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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Adventures in Preserving















It's summer, it's hot, and it's hard to really think about much that involves going outside and into the garden. The tomatoes are piling up in the fridge now, and we've been trying out canning methods to send them away to the future, where they will be pizza and soup and chowder and stew through the winter. Zucchini is still coming in every week, but in lesser quantities as the plants are beginning to dry up and I can't be bothered to replant for the rest of the year. Preserving these for the winter is much easier - shred them, lightly fry them in olive oil/salt and freeze them in a ziplock bag. When it's time to eat them I'll refry them for easy fibre, and if they turn out smooshy, into the pot of noodle soup they shall go.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Check First, Touch Second



Always check before you turn on the outdoors faucet. My bare, vulnerable fingers disturbed this brown widow after I went to wash out an ant-infested hummingbird feeder- thankfully it's not fully grown and was more afraid of me than t'other way around. Close up, they're kind of pretty.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Scrap Granny Square Blanket





[Ravelry Page]

I finished this waaaay back in May, but then got lazy and forgot to upload any photographs or even really acknowledge it's existence until the weather turned hot the other week. It's a mix of leftover yarns that needed to be turned into something useful instead of taking up space around the house - the only exception being the white acrylic/wool mix (Plymouth Encore) that I purposely bought from my LYS to use as binder colour. Now I can crochet a granny square with my hands tied behind my back, something like this is great experiment in assembling something cogent from a mess. It doesn't always work - some of the scrap used in the centers of each square really does not go with the turquoise/yellow/orange combination, but whatever man, that's just my opinion. It looks good enough, and because it's weighty without being too warm, makes for a great summer blanket to sleep benath.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Madia Elegans







This plant just appeared during the spring. I let it be, because it was taking up a corner of the yard that wasn't in use, and hey, maybe it would be pretty! You never know unless you try, and it turned out to be massive and pretty all at the same time.It did a good job making use of a neglected space (we're planning on paving over that corner and fixing the gate... soon), and the flower are lovely. And when it's done, it will go to the great compost bin in the sky. This yard continues to surprise me with a wealth of  interesting plants that grow and thrive without any human intervention.

[note on the name: I only recently managed to somewhat-identify it via the excellent California native plant blog Town Mouse and Country Mouse - apparently they aren't supposed to grow so large (this is at least seven foot tall), and only do so with heaps of water and good soil, neither of which I thought was present in that spot!]

Friday, 5 August 2011

Watermelon!!!





[image: Sugar Baby Watermelon, weighing 4.04lbs - not the best photos, my kitchen doesn't get as much light as it could]

It tastes better than any watermelon I've ever had - super sweet, refreshing and juicy. Never buy these suckers out of season, you're just looking for disappointment.

Things I've learned growing watermelon:

  • giving them their own bed is a pointless waste of soil and space. Grow them in the same bed as tomatoes (prune your tomatoes to leave the bottom 6-8 inches of stem without leaves and there will be plenty of room) or any other vertically growing plant maximises the space you have while requiring very little extra water and zero extra soil.
  • a caterpillar-beetle larvae type bug will, if left to their own devices, strip the skin from the exterior of the fruit, but not damage the interior.
  • directions on the internet to help you gauge when the fruits are ripe aren't as clear as they could be. When you read "it's ripe when the tendrils around the base of the fruit have dried up", that's a great way initially, but it helps to know what a ripe watermelon sounds like compared to one that's still growing. Even then, it's guesswork, so it helps to keep an eye on the fruit as it grows so the changes are obvious.
There are two more fruits out there (I suspect they'll be ready next week), but that's all there will be from the yard when it comes to 2011 melons. In retrospect, I wish I'd planted more of them and had the "below the tomatoes!" revelation sooner. Next year I'll add another type, possibly something larger, possibly planted on the ground of the hops patch. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Knitting: Vintage Knitted Hood Sacque



[Pattern | Ravelry page]

I started knitting about six months ago with the intent to make my own cardigans for winter. It's frustrating to find the kind of clothes I want (simple with a specific sleeve length) so it seemed the natural solution, no matter how hard the learning process might be. While it might seem a little odd to make baby clothes without having a specific infant in mind, finding patterns for smaller people means that you learn the essentials of shaping without spending too much time on the actual garment.

This still took me over a month to complete.

But I got there in the end - and as a result of all the grinding through the bulk of the piece, I learned that most of the time stitch patterns are interchangeable, and I should have substituted k1p1 for straight stockinette with ribbing, or even garter stitch, just to make it all go a faster. In the future (when I actually have a child to clothe), I think I'll rework it in a different stitch pattern - only one other person on Ravelry has made this (which makes no sense! It's a free pattern! And easy!) so the gallery needs filling out.