Thursday, March 8, 2012

Workshops, Goat Envy, and the Shrimp Curry that saved my marriage.

Life has been busy, busy, busy on my little speck of dirt.   Lots of workshops, the construction of a goat house, another foster puppy come and gone. One of the highlights was my first Folk Art Pet Pillow workshop. I knew that the two day workshop would be very intense so I limited it to two students. Lucky me... I spent the week-end with Anne Shapazian and  Pam Beauchesne, and we had a blast!

Pam is a fairly experienced felter, but Anne had never felted before.  Fortunately, she is a creative and crafty gal who quickly came up to speed.  I am amazed by their projects!  Pam's pillow top features her Springer Spaniel, Lucy.  I dyed up some goat curls to get the curly texture that Lucy  required and Pam took some artistic license to fashion a Swarovski Crystal collar and a fuchsia 3D flower that POPS off the surface.  Adorable!

Anne's pup, Bunker, presented even more of a challenge.  His monochromatic coloring forced Anne to pay special attention to shading and detail in order to make his image truly lifelike.  Fortunately, goat curls make Bunker's crazy curly coat come alive, don't you think?

One of the benefits of hosting a small and intimate workshop is that I get to play along!  I haven't made as much progress as Pam and Anne, but I hope to have my Bella pillow finished in the next few weeks.

We were all exhausted and exhilarated by the end of the week-end.  If you are interested in creating your own heirloom pillow, I have another workshop scheduled for June 16 and 17.

In Other News

I have been suffering from Goat Envy for years.   Seriously.  I started to research dairy goats about three years ago, although my husband was steadfast in his opposition, joking that one Old Goat was enough for the family.  [ Hmmm...I always assumed that he was referring to himself, but....could he have meant ME?] During my youngest child's senior year I became the typical weepy mom....every little event came with the recognition that this was a "last of" occasion.  I was a mess....the empty nest that loomed closer and closer had me riddled with anxiety.   During a moment of weakness, my husband promised that I could get goats once Rachel left for college.  I bid her a tearful adieu and immediately put a deposit down on some Nubian Dairy Goats from Kristian Said, a local breeder whose award winning goats are shipped all over the country.  I was one of many in line for two does and since Kristian could not predict how soon I might be a goat mom, I put the matter on the back burner and forgot about it.

....until two weeks ago, when we got word that my girls had arrived and were and ready to go home.  Gulp.  I had two weeks week to build a goat house!  Unfortunately, there were no spare minutes available in Week One, so I put the project aside until Week Two.  The following  Monday was focused on connecting with contractors and soliciting estimates, all of which proved way beyond my budget.  By Tuesday afternoon I was starting to panic and regaled the gals at the Fiber Guild Meeting with my tale of woe.  These gals are kind and strong, generous and inventive, so I was not surprised when they offered to know, like an old fashioned "barn raising."  They were genuine and sincere and it touched my heart. 

Sweet as they were to offer, I had to decline.  This was crunch time...the goats were coming so this goat house needed this to happen within the next three days! Fortunately, the hours spent crocheting quieted my panic and I started to noodle around some alternatives.  My limited budget could work if I played contractor's assistant, so I found a contractor willing to work by the hour.  I cancelled all other plans for the week, and got busy: digging/sawing/hammering/sweating/and swearing.   My back hurts and every nail is broken, but the mission was accomplished!   Stella and Ruby came home on Sunday afternoon to a clean, dry, and secure shed.

They are as cute as can be...much more like dogs than I would ever have imagined.  They follow me around the yard, hopping and skipping and twirling as they perform a little goat acrobatic routine.  Their current favorite activity is to climb up and down and over the picnic table in the back yard.  They are fascinated by the chickens and the hens seem to be equally enamored.  In fact, I have already found a few eggs in the goat's sleeping area.

The biggest surprise has been how much like human babies they are...from the bottle feeding to the desire to have constant companionship.  Stella (brown one) is one month old and is already independent and adventurous.  Ruby, two months old, is the baby.  She screams (yes, it really is a scream!) when I leave her pen. It takes her some time to settle down when I leave and  I am like the nervous parent of a 5 year old on the first day of kindergarten.  I peek around the corners to make sure that she is really OK before I head back to the studio.  I sneak a look whenever I can do so without alerting her to my presence, because once she sees me, the drama will start again.

Ruby, the Drama Queen
John and I make it a habit to share a cocktail out in the backyard at the end of the day.  The dogs frolic in the lake and we re-connect after having been apart for the preceding hours.  It is one of my favorite parts of the day and it has gotten even funnier as the goats dance in the mix.  What a joyful addition they are to my household!

Stella has no fear.

...and the Shrimp Curry Recipe that Saved my Marriage.

My husband is a swell guy and he tolerates my nucking futz tendencies fairly well, as I do his.  One of the things that I have learned over the years is that he cares not a whit how much I choose to put on my Plate of Life, provided that I always make time for him AND cook him good dinners.  Seems fair enough and I can usually pull both off with relative ease, but the week of goat house construction was a bitch.  Late one afternoon I realized that I hadn't even thought of dinner and it was well past dinner time.  UH OH.

I mentally went through my list of quick and easy dinners and was missing ingredients for most, until I remembered Jean Upton's Shrimp Curry Recipe.   It is crazy simple and tastes like you put some effort into it...I served it over white rice with some steamed asparagus.  WINNER.  It took minutes to prepare and got complements from the Husband.

Curry Shrimp
by Jean Upton on Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 8:26am
1/4 c. onion (I used 1/2)
1clove garlic 
2 T. fresh cilantro (I used dried)
1/2 T. olive oil
1 lb. uncooked shrimp
1 T. curry powder (I used more...)
1/3 c. nonfat Greek yogurt  (I didn't have any so I used Sour Cream and a splash of cream, and doubled it)
Salt and Pepper

1. Prepare ingredients: chop onion and cilantro and press garlic. Set each aside individually.
2. Sautee garlic and onions in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Season width salt and pepper.
3. Add shrimp and curry powder. Cook shrimp until pink.
Season again with salt and pepper.
4. Remove from heat stir in yogurt and cilantro and serve.


  1. Congratulations on your goats! I, too, have goat envy and some day will have some. Until then, I am content with my kids, dogs and cats :-)

  2. Thanks, Mona! The goats are proving to be a little more difficult and much more fun than I had is quite the experience! On another note: I noticed that you are a home schooling mom...Kudos! It takes a tremendous amount of sacrifice but I know that the rewards are well worth it. I didn't have it in me, so am very impressed when I meet someone who is walking the walk.