Fall is time for…

Plenty of things:  knitting, drinking tea, coloring in front of the fire, drinking tea, reading in front of the fire, drinking more tea, planning my Thanksgiving menu (I get immense joy out of planning my menu and then executing it!!), putting the garden away for the winter, choreographing barre routines, working on my cottage food license…so many things to choose from!!

I have been getting some knitting and sewing done this month–I finished two projects that had been in limbo for a few weeks while I found time to pick up some zippers that were the correct length and color-coordinated with my fabric.  Here are the finished products:

These small bags are sized to hold a Kindle Fire, so they are roughly 5 inches tall by 9 inches wide. The purple one was for a friend–she is one of my barre regulars and I just adore her.  The green one was a donation to a silent auction for a meeting I attended last month. I started another one last weekend that does not yet have a final recipient assigned to it yet.  One of my favorite winter activities is to knit in front of the wood stove in the evenings or on those nasty days when it is snowing hard and I have no desire to go outside.  Sometimes I exhaust myself and end up taking a nap, knitting needles and runaway balls of yarns drooping off the couch.

I’ve been reading more in the evenings this fall.  I just finished reading Cadillac Desert, by Marc Reisner.  This book discusses the battle over water in the West:  dams, floods, irrigation canals, droughts, politics, corruption, etc. I remember waaaaay back in college I started reading this book and I became so disgusted and enraged that I had to stop reading it.  Now, nearly two decades later (Whoops, did I really just date myself? I guess I did…) I can read the book because let’s face it: with all the crazy going on in the world these days, one sort of has to desensitize oneself in order to get by.  I’m not saying I’ve Capturecompletely lost my compassion, but I tend to let the bad things roll off my back more easily these days because I have to if I am going to maintain that compassion.  But suffice it to say that this book brought up many excellent examples of how humans can be so arrogant and stupid in their quest to exert their control over nature.  And, get this: to follow up that book, I chose my next book to be The Battle for the Buffalo River by Neil Compton.  And guess what?  This book follows a similar plot as Cadillac Desert!  The good news is this book has a happy ending–the Buffalo River was not dammed and subsequently became the nation’s first national river in 1972.

Still, there is only so much reading on such depressing topics I can do in one sitting.  So I break it up by coloring, knitting, reading other things, planning Thanksgiving, and pondering my cottage food license (to be honest, though, I haven’t really done much work on my cottage food license this fall–which is something I SHOULD be working on).  I tend to find that coloring is generally more relaxing, though.  And I have several new completed pages in my coloring book to show for my relaxing, fire-side efforts:

Now that Thanksgiving is less than three weeks away, I need to get serious about my menu.  I found a new recipe for a Moroccan-spiced winter squash dip that I made last week and I LOVED it.  If my vegan friend comes again, I will have to make this dip.  It will pair perfectly with homemade pitas, which I made for the very first time last weekend (along with homemade, from-scratch, falafel–it was the best!).  And I know what you are thinking: How can that be?!  How have you never made homemade pitas?

I know, I know.  It’s just one of those things that never happened. But they are so stinking easy, I will be making them again.  And again. In fact, maybe I will do a video on how to make them!  And you will make them, too!  Perhaps the video will include the winter squash dip, too.  But first…

I’m going to dig out my pile of unsorted recipes now.  Maybe I will find a hidden jewel that I need to include in my Thanksgiving menu this year.  It will be like a scavenger hunt to find exciting new foods to try!

 

Busy, busy in my absence

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I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog for several weeks now, so a quick update as to what I’ve been doing.  Some of it is quite exciting, other aspects, well…not so much.

First, the exciting:  I’m working on my cottage food license.  This is a big deal because it will allow me to prepare certain low-risk foods (jams, jellies, spice rubs, cookies, etc.) and sell them directly to consumers.  This means I can sell these food items at the CSA pick up this summer, at the farmer’s market, or out of my front door.  This is a new law in Montana–it has only been in effect for a couple of years.  I attended a workshop last month that answered a lot of questions I had.  Next week I’m meeting with the county sanitarian (who will review my application) to go over more questions and get some clarification before I complete my application.  The biggest pain for all of this is I have to convert all of the ingredients from volume into weight.  This is to make sure if you are preparing something like a jam or jelly that the recipe meets a certain percentage of sugar in order to be considered safe for a consumer.  It’s a pain, but there are resources available to help with the conversions.  Once this process is complete, should I want to take my products retail or wholesale, then most of the legwork will be completed.

Now for the now-so-exciting:  A couple of weeks ago I had to travel for work (that could be considered exciting) but in the process I came down with a nasty bug.  I always get sick when I fly, and this one knocked me flat for several days.  Was it the flu?  I’m not sure.  I had a fever and full body aches.  I never had a sore throat (thank goodness–I hate having a sore throat!).  It’s been two weeks since I got sick and this little bugger is still clinging for dear life.  Honestly, I’m still not exactly sure how I navigated my way through a 4 hour layover in the Denver airport with all of my belongings while being doped up on Nyquil and all–I don’t really remember much about my trip.  I’m just glad I made it home.  In the first 36 hours of being home, I spent 33 of them sleeping.  I was so tired I could barely move.  It was awful.  And when I could drag myself out of bed, it was all I could do to sit upright on the couch for 30 minutes before falling over from exhaustion and falling back asleep.  Once I felt well enough to stay out of bed for over an hour at a time, I did a lot of coloring.  A LOT of coloring.  I use watercolor pencils to sketch in my color, then I take a small paintbrush dipped in water and go back over the pencil marks to mix them like watercolors.

It’s quite fun and soothing, actually.  But there is only so much coloring I can do before cabin fever and a general antsiness overtakes me and I just want to do something.  Anything but sit around the house feeling miserable.  This week I finally returned to teaching barre at the gym, but with the clinging congestion and my diminished lung capacity it has been challenging.  It feels so good to be working out again and hopefully working the last of the sickness out of my system.

So that’s been my February.  I have not watched any of the Olympics.  I have slept and colored most of the month away.  And on those days when I have felt less cognitively challenged, I have worked on my cottage food license preparation.  In a way I’m ready for a new month to begin.  A fresh start.  Maybe March will be better.  Maybe March will be warmer.  It has been a very cold and snowy winter so far.  Monday morning when I took MaeBelle for a walk it was -16 degrees F.  I like the winter and I like the snow.  Really, I do.  But I don’t particularly care for it when I’m sick.  It’s supposed to warm up a little by the weekend.  And that means this coming weekend I ski.  It helps keep the winter blahs at bay.  Hooray!