Friday, December 31, 2010

Holiday season . . . . 2010

I am sorry for my absence from this space during the 2010 holiday season. It was not my intention to ignore these pages but the time was filled with activity and tasks. We had a record breaking amount of snow during December and that is an accomplishment in Minnesota. It is beautiful if you can remain indoors but it does complicate almost everything. The snow has to be removed from sidewalks and driveways and stairways to the backyard for an aging puppy dog. Lots of shoveling and sore muscles!

This is the snow on the deck at the back door. I don't remember it ever being this deep. Hope the deck can support all that weight!

We have a few special cookies that we just must have in order for it to be truly holiday time. Here is Patrick cutting a rolled cookie that is a tradition we inherited from his Mom and Dad. They are called Sand Tarts and are a family favorite. They are a challenge to make as the unbaked dough is just a bowlful of a dry, sand - like mixture that has to be bullied with a rolling pin into a thin sheet on the cutting board, carefully cut and then transfered to the baking pan.

But how beautiful they look - brushed with egg white, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, topped with an almond sliver. We keep track on the back of the recipe card exactly how many cookies we manage to get from the batch each year. We got 16.33 dozen this year, just under the record of 16.5 dozen in 1995!

Cookies that are more like a pastry, these Smor Kringlers are from a neighbor's family recipe, shared with us years ago. They are a challenging Scandinavian treat that we only manage to make at Christmas each year. They are my personal favorites.

Patrick made these Pecan Tassies, a little bite-sized pecan pie. He got this recipe from one of his professors in graduate school when we were living in Omaha, NE. I love the idea that most of these recipes are gifts from friends and that somewhere these people may be enjoying the same holiday treats with their families, too.

I did do some fiber work during December. I worked in small bits of time on this beaded bottle. I don't have a picture of the finished product yet but it is done and will be listed on my Etsy site soon. I also finished my tea lace runners and this is such a relief. They are the pieces that have been on my 8 harness loom forever! The two main runners are for my kids but I had enough warp to weave off a small one that I will sell.

Our holiday season was filled with precious time with our children and gratitude for all we have. I could not wish for anything more or send you wishes for anything better.

Peace . . . . . . .

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Learning new skills . . . enjoying the tried and true

I am trying to combine some newly acquired and admittedly shaky tech skills with my more familiar and comfortable fiber techniques as I set up my shop on Etsy. I have reached a point where I am excited to get some of my work out there for you all to see. The holiday "JOY" pin is an example from my WIORD work, free formed wire words and quotes. These hand shaped wire words look eerily like my handwriting!

This log cabin runner was one of the first woven pieces I listed for sale. I love the colors and the interplay of the patterning. My shop is listed under the name KristiePeters with the shop title Fringe Fiber. I am just starting to get a variety of my work listed. I hope you will check out my shop soon and let me know what you think.

This is one of my WIORD word combos, "peace. . . love. . .hope". It is hanging in my work cube and it makes me feel good to look up and read it. More of these will be listed in my shop soon, too.

I am excited and nervous and a little intimidated by this new venture. It has been a long time since I have put my work out there for sale. But at the same time it feels like a good stretch and it has set my mind going in all kinds of new directions.

I look forward to sharing more. . . . . . . . . thanks for watching and reading.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bittersweet Milestone

Our backyard the weekend before Thanksgiving!

This was a milestone Thanksgiving for us this year. It is the first time that both of our kids could not be with us for the holiday dinner.

Celia and her beau, Pat, were with us. They came early and helped with the last minute preparations. Celia had made dessert, a Key lime pie! It was delicious. She has been doing lots of baking and experimenting with new recipes so we are often the recipients of specials goodies. Dinner was delicious with lots and lots of food and the company was delightful.

Our son, Joseph, could not be in Minneapolis this year. He is on break from school in Connecticut, but he has a tight travel schedule mixed with lots of preparation this past week for an audition in Kansas City next week. Fitting in dinner here just couldn't happen. It was strange for us, very bittersweet, and we missed him terribly.

It is tough to let them go with a smile and encouragement, when a little piece of you wants to hold them close. Patrick and I always try to focus on what wonderful young adults our kids have grown to be and how proud they make us every day. We knew they were amazing from day one!

Maxi finished off the day much like Patrick and I did. Nothing wrong with that . . . . . . .

Friday, November 12, 2010


My friend Anna Karena works in fundraising for the Brain Injury Center of Minnesota. She has initiated an awareness campaign requesting 100,000 origami paper cranes which she intends to hang in their lobby. This very large number has a direct relationship to the number of people in Minnesota who are dealing with brain injuries. There is a Japanese legend that says receiving paper cranes will grant your wish or bring you good luck.

This request from Anna coincided with a large stack of music copies left by our son, Joseph, to be recycled. He was the resident conductor and artistic advisor with the Chamber Music Midwest festival this summer. This was the third season of the event, directed by Clare Harmon and takes place each year in New Richmond, WI.

