sweater for winter

October 24, 2014

It is going to get cold over here. Or at least cool…I can’t expect snow, but it will be cold and damp around here for a while. I am actually looking forward to the rain (and hopefully it will come!).

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My squirrel tendencies kicked in about a month ago, and I started this sweater. It was inspired by images of sweaters that I found, as well as a sweater that I made a few years ago and gave away.

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The collar is supposed to fold over, but it has been a little tricky, and likes to stand up. Then I find that I am walking down the street looking a little funny..

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I haven’t put buttons on yet, but will get around to it soon. For now, things will be a little bit cozier around here!


a welcome guest

August 20, 2011

I thinned my carrot patch this afternoon after work.

The bulging ones are paris markets, the purple is a dragon, and the long skinny ones are danvers. All from Seed Savers Exchange (via At Home Store).


December 3, 2010

I am happy to say that we have gotten our website, www.athomestoreonline.com up and running, just in time for holiday shopping!! Stop in to visit our site (or the store if you are in Iowa)!

Our website has a selection of our favorite store items, including Nicholas Mosse Irish Pottery, Burleighware from England, hand made baby slippers, Italian torrone, panforte, and panettone, Moomin books, mugs, and bowls from Finland, and much more! We are adding new items every day, so keep checking back!

pies for francis

October 10, 2010

My sister and I think that Francis Thicke is the perfect candidate for Secretary of Agriculture in Iowa. I guess that is why we are spending Saturday night baking pies. Made with fresh local pumpkin and fresh local milk!

We wanted to do something to raise money for the Thicke Campaign, and decided to bake a whole lot of pumpkin pies to sell at the John Lennon Tribute Concert Reprise: to benefit the Francis Thicke Campaign. It should be a great concert, so stop on by! What a great excuse to support an awesome campaign!

Heli-Claire and I started with fresh pumpkins. We roasted them in the oven, and then scooped out the meat, mixed it with Radiance Dairy whole milk and cream, sour cream, sugar and spices. The recipe is from our grandmother!

We will have slices available for a donation, so if you are in the mood for some good music and a slice of pumpkin pie, stop by tomorrow (Sunday) night at 7:30 pm to Cafe Paradiso! All donations will go directly to the Thicke for Secretary of Agriculture Campaign.

nature’s colors

June 22, 2010

Anna Baumann and I spent the better part of the afternoon yesterday dying wool with plant dyes. We are going to have a natural dying workshop at the store this Saturday, and we were going over some of the things that we were going to use.

We hacked away at an Osage Orange log, and chopped up some purple cabbage, to come up with 5 beautiful colors!

We started with locally grown sheep’s wool, spun into a lace weight yarn. Little sample spools to test the colors and mordants!

For the Osage Orange dyes, we started with wood chips. Into the dyepot with some water and the wool.

After gently simmering the dyes, we added different mordants to our color mixtures with varying results.

Brightening from the citric acid and alum, and darkening and dulling from the iron. All beautiful colors though.

Meanwhile, the cabbage was very gently simmering on the stove. We used three separate batches of yarn (two yarn, one roving) to test the different mordants.

The cabbage with iron,

with the magic of citric acid, turning the dyebath bright pink,

and with alum, keeping with the purple cabbage look.

We took the finished wools out to the driveway to dump the dyestuffs, and rinse. They looked beautiful all laid out amongst the rocks. The final wools kept different amounts of the original dyes. Some faded more than others…so exciting!!


May 28, 2010

We found t.q. a few days ago on a gravel road. He (she?) was crossing, and I stopped the car right over him, got out, reached past the tire, and pulled him out! What a cutie. I think that he came right out of the turtle egg hole.

I took him directly to my dad’s house, and set him into a pool of rain water that he had sitting in his garden. It is the perfect spot. Partially shaded, and surrounded by flowers.

When I put t.q into the water, he seemed a little uncertain as to what he should be doing. It took a little time for him to figure out how to turn, and swim up and down. It was super cute! He has a tendency to tuck his right back foot in when he turns around.

t.q. has a little board in the middle of his pond to sit on and relax in the sun. Turtles can’t stay in the water all the time, or they will tire out!

To feed t.q., my dad went to Hy-Vee and picked up 15 cents worth of hamburger meat. t.q. didn’t eat any the first time, but after a few tries he took a mouthful. We feed him a bite, and then we set him back into the water to eat.

I think that he has already grown in the three days that we have known him.

Sometimes towns are lucky enough to have a small, local, organic dairy. The town where I live is one of those lucky towns. Our dairy, Radiance Dairy, is run by Francis and Susan Thicke, and it provides probably the best milk I have ever had.

