[cooking] Apple Pie

I used half of the wild apples I picked to bake the first apple pie of the season!

Gonna nurse my hangover with an apple pie.

First apple pie of the season. Used wild apples from the front yard. 🍎❤️🍎❤️🍎❤️🍎❤️🍎

I gave Dollar the first slice, saying, "I had to walk all the way half-way down the driveway to get these apples!" Homemade crust + front-yard apples = loooooove.


[gardening] What's blooming mid-September

Having last Friday off work was so nice. The days are getting cooler and shorter. In the late morning, I took a walk about the front yard. First, I picked some wild apples:

Not gonna let the deer get all the apples. Picking these for a piiiieeeee. 🍏🍎🍏🍎

I had to grab and shake some of the branches, to get some big, ripe ones to fall. Wanted to get big ones to make an apple pie with. There were some pretty mushrooms growing on one of the mossy apple tree limbs:

Fungi on the apple tree limb. #Vermont #mushrooms #mycology

I went down to the large flowerbed to check things out. The purple bee balm is blooming a bit more:

Purple bee balm. #monarda #vermont

I like the soft lilac color these turned out to be. After googling "purple bee balm", I was expecting a strong magenta but this light color was a nice surprise.

Dew was still clinging to everything. I put in two different asters over Labor Day weekend, one of which is just starting to bloom:

Purple aster sparkles with morning dew. ✨✨✨✨✨

Love the dew making it look so sparkly!

There are lots of wild asters blooming now to keep the bees busy. Here's a nice, thick group along the edge of our yard:

Lots of wild #aster blooming now.

Dewy cobwebs hung from several branches of this forsythia:

Cobwebs on the struggling forsythia I put in this summer. Hope it bounces back next spring.

This forsythia is looking a little shabby- I put it in mid-summer and we've basically been in drought all summer. Hopefully we'll have a super-snowy winter (yay, snowmobiling finally!) and this shrub will bounce back next spring.

It was so nice to walk around, take pictures and check everything out in the late morning. I was like, "Ugh, if only I didn't have to work, I could do this every day!" But I'm sure that's what everyone thinks. I should just take 4-day weekends more often ;)


[knitting] Baby PomPom Hat

The night before the first day of the fair, I saw that the weather was going to be cool- high of 66! So I through my handspun stash to make a quick baby hat:

Stuff dropped off at the fair! Gonna speed knit a bulky hat for my niece, it's gonna be chilly tomorrow. Should be able to do it while we watch Captain America Civil Waaaaaaar!

This is bulky weight handspun that I spun at the Tunbridge Fair 2 years ago, when I volunteered to do a spinning demonstration outside the sheep barn. So I thought it was nice to use for my niece's first visit to the fair.


D'awww. Finished the hat last night, made the pompoms this morning. Yarn is handspun I made doing a spinning demonstration at the Tunbridge Fair two years ago. #knitting #handspun #babyknitting

No pattern. I just cast on 48 st, work 2x2 ribbing for an inch, work plain intil 6 inches in length, kitchener the top closed, add pompoms to the corners. I made a bulky handspun hat for Dollar's niece years ago and it was so cute on. Here's the recipient in hers:

Ripley tried on the hat but the weather was too nice to keep it on.

So. Cute. It only takes a couple hours to make. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the sun was shining all day and it was too warm to wear the hat for more than a few pictures. But winter is coming...


[vermont] Tunbridge Fair 2016

Pictures from the fair! I went with my sister and niece on Thursday. The weather was gorgeous. First we stopped to admire the horses (Morgan horse judging had just started):

Morgan horse judging #tunbridgefair

Then we went to the other end of the fairgrounds to check out the animal barns. All the pigs were napping:

Swine love πŸ–❤️πŸ–

A couple steers relaxing:

#barnlife #tunbridgefair

We got some fair food and saw some of the harness racing and pony pulling. We went through the craft barn but they were still judging items. I did see a quilt that I wanted to bring home:

My favorite quilt! #tunbridgefair

Friday night I went with a friend to the beer hall:

#tunbridgefair beer hall

Saturday we went back for more revelry. We got some lunch and sat in grandstands for the cavalcade.

