Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Dangers of Pinterest and Other Random Distractions AKA “Squirrel”

I get distracted a lot. It’s not a case of undiagnosed Adult ADHD but your run of the mill “There’s so much cool stuff to make and do, I want to do it all NOW” syndrome (TSMCSMDS). Symptoms include, but not limited to, browsing Pinterest and immediately having to make that recipe for those mini casseroles cooked in muffin tins; starting a craft project inspired by something you saw on Pinterest(surprise, surprise!!) but having it be interrupted by having to start another craft project inspired by something you saw on Pinterest; and having to take pictures of all little neat things you do and see on a daily basis, including your own or other peoples presentation of food.

I believe there was a TSMCSMDS support group but they all eventually were distracted by something or another. 

But I digress, as many with TSMCSMDS do. My purpose for this post is to show my solidarity with others who suffer from it, through a picture tribute to my random distractions over the past two weeks.

Over the Holidays while visiting family back East the kiddo and I got on a mini paper boat making kick. We made a bunch of boats, took them down to the creek and set sail to the Armada. I am still on that kick and have been making itty-bitty, mini-winnie boats from origami paper to eventually string into a garland of paper boats. A couple of Sundays ago, we sat outside the Starbucks and made a bunch. 

I eventually strung a couple of the little boats and hung them in one of the Kumquat  trees in the courtyard.

Last Sunday I found a recipe on Pinterest (where else) for a bread that I couldn't resist making despite the fact that I haven't successfully made a loaf of yeast bread in many, many years. It was an Olive Oil and Rosemary bread from a hint of honey. I made two loaves. The first one I brushed with some bacon fat I had saved and the second one I brushed with the egg wash. The egg wash definitely added a nice crunch to the crust but the bacon fat added a nice flavor.

 And last but definitely not least, the kiddo wanted pancakes this morning but we do these so much all I could think was "BORING!" However, I knew Pinterest wouldn't fail me and sure enough I found Mini German Pancakes. Guess what, you make them in a muffin tin. I love muffin tin recipes! This one comes from Chef in Training

I didn't follow the recipe precisely. It has you make the pancake batter from scratch but I went for my old standby, Target's Market Pantry Pancake Mix. As I always do, I added some toasted oat bran to the mix. Not only does it make me feel better about using a pre-made pancake mix, the oat bran adds a little sweetness.

These were super easy and came out perfect! I have some left over, which will make a nice little sweet snack later in the day.

I think I'll make some Lasagna Roll-ups today.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fun with Freezing Cold Temps AKA Ice Buntings


We Southwest desert dwellers are the type to shrug off 110’F weather and put on a heavy winter jacket on the first 60’F fall day. So when the weatherman said we would be dropping into the 20’s and teens for overnight temps this week, it was big news. Yes, we get freezes here but a hard freeze is a rare occurrence as attested to by the un-insulated pipes that run along the outside walls of many houses here. 

O.k. after those of you who have real winters stop giggling, I’ll continue…

I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to make an ice bunting, something that I thought I might never get to do. I had seen them a few years ago on the interwebs and thought “that’s neat, too bad it’s generally nice and mild here in the winter.”

After I covered the cacti (they go gelatinous and die if it’s too cold), the bougainvillea, and double checked that the water pipes under the new house were in a layer of insulation, I broke out the paper cups left over from a birthday party a few years ago and food coloring. I filled each cup halfway with water and then put a few drops of food coloring in each. I did this out on the back deck where they were going to be left out overnight, that way I would make the inevitable spill of dyed water while transferring them out there.

As my fingers became increasingly numb with cold, I strung paperclips to some yarn I had dyed awhile back. I draped the yarn over each cup so that the paperclip sunk in to the colored water, which would later freeze to secure the paperclip. 

I was very excited about my use of the weather to my crafty advantage and went to bed very satisfied with myself.

Now the next morning, despite being excited about my ice bunting, I didn’t immediately run outside to check on it. Why? Well, it was freezing cold outside!! After warming my core with coffee, slipping my feet into some fleece socks and slippers, and donning a sweatshirt PLUS a heavy wool sweater, I went out to check on my creation. I tapped on the top of one of my frozen concoctions and felt the ice crack. They were mostly frozen but not completely. I had a remedy for this...the freezer. I gathered up my creation in a storage box, which btw I should have started them in, stuck it all in the freezer and went about my day.

