Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Yarn Along

Good morning and happy Wednesday! Today we join Ginny and all of the other great fiber artists in her weekly knitting and reading post. Stop by and join in the fun!

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? ~ Ginny

I started the knitted chainmail armor last week and have been working on it off and on since then.  I finished it up yesterday and I think I am overall pleased with the outcome. Chase decided over the weekend that he really would like a hood on it. Of course. So the hood is not started yet, but I plan on that being started tomorrow.

With classes starting last Friday for me (and three of my classes being online), I've been reading my textbooks mostly. Once I get in to a decent routine I'll add recreational reading back in to the mix, but for now, it's study, study, study!

I'm also fighting a seasonal cold right now (Chase had it last week), and it seems like everyone is dealing with something like it right now. With that and waking with a migraine, I am moving really slow today.

Hope everyone has a great Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I was given The Versatile Blogger award from Hege over at Cloudberry recently. Thank you so much for thinking of me, Hege! If you haven't stopped before, you really should. Hege has amazing knitting and crafting skills plus shares beautiful photos of her life. 

So the rules The Versatile Blogger award are thus follows:

• Thank the person who gave you the award & link back to them in your post.
• Share 7 things about yourself
• Pass this award along to 10 recently discovered blogs.

Okay, seven possibly interesting things worth sharing (in no particular order).

1)      I have three tattoos – a) sea turtle  (my   totem animal), b) a beautiful, thoughtful sun, c) a Lego mini-figure, and 11 piercings in my ears (though I only wear earrings in five consistently)

2)     **  Legos are my childhood obsession carried over into adulthood.

3)     **  I was born on my Mom’s birthday.

4)     **  I am extremely shy in person. 

5)      ** Writing is my first passion and I hope to one day have a book published.

6)      ** Disney’s Robin Hood is my all-time favorite movie. 

7)     **  I was married once before for five years exactly (wedding day and divorce finalization day were the same). 

This last bit is hard! Having to choose just ten, when I enjoy so many other blogs, is not fair. So please remember that I do enjoy reading everyone, but if I had to pick ten off the top of my head, these would be them:

I know many of us are already linked thanks to Ginny :) But these are just a very small handful of those I love to follow. Go ahead and explore in case you don't know one another!

After the storm

I've been reading about how everyone is doing post Irene and am glad to hear that you are all okay!

Initially my concern was for Sarah, fresh to south Florida, on her own, never having dealt with a hurricane before. Dale and I worried, told her things she could and should do in preparation, and I stayed hooked on the news. Florida was spared. Sarah briefly lost power as the outer bands pummeled the coast, but it turned out to be more of a practice run for her.

My attention turned to the NC coast and all those who live in the coastal region of SC and also Virginia. My stepsister is inland enough in NC that they just had rain. My stepmom's sister and her husband, in Virginia Beach, lost power (and had to postpone departing for Australia) but everything is okay there.

Columbia, NC took quite a beating. Most people don't notice Columbia. It's a quick zip on the road to the beach. Fara and her sister grew up in the sleepy little town. I remember being younger and Molly and I going to spend the day with her parents. They have a home across from the Tar River; a cute little bungalow that was story-book perfect. Molly and I would go out on the pier, or walk down to the old cannery and sit under the overpass, or even better, a walk to the local five and dime for some little toy or activity to keep us entertained (Grandmother didn't have cable TV).

Columbia flooded. Fara's mom's house has about 6-10 inches of water standing. The houses on either side are worse off as they are a bit lower. No idea on how extensive the damage is. Fara's tenant is hoping things can be fixed (her parents house also had severe water damage).  It's nearly impossible to find out about Columbia on the news. Dad has been updating us on how the clean-up is going via calls from Fara's sister.

Dad and Fara had planned on going to a hotel to ride out the storm. Wilmington was expected to be hit with ten inches or more of rain. Dad said it was a big bust there, thankfully.

A former co-worker of mine who is originally from New York City said it was shocking to him to watch the city prepare. I have to admit that seeing New York City empty, everyone bunkered down, was pretty amazing.

