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Once upon a time, in a land far, far away {like Washington state; the opposite side of the country from where I actually live} an old lady went to visit her hunky muffin {don’t tell him I called him that!} who was working far away. This was not the first time the old lady had gone to visit, as she was lonely without the man she conned into marrying her over 20 years ago…….

When the old lady goes to visit, she takes 3 necessities with her: her magic slippers, her magic portal she lovingly named Kindle Fire, and her magic makers and accessories. Although, to be fair, this time she was traveling light, and dragged her man hither and yon until she found what she had in mind.

Ok, no, really, she found the magic threads first, and then her plan was borne.

Whatever.

Anyhow. The old lady worked day and night; night and day, until lo, the fruits of her labor were realized. Thrilled beyond measure, she did the unthinkable.

She posted a selfie onto Facebook. 😆 😆

Poked and prodded by he-who-shall-remain-nameless {you know who you are! 😉 } to smile, the old lady posted several such “selfies,” much to the utter chagrin of her eldest girl child.

“This day,” she declared, “I am ruined! My mother hath posted the selfie, and lo, I am much a ruined! My life is over! Wahhhhhhh!!!!! “ she wailed.

 

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True story, that. 😆

I had flown out to visit Hunny, determined to travel light. And then we went to Walmart. I forget what we were even looking for, but if you know Hunny, it has to be to the pain of death before he’ll go in that place. Somehow, I managed to get him to go in. And then I found the only other thing outside of chickens {and maybe ducks and guineas} that sets my heart all a fluttering and raises my heart rate; quickening in anticipation-YARN!!!!!!!

I am a total yarnie. Hopelessly addicted. My stash is all over the place; some unpacked in the totes; some still packed and somewhere upstairs. I just stole one of my youngest daughter’s organization cubes last week. I moved it into my bedroom and filled it with my working yarn- projects I have lined up right now. I was tired of the piles of bags, so this is much easier.  yarn2

But I digress.

Anyhow, we were in Walmart, and I found the reflective yarn I had been looking for but was unable to find! I seriously squeeeeed!

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What on earth would I need with reflective yarn? Well, winter was coming. That means running in the cold. And that means a need for warm running gear, like hats and arm warmers and things.  So, I got my yarn, found my patterns {yes, the frustrated hunt for circular patterns again}, and got to work.

The first thing I did was make my standard ear warmer. Toasty; cute; super easy.  There are lots of times when you want your ears to stay warm but it’s not cold enough for a hat. The bonus is that, like a hat, the ear warmer also keeps the sweat out of your eyes. earwarmer1

Next, I knew it was time for arm warmers. When I run, I like to layer, so that as I get hot, I can take the layers off as I need to. Again, my biggest issue was finding a circular pattern. You’d think it would be no big deal, but sheesh! Frustrating!

I did finally manage to find what I was looking for. I did not want a thumbed arm warmer pattern. I like to easily be able to slip my thumbs out once I start getting warm, and having the knit thumb would be just too much. The slouchable knitted arm warmers were just the ticket, and pretty easy to make.

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If memory serves, I went for the hat next. Oh, nope, it was the cowl. I found a spiral cowl that I really liked. I am not 100% sure this is the pattern, but it’s the only spiral cowl I have saved, so I assume it is.  One thing to note is that it’s not unusual for me to tweak a pattern. In this case, I had left my interchangeable circular set at home, so I was using what I had on hand, as opposed to what the pattern called for. And then I made it length I wanted it to be.cowl

Another easy project. I packed it in my saddle bag on the last fall ride, and I’ll tell you, it saved my butt. Had it not been for the cowl, I would have spent the entire ride shivering.

Finally, it was time to make the hat. By this time, I had gotten home and knew I’d need one sooner than later. My Leisure Arts Hats & More book came in handy again. This was the Reversible Cable Duo hat. Toasty!

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I’ll spare you the selfie. You’re welcome. 😀

I will, however, try once again to ruin my daughter’s life by putting pictures of her in her Halloween costume, “Mother Running Down the Road in the Morning,” here for all of y’all to see. You’re welcome. 😀

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While I adore the reflective yarn, bear in mind those reflective fibers are not what I would call soft. There’s a whole line of reflective colors to choose from, but I kept it simple and mixed some non-reflective Day Glo yarn, even though they were different weights. It’s very cool stuff!

