Monday, August 30, 2010

Ginger Crunch via Crafternoon Tea with GrannyG

A favorite podcast cached on my MP3 player is Crafternoon Tea with GrannyG. GrannyG is from New Zealand and has that unique accent which is so charming.  Just be aware that certain words she says are a bit of a puzzle until you begin to understand her patois. Case in point: she says "REED" and the word means the color red.

She is delightful and full of information.  Listening to her and a friend talk about an old time recipe for ginger crunch interested me enough to print out her recipe and give it a go. 

GrannyG's recipe can be found here.

Conversions: oven to 375 degrees F
Sugar for shortbread: 125 gm butter = 1/2 cup butter
Butter for Icing: 75 gm butter = 1/3 cup butter

Bron Marshall, another New Zealander who cooks and photographs, says of this nostalgic recipe:.
Ginger Crunch is a well loved slice found in most cafes, bakeries and tearooms around New Zealand. There are several versions and as many variations on different recipes, however here is my recipe, which I believe to be fairly true to ‘the original’.
Marshall's recipe can be accessed here.

GrannyG's Ginger Crunch cookies:
ginger crunch cookies
Glitter Graphics

A nice fall treat; they really are easy and tasty!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sometimes a Mistake is Just a Mistake

Let's make this clear. Working on the Lovely Eliina Scarf (download from Ravelry available here), after hours and hours of knitting lace, it was wrong.  Bad knitter; poor follower of directions; incompetent reader, you fill in the blank... - but it was just WRONG.  What to do with this mass of yarn that was almost a finished shawl?  Continue on knitting, hoping the mistakes were not noticeable, or do the honorable thing and start over in knitting that lace edging?

Rip, tink, frog, whatever you want to call the tedious process, I took out 24 rows of lace knitting, with over 300 stitches in each lace row.  It was knit incorrectly

Was it g-d punishing me?  Was I supposed to take this injustice because I did not recycle that latest plastic milk jug, pushing it way down in the garbage can, hoping it would not be noticed by the neighborhood eco patrol?  Or was it payback because I spoke harshly to my cranky father?  Or because my telephone manners were poor when I did not identify myself when making that phone call a few weeks back?  Or am I just a totally bad person? is the lovely Eliina being ripped out, along with my aching heart:

Or could it just be a mistake, and life goes on?

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

Stay tuned for the latest assesment in a few weeks, hopefully after the Lovely Eliina is finished with the lace knit the way the designer intended.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ink Jet Printer for Maps on a Tote Bag

Craftlit followers are going to London, Bath and Wales in October.  Being part of that entourage, I decide that a tote bag was needed.  To track our journey, I printed out Google maps on either side of a purchased tote to show the cities we will tour.

Included on the map are places visited and written about in the UK by Jane Austen, Louise May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley and others.  These are just some of the authors that Craftlit fans have been listening to over the past couple of years, and just a few of the cities referred to in the classics by these authors.

We are also planning on meeting up with other knitters in the UK at various pubs and yarn shops, whiling away our visiting time with our Craftlit neighbors across the pond.

Here is the website that helped me create injet printing of the maps on scrap fabric.

First, I Googled maps for London, ensuring our "home hotel", The Rembrandt, was the center of the map.  Then I took a screen shot of the map, downloaded it and placed a few titles on the maps.

Similarly, for the second map used on the reverse side of the tote, Wales in the UK was Googled, with the Cardiff Hyatt as our central point of departure for various tours.

This is what I came up with for each side of the tote:

Fabric was ironed, freezer paper adhered to the fabric, and then the fabric/freezer paper was fed into the ink jet printer.

Then the maps were printed out onto fabric adhered to the freezer paper.  After printing, the paper backing was ripped off and discarded.

After splitting open an inexpensive canvas tote bag, the fabric maps were sewn onto the outsides, secured with an applique edging over a corded ribbon for additional glitz.

Behind the map, a border of "foreign coin" fabric was used as a border for the map.  After sewing on the maps and borders and ribbon,  the tote was sewn back to its original shape.

Step One: Canvas tote scissored down the side

And the finished bag:
One side of the bag
Reverse Side

This will holds lots of fiber which I hope to purchase on tour of English and Welsh knitting shops.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Succulents Indoors on a Shelf

Make you own private garden space indoors: use various succelents as the base of intrigue.

