Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Peck of Pickled Peppers

Since I have so many peppers this year (I guess I was expecting the same results as the last three years...and may have gone a little overboard!) Matt and I have been racking our brains to come up with uses for all the different varieties. We've sauteed them, put them in stir fries, made stuffed bell peppers, and tossed them in our scrambled eggs in the mornings...and we still have more peppers than we know what to do with. Several sources suggested pickling, which I resisted, since I don't really care for pickled anything, but when Matt got involved there was no turning back. (He loves a pickled food, so when he insisted we pickle at least some of the peppers, I couldn't say no.) It was so quick and easy that we're thinking we may pickle the lot of them! Plus, I hear you can use pickled peppers for pretty much anything you would use fresh peppers for, so I guess we'll be trying that theory out this year.

We started with the hot bananas, the chinese five colors, and the pepperoncinis.

Chinese Five Color Peppers Ready to Pickle
Hot Banana Peppers

Pepperoncini Peppers

We used a simple recipe we found online, and added a garlic clove to a few of the jars. We either didn't stuff the jars properly, or we didn't understand the recipe, but we ended up making three times the amount of brine requested in the recipe and the jars are still a little low on juice. The Hot Bananas were sliced for ease of use, while the Pepperoncinis and the Chinese Five Colors were left whole (with an incision in their sides so the juice would seep in and do its job properly.) This might have also led to the packing problem, it was very difficult to fill the jars with whole peppers! Any hints or suggestions left in the comments will be greatly appreciated, as we are planning to do the jalapenos in the coming week!

Pickled Peppers in Half Pint Jars - From Left to Right, Chinese Five Colors, Banana Peppers, Pepperoncinis

2 lb hot peppers
2 tbsp canning/pickling salt
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water

Combine water, vinegar, and salt to make the brine. Bring to a boil, then pour over peppers packed into jars, leave 1/2" headspace in the jars. Process in hot water bath 10 minutes. Let stand 2-3 weeks.

We found other recipes suggesting a 4-6 week time frame, so we are going to wait a full month before we open one of our jars. We also live in a high altitude area, so we did our water bath for a bit longer than ten minutes. We can't wait to see how they turn out!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

On the Needles

Yesterday Mom sent over pictures of her many tubs and cones of yarn.

Mom's Bookshelf of cone yarn
She's been reorganizing her yarn again, and it inspired me to work in my yarn closet! We are rearranging our living room, and had an extra book shelf that needed a new home...and it happens to be the perfect width to fit next to the dresser in my yarn closet. What serendipity!

Bookshelf, now yarn shelf!
During my rearranging I found all kinds of yarn that spoke to me, a scarf here, a hat there, and a pile of cat toys. That, I think, is the most wonderful part of cleaning up the yarn room - new inspiration for your knitting!

New Scarf on the Needles

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Etsy Weekends: For the Walls, Encaustically

I tend to stick to the same categories when I'm bouncing around Etsy. Earrings will always catch my eye, along with yarn, and soap, and candles. If you've been a frequent follower of our Etsy weekends, you've already figured that much out. That's why I love it when something new grabs my attention, like this beautiful wall hanging done with beeswax:
Original encaustic wall art. Encaustic Russian Winter Photography. Ancient architecture. Winter landscape. Snow. 5x7
From the shop All Of Our Beeswax on Etsy

I'm not terribly familiar with encaustic paintings/prints, but I am fascinated! I did a general search on Etsy for more and found that I really love what this medium brings to nature/animal photography, like these:

Original Encaustic Photography - Succulents I
Succulent Painting from Encaustic Images
GIRLFRIENDS - Original Encaustic Mini Painting Best Friends Black & White Bird Art
Birdies from susannajarian
Come on back next week to see what else we have found!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How Tuesday - How to Have Fun

In our house, there are oh-so-many ways to have fun. Given that it is summer, and I am not currently working hard on homework for school, I am trying all kinds of ways to enjoy myself.

Lela the cat assures me that the best way to relax and have fun is by sitting on the couch, not moving, preferably sleeping, while she curls up on my lap and also sleeps. Until of course she gets hungry - then the best way to have fun is by feeding her. 

Norman the cat has suggested that I try running up the stairs as quickly as possible, fly into the second bedroom and run really fast up the cat tree. It's a great time according to him, but maybe try a few slow runs first...wouldn't want to fall off the top level - it is six feet up!

Both kitties think I should spend more time outside, with them, eating grass and chasing away the neighbor kitties (Smokey and Cassie, who both like to roll around in my garden, and poo in raised beds.)

Matt suggests MarioKart 8, and Super Mario Bros U on the Wii, after a nice long hike in the great outdoors. 