Hope everyone continues to be safe.

Friday, August 26, 2011

{this moment}

From SouleMama: {this moment} - 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. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Of Bread and Sauce

I enjoy days dedicated to being in the kitchen because the free moments between one project from the next means I can knit a few stitches (and might I say Chase's chain mail armor is looking fabulous).

My morning started with a quick jaunt out to the garden to pick basil while the coffee was brewing. Earlier this week at the farmer's market I picked up enough plum tomatoes to make our own batch of roasted tomato sauce. I don't think we'll ever have enough tomatoes at one time coming out of our garden to make sauce, but that's okay, those tomatoes are going into quiches, sandwiches, zucchini boats, etc.

So this morning while I sipped a wonderful cup of my favorite locally roasted coffee, I was prepping three garlic bulbs for roasting. Nothing beats coffee and garlic at 6am! 

Anyway, after breakfast, Chase and I set the dishes of tomatoes in to roast. The final outcome? Twelve cups of delicious, homemade sauce. Steve commented that it smelled just like the roasted tomato mascarpone fondue I like to make (I agree, it smelled heavenly).

The sauce is all packaged up and put away in the freezer. One 4 cup bag will be going over to Dale this weekend (she is quite excited for homemade sauce). I'm just sorry I didn't get any pictures (but Elizabeth's link has great images).

I've been meaning to make bread for over a week now. First it was postponed due to the lack of flour (our co-op is going through a major growth spurt and had been closed for a couple of days), then I lost my family's bread recipe. My mom couldn't find my Montessori cookbook that the recipe was put in, and my dad had no idea if he had a copy of it. Thankfully my wonderful aunt had the complete recipe (in Gram's words, too) and was able to email it to me. And now, I am going to share the recipe with you all.

Gram Zimmerman's Bread
Put 4 cups luke warm water in large bowl.
Dissolve one large ccake yeast in 1/2 cup luke warm water, add to large bowl.
Melt one stick margarine, add to large bowl.
Add 5 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons salt, and 1/2 cup dry milk and stir.
Add 4 cups flour and beat until well mixed (low speed).
Add 3 cups flour and beat by hand (plip-plop stage) until dough is bubbly.
Add 4 cups flour and work until bowl is clean (doesn't stick to sides of bowl).
Turn out on floured table and add about 1 cup more flour (12 cups in all).
Knead until dough does not stick to hands, but not TOO muchflour (about 10 minutes).
Put dough in greased large bowl and let rise (abt. 2 hours).
Punch down and divide into 6 loaves.
Let rise 1 hour, then bake 1/2 hour at 350 degrees or real brown.
(Do not add flour after dough has risen.)

Bread making has been one of Chase's favorite things to make in the kitchen for as long as I can remember him being on this Earth. When Chase and I were living with my mom, the three of us would bake bread together. When he was about three and we were making a batch, I had said "Lets hope the bread behaves, and the dough rises!" to which Chase patted the bread dough in the bowl and said "Be good bread." From that moment on, he blesses the bread. When the dough is divided into each pan, he goes by and pats each loaf and reminds them to "Be Good". It works! If Chase is in the kitchen with me, recipes just turn out better.

Also, even though it's not in the recipe, there is the issue of "pay" (this part IS in the cookbook). Once the dough has risen and is being cut for loaves, the little helpers in the kitchen all get a little piece of dough to eat. I had forgotten this part, but Chase reminded me as I was dividing dough (he was waiting so patiently). 

dough during the first raise

Raised and ready for dividing

"Please, be good bread!"

They listened -- ready to jump in the oven

Baked and smelling so yummy!

* Side note: the jar on the counter with the green in it is egg shells being dyed for the eggshell mosaics that Ginny made with her children a few weeks past. Chase and I dyed many, many shells last week, but for some reason none were dyed green! So Chase insisted that before he could possibly start any projects, he had to have green. Tomorrow he should be ready to go.

