Thursday, October 30, 2008

New TV, Visiting Brother, Halloween Plans

We bought a new tv as our Christmas present to each other this year. We decided to get it early, so we could have people over for scary Halloween movies tomorrow night. We went and picked it up yesterday, but driving a Kia Spectra sure does complicate things! We ended up renting a cargo van from Enterprise in order to get the tv home. But that still cost less than what Best Buy charges for delivery and we got it the same day!

After getting the television home, we picked Adam up at the airport. He's going to be visiting till next week Wed. It'll be a busy time, but really fun to have him here for a while. Today he and I are going to set up the new tv and get the computer hooked up to it. We might also bake some cookies for Halloween.

I'm very excited to get to watch movies and things from the computer on a big television. Without television service (anntennas don't work here, cable isn't available, and we won't pay for satelite), the computer and dvd's are the main way we watch television and movies.

For Halloween tomorrow, we're going to watch Monster Squad and Sleepy Hollow, and maybe Halloween. We're inviting Ken and Beth over, and Adam will be here. Plus, it's Pizza Night! So it'll be a pretty good time all in all, I'm sure. I do have a few things to get ready for that today, like preparing pizza toppings and making other snacks, because tomorrow we'll be out most of the day. Ben's taking the day off, and we'll be going into St. Louis to take Adam to the aquarium. Like I said, a busy time!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

One of Those Days

I've been fairly out of sorts today. I'm not sure what the problem is, it's just one of those hard to deal kind of days, I guess. Ben and I have been arguing about small stupid things, and it seems like lots of little things are working out badly. It's weird how things that should make no difference most of the time should end up upsetting me so much on certain days. Ben's forgotten a bunch of times to take care a number of things that he said he would, and he keeps putting off other things that we're supposed to do together. Maybe I've just been a bit crazy/hormonal today or something, or maybe I just lost patience all at once, but it's been a pretty angsty evening for me. I feel like an emo 14 year old.

I suppose there's a bit of emo 14 year old in all of us sometimes, right?

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Miscellanea from My Homestead

This past weekend was a very fun, but full, one. We went to a St. Louis Blues game on Saturday evening, and that was quite cool. I hadn't watched hockey for a very long time, and it's always much more exciting live. Plus the seats (they were a givaway from Ben's work that our friend Ken got, and we went with him and our friend Beth) were really super nice ones, where the vendors would come around and just hand out the drinks and food, because it was included in the ticket. Pretty cool, I'd say. I felt like a real Diamond Jim. (Is it sad that that's my idea of great wealth? lol)

Yesterday Ken and Beth came over for a BYOP Pumpkin Carving Party. I served chili with fixin's and cornbread in a buffet style, with pumpkin pie for dessert. I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture of my buffet, since I used Halloween and pumpkin fabric to decorate and plastic spiders everywhere. I think there's a picture on Ben's phone of what lunch it's self looked like, because I served the cheese slices in cut out shapes. I'll see about getting from his phone to my blog. It all was pretty cute. The pumpkin carving was fun too, and we got a five gallon bucket full of pumpkin guts and seeds for the chickens. They love pumpkin guts and seeds.

So that was our weekend, and today I have a dr's appt just to follow up on my synthroid dosage and such. I'm planning what should get done to be ready for brother Adam's visit. He gets here on Wed night! And we're debating going to pick up our new Christmas tv today if we can borrow the neighbor's truck. I'm pretty excited about the tv, because I'm going to be able to hook the computer to it and watch all the stuff I like to watch online, on it.

Here are some pictures from the last week or so of some of the things I've been up to...


These are the fabrics that I'm using in the quilt that I'm making for Ben's brother for Christmas. It's going to be Mystery Science Theater themed, with a quote and other things. It's a kind of big project, so I should probably try to get the machine embroidery finished before Adam gets here, so I can work on the hand embroidered parts during the week that Adam's visiting.

