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Archive for March, 2011


I don’t mean the Chinese year.¬† ūüėܬ†¬†I forget specifically what year it was, since I’ve tried to block those painful memories from my mind.¬† I’m guessing it was around 1997 or 1998.¬†

That was the last year I had a garden.   

I carefully hovered; tending my wee garden from spring until late summer/early fall.¬† My corn was as high as an¬†elephant’s eye, and it looked like it was growing clear up to the sky. ¬†

Ok, well, it wasn’t that tall.¬† But it was taller than our 6 ft privacy fence, and it looked like we were going to have a bumper crop of corn from the few stalks we had planted.

And then *they* came.  <{insert impending doom music}>  <DUN DUN DUN>

They descended upon town, literally like a plague of locusts (which we know are actually a kind of grasshopper, but I digress) of near Biblical proportion. 

At first, there was just wonderment, as in “Good grief, look at all those hoppers!”¬†

And then it was caution tinged with fear, as the numbers seemed to multiply, like, “Uh, I sure hope they don’t stick around- maybe I should spray something in the garden?”¬†

Which changed to panic; “Oh no!¬† They are eating all my corn!”

Then¬†turned¬†to disgust; “I can’t believe they did that in a few days!¬† All my hard work eaten!¬† Wah!”

And resulted in resignation: “It must be God’s will that I don’t have a garden.¬† I shall never grow another garden ever, ever again.” <head hanging low>

I kid you not.¬† I don’t think a flock of chickens could have kept up with¬†that amount of grasshoppers! I have an image in my mind of gorged and fallen chicken casualties, too fat and too full of grasshoppers to move.¬†¬†

I remember some getting in the house after landing in my grocery bags,¬†and hoppers jumping around¬†in the truck while going down the road (which freaked the kids out at first).¬† Tennis matches were rescheduled, because while these hoppers were brown and didn’t get confused with the green tennis ball, it was overwhelming for the kids trying to hit the ball and ending up with hoppers smashed in the racket.¬† Plus, as athletes know, when you are doing your sport, you tend to breathe with your mouth open, which results in-¬†you guessed it- grasshoppers in the mouth.

Now, while in some parts of the world, these bugs are part of normal dietary fare, we here¬†only venture into the chocolate covered territory if feeling particularly daring.¬† I’ve never done it, but have heard it’s true- along with chocolate covered scorpions. Indeed, it was prudent to drive down the road with your lights on to see better, and when going over 5 mph, you really did need to turn your wipers on to get them off the windshield.¬†¬†¬†

So it’s been awhile since I’ve had a garden.¬† I’m still recovering. While part of me is mortified at a recurrence, I am holding firm to the belief that surely God will only bless me with a swarm of locusts once in my lifetime, and that being the case, I should now be free and clear to plant until the end of my days.

The first phase of the garden is complete.¬† Soil has been tilled and manure/compst¬†mix has been¬†mixed in. Forms for¬†raised beds are complete.¬† To get to this point, we added 55 bags (1 cubic foot = 2.37 yards) of soil and another 15 bags of compost mix (I don’t remember what amount was in those bags).¬† Seeds are planted; tomato plants are added.¬† Seeds are germinating, and will hopefully grow, since little dog has had a field day tromping¬†in the beds.¬† While she looks really cute sitting next to the tomatos, I am not sure things will grow where planted, given the footprints and moved soil.

Such is life.¬† Moving on!¬† On deck for this weekend is the addition of some kind of ground covering for the walking paths.¬† We are not sure if this is going to be mulch, rock, or pavers, but I have to find landscape plastic first.¬† Then there is the fence to keep the dogs out-¬†big dog is smart enough to go around, but little dog-¬†not so much.¬† Once the fence is in place, hunny is going to put in the drip system. I expect once these things are complete, I’ll be able to take pictures and share.¬†

In the meantime, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t get hoppers or any other bugs that will ruin the garden.¬† It’s sickening seeing all your hard work disappear nearly overnight.¬†But I have hope that this is the year of garden success!¬† Here’s to good garden growing- and may there not be a return of the year of the hoppers!

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A perfect ending for book 2¬†of this set!¬† While it’s not necessary to have read book 1, I am not sure this part of the story would be as good if you haven’t read the first part. My review of part 1 can be found here.¬† That being said, as a stand-alone novel, this was a book I could not put down.

Mine Is the Night continues the story of Elisabeth and Marjory, characters loosely based on Biblical figures Ruth and Naomi. Having lost sons Donald and Andrew fighting for the Jacobite Rebellion, widow Marjory flees with her two daughters-in-law, hoping to save all their lives after being stripped of title and land after her deceased sons are charged with treason.

