Friday, May 29, 2009

Happy Summer!

Well, I know it's not technically summer yet, but it feels enough like it and I figure everyone's in that state of mind, so I gave my blogge and shoppe little seasonal shift face lifts.  I plan on trying to keep up with this for all the seasons, probably recycling the same banners and stuff, but I thought it would be nice to mix it up.  

So, starting summer off fairly well.  Got a new item in the shoppe and have supplies and ideas for a few more to come.

Planted a pecan tree where I actually want one as opposed to all the volunteer ones that keep making my yard work more difficult.

My rogue lantanas (I found another one!) seem to be surviving with promises of thriving despite the fact that I butchered their tap roots whilst digging them up.  I have lost some respect for the tap root of the lantana plant.

I now have to put my baby to bed with a soft blanket, but then go in after she's fallen asleep and take it away from her so she doesn't smother herself.

Got a fancy new haircut at Avant Salon from a lovely stylist named Carianne.  She had tattoos and had her bleached blonde hair all done up like a cross between Gwen Stefani and Rosie the Riveter.  We chatted about the Make Up For Ever line because she liked my eye shadow (for those who don't know, I think this line is mostly used by drag queens and is carried by Sephora).  It was a great experience and I'm really enjoying the cut.  I may be a short hair convert, for at least a little while.

So things feel fresh and new, albeit hot.  Looking forward to changes up ahead and having the tools to tackle them.  Going to start tearing down some sheet rock any day now.  Maybe tomorrow.  I also plan to try to make pitas.  Tonight.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

figs and stuff

Well, I'm in a bit of a slump in the artsy creative world.  I'm also torn.  The most important concern/endeavor is taking care of the bebe.  But what to do besides that? Deciding what for and how to use the extra energy and time that I sometimes have is a bit of a hurdle for me right now.  These are the options:
-prep for renovation in studio
-making things to put in my shoppe

So far, these things are seeming somewhat mutually exclusive and/or dependent on other things that don't always align properly.  I keep thinking that I could get into some kind of routine or at least quasi routine that would allow me to do all of these things, or at least more than I have been managing to do, and do them in a lovely cyclical, fulfilling way.

I take being a homemaker pretty seriously. I haven't gotten into a zone of house cleanliness yet that I would like to achieve.  Part of the issue is all the other things, part of the issue is my apparently old creaky body that doesn't like to bend or kneel very much, part of it is just that I haven't had the self discipline to make myself do it.  Along with cleanliness, I aspire to wholesome, and as old-fashioned as possible meal prep/planning.  I feel to officially achieve some of the goals I have that I need a large chest freezer.  I think I could get into a pretty great cycle of making things like tortillas, butter, chicken stock and rehydrated black beans if I had a large freezer to stock them up in.

This ties into yard work a bit.  I have some rogue pumpkin vines that I'm hoping to encourage and possibly pollinate.  Pumpkins don't always need to be pollinated, but it's good insurance if you want a pumpkin.  I don't think I would be able to time it appropriately for Halloween this year, but it seems I could try to schedule it better for next year if this year shows me it's do-able.  Unfortunately, we are without a functioning lawn mower right now so my pumpkins are surrounded by weedy jungle.  But I get all Little House on the Prairie when I think of growing pumpkins and figuring out some good pumpkin recipes.  Imagine growing my own pumpkin that I would be able to cook up for my little girl!  Imagine growing my own jack o'lanterns!  

My figs seem to be coming in like gangbusters this year.  I'm so excited!  I really hope to be able to successfully cook with some of the figs this year.   Almost every recipe I find calls for dried figs.  I still am not sure on how to do this, but this is the year I will figure it out.  I also have to wrestle every fig I use away from my husband who pops them like tic tacs.  I left some of the taller branches on this year in hopes that the birds and squirrels and stuff could be occupied by those and I can use the lower ones.  We'll see if that pipe dream comes true!  I don't care for fresh figs, but I know I could figure out how to cook with them and be able to enjoy having such a bountiful fruit tree.
I also have a Jujube tree that the Wallaces gifted me with.  I've been reading up on things to do with these fruits as well.  Lee said that it would fruit this year, but I'm dubious.  It looks happy though.

I think I've successfully made my compost heap not so attractive to interlopers and am pretty excited about that, but still a bit jumpy when I go out there.  
My front little planty/flower garden looks nice, but still needs finishing touches.  I'm usually only able to garden at night these days, after little D goes down and there's no sun to do me in.  But I have to be properly motivated to garden in the dark and that doesn't always happen.

I so want to work on the shoppe more but am feeling pulled by all of these other things as well as not having a space to work in yet, but only a space to work on, which doesn't get me any further on crafties right now.  I also have a plan for a line of embroideries, but I don't have all the supplies I need right now for that, so that's holding me back.

