Saturday, January 31, 2009


Winroc Winsome Winifred came home with us yesterday evening. Yes, she's named after the character in one of Robert Heinlein's books. Yes, we're SciFi geeks.

We have a system. We each have "our" dogs to train. Of course, they're all family dogs, too.

Ideally, we get dogs 5 to 6 years apart, so that one is at or near retirement, one is in their prime competition years, and one is just getting started. At most that would be 6 dogs in the household, two youngsters, two competition dogs, and two seniors. The other thing we do, is try to choose the dam and lines ahead of time. There are so many Labradors around (number one AKC breed once again, darn it!), and we are selective about the qualities we want. By choosing ahead of time, we can avoid the tempting puppy syndrome, yet when the right litter comes along, we need to be willing to add to our household.

Lonie died last fall, leaving Dave with one dog - Thomas. Now, Thomas is just 4, so a little young for the next in line. However, our friend Lee has a black lab that Dave has admired for years. Tripper is from show and field lines. Her sire is a Ch./Master Hunter and is All Age Qualified. (Those of you who know will go "Oooooooo!" "Ahhhhhhhh!". Those of you who don't - just let it be known that any one of those three - Ch., MH, or AAQ - is a major accomplishment, and to have all three is very rare!) Tripper herself has a Master Hunter title, and is two "double Q's" away from achieving her Master Agility Champion title! (See my TOTALLY AWESOME! post.) She also has a Tracking Dog Excellent title and International Championship - a real versatile, beautiful Labrador. Dave is in her select circle of favorite people, and the feeling is mutual.

So, it was natural that Dave made it known that he'd love to have a Tripper puppy when and if there were some. Well, they happened, and we've been pup-ticipating for several months. There were 5 females to choose from. We visited last week and chose 2 "finalists". (Thomas and Villa are from the same line... a most famous and longtime line that's produced title holders in all AKC venues, and making a fallacy of the statements that show dogs can't hunt and field dogs are ugly.) We went back yesterday afternoon and chose this beautiful baby from our two finalists.

Right now, she's a Little Girl in a Big World.

Bonding with Dad...

...and enjoying the great outdoors in the Pacific Northwest in January.

The rest of the pack feels excluded. Most of their interest is directed toward the puppy toys...

...though they're giving Winsome a warm welcome.

Welcome home, Winnie!
Thank you, thank you, Lee and Marianne!
- Franna

Baking Time

Our favorite breads at the grocery are $4.00 per loaf now. They're the "Artisan" types because I don't eat soy products. The mass produced loaves have soybean oil and occasionally soy flour included.

After one more time putting the bread back, I decided to bake some. Years ago I was on the fringes of hippidom and back to the earth types. I climbed mountains, grew vegetables and fruits, canned and dried foods, and lived out of the pantry most of the year.

By and by, work and school and other hobbies led me to buy most of the groceries. Well, now, since I graduated, then retired I have more time for such homebody things again. (Yes, I know it's been years but some things just take time to change ;-)

Wednesday I knew I'd be home most of the day (because the furnace was getting replaced - another story). I got out the mixer, the yeast, flour and pans. I have a wonderful cook book - The New York Times Bread and Soup Cookbook by Yvonne Young Tarr, that has great recipes in it, organized by country of origin. So many times when I cook I take a basic recipe, then adjust as sounds good. Not with bread. I stick pretty close to most bread recipes, with just a little ad lib.

First was French Bread. I love a great crusty French bread. The recipe (and I) made two loaves of wonderous, crusty French bread. (The key is to put a pan of hot water on the lower rack in the oven.) It didn't take too long to get the dough mixed, kneaded and rising. There was still a lot of time to "kill".

Another recipe I'd been wanting to try is "Anadama" bread. It's a white flour bread augmented with yellow cornmeal and molasses. We had the ingredients, so it went into the mixer next. Again, it got to rising fairly quickly, and I still had time after shaping the French loaves.

On the next page there was a whole wheat recipe with sunflower seeds and coconut (!). Dave doesn't like coconut, so I left it out and added a few more sunflower seeds. This recipe produced a wonderfully light, soft dough.