In the spirit of Halloween: Ghost Onions!
Actually, we picked these up at an Amish farm that Julie and Brian took us to visit last weekend. We got a 26 lb. box for $10 and $.38 a lb seems like a pretty good deal for nice big sweet onions like these.
I've seen people use this storage trick with nylons before, but I don't have any around, so I sewed some long tubes of cheese cloth and we just tied a knot between each onion. They're hanging in the upstairs storage area, where they'll be dry and cool.


I just slipped the top knot of each row into the slot on these hanger for easy hanging, and for easy access to untie the knots and get the onions out. I could cut the fabric and take them from the bottom, but Ben thought the knots might untie without the tension of other onions below them. Plus, if we leave them whole, we can use them next year too.


Here is the apple themed present I made and put together for Julie. It was especially appropriate, since she just got a new job as a teacher. :) I've included our own homemade applesauce, spiced apples, dried apple rings, and apple jelly. There's also a scrapbook-style recipe for Applesauce Muffins, and a microplane style nutmeg grater with some whole nutmegs. I also included the dishcloths that she had requested that I make for her, because they matched so well! I packed it all with the tissue paper in a basket that I got a while back on sale somewhere for gift giving. The was all tied up in a red cellophane bag. The jars are, of course, regular canning jars, and I added some seasonal fabric squares under the rings to decorate them. The dried apple rings are in a repurposed jelly jar. I painted the lid red to match with regular spray paint.
Spray painting the lid for the recycled jar gave me a great idea! I could get some of that chalkboard spray paint and paint the lids of all my saved repurposed jars... that way, I could label them with chalk, then wipe them off and change the label when the contents change. I think that would be really cute. And would work better than post-it notes, which is what I tend to use right now. I'd love to know how this works out, if anyone decides to try it.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Softly, Deftly...

Well, I guess when I have calm slow days, my blog definately does as well. I finished the typing gloves yesterday, and they're all wrapped up and ready for Christmas. I did send in a picture to post with my phone, but it hasn't shown up yet. I didn't realize, I thought I'd posted for yesterday. Oh well, maybe I'll resend it tomorrow. Not that they second one looks at all different than the first one.

Other than knitting, I've just been doing basic housework, and telling myself that I really should work on the machine embroidery for that quilt. But I've been a little slow this week, because of homonal issues. It's funny how that always ends up making me sick with headaches and flu symptoms, not with cramps or whatever else. So I figure letting it go for a few days is much better than spending every afternoon and evening with sewing machine noise based migraines.

I did start another knitting project, a wool vest for Ben. It's a bit ambitious, because my gauge seems tiny (7.5 st per in) and it's just going to be plain colored in plain stockinette, so it'll probably feel like it's taking forever. But I do enjoy a good plain knitting project, and maybe I'll add a cable to the center for a little interest. Though I'll definately check with him first, because I have to make sure he'd still be willing to wear it. Boys are so picky!

We moved the chicken coop today. Since we built the extension, it's been a bit of a pain to move around, because there's lots of taking apart and unstaking so we've been doing it about once a week. That's bee working pretty well for us, and I think it's good for the chickens too, becasue just as they've got all the grass trampled and scratched up, we move them to a new spot. We've been putting them on the giant patches of clover too, which they love to eat. Also, we bring them treats everyday, like extra clover pulled up from the long section, or old tomatoes, or the soft pumpkins, or leftovers, like bread or egg yolks from hard boiled eggs, or wilty greens. They do miss the days of wine and roses when I would give them the all the cooked down peelings and mush from straining the applesauce, but we can't always live so well, right?

We've to plastic sheets down to kill the grass for another couple of garden spots. One, we put off the back deck in the shape of a circle to make an herb garden, and the other is on the other side of the back yard from the big garden, for a pumpkin and pop corn patch. You have to try to seperate pop corn from sweet corn or they'll cross, and the same goes for pumpkins and squash from the same families. So, when the grass is dead, in another week or so, we'll till them both up, add a bunch of manure and till that in, and then put them to bed with a big thick layer of straw, that will be tilled in in the spring. Putting the big garden to bed will be done pretty much the same way. I just have to go ask the neighbors in the back who have horses if I can have their manure. I don't think they'd mind, because they don't have a garden. They seem like the type who'd buy chemical fertilizers even though they have the manure anyway.

