Wednesday

[gardening] Hen and Chicks

This hen laid lots of chicks:

Sempervivum. #henandchicks Love the colors coming out of winter dormancy.

Sempervivium turn a burgundy color during the winter- I love the green color coming back into the plant now. So pretty. 

Tuesday

[travel] Montreal

Quick day-trip to Montreal, Quebec for a special preview of the new Cirque du Soleil show Kurios. The big tent is set up on a pier in Old Port.

Cirque du Soleil in Montreal. #kurios Awesome show!

This was my first Cirque du Soleil show but I've seen every show offered on DVD. It was absolutely wonderful to see live. The performers were excellent (and impressive) and there was so much interaction with the audience. It was funny, too! The music and singers were live and amazing. I can't recommend enough seeing a live performance. 

Before the show, we walked around until we found a place for supper. I've been wanting to try poutine for years but missed the opportunity to try it in Quebec City a few years ago when we went up for the summer music festival. This time was not going to miss a bowl of fries, gravy and cheese curds:

My first #poutine. As good as I imagined fries and gravy and cheese curds together could be.

I think this is going to be my regular order from now on whenever I'm in Quebec. It was as good as I imagined it would be.

Also made a pit stop to a SAQ to pick up two bottles of Sortilege: the original maple whiskey and the maple cream. Omg, the maple cream is going to be like maple Bailey's- I can't wait to try it!

Friday

[gardening] Seedlings

Things are sprouting:

Nasturtium

I started the seeds in small pots inside, after using a plane grater to shave off some of the shell. All parts of this plant are edible- leaves, stem and flower. I don't have any glow lights so some of the seedlings that are further along are rather leggy, but I'll give them harden them off a bit every day now that temperatures are rising again.

Finally some seeds are germinating in the cactus pots I started 3 weeks ago. Most of my winter sown seedlings appear to be all right outside, but I have had to cover them the past two nights. The freezing weather has slowed everything down and none of the crocuses have even bloomed yet.


Wednesday

[vermont] What's that about spring?

Just when almost all of the snow around the house had melted:

Oh good, more snow. #winter4eva


Thank goodness I covered all my winter sown jugs with a sheet last night. It was close to 80 degrees two days ago and last night the temperature dropped to 20.

Tuesday

[spinning] Carding Siberian Husky Fur

Many years ago a friend gave me a bag of dog fur. He has a pack of Siberian Huskies for sledding and an abundance of fur since this breed sheds it's undercoat twice a year. I brought the fur home and Googled the best way to wash it: stuffed into panty hose, soaked in a tub, dried in the sun. It's been so long but I finally took it out this weekend to card it into batts*. 

*Okay, WEBS is having their annual anniversary sale and I've been rummaging through my stash of fiber and yarn, distracting and convincing myself that I don't need any of the beautiful things that they're offering at ridiculously reduced prices... must... resist...

The drum carder, secured it to a table:

Spinning fur into yarn

I had lots of random merino in my stash to blend with the fur- white, yellow, brown, three shades of blue. I was going to use it all, at a ratio of 4 parts wool to 1 part fur. On average, everything I blended was 20 - 25% fur. The supplies here are 2 oz merino, 0.5 oz fur (half of the contents of the panty hose snake), a long knitting needle to help take the fiber off the drum and a slicker brush for cleaning up the drums.

Spinning fur into yarn

I'm no expert at carding, having only seen a handful of YouTube videos and using this drum carder twice in the past. I just did what I thought made sense. The staple of the fur is short- only about an inch. So, I would lay down a layer of merino, add the fur, add another layer of merino. Then blend this again because if there's anything I learned from all the instructional videos, it's that "once is never enough" when you use a drum carder.

