twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Where do I begin? September 12, 2015

Filed under: knitting,life — kathy @ 1:33 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Yep, it’s been a while. A long while. I know this hasn’t been the first time, but it was the first time I considered stopping the blog altogether.

I don’t know what to say other than in the past few months, my life feels like that spare room/closet/out of the way corner/basement/attic in everyone’s house…you know, the one where you open the door and pitch stuff inside and tell yourself that you’ll get to it later. That’s about the best way I can describe it all.

At the start of the summer, I was just back from Squam, refreshed and filled with ideas. Then the reality of the everyday forced its unwelcome self into my life, while the practical part of me insisted I need to finish every last thing I’d started in the past year.

There were stories that needed editing. Those were high on the list. Then came the knitting UFOs (unfinished objects) I was itching to finish. Next, there was a test knit to finish, yarn to dye, rosaries and jewelry to finish, photograph, and list on Etsy. There were new knitting patterns I was anxious to start. Gift knitting for new babies and brides, and friends who’re not feeling well filled that space. I wanted to use my dang PMC kiln already. A course in the “The Artist’s Way” was repeatedly started and put on hiatus. I was going to teach myself screenplay writing. I wanted to sew project bags and learn how to use my new serger. There was berry-picking with Bug and making jam. I wanted to start to look through college guidebooks for Bug (I know, right?). The bedroom and bathrooms needed painting. The roses needed work, and one of these days I was going to finish transcribing all my recipes written on scraps of paper into the new recipe binder I bought when Borders was going out of business.

Phew. That was just the stuff I’d written down at the beginning of June. I know,  I have that “eyes bigger than my stomach” syndrome. But also, I feel that part of my problem is I feel life passing so fast, now. It’s a blur. And in considering what I want to do each day, I become nearly paralyzed with the choices that I end up doing something mindless like cleaning out the medicine cabinet. It’s so frustrating.

And then there was blogging.

Let me start by saying, though little of what I have to say is of much consequence, I do love it. I especially love the connection it provides with people I might never have the chance to meet otherwise. It’s a sharing space, a place of reflection and community.

That said, this past summer, every time I pulled up the “New Post” page, I admit I was just stuck. I felt pulled in so many directions, I couldn’t seem to make a coherent string of words come out of my head. Some of it made it to Instagram, but mostly it just swirled around in my head.

Sorry.

So, here’s a quick recap of summer stuff that actually happened (the photos have jumbled themselves all up, but I think you’ll be able to figure out what’s what. Sorry):

 

IMG_3394Berry-picking with Bug and jam-makingIMG_3400

I finished a number of UFOs and about 5 gift-knitting things (here are just a few)IMG_3414IMG_3737

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Yarn-dyeing! (Oh yes, and a pattern for mitts to make with some of the yarn, too!)

IMG_3686IMG_3706

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A girlie road trip with my sis, niece, and Bug to check out Grinnell College.

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A new short story was finished and many recipes written into new binder, too.

So, there’s still a lot to accomplish…just gonna chip away at it all a little at a time. Makes me feel a little like Sisyphus, though.

 

Perhaps if I hijack one of these bad boys, I’ll get it done. Eventually

 

 

Strawberry Boobs Forever June 19, 2013

Filed under: life — kathy @ 12:20 pm
Tags: , ,
After an hour of picking, you cannot believe how heavy and overflowing this box was. I think it was 6.5 lbs of berries.

After an hour of picking, you cannot believe how heavy and overflowing this box was. I think it was 6.5 lbs of berries.

Yes, I said the b word. Sorry.

 

But there’s no better way to illustrate how much fun Bug and I had on yet another trip out to Swanton Berry Farms in Davenport, CA for our annual late spring  U-pick celebration of strawberry bountifulness.

What an amazing setting...out on the horizon, there? That's the Pacific.

What an amazing setting…out on the horizon, there? That’s the Pacific.

What a charming little place; perched on a high plain at the edge of the Pacific, it was the perfect spot to escape the 90 degree day that was predicted for us last Friday. It’s always so much cooler there. The blasting ocean wind required a warm wooly hat–for me anyway…with all those curls, Bug has built in ear protection–and the bright sun required big dark sunglasses. Don’t I look silly? And layers were necessary, since we’d be driving back home to the warmth of the valley, after all.

Still, I suppose I wasn’t thinking when I selected that white top. On the other hand, the big blot of strawberry juice on the front of my shirt perfectly illustrates how great the picking was this year. It was like a treasure hunt, with some of the very best berries hidden away under broad leaves at the tops of their raised mounds.

Found it!

Found it!

DSCN0041As a midwestern girl,  the way they grow strawberries here along the ocean always intrigues me: long rows of 2-foot-high mounds filled with sandy dark soil, all covered by blankets of black plastic to keep the roots of the little plants happy and toasty. And believe it, the sun over the open field really heats up those rows. Just placing my hand on the side of the mound to help steady myself as I crossed over the row, I could feel how warm it must be inside those cozy little beds.

