Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sunday snippets


In which our plucky heroine makes slow progress and has a cooking revelation...

I've been slowly making progress on the batik popover dress, and have just come to find out that for some reason I cut the entire dress about four or five inches shorter than my usual, so just above knee length. While that would work well for layering, summertime is not the season of layers around here. I will cut out a hem band of a different black rayon, since there is not a smidgen of the batik leftover. In fact I will be edgebinding the neckline with a different fabric entirely, some black/cream lightweight cotton ikat, for the same reason.

At this juncture I need to sew the pocket bags on, bind the neckline, deal with the too short factor, and hem the sleeves. I am wondering about maybe doing something vaguely lagenlook with the hem band, in a drapey lantern sort of way. It would not have the architectural effect I often see, but would truly simplify the adding of length, as a straight strip is infinitely easier to attach and hem than a curved panel.

I also found pieces I'd cut out to make a textured black rayon popover dress several years ago (back in 2012), with a decorated neckline. I began the embellishment and then unaccountably simply put the whole project aside. This will definitely be the next dress in the summer popover collection
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Dinner tonight was sliced cold poached chicken thigh on mixed salad greens, drizzled with homemade "Thai" peanut sauce. I have decided that poached chicken is perfect for hot weather: it uses minimal electricity (drop chicken in boiling water, turn off stove, let cook using residual heat in pan) and if the water is brought to boil in the electric kettle, it generates the least amount of indoor heat as well. Also it is very juicy, even if using the almost-always-too-dry chicken breasts instead, and it adds no additional fat to the dinner. Plus, you get some chicken broth generated, which can become part of breakfast the next day!  Whyever have I not been doing this all along??  Mixing poached protein with steamed or raw veggies, and a little strongly flavored sauce, will surely be an easier, faster, less messy and less caloric way to make a main dish than stir-frying. All the way round it looks like a win, and a tasty one at that!
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I found this information fascinating (and relevant to enameling, as enamel is after all, colored glass) Hopefully Obviously I am not the only one that is curious about what makes all the different pretty colors.

Of course, we do not use uranium any more, but some of those elements are pretty rare, and others very common. Our clever ancestors figured this all out by empirical trial and error over the course of centuries. (I also wonder about the colors that we see in historic enamels that don't seem to be available now, and what material or combination of materials was used to get those colors...)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

more antinomy


in which our plucky heroine is staying awake, and alert, in case some random bit of fire and brimstone brings danger from the sky to my little cottage...

When I was a child, we mostly lived in places where home discharge of fireworks was illegal. On the 4th of July, we would, as a family, along with friends, neighbors, and strangers, go to see the large public displays put on by professionals for everyone's enjoyment. I remember seeing fireworks at the beach, in some of the large fields behind a college, and in the center of the town on the playing fields of the high school. I remember seeing two different fireworks at once from the roof of a house. One memorable year my Dad drove to a different county and bought us sparklers, and some little ground flowers and a spinny bright thing that he tacked to the roof of our playhouse, and we stood around on the concrete patio with a bucket of water and our very tiny, safe, (and probably illegal) home display.

Then I moved to the Pacific Northwest. Or as it feels tonight, the wild wild west... Fireworks are sold from stands, and stores, and booths in church parking lots, for profit or as fundraisers for an assortment of good works. Despite this years intense heat and drought, and the extreme fire danger, for hours the neighborhoods will be full of people setting off loud and large explosions. This is a holiday celebration that is traumatic for many veterans, for any folks who have lived in a war zone, for animals who do not understand why the air is full of BOOM, and for those people who will end up hurt, maimed or burned from careless behaviour. It is, in fact, my least favorite holiday celebration, though I have great love of my home country despite my disagreement with her politicians and behaviours. (I myself have no personal dislike of sudden loud noises, but greatly prefer that to be a consensual activity, preferably at a gun range or some safe place up in the hills, with friends). Perhaps had I grown up here in my adopted bioregion, this variety of isolated amusements rather than a common civic one would seem normal to me, but girl can dream of a world where celebrating the birthday of our country involved activites more constructive than setting off explosives...

