Things I look forward to

April 8, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Posted in country life, country living, faith, family, flowers, food, gardening, gifts, Holidays, Knit Alongs, knit-a-long, knitting, Life, love, marriage, Mother's Day, photography, recipes, relationships, shopping, yarn | 6 Comments
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Our lawn is beginning to show signs of the gorgeous, lush green glow that spring and summer bring to us.  As much as I love winter and the magical beauty of snow in a mostly monochromatic world, the anticipation of color returning to the world is very awesome.  I am sitting in an old fashioned, high-back chair by the window in our sitting area that faces the barn.  I hear birds calling, and see that glow from the lawn that promises much green to come, thinking of things I look forward to.

I look forward to green, orange, pink, purple, yellow, blue, and many other colors as they open up and paint themselves all over the countryside.  Wild flowers growing along the roadsides, the our farm fields waking up and coming to life, the Sincere Pumpkin Patch we will grow this year, the sunflowers I intend to plant all around the perimeter of our yard, between the yard and the crop acerage.

I look forward to Easter Sunday and an egg hunt out by the between the barn and the willow.  I look forward to opening up the cottage and bringing it back into service for the warmer seasons.  I look forward to my son and parents being here at the farm at various times during the coming colorful months.  I look forward to knitting by open windows, with a gentle breeze rustling through and the beautiful voices of the birds calling, singing, squealing, honking, tweeting … all of their various sounds.

I am looking forward to that first moment in this year when I step outside and feel actual warmth from the sun touching me lightly on the shoulder.

Trips on the river in the canoe, camping out in the backyard, picnicking there too.  Painting inside late into the day because of abundant light, painting outside because of the nice warm air, rain showers, thunderstorms, mud puddles, and blue skies.  I am looking forward to it all.

I am a couple of days late in sharing two recipes with you all, and several days late on issuing the next set of instructions for the Summer in the Country cotton blanket knit along.  My flu went away, and then it came back and felt a bit worse the second time around. Makes me want to talk like a pirate, but it isn’t September 19th yet so I might restrain myself.  Today I am feeling 98% well again but it has been a bit rough getting here.

For the recipes, they will follow below.  For the knit along, click here for that update.

Just a quick note about my son’s Etsy store before we get on to the recipes.  He has some new releases recently that you might enjoy checking.  First off, he has this new collection of three Los Angeles Subway Sign Prints, and of course I love the vintage look Keep Calm and Carry On signs (great story of the history behind that sign).  You can also follow his business now on Twitter and Facebook — I know he would really appreciate the support.

As I said last week, my son and I would like to share two recipes with you this week.  Both are for Pimento Cheese spread for sandwiches.    When I was a little girl and my family was still living in North Carolina, my mother used to make a pimento cheese spread from time to time and we would have delicious, refreshing pimento cheese sandwiches.  She continued making that treat for us at times when we were in California, and it was a special treat.

What I didn’t know at the time was that pimento cheese spread is — or was — a southern thing.  I found that out from an article in the Food section of the Los Angeles times where several pimento cheese recipes were shared.

Recently I mentioned pimento cheese to my son and found out he has been making it too, but his take on it is completely different from my mother’s.  We thought it would be a good idea to share the two recipes, side-by-side.  My mother has graciously given me her permission to tell you her recipe, one she invented to come up with a more economical way of providing pimento cheese sandwiches to a large family of seven (Mom, you rock).

First up …

Mom’s Downhome Pimento Cheese Spread

1 8-oz loaf Velveta cheese
1 5-oz can evaporated milk
1/2 cup Miracle Whip or other sandwich spread
1 small jar chopped pimentos

Gently heat Velveta cheese and evaporated milk in a medium sized saucepan on low to medium heat until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in Miracle Whip until thoroughly mixed. Drain pimentos and fold into the cheese mixture. While warm and soft, place in a glass container to cool.

Make sandwiches with this spread by, well … spreading it on your bread and then you’re done.

And now …

Flying Junction’s Favorite Pimento Cheese Spread

8-oz grated cheddar cheese
4-oz grated Ppepper jack cheese
1/3-cup mayonnaise
2 ounces canned diced pimentos
1/4-tsp granulated garlic
1/4-tsp granulated onion
1/4-tsp black pepper
pinch of cayenne (optional)
two drops green pepper sauce (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before spreading on sandwich bread. Our favorite thing is to use this to make a grilled cheese sandwich on a couple of slabs of hand-cut sourdough bread.

We hope you will give pimento cheese spread a try, if you haven’t ever had it before. Personally, I think it makes a wonderful springtime sandwich — so refreshing and bright!

Here is another bright thought for you … need a unique idea for a Mother’s Day gift? Our top three suggestions for unique gift ideas for Mom:

1) Send your Mom to Paris with a collection of three Paris Metro Line 1 signs from Flying Junction
2) Knit her a biscuit blanket using our beautiful Deluxe Biscuit Blanket Kit (includes fine art gift card and beautiful gift box) — not many left in stock
3) Give her a Knitter’s or Crocheter’s Eye Chart art print

Off to enjoy a pretty spring day … hope you have a great one!

~firefly

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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

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