Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spring?

Hello out there!!!!  I have been gone much longer than I meant to be.  Again.  I feel like I have been rather boring.  Not a whole lot going on in my world.  I am busy. All the time.  But nothing that is very exciting, or blog worthy.  Just normal everyday stuff.
The entire month of February has felt like Spring.  Some days, like summer.  We reached the 90's a few of those days.  The trees bloomed.  The birds began nesting.  The chickens began to lay.  It was weird.  I would have loved to have had more winter.  But I have to say, being outside has been kind of nice too.
The other night, Drew's girlfriend Christine, brought over the most beautiful lemon cake!  Drizzled with a tart lemon glaze, and sitting atop a pretty cut glass plate.  I just so happened to have this bowl of lemons on the island.  We have been picking fruit in the grove every few days.
  
She made it with lemons that were from our grove.  Her parents and brother came over last weekend and  picked lots of oranges and avocados and grapefruit and lemons.  This was their thank you.  And boy did we enjoy it!  Christine said it was one of Ina Garten's recipes.  It was moist and dense, almost like a pound cake.  The glaze drizzled on top was the perfect finishing touch.  Sweet, but puckery too.  So good!  It was a lovely afternoon snack with coffee!  Speaking of coffee.....a friend of mine recently told me about this instant coffee from Trader Joe's.  I turned up my nose, and said, "oh no...I wouldn't like it!  I am a coffee lover, and brew a pot of coffee every morning."  If I want a cup in the afternoon, I use my new Keurig.  So she brought me some to try.  And I'll be, if it isn't just delicious!!!
I love the way it is packaged.  And it looks so cute in one of my red jars, at the coffee bar next to my new red Keurig.  Mix one packet with boiling water, and voila, you have a nice hot cuppa to pick you up in the afternoon.
Each packet contains a little cream and sugar.  Another thing that I didn't think I would like about it.  I do take creamer in my coffee, but no sugar.  This is very lightly sweetened.  It is delightful!  I will be stocking up on more the next time I go to TJ's.  They would be great for travel, or a picnic, or tailgate party.  YUM!
I was doing a little yard work today, and it struck me how beautiful everything was.  The grass is getting nice and green.  Things are beginning to bloom.  I couldn't resist putting a pretty yellow Primrose on the porch.
I still need to put my Spring baskets on the front doors.  The flowers on the porch are beginning to put on a show.
My Kalancho is bursting in pretty pink blooms.
Little lavender blooms in a pot with a bird on a stick.
I love it when the roses take on that rusty hue, a few weeks after they have been pruned.
I gave them a boost today with chicken poop tea.  Best fertilizer ever!  I simply use a scraper to remove the, ahem.....chicken doo from the roosts and below roosts in the coop, scraping it directly into a large bucket.  Then with high powered nozzle on hose, I fill the bucket and let it "steep" for a while.  Give it a stir, and then pour onto bushes around the base.  Being careful to not make it too strong, or it will burn the plants.  I have found just the right balance.  It won't be long before my roses will be showing off dinner plate sized blooms!
Although things are springing to life on the ground, the trees, still skeletal in their appearance, looking out of place with the signs of Spring around them.  Do you see Miss Maui standing guard in the corner?
There are two swings in the front yard.  They both get an awful lot of use.  One is on the lawn, the redwood A frame that we brought back home from the cabin.  The other one is a glider on the porch.  We have had it for about 25 years.  It still keeps gliding along just fine for me.  I love to sit in both.  As well as the swing in the grove out by the chicken run.  There is just something about swinging.
Another sign of Spring, is the huge population of Bunnies around here.
Can you see him?  There under the orange tree, with the little cotton tail?  When I open the shutters in the morning, there are often several eating grass.  So cute.
So, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what it is exactly that has prevented me from my usual posting schedule here on my blog.  I have wondered, could it be the Insta Gram craze?  It is so fast and easy to post to IG, and it is fun to see what everyone is making and doing.  Is that filling that blogging slot for me?  Is it that I feel like I have already written about everything of interest to me, and shared it with you?  That I am really just very boring, with not much to tell?  I have no intention of stopping my blog.  I continue to get a lot of pleasure from both blogging and reading all of your blogs.  There seems to be an ebb and flow to most things, and so I suppose with blogging as well.
As you know, I am on a quest to learn to knit better this year!  I have been having a lot of fun, finding projects, learning new techniques, and trying something new.  I am working on socks now.  I have a friend who has graciously shared her time and knowledge with me.  My socks are of the easy sort.  They are tube socks,  made of chunky yarn.  However, I am learning to use double point needles.  VERY awkward for this crocheter!  I also learned how to do the Kitchner Stitch to seam the toe.  And I have learned a lot about how the stitch should look when correct, as opposed to incorrect.  And how to fix it if it is the latter.  I learned the correct way to back out of stitches, and how to use a stitch counter.
AND, today I ordered my first big girl set of interchangeable knitting needles and cords!  I ordered them from Knitpicks.  I also got two balls of sock yarn.  My next project will be real socks.  With a real toe.  And a heel!!!
I have been doing more knitting than usual, and a few of my regular chores have been neglected!  Like ironing!!!
It's supposed to be a rainy weekend, so I think I will rent a movie, and iron away on Sunday.
One last thing.  I haven't been doing a lot of thrifing lately either, but this find was fantastic!  I walked into one of my favorite haunts a week or so ago, and there it was.....calling my name.
A beautiful aqua leather purse.  It was clean, and appeared to be only very gently used.  The label on the inside said Coldwater Creek.  The price tag read 7.00.  And it was 25% off of that!  I was in love!  It has pockets on the outside for my phone, which I like.  It has plenty of pockets inside too, with magnetic closures on both the top of purse, and on the two outside pockets as well.  It is soft and supple, and screams Spring!
I hope this finds you all well.  I know that while we are experiencing an early Spring, there are many of you who are being hammered with storm after storm.  It must feel like Spring will never arrive.  I hope you stay warm and safe, and that soon,  the snow will melt, and bright sunny Daffodils will be in your yards instead.
Be Sweet!
XO  Kris

