Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Least Productive Day

Yesterday, I had every intention of starting to knit a pair of socks. I wound my yarn into a ball and picked a pattern. Inextricably, I found myself investing 12 solid hours into card weaving. 12 hours of failure, in case you were wondering. I cut 507 yards of yarn (38 cards, four pieces of yarn per card, 10 feet long each), I cut up a deck of cards into card weaving cards, and I spend hours upon hours combing (with a comb) the yarn to rid it of tangles.

All that, and the project had to be scrapped (or reset, but that was another 10 hours of work). Sometimes, I really hate ambition.

I have nothing better to do

... than browse the internet and troll through archives! Stuff that I have open tabs for:

OMG, General Tso's Chicken

I want to can a bushel of tomatoes! Now where to find them... :-P

The shoes that I want to turn into bike shoes -- but I can't convince myself to spend $45 on a pair of shoes that I'm going to take a dremel to...

How-to make a loom out of a cardboard box

From a post on packing lunches I like how she does portion control by having two containers of the same size. Filling one with veggies, and the other half of carbs, half of protein.

Although in Polish, ornaments made from leftover icing from gingerbread

Argyle Ornaments

Fabric Artichoke Ornaments

Crocheted Trivet

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Photos of Food

So I had a bunch of pictures on the camera of food that I've made recently, so here's a nice big post of them!

The shepherd's pie that I made for dinner on Friday, using leftover beef from the chili Thursday.

A close-up of the layers in the shepherd's pie. Ground beef, then frozen corn and peas, then mashed potatoes -- all baked until golden brown.

Making Vanilla Rhubarb Compote in order to make a rhubarb pie. I'm using chopped, frozen rhubarb.

After stewing and cooking down the 1.5 lbs of rhubarb (minus one cup or so), sugar, molasses and vanilla to a smooth texture.

After taking the compote off the heat, I stirred in the remaining cup or so of frozen rhubarb -- as it was frozen, I tried to submerge it in the compote and left it overnight.

Making awesome pie crust using the magic technique of grating frozen butter rather than using a pastry cutter.

I forgot to take a picture of the bottom crust, the layer of crushed corn flakes (to absorb excess moisture), and the filling added. But here's the top crust prior to trimming and crimping.

Crimped and with vents sliced in. I always tuck the top crust between the bottom crust and the pie pan, to ensure that it doesn't leak, and then crimp it between my fingers to seal.

All baked!

I also made "cookies" using the excess pie crust and cinnamon sugar -- the best part of baking!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lots of Ideas!

Thanks to Francesca, I have a new blog to read! It's called Craft Leftovers and she's a greenie, rides bikes, crafts, has chickens, all sorts of awesome things! Add in the fact that she's planning her wedding, and I am there.

While browsing her archives (I went back a few years at least) I came across many, many things that are super inspiring.

Picnic Bowl Cover

Crocheted Plastic Grocery Bag (which I've already marked as awesome)

Garterlac Dishcloth on the creators blog and ravelry. This is basically "babies first entrelac pattern".

How to Sew a Duvet Cover -- I have wanted to do this for some time as my duvet cover is light, faded green, and Mister's is white. Ick.

Wedding Cake Stacked Cookies is a different take on the "cookie cake" theme that I'd like to do :-P

Recycled Magazine Coasters -- we need coasters, and I've considered felted crocheted coasters as well as a couple other cute, crafty ones that Mister has vetoed. :-P

One of the things that this delightful crafter is having for her wedding is strings of paper cranes as decorations. I will need to run this kind of thing by Mister (oh shit... I gave him decorations...) but this would be cute.

Here also are a couple of crocheted, bike skirt guards that are SUPER CUTE!

From here

From here

From here

Thoughts on a skirt guard

Unexpected Crochet for the Home by Leisure Arts has some awesome looking projects including a sturdy rug that is crocheted over rope.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Skillet Cornbread

I meant to make this recipe last night but wound up not having time to. So here it is for posterity:

Skillet Cornbread
I was told that the key to remembering this recipe is that everything is in two’s. However, I find that two extra large eggs will make the batter too liquidy, so use two smaller eggs or one extra large.

