Thursday, September 30, 2010

Barley Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash

Oh my, is this recipe ever good!

I have wanted to try my hand at risotto for a very long time. But with babies in the house sure to have needs that would pull me away from the equally needy pot on the stove, I decided to wait until they were a little older.

Enter the October issue of Country Living magazine and this recipe.

Being a fan of barley and an even bigger fan of roasted butternut squash, and knowing that barley has a much higher fiber and protein content than rice, I was sold on the idea before I even read the rest of the page.

And I was not disappointed, even slightly. Yes, making the dish did involve much standing at the stove and stirring, but the result was SO worth it. The only changes I made were to leave out the lemon zest and replace the thyme (my patch in the herb garden being way past prime) with parsley, and I used grated Parmesan in place of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Give it a try... I dare you!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Into the Woods

A recent trail cam sequence that makes me smile...

(Singing together) "Ohhhh... We're just a happy couple of brothers (yes we are!), out for an afternoon stroll..."

"Brothers we are three, but the wisest one is meeeee... and I'm off to take me a nap"

"(me too!)"

(seeing his brothers disappear into the forest, suddenly the slowpoke becomes his own imaginary Leader of the Pack) "Ohhhh... I'm the Alpha Wolf, roaming wild and freeeee... Nothing, no one, no how, can beat meeee..."


(mumbling) "Good grief, who am I kidding anyway? I'm a pack animal for crying out loud... now where did my brothers head off to?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New York Style

Having never been to the Big Apple to eat the real thing, I have no idea just how authentic this pizza really is, but in my uneducated opinion, we have some decidedly yummy, spicy, garlicky goodness in our little town.

We usually grab and go.

But yesterday was unseasonably warm and humid, so the picnic table outside looked very inviting.

To the nice PGE lady who stopped and smiled at my kids and asked what on earth I was eating, then went and bought one for herself, I am so very sorry that you are now hooked on what are most likely the most greasy, garlicky, chewy, thigh-enlarging, and delicious breadsticks in the world.

I would avoid them at all cost if I could, but Sparky's just happens to be 2 doors down from the UPS Store, where I go at least once a week to do the bulk of my pattern chart copying (and the kids watch hopefully for a UPS Man sighting).

It is awfully hard to resist when the very air smells like garlic.

Monday, September 27, 2010


First corn harvest of the season...

Followed by our first family game night (ever), featuring "Hi-Ho Cherry-O", circa 1979-ish (a favorite saved from my childhood)...

followed by a new ritual, that has been going on for a week or two, the Daddy and Kids evening game of checkers...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

An End... For Now

Don't panic... I'm not closing my blog or design business or anything major like that... no way!

But, I am going to let my Heartstring Primitives shop go. I just don't have the time to invest in it these days, and the finished goods that I do manage to get listed seem to just sit and sit. And knowing that they are sitting there, and not having the time to do what should be done to create an active, current shop, well... its a little added pressure that I just don't need.

I might put a finished item in my pattern shop from time to time, or I might not. I will always be available if someone has a custom request for a paper cutting or pinkeep or whatever.

I have gone through the items left in my shop and marked them all down. Anything left on October 4th, I will re-evaluate and either remove or mark down one more time. So, if you have had your eye on any of my little offerings, this is your chance!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Smelling my Way into Autumn

To me, Autumn has always smelled like Building a Woodpile.

First come the scents of Damp, Mossy, Forests of Vine Maple and Cedar, Rubber Boots and Mushrooms, Cobwebs and Lichen, while tramping through the woods in search of downed trees to cut.

The sounds of chainsaw, splitting maul, wedge, axe are followed by new scents... Two-cycle Fuel, Bar Oil, Fresh Wood, Dry Leaves, Pitch, Bark, Sweat.

The rhythm of toss... thump! as the pieces arc through the air into the back of a pickup creates a deeper rhythm for the song of the crickets, who chirp away all day long, and stirs up the Warm Metal smell of the Truckbed.

A distinctly September-ish aroma of Warm Leaves, Grass, Moss, on the verge of decay wraps itself around me as I, with work gloves and boots begin the methodical discipline of stacking the mounds of wood. The Dust and Dry Bark from previous years tickle my nose and mingle with the new, fresher scent of Cedar, Maple, Fir, Cherry, Alder.

And finally... Woodsmoke, perhaps my favorite of them all.

We're not quite there yet, but soon, very soon, it will be time to let the out-of-doors rest for awhile while we cozy up and stay warm.

Warmed for the third, fourth, fifth time by the woodpile.

These days, I don't participate much in the process, instead, keeping the youngsters clear of danger. I managed to stack a cord or two this year, and truly enjoyed myself.

