Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ten on Tuesday

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is 10 Things You Wish You Could Learn Instantly. For some reason (perhaps because of my TV watching in the 1960s and the fact that these are wishes), I'm imagining Samantha Stevens' magical nose twitch or Jeannie's crossed arms and blink accompanying this instantaneous learning.


So, I wish I could learn instantly:
  1. How to read faster (and comprehend more)
  2. How to knit faster (and make fewer mistakes)
  3. How to be more understanding and maybe even less judgmental
  4. How to procrastinate less
  5. How to enjoy painting (walls, not pictures) and the even more odious task of prep. work for painting
  6. How to take better photographs
  7. How to make pad thai 
  8. How to enjoy cleaning
  9. How to make flamework glass beads
  10. How to be more patient (yes, I see the irony in this one!)
These are all things I would like to learn in a flash, but sadly have never put forth
 the necessary time and effort. I highly doubt that it's even possible to enjoy
 painting and cleaning!

What are your instant learning wishes?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ten on Tuesday

Fall is my season. I love almost everything about it and there is so much to love. The heat and humidity of summer are replaced by crisp, cool weather, and leaves are turning. It is a season of turning inward and getting ready for winter, and for squirrels to chew their way into my attic to stash their nuts (that is something I don't love.) One of the great things about fall is the food, so today's Ten On Tuesday topic is 10 Foods You Are Looking Forward to Eating Now That Fall Is (almost) Here.
  1. Apples - Of course these are best and most available in the fall. Bring on the Winesaps!
  2. Baked Apples - While mine aren't quite as good as my grandmother's, they are still delicious in the fall. 
  3. Cider - Fresh from my favorite farm stand, this is the quintessential taste of fall.
  4. Jewish Apple Cake - I got this recipe from my mother-in-law over 30 years ago and always look forward to making it in the fall. 
  5. Beef Stew - The aroma of this simmering in the crockpot smells like fall to me.
  6. Sausage Corn Chowder - This recipe* came from my sister. I love how it's thickened with ground oatmeal, making it one of fall's best thick and hearty soups.
  7. Wild Rice and Chicken Soup - This recipe from Sheri at The Loopy Ewe is the best creamy chicken soup I've had. 
  8. Chili - Everyone has their own favorite way to make chili; mine is pretty much like this recipe. It's great made in the crockpot with venison.
  9. Pumpkin Pie - My favorite pie, made from the recipe on the label of the Libby's pumpkin can. 
  10. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins - Pumpkin and chocolate chips sounded like an odd combination when I first came across the recipe, but these muffins are absolutely delicious, especially warm from the oven. There may even be a batch baking in the oven as I type this!
* I've never seen this recipe anywhere else, so here it is in case anyone wants to make some delicious soup.

Monday, September 14, 2015


This weekend was the Garden State Sheep Breeders Sheep and Fiber Festival. It's tiny
 (compared to Rhinebeck or MD Sheep and Wool), but that's a good thing in my book. 
There are four barns to wander through, full of sheep and yarn.

I was surprised and happy to see the sheep below in the show ring. I pass them every day on my walk, sometimes giving them a friendly pet and scratch behind the ears. 
They won best ewe and ram, so I will have to congratulate them tomorrow.

There was a Sheep Dog herding demonstration that fascinated me for almost an hour. 
The dogs were incredibly well-trained, and the relationship between the 
dogs and their trainer was really something to see.

There was also yarn! I only bought one skein, but I may be experiencing buyer's remorse 
(as in I'm sorry I didn't also buy the yarn for Cypri.) I will probably be ordering from
 Seven Sisters Arts in the near future. Her yarn bases feel wonderful 
and the colors are really stunning.

I bought the skein of 7SA Meridian on the top, hoping it would match the Casbah
 on the bottom for Clockwork. I've been looking for a match for over a year and 
this is the closest I've come, but I'm reserving my final decision
 until after I wind and swatch.