2 tbl bacon drippings or shortening
2 cups cornmeal, we prefer stoneground white
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbl sugar
2 eggs (not extra large)
2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 450. Place the 2 tablespoons of fat into a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet and place the pan in the oven to heat.
2. In a bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl, mix together the eggs and buttermilk. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
3. Remove your preheated skillet and swirl it to distribute the fat. Pour the batter into the skillet (it should sizzle), and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, until risen and golden.

Mix It Up: chopped scallions, bacon crumbles, a can of creamed corn, or chilis and cheese are possible additions to play around with.

Everyone Wants Me to Be Fat

Just look at what recipes the internet had for me today!

Chicken BLT Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Peter Reinharts Fresh Cut Cornbread with Bacon

Zucchini Fritters

Apple and Blueberry Crumble Charlotte

When French Toast Met Pancakes... and Fell in Love

Breakfast Salad with Cinnamon Toast Croutons and Maple Vinaigrette


So last night I made chili, as it was horrible Romance movie night with a friend who can't have cow milk products or wheat. The chili turned out fabulous (of course, pshaw) and was super basic.

(I would love to have remembered to take a picture, but I didn't.)

I soaked Cannelloni beans until they were nice and plump. If I was smart, I would have cooked them now, but I forgot and I had to let the chili cook them as best as it could. I grated a HUGE zucchini that was hiding in my fridge, and used about 2 c. worth in the chili (I froze the rest). After grating the zucchini, I sprinkle salt on it to draw the water out, and then squeeze the excess liquid out of my zucchini. I tossed that straight into the crock pot. Also add in your beans, preferably cooked.

At this point I also boiled some more water and reconstituted three little chili peppers that I had. Once plump, I scraped out the seeds, chopped finely, and tossed in the crock pot.

I also tossed straight in a can of crushed tomatoes. I used about a cup or two of vegetable broth to rinse out the can and get the last little bits of tomato.

While I was getting all that set up, I chopped and fried two little peppers from my garden (yay!) and half of an onion. Once the onions were mostly translucent, I removed most of them from the pan and put them into the crock pot, and kept the rest in there to flavor the ground beef that I fried next. I had enough ground beef that it almost filled my pan, so it took a while for that to brown fully. Once it was done, I threw it in the crock and mixed it all up, trying to gauge how "chili-like" it was. It needed more liquid, so I added more vegetable broth. I also added tomato paste, salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder.

I let it cook for several hours (read: 5) and Mister bought a sheep's milk cheese that was to replace the cheddar I would have normally put on top. All in all, highly successful!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why Iceland Should Be In the News, But Is Not

Reposted from this article.

Why Iceland Should Be in the News, But Is Not
By Deena Stryker
An Italian radio program's story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt. The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-
known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.

As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here's why:

Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors. But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt. In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent. The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro. At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.

Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution. But only after much pain.

Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister of a Social Democratic coalition government, negotiated a two million one hundred thousand dollar loan, to which the Nordic countries added another two and a half million. But the foreign financial community pressured Iceland to impose drastic measures. The FMI and the European Union wanted to take over its debt, claiming this was the only way for the country to pay back Holland and Great Britain, who had promised to reimburse their citizens.

Protests and riots continued, eventually forcing the government to resign. Elections were brought forward to April 2009, resulting in a left-wing coalition which condemned the neoliberal economic system, but immediately gave in to its demands that Iceland pay off a total of three and a half million Euros. This required each Icelandic citizen to pay 100 Euros a month (or about $130) for fifteen years, at 5.5% interest, to pay off a debt incurred by private parties vis a vis other private parties. It was the straw that broke the reindeer’s back.

What happened next was extraordinary. The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum.

Of course the international community only increased the pressure on Iceland. Great Britain and Holland threatened dire reprisals that would isolate the country. As Icelanders went to vote, foreign bankers threatened to block any aid from the IMF. The British government threatened to freeze Icelander savings and checking accounts. As Grimsson said: “We were told that if we refused the international community’s conditions, we would become the Cuba of the North. But if we had accepted, we would have become the Haiti of the North.” (How many times have I written that when Cubans see the dire state of their neighbor, Haiti, they count themselves lucky.)

In the March 2010 referendum, 93% voted against repayment of the debt. The IMF immediately froze its loan. But the revolution (though not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis. Interpol put out an international arrest warrant for the ex-president of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, as the other bankers implicated in the crash fled the country.