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

My Knitted Scarf

My second knitted project was from Ravelry  The Baktus Scarf.  Pammy Sue picked it out.  We began together, on the same day.  I used two skeins and a wee bit more, of Debbie Bliss cotton/angora.  It was so soft and wonderful to work with.  I will certainly be using it again.  I can see why it is so popular!  Pammy Sue and I began on the same day. Coaching each other via texts.  It was just straight knitting, with a YO for the increases, and K2 together for decrease.  I didn't have any trouble with this one.  But I did have a bump or two.  These were not so visible though once I blocked it.  Also a first for me!  I used an old raft to block the scarf.  It was very long, and this worked out perfectly.
 When it was dry, it looked great.  I tried it on several different ways.  I put it on my wicker dress form that displays my wedding dress.  So pretend you don't see the dress in this picture.
The widest part is in the middle and can be worn around the neck as a sort of cowl for more warmth and coverage.
Or it can be folded over and worn sort of ascot style.
I have a pretty light brown leather jacket that this would look great tucked inside.  If only we would get some cold weather to wear it!  I enjoyed making this, even though Pammy Sue bailed out on me.  She didn't like how hers was looking, and wants to try it again in some different yarn.  I didn't learn any new stitches, or techniques with this one, but it was good practice for my knitting form.  And I discovered a very comfortable way to hold the yarn in my right hand, with the tension on my right index finger, and lessening the motion in my wrists and hands to do the stitch.  This made for a much more relaxed experience. 
In addition to the knitting, I have been making baby hats for my friend Taci to take with her when she goes to her home in Brazil.  These will go to babies in need. 
My favorite is the one on the left with the yellow flower.
The minty green has a wee flower too.  A Pom Pom for the blue one.  And a white and yellow trim on the other one.  I will make up a couple more and then get these sent off to Taci in Oregon.  If you would like to make a few as well, just go to visit Taci in the above link for the information.
The weather here as been like early summer!  We have had a good week or so of days in the 90's.  Most days have been hovering in the mid 80's.  I have been spending a lot of time outdoors.  The plants and trees are all confused.  The orange trees are in full bloom, an entire month too early!
The oranges are huge and so juicy!  Fresh squeezed orange juice every morning is a favorite! 
The heavenly scent of the blossoms really gets your attention and begs you to come outside.  It is most lovely at dawn, and then again in the evening air.  With our windows all open at night, it fills the house with that beautiful aroma that reminds us that Spring is on the way! 
Other plants are coming alive too.  The Bird Of Paradise are gloriously in bloom.
Geraniums are looking happy and about ready to burst with flowers. 
As are the pretty nasturtium.
That piece of iron you see is a magazine stand that I was no longer using.  I put it out in the flower bed for the vines to climb. 
My hens have completed their molt, and are showing off their feathered finery, strutting about the grove for all to admire them in their new Spring plumage.
 
