Thursday, October 29, 2009

FFF, End of October Edition

Welcome, welcome, welcome!
Friday's Fave Five, that delightful weekly review of daily blessings, large and small, hosted by Susanne at Living To Tell The Story.

Willow's Weekly Blessings

1. Our Sunday afternoon walk was a repeat of last week's visit to Ventura Beach.

I took this photo of a school of surfers a year ago. It looked exactly the same this year, another repeating theme.

2. Like many Southern Californians, The Professor and I are wondering if the predictions of heavy rainfall this winter will be fufilled. A hillside area in our back garden needs additional coverage in order to keep the soil from sliding down to a lower level. Ellen sent me this photo to let me know that a new California Native Plants nursery, Nopalito, has just opened.

We stopped by there on Sunday and talked with the owners. Asking their advice on the best plants for stabilizing our back bank, we chose two buckwheat plants and three penstemons to start our own little native plant hillside garden.

3. Knitting on a shawl. Unfortunately, I have no photos. Details are Sampler Shawl in the Folk Shawls pattern book, knitted with Naturally Caron's Spa bamboo and rayon blend yarn in Taupe.

4. Cream of Potato Soup.

5. Chocolate chip oatmeal walnut cookies.

It was a quiet week of working, cooking, and relaxing. If you would like to join the thankful people posting their FFFs this week, go to Susanne's blog.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Slip N Slide

In my neighborhood, autumn has not stormed in like a gale. It has not marched in like a lion. Fall isn't even sauntering in to my community. Actually, autumn is barely slipping and sliding in, even though it is Halloween week.

Even though sycamore trees are dropping their leaves, there are very few other signs of autumn. I'll take little glimspes of fall color where I can find them.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Promise Kept

I believe in keeping my promises. I stated last month that I would post the recipe for Carrot Top Soup, just for Clarity, because she asked so sweetly and politely. Here it is!

From Edible French Garden by Rosalind Creasy
1 lg yellow onion, cut into ½ in dice
3 garlic cloves, mashed
2 Tbl butter, plus 2 tsp softened butter, divided
1 tsp whole fresh thyme leaves
4 cups chicken stock
6 lg carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 tsp salt, divided
½ tsp ground white pepper
About 1 cup milk or half and half
2 Tbl chopped fresh parsley
3 cups tender young carrot greens
1 ½ c lightly whipped cream

Saute the onion and garlic in 2 Tbl of the butter until golden.
Add the thyme leaves and cook 1 minute more. Add the chicken stock, carrots, potatoes, bay leaf, 1 tsp of the salt, and pepper and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and puree the mixture in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (by batches or in a blender) to the desired consistency.

Return the puree to the soup pot. Thin to the preferred consistency by adding the milk or half and half as needed and bring the soup to a simmer. Stir in the 2 Tbl of softened butter and chopped parsley by bits. Keep the soup warm.

Pick over the carrot tops, removing any stems or yellow leaves. Plunge the greens into 1 quart boiling water; when the water reboils, add the remaining 1 tsp of salt. Remove from heat, drain, and puree the greens in the blender or food processor with 2 cups of the pureed carrot soup.
To serve the soup, fill soup bowls two-thirds full with orange carrot soup, then ladle the green carrot soup in the middle to fill the bowl. Top the soup with dollops of whipped cream.
Serves 6-8.
The only changes I made in the recipe were a couple of substitutions. I switched the milk or half and half for nonfat milk and, in the toppings, I served sour cream instead of whipped cream because that's what we had in the fridge.
In September, I made this recipe again and served the soup with my home made Honey Whole Wheat Bread. The Professor ate a bowl and declared it a keeper! This from the man who doesn't eat cooked carrots.
You will love this Carrot Top Soup, even if you don't love carrots or carrot tops.
I promise!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Friday Fave Five

Welcome to Friday Fave Five, hosted by Susanne at Living To Tell The Story. FFF is a weekly reminder of what we are thankful for each week, what we're loving.

1. This is the third week of October. Autumn has blown in to the Northern Hemisphere and Spring is in full bloom in the South half of our world. Here in Southern California (@35 degrees N latitude), our nights and mornings are cool, but our mid days and afternoons are warm, allowing the pinkish lavender mums growing in my back garden to continue to blossom.

