Monday, November 24, 2014

Monday media and musings...


in which our plucky heroine takes an imaginary Swedish journey...
watching this reminded me that this bright world is so full of all number of things, plus it is fjord horses in the snow...
:::

For the last two weeks, in scraps of spare time, this was in process, both the motifs inspired by the Valsgarde embroidery from 10thC Sweden, and the hand stitching on the sleeve bands. It will be the embellishment on an undergown for my dear friend Mindy of Blue Cedar House; I'm sewing for her and her husband and little girl, what fun to be making Norse clothes for a whole family...

For SCA clothes I like to combine machine stitching where it is less obvious and hand stitching on the edges and borders where it is visible, as a good compromise to give a handmade look without spending even more days and days stitching and finishing the long seams. (I did that once, to see how long it took; wool is exponentially faster than linen or silk, as the needed seam finishing is a lot less stitch intensive) Something about the small dotted stitches holding down the borders and bands just makes me happy, and often I choose a contrasting color to highlight those and add another layer of visual interest...
:::

Unearthed another four bags of random papers hiding in the living room, but am temporarily ignoring them in favor of sewing and metal activities today... perhaps as an after dinner wind down I might start digging into them, but I really want to make more progress in my "things made" category today! the declutter category is already full for this month (not that the declutter is done, just that there is so much that it is comparitively easy to fill those boxes on my tickybox chart) Truly though, the more declutter happens, the easier it will be to make things and repair things...
:::

Another good thing unearthed in yesterday's declutter was this pattern Vogue 2614, long out of print, for an assortment of jackets, view A is for a moto-jacket, something I've wanted to attempt for quite some time. My intent is to combine the relevant style details with the shoulder and armscye already fitted back in 2005 when I made up KwikSew 2895. There is an assortment of additional inspiration on my moto mania Pinterest board, and I've some really heavy distressed black denim that might be excellent for this. My memories of that job decades ago stitching motorcycle jackets will probably be helpful, as there are some features I want to add, that are not in either pattern, like the armsceye gussets.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

diluvian


...in which our plucky heroine feels a bit like the Red Queen running faster and faster just to stay in one place; it seems like those dang boxes and bags of junk just keep multiplying...

While the rain deluge outside played hob with my numbers of steps walked today, there were instead three bags and a huge box of junk sorted through... While most of what was found was pretty easy to discard, (some to recycle, some to garbage, some to Goodwill,and a small pile of papers and textila to keep) the book reports and creative writing from middle school, and the travel diary from a trip we took to New Brunswick in 1961 are heading into my personal archives.
:::

In the interest of trying new foods, these are steamed Okinawa sweet potatoes. They have a unique savory undertone in the expected flavor, and are chock full of extra nutritional anthocyanin goodness as witnessed by their VIVID purple color. Can you imagine a sweet potato pie made from these! This morning, another batch of candied peel was made, so another batch of quincemeat can happen tomorrow (once there are more raisins, and a pear) The tiny house fridge is now reconfigured for turkey defrosting. Only had to clear off half the interior, so may be able to avoid transferring all the food into a cooler for the rest of the week. Still, a fourteen pound bird is a rounded awkward thing, and a plinth to raise the fridge to a more helpful level may be moving higher on the priority list...
:::

November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery 3 bubblepack windows broken cot
2 Mindy cuffs embroidery * bag to Goodwill
3 Quince syrup - 5 jars * bag to Goodwill
4 Quincemeat - 7 jars * ----------
5 Mindy yoke embroidery * ----------
6 candied peel * ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
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Friday, November 21, 2014

almandine garnet syrup and other progress


in which our plucky heroine feels well preserved...

The quince juice and sugar took a long time to come to the jelly stage, and rather than end up with only a jar or two, opting for five small jars of syrup made more sense... Removing the cores and skins also removed some of the pectin, which would have made the set much quicker, but since the remainders are intended to become Quincemeat, not having core and seeds and skin was needful... nothing this delectable is ever wasted... imagine a drizzle of quince syrup over cardamon ice cream for example
:::

The embroidered decoration for Mindy's undergown is finished, and it has done a great job of disguising the tablecloth linen origin of the fabric... My goal is to have at least one garment apiece completed for each of the Blue Cedar House folks that will be coming here for Thanksgiving next week...
:::

Tonight the kitchen continues to smell heavenly, a warm spicy bulwark against the cold rain and howling wind outside. There are seven little jars of Quincemeat cooling down on the sideboard. What I did differently than the recipe was to substitute an additional quarter cup of chopped up dried apricots for the golden raisins, since they weren't available organic. The limiting factor for quincemeat is that it really needs home candied peel; I am thinking about some sort of sweet/spicy conserve with the several cups of cooked quince yet to play with, though this recipe for membrillo sounds both easy and tasty. And as the remaining three medlars have bletted, there are also a few tablespoons of medlar pulp, maybe comfits, or a wee jar of medlar-apple jam?
:::

November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery 3 bubblepack windows broken cot
2 Mindy cuffs embroidery * bag to Goodwill
3 Quince syrup - 5 jars * bag to Goodwill
4 Quincemeat - 7 jars * ----------
5 Mindy yoke embroidery * ----------
6 * * ----------
7 * ---------- ----------
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10 * ---------- ----------
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:::

Thursday, November 20, 2014

momentum hopefully forward


in which our plucky heroine makes quince jelly syrup and does some chores...

