Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hanging with Friends

On Monday Bob and I drove to the Jersey shore to spend some time with Bob's long-time friends: Kevin and his wife, Maureen, Keith, Bill, and Tim. Bob has known these since he was quite young. It was a great way to spend an afternoon; the ocean view setting was amazing and I got to hear all about Bob's childhood antics. Listening to the stories I started to think that it's pretty incredible that these guys survived their teen years, let alone became fine, upstanding members of the community.

Gives hope to all those parents out there with difficult children, actually. :)
We look forward to seeing these folks again next year.

On Tuesday I took daughter Catherine and her three year old Jillian to Ikea. There's just something about that place that I love, and I try and go at least once a year. This trip I picked up a "dress form" that collapses into a flat pancake, for $5. It will be a nice backdrop for photographing my handwoven creations.
Im always amused at some of the things I find at IKEA, like stuffed toys shaped like rats or broccoli.
"I want a broccoli doll!" (said no child, ever.)

My current weaving project on the loom is a cotton plaid fabric that will become a new purse, since my Japanese Knot Bag is becoming worn.
Japanese Knot Bag

New fabric on the loom

I'm weaving this on my 12" wide Ashford Knitters Loom, so the bag will be in panels. 

Hang in there, dear readers! We will be on the road again in a week so I'll be able to share some new areas! We finally made up our minds where we want to go next and have reservations near the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. We will also be attending the Hershey RV Show in September, billed as the largest RV show in the country. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Busy Busy Busy

Our cat, KC is now sporting a new collar. I wove this little inkle band back in May, and it was the perfect width for the hardware fittings of his old collar (which was a bit frayed.)  His fur on his neck is so long that you can't really see it, but I know it's there! It has a slide-on tag that provides a phone number in case he becomes lost.
On Wednesday Kristen and I drove over to Emily and Anthony's house for an amazing lasagna dinner, cooked by Anthony. Emily and I made the pasta for the dish, but the homemade sauce he created was divine!

Thursday was a quiet day for us, but on Friday I went with daughter Catherine, her little Jillian, and Kristen's boy, Ben, to a local children's museum. Once again, our reciprocal membership card from Kern County Museum in Bakersfield, CA got the four of us free entrance, saving me over $55.
Jillian had fun with a giant Lite Brite, inserting colored tubes into a light board.
She and Ben climbed on everything they could climb...
 ...and Ben played a little hockey. It was a fun time for all.
I finally got around to finishing the fringe on my white Tencel scarf. I love the drape and shine of this scarf. Later in the afternoon I warped up my 12" Ashford Knitters Loom again, this time with a 15 dent per inch heddle, to weave some fabric for a new bag. Photos to follow.

Bob has been very busy ticking items off the "to-do list" Kristen had for him. This is our last full week here and there's lots left we want to do. It will be a good week.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Soft Molasses Cookies

I love to bake cookies, but I must admit that I almost never bake chocolate chip cookies, even though I love them. Why? Because chocolate chip cookies have become the classic cookie and there are so many more kinds out there. My sister, Cher, was reminiscing this morning about our Grandma's Molasses Cookies, and I was very pleased to have it, written in my grandmother's hand. So I baked up a batch.
Grandma was a farmer's wife and a darned good cook. She made these cookies often for us, and I share them with you (I have cut it in half, since the original called for 7 cups of flour and made a LOT of cookies.) These are good keepers in an airtight container, once cooled. So good with a glass of milk!

Soft Molasses Cookies, from the kitchen of Esther Ocain

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Recipe makes 6 dozen.
3/4 cup milk
2 1/4 tsp vinegar
      Mix milk and vinegar and let stand for a few minutes
7/8 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
      Cream shortening/brown sugar/egg together, then add by hand:
1/2 cup dark molasses
      Add milk/vinegar to above, then stir in:
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsps baking soda
1 1/2 tsps salt
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps powdered ginger

Drop by tsp on greased baking sheet (or use parchment and there's no need to grease.)  Bake for 7-9 minutes.  Note: I use a 1 Tbs scoop, with the dough leveled off, and 7 minutes baking time is perfect. You could use a mixer for all of this, but according to Grandma, once you add the molasses you should stir by hand if you want the cookies to be dark. The mixer adds air, making the color of the molasses lighter.

Bob and I went back to Tim and Bernie's house yesterday to help finish up some projects. While Bob built a doorframe, Bernie and I finished (well, ALMOST finished) the sofa upholstery job. We were so pleased with the way it came out!
Not too bad for a couple of women who have never done this before, eh?  Bernie is working on those two pieces of curved trim on the front of the arms today. She did some of the sewing on the cushion, as well, and learned how to put in a zipper and to feel comfortable with her sewing machine. I am so proud of her!