2. October is the beginning of the season of 'winter meals', heartier soups and warm breads. I soaked a pot of anasazi beans and made an old family bean soup recipe called Lumberjack Jumbo, which is made with the beans, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, and corn, and seasoned with chili powder. It's a simple recipe but oh, so tasty, especially when it's served with home made corn bread.

3. October is also my sister-in-law's birthday month. When I asked her what she might like for her birthday, she mentioned bunnies! I consulted with Eleanor, and together we decided to ask this little friend if she would like to live on a farm and share a home with cats and dogs, and chickens and goats. Being a very brave and intrepid bunny, Eleanor's best friend agreed. I'm sure she was intrigued with the possibility of walks in the woods, tea parties by the woodstove, and maybe even bus rides! So, after hugging Eleanor good-bye and promising to write often, off she hopped into a mailing box filled with a suitcase stuffed with carrots and lettuces to sustain her for the trip.
4. Instead of having a regular meeting in October, the Ventura County Spinners and Weavers Guild hosts an Open House. Vendors and yarn shop owners gather and show their new fibers, yarns, books and accessories. I wandered back and forth, around and around the booths, chatting with people who, like me, love fiber arts. Because I am a spinner, I am always drawn to the booths that display unspun fibers, like this rainbow painted jumble of wool.

I wish I could share a photo of the two skeins of silk/merino blend fiber I purchased, one in warm brown tones and the other dyed in summer greens and blues. But. Well. Ummm. After I returned home Saturday afternoon and was carrying my knitting bag filled with fiber, phone, camera, and wallet in to the house from the car, I lost my hold on it and it slid to the floor and hit. just. right. No. It hit. just. wrong. My camera took the brunt of the blow. It's heading off tomorrow in a box to a repair place, and we're hoping that it's fixable under the warranty.
5. On Sunday afternoon, The Professor and I drove to Old Town Ventura, grabbed a cuppa to go, and walked out to The Strand (The Ventura Beach Strand, not to be confused with the Manhattan Beach Strand in Los Angeles County). It was not raining, but the sky was covered with dark clouds and ocean was grey. The pelicans were fishing in the deeper waters just beyond the end of the Ventura Pier, circling slowly, then plummeting into the grey depths, sometimes popping up with a fish snack in their beaks. It was perfect beach walking weather.
Thank you for sharing Willow's Week with me! Go on over to Susanne's blog to read other posts written by people who are remembering what they loved about their week.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Yearly Pilgrimage, During Which a Disaster Occurred

Every October, the Ventura County Spinning and Weaving Guild, of which I am a new member, hosts an Open House. This Open House is not just any Open House. This event involves inviting vendors of knitting, spinning and weaving items to show their wares in one spot, during one morning. I borrowed The Professor's university staff parking permit and drove to the campus where the Open House was held.

I ohhed and ahhed, stroked and fondled, wandered and chatted. I walked away with most of my cash intact. I did purchase two hanks of handpainted silk/fine merino fiber.

I want so much to post photos of the Open House, the beautiful yarns, and brilliant fibers. But. Here is where disaster struck. Actually, it was my camera that struck. The floor. I dropped my bag. It just slipped out of my hand and the contents went 'plunk'. I heard it. Calamity of the worst kind.

I am waiting for The Professor to diagnosis the extent of the disaster. As far as I can see, the situation is hopeless. All the buttons work except the one that snaps pictures. Everything shows up on the display except whatever the camera is pointing at. If I can't push the shutter button and the display is nonfunctional, then, well, I can't take photos. We'll see what The Professor says.

In the meantime, I am consoling myself by spinning some silk/fine merino fiber.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Friday Fave Five

Another Friday. Mid October. Fave Five.

It's my favorite day of the week. I like Fridays because I can post my

Thank you to Susanne for hosting this fave every Friday.
Here are this week's Faves from Willow's Cottage.

