Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New Pattern: Tiara Tam

A design made for a princess and a yarn that’s fit for a queen- what more could a woman want? This tam/beret design incorporates simple cables and eyelets to mimic a tiara around the brim and 8 diamonds around the crown and is worked in a luxurious yarn that is suitable for any occasion or season.

Check out the Ravelry Pattern Page to get it for Free Through November 7th, 2013 11:59pm GMT. 


1 US #2/2.75mm 16” circular needles
1 US #3/3.25mm 16” circular needles
1 set US #3/3.25mm double pointed needles

-   Tapestry needle
-   1 stitch marker

Handmaiden Fine Yarn Swiss Mountain Cashmere and Silk [65% cashmere, 35% silk; 196yd/180m per 50g skein] 1 skein; color: Vermillion

32 sts/34 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch on size 3’s

With piece laying flat after blocking. It stretches about 1.5” with blocking:
Width across the crown: 10.5 (12.5)”
Width across brim opening: 4.5”

Fits an adult head. The Brim is stretchy. 
Skills in this pattern above and beyond the basics (instructions included): 
Cabling without a cable needle (twisting stitches)
Central Double Decreases


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Regal Color Palette

I dyed up some tussah silk yesterday for a few projects, but shouldn't these all be put together into a project? Such a gorgeous and regal colorway.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sunflower Garden

Just in time for the end of summer, our small collection of giant sunflowers bloomed this past week. It's so nice looking out the kitchen window and seeing all shades of sunflowers and wildflowers together lining our driveway. 

Bomber also loves to run around them to try and sneak up on birds and butterflies.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream

Earlier this year I got my new favorite toy, a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. With the help of two awesome books, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home, I started with simple Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbert and was soon making gourmet ice cream like Goat Cheese with Apricot Jam.  

I've recently gained enough confidence in ice cream making to try out my own combinations, and the most successful so far is definitely the German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream. Below is my recipe. You will need a 1.5 quart ice cream maker (and this recipe really will fill it to the brim), and a basic knowledge of how to make ice cream.

This is Betty, or as Brian likes to call her "Big Mouth Betty", because she sure does 
let you know when she's running with constant hum that goodies are on their way.

German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream

Ice Cream Ingredients:
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1 cup 1% milk
- 2 cups half and half
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 8oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened

Coconut Caramel Swirl Ingredients:
- 3/4 cup toasted coconut (I toasted my own on a baking sheet in the oven under the broiler for a couple of minutes)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla

Making the Ice Cream:

1. In a medium heat proof bowl whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar together. Set aside.
2. In a medium heat proof bowl whisk the cream cheese until smooth.

Make the base:
1. In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, combine the cocoa powder with the remaining sugar. Whisk in 1/4 cup of milk to make a paste until smooth and uniform. Don't add the milk all at once or your cocoa powder will be lumpy. Whisk in the remaining milk, cream, and salt and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture reaches a bare simmer, or 180 degrees, reduce the heat.
2. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the cream mixture and, while constantly whisking egg mixture, add the 1/2 cup of cream mixture to the egg mixture. Repeat this step once more. Carefully pour the egg mixture back into the pot of hot cream mixture.
3. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it has slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes.
4. Whisk the hot cream mixture into the cream cheese. You can put the mixture through a fine mesh strainer for a super duper smooth texture, but I didn't find this to be necessary. Set the bowl in an ice water bath, or put it in the fridge. Allow to completely cool, 2 hours or overnight. I like to make my mixture in the morning and freeze it in the afternoon.

Making the Coconut Caramel Swirl.
1. In a small saucepan stir together the sugar and water. Turn heat to medium and stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring the mixture and watch for the mixture to turn a deep amber color.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, cinnamon and vanilla.
3. Allow to cool slightly and stir in the coconut.

You will want the mixture to be cool, but not harden before adding it to the ice cream. Once it is layered with the ice cream it will become slightly more liquid and any hardening will go away.

Freezing the Ice Cream:
1. Add the vanilla to the ice cream base.
2. Freeze according to your ice cream makers instructions. Make sure it gets really thick before removing it from the ice cream maker for the smoothest texture.
3. As you take the finished ice cream and put it in a freezer container layer the coconut caramel swirl and the ice cream, but don't mix them together. Make sure to put a little of the coconut caramel swirl in the bottom of the container and reserve a little for the top too.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Designer Madness

After lots of deliberating, scheming, sketching, swatching, procrastinating, and researching, a final burst of creative energy and verbal pushing from a few friends has helped me get to the point where I can share my next idea with the world: my first knitting pattern collection. What makes it special? All of the patterns will be written specifically for hand spun yarn.

