Sunday, October 30, 2011

Children's Felt Clogs

: : before felting : :
: : after felting : : 

PatternChildren's Felt Clogs by Bev Galeskas
YarnPeace Fleece Worsted
Size: Small
Needles: US 13

The little boy's feet tend to be bare most of the time, which is great for his developing feet. But it is starting to get a bit cold around here and I was feeling guilty when I would put my slippers on and didn't have any for Pieter.  Last week Ben reminded me a couple of times that Pieter needed slippers, so I finally pulled out the needles. Hard to believe, but it has been more than a month since I've picked them up, after I finished the Robin Hood Jacket out of the same yarn.

I followed the pattern without any changes. They took a while to felt down to P's size since I used aran weight yarn, instead of worsted. But, after about an hour in the washer and a little bit of dryer time, they are just right. They are so big and chunky that P reminds me a bit of a smurf when wearing them. Good thing I didn't pick blue yarn!

Friday, October 28, 2011

{this moment}

{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. - AS

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Canyon Exploration

We spent Sunday afternoon exploring the local canyon, full of autumn and rushing water. So beautiful! Today the temperature was firmly at 40 degrees, making us pull out the coats, hats, and mittens. I do love fall, but I'm not sure that I am ready for winter!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Grandpa's Maple Syrup

Pieter received a package in the mail yesterday from his Grandpa in New Hampshire. Grandpa heard P's plea for more maple syrup (or "dip-dip" as he likes to call all condiments) and put not just one jug in the mail, but two!
Grandpa and Grandma made the syrup this spring with the sap from the huge maple trees in their yard. Here is the trio when Pieter was four months old with the trees in the background just starting to leaf out at the end of April 2010. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cool Days Warm Drinks

We've had some cool, damp days here that have required some warm drinks. Homemade hot chocolate (just milk, cocoa and a bit of sugar) with whipped cream from the farm is a favorite. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Christmas Stockings

FabricJulen, In The Beginnings by Julie Paschkis

These stockings and bird ornaments match the Advent Calendar. Last weekend Ben and Pieter played softball all Saturday afternoon which gave me a nice chunk of time to sew up the stockings. The bird ornaments were waiting for some ribbon, which I finally got on Friday. Pieter loves the little birds and says "bird" when he sees them (pretty good for his limited vocabulary). He really likes to watch the birds in our backyard, especially the Hairy and Downy woodpeckers that visit the suet feeders. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

{this moment}

{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. - AS

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A tree for the White House

While cleaning up the photo card, I just came upon these pictures Ben took in early October while plant collecting in the Black Hills.  Such a beautiful fall image and how cool is it that a White House Christmas tree came from here? And that it was a native tree, naturally grown tree rather than from a plantation. Fifty six years later and the stump has turned back into soil, leaving only this sign as a remembrance.

Last year we really enjoyed cutting our tree from the Black Hills National Forest. I am really feeling the Christmas itch already, which is rather unusual for me. Must be the Christmas babe that is coming. It will be fun to go find another Black Hills Spruce (Picea glauca) to celebrate the season. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Refried Beans

Yesterday I rendered some of the lard we got from the pastured, local farm-raised pig. While I've always thought lard was quite gross, I decided that we ought to use as much as we can from this pig. And, Jenny at Nourished Kitchen, has good things to say about this monounsaturated, nutrient-dense fat, like it being high in Vitamin D.  So, I rendered one six-pound block of lard using Jenny's instructions. It came out a beautiful creamy white and produced 5 1/2 pints. I plan on using it to make soap and also in some food. The first thing that came to mind was refried beans.  I like to make large batches of refried beans so that I can freeze a bunch in jars for future meals. It is much cheaper to make it yourself and it is BPA free.

Refried Beans
-4 cups dried pinto beans
-8 tablespoons butter or lard
-2 onions, chopped
-8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
-3 tablespoons cumin
-2 teaspoons paprika
-1 teaspoon chili powder
-black pepper and salt
  • Rinse and soak 4 cups of pinto beans overnight. If you have whey, add a tablespoon or two.
  • Rinse the beans in the morning and refill with filtered water. Simmer on the stove for several hours or in a crock pot, which is what I do. Cook until soft.
  • In a heavy bottomed pot (I use a cast iron pot), melt butter or lard and saute onion and garlic.
  • Add the spices and stir until fragrant, about a minute. 
  • Ladle in your beans, reserving any juice to add later while it simmers.
  • Mash the beans until you've reached the consistency you desire with a potato masher.
  • Stir frequently to avoid any burning and add reserved bean juice as needed. I cook it for about a half hour.
  • Ladle into glass jars, leaving enough head space, cool completely and then freeze. I use pint jars for this. It seems to be the perfect amount for a future meal.
Sauteing onion and garlic in lard. 
Pinto beans added to pot.
Mashed and simmered beans.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Advent Calendar

FabricJulen, In The Beginnings by Julie Paschkis

Before leaving for our trip to California, I picked up some new fabric for a few Christmas projects. Now that I've done one quilting project, this one came a bit easier to me and only took the weekend to put together. I love how it came out and am looking forward to using it in just a month and a half!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Exploring the foothills

Black-billed Magpie, Pica hudsonia
Spike Moss, Selaginella densa
Wild Turkeys, Meleagris gallopavo

While out exploring the countryside this past weekend, we saw cattle being driven down from their summer grazing lands in Black Hills National Forest to their ranch in the plains. The ranchers were so friendly and let us pet their horses and ask questions about the cows. Even though these calves are getting so large, they are still nursing. And, amazingly, the cows are already pregnant again for another birth in the spring.
Here is the big, bad bull of the bunch. He is sent out with the cows into the hills in May, rather than using insemination. He was just enormous, with a head size almost twice as large as the cows. He gazed stoically at us the whole time. I just love the bottom picture of him and the cows - it is almost as though they are posing for us.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Saturday at the farm

Saturday we headed out to the butcher shop to pick up a pig from the farm. This will be the first time in years that we will enjoy pork, now that we were able to purchase a sustainably raised pig from the farm that we get milk, butter and eggs from.  I'm excited to make homemade sausage. We also got all the lard ground up, so I have some soap making adventures in my future.

We then headed to the farm to pick up some extra milk, cream and eggs. We also shoveled manure to put on the garden before putting it to bed for the winter. Pieter always loves these visits to the farm. It gets more exciting with each visit as he is older and knows more animals. 

As Pieter was enjoying his tractor driving, we had the most amazing sight. Two huge flocks of Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) flew over the farm and circled around and around calling their loud, raucous call before heading further south. Here are a few pictures of these great birds.

Friday, October 14, 2011

{this moment}

{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. - AS
Photo Credit: Katherine Nicolas

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Muir Beach

We made it to Muir Beach and Pieter got to dip his feet into the Pacific Ocean - his first time in any ocean! He loved it and stamped his little feet. The Bay gave us a bank of fog to look at, so no views, but it was just as lovely.
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