Every time I grab a cup of milk for tea, or mixing up pancake batter, or topping my oatmeal, I know that the source of the milk is a herd of very well taken care of and well fed cows.

The operation of Francis and Susan’s grass-fed dairy is based on the principles of ecology. Specifically, the cows are rotated through paddocks on the farm, imitating the grazing of bison on the prairie. The carefully managed plan of rotation allows for the cows to be fed on a healthy and diverse diet of grasses. The rotation plan also benefits the land through increased biodiversity and improved soil fertility.

Francis is running for Secretary of Agriculture for Iowa.  He has a vision of how to improve agriculture on a state and national level based on the effectiveness of nature, supported by advances in science and technology. Radiance Dairy is a working example of this vision.

Francis needs support, and it is easy to give money to his campaign. This is something that is so important for our state, country, and for the environment in which we all live. For more information, visit Francis’ website ThickeForAgriculture.com.

group ski

March 1, 2010

One of the benefits of living in Iowa in the winter is cross-country skiing. Especially when the snow doesn’t seem to ever go away. It is one of the best ways to get outside, enjoy the weather, and stay warm, toasty warm! Some friends organized a group ski a few days ago, and it was a great opportunity to have fun with friends, enjoy the beautiful sunshine, and get some exercise.

And eat treats and drink tea and cocoa of course!

Up the hill after break. I have two favorite things about going up hills. The first is knowing that I will get to zoom down an equal amount of hill some time in the relatively near future. The second is the Groucho Marx uphill shuffle. Lots of little bouncy sort of steps to keep going, and keep the traction on the bottom of the skis.

And the silo set against the beautiful blue sky, reminders that the group ski is indeed in Iowa. It is a little later in the afternoon, so the shadows are growing a little longer on the snow…

One of the highlights of the skiing trip was a taste of a maple icicle. I have never thought or heard of such a thing, but as we were skiing a long, my friend Sam noticed a rather large icicle hanging off of a maple tree. He tried it, and it was indeed maple syrup flavored. YUM! It makes me want to try to tap some maple trees in the next month…

cleaning vinyl

November 23, 2009

This weekend was spent almost exclusively collecting firewood and cleaning records. I have been meaning to clean my minimal record collection for a long time. My dad kept on telling us about how much better the records would sound if we only cleaned them. He even ordered us cleaning solvent and new record sleeves and plastic slip covers. And I think that we have had them for a good year…

Finally, Skye and I went over to my dad’s house and got to work. He has a really nice setup. A record cleaning machine, and all the bottles and sponges filled with the right things for the appropriate steps. He gave us a thorough tutorial, and I have made notes to outline it below.

Here is a general outline. I might have forgotten to note some of the specifics, but this should give you the gist of things.

Step 1.

Remove records from jackets and discard old and funky inner paper covers (you can save any original ones with things that might be important on them). Place records into dish rack, starting from the back and taking care to place record with side a facing up. My dad’s setup (aka dish rack) fits 12 records.

Step 2.

Place record on table (a turntable of sorts) and screw the top tightly on.

Start the motor spinning, and soap the record up. The sponge catches the soap as the record turns, evening out the cleaning process. The soap cleans out the dirt in the grooves of the vinyl. An indicator of this is the level of gloss on the record. The above record needs a little more soap in the middle where you can see the streaks in the reflection. We had the whole thing setup under a bright window, and this helped to identify if there was enough surfactant present. During this step the record is also intermittently spun backwards, to clean more thoroughly.

Step 3.

Rinsing and vacuuming.

Place the vacuum tube on the record at an angle, and turn on. After one full turn place the “water sponge” down and start washing the soap off with distilled water.The water rinses the record, and then is sucked out through the vacuum tube. When water begins to form droplets you know that the soap is rinsed off (surface tension changes), and the record is clean and ready for the final 2 spins with the vacuum tube. If the vacuum is used for too long, the record will pick up static, which isn’t good, as it attracts dust and other debris right back to the clean record.

Switch record to side b, clean it, and so on and so forth.

The final step (4)  is to replace the clean record in the jacket, using a new sleeve if necessary. The sleeve should be dated, and the cleaning method should be noted for future reference. In my case, November 09, and the soap which was Disk Doctors Miracle Record Cleaner, and the name of the machine (VPI). Then, the newly cleaned record is placed in a plastic sleeve, and you are finished!

Now I am listening to a scrappy old George Jones record that used to sound pretty bad and now sounds much, much better! Cleaning is totally satisfying work!!