Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy this great vintage artwork from The Vintage Workshop.  Amy shares images daily and has a lot of cute project ideas.  Check out her vintage notions book for sewers and crafters.

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I married a basketball coach

There are many great things about being married to a basketball coach.  I love talking basketball and it is especially fun to talk basketball with someone who knows what he is talking about.

My husband's team is junior high girls.  Even though this isn't the most high profile sport at his school, he spends a lot of time and energy thinking about how to improve their skill and win some games.

His game plans and practice plans are legendary.  I love to hear him break down film.

Tuesday night was an especially big game.  It was a rematch with a team that had beaten them by 20 points earlier in the season.  The end result of the second match was a victory for my husband's team by two points!  He watch the game film on Wednesday night while I started prep work for the Thanksgiving feast.  It was so much fun listening to him from the other room.  I don't think anyone cares more.

I especially adore finding these "game plan" cards around the house.  Usually, these cards go from dress shirt pocket to a basket or counter top in the house.  I like to read them.  It makes me remember my own basketball playing days and the coaches that carried similar cards.  My own coaches were (are) good men who loved the game and cared about their players.  I learned a lot from them about the game and life...just like I know my husband's athletes learn from him.

Monday, November 21, 2011

May we all have a "finder of cool things"

My wish for you is to have at least one friend who is the "finder of cool things."  I have a friend who easily has the best taste and finds all of the fun stuff way before anyone else.  She wowed me again!

I came back to the office last week after a really LONG morning.  It was one of those experiences where you question everything - if you are in the right line of work, if you are cut out for "this," if you should rethink everything you have always known to be true, .... you get the idea!

On my desk is this beautifully wrapped gift with a note from my friend.  It was by birthday gift!  (We are both very busy professionals, so our gift giving is usually a bit off schedule.  I kind of like it - a surprise gift really makes twice the impact.)

Inside was a collection of my friend's favorite things.  This adorable plush pumpkin might be my favorite.  I have seen these pumpkins on blogs all fall long and I really, really wanted one.  I have never seen one so miniature and in purple and just sweet as all get out.  Love it!

And, this elegant Vera Bradley slim case with two awesome pens.  Perfect for finding pens in my bag and great motivation for personal note writing.

 Lovely soap.  Natural.  Great scent.  In the hexagon shape and I really, really love bees and the hexagon.  The packaging is biodegradable and promotes putting this bright yellow bag in a compost pile.
Feeling especially thankful for great friends, cool gifts and surprises.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Invisible strength

We love our new art from Connie Norman.  Her work is phenomenal and you will not find a more kind and down-to-earth person.

We commissioned three bowls from her and had two arrive earlier in the year.  Acquiring the third bowl was a comedy of errors - a misspelling on the rim, a bowl that arrived broken and finally, this beauty was delivered this week!

Connie was so gracious and patient to stick with us.  We love, love, love the colors, pattern and little detail like the image on the side.  By far, this is our favorite of the three, but all are treasures.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A matched set

During Sunday morning chores, I took along my camera to try to catch a few small things around the farm. We get so busy, we forget to enjoy the everyday things.

When we first made the leap into chicken ownership, we were not sure what breeds to order.  I was set on getting bantam chickens (miniature or small variety) because they were so darn cute and their eggs are so darn cute, too!  We settled on some bantams and some regular sized Rhode Island Reds.

We ordered a straight run of bantams through a national hatchery which meant we were going to get a mix of male and female chickens completely left to chance. They were less expensive and gave us the variety in breed typed we wanted.  We ended up with several roosters that we farmed out to my dad who then gave them to someone near where he lived.  I am sure they were destined for the soup pot; a noble end to a good, comfortable life.

We did keep two roosters.  I really think those we kept are fantastic - great dramatic feathers and, for the most part, not too aggressive.  This little white and black pair always make me smile - a matched set, hen and rooster, with similar markings.  There is a buff pair - hen and rooster - that are pretty fantastic, too.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins

Jeremy is starting to call me the Muffin Maker.  I have tried out some new muffin recipes recently and it has typically been on a Sunday with the idea we can enjoy muffins for breakfast through the next week.

This recipe for Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins sounded delicious and super easy.  It also helped me use a small bag of blackberries in the freezer.

I did not have any lemons in the house.  I was just feeling happy that I had ricotta cheese and all the other ingredients!  I substituted limes for the lemons and the end result was still super delicious!

The recipe was originally on the blog Two Peas & their Pod that I discovered in an issue of Where Women Cook.

Lemon Ricotta Blackberry Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup ricotta cheese (whole or low-fat is fine)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blackberries
Turbinado sugar-for sprinkling on muffin tops

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest. Rub the lemon zest and sugar together with your fingers. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar and lemon zest mixture together until light and fluffy, about two minutes.  Add the ricotta cheese and beat until smooth. Beat in the egg, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.

3. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, fill each muffin cup half way with batter. Add three blackberries to each muffin cup. Top the muffins with remaining batter so blackberries are covered. Generously sprinkle turbinado sugar over each muffin top.

4. Bake muffins for about 20 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown. Let muffins cool for five minutes and serve.

Makes 12 muffins

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meet our neighbors

 We are so lucky to live in the country with great neighbors.  We like to pretend that the gorgeous orchard and cute holiday displays to the south are our own.  The truth is we have really gifted neighbors who are outstanding gardeners, mechanics, home keepers, bakers, and more.

We also like to pretend that the cows in the pasture to the north and east are our own.  Their arrival each fall marks the end of fall harvest and the start of winter.  We get to watch them graze and clean up the corn stubble.
 Jeremy told me earlier this week that there was an Oreo cow in the herd this year.  When Jeremy and I were first dating, we were in college and both aspiring teachers.  My area of study was agricultural education which meant that my lessons were about plants, animals, ag mechanics, and other topics.  He was making flash cards and learning to play the recorder for Music for Elementary School Teachers.

One of my lessons was on breeds of cattle and we happened to be driving back to Jeremy's hometown the weekend when I was working the lesson.  The entire drive we quizzed each other on the breeds of cattle we passed in the pastures across north central and northwest Kansas.  We really got a kick out of the Oreo cow.  I always say Oreo cow and can never remember the proper name of Belted Galloway.  (I had to look it up!)

We hardly ever see them, but know that a farm on our drive to Wichita has our favorite Oreo cows.  It's a treat to have one in our backyard.

This girl has these great double spots on one side, too.  I can't help but think of a bowling ball when I see her from this angle.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Alpaca fiber news

 Our alpaca fiber from last year's shearing is here in all sorts of forms - roving, yarn and rugs!

Ok, to tell you the truth, the roving and yarn has been here for awhile.  It was neatly packaged in bags and corralled in a box.  We had some moments this weekend to take everything out and take stock.

The roving is a blend of dark brown, fawn and ivory.  It is just as lovely as the previous year's, but overall darker tones.  We look forward to getting the new roving listed on eBay and in the hands of our friends for spinning and felting projects.

We also have a whole pile of yarn!  The four skeins shown below have our usual ivory, dark brown and fawn.  The new color is a blend of dark brown and ivory for this very pretty mocha color.

These four options are all sport weight and really lovely together.

 The black and ivory options shown here are worsted weight.
Our rugs are a wide variety of patterns and color schemes.  We have a couple in the larger 3' x 5' size and several in the 2' x 3'.

If you are a fiber artist and need some alpaca yarn or if you want to gift some for the holidays, let us know.  We'll be restocking at The Wicked Stitch in Wamego soon.

The rugs are available.  Check with us early for the best selection of patterns.