Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve as I am writing this, but since at St. Michael we do a midnight Christmas service, it is as though the holiday begins tonight. We are waiting until 9 pm to leave, and we just finished Narnia and are about to put in A Year Without a Santa Claus. Fun Christmas movies, and if you're interested, Little Women and While You were Sleeping also include Christmas. Sadly, I never did finish that lace scarf. Too many mistakes. I also made a CRAPPY pair of Fair Isle mittens with numerous mistakes, so now I am making some wool socks that will probably be Fair Isle so I can improve my techniques. If you haven't read The Opinionated Knitter by Elizabeth Zimmermann (actually it is a collection of newsletters) you must if you are a knitter. It takes you to another time where most if not all yarn was wool and patterns were a thing to design yourself or share, but not sell. It is among the most charming books I have read (the other one being Barbara Kingsbury's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which I am reading right now).
Strange though it may sound, as we have yet to celebrate Christmas, I am already anticipating spring! My sister accused me of wanting to have no Christmas in order to have 'plant season' year 'round. (No! I do not! Winter is what makes spring special!) But I am looking at the price of strawberry and raspberry plants online, and homemade potting soil recipes to save money. I am also cutting up grocery bags to crochet more plant pots and eagerly doing chores to make a few extra bucks before spring planting time. Well, I am off to do more knitting and plant research - Merry Christmas (Eve)!
Oh, by the way, that tomato plant in the bathroom is still alive, and I am hoping to keep it alive until spring - and also take the ginger out so it can GROW in the summer sun! And I have permission to weed and plant the abandoned church garden! Well, that's really all, this time!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sprouted Flour Giveaway!

Kitchen Stewardship is hosting a sprouted flour giveaway.
Click the link to enter!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Adventures in Knitting : Arctic Lace

I already made a scarf from Knitted Lace of Estonia, but unfortunately it is wrapped for Christmas so I cannot take a picture. I also checked out a book called Arctic Lace, which is about native Alaskan knitters, knitting with qiviut (musk ox down), the warmest softest fiber in the world! I can't afford that stuff, so I just am making a scarf with Patons Laceweight. There is a picture of one pattern repeat at the top.

Lacto-fermented Pink Lemonade!

I love the lacto-fermented ginger ale recipe on Instructables, but I was out of ginger. So I omitted the ginger, doubled the lemon juice, and substituted maple syrup for the honey. Just one small problem, though. The whey was moldy! What was I to do? I decided to just dilute it and not ferment, but then it came to me - homemade beet kvass! It wasn't moldy and it had good bacteria, but the best part was that it made PINK lemonade! You can't even taste the beets, since it is only 2 tablespoons. Here is the recipe:
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp whey OR beet kvass for pink color
1 quart water
Mix all ingredients in a quart mason jar (or bottle, I suppose) and let ferment for 3 days. This is very strong, both sweet and sour, so dilute it 50/50 with water. Enjoy!
Note: I do not like this as much as the ginger ale!

Monday, December 6, 2010


I will now make a public confession and say that at the age of 16 I still like Care Bears. I am always looking for something to watch while I'm knitting and Care Bears has none of the paganism of Sailor Moon (in fact, the only real negative I see is oversimplified psychology). It actually started a few weeks ago when I saw the movie and checked it out from the library. I had seen the previews as a child and they looked SO cool. Unfortunately, I fell asleep watching it and didn't see the end. But no matter, I can still watch the episodes on the Internet.
But let's cut to the chase. So I found out that they made a new Care Bear series, so I thought, oh goody, easily accessible Care Bears. But although the colors are brighter, the bears (from what I could gather from the 3/4 episode I watched) are WAY more prone to jealousy and selfishness and probably other sins in other episodes. But that is not as disturbing to me as the fact that someone decided to make them THIN. I am not kidding. In the good old-fashioned '80s version, the bears were furry, muscular, and had nice, round butts. In other words, they looked like (cute) BEARS. I repeat, BEARS. NOT colored stick people with teddy bear heads. I know it is just a cartoon, but if it is not okay for a bear to be a little chubby, what does that say about people? Must we all conform to this stick figure while eating a high-carbohydrate diet in 'moderation' and still not become anorexic? Or do they WANT us to become anorexic? Seriously, to me, this is just WRONG.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Food Renegade - Zukay's Kvass Giveaway!

