Friday, October 30, 2009


One of the best reasons about moving to our new area is the proximity to some of our family. Big Fish's new job happened to land us in an area about an hour away from my parents! Then, most of my aunt and uncles live about two hours away. We are so thankful; of all the places Big Fish was applying to end up in western PA!

Today we went to visit my grandparents - Brookie and Small Fry's great-grandparents. We are hoping to see them again in a few weeks for Thanksgiving. Which we are supposed to be hosting. In a house on which we haven't signed closing papers yet. Where did the time go?

Here, Brookie and her great-grandma are modeling the latest in designer necklaces. Brookie's necklace actually has a lobster on it.

Sidenote: the second appraisal on our hoped-for house is to be done on Monday. We are looking for some great news (well, great price to be exact).
So, my grandmother set out quite the spread for us today. She always does! Her way of showing love is to feed us! We had beef stew; mashed potatoes; homegrown corn, lima beans and onions; chicken fingers; homemade applesauce; apple AND peach pie; etc. Good thing we raked some leaves beforehand as a kind of pre-calorie workout!

My grandfather, who is 90, just returned from a hunting trip to Colorado. My grandmother called him the Energizer Bunny today! Here he is thrilling the kids with rides on his lawn tractor.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I've Been Fleeced!

Yesterday was a highlight of the week, knowledge-wise. I learned so much from a good friend. Barb has taught herself to spin; she knits beautiful sweaters and socks; she quilts amazing quilts; the list goes on and on.

A lovely afternoon was spent with Barb showing me some of her treasures. I saw some of her fleeces, some alpaca fiber, and some mohair. There was even a spinning lesson involved on her beautiful spinning wheel (I think she said it was a Baynes wheel). I was also able to take my fleece and begin to learn what to do with it!

The first thing we did was dump my fleece on her patio and go around the edges to remove the pieces of, well, poop. This is called "skirting" the fleece. We also tried to shake off the small pieces of wool called "seconds" that are a result of the shearer making a second cut to get close to the sheep's skin. The seconds are just too small and prickly to be made into yarn or anything else. Barb's dog, Rowan, thought the fleece smelled so interesting!

The next step was to actually wash the wool. I assumed that using hot water would felt the wool, but that is only part of it. Hot water is the best for cleaning the wool; you just have to be careful to not rub the fibers together much. We did 4 hot water baths of about 25 minutes each. It is not advisable to wash wool in your sink or laundry basin and let the water drain into your plumbing! The lanolin from the wool will just cause buildup. We used plastic dish basins and emptied the water in Barb's flower beds (great fertilizer!). The 2nd and 3rd hot water baths we used a gentle cleaner to help release the lanolin. Let me know if there is any interest in the product.

Next the wool needs to be hung in order to air dry completely. A drying rack or clothesline would be perfect. I washed a lot more wool today, and my parents' clothesline in the basement has been commandeered by wool!

There will still be a lot of "veggie matter" or "vm" in the wool. This would be bits of sticks or straw or hay. These can be removed by hand, as the wool is processed. I will be using some of the wool roving directly in my needle felting projects, and I hope to spin some of it into yarn. There will be further steps of carding and prepping the wool for spinning later on.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New (for us) House Update and Some Other Projects

Well, we have made it to one of the more crucial steps in the home-buying process. Drumroll, please.....the appraisal! We have had one appraisal already last week which came in low. This is not good, BUT there were some errors on that report. I won't bore you with all the details, but one example on the report documents the house as having 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. Believe me, we actually want to find a house with more bedrooms and bathrooms than the apartment we just came from. We are a family of 4, people.

So, we have asked for a re-appraisal hopefully to correct some of those errors. We get that news tomorrow. I'll keep you posted!

One project about which I am so excited is my fleece. Yes, I know a guy who had sheep! He sold me a whole fleece! For $5! He had Cheviot sheep, and the fibers seem to be sturdy and useable for a variety of projects.

I have had the fleece hanging in a bag in my parents' garage for a few weeks. It really needs to be cleaned, and I just happen to know another person who can help me. I'm supposed to take the fleece to her place tomorrow to start the cleaning process. I don't know a thing about this - I know we need some sunshine and soap and scissors. This is going to be fun; come along and learn with me. I already have ideas rattling around for dyeing the wool. I want to try some onion skins for yellow and some beets for purple! Pictures to follow.

Today I'm designing a pattern for a simple belt/scarf. Brookie and Small Fry are down for their naps, so I'll see what I can get cut.

Here is another recipe that was super enjoyable (and used up some more of the apples of which we had aplenty!). Oooohhh, I've always been so amazed with blogs on which people linked to websites by just clicking on the word. I hope this works. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apple Crisp Recipe

I asked my mom where she had found this recipe for her apple crisp. She said that a roommate of hers in college had baked it often. So, I have grown up eating this! The recipe is fairly simple, and it has a lot of wiggle room. Here is the recipe along with my adjustments:

Apple Crisp Recipe

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a deep dish baking pan. Peel, core, and slice apples into the pan. I used 13 apples when I made this last week, and they were fairly large apples. The lady at the apple orchard provided me with Jonathan, Cortland, and Yellow Delicious apples. Remember that the apples cook down, so make a mound of them!

