Friday, September 5, 2008

I want this for my birthday!

I am looking for the best plan for my mother-in-law to teach my daughter the recorder. In looking up recorders, I came to this one:

Erik, the flutemaker, my dears, is a GENIUS!!! He is also a very nice person and has a lot of projects helping children, currently ones that previously lived in a garbage dump in Nicaragua.

I am afraid I want all his flutes.

But this is the one I am wholly in love with.

(Sorry I wanted to add the video here, but didn't manage, I am really not good at this blogging thing. Do watch it though, it is worth it!)

This flute is a courting flute with a pentatonic scale. It's sound deeply resonates with the soul. Prayerful, meditative...

Only now I am not peaceful because I REALLY WANT ONE!!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

New Hopes

On Friday we went to an Art Show in Bellefonte, Pa. It is our favorite town around here, so quaint and it has the best park, ever, and even old fashioned train rides. AND two great toy stores.

So I made up some small dolls and took some of the bigger dolls to show to the owner of one of the toy stores, and she loved them! Brought them all, and she has great plans for us. I am so excited!

Selling dolls in person is so much nicer than over the internet. (For me, anyhow.) I love to see the reactions on peoples' faces, there is noone who doesn't love a Waldorf doll. Also, pictures just don't seem to do justice to the dolls, they are a lot nicer in life.

Well, let's see how it goes, but for now I am very happy to have spread a little love.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Blueberry Cobbler

Last Friday we were freezing blueberries, and doing the compulsory baking. I promised blueberry pie to The Husband, but with all the dollmaking and heat of the summer, I just didn't feel like all the work, and particularly the cleanup, so decided to go for a simpler recipe.

This is what I found, it practically requires no cleanup and it was one of the tastiest blueberry dish I've ever made. Here goes:

Any Fruit Cobbler

4 c ripe berries of fresh fruit, sliced
1 c flour
3/4 c sugar (or less, this was a little too sweet for us)
1 t baking powder
1 egg (I used egg replacer)
1 stick butter, melted

Butter an 8 inch square baking dish. Put the fruit in the bottom of the dish. In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the beaten egg and mix well with a fork or your fingertips until the flour is dampened and in small clumps. Scatter the flour mixture over the fruit. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the top. Using the back of a spoon or your fingers, distribute the butter over all. Bake in 375 F for about 25 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

New Discoveries in the Head Department

It is a happy day! I made a very useful discovery today.

Like Meike, I'm still on a quest to figure out The Perfect Head. I used to just stuff the wool into the inner head tube, until I read this lovely tutorial
from Berry (who is also my hero a little bit *pink cheeks, shy smile* ), so I now follow her instructions of rolling a ball etc. But for the vertical string, I used to go through the bottom of the head, pick up at the side, go through a little bit of the top, pick up a little wool on the other side and through the bottom again (does that make sense?). And I was still not quite happy, I did not find the chin defined enough.

This morning I was experimenting with pulling the string under the chin and tying it on top, and that is when I saw it: if I pull the chin string forward slightly, it will not only give me a lovely chin, but a nice defined neck also! Like so:

Oh, very satisfied now. I'll try to push the top part down now for fat cheeks, like Christina suggests.

Dear, this dollmaking is highly addictive, isn't it? And I love these group of beautiful, selfless and amazingly talented dollmakers!

Still on the happy note: we had lovely doughnuts today, made the Hungarian way - well, almost, except for a ton of chocolate glaze. And, they were finger-licking good!

PS: No, I don't chew on my fingernails, but I do trim them very closely. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Herbal Elfs

I am very much in love with these little guys. Something about the simplicity and the soothing fragrance...

When I was little I used to have a stripy little bunny that was knit this way. It was just 3 inches or so, and I used to bring him to school every day and let him hide and watch and listen. I don't know what happened to him since, but I guess I still like the design.

And so does Bhima, it seems xox

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ponytail Holders

We (my daughter, my niece and I) made some wet felted ponytail holders yesterday. Lucky it was so fun, because it sure takes much more time than I expected! But the girls had a nice time, Gopi helped roll and roll the little wool balls around with the help of warm soapy water, and Pishima, who is practically a grown up at 7 years old, was allowed to handle the needle and sew beads on.