So, what am I planning for today? More knitting, and maybe reading some of my library books, so I don't have to renew them, again. For dinner, I'm trying an experiment. I'm going to use this idea from Tammy's Recipes, but fill the rolls with ham and cheese. I'm not sure if I'll use pizza sauce too, or maybe garlic butter, or maybe no sauce. I'll just consult with Ben and see what he thinks sounds good.

I also have to make some more crackers. It's ridiculous, but I'm hooked on those homemade crackers. I've made them like three times since the first time, and I think I like them even better than saltines. Which is saying a lot. And with the cheese spread, they're even better than ritz. And might even top cheez-its. As you can see, I'm cracker crazy, so if I like those homemade ones, you know they're good.

The problem with the homemade crackers though, is that they take me quite a while to bake. In order to get the dough thin enough, I roll out a fourth of it at a time, so that's four pans baking for 15 - 20 minutes each. I'm thinking about just doubling the recipe, so that there's at least a week or two worth of crackers, but that would be eight trays of crackers baking for so long. I'd have the oven on for a couple of hours at least. Then again, we haven't turned the heat on yet, and it is kind of chilly in the house (62), so maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing to have the oven on that long. It would certainly warm up the kitchen.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Power!

My power cord was delivered today, and I'm pretty happy to be back on my laptop. I'd like to apologize for not keeping up on your blogs or answering comments while I was disconnected. I'll try to catch up in the next day or two, but if I miss something you think I should see or address, just email me and let me know!

We had a really great weekend, and went on a little road trip to visit Julie and her husband Brian in Ft. Wayne. This was great and we both had a lot of fun and relaxation. It was so much fun to eat yummy food in a nice pretty clean kitchen, knowing that I didn't have to clean it or cook it or anything. And we stocked up on some fun squashes and such at the Amish market near to them. We played games and really just had a very nice visit.

We got back on Sunday night, and yesterday I really intended to get everything settled and unpacked, but I got into knitting on the second glove for Ben and ended up spending the entire day watching movies. Luckily, I've got a very forgiving (or easygoing, or perhaps oblivious) husband, and he didn't mind a bit.

Today though, I was very on the ball, and I got the kitchen cleaned and organized, all the laundry washed and put away, and the sheets on the bed washed and put back. Oddly, I still had plenty of time to knit too. I'm almost finished with this glove, and I think I'll be able to complete it tomorrow, if I decide to do any knitting. I should be working on the machine embroidery for the quilt I'm making for Ben's brother, since it's just the first long step in a number of steps for getting it done, but I just didn't want to listen to the sewing machine noise today.

Ben and I were thinking of getting a new bigger tv for a Christmas present, but seeing Julie and Brian's projector made us think that perhaps that would be a better choice. Anyone have any thoughts or knowledge on that?

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

PictureMail

I finished the first, and started the second. I think they'll fit ben pretty well. I've spent today getting ready for a road trip tomorrow, packing and making snacks. We're also bottling our homemade vinegar today. But, that's another story.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ben's typing glove

I'm almost finished with the first fingerless glove for ben. The ribbing will go on about a half inch more, and then the thumb will get about a half inch of ribbing too.

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The power cord for my computer broke yesterday. A replacement is on the way, but i'll be a mobile blogger for a little while in the meantime.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Menu for 10-12 to 10-18

I'm a little late posting today. It's been one busy day! I've been working on a blanket for Ben's brother for Christmas. It's lots of machine embroidery, which is a bit time consuming at the beginning when I'm setting up all the hoop placements and such. There was also lots of chopping and prep for tonight's dinner and this week's breakfasts and veggie tray. So, here's this week's menu all laid out.