Food Renegade is having a giveaway of a kvass sampler pack - beet, beet ginger, carrot ginger, and vegetable medley! I have been making beet and am currently trying beet ginger. Enter here:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fruit Kimchi

I love Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation. I returned it to the library today but yesterday I tried the recipe for fruit kimchi. I didn't have any pineapple, grapes, pears or plums, but I used what I had on hand . . . results pending! (I did try some unfermented and it was very good.) I used two apples, a peach, a nectarine, 4 prunes and some raisins. I left out the cilantro, used bottled lemon juice and jarred garlic, and powdered ginger and chili. I also used cayenne instead of jalapenos, and the result was very spicy. Meanwhile I am trying to card and spin alpaca, reading library books, dreaming about next spring's container garden, and trying new food experiments. And one little tomato is starting to ripen! I know the plant will die before the flowers can become tomatoes, but I wonder what would happen if I took it inside? Also I am down to three radish plants, but the sweetpotatoes are doing well. If I get a harvest, what should I make out of them? Oven fries, fermented soda maybe?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Crabapple Sauce and a Braided Rug

Yesterday I accomplished two things: Making a jar of crabapple sauce/butter, whatever it is called, and finishing a braided rug. It was easy to braid the rug once I figured out to overlap the rag strips instead of sewing them together. It ended up about the size of a mini trampoline. That was from a big garbage bag of rag strips. The crabapple sauce involved picking the crabapples, chopping off the stems and flower ends, cooking them, adding more water and mashing them in through a colander to remove the seeds and fibrous bits (mind you, this was learned partly through trial and error and got a lot more dishes dirty than necessary), adding cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and honey, and boiling it down. Maybe next time I will figure out how to take pictures of all the steps. Meanwhile, the tomato plant is making two tiny tomatoes and a few flowers, while a few radishes came up in the planters. And I had a weird dream about rabbits half the size of gerbils, and the other week I dreamed about pigs the size of guinea pigs. Weird!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

All things fun and interesting

Well . . . I finished my shawl on Sunday! I have a picture of it up there. I still haven't decided whether to keep it or give it away . . . guess I'll just keep offering it to people until I find a taker. And since that baby flying squirrel we rescued was so adorable, we now have two pet gerbils, Merry and Pipin! They are both boys, luckily.
Unfortunately, we ran out of Klonopin and I was feeling funny until today when we finally could get more. Klonopin withdrawal is not fun! But I feel better now and am so enjoying our brand-new pets. Obsessing about what to plant and where to find affordable seeds. Home Depot should have some. Crabapples are almost ripe. Thinking about purchasing the carding combs AFTER I run out of wool, which seems sensible enough. I want to get a late crop of spinach and radishes. Oh, the tomato plant is now blossoming. Frost, PLEASE wait to come until I get some tomatoes! Just a few?

Friday, August 27, 2010

How things are going (and growing) . . .