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Or winter of the hat, at any rate. Fast forward a year, and most of the ear warmers have gone missing by the time we wanted to wear them. Since I knew they’d get found at some point {and I think they all did get found eventually}, I was loath to make another set of them, even though they were ridiculously fast and easy to make.

This time, I decided to go for hats. I got frustrated looking, to be honest. Yes, I’m on Ravelry, but man, is that place a serious time sucker! I like to try to search the old-fashioned way to start, before I give up, dig around there, get frustrated some more, and then head back to the WWW. *sigh* My primary point of frustration was finding a really cute pattern, only to discover that it was a flat knit and then needed to be sewn up the back.

Honestly, that should be take-you-to-jail illegal. It’s just so unnecessary! {This is why I love Devin, even though she moved from WP to that-site-that-shall-remain-nameless…. 😉 – she converts the patterns so you can choose!} It makes me want to pull my hair out!

It took me a while, but I did manage to find a really cute pattern for the younger girls. This is called the Sweetie Pie hat.

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Next, it was time to make my oldest daughter a hat. At some point, I actually bought a book {gasp!} called Hats & More. It’s a Leisure Arts title from the Best of Knitting series.

 

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We found it while browsing for yarn and stuff and thought it would be fun. This was another really fast hat to make. Because she’s a girl, she wants another hat in the pattern I used for the younger girls. 😆 Go figure.

I made our good friend and hay-mover extraordinaire, M, a beanie. Because he helps shuttle hay in the snow and in the rain without complaining, I figured the least I could do was make him something to cover his head. I have no idea where I found the pattern, but it might have come from one of the other books I have on hand.

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Another circular, super, super easy pattern. 🙂

 

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I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before. It’s not my fault. Really, it’s not.

It all started last year, when hunting season was approaching. As you know, we have horses. And we like to ride them.

But I was worried about getting shot during hunting season. Truly, I was worried about us outside during hunting season, hunting for eggs and generally doodling around out there, seeing as we’re surrounded by fields and woods.

So, it seemed logical to me to make sure we were all wearing something orange. And, it was getting cold. But not cold enough for a full hat.

Thus, the idea for ear warmers was born. Because I have a house full of girls, it also made sense that we each have different colors to keep them apart.

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These were really fast and easy to make. In the event you are thinking you want to try these, you can find them here. What I really like about Devin’s patterns is that she usually has them in both flat and circular. I am not a fan of knitting something flat when it can be done on circular needles. That’s my two cents, anyhow. More yarn stuff on the way!

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Thursday was a mad dash to get ready for chicks, with the expected arrivals coming Thursday evening instead of Friday morning.  They are great fun!

The plan had been: get chicks at 7 am with K; come back here and do apples.  The week brought a variety of adaptations to that plan.  The apples were left over from the Friday prior, when we ended up looking at the garden and chicken tractor instead of canning. Because the apples had been waiting for a week and were getting eaten, I knew I had to get them done Friday, or there wouldn’t be enough left to justify the effort.

I started working on mine, and was finally able to head over to Ks, chicks in tow, to help her get her apples done. As I’ve been researching and looking for recipes, I’m trying to find some where she can omit the sugar.  See my comments below on what I did, vs the recipe.  🙂

 

Apple Pie Filling in a Jar

4 1/2  c sugar
1  c cornstarch
2  tsp cinnamon               
1/4  tsp nutmeg
1  tsp salt
3  tbsp lemon juice
10  c water
6 lbs tart apples, washed, peeled and thinly sliced

Note: Slice apples into a solution of 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to 1 quart of water to avoid discoloration. Drain the fruit well before packing in jars.

In a large pot, blend together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the water and lemon juice with a wire whisk. Cook and stir until bubbly and thick; remove from heat.

Drain the fruit well before packing in jars. Pack apples into clean, hot canning jars leaving an inch from the top of the jar. Fill with the hot syrup, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles, wipe rim, and apply lids and rings.

Process in a boiling water bath for 20 -30 minutes.

No Sugar:

Omit sugar and adjust:

1 c cornstarch

9 c water

All other ingredients same.

My comments:  I used Jona Gold apples; K used Red Delicious.  I have found the Red Ds to not be as firm, but I don’t think this is a big deal. I have canned all different kinds of apples, and they are all good. I also didn’t measure the lemon juice into the water since we had several bowls going.

I ended up this time with 19 quarts and 1 1/2 pint (jelly jar) of pie filling along with one 1/2 pint of juice, which I didn’t process this time.