1. Thank you very much! We needed that. I want to express my appreciation to all of you who sent your surplus precipitation to Southern California this week. We have not had any rain for six months, and the amount you sent was perfect. Not too hard, not too little. It was just right. If you can spare any more, please share it with us!

2. Spending quality time with our family is again on the fave list for the week. We drove to San Diego for a quick visit, just two days of talking, laughing and sharing with the military branches of our family. Playing with our grandkitties is almost as much fun as playing with Our New Boy. This is Rufus, one of MamaMia's cats. He's a bundle of energy and is often quite mischievous, just like his mama was. I took several photos of him, and this is the only one in which he was sitting still, not racing about, just resting for another go around.

Temperance, who is always a lady, was more cooperative.

3. Mediterranean climate and eighteen inches of topsoil. We are blessed to live in an area where crops can be grown year around. Most farms in our county produce not one, not two, but three crop rotations a year. My blueberry ranch friends have some ripe berries, and they are anticipating the beginning of a bountiful harvest to start in a few more weeks. Ellen and I joined Blueberry Lady on our walk one day this week, hiking up the slopes and along the rows of berries. It was a fun change in our routine, and sampling all the different varieties of blueberries was a taste sensation treat.

4. I've been knitting bunnies again. Hawthorne accompanied us to San Diego, liked the area, and decided to stay there.

5. I asked The Professor to help me think of a fifth fave. It is not that I don't have several options to write about, it's that I can't choose just five! He suggested coffee, the lattes that he makes me every morning. But I don't have a recent photo of my morning coffee for the obvious reason that I savor it as I slowly wake up, and I'm never quite up to photographing that wonderful first cup while I am still half asleep. So he mentioned that we had gone to the library this afternoon. Yes, I love my library! I checked out five books, put one volume on hold, and purchased, for a total of $1.50, two more Newbery Award winners from Friends of the Library. I now own used copies of Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (1992) and A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (2002).

Wasn't Willow's Week wonderful? If you wish to find out how wonderful Others' Weeks have been, go to Susanne's blog and click on Mr. Linky. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


While I was absent from cyberspace, I spent some of my spare time knitting little gifts. Among other items, two hats were completed to cover a too cold head.
Both caps were knitted from patterns in Homemade, Handknit.

The red hat above is a traditional stocking cap, made using a soft acrylic yarn doubled stranded for warmth and correct gauge, and was knitted with a simple garter stitch pattern.

The double layer white hat was knitted with a cotton acrylic blend yarn called Cotton Ease. Worked in an attractive lace pattern, the hat also has a turn up brim that adds style to comfort.

When my head is busily dealing with more complex matters, my hands appreciate simple projects.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Friday Fave Five

Welcome back to Friday's Fave Five!
These five events made my Willow's Week list. I've posted a link over at Susanne's blog. Do pop over there to visit and check out others' FFFs.

1. Looking forward to writing my FFF this week after a two week sabbatical. Taking some time away from the computer was a refreshing change. But now I am happpy to be back and posting another Fave Five.

2. Family. There is nothing I love more than spending time with my family.

3. A windy day in Southern California. It wasn't so much that the wind was blowing. It was that the change in the wind direction and velocity substantially lowered the thermometer readings. Our temperatures have been in the high 40s at night and high 60s during the day. I pulled my gloves out of the top dresser drawer where they've been hiding for six months and wore them in the mornings as I clutched the steering wheel during my morning drive to work.

Here's proof of how windy it was Sunday afternoon at Ventura Harbor.
The surf was very high and turbulent, the crashing waves creating a huge amount of spray.
4. Wednesday afternoon spent in my garden, clipping and cleaning around the tomato plants and herbs, and bringing a fistful of parsley in to the kitchen to add to the lentil soup cooking on the stove.
5. This picture. An opened cotton boll with its lock of fiber, dry and fluffy, picked clean of its seeds. No special reason except that I took the photo and I love it.

How was your week?

Monday, October 05, 2009

All Spun Up

Luscious Superwash Wool, dyed by Crown Mountain Farm, which reminds me of Wrigley's Spearmint Gum.

Silk/Merino Blend Yarn, also handspun. I named it Amethyst.

Just a small sample of what has kept me busy the past two weeks.