Friday, June 29, 2012

The Speed of Life

Hello, Friends.  I've missed connecting with you, but frankly I feel like the picture below!

Do you sometimes feel that life is just moving at a dizzying pace?  Summer is here and it is supposed to be a time to kick back...  A time of Rest and Relaxation....  Aahhh.....  But somehow it seems that the days got busier.  Honestly, I enjoy the busy-ness of tending the garden and taking the little ones to swim, but I tend to fail miserably and go downhill quickly if I let myself get too over-tired.  Know what I mean?  Life has really caught up with me this past week and I've teetered on the edge of being a stressed-out-caffiene-consuming-crazy-woman.  Ok, some  in the Hearth Room would argue the "teetering on the edge" part....  But the good news is I managed to recognize my downward spiral and do something about it.  After squeezing in the last few committments of the week and having a talk with myself about how the garden and kitchen floor demands CAN wait til the weekend, I feel much better. 

En route to my downward spiral was a wonderful little time away that served multiple purposes.  We attended a homeschool convention where Young Man was in his very first chess tournament and I got to surround myself with learning materials of every kind.  From there we headed to the shore for a bit of a camping adventure.  The very first thing I do is set up a 'kitchen' while the Guys put up the 'house'.  Part of setting up our 'kitchen' table requires decorations.  We particularyly liked this little heart shaped rock and oyster shell, since we were camping at the beach. 

Did you notice I said, "beach?"  Tent camping is a tricky combination of relaxing and working yourself silly, but beach camping is just more work than being home!  Sand.  Need I say more?  So the very few moments of calm were so special!  Sitting by the fire at night was great, roasting marshmallows with little ones.  But sitting by the fire in the morning was even better!  Calm, quiet, yarny goodness time by the fire!

With coffee!!!

All in all, it was a wonderful treat to visit some of the area where I grew up and I got to spend a little time with my mother and grandparents.  One of my favorite places is the little town of Lewes, Delaware.  It's a more quiet beauty as far as summer beach towns go if you know what I mean.  We also spent some time with the kids at Rehoboth Beach, but that consists of parking meters, crowded boardwalks and spending all the quarters that have collected in your house for the past year.  It's all good fun and we do love the candy shops and rides, but it can be a bit overwhelming.

It's always so nice to come back home after a few days away.  It was great fun to see the changes in the garden and to see that the weeds behaved while we were gone. 

And I was VERY happy to find that my concoction of homemade, natural pesticide worked like a champ and saved my poor cabbages.  There aren't poor any more!

The potato bags look great...  Well to me anyway, but I'm a fairly inexperienced Farm Girl!  Hope there are some taters growing in there!

And just a peek at one of my Moments of Whimsey:  My Unconventional Squash Patch.  Since we are still in the process of tearing out and rebuilding landscaping (and everything else at the Hearth Room), I decided to plant some squash seeds and nasturtiums along a portion of our patio out back. 

You can see here that we are still very much in the process of tearing out and fixing, but I am so in love with my little squash patch.  It's growing so nicely!  I have had to catch a few squash bugs lately and I'm not happy they have found me out so quickly, but so far things are looking good!

Here you can see there was a fairly unsightly, rock-walled, concrete-bottomed, very-dangerous-for-Sweet-Pea fish pond and waterfall here that has not been properly loved for years.  In the process of tearing it down we disturbed a very busy yellow jacket nest.  Yep, that halted production for a bit.  But we are back on track with our slow determination.  Just as soon as this 100 degree temperature business subsides. 

Keep cool and well where you are!  And don't get overworked or over tired and be a grump like me!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fresh Cherries, Berries and Cream

Hello Sweet Friends! 

Are you enjoying any fresh, spring produce yet?  If you don't grown your own, the little markets should be peddling local goodies by now. 

We have a few cherry trees here at the Hearth Room.  Actually, I knew of 2 of them.  Only just last week did we realize we have a few more along our back property line.  Now, we do NOT have a large property by any means, but we do have a row of Leland Cypress trees that block the view of our back fence.  A little exploring up there while picking cherries revealed a few little trees we didn't know about.

We love picking cherries from our trees.  It's such a relaxing, yet exciting thing to do.  The joy of seeing the ripened fruit and knowing it's just there outside your door.  The kids especially love it.  We are teaching Sweet P. to spit pits!  Silly, I know, teaching a girl to spit - of all things....  But this time it's really necessary!  Young Man is a pro at it, of course...

It's such a fun idea to have a fresh snack growing so handy right beside the garden.  Work a while, snack from the tree, back to work...

Aren't they enticing?  Each little cherry seems redder than the last, so you don't know when to stop picking!  Just one more... OOoo... Look at that one, up there!

After lots of picking there is a lot of washing.  This alone seems to be a fun, new game to some.

And lots of fresh munching, (and pit-spitting)...

Then we start baking with cherries.  This was a cobbler recipe I came across, but it actually turned out to be more of a cake, if you ask me.  It's a bit sweet and I look forward to tweaking this recipe the next time I make it.  I will be glad to share that when I do it.

