Bird in Hand Farm

Bird in Hand Farm is an imaginary place.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Juggling Pigs!

What is the deal with the mandatory present for your child anytime you go away?
I traveled to Houston for work last week.  I did not buy the kid a present while I was there. She is with Grandma this week,so she does not know that yet.  When I went to Vegas for work last fall, she asked for a Barbie doll.  I was limited in where I could go, but I looked hard for a Barbie-type doll.  I struck out.  I wound up buying her a Stewardess doll in the airport.

I flew to Houston on Wednesday and back home on Friday.  The hotel was not in a location where I could walk to shopping and honestly after spending the day with 200+ people, I really don't want to go shopping.  One of my peers did and said really all she found were things that she could purchase at home.  She probably wound up picking up something for her kids at the airport.  I thought that was my plan too.  I knew I was going to have a 2+ hour layover in Atlanta so I held off, thinking I could pick up something for Sweet Pea then.   Then thunderstorms hit Atlanta.  My plane circled around for almost an hour before diverting to Montgomery, AL to refuel.  Then, we sat on the ground in Montgomery for almost 3 hours.  Good news: my flight to Syracuse was also delayed  almost four hours.  Bad news: after 10pm, everything in the airport is closed.  I got home at 3:30 am.  No present.

Then next day once I finally came to, a friend put up a reminder post that there were only 5 days left in the amigurumi challenge.  She posted pics of cute, fluffy, mini creatures.  She also posted a link for 3 pages of projects that you could make with 50 yards or less of yarn.  I clicked the link.
I ended up making a Juggling Pig.  After about row 17, the pattern becomes a bit confusing.  I didn't purl anything or turn and just followed the decreases.  I picked up 5 stitches and decreased on the first and last two stitches of  the front side to make the pointy ears.  I did slip stitch crochet to make the curly tails.  The snout is over-stitching.  The yarn is the pink yarn that kiddo and I Kool-aid died over Christmas break.  They are stuffed with white northern beans.
I think that these little guys are cooler than almost anything I could buy in an airport.  Learning how to juggle with the kid will be a new adventure.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Charity Knitting

I don't do charity knitting.  Knitting is a selfish activity for me.  I make things for myself and the people I love.  I get solicited to make charity mittens for kids.  I didn't do it.  I do make mittens for a little kid every year.  She looses them and they get dirty.  This is her job.  Mine is to make her more.
Anyway back to charity knitting.  I believe in charity.  Helping others is one of my core values. But, when it comes to my knitting needles, I have resisted it.  There are so many things I have wanted to make that I will never be able to make them all in my lifetime.
So what changed?  Years ago I saw something about the terrible suffering of women in Africa who had experienced an obstetric fistula.  I never forgot the social ostracism they experienced.  A week or so ago I read about and joined the Stitches-for-Sisters group on Ravelry.  They are making 4" garter stitch squares to be sewn into blankets.  I can make a 4" square.  So far, I have made 10 of them.  My basic pattern is to cast on 39 stitches and do a center, double stitch decrease on the right side and slip the center stitch on the wrong side.  To make a neat edge, the last stitch of every row is knit in the back and the first stitch is slipped purl-wise with the yarn in front.
I will send them to a central US collection point and they will be mailed on to be sewed into blankets.  The squares are small and all together should create a riot of color in a patchwork effect.  The will then be sent to the Hamlin Fistula Hospital.  Women receiving care at the hospital are given a blanket that they wear.  You can see some in the NOVA video: A Walk to Beautiful.
I like this project because I don't have to make an entire blanket.  I can make as many squares as I want.  I am using up my leftover wool yarn scraps.  In a few days I will mail these out and go back to selfish knitting.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Watermelon Smoothie

A week ago the kid told the farmer that she loves watermelon.  Of course he bought it for her.  Then she turned her nose up at it and so it sat.
We are at the "use it or lose it." stage.  I don't like watermelon so I decided to doctor it.  I found a watermelon smoothie recipe.  We have not had a kitchen adventure in a while and anything involving the blender has potential for mayhem...  There are a ton of watermelon smoothie recipes out there.  Pick one.  All involve melon, ice, yogurt, and something to make it sweet.  I added almond extract and some powdered ginger to ours.  
Our ancient blender survived the ice.  The kid declared plain yogurt to be "Good, but nasty."  She decided the smoothie was too sweet.  I didn't think so, but I still don't like watermelon.   The farmer likes it.  Phew!

Monday, June 20, 2011


I knit a curtain.  I know.  I probably need an intervention.  The sun comes in the little window by the stairs and it can be blinding in the living room. 

It's the Bubble Curtain pattern from Mason Dixon Knitting.  I really love the pattern.  It was fun to make.  It blocked beautifully.  I used 4 skeins of cotton yarn that I found at a thrift store.  I did a gauge swatch.  I used every inch.  I kept telling myself it would stretch when hung.  Maybe it did, but not enough.  It would need to stretch by another 5 inches.  I need to find more yarn and make it again.   I'm actually thinking about making it out of butcher's string.

Rats! (Oh, and yes that is soap curing on the windowsill.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

CSA Season

Most of our haul...The kid ate the popcorn
Mint is growing well
We decided against joining a CSA this year.  I'm glad we did it last year.  We learned a lot.   We decided that instead we will make weekly trips to the Farmer's Market.  We can choose the produce that we want to eat, and ensure that the quality is good.  The cost last year averaged out to $25 a box.  We set that as our weekly budget for the season.  Our goal is local, fresh food.  Between the market and the garden, we should be set.

