Raspberry picking

I was in despair when I got home from Chicago that I had missed the last of the raspberries, because the PYO place I drive by on the way to my parents’ house was closed last weekend. Oh foolish woman! My parents were in Edmonton this past weekend for a family wedding, so not having any clue what to do with my recalcitrant teenagers, I figured I’d drive out to the fruit farm and try my luck. The one we frequent is the Orleans Fruit Farm – what started out as a tiny little farm stand has become a pretty major operation in my parents’ town.

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We were in luck! Not only was the PYO open, but oh my, the raspberries! Of course, I left my phone in the car, so I couldn’t even snap a bad picture, but believe me when I say there were so many raspberries, the branches were weighed down. I left my oldest at home and only brought my daughter with me (she’s a bit more of a joiner when I have impromptu plans). We picked three baskets of the most juicy and delicious berries – it has been YEARS since I’ve been able to get my hands on raspberries other than the little overpriced tubs at the grocery store. Fresh-picked berries are always better. We also sweated like pigs and got eaten alive by mosquitoes – although the bugs only came out during the last ten-fifteen minutes we were out there. But HOT… I sweated in places where I didn’t know sweat glands existed! But we had a lot of fun :)

I figured we’d visit the produce store in the hopes of procuring some peaches so I could experiment a bit. That was a tiny bit of a mistake… I came home with apricots, yellow plums, peaches, pomegranates… I had to forbid myself from going farther into the store! I’ve been chopping and peeling and cutting and freezing. And I’m looking forward to slightly cooler weather so I can begin USING all this fantastic produce I’m putting away. I think I got into canning fever a bit late this summer due to the accidentally-unplugged freezer fiasco this spring. But it’s here now, and I can’t wait to get started! I made a conscious decision not to make cucumber pickles this year – I’m still trying to find a recipe I really like, and I just don’t have the time, energy or patience to get it done right now.

Sue and I are progressing apace on our French Cancan shawls… we had reached the same spot on Saturday, and sat down to do one pattern repeat on the border together. Then Sue went camping and got confused, and ripped out the whole border :( So her Cancan will wait until she’s back in town, and mine will progress slowly – I’m only about 6 pattern repeats in (out of about 40?). I’ve made some progress on my dad’s sock, but it’s a boring sock, so there’s nothing exciting to report there.

The Whole-30 is going well. I accidentally got a Caesar salad last night instead of a garden salad, and had to pick out the croutons and cheese before I could eat it LOL I would cut someone for a doughnut or a pizza bun or some ice cream! But I know it’s just because I’ve told myself I’m not allowed. I’m on day six right now, and doing pretty well – the kids were impressed with our Whole 30 dinner. A head of cauliflower, two onions and some chicken cooked in pasta sauce with hot sauce added in (and some cumin-mint seasoning). It was pretty damned delicious, if I do say so myself! Well, I’m going to go enjoy my lovely grapefruit sodastream and wind down for bed! I went to the gym tonight, and I imagine I will be quite sore tomorrow!!!

Waaaaaahhhhhh!

Chugging right along on the Whole 30, and I goofed. I have a major sweet tooth, and I figured, hey, dates are fruit, right? (Yeah… they’re also LOADED with natural sugar). So here I was, chowing down on my dates, when the horrible thought struck me that they probably weren’t allowed. So I checked with my Whole 30 posse on Ravelry, and sure enough, if you struggle with sugar addiction, they’re to be avoided. *sigh* Guess my mom’s getting a present this weekend. (She loves dates!) I had some truly awful store-bought guacamole yesterday, so I’ve pretty much determined that whatever I can make myself has to be better. Especially since I like spicy guac and this stuff was really oily and bland. Unnaturally oily. Even though there was no oil in the ingredients list. I am skeptical.

A weird bug passed through our house this week. I think my daughter picked it up at camp. It started with her having a headache, dizziness and and upset stomach on Tuesday. By Tuesday evening, my son had a headache and he was sick as a dog on Wednesday. Last night, I had a headache and basically passed out on the couch as soon as the kids were in bed. So there hasn’t been a whole lot of exercise going on. So as soon as I was feeling better (woke up with a headache today, but it was mostly gone by lunch), I picked my youngest up from camp and we took a 2-mile walk together in Little Italy!