Thinking about air-dryed flannel sheets - so much more sweet-smelling than from the dryer. On the last clear day in a while, it seemed the perfect opportunity to hang laundry outside. I had forgotten that it will still dry well if it is sunny and COLD, but my conversation last week with Sharon C about her Mom hanging out laundry in Colorado in the wintertime reminded me to give it a try, and the sheets and duvet cover are greatly improved.
:::

Rarely does anything follow me home from Goodwill, since the ongoing effort here is to de-clutter. Still, every time I drop bags off there, the siren song calls me inside; this time there was this proto-sleeve-board, that actually filled a sewing room niche. This will need to have some nice padded covers made for the framework, but for $4.99 it seemed like a Very Useful Addition.
:::

Last night I did Something Bad to my already cranky left knee, when stepping down out of the Durango. It isn't preventing me from walking, but there is definitely something Not Quite Right going on. Am hoping that topical anti-inflammitory cream and needles on Friday will help. This is back almost but not quite to square zero again. What seems to happen is that when I feel functional, I don't pay attention to structure and ergonomics, or maybe I'm just clumsy...
:::

Though it entailed going shopping at Target downtown, which is never a favorite activity. the two additional tension curtain rods for bubblepack weatherisation have been acquired. Plus, if you ask at the customer service desk why the shelf price is higher than the "purchase in store" price on the website, they recalculate it to the lower price. I wonder how many folks don't think to ask?
:::

November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery 3 bubblepack windows broken cot
2 Mindy cuffs * bag to Goodwill
3 quince syrup * bag to Goodwill
4 * * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * * ----------
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:::


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday snippets and Monday musings...


in which our plucky heroine is attempting to keep warm by jumping from one topic to another...


Making up various quince preserves always feels a bit like fairytale cookery: the delicious paradisical scent and the transformation from golden spheres into vivid red comestibles.
There will be jelly, even though didn't dig out a scalded cloth to use as a jelly bag, but instead simply strained the cooked chunks of quince from the liquid with a fine mesh screen, so it didn't come out clear as garnet, but more like jasper this time (Jelly or jam is easy when using something so high in pectin, simply an equal amount of sugar as juice, and cook till it tests as jelled, and put up with the usual sort of processing


There will also be quincemeat, which I never seem to have as much of as I'd like for holiday baking. I first found the idea in Nigella Lawson's "How To Be A Domestic Goddess", and have hence turned most of the quince that comes my way into sweet/savory little pies. The actual preserving will happen sometime later today, there won't be much, as only a few quince to start with; really, acquiring a quince tree for the backyard would be a wonderful thing...I have already written several times about things I like to do with quince:

.
what a difference cooking overnight makes...
:::

After covering three of the windows with bubblepack, using all three of the spring-fit curtain rods, my progress halted because I wanted to get two more for the other two large windows... Not only did the local Fred Meyers not have any in the size needed, but they have none at all in any Fred Meyers in the entire city! I already know that the local hardware store doesn't have any... Time to go on the hunt! The curtain rods allow for the application of bubblepack without resorting to sticking it in place with tape, which leaves a mess when removed, and damages the plastic - instead, a casing formed from extra bubblepack holds the curtain rod, which then holds the entire shebang neatly next to the window...
:::

Last week, when I misplaced my planner and bus pass, I needed to get another one, and given how late in the month it already was, ended up with a two week pass... well just washing the car to make it rain, my monthly pass and planner turned up the day after I bought the new one. Since I didn't need two bus passes, and since most of my pals are not eligible for the "honored citizen" pass, I gave away the new pass to someone at Loaves and Fishes (the meals on wheels site near the acupuncture office)... It was a nice day on Friday, cold but sunny, so walking back to the bus stop took me past "Good Food Here", a favorite food cart pod, and lo and behold, the Viking Soul Food cart has returned! Couldn't help but get a home cured salmon lefse wrap, so delicious with fresh greens, pickled shallots and dill cream fraiche! Friday was a good day.
:::

Thinking about SWAP timetable: about six weeks to prep, then eighteen weeks to complete: eleven coordinated garments, of which one may be previously sewn, one may be sewn between now and 26 December and the rest post 26 December (there is an option for also including a purchased garment, but that doesn't apply) So at least one garment every two weeks... Girl will be getting a lot of practice with timely sewing, since my plan includes a sort of double SWAP, both warm under/inner layers, and regular everyday clothing, and my sekrit dress sewing shindig... by the end of April I should have a mostly refurbished wardrobe, but hold onto your hats boys and girls, and fasten your seatbelts, because the sewing machines (and my hand stitchery) will be going like the wind!
:::

November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery 3 bubblepack windows broken cot
2 Mindy cuffs * bag to Goodwill
3 * * bag to Goodwill
4 * * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * * ----------
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:::

Saturday, November 15, 2014

warmer, a start


in which our plucky heroine makes slow progress against the chill winter...

