Saturday, May 17, 2008

Moved on

I've moved on to a new blogging system. To read the latest about my hens, gardening, knitting, traveling, and just all around living, be sure to check aWindycitygal on Wordpress.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Another update...

On the Vox blog. Weather woes and a knitting and chicken update!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Our growing family

Time for another update!

I've just posted one with some photos over on my Vox blog. Check out the newest members of our family...

Monday, August 06, 2007

A new sandbox

One of the reasons I haven't been posting here is because I've been playing around on Vox. There are some great features and it is much easier to put together a blog post with photos than it is here on Blogger.

I've been really hating the fact that Blogger always throws off my line spacing when I insert a photo, so I have to go back and correct it before posting. It doesn't work with my "flow of conciousness" style of blogging.

I'm still figuring things out there on Vox, but so far I'm much happier with it. If only I could figure out how to export my Blogger stuff and import it into Vox...hmmm....

Check out the blog I've created on Vox and let me know what you think!

Friday, July 13, 2007

The state of my crafting

Wow, it's been a rough ride lately in my crafting life.

I was listening to a knitting podcast this week and it was mentioned that Mercury has been in retrograde. Maybe that explains why it's been so darn difficult for me to complete or start a project in the past couple months. Of course, the fact that my commuting/knitting time has been curtailed due to cycling may explain a bit (as well as my commuting/listenting to podcasts time, too) but I've also just been sort of *blah* around crafts lately.

Despite my blog-silence on crafting, I have accomplished a few things: slowly and sometimes painfully, but accomplishments nonetheless. Now photographic evidence of those accomplishments will not be forthcoming just yet. (I was stupid and under deadline, so at least one of those items may not be documented in photos at all.) It's dark right now and I can't get decent photos of my newest finished object(s), so it'll just have to wait.

I have been doing some things, though. Let me just list them here:
  • A sleeveless baby "saque" (whatever that means) in crochet and knit
  • A pair of socks
  • An object for the Chicago Crochet Coral Reef Project

What is that last one? Well, if I can alert David Reidy of the Sticks and String podcast to this cool new project and get it mentioned, then I guess I can put it on my own personal blog.

The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project is run by the Institute for Figuring. This project is designed and curated by the founders of the IFF, Christine and Margaret Wertheim, who are originally from Brisbane, Australia but now live in Los Angeles. They started the project in homage to the Great Barrier Reef, as "wooly testimony to the disappearing wonders of the marine world." Each crocheted piece duplicates the hyperbolic geometry of coral and has been created by hand.

The Reef will be the coming to Chicago this fall during the Chicago Humanities Festival. Organizers wanted to add a Chicago touch to the Reef, so they've started organizing workshops to learn about how to create pieces to add to the Reef.

I was at the inaugural workshop on June 29 hosted by the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. Not only did I get to stretch my newly-budded crochet wings, so to speak, but I also learned about hyperbolic space. Cool! My friend Jamie unintentionally grabbed the spotlight, though. She had learned about the workshop at the same Knitting Guild meeting as I did, but she got started right away on her object and brough the finished piece to the workshop. Margaret Wertheim herself kicked off the workshop, and she was thrilled with Jamie's piece!

There will be more workshops, so if you're interested, check out the My Space page they've set up.

As for my crafting's looking up. Just in the past couple days, I've started to feel more centered around it. I've cast off and finished a couple projects (the socks and baby saque), and started a new pair of socks.

Yes, there will continue to be crafting projects dissected and documented here. Just hang with me, and I'll deliver.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ah, summer

At this time of year I'm usually kicking back and enjoying my garden. The spring is usually the time of year where there is lots of hard work in the garden. But this year the cicada scare in the area delayed things quite a bit. I went round and round with the landscaper about when to have the plan for the back yard (the one behind the house) finished, and we've only just now settled on a date later this month. High summer is usually not the best time to plant, but I'll get the soaker hoses down right away and use them liberally while the plants are getting settled in.

One task that I had thought to "outsource" through the landscaper was constructing raised beds in my side yard (or as it's affectionately known, "The Point"). I've only had to make about 6 very careful applications of herbicide so far this year to keep the bindweed out. (I use a technique that involves "painting" it on the plant to minimize the amount used and the impact on anything else.) So, The Point is ready for its transformation!

