Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jumping On the Wagon

So I'm going to try this thing called "Foodie Penpals". You sign up, get given a "penpal", and you send each other a food package, limit $15. Sounds fun, eh? You can sign up here if interested.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


As I've mentioned quite a few times, I volunteer at the Farmer's Market on Wednesdays. Today, my stand had a sale too good for me to pass up: Roma tomatoes at $1/#, with the option of buying a 20# box. Done!

So I bought 20# of Roma tomatoes and figured I'd start my canning-tomato-life tonight. (I know, I know, I move in 3 days, but I couldn't pass that up!)

Using this as my spring-off point, I canned half of my box tonight. It made 3 quarts and 4 pints. I put them all in the canner together, as I don't see that it will be a problem being as they need the same time anyways.

This'll be my smartest canning set-up in this apartment yet. I used Francesca's advice and heated my jars in the oven to sterilize, I used the magnetic telescoping wand from a screwdriver to fetch out my heated lids, and my canner has a basket that I will use to remove my jars!

They have to be in the waterbath for 85 mins, so we'll see how pretty they are when I'm done!

Update: lookit how pretty they are!

Also, this is all of the potatoes that I dug up from all of the potatoes that I planted:

For reference, the largest is about the size of a half dollar. :-P

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tough Decisions

So I made the call today and quit my new job. Yep, a week of training (6 hours paid) and one actual shift that I left early for. I'll have worked 10 hours of paid time.

But I thought about it. I'd've been working pretty much every single night I'm not in rehearsal (except Saturdays), I had to drop my jam band group, and it was hellish. I dreaded every single minute of it, I counted minutes like it was my job, and I was freaking the f*** out all day today about the fact that I had to work again tonight.

And I thought, y'know, if a single $8.50/hr job is giving me this much stress and grief, I don't need it in my life right now. So I applied online to work at the grocery store and called in my resignation.

'Cause really, working at the grocery store is about the level of thinking that I want to be doing for a part-time job. Please please please ask me to break down boxes for three hours. I'd love to get paid to do something that mindless. But actively try to get money out of little old ladies on Social Security when they tell me that they'll be dead before anyone's elected anyways? Yeah, not my bag. I also don't care enough about politics or the democrats in general to sell it convincingly.

Here's the problem with the job I had. Even if it's not cold calling, even if it's people who have given before and want to give again, no one wants to be called. Period. They also don't want to be upsaled. Upselling is the least enjoyable task I can think of. I had problems with it at LUSH too. I think that if someone's giving you money, you should say 'thank you' and end the call.

Bah. Over and done with, and I know yet another category of job that I can't do! (The list now has 2.5 items: housekeeping, sales, and a maybe for restaurant as I got badly burned in my last restaurant job.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Bit Sheepish

So, as well all know, I'm a cheapskate. Remember the scarf that I reverse engineered in order to not pay $7 to the designer? Well, my pride and close-fisted-ness has struck again. This time, it's a bag.

Look at this pretty little bag. It's got little fold away pockets for your jars and it looks solidly made. $27 for a bag? Nuh uh. But oh look! You can buy the PDF pattern for $5! Still not paying $5. So I figure I'll just make it up. How hard can it be? She gives a required materials list and measurements.

And here's where I screw it up.
The bag measures 9" tall, and 12" wide when laid flat.

Does that look like it's wider than it is tall? No! So between her using the wrong words and my not checking with the picture, I have a bag that is wider than it is tall.

This also means that I have a ridiculously large opening which flaps around. So I added little button tabs to keep it reasonably sized. So my bag looks absolutely nothing like hers, in addition to being made in a different manner, I'm sure.

Things That I'm Sure I Did Differently:
-- dimensions. Duh.
-- I can fit three jars, but have only two holders. Whoops.
-- I opted to have all of the lining pieces firmly attached to the outer pieces, instead of making two bags and attaching them together (which I think is what she did).
-- I didn't use fusible fleece, I cut up an old skooshy curtain and machine-quilted three pieces together for the bottom and for the jar holders.
-- I literally threw this together in a few hours. I think the original is a bit more planned and perfected.
-- I was too lazy to make straps. So I stitched together two lengths of ribbon (the red) anytime a strap was called for (also when one of my sides came up short).