Pour about 1 cup of water over the apples, so they don't burn and stick to the bottom. Sprinkle at least 2 teaspoons of cinnamon all over the top of the apples.

Make the crumb topping by combining (with fingertips or a pastry blender or a food processor) 14 tablespoons of butter, 2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups flour. This is an area which I adjust. I probably make about 1 1/4 extra of this part of the recipe! What can I say, I'm a topping girl! Combine until crumbly. Sprinkle all over the apples - put it on thick!!

Bake at least 30 minutes. Make sure the apples are soft. For extra consumer enjoyment, serve with homemade whipped cream!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Separation Anxiety

I know a lot of people are thankful for Fridays; the weekend is often a time to relax or maybe do things around the house. Our little family is especially excited about Fridays because we are reunited with Big Fish! During our time of transition, while we are waiting to close on the house, the kids and I are able to stay with my parents. Big Fish travels up to work e-a-r-l-y Monday morning and stays at a place close to his employment until Friday afternoon. We have done this since mid-August.

Needless to say, when the weekend comes, we are quite happy. My parents only live about an hour and a half away from Big Fish's new job and where we hope to live, but we are trying to save a little on gas money - not to mention how tiring in would be to drive 3 hours a day. We sure have a whole new level of appreciation for people who have long commutes or are separated from the families for a lot longer time period.

Moving from Virginia, we are SO excited to be much closer to my parents. Little weekend visits will be such a breeze! I think Brookie and Small Fry are excited, too. They love their daddy!

Hopefully this weekend, I'll share some pictures of the apple crisp that was made yesterday. It is now almost gone, so it's a good thing I took some pictures already! I would love to share the recipe, too!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Cast of Characters

So, I think I've come up with a plan for how to name the members of my immediate family in this blog. For now, at least, I'll keep their "real" names private. Maybe this will change in the future, but for the beginning of this blog I'll give them nicknames (thanks Kathy for the suggestion!).

My husband is an outdoorsman to the enth degree, and he particularly enjoys fishing. He prefers trout fishing in cold mountain streams that he wades right up the middle to hunt out his prey. He is always trying to explain to me how peaceful, beautiful and blessed the whole experience is; and I certainly agree that this all works for him. (I, on the other hand, have an unhealthy fear of watersnakes; so the whole wading in the water and feeling peaceful thing just doesn't seem to work as well for me. That and trying not to fall in - anyway, where was I?) So, my husband, will now be referred to as "Big Fish".

I picked this nickname for him not only for his love of fishing and trying to catch the big fish, but also because I definitely caught the big fish when we were married. He is truly a gift from the Lord!

The kids' nicknames stem from the fishing theme as well. My daughter, who is 3, shall be referred to as "Brookie". One of her dad's favorite fish to catch is a brook trout, and she is one of my most favorite little people! My son, who is 1, will have the nickname of "Small Fry" for obvious reasons. Maybe, when he is a strapping teenager I might change that! Here they are enjoying some arts and crafts time at my parents' table.

How about you? What do you do on your blog to name people that you love? I'd be interested to hear!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Indian Summer in October

We have been enjoying the sunshine today! I think it might be technically too late to be termed "Indian Summer", but it sure was nice to take a trip to the thrift store today and not have to warm up the car! I didn't even put on a jacket. Having lived in FL before, I certainly know that 60 degree weather would NEVER be classified as any kind of summer; but it sure feels better than 30 degrees.

Yesterday, my two kids and I went to another thrift store. Sidenote: I still don't know if I should use their names in my blog yet. The jury is still out on that one. We are on a mission, people. We are searching for 100% wool sweaters to use in my felt projects. The man of the house still doesn't understand how I can take "perfectly good" sweaters and shrink them beyond recognition and then cut them up!

Here are some of our finds - along with my first uploaded photo! These sweaters have all been felted and are awaiting the knife er scissors.

This sweater says on the label "vintage". I'm assuming that it's really not that old - how would the manufacturer know that? Anyway, the color of this sweater is awesome; it's a great pink; any suggestions or guesses for what it will be used?
I'll be posting a picture or two of some finished products soon!! I need to figure out how to link my etsy shop to this blog. I think it's up there, but other people's blogs have pictures with theirs. I have to figure that out!! I have a lot to learn. Thanks, Amy, for the font suggestions. I hope this is better - more readable. Let me know what else I can improve!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Here We Go!!

Wow! What an exciting thing to be writing the first blog post of my life! I have read so many completely amazing blogs and have been inspired by many people to finally just jump in!

So much thought has been spent on thinking about what I would write on a blog if I ever had a blog that I just finally realized that I needed to start. There is so much to learn; so, blogworld, any tips or suggestions you have would be so much appreciated! One specific question I had: what is the protocol for adding blogs to my list of blogs I follow? I have so many good ones! Do I need to email everyone whose blog I read and ask if I can follow them on my blog?

Since our family is preparing to move into a new house - closing date in 3 weeks - this seemed like a good time to start documenting our lives and our adventures. Stay tuned for more on this later.

It's great to be here!