You could, I suppose, use Fruit Fresh on the apples instead of the lemon juice in the water.  I don’t, though, because lemon juice is cheaper and I usually have a lot on hand.  Plus, lemon juice is a natural product.  So, that’s my .o2.  😀

When I make pie filling,** I’m usually using a box, which is about 40 lbs of apples.  I have found that an apple peeler is a “must-have” for me.  This makes my time peeling and cutting much easier, since, as you can see from the picture, it spirals the apple.  Once the apple is off the peeler, I cut it in half and plop in the jars.

Another thing that is helpful is to fill the jars with a few ladle scoops of filling, then apples, then top off with filling.  It just seems to go by a little bit faster.

When using an apple peeler, be aware that you get a lot of peels. I have mine saved in the freezer waiting for a resolution to my food processor issue.  I may decide to go ahead and do the apple (peel) butter in the crockpot and then can. On the other hand, I really need to get a working food processor.  😆 

** A regular slicer/corer is good for canned apples.  I don’t remove the peels in this case, but you certainly could if you wanted to. I have also made apple pie filling using the larger apples that come from the slicer, but it’s my feeling that you can pack more smaller pieces of apples (like what you get you from peeler) into your jars than you can get with the larger, sliced apples. We like more apples to juice, but if you want more juice to apples, the slicer is a good way to go.

You could also just do the liquid and add your apples when you are ready for pie, or you could do a variety of apple piece sizes.  If you find your filling consistency is too thin, you could heat it up and add more corn starch; and/or you can add more apples to your filling.  One of the things I looooooveeeeeee about canning is the variations you can come up with.

My plan for today is to use my apple pie filling to make a cobbler.  It’s been a really crazy, busy week (with middle-of-the-night checks on the chicks), and my body is paying for it.  My big stuff today is laundry, chick tv, and hopefully finishing up knitting the one remaining sock while I hang out in bed.  Once I get that done, I’ll go looking for another sock pattern and get that started.  I have yet to use my new set of circular needles, but since I also have a few 5 needle sets, I am going to have to figure out which pattern to do next! 

That’s the plan.  We’ll see if I can stay awake to get it all done.  😆

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Too much time on my hands,

(T T T T Ticking away…..)

I’ve got too much time on my hands  (doot doot doot)……………….

Nope, not really. 😆  But when I think about time or my blog (tikk tok- tick tock- the ticking of a clock), that Styx song often pops into my head. I wish I had more time to do the stuff I have a great time doing, like reading or yarning or canning or or or or or……… 😀

More often than not, what I have too much of – besides stuff – are thoughts in my head (which you may recall is the primary reason I started a blog). One of the recurring themes I think about, which ties very nicely into the yarn, the canning, the garden, and the chickens is preparedness.

Maybe it’s because of the earthquakes, particularly the one in Japan, and the resulting nuclear issues at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, or maybe it’s because of the fires that are raging in my state, largely due to a La Niña winter, but the issue of preparedness has been on my mind. 

To be fair, much of this started with canning, prompted by a desire with yarn years and years ago to make things of value.  Thus the canning evolved into knitting (because you can knit things like socks!), which is another skill set that is useful, which then led to renewed interest into growing food again, and a plunge into chickens, which I had been circling for a few years as well.

If you know me, you know that I research things, probably to death 😆 so I can have an informed opinion.  In my internet travels, I have come across several sites for preparedness.  To ease you into it slowly, and to avoid you feeling like I am a total loon completely off my rocker, 😆 I’ll start with Survival Mom

Yep, that’s right.  I’m not the only mother on this planet that thinks about these things!  I will say that thinking is not the same as acting, and in that regard, I am woefully behind in my family preparedness.  “Why worry about it, when you live in the desert?” you might be thinking and asking yourself. 

Apparently, I am not the only mother living in the desert with such thoughts.  As silly as that may seem, it’s a comfort to me to know that there are others besides a few of my local friends that are thinking along the same lines.  But, unlike myself, Survival Mom has taken real steps to *do* something about being prepared in the event of an emergency.  There is a lot to learn here!  My intent is to read, to learn, and thusly to become educated.

I’ve joined the Survival Mom blog ring, and this is a great place to read all kinds of blogs written by women, which I think offer a unique perspective.  Click on the link above or the icon on the right to see the blog ring. 

Join me on a journey of discovery!

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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!!  😆

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.  😀  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.  😆  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.  😉

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!  😆

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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.  😆  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!” 😆 ) 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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