Peepers, willows, and geese

March 31, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Posted in country life, country living, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, Life, love, photography, recipes, shopping, travel, yarn | 5 Comments
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My husband’s grandfather had a saying about the peepers freezing three times before spring officially arrives … we heard them last week, then there was a freeze and we heard them again this week.  I don’t know if this counts as them being frozen twice already, or only once.  What I do know is that once you start hearing peepers the glowing green grass and flowering fruit trees are not too far behind.

Between now and then we will hear more and more peepers until peepers is about all we can hear, there will be so many birds singing that they will wake us in the morning and charm us during the evening hours, the geese will create an ever increasing symphony (I think of it as a symphony, though some might consider it a cacophony) of calls and honks as they feed in the fields around us and fly overhead at dusk and dawn.

The willows will transform from their lean, graceful golden winter state to a plumper green-gold of early spring as the buds of their little leaves begin popping to the surface up and down their slender whips.

This in-between time when the peepers are freezing and thawing and the world is slowly waking from a long, cold winter nap is a time of sweet anticipation of warmth and beauty we know will come.

I wanted to thank everyone who participated in the drawing my son and I held last week going into this one. When I asked people to visit the Love Letters Treasury at Etsy and from there to visit my son’s store then go back and leave a comment at the Treasury I didn’t know what to expect. It was so fun to read the various comments people made, coming up with creative ways to mention something they had seen in his store.

If you didn’t check it out, you might enjoy reading through their comments … somehow it seems like a walk in a park to me. I don’t know why. Check it out and see how it impresses you.

Using a random number generator, I selected three winners from those who left comments. I contacted each of the winners via the “convo” feature at Etsy and have heard back from two. The winners are:

phqueenb = Grand Prize
nuttywifery = First Prize
sandyp218 = Second Prize

By the way, you should check out Flying Junction’s new “Keep Calm and Carry On” vintage style print, available in 32 decorator colors. I will be hanging one of these in my dinning room shortly to remind us all to do just that … keep calm and carry on.

And, I notified one reader who participated in last week’s survey that she is a winner in another random drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate — congratulations Linda H. She tells me she will be picking up a new knitting book from Amazon, how sweet is that.

I have another survey for the same client this week, and there will be another random drawing of all participants for a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate. If you are willing to help, it is a brief survey–only four questions–so if you can take a couple of minutes to participate you can get into the random drawing. Note: To be eligible for the drawing, you must complete the survey by midnight tonight, 31 March 2011.Check it out here.

Tomorrow I will post Stage 3 directions for my Summer in the Country Cotton Blanket Knit-Along, so be sure to check back if you are participating. If you aren’t in the knit along yet, check it out and look at some of the photos members of the group are posting on their blogs, Ravelry, etc. to show their progress. It is a lovely pattern, with some cool surprises as you go along.

Next week be on the look out for two recipes for Pimento Cheese, a delicious and refreshing sandwich spread. My son and I will share the down home southern style spread my mama used to make when I was a kid along with his updated urban gourmet style spread that I have yet to try. Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Hope you have a great day!

Best wishes,
~firefly and son

My son is a designer, graphic artist and photographer (Etsy seller: FlyingJunction at http://flyingjunction.etsy.com, specializing in vintage look subway signs and bus scrolls). He has worked as a professional artist and graphic designer for more than ten years. His t-shirt designs, sold both online and in exclusive boutiques, have been worn by celebrities around the globe and are frequently spotted at major sporting events, in celebrity photos, television productions, and music videos. He commutes between Los Angeles and the family farm in upstate New York, calling both places home. We collaborate on many things, including recipe development and the Knitter’s and Crocheter’s Eye Chart prints and other fiber lover art prints I sell in my Etsy store.

Spring sprang a pond

March 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Posted in country life, country living, crochet, family, free knitting patterns, gifts, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, Life, love, marriage, photography, relationships, shopping, travel, yarn | 6 Comments
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Each year when the snow melts away a vernal (vernal: 2. appearing or occurring in spring: vernal migratory movements-ref: Dictionary.com) pond reveals itself out by our willow tree. It is always a little bit different in shape, range, and depth. Sometimes it lasts for a very long time, sometimes it goes away too quickly.

