All posts by Nancy

Crochet – Rediscovering an Old Love

When my kids were little, right up until about 1999 I crocheted a lot!  Beautiful Christmas ornaments, wedding accessories, and snowflakes — and believe it or not I sold quite a few; which helped to supplement my income and provide some extra cash for whatever.

When we started Sunburst Software Solutions, Inc. in August of 2000 – the crochet hook and all thoughts of being crafty/creative were pushed to the back burner and it’s remained that way until the last year.

In the last year I’ve rediscovered my love of crochet.  It started with a sweater that I did last fall, followed by some crocheted butterflies that I made and put on the back of some jean jackets for my granddaughters for Christmas and a couple of pairs of Crocodile Stitch slippers.

Earlier this summer I found an amazing website – By Hook, By Hand – and a lady by the name of Beth Webber who makes the most incredible dolls!  And to say they were inspirational is an understatement!

Meet Violet McFernleaf – she is a cross between Beth’s crocheted Bleuette and Free Spirit dolls.

Violet is 16″ tall (which is too big I think), but she was my “can I wrap my hands/heads around a doll project”.

She isn’t quite finished – she needs a hair cut REALLY bad, and her head and wig/hair is not yet attached – they are just sitting there.  She also needs a pair of boots.  Overall, I’m not displeased and when I do another (and yes, I think I will) the doll will be done using either sport or baby yarn instead of regular worsted weight yarn.

5-A I’ve had a few people ask me if I would sell them; that’s a good question.  While the materials cost isn’t all that much (around $20) the amount of time that goes into making one is incredible – I’ve worked 4-6 hours a day for the last month and still am not done.

What do you think?  Do you like her?  Would you buy her?  And if so, what would you be willing to pay for her?

Inquiring minds want to know!  LOL

Rhubarb Sauce

I just love rhubarb sauce and this is chunky, which makes it even better!

rhubarb sauce

3 quarts rhubarb pieces (approximately 1/2 to 1-inch chunks)

3 cups sugar (next year, I might decrease the sugar just a little)

2 teaspoons vanilla

Stir rhubarb and sugar together and place in four-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high setting for two hours, then remove lid and   cook another hour to thicken slightly. Before filling canning jars, add vanilla. Ladle into sterile jars and process using a water-bath for 15 minutes. Makes about four pints.

I found this recipe here –

Looking for more rhubarb recipes?  Visit The Rhubarb Compendium  and Taste of Home, I know I’m going to!

Rhubarb Chutney

I got this recipe from a friend who subscribes to the magazine – haven’t actually tried it yet, but is sounded absolutely yummy and with an abundance of rhubarb this year, I figured why not make some!

Rhubarb chutney

3/4 cup sugar

1 tblsp. sliced fresh ginger

2 minced garlic cloves (can substitute 1 tblsp. garlic powder if you don’t have fresh on hand)

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes

4 cups diced fresh rhubarb ( 6 cups frozen chopped rhubarb)

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/3 cup golden raisins

Combine sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper flakes in a large saucepan.  Bring to simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves.  Add rhubarb, onion, and raisins.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens slightly.  Fill hot, sterile jars.  Process in water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Says it’s great with port, duck, or chicken.  Also can be eaten with brie and crackers.

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Makes a 13 x 9″ coffeecake.

The original recipe called for 2 cups of chopped rhubarb and a 10 ounce package or frozen sliced strawberries.  I’ve made this recipe many times using a total of 3 1/4-3 1/2 cups of fresh fruit (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries & rhubarb, apples, and even made a lemon filling once) – the “cake” itself is always tender and moist – you just need to adjust the amount of sugar depending upon the fruit.

rhubarb coffeecake


1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

3 1/2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb

2 tblsp. water

2 tbslp. lemon juice


3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup butter or margarine (I always use butter and melt it slightly so that about half of each stick is still somewhat solid)

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla extract


3/4 cup brown sugar (can use regular white sugar)

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup cold butter or margarine

(When using rhubarb or apples add about 1/2 tsp. cinnamon)

In a saucepan combine sugar and cornstarch; stir in fruit and water.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, cook for 2 minutes or until thickened and rhubarb is tender.  Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice.  Let cool.

For the cake (I just dump everything into the mixing bowl of my big stand mixer); combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.  Add semi-melted butter, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.  Mix on low-medium speed for about 2 minutes.

Spoon two-thirds of the batter into a greased 13 x 9″ pan.  Spoon cooled filling over batter.  Top with remaining batter.

For topping; combine sugar and flour (and optional cinnamon).  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on a wire rack.

NOTE:  If you don’t have buttermilk on hand (which I rarely do) take a 1 cup measuring cup and add either 1 tblsp. vinegar or lemon juice and then fill the cup with milk – let it set for a couple of minutes and you have a great substitute.


It was just a rhubarb kind of day

Tuesday was a nice cool day – perfect for canning and my rhubarb patch was going nuts – so I decided to go down and cut some and spend what I thought would be part of the day in the kitchen.  Little did I know – 18 cups of chopped rhubarb and 8 hours later I was finally done!

