Thoughts of Spring

I know, the year has not even ended and I am thinking about a Spring Dye Garden.  To be fair to me, January is National Seed Catalog Month.  I have just under 2 acres of land around my home, however much of that is either forest or too hilly to be useful for planting.  Fortunately I have 2 raised beds in the back of the house and one large raised bed facing the front of the house.  Throughout these past few years the beds have gone to seed.  I intend to put down some material that is supposed to deter weeds and cut around the few plants that I want to keep.  Then I intend to make some cement blocks, with inlaid glass designs on top, to hold down the material as well as further deterring weeds.  The cement blocks will also be a great base for the pots that I hope to use so that I can plant a dye garden out front.  I also hope that creating cement blocks is truly as easy of a craft as it seems so that I can use that as a craft at the public library I work at next year.

To get an idea of what plants I want to put in my dye garden I am researching using several resources.  From Knitpicks I purchased The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes by Sasha Duerr.  So far I find it to be a fascinating resource that will help me a great deal toward understanding how to create dyes from plant materials.  I also purchased A Garden to Dye For through the Amazon Kindle Store.  These should give me a really good basis for understanding what plants I am going to need.  I am also trying to figure out what plants are native to my area of the USA so that I can avoid planting invasive species in my area.

In my two back beds I do hope to plant some vegetables.  Cherry tomatoes, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, spaghetti squash, and perhaps some others.  Again, I do plan on deterring the weeds and utilizing planters to create a garden with reasonable maintenance needs.

I firmly believe that this is going to take me several months, both to figure out what plants are good for dyeing and native (or at least not destructive) to my environment.  I would love to plant some cotton or flax but the reality is I am a little too far north for that to be a realistic dream.

So, I will keep dreaming, planning, and crafting.

Happy Crafting to All!

Green Chef

I want to make it very clear at the outset, this is just my personal experiences with these boxes.  I am not the greatest cook, and I do not have a very adventurous palette.

My first Green Chef box was supposed to arrive on Saturday, it was delayed due to weather and arrived on Monday.  The meat was still good, as were the vegetables.  There was absolutely no spoilage, even the chicken which was my primary concern.  The first meal that I made was the southern chicken and biscuits.  My biscuits burned on the bottom, my Brussel sprouts (cooked on medium high as recommended on the package directions) burned.    I’ll take the blame for one but not both, the sprouts were likely my fault, I should have known that lower and slower would cook them evenly.  That being said, the chicken turned out alright, the sprouts and other veg were edible, and the biscuits were on the dry/flat side.

The next dish was the Vietnamese meatballs, with noodles and veg.  The meatballs turned out alright, there was a seasoning packet to work into the meat along with salt and pepper.  I boiled the water, soaked the noodles and veg as instructed for the maximum time recommended.  Everything was perfectly edible, the noodles were a lot tougher than I would have liked, the meatballs were bland (I did not add a lot of the red pepper flakes because I wanted to taste the spices not heat), and the sauce did little to perk things up.

My last dish was steak, mushrooms, over polenta with a red kale (or something green and leafy) salad with a blue cheese vinaigrette.  I knew that I was going to have some trouble with the salad, Blue cheese and I do not like each other.  I tried it anyway, the advice to massage the leaves worked wonders and the leaves themselves were sweet and supple.  If that were the only issue I would be fine.  I think I can salvage the polenta, there was not a lot of flavor so I am going to find out what cheese the British or Italian use for cheesy polenta and throw some of that in.  The mushroom sauce was pretty good.  The steak, it was chewy, there was some connective tissue that I had to discard, and there was not much flavor even after I made sure I used the entire seasoning, packet.  I could obtain a really nice New York Strip Steak for less than I spent on this box.

This company prides itself on their organic ingredients and commitment to recycling.  I love that idea, not enough to wash out the sauce packets and find out where I am permitted to drop the bags off so that Green Chef can recycle them.  I’ll drop them in with my regular recycling, thanks.

Again, maybe I just made some bad decisions regarding the meals that I chose.  Perhaps I read and followed the directions a little too closely (the area between medium and high is Medium-High right?).  I am willing to accept that my experience is probably the anomaly.  Perhaps in the future I will try this box again, but for now I have a Sun Basket box on the way and a few other subscription services to try before circling back to this one.

Until then, Happy Crafting!

Ordered and Delayed

I officially have my Spinolution electric Firefly spinning wheel ordered.  Since they are an American based company and they make each wheel to order it will be between 4-6 weeks before mine is shipped.  This is actually a good thing, it will give me time to enjoy the anticipation and look forward to seeing if there are any huge sales that are going to occur for the other crafting materials I hope to obtain.

I know that this seems like a sudden spree, and fairly irresponsible.  Truthfully I have ensured that I am spending less than half of what I have come into, saving what I can when I can, and that I have enough left over to cover the major expenses that are going to come up in the next year.  These three purchases are not going to significantly impact my financial situation, however they will significantly improve my productivity.

For the rest of 2018 I will be working and learning to enjoy what I have and what I can do.  For most of 2019 I will be figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life, what my priorities are, and how I am going to achieve them.  At present I am overwhelmed by possibilities, and need to have time to settle down and figure out where I want my energies to go.  I know that spinning and weaving are two things that I want to have as a priority in my life.

Paradise Fibers November 2018 box was themed around Harry Potter, to the extent that they are running a house cup.  Once specific goals have been accomplished then points are assigned and the house with the highest number of points will win.  The prize is 500 paradise points for each member of the house, which in reality is five dollars off of an order, nothing to sneeze at.

On another note, my first Green Chef box was scheduled to be delivered this past Saturday, I thought Wednesday but checked again and it was supposed to be Saturday.  This did not happen, due to the weather, and I am anxious to see how the ingredients have held up over the weekend.  I will report more about this in my next post.

So, major life decisions are on hold, but pending.  Expenditures are not beyond what is feasible at this time (though some house repairs might have to be accomplished using loans).  This is going to be a year of self exploration and renewal.  It will also be a year of renewal for my home and sweeping out what I do not (realistically) need.

Happy Crafting!

 

 

Instapot and Spinning

Over this past weekend I have decided to do some experimenting with my Instapot as well as some spinning.  Okay the spinning was just something that I remembered to do Sunday morning, but I managed to get over half of a batt spun into singles.  I attenuated the other half into mini nests of roving and look forward to an easy spin with them later this week.

I tried out two recipes with my instapot, Lasagna Soup and Butter Chicken.  Both of these turned out better than I thought they would.  I substituted a box of vegetable pasta and a bag of random vegetables for some of the ingredients in the lasagna soup.  It turned out quite well.  Not the same without at least Mozzarella Cheese on top, it is just like a tomato soup without the cheese.  I will certainly make this recipe again.

Butter chicken is either at Thai or East Indian recipe, and I do not think that I did it justice.  I substituted the tomato paste for a can of stewed tomatoes and the Garam Masala for cumin, coriander, cloves, curry paste and vindaloo mix that I had around.  I’ll be honest, I really liked it.  There was no explosion of heat, I was concerned about that, but there was some decent flavor.  I am going to look around and see if I can find the proper spices, but this is certainly a recipe I will keep on the back burner.

On Wednesday my first experiment with one of the ‘meals in a box’ delivery services arrives.  I have three meals coming, two servings for each meal, and I look forward to posting a review of that service here.  Crafting is a large part of my life, so there will certainly still be crafting posts, but I intend to expand this blog to include other aspects.

As far as my crafting life goes, I have an e-mail in to a dealer of a variety of wheel I am thinking about obtaining.  I had some questions and hope that they get back to me this week.

Happy Crafting!