I’ve been working on my French Cancan like a fiend, trying to get it to the border portion before Saturday. My friend Sue is also knitting one, and she’s been having a bit of trouble getting the border started, so my thought was that if we were both at the same point, we could start it together, and we could see where she’s going wrong – I went wrong SO MANY TIMES the first time I knit it, and then it just clicked. I’m hoping I can help her out, because I think everybody needs to knit at least a dozen of these things! (Right, Krystal? Krystal knit four of these WITHIN two months for her bridesmaids just before her wedding – then cast on another!) I haven’t dared touch anything else because I need to haul ass on the shawl :)

My friend Elizabeth has started a blog over here. Go say hi! (tell her I sent you!) She’s a much better writer than I am, and definitely a better photographer! And yes, this is the Elizabeth who has traveled to Maryland with us!

In canning news, I hope to be able to procure some Pomona’s and some raspberries from the Parkdale Market tomorrow! (the Pomona’s comes from a store, obviously, not the market). I’m lucky enough to work only four short blocks away, so I’ll walk over on my lunch break! Have a great weekend!

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A little bit about Whole 30…

Someone on a Ravelry group I frequent issued a challenge for folks to join her in a Whole 30, and I excitedly agreed! A Whole 30 is a 30-day period where you do away with all dairy, grains and legumes and eat whole foods for the duration. Meat, fish and seafood are allowed, tofu and soy products are not. Coconut milk is permitted, cow’s milk is not. No butter, but ghee is okay (clarified butter, for the uninitiated, used extensively in Asian cooking).

I’ve been having a bit more trouble with some food intolerance issues recently, and decided this would be a good way to isolate some of the things that were giving me indigestion. I know dairy is a big one for me, because while it gives me intestinal cramps, the discomfort has not been enough to make me stop eating it. But last week, I had several days of very intense joint and bone pain after consuming heroic quantities of dairy, and I started to wonder. It’s possible that it was just a bad arthritis day, but the pain struck very suddenly, and at the same time both days (about 2 hours after I’d consumed a lot of dairy for dinner). I know it all sounds very woo-woo, and my ex-husband is laughing at me, but I firmly believe that we can do ourselves harm or good with what we eat, and I’m willing to give this a try :)

Did my shopping today – some chicken breasts (bone-in and with the skin – I skinned and deboned them all tonight and portioned them out into ziploc baggies); cherries – meant to pit and freeze them (I’ve discovered a new love of frozen fruits as a snack – especially cherries and grapes!) but I couldn’t find my cherry pitter. That will be done tomorrow. Lots of fresh veggies – mushrooms (want to try making these Roasted Mushrooms), celery, Lebanese cucumbers, some lovely nectarines, one of the most beautiful cauliflowers I’ve ever seen, a bag of onoios, some sweet potatoes, etc. I am so psyched about this! Also a bit terrified.

In knitting news, I’ve been steadily working on my 2nd French Cancan, and I’m down to the heel flap on my dad’s first sock. I also picked up the 41 blanket again – Rob’s cousin sprogged last week (unexpectedly for us, since she wasn’t talking about it much on FB), and I’d like to get it out to her!

I’ll be keeping everyone apprised of progress with the Whole 30, and sharing a few recipe links here and there :) Right now, I need to go rescue my son’s cat from his bedroom before she pulls his door apart.

Here’s what happened…

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It’s all Sue’s fault. No, really! It’s her fault that instead of working diligently on Zachary’s Flax sweater or his Totoro, I suffered a slight bout of startitis and cast on a new French Cancan.

IMG_20140711_113013137_HDREntirely her fault. Here I was, trying to be responsible and knit stuff I had committed to, and she just kept talking about her French Cancan, and finally I couldn’t take it any more. I searched my stash for some DK and found some lovely Freedom Spirit by Twilleys of Stamford that I bought years ago at Knit Knackers (when they were still on James Street in Ottawa!). It has sadly been discontinued, as has most of the yarn in my stash. It seems to be a trend. Granted, I did buy a lot of my early yarn from the “fun bin”… that was the odd balls bin where they put stuff they were trying to get rid of at discounted prices. So much Rozetti and Twilleys and Katia and other things we just can’t get anymore. *sigh* Twilleys still exists, as do other forms of Freedom, but the Freedom Spirit is no more. It’s quite a heavy DK… I’d almost be tempted to call it worsted. And it’s scratchy yarn (for felting) so we’ll see how it works out. You’ll have to excuse the photo quality, I was using my phone!

I also cast on another boring pair of socks for my dad. He loves the ones I made him last year, and I was able to get some more Bernat Sox on Ebay – another sadly discontinued 100% acrylic sock yarn – it’s actually more of a sport weight, I have to use size 3 needles (3.25mm) to knit the socks. He’s hard on socks, and they have to be very loose and stretchy for him, so I prefer to knit them out of acrylic, and that way my mom can toss them in the washing machine whenever she needs to. There’s also less concern about darning them because the acrylic wears like STEEL WOOL. It’s soft and warm though, and I highly recommend it if you can get your hands on some. I don’t have a picture of the boring socks, because they’re still in my suitcase from the trip to Chicago (I swear, I will empty that suitcase out this weekend!).

