Friday, 30 May 2014
Monday, 26 May 2014
I tried making pickles last fall. I followed the recipe in the Ball book for brined dill pickles. I left them brining in the basement for a few weeks and when I pulled them out, the girls and Greg loved them. Then I canned them. It completely changed the flavor and texture of the pickles. We were all sad. The girls (and Greg) both love pickles, so I had to try again. Today I made 3 kinds of pickles (brined dill, kosher dill and bread and butter), but only one jar each. I tried the brined dill pickles again, but rather than the 10 pounds of cucumbers the recipe called for, I tried it with about 1 pound. I tried dividing out the recipe to add a tenth of each item. I used 2X about 3/4 tablespoon of the Ball Mixed Pickling Spice (one for the top and one for the bottom). I added 6 cloves of garlic, which is what the original recipe called for. What? We love garlic. The jar only held about a cup and a quarter of liquid after adding the cucumbers, so I mixed a cup of water with a hearty splash of vinegar and 2.5 tablespoons of salt. I also used some wilted dill. I bought it last weekend to make pickles, but didn't get around to making them for a couple days (seriously, only 2 days) and my cucumbers went off. The dill wilted, but otherwise looked OK, so I used it anyway.
Sunday, 25 May 2014
Yesterday, I went with Janette and her friend Sara to make glass birds at the Toledo Museum of Art. We had taken similar workshops and made pumpkins, icicles and flowers. Each used different techniques to shape the glass. I didn't know how we would make the birds, but it turns out that we didn't really use any different techniques.
I broke down today and bought some more strawberries. This gives me a third kind. Carol gave me some store bought everbearing strawberries and some wild ones. The ones I bought today are "June bearing" and had small strawberries already. I put them on the porch while we went out for family stuff. When we got back, something had eaten some of the strawberries, or at least parts of them. I suspect Chipmunks. It didn't really look like a bird had gotten to it. If it becomes a problem, I'll try bird netting, but if it is chipmunks (which we have lots of), the netting won't help.
Friday, 23 May 2014
Today was a busy day. It started out with Field Day at Valerie's school. I volunteered to help out. My station was the hurdle station. The kids came through one class at a time and we had them run in pairs. They could go over, under or zig-zag around them. It was entertaining. Unfortunately, Valerie tripped over the starting cone and was so upset about it that she could hardly finish. I do think she had a good time at the rest of the stations. I did get to see her in the sack race (at a distance) at the tug of war (her group won 4), dribbling basketballs (difficult for most of them in Kindergarten) and a game where they were tossing balls over a high rope. It appeared that any balls that were caught were taken out of play until they were gone. Afterward, we handed out popsicles to Valerie's class. It was a good morning.
Sunday, 18 May 2014
Friday I spent the morning rearranging the kitchen. I didn't get nearly as much accomplished as I had hoped, but it looks better. I finished the scarf/hood combo that I was working on. It just needs buttons. I'll have to get pictures.
Monday, 12 May 2014
Saturday, 10 May 2014
Garden update. I had planted lettuce seeds on two different occasions and both rows are up. The girls were having fun planting the onions so we had planted the whole pack I bought. Today I counted over 40 onions. I'm not sure yet if the green onion seeds are up. There is something there that looks like it could be green onion but could also be grass as there is something else similar in other parts of the garden. I think my carrots popped up just today. One of the tomato plants is getting a flower as is one of the pepper plants. So far there is no sign of the cucumbers. The lettuce plants look OK, but don't seem to be growing very fast. I'm probably just being impatient. Between the plants and the seeds, I have lettuce taking up half of one of the gardens. I'll have to figure out what to put there after the lettuce is done. I hear it will be finished early enough to put something else there. I think the zinnia and wildflower seeds that I planted have sprouted. I spent some time today weeding the flower garden in the front yard and trying to remove some of the thistle from the thistle garden. I've almost filled one of the compost tubs, but I put lots of branches in it, so it probably won't compost quickly. I'm going to try to keep putting stuff in it for a bit. Yesterday I went to get a countertop container that the city provided for putting kitchen scraps in. They intend for people to put things in there then empty them into the compost bins that they pick up. I plan to use it for collecting and taking stuff out to my compost bin. Between broccoli and leeks last night, I've half filled it already and emptied into the compost bin. Bah, I just lost half of my post. It's the one problem I have with this computer is that if I touch the area in front of the keys just right, it selects a chunk of the post and if I'm writing at the time, deletes it. Let's see if I can remember what I wrote. I spent some time today weeding the flower garden and trying to remove thistles from the thistle garden. It's supposed to be mostly ground cover, but the thistles were thick in there last fall. I think they are annuals but are very good at seeding themselves, so I figure if I keep them from going to seed, we will have fewer thistles next summer. Today I took the girls to the Ann Arbor Mini Maker's Fair. Valerie