Afternoon Light

jenjoycedesign© wild native brodea flower 2

Wildflowers lingering in the whitening grass.

My favorites are the tall wobbly blue Brodea,  and the dainty fragile wild roses, absolutely everywhere!

jenjoycedesign© native wild rose 2

The cheerful wild peas climbing up the garden fence…

jenjoycedesign© wild pea on garden fence

Yesterday walking about with Emma,

capturing just a few of the woodland wildflowers in the late afternoon sun .

jenjoycedesign© wild native flower in question

Quite a different mood & light cast from Early Light that very same day.

jenjoycedesign© brodea flowers

Brodea in small little gatherings , as they wobble in the breeze in unison.

jenjoycedesign© wild native Japanese lanterns

Everywhere these plump yellow-green shy flowers with their faces always cast down.

jenjoycedesign© Emma in May

Life is good, and everything in its place.

jenjoycedesign© Emma 1

From within a garden gate…

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I am hopeful and ready to cultivate something verdant and lush,  a wonderful secret garden, a tonic for a feeling of well-being and happiness wherein the garden fence I can be a caretaker of living things and feel at home, a place out under the sky where the nameless meadowy wild flowers and grasses thrive along side vines of berries, succulent sedums, herbs, foxglove, sturdy fruit trees.  All together keeping time of the seasons together under the showers, and the comforting shade skips around in a merry frolic with the suns rays.     In wet months miners lettuce explodes in edible clusters,  and somewhere near,  maybe a lucky mushroom pops up…

“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”  A. A. Milne

Foraging about in a garden, a secret garden, the kind only a few people visit (namely myself) … with a lovely and nice gate to keep the world out and the magic in. Garden gates utterly fascinate me right now… check out this beauty…

garden gate

The garden is  like a favorite room in a house.  In mornings of April through October there’s me holding a watering hose in one hand and cup of coffee in the other, with knitting bag slung across my shoulders. I am dreaming a thriving green oasis from within my Charcoal Forest, and garden with walls of pink jasmine (just planted, six plants!) to vine and cover the lower fence, and shield from vision the blackest of burn,  and the apple trees trying to shake off the scorched leaves of last Autumn’s wildfire as their new leaves are determined to emerge soon,  very soon, they must, because I just see them in my mind!

“Flowers are restful to look at. They have neither emotions nor conflicts.” Sigmund Freud

A place to go, to work hard and get dirt beneath my nails, a  place where  the soul meets life, and the worries of the world are forgotten. My thoughts these days are of knitting, and of a garden with knitting trail made new.   

The Last Of Spring

jenjoycedesign© cotton-yarn 2.JPG

It is already the last stretch of Spring, and forthcoming is a little duo for summer!  One in dark teal, and one in light teal, in Cascade Ultra Pima cotton yarn,to test my latest design, a summer top idea that I’ve been working on.

jenjoycedesign© cotton-yarn

Other things going on, I will splash on to this post, as I am worried I don’t share enough non-knitting things here in general. So, here,  a mountain woodland garden…

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Where in I try to grow things which are sometimes a challenge, but this season, doing well enough.

jenjoycedesign© mountain garden

Blossoming leeks,

jenjoycedesign© leeks

my greens bed protected from the harsh sun beneath their sun-bonnet,   grapes exploding into clusters fattening,  beans beginning to climb, nearly 4′ high tomato plants, apples beginning to blush and swell, and very shy slow-growing zucchini…

Um….jeans ripening  in the sun?

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Well, not really, just foolin’ around!  Thats about it for this post, and I surely hope to have made the two halter tops by the next post, sometime around the solstice, which will be June 20! 

How are your last weeks of spring coming along?

Landscape With Pullover

jenjoycedesign©dryingHi folks. Now nearly two o’clock in the sun-drenched afternoon, and from where I am overlooks a very uneventful and washed-out, but beautiful blue sky, and heat-soaked deck plants, but most importantly a preview of ….(oh the ecstasy of finishing)… a pullover !!!  This very basic pullover represents about three week’s worth of near constant  pattern writing & testing with actual yarn, and now she dries in the sun after being washed . . .
jenjoycedesign©landscape-with-sweaterA landscape with knitting indeed, so excuse me now, but I must head on up with Emma for that ridge you see upwardly rising in the photo, we’ve been spending far too much time hung up with finish work today of reknitting necklines, and weaving in ends and grafting underarm stitches.  Gotta get ourselves hoofin’ .