Stitches Midwest is coming up, and I’m still not sure if I’ll be attending. I haven’t looked at the Market sessions yet. There were no full-length classes that called my name. The one I was interested in (Beyond Basic Crochet) filled up fast and is no longer available. I’ll keep poking around the website until Sue and I decide what we’re doing. I had to drop out of the Tour de Fleece this year, because I spent the first two days in and driving home from Chicago, and then spent the next three days in excruciating leg pain. Way too much pain to consider pulling out the spinning wheel. It occurred to me later (yesterday) that perhaps the increase in joint pain was due to the rather ridiculous amount of dairy I’d been consuming. I’ve always been somewhat lactose intolerant, but could eat yogurt and most cheeses. Well, I spent Monday and Tuesday eating yogurt for dinner (that lovely thick Liberte stuff with the flavoring in the bottom – YUM). And that likely wasn’t a good plan. So we’re going to cut back the dairy for a while and see if that helps any. Last night, my daughter and I walked around Lac Leamy - it’s not as big as Lake Andrea (2.3 miles vs 1.55 miles for Lac Leamy), but it was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed the walk. I’m still not at the point where I can handle the walk around Pink Lake, because that trail is through cliffs and hills and is mostly stairs (it’s also over 3 miles long).

Bit of a non-sequitur, but Rob has been collecting photos of company logos that incorporate the maple leaf (he claims we’re obsessed!). McDonald’s has them, as do several other stores. I was following a large truck the other day when I saw this:

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Don’t worry, we were stopped at a red light in a traffic jam when I took this :) If you look closely, you’ll see that there are little maple leaves in the center of each of the side stars. I guess maybe we are obsessed? All I know is that it always gives me a little thrill when I’m driving home and start seeing Canadian flags on the road instead of American ones. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing nothing but the US flag everywhere – if I ever move down there, I’ll have to bring a Canadian flag with me!

 

Slowly but surely…

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Oh how frustrating… I had written about 2/3 of my post when I tried to insert a photo and WordPress locked up, making me have to close my browser, losing everything! Argh. Let’s try this again, without the oops.

Things got a bit out of hand before the trip to Chicago. I haven’t written anything in a while, because I was swamped. Such is my life, what else is new? But now that university is done for the summer, and college will be finishing on Saturday (YAY!), I should have more time on my hands. Time to organize, time to clean, time to knit, time to spin, time to cook, time to consider, time to connect, time to share, time to stop, and time to breathe. I’m looking forward to just being able to sit back and enjoy, or get my hands dirty, or whatever we feel like doing!

On June 27th, the kids and I packed up the car and headed for Chicago. We had a fantastic time! We went to the zoo, we swam (they swam), we cooked (I cooked), we rode trains, we rode bikes, we walked, we saw family and friends, we missed others (sorry!), we got to attend a lovely service at Rob’s mom’s temple (BJBE in Deerfield, IL), we shopped, we laughed and we enjoyed each others’ company immensely. My daughter proved herself to be fearless, and my son proved to be adept at juggling. Rob’s freezer is now full to bursting with chili, spaghetti sauce, seafood rosee sauce and lasagna. His cupboard is packed with cherry jam. This makes him happy, because it makes cooking real food easier and makes eating healthier a bit more likely. We came home with tans and mosquito bites and clothes for the school year. We were miraculously spared from any of the tornadoes that visited both homes (Rob’s and ours). The only sour spot to the trip was the little bit of heartbreak that always comes with saying goodbye and heading home. It gets harder and harder as time goes by, but we look forward to a day when we won’t have to anymore.

I did get some knitting done as well. The French Cancan shawl by Mademoiselle C is finished! Well, the ends are woven in. It hasn’t been blocked yet. I made it in time for the Summer Shawl KAL/CAL we had going on at Two Tangled Skeins! I’m so psyched with this pattern – I love it! I can see now how my friend Krystal has managed to knit five of these. It’s addictive! Once you get out of the garter-stitch hell portion, anyway. Two of my friends have had babies since I last wrote, so now I need to get moving on the baby blanket front. I also need to produce a few sweaters for babies I missed!

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Before I left for Chicago, I managed to finish the “54″ hat by Julie Mellor that had been on my needles since just before Stitches Midwest last year. I kind of misplaced the hat for a while, and recently found it, so it got finished too. The trick now is going to be if I can pick up Zachary’s Flax sweater by Tincan Knits without having to rip back to figure out where I am!