One thing that does help against the howling wind which seems to pull any warmth away from the exterior, is insulation. While actually adding insulation to the walls is a Major Project, and despite the fact that the windows here are actually good thermal layered glass, since the windows are even more cold to the touch than the walls, Something Must Be Done...

I decided that adding at least one layer of clear bubblepack to as many windows as possible would be an inexpensive and simple way to make a difference (two layers would be even better) In the summer I cover some of the windows against the heat with mylar bubblepack insulation, but in the winter, more light really makes a difference, and the mylar is opaque.

It takes longer than I expected to tape together the bubblepack into large pieces to cover the window entirely, but since I've not been able to find any not already cut into one foot wide rolls, it is necessary. I use the scraps to form a channel at the top edge, and a spring loaded curtain rod to hold them in place. Hopefully it will make a difference in cutting down on the air convection and thereby cutting down on the interior cooling.

When I first moved here, I made Warm Window™ quilts, in the form of tidy roman shades, for the kitchen windows, but was horrified to find out years later that the spendy proprietary filling for them is not washable! That cured me of wanting to make more using the readymade window insulation, despite the fact that they do work quite well... Eventually I want to make window cornices, and possibly figure out a different sort of insulated window covering, more DIY and less labor intensive. There are some useful suggestions from the University of Maine. Another possibility is making wooden interior storm windows, that can have either clear (or mylar) insulative layers added as desired...
:::

November SMART goal challenge
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 Norse collar embroidery bubblepack windows broken cot
2 Mindy cuffs * bag to Goodwill
3 * * bag to Goodwill
4 * * ----------
5 * * ----------
6 * * ----------
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:::

Friday, November 14, 2014

an annotated and updated wishlist


...in which our plucky heroine observes how most of what is wished for "that can be given, involves more the gift of time and the sharing of some resources, rather than actual stuff."

I seem to do this every year, in part because every year I take part in Dagmaer's annual Sekrit Santa Gift Exchange, and in part to help my memory be clear about what sorts of things would be helpful, so that if they show up by random chance, the ideas are not buried in the box room of my mind...
Since the requirements for the gift exchange are to keep the exchanged gift either handmade or if purchased to be $20 or less, it seemed a good idea to provide both general guidelines to what I like and do not like, as well as a modest annotated list of assorted Useful and Delightful things:

::: random wishlist notes :::

my favorite colors: The kind of blue that you get from indigo: nightsky and dark denim. The greyish color of natural linen. Taupe. Grey. Soft dull turquoise. The dark black brown of some kinds of undyed sheep wool. Bittersweet chocolate brown. Black.

I do not like chocolate, and am allergic to cherries and hazelnuts...

and have a bit of a weakness for those Japanese mugs* with painterly cobalt and brown glaze, on a greyish stoneware background with little dark speckles. They are from the seventies maybe, I think, but not contemporary... this picture shows some that are currently living here, and I always keep my eyes open when thrifting in hope of finding more in this particular colorway... 

I mostly do not collect things, in particular I don't collect acorn kitsch, even though the house is named Acorn Cottage, nor do I collect chicken things, even though there are often hens in residence... I do collect maneki-neko that are under 1" tall, and have over the years found five, who sit nicely in a wasabi dish on the nightstand...

::: things under $20 :::
(in no particular order)

jewelers hand vise
Tool Girl can never have too many tools, and doesn't have a hand vise... Lee Valley is most reputable, and has a delicious selection of tools and trinkets...

DMT pocket diamond hones
These smaller pocket size hones would be very handy

porcelain fermentation weights
Have done some experimenting with fermenting pickles and veggies, and a weight to keep them under the brine could be helpful

a julienne peeler
Lee Valley is sort of my wish book, they have all sorts of tools and gizmos and hardware and things, and they stand behind what they sell... I have been thinking about getting a julienne peeler because with not eating wheat, making faux noodles from veggies is my new thing

*these vintage mugs, or this one, or this one, could be a good complement to the ones that already live here

a different sort of pocket knife
since the pocket knife I really want is no longer made, this would be an interesting option... can even be easily disassembled and customised...

an assortment of silk embroidery floss
This is the floss that I used on the Viking Collar project, and very nice floss indeed to work with - an assortment in my favorite deep to medium indigo blues would be a real treat!

