Month: May 2017

Alas, I am the Only One!

That likes rhubarb that is! I am a true northern Minnesota Norwegian–Spring is for rhubarb! Pie, sauce, jam, cake, muffins, we should have it everyday, and there is no need for strawberries. DH doesn’t care for it, and my girls were always luke warm but I can’t get enough! This is especially troublesome when our bachelor neighbors across the unfenced yard could care less about their patch. So I did the neighborly thing, and asked if they wanted their rhubarb. When Neighbor C looked at me like I’d come from Mars, I knew I had found a goldmine!

Now that I had secured the goods, what to do with it?  Freezer jam sounded promising, so I made a batch…4 cups rhubarb, 3/4 cup of sugar and 2 Tablespoons of water, dumped into the sauce pot, and turned on low until it looks like applesauce. I have a small bowl in the fridge and two half pints in the freezer…just enough. Then DH says, that might be good on ice cream…..Uh Oh!

What to do? Make some sauce!

So this morning, I sauntered over to the rhubarb patch, and thinned it nicely, coming up with about 2 pints of sauce. There really isn’t much difference between sauce and jam, but I think the jam is too sweet for ice cream, so of course I HAD to make more.

If you have helpers or you are a novice, rhubarb sauce is an easy dish to make.

Start with the rhubarb…I go for medium sized stalks from the patch.

Remove the leaves, which are toxic, and the ends.

Take out a medium sauce pot and measure 1/2 cup of water and sugar. Stir it and put it on medium heat. You want it to come to a boil.

While the syrup heats, chop your rhubarb. Chop them into pieces between 1 and 1.5 inches long, keep cutting until you have 4 cups. Once the syrup boils, dump in the rhubarb and turn down the heat a little bit.

Let it come back up to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and you are done!

You can serve the rhubarb sauce alone, warm or cold. Variations might include a bit of cream poured into the sauce, or serving it warm over ice cream, or over a piece of vanilla cake, pound cake or angel food cake.

I am going to keep the jar in the fridge for DH to try, and try freezing what’s in the bowl for later.

Do you have a favorite food that doesn’t make it to the family table? How do you get your fix? 


Memorial Day…

It began as Decoration Day, a neutral title attempting to enjoin the northern and southern states. Abraham Lincoln said it best in his address at the dedication of the gravesite at Gettsburg:

 Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth. 

More recently, Dr John McCrae from Canada gave us these eloquent words after World War I:

In Flanders Field 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields. 

Today, we remember…..

Anticipation…Impatience…How Does Your Garden Grow?

Slooooooowly! That week with highs in the mid and low 40’s really put a damper on a boatload of seeds, and the frost one morning caught a few of the tomato plants on the edges. The seeds have it under control, though, and finally this morning there was enough “action” to get some pictures. I will use this post to remind myself of the progress when I get impatient again!😄

This is the corn and squash patch-not much happening yet. If you look carefully, there are four squash seedlings sprouted, and two spikes of corn have popped up next to a couple of the stakes.

Definitely more going on in this section! The tomatillo transplants remind me of little soldiers, and the chives seem to love their new home! They are sharing a box with the garlic, which is nearly 100% up. The dill in the small square box is a fine fuzz of green. The tire has cantaloupe, nothing to report yet. However, the cabbage, rutabegas and turnips have asserted themselves, with nice fine lines of seedlings. There is a box of onions at the very end, they are looking good! The box right after the turnips and friends is half onions and half jalapeño pepper transplants.

This slightly closer view of the north side doesn’t show as much progress, but things are starting to emerge. Just off camera are the bell pepper transplants; they came through the frost unscathed, probably because of the protection of the mini greenhouse. The first square box has beets, which are nearly all up, but still too difficult to see. The next box is spinach and baby romaine lettuce. If you look carefully, you can see some of the spinach spikes. The far long box is all green beans, and they are just beginning to pop. I think they need some warmer days to encourage them! Along the side you can see the sunflowers we just transplanted; most of them are now standing up tall and straight.

Along each edge of boxes is a row of carrots. I was amazed that these came up in only a week, usually it takes them about three weeks to germinate! Another space you didn’t see is the tomato field on the other side of the corn. We set up cattle panels on diagonals and that is the home of 48 little tomato plants, which are hanging in there. Several were sampled by the deer before the fence was complete, and we lost 2 to the frost, with a little damage to a few others, but in the end, I only replanted four. We’ll give them all a dose of tomato miracle grow this week and then they should be pretty well established.

At long last, this is a potato leaf! These were planted back in April, and they always take FOREVER! 

I didn’t photograph them, but the grapevines are greening up nicely along the northeastern corner, and I have seen the proof that we will get a few plums this year in spite of finding a blooming pollinator well after the peak blossom time, and we have lots of baby cherries too. The apple tree bloomed, but but not sure yet if we will finally get apples.

The new acquisition was three peach trees that DH is going to train as espalier on the sheltered south side of the house which has a narrow alley with our neighbor’s garage. He thinks it will be protected enough to save them from the desiccating winter winds that can kill even the northern varieties. 

