autumn to-do list

Now it really is starting to feel like autumn up here in the mountains, and the cottonwoods have the barest tinge of yellow. Something about the change of seasons makes me want to get some things done. I made a list, and I’ve already started working on it:

  • Wash and re-block hand knits.
    I pulled out a couple scarves, and they’re not dirty, just a bit crumpled from being shoved in a drawer all summer. A good blocking will do them all some good.
  • Take a crochet class.
    I went on Saturday for a class, and it was so helpful! I’ve done a little crochet on my own, but was never sure if I was doing it right. I especially never felt very comfortable juggling the hook and the yarn. In my class I learned a good way to hold them both, and I can single and double crochet quite well now. I even found a pattern for a ripple blanket and started on the first stripe. I actually had tried to do a similar pattern years ago, but I was never happy with the way it looked. I thought it would be a great project to use up leftover bits of worsted weight yarns. I’ll be working on it for a long time, but it will be a nice break to do a stripe here and there. 

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  • Make roast goose.
    So, I’ll be brief on this one. We had two mean geese. They were noisy and unpleasant and I found someone who was willing to “process” them for me. And now they are in the freezer. I’m still working myself up to it, but I found a good tutorial for when I am ready.
  • Get some more chickens.
    My girls aren’t laying much, and two of the six hens are now six years old, so it’s time for some fresh young hens. I’ll let my old ladies enjoy the rest of their days in our yard, though. They don’t try to nip at me when I feed them.
  • Finish website re-design/cleanup.
    I want to keep things clean and simple around here. I’ll probably do  a little here and there on this one, but I’m still not in a mood to spend my evenings in front of the computer.
  • Learn to use Lightroom, and organize my photos.
    I’ve started doing this too. In fact, I’ve even switched to shooting in RAW. I’m not totally sure what that even means, but I’m doing it! 
  • Bake a cake (flourless, of course).
    Done, and it was good, but I’m still searching for a really good grain-free cake recipe. I used this recipe, and it was dense and moist, which I expected. It was just a little too sweet for me (which might have been the pears I used, they were very ripe and sweet), and a little heavy. But it was so fun to bake again. I won’t be making it a regular habit, just a now and then treat.  

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  • Make a scarf from a piece of Liberty fabric I’ve been hoarding.
    This should take about ten minutes, I’ve got a yard, so I think I’ll just cut it in half and sew it end-to-end for length. 
  • Make a sweater for Pulley
    He doesn’t have fur like the other dogs, I think he’s going to need some warm clothes for the winter. 
  • Start making soup.
    I need to find some new soup recipes. Do you have any good ones? 
  • Knit the perfect cabled sweater.
    I want something cozy and slouchy. This might be just the thing. I have to decide what kind of yarn to use. 
  • Buy a lot of pumpkins and decorate the porch.
    I’ve got two so far, but I’m going to need some more.

Bonus items:

The Autumn pin board.
I also just needed to share the fact that you can follow an astronaut on pinterest.

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pinterest for dinner

I didn’t really ‘get’ pinterest at first. I have a tumblr blog where I’ve always just posted little inspirations as I come across them, and didn’t think I needed yet another social website to keep track of. In fact, I deleted my account after a few weeks. Then I tried it again, and now I totally get it. It’s the first place I look when I want to find out how to do something. It’s always great when I need a little shot of inspiration. Especially when I need inspiration for dinner.

So this past weekend, while we were still nursing our colds, and any exertion required a 30 minute nap afterward, I wanted something easy, healthy, and delicious for dinner. As usual, pinterest was the solution. I mean really, bacon-wrapped king prawns on rosemary skewers, what could go wrong? Nothing, that’s what. We have a few enormous, overgrown rosemary bushes, so any time I can use some of it, I’m happy. Everything about the prawn recipe sounded good since we haven’t actually felt like eating much lately, and it was really easy and quick. Avocados are at their peak right now, so we are eating them nearly every day, and a simple salad was a nice change from the usual guacamole. I just used some homemade shallot mustard vinaigrette, because I had some in the fridge, but the salad dressing explanation at the link is worth a read if you don’t yet make your own. It’s so easy and so worth it. Have you looked at the ingredients on a bottle of salad dressing these days? It’s a chemistry experiment in a jar.

dinner

Corn has started making an appearance at the farm stand, so I cooked up a couple ears, and it was so good with everything else. How do you like your corn-on-the-cob? I think butter/salt/lime/Cholula hot sauce is pretty much a perfect combination.