Of course, as you can imagine, I was very excited to get home that afternoon. I pulled the bunting out of the freezer, took it to the front porch and tore the paper cups away from the colored ice and strung the bunting up. I also got food coloring all over my hands but I didn’t care b/c I had my ice bunting!!

Yay for winter weather and to excitedly anticipating this weekend’s upper 60’F sunny forecast!

Monday, January 7, 2013

What I Want for My Birthday

So, my birthday is this week. I won’t tell you how old I will be but suffice to say I will be 39 again J I am sure everybody reading this is scrambling to figure out what to get me. Not to worry! I will just come straight out and tell ya.

I want food!

No, seriously and I’m not being cheeky. I want food for my birthday.

Well, I actually don’t want you to give me the food. I want you to give it to your local food bank or any other organization that serves the food insecure in your area. Go take a peek in your kitchen pantry. See that can of beans, soup or tuna or that bag of rice or that unopened jar of peanut butter? That’s what your local food bank needs.

You’re voice, you’re time are just as important as anything that would be given in kind. SO, I want something else for my birthday. I want you to pass this along. Encourage others to donate food or their time to their local organizations.

Don’t know where to donate in your local area? FeedingAmerica can help.

Not in the U.S.? Check out the Global FoodBanking Network 

Want to donate your time and support other great organizations serving the food insecure? One concept that I love is the Community Café. If you live in the Denver area, you may be familiar with  SAME Café. They are a restaurant that runs on a pay what you can model just like many others around the United States. Find one near you and go have a birthday lunch for me.
Make my birthday this year the best one ever!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Really Full but Short Post for a New Year

A new year is upon us and, as tradition tells us, we should be making resolutions. Things we want or should change about ourselves and our habits. More often than not, these resolutions are focused inwards, on ourselves. What would happen if instead of focusing inward, we directed that change on the communities around us?

Most of us have heard of the concept of Paying it Forward, someone has done something for you so you “pay it forward” by doing something for someone else. In the new year, let’s expand that concept to not just Paying it Forward but Paying it Backwards and Sideways, too. Some might call this the Ripple Effect, as Libby Birky of SAME Café Denver does. You’ve seen somebody do good for someone else, which inspires you to pass that good on.

So, this year, instead of making resolutions that are given up on by January 15th(come on, let’s be realistic here), make a resolution that’s easy and will go on and on and on and on…
Pay it Forward, Backwards and Sideways as often as you can.

Friday, April 16, 2010! A Giveaway!

So, usually this Friday spot is occupied by a wonderful fiber artist. I decided to shake things up a little bit and do a giveaway instead. I highly doubt there will be any complaints!

You might be asking, "Who is the illustrious fiber artist that is sponsoring the giveaway?"

Well, I decided to hit up someone I know very well and have been following her work for years. O.K., it's me!

Your next question is probably, "What's the loot?"

The 'loot' is one of Desert Dyeworks Starburst Mandala Playsilks. Specifically, this one.

Your child can become whatever they imagine using a playsilks. The silk will transform your child into a butterfly, a wizard, a princess, or anything they dream. There is no limit to a child's imagination!

This is a hand dyed play silk. The silk is a large 45" x45" 8mm habatoi(china silk) square. It is dyed using high quality Procion dyes that will last a lifetime.

So, how does one enter to win this playsilk. It's pretty simple. Leave a comment below, making sure you add your email address in the appropriate box so that I can contact you if you're the winner. Don't worry, I won't use it to spam you, I prefer Bacon! The giveaway ends at Midnight(12:00a.m.) PST on Friday April 30th, 2010. Winners will be chosen at random. I will get in touch with the winner within 24hrs. of the contest ending and the winner will have an additional 72hrs. to get in touch or a new winner will be chosen.

Speaking of Bacon! A second chance to enter the giveaway is to head over to Esty's Team Bacon! blog, check out one of my team members shops, and leave a second comment here with a link to your favorite item from that team member's shop. Gotta give my team member's props because they are the bacony best!

Alrighty then, get to it!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday's Fiber Artist - Hidow Fiber Farm

So, after learning a little bit about her farm and fiber art plans for the Summer, my daughter and I have decided we are moving in with Hidow Fiber Farm! She doesn't know this yet, but we are very excited to shear some Alpaca, spin some fiber, and dye it using the luscious Summer flowers around the farm.

Seriously, despite the hard work that goes into raising these animals, who wouldn't dream of being that close to the source of all that luscious fiber? In my mind it's akin to knowing and being apart of where your food comes from.