After the baking, we still have more cherries to preserve.  I have prepared some to freeze as pie filling and some to use in smoothies, but I think it's time to learn to make jams or preserves.  Especially before the blackberries come on.

And then there are the strawberries...  Not that our little beds are producing much yet, but we have been given some plump, red berries that needed to be served up properly.  So it was Very Necessary to make a shortcake.  Now, if you know me at all, you know that Granny taught me (almost) everything good that I know!  And part of all my Granny Goodness involves cooking.  This shortcake is no exception, but are you ready for this??  She always used the Bisquick Shortcake recipe!  And you know what?  It never disappoints! 

We don't use much that comes out of a box here at the Hearth Room, but we make an exception for this one!

Adding just a touch of cream from our local Homestead Creamery and it's just perfect!

Oh, and I also learned that if one is making a shortcake with sugared strawberries and one runs out of sugar, that brown sugar works Really well!

I have also been soooo excited over a magazine that is New To Me...  It is MaryJane's Farm...  And I just want to share it with you in case you've not yet discovered it yourself.  I have some family members who have an organic farm, Woodland Harvest Farm, and my cousin recently sent some old magazines my way, ( which is always welcomed!).  In the mix was the past years worth of MaryJane's Farm.  This magazine is as beautiful as it is  helpful.  It's so chock full of gardening and organic living tips and ideas, but it is gorgeous and feminine!  I LOVE it!  I can't believe I've been missing out on this for so long.  Now I look forward to afternoon tea time when the kids are having their quiet time, so I can really concentrate on some MaryJane Goodness.  Yes, I know, it is competing with my crochet time!

Ahhh....  A whole year to enjoy catching up on.  Lovely...

On a side note, the garden it growing lots of pretty, young things right now!  I love the fresh, new green colors.  This beet was pulled just in order to thin a bit more, but it was eaten rather quickly, as it didn't make it into the house.

Another thing that has been eaten fresh from the garden is our cabbage.  Although, not by us!  We have some slug or caterpillar critters having a great munch on the cabbages, so I have made some homemade, natural pesticide to try!  This is my concoction of chopped garlic, water, cayenne pepper and natural dish washing liquid.  I've been out and doused our bothered veggies, so I'll let you know how it goes!


p.s.  I'm still studying the valance/apron!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Crochet Valance In the Making

Hello friends!  I'm so glad you stopped by today. 

Do you remember I showed you a little peek of my new red and white crochet squares in the making?  Do you remember that I had forgotten exactly what my original plan was?

Well, that is why it's sooo nice to have a little Crochet Inspirational Journal! So when that flood of hooky ideas hits I can doodle and draw and jot down notes so I don't totally forget everything!  Thankfully, I did make a few notes about this crocheted valance I wanted to attempt for Young Man's room.  A while back I decided to try to make something for his room, buy if you remember, I was trying to make something that would be....  acceptable for a Guy's Room.... Even though it was of the hooky persuasion. 

And aren't cats funny?  As soon as they catch on that you need to open a book for something, for any reason, it becomes an invitation for them to be a part of it.  So I had only a few seconds to view my sketch before Axle arrived and plunked his plump self down onto my journal.  This phenomenon continues into our classroom on pretty much a daily basis here at the Hearth Room, too.  We actually refer to Ginger as our Home Edu-Cat.  She is also learning to read along with the children.  Axle on the other hand, I don't think is quite as ambitious.  He simply wants to be noticed.

Carrying on:  Here is a sample of my 3 three Nordic Star Squares put together to form the base of my valance.  This link takes you to Ravelry which is full of wonderful patterns and ideas. 

I went with this particular square (after much consideration and searching for the right pattern) as I felt that this star shape could be viewed as something along the lines of a target.  Ok.  There you go...  Is that too much of a stretch?  Lol.  I mean, it has to be Guy-ish!  Since Young Man is into Boy Scouts and archery and shooting target practice, it seemed to be the best thing I found called a Granny Square that I could simply misconstrue as Guy-ish. 

Looking at this picture now it seems fairly flower-ish.  Hmmm.  It would make a nifty apron for myself!  I will keep that idea open as I progress. 

I'm using Knit Picks Cotlin DK for this project as it is a blend of cotton and linen and is durable and washes well.  Although, it does let a lot of light in from behind, so more hanging and testing and deliberating lies ahead.

I slip stitched these squares together and started bordering them along the top and bottom with Granny Stripe.  I did a simple single crochet border along the sides.  I need to continue in this pattern to get it just a bit larger and see how it 'feels' hanging over the window.  Then I will know if I have an apron in the making or not!

Do you know what this is?  Or what it should be?

She does!

This is Ginger. She has apparently forgotten the discussion we had and the promises we made about our catnip. 

We will be chatting again real soon when she is done with her happy, catnip- induced rolling episode. 

In the mean time, I will go play with my valance/apron and plant some more catnip seeds and we'll see what comes of both.

Have a happy weekend!

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