The folding and the music are such a happy juxtaposition! The talented musicians who used this music now pass it on as paper cranes to help awareness for this important organization.

But, of course, as Anna has foreseen with her call for paper cranes, these sorts of things take on a life of their own. When I folded musical cranes on my lunch break in the workplace kitchen co-workers took up the cause. They are going to be making quite a contribution toward the 100,000 crane goal!

When the cranes are hung in Anna's lobby I will try to get photos to share. If you would like to help, here is a link to a fun animated instruction for folding paper cranes:

Remember, we are all connected. . . . . . . . . . .

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Family Time

Maxi loves it when the kids are at home and our son, Joseph was in Minneapolis this weekend, visiting from New Haven, Ct. It was great to have him here although it is never enough time. I did take Friday off from work in order to spend a little more time with him. He was in town to play with the Minnesota Orchestra so we went to the concert on Friday evening and that was a treat as always!

We also had dinner with Joseph, our daughter Celia and her beau, Pat. We went to
Bar La Grasa and had a great time and delicious food. It was very special to have the whole family together. It just doesn't happen often enough.

I am in decision making mode about the next big project. I still have so many things in the works but I am drawn to starting something new. Does this happen to everyone? I haven't lost interest or given up on the things I am working on but I just feel this need to start the next thing!

So I keep looking at the materials in the cabinets and drawers and making lists of the new supplies that I might need for the next thing. But because there are other unfinished projects (several - alright more then several - lots!) I feel guilty about pursuing a new endeavor.

But, a girl can dream, and sketch, and handle all those fun tools and enjoy the feel of the many yarns calling out to her!!!

Yes, I am working on spinning the purple wool that I started this past week. I am working on the knitted cuffs that need embellishment. I am trying to keep up with the boxes with buttons that need to be stitched. I just folded 18 more paper cranes for my friend Anna.

But just look at that yarn. . . . . . . .can't you hear it calling? . . . . . . . . I won't resist for long . . . . . I am weak.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Spinning through the Fall

The gold flame spirea bushes in the front yard are just beautiful this year. I cannot remember them ever being such a great mix of colors. I cut some branches for my desk at work as I know they won't last long outdoors now. In fact it is raining this evening and the wind is getting quite gusty so everything may look a lot more like the end of October by tomorrow morning.

The prep work is done on my next spinning project. This is a nice variegated purple, lavender, and grey wool that has been in my fiber stash for a long time. It has been on my list of projects to be completed so it feels good to get at it!

I was hoping to spin it directly from the locks as it is in the photo above. But after closer examination it proved to have too much plant material in it.

I spent several hours pulling the locks apart and gently opening them to release the little bits of grass and dirt. I usually work over a white cloth laying across my lap to catch the fallout and to give a light colored background that makes it easier to see the foreign matter. This is time consuming but very rewarding!

I now have a box full of this purple cloud-like wool! I am not going to card this or prep it any further so I will hopefully get a nicely textured yarn. This will make a single ply yarn that is not a bulky weight but a little heavier than a worsted. That is the plan. I will photograph the results and report later.

The last rose of summer!!!!

Yes, on Saturday, Oct.23 I photographed this rose blooming in our backyard! The serviceberry tree that it is leaning on has dropped all it's leaves and most of the plants around it are going dormant but this rose was fooled by the warm temperatures and has just kept growing.

Enjoy whatever fall weather you have left. There is the mention of snow flurries in our forecast for this week. Winter will come. . . . . . .

Friday, October 15, 2010

Craving Carbs! ! !

I always miss baking in the summer. Or do I just miss the home baked goodies? Well, whatever. . . I bake far less in the heat of the summer than in the cooler weather so I am always craving cookies, scones, zucchini bread, chocolate cake . . . .need I go on?

Okay, so I did raise the temperature of the house and the electric bill to run the air conditioner a couple of times. I baked these chocolate chip cookie bars earlier in the summer. I used a recipe from my friend, Mary Lynn in Omaha, given to me years ago when we both worked there for Mangelsen's. Still my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. Check the recipe out on my page listing.

We had lots of zucchini from our garden that could be made into bread, bars, muffins or zucchini chocolate cake. So even when it was too hot to bake all those goodies we grated it up and froze it in 1 cup portions for future use. Waste not, want not!!

And now that it is getting cooler again, I can get back into baking mode. This is sister-in-law, Suzanne's zucchini bread recipe. It is in the pages list also . . . you will love it!

I will add my zucchini chocolate cake recipe next and soon a photo of the fresh cake. . . . .Umm!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Can summer just go on, pleeease?

We had some magnificent summer skies this year. Many of them were accompanied by equally impressive rain storms, some with wind or hail. Fortunately we did not have any storm damage in our neighborhood. Not everyone has been that lucky and the heavy rains and resulting floods have continued that summer pattern into these early autumn days.

