Thursday, September 27, 2012

Year of the Spider?

I am noticing a lot more spiders this year. Not sure why. Maybe I am just paying closer attention? Or perhaps the spiders are just bigger, bolder and more numerous than in years past. We have had them stow away in our vehicles, only to crawl up our bodies as we drive. Recently I was pounced on by a very large bulbous yellow spider while I pruned the raspberry canes. It looked very similar to this curious spider that I found waiting for me yesterday, on the gate to the chicken pen. Obviously this one is orange, not yellow, but the body shape is similar. Round and squishy. No, I did not actually squish this one because it behaved and stayed off of my person.

After it posed for this photo I gently coaxed it down to the ground and it bumbled off. These big guys (gals?) aren't very graceful.

I have a new "pretty" to show. I have to preface this by saying I no longer encourage the husbeast to buy me jewelry. My lifestyle has changed dramatically. I no longer dress for success but am quite content in jeans and a t-shirt. Yesterday I accompanied him to our favorite jewelry store. We were there for another purpose but I couldn't resist browsing. I spotted this in the clearance case. I think it is an estate piece. The price was very reasonable and I intended to think about it and maybe return for it at a later date. Rick thought I should have it now. We will consider it my anniversary gift. Isn't it lovely? It is paua shell framed by sterling silver. There are 3 shells dotting the frame and some waves down at the bottom. I adore it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Visit To Leavenworth

My summers are really busy with bees, garden, etc...which means I don't have time to go on a vacation during those months. Now that the summer season is winding down I have a chance to get away and relax. The husbeast and I decided to make a day trip to Leavenworth, WA.

This has long been one of our family's favorite places to visit. When the kids were small they loved to get an ice cream at one of the shops and then visit the toy store where they could each pick out a souvenir. For me, a visit to Leavenworth reminds me of Deutschland, a place where I lived for nearly 3 years in my late teens. Leavenworth is located on the eastern side of the Cascade Range, the mountains that separate western and eastern Washington. We often plan our trips for the early fall so we can enjoy viewing the colorful foliage during the drive. Unfortunately our state has been experiencing a severe drought this summer and there is currently a wildfire, caused by lightening strikes, burning not too far from our destination. We decided to head up anyway, and take advantage of the diminished crowds. There is always some type of festival happening and the town can be incredibly crowded. This time it was worth inhaling a bit of smoke to have the place to ourselves. When we arrived there was an art show taking place. I purchased this print of honey bees on apple blossoms.

We wandered over to 'A Matter of Taste' to pick up some legendary Champagne Honey Mustard. This shop is easy to find as it is located directly under the clock.

This plaque caught my eye and drew me into another of the many shops that line the sidewalks. I "need" this to hang above my computer.

As I was paying for this I commented on the awesome hoodie jacket the shop owner was wearing. Of course she also had those for sale and I bought one which I will wear to the October pipe club meeting. All of this shopping was making us thirsty so we made our way over to a beer garden for an IPA and a snack. This is the view from our perch.

Then the husbeast found a quiet spot to enjoy a pipe.

We wandered (and I shopped) some more. Leavenworth has plenty of touristy buying opportunities. Something for absolutely everyone. I found a necklace for my rear view mirror.

And the husbeast bought me a lovely peace sign necklace for my own neck, with inlaid abalone shell. Here is some of the scenery we enjoyed on our walk.

Soon it was time for dinner. We decided on Cafe Mozart, a place we had not yet tried. We were pleasantly surprised. It is one of the nicer looking restaurants on Leavenworth.

The food was better than the other places, too. My sauerbraten was a tad on the dry side but Rick's snitzel with wild mushroom sauce was amazing. They also poured a very generous glass of wine which is always much appreciated by yours truly. Once we were finished eating, and ventured back outside, we noticed that the smokey haze was increasing.

It did not photograph well but the sun in this picture was actually a bright salmon orange. We felt it was time to high tail it out of there. As we were leaving we noticed this sign for the Salmon Festival (happening this weekend) which gave us a giggle.

The artwork is adorable but read the fine print.

Someone neglected their proofreading duties. I doubt there is a National Fish Hatery in Leavenwoth. LOL!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Working The Bee Booth

   Today I volunteered to help man the bee booth at the Puyallup Fair (the young lady with the sash is the American Honey Princess). Yes, I got to hang out with royalty. It was my first time working the bee booth  so I was a little nervous. As volunteers, we got to park in the Silver Lot (employees) for FREE. It was located a bit far from the fairgrounds but there is a shuttle that runs every 15 minutes or so. The shuttle dropped us off at the Red Gate which is not far from the Agriculture building where the bee booth is located. We were right next to the giant pumpkins.

   The people who stopped to ask questions at the booth were very curious about bees. I especially enjoyed the children. We had a selection of rubber stamps they could choose from and we stamped their hands or arms. They loved this. There was also a bee painting with the face cut out so they could take their picture. Even the adults took advantage of that opportunity.

   There were 2 observation hives, one at either end of the long table. Can you spy the queen? She has a white spot on her back.

   Behind the table was a wall full of bee infomation including pictures of the different larval stages. If you are ever at either the Spring Fair or the Puyallup Fair, and are curious about bees, stop by the booth. We are always happy to help inform the public about the wonderful honey bees.

