Summer freezing

Oh I just love the taste of summer! Fresh tomatoes,  fresh basil, fresh oregano, fresh rosemary. Are you sensing a theme here?

Freshness is so wonderful in the summer. And having a garden, I experience abundance in a very literal way. My gardens over flow with produce in the summer and fall. I harvest herbs daily, many of them I turn into the wonderful blends, oils and potions I sell here on the website. But I also bring plenty of them into my kitchen to cook with.

When winter comes around and snow covers the garden, I am thankful for the herbs I have stashed away in my freezer.

To freeze woody or hard herbs, such a rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, tarragon, etc. I love to put them in a fat base and put them in the freezer. I prefer olive oil or butter, they work equally well.

Chop up your herbs, you can keep them seperate or mix them. Fill an ice cube tray about 2/3rds or 3/4trs full with the herbs. If some stick out, it is no big deal. Then pour in either olive oil, or melted butter. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer over night.

The next day pop them out of the ice cube trays and put in a freezer bag. Date and label and wait for winter!

These are great to saute onions and garlic in. They are wonderful to put into homemade bread, or on homemade bread. They make a handy base for meats in the crock pot. And they can just be dropped into soups and stews.

For other herbs that are soft such as basil, parsley and chives. I freeze them in oil too, but the taste will change. For these herbs I prefer to make a paste out of them, similar to pesto. Load up the food processor with hand fulls of your herbs. Again, mix or seperate as you prefer. Then put in just a little bit of olive oil and a tablespoon of lemon juice and process away. If the mix is on the dry side, drizzle in the olive oil as it runs until you have a paste. You can use melted butter too, just make sure it is fairly cool, as too hot will cook the herbs.

To put these in ice cube trays, I find it helps to grease the trays a bit. Just swipe them with some olive oil, then scoop in your paste. Again cover with plastic wrap and freeze over night. In the morning, bag, date and label.

The lemon juice helps keep the brightness of the herb flavor. Not exactly the same as fresh, but still wonderful for winter.

House Friends, Progress, and Ramblings

This little guy is one of my house friends. I love summer when they all come out and start to move around the house in the light. This little guy is about the diameter of a dime, and this picture is of him on the ceiling. I have only seen about 15 out and about recently, but I imagine the population in the house is somewhere around 50-70.

They are of the genus phidippus, and are jumping spiders. I find them just cute as a button, and I like the fact that they eat other bugs and spiders! About every three years I buy a batch of eggs from our garden center and plant them in the couch to ensure a robust population in the house.

Since we have a lot of bugs here, living by the river, it does help. Although, I am definitely not winning the war.

Here are some updates on my progress with the crocheted basket. I have just finished the flat bottom and the very next round I am going to begin the gentle curve up to form the walls of the basket.

Things are going well so far, and I have only had to rip it back three or four times. I consider that pretty well considering that I am making it up as I go, and only have a very general plan in mind.

I worked on this on Sunday. My sweet husband and kids let me relax and watch movies while I crocheted. This biggest problem I encountered was how tangled my three yarns became as I continually switched colors. Anyone out there have any tips for this problem with tapestry crochet? Or perhaps I am picking up the yarns wrong when I switch? Having to stop every 15 minutes and untangle the yarn between the hook and the holders is a bit frustrating.

Mostly I watched ‘An Ideal Husband‘ that I had recorded with the DVR a while back. I am not a huge Cate Blanchett fan, but she was quite charming in this. Although Julianne Moore was by far my favorite, but I tend to love the villains. It was a charming and very funny yarn. I wasn’t terribly into the romantic side of things, but I love turn of the century stories and Old English. The rest of the time I caught up on episodes of The Riches. I am a huge Minnie Driver fan, and who doesn’t adore Eddie Izzard? I am still a month or so behind on the episodes, but I will catch up eventually.

I am pleased to feel ahead on my writing for a change. While I have been focusing on this new aspect of my craft, the housework has fallen behind, but I am still pleased with myself. I will spend today catching up on the necessaries, as I listen to past episodes of Cast On. While knitting is not my primary fiber pursuit, I still enjoy the podcast immensely. Stop by and give Brenda a listen if you haven’t already.

In the mean time, I am trying to keep track of column ideas and articles seeds. I think the next one will focus on books. Not only recommended reading lists and book reviews, but how to find out of print books, how to care for old and damaged books, and how to use bibliographies. I think this information would be of use to the greater occult community, both new and old. I may even delve into the depths of book creation and repair.