I open the gate to their large run, and let them have the entire run of the orange grove when I collect eggs around noon or so.They are laying like it is Spring!
Although the calendar says February, Mother Nature thinks it is late March.  I do love winter though.  I am hoping for more rain and cold.  We so need it. 
I am trying to get all caught up with everyone.  I am still working on it. See you soon.
XO  Kris 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ponchos and Hooded Cowls

Hello, hello, hello!  I feel like I need to apologize to all of my blogging friends out there.  I have not been around regularly to read or comment on your blogs.  I miss all of the news, but I have just been feeling so punk lately, that I haven't even felt like blogging. Today, I am much, much better!   I felt better today, than I have in weeks!   So, I promise I will be back to visit all of you soon.
I have done a lot of laying around, and during that time, I did make a couple of ponchos for my two little granddaughters.  I took these photos tonight.  They were thrilled with them.

I got a Pom Pom maker and boy are those fun!  I bought two different packages, so I  now have 4 sizes to choose from.
Last week one day I was talking to my friend Pammy Sue.  You know Pammy Sue.  She blogs at Scotty's Place  Anyway, Pammy Sue has been wanting to learn to knit more, as she and I are both primarily crocheters.  I learned to knit a little bit a few years ago, but all I can make are dishcloths, and slippers.  Lots of dishcloths, and one pair of slippers.  I made those slippers for my dear Nana, who I miss every single day.
So, Pammy Sue and I set out on a knitting adventure!  We worked the same pattern, together.  We knit, we we purled.  We texted photos back and forth.  We dropped stitches.  We caught them with a crochet hook. We held our breath!  We frogged several rows.  We both frogged an entire piece that we had worked on for many hours.  I threw mine across the room.  There may have been a curse word or two.  But no, we would not be defeated!!!!   Project two was begun with some brand new pretty balls of yarn.  And we were off again.  Saturday and Sunday were spent sitting outside on the patio in some beautiful 85 degree weather, knitting and purling away.  Oh my gosh.....I learned so much!!!!  We both did!  I watched numerous youtube videos.  I used circular needles for the first time.  I learned how to knit in the round.  And how to knit flat on the same circular needles.  I used my row counter that one of my Knitty Biddy friends gifted me.  I learned how to pick up a second color, and leave the main color ON the project, and switched off every few rows, having both balls of yarn still attached.  Phew...I learned so much!!!!  And how much fun we had.  It almost felt like we were sitting across form one another knitting together.  There are so many of you, my blogging friends, that I would love to sit and knit, or crochet with.  You know who you are!!!
So, here it is.  My first REAL knitting project.  There are plenty of mistakes, here and there.  Bumpy rows.  Dropped stitches that had been fished back up to the needles with a crochet hook.  But I was pretty pleased with it.  It is for my granddaughters too.  They can share it now, and I will make another one soon.  I was thinking I would make a red one for Hannah, to match her poncho, and she can be like little red riding hood. No ears on that one.
Oh my gosh, look at how cute she is!!!  She would NOT hold still for photos.  The cowl is barely visible here.  It has a large button closure on the bottom of the hood.  For the next time, I would make the cowl slightly wider, and slightly longer.  I followed the pattern for a child, age 5-8 for this one. It is meant to be loose and drapey.  Pammy Sue is making hers adult size.  Okay...I did cheat a little.  I could NOT for the life of me, figure out how to do the finish work on the hood.  I bound the hood off, and then I crocheted a trim around the face of the hood, as well as made a tab with a button loop and sewed a big chunky wooden button on. I also crocheted the little ears on top.  The pattern is called Rocky Raccoon.  For the ears, I crocheted both the grey and the black together.  I shaped it, and folded in half, and stitched to the top of the hood.   I had an absolute ball making it.  Especially making it together with Pammy Sue.  We spent a lot of time, texting, talking on the phone, and sending photos back and forth.  THANK YOU Pammy Sue!!!!
And this next photo, I couldn't resist posting.  It is a bit blurry, but my Hannah has the most natural smile in this picture.  She usually does this fake smile lately for photos.  And in this, it is her true smile.  She and Claire love each other so much!  You can see their devotion to one another in this candid shot!
Now, I know I am partial, because I am their Grandma, and I am supposed to be.  But I think they are the most beautiful little girls in the world!!
That's it for today.  I will try to be back soon.  Oh, one more thing.....I wish you could smell what I can.  The orange grove is full of orange blossoms.  One full month early!!!!   The scent is intoxicating.  I am sitting here with my windows wide open on this balmy winter night, with the beautiful scent floating in the air.  Dreamy!!!
Night night.
XO  Kris