This certainly isn't the first set of patterns written for hand spun, and I know it won't be the last, but it is special and unique in that I get the opportunity to put my love of color and texture into (hopefully) easy to follow instructions for daring and bold fiber artists.

There are 3 great challenges for this project:
- Designing patterns that are easy to follow, but challenging enough that they're worth paying money for.
- Finding a way to meld a pattern with bold yarn (one or the other or both should shine, not overpower and drown out the other).
- Find the time for all the testing, typing, tech editing, photographing and formatting that goes into making this work.

Luckily, I have found a great group of knitters willing to test and critique my patterns in my Ravelry Group (head over there and join in the fun!) and that definitely helps keep me working. It's very easy to get overwhelmed or distracted and give up or move on, drawing out the work and seeing the finish line get further and further away. I'd love to have this done by November, but knowing me it will be some time before next spring.

How could I get overwhelmed when I keep all my designing ideas all nice and organized?

Click on the picture for a more up close and personal look at my yarn inspiration. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The best time of year is coming!

I love Fall, and by the looks of my pumpkins, it's almost here! The sugar pie pumpkins ended up really small this year, and there are only about 1 per plant (so maybe 7 in total?), but I'm hoping to get at least a pie and a couple of loaves of bread out of them.

The acorn squash on the other hand, they are out of control. This one here is almost the size of my head, and every time I lift up a leaf I see a new squash growing. I'm pretty sure anyone who comes to our house this fall will leave with an acorn squash and a dozen eggs.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Tour De Fleece 2013 Finish Line!

Tour De Fleece is a way for fiber arts fanatics to feel like they're part of something big, like the Tour De France. Only for us, it's less about sweating and cycling great distances and more about spinning lots of awesome yarn.

This year I didn't spin as often as I had hoped, the tour always seems to fall when I'm on vacation or have visitors, but I did manage to spin up a few yarns and some fibers I've had in my stash for way to long.

My final tally: 4552 yards and 2.37 pounds spun. Not to shabby.

I spun whenever I could, even out in the chicken yard. 

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: boucle made of superfine merino, bamboo, and Fleece Artist kid mohair, fingering weight superwash BFL (2 skeins), aran weight 2-ply made of superfine merino, bamboo, and angelina, a super bulky extreme thick and thin polwarth single, and a super duper huge and bulky 2-ply alpaca.

And just so you understand just how big that alpaca yarn is, here is my moderately cooperative model, Bomber. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fiber Arts Cruise

I've been on quite a few fiber arts vacations, but I'm pretty sure my most recent trip, the Friends and Fiberworks Fantasy Fiber Arts Knitting Cruise to the Bahamas was one of the most elaborate. I was fortunate enough to get trapped on a boat with 3 of my favorite fibers artists; Esther of Jazzturtle Creations, Liz of Reckless Knitting, and Vithard of Vithard Nordic Knitting for 5 days.

From left to right: Liz, Me, Vithard, Esther

The at sea days were filled with classes, cocktails, knitting, eating, and hot tubs. It was pretty awesome. I mean, where else do you get to take a fiber prep class with Esther and have a fruity blended drink in your hand the whole time?

Our workstation at the end of class. 

Knitting with Vithard after a dip in the hot tub. 

We really did take our knitting everywhere, even to the fancy "Captain's Dinner". This is a great shot, click on it to make it bigger. 

Liz and I had a blast together on excursions in Nassau and Freeport, snorkeling and touring around, and our time in Charleston, SC was almost more fun than the cruise. That city is so fun, colorful, and full of history. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to visit a southern city with lots of charm.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Happy Hens

I realized I never introduced the newest members of our farm family! How rude. Back in June I got really impatient waiting for eggs. The chicks were still a couple of months away from laying and July was the month of family visitors. How could I let my family visit the farm without providing them with farm fresh eggs?!

I realized I just couldn't, so I kept my eye on Craigslist for already laying hens and just happened to luck out and find someone less than 5 miles away from me who was selling White Leghorn/Production Red x hens. If you know anything about Montana then you know that it was a miracle! No one ever lives that close to you and has what you want. They call it Big Sky Country for a reason. Your neighbors could be 20 miles away, let alone someone who posted a Craigslist ad for chickens.