Monday, August 22, 2016


I spent much of this past weekend cooking. On Saturday I picked up five pounds of ground beef and som Bob's Red Mill Potato Flakes to make this recipe for gluten free meatballs, from America's Test Kitchen "How Can it be Gluten Free Cookbook." It is a favorite of ours, and we don't miss breadcrumbs at all. I multiplied the recipe by five, cooked the meatballs in the oven, and divided the batch into seven freezer bags, six of which were frozen for future enjoyment. On Sunday I baked a loaf of French bread and made a pot of homemade marinara sauce to go with the meatballs, then whipped up some fresh pasta with my Atlas pasta machine in the form of spaghetti. Oh my, it was good, and quite worth the effort.

Monday morning saw us heading over to the home of son, Tim, and his wife, Bernie, to help with projects. Bob and Tim worked on closing off a back door, since their tiny kitchen had two.
Here it is, ready for plywood and siding.

Bernie and I, meanwhile, began a re-upholstery job on their sofa. While neither of us had ever done this kind of thing before, we bravely jumped in without fear.
Work was halted when I stopped to give Bernie a lesson on how to use her sewing machine, but she's a fast learner and we hope to finish the project tomorrow.

Speaking of projects, Bob recently made me a stand for my iPhone after I realized I could clear my bedside stand of extra stuff if I used my iPhone for a clock and white noise machine. With the app called "White Noise," my phone displays a clock face all night and blocks outside sounds as well.  Keep it plugged in and it charges at the same time. Handy!

Bob designed this simple, yet effective holder out of wood scraps. It's perfect.

Tomorrow we go back to Tim and Bernie's to finish what we started today. It's shaping up to be a busy week.

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Visit with Cousin Mary

This time of year the sound of summer changes with the hatching of summer cicadas. I always could tell just by listening when summer was winding down. One day all is quiet and the next day you hear this loud chorus of sound. On a hot, lazy summer day the sound whispers, Autumn is coming.

On Thursday we went to the Jersey shore to visit Bob's Cousin Mary (they have always called each other "Cousin Mary" and "Cousin Robert." How sweet is that!) Mary is a very interesting person. She is a nurse with her Ph.D. who does research for neonatal issues. She still resides in the house in which she grew up. In fact, she was the first person to notice the correlation between the prescription acne medication Accutane and horrific birth defects. Because of her study, which brought national attention to this problem, this drug is now much more carefully controlled and is no longer given to teenage girls without being closely monitored. Currently, Mary is part of a team that is following all women with possible Zika virus infection in the U.S. and U.S. Territories. A remarkable woman.
Mary was kind enough to take us out for seafood for lunch, and for ice cream afterwards. We had a great meal and loads of fun catching up. Mary also showed us around her beautiful home which is filled with personal touches, like this door, faux-painted by her friend, Martha.
Any time you speak with someone who lives by the Jersey shore, you will hear Hurricane Sandy stories. While we rode out the 2012 storm pretty easily in our home in Pemberton, NJ, this was not the case for those by the sea. Mary told us of theives who arrived by jet-skis to break into homes and loot. She woke up on the second day after she returned from the evacuation to the glad sight of National Guard troops setting up a perimeter. She couldn't say enough about these men and women who helped the community stay safe and start to get back on its feet. 

We had such a wonderful visit!

Today (Friday,) Bob has been out fishin' with his friend Tim all day while I finished weaving my white Tencel scarf, baked bread, cooked up some pressure-cooker boneless pork ribs, did all the laundry, and kept myself busy. It has been a very nice day but I do miss Bob. We are so rarely apart these days and it feels strange to be alone.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Happy Birthday to Bob

On Saturday, we helped Bob celebrate his birthday. Kristen whipped up some homemade pound cake, and because it was so hot in her kitchen, baked it in the motorhome's convection oven.  K.C. really liked the way it smelled after the cake came out of the oven, and I had to watch him very carefully to be sure he stayed away.
He did get a little piece after we cut into it, and he thoroughly enjoyed it, as did we all. Yum!!
Bob and I went out to lunch to a wonderful little Mexican restaurant called Mariachi San Lucas.
We felt like we were in Mexico, it was so good.

I've been working every day on my Tencel scarf and although it is a slow weave, I'm enjoying it. Maybe by this weekend I'll have a finished scarf to show you.