This is my fifth spring here on the farm, and the vernal pond is one of my favorite elements of early spring and summer. This year’s pond is the largest we have had, and what you see in this photo is actually not the largest it has been this year; quite a bit of it has already drained into the earth. During the colder part of winter we could have gone ice skating all back around the willow tree because there we had several inches of frozen water in quite a large area.

Today is a beautiful day to share a photo of the willow and the pond, with the gorgeous blue sky and fluffy white clouds as a backdrop. Canadian geese have been flying overhead in large flights each morning and birds of every voice are filling the air in song from early morning to sundown. There are two ducks that appear in the vernal pond each year and they have already returned — I assume it is the same two ducks because it is always just two ducks, never more.

The snow drops have already pushed up through the ground and blossomed, while the alliums have come through the ground but have quite a long way to go before they are tall and skinny with bubbles of color atop their graceful stems.

I have had a cold much of this week and am needed some extra rest today, so I will not be writing a very long post today. There is knitting progress on my Summer in the Country cotton blanket, and the knit-along has gotten off to a nice, friendly start with some very sweet friends making up the group. If you would like to join in, have a look here to get started.

Other news is that my son (designer and Etsy seller FlyingJunction) and I have decided to host a give-away this week. There will be three prizes as follows:

1. Grand prize will be one set of three subway signs from from his shop, shipped directly from his studio with his very special, awesome packaging

2. First prize will be winner’s choice of either a Knitter’s Eye Chart or a Crocheter’s Eye Chart (new!) from my Etsy store

3. Second prize will be winner’s choice of any three knitting patterns from my library as online downloads

Here is how this drawing will work:

1. You must be on my email mailing list to enter — so if you are not on the list yet, sign up here.

2. I created a Treasury at Etsy titled “Love Letters”. Go to that Treasury list and be sure to click on Flying Junction’s item in the Treasury. After viewing his Etsy shop, return to the Treasury and leave a comment at the Treasury — not at this blog, but at the Treasury — using at least two words from one of his prints or signs.

You have from now until 12:00 midnight, Sunday March 27, 2011 to do this. I will hold a random drawing Monday the 28th of March to select our three winners. Winners will be announced here on my blog Tuesday March 29, 2011 and will have 48 hours to get back to me with a their valid email address. Winner’s email addresses will be cross checked against my email mailing list, and if not found there a new name will be drawn — so be sure you are on the list.

One other thing, I have a client who is working on coming up with a name for a new radio show he is doing. I have posted a survey to help him narrow down the names he has come up with so far. If you are willing to help by filling out that survey you could win a $25 Gift Certificate to Amazon.com. Survey entries need to be completed by Sunday evening March 27, 2011 at midnight to be eligible for the drawing.

Now I must go get some more rest … cough, cough, sneeze. I need to get my energy back.

~firefly

Beside myself

March 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Posted in art, country life, country living, faith, family, food, free knitting patterns, gifts, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, Life, love, Mother's Day, recipes, relationships, shopping, sweet potatoes, yarn | 3 Comments
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You can take that statement, “Beside Myself” in a couple of different ways … perhaps.  But I am actually using it as a play on words.  My focus is on the “side” syllable.  I have shared a couple of main course recipes the past two weeks from those my son and I have worked on together, and today I thought I would share two recent side dishes we have deployed into the family menus.

Unfortunately, these two side dishes are so good that each time we make them up, they are devoured before a camera can be fetched–so I have no photos for you.  They are, however, so delicious that I will describe them to you in detail and you will be able to fill in with your own imagination what I have been unable to capture with my camera.

Before I do that, for my knitting readers I need to give an update regarding the summer blanket knit-along I mentioned last week.  There were plenty of people interested in joining in, so I have posted the first set of instructions here (and if you look at the top of my blog, under the header photo there is a navigation tab “KAL”, that is the one you can click on to go directly to the knit along). Be sure to check in there, and sign up in the Comments for the RSS feed for the KAL to stay connected with the group and receive updates via email.

