Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spinning in Public and Photo Workshop

 Ready to flip the calendar and look ahead?  Grab your red Sharpie and make a big circle around September 18 on your calendar - that's World Wide Spin in Public Day

Instead of meeting at the Little Red Barn on that Third Saturday, we'll converge on Collin Creek Mall (811 N. Central Expressway) and set up a spinning and knitting circle on the lower level by the fountains.  It's convenient, has good traffic, and they have all kinds of stuff to eat at the food court upstairs.  In addition to educating the public about all things fiber, we'll have every convenience at our fingertips.

I plan to bring some CD spindles and extra fiber, in case we intrigue folks enough to give it a go.  Bring a folding chair, your wheel and fiber, (knitting and crochet projects are welcome, too) and some cash to spend, as a thank you to our hosts. 

 Next, mark Saturday, September 25 from 10 - noon for Ellie Ivanova's amazing Holga Workshop.  All the details are here, and more info here.  There's still room for a few more folks to register.  Send a check for $25 made out to Ellie to: Jacob's Reward Farm, 4308 Church Lane, Parker, TX 75002 to hold your spot.  You can also bring it with you when you come, but please e-mail me (jacobsreward@juno.com) and let me know you're planning to attend.

Those who just need a good spinning day on the 25th are welcome to hang out in the LRB and drink coffee and knit/spin to their hearts' content.

I know it's still a little warm out, but fall is riding over the ridge, and will be here before we know it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Quick Bread

Or, when I'm the cook, Not-So-Quick Bread.  This is the kind of recipe that folks who are comfortable in the kitchen can whip out with hardly a second thought.  But it's such a lovely, homey cake that even folks like me who have to concentrate, can turn out a delicious, farmy cake.  Hat tip to Gail who shared the recipe.

Here's how you make it:

Dice a bunch of pears you got from your daughter's friend's front yard. 
Or the store, in a pinch.

Toss the scraps to the chickens.

Sneak a couple of eggs out of your inventory (ssshhh).

Mix dry ingredients (3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp each cardamom and coriander) and wet ingredients (1 stick of butter + 3 T, 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, diced pears) and combine.

Do the dishes again.

Pour mixture into greased cake pan (9 x 5, or 8 x 8 like mine) and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.

 Freeze any leftover diced pears because, I assure you, you're going to want to do this again.  Soon.

 Kill time waiting for your cake to bake by tidying one room of the house that's been bugging you for weeks.  Cheer out loud when the oven timer goes off.

Serve with fresh steeped green tea in your favorite mug.

Put your feet up and enjoy a minute of peace, friend...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Place for Friends

Fourth Saturday at the Little Red Barn brought lots of old friends together again--what could be better?

And we're delighted to welcome a new member to our UK chapter of the LRB:  
Caroline's husband, brand-new-spinner STEVE!

Then the usual mayhem ensued.

As promised, here's Rita's recipe for the most incredible hand-made pimento cheese with hatch chilis, pictured above:

Equipment: Large bowl, larger than you think you need.  Food service gloves, cheese shredder or food processor, sharp knife and cutting board.
  • 1 lb mixed firm cheeses, shredded.  I use a blend of at least two cheeses, a mild cheddar and a sharp cheddar, but any cheese that you can shred in a food processor or by hand will work
  • 1/4 onion chopped, usually red, but today I used yellow 'cuz that's what I had
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • A healthy sprinkle of dill weed
  • 4 oz jar of pimentos
  • Mayonnaise to taste, start with 1/2 cup
Shred your cheese. Chop your onions and garlic. Dump everything into a bowl with plenty of room to mix it around.  This can get messy.

If you are making a larger batch I find it best to layer the ingredients for quicker mixing
Put on some latex or vinyl kitchen gloves and dig in. Play with it, squish it through your fingers, mash it. Have fun. When it looks well mixed stand back and take a good look.   You may need to add more mayo. Add mayo until it is the consistency you like. I like it soft enough to spread, but not soft enough to dip. Taste and enjoy.