All the rain has led to an extended period of color in our gardens. Love this tree hydrangea!

I sat on the deck in the backyard and was amazed at how green and lush it can be on September 27. I know the snow will come so I am trying to enjoy the color now!

We will pick the first brussel sprouts of the season this week. I like to leave them in the garden for as long as I can bear. My dad always says they taste best after the first frost. But Mom told me that she roasted fresh brussel sprouts from their garden this weekend and now I don't think I can wait any longer.

They will be delicious. . . . . . .

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Feeling like Fall

We still have some wonderful color in the flower gardens. But the chill of autumn is definitely
in the air and the quality of the daylight has that crisp look to it. The days are much shorter already and as they pass, it will be dark soon after I get home from work. More time for indoor work as the daylight hours and the gardens all fade.

I didn't spin as much as I hoped this summer but this white wool was a joy to spin.It certainly pulled me back under the spell of the spinning wheel and I plan to keep spinning as the days get cooler and the nights longer.

I always try to estimate an even amount of wool spun onto each spindle when I am spinning a 2- ply yarn. I weighed these as I spun the singles in the hope of being as close as possible to equal yardage on each.

The plying is so rewarding. The singles are slightly over-spun so they appear tight and rather hard looking. As they are plied, the yarns open and soften because they are spun in the opposite direction to form the 2-ply yarn.

My kniddy-knoddy is just the right size to count the yardage with each pass as you wind the yarn off the spindle. I got around 480 yards of yarn from this batch of wool.

Wow, it is such a creamy, soft yarn. I thought I would be dyeing this, but I do love the white wool! It would make a great winter white hat or a warm vest or a long, soft scarf or. . . . . .

Decisions to be made . . . . . what fun!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Follow . . . . . look where this has led.

This stitched piece has been perfect for a summer project. It is small and I have worked on it at a very relaxed pace, usually only stitching for 10 to 15 minutes at a sitting.

I finished the checked border before adding the stitching in the main body of the piece was finished. This may feel a little "out of order" to more traditional stitchers or quilters but I needed the border to be done as some of the background "heart paths" overlapped and show on the border checks. I had to trust that I would still like the check border when it was done. And I do.

I also needed to decide if this little 4" square was complete. Looking at it now I think it is. I don't see more pieces added to it or any extended borders. I like what it is, as it is!

Working on "Follow", my little heart piece, has inevitably led to another one. Here is the first of what feels like many hearts in organza! The sketch is still too sketchy to share but it will take shape soon. I have a work tray of many gathered materials to insert in these and I like the transparency of the organza. So I am working on ideas to maintain that ethereal feel. A title has already presented itself for this piece but I will save that for later!

Remember . . . . . . always follow your heart.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Back Home . . . . . . .

This title is appropriate in two ways. My mother just had foot surgery and I spent a whole week with her and my Dad in my childhood home in Oakland, NE. After a week with them, two of my sisters took over for a few days and then I have been back on two consecutive weekends. Mom is doing much better but it is a trial when you can't walk without using a walker and she has some pre-existing back and neck issues that limit her mobility at times. Now I am back to our home here in Minnesota and it feels so good.

In the course of these past three weeks it feels as if summer has slipped away. The flower gardens are winding down, mostly golds and yellows except for the wonderful little "Nearly Wild" pink roses in the front border. The feeling of time slipping away was with me during my time with mom and dad and made me so grateful to be able to be there with them. Like the summer days, each bit of time with them will be cherished. I feel so fortunate to still have them in my life.

I am trying to soak up as much of the remaining warm weather and to somehow keep it in reserve for the cold months that will surely come. The vegetable garden is waning, still a few zucchini to be harvested and the brussel sprouts that can stay in the garden until after the first frost. Every year we lament the end of the fresh veggies but celebrate how wonderful it was to have them even when we cursed the never-ending green beans to pick daily!

Enjoy the sun while you can and tell your parents how much you love them . . . . .

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Birthday wishes. . . . . .

I had a birthday this week. Age is not something I normally dwell on or fret about - I still feel like I am 25 in my head! But this birthday has made me feel somewhat introspective about the years past and those to come.

I am reasonably healthy and with luck I hope to have many years ahead but when I think of turning 59 it does give me pause.

There is not a list of the things that I want to do at this point but some ideas are taking shape. Do some of my options begin to narrow? - undoubtably. Will I ever be an accomplished pianist? -no. Can I still do most of the things I want to do? - hopefully.

I know I want to be physically active at what ever level possible for as long as I can. I still want to try new things, learn more, see new places. I know I want to keep weaving, spinning, stitching, knitting. My family and friends will continue to be my bedrock and my joy.

Birthdays are good mile markers. . . . .they help you plan the trip!!