Noro Kureyon
in the specific colorway #195, which is a discontinued colorway but a great favorite of mine. I love the rustic quality of Kureyon, and have used #195 to make a feather-and-fan shawlette back in '09

Boxwood Storage Tubes
doesn't everyone love small containers... these look quite delectable

this Mary Azarin poster
I love the woodblock prints of Mary Azarian, and while her actual prints are far out of price range, this lovely poster is quite affordable

a small calendar
to hang in the bedroom, calendars are a way of adding changeable artwork to every room, and different every year.

::: things more than $20 :::

this octopus wall hook has been on my radar for several years now. It would make an excellent addition to the bathroom here, and being made of cast aluminum instead of the usual cast iron, would be lighter on the wall and less likely to rust... besides the design of the textured tentacles is really elegant and well balanced.

an amazing piece of handweaving
Indigo, and Ikat, and Diamond twill, all in one!!

white floral scarf
bought one of their scarves a while back, they are a delicate cotton fabric and handprinted in India, this one is black on white, very reminiscent of Elizabethan artwork

sewing eye test mug
Merchant and Mills makes excellent quality sewing tools and kit, and they also have these fun mugs  "Sew Cloth Together..." However, they are only sold in GB as far as I can suss out, and while the mugs themselves are not too spendy the postage is killer...

DMT diamond files in coarse medium and extra fine
Earlier this year Mr Robertson and his lovely wife came to visit, and he showed me a bit of how to better care for the sharpness of my knives, using this tool...

::: rather more spendy, but also Very Useful, things :::

It would be a very good addition to the infrastructure here to acquire an extension ladder. One that is long enough to reach the gutters, or the attic hatchways, and strong enough for someone that weighs over 200 lbs... must needs do a bit more research as to what would be suitable

Hills Hoist rotary clothesline
Imagine my surprise to find that Costco carries the renowned Australian backyard clothesdryer. For three out of the four seasons of the year, outdoor drying in the backyard is possible...

Excalibur food dehydrator
I have several friends that own Excalibur food dehydrators, all quite happy with how useful they are...

stove tec rocket stove
This could be a good option for emergencies, and potentially for camping trips as well...


(anything not yet accomplished 
would still be a most welcome wish to be granted)

  1. company while sorting/organising supplies - the sewing room, and the workroom both need attention, and I make much better progress with someone else there to keep me company, is a lot more fun to sort fabric etc with the option for tea and chat...
  2. garden beds built/load of garden soil & compost acquired - a truck with an open bed, or money for a dumptruck load, and a number of strong shovel wielding folks. I have a plan, just need helpers.
  3. debris hauled away - this involves someone with a truck, and help going all round the outdoors of the homeplace, to remove everything that needs to not live here
  4. massage - for many years I had an ongoing every other week massage trade, housecleaning for bodywork; I miss that. Even a modest amount of attention paid to sorting out the knots and such that have accumulated in the last six  seven  ten years would help me a lot
  5. bicycle maintenance and tuneup - I have no experience with how to care for my bike, having only fairly recently started riding again. Would love to learn more, and know that the useful tool of bicycle will be adjusted and cared for properly
  6. standard concrete block - in sets of four or six... why, 'cos I have a number of plastic barrels destined for rainwater collection, and they work a lot better if they are elevated. Concrete is damn heavy to cart home on the bus.
  7. wooden kitchen cart - to add additional counter space here, will make having more than one cook in the kitchen a lot easier. FORHOJA has drawers for storage
  8. install the hard flooring - this is a big project only because it involves removing the entire contents of each of the two bedrooms before the flooring can go down. Probably a weekend for each room, one day to move stuff out, one day to put flooring down and move stuff back in (just a guess, the rooms are pretty small, but there is a lot of stuff. Or...
  9. wooden shelves on the walls in bedroom and sewing room - more shelving will allow better storage of fabrics and other supplies, as well as guest bedding
  10. cross country train trip in a sleeper car - I want to visit my friends and family in New England, I love train travel, and it would be an adventure instead of an ordeal.

Hmmmm, progress towards these goals is slow, but incremental progress is still progress...  #7 and #9 were completed back in  2011 and 2012. #10 happened this spring, much to my delight! In addition, the building or acquisition of a proper clothesline setup is a vital addition to this list, though a much improved clothes drying line was cobbled together this year, and someday insulation in the walls, though that is a HUGE project indeed... There has been some improvement on #4 , as I am now getting regular acupuncture treatments, which have done a great deal of good for my physical situation. (would still love to also find a massage therapist to swap time with though). The efforts of my Blue Cedar House friends have also done a lot to help with the infrastructure projects here... life continues to improve.