Livestock cavalcade. Steer presentation. #tunbridgefair

Then the vegetable barn:

Good use of different gourds!

All weekend long I had been making a joke that I needed one potato to make a Korean doenjang jjigae. I had the doenjang, onion, squash, scallions, stock, etc. I just needed ONE POTATO. Standing in the vegetable barn, I see the blue ribbon, best-in-show potato... sitting there on a paper plate... And I start fantasizing about using it in my stew. #potatofantasies

Best watermelon:

Best Watermelon

These pumpkins looked like they had peanut shells all over them- and they're called Peanut Pumpkins (this French heirloom variety is actually called BrodΓ© Galeux d'Eysines):

Peanut shell pumpkins

Apparently the more peanut-shell warts the pumpkin has, the sweeter it is!

More animals:

Tunbridge Fair

Tunbridge Fair

A ferris wheel ride:

Tunbridge Fair

It was a long day but so good. Saturday afternoon is when I went through the craft barn again and saw the Best in Show ribbon for the first time on my socks. Sunday evening I went to pick up my items and premium check (not even going to deposit it- going to cash it and use it as my spending money at the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival next weekend!). 


[vermont] Tunbridge Fair

Took a long weekend for the fair- went all four days (Sunday just to pick up my items). And I got this:

BEST IN SHOW! #tunbridgefair

More photos to come but I'm still basking. When do I start planning for next year?


[misc] Framing and Buttoning Things Up

Crunch time- gotta finish all the finer details of the things I'm entering to the fair. Framing paintings:

Framing a few paintings...  One is going to the fair.

Sewing buttons on to the sheep sweater:

Sewing buttons... πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Ta da!

5 pewter buttons sewn ⚪️⚪️⚪️⚪️⚪️ Now it's a real sweater. ❤️🐏❤️🐏❤️

I bought these buttons at a Bartlett Yarn booth at the Slater Mill Knitting Weekend marketplace this past January and I just looooove them. The website is here and I'm tempted to get more. The ones I used here are the Celtic Swirl pattern.

Gotta bag everything up and bring it to the fairgrounds tonight! Aaagghh! Going to the fair with my sister and niece tomorrow.


[knitting] Magic Mirror Mittens

Working on a new pair of mittens, which I will not be able to complete in time for the fair:

Working on cabled mittens...

The yarn is Lana Grossa Chiara, which is a silver chain yarn with a purple halo. I'm using rather dull US 4 needles, so cabling without a cable needle is a little difficult but the mittens are progressing well. I've finished the thumb gusset and after trying on the mitten thus far, the fabric is to die for. So light in weight and so, so, so soft. I'm pretty sure I'm going to wear these mittens to bed when they're done.


[knitting] Great American Aran Afghan- finished!!!!

It's done!

The afghan is done. Cabled border complete, washed and dry. Ready for the fair. #knitting #greatamericanaranafghan

Cabled border knit on, washed/blocked and dry. Currently spread out on the guest bed with the door to the room shut, to avoid attracting cats.

Just a few things to do before I have to drop off my items for the fair Wednesday evening- sewing on buttons, spray-painting a frame and then framing the actual painting, making some maple candy to enter...


[cooking] Wild Grape Cocktails

My reward for all the picking/boiling/straining of wild grapes:

Wild grape cocktails! πŸ‡πŸΈ

Some muddled mint, vodka and grape concentrate shaken, poured over ice, topped with seltzer and mint garnish. So tasty. The grape concentrate is tart and only slightly sweet. The color of these drinks were great.

Supper was pan-roasted duck breast with rice and homemade kimchi.