The end of book 1 leaves us with Marjory and Elisabeth headed together to Marjory’s childhood home.¬† Having sent the trusted family manservant ahead with a letter to a cousin, uncertainty awaits the two destitute ladies.¬† Will they be received?¬† Will there be a home for them after years of estrangement?

This is a story of¬†redemption, divine providence, and love.¬† Trusting in the Lord to guide and provide for them, Elisabeth and Marjory have no choice but to follow the only path they see available; a return to the former Lady Kerr’s hometown. With an uncertain future, can they make their way in the world and survive?

I was caught up in their struggle in the first book, but the characters are so well written that jumping into the story in book 2 should not leave a reader feeling disadvantaged in the least.  For anyone interested in historical fiction, this book is a must read!  I give it 5 stars out of 5.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  Help me win stuff by clicking below and ranking my review! 

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Is the canning!  Oh canning, how I have missed you!

Seriously, during the school year, who has time (ok, I’ll admit to canning on the weekends, but during the week?!)?¬† I have come to the realization that I am entirely too busy most of the time. I love not having to worry about being on time for this or that, even though it doesn’t change what time I get up in the morning.¬† I am solidly looking forward to summer.

One difference this time around is my canning buddies.¬† There are three of us at this point; two are completely new to canning this week.¬† Now another friend of all of ours is interested as well, and that’s great!¬† All of our kids can hang out together (and with the fourth, that will be 9 kids) while we can.¬† Another perk is that they are inclined to books and yarn like I am, too.¬† The conversation is never-ending, and I’m not even the one doing all the talking!!¬† ūüėÜ

Wednesday afternoon,¬†we went over to K’s house.¬† S came to observe, and pitched right in.¬† The first 44 lbs of pears netted K 36 pints and 2 quarts less whatever was eaten before the picture.¬†

Thursday afternoon, everyone came here.¬† We got S’s carrots going first, since they needed to pressure cook.¬† S ended up with 18 pints of carrots,¬†since that’s what I can fit in my canner/pressure cooker at one time.

K brought her canner, which is the same one I have, and we started in on my pears.¬† I confess, we took a yarn detour before the canning, so we started later than we probably intended to.¬† ūüėĬ† I ended up with 15 quarts and 15 pints,¬† and about 4 pears left over.¬† Of course, the kids were in and out eating them as they had on Wednesday.¬†

What’s on deck next?¬† Chickens.¬†

Yep.¬† For real.¬† ūüėܬ† We’re going to be planting the garden this weekend, but first, hunny and I are going to look at chickens, and perhaps give one a try.¬† We’re also going to firm our plans for building into the garage and greatly expanding the pantry.¬† Either way we decide to go, I will end up with a huge, honkin’ pantry, which will completely solve my “don’t have enough room for my jars” issue – at least until I fill it.¬† ūüėČ

Food-wise, I think the next items on my list to can are going to be beans of all varieties (pinto, navy, northern, etc) and then stock.¬† I’m completely out of all stock, but I have bones in the freezer, so once the other girls get their stashes up, we’ll have to make a day of it.¬† Or maybe they can bring their yarn and I’ll can.¬† Either way, it’s great fun and great company!

Canning.¬† Give it a try!¬† You may be surprised at how addictive it is!¬† There’s nothing better than seeing all your jars lined up with *your* food in them, knowing how the food was processed and what the ingredients are.¬† It’s right up there with books and yarn!¬† ūüėÜ

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Well, those¬†are mostly done.¬† I have ties to make and attach to the hat, and then I’ll be able to ship the package off.

Neither turned out quite the way I hoped, but as y’all know, I have pretty low standards.¬† ūüėܬ† If I were to use this pattern again with this yarn, I would definitely use considerably smaller needles.¬† The upside is that she’ll be able to use this blanket the rest of her life, since it should come close to fitting a full size bed.¬†

I would also make the ruffled edge about 1/2 the width if I used it at all. In addition, I wasn’t real happy with that color, and¬†wished that the darker pink would have been an option,¬†which is not.¬† I admit, I got fatigued not with making the ruffle, but with measuring it, since my gauge was off. That¬† resulted in me making the ruffle shorter than it really needed to be (and I don’t need to tell you what that means, lol, because you already know :D)¬†mostly because I had already used¬†4 1/2 skeins of yarn (at 5 ozs each) and I was ready to be done.¬† Yes, you read that right- that was 4 1/2 skeins on *just* the ruffle!