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Just before I left, I visited the Orleans Fruit Farm and picked up four gallon baskets of strawberries! I knew I wasn’t going to have time to make that much jam, so we headed to my mom’s house with some large Ziploc freezer bags in hand, and processed them all. With the bounty from my mom’s rhubarb patch, we managed to prepare enough fruit for three batches of strawberry-rhubarb jam and four batches of whatever other strawberry jam catches my fancy – I want to make at least one batch of strawberry balsamic jam, and we found a little shop in Kenosha called Elsie Mae’s Canning and Pies that had strawberry mojito jam! I want to try my hand at that one too. That means I have seven bags of prepped strawberries in my freezer, ready to go now that I’m home and have a bit more time. I did miss out on getting any Pomona’s pectin while I was stateside, but I’m still hoping I can get my hands on some at home. (AND BONUS! I just found out that Herb and Spice, a local health food store, carries it! Ottawa canning friends, take note!)

This weekend’s plan is to go raspberry picking at the fruit farm, if they’re out yet. I’ve always wanted to take my kids berry-picking, and never done it. My fondest memories as a child involved trekking into the woods at the farm to pick raspberries, choke cherries, currants, blackberries and blueberries! We did find a small patch of wild raspberries while walking around Lake Andrea last week, but we only grabbed a couple, since they weren’t quite ripe and we wanted to leave some for other walkers.

One of our outings early in the trip was to the Milwaukee County Zoo. I’m always torn when I visit a zoo. On the one hand, I love seeing the animals up close, and photographing them. The Milwaukee zoo has the added advantage that they have a narrow-gauge railroad that goes in a big loop around the zoo (Rob’s a train fanatic). On the other hand, the animals are in cramped quarters and can’t possibly be as happy as they would in the wild. We saw some big cats that were just pacing in their enclosures, over and over again, and looked miserable. The elephants looked downright depressed. I can’t reconcile the joy people get from visiting the animals with the misery the animals endure for our privilege. It’s a paradox I’m not sure how to resolve. And I feel both happiness and guilt when I leave. My daughter, however, had some grand adventures at the zoo. I have to admit, I would not have been so brave. She went zip-lining, which involved climbing a rather imposing wood-and-rope structure with not much more than a tether for security, and whizzing over the heads of all the zoo patrons below. She also rode a camel!!! The camel was kind of amazing. Dude POSED for us when they walked by so we could get a picture of him. I’m not kidding…. he stopped, turned his head, and I swear he smiled, and then held that pose so I could get a picture.

IMG_4194 IMG_4223IMG_4224And that’s what we did on our summer vacation… ;)

 

Gimme a break!

No, I mean that literally. I need a break. I’ve been so burned out trying to do university, community college, a full-time job and raising two troublesome teenagers at once, and I’ve had it. I’ve reached my breaking point. We had a “retreat” at work this week and I was exhausted when I went to bed… and then proceeded to NOT SLEEP AT ALL the entire night. I think I got an hour-long nap around 5am. Since I got home, I’ve been passing out randomly, falling asleep at my desk, on the couch, in class, etc. And having to drag myself out of bed in the morning. My daughter actually WOKE ME UP to tell me she was going to school this morning. (That does not happen – she’s a sleeper – I usually have to fight with her to get her out of bed in the morning). An idea of how stressed out I’ve been would be that I haven’t even been playing my Facebook games regularly!!! (okay, I’m being a bit facetious, but let’s face it, I’m tired! – and now that I’ve done a little obligatory Blazing Saddles quote for Rob’s enjoyment, let us get back to business).

I also have not had time to pick up any knitting this week. I bring it everywhere with me, but I haven’t touched it once. Not since last Saturday when I finished this:

Knit out of Cascade Heritage in Navy Blue on 2.5mm needles. No pattern, but it's based off The Yarn Harlot's Sock Recipe from Knitting Rules.

Knit out of Cascade Heritage in Navy Blue on 2.5mm needles. No pattern, but it’s based off The Yarn Harlot’s Sock Recipe from Knitting Rules.

Those would be Rob’s socks of doom. The cursed socks. The socks I have been trying to knit him since last year. NO, they’re not black. I will never knit anyone black socks ever again. I told you all the snowblower story. I still have that project, because for some reason, Rob thinks it needs to be preserved for posterity. Unless he ABSOLUTELY adores these socks, I will not be making him another pair any time soon ;) I love him, but damn.

Anyway, my university class has drawn to a close (final was last night), and I’m looking forward to having my evenings free to actually CLEAN around the house, make real food, and generally just not be required to be somewhere else for 3 1/2 hours twice a week. My accounting class is also nearing its end – the exam is July 9th. So I’m looking forward to that being done as well. I will be taking the rest of the summer off from educational pursuits, and I think that in September, when I’m ready (and willing) to start again, I’ll concentrate on the accounting, since my boss wants me to do it, and take a short break from the university classes.