But Icelanders didn't stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money. (The one in use had been written when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, in 1918, the only difference with the Danish constitution being that the word ‘president’ replaced the word ‘king’.)

To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet. The constituent’s meetings are streamed on-line, and citizens can send their comments and suggestions, witnessing the document as it takes shape. The constitution that eventually emerges from this participatory democratic process will be submitted to parliament for approval after the next elections.

Some readers will remember that Iceland’s ninth century agrarian collapse was featured in Jared Diamond’s book by the same name. Today, that country is recovering from its financial collapse in ways just the opposite of those generally considered unavoidable, as confirmed yesterday by the new head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde to Fareed Zakaria. The people of Greece have been told that the privatization of their public sector is the only solution. And those of Italy, Spain and Portugal are facing the same threat.

They should look to Iceland. Refusing to bow to foreign interests, that small country stated loud and clear that the people are sovereign.

That’s why it is not in the news anymore.

Stryker is an American writer that has lived in six different countries, is fluent in four languages and a published writer in three. She looks at the big picture from a systems and spiritual point of view.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Not To Do

So last week Mister bought fruit. Fast forward to today, and they were attracting fruit flies. So, thinking I was a smart cookie, I figured I'd turn them to jam. The pears were a lost cause. But the peaches were fully salvageable!

So I hunted up an easy peach jam recipe and set to work.

(Sliced peaches and put on heat with sugar)

Poking around the freezer turned up a bag of blueberries. Perfect! I tossed them in with a little more sugar. All told, I added peaches, blueberries, sugar, oj, cinnamon, nutmeg, garam masala and vanilla. I was feeling pretty crafty.

Added to that crafty feeling was my heating and sterilizing my jars in the same water as the water bath. How sneaky am I, I thought. And then I realized that I didn't have my jar lifters, they're still in storage.

Never fear, thought I, I am resourceful. I can figure this out. So to fish my clean jars out I grabbed a spatula and a silicone oven mitt.

I was futzing with the jar when disaster struck. I dipped the silicone oven mitt far enough under the water that it filled up and became a silicone cup of water. Feeling my hand burned, I freaked out, and reared back... throwing the water from the oven mitt directly at my face. Luckily, I wear glasses. Tearing the glasses off my face, I ran to the sink to throw cold water over everything in pain (with a constant stream of f-bombs). I also dashed into the bedroom to grab the aloe vera and smear it thickly upon everything.

I did manage to use the silicone oven mitt and spatula in lieu of the jar lifters, but thanks to my burn, the wafts of steam made it an exciting process.

I can happily write this all now, with two pint jars of jam on the counter, and my right hand in a bowl of water. But boy, what an ounce of prevention is worth!


Mister and I had a bit of brainstorming Saturday, and this is what we came up with.

Monday: clean out fridge, take out trash, buy groceries

Tuesday: wash floors

Wednesday: (no chores)

Thursday: clean bathroom, new towels

Friday: (no chores)

Saturday: (no chores)

Sunday: sweep floors, dust baseboards and surfaces, wash laundry, put laundry away

As we often have guests on the weeked, or go out ourselves, we wrote in a break. Wednesdays are also no chores because we get home late that day.

We also put together a basic rotating meal plan.

Monday: vegetarian

Tuesday: pasta and salad

Wednesday: breakfast for dinner (Mister's in charge)

Thursday: crock pot (I'm in charge)

Friday: roast chicken or casserole (I'm in charge)

Saturday: no plan

Sunday: soup or stew

We'll do a roast chicken twice a month or so because it's some of the best bang-per-buck options. Tuesdays are pasta because we have band practice, and it needs to be fast. Lunches will be leftovers, PBJ, fruit, trailmix, etc.

Prepping for Fall

As I went to put new laces in my laceup, every day shoes, I realized that it was a perfect opportunity to waterproof them. So I pulled out the spray can of leather proofing (no green methods here!) and went to town. I did those lace ups, two pairs of boots, my leather jacket, Misters leather jacket and a pair od Mister's lace ups. It's a beautiful suny day, and all of these items are hanging out in the sunshine on the front porch, waiting for the hour of "curing". I should also get polish and massage in some conditioning (LUSH's ultrabalm is excellent for this).