But I think I'll stick with my tried and true method...tucking in ends on the mittens I just finished today, while watching a British murder mystery. :)
 Now...just to choose which British murder mystery....

Friday, July 18, 2014

Norman Doesn't Understand Cameras

Sweet Norman is cute and sweet, but not that bright. He really doesn't understand cameras either....

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Garden Update: Peppers Part One

So I've mentioned that I went a little overboard on the peppers this year. I was given more seeds than I could handle, and instead of trying only a few, I tried 21. 19 of the 21 varieties grew, with multiple plants for each variety. I tried to sell some plants, I tried to give some away, and in the end I kept more than 25 of them. The greenhouse is holding them surprisingly well, especially since we put up the new shelving units. We've only tried a few of the peppers so far: pepperoncini, pimiento de padron, early jalapeno, delicias, and chi chi meca. I'm really looking forward to trying the hot peppers too, but I am a little worried about how to use them :)

And of course, what you've all been waiting for...the pictures (part one anyway!):

Ancho Poblano

Biggie Chile Sahuaro

Chi Chi Meca

Chinese Five Color

Early Jalapeno

Hot Paper Lantern


Pimiento de Padron

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Knitting, Had Me a Blast

Summer, for me, is a time for knitting. Ever since I went back to school nearly two years ago, I haven't been able to find the time to knit in the cooler months - the normal time to make hats, scarves, and mittens out of wool. Sure, I knit on breaks and when I just need an hour of sanity, but the big knitting - the new patterns, rewriting patterns, and learning new techniques of knitting just doesn't happen until the summer rolls around. My big problem with this is that I don't always write things down, and I don't always remember what I was working on last summer! About a week ago I came across a bag full of yarn, needles, and a half finished pair of mittens. They just needed thumbs. They are a pattern that is new to me, but one that Mom has been knitting for a while. In fact, she wrote the pattern out and has been selling them as kits. I believe I made these mittens last spring to test the pattern, and tossed them in a bag with disgust when I realized I didn't like the thumb. This summer, seeing them with new eyes, I saw how I could very easily fix the thumbs already in place, and hopefully make them better in the next cycle.

Last Year's Mittens

When Matt saw them finished he asked if there was a way to adapt the pattern into a hat, and a little naggling at the back of my mind told me that had been an idea last spring too. For now I'm content making a few more pairs of mittens before I write out the hat pattern. And maybe learning how to take better notes for future Kirsten ;)

New Pair in Progress

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Etsy Weekends: Vintage Stylings

So I have a confession. I love clothes! Especially vintage clothing! I think it stems from one day in my youth when Mom found an old box full of tshirts from when she and Dad lived in Hawaii and Memphis. Old Harley Davidson shirts, old Marine Corps shirts, there were even a few touristy Hawaiian islands shirts, and one or two from Tombstone Arizona. I loved those shirts, still have and wear a few of them to this day. After that people started giving me old clothing, Grandpa had some shirts from Grandma and Great Grandma, an old shooting buddy gave me some shirts he said he hadn't been able to fit into since the 70's, and I learned the art of Goodwill, Ebay, and garage sale shopping. Of course I'm not terribly picky - I'll wear retro clothing too, and most of that isn't made with polyester.

Here are just a few vintage items I've found on Etsy that I'm struggling to not purchase!
vintage 1940s dress . black rayon crepe . green beaded neckline . 4086
Vintage 40's Dress from Mill Street Vintage
1940s Shoes Deadstock / 40s Brown Leather Oxfords // The Charlee Brown Heels
 Brown Shoes from Wear Are They Now
DEADSTOCK w/ Original Tags 1950's Rayon Extreme Hourglass Cocktail Dress w/ Fully Fringed Shimmy Bodice & Rose Satin Middle by Tricia - M
Fringe Dress from Butch Wax Vintage
 50's Yellow Dress from Hollie Point

Come back next time tos ee what else we've found for you on Etsy!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Peppers Peppers Everywhere!

I know I haven't gone into detail on the greenhouse yet, and believe me...I will. Sooner rather than later hopefully. But today I have to tell you about at least one of my greenhouse successes: Pimiento de Padron peppers. Matt's mom sent a ton of seeds, and this was one of them. The package suggested picking the peppers when they were the size of an olive, then sauteeing them in olive oil. The plant was covered in peppers, so we picked them - about nine fully ripe peppers in all, then double checked the recipe online, and made some super yummy peppers to share on Tuesday evening. They were sensational! So yummy, I keep checking the greenhouse to see if more have starting growing on the plant yet. We have plans to grow several padrons next summer!