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Do you use pinterest for cooking? I find that I am much more likely to make a recipe that I pin to my food board than when I would stumble across a recipe on a website and just think that I’d remember it and make it someday. I’ve already made quite a few things that I’ve pinned, some of which have made it into the regular rotation around here.

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this and that

I never even turned on my computer yesterday. I was so scattered, and I kept meaning to get to it and then I just never did. Do you have days like that? I did a lot of things, but in the end I didn't feel like I really accomplished much at all. I'm going to try and do better today, so first thing I'm doing is getting on my computer and writing this post, which will probably be random and scattered like my day was.

image from www.flickr.com

The acorns on the California oaks around here are long and skinny. I have an app called FingerFace and now I think I will put little faces on everything. 

I shared the above photo on Instagram the other day. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I've limited my Twitter use to blog posts and Instagram these days, I feel like tweeting is like walking into a big party and just shouting out something witty and hoping someone hears (and then RTs it). I don't really love big parties. I think I will stick to Instagram for now, I like looking at everyone's pretty pictures and it's making me be more creative with photography. 

I didn't mention in my book post that I listened to the Song of Ice and Fire series audiobooks recently as well. I came across this Tumblr blog and this re-imagined cover for A Game of Thrones made me laugh really hard. 

Have you seen this? Works of art, re-made. Some are literal, like this beautiful painting and photograph: 

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And some are more interpretive. I especially liked this one (the pillow case tacked to the wall is an especially nice touch): 

 

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I've been making a lot of soup lately, albondigas, this hot & sour cabbage soup, sausage and kale soup. I tried this green soup, but it came out kind of thin and watery, with not a lot of flavor. I need to expand my soup repertoire, does anyone have a favorite recipe to share? Preferably without grains or beans. Lots of vegetables are welcome, and I am not afraid to make my own broth. When I'm ready for a break from soup I think I'll try this artichoke, kale & ricotta pie, it looks so good.

I told you I was all scattered! 

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absolute beginner

I briefly mentioned a recent book purchase, Plate to Pixel, in a post earlier this month. I'm not done reading and absorbing, but I've been skimming through and one of the things I've really loved about Helene's styling is the rustic table top backgrounds she uses. I didn't see any explicit directions in the book or on her blog (although there is a brief scene of her painting some wood in this promo video), but I've got piles of old fence boards, so I made up my own version. I finally finished it this weekend, and when the skies went dark and a freak thunderstorm rolled through this afternoon, I decided to set it up on the porch and try it out. 

image from www.flickr.com
I painted one side a robin's egg blue that I had laying around (someday it will be an accent wall in my laundry room), and sanded the other side, so it's two backgrounds in one! I still need to work on adjusting my camera settings, I think these might be a bit too bright and over-exposed, despite the grey skies. I even started playing around with this reflector set I recently bought, it was quite a bargain! I used the diffuser disc on the photo above and directly below, but there's still some glare. I think I better go read some more, and learn how to adjust my camera better. 

