Sunday, March 29, 2009

A taxing day

I took a break from the 'rithmetic because I couldn't stand not doing anything in the backyard today. I so want to get the garden happening, way more fun than maths. There were sunny gaps in the windy damp, so I picked up quite a lot of the random pieces of wire fencing and stacked it up along one side of the yard, and started moving some of the junk off the StupidDecktm. (After the demolition, I kept a number of the really long wood bits floor joists, thinking that they could be useful for making garden beds. I still need to pull out the nails and cut them to useful lengths. After I finish the taxes.)
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Somehow, I got distracted and decided that putting the borders around the fruit trees would be a good idea. So the two apples and the pear now have scalloped concrete edging, with the partly composted rice hull mulch, and nice little brick centers to keep the mulch away from the tree trunks. The espalier apple and the new pear both have flower buds, and, amazingly, so does the Akane, (which is basically only a single stick trunk about 2 ft high). I cut up another dead-bike inner tube and used it to attach the pear to its tree stakes, and did the same for bitsy Akane.

This weekend I found some garden seeds that I'd stashed away last year, peas and chard and kale; hopefully they will still be viable. I really want to grow greens this year. I've got a dozen seed potatoes chitting on the windowsill, and if it ever gets a bit warmer, I'll be planting them. Maybe this year I'll grow my own colcannon!
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

seeking guinea pigs...

Spring is finally showing her shy face in my yard, the rhubarb is visible, if small, and the lovage I planted last year has unfolded palmate red shoots, reminiscent of peony foliage. Inspired by the gradual blossoming, I've made another springtime sprite, this one a little larger, with more layered and embroidered details. Any task is more fun than the dreaded income tax forms, right? While traveling home on the bus from yet another trip to Gossamer to purchase small felt squares in springtime colors, I realised that teaching a class on how to make these could be good for both me and the shop I buy supplies at. I'll be developing a class outline and teaching handout, and will be looking for a few brave guinea pigs to try making a sprite of their own, in order to get a sense of how much time is needed for the class. If you are interested, contact me, I'll be doing this after April 15.

Finally Acorn Cottage is quiet, after two delightful weeks of houseguests. Lots of talking, sushi and silliness, a trip to the soaking pool at the Kennedy School and a memorable excursion to see Tyr (a metal band from the Faroese Islands) Smokey is sad, she loves having more of the pack around. I miss my friends, but will be more productive now that I'm not staying up all night chatting. My mom will be visiting in a month and a half, and I'd like to get the house and yard a bit further along by then. Tomorrow should be mild, and I plan on alternating time spent on the gorram tax forms with time spent outdoors doing various yard cleanup and garden prep sorts of things.

If it doesn't rain this weekend, my lawn is looking shaggy and a bit dandelionish...I am not lawn-proud, don't water or feed it, would rather have flowers or food, but that takes time, transport of materials, and financial resources that are allocated elsewhere for the time being. An electric mower keeps it within bounds, with a really long extension cord. Since I have never been able to start a pull-start engine, I was delighted when our next door neighbor gave us their electric mower (they bought a new manual push mower)

Ah well, back to the dining table of tax forms for me....

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mushroom love

On Thursday, friends arrived to stay here this weekend, and from Olympia brought these beautiful homegrown shitaki mushrooms. My Mud Bay compatriots are a great inspiration in turning yard into microfarm; one rather unusual thing they've done is inoculating logs with mushroom spawn, with delectable results. I'm thinking about a mushroom quiche, with some of the new eggs... after all, it is Pi Day!
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And yesterday, there was a small package on the front walkway under the was... my package from the mushroom swap!

What fun to unpack: a knitted mushroom, just starting to ripen, with the gills showing, made by Sonya of knitsonya herself, our inspiring and inspired coordinator; and a most curvaceous dancing mushroom, from feathergirl, complete with a tiny handmade snail
And my remaining morels are delighted to meet a long lost needlefelted cousin, from east of the Cascade Range, thanks to Sara M of ibbyskibby; The morels are accompanied by a charming vignette of mushrooms on a moss covered slice of log from RaynaAnd centered on my front windowsill is a lovely patchwork handsewn beauty that came halfway around the planet from the UK to find a home here in the Pacific Northwest, (should settle in well, we have a very similar climate!) Thank you Sandra of miaumau
I am just delighted with the five mushrooms I received, all so different from one another and all so creative. This has been a great swap; if you're interested in seeing all the amazing variety that was created, check out the "Field Guide" flicker collages here and here.
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Now back to my regular pre-teaparty activities: baking housecleaning and sewing

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Because it's time + clothesline envy

I am so ready for winter to be done, I left life in the snowlands behind 'cos I love the grey rain, not that snow in March thing... so, being hopeful that the inspiration will be the parent to the fact, I chose some springtime colors to make the new seasonal sprites, and am changing out my front window decorations to reflect the (hopefully) warmer days to come. Made a little Early Rhubarb sprite all pink and green; one of my two rhubarb plants has made it through the winter and is just peeking above the dead leaf mulch. I'll be making a few more sprites, in varied soft and bright colors and putting them into the shop. The sprites are just the right size to take with me as a riding-transit project, all the supplies fit in a little plastic sandwich box, and having a project makes the waiting for the bus into a productive time rather than an annoyance

Today is a housey-day, all the needed tasks are a form of housewifery. A bit more cleaning needs done before folks arrive this weekend, I'm going to get a head start on tea-party snackage, I have a sewing commission to work on, and since the forecast is a sunny windy day, some time in the backyard doing cleanup/garden prep would be a good idea. Hmmm...laundry + sunny-windy, I think I'll hang the laundry on the line this morning. Nothing better than sundried clothing and bedsheets.