Back to the bread. The house smells so good and they all look wonderful. The three smallest loaves are going to Dale (someone has to make sure she's eating good food while Sarah is at school :) ), and two of the larger loaves will be given to Steve's dad and his friend who are busy finishing up the front porch today!

I guess this means more bread baking will be in order soon?

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Yarn Along

Good morning and happy Wednesday! Today we join Ginny and all of the other great fiber artists in her weekly knitting and reading post. Stop by and join in the fun!

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? ~ Ginny

As I mentioned in a previous post, I realized while I was working on the gusset of sock #1, I was using the wrong sized needles. So Saturday I ripped it all out and started again on size 3s. I always worry when knitting with size 3s that I'm going to snap them. I'm past the gusset by three rows now and I decided to take a break. I may still have a bit of deep-seeded stress which is causing my stitches to be so tight.

I started to read the Nook free book from Friday, but I gave it up after about forty pages. I just.. I tried to get into it, but the writing style bothered me. It felt rushed.

I started (and finished) reading 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson yesterday afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I loved the whirlwind scavenger hunt through Europe. It was a light and touching story that was just the read I needed.

I may stop working on the socks for now (poor little unfinished sock -- doomed already to live on DPNs). The Renaissance Festival kicked off last week and runs until the first week of October. We're planning on going in a couple of weeks and Chase is desperate for his knitted chainmail armor. It looks like it will be a very quick and simple knit, so I plan on starting it tonight.

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Boys will be boys

..and my boys decided they would try eating a Bhut Jolokia pepper -- a ghost pepper. A member of Steve's quartet brought in a couple along with cherry tomatoes to rehearsal last night. Steve felt bad for the lonely peppers left at the end of rehearsal and decided to bring them home (especially since Chase has mentioned his desire to try one).

Chase's serving of ghost pepper.  

Chase preparing himself to try a piece.

Steve and his serving.

The surgical gloves dad had sent certainly came in handy today! I didn't try any (I refuse to), but I was able to videotape the boys and their taste test.

I have to give immense credit to Chase and Steve for trying the ghost pepper. Despite the fact that Chase never, ever wants to try one of these again, he would really like to grow them to make salsa.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I've been distracted this week. A bit short with everyone. I know that I am stressing a lot right now about a handful of things. I'm trying to be patient and remain optimistic but then I just wake at 3am and stress more.

I miss working. I didn't think it would be taking this long to find a new job. I become so hopeful with each interview and get so disheartened when I am not chosen. Dale says maybe it's a sign to focus on my education this semester. That may be so, but when the mortgage needs to be paid, and the car payments need to be made, and there are expenses for school, utilities, and every little "not planned for" expense.. well, yes, you get the point I am sure. Steve's hours are sporadic right now. In his line of business there seems to be a shortage on work throughout the country. At this time we don't have the luxury of being a one-income household, so Steve's lack of work is causing a lot of stress on an already stressed household.

Right now I am thinking about how my semester starts in a little over a week. I am looking forward to this semester, but there is a nagging negative sensation in the back of my mind. I am just so fed up with this community college that I am ready to be done. I'll be transferring out to Concordia and starting there in December, thankfully. I am looking forward to all of my classes, don't get me wrong, but right now, it almost seems like a painful hassle, or just another motion to go through every day (like brushing your teeth). I used to be so excited about school -- now I am just kind of blah about it. Hopefully that will change once the semester officially starts. Hey, at least they got my book order right (this is the first time in five semesters!). I was completely shocked to find out. Maybe it's a sign that things will be alright?

Chase goes back to school the Tuesday after Labor Day. I know he is itching to get back to school. It has most definitely been an interesting summer for him (for all of us, really). With the stress (Dad's surgery) there was also so much good (Gettysburg, the National Aquarium, a Toledo Mud Hens game). A very busy summer. Not to mention all of the little craft things we've done at home (like learning to knit, sewing to make a quilt). Oh and lets not forget a certain hair cut.

I still think it should be red ;-)
Plus Chase has made friends with our neighbors down the street. He has been loving going over to play (and even to the city pool for the afternoon) with his new buddies. I know he has been dying to have playmates in the neighborhood (most of our neighbors are elderly with grandchildren his age).