I also spent a portion of yesterday refreshing my memory of wood kilns, for pottery. For many years I have built and fired my pottery in wood kilns. Living near the river, I have access to natural clay deposits, and enjoy harvesting in the summer, when the organisms have had a chance to deposit a good layer. It then takes time to clean it, and form it. Then I have to build a kiln and chop the wood and fire it. But as a work of Craft and a trans formative process it is a great teacher. A friend and I are exploring taking a group of young Warriors out to a local site for the same process. I think we will build a small tunnel kiln in the ground, and perhaps mix some low fire clay with the local clay we harvest. Time constraints will probably limit us to only 3 hours of firing time or so, since we will have to remain on site for the cooling also. Or perhaps, we may explore building the kiln here in someones backyard. More things to explore and ideas to pursue that call me away from folding laundry and doing dishes. But alas, the family deserves my care, and so I part for another day.

Crocheted Jacket and a New Idea

Today I thought I would share with you my crocheted jacket. This is the first garment I crocheted. It is all granny squares as you can see. And it was an exceedingly simple construction.

I used Red Heart acrylic yarns, because it was what I had. I also have some bits of scraps from my yarn stash here and there. Each square is four rounds, with three different colors for the center, and a black round for the border.

I made four half grannies for the neckline. Each sleeve is 4 wide by 4 squares long. The back is 6 squares by 5 squares. Each front is 6 squares tall and 3 squares wide, With the second row being 5 tall, and the third being 4 tall, with the half grannies stepping it down. So that is a total of 92 squares!

The bottom edge has squares that have a really intense red in them. It was a scrap ball and I managed to just get these squares out of it for the bottom edge.

It is all attached with a single crochet in black. I have been secretly debating about extending the bottom so it would be around mid-calf length. Right now it hits around mid-thigh.

I have not put an edging on it, since I keep thinking I am going to extend it. But in the meantime I haven’t been making granny squares either, so perhaps some day.

This is what I am currently working on now. The picture is my inspiration. I am making the basket. At first I thought about just using a coil method to weave the basket. But honestly, I haven’t done that since middle school, and I thought I might do better just simple crocheting.

I am crocheting over a piece of wire as I go, so that it will be a bit heavier and stiffer. I want to use it for dancing, just like in the photo. Weight is really important. I may even go grab my lead curtain weight and crochet over that for the base too.

Right now it is on an H hook, but I am thinking I might start working with two strands in each crochet and go up to an I or a J. I am still experimenting to get the look I want.

I am also going to browse the raffia when I go do the shopping this afternoon. Perhaps that will give me more the look I want.

This second photo shows the other colors I have picked out to add in later. The background will be the light tan color I already have in there.

I am excited to make one, because these big baskets are very hard to find around here. And I am not to keen on mail ordering something I want to be able to balance on my head. I like to try it on before buying, and with them running anywhere from $50 to $200 each, I want to make sure I get what I want.

So I am hoping this little experiment turns out well.

Crocheted Snoods

So, we have already established that I like to crochet. And, I think briefly we touched on my strange and twisted love of history. And hence another fusion of passions: snoods.

I am a practical kind of lady, and tend to look to the past for what other practical ladies did. Snoods fit the bill for me and my hip length hair.

These two snoods are both my own inventions for the patten. Modeled by looks on some I found from the Civil War era. I did try to find and then follow some patterns, but they always came out way too small. I have A LOT of hair, and I finally gave up and just kept trying it on as I went.

The tan colored one is actually some sort of chenille yarn from an exchange long ago. It turned out to be fairly stretchy after it was all crocheted up. But oh my! It was such a pain to frog it! In fact after trying to frog it twice, I gave up and just cut the yarn and started again.

The brighter yellow in the edge is a grosgrain ribbon that has a piece of elastic about an inch long holding the ends together. The elastic stays enclosed in the ribbon the whole time to allow it to slide inside the yarn. I wore it without the elastic for about a year, but by then it had stretched out a little too big, and it wasn’t staying on my head even with the hair pins.

The pattern is made of chains and treble crochets. I increased the number of chains between the tr on each round, joining the rounds. I then switched to a triangle pattern for the band done with double crochets.

The purple one is made from some gorgeous silk yarn that was a Yule present from a crocheting friend of mine. There is a piece of round elastic concealed in the last row of single crochets on the outside edge.