So, that's my little fail-lunch-bag. I'mma make another one, and hopefully this one will come out a bit better.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Banana Crunch Cake

My friend M was supposed to stop by today. She's on a diet that is now dairy and gluten free and LOVES sweets. I figured I'd try to throw something together. Pros: it's delicious. Cons: M isn't coming over and I have to eat it ALL (Mister's experimenting with whether or not avoiding sugar and alcohol will cure what ails him. You don't want to know.)

CHANGE OF PLANS! M literally just called me and said "f--- it I'm coming over". I knew she couldn't resist a sweet. :-P

But here's the recipe, for what it's worth. It's all stuff I have in stock, and I now have TWO friends who are gluten and dairy free... both named M (actually their names are both unusual and ridiculously, eerily similar).

Banana Crunch Cake:

-- gluten free mix (I have a biscuit/all purpose mix in stock)
-- oil
-- non-dairy milk (I used coconut)
-- sugar
-- granola
-- banana
-- cinnamon

I oiled the bottom of my cast iron frying pan and preheated the oven to 350F. Put a healthy amount of gluten free mix in a bowl (about 1.5-2 cups). Add 1/4 c. of sugar and a pinch of salt if desired. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and 5 oz or so of milk. Basically, you want this to be a thick batter, but still thin enough to pour.

Pour into the frying pan and even out all the way to the edges.

Sprinkle a layer of granola over the batter.

Slice a banana very finely (I used a frozen banana -- worked like a charm -- just peel it AFTER slicing) and put slices over the top of granola.

Sprinkle a crap ton of sugar on top (around a half cup maybe?) and some cinnamon.

Put in the oven until batter is cooked through.

** Optional: I added more sugar and attempted to caramelize the top. I just had a few burned sugar spots and lots of non-melted sugar. Eh.

But this is delicious! I think the next time I make this I might try to make it an upside down cake.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Surprise Gifts

K -- let's not mention any of this to the parentals, ok? Mom and N are no longer really on speaking terms...

How did I forget to mention this? As many people who know me in person are aware, Mister's sorta-aunt N is very close to me. She's the significant other of Mister's uncle, but is already married... it's a nasty situation, and I hope to never need to make such a decision.

She is the one who was to host our wedding. She is the one who bought me my sewing machine (the glorious thing that it is!). She is the one who went fabric shopping with me and my mother. She is the one who lent me Mister's Great-Grandfather's and Great-Great Grandfather's autobiographies, feeling that if I was marrying into the family I should know that Mister gets his craziness honestly.

N is also the one who saw me at my lowest ebb the week that Mister and I called things off. I hadn't eaten for 30 hours (and not much when I last ate) and I was a messy ball of emotions. She is the one who emailed my mother and said that I was probably in emergency situation-land.

And thus, my mother appeared on the doorstep the next morning and apparently blithely told N that she must have been hallucinating. (My mother told me that N emailed, and also told me that she thought I seemed ok. I told her that yes, I was -better-, but not -good-. I guess it lost a bit in translation -- my mother apparently was quite rude, even if unmeaning to.) N told me later that if she'd had the legal authority to do so, she'd have checked me into a hospital that night.

I saw N again the evening of the fourth, when Mister and I went to his kid sister's concert. (It was fabulous btw -- I had no idea she had coloratura chops! Still a lot to work on, but she's only 16. She'll do fine.) I told her about how the trip to NY went (disastrous) and the initial discussion with my parents (worse than a disaster -- almost abusive). She was incredibly upset and worried for me, and told me that if I ever needed her, she was around. Which I appreciate. As I've said, she's very dear to me, and even knowing that she's technically part of Mister's family, I rely on her a great deal.

[My relations with my parents have become much more cordial. My dad apologized for things that he had said in haste, and my mother has probably forgotten what she's said. I have come out of it with no long lasting scars, and perhaps it was better to clear the air among the three of us. I have finally reached the point where I can talk on the phone with them, as opposed to communicating my email. Perhaps I was more hurt than I though...]

