Chest Adornment

For about a year I've been tinkering with the idea of necklaces. Well, the broader idea is to branch out from book arts while still holding on to the fundamental skills I've acquired while making all of the hundreds of books I've made in the past few years. I've done some collage items (still to be extensively tweaked before a reveal), and I've done some things that fall under the category of jewelry. Some necklaces have finally made there way into my shop and I've officially settled into a production routine for making more. To me, this is the most fun part of Swirling Tree, the moment when I am happy with something and ready to go into production mode.

Some of these new pieces are pendants, some are mini (and I mean teeny tiny) leather journals and some are miniature versions of my brag books (like a locket).

All of the new jewelry items in my shop are pretty affordable, everything is under $30 and some just $12. Eventually I plan on making some a little more high-end with fancier jewelry hardware, etc. But hey, who doesn't like a good deal on a clever casual necklace?


Local Frittata

We have eggs up the wazoo right now. Our chicks aren't producing yet (October), but we've found some local sources so I loaded up.
There's a (non certified) organic farm very close to us, Windjammer Farm where I bought a few dozen. These were added to the two Larry Schultz cartons of eggs that I actually found at Cash Wise. My MIL brought me some "Fertile Eggs," from Fertile, MN then Freddy and I visited the Mankato Farmers' Market on Thursday (which seems like a decent market). I bought some eggs and frozen OG chickens as well as some produce -like a quart of homegrown strawberries for only $4! It was a good trip. In general, I'm still in the exploring stage of moving and, so far, that is really focused around food sources. I still need to make it to the new St. Peter Food Co-op. Maybe today if it rains.

I'm considering selling some produce next year at the Mankato Farmers' Market, so I talked it up a bit with the vendors there. It has been a tough spring for growers which makes me want to put up some high tunnels and do things with a little more control over the elements. I'm still deciding what it is I'm going to plant next year. I'm going to see how things grow here, and so far, everything is coming along wonderfully in my garden plots. That said, there is plenty of time for disasters to arise this growing season. Weather and bugs being the most feared culprits. And deer.

In the meantime I'm enjoying my food searching. Suddenly, I found myself eating an almost 100% local frittata for lunch yesterday which must mean the season is moving along. Eggs from Windjammer, asparagus and steamed nettles from here, green onions from the farmers' market, and cheese from Wisconsin. Not bad! If only I had used some local butter instead of olive oil.

Aside from frittatas we are eating eggs as swedish pancakes, egg tortilla wraps, and egg salad in addition to our scrambled dishes for breakfasts. We will have them taken care of in no time.


Farm Fun

Our new kubota tractor! It is awesome. We went for a brand new diesel compact tractor with a 60" deck, huge snow blower attachment, and a cultivator (not a tiller). I don't know who is the biggest fan around here. My mom says it is the the "Cadillac of mowers."
Madi and Freddy at the Lake Hanska beach, about 1 mile from our house. We can walk there through the woods.
Gma Margie from Anguilla visited this week with her sister Vinette, Peter's parents and sister, our nephew Aksel, and Vinette's son Lyle. It was a little chilly compared to the Caribbean but it was a fun visit.
Roz and Aksel looking down at the paddle boaters about to shove off.


Hot Baking

I would like to bake my favorite cake but I'm wondering if it's strange to turn on the oven when it is 100 degrees outside. I might wait for the morning when the temp will be down 30 or so points.

The only reason I'm even considering baking is because we have central air for the first time ever. When we started farm shopping almost a year ago Peter was choosing listings that were extreme fixer-uppers, and I told him I wanted a house a little more...fixed already.

"Like what?" He asked

"Central air would be nice." I replied.

"Central air? How much is central air? How do you install central air???" He exclaimed, not realizing that it's not THAT big of a deal. But today it does feel like a big deal, because when I open the door it feels like a giant hair dryer is blowing across the county. Oh, those poor little plants trying to survive out there!

So, the cake I want to make is this one. Again. It's my favorite and so easy to substitute for gluten free. I'm thinking I will pair it with a tart rhubarb sauce and some fresh whipped cream tomorrow for a visit from my Mom (happy belated birthday!) and Grandma. I'm anxious for visitors...feeling like we're in the boondocks a little bit after living in the big city. Hint hint to anyone reading this post that wants to come visit us!


Naked Root Beer Break

We are officially back into the good old fashioned farm fun business!

We are able to catch our breath this beautiful Saturday afternoon thanks to all of the folks who helped us move and start some home improvement projects during the past two weeks.

Thanks, people!

We've torn out carpet, sanded floors, removed wallpaper, taken down paneling and even a wall. There are new chicks peeping in the barn. We've been harvesting rhubarb, nettles, and asparagus. There is a garden plot with new raspberry bushes, chard, kale, basil, herbs, and tomatoes. There's another garden plot with squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, zucchini, and melons. We have plans to invest in a tractor on Monday. My studio is again up and running, and Peter is studying away for the bar exam. Phew.

We are hungry and tired and ready for the next thing.

I can see why you're supposed to keep your stress levels down during pregnancy. I have been worn out nearly every day during the past month so I'm hoping things soon get, well, boring. Decisions like which lawn mower to buy are enough to send me over the edge. It's frustrating to "take it easy" when there is so much to do. But wow, even an hour of planting or weeding and I am shot. Freddy and I have been taking lots of breaks, though I haven't had a naked root beer break yet.

Runnings, our local farm store, won't have chicks for that much longer so we decided to just jump right in and buy 12 last weekend. Inside our milk house there are four each of Barred Rock, Aracauna, and Production Red chickens running around in Fredrik's kiddy pool. The plan is to get a coop built (by sectioning off part of the milk house with a little chicken door to the outdoors) this weeked (or next it is seeming).

Freddy wasn't 100% about the chicks. Their feet were too "pokey."