Outside, about a dozen of my succulents will die during the next few months because of weather changes.  What a shame to lose those plants.  So I brought them inside, giving them new pots and a new growing space with light.

eHow says:
Cute Little Plants photo by Kristie Karns of eHow

Succulents are unusual and interesting plants. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors and they all store water in their wide leaves. Knowing how to take care of them as house plants is essential to helping them thrive in an inside environment. They are drought resistant plants but in certain climates they cannot be grown outdoors. Try picking out some of the more unusual looking specimens for your succulent collection, as they can be quite the conversation piece.
Alongside my computer space, at eye level when at the keyboard, is an old fiber board bookcase which has held life objects over the past thirty years. I cleaned it out this weekend, and now it contains only items which are used on a frequent basis (knitting books, a scanner, CDs and computer paraphernalia, to name a few).

On one shelf, attached to be underside of the shelf above, is a 22" inexpensive fluroescent light that gives illumination needed for the little plants to grow and give off oxygen.

If Kiki could be here to take photographs, she would show the true essence of the succulents.  Go over to her blog and look at objects she has captured with amazing charm and spirit.

Here are a few pictures of my new indoor succulent garden taken from plants that were growing outdoors until yesterday:

the oriental "mud man" was purchased at a local garden center

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Two Paintings Finished 8/19/10

Bragging or complaining: after 13 months and still needs work:

30" x 40", Oils, Gallery Wrap

Two Poppies, 8" x 10" Oils, Framed

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sistene Chapel Ceiling in Cross Stitch

This cross stitch of the Sistene Chapel ceiling by Joanna Lopianowski-Roberts took 2868 hours to complete.
From Concept to Creation is the website where information can be obtained about the background of this amazing project.

Extreme Craft posts this:
Joanna Lopianowski-Roberts is clearly touched. Think of the craft project that you spent the longest on. I once spent a solid month doing a single ceramic piece, and felt preeeeeeetty pleased with myself. Ms. Lopianowski-Roberts, a resident of Junction, Texas, spent a whopping 2,800 hours (over ten years) working on a cross-stitch reproduction of Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel Ceiling. That's almost 117 solid DAYS of work! The entire masterpiece measures 40 inches by 80 inches...

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to Make a Watchband with Beads

Repurposing a watch, adding beads and a clasp, here is the result:

This band was loosely based on the pattern by My Bagatelle

Here is how it was made:

Cast on three stitches, using #1 double point needles and waxed cotton cord available at your local craft store.  Knit three rows (for strength and attachment of the clasp on either end of the band).  Then knit in one bead on each row, alternating putting the beads on  either on the first or second stitch, ensuring the bead is facing the front and then purling it in place. 

Attach the watch face to the beaded piece you have completed (about 2 inches long), and bead the other side in the same manner.  Attach clasp end pieces to either side of the band.  Done!

Here is a video showing the process of beading while knitting:

This was a fun and quick project.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bernat: Scallop Scarf in 3 Different Yarns

Details on Ravelry at this site.  Just finished the Scallop Scarf, a free pattern download provided by  Bernat Design Studio at this website.

Yarns purchased at Lonesome Stone Fiber Mill in Granby, CO. One of a kind BFF Color Line, 50% alpaca, 50% superwash wool, 290 yd; and one skein similarly handpainted of 180 yd (total yardage 470 yd)

I also used two skeins of Lion Brand acrylic in a coordinating color because there was a shortage of the handpainted yarn.

Note: I made only 10 scallops instead of the 12 called for in the pattern. Finished length: 72”

Note 2:  Listened to Steig Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo while finishing this scarf.  A good listen.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dallas Arboretum in Pictures

It was a privilege to see the Dallas Arboretum, all 66 glorious acres, and to have an escorted personal tour by two informed docents at the park now owned by the city of Dallas, Texas.

Frommer's says:
Dallas may not be celebrated for its cool green beauty, but the area around White Rock Lake, and more specifically the Arboretum and Botanical Garden, is a welcome oasis. Just 15 minutes from the gleaming skyscrapers of downtown Dallas are nearly 70 acres of carefully planted and groomed gardens and natural woodlands, interspersed with a handful of historic residences, that meander along the banks of the lake. The Jonsson Color Garden features one of the nation's largest collections of azaleas, which bloom spectacularly in spring, and nearly 6 acres of chrysanthemums in the fall. And while North Texas is not exactly New England, October and November are as ablaze in color as anything you'll see in this neck of the woods. If you find yourself in Dallas during the torrid summer (or spring and fall) months, the Palmer Fern Deli is a secluded, shady spot where mist-sprayers drop the temperature at least 10° to 15° -- reason enough for a visit here...
One of the more intriguing vignettes consisted of gardening architectural features replicating Beatrix Potter's cottages where her beautifully illustrated imaginary friends live (in the large Children's Garden).

