Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday tidbits


There are three Asian garnish cutters in my box of cookie cutters, a flower, a butterfly, and a horse. The horse (our plucky heroine was born in Year of the Horse) was a souvenir from one of the trips Bill and I took back in the 90's, back when we went down to the Bay Area every winter to sell our wares at West Kingdom 12th Night.

It was a respite from the grey damp coldness, to walk in the sunshine, smell the jasmine blooming, and usually a side trip to San Francisco Chinatown for pot stickers and windowshopping the gemstone displays. Those days are long gone, along with the prosperity that allowed them, Bill and I travel separately for years now, but the memories are bright, bright as the gold of grapefruit still is...


Since the candied peel came out quite soft this time, and since I pared it fairly thin, it seemed like a fun idea to try making decorative shapes, just to see if it was possible. Though this would be pretty difficult to do at any large scale, the results are quite impressive! Usually all I do is cut the peel into strips, either as an ingredient or as a confection; for my dear father, I have been known to dip the candied peel strips into dark chocolate...

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Since it has been a month from when I began the Great Pokeberry Experiment, today was a good day to add some wool to the dyebath. The berries have been soaking in white vinegar since October. Last night I mordanted a small amount of cream color fingering wool in vinegar, the proportion is 1/2c vinegar to 4oz of wool, but I didn't use anywhere near that much wool, so used only a tablespoon full... My neighbor friend Molly came over with a small amount of wool to try it out too; the wool will marinate in the cold dye bath for a week. Even on first dipping it into the jar, it has a splendid red color...

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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...
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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...
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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...
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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.
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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...
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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 * ----------
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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
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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...
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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?
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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 * * ----------
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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.
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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.
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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...
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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?
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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 * * ----------
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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:

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what a difference cooking overnight makes...
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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...
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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.
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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!
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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
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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...
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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 * * ----------
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