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Drew's 26TH Birthday

Yesterday was our son Drew's, 26th Birthday!   Drew is our baby!  And there are a few years between he and his sisters.  Gennifer and Erika were almost 6 and 8 when he was born.  They thought we brought them home their very own live baby doll!  We all doted on him.  And now, just like that, he is 26!  I don't know where the years have gone?  I only took a few photos, as I was busy preparing dinner and all.  I always ask the kids what they would like for their birthday dinner.  He asked for steak.  We had both rib eye, and T-Bone steaks, with sauteed mushrooms.  Baked potatoes, sweet kale salad, tamales and dinner rolls.  It was really delicious.  But I didn't take any photos.  None of our kids were ever big cake lovers.  So I always tried different things for their birthdays.  One year, I did a glazed donut tower.  I made lots and lots of cookie pizzas.  Brownie sundaes, banana splits, etc.  This year, I made a candy bar ice cream pie, in a graham cracker crust!  I had seen it on Pioneer Woman last weekend.  It looked so good!  And boy, was it ever!!!
Here is Drew blowing out his candles.
I wanted to make the  homemade caramel sauce to drizzle over it, but no one wanted to wait.  I used a container of Breyer's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.  Let it soften.  Meanwhile, I chopped up several different candy bars, like Reese's Cups, Hershey bars, Kit Kats, and Malted Milk Balls.  Then just folded into the softened ice cream, and spooned it into a graham cracker crust, and then shaved some chocolate on top, and put it back into the freezer for a couple of hours.  Delicious!  I will certainly make this again.  This is his beautiful girlfriend Christine.  Drew is a musician, and he was playing a new guitar that he recently purchased.
We have all been so sick here at our house.  And it has been a relentless flu virus.  No one was feeling 100%, so Gennifer and her family decided it best to stay home.  They have luckily managed to avoid this flu, and wanted to continue doing so.  My Mom came out, since she was also getting over the same bug.  I didn't get any good photos with the rest of us in them.  We did take some on our phones, and post to IG.
But we had a nice celebration, and a good meal.  Happy Birthday Drew!  I can't believe you are 26!!!
Just a little of this and that...the other day, I was in the kitchen, and noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  It was a huge flock of Cedar Wax Wings, that had stopped to take a bath in the front planter.  My camera happened to be out, but my cell phone was closer, so I first took photos with my cell phone.  There  had to have been 100 of them!  Then I grabbed my camera, and took as many as I could fire off.  But unfortunately, I only got a few of them.
I am a big bird lover, and I especially love these beautiful Wax Wings!  They usually come through briefly in March.  Always in a huge flock.  They stay a few days, and then off they go.  I have never managed to get any good shots of them.  This time though, they were so close!  I love their little masked eyes.  They have a golden yellow underside, and a slash of orange on their wings.  As well as a bright band of yellow near their tail.  Such handsome birds.
Speaking of birds that I happen to love.  I made a new valance for my kitchen window.  I had seen this printed burlap at Joann's the other day and loved it.
I do however, wish that the chickens were printed the opposite way, on the length of the fabric, rather than the width.  So I just made it with the width of fabric.
Soon, we will be making some cosmetic changes to the kitchen.  I want to paint the cabinets in a creamy white.  Leaving some of the cupboard faces off, for open shelving.  New hardware after painting, and then  I want to put a Farm House, apron front sink in, and get new counter tops and appliances.  That will make a big change in there I think!
I have a long, galley style kitchen.  With very little counter space.  I don't know how I have made it work so long, as much as I love to cook.  It is really a one person kitchen!  When I removed the kitchen table from this room, I put two comfy chairs in their place, and it is a nice spot for someone to sit and visit with me while I cook.