But before I get to that, I need to finish up the furniture rearranging that Mister and I started yesterday.

As an aside, the iPad hates posting, as it likes to ignore characters or spaces.

Surprise packages

So I'm sitting here with the iPad, a cup of tea and the empty bowl of my breakfast (leftover mac n cheese... Don't judge!), when I see a UPS truck stop outside. I gaze at it, and wistfully wish that it was for me... When I heard the 'thump' of a box being dropped by my door. I raced over and pulled in a bit of a care package from my mother.

One ugly as sin but amazingly waterproof, lime green raincoat (I called and asked about it the other day, so this is a desireable item)
Two spiral bound, three subject notebooks, college lined
A Phrase and Sentence Dictionary of Spoken Russian, book
Lavender and Old Lace, book
Taste of Home, magazine
A bunch of photos
A note

Firstly, I want to give a shout out to the post office for charging $9 for this (wtf). The photos are of my new nephew, and of the last three family events that we had. I swear, I am the worst for candid photos. In almost every single one, I am making some manner of a crazy face. The funniest are the few of Mister and me, as we both have this habit. (When we did the engagement photoshoot my friend said we wouldnt stop moving, and we have a tonof pictures of us in the process of speaking.)

But, that was my enjoyable morning - and it reminds me that I have two packages to get in the mail, a pillow for K and CDs for mle.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Best Wedding Pictures?


"The Packages:
Four hours $2,580
Six hours $3,450
Your Full Day $5,670"

That, according to A Practical Wedding is affordable. What is considered non-affordable?

Text for Invitation?

I want to clear up some of my tabs, so lets close the one on invitation etiquette.

Here are my thoughts on the phrasing:

request the honor of your presence
to celebrate their marriage
[September something, 2012]
1 pm

RSVP: [our address]

Thoughts? It's just going to be the reception, and I'm not quite sure how to phrase that exactly. I'm also not sure if the "honor of your presence" is quite appropriate considering how godsdamned informal it's going to be. K, thoughts?

I figured in the invitation envelope would be a business card sized paper with the info for the registry, and a postcard with RSVP info (yes/no and chicken/beef/veg, etc).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Horror of All Horrors, Wedding Stuff!

Mister and I are taking the super slow route of figuring stuff out (a.k.a. he's being a bum and claiming he needs to 'think it over' for everything :-P). Now our reactions are completely par for the course as I want shit DONE and he wants it RIGHT.

What has been more or less decided:

Food: Redbones BBQ, a local (and amazing) BBQ place with catering starting from around $10/head

Ceremony: City Hall, Justice of the Peace, no witnesses (not required for JoP :-D). It requires $50 cash for license, and $12 per copy of certificate

Reception Location: Mister's uncle's house 40 mins away (which I am super proud of finding on google maps) They also have a couple of acres not visible from the road (Mister would like to add that we really have no idea where it's going to be held, but that it is an option that has been offered but we haven't actually spoken to them.)

Headcount: 60

Time of day: 1pm-4/5pm

Time of year: late September, 2012

Music: not sure if there will be any, but if we do have music, it will be Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band

Photographer: not sure if there will be one, but if we do have a photographer, it will probably be Mister's coworker, Todd

Rings: Jade Moran, same as my engagement. I will probably get palladium with a design similar to the vines on my engagement ring, although hopefully I can reuse someone's custom design for cheaper (Jade draws all of her vines very similarly :-P).

Invitations: will be done by me

Decorations: I've handed off to Mister. He said that he wanted a say in it, so I said "awesome. Your job now!" When he tried to protest, I informed him that I like surprises (unlike him) and I don't want to hear a thing about it.

Hair: I'm doing

Makeup: I'm doing

Dress: I will be making
Color: white
length: just below the knee
size: full skirt
crinoline: no, but probably petticoats (I like the weight)
sleeves: no, wide straps plus a shawl
details: some lace trim (maybe), red sash
aesthetic: fairly casual

Some Things We Are NOT Having At the Wedding*:

-- alcohol
-- first dance/Mother-Son dance/Father-Daughter dance/retardedness
-- cake. We'll probably have cookies
-- a wedding party (i.e., bridesmaids, groomsmen, etc.)
-- videographer
-- stage manager
-- bachelor/bachelorette parties
-- wedding insurance (seriously guys? that's a thing?)
-- florist. any flowers will either be picked or bought at the grocery store
-- limos or other specialty vehicles
-- tuxedos
-- ring inscriptions
-- spa treatments
-- name change arrangements. Not happening for either of us.
-- toasts
-- "Throw bridesmaids' lunch or party, at which you'll distribute gifts/jewelry." <-- what is that shit? People have too much money to burn...

