No Sleep ‘Til Rhinebeck

Have I used that title before? It’s apt, every year, I think. And not just for me. Every fiber crafter I know has something they want to complete before the festival each year. Last year, it was my Shepherd Sweater. This year, Chimney Fire. I’m about done with the length – I just need to complete the ribbing on the bottom – which leaves the sleeves. Can I manage it in time? Your guess is as good as mine.

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I can’t wait to wear it.

The girls are all working on various items for the festival, too. Emily is sewing a top, Neve has started her first hat, and Oona is working on a fall-colored scarf.

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Trying to wind yarn in this house is rather challenging.

Speaking of cats, our hospice patient has been responding very well to the prednisone.

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She’s been perkier, more playful, and even put on a bit of weight.

Of course, everyone’s feeling better with the cooler temperatures lately. It actually feels like fall. Which means we are feeling like baking every day.

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Bread. I used the Cinnamon Bread recipe from King Arthur that I always do, but instead of mixing the cinnamon for the filling with eggs and water, I substituted pumpkin. Divine!  (I tried to link the recipe here, but I’m using my iPad, which makes things difficult. I’ll try editing later to add it).

We haven’t yet gone apple picking, but I’m going to make that happen very soon. So many apple treats to make!

Not Feeling Forty

It happened. I turned 40. I don’t know how; I certainly don’t feel 40! There are many days still when I wonder how it is that I’m the adult around here. Now, if you must turn 40, it’s best to do it in the company of some of the best people you know. Which is, luckily, and 100% thanks to my best friend Jessie, what I did.

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Though there are a couple of people missing, I was surprised by all the people I love most. I don’t know how I got so lucky.

Now that my birthday has come and gone, we are well and truly on our way to fall. Hooray!!! The light quality has already changed quite a bit – though the temperature is still disappointingly hot – and the fall flowers and colors are starting to show.

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These flowers started popping up in late August and are now exploding everywhere, especially along the stream.

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There are persimmons on the tree again. It would be nice if we could harvest them before the squirrels eat them all. Not that I am super crazy about persimmons…..but still!

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While I was out and about looking at the persimmons and admiring the flowers, I decided to check closer to the stream, and ran into this guy:

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I noticed him and froze. He noticed me and froze. I remained perfectly still, and he continued on rooting around in the grass for whatever it was he was on the lookout for. After a few moments he began waddling off on his merry way, and I was happy to watch him disappear off into the distance. I wasn’t out to get skunked, for sure! I’ve warned the kids to be more aware outside now; this happened right in the middle of the day!

He WAS pretty cute, I have to admit. And, as long as he steers clear of the chickens, he’s welcome to hang out on the periphery of the farm. Any closer and the dogs would be happy to make his acquaintance.

The End Of August

This is it, folks. The last day of August. Summer is coming fast to a close. Tomorrow is the start of my most favorite time of year, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  The kids are enjoying their last full week off before school starts. The animals certainly look ready for cooler weather, hiding out in the shade all day being lethargic.  Even inside,the cats have been favoring darker, cooler spots under beds during the day.

Unfortunately my battery charger for my camera has died, so the pictures in this post are all from my phone.

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Little Poppet, who is almost a year old now and still impossibly tiny.

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I started working on my sweater again for the first time in a few months. I realized that Rhinebeck is not actually that far away now, so I’d better get it done!

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A portion of the garden’s output this year. I may have been robbed of my tomatoes (stupid deer), but boy my pumpkins have come through!

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Asters and mums!!!!

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There’s still plenty of goldenrod all around as well.

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Flapjack and Charlie have become something of an item. He follows Charlie wherever he goes, and Charlie shares his food with him. Normally, Charlie will snap at anyone who gets in on his food (the chickens, the goats, the dogs, Churchill), but for some reason he doesn’t mind Flapjack. Must be love!

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While Flapjack is following Charlie, Charlie is generally following me. He loves having his ears scratched!

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Of course, I think he also is always hoping I’ll have a treat for him.

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Morning glories! You know what that means………my birthday is just around the corner!

Hamil-Ween

Have I mentioned how obsessed with Hamilton we all are around here? It’s been the only music played at home and in the cars for months now. We’ve also devoured the book, and though we haven’t actually seen the play, it feels like we know it cold.

Since my children perpetually have Halloween on the brain it was no surprise really when Neve and Oona announced they wanted to go as the Schuyler sisters this year. Since there are 3 – Peggy, Angelica, and Eliza – they insisted that I must go as Eliza. Twist my arm, why don’t you?

Oona was happy to be Peggy (I don’t know, I kind of thought no one would want poor Peggy’s part), so Neve is going as Angelica.

For me, the fun in all of this will be making the costumes. It’s been ages and ages since any of the kids wanted my help sewing their costumes. Neve wants to make hers on her own, but I will be making Oona’s and my own.

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I’m looking forward to a lot of time in my craft room, working on all of the projects I’ve had in limbo. Like the Washi dress I’m halfway through.

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So much sewing, so little time.

If you haven’t hopped on the Hamilton bandwagon……DO IT! Start with the soundtrack; you won’t regret it!

Jamming in the Summer

Lately I’ve been craving jam. A lot. I think it *may* have something to do with my friend Sarah in Canada who keeps posting pictures of all the delicious jams she’s been making the last couple of months. But, as I don’t at the moment have a ready supply of fruit to use (some people around here keep eating it all before it can be used for anything…..), I turned to what I DO have: tomatoes. Tomato jam is incredibly delicious. You can use it in place of ketchup, or slather it on some french bread with chevre  (the yumminess!).  I also wouldn’t judge you for eating it out of the jar with a spoon.