Here is wishing all and sundry here in the USA a happy and safe 4th of July!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday fragments... or festival seating in the chook yard


in which our plucky heroine adds to the hen habitat...

6:15 AM and time to let the hens out... and they immediately start heading out to look for food and forage for bugs.  Boneclaw Mother is keeping a wary eye on me. Early morning is the only real time to get anything done outdoors, and so a number of trips between the water barrel and the backyard make sure that the strawberry bed and the baby feral grape are watered, as well as feeding and watering the hens.

Yesterday was 97F in the shade here, 83F in the house. Today is forecast the same. My cope function is broken, am attempting repair with repeated topical external application of cold water. By running the (five!!) fans before bedtime and in the early morning, am able to cool the house down about ten degrees, which helps somewhat. Am cogitating on what other strategies can also help, besides the mylar bubblepack and fan deployment. Wondering about making some type of seasonal "shade screens" for the east and west facing windows; our south facing windows already have permanent metal awnings that some former owner installed (they many in fact be original to the house)

My idea of having the fig trees in pots shade the west window has not proved functional, as they do not provide either dense enough or tall enough coverage to make a difference and actually would prefer to be located somewhere with morning sun instead of shade until the afternoon...
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Managed to limp outside yesterday, before the temperature hit hellacious, and tied up a small 4x6 silver tarp I found in storage to help add some more shade to the hen habitat... For most of the day the area just along the fenceline is shady, and there is shade under the arborvitae and under the chicken house as well, but in the heat, any additional shade is good.
... and another view of the shade tarp, with the "rosebush bower" in the background. Underneath the feral roses is another favored hen hangout spot, since they are in the shade most of the day, shade is not great for roses, but the hens are happy. Last year I let the roses sprawl, and they took up most of the space between the fence and where the hen house is now, with many lovely flowers and masses of thorny canes; this year that space is dedicated for chickens instead.
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July SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 blue tunic for B chook shade tarp recycle bin full
2 grey gown for M - -
3 linen gown for S - -
4 - - -
5 - - -
6 - - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
9 - - -
10 - - -
When I looked at the year chart, am currently running ahead of schedule in all categories save "things gone" and that one is on track (though not ahead), which really surprised me. A bit more attention in July on the KonMari process and decluttering will get things balanced, though of course there will be continued artisanry and repair happening as well.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday tidbits


in which our plucky heroine attempts an experiment...

After poaching the leftover chicken (can you say cold chicken salad?), there was warm proto-broth still in the pot. Rather than simply discard it, or attempt to make soup and fill the kitchen with excess heat, I set up a wee folding table outside the back door, and have the crock pot plugged into the outdoor outlet. I'll be adding an assortment of veggies, and should have some tasty soup and a comparatively cool kitchen.
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These two vintage Walt Kelly books were on our bookshelves in my childhood ("oh look, cartoons... hmmm... pretty weird cartoons), and as my folks are decluttering, I asked them to send them to me. The books are a little battered by the years, but I cherish the connection to my own past
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Sunday, June 28, 2015

roller coaster


our plucky heroine has had a week, and a weekend, of crazy ups and downs...

between dealing with my injured knee, trying to keep the house cool, and my beloved mother having mysterious scary medical issues (on the one hand) and the wonderful kindness of friends and family, and more delightful social time in one week than I usually have in a month (on the other hand) it is no wonder girl is exhausted. Fortunately have managed to keep my balance, more or less, and to keep both the hens and most of the assorted vegetation alive.

On the sunny end of the front porch, the San Marzano tomato plants are in a self watering planter box sitting atop two galvanised pots, and prunings of the plumtree from earlier this year make excellent support stakes. I will lash more crosspieces to the upright stakes and construct an "art project" to help keep the plants upright. They should do much better now in fertile soil that will not require twice a day watering. As I am not going away on any camping trips this summer (see torn meniscus) I should also be able to restart the salad table with extra daily attention, as our far too hot June weather caused all my spring greens to bolt and become bitter.

