Ribbed Watchman’s Hat

Struggling_along finally has his hat! After studying a slew of hat patterns for men, many of them with interesting stitch patterns or cables, I went with what should have been the obvious choice: the ribbed watchman’s hat. Maybe it was obvious all along as I did have this pattern in my favorites for a LONG time. When knitting (or crafting in general) for others sometimes its hard to separate what appeals to you,the maker, from what the recipient would like. In this case no fancy stitches or cables, just a hat that serves its purpose – to keep his ears warm.

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I used Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash (this means it’s machine washable) in color 888 or what we refer to as Olive Drab Green. This pattern can be knit flat or in the round. I went with flat because I didn’t have the right size double points. It works out fine although it does have a seam down the back. The seam isn’t very visible with the ribbed pattern but I’d rather it wasn’t there. Also, I did modify the pattern so it’s K1, P1 not K2, P2.

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Dairy Kefir In The Winter Kitchen {plus NT recipe}

During the summer I keep a jar of dairy kefir out on the counter. I use it freely and top it off daily – with summers abundent milk supply. Now that winter is here I find our dairy kefir usage has plummeted. It’s just too cold to mix up a frosty smoothie and, not in the least, our milk supply has dried up. Yet, kefir grains need to be fed regularly. So how does dairy kefir fit into my winter kitchen?

For starters I keep my jar of diary kefir in the fridge. This slows the fermenting process down considerably. That means there’s less to use daily and I can feed my grains less frequently. The kefir still ferments so when I do want to use some I can. Then I replace however much I just used up with fresh milk. If I use over half the jar I might leave the jar out to ferment on the counter, otherwise it might not be ready for a few days at least.

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During the summer kefir generally goes into smoothies and veggie dips and dressings. During the winter I use kefir mainly as a replacement for yogurt or buttermilk in recipes, like pancakes or meatloaf for example. These are cooked so they won’t contain the benefits of live kefir; although any grains in the recipe will benefit from soaking in the acidic kefir. You can still reap the benefits of kefir’s live cultures if you make dressing, dip or consume it unheated in some other way.

Here is a recipe I adapted from Nourishing Traditions, it’s kind of a three recipes in one recipe. It’s a light mild dressing. NT calls for piima cream or creme fraiche but I used kefir instead.

Creamy Dressing

First make the basic dressing (pg129 NT) This makes about 3/4 cup.

Combine the mustard and vinegar then add in the oil in a thin stream, stirring all the while till emulsified.

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 Tlb plus 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar ( NT calls for wine vinegar)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 Tlb flax oil, if you have it.

Add 1 tsp finely chopped fresh herbs i.e. parsley, oregano, tarragon, thyme, basil etc. This is now the herb dressing (also pg 129 of NT).

Finally blend in 1/4 cup kefir.

 Now you have 1 cup creamy dressing (pg 131 of NT).

Adjust seasoning to taste. I like to let it sit for a while to let the herbs have a chance to release their flavor.

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Some other recipes using kefir:

Susan’s Whole Wheat Kefir Pancakes   (or use your favorite pancake recipe replacing the buttermilk or milk with kefir)

Kefir Pizza Crust

Ranch Dip (from cultures for health- this one is a favorite)

Also, try straining the kefir for a thick & smooth kefir cheese. Season with herbs and salt and pepper. You can roll the seasoned cheese into small (about golf ball size) balls. Place balls in a jar and cover with olive oil.

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Twiggy Cardigan

DSCN4647This is the second, or third, Jane Richmond pattern I’ve knit up (her Oatmeal Pullover is a favorite of mine). As I’ve come to expect of Jane this pattern is easy to follow and is knitting up fast.  Although that last bit likely has something to do with using bulky yarn….

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{this moment} Works of Art

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Noah’s (a tree and a mountain) top, Ezra’s (him and his brother surfing) left, Ishmael’s (not sure what it is suppose to be but I think of it as Grasshopper In Motion) right.

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Joining Soulemama in {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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Winter Around the Homestead

It’s been a while since we last had an “around the homestead” update. Freezing temperatures and snow is here to stay. The piles of winter coats, boots and drying mittens are growing. As is my collection of empty milk jugs to tote water out to the animals.

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The goats never seem to enjoy the snow. Already their tracks are mainly confined to a path between their shelter and the waterer. Manson has been taking his job very seriously so we should be expecting a new kid or two in the coming months. Nonetheless he still chases all the does around- just to be sure.

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Now that the snow is sticking the chickens are glad to stay in their camper. A week or two ago I gave the camper one last good mucking out and a deep bed of new shavings. As long as the cold temps are here the deep bedding shouldn’t get too gross and it acts as a layer of insulation. I stir it around every few days and add additional shavings when needed. The camper has a handy hatch in the back that makes mucking out the old shaving that much easier.

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Sad news- my bees have already succumbed to the harshness of winter. I checked on them a while back while I was prepping the hive for winter and they had already devoured their store of honey. I didn’t have my camera with me but they were positioned headfirst in their comb, in what my resources say is a classic starvation position. They had plenty of natural food around them and I had been supplementally feeding them. I didn’t take any honey nor is there another hive nearby (that I know of anyways) that could have robbed them. My thought is that perhaps our warm season is too short for a package of bees to really have time to get established and really produce enough for our long cold winters. If I can convince struggling_along I think our best bet would be to purchase a nuc, or two. Of course with bees there are no guarantees.

On a happier note: PUPPIES!

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They are all doing well and growing plump. They’re quite fun to have around but… 9 dogs! The very thought makes me glad the puppies are being spoken for left and right. Still for now we can take advantage of all the puppy snuggle time we can get, right?!

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Hot Pads

Hot pads live a hard life, or at least they do in my kitchen. Stains, rips, thin or burnt(!) spots, are inevitable. I needed a few new hot pads so I decided to sew some. While I was at it I thought of a few friends and family on my gift list who might be able to use a set too. They spend their fair share of time in the kitchen cooking and baking. My boys guessed on the first try which hot pads were for who. So rather than completely give away their gifts I’ll share just the hot pads I made for my kitchen. The first two are just fabric scraps I like and then I made some to match my new apron.

I looked at this tutorial to get me going. The square ones are a cinch; the mitts are a tad more complicated but doable. Go ahead, get the sewing machine out, make your own kitchen a bit more festive this holiday season, or make a few new hot pads for the cooks in your life.

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