Well, it is almost September and my tomato plant (yes, singular) is finally producing three beautiful yellow flowers. Knowing the weather around here, I might get a few tomatoes before it gets too cold. This one I actually started from seed . . . outside. That's why it isn't making tomatoes yet, because I planted it outside in late June. But I've never had any luck with starting seeds indoors. Trust me, I tried.
Other things in my garden: chammomille container, sweet potato hanging bucket, and purslane planters. I cheated with the purslane and just transplanted some wild weeds of it into containers with potting soil. Hard to believe they are a succulent, considering how plump and juicy they get with lots of water. I will probably only get enough chammomille for a few cups of tea, but it will be extra special because I grew it myself. The picture up top is how much dried chammomille I have so far.
As for other things, well, good news. I don't actually have schizophrenia. Just anxiety and depression. This is such good news! Glory to God! Nowhere near as disabling! We all hope I can go off the Geodon, me included of course! And I am working on the purple section of a handspun orange, red and purple knitted shawl. I dyed the yarn with Kool-Aid, and the orange came out a bit orangey-brown, since the wool was gray to start out with. There are a couple mistakes, so maybe I can keep the shawl if I can't find anyone to give it to. And the local apartment complex crabapples are getting ripe, so maybe my sister and I can go PICKING tomorrow!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Eating gluten again

So I was convinced that eating a piece of regular bread would send me into a drunken, neurological funk. So I was apparently wrong.
It started with an ordinary supper of sausage and biscuits. Mine were gluten-free, and I think they were made of coconut oil, not lard. At any rate, they were too dry and starchy. I looked at the ordinary biscuits made with wheat flour and lard and said "Mom, you know what? I'm tempted to just ditch the whole gluten-free thing." She said we had plenty of things in the house for me to try. I was scared. I mulled things over in my head, and finally picked up a regular biscuit and took a bite. The taste was strange. It was like I could taste the baking powder, but it did have that gluten texture. I forced myself not to spit it out. I took another bite. I decided I didn't care for it, but I would see if I got sick. Did I? Nope. The next morning I had a regular biscuit for breakfast and didn't get sick. So now I am happily eating gluten again.
As I write this, I am staying awake for ANOTHER sleep-deprived EEG. Hey, it's all in the name of getting a diagnosis, right? I did see the neurologist. And finally I am hopeful that maybe someday the doctors WILL find out what is wrong with me.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Poor radishes . . .

Well, I flubbed it again. Ok, lesson learned. Refusing to thin your radishes because you are selfish will get you ZERO radishes! If you are me, repeat that until it starts to sink in.
My radishes were not developing properly, the leaves would have been edible if they weren't so bug-eaten, and the two radishes that looked like they were starting to bolt had roots that were both underdeveloped and woody at the same time! I had to pull them all up and throw them away. Maybe next year I will try again with radishes. But for now, I am sick of them. Plants I still have: sweet potato (the leaves are bug-eaten but it keeps making new leaves and is pretty and viny in a 5-gallon bucket hanging from a plant hanger) and chammomille (lots of green, no flowers yet, but it's not even July so there is still plenty of time for that to happen) and a secret.
Do you want to know what the secret is? Okay, I will tell you. I have a tomato seedling outside (two, actually). I have never had any success with starting seeds inside, but these tomatoes are doing better outside in the summer than any of my indoor stuff ever did! I hope the growing season is long enough for the plant to mature, but if not I will try again next year!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mint Soda Experiment

A few days ago (and I was playing with the idea in my head long before) I decided to make a lacto-fermented mint tea drink. No kefir, no kombucha, just tweaked the classic ginger ale recipe (the one on Instructables using honey instead of sugar) to omit the ginger and replace the water with mint tea. And the whey came from raw milk, curdled with lemon juice and strained. (By the way, the "cheese" from this process tastes like lemon-flavored yogurt. Good with fruit.) And I brewed in in a mason jar. Now I'll be honest with you - It isn't fizzy. But it is nice and tart. Oh, another thing. You can kinda taste the salt. But the ginger ale has that too, and I LOVE it. If you can't get raw milk, strain commercial yogurt with live cultures. The way you strain it is: put a coffee filter inside a strainer and put it in a bowl. Pour the yogurt or curdled milk through the coffee filter and leave it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. You get "cheese"in the filter and whey in the bowl.
Now I am wondering how this would taste with chammomille tea. Or if I could make it fizzy by using something a little more "live" than just raw milk. Well, I have a yogurt experiment sitting in the sun outside. And in a few months my ginger should be ready to harvest, so I can make ginger ale. Good stuff. Love ta hear about your cooking experiments!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kitten Wars!

