Thursday, April 30, 2009

What's wrong with me?

I think Madness has overtaken me. This morning started off like any other day, get up, eat, get kids ready, take kid to school, etc. Normal, boring Mommy crap. Then something happened.

It started when I was looking on Ravelry at the natural dye plants that can be planted in a garden. I knew that I wouldn't do that, but then I remembered reading somewhere about plants that mosquitoes avoid.

Now my whole extended family may keel over on reading this, but guess what I did during naptime today? Planted a tiny flower garden. Not sure what came over me, I must be possessed or something. I am NOT the outdoorsy, garden-y type. That would be my In-Laws who not only possess green thumbs, but every other appendage on their bodies are green as well. They have fantastic gardens. Me? Nope. I hate being outside. So I'm really not sure why I was bitten by the gardening bug on this lovely.

Except for maybe experimentation. I really want to know if some of these plants will help chase away mosquitoes. We'll see, if I don't kill them with neglect from this point on.

The bad thing? They're guaranteed to attract a few bees and bugs and the Youngest is terrified of those. Oh well.

We have very nasty red, thick Georgia clay here. It just about killed me to dig it up and mix it with potting soil and then spread it back out. While doing that, I had to tear out all the nasty wild violets, wild strawberries and chickweed that had taken over the area. I wish I had taken a before pic of it to show you, but it was really nasty.

The only things worth saving were some Spiderwort and some other little herb-y thing my Mother in law gave us years ago. I tried seperating some of that out and replanting it, but I'm not sure if that will live. I'm an optomistic type though, so I'm going to will it to live. Think that'll work?

I planted lavendar, marigolds and some creeping verbain. I have no idea what creeping verbain is, but it said that butterflies like it, so I threw it into the garden as well. Told ya I don't have a clue what I'm doing.

When the Youngest and I went shopping this morning for all the stuffs, you should have heard the fit he pitched about the marigolds. He wanted only the Orangen (his word for orange) ones! He got really mad that I picked out several different types and colors. Usually he's up for variety, but not this time.

So here's the pics of the tiny little beds:

There was very little rhyme or reasoning involved on where I planted things. I just put them where I wanted to and we'll hope for the best.

The huge plant at the corner of the deck area is a Seloeum (sp?). I have no clue how to spell that one right. It's like a big elephant ear. It can't take the winters here, so we have to cart it and it's brother into the garage during that time. It absolutely loves it during the other three seasons though. You can see from the crack that it's busting out of it's pot and needs a new one.

And so now my little garden is planted and watered and I'm very tired, but I'm priding myself on finding yet another way to avoid cleaning the inside of my house. I'm going to go sit and knit now. I'm pooped.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie

I'm going to share a tasty recipe with you today. I could tell you that I'm doing this out of the goodness of my own heart and because it's all about giving back and blogging about wonderful things, but it wouldn't be the complete truth. No, blogging about this is more of a way for me to excuse away the gluttony that is caused by a summer pie. So, go make this and I won't feel as guilty about scarfing this pie 'cause all you folks will be scarfing it too. Misery Gluttony loves company.

My sweet fang (way too big to be a tooth) kicked it into high gear today and I had to do something about it. A few weeks ago we had a millionaire/million dollar pie. It was wonderfully sinful. This time I wanted something similar, but without huge chunks of fruit in it. It had to be sweet and tart as well, perfect for spring/summer weather.

Here it is:

Shea's Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie

Ingredients: (makes two pies)

2 graham cracker pie crusts
1 8oz. pkg Philly 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1 small carton cool whip
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 twenty oz. can crushed pineapple
Sprig of mint for garnish (optional)

Cream together the cream cheese and sugar, then add in the lemon juice. Once well blended, add the pineapple. Fold in the cool whip and then pour the contents of the bowl evenly into the two graham cracker pie crusts.

Chill for a couple of hours before serving to allow it to set.

1. You can use fat free or regular cream cheese, I just used what I had on hand.
2. Leave out the sugar and use a can of condensed sweet milk instead. I would have done this, but ran out of it. It's truly decadent when you use the condensed sweet milk.

So, now that I have my pie, I need to make the guys in the house a cake. From a cake mix of course, because that's what I have and I'm lazy. This will hopefully divert everyone's attention from the yummy pie that is in the fridge.

By the way and before you point it out, Yes, I know I said I need to lose weight, but I also know that I have zero willpower. So there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dye Day

Today was dye day at the House of Shea. Remember the 75 boxes of egg dye that I and my Mom purchased recently? I decided it was high time that we test these for color accuracy and saturation. This literally took half of my day and all of my kitchen to do.

