Sheep & Wool Festival

Williams sweater

Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival

If you are a yarn person, either spinner or crafter, this festival is reputed to be the bomb-diggity.  Each year Ronnie and I talk about making an appearance and, each year, that plan get’s bumped by other activities.  This year, while daughters are still home to look after Luna, we will make the pilgrimage; time has been taken off, rooms blocked off, and pennies being pinched.

Even with those classes I wanted to take already full, it will be worth the ride to connect with like minded crafters and, perhaps, pick up a few tips to make my spinning a bit more consistent.  There are several family activities, for minimal fees, still available; if you are planning to attend, do not wait too long even for these activities.

In the meantime, I will continue to create with commercially spun fibers from Williams sweaterLion brand and such.  This little beauty is for my new nephew, who will arrive in the next few months.

Before some locals get their shorts in a bunch, I will add this disclaimer: I own neither sheep nor goats.

 

 

Doodlesome

sofa surfing
sofa surfing
family surfers

adjective 

  1. feeling lethargic
  2. lacking energy
  3. an overwhelming urge to sofa surf.

Please use in a sentence:

My mother-in-law was visiting today and announced that she was never felt so doodlesome.

 

Christmas Ghost Stories

A Christmas Carol in prose. - caption: 'Marley's Ghost. Ebenezer Scrooge visited by a ghost.'
One of John Leech’s illustrations for A Christmas Carol, 1842.

The Christmas we celebrate today has not changed much from that of Victorian England; decorating an evergreen, sending Christmas cards, caroling, and stuffing stockings.  The exception to this is an old fashioned ghost story, told around a fire, with a drink in hand.

Have you really paid attention to a particular phrase from the popular Christmas carol, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year …

And caroling out in the snow
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of …

Missed it, didn’t you.  Telling scary stories at Christmas time was a long-held English tradition; remember, ‘in the day’ people did not have television; people gathered together, drank and told stories.  Only traces of this once beloved tradition remain: singing the above carol and listening (or watching) Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Did you know that the celebration of Christmas was almost abolished?  In the mid-1700’s, Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell argued that in no place in the Bible were Christians told to celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December. December the 25th was chosen not only because of its association with pagan and Roman celebrations but due to the symbology of the death and rebirth of the light.  This death symbology and that December 25th (the winter solstice) is the longest night of the year makes this night a good fit for ghost stories.

So as the days darken, and the cold finds all the little cracks and crannies into your home, throw another log onto the fire, grab some nog, and tell a tall tale or two.  For your Christmas ghost story telling pleasure, I offer these:

For those that prefer a more visual tale, you can watch The Others or Sixth Sense.  

Mwahaha.

Waxing Sentimental

christmas yule

For some, this is a bit soon to be thinking of Christmas and for others, planning began months ago.  Our holidays are normally low-key (except for Halloween) yet I am waxing sentimental for the coldest of holidays – in the Northern Hemisphere, that is.

My memories of Christmas past, included one large gift under the tree (usually a craft project box) and a stocking filled to the brim with nuts, oranges, smoked oysters, and miscellaneous small gifts that could be wrapped and added.  At no time were gifts tumbling from under the tree; when my daughters were young, I tried to keep minimal the norm…very difficult with well meaning grands.

Gifts need to have purpose and meaning.  My sister has a rule: One must be able to wear it, eat it, or put it in the bank.  An excellent rule with one addition: it must be handmade.christmas yule

That brings me to now.  Having poured through many crafting/repurposing idea books, we found several viable gift ideas..items that must be started now in order to be ready in time for giving (or mailing to far off places).

Those items will not be listed now as the surprise would be ruined; you will get to see these after the gifting.

Happy crafting!

 

Fiery, Hot, Habaneros!

The other day we were gifted with a bowl full of habanero and scots bonnet peppers. Not being a pepper aficionado, I had to read up on what these were and how to use them; what a gift!  These peppers are HOT!  According to Google, there are only a handful that are 2-3 times hotter; that’s ok, these are hot enough.

Ronnie loves the spicey yet these may be too much for him.  No chemical burns, please. My tastes run on the hot/tamer side.  A good compromise?  Why some hot pepper jelly.  Just a teaspoon makes a dish pop.

I know your thinking “but jelly is for toast, right?”.  Ummm, not in this case.

  • Top a block of cream cheese, add some crackers.  Mmmm.
  • Heat up that BBQ sauce with just a touch
  • Hot wings
  • Brush on a ham
  • Gifts (with a tag on uses)
  • Final glaze for fish, chicken, pork, or beef
  • spoon over vanilla ice cream
  • melt jelly and add to your salad dressing of choice (Italian is a good choice)

I am assuming that you know how to use a hot water canner and am familiar with the new canning guidelines.  This recipe appeared to be a good fit as we have two boxes of liquid pectin to use up:

  • 12 ounces assorted chili peppers, with stems, seeds and ribs removed.  WEAR GLOVES for this – these peppers are hot enough to produce chemical burns.
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 6 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 pouches liquid pectin

In a food processor, blend the peppers and 1 cup of the vinegar.  The mixture should be fairly smooth, but not completely so you end up with pretty little flecks of peppers in the jelly.

In a large saucepan, combine this puree with the sugar and remaining 1 cup of vinegar.  Bring to a boil and stir constantly for 10 minutes.  Add the pectin and stir for one more minute.  Remove from heat and let the foam subside.

Habanero JellyPour jelly into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Wipe the rims, center lid over jar and screw on band tightly.  Place into canner and process (at a high boil) for 10 minutes.  Wait at least 5 minutes before removing from canner.

As the jars cool, you may need to swirl gently to encourage more even dispersal of the pepper flecks; I did not have to do this. Refrigerate any leftover jelly plus any jars that do not completely seal by the next day.

Unopened jars will be good on your shelf for about a year.  I am going to use this on some beef this eve.  Will let you know what happens!