Whoa! It's been awhile hasn't it? Typepad has completely changed their format and I feel like I'm all thumbs trying to put together this post. Everything looks so strange and new, I hope it comes out ok! ;) I have a lot to say so pull up a chair and make yourself cozy!
Thank you so, so, much for all your support in the last post. I am a complete introvert so when given the option to say something or nothing at all I will normally choose the latter. One of the things I'm challenging myself on this year is to make a greater effort to communicate openly and honestly and when I mean honestly I don't mean telling the truth honest. I mean being honest with myself and others on what I'm thinking or feeling. I hope you mean what I'm saying.
I really enjoyed my time away from blogs and blogging in general. It's funny how much time you end up with when you sort of strip away all the preconceived notions of what you "have to do" and start adding in the things you want to do. I've been enjoying creating new rhythms and new habits of tasks that are important to me.
One of the things I've finally found a rhythm for is weekly baking. I've been baking a minimum of two loaves of sandwich bread a week and finally weaned myself off store bought bread completely (knock on wood!)
This was a real challenge for me, one of the things holding me back before was not having enough time to make the bread, or I guess I should say, having other priorities with my time. I'm using Katie's uber-fabulous wheaty/whitey bread recipe she sent me. You can get it here. Katie's been baking 4 loaves a week for her family and my hat goes off to her (I wanna be like her when I grow up! ;)).
She's taught me so much about the ins and outs of bread storing, something which I had no idea how to do... (They don't teach this type of thing in school anymore! ;))
1) If you want nice, even slices (and are slightly OCD when it comes to the evenness of the slices!) use a electric bread knife. I found mine at walmart for 9.98 and it works great. Make sure the bread is cooled all the way through so you don't squish it and the flavor has fully developed!
2) Find some bread and food bags at your local grocery store (I did not find them sold at target) and bag your bread after it's fully cooled so no moisture gets inside. Consider double-bagging for extra frost prevention
3) That's it! They go stale fast so make sure to freeze same day. They last forever, although they probaby won't make it that long. Throw the loaves in your freezer and pull them off slice by slice. You can use them as-is if you're making a grilled sandwich or defrost on low (20% or reheat mode) for 1min 20 sec for 2 slices. Your mileage may vary.
Easy peasy, right?? ;)
In the spirit of getting as much of my food as possible locally, grown mindfully and without unnecessary "extras" I spent my weekends visiting every farmers market in the area. I went on farm tours and met my meat and veggies. It was so much fun! My favorite local farmers market is the Durham (NC) Farmers Market. Hands down in my opinion the best market in the Triangle. I used to hate getting up early on the weekends, now I rise with the sun to get down to the market and pick up fresh food. I've found sources for local meats and poultry, fresh eggs and honey, cheese (this was a tough one to find!), fruits and veggies, beeswax candles, plants, etc. I've been challenging myself to produce mostly local meals on a regular basis and it's been a real treat to get better at it week to week.
On that same topic I've been devouring a wonderful book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. If you have any interest at all in learning more about where your food comes from, how it is produced and just general motivation to rediscover your food you must read this book! I can't recommend it any more highly.
I've also been making my own jam for the first time. Something I've always wanted to do. It's pretty easy and fun! The strawberries are local of course, they are well in season here in NC and it's fun to admire my pretty jars on the pantry shelf. I have plans to make more as gifts for Christmas.
Hmm let's see what else have I been doing? I don't want to make it too long! My mom came to visit from CA again and we went to Duke gardens. I have some gorgeous photos of the gardens but I haven't uploaded them yet.
I've been organizing my knitting books and magazines and I have a ton for sale! You can see my ravelry destash post here. Please take a look and I hope you find something you like! I'm happy to offer free shipping of whatever you want to all of my blog friends, just put blog friends as a code when you PM me and I'll ship for free. Free! =)
I've also been spinning, I wanted to take a turn with something a little thicker than my ubiquitous sock yarn and ended up with a DK/Worsted. This is one my favorite yarns of all time. The fiber is from Hello Yarn's Fiber Club, Insect Wings, 10 oz total for about 560 yards.
I immediately cast-on for a BSJ, garter stitch was just what I needed. I've been wanting to teach myself continental and this was the perfect excuse, all garter! What was holding me back before was tension issues. I would switch back in forth in a current project from English to Continental and my stitches would be all wonky. What I learned with this great video is that it's typical for Continental to be looser than the other way, and you frequently have to go down two needle sizes to get the same tension. Oy! What an epiphany! I knew I had to start a continental only project and the BSJ won!
OH! And I almost forgot to tell you I've been taking a quilting class too - something on my must-do list for awhile. Here's my first quilt, just pieced and quilt-sandwiched together. I'll quilt it next week in class and show you when it's done. I love the colors! Blue and Brown and Cream are so pretty together! Quilting is addicting, I'm already planning my second quilt, plus I get to use the shops machine, a Bernina Aurora. *Drool* So, so yummy to sew on!
Oh and last but certainly NOT least as you all know I was a member of the May Day Sock Swap. Lynne was the one knitting for me, she is one of my favorite people and also favorite people to swap with, such a sweetheart. She sent me a lovely pair of socks and yummy yummy treats. A beautiful tray and candles, matching soap and washcloths and yummy candy and as usual got me to a T. Thanks so much Lynne I love everything! =)