If you are anything like my little sister (go ga-ga over anything cute, especially kittens) you will love kitten wars! It is a website where there are two cat pictures and you vote on which one is cuter. You do this until you're bored. There seems to be an endless supply of matches.

Random little things . . .

I haven't posted in a long time! I turned 16 over a month ago and I haven't posted since then. I had a chocolate chip cookie cake and my parents made the candles say 10000 (16 in binary!) which was so cool. And I got a huge bag of Lincoln wool to spin. It was from a sheep named Mary Todd. I made a PVC niddy-noddy and dyed some yarn red with Kool-Aid. Now I am trying to knit a simple lace shawl but keep messing up. Ugh!
A couple days ago I had a sleep-deprived EEG and an MRI. Luckily I fell asleep for the part of the MRI that scared me. I woke up and didn't have a needle in my arm anymore. Lucky me :) But I had to stay up all night so the tests had better SHOW something! Please pray for me about that.
We've had a lot of heavy rain that killed my lettuce and severely damaged my radishes, but I planted new radishes, sweet potatoes and chamomille, and now when it's about to rain I cover the radishes and chamomille with garbage bags so they don't get waterlogged or uprooted. I wonder if I can try again with the lettuce in the fall, since it a cool-season crop?

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Raw Milk Debate Intensifies

As I hear about how Wisconsin is trying to legalize raw milk, the other side seems to be fighting back tooth and nail. They launched a new anti-raw-milk website, which the WAPF advises not to look at. What I want to know is, if raw milk is already so hard to come by because pasteurized milk is the social norm, what does the factory-farm-loving government have to fear? I mean, think about it. The government is also very pro-evolution, or at least it seems that way. So, then, whatever happened to survival of the fittest? If raw milk kills all the 'idiots' who drink it, then won't the 'sensible' pasteurized-milk-drinkers proliferate, leaving all the raw-milk-drinkers dead and gone? But they don't seem to think that way, do they? Which, in my opinion, shows much inconsistency on their part. People can be SO illogical.
Unless, that is, they have something to hide. Like they're in cahoots with ConAgra, maybe, and are only pertending to care about our health. If that is so, then I have to hand it to them. They are very deceptive and almost had us convinced. Maybe we are just a little too smart for them. Maybe it's the raw milk . . . just kidding?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Adventures in spining: cotton balls!

So I figured out some tips for spinning cotton and spun some that came from a vitamin bottle. Now I bought two 200-pc bags of cotton balls for $4.24 at Walgreens. Two cotton balls makes this much yarn!

How to make a free item

I am fascinated by the concept of transforming free or very cheap materials into usable items. With this I made a dish scrubby, crocheted from 2-ply handspun cotton (it came with a bottle of vitamins) and 'yarn' made of plastic mesh bags. I don't know how effective this tiny scrubby will turn out to be, but if it's a total flub, who cares? The materials were free, and the work was enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Beginner's Triangle Loom Mistake

As soon as I saw a description and picture of a triangle loom, I wanted one. Who wouldn't, when you can do the warp and weft at the same time, and make shawls? It wouldn't matter how small the loom was, as triangles tessalate (they can be sewn together into a big triangle). And if I used handspun yarn, it could be an artisan craft! And the best part is, although they are quite expensive, you can make your own out of cardboard.
The cardboard instructions called for pins and a large piece of cardboard. I used a small piece of cardboard and toothpicks, yes, you got that right, TOOTHPICKS. Yes, my dreamy yet ever-frugal mind was convinced that every recipe, every pattern, can be modified. Well, let's just say it was a disaster. And did that stop me? No, of course not! I had to try making one of nails and a double-layer of cardboard. That was an even bigger disaster. The nails just popped out all over the floor. But finally, I managed to procure a $3 wood rectangle from Hobby Lobby, and Mom helped me put in nails. After my first attempt at weaving, it became clear that something was wrong. And then I realized that I had too many pegs in the hypotenuse! But finally, I got it right, and the picture below was the result. The picture at the top of the page is of what I made: a triangle that, when taken off the loom and pulled on the ends, made a BUTTERFLY! Now if I can only find a magnet to stick on the back, I'll be in business. Meanwhile, I will try more, using instructions for thicker triangles and weaving in the ends properly. But isn't it neat how mistakes can turn out with something cute? Well, at least every ONCE in a while . . .