image from www.flickr.com
Obviously, my styling and composing skills are rather lacking still, but I am going to keep practicing. In the meantime, I've got some raspberries and cream to eat. Oh, I thought you might like to see the whole background thingie: 

image from www.flickr.com
Here are the very technical instructions (wherein I probably don't use any of the proper woodworking terminology): I took three 6' fence boards, and sawed each in half. Then I cut a couple pieces of 1×2 boards that I also had laying around to the width of the three boards together. I sanded everything and laid three boards down, wrong side up. I put wood glue along one side of one of the 1×2 boards, and positioned it across the three boards. I tried to just nail the 1×2 to the fence boards, but the nails just wouldn't go in, so I used my smallest drill bit (1/16") to drill through them (two holes for each fence board) and then pounded the nails in. After doing this four times, my drill bit broke, so I went up to the next one, and hoped it wasn't too big. Luckily, it wasn't so I continued to add the second 1×2 to the other end. Then I placed the remaining three fence boards on top of the 1×2's, and did the same thing again, except instead of the nails going from the 1×2's into the fence boards, I went through the fence boards into the 1×2's. the nails I used had flat heads, and this is the side that I painted, so they show a little through the paint. I was going for rustic, so this doesn't bother me, but I probably could have used finishing nails and counter-sunk them and used a little wood filler to hide them. Then I painted and sanded the one side. I've left the other side naked so far, but I may stain or wax it eventually. This is so much nicer than my ugly green counter tops for taking pictures of food (and maybe other things too!). 

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summer, a list

A list (this post is brought to you by Instagram (and Magic Hour)):

1.Summer hair. I'm growing mine out, but when it's hot I hate it on my neck. I've been doing this a lot, although I obviously need to work on my bobby pin placement:

image from www.flickr.com

2.Summer nail color. I'm pretending I'm trendy and wearing this lavendar on my fingers and toes. I've only just discovered Essie, so obviously I'm not really up on any trends. It's formaldahyde-free (as well as missing some other yucky chemicals found in most nail polish), and there are so many great colors. You can get some at Target.

3. Summer reading. What are you reading? I've got a stack of books to enjoy, but I'm re-reading Harry Potter just for the fun of it, and I just finished listening to A Game of Thrones, which was epic and brutal, and kept me entertained on my drive to and from work for nearly three weeks (it was 34 hours long!). I'm not quite up for the second book in the series yet, so I took a break and listened to a Stephanie Plum novel, which is definitely a guilty pleasure. In the stack on my nightstand I've got a copy of Centuries of June, which the publisher sent, so I need to get on that soon. It sounds highly entertaining, so I'm looking forward to that one. Also there is a gift from my sister-in-law, called Enslaved by Ducks, which I suspect will hit very close to home, as it is the story of a couple who adopt various animals and the hijinks that ensue. I can't tell you how many times I've watched all the little creatures in our yard, and thought about the comedies (and tragedies) I see and what great stories they would make. 

4. Summer farm. My garden has not materialized as I hoped, as we have had some crazy weather (frost, in June, triple-digit tempuratures earlier this month, followed by another frosty night last weekend), so I have to be content with nurturing the two new little hens I brought home last week. They are month-old Buff Orpingtons. My buffs were all stolen in the Great Chicken Robbery of 2009, and I've missed having some in my flock. These two are sweet as can be, with that same mellow buff personality that I love. 

image from www.flickr.com
5. Summer crafts. I have been cleaning out our disaster area of a shed in the hopes of doing some more wood-working type projects, but until that gargantuan task is finished, I am contenting myself with some smaller crafts. I may even put a few things in my etsy shop again soon, who knows! Last weekend I made some tiny mushrooms for some tiny terrariums, because what could be better than a terrarium? A teeny, tiny terrarium, of course! I've got some moss to add to these, and hopefully enough chain to make them into necklaces. 

image from www.flickr.com

6a. Summer food. Do you know what season it is right now? Fig season! They are one of my favorites. This is a good way to make them: slice in half, and wrap each half with prosciutto. Then drizzle with good olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Grind a little pepper on top, and enjoy!

image from www.flickr.com6b. More summer food. There was also some yellowtail tuna caught by some co-workers who went on a three-day fishing trip and graciously shared their haul. I sliced up a piece and coated the slices in olive oil and herbs and just seared the outside. Served with agrodolce relish (tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, minced garlic, all sauteéd in olive oil and finished with a spoonful of red wine vinegar and a spoonful of sugar), coconut basmati rice, and arugula. 
image from www.flickr.com
What's on your summer list? 

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