Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sleepy Hollow Acorns

Looking for a little treat without calories or sugar? Try my little acorn cushions. I just finished a batch and FINALLY added a new item to my Etsy Shop. These spookies were actually gathered from the grave site of writer Washington Irving in Sleepy Hollow NY. 

This huge ancient oak towers over the other trees at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and just happens to be in the private family plot of Washington Irving. It showers the ground with these little shaggy capped acorns. 

Irving's grave is the one decorated with flags and pumpkins. Quite humble, not what one would expect from the writer of such stories as The Headless Horseman and Rip Van Winkle.

 I gathered my acorns on an overcast, drizzly October day. Noisy ravens perched on the tops of gravestones. It could not have been a more perfect day for my spooky task.

I was determined to stay until my basket was full even though it started raining. I did fill that basket and I ended up with a stow away.

My Spooky Acorns would make a nice addition to your Autumn nature display or could even be a stocking stuffer for those people on your Christmas list who enjoy the eerie all year round.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tree Bark Fall Poncho

Back in late spring I started this broken cable pattern poncho. That would give me enough time to finish it before fall when I looked forward to wearing it. It turned out that I put my knitting down a lot, sometimes for weeks at a time. The idea of a large wool poncho on my lap lost it's appeal during the warmer months. Also my tennis elbow flared up so there was another reason to set my knitting aside. 

Because I put it away so much I always forgot where I was in the pattern when I picked it up again. So, I just started back at the beginning of the cable pattern each time, whether right or wrong. It was supposed to be a perfect, tight fishbone pattern, instead it was looking like this. Which I love! It reminds me of something growing, like the bark of a tree. People who saw me knitting commented that it looked like bark. Cool, I just kept on knitting crazy and wrong, foregoing the original pattern for the tree bark look.

Well, it's finished and I have been wearing all around. Yesterday we stopped off at a "Bubble Shop", they sell bubble teas and lots of tasty asian sweets. You can see me and my finished poncho with an impressive amount of roll cakes. A couple of people have already asked me for the pattern. It's the same answer when I'm asked for a recipe..."Well, I can give you the ingredients but as to exact measurements you're on your own since I just kind of wing it."

Friday, October 3, 2014

Into Fall and Back in Time

Last week we went off on an excursion to Old Sturbridge Village. As we drove from New York to Massachusetts. it was obvious that they are ahead of us when it comes to Autumn. The colors became more and more brilliant as we went along. When we got there I was enthralled by this grove which is on the grounds of Sturbridge Village. 

Sturbridge Village is "an 1830s New England Living History Museum". We usually go there on Homeschool Day, but this time we ran of on a whim. They have farm buildings, homes, gardens, shops, a saw mill, grist mill, a cooper, a huge wood burning pottery kiln, yarn spinning, a blacksmith, a tinsmith and more! All working and manned with costumed educators. You can even try your hand at the various crafts and trades.

My younger pretending to do her "chores". 

One thing my husband and I really love about Sturbridge is their bookshop. It's chock full of everything we are interested in. Crafting and herbs for me, American History and trees for him. Since we are entering the spooky month of October I picked up 'Wicked Plants' for myself and a book about the Salem Witch Trials for the girls. I went back the next day and grabbed 'Vintage Knit Gloves and Mittens' by Kathryn Fulton. I started knitting these fingerless gloves as soon as we got home.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Foraging Fun: Chicken-of-the-Woods

We went out looking for tree nuts and ended up instead with this lovely Chicken-of-the-Woods mushroom. My husband was the one to spot it, as I tramped right over it! It is also called Sulpher Shelf and it is a favorite foraged mushroom because not only is it very nice to eat, but there are no poison lookalikes. Some folks say it really doesn't taste like chicken, I think it does. The texture is very much like chicken breast. Like tofu it will become whatever you flavor it to be. Really, if you didn't know this was a mushroom, wouldn't you think this sliced up bit is cooked chicken breast? The black and white feather is turkey, found near the mushroom.
Chicken-of-the-Woods grows on trees, logs and roots. Bring a sharp knife, you'll have to slice it off. Look at this color! We found two this size, but some bunches can be huge. It you are lucky enough to come across a giant clump you should cook it at once if you won't be able to eat it all within a couple of days. After it's cooked, freeze it and throw it into soups and stews, rice dishes, casseroles or pasta as you want it. You can also dry it out to store it, but it requires more fat to cook it in to rehydrate. 
The underside ranges from light yellow to white. They are best eaten when they are young and tender. When they get big they are hard and woody. In that case I would just trim off the very tips to eat.
You can bake it, braise it or as I did here, saute it. Since finding this Chicken-of-the-Woods was a surprise treat I had to fit it into my already planned lunch, curried pumpkin soup. We came home from our foraging walk hungry. As the soup was heating up I sauteed the mushroom. Very tasty, like crispy bits of fried chicken.
You will find these mushrooms growing in shady woods and sunny city parks. We found ours on the grounds of Sunnyside, Washington Irving's home. As I've said, there are no poison lookalikes for Chicken-of-the-Woods, so if you are new to mushroom hunting, this is a good one to start with.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Magical Rat Creature

