Sunday, March 29, 2015

new little friends


... in which our plucky heroine completes the whole set of sewing box accessories that Kateline asked for...

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday fragments


in which our plucky heroine chooses to focus on what was accomplished rather than what still remains un-done...

My friend Kaitline asked me to make her a wee mousie tape measure as a companion to her kitty face needlebook... I am very pleased with how this project turned out! The mouse is a great combination of useful sewing basket tool and clever toy. I always use horsehair for animal whiskers, as it is durable, springy, and can be stitched with...

:::

in the middle of the night, yesterday...moved the iron multi-hook plant hanger "tree" into the middle of the far backyard, to have a place to hang the the trap, and set up the WHY* trap in the backyard; the instructions specify to do it at night or very early in the morning, since the last thing you want is to be holding a trap full of attractant when the insects are active. I am hoping that by setting a trap, I will reduce the likelihood of future stings by trapping the queen wasps as they awaken. At least that is the concept...
* W.H.Y. = Wasps, Hornets, and Yellowjackets
:::

....and... more baby seedlings are sprouting in the salad table, the warm weather and cool nights seem to be doing this project some good.
:::

In the interest of both less stress and more stamina, when I just missed the bus home from the copy shop late this afternoon, I decided it would be good to walk home; it is just over a mile, and I figured it might be temporally equal with waiting for the next bus... not quite, but it definitely upped my daily pedometer total. I am always seeking a balance between pushing self to improve, and not becoming too exhausted and in pain to function... it is tricky, but if I want my situation to be different, I need to do different things. Plus, as some may recall, two years ago I couldn't walk to the end of the block without crying from pain...
:::

March SMART goals
#THINGS MADETHINGS FIXEDTHINGS GONE
1ginger candied peelsill boards sandedyard waste bin
29 tiny enamelsfront yard weededyard waste bin
39 brooch settings  close plum prunedcompost bin full
4Bill SCA pantsmore mulch spread -
5Mindy undergownapple tree pruned-
6Mindy embroideryarborvitae pruned-
7Mindy aprondresssalad table trays-
8Laurel underdressworm bin renovated -
9Laurel aprondresssalad table planted-
10kawaii coasters--
11blood orange marmalade--
12Seville orange juice--
13mouse tape measure--
14---
15---

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

wishful wednesday... or in praise of procrastination


... in which our plucky heroine discovers that (once in a blue moon) procrastination pays off...

I hadn't managed to get down to REI yet to purchase a new camp mattress, which will complement the new sturdy camping cot for this years upgrade to tourney kit, and make it easier to pack small for transport. Today my REI dividend came in the mail, along with a coupon good for 20% off one full price item... Can you say nice new cushy camp bed at a discount!
:::

The Bartlett pear in the back yard is covered with blossoms this week... I sure hope it gets warm enough and stops raining just long enough for a few pollinators to make it around the neighborhood, it would be amazing to have pears again this year!

There were quite a few pears last year, which were delicious. I found good information on how to ripen them at this OSU site, and managed to do a not too bad job of thinning the baby pears so that the tree was able to produce pears of a good size for eating rather than many tiny pears of extreme silliness...
:::

...and just because this is one of my favorite songs of all time, and because the message is timeless, and because I never stop missing the ephemeral beauty that leaves the bright world too quickly:

Kate Wolf - January 1942 to December 1986 - R.I.P.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

springtime sprouting


...in which our plucky heroine takes advantage of a sunbreak to look around at the new growth in various frontyard plantings...

Today the first bits of sprouting seedlings were evident in the salad table! Since I planted primarily "mild mesclun mix" I have no way of knowing exactly what they are, other than that in a month or two they will be in the kitchen if all goes well! A week of temperatures ranging from 50F+ down to mid 40's seems to have been just right...

and a closer look at a seedling in the salad table

The dwarf lilac, a gift several years ago from Elfrieda, is almost ready to flower...

The horseradish root that my friend Freydis brought me from her garden, is now vigorously sending up new growth

One of the two sad rhubarb that were transplanted into the parking strip planter is now sending up a new leaf; when they first break through they look a lot like little green brains...

The ubiquitous Euphorbia chiracias wulfenii... Some may call it a thug, but I have nothing but good thoughts about a plant that happily makes itself at home in my yard with no effort on my part, yet is easily removed if desired... true, it isn't edible, or particularly good as a cut flower, but that vivid chartruse is lovely.

Monday, March 23, 2015

bitter, sweet, and sour


Yesterday our plucky heroine finished processing the blood orange marmalade - four 8 oz jars and three 4 oz jars. In addition, am experimenting with processing Seville orange juice... How different they are from modern oranges, which have much more liquid and far fewer seeds, not to mention being significantly sweeter. (Seville oranges are much closer to the original period orange)...