Last, but not least, the mini greenhouse has the herbs that spent the winter in the house, as well as some seedlings that are starting to sprout. The turmeric is very happy as is the cilantro and parsley. We hope the rosemary and basil will be happier outside. The oregano is looking a bit ragged, but we still have hope for it, and the thyme is barely up, so that is still a question mark. 

The only other question marks now are whether the strawberry roots will take in their barrels, and and if the pumpkins will  invade the neighbor’s once they finally sprout in the alley on the north side.

All in all things are shaping up! Hopefully in a week to 10 days the green will be plainly visible.

Book Review–The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

beekeeperFirst, thank you Kerry from Love Those Hands at Home, who recommended this book. It is a winner! My only regret is that the volume that came up first from “on hold” land was the audio version. It was great to sew and listen, but I enjoyed this one so much that I may buy it so I can hold it in my hands and read it again and again. The  Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King, was published in 2010, so it’s been around awhile, but I had never seen it. 

The story is the first in a Sherlock Holmes series set during World War I. Mr. Holmes is now retired, but meets the precocious orphan Mary Russell. The story details their friendship, Mary’s subsequent training and a case or two that cements their friendship and collaboration. 

When they first meet, Mary is a gangly teenage with a smart mouth, and the story is told from her point of view, in first person. And yes, you will learn a little something about bees as well! There are more in this series, and I will be checking them out from my digital library, you can be sure!

Transition Land–The Benefit of Hard Labor, Etc.

Yes I was a weepy girl a couple of weeks ago…the cure was some more time, and a lot of hard labor, and probably a big dose of sunshine☀️. I couldn’t tell you if one is more necessary than the other, they are too interrelated. Or, maybe its the satisfaction from nearly finishing a huge job. First, I must credit DH, because he did the heavy lifting…literally! We were both exhausted, and filthy,  but we managed to complete the most important tasks before the rain began again this past week, and in spite of horrible weather, my spirits are excellent. The fence is up and only the door is left!


In fact, I haven’t really thought about my old career these past two weeks! Conclusion: I have either turned the corner or have finally embraced a summer vacation. I don’t really care which at this moment, I am just pleased to be content. I know I am, because I’ve spent the past two rainy days in the sewing room, and I don’t usually sew more advanced stuff unless I am in a good place mentally. Quilting is therapy, but garment construction, for me, requires a different mood. I have also begun turning over new projects in my mind, which is another healthy sign, as is an interest in experimenting in the kitchen.

Yes, I have more BIG TASKS on my list, but as I have caught up over the past month, those big tasks are getting more manageable. Now we are down to things like washing the curtains and washing the outside windows. Oh yes, and cleaning out the linen closet.

Outside, there is huge pile of firewood to move, and then yard renovation. I have waged war on the dandelions in the front yard, and at the moment, I am winning! And the nasty pile you see in the first picture, well it has been re-purposed; the materials have all been put to use and this space is going to become the new woodpile/privacy hedge. That means that there will be some shaded lawn in the backyard again, which makes me very happy.


Still a ways to go, but we will be done by the weekend I think! In retrospect, I believe that all that manual labor was exactly what I needed, along with the satisfaction of seeing a big change in our backyard.

Photo Challenge–Stationary

I couldn’t resist…we call this pose “dead dog.”

Max suffered greatly last week, because it RAINED, and the temps were in the 40’s. He was grumpy, fretful, and generally miffed at the world. We did get in a walk every day, but it was obvious that he was bored.

Saturday, everything changed…the sun came out!!! It was still too wet for him to be out, but it was warm enough (mid 50’s) that I could open the front door. He was indeed STATIONARY.


For those wondering, Max is a cardigan Welsh corgi and border collie cross. He is quite a handful, because he is so smart. Boredom usually means trouble, and his favorite place to be is the backyard lying in the sun.

Peace Sweater #9

I officially hit the wall this week. I frogged my sleeve hem and redid it, and it is now correct. I did the first border and things were going well, until it was time to circle up and continue the sleeve in the round. I muffed it, my only option was to frog it and try again.

So let’s discuss this very interesting sleeve. It has a slit at the wrist, closed with a pewter button, so you start by knitting back and forth. The edges will join at the top sleeve center. At the top of the slit, you change to knitting in the round. The concept makes sense, I am struggling with starting the pattern correctly, which has a graphic centered on the top. To keep that pattern smooth on top, you begin the circular pattern at the under sleeve center, which is where you will also do the increases. Clear as mud? I agree! Fresh eyes and more coffee helped me, but I’m still unsure whether I was supposed to not finished the pattern on the under sleeve or have an extra half round of white. If anyone has ever seen something similar I would love to compare instructions! 

I need to solve this so I can get serious about picking out stuff for a shawl for the MIL’s birthday. She is going to be 81 this June, so I think she would like that. I really like this pattern, and it only takes 100g of sock yarn.  The reviews say simple and quick, good for a car trip.

I’m thinking this might go well, and she likes warm tones, so this seems like it would go with her usual color scheme.

This is KnitPicks stroll, a machine washable merino fingering weight in eucalyptus.