Sunday
L: Pasta
D: Nachos

Monday
B: Crockpot Oatmeal
L: Deviled Eggs (with yogurt instead of mayo... yuck to mayo)
D: Pork Fried Rice (with leftover pork steak from the freezer)

Tuesday
B: Pumpkin Pancakes
L: Leftover Pork Fried Rice
D: Eggs and Sausage

Wednesday
B: Oatmeal
L: PB&J
D: Beans and Rice

Thursday
B: Pumpkin Pancakes
L: Turkey Sandwiches
D: Homemade Pizza

Friday
B: Cereal and toast and fruit
L: Picnic snacky type lunch in the car: Crackers and Cheese Spread, Hommus, Guacamole. Apple Sauce, Hard Boiled Eggs, Veggies, and Cookies.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall Decorations

I had a very busy day today! We finally finished processing all the apples yesterday, so I put away all the slow cookers and gave the kitchen a thorough cleaning. I also made a new batch of laundry soap (and this one turned out a million times better than the first! I'm excited about it), and baked an Angel Food Cake. I had to borrow a tube pan from one of the ladies in the homemakers' club, because I've never made an angel food cake before. It was lots of fun, and I think it turned out well. Right now it's hanging upside down in the kitchen.

I also got out the Fall and Halloween decorations. Here are some pictures of my efforts.



Feel free to steal the ideas, if you'd like to do some homemade decorations of your own. I know I probably did. I made the pumpkins last year just before we moved. They're just a knitted tube of ribbing (5x1 I think), with both ends gathered and then stuffed. The stems are just green i-cord, with crocheted spirals for the vines. Some have the yarn doubled, and some are a single strand. A few I used a couple stitches from the stem to the bottom to give them that fat flattened pumpkin shape, and a few I left tall.

As for Halloween decorations, I don't really have very many. I did put plastic spiders in different places on the Indian corn I have hanging on our door. Maybe I should make a felt bat garland or a spooky silhouette sort of thing sometime. But then again, maybe it's better to have multi-purpose, Halloween/into fall/into Thanksgiving sort of decorations? What do you all think?

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Not Exactly Revolutionary: Homemade Pudding Cups

I love pudding. It's absolutely one of my favorite foods. But, like any relationship, this is not without it's problems. Pudding cups are expensive and wasteful (as in, too much disposable packaging, wasteful) and when I make a whole bowl of pudding from the box, I eat too much of it (as in, it's gone within twenty four hours, too much of it). But, it's always seemed like too much trouble to make the pudding and then portion it, since I have to dirty the large bowl, the whisk, a spoon, and the small bowls.

Not anymore.

I got the idea from the box of pudding. There are instructions for a shake in a jar prep method on the pudding. All I needed was the jar, the pudding, the milk, and my little reusable containers.
I shook the pudding in the jar as directed, then poured it directly into the little cups.
This makes portioning easier, since these little cups happen to be 4 oz big, and a half cup is one serving of pudding.
And after the pudding was in the cups, I just shook clean water in the jar to rinse it well and popped it into the dishwasher. (I skipped the rinsing step the first time and ended up having to scrub the jar anyway, since the dishwasher didn't get all the pudding out. But a little shake than having to scrub, I always say. Well, not really, but you know...)

In other, non-pudding news, I started knitting a Christmas present for Ben today. I'm using some grey Jaeger Matchmaker wool that I got at the Stitch n Pitch game in Detroit and making him typing gloves. (Yeah, that really just means wristlets or fingerless mitts, but neither of those sound very manly at all... well, not that typing gloves sound manly, but at least they don't sound like something a regency heroine would wear.)

This year we're probably going to get a new television as a gift for us both for Christmas, so since we'll be spending so much on one big gift, we'll be keeping the rest of the budget quite low, like ten or twenty dollars, with all the other gifts being thrifted or homemade. Because of this, and also, since Ben's so cold all winter, just about all his presents will be things to keep him warmer. I'm thinking I'll splurge my part of the budget on some nice thick flannel and maybe even fleece for warm pajama pants. I'm also looking into a hot water bottle or two. I have no idea how much they cost, but I think it'll be one of those things that seems silly, but ends up being indispensible.

I also had a meeting with the homemakers' club today. It seemed especially long today... the meetings are never really a super fun time, but I've really enjoyed getting to know all the ladies and the social parts are fun. It's mostly just all the discussion and seconding of motions that wears thin after a while. Not to mention they've started trying to get me to take on responsiblities. So not my thing.

