Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Hallloween!

Our pumpkin this year isn't anywhere as good as our award-winning creation from last year. So here is last year's pumpkin.

Happy Trick-or-Treating!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sewing, and other ways to keep one busy

My little sister (who is practically a quarter-century old, but will always be my little sister) came to visit two weeks ago. She's the first family member to visit us and I think we had a fun time. I think one of the coolest things she saw was the Mississippi. Most of us from the west don't think of the Mississippi being so far up north - though of course it has to come from somewhere.

There are lots of things to see and do here, but we mostly sat around chatting and hanging out. We did get over to the Teasource a couple times and we went to Minnehaha Falls.

The week before my sister came I was busy making her a quilt which I had almost finished by the day she arrived. Here she is holding it up, and then there is a crazy shot showing the pumpkin-orange backing.

That week, while busy sewing, I also wrote an article for the local paper! I'd been chatting with them for about a week and the editor finally got back to me saying, "If you can get us an article today, we'll get it in the paper." It's not bad considering I had about 12 hours to do it in. Sounds like a lot when I say it like that, but I did get two interviews for the article. Anyway, here it is online. In the print edition it's on the front page!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

End of an era

Some time last week was the first widespread frost in Minnesota, though I'm not sure if it actually reached the metro area. It was enough to cause friends and neighbors to harvest their last tomatoes and bring plants indoors.

We brought our herbs in and our two nasturtiums. The nasturtiums have been loving the warmth, giving us probably a dozen blooms in the last week!

After all the pots were inside, I put the bird feeder out. I'm so excited to see the birds flocking to our porch once more. It only took them about an hour to discover the feeder - and not much longer to eat every last bit!

Jeremy also pulled our four tomato plants out of the ground and hung them up in the basement to keep ripening.

He also harvested a bunch of kale and most of the chives and parsley. He pulled down all our netting and caging and set up a cold frame to help keep our second batch of kale and lettuce snug (if not much warmer). Our garden looks so bare and sad after the abundance of summer!

Our beans are, somehow, still producing. At least, they were. I think we've had some hard frosts so they may be done. I don't think we gave the scarlet runner beans long enough to grow. They are quite big, but the beans inside are quite small. We'll probably pull the beans down by the end of the week - and plant them much earlier next year!

But we can now say that our freezer is packed and our root cellar is filling up - we should be set for winter.

(Nope, we don't have a new camera yet - the family is letting us borrow one of theirs from time to time. It takes such clear pictures!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008


For the statisticians: October 26th is the first day of snow for the Twin Cities!

It's been "snowing" for most of the day, sometimes snow, sometimes more frozen rain, sometimes flurries, sometimes rain, sometimes big fluffy flakes. There hasn't been any accumulation and I don't expect there to be any. Just winter's way of letting us know he's coming!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Betting on Snow

Well here's a cultural difference: betting on the first day of snow.

I read in the Star Tribune (the local paper) that people are placing bets (though probably not literally) on the first day of snow. Here are the first day of snow dates for the last few years:

2004: October 17
2005: October 6
2006: October 11
2007: November 5

I had heard that the first day of snow in Minneapolis was December 1st last year - so perhaps the November date was for anywhere in Minnesota. I doubt that though, as northern Minnesota got their first frost in August! I don't think there has been snow anywhere in the state, but I think they are calling for that by early next week for up north.

It's hard to believe what with the lovely weather we've had lately. It has been cold in the mornings, but we've been in the upper 60s and low 70s for a couple days.

This snow thing is so different from Seattle where we take bets on how many days we'll go without seeing the sun - or if we'll break the record for number of days of rain in a row - or most amount of rain in 24 hours - something along those lines.

Any bet in Seattle around snow would be more along the lines of whether it would snow.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Fall is most assuredly here. The leaves are turning shades of yellow, orange, and red and falling in piles everywhere. The days are shorter and colder and pumpkins are showing up in stores all across town (as well as witches, ghosts, and other reminders of the holiday at the end of the month).
Our beans are finally producing and we manage to pick a handful every couple days.
No one told the tomatoes the season was ending: our cherry tomato bloomed some more last week and we're still picking off a handful of beautiful ripe yellow cherry tomatoes every couple days.
We pulled out the giant fennel and moved the mint to make way for some fall lettuce and kale planting. We've got almost enough bales of hay to build a little cold frame and hopefully keep those guys growing for another couple months.

For those who haven't heard, we've been working on building a cellar for most of the summer. It has been quite the process - a never-ending, ongoing, will-it-ever-be-done!? process. But, the end is in sight and I'll have quite a long post to share the joys and frustrations with everyone.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sew much fun

Sorry for the dumb pun. =) Being unemployed (still), another thing I've been doing more (other than baking and preserving and gardening) is sewing.

My mom has been sewing forever so I grew up with needles and pins in the carpet, thread stuck to my clothes, piles of fabric here and there, and a sewing machine and ironing board always at the ready. I started sewing my first quilt in 6th grade (though I didn't finish it till after college!) and I remember trying to sew doll clothes. I helped my mom with sewing projects and I'm pretty sure she probably made me sew on my own buttons if they fell off.

In recent years I've taken on making clothes for people: pajama pants for the men in the family at Christmas and a bathrobe for my brother (which he grew out of years ago I'm sure). I didn't think of this skill as much more than a hobby or a way to come up with a fun Christmas present.

But then Jeremy asked if I could try some things. His favorite white shirt was beyond thread-bare, including a torn out elbow. He wondered, innocently (not realizing the complexity of the request), if I could make him a new shirt. With some spare time on my hands I took the shirt apart and used it to make a pattern (taking in some parts and making the sleeves longer).

I needed to test it first though. Could I actually follow my directions and figure out how to sew a new shirt? My mom had sent me a bunch of white fabric years ago to make curtains for my room. I had a lot leftover so I made a test shirt out of this. (A friend of Jeremy's remarked on this fact: "How very Sound of Music of you.") The shirt turned out pretty nicely:

With the pattern worked out, we got some non-curtain material and I made another shirt (I may include a picture later when I get a new camera).

A friend saw this and asked if I could make a cover for her ottoman. She had an extra couch cover that she wasn't using so I used that to make the cover:

Then Jeremy wanted bike shorts because his old ones were wretchedly awful and in desperate need of replacing.

I'm excited about making more shirts, but Jeremy says he has enough for now. That's too bad because we just found a great source of organic cotton: Tenfold Organic Textiles. We'll order from them when Jeremy needs another shirt. With the weather getting colder, Jeremy has requested a longer pair of biking pants and we also picked up a pattern for some work pants. We found some great organic heavier material in a herringbone pattern. The material has been out of stock all summer but hopefully we'll be able to get some soon.

And maybe, as the weather gets colder, I'll start making quilts again.