Actually a ChiChi Meca Pepper, not a Pimiento de Padron

Of course I didn't get a picture, because I was too excited to dig in! But they looked pretty close to the picture on the Martha Stewart recipe we used. It was super cool to watch them - they blistered up in the pan, then deflated on the paper towel covered plate. She's right - some were sweet and a few were spicy. But I think the two spicy ones were the biggest of the bunch, so it might not be that difficult to deduce which ones will be spicy. We'll definitely test this out again and let you know :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How Tuesday: Dealing with Grief

We have sheep, but we are not sheep farmers. We don't make lambs because we wouldn't want to lose any of the mothers, and we aren't quite ready to send off any mean little boy lambs to come back in little white packages. Our sheep are like pets, not like farm stock. Sure they don't make the greatest pets, they can be pushy and loud, and they won't cuddle up on the couch when you are sick. But they are pets we love, and this week we lost one of our pets. Blackberry, one of our oldest girls, died on Monday evening. She is now buried on the hill with all of the other lost pets: dogs, cats, and sheep, all frolicking together. 

Blackberry coming home June 2002
Losing any pet can be difficult, but we have to look on the bright side. Blackberry lived a very long and good life for a sheep, she was over ten years old. Let's face it, she had a pretty cushy life at our little hobby farm, lots of grain and grass and goodies from the garden. Plus, since she was technically still a working farm animal, we have plenty of her yarn to remind us of her for years to come. 

It is hard to say goodbye, and sometimes it feels like we have to say it far too often, but while Blackberry may be gone, she will never be forgotten.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Etsy Weekends - Earrings

It's been a while since I posted any earrings, but I've certainly been finding and favoriting them on Etsy! If you follow us, you know I have a problem with earrings. If I had more discretionary funding it would probably be split between yarn/fiber and earrings. I can't help it - they are usually cheap-ish, they don't take up much room, and the more you have the more diverse you can dress yourself (with jewelry anyway!)

Anyway, here are a few pairs I would love to own!!  
Black river stone earrings full of calming spiritual harmony. - 327
River Stone Earrings from Authentic Stone
Wood Earrings, Maple Wood Earrings, Dark Brown Maple Wood Earrings, Handmade Wood Jewelry, FREE Shipping
Maple Earrings from Luminous Creation
Labradorite small hoops -  sterling silver
 Labrodite Hoops from Elfi Roose

Come on by next week, we'll be here!

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Reminder from the Kitties

Norman would like to wish you all a Happy Fourth of July!!

Lela would like to remind you not to enjoy the holiday responsibly, please remember what is really important: your kitties of course!!

Now get out and enjoy the day!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


I am a list-maker and hardcore future planner. For some reason I always have been. I enjoy looking around me at the things I want to change, and then coming up with a plan on when and how to make those changes. I love to research ideas I've had, tweak plans along the way, completely invest myself in an idea just so I can suss out the weaknesses and scrap it if necessary. Sometimes I think about things for months, or even years, before I put a plan in action. But sometimes, I just jump in.

My garden this year has been a combination of those two methods. The greenhouse I plunged into headlong, well, I researched greenhouses for a week or so, and then purchased it well before I was able to build it. I guess I mean the peppers themselves. I didn't actually measure to see how many peppers I could fit in my greenhouse before I grew 19 different varieties and over 25 actual plants. The pictures I'll share with you today however, have been naggling at the back of my mind since my first garden in this house two years ago.

The people who lived here before us edged the garden areas with rocks. Which is really pretty, but sorta hard to mow around. That first year we lived here I thought how nice it would be to remove the rocks and edge with bricks, laid deep enough in the ground that I could mow right over top of them and not have to come back through with the weedwacker we don't own. I even priced out bricks. To edge the two flower beds in the backyard would cost less than $20. Then I planted tomatoes in buckets along the edge of my raised bed garden, and immediately started having weed problems. Once the tomatoes get big enough I can't move them to mow under them, so I am stuck with weeds popping up all around the tomatoes. I thought then that my brick edging idea could be nice under the tomatoes. Last year I put tomatoes next to the new green bean trellis and had even more trouble with the weeds! Bricks went back on the list of things to acquire.

This spring I turned to freecycle before I invested money into laying bricks in a rental backyard. I struck gold! A woman here in town gave me a bunch of bricks. The next day I went to Home Depot and bought black weed guard paper, soil, and some tiny pebbles. That same week I laid the first set of bricks. So far, there have been no weeds popping up yet, and I've very satisfied with the results. Now I just need to find the time to lay brick under the other three tomato areas!!

My future plans include bricking the rhubarb/asparagus/strawberry patch, edging the flower beds, and possibly bricking the space between the raised bed gardens and the side squash patch. (The first time I grew squash there they grew across that space between and I couldn't mow for the rest of the summer. It was like a mini-jungle that I had to dig through to find the zucchini!)