I dunno what else to even talk about. The registry is at Amazon, but still needs a final going over by Mister ("we have time, I'll get to it..."), I haven't picked out pretty shoes yet, I am only 12% done on my shawl, I'm not sure if there will be favors or what they would be (Mister was like "Etsy!" and I was like "$10-15/person?!" to which he went "oh yeah..." and I reminded him that my uncle's wedding had after dinner mints in a bundle of tulle.). I thought about perhaps doing the Indian Wedding Henna Party type thing, but as I'm not Indian, I can't really pull that one off. I thought about having a nuclear family brunch pre-reception, but Mister says that requiring people to have to stay two nights in an expensive area isn't very nice.

I did put my foot down and say that I'm getting prepped with the ladies, which he grumbled about. Our budget is around $2000, but we're not quite sure what ENSMB's and Todd's prices would be. If it's too much, or would double our budget ($3200 starting rates for wedding photography my ass) it shall be cut. If the music gets cut, then there won't be dancing as I find both DJs (expensive and retarded) and iPods (cheap and retarded) unworthy of attention. It'll just be food and hanging out.

Mister is super upset and worried about the dates for when we'll have the party, as his sister's getting married early September, and he's claiming late September could be too cold ("it could be snowing!"). I told him that if it's snowing I'll just add grey knitted tights to my grey crocheted shawl and call it a day.


*I'm maybe acting a bit angry about some of this stuff, but I've been wading through a sea of BS ever since I started looking into a wedding. I have found exactly ONE website that I respect: A Practical Wedding as it's the only one that doesn't try to sell you stuff, have you make hand-painted tchotchkes, or care what you do so long as it's YOU. They don't care what your budget is, or what you have so long as you know why you're including what you are. Whether you're doing it because "everyone is and you hadn't thought of it/don't care enough to change it" or "it's a tradition that I find meaningful joining" or even "it's what feels right to me and my partner". The other thing I super respect is their respect towards LGBTQ weddings. Wanna hear something scary? The uber wedding site "The Knot" has this lovely little notice on the bottom:
Once you're a member of The Knot, you can easily log in to our sister sites The Nest and The Bump.

Is that not the scariest thing you've ever heard? Because once you've wasted your life planning your wedding, you're clearly not going to be doing anything other than redecorating your husbands home and popping babies. (*shudder)

P.S. Awesome pick of Mister, taken by Todd, while at Redbones

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rain and Fall

This post is a bit of stream-of-consciousness writing.

As I type this, it's raining decently hard and I get to wear cords and a turtle-neck sweater (which I spilled coffee on! :-( ). I love listening to the rain, and my favorite memories as a kid are surrounding rain. The sound cars make driving on wet pavement, and the smell after the rain of Bristol-Meyers Squibb. I have no idea what Bristol produced, but my mother always blamed the smell I loved on them. :-P Some kind of factory smell, maybe with a bit of sulphur?

This kind of weather makes me want to curl up with tea and a blanket, perhaps write or read a bit.

I had to run an errand today that wound up being unnecessary. A very dear friend just moved across the country and I had to go put her remaining belongings on the curb. Turns out, building management took care of it for her/me! But it was nice to get out of the house and know that the house would be warm and waiting for me. Also, for some unknown reason I really enjoy walking in the rain. I am not an umbrella-dweller, I put on my leather jacket, sturdy pants and shoes and a hat to keep the rain off of my head and glasses. This last bit is quite important, as I turn into Cranky Bitch (TM) with a wet head.

When walking in the rain, I love how everyone is in their own little world (and its NOT caused by headphones), merely trying to make their way around the puddles. I also enjoy seeing who else is reveling and who is hiding from the rain. Who is firmly ensconced in their layers and coverings and who is simply appreciating the barest requirement of a jacket... or not.