I am so happy I get to have girls to play with!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Dolls

I admire those ladies who make dolls while caring for a bunch of little children. How do they do it??? There is no way I can do any serious amount of sewing during the day and caring for my brood, making the meals and keeping house just about wipes me out by the evening.

My children are like little birds, they wake with the sun and go to sleep with the sun and no amount of ritual has managed make them take naps.

Anyways, I did actually finish one doll - well, almost, except she has no shirt, but I guess it is ok in this summer heat. I've been very anxious to list some more dolls in my etsy shop
but guess what - my little Gopi decided to adopt this one. Awww..... it is the first dolly that I've ever made that she cared for, including the first one that I ever made that I made especially for her, so I let her keep it. She named her Hooti Baby.

A mother's heart, and these little ones know just so well how to melt it. <3

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Big Day in the Kitchen

Yesterday was a big canning/cooking/baking day. My friend's two children are spending two weeks with us, Bala is 14, Subhadra is 11. It is such fun to have them! Bala is spending time with my husband, learning about guy stuff, and Subhadra is about the most creative young lady I've ever met.

Seems like they don't have mulberry trees in North Carolina, and our numerous bird-planted trees are a big hit with them. Since the trees are so loaded with fruit this year, we decided in the spirit of frugal living, to make some mulberry jelly. Well, who would have thought? It is one of the best jellies I've ever had! I tried one batch the old way, without the pectin, but the flavor was a bit too strong, and here is the best recipe we found:

Mulberry jelly

Juice ripe mulberries until you have 4 c juice
add 2 3/4 c evaporated cane juice mixed with 4 t pectin
4 t calcium water (comes with the pectin - I use Pamona's)

Boil, fill into sterilized jars. Taaadaaa!

We also made some old style strawberry jam, without pectin, I love that concentrated sweet strawberry flavor! It is going to be such treasure in the winter...

I haven't been letting my children eat much sweets because they are a little sick, but yesterday my mother-in-law was entertaining dear guests, so we made some jelly filled cookies. Well, how ironic, since my home-made jam becomes liquid when I bake, I brought some Smuckers, something I never do, on the very day of making 25 jars of my own jelly! And guess what: it still melted and flowed out of the cookies. They were still very good, but more like glazed than filled. Does anyone know of some kind of jam recipe that is good for cooking?

Well, anyway, it was a large recipe, and it still got all ate up by 5 in the afternoon, and we had a great time with the girls making them.

Hungarian Flaky Jam-filled cookies

3 c flour (I used 2 c white and 1 c whole wheat)
14 T cold butter
2 1/2 t yeast
pinch of salt
enough sour cream to make a nice pliable dough

Grate butter with big hole grater into flour, mix everything and make a dough quickly and gently. Form into a rectangle, cover and put it into the fridge for an hour.

On lightly floured surface, roll it out to 1/4 inch thick, cut into small rectangles, fill with jelly of your choice (we used apricot), pinch opposite corners, lay it on buttered baking sheet and bake at 395 F till straw colored.

These are rich but very flaky and delicious!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Crocheted Doll Hammock

I wanted to make a dolly hammock for my daughter, and I had the book Toymaking with Children, but I couldn't figure out the pattern, so I came up with my own. This is the first pattern that I created that I actually wrote down, and I am thrilled to be able to share it. You are welcome to use it, but please do not sell this pattern. Thank you.

If you'd rather buy it than make it, please visit my etsy store :)

One note: please bear in mind that English is not my first language. I tried my best to be very clear in the description of the pattern and added a lot of pictures to avoid misunderstanding. All you patterns writers/readers out there, you are more than welcome to help me correct the wording of this one.

Hammock is worked in Lovers' Knot stitch. Instructions here

So, here we go:

I used a 5.5 mm crochet needle and a worsted weight cotton yarn. The loops between the knots were 3/4 inches long (or 1 inch from the middle of one knot to the middle of the next knot). The resulting hammock measures 12 x 30 inches without the handles, which accommodates a lot of little dolly friends, but is probably a bit too long if you are making it for just one dolly. To downsize it, make the first row with less knots,/but be sure to make an uneven number of knots - I'd say about 21 knots for a 12-16 doll/, or use crochet thread with a smaller needle, or make the loops shorter /the hammock will have a closer wave/.

