Monday, September 26, 2005

my hubby :)

Neil passed his exam with flying colours, and is now a certified Project Management Professional.

It's kinda like a lawyer passing the bar, for the vast majority of folks who won't have heard of the profession. I hadn't heard of it until I met and married the man.

I'm very proud of my hubby. :)


Sunday, September 25, 2005

gardens and pies, oh my!

The most recent picture of my newest garden space - one of three new spaces that I made this spring. And the single most full sun garden possible in my yard, since it is full of large old trees. As you can see, the impatients have had a huge visual impact.

This is what the same space looked like much much earlier in the year. You can tell then that are actually other plants in the garden!

Wormwood, golden marguerite, woad, weld, lemon thyme, skullcap, st.john's wort, feverfew, rosemary, lemon balm, pennyroyal, dyer's broom and alkanet are the other plants - all herbs. Some are dye plants, some are medicinal.

The home store of Richter's Herbs isn't that far away from me. While they largely focus on selling seeds online, the store also has baby plants. I have not had good luck with seeds, but baby plants are awesome starters!

As wonderful as the garden looks this year, I want to make major changes (again!) next year. This is also the garden that is closest to the back door of the house. It isn't making sense to me to put dye plants and medicinals that close to the house, when they aren't used as often as the vegetables. So my thought for next year is to move some of those out, and the tomatoes and green peppers in. Right now, the tomato and green peppers are the furthest out from the house.

But I'll be posting a more comprehensive garden assessment in a few days.


I made more pies yesterday. This time I took pics. :) This time my major problem is that they were -too- moist. I had to pore off excess moisture. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it soon enough. I'll just have to keep practising - oh gosh, the torture of it. ;)

Both are apple pies - one has a pastry string top, and the other an attempt at the dutch apple crumble top. I say "an attempt" because I don't really have a recipe around for it. I just went on instinct - oats, brown sugar, cinnamin, nutmeg, and a little margarine to make it stick together.

Please feel free to give me pointers on both pies and gardens. :)


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

who wants pie?

Well, I made a pie. For the first time ever, from scratch. Apple. It's a little dry. Not enough sugar.

But the making pastry, and rolling out therof, proved to be not hard at all.

So overall, I believe I can learn to make good pie, with a little practice.

Picked out a few dozen photos from all that is online, to be printed. I still like physical albums and the hubby needs something to put up on his office walls.

Didn't get the porch stained 'though.


There's snow in the air on the West Wing rerun that I'm watching, and a chill in the air. I'm thinking of Christmas. But I suppose that I shouldn't get ahead of myself - there's still Thanksgiving, Octoberfest, the hubby's birthday and Halloween first.

Will have to put the garden to bed sometime in the next month. Watch for a wrap-up soon, and plans for next year.

Does anyone else feel pensive at this time of year?


Friday, September 16, 2005

it's the weekend!


I've never had a longer week at work. Coming back from vacation is the hardest thing.
All that freedom to do what you want, more or less whenever you want, only to return the structured days of working for someone else.

All week I've been craving the chance to make a pie. From scratch, like my Mom used to do. I should mention that at 40, I've only been discovering the domestic arts recently. Two years ago, I made my first turkey. And for both sides of the family, no less. If I was ever going to fail at domesticity, that would have been the day. But I didn't. The turkey timed out well with the other foods, and no one died of my cooking, or even got the slightest bit sick.

I could buy a pie - there is a farmer's market just down the road. But I want to learn how to do it myself. Get my hands messy with dough. The whole bit.

Maybe I'll finally have time this weekend.

How do y'all - the other blog types who've rediscovered the domestic arts - in spinning, weaving, cooking, etc. - how you do find the time?


Sunday, September 11, 2005

vacation's over

I went back to work today. *sigh* It had to happen.

Classes start today. All of the new kids are so damn Young. Thin. They don't even know what a vinyl album is. *sigh*

But at least I have some new clothes. Really, it's almost like I was going back to school myself. :) It's a hard feeling to lose, even in adulthood, when one works for a University.

Now, the weekend that was:

- Cut the lawn and trimmed the edges.
- Pulled weeds and deadheaded flowers.
- Watered the back garden. The front garden's a pain since the hose out there is broken. I dislike lugging buckets out.
- Picked tomatoes and green peppers and pears. Surprisingly the tomatoes did not all ripen and fall off while I was gone.
- Threw the ball for the doggie a few million times.
- Cleaned up the living room bookcases. Had to make more room for the fiber and fiber books.
- Started a quilting project. I've never actually quilted before. I'm just guessing on the how-to of it, based on observations made.
- Worked on but haven't finished the baby-blanket-in-progess yet. It's for a friend, don't get excited.

The pictures will likely be fewer for awhile. I'm all pic'd out for a bit. And dig how badly IE handled the panoramic shots. Try Firefox instead. It's what I use at home, but the workplace is too paranoid or Bought to use it.


Thursday, September 8, 2005

More pics from the vacation

Today we're getting back to our lives, sadly. My hubby went back to work, and I'm missing him. Silly, I know, but we've spent 95% of the day together for the last 12 days.

I don't need to go back to work until monday, so I've got a couple of health appointments today. The allergist was long overdue - apparently I have to start the shots from scratch again. Oh joy.