It was a very nice way to spend a Sunday!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sometimes You Eat the Bear ...

and sometimes the bear eats you. There were several comments on this post where I mentioned that one of the things I did was eat bear for the first time. Some of the commenters had already tried bear, and others were curious about how to cook it. Still others may have wondered about me but were too polite to say, "You sound like a crazy person!" So, to anyone who's curious and/or has a bear in their backyard or freezer, here's what I found and what worked for me.

We were the lucky recipients of 30-40 pounds of bear meat. We do eat a lot of game, but I had never tried or cooked bear before. I used some of it to make barbecue (good, but almost indistinguishable from beef when the flavor is masked in barbecue sauce) and cooked a roast in the crock pot (for a long time; trichinosis and toxoplasmosis are issues with bear). The meat has an interesting reddish color, long fibers, and a pleasant taste (not gamey, but with lots of “depth”). This black bear probably had a diet high in berries, grass, and roots, which may have contributed to its flavor. I think I would choose it over beef and would highly recommend it if you get a chance to try it some day.

Here are links to the most useful article/recipes that I found:
Bear: A Meat Worth Trying
Bear Recipes  I made the one entitled “Bear Recipe” from Jeff Brunenn, a little more than halfway down the page.
Black Bear Recipe Guide  I haven’t made any of these, but think I may try the Grilled Spiced Tenderloin next.

I’d be really interested in hearing about your experience if you try bear (or really any other game). I still have about 25 lbs. in the freezer and my husband wants to use some of it to make sausage. I’m not anxious to try that; because of the possible trichinosis and toxoplasmosis I want to make sure that whatever we eat is cooked properly. See, I'm not really so crazy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Book Bingo - the Post-Game Edition

I finished reading for Book Bingo 2015 about a week ago, and managed to cover all my squares. Here's the post-game assessment.

I read a couple of extra books, just for my own sake. Across the Great Barrier filled my Western square, but since that is the second book in a trilogy, I reread the first, Thirteenth Child, to refresh my memory. My Young Adult Novel, On the Far Side of the Mountain, is also the second in a trilogy, so I reread My Side of the Mountain first. 

I had three 5-star books, twelve 4-stars, seven 3-stars, and four 2-star books. (The covers below are arranged in descending order of the stars I awarded.) I found out that I'm not a big fan of light and fluffy mysteries and it will probably be a long time before I read another graphic novel. Reading Kent Haruf's last novel was bittersweet, but I also read some great first books, some excellent non-fiction, and was really pleasantly surprised by Stephen King. All in all, it was a pretty good summer for reading!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ten on Tuesday - Labor Day

Today's Ten On Tuesday topic is 10 Things You Did This Weekend, and luckily, I think I did at least 10 things this weekend.
  1. Made potato salad for a family picnic. This was for 25-30 people, and gathering data from recipes told me I should use anywhere from 6-30 pounds of potatoes. I went with 10, and that was perfect.
  2.  Picked watermelons from the garden.
  3. Ate watermelon from the garden.
  4. Went to a family picnic. This was my husband's family, and included some people I had never met in person or hadn't seen in more than 35 years. It was an interesting experience, in many ways!
  5. Knit quite a bit.
  6. Ate bear for the first time. Delicious! 
  7. Read quite a bit.
  8. Walked quite a bit.
  9. Mowed the tiny bit of lawn that isn't dried, frazzled, and dead from drought. It only took me about 10 minutes. :-(
  10. Took inventory of my big freezer, and after finding that I had 30 packages of frozen shredded zucchini, I made this and this, and enjoyed them with this:

You're probably not on the edge of your seat reading about all my excitement this weekend, but any weekend that includes knitting, reading, and beer isn't too bad in my book!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


We all have some important mileages in our lives. Mine are the five miles (10,000 steps) I try to walk each day, the 2.5 miles to do the dreaded grossery shopping, 55 miles to visit my father, the 1700 mile distance between here and Ryan's house, the 69 mile drive to the airport so I can hop on a plane to travel those 1700 miles at 500 miles/hour.