I didn’t follow the directions on the hat brim, which gave me an entirely different looking hat.¬† Since it’s still cute, I didn’t froggy¬†it (as in, “rip it, rip it”)¬†and start all over.¬† I used needles that were *way* smaller than the pattern called for, because I used boucle/chunky yarn, and was really glad I did.¬† Before I was completely finished, I was questioning if that was the right call or not, since¬†the hat ¬†looked like it was going to be really quite small.¬† As it turned out, by the time I was done, it was long enough and should work just fine on a toddler head.¬† I still need straps, though, so that it can be worn on a slightly smaller head and not fly off.

The hat was attempt #3.¬† The first hat was huge, but I’m going to try to shrink¬†it so Mama can have a matching hat.¬† Attempt #2 (pattern #2) I started and ripped out the first round, because my fixed circular needle cable was just too long.¬† I have since remedied that; see my Dilemma post.¬† Once those come, I will probably try that hat again, because it’s a really cute pattern.¬† Anyhow.

Final hat (pattern #3) was the same set as the blanket.¬† What I liked about both patterns was that they both had a crochet edge, although the crochet on the blanket was before the ruffled edge. I haven’t done anything before that combined the two, but found it delightful (as in, “Yes!¬†¬†I still remember how!” ūüėÜ ) to mix it up.¬† I have to confess that I still find crocheting to be easier, and it really was like sliding into a comfortable pair of slippers.¬†

I hope to someday in this lifetime to get to a point where I feel as accomplished as I do with crocheting, but I am awfully doubtful, considering how much knitting stuff I still don’t know how to do.¬† I have to remind myself that I spent 15 years getting to the point I’m at with crochet, and I’m still a newbie with knitting. Even though it’s been about 2 years, I haven’t done anywhere near the same amount of projects with knitting as I had done with crocheting by the same point and time.¬† It is amazing how having children (and homeschooling them) makes a huge dent in the time for crafty stuff.¬†¬† I am looking forward to getting back to the sock making!

My apologies in advance for the poor quality of the pictures.¬† My energy is low today, and since I’m gearing up for 44 lbs of pears on Wednesday, I’m trying to ration myself (well, really it’s 88 lbs, since I’ll be canning with a friend and she also has the same 44 lbs- I’m sure it all works out in the end, lol).

                                                                                                                       

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Yes, it’s a full-fledged dilemma.¬† Oh the drama!!¬† Which knitting needles to buy?¬† ūüėÜ

I was cruising along doing fine yesterday; I got the blanket put together and finished, so it was on to the hat.¬† You may recall that the first hat I made for the new niece turned out to be huge, even though initially it was to gauge (I think it’s because my yarn was not baby sport weight, which I can’t actually find here).¬† Anyhow, new pattern for chunky yarn using circular needles, and off I went.

I did one round and ripped it out.¬† Why? ¬†My cable was too long.¬†I’m not smart enough yet to convert a circular pattern to a straight pattern, so this led me to the logical realization that perhaps it’s time to invest in an interchangeable circular needle kit.¬†

My concern, after researching, is that once I get the kit, the cables will still be too long to do small hats.¬† Since I don’t know if I can find a smaller¬†interchangeable cable for the kit I’m thinking about getting, I think I’m going to have to measure the cable on my fixed circular and make sure that if I need to get a different size that’s not included in the kit, that I order it at the same time if I can.

I’ve spent a good many hours this morning searching for interchangeable needle kits.¬† I saw one kit at Hobby Lobby, which was priced around $75, if I recall.¬† I wanted to see if I could do better online, and have managed to find the same kit more reasonably priced.¬† I have read the reviews and that’s a mixed bag –¬†some love the needles; others hate them.¬† I figure at this point, I am not too terribly picky so it might be worth the investment.¬† It might not be, but at least I’ll learn whether or not an interchangeable system is up my alley or not.

But oooooooo, I did find one set of dpns¬†(double pointed needles) that I think I’ll love from Knit Picks¬†in the Harmony Wood.¬† My next dilemma¬†is which length to get?¬† I measured my dpns, and they are all the longer ones, coming in around 7 inches from tip to tip.¬† When I’m making socks, I’m finding they are full,¬†probably because¬†I’m only using 4.¬† Since these come in sets of 6, I could use them for 4 or 5 needle patterns, which is great!¬† Does that mean that there are fewer stitches on each needle, thus meaning I could get away with a shorter needle (and get a lower price on the set)?¬† That’s my next thing to reasearch, it seems.¬† ūüėÜ

I guess the next step is to compare prices for the kit I’ve settled on; the Boye¬†Needlemaster 200.¬† So far, I’ve narrowed it down to Amazon or Overstock.com, but my searching has just begun.¬† Now that I know what I’m looking for, the chase is on for something that won’t cost an arm and a leg!

If you are experienced with these kinds of items, I would love to have your input!

