Saturday, April 30, 2011

What's up with that?

We went to Lowe's today to look for a fan to cut down on the A/C use this Summer. While we were there I looked at some washing machines, just in case mine decides to call it quits for good. All of them demand 'high efficiency detergent' only. I make my own laundry detergent and it looks like I would not be able to use it in any of the new machines (I am looking for a top loader without agitator), my guess is, if I use it and the machine has a problem I am on my own, no warranty, etc. Those HE detergents cost a fortune and contain a lot of stuff I do not want to use. Whatever happened to just getting your clothes clean and fresh? Looks like I wont be getting a new machine anytime soon.

Farmer's Market

We went to the FM again today and it was crowded. It is good to see people buying locally grown produce.
This was our haul today.

1 lb of pasture raised ground beef, a bag of spinach, a bunch of asparagus, a dozen eggs, a quart of strawberries, a bunch of white radish, 1 lb of wild flower honey and two sweet potatoes. Price: 24.-
With the stuff we bought at the grocery store yesterday we managed to stay within our weekly budget.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Knitting and Reading

Time for another yarn along with Ginny.

A few minutes after I left a comment on a blog about wanting to try a feather and fan pattern in a shawl one day a friend asked me for a comfort shawl. So I immediately cast on this pattern Multnomah.
I am reading 'Home Cheese Making' in preparation for a new adventure a want to embark on soon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quilts n' Roses

I made quilts for my cats yesterday. The squares are pre-cut fabric samples that were part of a customer's club of a quilt shop. It turned out that not all of them were the same size and not all of them were square, but I don't think the kitties will mind.

Our rose bush is in full bloom with new blossoms opening up every day. They smell so good, I could not resist and cut a few for the house. They have very short stems this year but don't they look lovely on the new quilts?

Monday, April 25, 2011


I splurged

I actually bought two books brand new. Strangely they were cheaper this way because the qualified for free shipping.

The garden is planted


Beans, Peppers, Cucumbers, Eggplants


My new herb garden



Beets, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Spinach on the left, Peas, Carrots, Radishes, Parsnips on the right


Our Easter dinner. Roasted chicken thighs with asparagus (with butter and asiago cheese) and homemade vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries. The ice cream was still a bit soft, but we were just too eager to try it.
It was the best chicken we ever had. Meaty, firm, tender and juicy.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Morning

In search of local food

I finished reading 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' and the first thing I did afterwards was ordering my own copy (used). I just need to have this book in my library. It was the most educating book I have ever read. It does not just inspire one to think but to get out and do things differently.
So, on Friday morning we set off to the farmer's market in search of local food for our Easter dinner. This is what we came home with:

Free range eggs (there was a dozen in the box, but by the time I took the picture the missing ones had already gone into our breakfast and into the hot cross buns I made). I amused the farmer by asking if her chickens are truly free range, eating bugs and worms and such. ;-) Farm raised chicken (thighs), fresh asparagus and strawberries. Everything together cost $ 15.-. In an ideal world I would be able to go out and buy everything else I need in organic form or from fair trade organizations, but right now that would stretch our budget just a bit too much. But I am sure over time I will be able to do so more and more. It is also a question of what is actually available here.

I was thinking a lot about what has been said in the book and I realized that when and where I grew up I did indeed know where our food came from. Back then we did not have supermarkets. There was one self-serve grocery store in our neighborhood that was owned by a family. But there was a permanent farmer's market, lots of butchers, a wonderful drug store, stores that sold only dairy products, bakeries, my favorite store, that sold nothing but pickles of all kind and fresh sauerkraut and several grocery stores that sold everything else one needed. Oh, and not to forget - the candy stores. There was also a fishmonger with live fish in a big tank who also sold poultry and game. My mom used to help out there before Christmas when everyone used to buy carp for Christmas Eve. The chickens still had the head and feet attached and the innards were still intact. I learned how to remove them without popping the gall bladder. I also got to watch my mom skinning rabbits.
We even had a dairy in our neighborhood that processed milk and also produced frozen vegetables. I remember the truckloads of fresh spinach being brought in and the smell when it was processed. Every province in Austria has its own dairy where the milk produced in that province is being processed (as in made in cheese, yogurt, sour cream, etc. not into convenience food).
I grew up during the 60s and 70s and there was very little convenience or processed food available. We had canned beans, peas and other vegetables, frozen vegetables and powdered soup. Later came the instant mashed potatoes and dumpling mixes. And we only ate out on special occasions or on vacation.
Vienna sits in the middle of a big agricultural area and we learned about farming in school. We visited dairies and breweries on field trips and I had relatives living in the country. Whenever we visited them we got close up and personal with farm life. I guess I was lucky. But back then everything seemed to be smaller and closer together than it is now. By the time we left Austria in 2005 all of the small stores I remember from my childhood were gone, replaced by supermarket chains and convenience food and fast food restaurants had sprouted like mushrooms after a rain. So, whenever people ask me if I miss Vienna I say yes, but the Vienna I miss was gone long before I left.
Del and I talked about changing our eating and shopping habits and we agreed that we will give it a try. I am up to the challenge to do my best with what I have. The garden is planted and will hopefully do better this year than last and what we don't grow we will buy from the farmer's market and we will learn new skills. Del is very eager to learn how to make his own sausages and I am thinking about making cheese. One is never too old to learn something new.
On to new adventures.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The First Rose

A Little Gift

I made a little Easter present for a friend. Two small wash cloths, two crochet eggs and a little basket. I will add some candy and send it on its merry way.

Around the Garden

Just some random pictures of what is blooming.

Knitting and Reading

Oh dear, is it really Wednesday again? Then it must be time for another yarnalong with Ginny.

