fortunately the bird had flown, leaving no trace but spilled shavings, and a package from the UPS guy.  

Last Friday was such a perfect autumn day that I was inspired to make pumpkin lattes (recipe here*) and sit on the porch to drink it. But, when I went out on the porch I realized it was strewn with shavings (from Tuesday's robin) and sandy beach gear left over from summer.  In order to fully appreciate my seasonal latte a bit of redecorating was in order.  This old window box was sweet all summer with pansies and impatients but had gone slimy and soggy since the hard frost.  It made the perfect base for a dry flower and winterberry arrangement.  Five minutes with the clippers, 10 minutes negotiating the clippers with Kale, two green pumpkins from the garden, a quick sweep, and now I was ready to enjoy my latte.  
Of course by then the moment had past.  But, I did get to it around 4:30 which was perfect timing for Rob to join me.   
I altered the recipe so much that I can't give any kind of review, you'll have to try it yourself

I can't just seem to do one thing at a time.  Though I'm not always on top of things (as evidenced by the beach gear still on the front porch mid-October) when I get started I'm really on a roll.  I didn't stop with the front porch. I went on to move the nature table across the room, clean it up (and vacuum underneath it yikes!) incorporating parsley brought in from the garden and a homemade tree identification game from three years ago.  Our tiny picnic table moved in from the screen porch and has become the favorite sunny spot for a  tea party--both real and pretend. Then I salvaged the best flowers from my marathon bouquet (did I mention I came home from my race to flowers, balloons, streamers and homemade cards!?) and put together an autumn center piece for the table.  

We've been adding to the porch bit by bit over the past few days, with tangles of bittersweet, mums, and today Jack-O-Lanterns.  

He put these on himself (they were not connected to anything) promptly fell asleep, then slept hard for the next hour.  I don't know why I never considered earphones for napping before.

I knit this hat and poncho last year, and they saw very little action, but this year have been her go to.  Handy since I just shrunk her favorite sweater.  And of course I love that she's wearing Mama knits.  I have to say daughters seem to be way more appreciative of these.  Any advice for knitting something Wylie might wear?

Kale tells everyone he meets that he's going to be a firefighter when he grows up (and a soccer player, and a hoop ball player, and an ambulance driver).  The other day he made some mention of Papa being at work fighting fires.  
Me:  Sometimes Papa works as a fire fighter, but most days he works at the hospital in nursing
Kale:  What? (huge eyes)  Papa does nursing? 
Poor word choice.  
Kale is still nursing, but very infrequently (a few times a week, only at bedtime) but maintains that three-year-olds never nurse and that he will not nurse anymore when he turns three.  Anyone can see Papa is way older than three.  He almost changed his dream profession until I cleared things up.  

                      Firefighter Kale

My favorite view from the kitchen window  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

True Love and Green Tomato Pie

My bug-a-phobic, bee allergic man just spent the better part of the morning building this sturdy hive stand so my ladies (and hopefully an additional hive or two for the spring) can come home!  That's true love.  

Unrelated...due to last night's frost we have quite a pile of green tomatoes.  And therefore:  Green Tomato Pie.  I used this recipe and though we were skeptical, we all agreed it was a good one.  I probably wouldn't have guessed it wasn't apple if I hadn't made it myself.  Try it. 


Friday, October 12, 2012

Botanical Gardens

We went to Boothbay today, with some homeschooling friends, to tour the Botanical Gardens.  We'd never been there, and despite what I'd heard (that it is amazing) I was hesitant.  First of all it was rainy and cold.  Secondly my kids have seen gardens. They walk in the woods all the time.  They are not nature deficient.  The idea of driving an hour and a half one way to walk in the rain and possibly hear my kids complain that they were bored, wasn't high on my list.  But we went.  And it was amazing.  If you live anywhere near Midcoast Maine (or even farther) it is well worth the drive.  A friend had scheduled to have a group program for our "school" group, so the session was nearly free, and they provided us with a warm room to lunch in as well as a guided tour for not much more money.  The educational tour was something we chose from a list of options, and it ended up being kind of a waste of time given our children's experience with and fondness for nature (as we overheard our 6 year old friend whisper while rolling her eyes, "she doesn't need to tell me this--I already love nature").  Even so it was something I plan to do again.  Due to the weather and time of year we had the place nearly to ourselves, but I imagine it would even be worth braving the crowds for.   If it was this beautiful in October, I'd love to see it in July.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Good Bye Boys

I went to feed my ladies this morning.  Roughly weekly, I deliver a half gallon of nearly 2:1 ratio of sugar to water.  They appreciate a little fast food this time of year when the nectar is scarce and the air chilly.  Honey bees form a cluster at about 52 degrees F, which means they all clump together in a large ball, with the queen and brood in the middle.  Older bees make up the outside of the "bee ball" and swap positions to stay warm.  They vibrate their flight muscles, without actually moving their wings,  fast enough to heat the cluster to as warm as 93 degrees.  During these chilly days they may break cluster for only the warmest part of the day, and are happy to have some sugar water right nearby.  Of course I only took a tiny bit of their honey, so they have plenty of the real deal as well.  I'm hoping they're saving that for the really cold months when I won't be delivering.

