This is the first year that I’ve been successful planning and growing a variety of winter vegetables. Timing is so critical—since I seeded or set out starts during the summer, we’ve been enjoying a variety of greens and root crops for the past couple of months. This is my harvest this morning.

vegetable harvest this morning

Although the parsnips, rutabagas (or swedes) and Jerusalem artichokes were all dug a month or two ago, we enjoyed the last of the parsnips just yesterday (simply roasted) and I’m still considering what to do with the swedes. Maybe this UK site?

I’m still not convinced that I want to be eating Jerusalem artichokes. Well-roasted so that they are nice and crunchy is my favorite so far; the “potato” salad was a dismal failure. As one of my gardening books describes it, they cause serious flatulence, and that is no joke. (BTW – these plants are a perennial sunflower native to North America.)

What a great mushroom kit! Love the packaging and the whole concept. Check them out here.

great kit for mushrooms

With such an abundance of green gage plums and blackberries, it was wine time! The blackberry cordial is always fantastic and makes a good gift. It is a recipe that I’ve used for years from Billy Joe Tatum’s book “Wild Foods Field Guide and Cookbook” and it can’t get any easier.

homemade wines

And then there was the failed attempt to make marbled soap! I added green tea powder and was hoping to get a pretty marbled soap with a faint green swirl as demonstrated on YouTube. Maybe the lye fermented the green tea? Apart from the disappointing nasty brown (think tea stains), my swirls only happened on the top with most of the color settling to the bottom like a brick.

marbled soap

Also, the old Singer came out of the closet, got brushed off and was put to work. Needing something to just remind me how things work again, I took a great little class and made this bag. Love it!

zippered bag


PMC Exploration

I took a wonderful class this weekend on Precious Metal Clay (PMC) at Clay Space, taught by Lee Takasugi. PMC is a clay-like material that is a combination of fine particles of pure silver mixed with a binding agent. The binding agent burns away when the object is fired, leaving only the pure silver. This silver is more pure than sterling silver which is an alloy–a mix of silver with other metals. Precious metal clay is also called just “metal clay” or “art clay” and now there are several formulas, some with slower drying speeds and temperature ranges for firing. This patented material is only manufactured in Japan.

At the end of the day, we all left with at least one pair of earrings and a pendant. Everyone’s projects turned out great! Somehow each person can take the same exact materials and produce something entirely different with their own unique twist. ( Once I took a rug hooking class where we all used the exact same kit and still each one looked slightly different).

PMC takes impressions from stamping or carving very easily and fires quickly in an electric kiln. Thank goodness it’s a bit spendy to first get set up with all the materials, or I could see myself getting hooked on this. I recommend that everyone try working with this material at least once since the results are so good even for a complete beginner.

off the needles – Napkin Rings

I was hoping this project, bamboo napkin rings, would be perfect for quick and easy sellable items for the upcoming Mother’s Day sale at Clay Space. Maybe I don’t run in the right circles since I don’t know anyone who uses napkin rings anymore. I like the bamboo yarn for these and the reverse linen stitch which gives them a nice texture with just a little sheen.  Martha’s site has many cute ideas for making them and encourages their use so I know many people out there must enjoy them.

I thought about slippers, but who wants to buy wool slippers in May? Then I thought about trying some knitting with fine gauge wire to make beautiful delicate jewelry. I even have a book that tells me exactly how to do it, Wired Beautiful. This book is filled with wonderful projects and clear step-by-step photos. Maybe other good ideas for projects will come to me in time.