We decided to bring home 5 hens and per the recommendation of every article online, including one written on Backyard Chickens, we put them in quarantine in the horse stall in the back of the property. Most articles recommend a month long quarantine to watch for disease and any other problems that might be passed on to your existing flock.

Happy new hens in "quarantine". 

I, of course, was impatient and only waited a week to start the introduction process. I wanted to integrate the flock before I went on vacation so I knew that everyone was getting along and the people keeping an eye on them wouldn't have to deal with the "pecking order" getting a little to rough.

I treated them all for mites just in case and then put the two flocks where they could see each other, but not have full contact with each other. The first few days were hard because our rooster Jinx kept biting the new hens combs and making them bleed. I had to put an extra barrier of chicken wire between them so he couldn't get his whole head through the fence. None of the other chickens seemed to have a problem so I had to wait it out until Jinx calmed down. After a few days I removed the extra chicken wire and let them get closer, and then a few more days later I removed the barrier fence all together and let them free range together.

I expected to have to sit out with them all day and play interference but I was pleasantly surprised when they all happily clucked and scratched and foraged together like they'd been together all along. And the best part- we started getting eggs a day after bringing the new hens home!

In the beginning of August we did unfortunately loose one of the young hens, Kiwi, to an infection of her vent (I think she had what is called "gleet", only google it if you want to see really gross pictures) when she was coming into lay. She developed the infection while I was away and by the time I was home it was to infected to treat. It was very sad, but she needed to be put down, and there was a chance that she had a problem with her reproductive system that never could have been helped.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gardening Efforts

I really wish that springtime lasted longer. Before I had much time to think it was summer, the weather was hot, and what starters I had managed to start needed to be in the ground.

We ended up fighting with weeds constantly and ran out of time to plant much in the big garden space in the front of the property, so I crammed as many plants in an old burn pile dirt patch as I could. I know I overcrowded the squash, but that hasn't stopped the zucchini, cucumbers, acorn squash, sugar pumpkins and butternut squash from spreading over every inch of space available. The funniest thing about it all- zucchini and cucumber are Brian's least favorite vegetables and they turned out to be the most plentiful this season. I even had to tear out the cucumber plants early because I couldn't use them all and couldn't find anyone to take the extras (they all had their own to deal with or didn't like making pickles).

June 23, 2013

I went away for 10 days in July, right as the plants started producing, and told the neighbors to eat whatever they wanted from the garden. They couldn't have picked much because this is what I came home to! 

And here is the garden on August 3, 2013. We've made a few changes since; pulled out some unproductive plants and let the others take over. Some mystery squash seeds I got from a coworker of Brian's ended up being acorn squash, so now I have 8 acorn squash plants. That is way more than 2 people need! We will have plenty to share. 

My gardening efforts this year were definitely less than I had expected, and maybe I did in fact bite off more than I could chew. But, considering I didn't fertilize, occasionally let the weeds take over, and sometimes would forget to water, the garden did pretty darn well- and it's not winter squash season quite yet.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New Pattern- Juncture

By Brittany Wilson

1 US #13/9mm straight needles
1 M, 9mm crochet hook

- Tapestry needle
- 3 1” round buttons or larger (I used 1.25”)
- Thread

Bulky Hand Spun Yarn- 5-7 WPI, 50 yards minimum. The samples are knit in an alpaca blend 2-ply yarn.

 10 sts/14 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch

Height: 5.5” minimum
Width: 18” minimum


CO- Cast On     STS- Stitches     BO- Bind Off
YO- Yarn Over   RS- Right Side  WS- Wrong Side
CDD- Central Double Decrease   K- Knit

Central Double Decrease: Slip two stitches together knitwise, knit the third stitch, and then slip the two stitches that you slipped over the stitch that you just knit.

Sizing: This pattern is easily customizable and can really be made into whichever size you’d like. The samples are the following sizes:
18” long cowl used 50 yards
24” long cowl used 70 yards 

CO- Cast On     
STS- Stitches     
BO- Bind Off
YO- Yarn Over   
RS- Right Side  
WS- Wrong Side
CDD- Central Double Decrease   K- Knit


Create Button Loops:
Using 9mm hook and leaving long tail chain 8 sts. Check to make sure that the loop is the correct size for the buttons. Adjust the number of chained stitches if needed. Break yarn leaving enough tail to secure the loop onto your knitted piece. Pull end through last chain stitch to secure. Tie the two ends together to create a loop. Make 3 of these loops and set them aside until finishing time.