The first layer of wool:

Spinning fur into yarn

Then feed in the fur:

Spinning fur into yarn
 

Kind of lump at first:

Spinning fur into yarn

But things start to smooth out (also, lots of fur gets picked up by the smaller drum- I used to slicker brush to repeatedly take this fiber off and feed it back into the carder):

Spinning fur into yarn

Add another layer of blue:

Spinning fur into yarn

Use the knitting needle to separate the fiber on the carder, so that you can peel the whole layer off. If someone would like to give me an ice pick as a present, that would be so much better than this aluminum needle (which has started to bend). I promise I wonder consider an ice pick delivered in the mail as a threat.

Spinning fur into yarn

Spinning fur into yarn

Then peel:

Spinning fur into yarn

This wool-fur-wool sandwich is then separated into strips and fed back into the drum carder.

Spinning fur into yarn

Spinning fur into yarn

If "once is never enough" then "twice is good enough for lazy people". The fiber is more uniformly blended:

Spinning fur into yarn

If I were going to sell this or give it away as a gift, I'd probably run it through the carder again but, hey, I'm the one spinning it and I really don't have many F's to give. 

Here is the fiber ready to spin. Such a soft cloud. SO SOFT.

Spinning fur into yarn

First time spinning:

Spinning fur into yarn

Adding a lot of twist to help lock down the fur. Will process all of the yarn as two-ply. This picture is my practice yarn- I've spun more and the plies are a lighter weight and will be a finer yarn.

Once it's all spun and washed, I'll knit something. I can't wait to see what kind of halo anything knit with this yarn has.

Monday

[vermont] Spring

The crocus bulbs that I planted last fall are JUST starting to poke up:

Spring is slowly arriving.

It should be a random mix of colors- I can't wait to see them bloom. Some daffodil bulbs are starting to poke up a bit. I've been cutting away dead foliage from other plants and found growth hiding underneath. This is a sedum ("Stonecrop") that I purchased last fall:

Sedum

And I've been checking my winter sown containers every day... and thinks are sprouting! I'm so relieved- but now I need to make sure that I don't (a) let the containers dry out, and (b) let a hard frost overnight kill the seedlings.

[misc] Murderface Monday

Murderface


Murderface on the nightstand, Santana on the bed behind him.

Had a nice weekend. Went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Started my gourd seeds in small pots inside- just to give them several extra weeks since they need such a long growing season. I pulled out my drum carder to blend some merino fiber with washed siberian husky fur that a friend gave me years ago. I finally did my taxes. Got a hair cut. Still waiting on all the snow to melt...

Friday

[knitting] Sirle-paca

I knit a Sirle hat back in the day. I really liked the pattern- the lace leaves and the length. I made another with 100% alpaca yarn, for nice drape:

Alpaca Sirle

Yarn is a dk-weight alpaca. 

Thursday

[knitting] Blue Biased

The last biased infinity scarf was knit during the trip home. I used the same yarn as the previous one (Regia Hand-dye Effect) but made this one completely in stockinette and a bit more narrow.

Blue Biased

It definitely rolls at the edges when you wear it. I would recommend keeping periodic purl ridges to maintain the width of the cowl.

I knit it this way because the boucle biased cowl was made as plain stockinette and stays completely flat. Apparently this was just an added benefit to the texture of that yarn. This smoother sock yarn didn't work that same way. Still, I like it. It's long enough to wear doubled and matches one of my favorite winter hats.

Wednesday

[knitting] Rainbow Biased

For my trip out to Palm Springs, I had a bus ride down to Boston and two flights- i.e. a lot of knitting time. The bus and flights were completely full. I furiously knit this entire project in one day to keep my mind from fixating on things like (a) why won't the girls in front of me avidly talking about nothing SHUT UP, (b) why are neither guys giving me either armrest even though I'm in the middle seat, (c) should I offer the woman next to me who is sniffing every 4 - 15 seconds, THAT'S RIGHT I COUNTED, a kleenex, (d) STOP WHIPPING ME WITH YOUR HAIR EVERY TIME YOUR TURN YOUR HEAD, (e) WHY ARE YOU STICKING YOUR LEG INTO MY FOOT AREA, (f) AAAAGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

So. Obviously I do fixate. I just don't like to be crammed into a can with a hundred strangers. I didn't have the two things with me which would have solved all my problems- earbuds and lorazepam. But I did have knitting. I made another Totally Biased with sock yarn- this is a perfect project for self-striping sock yarns with wide bands of color. I'd love to make another with Noro Silk Garden Sock. The yarn I used for this was one ball of Regia Hand-dye Effect.