I figure I've got about an hour or so till Ben gets home, so I'm going to try and make some progress on his gift, and watch another episode of Jericho. (I'm about halfway through the second season, and I don't like the second season very much at all. The show pretty much changed from disaster/survival to conspiracy/big brother. Not nearly as interesting to me.)

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cheese and Crackers

Mrs. Mordecai asked yesterday about the homemade cheese spread that I had mentioned in my post about our picnic lunch. This was a new experiment type of thing for me, and I think it's turned out to be a very tasty success. I used this recipe for a cheese ball from tammysrecipes.com, but instead of making it into a ball, I packed it into a jar for easy storage. I also left out the beef stuff, because I didn't have any, and honestly, I'm not even sure what it is.

This is what it looks like in the jar. I didn't add any milk because I didn't want it to spoil too easily, so it is a bit stiff to spread. I'm thinking that a touch of olive oil might improve that. It's much less expensive than those little tubs of spread in the store, and though it's not exactly health food, I'm sure it's healthier than that processed stuff.
BUT.... We liked our cheese spread so much, the last of the ritz crackers got eaten last night. (No, we didn't eat a whole box in two days, it was just a row and a half... not that I couldn't eat a whole box of ritz. I just like to think I wouldn't.) Anyway, I decided to try my hand at cracker making and see if I couldn't come up with something a bit healthier than ritz to go with my spread.

I found this recipe that lots of people had used in a challenge, and they all liked it so it seemed worth trying. Since I was going for healthy, I mixed three flours, bread flour (for the gluten), whole wheat pastry flour, and cornmeal.

The dough came out pretty well and was fairly easy to work with.
I'm the most uneven cutter ever.

It was a challenge to pick it up and get it on the parchment paper lined pan after rolling it so thin. That was the hardest part. I tried just rolling it out on the parchment paper, but it slid everywhere, and pulled the paper into wrinkles under it when it would shrink back during the rolling.
I tried two different shapes. I think the little triangles would be good with dips, but the squares are better for spreads. I didn't think this recipe needed the extra salt sprinkled on it at all, but it could use some garlic. I'm thinking garlic and parmasean next time.

They're pretty good, but the flavor comes from the spread or dip more than the cracker. It's an okay flavor and a really good crunchy grainy texture. I think they'd be great with hommus or guacamole. I'll have to get busy and make a dip sometime soon as well.
But for now, the cheese spread is just excellent.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Fun on the Cheap

We planned a lovely Sunday yesterday and had a really great morning doing all sorts of fun stuff. After mass, we took ourselves out to breakfast at McDonald's. I know. It's so bad for me. But McDonald's Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit, with Hash Browns and Orange Juice is probably my most favorite tasting meal ever. Except maybe fancy steakhouse steak. But who can afford that?

Anyway, since I knew we'd be spending money on breakfast, and we'd be in town for a while yesterday I packed us a picnic lunch as well, to save on the entertainment/eating out budget. But before we ate lunch, we ran a couple of errands, and then I settled down at Borders catching up with all the knitting magazines that my new cash budget prohibit buying. Which is better, because I guess I seriously don't need to own another knitting magazine, even if I want to. I could just unpack the boxes upstairs. The magazines and books are the only things left unpacked from the move. It's a lack of bookcase issue.

So, after I got to read and browse at Borders and Ben checked out Best Buy, we headed to the square in front of the library to have our lunch. I packed us some turkey wraps, homemade cheese spread and crackers, homemade applesauce in little cups, and some homemade cookies baked from the stash of freezer dough. It was a fun lunch, and Ben claims it was just as good as the Chinese Buffet, which would have cost us about twenty dollars more. I'm not sure about better tasting, but better for us and cheaper and less heavy and unhealthy feeling makes it a winner for me.