I am still reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Between spring cleaning and gardening I did not have as much time for reading as I would like and it is too good a book to rush through. And I got just one more gardening book from the library, I might be a bit late for that one, but one never knows.
I have been working on various little projects for Easter and I am currently knitting Edmund the Easter Bunny. I am using leftover Fishermen's Wool from Lion Brand and I am knitting with 4.5 mm kneedles.

Back to cleaning and thinning my seedlings. It is a miracle that the poor things did not drown in all the rain we had recently.
Happy knitting and reading everyone!

Monday, April 11, 2011


After another night of thunderstorms and heavy rain Saturday dawned grey, cold and foggy. That put a damper on my mood and cancelled some of our weekend plans. We did, however, go to the farmer's market for the big yard sale (most of which must have gotten washed away by the rain) and to check out what is available.

We got lucky. There was not much yard sale going on but we found a cat carrier, that was in perfect condition, it just needs a good wash. We later bought the second one at the big W store since the pet store had absolutely nothing (going shopping here can be frustrating at times, we try to spend our money right here in town but they just wont let us, I find myself way too often standing in front of empty shelves).

I bought six herb plants for my new herb garden. When I came home I realized that I could not remember what the sixth herb is and there were no tags in the pots. So, here is the mystery herb, any ideas what it could be? (I thought it might be catnip, but none of the girls was going crazy over it). We are going back to the market next weekend and I hope to find out then. ;-) The other five are lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, golden sage and chamomile.

I also found the calendula seeds I was looking for and bought some more nasturtium seeds to plant between the squash to keep the bugs away.

The main reason for the trip was to collect some price lists from farms who offer pasture raised or grass fed meat. We eat very little meat and we should be able to afford to buy it. I found beef, chicken, pork and bison, there is also one farm that offers ostrich but I will pass on that.

I noticed quite a few women selling baked goods which I find a good thing but since I do all my baking myself I did not sample their wares. Chemical free preserves were also available at a price that is just a tad too much for me at the moment, just like the locally produced goat cheese. Not much local produce yet but lots of plants and seedlings. I will definitely get my tomato and pepper plants there.

We also got all the materials for the new additions to the garden, now we just need some nice weather to build them. A herb garden where the stump used to be and a compost bin (following the example from the square foot gardening book) behind the shed. First we need to get rid of the brush pile with stuff that is too big for the compost (we don't have a shredder). Unfortunately the heavy rains left the big south field in a rather swampy condition. When we walked over it yesterday there was water pooling in our foot steps and the gravel in the driveway feels like it is floating.

I am taking a break from spring cleaning I feel a bit under the weather and I need to work on some other projects. Most of the other rooms in the house just need a good vacuuming and dusting and then the bath room gets a deep clean and I will be done, I'll be getting back to it soon.

Giveaway Winner

My husband pulled a name out of his brand new straw hat

and the winner is:


Please email me with your address and your price will be on its way.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Springcleaning - Week 1 - Thursday

I herewith pronounce the kitchen FINISHED!

I admit that it was a bit of a struggle to begin cleaning today. Let's face it, I am tired. I have been going to bed around or before 9 pm every day this week and I am not as young as I used to be. ;-)

Anyway, I finally got started on cleaning the last part of the kitchen. I washed the cabinets, cleaned the woodwork around the windows, cleaned the windows - inside only, they are too complicated for me to try anything else and one of them no longer opens because the rope is broken and we would have to dismantle half the kitchen to repair it, so not worth it. I cleaned the microwave (again, much cleaner than I expected), ran vinegar through Mr. Coffee and cleaned him as well. Then I washed down the counter and the backsplash, cleaned the the spice rack and that was it.

I will be taking tomorrow off from cleaning. I need to bake bread and make plans for our weekend which will be pretty full if all goes as planned. And I want to work on some decorations for Easter, research some recipes online, etc. I also want to spend some time in the porch with my lovely ladies, reading or stitching.

Spring cleaning will resume on Monday with the dining(train) room.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Springcleaning - Week 1 - Wednesday

Today I cleaned another part of the kitchen which included deep cleaning the refrigerator. This is always a pleasant surprise because it is never as bad as I expect. As a matter of fact, the fridge was almost clean, just a few spills on the bottom shelf and some wrinkled roots in one of the vegetable drawers. Nevertheless I took out all the shelves and drawers, gave them a good wash and wiped down the inside of the fridge. I also washed the woodwork around it (base boards and picture rail), dusted the little shelf in the corner and washed the floor around the garbage bins. The bins themselves are scheduled for a good hose down in the carport later in the week.

I also made a batch of laundry soap and washed and hung two loads of laundry. I managed to find the missing re-chargeable battery (thankfully it fell out of the jeans pocket when I sorted the laundry), discovered a snake in the basement and coaxed a wasp out of the mudroom. I do not believe in harming any living thing unless it means me harm (or my garden, like squashbugs). I hope the little snake finds it way out of the basement, it must have spent the winter in there, smart little thing. They are brown snakes and very useful to have in the garden.

Now I am going to watch yesterday's episode of NCIS on the internet, have lunch and then I plan to have some fun with my sewing machine.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Knitting and Reading

Attention please! We are interrupting spring cleaning for a quick stop at Ginny's blog for this week's yarn along.

I am still reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I like it a lot. Some of the insights into the American food industry are downright scary. The rest is entertaining and inspiring.
I am knitting more slippers with the yarn my friend gave me. I really like the colorway of this one but I have no idea what yarn it is, it did not have a label. My guess is that it is the same as the pink and green one, which was Impeccable by Loops & Thread (made in Canada and sold at Michael's).

Now I am off to make some much needed laundry soap and then I will continue with my spring cleaning. Have a wonderful day and don't forget to check out what everybody else is reading and knitting this week.