Rainbow Biased

This one was knit as 80 stitches on size US 8 needles. It can be wrapped around neck twice but it's a little tight. I haven't blocked it yet, which should make it longer. I worked a purl ridge every 8 rows.

Tuesday

[knitting] Boucle Biased

I love the pattern Totally Biased. I made one for me and then one for my sister. Scarf weather is almost over (YYYYAAAAYYYYY) but made some new versions for next season. Here's a quick one:

Boucle Biased


Yarn is Knit Picks Quarry, an alpaca wool and nylon boucle blend. This yarn is so very discontinued. I can't even remember when I bought it but I've had two balls kicking around my stash forever. Finally, it's put to good use.

It was worked as 34 stitches on size 10.5 needles. So quick- it only took a few nights to complete.

Boucle yarn


This is plain stockinette but the edges not roll in due to the biased shape and the boucle yarn. It so soft and looks great on. I think this one might actually turn out to be a gift for my mom next Christmas. After I wear it a few times.

Monday

[misc] Murderface Monday

Murderface


I wanted winter to end so badly, I didn't think about the ensuing mud season. I barely made it to the paved road to run my errands on Saturday. Sunday it rained all day, making the mud worse. This morning, the ground was mostly frozen, so it wasn't terrible to drive on/over/across the ruts. Who knows how bad it's going to be this afternoon when it warms back up. 

This weekend I planted some cacti seeds in the house and set up little greenhouses in the window. I winter-sowed a few perennials and annuals. I'm blithely going forward assuming everything that I've sown will germinate. Every. Single. Seed. If nothing germinates, I'll just... I'll just set myself on fire! Just kidding, I'll probably throw myself on the ground and cry (kickin' it tantrum-style).

I've got some poor crafting juju hanging over me like a dark cloud- I made another bottlecap tray and mod podge coasters, neither of which came out the way I would have liked. Maybe I'll do some spinning- that always comes out nice and cheers me up.

Friday

[misc] Penny Friday

Penny


Penny was all squinty-squinty in her left eye. We figured it was pink eye again and still had ointment leftover from when she had pink eye (in the other eye) in January. We're in the middle of a 10-day cycle and her eye appears to be back to normal. 

There is still so. much. snow. around the house. I'm trolling Pinterest non-stop for pictures of gardens and flowers and anything green. I'm going to start some cactus seeds inside this weekend and winter-sow most (if not all) of the remaining seeds that I have. And then shovel out (a) a place to put the new containers, and (b) uncover/find the containers already out there somewhere under snow.

Tuesday

[vermont] Spring

Things around Vermont look like:

First day of spring. :(

We still have ten tons of snow at my house. Ugh. Great season for the snowmobilers but I'm beyond ready for spring. I want to see the bulbs I planted last fall. I want to forage for ramps. I want all the seeds I've winter-sown to germinate. Come on!

Monday

[cooking] Maple Whiskey Jelly Shots

For the past couple weeks I've been obsessed with Jelly Shot Test Kitchen. Such pretty and intricate shots- they're like little wobbly works of art.

I had lots of extra packets of gelatin in my pantry. After seeing panna cotta as the dessert of choice on so many cooking shows last season, I had to make it myself. I had never had it prior to making it myself. It was cream jello. We did not like.

But shots? That's a different matter. Those are small bites of boozy fun. I made my own:

Maple whiskey jelly shots.

Ingredients

2 packets Knox gelatine powder
1/3 cup real maple syrup
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons vanilla ice cream
1 cup Cabin Fever (maple whiskey)

Pour maple syrup into small sauce pan. Add water and gelatin packets. Let sit 3 minutes. Add ice cream. Over med-low heat, whisk until smooth and all the gelatin is dissolved- should only take a few minutes. Don't excessively heat the gelatin. Turn off heat, stir in whiskey. Pour into pan and refrigerate overnight. 

