Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Yup, it's that time of year again. Nothing maudlin or startling to say except that I wouldn't be 21 again for anything.
- This year I've continued to learn about bread-baking.
- I've really broken the habit of eating out - more importantly I've gotten into the habit of bringing my lunch (where's the "old" derrick when I need him for encouragement? Oh right, he's obsessing about food in general now. Just teasing Derrick - happy 4th blog birthday).
- I've learned how to make a pretty darn good mojito. From scratch.
- I've learned how to use a chain saw - scary but necessary.
- Got a new sewing machine that's very fast and way cool to use.
- There are those new kittens, Archie and 'Rasmus (only 6 mos old and on their way to huge!) and the older cats: reluctant-to-lead Deirdre and "could I have that water on the rocks please?" Gus. Why does a cat decide that ice cubes are good? Catnip dementia setting in? Anyway, hours of entertainment there.
- Planted my first veggies in years, picked lots of blackberries and enjoyed my flower gardens.
- I've done more reading. Right now I'm reading Thoreau! Walden!
- My assignment for the weekend is to undo some problem areas in my current quilt project. Figure out the facings for it too. Maybe make some more postcards for FFAC.
- Oh, and enjoy life and those I love and the weekend.
- And to look forward to another great year. And one with my own name attached!
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Isn't it fun when an idea - a good cause idea at that - catches on? Here's the staff of the International Quilt Festival making postcards on company time. Now that's my kind of job! Since the "boss", Karey Bresenhan, is also honorary chairperson of the FiberArt For A Cause event, I thought it was great that she got her crew involved.
Today was round two of the tomato canning event at my house. Yesterday I did 9 quarts of "whole" tomatoes; today I did 8 quarts of "puree". Why the quotes? Because whole tomatoes in this setting are really quarterd and pureed means that I put them through the kitchenaid's grinder. And let me remind you what a tremendous mess THAT is! The directions should start with: "cover all nearby surfaces with a plastic tarp, and specifically, drape some food covering plastic over the exit area of the grinder such that whatever squirts out goes into the waiting container rather than across the room."
at least I remembered to raise the level of the waiting container to minimize splashing there. But, all good, lots of tomatoes for next tomato-less season. Hope to do some more of that.
In the bread category, yesterday I tried to remember how to make pain au levain. Turned out ok, but not a lot of rise. I think it was too cool, honestly.
Today I made St. H's Light Rye. The presence of big warm things is a good thing for making rye bread. In fact I may have done the unusual and over-risen this bread a bit, having mis-judged how warm the area over still-warm jars of tomato or still warm huge canning pots of water are. But it looks good and smells better and that's what counts.
I'm officially done in the kitchen. Off to get some hand lotion and then do some quilting!
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Just as I had rounded up all my huge pots, my canning pot, my foldup table and my jars for today's project, the phone rang. Lo and behold - the voice in my ear was no other than online baking bud' Fortune Elkin! I won't spill the beans on her reason for calling but it was quite exciting and very sweet of her to call moi for my opinion.
Then it was back to getting those big pots all full of hot boiling water (except for the one full of cold water to shock the skins off those tomatoes). Canning tomatoes isn't really hard work, but it takes awhile because of the prep - washing the jars, assembling the pots, bringing everything to a boil, dunking the tomatoes in boiling water and then cold, skinning them, cutting them and trimming where needed.
I decided to go with hot packing this time around which meant all the bits went into a big pot and boiled for 5 or so minutes (while the canner came up to speed too). Then it got put into the jars and into the canner for awhile. Now the first batch has started cooling (12 hours) and the couple of extra jars are in the canner.
Meanwhile I started my pizza dough. I also began a batch of pain au levain as a change from the ciabatta. I kept looking at the formula going - oh that's right, no added yeast here. OK. Oh yeah, I remember autolyse. Oh yeah - shaggy mass. Got it.
Monday, August 21, 2006
My first martini
Today was one of the worst days at work I can ever remember so I thought it would be a good day to recall my first martini.
Quite a number of years ago, in a job a few jobs ago, I had a terrible terrible day at work. Terrible. I also had a dreadful headache to go with it all.
Circumstances and some encouragement from a co-worker conspired to put me into the office, nay - inner sanctum, of all-powerfulness. The place where, it turned out, my co-workers went to get away from it all and hang with the bigwigs and to enjoy themselves.
I walked in with this less-senior guy and the office owner looked up and said - have a bit? to my co-worker and then looked at me. What have you?, I asked. Martini?
I'd never had one but I figured, what the heck! So out of a finely chilled container, drawn from a bottom desk drawer came a shaker, a beverage container and soon I had an icy beverage in my hand. I sipped. Heaven. I had no experience with gin then, but I appreciated the herbal overtones. And in a moment my headache had disappeared. In another moment or two the day didn't seem so terrible.
While I still consider a martini to be serious stuff, the good news is that I find them to be just as therapeutic as that first sip. And so tonight - my headache has eased and my caring about anything work-related as well. Plus - olives - good for you and your heart and a nice salty snack to boot, eh?
It's time for your yearly reminder:
Sunday, August 20, 2006
People have tried and tried, but sex is not better than sweet corn. -- Garrison Keillorand while you're at it, eat a real tomato or two. Summer's short and corn and tomato season even shorter. Now go.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
An inch and a half of rain was in my rain gauge this morning. The sound of heavy rain at night is so relaxing isn't it? Well, once you get past the urge to run around and close up windows.
