Saturday, June 27, 2015

June, the Crafts and Garden Report

I'm not altogether sure what happened to June.  There were a couple of weeks when I put the camera somewhere so safe I couldn't find it.  There was socializing and house guests and yard stuff and work stuff and  cat maintenance and book stuff.  There just never seemed to be a good time to blog about it.
You'll be happy to know that at least some of the flowers finally did their thing. The blue flags and irises gave us quite a show.

There were dianthus.

The lupines are steadily gaining ground and I had more blooms this year.

And the Siberian irises are spreading like wildfire.

There has been some knitting.  I pulled out the sweater I had set aside to work on Sara's vest, lo these many moons ago:

The bathing cat is a bonus.  It was some inches short of the armholes when I got it out, and now the back is done and I'm working on one half of the front, so it's made some progress.

Then for social knitting, I cast on a plain sock.  The lace one was a bit too complicated for conversation.

More yarn arrived on my doorstep, including some lovely wool, so I cast on a hat, just because.  Of course I will need a few minutes to sit down and get the pattern established before I'll be able to make progress on it.

And most recently I finally got impatient with the row of notebooks on my desk at work continually falling over because the lightweight bookends holding them up keep slipping.   So I delved into the scrap lumber pile earlier this week and threw together a simple shelf to sit on my desk.   At least one part of my cubicle will be less messy.

I just put the second coat of polyurethane on it, so it will be ready to go to work with me on Monday.  In addition to finishing the shelf, today was pool-cleaning, yard work, laundry day and other miscellaneous errands.  Tomorrow it's supposed to rain, so I won't be distracted by the outdoors.  Just possibly...don't hold your breath....but just possibly there could be some sewing.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


It's felt like spring has in the last three weeks awakened from suspended animation.  Nothing was moving, including the knitting.  In the end, it took two episodes of Midsomer Murders, a James Bond movie and 5 episodes of Forever, but I finally finished the i-cord edging and wove in ends on the vest.

Getting to that point was a bit of a challenge- I eventually put the blocking mats on the ironing board to discourage the cats from sacking out on the vest.

The cats were forced to occupy the train layout in my husband's adjacent office to get a good view of the blocking process.

On the outdoor front...we finally got some warm weather and things are blooming.  But here is what we looked like on May 1:
No leaves.  Barely any buds.   The forsythia was blooming.  On May 1!  Usually the forsythia is gone by first week in April. Yet here it was:

The other plants just seem to be confused.   There were a few crocuses the second week in May.  A hyacinth and tulip bravely opened their petals.

The daffodils put up some green leaves, but not a single bud...they still haven't bloomed.  I'm wondering if they will bloom at all this year.   The day lilies and irises seem the least bothered, though I think they're also running a bit late.    In the wildflower bed (sometimes referred to as the Flower Cage Match Fight to the Death), the Siberian irises are making steady progress.  The day lilies are hanging in, though I think they don't really have enough sun.  The lupines, violets and lilies of the valley are duking it out in the center of the bed.   The lupines were slow starters, but they're reseeding well- I'm up to nine clumps, about half of which I think will bloom this year.

And I appear to have a volunteer columbine, which I wouldn't have spotted except for Valerie posting pictures of her columbine- I'm curious to see what it will look like if / when it blooms.

But now I need to pick out knitting for the weekend start getting the house ready for company.  My plan is to apply a broom to the drifts of cat hair.  The ones that meow and give me a dirty look will be the cats.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Genesis of a Pie

As I slog on through miles of i-cord, I've had to find other outlets for creativity- I'm very close to finishing, and yet if I give in to the temptation to cast on something new, it will take even longer to finish this vest.  

So, one evening last week, I took over the kitchen and perpetrated chicken pot pie.  I'm a big fan of pot pies in general, and I like them all- puff pastry, topped with potato, but there is a special place in my heart for pie crust.  I use the oil pastry recipe that has reigned in my family since I was young, and it lends itself very well to savory pies, because you can use olive oil for the oil and add some savory herbs to give it its own flavor.

But I was out of olive oil, so I made a plain crust and turned my attention to the filling.  First I sauteed some onions and garlic.  Because how can one possibly go wrong with sauteed onions and garlic?

Make mashed potatoes- this was the first time I'd done them in the microwave, and I will likely never do them on the stove top again, at least not for small quantities.  I cut up the potatoes, put them in a microwave container with a little water, covered the container with plastic wrap, poked a hole for the steam to escape and zapped them for 10 minutes.  Once they were soft, I used the container's cover to drain the water, then added a lump of butter and a splash of milk and mashed away.

I diced up some leftover grilled chicken.

The sauteed onions and garlic went with the chicken into a pan with a can of gravy.  I do make my own, but since I was using precooked chicken and didn't have any pan drippings, I went with canned. Also, since I wasn't starting with leftovers, except the chicken, there was a limit to how much cooking I wanted to do for the filling.    However canned gravy is pretty bland, so I also added a bunch of spices- thyme and rosemary, mainly, but also some celery seed and 'herbed poultry seasoning' that was lying around.

Then, I assembled the pie- potatos, covered with chicken in onion-garlic gravy and sprinkled with frozen peas (my usual default would be frozen peas and carrots, but I didn't happen to have any on hand).  Then, tuck it all under a top crust and stick it in the oven at 425°F for 50 plus minutes.

I don't need to tell you what happens after that, do I?  

One of the nice things about this is that it's pretty flexible- put in any meat/sauce combo, with compatible vegetables and starch and it'll taste good.  How about you?  Are savory pies something you go for?  Got a favorite pie recipe?