Today, another mileage is looming large in my mind - 2,243 miles. That is the distance Justin is driving from here to Montana. That means I'll be thinking about him (and possibly even worrying a bit) for the next four days. He likes to drive, but he has also never driven for four very long days by himself. We couldn't talk my brother-in-law into going along with him, and he refused my offer to go along as another driver and companion for safety's sake. Just think of the knitting I could get done!

So that is what I'm going to be doing anyway. Keeping very busy, walking my miles, making gallons of potato salad for a family picnic, saying quite a few prayers, waiting for texts that tell me he's stopped for the night and the eagerly anticipated and most welcome one that tells me he has arrived safely at his destination, and knitting. Knitting seems to offer something practical and soothing to do with my worry, and I feel lucky to have that in my life.

I've said this almost every time you've left the house, Justin, but I've never meant it more. Be careful and safe travels.

Ten on Tuesday - The Ordinary is Extraordinary

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is 10 Seemingly Ordinary Things That Bring You Joy. This is a good one, Carole!

  1. My morning cup of tea. It's what gets me out of bed and I (almost) never take it for granted.
  2. My laptop. While I drink my tea, I use my laptop to check email, blogs on feedly, ravelry, goodreads, and even a quick perusal of facebook. It's an ordinary thing, but I love the connections with friends and family that my laptop allows.
  3. My cell phone. I've had a love/hate relationship with this device, but once again - it's the connections that are important. I can stay close to my kids by texting and when we talk on the phone I don't have to worry at all about the dreaded "long distance" charges. 
  4. Books. Books have always provided me with information, escape, and fun. As I get older, they continue to do all of this, along with showing me another side, another idea, another opinion, another way for me to think about things. Books and what they have to say bring me incredible joy, every day.
  5. My ipod. I have always been an avid reader, but my chosen format began to change about 10 years ago. I discovered Audible, got an ipod, and have been listening to audiobooks ever since. I still read on my Kindle and even an occasional "real" book, but my ipod allows me to listen to a book while knitting, walking, driving, grossery shopping, doing yard work, almost anywhere. I use my ipod every single day and it brings me abundant joy.
  6. The internet. I'm not sure I want to admit how important this is to my life, but there are days I wonder how I did anything without it. It allows me to make travel plans easily, find a pharmacy in Montana where the doctor in New Jersey can call in Justin's antibiotics for Lyme disease, research what changes need to be made to a recipe for zucchini bread if it's being baked in Fort Collins at 5,000 ft above sea level, and read Oliver Sacks' essays
  7. Knitting needles and yarn. I'm not a speedy knitter, nor do I knit complicated things, but knitting provides me with joy, creativity, something to do with my hands, a way to show my love for those I knit for, and a form of meditation.
  8. Pad thai. This amazingly delicious combination of ordinary ingredients - rice noodles, tamarind paste, chicken or shrimp, cilantro, chopped peanuts and lime - brings back lovely memories of enjoyable past pad thai meals and always makes me happy. 
  9. Peppermint tea. I've been happy to drink this iced during summer, and I know I'll look forward to nice warm cups of the same brew when the weather turns chilly. Tea, and a break to enjoy a cup, brings me joy!
  10. Autumn blooming clematis. I was getting in my 10,000 steps last weekend, and I smelled the loveliest scent on almost every street or trail I traveled. Once I started to look for it, I saw autumn blooming clematis everywhere. The heavenly fragrance and profusion of white blossoms was especially welcome as it's been so dry here that much of our flora looks dead or dying and almost nothing else is blooming. 

I'm a little surprised at the number of technology-related items (and maybe too many material "things") on my list, but while they are relatively ordinary, they all do extraordinary things. What ordinary things bring you joy?