Friday, March 19, 2010

Foraging fun - shotweed!

I saw a lot of plants growing in my apartment complex that looked suspiciously edible. I thought they might be chickweed. So I brought a sample into the house and compared them with images of chickweed. Well, nope. Not chickweed. But I still didn't give up. I googled "edible plants" and came up with the answer - shotweed! So I picked a bunch, pulled the leaves off the stems, and washed them. They are apparently related to mustard and have a pleasant, bitter, spicy taste. Even my veggiphobic brother tried a leaf (he said he would eat it if he was starving, but only then). All parts of the dandelion plant, young plantain leaves and many other plants are edible. So next time you weed your yard - think twice before throwing ALL the weeds in the compost!
This post is a part of Fight Back Friday, hosted by Food Renegade.

No more GAPS!

As you all probably know, I was on the GAPS diet. Well, despite the health claims for this diet, my mother thought my diet was too limited and was causing electrolyte imbalance/magnesium defeciency. So I added raw milk and buckwheat to my diet. And they didn't make me sick at all! Quite the opposite in fact, which makes me wonder why diets this restrictive are promoted as healthy.
But I can't blame the GAPS diet. I can only blame myself, since I was not eating meat, broth, or dairy. Maybe I would have been perfectly healthy if I was drinking a cup of broth a day, as recommended. But I'm not so sure. I don't know why the GAPS diet tricked me like this. I thought I felt so much better! Well, my current theory is that I felt better on GAPS because I was eliminating gluten. I still try to avoid gluten, but honestly? Sweet potatoes make me feel healthy, not sick! Maybe the GAPS diet is good for some people; and I am simply not one of them.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring has sprung!

Daffodil shoots are coming up. Birds are flying north. And I already have some parsley and tomato seedlings started. I also planted lettuce in a cake pan outside, but it has yet to come up. But it is pretty obvious, in my opinion, that spring has sprung!

On what planet is THIS cruelty free?

Apparently, scientists have proposed a "solution" to animal suffering in factory farms. They will genetically modify the animals' brains so they cannot feel pain. This way, they can torture the animals all they want and still label their meat "cruelty free". On what planet is this not cruel?
Seriously. I looked up "cruelty" in the dictionary and came up with one of the definitions being "causing injury". On WHAT planet is genetic modification of the brain in a hugely unnatural way NOT an injury? I mean, there are rare cases of children being born without the ability to feel pain. Know what happens to them? By adolescence they are covered in scars! So really the inability to feel pain is a disease in of itself, right?
What I don't understand is why people keep trying to come up with new ways of doing things that cause more problems than the old ways EVER did. Why engineer cows to NEED grain when the old cow breeds do perfectly well on grass (which, unlike grain, we can't eat)?
Sigh . . . I guess some people just never learn.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Food Renegade - win a sprout tray!

Food Renegade is giving away a 3-tray stackable sprout garden from Cultures for Health. Click here to enter.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cheap therapy

