Saturday, February 17, 2018

Year of the Dog, or the Crafternoon that wasn't..

in which our plucky heroine is sad...

in honor of Lunar Year of the Dog, which started yesterday, I decided that the Crafternoon this month would have an Asian potluck theme, mostly because I also wanted to try making these pot stickers, that my sister in law Barb made for their Superb Owl shindig.

Assembling the pot stickers was much easier than I imagined, given that I could purchase the wrappers at Hong Fat grocery over on 82nd; making the wrappers is, I imagine, the hard part. (also, and incidentally the ginger hands at the market there are about three times the size of the ginger at my local market, and a lot fresher) Actually filling and folding them did not take as much time as I expected, and they freeze well. I will probably make them again. In a while. Because no one at all showed up today, so I have a LOT of uncooked pot stickers.

I did cook up a few of them for my lunch though (and they were delicious), and made some progress afterward on the final edge-binding on my Alabama Chanin style cardigan, before I succumbed to my sad heart and decided on an afternoon nap. Tomorrow is hopefully a better day. Not sure if Crafternoon is an idea that has run its course? Maybe a more specific invite with RSVP rather than the open house mode? I try and remind myself that it isn't about me, but merely that my friends have busy and complex lives.

tasty savory homemade pot stickers


Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday fragments

in which our plucky heroine struggles to shift focus...

Note to self: make certain burners on cooktop are turned off and cool before reaching across to deal with back of stove. Now I need to patch my bathrobe! Still, all is well that ends well, could have been much worse. Did I mention I hate my range... a gas stove is visibly either hot or off, an electric burner can be HOT without being visibly hot. Someday, if I am really really good, I will get a gas range for my birthday...
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Dishes are washed by hand here, as the 1950's kitchen has no mechanical dishwasher. Rather than use a sponge, my preference has always been for using dishcloths, which can get changed out fresh every day (or more often if needs must). I had, for a while, been using ones hand knitted from cotton yarn, that I made during my recovery from surgery five years ago, but truly, I loathe knitting with cotton yarn, and as those were wearing out, I came up with an alternative...

The oldest towel in the linen cupboard was worn thin and soft, while still quite sound (unlike our plucky heroine, who, though soft and cuddly, is neither thin or quite sound) I decided that rather than spend hours and hours of unpleasant knitting to create useful kitchen helpers, that cutting up said towel and serging the edges would serve my purpose much better. It took less than an hour altogether to cut the towel into suitable squares and run them through the serger, and now I have many more good dishwashing cloths, and have given that at least fifty year old towel a second life...
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Would that it were so simple to sort out health issues... two days ago I woke up with my right ankle screaming at me, for no reason I could discover. If acupuncture and massage doesn't shift the pain, I will have to make an appointment at the clinic to get seen by a medical practicioner, and get some idea of what is going on. There is no external indication of injury or inflammation that I can see. Sometimes it seems obvious why our lives are finite. Pain makes me tired and dysfunctional.

I have been trying to make my peace with my legs being out of warranty, ever since the brunch incident almost three years ago, when I tore the meniscus on my right knee, which eventually, while I cannot say it actually healed, did calm down. I have been dealing with my gorram left achilles tendon since summer 2016 which varies in pain but never actually stops hurting. To have both my legs yelling at me in entirely different types of pain with every step is akin to listening to dissonant sounds all day long and about as aggravating.
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Slavic scroll blank deck broken downcracked water barrel
2 another A/C sleeve dwarf pine plantedbag to Goodwill
3 grapefruit marmalade- landscape cloth
4 Seville marmalade - yard waste bin
5 new garden bed- -
6 blood orange marmalade x x
7 17 dishcloths x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

it's awesome...


in which our plucky heroine gets a little bit spicy...

The very last of the tomatoes in the freezer are about to be turned into Awesome Sauce. My plan to gradually shift the freezer contents onto the newly cleared pantry shelves, by transmogrifying them into shelf stable condiments and preserves, is proceeding well. As well, my lovely next door neighbors are also fond of Awesome Sauce, which means I can gift them with some as thanks for all the times that they watch my hens on the rare occasions that I am not home.
So simple, and so tasty if it is made from homegrown tomatoes. The times I have been gifted with tomatoes, I simply chuck the ones I do not immediately eat into the chest freezer in a bag. They need no preparation, and the process of freezing means that as they thaw, there will be a span of time when it is easy to slip off the tomato skins, which otherwise would entail faffing about with dipping the fresh tomatoes into boiling water, and then into ice water in order to skin them. I prefer the texture and taste of condiments made after removing the tomato skins. The almost defrosted tomatoes, either halved or whole, are easily chopped up in preparation for the low slow cooking down of the future Awesome Sauce (aka British Chili Jam)

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It has been a treat to ride about on my bike now that Farbjorn refurbished the chain with the dry lubricant... no more grindy-squeaky sounds, and it runs smoothly once again. I sped off to the local grocery store today for a few necessities, after my return from the Asian grocery earlier where I purchased gyoza (pot sticker) wrappers and ginger. I plan on making these dumplings for my crafternoon/stitch-n-bitch shindig on Saturday, as a nod to the start of Chinese Year of the Dog. It will be a noble experiment, as I have never made pot stickers from scratch before, but my sister in law made them for Superb Owl snacks, and if she can do it, I can too!
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Making slow progress on my SWAP sewing, but am now in the last stages of my Alabama Chanin style cardigan assembly (adding edge bindings to finish it) and then will be adding snaps for a front closure. I suppose then I shall need to decide what to sew next... probably the plaid wool pinafore, as it makes sense to get that put together while it is still early in the year and cold out! I am still amazed that fabric acquired at least ten years ago is such a perfect match.

