East of the mountains

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The Italian cousins are visiting so we got to leave all the moving boxes behind and escape east of the mountains to Black Butte Ranch. My boys hadn’t seen their slightly younger cousins in three years – they all immediately picked up where they left off and have been inseparable.  Older and wiser cousin Amelia watchs over them all to keep things sane.

Lots of laughing, walking, games, swimming – and wine for the worn out adults.

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Patti – another cousin – and I have squeezed in crafting time as well.  I have my spinning wheel:

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And I dug out some bins of fabric so we could work on fused fabric wall hangings:

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The annual Sisters quilt festival is this weekend so we walked around the shops of Sisters where a lot of the quilts are hanging, then spent some time on Pinterest and got further inspired.  The fish and the trees are my two finishes – the fish was sparked by all the fish quilts hanging on the shop walls, and the trees and birds are a not-as-good copy of a paper card I saw on Pinterest.  Stitching later will add in the details.

Patti’s is a lot more complicated – she is still working to cut out more trees and figure out how to make fabric camp chairs:

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Isn’t it great?  I am so making a camping quilt of my own some day.  Though mine will have to have tents as that is how we camp.

it has been so wonderful to relax and not think about boxes needing to be filled or emptied, or walls painted, or IKEA furniture assembled.  Just the sun through the trees, scissors finally back in my hands, and the occasional visiting wildlife.

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Tomorrow Patti and I go back for the quilt festival.  I’m sure there will be a lot more pictures!

Clue 2 finished

The Surrounded by Scraps mystery quilt-a-long came out yesterday, and today I finished up sewing the rectangular blocks.  A few 1 1/2″ squares sewn to 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ rectangles and a colorful pile is ready for clue 3 to come in March.

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Lots of chain piecing, which goes quickly, especially as I just finger pressed until the blocks were done.

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Now they join the 4 and 9 patch blocks and wait in the closet for their next addition.  I’ve a big pile of bigger squares that will be involved somehow.

This is all the sewing that I’ve gotten done since before the weekend, because we’ve been very occupied with this new little addition to the family:

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Meet Theo, our new five month old beagle/dachshund/mystery mix puppy.  Who maybe should have been named Puddles.

My youngest son has been asking for a dog for years, and we decided that he was old enough, and responsible enough.  Now we are all taking turns spending a lot of time outside, usually in the pouring rain, waiting for him to decide to pee.  It takes up a lot of sewing time!

But he’s sort of adorable, so it is hard to mind.  Actually, last night at nearly 10:00 as I stood in the cold, dark, dripping backyard, it wasn’t that hard.  I bought a huge golf umbrella on the way home today.

 

A small finish

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Despite the surprise extra days of leisure due to weather, there hasn’t been a lot of sewing lately – I’ve been on a knitting and spinning kick – but I do have one small sewing project I can check off the WIP list.

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These four placemats have joined their kin in a kitchen drawer, replacing some woven ones that were irretrievably stained.  A fun, quick project that used up a bunch of scrap strips and batting pieces.  I stitched each strip to the batting as I went along, so minimal topstitching was needed to keep the backing in place.  Of course, the tops lingered on the work table for a month before I actually got those backs sewn on . . .

Meanwhile, I’m still dunking fiber into dye pots.

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And I’m completely obsessed with how the colors of handspun are coming together in my cardigan knitting project.

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And then there is watching the snow fall – 8″ since it started last night.  A tremendous amount for where we live in Oregon!

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Cocooning

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Another stuck at home day, worsened by a very slight temp increase that has turned the powdery snow from yesterday to slush and icy rain. Tonight it is all supposed to freeze over again and kill anyone who dares roll wheels out of their driveway,

A lazy day for me is a new handspun cardigan knitting project started, plus tea and popcorn.

A lazy day for the boys is electronics, sword fights, HGTV and Wii.

I’m not actually sure what my husband’s been up to. He holed up in the office doing accounting type things for work. He did come out at one point to play Pokémon Monopoly with Son #2.

My cardigan is mostly the pattern Less is More, from Knitty.  I’ve made a few mods – worsted yarn instead of DK, I dropped the extra rows for the rolled neckline because I’m planning I-cord, and I abandoned the stripe pattern because I have about eight skeins I plan to pull yarn from rather than the pattern’s four.  But the basics and the shape remain the same.

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I’ve changed the yarn line up since taking this photo, taking out the red and adding in a medium purple.

img_7644Lots of winding yarn into cakes.  I’m a bit dubious about my gauge,  but I’m really liking the colors together.  Wrangling all those yarn cakes and balls takes some effort.  I’m carrying the extra yarn up the sides, occasionally breaking yarn when the distance gets too wide.  The plan is to hide all the ends and carries in the I-cord edging.  Fingers are crossed that works.

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Sledding the slopes

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We are lucky enough to live close enough to Mt. Hood for day trips to play in the snow.  Yesterday we headed up to the White River Sno-park for some sledding.

There were a LOT of people with the same idea, but plenty of hills so everyone had room.