I did make some experimental Thai Butter Cookies last night from a recipe that came in this month's Vogue.  It didn't work out perfectly, there were some cookie casualties, but the end result is certainly tasty and inspiring to experiment with some more.  I'm also excited to try a recipe for Brown Butter from the same article.  I also made some Hummus that worked well and I fried up some triangles of tortilla to try to make chips.  The blue corn ones are a little funny, but the only just lightly fried, still chewy flour tortilla "chips"?  Delicious!  Will have to revisit.  Also on the experiment horizon, making my own pasta.  
I've made ravioli with reasonable success, and it wasn't hard.  I just want to go through my cook books and try so many things.

Getting LHOTP fever when I envision myself making all these foods that beget or lead into other foods and even being able to grow some of the ingredients myself?!  Super happy fun times!  Now if I can just choreograph it all and get my rear in gear, things will be quite snappy at the Douglas house!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


So, I cleaned out my fridge and was happily slopping the grody stuff into my compost bin when I saw a rat scurry away from said bin and into a hole in the cement foundation where a tube from my air conditioning unit goes into the house.  OMG!  My jaw dropped and I didn't even know how to handle this information.  I went and did some research because I knew that this would mean even bigger strikes against composting to my husband.  (I've only just barely gotten him to not fight me on it and throw everything away).  Boo.

So, research and a chat with Jack has garnered me these options:
1. poison
2. rat traps
3. sealing up the hole*
4. not composting anymore proteins* (I'll feel bad just tossing them though!)
5. peppermint oil sprayed all around bin
6. planting mint all around bin
7. turning compost more regularly* (I need a pitchfork!)
8. keeping compost more moist*
9. burying the scraps deeper in bin*
10. a WORM bin?!?!
11. Bokashi system

*- these things I can and will do regardless

On 10 & 11: I can't in good conscience just put all my protein/cooked food scraps in the trash!  I'll have to do it for awhile I guess until I come up with an alternate system, but I need an alternate system!  I could get a worm bin, but dude, it's a box of worms in yr house that you feed regularly.  Creep central.  The worms they recommend, get this, are called RED WIGGLERS.  I don't think I can do it.

Bokashi is something I just learned about online.  It's a mixture of wheat germ and molasses and water and some microorganisms (microorganisms supposedly available at Whole Foods).  You can make it yourself.  You need a special bucket, but you can make one for yourself if you're industrious.  You layer the stuff with any kind of food trash, it doesn't matter what.  Once the bucket is full, you leave it covered for 2 weeks. (the idea is to have two buckets that you alternate).  Once it sits, the food trash has effectively been pickled, rendering it very unappealing to critters, so it is safe to put into the the compost without attracting unwanted visitors.  It's also supposed to not be smelly in yr house while it's in the bucket and not be smelly in the compost either.
I've also read that bokashi can be used to feed chickens with and as cat litter that you can ultimately compost as well.
Not sure about spending the money to decompose my food trash on a regular basis.  Wheat germ and molasses and this EM stuff aren't the cheapest ingredients I can imagine, and it seems as though you'd have to make it and remake it fairly frequently.  This will be a sticking point for Bry as well.  

On a lighter note: I'm going to attempt to grow pumpkins.  I don't think they were planted at the right time to hit Halloween, but if this year goes well, I could time it better next year.

Any thoughts or insights are appreciated.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So, my first mother's day came and went without much ado.  I didn't get a formal pressie from husband, but, better than that, it marks the beginning of officially moving forward on renovating our garage into a studio!  The best mother's day present I could hope for.  

(Though when I did feel veeerrrry tired and low and headache-y, the Bears came and made my mother's day, while Bry was at work, as nice as possible, and we had a lovely morning with our mum at her house.)  

This is a project that I have been wistful about since we bought the house 4 yrs. ago.  Yay!  So, along with the fact that her baby was born a bit early, I had another reason to finish up my quasi quilt for Zoe quickly.  Bryan stayed up with me (so did Dicey!) for a long while as I worked in the garage late at night with the door open, sewing like the wind and thanking my lucky stars that my vague memories of quilting a tool cozy for a college draping class basically worked in informing my approach to finishing off the mini-blanket.  We had a fun time, Bryan holding D and playing with her in the grass until she finally went down for good, and then sitting on the car and sketching ideas and chatting with me so I wouldn't be spooked or harassed by the mentally handicapped teen boy that roams our street in the evenings.  We stayed up until 2 am!  But the quilt was done to my satisfaction and we got to deliver it to baby and mama the very next day.  Ah the glory of promised baby projects done before it's too late!  

Note: Bryan and I threw a baby shower for Zoe, one of the godmothers of our baby girl, that had an "Eco" theme along with pointing out that Zoe was wanting some black and white things for baby stimulation.  (What's black and white and green all over? was the line on the invite)  the activity was for people to decorate fabric squares with fabric being recycled from Half Price Books tee shirts.  So, completely using fabric that was already in my house, save for the batting and interfacing, I made this "eco-chic" version of a playmat for baby.  I even used the little scrappies that were cut along the way to pad out the border.  Fun!