Duck breast and kimchi. @jenmac1818



[vermont] Wild Grapes

I noticed a couple months ago that some wild grapes were growing in a couple locations around the property. I wasn't able to get any blackberries this year (thanks, wild animals!) so I wasn't planning on being able to get any grapes either. But, I went out yesterday and they looked ready to be picked:

Foraging for wild grapes. πŸ‡

Wild grapes

The most important part was to identify these as grapes as not as moonseed, which is poisonous. The leaves can look a bit different (grape leaves have serrated edges, moonseed leaves have smooth edges), grape vines have tendrils, moonseed vines do not. The surest way is to check out the seeds. Moonseeds have one crescent-shaped seed, grapes have multiple teardrop-shaped seeds.

I popped open one grape to check out the inside:

Checking to make sure these are grapes and not moonseed. I found four teardrop-shaped seeds. Moodseeds have a single, crescent shaped seed inside.

 I found four seeds, each covered with red pulp (not unlike pomegranate seeds). I've rubbed the pulp off the two seeds on the left. The two seeds on the right are how they look when I first pinched the skin off.

So, feeling confident that these are grapes, I picked and picked and picked:

#wildgrapes #foraging

Then inside, I picked and picked and picked the dark grapes off the stems and the them into a pot to boil.

In a pot, ready to boil. Oh my aching, purple fingers.

They look like blueberries.

I covered the grapes with water, plus another half inch. I boiled gently for 30 minutes and occasionally used a potato masher to gently press/pop the grapes. I tasted the juice and it was crrraaaaazy tart, so I did end up added one cup of sugar. I strained it all through a jelly bag into a pitcher. It's pretty concentrated and tart. Will be using some this afternoon for cocktaiiiiiils!


[vermont] Green Frog

Around our house, we have a nice little (overgrown) pond, brooks, wetland, marshy areas, which is all great for amphibians. This past weekend when I was weeding the new flower bed, this guy rushed out at me. I saw something move toward me but I kept weeding. Then I felt something ram into my ankle. I looked down and it was a frog.

I backed off and we stared at each other for a while. I retreated and started to weed a few feet away, looking at the frog. He obviously felt like master of the universe for running me off, because he sat in the mulch, watching me. I got up and left to go back up to the house for my phone. I came back and, with me looming over him trying to take a picture, he jumped face-first into the tree stump.

He didn't like me weeding around his tree stump. 🐸

Then he made his way around the stump and hid under a rock step. He may be mad at me for weeding the jungle of cover he formerly had.

Dollar spent the entire weekend mowing. Here's looking down on a side lawn from the corner of my shade bed:

One section of the lawn mowed, looking so nice. ❤️ @blabpipebassist

It looks so nice. We never even use that section of the lawn and you can't see it from the driveway or house. But he still mows it.

As for knitting, the afghan border is complete and the project is done- apart from washing/blocking. I've started a pair of mittens which will hopefully be done in time for the fair next week.

*EDIT: I mistakenly thought this was a Northern Leopard Frog but it's a common Green Frog. I submitted it to the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas and they corrected me. In the past, I've reported snapping turtles and the painted turtle that we saw in the road early in the summer. I saw a big fat toad in the vegetable garden a couple weeks ago and now I'm regretting not getting a picture. This is like real-life Pokemon: I want to catch pictures of rare ones!


[gardening] Labor Day weeding/planting

Hope everyone had a nice, long Labor Day weekend. I spent Saturday doing a day trip to Hmart with my mom, sister and niece. Sunday was spent weeding the new lower flower bed. By "weeding", I mean pulling out waist-high weeds so thick, it was easier to start ripping out the roots and roll the weeds up like you're rolling up sod. I pretty much ignored the bed all summer and the weeds were the only thing you could see. I should have taken a before picture but here it is after:

Might still look sparse but it's loaded with so many different things. 2 forsythia shrubs, 4 different daylilies, 5 different iris, mint, 3 different sedum, 2 dianthus, creeping phlox, hardy geranium, lambs ears, Japanese anemone, creeping thyme, daisies,

My MO is to do all my spring gardening during the week of Memorial Day, ignore everything all summer (because bugs and heat), then clean things up and do divisions (and fall plantings) during Labor Day. Next year I need to remind myself how much it sucked spending 4 solid hours doing aggressive weeding in one flower bed.