Main Cowl Body:
CO 19 STS using Long-Tail CO
Row 1 (RS): K1, YO, K7, CDD, K7, YO, K1
Row 2 (WS): K All STS

Work for 18”, or desired length, and BO on a WS row.

Sew your 3 buttons onto the pointy ends of the cowl, two on one edge and 1 on the other. Sew your loops on the opposite edge from your button, so that one loop lines up with 1 button. See photo. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Chick Flick turned Horror Movie

There are no photos associated with this post because, frankly, they would be to gruesome. I don't want to give anybody nightmares.

I knew the moment we got the adorable little chick fluffballs that some of them would turn out to be roosters and we would be challenged with a difficult task: choose the one we would keep and rehome them or kill the rest. Secretly I was hoping that we would end up with mostly hens and one rooster so we wouldn't have to deal with any unpleasantries. Boy, was I ever wrong.

The statistics say that we have a 50/50 chance of ending up with a rooster or a hen, and that's about what we got: 6 roosters and 7 hens. It became very clear which ones were really roosters when 3 of them started crowing a few weeks ago and all of their beautiful and flashy plumage started to show. I knew it was time to make the difficult decision of which one to keep. But how should I choose? The most handsome? The most protective? The most docile and easy to control? One that carried the blue egg gene?

Every day I changed my mind about which one to keep. I even toyed with the idea of building a rooster house in the back field and just keeping them all. I'd never been in a situation when I was God and able choose one thing to save from death. Clearly I'm not cut out for this kind of power. Killing animals just because they're boys? Why couldn't it be like sheep where I could just cut off their balls and keep them all?

Luckily I have a husband who understands the way things work and can handle doing what needs to be done. I was able to narrow it down to my top 2 Roosters, Jinx and Oliver, the two Easter Eggers. They are alert, protective of the flock when my puppy jumps the fence and chases them around, and both seemed to be at the bottom of the pecking order of roosters, making them the hens favorites. They are also beautiful and will carry the blue egg gene in case we want to hatch our own chicks.

Since I didn't want to think about it anymore and wanted the 4 other roosters to "Go Away" I tried to find them new homes. Nobody wanted them so Brian had a job to do. He always gets up before I do in the morning so I requested that I wake up one morning to only 2 roosters. That's exactly what I got.

We went outside to see the chickens and sat down on the grass. I threw some scratch and our now 9 chickens came over to say hello. We sat there for a little while talking about the chickens, what color eggs I thought they would lay, and the possibility of getting a few hens that are already laying because we have family coming into town in two weeks and it would be nice to have some fresh eggs while they're here.

I looked down at the grass beside me and that's when I saw it- BLOOD. Lots and lots of blood. I looked a little closer- it was EVERYWHERE.

"You killed them HERE!!!!", I exclaimed.
"Well, yeah", Brian replied.
"No, it's over there", he pointed around to the area of grass next to me.
I looked a little closer and I saw something golden brown.
"Oh, whoops. I thought I had gotten them all", he grabbed the head and threw it over the fence.
"You killed the roosters where the hens could watch? And now you're making them play in their brother's blood? This is like a horror movie."

Brian found this all very amusing. I, most certainly, did not.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Domino and Lola Sitting in a Tree


Okay, I'm not sure how much kissing owls do, but our local great horned owls sure did get busy this winter. Sometime last fall our local owl, Domino, began sharing our willow trees with a new owl, Lola. She is beautiful and has a white tuft of feathers just below her beak. She is also very spooky around people, so I'm not sure we've ever gotten a great picture of her by herself. Here they are together, Lola is higher and Domino is below in the background.

Proud Parent Owls

I knew that something was up when Lola sat in a nest all winter and never really seemed to leave. I had really hoped that she and Domino had mated and that this spring we would get to see some baby owls.

One evening in mid-April while we were watching a movie in the living room I looked over at the tree where Lolo had her nest and squealed pretty darn loud when I realized that there were two fuzz balls in the nest, but Lola wasn't there. I grabbed the binoculars and confirmed- there were two owl babies in the nest waiting for Lola to bring them dinner.