I used a meatloaf pan. I sprayed the inside with a flavorless baking spray and wiped it down with a paper towel, just so the jelly could come off the pan easier. The ice cream settled a bit to the bottom, which made the white layer. I inverted the slab of jelly onto a plate and used a sharp knife to cut into 1" x 1" squares.

FYI: Gelatin is often taken as a structural protein supplement for people who want some extra support for their spinal disks and knees. It's also excellent for hair and nails. Because of this, I classify these jelly shots as "health treats" ;)

Thursday

[travel] Joshua Tree National Park

Because I was going to be so close to Joshua Tree National Park, I rented a car to drive over and check it out. I went in the south Cottonwood entrance from I-10:

Joshua Tree National Park

I stopped by the visitor center to pick up some souvenirs and a national parks passport book. Joshua Tree was my first stamp!

Joshua Tree National Park

I stopped at the cholla cactus garden:

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

This lizard was very nice and posed for pictures for me:

Joshua Tree National Park

I think it's a desert side-blotched lizard.

Eventually I made it far enough north in the park to start seeing Joshua Trees:

Joshua Tree National Park

Not sure what kind of cactus this is:

Joshua Tree National Park

This is a mojave yucca. These were everywhere:

Joshua Tree National Park

Mounds of smooth rock outcrops were near the road. People were climbing all over these:

Joshua Tree National Park

More trees.

Joshua Tree National Park

The tips of the green poofs are needle sharp.

Joshua Tree National Park

Here's a crow on a young Joshua Tree:

Joshua Tree National Park

I stopped at Barker Dam to walk a quick 1 mile loop around. 

Joshua Tree National Park

Since I didn't have much time, I was power walking as fast as possible. I started a little white-tailed antelope squirrel:

Joshua Tree National Park

 I stopped and it came a bit closer:

Joshua Tree National Park

So cute. 

Finally a couple panoramic shots. This is from the Cottonwood area of the park, where the view was more flat and expansive:

Joshua Tree National Park

This is from the north-western area of the park, where there were more rocky areas and Joshua Trees.

Joshua Tree National Park

I loved this park. It wasn't crowded and it was really beautiful. I saw plants and animals I've never seen before. The passport book for national parks and places will be fun to fill with stamps. It's not only for the big parks- there are a couple places close to me where I can get stamps (Billings Farm, Saint-Gaudens).

Wednesday

[travel] Palm Springs Art Museum

The Palm Springs Art Museum was not far from my hotel downtown. I walked over to check it out one evening:

Time for some culture.

They had a really great collection of western art- paintings, sculptures, artifacts.

Palm Springs Art Museum

The museum is also known for it's glass collection. I took a picture of this because it so soo soooo creepy.

Awesome, this museum has stuff from my nightmares. #notawesome #neversleepingagain

Their contemporary art was really thought-provoking. Like this painting:

Contemporary art. Makes me think of the color grey. #deepthoughts

Doesn't that make you think of the color grey? It really makes me think of the color grey. Mind blowing.

Now look at this garbage:

Art is garbage? Garbage can be art? Post-modern statement on the persistence of consumption? #itsjustgarbage #ibringmyarttothedump

Literally. Black trash bags. How... avant garde? This is funny to me. It could be commentary on the state of art or consumption- but what this is really doing is making people look down at bags of garbage and say things like, "All art... it is garbage, no? You look at this trash... Is it art? It is art in that it is meaningless. The artist is so brave- to put it in our faces like this." That's funny.

Anyway, my favorite piece was this huge collage made from ripped magazine pages:

Palm Springs Art Museum

Close-up:

Palm Springs Art Museum

Walking back to the hotel, I saw a huge Marilyn Monroe statue:

Big Marilyn Statue

I had to walk around to get another picture:

Big Marilyn Statue

Biggest granny panties ever!