My husband and older son were the intrepid speed demons.  My younger son and I have the heart, but lack a lot of the coordination.

We didn’t always manage to keep sledder and sled together.

And some of the hills were a little intimidating. My younger son and I were exceedingly doubtful once we got up to the top of this one and realized we now had to go back down:dscn1813

And it turned out we were right to doubt our skills!

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I preferred more sedate sledding when I could get away with it:

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It was a pretty fabulous day.

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Black Friday came in the mail

I’ve never been a mall shopper on Black Friday – the thought of the lines and crowds horrifies me.  But I did take advantage of the shopping-from-the-couch opportunities to do some fiber related shopping.

This all came in the mail over the last couple days:

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The quilt kit is a Christmukkah present for someone else, but the rest is for me. Kaffe Fassett shot cottons!  And I already totally love using both the ruler gripper and the little Japanese thread snips.

Both of those got a test drive this weekend as I did a small sewing project:

Quilt as you go, two at a time placemats.  I’ve lots and lots of scrap strips, so the four I made yesterday are just the start, and making two at a time really sped things up.

I also guided a a bit of a family assembly line in the kitchen as the second project of the day:

Four pans of lasagne for the freezer.

We were all about the mass production yesterday!

Dec. 7 – Updated to add that I forgot all about this Black Friday purchase until it came in the mail last night!  90″ x 20 yards of Pellon Nature’s Touch batting.  I haven’t used this kind before – I’ve been using Warm & Natural lately, but that roll was getting low, and this one was on a super sale.  It feels good to the touch.  I’ll keep you posted about what it is like to work with.

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Thanksgiving Eve

 

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My family tree is filled with Danes.  My ancestors spread from Denmark to the Dakotas and then to the Pacific Northwest. My mom was a Christensen, and married my dad, another (presumably unrelated) Christensen. A Norwegian or two found their way in, and we’ve since added branches for family members from Taiwan, Israel, Japan, and even Alabama, but we maintain a few Scandinavian traditions for the holidays.

When I was little, my Uncle Ray (one of the Norwegians who snuck in) would always make lefse, a Scandinavian potato bread, for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  As we got old enough, my cousins and my siblings and I got to help.

Uncle Ray had high standards.  Insufficiently round lefse meant wielding the scissors to trim them back into shape.  Thin meant really thin, not the lumpy, uneven surfaces mine tended to.  However, Uncle Ray also was a firm believer in a couple or three cocktails while cooking in the evening, so inevitably, some lowering of the standards crept in.  Those lefse didn’t make it to the feast, however.  The mistakes were eaten out of sight, to the joy of those of us who got to gorge ourselves on them.

I’m not sure what Uncle Ray would make of this:

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The ingredients in lefse are really simple.  Potatoes, butter, flour to hold it all together.  Some recipes call for cream, others leave it out.  We’ve done it both ways successfully.

Our recipe calls for drinking potato based alcohol while preparing the potatoes, but that is also not a strict requirement.

This year’s lefse makers were my mom, my sister, her younger daughter, my older son, and me.

The potato ricer seems to have vanished into thin air, so we used a grater to rice the potatoes.  Not ideal, but whatever gets the job done.

Every year there is a learning curve to rolling them out and getting them to the pan with the lefse stick.  But as you can see from these pictures, we do improve as we go.  And if some of them are more fjord-coastline than spherical in shape, well, we just eat the evidence with some melted butter.

Lefse is supposed to be made on a flat griddle that gets really hot – we set ours at 450 degrees.  But I only have one, so we added in large frying pans and gas burners turned up high.  It was a struggle to get the flimsy uncooked pieces into the pans with high edges, so a second griddle is on my shopping list.

I inherited my grandmother’s lefse griddle, but a few years back it was plugged in and immediately caught fire (that was the year  we added vodka to the routine – everything went wrong to the point of almost succumbing to purchased lefse, and a bit of drinking seemed to help as we lurched from crisis to crisis). So my lefse griddle is a replacement.  If anyone knows a way to clean that black off aluminum, I’d love to hear suggestions!

We eat the lefse a lot of ways – rolled around turkey, with warm butter, with cranberry sauce.  We like them with cinnamon sugar, which is apparently heresy – my sister was once threatened with lefse confiscation by a Norwegian for doing this, so Americanisms have definitely crept in.  Now that Uncle Ray is no longer with us, we’ve thankfully abandoned the gelatinous lutefisk he served with them.  (No one should make small children eat lye soaked boiled fish – it is just cruel, and a holiday feast mood killer.)

We could probably swap out most of the foods we eat for Thanksgiving for different ones without much protest from the crowd, but not the lefse.

Ours may not be pretty, but it is oh so tasty!

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A final note: my sister has declared blueberry-pomegranate tea with a splash of vodka to be the official Thanksgiving Eve beverage of 2016.

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(I feel compelled to say that really, we aren’t much for drinking usually.  Our bottle of cheap vodka is at least four years old and I had to search for it in the garage.)

To those of you who gather with friends and family for this American holiday, I wish you much laughter, fine food, and a complete absence of political arguments.