(( Forthcoming~~ a dazzling finish photo and new pattern! ))

Sweet As A Rose

jenjoycedesign©fragrant-rose

This morning a lovely fragrant rose bloomed in the garden, and promptly I cut it off to put it in a vase on the table of the big open room of our house hoping to make the house smell lovely.  Now, usually that is fine enough, but being a bit of a striving dessert chef, my tongue could just taste that fresh fragrant blossom. Yes,  perhaps in a bath of whole cream, and barely sweetened with some fine crystals of organic sugar. My creative inner cook loves a challenge, and my nose and mouth can be jealous friends.

While this blossom was still opening it’s amazingly fragrant coral pink petals, I got out copper pots & spoons, and began to whistle a tune while a steam bath started to tremor. And this is how I made my rose ice-cream. . .

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I broke off only petals of a very fragrant variety of (organically grown) rose flower into bath of full cream ~~ about a cup, in preferably a glass or stainless steel bowl. Heated over simmering water as a double boiler, and when cream was very warm, added about a half cup of sugar (less is more) , stirred and let cool until room temperature. All that lovely rose essence leeches out into the full cream as the fat and the sugar really help the process. After it cooled to room temperature, I strained the petals out of the cream and added a little whole milk, not quite doubling the volume. Into the churn freezer it went.

jenjoycedesign©enjoy!

I must say, it would be perfect if I learned how to sugar preserve rose petals and garnished with them.  As the summertime drones on with mercury rising,  its a real treat to be enjoying a  little taste of rose ice-cream !

 

Summer

hydrangia cuttings

This June I have become a mad propagator! These are cuttings of hydrangea I managed to acquire last week, and well, along with a bunch of citrus too…

lemon cuttings

I am keen to try at making a lemon espalier border in the garden,  from um… these cuttings. Who’d think I would be drawn to this sort of thing, or even up for such a task? Not me!  Well, I’ll not count my lemon trees before they root.  It probably will not work. Everything in the garden seems to be thriving now that we have installed drip irrigation (on some of the garden, but not all), and I am very excited to be gardening a lot of my time this summer.

Beneath my soaker-hose hydrated shelter of white sheet sun bonnet, the kale & lettuces are a bunch of partying plants, like a mosh pit of dancing leaves, along with my fragile little seedlings of new lettuces, kale, spinach, to rotate after the big leaves have been eaten or bolt, whichever comes first, as well as a few other things…

misty hydrated & covered lettuce, spinach & kale bed (seedlings too)

Mind you, I’ve never been able to grow lettuce here before, ever. I have now discovered the secret! There’s nothing like a huge salad bowl every night for dinner , of lettuces and these…

cotton yarn tomato trellis

tomatoes which I’ve trellised this year (yes, with some handy red cotton yarn I have)…. this photo taken a week ago, shows them just touching the top string at almost 6’…. but now, they are reaching up past it and the tomatoes are beginning to ripen red as the yarn!

five-foot-high tomatoes, and growing!

I do love my very rustic garden. Jeff and I have built it little by little, from a cleared bit of woods. I am considering potting shed now, as I spend the early mornings contemplating sitting next to the first-year Gravenstein which will one day be ‘under’ , and artichokes, asparagus, and perennial flowers… while the sprinkler showers us all with a pitter patter of rain. I love this time of day like no other.

I’ve also been up to doing some baking.017

Working on a signature rustic lemon-mascarpone sponge cake…

(um, but this one was an experimental apricot one…)apricot mascarpone sponge cake

because life is just too short to overlook these impulses.  This of course, is along the vein of propagating lemon trees, what is this craving I have for lemons? I will not question, but instead perfect my lemon recipes as I affectionately care for my little citrus plants. Grow…. grow… grow little lemons.

As I close this post of June’s bliss, I want to share with you a fun cake making video of Jamie Oliver’s, while wishing you all a lovely July and it’s a holiday here so Happy Fourth and all of that patriotic cheer!

