Bird in Hand Farm

Bird in Hand Farm is an imaginary place.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

It isn't easy being green. Or blue.

Maybe I should weed whack?
I finally got the last of the Peppermint-Basil Soap out of the mold.  Lots stayed behind in the mold and three weeks later the soap at the bottom is tacky and pliable.  I think it was the aloe vera gel.  It is still a pretty pale green.  Unfortunately, both molds took a beating getting the soap out and are now cracked.
The garden is growing, mostly.  There are only 5 strawberries left.  The asparagus never came up.  The summer squash is unhappy with the recent heat.   So far, the big success is the mint, which is growing well.  There are several bunches drying on the porch.

 I drooled over kick spindles for a year. There are a few makers of kick spindles out there.   This is my favorite.  I got lucky and found a used one on one of the Ravelry used equipment boards.  I snapped it up.  Spinning is supposed to be a zen experience.  Relaxing, and a connection to generations of women who spun and created their own yarn.  I told myself that I was going to spin 10 minutes a day.  That lasted for maybe 4 or 5 days.  I don't draft well at all and I don't have the kick motion down.  I know I can get this if I practice some more.  I could use some meditative, calming activity.  I just haven't managed a balance between the kid, garden, soap, and knitting.  Maybe when I go on vacation in a few weeks.  Or maybe I can find a use for wool rope?

Now onto blue.  We went on the annual trek to Stan's Berry Patch.  Bring on the Buckle!  The farmer made two of them and burned the top of both.  I'm the better baker, so I made one.  Still burned on top and undercooked on the inside.  Whoops.  Guess it might be the oven.  Turns out that it was set to "broil."  He made broiled chicken a couple of weeks ago.  I am so glad that we figured it out before we called a repair guy.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

America's Next Top Model?

I swear. I let her watch one episode and she has not stopped posing since.  The sweater is Bethany by the Berroco.  I want her to always have a handmade sweater, and she is growing out of her stripes.  Stripes is two years old and has served her well.
The Bethany pattern is a bit problematic.  I made a gauge swatch and got knitting.  About 4 inches in, I realized that the sweater was coming out HUGE.  56" wide!  I went down a size and started over.  It only took 2 inches to figure out that it was still too big.  I frogged it again and went down another size.  I ended up using a size 7 needle and following the pattern size 6 for # of stitches and the 10/12 measurements for length.  It is still too wide, but comes across as swingy.
I got the yarn at AC. Moore in a bag labeled "Cotton Mill Ends."  I looked up the address on the bag and I believe the yarn is Patons Grace in the "Sky" colorway.  It knit up very nicely and I think it shows off the moss stitch and lace patterns.  I'll be hunting the mill ends bins again.
It took less than a month to make the sweater, which is a record for me.  The first time she put it on, kiddo flatly said: "This makes me look fat." Boo.  I waited a week and then told her I wanted a few "glamor shots" so I could post it on Ravelry.  She was all for that and decided to "sell it."  I think she likes it better now.  I love it.  I love her more.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Holey Soap

A friend, "D.," won soap as a prize in the Animiguri KAL.  She and her daughter are really sensitive to scents, so we agreed that instead of taking soap that is ready, I would make her a batch of unscented goats milk soap with a bit of Aloe.  

Milk Soap gets really hot, so I had planned on using my tray molds so that it would have a large surface area to cool it.  Except, the Basil Soap is still in there.  Stuck.  Really, really stuck.  I decided to use PVC pipe instead of a box.  I wanted it to look really good for her.  

PVC pipe is risky for milk soap because they do not vent heat.  But, I have been successful before (maybe I was just lucky) so I decided to try it.  I had already delayed more than a week waiting for the Basil Soap to break lose.   Milk soap has a 6 week cure, so I didn't feel like I could delay any longer.  D won her prize at the end of June, but won't get her soap till the end of August.  That does not seem fair.  Time to get soaping.  There was another small problem.  It was 88 degrees out.  The house is air conditioned but somehow milk soap in air conditioning never quite works out for me.  I decide to go ahead with the project.
The batch traced well and poured smoothly into the mold.  Then all hell broke lose.  The pipes started steaming.  One looked like it was curdling and foaming up.  I put them out on the porch and prayed..  
The next morning the oil that had been floating at the top of the soap was gone.  Still, I fully expected that when I finally got to get it out of the mold, oil would pour out.  A week later, with the help of the freezer, I was able to break it free of the mold. 

It is holey and clearly shows signs or heat stress, but no oil leaked out.  I think that it sort of did it's own hot process soap thing.  One tunnel went straight through 5 or 6 bars.  It is dead center in the circle, which makes sense because that would have been the hottest part of the soap.  I decided that the hole would make it the perfect "Soap on a Rope."  
The cool thing is that even though it is unscented, it still smells good.  It is a clean, soapy, sweet smell.  It is not the perfect batch I had hoped for, but I'm still pretty happy with it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Farm Update

There are two yellow squash on the counter.  I gave another two away to the neighbor.  There are yet another two ready to be picked on the plant.  I really want to put them into tomato sauce, but it is too hot for that. Summer irony.

The Basil Lavender soap is stuck in the mold.  I really don't like being patient. On the up side, it is green!.
I'm making a sweater for the kiddo.  Sweaters take me forever, but I'm making progress.
I got a kick spindle.  It is really cool and I suck really bad at it.  More on that someday.
My piggie won a prize in the KAL!  I got to pick a pattern.  I chose Girasole.  I have to finish a few things first and then I am ALL OVER that pattern.
Do you think I can make up a purse pattern?  I want to make the Lucy Bag but the pattern is only available for sale at yarn stores.  First off, I am too cheap to buy it when there are thousands of wonderful free patterns.  Second, I try to stay out of yarn stores.  I love them, but it's not in the budget at the moment.  I was thinking that I could modifKnitty's French Market Basket.  I love that pattern.  Make it narrower, deeper, and one handle a lot shorter.  I can do that.  I think.  Someday.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Spa at Bird in Hand

We opened a spa.  Well, Sweet Pea did.  The Hoo La La Spa.  And, no I did not make a spelling error.  It's on the sign.  I wish you could read it better.  I swear that is what it says.
She was inspired by the book: Fancy Nancy ~ Ohh La La! It's Beauty Day!  by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser.  She and her Daddy did a great job transforming the porch.

She offers facials, manicures, pedicures, make up and hair styling.

She decided against the mashed banana facial treatment.  (Phew!)  She wanted to know why, in the book, there were pickles on the mom's eyes.  I told it was okay to skip the cucumbers.  Thank goodness we don't have pickles!  She used my Oil of Olay and did a nice massage. 
She did my manicure.  My nails look pretty in pink!
Then it was time for a foot soak.  She played "relaxing" music on her keyboard.  After the soak, she got to pick out a bright pink for my toe nails.
She did my make up in sparkles,  No pictures here.  Never will be.  Then, she brushed out and styled my hair while I looked at fancy magazines, which happened to be Quilters Newsletter from May 2004.
Hours are by appointment only.  Book yours today!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Basil Oil

I have been thinking about making basil soap this summer.   But first I had to somehow infuse basil into oil.  I looked up a few recipes.  I followed the one from My Recipes in the hopes that heating the oil will help it infuse more.  I also let it sit overnight before straining.  I had been worried that I would not have a cup and half of basil leaves.  As it turns out, I had about 4.5 cups so I made a triple batch.  

It worked!  Now, let's see if it works in soap... 
I could not find my produce basket...
It filled the blender!
The leaves left behind.  That's a coffee filter under there.