I juggled the rising, shaping, rising and baking so that there was no conflict in the oven, and kept constantly busy. By dinnertime, we had 2 loaves of French bread, 2 loaves of Anadama bread, 3 dozen whole wheat rolls and 2 mini-loaves. I froze them all except one loaf of French. We've been feasting on bread, French toast and toast.

I froze it quicker than pulling out the camera, so sorry no photos. You'll just have to imagine the look and smell. Yum, yum, yum!!!

I didn't price it out, but 10 lb of flour was just over $4, and it's about 3/4 gone.


Paying it forward.

I was the fifth lucky person on Michelle's Pay it Forward post! So now, it's my turn. What fun to think of possible goodies to pay forward. I have several patterns and recipes rolling around in my head just waiting for an excuse to put into reality :-)

Now, the first five people to respond to this post will receive surprise goodies from me. You all can expect them before my birthday, June 30th. I will try to make something tailored for each of you five people in some way or another. This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:
- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make!
- You will have no clue what it’s going to be. However, it will be something homemade from my stash and/or larder.

Wanna know the catch before you respond? The catch is that you have to make the same offer on your blog! And I'll appreciate some hints from you on your likes and dislikes.

...on a rare sunny winter day in Auburn, Washington
- Franna

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Meeting the Public

Every year the Puget Sound Labrador Retriever Association has an information booth at the Washington Sportsmens show. I've been taking a turn in the booth for years. It's great socialization for the dogs, a wonderful opportunity to talk to people about responsible breeding and getting the best out of their dogs, in addition to promoting the PSLRA and recruiting new members.

This year it was hard to decide who to take. Dave chose Thomas - pretty easy decision there. I knew Kiss would schmooze and talk and relate to all those folks with chocolate Labs. Villa was harder to predict. She'd never been to a busy, noisy, crowded venue where all kinds of people want to touch the dogs. In the end, I chose Villa, and Kiss kept Clifford company at home.

I almost regretted bringing her as she lunged, lagged, dragged and pulled, wide eyed and panting, all the way to our booth on the second floor of the Pavilion building. She was the epitomy of the dog trainer's dog who isn't very well trained. gah! Well. Once we got to the booth and I got a chance to work her a little for clicks and cookies, she settled down... mostly.
We were there with our good friends Beth and Keith, and two of their dogs - Jazzy (black, 4 yo) and Chaos (yellow, 10 yo).

Most of the time, we had two dogs out and two resting in crates in the back of the booth. It is very intense for the dogs, and they appreciate a rest after 20 to 30 minutes. Besides, Thomas, Jazzy and Villa wanted to race each other 'round and 'round the booths. That would have been utter Chaos! heh...

This is a very popular event for parents and kids. This year the kids seemed much more polite than previous years. Most asked if they could pet the dogs, then were quite gentle.

We got to hear lots of stories from people about their departed and current Labradors. There is a reason Labradors are the number 1 AKC registered breed - they are wonderful dogs. The consensus from the crowd was that Villa was "cute" and Thomas has a "gorgeous head".

Most of the time it was so crowded at our booth, that I couldn't get photos, or had to get closeup.

We closed down the show on Friday evening, so I got a few clear photos as the crowds thinned out.

Villa was so good! I'd be holding the end of her leash and notice her ears go up and tail start wagging. She'd be looking down the aisle in front of us at someone, usually a young girl, sometimes an adult. They'd make eye contact and have to come in and stroke her head, scritch ears and sweet talk her. She really enjoyed it! She even moderated her wiggly waggly enthusiasm more than once to avoid knocking the very young kids over. Many dogs never learn that skill! Of course, she still knocks me cattywompus sometimes. I must not count.

I must say, I enjoy getting out and promoting Labradors, responsible dog ownership, showing off our dogs (and getting a chance to visit the other booths). I'm also glad when it's over.

Good dogs Villa, Thomas, Chaos and Jazzy!

- Franna

Monday, January 26, 2009

Identifying Extraneous Feet

Here are the household "helpers". They are so enthusiastic about "helping".

With all these helpers, there are a lot of extraneous feet that can slip into photos.
Here's the most identifiable foot.

I mean the creamy paw foot with the dewclaw, not the green ones with the straps.

Not white and not fuzzy, not brown and not studly. And certainly canine.
Michelle was closest in guessing either Thomas or Villa. Can you tell now whose it is?

Now the tougher one. Granted, it's a bit out of focus and dark-ish.