This is not so much a recipe as it is a set of guidelines to get you started. You can add pickled or raw jalapenos for kick. Roasted green chilies are great too. I like substituting smoked cheeses sometimes.

Have fun and share with your friends.


Hmmm.  "Have fun and share with your friends."  Sounds like our motto here at the Little Red Barn.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fourth Saturday at the Barn

Look for Gail's cool new Garden Angel standing at attention by the door of the Little Red Barn tomorrow!  She welcomes all our guests for a day of knitting, spinning, eating, visiting, and soaking up a cool Indian summer day together.  As usual, we'll start about 10 AM and go until we're done.  Bring your current projects, a dish to share, show-and-tell, and maybe a folding chair. 

Come be part of a special surprise for a friend of ours across the sea...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Margaret and Purl: Artisan Profile

Debbie and Jill have been friends for several years as colleagues at the same Plano middle school.   When they each discovered that the other was a knitter, the bond strengthened.  Jill, originally from England, began knitting as a young girl, and is one of the fastest knitters I know.  Native Texan Debbie is the newer knitter, but she's also the idea generator and marketing whiz.  Together they form Margaret and Purl, Girls Gone Knitting, on Etsy.  Their name came from Debbie's sponsored chicken here at Jacob's Reward, Margaret, and the play on words with the famous knit stitch.   The pair enjoy junk shopping at Canton and keeping their sizeable yarn stashes out of their husbands' direct line of sight.  (I recommend a separate building.)

They specialize in darling knitted baby sets - hats, booties and the like, but branch out when certain knitting challenges catch their eye.  They especially love rubber-ducky-themed gift baskets.

This dynamic duo will be featured at our fall "Share the Harvest" Gift Market on October 16.  If you have any new babies or new moms on your holiday shopping list, you'll surely find the perfect gift among these ladies' wares. 

Farmgirl Field Trip

My pal Cyndi and I spent the day in Greenville yesterday, and on the way we stopped at an old feed store full of character and great deals.

We're using a new feed for our alpacas, and only a couple of the feed stores carry it.  Feagin Implements was on our way, and we had a great time meeting the owner, John, and his mom, Glenda.  Nothing fancy here, just nice people who give you a fair price.  No credit cards.

Cyndi and I stocked up on this feed, which is actually made for horses, and a bag or two of chicken pellets for good measure.

A farmgirl and her Ford.  It's a beautiful thing...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tiny Menaces

If hummingbirds were as big as robins, we'd all be in big trouble. These little guys have moxie and boundary issues.

New Guineas

Not the country - the poultry.  The Farm was gifted with three new guinea fowl today. - This is good news for us, but bad news for our friend Mary, whose livestock guardian dog was making terminal sport of her small guinea flock.  No one can figure out why Bear ignores chickens but mauls guineas--maybe because of their flying ability--but in any case, Mary felt like she needed to rehome the three survivors.

I put the three exotic (prehistoric-looking) birds, transport cage and all, into the chicken "tractor" with our two guineas and five young chickens, and let them get acquainted.  Tonight, when it's dark, I'll open the transport cage and let the two groups mingle, while they're sleepy and disinterested in each other.

Our last integration experiment worked wonderfully well - let's pray this one does, too.  Then I just have to decide when to open the door and let all this tractor's inhabitants become part of the free-range crowd. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chapter Launch

It's almost time.