I’m looking forward to knit night tonight. It’s been a while (that’s something else that goes down the tubes when I’m stressed), and I think a nice, relaxing evening of hanging out with friends and knitting is just the ticket.

I’m not sure Stitches Midwest is happening. Elizabeth has dropped out because of a scheduling conflict, and Sue’s not sure if she’ll be able to come or not, and I just can’t afford the trip on my own. The kids and I are going to Chicago on June 27th, and we’ll be there a week, so I will be going down, I just won’t be there for the marketplace. It’s not like I really need more yarn anyway ;) Tour de Fleece is starting while I’m in Chicago, and I tried to figure out the logistics of bringing my wheel with me, and it’s just not possible. So I’ll miss the first few days. That’s okay, I’m not competing for prizes or anything anyway.

I bought blueberries and concord grapes last night to make some jam, so I’ve got that to look forward to this weekend! I made a small batch of mango jam for my dad the other day (just three mangoes). It was part of his father’s day present. I also bought him some cherries and a watermelon. Not much of a present, but I was kind of broke :) I also got to attend my first Shavuot celebration – it was a joint celebration between Or Haneshamah (my temple) and Temple Israel (the one I used to go to). It was so awesome to see so many friends at Temple Israel – apparently I’ve actually been missed! I’ll start going there once in a while when we don’t have services (we’re still on alternate weeks). I guess it really has been a while since I’ve posted!

Oh, and I’m sad to report that my sunflowers died. I’m pretty sure they were dead when I bought them… but sunflower petals don’t lose their colour when they’re dried out, so it was hard to tell. The day after I bought them, the entire plant was dry and crusty, even though I had watered it when I got it to the office. Oh well… that’s what I get for buying plants from the grocery store, right? :) At least they made me happy for those two days. Someday I will have my own garden and there will be sunflowers ALL OVER IT.

SO BUSY!!!!!

I know, it’s been a while. Sorry about that. There’s just been so much going on that I’ve been a bit overwhelmed.

Last time I posted anything, Rob was about to arrive, my house was a mess, I was falling behind with school and feeling really freaked out about everything. My sugar was still out-of-control and I felt wonky and tired all the time.

The fatigue really hasn’t gone anywhere (it’d be nice if I could get to bed before 11pm just ONCE). The blood sugar, however, is a bit better :) I sat down and wrote a meal-plan (and corresponding grocery list!) the other day, did my shopping last night, and started prepping food. OMG I don’t know what I was thinking. SO labor-intensive. I didn’t even come close to finishing what I wanted to accomplish before I finally gave up exhausted around 11:30. I think that, using the WW points system, I also planned for way too much food. They recommend that you use your entire points allotment every day, and when I’m eating clean, I find it difficult to do so. Breakfast, for instance, was meant to be two hard-boiled eggs, a 6oz can of V8, a can of tuna and 1/2 cup cheerios. I made it through the V8 and the two eggs, although I ate the 2nd egg a lot more slowly than the first… and I was half-way through the can of tuna when I realized that my stomach was saying, “enough!” Didn’t even touch the cheerios. Tomorrow, I’ll try ONE hard-boiled egg with the other half of the can of tuna, and see how that goes. I haven’t even been hungry for my morning snack (cottage cheese with raspberries) and it’s nearly lunchtime!

My 5k Walk for Arthritis is THIS SUNDAY!!!!! That means you only have 3 days left if you’d like to support me with a donation. Anything over $20 is tax-deductible, and your support would really mean a lot to me! I’m at 76% of my $500 goal, with three days left. Won’t you please consider helping to put me over the line? I’ve lived with arthritis my whole life, and it sucks. 90% of the time, when I wake up in the morning, I’m in pain, and I spend the day that way. About 10% of the time, I’m in so much pain, I have difficulty functioning. I can’t imagine what people who have more severe cases go through. My daughter’s teacher has had every experimental treatment out there, and still suffers constantly. Every penny you donate helps develop better and more effective treatments.

As for knitting, there’s been a bit going on. I’m done the body of the French Cancan Shawl by Mademoiselle C, but I’ve only used 2 of the 6 balls of yarn, so I’m debating making the body larger… Not sure how that would affect the border though, so I’m reluctant to do it. I might make a matching hat instead. Rob’s socks saw a brief surge of activity that got me through the heel flap and gusset decreases, but now that I’m half-way down the foot, I’m bored again LOL No more ribbed socks for a while. They’re not quite mindless enough that I can just knit without thinking (especially on the foot where only half is ribbed and half is knit). I acquired some more Bernat Sox (the thicker acrylic sock yarn Bernat used to make that my father loves), so I plan to make him a few more pairs – he’s diabetic and has a lot of foot problems. The socks I knit him are loose enough that they don’t hurt his feet, but keep him nice and warm, which is a big deal considering his feet are always cold.