Because of this TLC, the strawberries were amazing. And at some point, as the two of us crept through the rows, picking, lost in thought, breathing the intoxicating scent of warm strawberries on a cold ocean wind, we realized the heavy boxes we clutched so tight to our chests (or in my case, boobs), were just not going to hold one more berry. Indeed, there were berries falling out onto the ground, those boxes were so full.

Which is why I had “strawberry boobs.”

This is more adorable than   I can capture in any photo. There are couches and picnic tables on the other side of the room where you can enjoy your lunch or your pie, and games and storybooks for the kiddos, too.

This is more adorable than I can capture in any photo. There are couches and picnic tables on the other side of the room where you can enjoy your lunch or your pie, and games and storybooks for the kiddos, too.

Anyway, at that point it was time to go inside the adorable farm stand and pay for our berries. It always blows my mind that everyone pays on the honor system there.

 

U pick, U weigh, U pay.DSCN0011

 

And after a quick stop in Pescadero to pick up a delicious sandwich and couple of loves of Artichoke Garlic Focaccia at Arcangeli Grocery (thank goodness you can only get this amazing, addictive bread there or online…I made the most amazing crostini out of it for appetizers the next night, but I digress), and some delicious tree-ripened organic plums and fresh corn from another local farm stand, we made our way back over the hills to our hot little house.

 

 

YUM!

YUM!

And after yet another day covered in strawberries, I now have a pantry once again full of jewel-colored jars brimming with fresh jam, and a freezer full of strawberries for smoothies, or even another batch of jam (here’s a great recipe and website for recipes and how-tos of making jam–especially the low sugar version I make). Yeah, it’s a little work, a little mess, but believe me, opening a sunny jar of strawberry jam on a stormy winter day is well worth suffering through a strawberry boob. 😉

 

Strawberry Fields Forever June 6, 2011

It’s strawberry pickin’ season and we’ve been busy around here.

Hopped in the car with the Bug, headed down the coast for a “girl’s strawberry pickin'” adventure. Fun. I love driving Route 1 along the ocean. You can keep the mountains and the redwoods with their steep, dark, creepy roads; I love the open wildness of the pacific coast.

The views were incredible!

We took the long way down: we started early in the morning up at Half Moon Bay and headed until we were just south past Pescadero a few miles, to Swanton Berry Farm.

I haven’t picked strawberries since I was a kid growing up in Winfield, Illinois where they grew wild and sweet in the field behind our house. Remind me to tell you the story of the snake, someday…

Here we found a charming little farmstand where you picked up your baskets and headed for the fields.

Lucky for us, we were some of the first people there. By 11 am, it was super crowded, but by then Bug and I had picked as much as we could carry. We headed back to the farmstand and weighed our booty (hey—our strawberry booty! They don’t provide a scale that large) and paid for it–using the honor system, no less! We also bought a few of their handmade strawberry chocolate truffles. Yum!

Love the name! It's an Art and Garden Boutique!

On our way back, we popped into downtown Pescadero for some lunch and “wandering with the intent to purchase non-essential items.” Luckily there were only a few places to shop. 😉

We had a great lunch at a homey, tavern-y place called “Duarte’s” (which Bug reminded me had been on Food Channel before).  They’ve been around for ages and are famous for their Cream of Artichoke soup (which of course I had to have), and their fresh seafood (which Bug had to have).

Bug wanted to show you all her lunch

Just half of our strawberry booty

The next morning, part 2 of the adventure began: Strawberry Jam Making.

Step one

I’ve made jams before, but since we’ve been cutting sugar out of our diets as much as possible around here, I really wanted to play around with making a low sugar version, and this seemed like the best place to start.

After going through my trusty Ball Canning Recipe Book, we began. I also found some great help on this website. There are a ton of recipes that looked good for canning. I ended up doing one batch with half the traditional amount of sugar, and another batch using one quarter the amount of sugar with one quarter organic agave syrup (which I know is technically sugar, but oh well…). The results of both versions were thumbs up all around here.

I know lots of people who can, and I know a lot more who think canning’s too much work to bother. Personally, I think prepping the jars is actually the hardest part of canning. Once that’s ready to go, and your produce is cooking, it’s a breeze. Honestly, I feel lost household arts like these are important; our kids should know how to do it. Self-sufficiency is important and empowering. And fun. And besides, homemade jam just tastes better. CR kept saying how fresh it tasted. Can’t say I could argue with him. It was worth the time spent.

Bubbling away

There was even enough time later that day to make a couple of loaves of that wonderful no-knead bread, and we ate like royalty for the next few days. I think every breakfast around here last week had some homemade bread or strawberry jam at the center of it all! We still have a dozen jars, but I don’t know how long they’ll last. I was thinking of using them for teacher gifts, but…

Later this month…Olallieberries!

Please, feel free to comment! I love to know what you’re thinking! Don’t be shy! If anything, it makes this little fish in the huge blog-i-sphere ocean feel good that someone is noticing my musings…

 

 
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