We usually spend Labor Day visiting or being visited by friends or family. Since everyone has the day off work and school it's a good time to get together. B-B-Q and pool time. But this year the weekend leading up to Labor Day was enough socializing for my family. Saturday we went to the NY Ren Faire. My big girl was an elf and my small one was a fairy. (I finished my costume sewing as we walked out the door!) 

On Sunday we had church and then our church's end of summer B-B-Q. We got home late and all agreed that we would stay home alone the following day, even though it was Labor Day. We just wanted to relax by ourselves. I'm so glad we did. We had a great day and my older daughter had a nice long chunk of time to make this magical rat creature.
His name is Thaddeus and he has quite a lot of personality. She used Sculpy clay for his head and feet and made his plush plump body out of fake fur that she picked up at a tag sale.
Thaddeus has a wire in his tail, so he can hang on or even hang upside down. We took him out shopping with us and people kept asking me if he was real! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

watching the celery grow

We are coming down from a week of busy- busy- busy. It feels so good to just stay home and *watch the celery grow. 

By coincidence (more like divine synchronicity) two of our friends, Rin and Holly  happened to be visiting us here in NY from Cambodia during the same week.  They both work with an organization called Water of Life. That's how we met them. Water of Life is a church and an orphanage in Pnom Phen. A couple of years ago my church began visiting and helping to support Water of Life. Through our close contact visiting and working together on various projects these folks have been knit into our family.

 Rin had never been to NY before so of course we wanted to show him a good time. Central Park, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the B'way production of Les Miserables were some of the things crammed into our week together. On top of that we had to show them the natural beauty of NY State. So we climbed a mountain...and had to climb back down. Whew!

Add to these activities VBS (Vacation Bible School) every day. My daughter signed up weeks ago to work at VBS, so we couldn't very well back out now. Our crazy week finished up with my big girl's 15th birthday. By then neither of us wanted or needed to plan a celebration. The whole week was a party! A friend suggested that a bunch of us gals could meet at our favorite tea room for a no stress/ no work birthday tea, so that's what we did. 

It was a wonderful and memorable week, but I'm really happy that I have no plans or obligations this week. The only deadline I have is to make a dress for my young one to wear to the Ren Faire this weekend. Ahhh. 

* The celery thing is fun to do with kids and you get some bonus food. It's a kind of recycling. My young one likes to measure and document the growth. Just take those cut base ends of celery stalks and put them in water. They will not only grow roots, but they will grow more celery. They won't get as big and as thick as they once were but they will grow. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Berries are Back!

The berries are back. I've posted before about my compulsion to pick. It seems like every time we go for a nature walk these days we end up stuck (literally!) picking berries. Blackberries and wild raspberries are ready to go right now. We get all scratched up and sticky. We battle thorns, poison ivy and spider webs. We need tick checks when we get home (we have lots of nasty ticks here). But we still go into the thickets because it's fun and the reward of wild berries is worth it.
We were lucky to find a running stream to wash off our very sticky hands.
I have been making a lot of berry crumbles, the days have been fairly cool for this time of year and I'm in the mood to bake. I use oats, coconut sugar, butter and whatever flour I happen to grind up. I keep coconut, wheat berries, and other grains in the freezer to make into quick flours in the Vitamix.
Yummy berry scones for tea.
 I am out of berries, so we will be off and picking again later this week. I am always on the lookout for more yummy berry recipe ideas, so if you have any please do share!