I didn’t think that I’d cut a lot of rhubarb – because it hardly looked like I’d cut much from the rhubarb patch.

rhubarb stalksUntil I got it all chopped up!

chopped rhubarbThe final result:

4 – half pints of rhubarb chutney

4 pints of Vanilla Rhubarb sauce

13 jars of Raspberry Rhubarb Jam

and a Rhubarb coffee cake!


rhubarb kinda day

I received a lovely gift for my garden

Yesterday a package arrived in the mail from Amazon – Ben says to me “What did you order THIS time?”  My response – “honestly I didn’t buy anything!”

Inside the box, a lovely note from Matt Rissell of TSheets (makers of a great QuickBooks add-on for timetracking) thanking me for taking time out of my day on Tuesday to join them for the Appify webinar.  Hoping that this gift added a bright touch to that amazing garden of mine.

Inside the box – a beautiful birdbath!  I just love it!

birdbath from TSheetsI think it makes an incredible addition to the garden!  What do you think?

birdbath in the gardenI can’t wait until I see the first bird in it!  I may not go to work at all this summer!

Thank you so much Matt, Jessie, Jennifer and the entire TSheets Team – you all are just awesome :-)

The Vegetable garden is getting tilled!

I’m so excited, the vegetable garden is FINALLY dry enough to be tilled!

I was joking with Ben that perhaps I should first mow the winter rye because it was so tall!  The blueberries are on the left and the strawberries are on the right.  That incredible “green” expanse in the middle is the winter rye where the garden will be.

mow the gardenI’ve made up my mind that I “need” a bigger tractor – one with a tiller attachment for the back, like Dale has here in this picture – now to convince Ben that we “need” a 3rd John Deere!

bigger tractorWoo hoo!  Now I’m ready to plant the garden Memorial Day Weekend!

ready to plantI can’t wait!

Hummingbirds and flowers

Hummingbirds are such beautiful little birds.  The first one arrived the day before Mother’s Day – actually we almost ran into each other.  I was walking out the front door and I guess he was coming to find me – wanting to know where HIS feeder was LOL.

They risk life and wing to travel thousands of miles, the males arrive first, choose a spot and build a nest.  The females then arrive, lay their little eggs and then they all spend the rest of the summer fighting!

Hummingbirds are seldom still – they seem like they are in constant motion.  This is one that I call “King Hummer” as he will land somewhere and remain on the look out for others that he feels are invading his territory.  Here he’s sitting on a peony ring in the garden.

hummerI’m not sure what he’s on the lookout for…maybe he’s just enjoying the flowers.


Spring Cleanup

We FINALLY have gotten some decent weather, where it’s been warm enough to get outside and work int he yard and the ground isn’t a soggy, squishy mess woo hoo!

Last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I had half days in the yard and boy have I been busy!

The blueberries needed a lot of damage pruning from the ice storm just before Christmas and then all the snow in March and April.

blueberriesThe raspberry beds were a weedy mess and again a lot of winter damage. This one was the worst. But hey, the rhubarb bed looks good – can’t wait to cut some fresh rhubarb and make muffins and crisp.

raspberries rhubarbThe other two raspberry beds fared better over the winter, but there was still a lot of cleanup to do.

raspberries 2-3They are already leafing out – I’m so excited! Now if I can just keep the darn Japanese Beetles from attacking them!

signs of springGot the strawberry bed in shape, put in the rebar and the “hoops” made from black plastic pipe. Need to get out the plastic and cover them – last year we had a late frost while the strawberries were flowering and it killed all the flowers – which meant NO strawberries — bummer. Isn’t going to happen again this year! I’m thinking of planting my peppers in the other half of the row while waiting for the strawberry runners to produce new plants.

strawberriesOn Monday of this week, we had a dump truck load of mulch delivered and we’ve been mulching fools! Buy the time I got this picture Ben had already taken two wagon loads from the pile. Love this wagon that we bought for the ATV – holds SO much more than the old wagon that we have.

mulchEverything has gotten mulch – blueberries, all 3 raspberry beds, and the strawberries. Max even got a bunch of new mulch under his favorite Maple tree! The poor little Oak is still hanging onto last years leaves.

max mapleOh this yard is a LOT of work, but this makes it all worthwhile. Last Tuesday the first daffodil opened – this is what the front garden looks like this morning!

daffodil garden

Have a wonderful day everyone!


The FIRST daffodil of Spring!

It’s really been pretty cold & blustery here in Vermont, in the 40’s and sometimes 50’s  – usually by this time of year it’s at least in the 60’s.

The crocus have been quite happy and were almost in bloom from the time the snow melted.  And they have been quite happy and have actually been in bloom for the last month or so.


Today, the very first daffodil of the season actually opened – and I’m so EXCITED!

1st daffodil

And of course, Max has to get into the action as well – he’s guarding the garden – I’m not sure from what though!  And I swear he only shows his “teeth” when he’s happy!

max guardingAhhh, SPRING!