The recipe I use comes from the fabulous Food In Jars by Marisa McClellan. Chopped tomatoes get cooked down with cinnamon, cloves, red peppers, lime juice, ginger, and sugar to make a zesty, sweet/savory, tomato-y jam that will deliciously haunt your dreams forever.

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I can’t wait to put this on everything!

The downside is how wonderfully fall-like it made the house smell, what with the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. We’re struggling hard to enjoy every last bit of summer before we have to close the pool and pack up our sun dresses and sandals for the year, but the light quality is already changing and the nights have gotten noticeably cooler. Enjoy this last bit of summer, everyone. It won’t last long.

The Pancake Queen

Oona has always been our pancake fiend. Since she was old enough to take her first bite, she’s been completely obsessed. Every morning she’d have pancakes (or “panic-cakes”, as she called them) if she could. The problem is, I don’t necessarily want to make them every day.

Neve is pretty proficient with them, but Oona has also had trouble convincing her to get up early to whip out a batch for her. So recently, Oona decided to take matters into her own hands. She searched around Pinterest until she found a good, easy recipe she could put together on her own. Then she went to work.

Over the past few months she’s gotten good enough that she can make a batch of perfect – if plain – pancakes on her own. I decided yesterday it was time she upgraded to a better recipe.

Now, there are lots and lots of pancake recipes I like, but I decided Oona would love the recipe from New England Farmgirl, by my friend Jessica.  Using maple sugar in the batter charmed Oona right away, and I knew we had a winner.

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She’ll need to practice folding in the beaten egg whites before she gets it just right, but she’s ready to jump in and try.

We decided to use blueberries this time, and the results were just what we wanted: light, fluffy, perfect pancakes.

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I had to restrain myself so as not to eat the entire plate. Before I know it, I’ll be waking up to these beauties more often than not. And how can you start a day better than that?

Escape!

There have been several escapes going on here lately. Firstly, the unintended escape from this blog I apparently had!  I have no real excuse, other than it’s summer, and busy, and yet somehow lazy at the same time.

I’ve also started working very part-time for friends who opened a new business downtown. It hardly feels like work; being in a fun place with your best friends makes the time fly and feel more like you’re socializing than working. It’s my next “escape” that’s been going on: Cville Escape Room. Have you ever been to an escape room? I never had. There are three rooms so far, each with a unique, completely immersive theme. When I’m there, I’m typically greeting people and re-setting the rooms after a group has “escaped”. It has gotten me out of the house and downtown a bit, which is my favorite part of Charlottesville.

My third escape? Book club weekend in Virginia Beach! Believe it or not, my camera didn’t come out with me this time. I felt the pictures were getting redundant, and I always worry about sand and saltwater getting in it and mucking it up. But, I do wish I had captured a group image this year, because we have two new members: Victoria and Maddie. Maddie! Yes, she’s finally official, and finally legal to come with us. And I couldn’t be happier, because she’s recently made an escape of her own. She and John moved into their own place up near D.C., where they’ve both got wonderful jobs. I’m so proud of her and how far she’s come.

But what about farm life, you ask?

The garden has done quite well this year, despite the massive amounts of rain drowning everything.

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Bumper crop of cucumbers, anyone? Before the dreaded wild morning glory weeds choked them out while I was away, the cucumber plants went mad with production power. So much so, that I have more pickles than I will ever need, have been eating them daily for lunch, and didn’t care when they were finally taken over.

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A mere fraction of what is in my fridge.

The zucchini and yellow squash didn’t fare quite as well; the squash bugs made a comeback mid-season. But, I did get enough of both to make it a success anyway.

The tomatoes have been the real disappointment. We had hundreds of fruit set on the vines and then we had several damaging issues. First, deer jumped the fence and trampled the plants, stealing many of the green tomatoes right off the vine. Then, the rain came and made the ground super soggy, causing a lot of wilt. And third, tomatoes in general are very late this year for everyone. So although I still have several healthy plants, the tomatoes are still very green and not wanting to ripen. I’ve gotten a mere handful of red ones.

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Better than nothing, right? I do still count them as a success, because I managed to do everything right: the soil, the mulch, the diatomaceous earth. If not for deer, rain, and mother nature, I’d have more than I could handle.

Then there’s the pumpkin patch. It’s gone insane. HUNDREDS of orange pumpkins. I needed the tractor to carry them all up to the house. Then I spent two damn days washing them in bleach solution to keep them preserved. In addition, I’ve pulled a dozen giant white flat pumpkins, several blue jarrahdale pumpkins, 6 big, beautiful butternut squash, and 2 giant acorn squash. The squash bugs and vine borers got to the field mid-season as well, and since the squash flowers were blooming and buzzing with pollinators, I didn’t want to treat for pests.

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The pigs have enjoyed quite a lot of pumpkins that I couldn’t save from the bugs.

The dogs, sheep, and goats are trying their best to fend of the humidity and the flies. Despite many generous applications of fly repellent and ointments, poor Sabine’s ear is rather raw. She’s gotten squirrely on me now, and if she sees me with anything at all in my hand, she won’t let me near her. She’ll be happy once fly season is done.

Piper is recovering from getting her foot stuck in the joint of a tree trunk. She’d been stuck there all day when I found her, and it took some doing to get her freed. Her skin above her ankle tore down to the bone (it’s very thin there anyway), but she was patient as I cleaned her up and got her sewn back together. The wound itself is now cleanly healed, though she’s had some secondary swelling in her hoof off and on. She’s walking just fine again, regardless.  My main concern is flystrike for everyone, though, so we’ve been keeping a vigilant eye out. I still get no shortage of enjoyment out of seeing them out there every day, and coming to the fence to beg for treats.

And, of course, I can’t help but try to infect everyone else with my enthusiasm for my fibery babies.

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