I like the way it turned into a sort of web pattern. And even though the holes get to be rather large before I gathered it back in for the edging band, it still holds my hair very well. The pattern is simply chains with single crochet attachments, worked in a spiral. I then switched to some sort of hexagonal/square pattern for the band, not really sure what it is, but it ended up looking nice!

Some snood trivia: Did you know snoods are more like hair nets than hair bags? You are meant to style your hair neatly and securely, then place the snood over the top to hold the style down during activity and wind. There are also two types of snoods, full head snoods, and low snoods, that hold the hair in a hanging bun at the nape of the neck. The low snoods are often connected to either a headband or a large barrette. Snoods are also usually made of yarns/threads with a lot of grip, so they hang on to the hair.

An Encyclopedic Friend

 

Do you have one of those people in your circle of friends who seems to know all the odd trivia? They have an answer for everything, and odd little bits to insert into any conversation.

I am one of those people. I get random phone calls, emails, and instant messages asking various questions all day. It has always intrigued me where these questions come from, and why the person is asking. Now, I do not claim to be the omniscient being of fancy. On occasion I don’t know the answer, so I go look it up. Then I know for the future.

Some of the questions I have answered today:

What is tiramisu?

Well, only heaven on a plate. It is an Italian cake dessert. You take lady fingers and dip them in coffee, then layer them with marscapone cheese (whipped with cream and egg yolks). Drip the whole thing over with a chocolate liquer and sprinkle with cocoa powder. Here is a recipe.

How many miles in a league?

About three and a half. The calculator says precisely 3.45233834 miles.

What is entropy?

Entropy is why ice melts, and ice baths stop cooking vegetables. It is a thermodynamic principle that causes heat to seek a level, like water seeks a level due to gravity. Cold is only an absence of heat, so when something hot comes into contact with something cold, the heat evens out with both bodies becoming the same temperature. Since heat is simply the presence of molecules vibrating or moving at a higher frequency, the transfer of energy at this molecular level spreads out the heat, and tadaa! entropy.

What is the difference between a cigar and a cigarillo?

Cigarillos are sort of like little cigarette sized cigars. They are wrapped in whole tobacco leaf like a cigar, not paper like a cigarette. They are much smaller than cigars though and are known on the continent as seven minute cigars. Cigarillos are however often machine made, where as a good cigar (and who wants a cheap cigar?) is rolled and packed by hand. Since cigarillos are often smoked like cigarettes, they are packaged similarly and are not stored in humidors. They are a lower quality product that a cigar, and the price reflects that. But they are closer to a cigar than a cigarette can ever hope to be.

How is ozone made?

Ozone is when there are three oxygen atoms together in one molecule. Oxygen, which is two oxygen atoms in one molecule floating around in the stratosphere is struck by ultra-violet rays (at the right velocity and angle), this splits the molecule into two free oxygen atoms, which then attach to existing 2 atom oxygen molecules, hence producing ozone. Ozone is naturally made and destroyed in the stratosphere. Without pollution, the planet maintains a balance of creation and depletion that keeps the ozone layer fairly consistent, but not constant. As the thickness and concentration varies based on the location and temperature.

and What does skullcap do?
In short answer, it grows. But you probably mean more than that. Medicinally speaking it is considered antispasmodic, slightly astringent, diuretic, nervine, sedative and strongly tonic. It has been used to treat various problems of the nervous system including epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, delirium tremens, withdrawal from barbiturates and tranquillizers, and neuralgia. It is also used for calming and relieving stress, promoting suppressed menstruation, relieving breast pain and encouraging expulsion of the placenta. Due to its strong action on the uterus it is not recommended for use during pregnancy, as it can cause abortion. Use with caution, causes giddiness, stupor, confusion and twitching, in excess.

Magically speaking Skullcap is used for love, fidelity, and attracting money. Fidelity is an interesting use here, as it is the sort of ‘stay with me, or pay the price’ kind of fidelity. I include attracting money, as it is given as a traditional association, but I much prefer bay leaves and lodestone for that myself. For its use in love magic, it is a stupor of love, being lost in a glamour and a haze. It is most often used for sleep and connection with Mercurial entities. Providing you are only using a pinch, and have other appropriate herbs, I do like a bit of skullcap in my dream pillows. Especially if they are for prophetic dreaming. And, it goes great in small doses in incense designed to put you in touch with the Mercurial spirits. Combine with mugwort for such uses.

But, who really needs an encyclopedic friend like me around these days with google?