When Mister and I were first dating, we went to a music festival for one weekend. It poured when it wasn't hotter than hell, and I was miserable and crabby. When Mister convinced me to leave the tent during one rainstorm, I was upset for a while. And then, it switched. I was wet enough that I could get no wetter and just enjoyed being wet and being wet with others who enjoyed it. We were dancing, and hopping, and skipping, and splashing and it was glorious.

Yet for all that I scorn umbrellas and those that use them (I hate seeing umbrella people hogging sidewalks and acting seemingly unaware of this fact) I have seen some beautiful umbrellas that I want. I would love the one that is a black umbrella with blue skies inside. I want with a passion this beautiful 24-paneled umbrella (I just called and found the info :-P) from Vista International, "Memphis". It's just classy looking.

And there are all of the beautiful red and scalloped and decorated ones out there. I do so love beauty of form and an umbrella can be absolutely beautiful (I know I'm over-using that word, but I love the look of the word 'beautiful' so much more than any of its synonyms :-P).

When I was in high school I was in a production of Once On This Island. The song Rain was choreographed with all of the chorus coming out with blue and white mini-umbrellas that were decorated with hanging strings of beads. We all danced with the umbrellas and swung them around and up and waved them back and forth. That was my favorite scene to do for that reason. That and the soloist for that song (Agwe, God of Water) was phenomenal and really carried the scene. He was the master of that piece since the first read-through and it never failed to impress me.

My plants are ever so happy that it's raining. After all of my high hopes, I have one really happy canteloupe plant (still covered in blossoms), one sad, stunted canteloupe, three happy bell pepper plants, six happy black cherry tomato plants and two sad black cherry tomato plants. I'm looking forward to getting a small harvest of SOMETHING!

I broke the "rules" today and went and bought a coffee and a snack. $4.21 for my bagel and coffee. It is just such a lazy, comfy day I couldn't help myself (that and we have little-to-no food in the house). It's due to this lack of food that I pulled a roast out of the freezer and plopped it into the crock pot two hours ago. I threw in a bottle of shitty homebrew, a carton of beef stock, some Worcestershire sauce, some molasses, some tomato paste and a bunch of herbs. We'll see how it turns out.

I love the color of the light in my house during the rain. It's such an even, warm grey that it feels like I must be a ghost in my own home. And then if I turn a light on, it becomes a warm, cheery yellow/pink like a fire. This kind of day makes me wander the house feeling satisfied with nothing to do. I am strangely good at doing nothing and having no thoughts. I am just content.

I am currently listening to my favorite clarinet sonata, Saint-Saens Op. 167. It's absolutely beautiful and I think everything that a clarinet could be. Ah, the end of the piece, now I am onto Poulenc and Saint-Saens' oboe sonatas. Both Poulenc and Saint-Saens towards the end of their lives, within a few years of each other, wrote three woodwind sonatas: oboe, clarinet and bassoon. They are absolutely beautiful and complement each other well. I love the oboe pieces, but they do not fill my heart the way the clarinet piece does. Clarinet is just such a warmer sound, a perfect sound to settle oneself during a rainstorm. Oboe is a little more prickling -- it makes me wonder, and it makes me restless. It is such a questing sort of sound. It is always asking questions; that is, if it is done well. Clarinet is content in itself, oboe is always striving towards something.

This entry is dedicated to my great friend mle.

Friday, August 5, 2011

iPad Gleanings

I've had few tabs up on the iPad for weeks, so lets close them down, shall we?

Spiced Carrot Waffle recipe

This has been such an interesting thread. I posted the statistics for food born illness from home canned food in the comments section but I will just add (for those that don’t read the comments) most botulism is infant botulism coming from feeding babies foods that adults can tolerate but are not good for babies (honey is one example). The second cause if wound infection as botulism occurs naturally. Take good care of even small injuries. The incidence of food born botulism is very small with only 21 cases being reported last year. You are far more likely to get ill from eating commercial spinach than from my home canned tomatoes. Here are the take home points. Use up-to-date recipes from approved sources, proper equipment and excellent hygiene and you will be fine. Do not can anything with gravy. Make the gravy later-it only takes a minute. Don’t can dense things like pureed pumpkin or squash as the interior may not get hot enough. Don’t can in 1/2 gallon jars. Add acid to tomato products. Boil canned vegetables for 10 minutes before eating. I know. The idea of canned green beans being boiled for ten minutes is pretty unappealing which is why I freeze or dehydrate my vegetables. Don’t can milk products in a water bath as they are low acid and not safe.
from the Just In Case book blog

This heat wave is pretty awful, especially if you’re very young, very old or if you are health compromised. Maybe you’re lucky and have AC that you can afford to run but if, like me, you have chosen to discard the AC or if you just don’t have it, you should make some plans about how you will handle the heat.