There is a great website called It has a whole section devoted to "therapy crafts", which usually means just games with music and balloons and tea parties. But two of the ideas are absolutely wonderful and I just had to share.
The first one is a stress ball/yoyo. It is made by filling a balloon with flour, birdseed (haven't actually tried the birdseed) or a mixture of flour and water. Then you cut the neck off another balloon and stuff the first balloon in. This is a great stress ball. Make it a stress yoyo by tying and holding secure with tape a piece of thin elastic. THIS CRAFT ROCKS! I made one with just flour for my friend, with a cute crocheted smiley face drawstring bag. Then I made one with flour and water for myself. It is also a yoyo. If you have a trampoline, you can fling your stress ball yoyo at it and if you are watching anyone else do it, you can see the ball go splat and then return to its shape! It is very fun.
The other craft idea was to fill a balloon with 1/2 cup soil, 1/4 cup water, and some radish seeds. Use a funnel to fill the balloon, and then blow up the balloon. Hang it from the ceiling. You now have a miniature greenhouse! I just started one today, but I used sprout mix seeds instead of radish. Hope it works!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Aspies in the media

In the autism community, I hear a lot of complaints about how people with Asperger syndrome are depicted in the media. A TV show will try to introduce an aspie character, but they will follow some stereotypes, such as lack of emotion. But here's what I have to say about all that: characters meant to have Asperger syndrome depict stereotypes. Indeed they do. I am in total agreement. But what about those odd people whom everyone loves? Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter? Flint from Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs? (Isn't that such a cute movie?) The list is endless. Of course, these characters weren't created with a diagnosis of Asperger's in mind. But it seems that most people can relate to them; they are lovable. Maybe the producers only had nerdiness in mind, but what are the "nerds" of the 80s other than undiagnosed Aspies? So it is my opinion that if you try to make a character fit the criteria for an Asperger's diagnosis, you screw up horribly. But if the character is simply socially awkward in a lovable way, I don't think you can go too far wrong. It is these "hidden aspies" that, in my opinion, add depth to movies and TV programs.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

My hen and chicks looks sad . . .

I was getting worried. My hen and chicks looked like it was bolting. Then I was overjoyed to find out that that meant it would flower, produce offspring, and then die. But the stalk came off and now it looks so sad. Do you think there's any hope?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Helping Haiti in little ways

It seems that everyone is wanting to help Haiti since the earthquake. When I got on Ravelry looking to see if there was any charity accepting items made with cotton yarn
(I got it for Christmas), I found that there were already groups set up that were trying to help Haiti. There ARE charities accepting cotton washcloths, which put my cotton to good use. Also someone is collecting toys for the children in Haiti, and I said I would help. This led me to make the most ADORABLE knitted bunny using sock techniques. Isn't it cute?

Coconut rocks!

I got a GREAT recipe through the GAPShelp list. It claims to be from 'Cocoyo' but I googled 'Cocoyo' and nothing came up. Oh well. Here is the recipe:
5 cups boiling water
3 cups unsweetened dried coconut
1 tablespoon honey
Bring water to a boil. Add coconut and let it simmer. Turn off heat and let it cool to room temperature. Blend in the blender with the honey. Add culture and put in yogurt maker for 8-12 hours. If you use a nondairy starter then this recipe is completely dairy free. It tastes like yogurt, but it is coconutty and good. Also you don't strain the fiber out, but that just improves the texture.
I had heard that milk kefir grains would ferment any nondairy milk substitute, including coconut milk, but had never tried it. But since dairy kefir gives me a stomachache (despite being made from raw milk), I thought I would try making coconut kefir. The result? It takes two days to get nice and sour, but once it gets that way it has a distinct kefir flavor. It seems more sour than the dairy version, but that is to be expected. The fiber is still in there, so it sort of reminds me of sauerkraut. To be honest, it is not the most thrilling thing to eat . . . BUT it doesn't give me a stomachache! Which means the only dairy I am eating is ghee. Which is fine as long as I can have my coconut! While the kefir grains are not busy fermenting coconut, I let them sit in the fridge in milk. Oh, and if you make a batch of the coconut mixture, if you turn it into kefir you will have leftovers, which makes a great milk substitute! FYI: If you strain the fiber out, you will not get much milk because the fiber absorbs water like crazy!

Oops . . .

I just found out that rutabagas are not GAPS legal. I wonder why. They are allowed on SCD. Does this mean I have to change my blog's name again?