   You can also see all the entries that local beekeepers submitted for judging. These are just a few. Most of my photos came out rather dark.

   I had a great time which is saying something since I am not overly fond of crowds. I will definitely sign up again next year.

Quilting Gadgets

I admit it. I am a gadget lover. These are some recent acquisitions to my quilting toolbox. Pin covers for my basting safety pins and some quilt clip holders. The latter are supposed to hold your quilt in a nice tidy roll for machine quilting. Both of these gadgets should come in handy this fall and winter. As you can see in the links, these items currently retail for over $35. Honestly, I can't bring myself to pay that much for some little pieces of plastic. I found the following items on Craigslist for $10. I had to drive out to Fredrickson and wait for 10 minutes in the Safeway parking lot, but it was worth it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Old School Cooking

Who needs Marie Callender? Or Banquet, with their gluey dough and chicken sponge? We make pot pies the old fashioned way, with butter, lard, and real chicken. Whenever we get a roasted Costco chicken I always save the last little bits and freeze them in order to make a chicken pot pie at a later date. Today I was at a loss as to what to fix the husbeast for his supper. Then I remembered that chicken in the freezer. The lard used in this pie crust was some that I had rendered using a bunch of pork fat from the local butcher. No hydrogenated lard here. Today's crust turned out nice and flaky.

Never throw out your leftover pie crust bits. Break them into pieces, toss them with some sugar and cinnamon, and bake them. Keep a close watch so they don't burn. Kids love these pie crust treats. We no longer have kids at home. Oh, darn, I guess we'll have to eat them ourselves. Yummy! If you do have grandkids, and want them to get some of these, be sure and hide them from grandpa. 

What else is happening on the Willoughby homestead? Well, I have 3 gallons of plum melomel fermenting in the kitchen.

It is bubbling away in the primary fermenter.

I accidentally knocked this bunch of tomatoes off the plant the other day. I have tied it up and hung it in the basement. We'll see if they ripen down there.

Oh, and the canna is getting ready for round 2 of blooming.

I plan on going into the hives later today and will check to see if the girls have made any more honey or if they are ready to be tucked in for the winter. Tomorrow I will be volunteering at the bee booth at the Puyallup Fair. I'll be there from 10am until 2pm. Stop in and say hello.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Holy Grail

This is one of the most sought after vintage sewing machines of all time.  

   I am pinching myself and feel like I could cry with joy. I found this Bernina 830 Record, in pristine condition….for $165. And it was located just blocks away from my home. I couldn’t drive over there fast enough. I kept thinking he’d come to his senses. These sell for $500. I am still shaking. It even came with a walking foot. That alone would cost $50.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Last Minute Summer Gardening

   Summer is slipping away. Next weekend fall will arrive. It's time to start getting ready for the winter. My garden is still lagging behind. The only thing that has been a success are the pole beans. The tomatoes are putting forth a valiant effort. Remember how pitiful they were when I planted them?

This is them today.

   Time is running out, though. I'm not sure they are all going to ripen before the first frost. I've only gotten about 7 ripe tomatoes so far. The plants are full of fruit but it is almost all green. My dreams of canning some home made spaghetti sauce are fading.
  I finally got around to trimming the spent canes from the raspberry patch and tied all the new canes up securely.

   I was ill earlier this year and the raspberries kind of got out of hand. This is the mess I trimmed out. Tomorrow I'll cut it into manageable pieces and chuck it into the yard waste bin.

  The local Market Place had chrysanthemums on sale for $.99 each. I picked out a few so we can have a spot of fall color in the backyard.

  I also finally planted the red blooming sedum that a fellow beekeeper gave me. It's been waiting patiently, in pots, for the past 2 months.

Tomorrow I'll hit the yard some more. I'm way behind, as usual.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stumbled Upon A Singer

Finally! It seems all I have been finding are Kenmores with the occasional Necchi thrown in. I haven't brought home a Singer in ages. I spied this 500 Rocketeer for sale yesterday. They were asking $25 but I was dubious as to its condition. The photos looked pretty bad in spite of their claim to have had it "recently" serviced. Well, maybe, if 1968 is recently. I offered $20 because it might be good for a parts machine. When I picked it up the head was in a cardboard box and the cabinet was buried under a bunch of yard sale crap. From what I could see of the machine, as it lay tucked down in the box, it looked like it might have some rust issues. Still, for $20 I wasn't going to quibble. As the husband helped me load the cabinet into my Subaru he mentioned, "there's $100 worth of attachments in the drawers". I didn't really believe him since he is also claiming the poor machine had been recently serviced. Yeah, right. Wink, wink. Once I got the machine home, and out of the box, I realized that what I was seeing wasn't rust after all. It was just years and years of dirt and cigarette tar. I gave it a quick once over with a rag and it looked much better. If anything, the previous owner was a little heavy handed with the machine oil. I'd rather a sewing machine be too oily than all rusted. I am happy to have a Singer to tinker around with. Here is what my $20 bought me.

The cabinet is similar to the one I gave to my son for his 328K.

It came with lots of cams.

A Singer walking foot.

A tucker.

Something called a gripper.

The manual and some buttonhole templates (but no buttonholer).

Various doo-dads.

Bobbin case and bobbins.

A case with some feet, etc...

Even a Singer darning foot!

That was well worth the trip to Puyallup.