Row 1: make 31 knots, chain 3, turn

Row 2: make 1 knot, single crochet into 1st knot from needle [make 2 knots, skip 1 knot, single crochet into next knot] until end of row, make 2 knots, single crochet into beginning of 1st loop, chain 3, turn

Row 3-23: make 1 knot, single crochet into next knot [make 2 knots,skip 1 knot, single crochet into next knot] until end of row, make 2 knots, single crochet into 3rd stitch of chain, chain 3, turn

Row 24: working on the shorter side of piece, single crochet into every stich (47 stiches), chain 1, turn
Row 25: double crochet into 1st stitch, [chain 1, skip one stitch, double crochet into next stitch] till end of row

Row 26: working on the longer side of piece chain 1, slip stitch into next single crochet, chain 2, single crochet into next knot [chain 5, skip 1 knot, single crochet into next knot] till end of row, chain 5, single crochet into next chain stitch, chain 1

Row 27: working on the short side of piece, single crochet into every stitch (46 stitches), chain 3, turn
Row 28: skip next stitch, [double crochet into next stitch, chain one] till end of row
Row 29: chain 108 stitches (or less or more, according to how long you want the hanging loops to be), single crochet into other corner of short side

Row 30: slip stitch to single crochet underneath, working on the long side of piece chain 3, single crochet into next knot [chain 5, skip next knot, single crochet into next knot] across, lip stitch to end of row
Row 31: chain 108, attach chain to other corner of short side of work and


Your doll hammock!

Cut yarn, work in ends. Now you just need two pieces of dowel or thin branches from a tree that you peel, sand and finish with beeswax, thread it through the chain created by the double crochet stitches on the two short end, secure the ends - you can do this by carving a small groove 1/2 inch from the ends of the dowels and wrapping yarn in it and then sawing the ends of that yarn to the hammock. Hang it from two chairs, tree branches, put dolly in it, rock and hum a lullaby.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cottage Cheese

I've attempted to make cottage cheese several times over the years just remembering how my mom used to make it, and it was all right. However, I am one of those people who for some strange reason feel they need to understand how things work before they can fully take advantage of them. Which is all the more strange, seeing that I am a crafty person.

Anyhow, this time I actually researched and made FANTASTIC home-made cottage cheese.

Why bother? My reasons are:

- We have a nice Amish place near us where we get raw organic milk straight from the cows. Buying from them helps them and saves money for us. Not to speak of the unmatched flavor of pure, fresh milk and home-made milk products.
- I love sour cream but hate buying the plastic containers it comes in. Same stands for cottage cheese.
- By making my own milk products I am directly in control of the ingredients.
- Also, making my own milk products makes me feel like a domestic goddess.

So, here is how I did it:

Home-made cottage cheese recipe

I used 1 gallon of milk, let it stand in the fridge for about 12 hours (overnight) and took the cream off the top carefully with a little ladle.

Heat the milk gently to 104 F in a stainless steel pot, then cover lightly (with a kitchen towel or a cheesecloth) and let it sit in a warm place until it jells. This should take one to two days. First the milk will sour as the sugar in the milk turns into lactic acid but it should not be foul. The acidity creates the jelling as it separates the protein in the milk. This jelled milk is smooth and very healthy and we used to eat it with bread for dinner.

Next, you very gently and slowly warm the milk to 104 to 108 F, gently stirring it now and then. Stirring will help the cheese separate and not stick together. When the cheese and the whey separated, pour the whole thing through a cheesecloth-lined colander. Rinse the curds under lukewarm running water for a couple of minutes until the water runs clear. Let it drip for 15 minutes, then put it in a bowl, and mix it with a little salt and cream or sour cream, if desired.

I wanted to take pictures, but it was all gobbled up before I could get the camera.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Glorious Morning

We've been having the most beautiful spring here in central Pa this year and we are spending all waking hours outside. How can anyone be sad when you wake up to pictures like this:

Inviting me to go outside and greet my flowers

Good morning, beautifuls!

Once outside, Gopi and I picked strawberries. The first big bowl this year!!! yummmm.....

Let me close with one of my favorite poems that always comes to mind on days like this,

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Have a glorious morning, everyone!