Saturday, August 31, 2013

Early Work Mercantile Update

Here we are at the end of another summer. It just goes by too fast, doesn't it? The last week has been stiffling here and I've begun carrying a bottle of water with me on my morning walk because the heat and humidity have been so bad. But although it has not seemed very fall-like the past few days I know that it is right around the corner and we are celebrating the coming season on Early Work Mercantile. I hope you will drop by and check out the wonderful offerings for September.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Garden Lessons

I've learned that the plants with pretty foliage are best for my deck planters. Usually by July the heat and bugs take a toll on flowers. The petunias were a very pleasant surprise this year because they kept producing all summer despite the heat.
I am very hesitant to use chemicals in the garden but I heard about an organic pesticide last year and gave it a try this summer. Not only did it take care of the little caterpillars that eat the petunia and geranium flowers, it also saved my vining vegetable plants. The past two years I haven't been able to grow any vining vegetables because the vine stems get invaded by some kind of burrowing bug around July which kills the entire vine. This year when I noticed signs of this I began spraying and did still lose one of my zucchini plants, but the rest thrived and produced a good crop.
I did try to spray only the vine stems and leaves and keep away from the flowers so as not to hurt the bees.
I planted a couple of heirloom tomato plants this spring. So far no ripe tomatoes but I've heard this wasn't a good summer for tomatoes so I guess I can't blame the plants.
I visited Lowe's for more mums and replanted two more pots. When I replant I move the geraniums to new pots and for some reason they always seem to like being repotted and quickly resume blooming.

Foxy always finds her way into the office when I'm on the computer, but at this time of year she prefers supervising while lounging on the cool desktop instead of sitting in my lap. Hope you have had a restful weekend and enjoy the last official week of summer!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Istock Photo
I haven't posted a recipe for awhile but thought I'd let you know how my first experiment with gluten free baking turned out. A couple of my co-workers are gluten intolerant and I wanted to be sensitive to this when bringing a cake to celebrate my boss' birthday. Her favorite dessert is carrot cake so I checked out several gluten free carrot cake recipes and settled on this one. I purchased a bag of gluten free flour at my local store and thought all was good.
However, when I finally got around to starting the cake at 10 last night I realized the instructions on the bag recommended adding a teaspoon of xanthum gum. Huh? Apparently I could also use guar gum. Well, since I had neither and was already in my jammies I sent DH to the grocery store where he was able to find a bag of xanthum gum after only one phone call home. The cake came out of the oven just before midnight, I frosted it this morning and here is the finished result.
I have to admit that, after tasting the dough and finding it had a somewhat unpleasant after-taste I was afraid I'd have to toss the cake and buy something else. However after the cake was baked and frosted I really couldn't tell the difference and it went over well at work. So if you happen to be looking for a gluten free carrot cake recipe, I would recommend this recipe. Just be sure you also have xanthum or guar gum on hand!

The plants in my front porch urn succumbed to the summer heat and I have been patiently waiting to replant for fall. While shopping for the gluten free flour last night I came across some lovely small mums at Lowes (I kind of got distracted) and couldn't resist. Tonight I repotted the urn and added a new millet plant, a tropical plant from my deck and a sweet potato vine from the garden that has been limping along. In a couple of weeks I'll add a little fall color with a small faux pumpkin. 
Yay! We're ready to welcome fall!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sewing Room Find

I was going to title this post "I used to be a hooker" but was afraid that would either get me shut down or attract the kind of notice I don't really want. Lately I have been cleaning out my sewing room and selling patterns on Ebay. As I was doing this I came across the last rug I hooked.
It was like finding an old friend. I would probably do the tongues differently if I was hooking this today, but I still like the colors and the design. It has been rolled up and tucked away for so long I'd forgotten about it. I don't mind doing the binding part so I'm not sure why I never got around to doing it. I think the local yarn store where we used to buy the yarn for finishing rugs has closed so I'll have to find another source for that. If you know of a good online source please let me know!  Hope you had some good surprises too this weekend!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Early Work Mercantile Update

We've turned another page on the calendar and that means it is time for new offerings on Early Work Mercantile!
Stacy Nash Design
Maggie Bononomi Design
Bird in the Hand Primitives Freebie Design!
These pieces have all been spoken for but please drop by EWM to see everything that is offered this month by the talented artists. You can tell by the offerings that many of us are really looking forward to fall! And btw, if you'd like to be included on my email list and get first peek at my offerings, please drop me an email and I'd be happy to add you.
Tomorrow I'll attend my first pre-trial conference as a CASA volunteer. I've known about the CASA program for quite awhile and finally this year decided I had to pursue this volunteering opportunity. Our group completed training in June and I was assigned to my first case two weeks ago. It involves a little boy who was born with serious medical issues and is living with his grandparents while Mom pulls it together. She missed a number of his doctor's appointments and the little boy was diagnosed with failure to thrive. We are still very early in the process--most cases last at least a year!--but Mom seems to want to do the right things and hopefully the family will eventually be reunited. I don't have a social work background so I feel like I'm learning a new language but my case supervisor has been very supportive and helpful.  It does take somewhat of a time commitment because you have to visit the children in placement at least once a month and file reports on the meetings and court sessions as well as the visits. But so far it has been very rewarding and the program overall seems to be very well run.