I also am considering trying out a new to me pattern, the Sewing Workshop "Haiku Two" jacket. After reading Martha's blog post about the one she just completed, it occurred to me that it might be a good option for a loose fitting overlayer. The reviews on Patternreview all make note of how oversized it is, which means that it will likely fit without my needing to do serious pattern alterations, and the half raglan sleeves mean that my eternal bugaboo, my ridiculously narrow shoulders, shouldn't be an issue. Plus, gigantic pockets!! I have some textured indigo linen, which will hopefully have enough drape to work with the pattern.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Monday musings


in which our plucky heroine notices improvements...

heart beet!

I love Green Zebra, my local mini grocery store. They have enough of a selection to be useful, they are within walking distance of Acorn Cottage, I get a 10% discount on fresh produce, and they have a sense of humor that adds to the whimsy and wonder in the world
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It was a very productive weekend with my Blue Cedar House pals. The rotted stupid deck in the backyard has been reduced to a pile of flinders in the middle of the backyard, and next month they will borrow a pickup truck so we can take the debris to the dump. Farbjorn also then raked up all the landscape cloth, picked up all the broken glass and trash that was underneath the deck, and then used the garden fork to loosen all the soil and then smooth it back out from the lumpy hillocky dangerous contour that was the result of Former Owners mistakes.

rotted deck flinders that need discarded,
with smoothed ground just visible behind


new front yard quarter circle garden bed



While all the deck demolishment was happening, Thora and I created a new small garden bed in the corner of the front yard near the sidewalk, and planted the baby Korean dwarf nut pine * tree there. I then decided that adding some flowers to the edge would make it look very adorable and loved, so I got a few inexpensive primroses and miniature pansies. Now the edge of the yard looks like it had always been that nice.

We also moved the Self Watering Planters over to the edge of the yard as well, where they get lots of sun. I am planning on sticking pea seeds in them for now, as springtime is the right time for that, and it has been years since I managed to do so! Will need to make planter covers from chicken wire to foil efforts by squirrels to replant with random nuts...
*Pinus koraiensis 'Dwarf' 'Nana' (Dwarf Korean Pine) * Full sun * Zones 3-8 * 5' tall * 4' wide * A true Dwarf Conifer, it only grows 5' tall x 4' wide! Harvest your own pine nuts! The Dwarf Korean Pine is a slow-growing, upright evergreen conifer with beautiful soft blue-green needles. Also known as Pinus koraiensis 'Nana'. In Asia, Korean Pine is widely harvested for pine nuts. Prefers full sun in well-drained soil. 5' tall x 4' wide in 10 years.s Hardy to -40 degree
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Slavic scroll blank deck broken downcracked water barrel
2 another A/C sleeve dwarf pine plantedbag to Goodwill
3 grapefruit marmalade - landscape cloth
4 Seville marmalade - -
5 new garden bed- -
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday fragments

in which our plucky heroine changes her plans...

Progress is happening on the handstitched cardigan... the basic assembly is done, and I am planning on stitching reinforcement strips along the center front, and body and sleeve hemlines next (I do this to help keep the edges from curling, which jersey knit is prone to doing), binding the neckline edge, and finally sewing on the snaps! In addition, Marya pointed out that the plaid wool in my Fabric Resource Center coordinated perfectly with the cardigan I have been working on!

I might have to will change up my SWAP plans yet again, and make a plaid pinafore instead of a brown one... The real difficulty I am having is finding fabric that works for what I need to add to my wardrobe, and that also works with the SWAP guidelines, but I think that this revised plan pencils out...

Choose two neutral colours: black and indigo, 3 garments from each colorway

1. black randomwale corduroy pinafore
2. black DWR rain poncho
3. black knit top

4. indigo dark denim pinafore (already made, from SWAP 2017)
5. indigo pinstripe top
6. indigo rayon popover top

Choose 1 accent color: brown, 2 prints: a brown/indigo plaid, and a floral print; one garment in each of these -

7. brown knit top (can use RTW Uniqlo turtleneck)
8. brown/indigo plaid pinafore
9. floral print cotton blouse