Update: I found and bought this set new on eBay, and saved about $60 compared to buying it locally.  Even at the least expensive place online, I still saved $24 by using eBay.  

*Disclaimer: I have no financial interest¬†or stake in eBay except I generally check there to get great deals! (DH is chuckling, because he has the account and his history shows totally girly things, like dishes,¬† too.¬† ūüėÜ )

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I love historical fiction!¬† Set against a backdrop of¬†1745 Scotland, this book does not disappoint.¬† Secrets of the Kerr family¬†abound during the time of Bonnie¬†Prince Charlie and the Jacobite Rebellion.¬† Their¬†quest was¬†to¬†claim the British throne for James Francis¬†Edward Stuart,¬†Bonnie Prince Charlie’s father.¬† Supporting the Jacobites takes a huge toll on the Kerr women; with secrets revealed and¬†results none of them anticipated.¬†

Characters are well-developed overall; leaving the reader feeling attached to them. I am, however, not a fan of skunky characters without real consequence from others, at least not without significant struggle and tangible thought process leading to the responses. The reaction to some offenses are too flippant for my personal taste, which led to a lack of complete character resonance with me.

That being said, there was character metamorphosis, on a variety of levels for many of the main players.¬† I found myself emotionally invested, but wished that certain scenarios had more depth, more time spent with internal thinking; more “something.”

I will definitely make a point to get the sequel, to see what happens next in the journey. If you like historical fiction, you will enjoy this book.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  Click below to help me out by ranking my review!

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You get the point.¬† I’m drunk on books!¬† ūüėÜ ¬† A few days ago, I got my next book to review.¬† That’s not what set me off.¬† What got me going was a shared link to Ereader¬†News Today.¬† This is a website that, when you sign up for free, will send you notification of new, free Kindle books.¬† I immediately went into overload.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

I was thrilled when I was researching e-readers and discovered that Kindle offers free books.¬† There are a few different ways I’ve found to find the freebies.¬† First, I went to the regular Kindle e-book page on Amazon.¬† If you scroll down the page, you’ll a listing on the right hand side for best sellers, including free books.¬† That’s one way to find free Kindle¬†ebooks.

Another way is to click on a category and then filter by price, low to high.¬† While sometimes not in complete order, it’s usually pretty good. Once you click on a book,¬†you’ll get a scrolling bar of books that folks who have bought the book you are viewing also purchased.¬† Kind of nice!

On the left navigation bar, Amazon has a “Free eBook Collection” link.¬† There are tons of classic novels in there; lots of historical books (one I read recently was compiled from letters of early American settlers I found particularly gripping)¬† and links to e-collections on the web.¬† This is a fabulous resource!

I also found a Listmania for free ebooks.¬† I can’t remember how I came across this, but I saved it, and it’s a good thing I did.¬† The one I use the most is titled “Kindle Freebies. Get Them While The Getting’s Good.”¬† On this page, there are other Listmanias listed, which is helpful for searching for books grouped together in different ways (not just freebies).

And then tonight, as I was working on winding down to go and sit and knit a bit, I popped into Facebook and there it was.  A shared post from a friend that linked to ENT and I was hooked.  First I went and signed up, and then went to the FB page and clicked on every link there.  While I was madly clicking, I had another browser open and was searching my other places for more freebies.  I spent over two hours downloading 57 free selections (some of them are short stories).

One title made me giggle, Tick Tock¬†(James Patterson, preview).¬† Since it was only the first 28 chapters, I passed.¬† I got more of the classics (Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen and OOOOO now I see¬†The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Volume I so I’ll have to make a point to go back and get it.)¬†¬†¬†¬†Others I downloaded are these:

Joel Kilpatrick (Author), David Levy (Author)
 
Elinore Pruitt Stewart (Author)
 
While I did refrain from getting “Common Sense,”¬†I could not prevent myself from downloading¬† The American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Maria Francis Child after reading the review.¬† Who wouldn’t want to learn to make old-fashioned in a¬†kettle in your backyard or make furniture polish from a little white vinegar and olive oil?¬† It sounds like she was the original Heloise.¬†
  
Apparently, the author was born in 1802 and between the years of 1835 and 1841, it was republished 27 times!¬† I’ve been reading some reviews (go ahead, Google¬†it! :lol:) and I am loving them!¬† What a gem it looks to be-¬†there’s even a diagram somewhere of the (meat) parts of an ox, which I shall have to research and see if they translate to beef.¬† Although I’ll bet there are some “opinions” I’m bound to disagree with.¬† ūüėČ
 
 Whew! Ok, I think I am calming down.  This book stuff-  intoxicating! 

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