April 18th Owls

April 21st Owls

Owl TV quickly became our favorite evening activity. Every night we would check in on the owlets and see what what going on. Watching the parents come back with food was the most exciting thing to witness. We quickly realized that Domino and Lola worked together to bring the babies food, and took turns sitting on the nest. The most amazing thing was when one of the owls came back to a tree with a bird, the other owl swooped down and took the bird from the other, and then took it back to the nest to the little one's.

The entertainment only lasted a few weeks because before we knew it the owlets were perched on the edge of the nest, practicing their flapping and less than a week later had left the nest completely. Here is one of the "babies" on May 8th, still a little fluffy, but definitely grown up.

May 8th Owls

It seems that one of the parents and babies has left the area and one baby and parent remains. I'm not sure which one's are still around because the willows are quickly getting their leaves and making it easier for the owls to hid.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lesson Learned

Always check your gloves before you put them on. I can not stress this enough!

For whatever reason I didn't take my own advise this past Saturday. I don't know why. I just wasn't thinking, and I paid for it. Within moments of putting on my gloves I felt a searing hot pain run down my two middle fingers on my left hand. I threw my glove off so fast that I never saw what did it. It was worse than any bee or scorpion sting I have ever gotten. The pain radiated down my fingers so I couldn't move them.

Luckily the pain didn't last long. After taking some pain killers and sitting with ice on my hand for 30 or so minutes I was able to function again with very minimal pain, and I thought that was the end of it.

Bug Bite

But I was wrong. The next day, yesterday, my hand started to itch, and then it started to swell, and before I knew it the back of my hand was puffy and squishy and the skin was tight and hot. It didn't stop me from working, but it sure wasn't pleasant. I don't think this picture really shows off how swollen it was (and still is, another day later.

Swollen hand from bug bite

Always check your gloves before you put them on! Perhaps next time I will remember that, I hope.

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Bleeding Heart


Oh the dangers of gardening. I can officially say that I have bled for this farm, and it was worth it. To be honest, it's not my only war wound of the day, and it's not nearly as bad as it looks. I managed to hit myself in the head and the leg with a fencepost pounder, sliced one leg with chicken wire, and the other leg with field fencing. Living in the country is dangerous! Especially for a clumsy person like me.

Injuries aside, today was a BEAUTIFUL day. I would even call it the PERFECT day for working outside. It was sunny, in the high 60's and there was a slight breeze. I was able to pound in fence u-posts and dig in the dirt without breaking to much of a sweat. It was so nice I spent about 5 hours outside getting things done, building the fence for the chicken enclosure, planting bulbs, transplanting rhubarb, and flattening a mound of dirt so I could plant strawberries. I really hope I didn't wait to long to plant the bulbs and strawberries! I'm sure the cold days aren't behind us, but all this sunshine has me nervous that I'm not at all prepared for the growing season.

There is a patch of rhubarb along our west fence line by the pump house that was flourishing when we viewed the house last spring, but was long gone by the time we moved in in July. I am so excited to get to use rhubarb this year! About a month ago it started to sprout and I was jumping for joy- until I realized that the dogs were rooting around and pooping all around it! Boo! That had to be remedied, and fast.

I decided to use some 3 foot field fencing to create cages over it and it worked really well. I was even able to use some pine shavings from the chick coop around the plants to help keep down the weeds. I decided that we couldn't just leave the rhubarb all alone, so when I bought a package of strawberry plants that do well in colder climates I decided to create a mini spring garden.


Today I spend the day shoveling and leveling a mound of dirt that was next to the rhubarb. I couldn't get over how amazing the soil is! It's rich and dark and full of worms. It's going to grow some serious fruits and veggies for us this year. I even uncovered more rhubarb that was buried to deep in the mound to reach the surface. I was able to transplant it closer to the other rhubarb. We are going to have some serious baking and canning to do. It took an hour or so, but I finally got it all leveled, planted, straw around everything to keep the weeds down, and protected in cages (where I got that lovely cut on my leg). I can't wait for strawberries! Only 2 more months (I hope)....


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pink Lemonade Smoothie and Spicy Smoky Tomato Soup

While I didn't eat these two things together, I imagine that the cool and refreshing smoothie would be tasty with the spicy and smoky soup.