A Rustic Garden

jenjoycedesign©the woodsWe had a little bit of drizzly weather last week, hardly enough to call a rain, yet it was.  Now June, the steady lack of weather, and presence of increasing dry heat has moved in like a stereotypical mother-in-law with her oppressive loads of baggage, for a visit with indeterminable end. Who knows when we will have the rain come again, but it is typically not until the second half of Autumn. Having lived my whole life in Northern California, I see it as something of magical fairy dust when rain falls in summer months. Around here we hunker down and work on defensible space (for wild fire) and use as little water as we comfortably can, and try not to worry too much. Nature is at its most raw and extreme everywhere it seems these days,  and Napa Valley is no exception, behind the facade of succulent ripe grape clusters ready to transform into jewel-like world-class glasses of wine, the surface terrain is very soon to be harsh and unyielding. Except for the vines laden with wine grapes of course.

Anyway, I feel like I’ve taken a good long break from everything of which previously I had been running an obsessive pitch. My blog, the knitting, pattern figuring & promoting all has gained distance from me while I’ve been doing who-knows-what else, and March through May have had distracting forces which have carried me along like a boat down the stream.  Last many weeks have been a blur of special (and not-so-special) occasions, of birthdays,  of spending time with new friends who have wandered into my life and also keeping cherished company with old friends, of making appearances to such things as a sixth-grade graduation, and then there has been the undeniable distraction of hard physical labor.

I find recently ‘who I am’ is a manual laborer for now. A Constant Gardener for the garden plot , the woods with its ever-growing thickets of trees and shrubs, and adjacent to that endeavor are my walking trails. Knit-walking has been replaced in recent months by trail maintenance, as the stickery weed burrs and poison oak this year are unbelievable, and full huge firs and oaks are falling across paths and the ridge road seemingly everywhere,  as if some sort of plague of drought, beetle & killer tree fungi all working together to reshape the landscape of the mountain.

But there is an oasis among us!  We’ve been working on a drip irrigation for our fenced-in ‘secret’ garden  this season, transforming the barely established perennials hanging on for dear life into happy productive fruit-bearing members of a garden.  Lastly I have plunged heart & soul into the work of never-ending woods work, primarily the defensible space woods work which involves a bit of hiking, strenuous brush cutting with a hand-held bow saw, hauling, stacking, and burning in the rain season, all of which is endless. I tell you, this sort of work makes one feel overwhelmed at best, facing acres upon acres of dense new growth of trees & shrubs , and I have recently begun to tell myself it is just like knitting ;  one stitch at a time which makes the Fair Isle sweater.

But blogging? Though I am settling more into a non-virtual routine, I realize this morning as I make this post, how since having quite a lengthy vacation from blogging and feverish knitting for a couple of months, I am beckoned back with an itch beneath my skin that there is work to be done but unsure of the next move creatively speaking. I have changed course many times in the recent weeks since Snowmelt tam about what is the Next Big Idea.  I am stale on the Snowmelt Gaiters for now, for writing about the steek is slightly out of my pattern-writing comfort zone, so I need to have a little more time on that, and will let it go to the wayside for the summer. I have been thinking about new ideas of cooling blue Aztec-looking motif, but still I feel like I just am spinning wheels, vulnerable still again to changing course. We all go there, arrive at the blasé place en route to enthusiasm. I live in the sun-dappled places of life, between shadow and light, where one gets caught in the dizzying moments of the ‘dappling’.

jenjoycedesign©rustic garden of potential

Here a photo I just took of the drenching light of early sunrise against the ridge beyond, making it’s way to our modest rustic garden of potential. There are actually things growing in there !  Tomato plants, ten of them, growing upwards greedily claiming their pathway to the sky, fat blueberries on several first-year plants which are my tasty reward for wandering down to the Secret Garden every morning to contemplate in my chair with pot of tea.  Trellised table-grape vines and blackberry vines, strawberries,  now drip-irrigated, are slowly re-establishing.  There is my new prized gardening accomplishment; a cotton sheet-covered and thrice-daily watered lettuce, spinach & kale bed which I have created to withstand drought and baking heat of the near perpendicular rays of the afternoon sun.  All in all, the garden, my Secret Garden I am enjoying immensely. More to come on this, as I have big dreams for this little garden plot !