And there's laundry and vacumning, and garden mapping!

The hubby is a project manager - he likes plans. Parameters, making lists, budgets, etc. So I'm going to map the gardens - what's in each space. And maybe even naming the spaces so I can refer to them easily.

Anyway, here's a few more pics from the vacation. I've been playing with the stitch-assist function of the camera to make panoramic shots.

Maggie - a friend of a friend, whom we met in Annapolis Royal

This is the best view I could get while crossing the PEI bridge. I was very disappointed. It's the longest bridge in Canada, possibly the world, and it's got those damn concrete barriers for walls. Hell, I couldn't even get a decent view of the bridge itself from the shore.

Hopewell Rocks (link in previous post)

This is the lakeside view we woke up to on monday morning.


Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Home again - smelting pics.

We finally pulled in mid-afternoon today. After several discussions along the way about stopping at various fun places like Cullen Gardens, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Richters Herbs or Ikea, because the opportunity was there, because we had the time... we both decided that we just wanted to get home.

Of course that also meant that we had to stop to get the dog, the cat, dinner stuffs from Zehrs, and the mail. But we finally made it.

Let's see now... I've promised pics since the smelting, several days ago. I've finally got it all arranged.

But first, the shoreline of Annapolis Royal on the morning of the smelt.

Before the smelt got started, we needed to have the ritual Jiffy Pop over the smelter as the pre-heat took place... that's our erstwhile leader Darrell, doing the honours.

More details then you could ever want about the process of iron ore smelting in the Viking Era are available on the DARC webpages, under Projects, so I'll just give you some highlights here. Please remember that I take pictures, that I'm not technically oriented. I only superfically understand the science involved.

With a lot of hard labour pumping the bellows....

...the smelting process gets started - iron ore is added, alternating with charcoal.

Skipping ahead a few hours of bellows pumping and adding stuff and monitoring the smelter (by the sound of it, and the glass runoff), the boys decided that they had failed this time around. And after some discussion, they even came up with a good reason for the failure.

So....they added an electric blower to compensate...

...finally got the glass slag runoff they were looking for...

...and eventually came up with a bloom...

...which Kevin and Mark ...

...proceeded to beat in order to consolidate it.

The final product, last seen below, is much smaller and compact then it comes out of the smelter.

When we woke up the next morning, we had found that someone had stolen the bloom!

We think it was the Weird Guy (there's one at every exhibition, it seems), since he disappeared that morning as well.

But how disappointing is that?


Monday, September 5, 2005

Day What?

I've lost track of which day in the vacation this is - the hubby just decided it was Day 10.

I'm exhausted. It was a very very very long day of driving. All the way from just-before-Quebec to just-after-the-province-that-doesn't-want-the-rest-of-us.

Highlights of the last couple of days:

London Wul
- the people were wonderful to talk to, the dogs delightful, a natural dyes garden, and a great selection of all things fiberish.

Hopewell Rocks - lots of pictures, coming soon. Just like the smelting/forging pics I promised earlier. I'm just a little too tired to cope with it tonight.

Spa tub and lakeside view in Grand Falls. Spa tub with lots of hot water and jets = good thing.

Stopping at a hotel that finally has internet access (ie. tonight's hotel) = also a good thing.

More later. Home tomorrow.

Leif and Ginger tomorrow. Also a good thing.


Friday, September 2, 2005

Day 5 and 6 - Historical Gardens and Smelting

Still in Annapolis Royal.

Day 5 - overcast or raining most of the day. Surprisingly, there was just enough of a window in the afternoon to make it to the Historical Gardens after all.

And I have pics, of course. It's a big ol'garden - whatever else shall I do? :) Mind you, there are a million more pictures but I've narrowed it down to just these few.

Oh, and we can play a guessing game. For most of these, I haven't the foggiest what it is, so please feel free to let me know.

Blue something and white something.

Blue something and yellow something.

Love Lies Bleeding - this one I know! It's very distinctive.

Pretty things...identified as Cosmos by Diana and Jamie. :)

Water Garden...

Big ol'pumpkin...

Day 6 - Smelting

This was the point of getting us here, to this place. The Dark Ages Recreation Company, of which I am a part, had a specialized smelting team out at CANIron, a Canadian conference for blacksmiths from North America and Europe. Neil and I followed our hardy smelting crew out to take pictures and document the process.

The day started at 9am and finished at 9pm, more or less. The historical smelt was an abject failure. *sigh* We've had successes before with the process, but this time, the team made a fatal mistake. They tried too hard.

As I understand it - and I am not a blacksmith or particularily technically inclined - the team made the smelter *too* good, *too* much able to handle heat. They used a highly refractory clay and added kyonite to the mix as well. Apparently the process actually depends on part of the smelter breaking down and contributing sand to the slag bowl that should form at the bottom of the smelter, for the heat to reflect back and help the iron solidify and sit in the bowl. No smelter breakdown, ore that was too pure (and hence didn't have enough slag of it's own to contribute) = no slag pool, not enough heat for the bloom to solidify.

Now, there was a bloom and the removal and hitting therof makes for great pictures (as yet unprocessed) but that came only after they gave up on the historical process and added an electric blower.

Ah well. Pictures later.