I got out a bag of scrap fiber and the postal scale and measured out bumps that weighed .2 ounces each.

I got out all the glass jars I could find and mixed up my dyes with the vinegar. The directions suggest 1/2 cup water and three tablespoons vinegar per dye tablet. I did some playing around and found that for each .2 oz bump, I would need 1/4 cup of product to get the deep color that I was looking for. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

I set up my table with post it notes on two sides. Top down was yellow, orange, green, red, blue and purple. Left to right was blue, green, yellow, orange, red, purple. Once these were dyed in the microwave (2 min. on and 2 min. resting until dye exhausts) I put them on plates and on the table in their graph position so that I could keep up with what colors were mixed together.

These really don't make sense lined up as they are in this picture. Once they dry I'll be able to set up a color wheel to show you how they turned out.

The colors were not what I expected at all. Purple and Green dye tablets are not at all true. The purple likes to break and is more blue than true purple. The Green is a Teal green and has way too much blue in it. Red, Orange, Yellow and Blue were as expected.

I was looking for more muted colors in some areas and didn't get them at all. I will have to go back and add more complimentary colors into what I already have on the table.

It will be interesting to go back and overdye some of these with browns and grays. I'll either do this with Wilton's or I will break down and get some more Jacquard dyes to do this with.

EDITED TO ADD: There is both Red #40 and Red #3 dyes in these tablets. The box does not say which colors contain which reds. However, the purple kept breaking like crazy, so I guess it's safe to assume it has the red #3 in it. Red #3 can be persnickety at the best of times. It has a problem with acidity. It's not soluble below 6 ph so when the acid, in this case vinegar, is added, it separates and will eventually wash out. Next time I try this, I will add the acid very, very slowly and probably on the stove top over a long period of time and check the results then.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stitches South Review

This weekend Stitches South hit the Atlanta Galleria. I showed up promptly at 10:00am on Saturday morning to give it the once over. My family and friends looked at me like I had grown two heads. Why in the world would someone give up a Saturday morning to look at yarn?

Well, it was yarn sensory overload, I'll tell ya that much. There was yarn everywhere. It was bright and beautiful. The folks there did a great job of putting everything together. There were giveaways and fashion shows and classes too. I didn't stay for any of those. I was there a total of two hours and one hour of that was spent going back through a second time.

I had only two issues with the whole thing. One, I was by myself which was totally my fault. If I had checked the Ravelry board in time, I might have had a buddy or two.

The second issue was that I expected there to be more vendors in general and at least a few more vendors that sold spinning stuff. This is in no way a criticism of Stitches, just a perception problem on my side. I think I spoiled myself by going to SAFF in October and that was freakin' huge. Fiber did well there, I saw a lot of ladies walking out with it, so maybe they will keep that in mind for the next event.

Some of the vendors at Stitches that I have to write about:

My LYS: The Whole Nine Yarns from Woodstock, GA. As always, a fabulous setup and the people, Karyn (not sure I spelled her name correctly) and Jenna, were super.

For Fiber: I met the KnitWitch finally and bought some fiber from her. If you need any good knitting videos, you can get them thru her site or just go to Youtube and type in Knitwitch. She's got some great ones that have been very useful to me in the past. She said that she's planning on doing a few more soon. I grabbed some 50/50 merino/alpaca fiber (4 oz.) from her.

I also met the owner of Creatively Dyed Yarn. She was just too cute for words and gave me a free Ravelry button to wear. From her, I bought 8oz. of Seawool fiber - 70%wool, 30% seacell. It's amazingly soft and I can't wait to spin this up.

Both of those gals have some wonderfully dyed yarn and fiber! Here's a pic of the fiber:

I didn't buy one skein of yarn. I figured that I spent way too much of my budget as it was. Not that I could resist, I mean, look just look at that gorgeous fiber! Now I just have to figure out a project to spin yarn for.

I've also started another project. This one is Carol's Clever Little Shawl. I've made it through two of the fourteen repeats so far:

This is from my handspun. I've already got 393 yards spun and some more to be spun for this project. I didn't want to wait until it was all spun before I started it on it. I have no relationship with the word patience!

I'm in love with this pattern. The lady who wrote it studied a shawl from the 1800's and figured out how to reverse engineer it. It's simple and lovely . I really wanted a rustic (and rusty) look to this shawl, so I made sure that my yarn was thick/thin and rusty in color.

All in all, it was a lovely weekend.