Saturday, October 27, 2012

Full of Beans

From left: True Red Cranberry Bean, Mother Stoddard Beans, Hidatsa Shield Beans, Mayflower Beans and Black Beans.  Locally grown red cord is in the jar in the back. 
If I had to live off my garden, I would likely starve. Shown in the photo above is the entire yield of shelling beans. My guess is I have four or five cups of beans total.  Most of these are heritage varieties, with the exception of black beans which I love.  My favorite bean is the Hidatsa Shield Bean because it is beautiful to look at--it has a delicate geometric patterning that is distinctive. It looks like a designer bean--or a modern art bean.  The Mayflower and Mother Stoddard beans were good producers and the Maine Cranberry beans are big. This winter, I plan to cook these each separately to see what they are like.
Tomato and mushroom marinara made from primarily farmers market ingredients.
Over the summer I cooked up dozens of containers of Tomato Mushroom Marinara, all of which I froze. Yep, I freeze stuff.  I'm not good at all the steam and stove top business unless I'm cooking marinara sauce to the strains of Pavarotti singing O Solo Mio and sipping a glass of good red wine.  I believe tomato sauce needs to be produced in the correct atmosphere to reach its full potential.

Yes! I'm using the cottolin towels I wove.
Time to get the Pavarotti DVD's going again, because enough tomatoes have ripened in my dining room to make another small pot of sauce--probably enough for an evening or two of meals.

In summer, I had to rely heavily on Farmers Market for these forays into sauce making because I just don't have enough tomatoes ripening at one time to support the kind of production I needed to fill the freezer.  We also saved broccoli and beans so we can have a locavore winter. You can see to the left some other plastic containers filled with farmer's market broccoli.  I am experimenting with doing my freezing in reusable containers as I dislike throwing away heavy duty freezer plastic baggies.

Purple dyed alpaca being spun.
Naturally, I'm busy with all my fiber crafts too!  It seems like I've been spinning this locally grown alpaca I dyed purple for a very long time.  I'm making a two ply for weaving so the yarn is fairly thin and yes it is taking a VERY long time.  Or so it seems, but I'm beginning to see the end of the bags of home carded batts.  In the meantime I'm blending locally grown merino and alpaca for another project. Craftsteading never ends. It is a long string of projects that feed into the next in a long slow cycle of living.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Towels, tomatoes and garden investments

Newly finished 8/2 cottolin towels.
Ironing is one of my least favorite activities, right up there with cleaning up a dog accident, so I did hesitate to do the last step in finishing these towels:  getting the iron out and pressing them.  Technically, I didn't have to since I made these for me to use.  I could have just hung them in the kitchen straight from the dryer and that would be that.  Who, after all, irons their towels?

The demands of the beauty shot to post on my blog and Ravelry had me digging out the iron from its place of neglect on a shelf in my workshop.  Above and below are the attempts.  I took 16 photos, by the way, and because of the close quarters of my workspace there was often something unbeautiful in my shot--like an electrical plug or pen.

Cropped to remove odds and ends on workspace.

But they are done, and I have something to show for all this time.  Fringing towels is pretty low-energy work, easily done while watching TV or just relaxing.  Since being sick, I'm way behind in my weaving plans.  Lately, I come home from work and nap, rather than work on warping.

Bout of warp for studio curtains.
I'm still winding warp for Bella, the 60" LeClerc Nilus II jack loom.  Really I should be busy weaving by now.  Weaving is a fairly active hobby and not something to do while not feeling well.  I hope that this week, I'll be energetic enough to finish winding the warp and start putting it on the loom.
Basket of ripening tomatoes

My garden is still producing tomatoes!  I was surprised to finding plants outside with tomatoes turning red.  Along with those I brought inside, I have about 2 dozen tomatoes to cook with today.  I even have a few peppers that were hidden enough by foliage not to be ruined by the frost.

Gardening is an investment, I'm discovering.  I start with some seed or a nursery plant, do the best I can and here it comes producing dividends even well after a killing frost.  I guess the trick is to make a good investment in hardy stock, good soil and a nice sunny place to grow.  It's October and I'm still making homemade sauce, leaving what I've stored up in the freezer untouched!

I hope everyone has a nice week, stays healthy, and thanks for visiting my blog.  I do plan to have a giveaway ready once I've really kicked this cold thing. Keep on crafting and see you next week!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

First frost, first flu, first milestone

Ted picked the tomatoes after first frost.
Life got in the way of my plans to celebrate my blog's milestone of 10,000 hits.  I planned to find some pretty roving to give away to visitors and that has been delayed because I caught a bad case of that awful bug that is going around.  I spent the last week--more than a week really--coughing and sleeping and taking medicine and seeing the doctor as it was that bad.  But I'm pretty much back--though I won't be doing any singing.  On Thursday I completely lost my voice and today only a fraction of it is back.  Feels like a whole week was kind of cut out of my life as I got nothing useful done. 

There's nothing to show for all this time.  When I wasn't sleeping (or coughing) I read.  Occasionally I skulked on Ravelry--anything that could be done from the comfort of an overstuffed recliner where I could nap.  I highly recommend a big stuffy recliner for being sick--from it I could sleep, read, surf.  Mostly sleep under a big fluffly comforter. I could use the end table for water and Ricolah and tissue.  This chair is very comfy. I'm typing from it now and feeling a little like dozing off.

Tomatoes ripening inside.
The frost came over Tuesday night and on Wednesday all the tomato plants were withered.  Ted picked the ripening and the green ones.  We have a big basket o green tomatoes and maybe they will ripen for us.  We have a few that look ready to eat or cook with.

So this week I will continue to take it easy--no heroic feats of weaving for me. I want that bug to go away and stay away. I will dig through my stash for that pretty roving, though and hopefully find it for next week.