We're collecting feedback about the best day of the week, and then we'll pick a date for our Orientation Meeting. (A Friday is way out in front at the moment.) Chapter Leader Maryann has asked me to announce a few items:
  • Please go ahead and join the Farmgirls Sisterhood at the Mary Jane's Farm site before our first meeting. This gets your personal materials, including your membership number and badge, on the way.
  • Think about activities you'd like to do. Some ideas we've already had include a trip to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Junk Shopping in some neighboring small towns, Craft Retreat at some cool B&B-type venues, small groups working on badge projects together, etc.
  • The overwhelming sentiment of the group is that this will be an adult chapter with adult-only meetings. The Farmgirl Sisterhood has options for younger ladies (Farmerettes and Young Cultivators), and these will need to be developed with separate meeting times and with adult mentors. I'd love to see this get off the ground once our Big Girl group is established. Adult Farmgirls and Young Lady Farmgirls have different needs and interests, and we want to remain sensitive to that.
I'm considering starting a dedicated blog for our Little Red Barn Farmgirls Chapter. In case there are Jacob's Reward Farm followers who are not quite as interested in Farmgirls' activities, this will give everyone the option to customize their blog reading. I'll put a link in the sidebar of each blog so that they'll be easy to access from each other. Thoughts?

Now, the next announcement will be the date and time of our Orientation meeting, so watch for that soon.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where'd Today Go?

Wow. Today got snatched out of my hand like a designer bag at a yard sale. I had big plans for the blog today, but the first day of school and the first day back at the gym and the first day cooking a decent meal before 9 PM all took their toll. Mea culpa.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about Organizing the Farm Girls. Here's the most important thing I was going to ask: for those of you interested in joining our Farm Girls chapter, which one night a month would be better over the long term for our regular meetings... Wednesday or Friday? E-mail me or comment below to weigh in on the decision.

More details about the chapter start-up tomorrow...

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Moments from our sweet time together today in the Little Red Barn...

New friends, Marilyn and Denise

Leslie's dazzling sparkles...

Rita's yak in motion...

Scraps for the birds...

Jennifer's scarf of blue leaves...

Peggy's sterling tresses...

Maryann's striped shaping...

Claire and the plushie keet-eater...

Mary's cables...

Cindy's cotton hexagon...

Wonder what kind of moments we'll have next Saturday in the Barn?

LRB Day!

It's a beautiful, cool morning - perfect for spinning in the Little Red Barn... We'd love to have you with us today...

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Value of Vintage

I woke up today with an urge to do some embroidery. This does not happen every day. I knit and crochet, and I gave up cross stitching 20 years ago because I got too impatient. But today, I really wanted to draw with floss.

It's part of the nagging nostalgia that accompanies me wherever I go, I think. That's why the Farm Girl Sisterhood is so appealing. That's why I pour over my old family photos again and again. That's why I spend too much money at junk shops. I love Old Stuff, and I want it around me. Especially family stuff, but in a pinch, I'm happy with a flea market find.

If I can't get to a junk shop, I scour the internet for pretty things that take me back to my childhood, and my grandmother's house. The memories are sweet.

When I discovered eBay, I realized that I had access to just about any kind of Old Thing I might want. I bought some very nice things. But I realized that what I gave up was the Hunt - the Search. A large part of the appeal is stumbling upon some old treasure that someone has cast off.

So it's back to the old roadside ramshackle shops that just might hold a treasure. I know where some of these are around here, and our friend Gail has some out in the country that I'm dying to check out--you know, the real mom-and-pop places rather than the busy tourist traps.

I also like to make stuff myself, in the old style. It's very popular now to use old stuff to make things that work in our lives today -- lanterns out of mason jars, flower pots out of cowboy boots... you get the idea. This has been a casual quest of mine, replacing plastic containers and tools with old things that fit the purpose. Reuse, recycle. Felting sweaters and making baskets, pot holders, purses, and the like. Granite ware... I'm a huge sucker for granite and enamel ware.

Even old furniture makes me happy. Old, or made from natural materials. I've wanted a willow chair set for the longest time. Someday...

But the question I keep coming back to is, Why? Why do old things bring me such warm happiness? What is it about the past that is so appealing?

Do you have any theories? Wanna go junk shopping and talk about it?

All these images are linked to their sources. Plenty of virtual exploring there... Go check them out and tell them I said Hi!