My hardworking Husband and Life Companion has done more than his share, foraging, cutting, splitting, stacking for two households this year, all while being dedicated to his career and family. I am thankful every day for the strength that God has given him to tarry on even when his plate is full to overflowing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ode to Pears

"Now, Sire," quod she, "for aught that may bityde,
I moste haue of the peres that I see,
Or I moote dye, so soore longeth me
To eten of the smalle peres grene."
- Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
(l. 14,669), The Merchant's Tale

“The jelly - the jam and the marmalade,
And the cherry-and quince-"preserves" she made!
And the sweet-sour pickles of peach and pear,
With cinnamon in 'em, and all things rare!
And the more we ate was the more to spare,
Out to old Aunt Mary's! Ah!”
- James Whitcomb Riley

You get so weak from eating pears that you fall down,
and then they come and take you away on a stretcher.
- Oliver Reed

Pears cannot ripen alone. So we ripened together.
- Meridel Le Sueur

"Pears are mostly enjoyed out of hands, but they can be poached in red or white wine, or syrup, made to compote, canned, dried, baked, flamed, pressed and fermented for pear wine, and pressed fermented and distilled for Poire Williams or pear eau de vie. Cheese and pear are created for each other. Roquefort or Gloucester and pear is an excellent combination. Pear Helene, vanilla ice cream on a poached pear covered with chocolate sauce is a dessert for gourmets everywhere."

And what did I do with these lovely pears, the first true crop from our young orchard? I adapted this German Apple Puff Pancake recipe, and the results were pure heaven.

What I did... peeled, cored, and sliced about 8 of the pears (they are very small) and set them aside in a bowl. Then tossed them with a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of cinnamon.

Put my 12" cast iron skillet with a 4 tablespoon pat of butter in it into the oven, then preheated to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine 6 eggs, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg.

Remove hot pan with melted butter from the oven. Dump the sliced pears into the bottom of the pan, then pour the batter over the top.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 35 minutes.

Oh, man... YUMMMMM.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Once you figure the second word out, it will be as obvious as if you spelled it yourself.

I'll give you a hint... its an animal.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Three New Releases

I think I'll let the cat out of the bag today, and show you the three patterns that will be released on Saturday at the St. Charles Market.

They won't be available for purchase in my etsy shop until Monday, but you can pre-order if you would like by sending me an email, and I will most likely send the first batch of orders out on Monday. Their retail price is $10 each, and shipping is free within the continental US.

In no particular order, here they are...

Flock of Christmas Wishes

Unity Sampler

A Partridge in a Pear Tree
(wool applique)

Monday, September 20, 2010


Good morning all! I am sitting here, finally finished with all of the preparations for the TNNA show this coming weekend.

Taking peeks at the Autumn colors outside.

Enjoying my coffee immensely.

Thinking about catching up on housework.

I have folded and mailed hundreds of charts, a handful of models, and I am happy for a break. One could go a little crazy after folding so many charts all alone.

I did get some help from my Dearest one evening, then the next morning discovered that every single chart that he had so lovingly stuffed into sleeves had been affixed (by me) with the wrong photograph.


I then spent well over an hour *oh*so*carefully* loosening the errant photos with a knife and then re-gluing and re-stuffing with the correct ones.

Lost time hurts.

But the thing that is killing me the most this morning is way more superficial.

I spent so much money in printing and shipping charges last week that I could have purchased a pair and a half of the boots I am coveting.

A pair and a half.

I sure hope my designs are well received. A little extra Christmas money in my pocket for my kids would help me not feel so bad about the boots.

Friday, September 17, 2010

If I had a single flower for every time I think about you,
I could walk forever in my garden.
~Claudia Ghandi

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Climbing the TNNA Mountain

Just as my muscles have begun to feel normal again, I have a different kind of mountain to climb.

A mountain of patterns.

I thought that I had missed the deadline for sending models to Market for next weekend's show, but I heard from Norden Crafts yesterday that they still have room to display my 3 new designs, and could I send a pile of charts along too?

Of course, I hadn't even started assembling them yet.

So, if you don't hear from me for awhile, you now know why.

Here's a sneak peek to hold you over for a few days...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First Egg!

We are excited! It has been way too long since we ate an egg from our very own hens.

And it wasn't even *that* much smaller than a regular sized egg.

Do you Believe in Mutants?

Because I think I might have some special berries for them to eat.

Regular raspberries (our second harvest is starting now!)...

Not-so regular raspberries...

And the bushes are loaded with the monster size this Fall... getting enough to make jam is going to be a walk in the park.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why I'll be Crawling up the Stairs Today

Hamilton Mountain... seven miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2,100 feet.

Little people in a big forest.

Hm, lets see... "Difficult" or "More Difficult" which trail would YOU take?

My trusty Doc Martens... the best traction for gravelly and steep terrain, but not much toe padding. So I wore three pair of socks and hoped for the best. Today my toes are a bit bruised from the steep descent, but no blisters (thank you, socks)!

Evidence of the volcanic origins of this area, that is an ages-old basaltic lava flow you are looking at. And we made it to the top. Of THAT. And then some more.

Mt. Adams

Mt. Hood

At the end of our adventure, I scarfed this down faster than you can say "Charburger in Cascade Locks".

And I was still hungry.