And just one more thing for my knitter readers and other fiber artists. I have been telling you the last few weeks about the Knitter’s Eye Chart art prints my son and I collaborated on. This past weekend we released our newest art print for fiber lovers … I am calling it Stash Pride. As you can see, it states very clearly, “If You Can Read This You Are Standing Too Close to My Stash.” The inspiration for this one should be obvious to any fiber hoarder lover fanatic addict … well, all of those things that we are.

The Fiber Stash is sort of like a sour dough starter that has gone completed out of control. It begins with a tiny little bubbly internal growth that you hardly notice at first but over time (a short amount of time usually) each bubble (represented by one more ball of yarn or poof of wool) multiplies exponentially until before you know it the Stash has taken on a life of its own and is bursting forth, spilling out of the closet, into the hall, throughout every room in your house, into your purse, your car, your garage, your attic, the lawn, the street … well, you know how it is.

The Stash Pride art print is a way of proclaiming the completely obvious, but also making it clear you are proud of your fiber addiction. We created them in five different color schemes and they are available in my Etsy store or on my website in two sizes:

11″ x 17″ for $19, any three for $49
8″ x 10″ for $10, any three for $26

You can also now get the Knitter’s Eye Charts in the 8″ x 10″ size for $10, three in that size for $26 — in addition to the original 11″ x 17″ size ($19, set of three $49).

Okay, back to being Beside Myself with a couple of scrumptious side dishes.

These are both super simple, nutritious side dishes that will tickle your palette and your appetite in a big way: Sweet Potato Almond Jumble, and Roasted Carrots with Asparagus. We came up with both of these sides in an effort to put more alkaline-based food choices on the table in a life-long quest to provide delicious yet healthy food to family.

The Sweet Potato Almond Jumble is delicious for breakfast, or as a side dish any other time of day. This is a beautiful, jewel toned side because sweet potatoes bake to such a glowing orange color. Little almond chunks and almond dust with maple syrup dripping over them on top of the potatoes provide texture visually and in the mouth.

The Roasted Carrots with Asparagus is a surprising punch of flavor, as roasting brings out the rich flavor potential of the carrots and the roasted asparagus gets a bit crunchy–the two vegetable flavors pair perfectly with each other.

Sweet Potato Almond Jumble

1 to 2 large sweet potatoes or yams
1/4 to 1/3 cup finely chopped roasted or raw, unsalted almonds
a touch of butter or an olive oil based butter alternative
touch of sea salt
maple syrup or raw sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Wash potatoes thoroughly in cold water. Puncture several times with a fork. Place on the oven rack and bake until tender throughout, about 40 minutes to one hour depending on how large the potatoes are.

Remove potatoes from oven, cut in half and peel immediately. Slice potato halves into a casserole dish, or directly onto serving plates; cut slices into bite-size pieces and arrange in a little pile. Put a dab of butter or alternative on each pile of potatoes. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt (optional). Sprinkle finely chopped almonds evenly on each potato pile. Drizzle about 1 Tbsp maple syrup over each pile, or 1 or 2 tsps raw sugar (to taste).

Each potato makes a good sized serving for two people.

Roasted Carrots with Asparagus

One bunch of carrots
One bunch of asparagus (preferably younger, thin stalked asparagus)
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F). Wash carrots and asparagus thoroughly. Peel carrots and remove tops and tips. Cut carrots into one-inch long pieces, then slice each piece down the center. Cut asparagus into 2 inch long pieces.

Place carrots and asparagus in a bowl, then pour 1 to 2 Tbsp of olive oil on top. Stir the vegetables together, tossing so that the olive oil evenly coats them. Use enough olive oil so that all of the veggies are coated. Spread them in a glass cassrole dish or on a cookie sheet lined with foil, large enough so that the veggies are in a single layer.

Place in oven and roast for 40 minutes, or until carrots are tender and begin to get a lightly roasted color to them.

Remove from oven and serve as-is, or lightly sprinkled with sea salt.

My family completely loves these new sides we created. As always, I appreciate my son’s collaboration with me on menu plans and recipe development … thank you dear son of mine.

I have to run now, but hope you enjoy the recipes and, if you join the knit-along, that as well!

Have a great day,
~firefly

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