Christopher from next door came over, and immediately kicked his shoes off, and sat down next to the plate of snacks that my Mom and I were munching on.  What a hoot he is!
The other day, I bought a new Keurig.  I have had probably four of them.  Love them for a few weeks, then they stop working correctly.  They barely spurt out water, and even running vinegar through them does not help.  I said never again!  And then I noticed they were on sale at Kohl's.  They were 33% off, and I had a 30% off coupon.  So I got one more.  Last chance!  After doing some research, I found out that you should only use bottled or filtered water.  No tap.  Not ever.  We have very hard water, so I am assuming that has been the problem.  If this one breaks, I will march it back to the store and demand a refund!  
No more boring black either!!!  So far, we are loving having one again.  
I have spent very little time on my computer.  I just haven't felt good.  But I will catch up. And I will be back again soon.  Promise.
XO  Kris

Monday, January 26, 2015

January UGH!!

January brought some nice cool weather, and a couple of weeks of good rain!  It also brought the dreaded flu to our house!!!  I had a flu shot, and still got the flu.  But I had heard that the flu shot this year was not going to be very effective.  This was a bad bug.  A bug that wanted to hang on and on.  Greg is still feeling crummy, after more than two weeks since coming down with it.  So most of January seems like a bit of a haze.
I did make another poncho.  I added a bit of green to this one, and did a different edge.
If you are familiar with the original pattern for this poncho, you can see that I made these quite a bit larger.  I wanted it to be more like a warm jacket, with better coverage.  I had seen this ball fringe edging on Pinterest and loved it.
It is such a pretty edge, but my gosh, time consuming!!!!!  Worth it though.  This one is going to be a gift for a friend.
I wanted to go on a little walkabout in the grove today.  I feel like I haven't even been outside in forever.  We have had some very unseasonably warm days, and it has confused the trees.  The orange trees are forming buds already.  Two months ahead of schedule!!
I didn't realize that our lemon trees were loaded!  I think some lemon bars are in order!
Oops, those are grapefruit.  Here are the lemons.
Avocados coming out of our ears!
The oranges are beautiful, huge, and so, so sweet!
My flock has finished their molt, and are looking regal in their fresh new feathers!
They know that I often come bearing treats, and they are all gathered around for their fair share of banana.
About half of of them are back to laying.  They were lining up this morning, waiting for their favorite box to lay eggs in.
They are healthy, and beautiful, and bring me so much joy!
We are once again, finding ourselves with more eggs than we can consume.
I always love seeing the different colored eggs on the kitchen counter.  From olive green, to the prettiest shade of aqua.  Dark brown, speckled brown, light brown, and almost pink.  I have one hen that lays a small perfect white egg.  When I add to my flock this Spring, I will try to select hens for their differences in plumage, as well as their egg color.
Even though, it looks very much like winter in our neck of the woods, with barren trees, and pruned down roses, Spring is peeking around the corner.  We even saw Robins this past weekend!
I couldn't bring myself to prune the roses in the back yet.  These were dug up from my parents home, shortly after my Dad passed.  He had planted these only a few months before he got sick.  I dug them up and brought them to my house.  They bloom such a brilliant red and yellow. I love them in the house, and I bring them to the cemetery when I go too.
We have been promised some more rain.  I so hope it comes. We need it desperately.  While we here on the West Coast wait for our rain, I will be saying a prayer for all of those on the East Coast who are preparing to be hit with a record breaking storm soon.  Stay safe!
XO  Kris