Today in the kitchen was all about trying to use up ingredients that have been in the fridge to long, and making quick and healthy meals and snacks.

A note about me and food- I love food and I do my best to eat mostly healthy food (but sometimes my sweet tooth gets the better of me). You will see a lot of low fat, fat free, or lower calorie ingredients- but I promise that they are tasty (at least to me, and usually to my husband). You can alway substitute regular, full fat versions, but I wouldn't share my ideas with you if I didn't think they were super good as is, and I encourage you to try them.

Disclaimer: I don't "test" my recipes. I make them, I eat them. If I like them, you hear about them. Always taste your food as you're cooking, and adjust ingredients to your taste buds preference.

Pink Lemonade Smoothie

Pink Lemonade Smoothie:
  • 1/4 cup meyer lemon juice- meyer lemons are much sweeter than regular ones, substitute at your own risk. 
  • 1 cup diced fresh watermelon
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries 
  • 1/4 cup fat free cottage cheese 
  • 1 tsp honey (I like to dissolve honey in warm water first so that it doesn't stick to the sides of the blender). 
  • 1 cup of ice
  • optional: 1tbsp fresh mint leaves. Makes it extra crisp and refreshing 
Blend it up and enjoy! It's a little tart, a little sweet, and a whole lot of refreshing.

Per my nutrition calculator on the LoseIt app: 147 calories, 0g fat, 7.2g protein 

Spicy Tomato Soup

Spicy Smoky Tomato Soup
Makes 4 1 1/2 cup servings.

A little (or a lot) spicy, a little smoky, and tiny hint of sweetness. Yummy, yummy! It would also be amazing with some shredded chicken.

It doesn't get any easier or faster than this:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped onion (approx 1 medium)
  • 5 cloves Black Garlic
  • 1.5-2 tbsp chilis in adobo sauce (approx 1-3)  
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes 
  • 1/2 cup fat free cream cheese
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
A note about ingredients:

Black Garlic is awesome. I love it. But if you don't have it or can't find it use 3 cloves regular garlic, minced, add it to the pan after the onions, and a minute before finishing sauteing add in 1-2 tbsp brown sugar. 

Chilis in Adobo- I like things spicy. If you don't like spice, I suggest starting with 1 chili and adding more from there, to taste. If you don't have these chilis available try some smoked paprika and a little cayenne pepper. 

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Return to pot for several minutes, until it starts to bubble and the soup is good and hot. 

Serve with toast, crackers, a salad, you name it! I toasted a piece of nutty bread and then broiled it with a little parmesan. 

Nutrition info for one serving of soup: 185 calories, 4.8g fat, 2.6g fiber, 10.5g protein 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Worlds Converge

Since starting this blog in 2007 is had remained primarily fiber arts focused. There have definitely been high points and low points in my posting frequency, I blame Ravelry for my posts slowing down, and I'm hoping to remedy that in the remainder of 2013. As a way to reach that goal I want to diversify. My world is SO MUCH MORE than fiber arts and I want to share that with you.

I created a farm blog when we bought our first property last year and have be posting about our farm, animals, canning, crafting, and a little bit of cooking. I couldn't find a good reason NOT to merge the blogs into one, so I have brought all of the farm blog posts over here. Take a look through the 2012-13 posts to see what's been going on on the farm.

Get caught up, familiarize yourself with some of the fun new links on the right sidebar, and get geared up for what's ahead. Tomorrow is a brand new day, and the start of some fun new posts. I'm really excited for what's to come, are you?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Springtime Mood Swings

Springtime really can't seem to make up it's mind. In the past two weeks we've had sunny 60 degree weather, rainy 50 degree weather, snowy 30 degree weather, and yesterday we had a particularly unfriendly windy raining ice storm with intermittent sun. I'm really happy that we've taken several opportunities to get ahead on early summer farm work when the sun is shining because there really is no telling how long the nice weather will last.

Yesterday, despite the wind, we rushed out to try and finish the chicken coop. Luckily most of the work was inside the coop and we were able to finish while there was a lull in the stormy weather. All that's left is a coat or two of varnish to seal the floor and we we can move the chicks into their new home. I'm so glad, they've really outgrown the bathroom and they have created quite a mess. I'll get some pictures of the finished coop when the weather is a bit nicer. Although, in order for it to be truly finished, I'll have to wait for a sunny day to paint it.