Mindy is so much help when she is here, my yard looks tidy and loved because she has skill and vision. My front walkway is all tidy, the last remaining brush from pruning earlier this year is cleared away for composting, and the crocosmia have come full circle from FjordsEnd and are tucked into another self watering planter box (next to the fig trees) as a temporary home over the summer. They will eventually be put into the ground to grow and spread.
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Tiny peppermint cutting grew roots, and now is in a DIY mini self watering planter pot, made from a salvaged pop bottle. Since I never drink the stuff, it is a OOAK little project, but will be very handy to keep the mint alive and moist this summer. This is my favorite culinary mint, so I hope to eventually have it fill a larger planter on the front porch.

An assortment of culinary herbs growing here is such a simple way to add variety to my everyday cookery, and after taking the gardening class earlier this year, it was surprising to note how many useful plants are already here, planted over the last ten years: sage, thyme, winter savory, rosemary, lovage, horseradish, and salad burnet. Sadly the spearmint went to the great compost pile in the sky, but hopefully I can nurture this peppermint well and carefully.

Our long dry summers really make it clear that this is a Mediterranean climate not the rainforest most folks imagine. The front lawn is already turning brown and crunchy, and will not need mowing again til sometime in late autumn.
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June SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Jen jumper thinned apples bag to Goodwill
2 grey popover pruned pear cankers bin of twigs
3 blue Norse tunic access to window bag to Goodwill
4 Jen jumper hallway shelf bag of books
5 peach gown for L yard mowed bag of books
6 - bigger chook yard bag of books
7 - pear tree gone bag of books
8 - fence gaps filled bag of books
9 - arborvitae pruned yard waste bin
10 - - driveway brushpile

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday snippets


in which our plucky heroine expresses her hatred of the hot yellow cloud...

Portland weather forecast for the next ten days! It would be a lot more bearable if it cooled down long enough and far enough at night to allow the house to cool down. Today my Blue Cedar House pals got up at 5AM so as to allow for helping with my yardwork, the mowing and weeding that are too much for my injured knee right now. Mr Blue Cedar has added another line of fencing to the backyard to expand the hen habitat to an additional shaded area. The hens are most unhappy, and stand around in the shade with their little beaks open and panting. I tried adding ice cubes to their water, and will hang some shade cloth over additional parts of their pen.
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I have removed five grocery sacks full of books from Acorn Cottage today. My friends helped me, not by taking the books themselves (that would overwhelm their little home instead of mine) but by driving me to the two closest locations of the renowned Powells City of Books where I exchanged a bunch of the books for over 75 USD store credit. (probably enough for two or three reference books at most) The books that Powells didn't want I first offered to a friend of mine who has a small independent used book shop, and the ones she didn't take went to the thrift store on the corner. I know that another deep sorting of the bookshelves will happen at some point, but the tall pile of "make these books go away" is now gone from my hallway!
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June SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Jen jumper thinned apples bag to Goodwill
2 grey popover pruned pear cankers bin of twigs
3 blue Norse tunic access to window bag to Goodwill
4 Jen jumper hallway shelf bag of books
5 peach gown for L yard mowed bag of books
6 - bigger chook yard bag of books
7 - pear tree gone bag of books
8 - - bag of books

Friday, June 26, 2015

one giant step


... in which our plucky heroine interrupts her regularly scheduled broadcast of hens and assorted handcraft to take joy in the tectonic shift that moves our country a little bit closer to the best of all possible worlds... Marriage (and families) not broken by law but protected; we have come a long way, with much effort, to a place I didn't expect to see in my lifetime*...

"Love is love, no matter who, no matter where..."

* I remember being on Boston Common for some of the rallies mentioned in the song. The world can shift, and change for the good is possible, however unlikely it may seem at the time. Happy I am that friends who want to be married, now can be, and that their love, and the families they are raising, will not be forced outside the law. Incremental progress can lead to great change.