I'm having problems with my car. Two weeks ago it was completely dead so we replaced the battery (the car is five years old, it was the factory battery, it seemed like that was the issue). Thursday I went out to move my car in the driveway and it was dead again. Definitely not the battery. The lights wouldn't come on. The wipers wouldn't come on. A couple of friends said it sounded like the alternator. We took it over to the mechanic Thursday afternoon, hoping and praying it was not the alternator (potentially expensive repair). They couldn't find anything wrong with it on Friday. Or Saturday. When we picked it up yesterday afternoon it was raining. Got home and turned off the wipers and the lights. The lights didn't go out. Took the key out, lights still on, opened/closed the door, lights still on. I was freaking out. It took about ten minutes of yelling, swearing, smacking (the car), and backing in and out of the driveway, and then finally the lights would turn off.

Steve called the mechanic who said to bring it in on Monday (I don't think so!). Steve left to borrow a crescent wrench (did I mention the lever in the toilet downstairs broke yesterday morning?) from his dad and I started trolling the internet for an answer. From what I have read this is a known issue with PT Cruisers. The multifunction switch needs to be replaced. I also found out I could do it myself with the right part, or I could clean the contacts (which means taking it apart!) and it should help. Chase and I just may work on the car this week. Until then, I am doing very limited driving (no rain, no night time). Taking it to a mechanic could be a couple hundred bucks (I do not have spare money right now for this). At least now I know what is (probably) the issue.

And then I fixed the toilet.

I also realized the sock I was knitting was being knitted on size 7 needles, not 3. I knew it looked wrong from the beginning, but I just didn't really think on it until Saturday morning, then I realized it was because I was using the wrong needles. So I ripped it out and have started again.

Later today when Steve is home from work, I will be going off to the library to pick up the books I have on hold and then to the co-op for flour (I really need to invest in bulk flour). This week Chase and I are going to make bread and I am so looking forward to it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


This is the weekend of Ypsilanti's Heritage Festival. Ypsilanti is a city fiercely proud of their heritage (and rightfully so). Ypsilanti is often overlooked because we're in the shadow of Ann Arbor (and the University of Michigan) and just far enough from the city of Detroit to not be a blip on the national radar. Forget all of that and focus on Ypsilanti.

During World War II, Ypsilanti had the largest bomber plane plant in the world (B-24 Liberator Bomber Plant). Henry Ford built the facility in the Willow Run area and produced B-24s. Over 8,000 planes were built on site. After the war, the plant was purchased by Kaiser-Frazer and for two years cars rolled off the assembly line.

The best greasy spoon in town is The Bomber -- a restaurant full of WWII memorabilia and model airplanes (and decommissioned bombs) dangling from the ceiling. How about a cup of coffee? B-24's is where we usually go (two blocks from our home) -- a mixture of modern and history (and fantastic coffee).

We are bomber planes. We are classic cars. We are underwear.

Yes. Underwear. Before the 1900's Ypsilanti was known for their "Health Underwear" (think union suits). This fact is sometimes forgotten when people talk Ypsilanti heritage.

People are sometimes referred to as Ypsituckians (which, some find offensive, others do not). Why? Because many people came from Kentucky to work in the bomber plants, and also in Ford's factories down river. It is sometimes a term used to describe the blue collar class of the county. See, where Ann Arbor is full of yuppies, Ypsilanti is working class and hippies (as Steve says -- Ypsilanti went grass roots in the sixties and never changed -- it's a good thing!).

So back to today. Steve's family came over today and we walked the block up to the main strip in town to watch the festival parade (these are the perks of living in the downtown area). An hour before parade time, Chase and I were sitting on the front porch and we could hear the bands warming up.

Drum and fife (across from EMU's business school building)

The brand new ladder truck! (we see it go down the street often)

Ypsilanti's school district is divided into three sections: Lincoln (in the township), Ypsi City, and Willow Run (west of the city).

Lincoln has the biggest high school marching band.