This past winter I gave away my tiny rice cooker to a fellow workamper when we were at Desert Haven Animal Refuge, and truth be told, I have missed that little appliance. Not that I begrudged giving it to someone who needed it, but there were times when I missed the convenience of  that little pot. It was not the first rice cooker I've given away. When we went on the road I gave Kristen my 10-cup "fuzzy logic" Zoshirushi rice cooker since there was no space in the motorhome for one so big, and she has been using it a lot. So yesterday when I was at Wegman's grocery store and saw a simple "on-off" Zoshirushi rice cooker I decided to get it. And I love it.
My new rice cooker is a six-cup one, much smaller than the "fuzzy logic" one yet big enough to cook more than just rice. I've been having a lot of fun finding recipes that should work with it, and have already made brown rice in it. It's going to be a great addition to my RV kitchen.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Second Blogiversary

Two years (and 458 posts) ago, I started writing this blog with this post. We were in the process of fixing up and selling our home after having divested ourselves of most of our belongings. It was a scary time...would anyone buy our house? Could we live happily on the road? Yes! The journey continues and we love our lifestyle. We would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

It helps that we are able to spend time each summer with our children and their families, as well as visit siblings along the way. And our friends, too! We did not expect that we would be able to maintain our friendships as well as add wonderful new friends to our lives. Such a joy.

This week we were able to visit our friends Joan and John at their lovely home in Doylestown, PA. We had a lovely visit and marvelous meal, despite the high humidity and temperatures that are oppressing this area of the country. I especially loved seeing Joan's East Coast weaving studio (she has another home with studio in Las Cruces, NM.)  I wish I had taken a photo! While we don't know where the road will lead us, if it's anywhere near Las Cruces we will be visiting them again there. And here on the East Coast as well.

With my Sunna Sampler Band off the loom, it was time to throw another warp on. I had picked up a cone of 10/2 Tencel at Webs Yarn Shop and had been planning a simple white-on-white scarf in 3/1 floats, a windowpane design. Here is the start of it, with a closeup of the pattern in the second photo.

Despite some tensioning issues caused by the inelasticity of Tencel, it is going quite smoothly. The warp is sett at 25 ends per inch, with doubled strands in each slot and hole and a single weft thread. A pattern stick aids in creating the pattern of floats.

Stay cool!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Band is Finished

When I took my finished band off the loom I was a bit concerned to see one edge tighter than the other, causing it to curve. But a brief (ten minute) soak in warm soapy water followed by a rinse got rid of the tension issue, leaving it nice and flat.
A quick press with a hot iron and it was done, and I am very pleased with it. My next project will be a  white Tencel scarf, woven on my 12" Ashford Knitters Loom. 

Today Bob and I visited my daughter, Emily, and her lovely family before picking up my new eyeglasses (and replacement lenses for Bob.)  These glasses are a new look for me but my vision is so much better with them. 
I can remember the first time I got glasses, when I was in the fourth grade. I looked around in wonder, seeing details on the leaves on trees I had never seen before. I felt a little like that today. Everything looks so crisp and sharp. A wonderful thing. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Summing up the Past Few Days

It has been a few days since I have posted, and I apologize. We have had some problems setting up our internet connection and without that, I can't blog. Very frustrating.

To sum up our last couple of days in Massachusetts, Bob and I went with my sister Cheryl and my niece, Khloe, to the Audubon Society in Worcester for a walk in the woods.
Worcester is the second largest city in MA and it is pretty amazing to find this large piece of protected and undeveloped land in the middle of suburbia. We had a lovely walk, before stopping for lunch at JP's Restaurant Pub in Westboro, MA. They served up some great seafood for us. Then we just had to go to this place: 
Hebert's Candy Mansion in Shrewsbury makes the most delicious chocolates (and some great ice cream, too.) We said farewell to Cheryl and Khloe and returned to our campsite to start packing up for our trip back to NJ.

On Saturday we retraced the trip that we took a week before, and had no trouble reversing our route. It was good to be back again.

Sunday was a quiet day, but Monday Bob and I helped out our daughter by setting up grandson Ben with a new bed in his room and new blinds on the window. The smile on Ben's face made it all worth it.

I spent the evening weaving off the rest of my Sunna Heddle band and watching the Olympics. I will post photos after I wash the band.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Annual Visit to Webs

For the past ten years or so, my sister, Cheryl and I have been going to Webs Yarn Store in Northampton, MA every summer. We look forward to this trip every year with great anticipation. If you are a fiber person and have never been to Webs, let me tell you that it is worth the trip.
It's difficult to capture the essence of this store in a single photograph. This shot shows the general space but does not capture the weaving room with many looms on display, the spinning area with floor models to play with and loads of beautiful fiber just waiting to be spun, or best of all, the warehouse in the back full of bargains. And this year we timed our trip just right because their annual Summer Sale was in full swing. Cher and I can spend hours here! I came home with some 5/2 cotton and a cone of 10/2 Tencel, both perfect to use with my new 15 dpi rigid heddles for my Ashford Sample-It Loom and Knitters Loom. I'm looking forward to throwing warps on them. 