Green pepper in the garden
Yesterday was our first official trip.  How did we do? 
We have an apple!
kale: 2 bunches $4
eggs: 2 dozen large $4
garlic scapes: 3# $5
apples: 4 for $1
peanut butter: 1# $5.50
bread: $3
kettle popcorn: $5

Total: $27.50

Cost wise, we came in close.  The popcorn was an impulse buy, and while it was quite good.  I would not have agreed to get it for the kid had I known the cost in advance.

We got some stuff that we would not have been able to get from the CSA.  But we will eat the eggs, bread and peanut butter.  As an aside, Martin's peanut butter is the best peanut butter on the planet.
We also got some stuff that I'm pretty sure is not local.  Apples are not in season here.  I'm not sure kale is either. Everything else is. 

We supported small businesses.  We had fun checking things out. Oh, and it all tastes good.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Ami(French friend)-guru(like guru)-mi(a note to follow sew). I cannot pronounce that word to save my life.  Fortunately, I don't need to be able to say it to knit one.  A friend in my knitting group issued a challenge.  Knit or crochet an amigurumi and be entered into a drawing to win a skein of Malabrigo, a Ravelry pattern gift certificate, some of my soap, or a project bag made by another member.
First attempt was Wash Bunny.  The pattern is Baby Bunny Buddy and its free on  The yarn is Pinguon Cotton which I found for .39 a skein at the thrift shop.  This was my first attempt at double knitting and I messed it up.  Thje head is made with purled double knitting so that at the top you have a seamless pouch.  Originally, I decided to knit it instead of purling.  It made a nice, dense fabric, but no pouch.  I guess you cannot always modify the pattern with impunity.  I think it came out okay, but I'm not in love with it.
I am in love with this little guy.  He is a present for the Farmer.  He is from Devon Monk.  It is a sweet, fast pattern that is made in the round and uses a few sock techniques.  I might make another in hot pink.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My soap is stuck.

I made Cereal Killer soap.  Cute name huh?  It is a milk soap and I added ground oatmeal and crushed Fruit Loop-type cereal.  I was hoping that some of the colors of the cereal would survive the lye and color the soap.  It did not work.  It is a nice speckled brown. 
I used the Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, and Palm Oil Recipe from The Everything Soapmaking Book by Alicia Grosso.  She has good, solid recipes.  I admit I cheated and used water for the liquid and powdered milk to make it "milk soap".  I scented it with a blackberry fragrance oil.  Milk soap always has a weird ammonia/sulfur smell for a day or two.  Now, it actually does smell like cereal.  
The soap in the tray molds has been out, cut, and drying for a week.  The soap in the PVC pipe got stuck.  I tried pushing it out but only succeeded in mashing it up.  I ran out of options.  I stuck it in the freezer.  I left it in for an hour or so, but really, it only needed about 20 min.  Once I took it out and it started to warm up again, the condensation makes the soap slick and it slides right out.  Those nine little rounds of hand soap were stubborn! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Microwave drying

I want to drink more sage tea.  With honey and lemon, it is wonderful for my rotten summer cold.  

In order to accomplish this goal, I hacked back the sage bush.  It was getting leggy anyway.
Sage bush before

Sage bush after...
Harvested sage
That is a BIG pile of sage.  So the next question is how to dry it?  We don't have a dehydrator.  Turning on the oven is out of the question in this heat.  I wrapped up three bunches and hung them in the attic.  I decided to try microwave drying for the rest.  There are a ton of microwave drying tutorials.  I'm here to tell you that they work.  Four minutes later I had crispy greens.

For small amounts of garden cuttings, I think Microwave drying will work really well.  
Before going in the microwave

4 minutes later...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hope for Raspberries!

From last year's picking expedition
A friend from work has black and red raspberries running amok (love that word) on her property.  Her husband's great grandfather supposedly developed the cultivar back in the 20's.  They are working on landscaping their property and some areas where the canes are growing are going to be mowed down, so she has invited folks to come dig up what they want.  Supposedly, you are supposed to transplant raspberries early in the spring when they are dormant.  We are a bit late for that, but I want berries and the opportunity presented, so I jumped at it.   
We came home with about 20 viable plants and some root stock.  I planted them about every 2 feet along  fence line and watered them like mad.  They will get full sun there and can be contained on both sides.  Our neighbor knows that they will try to spread into his yard and is fine with it.  I think us telling them that they can pick too eased any objection they might have.  I'm guessing that I may lose a fair number of plants, but if I can get any established, I can corral them so that they can propagate.

Hopefully, this particular experiment will work and we will have a berry hedge!  If we are really lucky, the birds will leave is a few berries too.
Oh, my friend also has lots of rocks and kiddo was invited to take as many as she would like.  She found a really cool one that I think is a geode and maybe is also a fossil?  It has stuff on the sides that look like shell imprints and tunnel carved out of one side and a similar sized hole going about 1.5" into it.  She had fun excavating the mud into the kitchen sink.  Should we crack it open?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcake?

Somewhere, I read about someone making pineapple upside down cake in muffin tins.  The idea would not go away, so pineapple and maraschino cherries made it onto the grocery list.  Kiddo decided tonight was the night.  I looked up recipes online and it turns out that mini pineapple upside down cakes have been done before.  Many times.Most call for vanilla cake mix.  The only cake mix in the house is German Chocolate.  Scratch it is.  I turned to my ancient, battered Fanny Farmer.  It is my favorite cookbook of all time. 

It turns out that pineapple rings don't fit into the bottom of the muffin tins.  We had to break them up.  Kiddo got to arrange the pineapple and cherries and the opportunity for another level of mess was more than fine with her.  It made 16 mini cakes.  Turning them out turned out to be a challenge.  They went everywhere, there was syrup dripping, and the pineapple came off a bunch of them.  
Setting up the pineapple
Blurry with batter
Out of the oven
But who cares?  I have to wipe down the counter anyway and they taste good.  Too bad we don't have vanilla ice cream.