Sunday, May 14, 2006
Damp Little Blogger??
Today is Mother's Day. It is a Mother's Day tradition here to attend the NH Sheep and Wool Fest. Even if the region is under a flood watch and it is pouring rain. We simply must go. And so we did.
We should have known we were in for an interesting experience when we crossed this bridge to get to the ticket booth. We should have been further alerted by the sign on the booth that said "Free Admission - Donations Accepted". I handed over $10 and we grabbed a program and headed in. When I jokingly said to the woman taking money that my only concern was that the bridge might wash out, she responded by telling me that it was ok, they had boats standing by. Very reassuring! Soggy and displeased persons were heading out. I think they thought we were nuts for even showing up. I felt for them. But then I spent my wedding week in Central Florida in the pouring El Nino rains, so what's a shower to me? Besides, this is New England. It rains. Man, what a day to wear wool. Felted hat, Rogue, a tech layer top and bottom, and jeans over top. Rubber boots - excellent planning, unusual for MelissaKnits. Man did it rain. It sprinkled. Then it poured. Then it misted, and sprinkled and poured again, over and over, for the three or so hours of our visit. But what a time we had! And what a load of loot we dragged home...but I digress...
The first item of note was the absence of persons. This is my third trip to this particular S&W and it is generally a moderate crowd on a Sunday, heavier on Saturday. There was no 'crowd'. All outdoor vendors had fled. Most food vendors were closed. Most of the barn vendors were gone as well. Anyone in a building was safe, and present. And most were laughing the whole thing off like good Yankees (or Yankees at heart, even if from far away). Our first stop was to find The Potty, a necessity after driving 50 miles from home on roads that don't have convenient stores on every corner. We headed next into the barns to see what was what. We all found something to amuse. We first headed for Decadent Fibers to show the lady we'd met at NENA Girl's ducks, but she was not there, so we moved on. There were tons of things to touch and smell and gaze at. I find that being regularly at Webs makes me better able to resist the urge to splurge excessively. That and being cash poor, and leaving my Visa and checkbook at home. I have great fortitude. I did not run out of money for at least an hour. In the Roby Building I engaged in some gambling - I bought 10 silent auction tickets and stuffed them into some cans. Mr. Wonderful did the same. There was lots to wish for - a felting video for Girl, a hat kit from Green Mountain, a bag from Decadent Fibers of yarn and felting kits, a felted dragon kit from Grafton Fibers, soap from two different vendors...I think most of my tickets went into the Green Mountain can. Some went for Mr Wonderful's weaving dvd. A Weaving dvd. For a triangular loom. Which we don't own. Yet...more on that later...the rest I put in for the soap. I love soap. Girl found Felt and Felters. She found Black Sheep Designs, and bought a ton of stuff, blowing nearly her entire budget on one vendor. I would love for Girl to take a class with this lady; simply amazing. The stuff was amazing. Incredible detail. Her felted vessels (picture does NOT even come close to what they really are) just made me stop and stare. They had a couple of books that were just so tempting, but at $45 and $55, a bit over the budget. But she got needles and fleece enough to last a while. Then I said "Hey, Girl, come over here and see this...." and Girl was lost. This wonderful lady at Grafton Fibers has the most amazing colors in her batts. Just the coolest. Girl got one that was just so intense, a rainbow in one batt. The second was more blue. We were ably assisted by the gentleman from The Merlin Tree, who's Hitchhiker wheel routinely calls out to me. He sold us the two batts and while we chatted about important things like "Why MelissaKnits needs a Hitchhiker wheel" (funny that Mr Wonderful appeared to hear non of that conversation. I wonder why...?} the lady from Grafton Fibers returned. As we headed off I saw a box of color. There's not other word for it, it's a box of color. I asked how much it was - $9.00. I gave Girl a ten and told her to go pick a box. The colors are just so intense and clear.
Girl and Mr Wonderful went for buffalo burgers from Yankee Farmer's Market while I discovered the Washington Historical Society's lamb booth. These folks are also at Mirage Alpacas during the Columbus Day weekend New Hampshire Wool Arts Tour. If there is one thing I love about S&W's it is the availability of grass fed, hormone and antibiotic free animals-as-meat.