Monday the sixth rolled around, and around 5pm, N showed up at the front door. She had two dozen tea roses, a bunch of bananas, St. John's Wort, and multivitamins. All for me. I put the roses in a vase and ate a banana. I was incredibly grateful for the St. John's Wort, as I didn't have any in the house. I had chamomile, but that will merely give a gentle calm, as opposed to actually helping mood. N told me how a friend found that her mood and well-being were greatly improved by having a banana every day and drinking four tall glasses of water. The vitamin and the St. John's wort I didn't need telling to know how they can help bring some balance.

I've asked Mister if he's noticed a difference the week I've been taking these, and he said that there has been a significant improvement in my mood. Which is fabulous. I'm not sure how much is the St. John's Wort and how much is just having life going pretty well. Perhaps it feels like it's going so well BECAUSE my mood was already lifted by the St. John's Wort. I don't feel like experimenting with it right now. :-P

I am incredibly grateful for the effort that N continues to put into me and I hope that no matter what happens between Mister and I, we will be close. She is one of my favorite people.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pretty Awesome, Actually

So, life is working out for me right now.

Firstly, I have a sweet apartment. I move in September 1st, two roommies, both dudes, both audio engineers. The one is more awesome than the other, as one reminds me a great deal of Jack Black. Eh, whatevs. But it's ridiculously cheap and near my friend J's house (which is where we've been having band practice of late). It's a third floor walk up, roof access, garden if I want (it's a jungle currently), screened in porch, an awesome big, black cat named Sgt. Pepper, and a WORK SPACE. My one roommate does a lot of bike repair, and I'll probably have my reed making supplies in there. Looking forward to moving in!

Secondly, I have a job! And I can work around school and ensembles. It's at a Call Center close to my home, where I'll mostly be calling for donations to political campaigns. So yeah, it's sales, but it's money and it's FLEXIBLE scheduling which is amazing. It's three shifts during the week and one during the weekend. Just what I need.

Funny thing about the call center, I missed a call from the manager last Friday (I was underground). As I'm sitting in my new apartment yesterday, hanging with my new roommies, one of the girls who is moving out mentions that she not only WORKS at that call center, but is really good friends with the manager who called me! So I stopped in personally today, filled out the application, did the interview, etc. while of COURSE dropping the name of the woman I met yesterday. :-P She of course swore up and down that she's known me forever and that I'm awesome. Serendipitous.

Oh, and the third thing that's awesome right now? Mister and I are on good terms. We're pretty much dating again, but we're both in therapy and I'm moving out. All of these are to help break the bad habits that we keep falling into. I'm still in this apartment until the end of the month, and we've both noticed old habits luring us in -- like my calling him all the live long day and cooking dinner for us and him buying me coffee in the morning. There's good reasons why we've been together for over five years, and there's good reasons why we need to work on the relationship. We both think that my moving into a different apartment (that'll have cool people! and a kitty!) will help break my dependency issues and be a non-subtle reminder to our thoughts that things are different and should be different.

It's funny though, with all of my books off of the bookshelves, Mister doesn't have enough books to fill ONE bookshelf -- much less the three that he has. Oh well.

I'll have to do a post soon figuring out what I'll need for the new apartment. But I'm so excited that life appears to be looking up!

Monday, August 6, 2012

No One to Brag To

I received books, thread and supplies for tatting for my birthday this year from my mother. Having had nothing better to do the past few weeks, I picked it up.

Needle tatting was definitely easier as a first go -- somewhere between casting on stitches in knitting and making friendship bracelets. But I couldn't figure out how to translate instructions for shuttle tatting to needle tatting.

So I attempted shuttle tatting. The first go was a horrible mess. I didn't understand the instructions, and there's a PAGE TURN in the middle of all of that. I put it back down. A week later, I picked it up again. Much better! But I stopped paying attention and got a nasty knot and couldn't unpick enough to make it worth while.

so yesterday I started anew. It is going well, and I have 13 little linked up rings. I'm not sure how far I'll take it, but the patter does also have a second row. I'm on Lesson Two in my book. I still cannot make any actual lace pattern, but I'm tatting.

And I don't know anyone around here who understands a) how complex this is and b) how exciting it is to learn a new lace making technique. I'll go put on black eyeliner and Bright Eyes and go sit in the corner with my tatting now. :-P