The Point in July 2007Here we see the full lot at the beginning of its change from weed-infested lot into my food-raising area. In the foreground are some cinder blocks and large branch marking out the dimensions of a bed we'll put in for blueberries. I'd like to have 2-3 blueberry bushes, so it will have to be fairly deep and long. I won't use cinder blocks because they'd have to be stacked pretty high and would require re-bar reinforcement, so I have something else in mind.

Moving clockwise, a few more stacks of cinder blocks mark out the dimensions of the asparagus bed. Again, I likely won't use cinder blocks since this will be a pretty deep bed, too.

At the far back is the single bed I constructed this year. Heaps of edging blocks are laying around, awaiting my artful arrangement of them into outlines of future beds. We'll build the blueberry bed, one for asparagus, and one more for annual veggie rotations this year. The rest will have to wait for future years, but I want to have a plan for where to put them.

My modest raised bed Here's a close up of the one raised bed I do have in place now. I had waited and waited to discuss raised bed design with the landscaper, and when I finally got the ideas and estimates I was pretty floored by the price. So, one nice Sunday a couple weeks ago I started working in the garden sort of early and decided to just put together a bed with materials I had on hand: cinder blocks, concrete edgers, and compost. I had thought to plant something climbing at the one end (which explains the goofy trellis thing), but it's so late in the season I couldn't find any seedlings (like cukes or beans) and I wouldn't get much if I planted seeds. I did find a very limited variety of pepper and eggplant seedlings, as well as a tomato plant for Mark. (I don't like raw tomatoes, so I only grow them for Mark.)

An interesting note about raised beds: when I decided that I had to do the beds without the landscaper's help, I Googled "raised beds" to see what sort of products and info I could find. One of the results was from a site called WikiHow. It has step by step instructions on how to build a raised bed, and photos for examples. I thought the photos looked familiar at first glance, and then I realized they were photos of raised beds that we constructed a year or two after moving to this house. Mark would have taken the photos, and I must have posted them somewhere. They're not on Flickr so I can't recall where they were uploaded.

I was out with the camera today, so there are more photos to see on my Flickr account in the 2007 Garden set. I took a few photos of the dogs, too. I can't resist posting just one.

Sadie spinning round and roundSadie loves to do this crazy spinning round and round thing in the grass and on the rug. She looks so goofy doing it, but clearly loves the sensation!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Diving in

I've been so busy doing stuff that I just keep putting off blogging. The more I put it off, the more anxious I get about how I'm going to post something really long. So, I'm just diving in tonight.

The weather has been great for cycling, so I've been riding in to work twice a week. I want to take advantage of the good weather, 'cause once it gets really hot and sticky I may not want to do so. I have my old bike back now, too, and that is really nice. I was using Mark's "old" bike (it's only 2 years old, and is in great shape, whereas mine is 7 years old), but we just couldn't get it adjusted to be as low-impact on my body as my old bike. After several trips on Mark's old bike my body was feeling really sore.

Mark and my sister put together a surprise birthday party for me which was a wonderful way to mark the milestone of my 40th birthday. The surprise was well-kept, too. I started to suspect something about an hour before the party, but I still consider that a successful surprise.

What's really been keeping me occupied, though, is all the food processing I've been doing. I've been going to the farmer's markets at least once a week, loading up, and then figuring out what to do with the bounty when I get home. I'll have a hard time returning to the bland fare available in the supermarkets this winter, so I'm also trying to preserve stuff. In the past 2 weeks, I've made 24 cups of strawberry freezer jam, and frozen another 1.5 gallons of fresh strawberries. Now the blueberries are starting to come in. I think I'll just freeze them whole and not process them. I'm pretty tired of jam-making right now, although the product is totally yummy.

Something to note: while researching recipes for freezer jam, most of them called for copious amounts of sugar. I found a pectin product that allows me to make freezer jam with very little sugar: Pomona's Universal Pectin. It's fantastic. If you're interested in making freezer jam with honey or fruit juice as sweetener, this is the product to get.

I've been paying much more attention to what I eat and my palate is totally adjusted to fresh food now. Last weekend Mark suggested we go to a local restaurant for dinner -- one that I found quite good in the past -- and I was disappointed with the taste of the food this time. I want fresh stuff now.

I don't know what I'll do about eggs this winter, either. I've been buying them at the farmer's market only. I'm starting to think seriously about getting a few laying hens. We have the room in the backyard, and would just have to train the dogs to not go after them...hmmm...Farmer Linda!