I begin each hot, humid morning by closing up the house. I shut the windows and doors and close the curtains to keep the hot air out and the cool, night air in. I put jars of water with lots of ice in a cooler on the counter. This prevents people from constantly opening the door to the freezer and the refrigerator to get something cold to drink. I put a pile of wash cloths in the same cooler and use those to mop the kids down from time to time.

I head out to the garden in the very early morning. Any work that needs to be done is finished before 10:00 or waits until late afternoon. I give any tender plants a good drink very early so the water won’t evaporate before doing any good. The heat of the day is not good for travel. You will use far more gas by running your AC and car trouble is no fun if you find yourself waiting on hot asphalt for help to arrive.

We move our bunny, Olivia, to a cool spot under the pine trees and check her water often. She’s pretty old and I fear this heat will kill her. I don’t have a dog but if I did I would be extra cautious about keeping her cool as well. We use to put our dog in the basement on days like this.

I keep Phoebe inside, even letting her watch TV just to keep her occupied and quiet. My kids don’t seem to wilt in the heat as quickly as I do but it’s still hard on little bodies. This is the day to put myself to work in the basement. I have a lot of chores down there to keep me busy and the cool, moist air is fabulous.

I also plan my meals first thing the in the morning. Food tends towards cheese and bread, fruit and cold salads, things that can be prepared without heating up the house. If I do need to cook, I try to use the solar oven. I will really appreciate that summer kitchen.
also from the Just In Case book blog

I thought I’d show you another traditional way to store a bundle of lavender, for scenting linens, where the flowers are encased in a cage made from the flower stems woven with ribbon. Called a lavender bottle, made this way, the flowers stay put and don’t go all over the place, so it can be pushed in between layers of stored bedlinen, kept in a drawer with your smalls or hung in the wardrobe to keep your best clothes sweet. For this the lavender variety is immaterial, the smellier the better.
Again pick your lavender on a dry sunny day when the flowers are just about to be or are partly open. The stems need to be long, green and pliable. Pick an odd number of stems, I used 21 here, and bundle them together, so all the flowers are bunched up together and the stems are smooth, pulling off any smaller flowers lower down. Tie tightly together below the flower heads with a piece of thin ribbon or twine. Then one by one, bend the stems back over the flowers so they form a cage around them. You do have to try and arrange the stems as evenly spaced as possible to keep things as neat as you can at this stage.
Tie a piece of ribbon or twine tightly around the stems to hold everything in place. Now, take a long length of narrow ribbon, 5-10mm (1/4-1/2in) wide is ideal, and starting at the top pointy end, wrap one end of the ribbon around one of the stems and fix it in place with a few stitches made with needle and thread. Begin to weave the ribbon in and out of the stems (you may find a bodkin useful to help with this), working round the stem cage and pulling the ribbon evenly to give the lavender bottle a good shape. When the flowers are completely encased by the woven ribbon, tuck the end of the ribbon around a stem and fix in place with a few stitches with needle and thread. Trim the stems to the length you like then tie the stems tightly together with ribbon at both ends. Leave the bottle to dry out for a while and give the flowers a squeeze from time to time to reactive the scent.

from Laundry etc.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Baked Goods

So I made bread yesterday from this recipe. I used up the last of my whole wheat flour, my all purpose flour, and a bit of the white whole wheat (plus water, olive oil salt and yeast). Just a very simple, basic bread to see how I like the recipe. It's a little bland, but very workable.

Funnily enough, today's 101 cookbooks recipe is ALSO bread! It also looks quite tasty, and I'll probably try it out after these two loaves are gone.

Found a recipe for Shortbread that I'd like to try.

And I scored free pyrex the other day! I got two loaf pans, two pie pans, two mixing bowls and a metal loaf pan as well.

Monday, August 1, 2011