It took about a half dozen Seville oranges per 4oz jar of juice, which gives me an even greater appreciation of the use of this in period recipes* and how much status it would add to a dish; this type of orange is only available for a short time each year.

I intend, as well, to do yet more experimentation with the period candied peel recipes, since there is now more orange peel to play with... but for now, the peels will need a great deal of preliminary processing first. The recipes** I have seen involve, a short simmer, then a soak in fresh cold water, sometimes several times a day for up to eight days... not at all the same thing as modern blanching....

Currently there is a small tin of the ginger-cinnamon-sugar (dry) ones in the pantry, and a small jar of the rosewater and sugar (syrup) ones in the fridge; there is going to be a preserved foods competition at Egils this year, and I intend to enter my candied orange peel. And since Seville oranges are only available for a short winter season, I need to get the process underway now, and then store the candy til then...
:::

March SMART goals
#THINGS MADETHINGS FIXEDTHINGS GONE
1ginger candied peelsill boards sandedyard waste bin
29 tiny enamelsfront yard weededyard waste bin
39 brooch settings  close plum prunedcompost bin full
4Bill SCA pantsmore mulch spread -
5Mindy undergownapple tree pruned-
6Mindy embroideryarborvitae pruned-
7Mindy aprondresssalad table trays-
8Laurel underdressworm bin renovated -
9Laurel aprondresssalad table planted-
10kawaii coasters--
11blood orange marmalade--
12Seville orange juice--

* a few medieval and renaissance recipes that call for orange juice:
  calamari recipe, that calls for orange juice (we might more commonly use lemon juice on seafood, but having tasted the unsweetened Seville orange juice, it is equally tart, with a pleasing bitter orange flavor)

swordfish recipe, that calls for an orange juice sauce (I am not sure that I agree with her redaction of the sauce, as she adds in 2 tsp grains of paradise, which appears to be an addition on her part uncalled for in the original, she uses a mixture of modern orange with lemon and lime juice to approximate sour orange)

an orange omelette "for harlots and ruffians" (scroll down, it is towards the end of their blog post)

** some additional period recipes for candied orange peel


Sunday, March 22, 2015

good things come in small packages


...in which our plucky heroine unpacks some very tiny boxes...

There was squee-ing last night when I opened the box! A pair of very wee origami silver Akita earrings, a gift from my pal Raven... they are perfectly detailed and perfectly delightful.

As a young child I spent a lot of time folding origami; I remember how to fold a crane and probably a "flapping bird", but now I want to look up and see if I can find instructions for this design. Honor Feast (this October) has a Japanese theme this year after all...

In addition, just last week I indulged myself in tiny whimsical online shopping treat, intended as artwork components. The reverse sides show counter enamel; (in various colors, much to my delight) somehow it didn't occur to me that they would be made from vitreous enamel...

... and the front sides are elegantly detailed... yes they are pocketwatch clock faces, and no I am not turning steampunk! All of the white ones are true enamel, the black one is painted. I am particularly pleased that some of them are from the Waltham Watch Factory; decades ago my first apartment was within walking distance of that location along the Charles River where it passes through Waltham, though the factory itself had long since been closed...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

not the back forty...


in which our plucky heroine begins a grand experiment in growing salad greens on the front porch...

The "Salad Table" is an idea that has been popularised by the University of Maryland Extension Service. The table itself was built last October, at another of the epic Blue Cedar House visitations; the trays just this last weekend, and with a very modest amount of effort on my part, the whole contraption is now ready for liftoff...

My hope and intention is that this will be an easily maintained growing space and add "zero mileage" nutritious salad fixings to daily meals here at Acorn Cottage. It should make good use of small amounts of salvaged household water that is gathered when waiting for the hot water to reach the kitchen or bathroom faucets during daily activities.  The worm castings from the kitchen worm bin will help maintain the soil fertility; not quite a closed loop system, but definitely a net gain. This project has been on my to-do-someday list for years, and finally has made it into the sphere of everyday reality...
The internal trays, with their bottoms of half inch galvanized mesh, also get a layer of window screening, to keep the soil in place. Fortunately there was a roll of screening in the Useful Pile, so the only materials needed to be purchased were potting soil and seeds

The trays in the salad table have been filled with potting soil and compost and a mixture of mild mesclun greens and lettuces have been planted. A scrap of bird netting is currently laying over the trays, in the hope of discouraging avian vandals until I can add an arching wire mesh cover...
:::

March SMART goals
#THINGS MADETHINGS FIXEDTHINGS GONE
1ginger candied peelsill boards sandedyard waste bin
29 tiny enamelsfront yard weeded
39 brooch settings  close plum pruned
4Bill SCA pantsmore mulch spread -
5Mindy undergownapple tree pruned-
6Mindy embroideryarborvitae pruned-
7Mindy aprondresssalad table trays-
8Laurel underdressworm bin renovated -
9Laurel aprondresssalad table planted-
10kawaii coasters--