Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Can I make that?"

As the Christmas season approaches, I have many people to shop to shop for, including eight nieces and nephews; that can add up.
I have a problem with shopping though. For instance, I went to a craft fair with some ladies from my church last Saturday. I saw lots of nice things, but what I tend to do is, I'll see something and think, "Can I make that?" I usually only buy things that I can't make. I bought bars of handmade soap. I love handmade soap. I'd love to learn how to make it, but until then, I will patronize those shops. (Which is good to do anyways- I always try to shop local and handmade whenever possible.) This particular vendor gave out samples of his almond oatmeal soap. My purse smelled like almond extract; it was wonderful. I just wanted to eat it, it smelled so good.
Mainly this year our nieces and nephews will get clothes. My mother-in-law has many a children's pattern and so I am borrowing some. The girls will get dresses the boys will get pajamas. Of course as with all my project ideas my husband said, "You better get going if you want to get all that done." I need him to keep me on track. (This morning as usual, I was running late, so he got my breakfast, warmed up the car and put my bags in the car for me; he is wonderful. Sunday mornings he always tells me what time it is, so I don't fritter my time looking at the comics or picking out what to wear for church.)
It will probably happen that I will post pictures of the finished Christmas presents before Christmas. My sisters will see what their kids will get from us, so it will ruin the surprise, but I want you all to see how they turn out. I think that will be OK. I have one dress finished, but you'll just have to wait and see when all the presents are done.


Going back to me not buying things because I think I can make them... well, I usually can make presents, but they tend to take a bit of time.
I have been invited to a baby shower at the end of the month and the baby's nursery is a Noah's Ark theme from Babies 'R Us. Since I like to crochet stuffed animals, I decided to make an animal that matched the theme. I went on the baby registry and looked at the animals. The girl monkey was cute and since the baby is a girl, I decided on the monkey. (Especially since the girl monkey has a bow on her head making her extra cute.) I sketched the monkey from the website and decided what color yarn I needed. (I did have a darker tan yarn for the mouth as it is in the picture, but it didn't look good, so I decided to keep it the same color as the face.)

Most of the animals that I make are from a amigurumi book that my sister Juliet picked out from a sale bin at a yarn store. I have made so many animals out of that  book. I also base other animals that I don't have patterns for from patterns in the book. I made my nephew a zebra based on the donkey pattern and this monkey is from the teddy bear pattern, with added things I had to make up. (The monkey's face I had to make up.)
I think the girl monkey turned out really well! She's cute and I hope that she gets a lot of love. <3

Sunday, November 9, 2014

picky eater

Growing up, I was a picky eater. When my Mom fed me bananas as a baby, I spit them out. (Still not a huge fan, but they are good with peanut butter.) The only vegetable I loved was broccoli. When my Mom made pizza, she'd have to make a plain one for me; strictly cheese and pepperoni. Now, my husband and I grow vegetables that I wouldn't have touched with a ten foot pole when I was younger: peppers, Winter and Summer squash, green and yellow beans, beets, radishes...

I'm not sure if it was before we got married or after, but earlier in the relationship, my now mother-in-law fixed Brussels sprouts. They were from a bag in the frozen food section, but that didn't matter: she had sautéed those sprouts in butter, with chopped garlic and a little bit of lemon juice- I was in love! Maybe it was the butter, but this vegetable was AMAZING!!  I never had them growing up (well, if my Mom had ever cooked them, I probably would've just turned up my nose and pushed the bowl away). I definitely had seconds.

When we moved back to Pennsylvania and started a garden, I knew we had to try to grow some of these delicious Brussels. Last year, we bought starts and transplanted them. Did the flea beetles love those little plants or what? We didn't even get one little sprout of a Brussel. Thankfully, someone sold them at the Farmer's Market and I was able to enjoy some. This year would be different.
All of our brassicas (broccoli, cabbages and Brussels sprouts), we started from seed. Of course, when we got the packet of seeds, we didn't need to use all of them- that would've been a lot of sprouts. In the end, we transplanted about twenty seedlings. Do you know how many little sprouts that is for just two people? A LOT. (Good thing we have some people to share with!)
One thing about growing Brussels sprouts that has helped us a lot is, we cut the top growth of the plant once little Brussels start coming on, about the top three of four inches. (Don't throw them out. You can cook up the leaves just like kale or chard; delicious!) Doing this puts energy back into developing a good size Brussels sprout and hinders the plant from continuing to grow taller.
Whatever happens to be in season in our garden, we eat it. What we can't get to, we preserve. Things like corn, broccoli, snap peas, some green beans, zucchini and Summer berries, we freeze and it's the same with Brussels sprouts.

My husband cut off the leaves of the stalks so it would be easier to cut off the Brussels sprouts. It looked like a massacre!

It took quite a while to break them all off the stalk, clean them up, parboil them and bag them-- and I've only done half of them-- but as with all preserving, whether freezing or canning, it's totally worth it! We are going to have a delicious Winter! <3