Thursday, January 4, 2018

Will Garden for Peanuts

Last Spring I made an impulse purchase from Baker Seed Company. They emailed some appealing ad that touted a limited quantity of a rare Ecuadorian peanut: Fastigata Pin Striped. I had to have them…

I got my garden in late this last summer, second week of June, but the peanut plants came up within three days of planting and grew vigorously. They have a 3-month-long growing season, so I was really hoping for a VERY late frost. Two of my 8x4 garden beds were amended with peat moss and sand to made the earth lighter. I think I could add more of both next year for even lighter soil.

Indeed, I was lucky, and this harvest was the last week of October. That week we had a very light frost, making some, but not all, of the peanut plant leaves turn brown.

Peanuts are very funny plants: they bloom above the ground and then take a nose-dive to form their seeds under the soil.

After the harvest, the nuts need to be cured (dried) for another month. When I opened a seed pod at the start of curing, the shell was super moist and thick. The nuts ended up curing for two months, thanks to my relentless schedule.

After curing, the shell is dry the peanuts fall out easily.

I decided to roast them without a shell, and that was a good decision as I found a small number of shells that had mold in them. Aren't they just beautiful, with that striped purple husk?

All that work and all that time yielded only 9 ounces of peanuts! I'm sure commercial growers and processors have more efficient ways of preparing the peanuts for the market, but it is always humbling to realize how much work goes into making a simple peanut butter.

I did not show the last step. After roasting, I rubbed the peanuts in a towel to get the that light striped husk off of the peanut, making them look like other type of peanut. The husk has a slightly bitter taste. The final product is indescribably DELICIOUS! 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Yarn Along is BACK!

I am so excited that Ginny decided to bring back the Yarn Along! I was not a frequent participant, but I often got great ideas for patterns, yarn choices, and books from all the other lovely folks linking up to her posts. Do go and see what everyone is up to!

My read today is the guidebook for the Knobstone Trail in southern Indiana. I had big plans to backpack it last summer, but alas, other events took precedence. This summer I have some friends to go with, so accountability for showing up is real! Can't wait!

My knitting consists of finishing up some Christmas knitting (*sigh*). The pattern is Snowflake by Tin Can Knits and very fun. I love the mindless knitting that happens after the lace is finished.  

Happy New Year to all! Stay cozy!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Knitting With Nieces

Five years ago, I gifted my first two nieces matching sweaters. Niece number 1 then learned the knit stitch, which I chronicled here. Today, we did a quick review and then went straight to a lace pattern.

Very little conferring was needed, even to interpret the lace pattern. She just learned the symbols and asked an occasional question about the execution of a stitch. Slowly but surely she made her way through the pattern. The purl stitch; so much patience needed! Whew!

We used the snowflake part of the Snowflake
Sweater pattern by Tin Can Knits.

Let's show some serious appreciation for the fact that she used relatively tiny needles (size 3) and DK weight yarn.  The stitches are so even and look professional.What an amazing crafty young lady!

The evening could not end without a quick lesson on blocking, the most important part in the finishing process.

I can't stop blogging without bragging about my niece one more time. Check out these lovely place tags she made for our festive holiday dinner. She even painted the faces on the button to make it look like a snowman. She is My People!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Bye Bye Bella Oak

Tonight we bid a tearful good-bye to Bella, who died unexpectedly this afternoon while we were away in Chicago. Bella is the beautiful brown alpaca in all of these pictures, and was a big prize winner in her youth. Her fleece was so soft and fine.

Her other herd sisters will remember her as bossy and a bully trying to steal all of their hay and grain. Bella had the best indignant groan/grunt to keep them away from the food containers!

We are once again indebted to our neighbors, who took her to the Purdue Animal Hospital, about 2 hours away, this afternoon. The clinic will be doing an extensive autopsy to see if our other alpacas are at risk. Hopefully this is yet another mysterious death of some kind of natural cause. In the meantime, we mourn the loss of the only alpaca you didn't mind being touched if you sidled up to her quietly.

Rest in peace, sweet Bella. 2005 to 12/22/2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

Knitty Kitty

Well, this update confirms some cat + knitting cliches. China Cat Sunflower is a very rambunctious teenager, but is somehow gaining some self-control around yarn and needles. I can't get my video of him playing with knitting needles to load. That's how I usually keep him from batting around the items on my lap! Enjoy the photo array below, followed by a book recommendation.

If you need to read a book about these topics to a three-year-old, check out this oldie-but-goodie title: Knitty Kitty. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Just Waiting for My Tea to Cool

It's that insane part of the year, filled with way too many activities, vegetable canning, playing exam grading responsibilities, playing music professionally, etc, etc. And the weather is offering up (a few) cooler days. In other words, it would be nice to knit every now and again, both to take the edge off of all the stress and to celebrate Fall. A few years ago I deliberately delayed mindless knitting, trying to force myself to be creative and productive in every facet of my life. Fortunately I realized the error of my ways, so I could learn from them at a later date...

This year I am simply reaching for a new Done by Monday blanket that I started last summer and following that easy pattern when I have the urge. Plus, I definitely need to stay productive while I am waiting for a quart jar full of boiling hot peppermint tea to cool down every few hours on the weekend. This is not the season that offers rest for the weary, after all!

Happy Fall! 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Chop Chop!!

Well, here we are again: another three years has passed and I cut off another foot of hair for donation. I am too lazy to go to the hairdresser, so my hair keeps growing longer and longer. Cute kitten is a bonus in this new short hair shot!

We've also had lots of tree work done recently. Today a friend came over to chop down the weeds, which you can see here, are taller than a human.

The backyard is so nice and clear. We need to burn the wood piles this week, and then we'll be ready for discing and putting in the pasture next weekend!

Three cheers for fresh looks!