Speaking of flower "beds", here's the flower bed bed on June 4 (freshly planted):

The flower bed is planted. I'm calling this area Done. Dunny Done-zo McDunnerson.

July 2:

The flower bed bed is filling in nicely.

September 5:

The bed is still blooming.

Marigolds, planted on Memorial Day, are still blooming:

I'll never get tired of marigolds. Put these in on Memorial Day; still blooming on Labor Day.

Purple Bee Balm:

Got this purple bee balm at the Hanover Garden Club sale this spring. Looks like I'll get a few blooms but it looks like the plant is suffering from some powdery mildew or something.

I bought this as a very small plant at the Hanover Garden Club sale this spring. It has done well, despite the drought, and it looks like I'll even get some blooms this year. I've noticed some powdery mildew on the leaves, which is a byproduct of the dryness.

Stonecrop sedum has started to bloom:

Stonecrop sedum flowering. Something came through and munched several heads. Prob not deer, maybe an insect infestation I missed. I've been ignoring this flowerbed all summer and spent 4 hours yesterday weeding a legit jungle of weeds out of here.

One Bells of Ireland plant has grown from the seeds I threw down:

One Bells of Ireland plant made it. I'm just going to let it go to seed and hope I get some volunteers to come back next year.

I'm going to just let it go to seed and hope I get some volunteers next year.

I divided up my blanket flower in front of the house (this divided really easily) and added some to this flowerbed. I added some new bulbs (marked with orange flags in the top picture)- fritillaria, allium, iris, anemone. And a couple asters (one purple, one blue) for late summer color. And I put in lots of little mums:

Dug up the old, dying line of Sweet William (RIP 😭) and put in tiny little mums. They are the line 2nd from the front. They were <$2 each and 5 different colors. Still plenty of growing time left for mums!

They are the line 2nd from the front. I've seen some pots of well established mums for $15 each (large) or 3 for $12 (medium). These little ones were $1.30 each and there were 5 colors available. So I got three of each color, 15 plants total, for less than $20. Since I put them in on Labor Day, there's still plenty of growing time for them- mum still thrive by Halloween (as long winter doesn't arrive early). So I think this was a pretty thrifty decision.


[misc] KitNipBox

I ended a couple of my monthly subscriptions and signed up for a new one: KitNipBox. Dollar and I were becoming progressively dissatisfied with our LootCrate monthly boxes- so I ended that. I also had a subscription to Audible and after months of accumulating credits, I've downloaded all the unabridged Song of Ice and Fire books, as well as a couple other titles. I need to catch up on all those books before I start that subscription again.

I ordered a KitNipBox and it arrived less than a week later. I put it on the bed where Murderface was and went to round up the rest of the cats. I came back and Murderface had already claimed it:

Murderface claims the first #kitnipbox delivery for himself. Penny eventually makes him share. 🐯🐱

Penny's in the background, patiently waiting until the box is open before making her move.

In the box:


6 toys, one of which was pole with fish at the end of the string. All different types and high quality. A bag of freeze-dried chicken treats and a sample bag of dry food. And, of course, the box:


This was the $30 box and we were happy with it. Dollar was like, "I don't know if they need ALL these new toys every month." And he's right. Last night I took out the cats' toy basket and sprinkled, like, 20 toys in front of each cat on the floor. And they played with them like they'd never seen them before. I downgraded our KitNipBox subscription to the smaller, $20/month delivery. We'll see how next month goes and whether or not to keep the subscription going.

P.S. Santana wasn't interested in the initial unboxing; she just wanted the treats. She wasn't into the toys... until 4am in the morning. That's when she decided it was time to play with the noisiest toys, up and down the hall.