received a flier for it yesterday. I think she enjoyed going. We did a "make and take" that taught us how to solder by making a little "robot" pin with light up LED eyes. We had to solder in the LEDs and the pin and battery case. I enjoyed making it and she loved wearing it. There was a teddy bear on a swing that was swinging with the help of a small motor with a bar under the ropes of the swing. Both girls liked that. There was also a guy there with a setup that drew on Christmas ornaments with a Sharpie. Valerie was really taken with that. She kept watching the video that showed it drawing on an ornament. He then put in an ornament so she could see it. It didn't get quite set up right, so most of the stars are missing from the NY skyline that it drew on the ornament. He let her take it home. They had a banana piano where you held a alligator clip in one hand and touch bananas to complete the circuit. Each one was set up to play a tone. Both girls tried it and both seemed a bit scared of it. I think the girls will really enjoy the fair as they get older. We had a good day today except for two snags. I made the mistake of leaving the girls alone with the sunscreen for a minute and they completely over did it and got it all over the floor. I had told Valerie just a little for her feet as we had already done the rest of both of them. Cordelia has been biting lately. Usually just Valerie for some reason. She got her good this evening on the back. I don't know why she's biting. I don't know how to stop it. Valerie has been impressing me lately with her reading. I've heard her sounding out words both in reading and in writing. She gave me the best Mother's day book today. It was set up with sentence beginnings like "I like when my mom and I" for her to fill in and a space for her to draw something. I love it!
Saturday, 3 May 2014
Over the past week, I've seamed my sweater, knitted the button bands, tried to figure out how the collar fit on to an odd shaped neckline, tore out some of the seams, re seamed the seams and picked up stitches for the collar. I guess I didn't pay enough attention to the construction of the sweater and put it together as a raglan, which it isn't. I was confused how the collar would go on, but in talking to Greg about it, I figured out that there should have been shoulder seams with a fitted in sleeve. I changed it to that construction. It now fits better (the neckline had seemed way too big) and the neckline looks much better. I picked up the proper number of stitches for the collar and will knit the collar tonight if I get the chance. As for the garden. We planted the rest of the onion bulbs. The girls enjoy planting them and we just fitted them in kind of randomly into the rest of the garden. They'll either grow or not. I also planted another row of carrots, lettuce and green onions as well as some cucumber. I need to plant more peas and beans as I don't think the ones I planted a while back had a high survival rate. If they do grow now that the soil is warmer, I'll just have to thin them out. I think I'll get a couple more tomatoes and perhaps some celery to finish the space I have in the garden. I spent some time trying to move the dirt out of our driveway. We want to use it to improve the grading around the house, so I dumped some along the front of the house and a bit on the side. I'm not sure yet what the angle of the grading should be, so I didn't want to get carried away with it and over do it, but I expect that we will want more soil there to bring the angle away from the house some. We will need to get two more window covers for the side of the house. A week ago yesterday, I spent much of the day going through stuff (mostly in the basement) to get rid of. On Wednesday I delivered the stuff to my friend for her garage sale to benefit their Boy Scout troup. It felt nice to get the stuff out of the house. The basement looks much more spacious. I do need to spend time going through the girls' toys to weed out some of the stuff they don't play with and our clothes, but I made much progress in getting this place better sorted. Yesterday was my final Friday working. I'm going down to working Monday through Thursday except when there is something that makes me take a day off earlier in the week. I want to use it to do some crafting, but also to get some other projects done around the house. Today, I bought a two barrel tumbling composter. In our back yard, we have a chicken wire enclosure that had been used for composting. It is rather ugly and I think it would be rather inefficient. There really isn't a way to get the compost out of the bottom either. It is supposed to be mixed, but that would be tough as well. The nice thing about the composter I got is that it stays moist, can be turned for mixing and is supposed to be quicker in composting. It also looks much nicer. I hope it works well. I want it to work as I think the idea of composting is great and I assume that I'll want to add compost to my garden each year. I'm sure if I get more than I need, I'll be able to offer some to friends and family. I also did a bit of weeding today. There is one type of weed that we have in many random places in the yard. I've discovered a couple areas where some plants are growing where I don't know what they are. I'm a bit concerned that they're hostas. Neither of us care for them and we don't really want them in the yard. Someone pointed out that they could be lily of the valley. I thought that was better, but they are poisonous and have berries. I'll have to be sure to keep the girls out of them. I don't think they'll be after the greenery or flowers, but they may have to be mowed at the first sign of berries.