"The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land."
-Abraham Lincoln

Quick and Easy Baby Sweater

One of the projects I had started for the holidays was the Quick and Easy Newborn Sweater.  I found the pattern on Ravelry, of course.

.  I really liked the garter texture on this pattern, it's something a bit different.  But I think if I try it again at a later date I'll probably modify it to be in stockinette stitch and maybe add some duplicate stitch designs for variety.   The only other problem I've found with the pattern is that I really think it's going to be a bit too large for a newborn.  My guess is it will probably fit the 3 month crowd a bit better than a newborn.

I'm excited for the next project even though I haven't completely decided what I'll be doing yet.  I think that the next one will likely be a baby blanket, I just don't know which pattern I'm going to work up yet.  I still have The Afghan from Hell to finish, just the fringe, but my yarn for it is out in the crib/workshop and there is seriously about 4 ft. worth of snow drifts blocking me from it.  I would like to get that finally finished and out of the way though.  That thing has been mocking me since I started it, not necessarily because it's difficult but simply because it's TEDIOUS. 

My mother in-law has an afghan she wants me to start on once I'm finished with The Afghan from Hell so hopefully I'll be able to make it out to the workshop in a couple of days to collect the yarn and finish it so I can start on her project.   The afghan she wants done is going to be a bit of a challenge because it was already partially started by DH's grandmother before she passed but there is no pattern.  Therefore, I'm going to have to figure out the pattern and gauge before I can really get any amount of meaningful progress done on that blanket. Fortunately, I don't think the pattern is overly difficult and I think, once it's figured out, it should work up pretty quickly.

Merry Christmas (belated)

I hope everyone has had a very Merry Christmas!   Around here we woke up Christmas morning and were kind of surprised to find that there was still a small amount of snow on the ground from the last "blizzard" that dropped a little less than 2 inches on the ground.  Nothing deep but it definitely looked more "Christmasy" than the mud we've gotten used to seeing around here.
Even though we only had a light dusting of snow on the ground for Christmas day, by Christmas night we were in the midst of a full blown blizzard. By the time it was all said and done (at least I think it's all said and done) we had received a full 10in. of snowfall.   It's the classic story over here, the children are extremely excited for the snow while the adults are dreading it.  Thankfully, I got DH a brand new pair of insulated coveralls and fleece-lined jeans for Christmas so he was well prepared for today's work.

Blizzards mean preparations, and lots of them, when you live in the country.  We piled up on salt.  Brought the shovels close to the house.  We spent part of the day hooking the snow plow up to the old tractor and attempting to make a drivable path down the lane.  We spent most of last night spreading an extra layer of straw down in the barns for added warmth for the critters.  But when we woke up this morning we found that the snow had blown through some of the cracks in the old walls and was starting to fill the pens and stables.  So we had to move the animals and clear out the pens, patch up the holes as best we could, remove the wet straw and all before feeding time.  Uggh.

We added a calf to the day of Christmas surprises.  A beautiful, big short horned baby girl.   The mother of this particular calf is normally quite the trouble maker, always getting out of the fences and into the orchards and corn fields, but she's a fairly experienced momma and her calves normally do really well so we weren't too worried when she arrived Christmas afternoon even with the approaching storm.  The only thing somewhat concerning is the fact that the calf had refused to suck for awhile but she was big enough and seemed otherwise healthy enough that we felt confident in taking the wait and see approach.  Sometimes, just like with human babies, it just takes a little time.  In this case the wait and see approach worked and by this afternoon she was eating like a champ.  One less thing to worry about. 

I spent most of these last weeks before Christmas making gifts for everyone and now that Christmas has come and gone I'm back to having empty needles, hooks, and sewing machines.  So I'm off to hunt for the next project. 

Happy Belated Christmas everybody!

Granola Bars Episode 1

Tis the season for snacking, apparently.  My trio of munchkins have been craving snacks for the last several days and so I've taken to the kitchen to save the day with homemade granola bars.

Now if there was ever an easy and versatile food to make this one is it.   The recipe is simple and it takes no time at all to cook and cool.   The combinations you can create are almost endless and you can even experiment with texture.   We have our family favorites including cranberry chocolate chip, cinnamon honey peach, peanut butter chocolate chip, dark chocolate chip (we're a chocolate loving family),  strawberry banana, and plain ol' raisin granola bars.   We also tend to like our granola bars thick and chewy as opposed to thin and crispy.

This time around I went for the cranberry chocolate chip granola bars.   The tart cranberry and the dark chocolate go together really nicely.

The recipe I use is incredibly simple and uses really easy to find ingredients.

3 c. whole grain, old fashioned oats

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

2 Tblsp. unsalted butter, melted

1/3 c. flax meal (optional)

1 c. dried cranberries

1 c. dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°.   Mix the oats, condensed milk, butter, flax meal, cranberries and chocolate chips in a large bowl until everything is blended together well.  Press the mixture into a greased 9x13in. pan.  Then bake for 20 to 25 minutes depending on desired level of crunchiness.  Allow to cool before cutting and serving.  These will keep really well for about two weeks if stored in an airtight container.  Because of the condensed milk, you really wouldn't want to store them much longer than that without refrigerating or freezing. 

Crochet Plastic Bag Holder

This was my pantry space. It was being taken over by plastic grocery bags.  I lived with it like this for way too long.  So this weekend I finally decided to take a stand against bag clutter.  I made a plastic bag holder. 

For the pattern I went with "Crochet Bag Dispenser" from Ravelry.  I really didn't make any adjustments to the pattern at all.  It was a really quick project and I'm kicking myself for not having made it earlier.  I used plain old RedHeart Super Saver yarn in green and I'm strongly considering adding a few crocheted flowers to it just to pretty it up a bit. 

That one little weekend project took me from that first picture to this one:
 Much, much better.  I can now actually see what is hiding in my pantry.  I even discovered a few items I didn't realize I had like the bags of Doritos and Tortilla chips and the Velveeta shells and cheese.  I think my mother in law may have done a little shopping when she was staying with the kids a couple of weekends ago ;) 

Now there is order in our cupboard once again and the cereal has lived happily ever after.