Once I get the new chicken run in place, I'm hoping to figure out a better clothesline solution. Right now, I have a cobbled-in-place one, tied from the side chainlink fence to a hook above the door to the shed. It works, but it also crosses the pathway to the backyard, so if there is laundry drying, you run a gauntlet of damp flapping fabric. Not ideal! My nextdoor neighbors, on the other hand, have a perfectly good sturdy clothesline in their backyard that was obviously built by a former owner, since they never use it, and last year turned it into a bean trellis. In my dreams, I've one of these lovely Hills Hoist laundry dryers from Australia, but realistically, a better location in the backyard will be a good solution.
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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Nutmeg and rosewater, oh my...

I love so many of the flavors of medieval and renaissance cookery, and one of the most accessible recipes is this delightful variant on shortbread. I have found that people either love or hate the flavor of rosewater; while I love it, I have had otherwise adventurous friends say "nuh-unh, smells like soap". Of course, I feel the same way about the flavors of rosemary and cloves, (which for me are forever associated with one particular housemate years ago who doused his beautiful long red hair liberally with rosemary oil as hair conditioner, and the unfortunately ubiquitous clove cigarettes from the same era. Be that as it may, I find these small cookies a treat...

Shrewsbury Cakes - Madge Lorwins redaction
1/4c sugar

1/2c butter

1c sifted flour

1 1/2 t nutmeg

1 1/2 t rosewater

Cream the sugar and butter together well.
Sift flour with the nutmeg.
Add rosewater to the butter/sugar mixture.
Stir in the dry ingredients.
Chill the dough for 10 minutes, for easier rolling.
Roll out to 1/4" thick on a lightly floured surface.
Cut into small cookies, rounds or simple shapes.
Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350F
- for about 12 minutes till barely browned.
Cool and store in a tin
(if you don't eat them all up, they keep very well)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Coriander has a face

After three weeks I was finally brave enough to try painting her face. She has a much more definite "personality" now than when she was faceless. I'm pretty happy with my first attempt, her expression has the sort of thoughtful look I was aiming for.

Given that she is only 9" tall, her face is about the size of a quarter. I haven't done such tiny detailed painting in decades, since the summer I was supplementing my meager income as a shop clerk by making
dollhouse scale folk-art pull toys to sell in LA. I think my mom still has some of those little 1" long wooden animal toys on wheels in her curio cabinet. That summer pretty much banished my interest in miniatures as a hobby, that is until now... (she is actually 1/6 scale, most dollhouse miniatures are 1/12 scale)
~ :♥: ~
And here she is doing her morning yoga. Dang, Corrie is waay more flexible than I am. Of course, she has the body of an 11 year old. I could probably do that when I was 11 too.

And in case you are curious, she is an Japanese-made Obitsu 23cm female child doll, and is made from plastic. Technically she is a customisable movable action figure, her joints are all friction fit ("ball jointed dolls" are usually the strung with elastic). She has amazing articulation, with joints at the shoulder, upper arm, elbow, wrist, mid chest, waist, hip, upper leg, knee and ankle. She also came with three sets of additional hands, in different poses, and is being really fun to photograph.

She was my valentines gift to myself this year, fortunately for me, she cost less than $20. ("true" ball jointed dolls cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and are one of those lifestyle/subculture hobby things, like the SCA)

I'm looking forward to making her some SCA garb, and some clothing other than pajamas and a sweater. In fact, I think that making things for her will be a useful bribe for me, to get less enjoyable tasks done, like doing my taxes.

~ :♥: ~

Sunday, March 1, 2009

outside a comfort zone

Finally completed the mobile for the 2009 swap. It was challenging to find suitable materials in the desired colors, I do very little with golden brown earth-tone, and I just had a hard time getting inspired for some reason. All my initial ideas just seemed too cute for me to stand making them, I try to make things that are a good balance between what I would enjoy and what seems appropriate. I'm feeling drawn to less figurative, more mid-century mobiles these days. Check out the wonderful mobile in this living room (September 1954, click the picture to enlarge).

I finally remembered that I had some scraps of indonesian silk-rayon ikat in rust and flame color, which ended up as raw-edged overlay on wool-blend felt, cut into vaguely ameoba shapes. I hope the recipient likes it. Here are the initial materials, and the whole thing laying flat.

I am as tired of being cold as I am of being hot in the middle of August. Must find a way to get some of the needed repairs done...

Last week, rambled around in some places I don't often go. Took the streetcar up to 23rd and walked around window shopping. Found a giant 4" tea ball that will work perfectly for making kombucha, and the closure looks durable. And I found a second magnetic test tube flower vase, so I can have flowers in the kitchen as well as the bathroom. I've often reflected on the way that window shopping is the vestigial remnant of the gathering part of hunter-gatherer. When I was a girl, my best friend and I (when we were not trying to figure out how to get off the planet and which of our classmates would make appropriately diverse spaceship crew) would play with our Barbies, but not the way intended by Mattel. Our girls were proto-survivalists, needing to survive in a post apocalyptic suburbia, and we cruised the neighborhood for suitable foodstuffs, berries and roots and pods. We fashioned doll clothing from leaves pinned with long thorns, and whole environments were built against the hedge in her front yard.

Anyone out there have a pickup truck and be around during the week - daytime? I need to get a cubic yard of leaf compost hauled, for my garden. I'll happily trade enameling, or whatever...