I had taken the Baby Surprise Jacket I had started back out of hibernation…. and now it’s being frogged *sigh* I knit and frogged and knit and frogged the same section about four times before I decided I had had enough. This jacket is just not meant to be. It had no set recipient, I was just knitting it to use up the yarn. Well, the yarn is now going into Skye’s basket, and she can knit or crochet whatever she likes with this $30 ball of Lang Jawoll Magic LOL Skye’s poor sweater is not being frogged – it’s being tossed into the garbage. The kids were being helpful one day and brought all the dirty clothes that were laying around into the “laundry room” (aka the bathroom). Unfortunately, they also brought Skye’s half-finished sweater, and the cats peed all over it (which is why we don’t put clothes on the floor!). I rescued the needles and the stitch markers, but the rest? BINNED. Argh. I need to be a bit more consistent with my efforts. I think once I’m done either the socks or the French Cancan, the next project to come back into rotation will be the Flax sweater I’m knitting for Zachary. I’d like to finish it before it gets cold enough for him to wear it :)

Oh, and there has been a bit of spinning. I can’t remember if it was before or after my last post, but I’ve spun a bobbin and a half of Millie up – those of you who watch the Two Tangled Skeins podcast know that Millie is the Romney fleece I purchased just after the podcast was created. The intent was that Sue, Kari and I would spin her together, but Sue and Kari have since sold their spinning wheels. So I’m spinning her by myself. I’ll show a picture soon of my spinning efforts thus far. (and I need to get back to it – Tour de Fleece is coming soon!)

I’ve been ITCHING to start canning. I was a good girl last weekend. I cut down almost the entire rhubarb patch at my mom’s house, but gave the ENTIRE harvest to my brother (with a few stalks for my mom). It’s growing so fast, I’m sure there will be another bumper crop in just a few short weeks. I still have some baggies left in the freezer from last summer (although I lost about half when my chest freezer was sabotaged – thankfully I had a bunch in the fridge freezer!) But the reason I’m waiting is that I want to get my kitchen sorted out (once and for all) and I’m not allowing myself to undertake any big, messy projects until that’s done. I want to pick up some Pomona’s Pectin while I’m in the US anyway.

I’m still a bit behind on my accounting class, but I’m working hard to get that finished so I can be DONE with it. I also bought myself a small inspirational gift yesterday at the grocery store…

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On the other side of MDSW…

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I’m taking the time right now to have a really deep breath. It’s taken me a couple of days to recover from the weekend, and I’m still not 100% sure I’m there yet. But I’m making progress :) So Maryland. I was so excited and busy with trip prep last week that the “prep” entry I had planned to write never materialized. I was busy doing laundry and sorting the kids and drying fruits for snacking. That involved a small unplanned purchase, which I’ll get to in a moment. Part of getting the kids sorted was to go out and buy them bus tickets so they could get to their dad’s from school and to make copies of his house key so they could let themselves in. While I was at the hardware store, I saw a thing of beauty. You have to understand. I bought my dehydrator about 20 years ago now. It was ridiculously expensive at the time and looked like this:

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(That’s not my kitchen – I WISH that was my kitchen. It would imply that I have counter space to put a dehydrator on…) Mine also isn’t that pristine white anymore. It has yellowed considerably with age and is now not only slightly broken, but is butt-ugly too. One of the trays has been beaten up a bit over the years and has broken in a few places. It’s still useful, but not in the way I want it to be. When I bought this tiny little thing, it cost me over $60, and came with TWO trays. That’s about enough to dry three apples. Anyway, to make a long story slightly shorter, when I went to the hardware store on Thursday night, I found this beauty:

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Sorry about the tiny pic – this is also not my kitchen. Anyway, this is a Salton VitaPro dehydrator – it comes with five trays (hear that, American Harvest? FIVE!!!) and they’re transparent, so you can check on your produce without opening the lid. The only drawback to this one is that it isn’t suitable for making jerky. The temperature doesn’t stay hot enough for the appropriate amount of time. But that’s okay. i don’t make jerky. It’s expensive and wasteful, as far as I’m concerned (LOVE eating it though). So in preparation for the trip, because my friend Elizabeth can’t eat most standard snack foods (she has a corn intolerance and is a vegetarian as well), I dried an enormous amount of zucchini, apples and oranges as snacks. They were quite tasty.