2 more additional garments in colors already chosen

10. brown/black flannel top
11. Alabama Chanin style cotton jersey cardigan
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adding a "candy" thermometer to the kitchen tools was long on my list. While I am not a confectioner, it will make judging when jam and marmalade are fully cooked a lot easier. I found one at my local New Seasons, instead of having to order from Amazon, and tested it as soon as I got home. Boiling water at sea level is 212 F. I did have to adjust the dial just a few degrees, which was very simple, as the storage case the thermometer fits into has a hexnut wrench built into the case!
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While out running errands today, I saw a flyer that our neighborhood association will be giving away 25 free fruit trees at the beginning of March. Not sure if I will be lucky in the lottery, but I did fill out the form, because who knows? I am asking for a Smyra Quince, out of the list of trees available, in the hope that not that many people will want a quince, whereas one has been on my list for years now, and I have the perfect spot picked out...
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Slavic scroll blank -cracked water barrel
2 another A/C sleeve -bag to Goodwill
3 grapefruit marmalade - -
4 Seville marmalade - -
5 x- -
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

grateful for: my excellent neighbors to the south

Thursday, February 8, 2018

wistful Wednesday and some Thursday thoughts


in which our plucky heroine struggles for dynamic equilibrium...

Springtime seems to come earlier each year, and while I love the new growth, and the sweet scent of daphne from my neighbor Carla's yard, springtime is always a difficult time of year as well. Being alone when all the adverts are about love and connection always feels a bit like salt in a wound, though I remind self that being single is better than being in a bad or abusive relationship, I look around and see so many of my friends with the kind of ongoing kindhearted daily connections that I do not have and at this point will never have. I try my best to focus instead on what is positive, and to find things to be grateful for every day.
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Am finally feeling better after whatever viral beasties attacked last week.  I managed to get over to Marya's house again for some more scribal shenanigans. I've been doing some custom "blanks", decorated original border designs that will be used when something more individual than a charter is needed. Since these have not been handed out yet, I can't show the whole thing, but here are a few tidbits from the Slavic style one I was working on last week

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There were a few organic Seville oranges at New Seasons this week, and as these rarely ever only occasionally show up, and not every year, I made certain to bring home a few pounds to make up a final batch of marmalade for the year. Seville oranges are closer to the ancestral citrus, and are much more bitter and full of seeds than our more common choices, and are used to make the lovely bitter-ish British style marmalade. I now have another eleven little jars for the pantry.
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I'm beginning to stitch together the A/C cardigan, and had better think about the rest of the SWAP pieces. Methinks that what I really need are either tops or dresses, possibly another cardigan or jacket, or another pair of cropped pants for cold weather layering. My closet is pretty abundant in the pinafore category. Time to go poke around in the Fabric Resource center and see what is appealing...
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Along with SWAP garments, we have the option of an additional "accessory". I am torn between my need for a new hat, and the idea of making a focal necklace from large fabric beads... A while back, I made these red beads for a friend, from some vintage Guatemalan ikat, and it occurred to me that something similar made from some of my other precious ikat pieces would be quite fun to wear.
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Slavic scroll blank -cracked water barrel
2 another A/C sleeve -bag to Goodwill
3 grapefruit marmalade - -
4 Seville marmalade - -
5 x- -
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x
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grateful for - the tender relentless approach of spring, which continually shifts the colors that I see every day. Tree buds and snowdrops, garlic sprouting and hellebore blooming...

Saturday, February 3, 2018

sick for days

in which our plucky heroine is as hollow as a stalk of bamboo...

I have been quite ill for the last several days, and while I will spare all and sundry the gory details, my first comment says it all. The numbers on my scale have gone down almost ten pounds, but I certainly do not recommend this...

I have been sipping this rehydration solution which tastes peculiar but seems to help. Today, as I have been able to stay upright and awake for slightly longer, and as my fever seems to have abated, I cooked a tiny amount of plain white rice, and plan to add it to some of the "broth in a box" which has been next on my list of inputs. I keep the plain broth on my earthquake shelf, and having it here has been a great help when I am feeling too feeble to leave the house to go shopping. Indeed, it would also have helped to have some of the rice noodles on hand, as they cook a lot faster than even white rice. I will add them to the shelf when I am feeling robust enough to shop again. The resilience of a small shelf of easy to fix and eat supplies is not only useful for natural disasters, but more commonly and frequently for the smaller domestic and personal disasters such as illness.
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When I was on my way over to Marya's house for some scribal fun on the day before I was laid low, there was clear indication that wintertime will soon be gone - the hedge at the far end of her street has started to bloom!

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Sadly, the last few days have consisted of only resting and recovery, though I am quite grateful for being able to stay home, and not share being ill with others, and for having supplies here to take care of myself. (I am not looking forward to my utility bill to come, since I have turned the portable heaters on in both the bedroom and the bathroom for the last few days.) It also has become clear to me that my prior strategy of letting things get into a bit of a mess for a few days, and then cleaning and tidying, is not a good idea... I was just getting ready to do a big push, and deal with Mt Washmore and Mt Dishmore when I fell ill, and having to look at a sink full of dirty dishes, or a pile of unfolded clothing, without having the energy to deal with what is usually a minor effort, has been very discouraging. In fact, it has furthered my recovery in that all I want to do is dive back under the covers and sleep some more! But again, not a recommended strategy. When I am actually feeling better, I will do my best to end each day with a cleaner slate!
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Slavic scroll blank --
2 x --
3 x - -
4 x - -
5 x- -
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x
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