Alpaca are bred all over the world for the soft and silky fiber that is produce from its coat. Originally Alpacas were kept as domesticated in the South American Andes, where they were a primary source of fiber for textiles as well as a source for meat. Though, the use of Alpacas for meat in modern times is virtually non-existent, Peruvian law prohibits it.

Alpaca fiber is a wonderful alternative to sheep's wool. It is generally not prickly like sheep's wool and contains no lanolin, which makes it hypoallergenic. The two primary breeds of Alpaca bred today are the Huacaya and Suri. The Suri is identified by its long 'dreadlock'-type fleece, which produces longer silky fibers. Huacaya have a denser, 'woolier' fleece.

Huacaya Fiber from Hidow Fiber Farm
Veronica, the talented 'fiberista' of Hidow Fiber Farm, has exploded  with creativity in the few short years she has been playing with fiber. Besides the the wet felt and needle felt creations she makes, Veronica also shares her wonderful Alpaca fiber and sheep's wool with us fiber addicts.

A passion for man's best friend, dogs (sorry cat lovers!), inspires many of the needle felt creations in the Hidow Fiber Farm's Etsy shop. I especially love her Samoyed pup. The big tail flopped to the side gives it a wonderful personality!

Needle Felt Samoyed by Hidow Fiber Farm
Though as a dyer I love bright colors, this brown/red Suri fiber does it for me!

Brown/red Suri Fiber by Hidow Fiber Farm
 But enough about what I think! Let's here from Veronica herself:
"Hidow Fiber Farm is located on over 100 acres in the Thumb area of Michigan. Our farm has been in the Hirons family for over 125 years. Grandma and Grandpa Hirons only had girls, so when we bought the name changed to Dowling. The name of Hidow was thought up by Grandma, it was her way of combining the family names to represent the farm, we have kept it in her honor.
I have always been interested in the process of fleece to yarn, and I dreamed of learning to spin someday. While showing dairy goats around the country I used to love watching the llama and alpaca shows and visiting the alpaca area but because of their prices never dreamed I would own one. Two years ago the dream of owning an alpaca became reality.   My first 3 Huacaya alpacas were rescues, traded for bales hay.  Soon after, the local alpaca herd was selling out and I added several.  This spring I bought another 5 Suri fiber males.   Currently we have a total of 13 Huacaya and Suri Alpacas and a flock of Shetland sheep.
I jumped into the fiber world with both feet, even before I had any of my own to play with.  A drop spindle bought from ebay along with some fiber and You Tube videos taught me how to use a spindle.  Then I found an alpaca site with felting so I started researching that area of fiber art. Some locally made goat milk soap and some fiber from ebay and we had felted bars of soap.  Then I made the trip over to Zielingers in Frankenmuth and brought home a needle felting kit.  A trip to Mary Maxim where I bought several books and a needle felt kit to make a dog.  Then I found the "Felt a Dog" book for even more inspiration.  With the basics in place I got braver and started 'needleing' (as my 6 yr old calls it) my own creations. I love feeling and watching a dog or other animal take form in my hands.  I start with a roll of fiber and just keep adding a little fiber here, a little there and soon I have a sculpture.  There are times when I think a project is finished and put it away only to pull it out a few days later and realize there is more to be done with it.   Because I also show dogs I try to base my fiber creations on correct representatives of the breed.  
It is spring time so that means that right now I am enjoying the process of harvesting my own fiber. There is just something so satisfying about being in the barn and shearing your own animals.  Last year I used scissors to shear my alpacas.  This year I am better prepared and will be using shears to harvest their fiber. Alpaca shearing will start in May. I have sheared most of my Shetland Sheep in the past two weeks by a combination of rooing, scissors and electric shears.
Right now I am just enjoying the process.  The process begins with feeding and caring for these wonderful animals every day.  I find it to be very grounding to reap the rewards of my labor when I shear them.  Alpaca fiber and wool are renewable sources, just like our hair, they grow their fiber back for the next years harvest.  Alpaca is one of the softest fibers out there.  Because of the way it is constructed items made from alpaca dont have to be bulky in order to be warm, it is truly a luxury fiber.
Besides working full time and having 1 child still at home, I also breed and Shetland Sheepdogs and dabble in photography. I take care of my animals every day and help my husband with the farming.    This summer I am going to giving dying a try with some of the plants growing around the farm.  There are so many different things to do with fiber I hope to give them all a try......hmmmmmm learning to weave looks like fun too........oh, and wet felting......... and....... :-)"