I've affectionately referred to them as "the ladies" all summer, despite the few (several hundred perhaps?) brothers among them.  The drones live an easy life, of no work--aside from hoping to mate with a virgin queen, and eating all the nectar and honey their sisters bring in. (If ever their wish comes to fruition they will chase and catch said queen, and will begin mating while maintaining wing velocity so high they will actually "pop" and explode upon ejaculation, dying and falling to the ground*),  Not a bad life.  Until October.

A week ago when I made my sugar rounds I noticed maybe 30-50 bees swarming anxiously about the entrance.  At first I was afraid there was some kind of robbing taking place, since a few of the bees were yellow jackets.  But on closer inspection I realized that aside from the few foreign visitors, the panicky bees were all drones who were desperately trying to gain entrance to the hive, where their sisters had suddenly turned against them.

Today I discovered a rather large pile of dead bees, most of them drones just off to the side of my hive stand.  The poor boys must have formed their own tiny cluster and perished in the night, having been evicted.  Such is the life of a fall drone.  The ladies know they eat a lot--they're quite a bit larger after all, and since they do so little work its hardly worth feeding them all winter.  Out they go.  Its the way of things, but oh what a sad thing to find.

My ladies however were thrilled to have the syrup and I noticed a few brave souls still returning with pollen baskets full, and lots on tiny new bees gathered about the feeder.  These girls are the bees who may actually live to see spring.  I hope they eat up.  Winter is a hard time of year to be a bee.

*At least according to The Storey Guide to Backyard Bee Keeping

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In the Garden

More garden pictures?  Well yes, because this is the first fall garden I've had that is still producing.  And, even better, its the first fall garden I haven't been done with by now (except the green beans--I was done with them a long time ago, and they're still limping along).  So for my own entertainment and fond memories--and maybe a few of yours as well...

Last minute not-too-cold frames, I figure they'll work until a hard frost.  So far Jack hasn't shown up around here.                      
Melissa Savoy Cabbage
Asparagus, with berries.  (This is my first full year with Asparagus--is this normal?) 
Orange-paste tomatoes that just might make it to ripe before the temps plunge.
God I love nasturtiums.
Squash and half of the beans have been cleared out.  Spring kale planted in the farther bed, the closer bed will get a heap of seaweed and a cover of straw to rest for the winter.  Or maybe garlic in a few weeks.  Haven't decided yet.  Front bed:  fall carrots, and broccoli that just wouldn't grow.    
 Remember the radish pods?  They have the added bonus of self-seeding, and I recently discovered this sweet little harvest of fall radishes.  Who knew?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Walk in the Woods

Today I got to have a nice little walk in the woods with just Kale.  This almost never happens.  We walked the same path I walked nearly every week when Wylie and Juniper we little, but Kale hadn't done since our winter walk last winter.  It was fun to experience this walk with just him.  To peer into every hole and beneath every fallen tree in search of wolves, tiny baby bunnies, or ogres.  You never know when you might need a bicycle helmet.  His actually came in handy twice--in a shower of acorns that left me ducking and hiding my head, and 10 feet up in a small beach tree while I tried to hang on to both of us while snapping our photo.  Neither of us fell, but the helmet made us both feel a little better about the possibility.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The View From Here

This is a moment for sharing , inspired by SouleMama's "This Moment".  In her words,  "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."  To play along go to the SouleMama blog.

I couldn't resist this series for today's moment....

Thursday, October 4, 2012


We went apple picking a few weekends ago, and got busy that night with the Squeezo, making sauce to can the next morning.  Since then the last bushel of apples has been taking up most of the floor space in our pantry waiting the next free afternoon with a chill in the air.  I'm sure it won't be long--maybe even today.

Sauce with the Squeezo is super easy, and way fun (except for cleaning the screen afterward).
Here's how we do it:

      * Wash, then chop apples in half

     * Boil/steam apples in a large pot until soft enough to poke with a fork

* Dump them into the Squeezo funnel, and crank away! (watch out for the splatters)

Kale may be the only child I've ever met who doesn't like applesauce.  I'm hoping to win him over with this next batch with a bit of cinnamon and other spices.  If not, then more for the rest of us.