So we set out on Friday afternoon for the wilds of Maryland. The trip down was largely uneventful until we arrived at the hotel. I pulled into the parking space in front so we could check in, and when I pulled out? I had a flat tire. UGH. Thank goodness it did not happen on the freeway while we were driving 60-70  miles per hour! I phoned CAA, and they said I was better off calling first thing in the morning if I didn’t want them to show up right away (and I didn’t. It was 2am.) We did get it fixed first thing the next morning, although i’m pretty sure the place we got it replaced at took advantage somewhat of the four female tourists, but what can you do? At least I had money for the repair! We went to the festival and had an absolute BLAST. I stuck to my plan and did not buy any yarn…. but…. 

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That’s what came home with me. That, my friends, is a crapton of fibre, which I got DIRT CHEAP and it is so wonderful and clean and soft and I can’t wait to get started spinning something! I am not spinning right now because my hands are really clammy and numb right now (yay). I bought two POUNDS of Merino for $20 (she was selling the 4oz bags 4/$10, so I got eight). Then I bought half a pound of Lincoln cross (that’s the brown stuff) which isn’t quite as prepped as the other fibre, but it’s still lovely. I also got a pound of Shetland and a pound of Romney. I regret not buying more fibre from that vendor, but apparently he’ll be at Rhinebeck, so I can hit him up again then! I also picked up some lovely hand cream called “My Daughter’s Recipe” in a honey-almond scent that is simply sinful. I bought a ceramic teabag holder from one of the many pottery booths, I picked up a few Clover bits and bobs from the Yarn Barn booth, and my final purchase is some of the fantastic cinnamon nuts from one of the food vendors (NO, I haven’t eaten any of them, because they’re to be shared at my mom’s Mother’s Day Brunch on Sunday).

Saturday evening, we went into downtown Frederick to seek out some dinner. Due to all the food restrictions in our group, we had to be careful where we went (in addition to Elizabeth’s sensitivity to corn, I’m allergic to bell peppers, mangoes and kiwis, Kari can’t do dairy and Sue? Well Sue’s the lucky one. She can eat just about whatever she likes). We ended up at this fantastic little place on Market Street called The Orchard. I have never been so impressed with a restaurant in my life. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s well worth it. The food was amazing, and they even have their own soda (I had the Chai soda with dinner and it was AWESOME). If you’re ever in the area, TRY IT.

We headed home on Sunday and I’ve been trying to play catchup ever since. I started a new class tonight, so that’s an added bit of fun to the schedule, and this coming weekend is Ottawa Comicon! The kids and I will be heading over bright and early-ish on Saturday morning! BRUCE CAMPBELL WILL BE THERE. I’m a bit excited – can you tell? 

So were you at MDSW? What did you get? Flash your stash!

OM NOM NOM *slurp*

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We’re going to move into the kitchen for a little bit today, because I discovered something amazing and wonderful and what I imagine the gods ate before someone mistranslated “ambrosia” to mean some weird jello mold salad with little marshmallows in it. My friends, today I discovered the pomelo! (Those of you who know about these things are now scratching their heads, saying, “How did she go this long without trying one?” and the rest of you are scratching your heads, saying, “What the heck is a pomelo??”) Well, the short answer is, this:

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The rind might be yellow, it might be green. The flesh inside might be pink, or it might be pale yellow. This is a fruit that’s grown predominantly in south and southeast Asia. The only thing you’re guaranteed when you cut into one is that you’re about to have an amazing sensory experience.

For one thing, the pith? It’s EXTREMELY bitter. And this is from someone who loves nomming the pith off a navel orange. It’s honestly my favorite part of the navel orange, but I couldn’t even consider eating this one. For one thing, 3/4 of the fruit seems to be pith (that picture up there? That’s a BABY pith compared to the one I opened up). It smells like the most amazing, ripe, juicy, delicious grapefruit aroma you can imagine. And the taste? It tastes like I imagine grapefruit would if it wasn’t full of bitterness and betrayal.. Because while the pith is very bitter, the flesh itself is sweet and fragrant. It’s kind of tricky to eat though… follow me.

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(Obviously, none of these pictures are mine, since the pomelo keeps changing color). First, you have to cut the top and bottom off the fruit. You can start pretty far down before encountering any actual fruit. Pomelos are mother nature’s misadventures in over-packaging. There’s generally one to two inches of pith between the rind and the fruit. Next, you have to remove as much of the pith as you can. 