After lunch we went on a tour of this historic home that's in Edwardsville. It was built in 1820, and they have it refurbished and such to look like it could have then. The tour was really interesting, and the docents were really good and friendly as well. They asked us to volunteer there (mostly Ben, because they need men, I guess), but I don't think he's going to want to. He says he's too busy for things like that, but he could use an interest other than work if you asked me. I did tell the guy I'd try to talk him into it, but I'm not really a nagging type, so I just mentioned that if he volunteered there, he could learn all about the gardening and the heirloom varieties and such. The garden there is really cool. They have a small-ish area, maybe thirty by thirty, with great raised beds and mulched paths. Maybe next summer, we'll have saved enough money in the garden envelope to add some raised beds in our garden patch.

So we had a really fun day together, and there was still plenty of time for Ben to get in lots of Megaman when we got home.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

That About Sums It Up

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My Afternoon

Yesterday, I rested because of that annoying stomach bug I had. I'm feeling completely recovered today, so I'm glad I had the opportunity to just let it run its course. It's so frustrating sometimes how easily I seem to get sick! I pick up every virus or whatever that crosses my path. It's not like I even get out much! Anyway, it was only for a day or two, so I'll be glad I didn't catch something worse.

While I rested, I knit quite a lot. I finished the three dishcloths in the photo. These are for my mom, because she absolutely loves fall and autumn colors. Notice the huge ball of Sugar n Cream. It's a twelve ounce ball! I'll admit, I bought it mostly for the novelty factor, but also because I knew my mom would love the colors, and I do too. I also bought another skein this size that's a pretty golden yellow, which is pretty much her favorite color. I got all the ends sewn in on the dishcloths for Julie as well, and they're all set for her. Of course, I'm mean, and I'm going to make her wait a couple of weeks till we go visit her.

This morning I got my slow cookers going early, and they're all working away in the kitchen cooking up another big batch of apple sauce. The dehydrator is going as well, and I'm practically finished with all of the apple canning! There's a few more pounds left, and I think that on Saturday, Ben and I will make those into canned pie filling. I've never canned pie filling before, just frozen it, and we're interested in whether we'll like the results as well. Ben's concerned that it might turn out too sweet and mushy. To which I reply, "sounds perfect."

Since I have an hour or two before the apples are soft enough to go through the strainer for the applesauce, I'm going to knit and read for a little while, and then head back into the kitchen to process and can the apples. After that, I might go visit the neighbor, since I assume I'm probably not contagious anymore. But if I'm too hot and tired after the canning to be good company, I'll probably knit again until dinner time.

I'm on a dishcloth kick, and can't seem to be stopped. Sometimes, I won't even want to make another dishcloth, but I'll feel like I have got to finish knitting the entire ball of yarn. I have dishcloth OCD. Maybe someone with my condition shouldn't be buying such large balls of dishcloth cotton!

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oh Deer


My canning went well. The tomato sauce took quite a while to reduce, so I ended up doing all the processing after Ben was home, and he helped. That part does seem to go more smoothly with two people, since he can do the sterilizing and the lids and I can do the putting things in jars and filling them.

I was planning to spend some time with our elderly neighbor today, but yesterday and still this morning, I've been having some stomach troubles. I'd really hate to give her whatever bug I picked up, since she's not in the best of health to begin with, I'd be worried that she'd end super sick. If I feel better tomorrow, I'll plan to go visit with her on Friday.

There's a spot at the edge of the woods, out across the soy bean field, where I can see deer walking around sometimes. They're tiny specks at that distance, but they look really pretty against the yellow soy beans and the green trees, with the gold sunshine. I've never lived in a place where you could see deer from the house before. I'm not sure if it's because there's more deer, or fewer hunters, or perhaps just that I'm even more in the country here than where I grew up.

I'm going to take a rest from canning today, I think, and pull out the Halloween decorations. I didn't get around to that yesterday, and now that it's officially October, I definately won't be jumping the gun.

I did finish off the last ball of dishcloth yarn for Julie yesterday. Now all I have to do is sew in a million ends. I think I'll work on that this morning and watch Dancing with the Stars (if ABC has fixed their instant viewer yet). The colder weather has definately got me wanting to settle in and knit and sew instead of being outside now. I think I'd like to go all through my yarn some time soon and plan some projects, to get ready for the winter. Dark mornings make me want to spend the day on the couch. I guess it's just time for me to hibernate. :)

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