Panorama from the top of the property in late March (you should be able to click on the image to make it bigger)
Top of the Property Panorama

Last Weeks Freak Snowstorm

As long as the sun is shining, the puppies have to play outside, whether they like it or not.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Pattern: Corridor


By Brittany Wilson


1 US #8/5mm 20-40” circular needles

- Tapestry needle
- 12 stitch markers
- Lace blocking wires and pins

Sunrise Fiber Co Cloud DK [40% alpaca, 40% merino, 20% silk; 252yd/230m per 100g skein] 2 [3] skeins; Color: Sapphire

20 sts/25 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch before blocking
15 sts/26 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch after blocking

Height of Center Spine: 18 (23)”
Height from center spine to row ends: 35 (48)”
Width from tip of left spine to tip or right spine: 41 (52)”

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Libretto Featured By Fleece Artist

I have been incredibly fortunate to work for Colorsong Yarn since February of 2011, even after I moved from Oregon to Montana in November 2011 they found a way to keep me on staff and give me things to do. One of the greatest things they've done is to push me to keep designing knitting patterns, using the yarns that they sell dyed by the  companies Handmaiden Fine Yarn and Fleece Artist based out of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Every so often Handmaiden and Fleece Artist will offer competitions for designers who are already designing with their yarns. The incentive is that the pattern will be featured on the main page of their website for several months, driving traffic to your website. I never mentioned it here but last season my Speakeasy pattern won and was featured on the Handmaiden website.

This season my pattern Libretto won and is currently being featured on the Fleece Artist website. Isn't that exciting?


Chicken TV

The chicks are getting older, almost 4 weeks now (but 3 weeks in the video/pictures below), and as they get older they get more and more entertaining to watch. I find myself getting my morning coffee and going downstairs to see what's new in the chicken world. I can sit there and watch them for what seems like hours.

Most of the time I'm looking at their features, how their feathers are coming in, and trying to guess if they'll be boys or girls. I also try to guess what colors they will be when they're fully feathered and what breeds they might be since we got mixed breed chicks. My opinions of each chick seem to change from day to day, but as they get bigger I think the answers are becoming more clear.

The most interesting thing to watch is their behavior. Some chicks are proficient scratchers and are the main reason their water is always full of wood shavings. Other chicks seem to be "whiners", walking around and chirping their very distinguishable high pitched chirps. A few, I'm assuming they will be boys, are very macho and walk around stealing food from other chicks. I'm always impressed with the chicks who seem to be learning to steer when they fly and can perch up on the edge of the brooder to get a better view of their surroundings (although the minute they see my they fly back to safety.

I feed them treats and try to handle them every day because they are still pretty spooked when I move quickly or stand up. Some are getting better and rush to see me, while others hide in the back and wait to get their treats after I leave. I'm hoping by the time we move them outside in a few weeks will will all be friends. I don't like the idea of running around trying to catch chickens when it's time to go in the coop for the night.

Here's a video of the chicks at snack time. I talk a little bit about them, where they are in their development, and their current temporary chick home:

While I wasn't able to catch any chicks for their movie debut, I was able to snap a few pictures.

This is Sadie, she is one of my favorites (I hope she's a she!). She seems very delicate and shy compared to the others. She's one that has a distinguishable chirp and always hangs back and waits for her treats. I am in love with her grey coloring.

Sadie at 3 days old
Sadie 1 week

Sadie at 3 weeks and 3 days old
Sadie 3 weeks

This is Hank. I'm trying very hard to not get attached to the chicks that I think might be boys, in case they end up going to new homes or in the stew pot, but with Hank I just can't help it. It's very sweet, the first to come to me for treats, and will perch on my hand so he gets the best access to whatever treats I'm hand feeding the chicks. I'll talk more about why I think he's a boy in another post, but it has to do with feather color, his legs, and his comb (the mohawk between his eyes).

Hank at 3 weeks and 3 days old
Hank 3 weeks

This is Poe. She looked very much like a Raven when she was a chick, but is feathering out in the neatest leopard pattern. I'm still on the fence as to whether she's a she or he, but for now I'm going to be optimistic and call her a girl.

Poe at 3 weeks and 3 days old
Poe 3 weeks

All of the other chicks were to anxious and the pictures turned out blurry, but I'm hoping to do a new photo shoot on Tuesday, when they are 4 weeks old.