yarn along 2017

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It’s been awhile since I’ve participated in yarn along, but knitting is playing a larger role in my days this year, so I plan to be joining in weekly whenever I can throughout 2017. 🙂

And so my first project is a year-long one, as I’ve decided to create a temperature blanket.  For those not in the know, a temperature blanket is created by knitting a row every day in a color corresponding to the temperature outside. Because the high and low temperatures can vary widely where we live, however, I decided to knit two rows daily — one in the color corresponding to the high and another in the color of the low temperature. I also am using colors I already had in my stash, so they don’t all match up exactly with the traditional ones in pattern guides. I know it’s still early days, but I’m loving how it’s looking so far! 🙂 I’ll post an update each month so you can see how the blanket is shaping up.

After regrettably getting away from book reading, in 2016 I made a conscience effort to get back into one of my first loves. And I managed to finish 17 books, which was quite the achievement because I also had to get through several textbooks for my university studies. I’m continuing this trend in 2017, and one of the books currently on my reading pile is the novel “On Beauty” by Zadie Smith. I confess the first 60-70 pages were slow going, but now I’m loving the characters and thoroughly involved in the intertwined storylines — wonderful!

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midwinter fun

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One of our favorite midwinter treats is a trip to our state farm show. The livestock competitions and displays, cooking demos, agricultural learning booths, and of course the food (!) always make for a fun day out at an otherwise quiet time of year. This year we particularly liked the preserved food and craft competition areas (definitely plan to enter some of our Baldy Hill Pantry items next year!), the bar-b-que sauce pickled eggs, and the livestock barns — although we were disappointed to find out the chickens were on display only the first weekend due to a lack of volunteers, so we missed them. As always, the milkshakes were especially yummy, too. 🙂

Over the weekend, I made up some suet cakes for our outdoor bird friends. We’d been gifted some venison offcuts from a friend, which we make for the dogs, and I heated up the fat and added bird seed to old packaging from store-bought suet cakes

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I then put them outside on our porch for an hour or two to allow them to cool and harden, before transferring to freezer bags to store until needed.

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Super cheap, easy to make, and the birds love them, too! 🙂

In the US today, we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Here is one of my favorite quotes of his, so relevant now as ever.

Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

Have a great week, everyone!

 

 

winter days

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Winter days on Baldy Hill can be cold and bleak, for sure. The sky has been predominately gray since we started the new year, and we’ve awoken to snow and ice and frigid temperatures most mornings. But we’ve done our best to keep warm, the wood stove our endearing friend, and make the most of these quiet, reflective days.

Our Ameraucanas (and occasionally an Orpington) are still producing enough eggs to keep us happy, so I’ve regularly been making vegetable tarts — this one was made with garlic scapes, broccoli, red pepper and the last of the NYE’s goat cheese. A steady stream of birds have been visiting our feeders as well. Among the usual visitors — chickadees, cardinals, downy woodpeckers, tufted titmice, sparrows, bluejays, starlings, nuthatches, a Carolina wren — a stunning pair of red-bellied woodpeckers stop by several times a day. I’ve heard that they can often dominate feeders, but this pair shows none of that behavior, patiently waiting their turn at the suet.

Although we’ve yet to reach winter’s midpoint, the light has begun to shift toward spring. We note the difference where the sun rays hit the dining table in the morning. My trip to bring in the chickens in the evening is fifteen minutes later than a couple weeks ago. Winter break from school ends next week and the spring semester begins. The seed catalogs pile up and garden planning begins.

But I don’t rush the days toward the next season. In fact, during this holiday, I have consciously slowed down, limited distractions, and focused on one task at a time. I’m not stressing about what doesn’t get done today, as I’m learning to be more realistic about what I can do in a single set of waking hours. I know I’m not alone in coming to the realization that doing, doing, doing all the time is no good, not to mention that doing less often miraculously results in producing more — more fulfilling, happier days. 🙂

welcome, 2017

We made it! A brand new year, 365 days, waiting for us to make into something that’s uniquely ours. I love this day and its traditions. I look forward to the annual burning ceremony, the start of a new gratitude jar, and of course the food! Although not particularly superstitious, I do like to fill myself with as much good luck food as possible on New Years Day. Breakfast was a bagel (round food, shaped like coins = prosperity), and then lunch featured a melange of cultural traditions: long noodles for long life and sauerkraut, peas, and carrot coins, all again for prosperity.

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James had to work, so his traditional PA Dutch new years meal of pork (fatty meat to ensure plenty to eat all year long) and sauerkraut simmered in the slow cooker all afternoon. For my own vegetarian dinner, I had another cultural mishmash of lentils (their coin-like appearance is to bring more wealth) and collard greens with hot sauce.

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If nothing else, we at least start the new year with happy bellies. 🙂

Today also marks the last day of Holidailies 2016. Many thanks to all who stopped by my blog space during the past month, as well as to the organizers of this annual holiday tradition. I wish you all peace and joy and hope to see you again here soon!

year-end thoughts

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It’s been a quiet week between, as I reckon it should be. I had a morning of thrifting followed by lunch with a good friend on Wednesday, but since then I and the pets have mostly been nesting and enjoying the lazy days (James sadly could not join in, as he returned to work on Tuesday).

I love this week between, the time to reflect and begin to plan for the coming year. I am not so much a resolution maker, but I do find it meaningful to take stock and look ahead at the start of each new year. And this is true whether the year has been obviously eventful and full of much growth (as has been the case the past couple years, since I had my job outsourced and then began my fine art and design studies) or a seemingly tame one with only subtle shifts of mindset and focus — a year to pause and breathe.

Despite the at times heart-breaking and awful world in which we live, I still try to face each day, as well as the coming year, full of hope and love, reminding myself of William Blake’s wisdom, that our lives are woven of both joy and woe, if I ever find myself questioning the beauty of our day to day. And looking at the #2016bestnine photos from my Instagram account this past year, I feel very blessed indeed.

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Now off to prepare our NYE party nibbles! Wishing you all the best now and in 2017!

christmas throwback

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This year for Christmas, my mother gifted my siblings and me each a photo from the albums she kept from our childhood. Here I’m peering into the same stocking shown on the far right of a picture I included in my last post. The stocking was knitted by a neighbor of my grandmother for my first Christmas, and almost 50 years later, I am still using it — even the reindeer’s jingle bell nose has survived all this time! ❤ ❤ ❤ these Christmas traditions and memories! 🙂