It is most definately brown-tone, and not fuzzy. Michelle gets some extra points for remembering Clifford's name. Huzzah!

The Key:

YES! It was Villa. She's right under my feet even now.

- Franna

Saturday, January 24, 2009

For Michelle - or Redeemed!



- Franna

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Photo by the Oregonian

A good friend and his FIRST dog, earned their AKC Master Agility Championship yesterday. Mark and Strider are an amazing team.

- Franna

Saturday, January 17, 2009


In and between caring for sheep and dogs, hauling hay, straw and other feed, reading others blogs, planning agility trials and dog shows, eating and sleeping and other mundane household things, I actually got some fiber time in.

Starting with the first "started" (by no means the longest standing UFO in my stash....)


DH chose this yarn at the Puyallup Fair in 2007. I offered to knit him a pair of socks to wear with his sandals, and he wanted bright green. After looking several places, he found this lime green variegated gem in the Artist In Action booth. It took me a while to get going on them.

I chose the Spiraling Coriolis pattern in Cat Bordhi's New Pathways book. I added some ribbing in the back and along the sides to help snug up the socks, and put a 1x1 rib band at the top. I also used Elizabeth Zimmerman's woven cast off, and, indeed!, it is very stretchy.

And they're very handsome with sandals.

The next project began last year with the Black Sheep Creamery Auction. One of my donated items was a custom knit hat or pair of mittens. The winner wanted a hat made from her own alpacas. So, the alpacas were shorn in late spring, and our friend Jill spun yarn from three different fleeces, and I got them in October.

Oh, so nice, she spun "Z" and plied "S", which is ideal for knitting. I fight with yarns spun "S" and plied "Z", as they untwist and then separate and sometimes one ply gets dropped and makes an ugly loop on the work. bleah. Well, the "Z" then "S" gets more twisted and is lovely in a knit fabric.

I got to pick the pattern, so I designed one to show off the three colors. I call it the "SqueezeBox" hat. It is a top down design, with increases at 8 intervals around the hat.

The lightest color is from a cria fleece, and the other two are adults. This is the SqueezeBox "closed".

And here is the SqueezeBox "open". Closed, the hat sits high on the forehead, and open it comes down over the eyebrows.

That's TWO Finished Objects!

Between knitting and to give my hands a break, I started spinning this yarn. I bought a whole pound of the roving at the Black Sheep Gathering last year - like I needed more roving.... I stopped into the Rowan Tree Woolery booth to thank Linda for her support in the Black Sheep Creamery auctions and this roving just kept calling to me.

...and calling me back.

...until I rescued it and brought it home with me. I've got half of it spun, using my first wheel, an Ashford Traveler fitted with a Wooley Winder. Fun!

It has a lot of subtle color in the yarn - much red, some black and some white in the base grey/brown. It also has scattered funny coarse hairs, some white and some black, that are easily pulled out. The rest of it is medium fine and will make a nice blanket... maybe.

I also spun some of our Gotland fiber. This is from a Gotland/Shetland ram lamb (Vince), that I carded with some blue/purple mohair and some teal Shetland roving. As a fleece, I didn't really like the fiber, but as I started spinning, it really grew on me. (Photo shows above mentioned Traveler with the WW)

As yarn, Vince's fleece is silky, soft and supple. It has wonderful luster and is really enhanced by the blues.

The yarn on the right came from another ram lamb, Cloudy, who is half Shetland, one quarter Gotland and one quarter BlueFaced Leicester/Border Leicester. It is lightly blended with some red/pink mohair. It, too, makes a nicer yarn than I expected from the fleece.

Both of these skeins are samples from the boys fleeces. Last spring we traded 5 ram lambs for 5 piglets, and I got the fleeces in the fall. The "Pig Lady's" request was to get a sweater from Vince and Cloudy's fleeces. So, the rest of their fleeces - sans mohair - has been processed into roving and is being spun by Sharon at Bel Tine farm. I'm not sure yet how the sweater will get knitted. Maybe there is another trade coming. :-)

- Franna

PS. Ten points to whomever finds the "helpers" in the above photos. ...actually, I think the same one got caught "helping" twice.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Bringing in the New Year - Right!