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Okay, I just ate an entire one of these monsters, and I’m salivating again! Removing the pith is not even the longest part of the process. Once you’ve removed the pith, you still have to remove the membranes! I kind of skipped over this step and just cut the pomelo into sections and ate around the membranes, but it’s worth the extra effort beforehand to not have to fight your food. 

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Once this is all done, you have two choices. Dig in and slurp it all up by itself, or use it in some of these fantastic recipes. I’m telling you right now, this has now joined the persimmon as one of my favorite fruits and I will be getting them whenever they’re available. They’re used extensively in Thai, Vietnamese and Korean cooking (OHLORD, I just had a thought… orange chicken? Use pomelo!!!) So try it out, and be creative!

Pomelo marmalade (from Steph’s Cup of Tea blog)

Dtam Som Oo (Thai Pomelo Salad from Saveur)

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m doing the 5k Walk to Fight Arthritis on June 8th in Ottawa. I’m not sure how many of you follow the webcomics Least I Could Do or Looking for Group. (If you don’t know them, go check them out!) Anyway, these comics are written and drawn by two very talented people. Ryan Sohmer, the writer, and Lar De Souza, the artist. Yesterday, a friend of mine posted a fundraising link on her Facebook page from Lar’s wife Christie, who is doing an MS walk in Toronto on May 4th. I jokingly commented that I’d contribute to his campaign if he contributed to mine. I thought this was a simple repost and that the joke would end there. Little did I know… LAR HIMSELF actually saw my comment and responded “send me the details  We are happy support Arthritis Society of Canada so I’m glad to donate to you as well  I will donate and retweet“. 

I don’t mind telling you I was absolutely floored. I sent him my details, and SECONDS LATER, I had a very generous donation sitting on my page. My flabber has been absolutely ghasted! And then he went one step further and reposted my fundraising link on his Facebook page! If you want to show Lar and Christie a bit of love, you can do so by clicking here. And as always, you can donate to my fundraising efforts by clicking here. Any donations of $20 or more are tax deductible and receipts will be provided (in both cases). But as with all fundraising efforts, even the smallest amounts help!

SO! In order to liven the comments section up a bit (or, you know, resuscitate it), tell me what you’ve tried that was completely new to you and blew your mind! 

Where for art thou, sleep?

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I know I’m probably butchering my Shakespeare paraphrase there. It’s been a while since I read Romeo and Juliet in high school (“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!” is about all I honestly remember). It’s been a rough few days since I got home from Chicago. For some reason, it’s been harder to adapt to sleeping alone again this time than it has after any other visit. I turn over multiple times during the night in search of Rob and he’s not there, which wakes me out of whatever fitful sleep I was getting. After this happens a few times, my rest for the night is ruined. Ah well… Things will get back to normal soon enough. 

I noticed in the last few days that a lot of people have been clicking through from the Yarn Harlot’s blog. Welcome! I hope you like it :)

In a week and a half, I will be collecting Sue and Kari (the girls from Two Tangled Skeins) and our friend Elizabeth, and we will be taking off for warmer climes… well, slightly warmer! We’re going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival!

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If you’re going to be there, comment and let me know if you’d like to meet up to say hello! 

In other news, I have signed up for a 5k walk in June. It’s the Walk to Fight Arthritis, and I’m hoping to raise a bit of money this year. I went on this walk a couple of years ago (Rob and the kids came along for support) but this year, I’m flying solo!  So would you please consider sponsoring me for this walk? I don’t have a tip jar on this site, and don’t ever intend to. My goal with this blog is not to make money for myself.

I’ve had arthritis most of my life, and I know many people who are affected by it, most of them far more seriously than I am. I get sore, I hurt (sometimes to the point of tears), and I get tired. I know people who are so drastically affected by arthritis that they can’t function. My daughter’s teacher has undergone several experimental treatments and struggles on a daily basis to function normally with debilitating pain. 

If you would like to sponsor me, you can do so through this link. Please help us research better ways to combat this disease. Too many people suffer from constant pain. In other news, I’m now actually training myself to work up to being able to do a 5k in my sleep ;) (That’s a figure of speech…. I can barely put one foot in front of the other AWAKE sometimes without tripping over myself.) In the past, when I’ve done 5ks, I’ve done no preparation at all, and felt like a zombie who got hit by a truck for the rest of the weekend. The goal isn’t to just do the 5k and drop. It’s to get in shape as well. The trail at Lac Leamy is my current training ground, and that’s 2.5km around. I think I’ve got this!

Incidentally, donations of $20 or more are tax deductible and The Arthritis Society will be providing receipts. But really? Anything helps, even a dollar! 

In other news, I’ve been ITCHING to get my spinning wheel going. AND to get the spring cleaning thing done. Stay tuned…

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