After lunch, while we waited for the 1pm silent auction drawing, we wandered. I found soap. I specifically love soap from Country Spun Treasures (603-934-3885 for anyone interested - she will ship, and the stuff is wonderful), her Sweet Earth soap which is a blend of patchouli, lavender and . . . vanilla, I think. She was here again and I bought four bars. I also grabbed a bar of Chocolate Mint since she had it there, and it neatly rounded my purchase to a tidy $19.50. She also had these wonderful lightly greasy black and white lambswool fleeces that were so yummy and about a pound and a half each for $20, but Mr W seemed to feel that we have enough fleece and as I don't ever find time to spin, perhaps new fleece was not a good plan. Girl found the World's Cutest Goat. She is adorable. Her fiber is the color of chocolate milk, and just before I took this picture she had a bit of straw hanging over her face. It was making her cross-eyed and a bit nuts to stare at it, and her attempts at removal kept me engrossed for minutes and minutes. There will never be any goat as cute as The Chocolate Milk Goat.
OH! I forgot about the Corn Chowder! I got an excellent recipe for what I think must be a most amazing corn chowder! As I was buying my silent auction tickets from two 4-H youths I could not help but notice the yummy smells drifting up from this kid's cup. He seemed a friendly social kid, so I said "What's that?" He said "Corn Chowder. And it's good." The boy next to him pipes up and adds "Really, really good!!" I turned in awe to the adult nearby, also clutching a cup of said chowder - chowder good enough that two boys under the age of 15 were eating it. She agreed. "Wonderful!!" she exclaimed. " and provided to us by (name of lady I have forgotten) over there." I casually said "I wonder if she'd share a recipe..." So I asked. Here is the recipe for The Best Corn Chowder I Ever Smelled: First, spend a perfectly good rainy Saturday freezing your butt off in an unheated barn in New Hampshire in May. Next go home cold and exhausted, but determined to not suffer a similar fate on the morrow. Grab the first package of bacon that comes to hand, and whack it up on the cutting board. In your distraction, fail to notice the bacon is maple. (this is crucial!!) Once it's chopped, put it in a soup pot to fry. Chop some onions and peppers, and wonder why your kitchen smells like maple bacon. Realize the mistake, but go with it. Add peppers and onions, and sweat them. Add canned milk, chicken stock, potatoes and corn. Let the whole thing simmer, then dump in a crock pot and return for a rainy Sunday in May in an unheated barn armed for the day. That is how you make corn chowder so good that not one but TWO boys under 15 will say it's good - really really good.
There I go wandering again...where were we? Oh, I remember - we headed back for the auction drawing at 1pm. We were a bit late and missed the first bunch of cans. Names were called, none of them ours. There was a Melissa, but on an item I did not put a ticket in for. Just as I was about to leave, a voice said MY NAME!! I was so excited! What had I won??? I won a DVD from Hillcreek Fiber Studio on Triangle Frame Loom Weaving Magic. Mr. Wonderful was thrilled (as you can see here, by his doing an impression of Gene Kelley in Singin' in The Rain with his win) But....see...we don't actually own a triangle loom. We own a LeClerc Arisat with back treadles that I'd like to eliminate from my life (as would the weaver), and a little Purrington jack loom that we adore and will never part with. But we do not own a triangle frame loom. Although we do now own a video, a video Mr Wonderful wanted. Even though he does not have the loom...you know, men are odd folk...we wandered a bit more, aimlessly really, out of money and getting damp enough to notice it now. We stopped by the Home Arts Center by our entrance gate, and I bought some wonderful Horseradish Tarragon Mustard from That Jam Business, and a bar of soap from Blue Flag Herbals. Girl got some honey sticks from Spring Fever Farm, and Mr Wonderful was Rolling in the Dough with an oatmeal raisin cookie. Very noble of him considering the stuff she had out - brownies, cookies, whoopie pies in three flavors; an endless and monstrous pile of baked bits.
Loot Shot:Clockwise from top left: "Garbage" box from Grafton fibers, face kit and gnome kit from Black Sheep Designs, mustard from That Jam Business, amazing batts from Grafton Fibers, one bar Blue Flag Herbals "Relaxation" soap, five bars from Country Spun Treasures (four sweet earth, one chocolate mint), Hillcreek Fiber Studio triangle loom dvd, felting needles and felting tool, and flesh tone fiber pack from Black Sheep.
For supper we had cod, and Sprouts ala Skrilla which were excellent. I substituted my new Horseradish Tarragon Mustard for spicy brown though...it is SO yummy! I topped it off with a glass of Bogle Petite Syrah, and a nice warm bath.