Gigantic Peter Rabbit consisted of ferns and grasses, and even a living rendition of a carrot:

This is Mr. McGregor's potting shed.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage

These two adorable sisters in their pink tutus were the absolute sweetest thing I found in the garden. Their mom and nanny were taking them on an outing for a phototgrapic shoot, and allowed me to take their picture.

More pictures was an incredibly hot and humid morning, but glad the opportunity presented to see the Arboretum.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Too Hot to Pant

Weather today in Dallas from this site:   Mostly Sunny High 105°F

(Thank you, Ronn, for this picture)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My Father's "First Home" and my "First Home" - one and the same

Dad and I are spending the week together. This event of living together last occurred during the summer of 1968, just before I went to college.  A lot of time has passed since we last shared a car or refrigerator.  Need I say more? (He is now 91 years old, and let's just say I am of "a certain age.")

So now is the time to poke around his library and "catch up" on scenes from the past. Going through his written memoirs, I came across a story he had written about the house where I lived from infancy through age 7.

Here is what Dad wrote about that house in central Texas, the same one where I spent my early childhood:

The First House I Remember by Charles W. McCarroll (likely written in 1990)
The first home I remember was the McCarroll house located about a quarter-mile north and west of Mereta, Texas. This house, built in 1902, faced east about 75 feet from the county road. This wood-siding shingle-roofed structure originally had four rooms and a front gallery supported by turned-post spindle brackets. The front door had an upper glass etched in a wreath design and a matching carved wood planting on the lower panel.

The entrance door opened into a wide hall. Three rooms were to the right, including the kitchen and a room to the left.

Pa McCarroll added three rooms to the north divided from the original house by an open hall. This addition was for the parents and children. A shed room was built on the west of the original house as a room for Loraine and as a screened porch.

The hardware consisted of designer rim locks and hinges on six panel doors. The floors were tongue-and-groove pine. A hole in the corner of the room was for telephone wires when aunt Mollie was the switchboard operator for the telephone system.

The walls were covered with flowered paper pasted to tacked-on canvas. A strong wind would cause the paper to bulge. The walls were ten feet high and ceiling was wooden "beaded ceiling". The windows were operated by the weight and pulley system.

The kitchen floor was covered with bright Linoleum. The large, black wood-burning cook stove was near the west wall. A water faucet was on the north wall, which also included a flour bin. A breadboard was against the east wall. A long table covered with oilcloth was placed near the south wall of this kitchen.

Each of the legs of tables, cabinets and beds were set in metal jar caps and filled with coal oil to discourage ants. A crawling baby was sure to get into the ant traps.

The milk cooler sat on the porch north of the kitchen. This cooler was constructed of galvanized metal pans that were stacked as shelves. The top pan was filled with water and cotton clothes were dipped into the water and covered the outside of the pans. The dampened cloths acted as an evaporative cooler for the food inside.

Near the southwest side of the house was a cistern made of metal. Guttering under the eaves of the house gathered rainwater for use in the house. The well was about 30 feet west of the house. The windmill pumped the hard-tasting water into a tank and also piped it to the barn to water the livestock.

A grove of Chinaberry trees grew between the house and barn. The Barn was painted red and had a hayloft above with grain storage and a harness room on the north. A hall with double doors on each end allowed a wagon to drive through. The shingle roof was mansard and there was a hay door on the east. Sheds had been added to the north and south for stock and the fences were wide boards on cedar posts.

Toward the barn, a path led to the outhouse south of the barn area. North of the house, the land was in pasture. About halfway down the hill was a little house for the hands and at the bottom of the hill was another windmill and garden.

This house was so cool and comfortable in the summer, but I remember the cold days by the heating stove. We also had a portable ‘Perfection’ kerosene stove.
This house was the same one he returned to with a young family after WWII.  The house was re-opened, remodeled, and Dad began farming the family 600 acre plot surrounding the farm house for about ten years.

 To read his remembrances of that "new" house conjures up memories for me about that same farm house of my childhood.  (Note: 100 years have past since that house was built.)

Dad did not mention the well water that had to be boiled each season when the "well turned over".  I still am uncertain about what it meant when the "well turned over."  I just know there were tiny little red worms in the bath water a few times a year.  We kids were told not to worry about it.  (??)  Wouldn't you?

Another of my memories is when a dust storm hit West and Central Texas farms, and 1/4 inch of dust was left on the window sills and floors after the two hour gusts abated.  Dad said he used a shovel to help pick up the dust and silt inside the house.  I remember it was black as midnight in the middle of the day during that dust storm.

And I remember the big cabbage red rose wall paper in the bathroom with the porcelain claw foot tub.  Mother put that up right before I was born.

Are your memories of your first house still vivid in your mind?