Dave and I got married on January 1st, three years ago, after being together since late 1999. So we get to celebrate every year together with the heralding of the New Calendar Year.

This year we cooked a theme dinner. It took all day. It was WONDERFUL!

Our favorite TV show - the only one we watch on purpose - is Iron Chef America. It's on the Food Network on Sunday evenings and features several "Iron Chefs" who've won their position with outstanding culinary skills. Every episode features a "Challenger", outstanding chef in their own right, who chooses one of the Iron Chefs to compete against. The menu is based on a "secret" ingredient that is revealed at the start of the show. Some of the most interesting involve such things as Kobe beef, suckling pig, Yellowfin Tuna, carrots, chocolate, eggs, etc. The chefs and their two assistants then have an hour to make 5 separate dishes featuring the secret ingredient. These dishes are judged by a panel of 3, sometimes foodies, sometimes not, judges. They're scored on originality, taste and presentation. It's all very interesting and inspiring.
Dave and I chose 10 different items that we thought would make fun themes and not be too expensive or difficult. We did NOT choose truffles! Those 10 went onto pieces of paper and into the hat. I pulled out POTATO. YUM!

It didn't take too much time to come up with a menu:

We each chose dishes to be the "lead" on. One of our recently processed chickens was already thawing, so we incorporated it into the dinner. Still, we needed a few groceries, but mostly we had the ingredients.
First things first - the chicken stock and cooked chicken were needed for the soup and the hash. Into the pot went carrots, onions, garlic, herbs and chicken pieces - wing tips, back, neck, liver, heart and gizzard. The filleted breasts went in to partially cook.

The leeks went into another pot to saute and await the chicken stock.

The spudnut dough is yeast risen, so it was started at the same time as the chicken stock. Into the mixer with the dough hooks that I'd never used! (They worked great :-)

The dough had to be kneaded and set to rise for about an hour...
...before rolling and cutting into doughnut shapes. I used to have a biscuit cutter, but all I found was the fluted thing shown. I used a combination of that and a large diameter glass and cut the holes with some little plastic thing I found in the "junk" drawer. Of course, we saved the holes.
Once we got cooking in earnest, the photos tapered off. Here are the dishes as they were "plated"
First course - vichisoisse: made with our own chicken stock, russet potatoes, leeks, whipping cream for decadence and topped with green onions and garlic-butter sourdough croutons:
Second course: a picnic plate featuring Potato Salad with Peas. Firm new potatoes paired with green peas, shallots and a sour cream dressing garnished with parsley.

The potato salad was accompanied with fried chicken drumettes, Dave's special deviled eggs, and crispy slivers of chicken skin.

Third course: Twice Baked Potatoes with Broccoli - Russet potatoes baked, then halved and scooped out. The potato was coarsely mashed and blended chopped broccoli, cheddar cheese and "Uncle Dan's" sour cream dip. Back into the oven for a final baking yielded these gems:

Fourth (and main) Course: Chicken Hash and Egg - cubed chicken breast is combined with cubed new potato and egg, then fried crispy and topped with a egg. (If we'd been real Iron Chefs, the egg would have been a quail egg! and truffle would have been grated over the top... heh.) Garnish is a fresh green onion.

Fifth (Dessert) Course: Glazed Spudnuts - Russet potatoes form the base for this fried airy delight. The spudnuts are flavored with lemon zest and a bit of nutmeg and topped with a simple powdered sugar glaze.

Enough cooking and talking. Here is the FEAST:

We were hungry after all that cooking! There was enough to feed us for 2 days, plus. :-)
Things we learned:
It was fun cooking together - well, we *re*learned that one.
An incredible number of recipes are available online (and are easily modified).
Without the resources of a "Kitchen Stadium" and multiple "sous chefs" a time limit for our "theme dinner" was unreasonable.
Plating and presentation were the most challenging areas.
We can cook!
Happy New Year All!
- Franna

Friday, January 02, 2009


We woke up to this:

It wasn't predicted.

It had just all melted.

There isn't very much and it's weirdly pelleted and light and fluffy at the same time.

Shetlands, Midnight, Lini and Bessie are NOT amused.

Neither are the ewes in Jack's group.

Kiss and Villa are VERY amused.

Villa was inspired to really stretch out and run!

This Shepherd is surprised and taken in by the beauty :-)

- Franna