So if you haven’t seen a lot of new things in the knitterly way, know that all is well, and growing and I am in full dialog with nature every single ( happy ) day.

Apple Blossoms

jenjoycedesign©apple blossom

We have an apple tree in our garden which has just begun to bloom, and for me that is very exciting!  There is a lot going on all at once, so there will be a flurry of posts forthcoming, I just wanted to break the silence and show off a little bit of springtime which is present here full tilt. I hope you are all enjoying yourselves in the midst of blossoms !

Summer Solstice

jenjoycedesign©apricot-jam

I can’t think of a better  thing to post on the summer solstice than to show off the apricot jam I just made !  I beat the ravens & jays to this year’s crop of uncommonly tiny but plentiful fruits, and surprisingly I was able to make at least a few jars of apricot jam ( I did toss a few dried sour cherries in there too).

jenjoycedesign©apricots

*   *   *

And now for my Fresh Apricot Torte recipe!

This is a perfect desert choice for fresh or frozen fresh fruit. Very rustic, and it’s fruit flavor equals that of any fresh fruit pie ~ without all the hassle of pastry ~ and it is made in minutes ! It’s relatively low in fat too. I’m taking this to a casual dinner party we’re going to this evening. Here’s how :

Beat briefly, two eggs. Add 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup milk, pinch of salt, beat together till blended. Fold in 1.5 cups flour. Gently fold in 1 to 2 pounds in-season fresh or frozen fruit (berries, cherries, apples, pears, apricots, peaches all do really well). Pour into one buttered and floured cake layer pan and bake at 375 or 400 until deep golden on top, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on whether fruit is fresh or frozen.

Cool on rack, then turn upside down and let torte come out of pan, then place right-side-up on a pretty plate. Serve room temperature, or cold from the fridge.  A dessert of under-statement ~ surprisingly simple, and yet very elegant!

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Happy Summer Solstice everybody ! 

Leeks & Scallions !

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This is not really a knitting post, nay. In order to cheer myself and this space here up a little, I’ve decided to begin sharing my garden a bit. Especially as this weekend , and last, and the one before that, I’ve worked like an ox in the garden. My hands are riddled with cuts, thorn punctures, slivers, scrapes, and my nails are very dirty. And I am sore, sore, sore…. and tired, tired, tired… but I am so fired up !

So here are two jars of the first of this year’s harvest from the garden ~ one of leeks, and one of scallions. There is a bounty of these now, as I planted them from seeds at the very end of last summer, then proceeded to ignore them all Autumn & Winter, and they just grew and bunched and multiplied somehow.  I am hoping to master the garden’s best friend ~ the alliums !

My Leeky Tub . . .

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Six From One

jenjoycedesign©onion You know when you cut an onion up, and use only part of it, then put the other part back into the fridge and forget about it? Well, apparently if you buy organic, and if you leave the rooting part in tact, who’s to say it won’t still propagate? One red onion seems to be sprouting into six separate shoots. Six! I have a mind to have a bag in the fridge just for the rooted section of onions I’ve used, to see if they regenerate new plants.

Measuring Progress


So,  here I am knitting on a Sunday morning, trying feverishly to get at least one of the two kilt hose through the toe section and finished today .

Closer, see that green yarn row marker?

It got caught in the knitting, because I wasn’t paying attention to bring it around to the front on each row.

Ah ha ! I can measure the length of the yarn of the row marker and know how much I knit this morning.

Voila !


My discovery is that if one does this on purpose, say, using a long yarn loop of a row marker with an object dangling on one end, as I do a button, so it won’t slip through, then one can do this quite intentionally. I make row markers like this, lots of them, but I now see the benefit of making them particularly long, so I can measure what I’ve knit in a given time period. Or, if I want to knit a certain length of a section, say, I need to knit 2 inches for example, I just slip the marker to the back and keep measuring the marker from the front. At any point, at the end of the row, the marker can just be slipped out of the knitting and placed back in the front again. Quite Nifty !