Next to Webs is a little oil and vinegar shop called Ellie's Oils and Tasting Bar where we found a Peach White Balsamic Vinegar that tastes delicious splashed in a glass of water. About a quarter teaspoon in an 8 oz glass yields a delicate peach flavor without any vinegar taste. So good!

After working up an appetite, we had a lovely lunch at FitzWilly's on Main Street. My Cubano sandwich was excellent. Main Street has a nice selection of restaurants and you really cannot go wrong with any of them. I think that next year we may try and spend some time exploring the Northampton area--there seems to be a lot to see and do around here.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Afternoon with Jeen

I first met my friend, Jeen, on Ravelry. We met face-to-face a while later, at a Saori class, and a year or two later she and her husband invited us to camp in her driveway for a few days. Since then, she has visited us in NJ and we now try and get together every year. It is always an inspiring and fun visit.

Bob dropped me off to see Jeen at a the Charlton Sewing Center while he went to visit a friend who has a summer home nearby. Jeen and I were thrilled to find a full-sized pipe organ in the shop and we were treated to an impromptu concert.
Such a treat! I've never been in a fabric store that used to be a church. We enjoyed poking around to find treasures, and discovered a plethora of old tiny sewing machines that the owner collects. 

Later, we stopped at a local bakery for treats to bring home (I chose the blueberry cream pie--it was excellent!) before going for coffee and then returning to Jeen's home. She has a full weaving studio (including a 24 shaft dobby loom) and we had so much fun with show 'n tell and playing around with setting up a card loom.

Jeen is such a sweet, generous person, and I love spending time with her. The afternoon just flew by! I'm so glad we were able to get together.


On Tuesday we continued helping my sister move into her house. While Bob moved boxes, though, I took my niece, Khloe, for a "girls day out." Years ago I lived in Worcester, so I am pretty familiar with children's activities in the area. We started out at Green Hill Park, where we played at the local playground.
Then it was on to the EcoTarium, formerly the Worcester Science Center, where I had taken my children many times.  I was pleased to see that our Kern County Museum pass got us in here for free.  Some of the exhibits were the same, like this stuffed Kodiak bear that used to terrify my little ones.
There were more hands-on activities than ever before and Khloe enjoyed playing with giant bubbles...
...and climbing the rock wall.
She even was brave enough to stand by the live bees.
One of the things that did not change over the years was the chance to ride on a small train that loops through the park. Khloe and I whooped and hollered when going through the tunnel.
Years ago when I lived in Worcester, the museum boasted a family of polar bears: parents Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, plus a baby Kenda. I asked the train engineer what had happened to them. Major was sent to the Stoneham zoo not long after Kenda's birth, to prevent him from killing his daughter (something that often happens in captivity.)  He lived until the age of 35. Minor and Kenda lived at the museum for many years, Minor passing at age 32 and Kenda at age 27.
In the wild, polar bears live from 15-18 years and the average lifespan in captivity is 18 years. While it was sad to hear they had passed, at least they lived a long life.

I think Khloe had fun today--I know I did!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Fun in Massachusetts

On Sunday, Bob and I drove to Portsmouth, RI to the home of my sister, Wendy, and her husband, Bill. Wendy and Bill host an annual summer cookout that gathers the family from all over.

I love to bake, and brought a batch of Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies to share. Yum! They were a big hit, and here is the link to the recipe. This recipe is a real winner. I like to lay out the cookie dough on a parchment-coated cookie sheet after rolling the tiny balls in the sugar/salt coating.  They can be touching, so as to save space. Then I freeze the dough at least a couple of hours and up to 6 weeks, moving them to a plastic freezer bag when hard. Then when I need cookies I lay the frozen balls on a new parchment-lined baking sheet. No need to defrost first! I find that they won't spread too much if frozen first--the cookies are actually improved this way.

This year we were excited to meet a new family member--our newest niece, Stella.
 What a charmer! 
Stella fighting sleep, with her mom, Pam.
Wendy and Bill live a short walk from a tiny beach where Auggie could run free and we could watch the sailboats drift by. A little slice of heaven. My other siblings and I dream of settling down in this neighborhood one day. Who knows? Maybe it will happen when we are tired of the road.

On Monday Bob and I drove to Shrewsbury, MA to see my sister Cher's new condo. She and her husband, George, passed papers on it in the morning and immediately started moving in. Bob helped George with the boxes, Cheryl started organizing her new kitchen, and I kept their 7 year old granddaughter, Khloe, engaged in a Barbie dollhouse activity. I think I had the best chore of all!