Willow Run, the smallest, offers band members who play and high step while doing so (it's their signature move)

Ypsi city high school band (Steve is a former marching band member)

The antique bikes are always a favorite.

The old firehouse is now a museum with a collection Chase drools over.

During Heritage Festival, Riverside Park is full with vendors selling food, goods, and etc. Depot Town is full of classic cars, more vendors, the weekend Farmer's Market, and more. Right now Chase is with Steve's family exploring all that is going on (Chase mentioned a desire for fried dough, while his auntie mentioned a stack of nachos). I'm planning on going down tomorrow for the rubber duck race with Chase. All of the museums in town have free admission so you can go from firehouse, to general history, to automobiles, and airplanes.

It's a wonderful way to spend the weekend.

Friday, August 19, 2011

{this moment}

From SouleMama: {this moment} - 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. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Trying to focus on the positive.

I wonder how the fairies feel about a gourd vine outside their home.

I've wanted to make a post today so many times, but every time I sat down to start, it either sounded too whiny or something happened that needed my attention (I have a lot on my mind right now). So instead, I put it off until I had many positive things to mention.

Steve and Chase cut and removed the pieces of the limb that came down Tuesday afternoon after the power company came and cut it out of the power lines. I did another survey over the garden boxes and there was no damage (also, all gnomes and fairies are accounted for, whew!). The back yard is being taken over by all things viney! It is amazing how within the past two weeks they have just taken over (and I am perfectly okay with that). The two beds that had been disturbed during the attempted vehicle theft are doing extremely well. The gourd vine in the picture above is actually from one of those boxes (it made the six foot trek over the yard and up the tree).

This morning I noticed that the cauliflower and the lettuce planted a week ago are sprouting. There are also two hot peppers on one of the plants. Tomatoes? Oh yes, we have those, too.

Picked fresh this morning and used in tonight's dinner!

The first two tomatoes came off the vines today. They were heavenly. I would say we'll have at least two more by the end of the weekend. Last year at this time we had a cook-out and we were eating tomatoes off the vine. I think we're probably about two weeks behind with everything we're pulling and seeing. But hey, delayed is okay (especially since we had a late start) because I was afraid it was going to be a bust this season due to weather.

I pulled another six green beans, and there are plenty of buds still. That little zucchini is still trying, but I haven't seen any more. Lots and lots of flowers on the pumpkins, cantaloupes, melons, and gourds, but no sign of fruit yet. Going to cross my fingers. I mean, it's only the middle of August, there is still hope, right? As much as I am wanting fall right now, I am really hoping we have a late season harvest with everything that was planted.

Chase has been spending a lot of time down the street with his new friends. A former high school classmate of Steve's lives around the corner and we finally were able to get their kids together with Chase. He is absolutely tickled to have friends near by now. Today they went to the city pool to swim and then home for video games. :)

Oh, and one of our neighbors commented Tuesday that she really dislikes our Maple tree. Our home is built on property that once was a dairy farm back in 1865 and the tree is supposedly original to the farm (which makes sense.. it's massive). She comments in the fall when we're raking the yard how she's afraid of it because it's so large and has asked if we have considered removing it (we're not). After she commented again on Tuesday about it, I had a light bulb moment and told Steve "Gee! If we do cut down the tree that means there will be more room in the back yard for my bee hive and my four allowed chickens. Think of the possibility -- chickens, bees, bigger garden, maybe even that Great Dane we've thought of fostering." Needless to say, she dropped the tree discussion fast.

I'm sorry if that is mean, and we really don't have issues with any of our neighbors. I know the tree is huge, and I am sure it worries her when it storms that it might crush our house, or fall into her yard (or maybe on her house). But the tree is pretty healthy. If it were sick, dying.. I would have it taken down in an instant. But why mess with something that is still healthy, living, and providing so much shade and has so much history?

And now, I will stop before I go on a rant that I really don't want to go on. I will close the evening with a picture of my evening: Chase and a couple of our pets getting ready to watch Chopped on Food Network.

Chase, Koda, and Sage