Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Feeling Soup-er

It seems like everyone's enjoying the crisp fall weather that's finally arrived in the Midwest. From this female fox squirrel, who's taking advantage of the bounty of seeds and nuts in our yard...
...to Bosewichte, who rolls with exuberance at every opportunity. Of course, he still takes time out...
...to stop and smell the flowers.

Clarence is still coming around for snacks every day. I've been worried about him being outside in winter weather, but Todd is going to build a small shelter for him so he'll have a place to curl up, just in case he gets too cold.

I've been watching the ginkgo tree across the street with particular interest. I look forward to this change every year. First, the leaves develop a slight golden edge.

Then, whole swatches become golden.

Finally, the whole tree is aflame.

Alas, it only lasts a few days. Today, most of the leaves are a soft, brilliant carpet beneath the tree.
This particular tree is a male. Female trees produce a small, round fruit that have a very pungent smell, especially when accidently squashed underfoot.

Speaking of underfoot...I really have to be careful when visiting the kittens now. They're incredibly active. They have great fun with each other now. Climbing...




...and the occasional ambush.

The kittens are seven weeks old now. It's really important to socialize them with humans, and several different ones, by this point. Kittens who associate positive feelings with human touch from an early age tend to be much friendlier adults. Thankfully, these little guys get lots of love from lots of people!

Any little scrap can provide entertainment for them.

They are so inquisitive, too!

So angelic-looking...but don't be fooled!

I've been knitting a lot lately, as the weather provides the perfect atmosphere. I've felt particularly restless here. I didn't feel like knitting more mittens or hats. I didn't want to start on a sweater or another pair of socks. I decided to dig into my knitting binder for some seasonal motivation, and found this great idea. Tiny stockings to string on your Christmas tree, or even for an advent calendar. You can slip a small piece of candy and a note in each one, to be retrieved each day in December. What fun!

I made just one before realizing that I couldn't pull this together before December. I'll be working on it as time allows over the year, however, and hope to have an active sock advent calendar in 2011!

Meanwhile, I contemplated my sock yarn scrap stash. I've been collecting these mini-skeinlettes for months, through Ravelry swaps and outright purchases. They're about 10 grams each and I love the fiber and color variety.

I originally started collecting them for the purpose of starting a sock yarn blanket. Inspired by Shelly Kang's creation, I started stockpiling scraps. A blanket. Knit with size 2 needles. Sock yarn. Insanity? Perhaps, especially considering that each square takes 20 minutes to knit, and most blankets have around 500 squares.

Regardless, I'm diving in. My blanket contains seven squares, and I'm going to set a goal of knitting at least one square per day.

Todd has been sick with a terrible cold this past week. Of course, there's nothing better than a good home-cooked remedy. Fresh sourdough loaves...

...and the best homemade chicken soup! It's so easy to make, with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

What really makes it great is fresh sage, which I've harvested from my small kitchen garden. Dried sage will work too. Anyone can have good, homemade chicken soup in about 30 minutes!

Best-Ever Homemade Chicken Soup
Adapted from MissNezz, Food.com

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 (heaping) cup diced potatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
7 - 8 sage leaves, chopped, or 3/4 teaspoon dried sage
56 ounces of chicken broth
2 cups chopped chicken, cooked
4 ounces egg noodles
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
salt and pepper to taste

Saute carrots, onion, and potatoes in olive oil until slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Add spices, chicken broth, and bouillon, and bring to a boil. Then add chicken (to save time, I just cook 2 chicken breasts on my little grill) and egg noodles. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Top with a sprinkle of parsley.

Can't you almost taste it? It's so good, especially with homemade sourdough.

Perfect for chilly fall days. Enjoy!

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