So, now that my project that has been occupying my un-air-conditioned garage makeshift work area is finished, we can clear out the garage and start building a wall and putting in outlets and such so that a new era of my projecting can be ushered in.  No more transported messes migrating through the house!  No more using the front room as storage for all my homeless craftiness!  No more worrying about critters making their way into my things left out in the garage!  No more needles left out where Pete will make off with them!  No more woefully unused storage bins!  Oh the things I will be able to make, I can barely contain myself while I begin the probably lengthy process of getting the space to be actually workable.
I know some gal pals are itching for craft nights to be reinstated as well and have been hinting at having them at my place, but oh how glorious will it be to have craft nights in the studio someday!  Yippee!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

project status

I haven't posted in so long.  I have yet to feel like I have any kind of routine that allows for regular updates online at all the etsyfacebooktwitterblogspotflickr what have you.  I tend to do it in spurts, but then I get exasperated at spending too long at the computer all at once.
Everything is in spurts right now for me.  I want to put so much more of myself into promoting my Etsy shoppe, but Zoe just had her baby and Mother's Day is upon us and my front garden is still unfinished, so more time sensitive things have taken the front seat.

I made the hospital cookies for Zoe and Marc.  They were in the shape of elephants and Texas and I was able to use my weird coloured leftover frosting from the ox cake for Nathalie's shower and dressed that up with the rest of my clear sugar sprinkles I had bought for the ox cookie favors.  Marc said he appreciated the sugar rush after their long labor and delivery having left his Marc's Mix in the car.

The quasi quilt is going fairly well.  I have the top and bottom pieced and stitched and pinned like a sandwich with the batting in between.  So all that's left is sewing through the sandwich, cutting the bias strips for the border, lining said strips with interfacing, stitching those together, then attaching around the edge, then, voila!  I will have made a mini-quilt, playmat, tummy time pad thingy.  Hopefully Zoe and Marc and Alden get some use out of it, or at least like looking at it.

Speaking of Alden, he is so cute and has the softest little blonde hair that makes his head feel like a baby kitten.  I'm really thinking of Zoe and Marc and wishing them all the best right now, because it's such a fragile time.

So, in my bizarre self-inflicted quest to learn recipes and make traditional things, I have discovered the Simnel Cake.  This is a cake, popular in England that was made on Mothering Sunday by the kids who had gone away from home to be servants and workers.  They were granted time off to take a cake to their mothers who, in turn, would give them a blessing.  It's a kind of fruit cake with lots of marzipan.  I'm attempting to make said marzipan, the first batch needed tweaking, so I'll have to give it another go after purchasing some more almonds.  This time without peels (I know, Celena told me so, but the recipe didn't say anything and Paula Deen says you're supposed to make something following the recipe first and then figure out how you want to change it).  The peely marzipan tasted good, but wasn't the look I was going for and I wonder if the texture may have been affected a bit.  We'll see.  I think I can use the batch inside the cake though.  I'm contemplating candying some orange and lemon peel instead of just using it plain.  I think I probably should.  I found a recipe, but they have to drain for 4-5 hrs. and then be stored in sugar, so here I sit.

The front garden started strong but then I ran into a lot of dirt mess that is a drag to clean up and makes the brush disposal bags too heavy for pickup.  "Why can't you just compost it Selah?"  Well, funny you should ask, but all the stuff I pulled up has sticker burrs in it and I don't want to spread the seed every time I use my compost.  So there.  I had high hopes when I dug up the rogue Lantana that showed up in my back yard.  It had smaller friends found on clearance at Lowe's already planted and was going to be my nice big one.  I nipped the very end of its tap root though.  I had no idea it was going to be so long and went out there with the naivete of someone who's never run into rogue Lantana before, Dicey in tow.  I thought I was so clever, it would be quick to dig it up, so I laid out a blanket in the shade for D to enjoy a bit of outside while I simply popped the plant up out of the ground and popped it back in where I wanted it in front.  A foot into the ground later, my hands are covered in dirt, it's all caked under my nails and I still haven't gotten anywhere near being able to lift this plant out.  I finally have dug as far as I'm willing because D is losing patience and so am I, so I tug gently, hoping to pull it out intact, but alas, it broke.  I'll never know how much I broke off, but it was pretty skinny, so I thought surely it could recover its loss.  Days later and my rogue Lantana that was so robust and beautiful has only become more and more wilty and droopy.  Unless it has a fighting spirit, it's definitely circling the drain.  Darn those all important tap roots!  I have been doing my gardening at night after D goes down, but my fingernails were all sore from a few days of this and now that all the plants (save rogue-y) are getting what they need, there's no longer the major impetus to push forward.  Plus, Zoe's baby was born early.

Oh well.  No pics, but thought I would share.  Think I'll go candy that peel now.