In the garden, under the tangle of tomato plants (and is there any smell quite like the tomato plant itself? I think they count on that smell to sell those tomatoes with a bit of vine attached!), under all those leaves - the first red of the first ripening tomato. My late start in planting may reduce what I get from the garden but I'm looking forward to that tomato!
Last night I got all the light areas quilted on my current quilt. Not at all like my normal quilting is all I can say - but I'm sticking with it at this point.
Warm, dense and threatening more rain at the moment. Time to make the pizza and bread. Do some wash. Act like a grown up person. Do the dishes.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Ah loyal reader (or two... or up to 30 or 50 or so a day... yes I know you're out there even if you will not leave a comment...). Sorry. As I was saying, loyal reader(s), perhaps you were waiting for an update. Maybe not.
I savored the zucchini. Grilled with a bit of onion. Delish in a most summery way.
What else? The plant that masquerades as something else (pot, for instance) is in lovely bloom - cleome! Lovely. And don't you know that as I stand and admire the un-munched parts of my veggie garden, I see more and more tenacious perennials! Things like lambs ears. Rose. Mallow. Doesn't it give you a great feeling that plants endeavor on, even when all around them is weedy and neglected? It should.
After messing around and trying things out and buying a second-choice batting, I listened to myself and a few well-versed friends and found a wool batt. I then sliced off a bit of that batt and messed around with it. Perfect. Loved the results. Went back and practiced a bit more on my line drawing mockup. Still good.
what wasn't good was that the new Juki still doesn't have an insert for my sewing table. So everything felt bad. Wrong angle, wrong height, blah blah blah. Finally I said - let me try the mighty bernina. Perfect. So easy, so smooth. I sat back and thought - what's important here - quilt with the new machine or do it right? I went to bed.
Tonight I came home, had dinner. Came up and cleaned and oiled. A little more testing and then on to the hyperventilation-causing event. It's ok. Very committing because it involves a lot of going over little areas. There's no un-doing this. First little section is done. On to the next.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
I feel like the kids must feel - that whooshing-by of the end of summer. We had a couple of cool august days (and nights! One night it was 46F!) which made me think of going to summer camp and being glad for an extra blanket. At work things are trending to the angst-filled back to school thing. Parents with kids that don't want to acknowledge them, don't want to ask questions about whatever it is they need (you know, lest the parental units see that they don't know everything...), parents with a lot of separation anxiety going on, blah blah blah. It will all be over in a few weeks thankfully.
Meanwhile, I started to layer my quilt last night and don't you know, I need to do a little work on one of the squares. Thankfully it's at an edge. Pain in the patooty though to sew it back in, given that the whole thing is pinned. Oh well. Do it right, etc etc etc.
In the next day or two, I'll be harvesting my first zucchini from the couple of plants nestled along the front edge of the yard. This is very exciting, if only because the front yard isn't quite the salad bar for critters that the back yard is.
I spent quite a bit of time over the weekend chopping down stuff and hauling it around. Thinking some evil thoughts here, but little by little I'm catching up. I think I'd really get the use out of a little chipper. I'm much better at chopping down than I am at hauling, and just think of the mulch!
Guess that's all for now. Better go and remake that one little square and sew it back in.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
New photos and some odds and ends
I've updated the page o'postcards to show all of this first batch. Enjoy!
One of my online buds is pulling the plug on her QA addiction/obsession/time-wasting and I wish I would do the same.
How many ads where buildings come crashing down into the street below do I have to complain about? These will NOT make me buy your product, no matter what the product is. Um - that's just so wrong an idea for an ad... Do I need to explain why?
Hope all you "No I'll NEVER have a mac with an intel processor" people are out there rummaging up your last mac from the remaining stores of G4's and G5's. Got to play with the first new Mac Pro to arrive in the store today. Oh my - that was creating a lot of lust in all of us, myself included. Oh my. It's just beautiful. Beautiful. And did I mention fast?
Many thanks to the two guys from my Tripod days who showed up at my workplace today - was great seeing both and gave me a lot of hugs and ok, flashbacks. Gongs, my first sighting of a powermac G4 (when they were tres new and so exciting!), finding ways to explain the 'net in English, plain English... all that free coffee and Fresca, catered lunches, massages. What's not to like about dot com flashbacks?
The scary part
So here I am again, at the scary part: that confluence of completed top, show entry deadline and not a clue. Not a clue in my brain as to how to quilt this thing.
This is the part -- and I did write it down last time -- where Naomi says to me and I quote "you're going to quilt the hell out of it!"
OK, but how to deal with all those little short lines? Those color and value changes? Ignore the whole thing? I don't want to lose the shiny little dashes of color that are the silk strips.
I guess I'll start by auditioning some thread. Yeah that's the ticket.
Friday, August 04, 2006
I heard this morning that my quilt Green to the Power of Pink won second place in the traditional category of Quilts For Change which opens on the 10th. That was a nice phone call to receive first thing in the morning.
I have two other quilts there: Red Sky Red Sky and Shine.
Here are the first postcards I've made for FiberArt For A Cause. These and many others will be sold to benefit the research of the American Cancer Society at the International Quilt Festival in Houston this fall.
These are all 4 by 6 inches.