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up In String

Hidey Do!  I hope I still have a few of you following me.  I have been so bad at blogging regularly.  Partly due to the fact that my computer is having some issues.  And partly because, I don't think I have too much to tell.  And today is no different, but I am posting to say hello, and to let you know that I am here.  I am reading your blogs, and keeping up with all of you, as best I can.
I got some fun mail the other day.  One was a gift from my friend Pammy Sue.  If you crochet, you probably know her blog, Scotty's Place.  I loved the way she had it wrapped up in pretty tissue paper with the blue ribbon tie and stickers on the front.  She calls me Krissy Poo.  Isn't that funny!  My full given name is Kristin.  My Dad named me.  Growing up, I went by Kristy.  The only other person who ever called me Krissy was my hight school diving coach.  I can still hear him say to me, "Stand up straight and suck it in Krissy!"  And I was skinny then!
As I untied the ribbon, and the paper fell away from the gift inside, I could smell this wonderful, clean scent.  And isn't it just so pretty?  Pammy Sue says she does her blocking using Downy Febreeze.
Such intricate and detailed work on these!  I am not sure why, but they scare me.  I would love to try one though.
I love the dusty blue rose in the center!
At first I thought I would put it in my new sewing room, but I have been wanting to add in a bit of blue to our bedroom.  We have just a bit of blue in the comforter.  This doily is the perfect, match, as  you see with it laying on the comforter.
So I put it on our dresser and it looks so pretty in there. I am on the hunt for a couple of pillows with just a bit of blue in them to add to our room.  I love it Pammy Sue!  Thank you!!!  Go visit her blog and see all of the pretty things she makes!
On the same day,. I got another little brown package tied up in string from my friend Noreen over at Life's Blessings.  She is such a wonderful lady.  I have enjoyed her blog, and getting to know her for several years now.  Anyway, she held a drawing for a book she had recently read and reviewed.  I won!
 I am eager to read it.  It looks like a good one, full of history, which I love.  Thank you Noreen!!
I started another poncho.
Not working on it as much as I did the last one.   Mostly because I have caught the flu.  Greg started it last week.  He has been really sick.  Everyone at work has it, and he was bound to catch it.  I got a flu shot, but caught it anyway.  Just a lot of laying around for us.  Just watched the awesome Green Bay V Seahawks game.  Wow!!!  Way to go Seattle!!!
My hens are beginning to come alive again with their laying.  What a relief!!!
We are having some really warm days here lately.  In the low 80's.  Yuck!  I want cold, and rain!!!
I took this photo a little while ago.  Can you see the chickens scratching around out there?
There were so many things we needed to get done this weekend.  But we have done nothing.  Hope we are both up and at em' soon.
Watching the Patriots play the Colts  now.  Who will it be?
See you soon.
XO  Kris