Monday, August 30, 2010

hot fun in the studio, episode 1

I get very determined when an idea has grabbed me demanding to be made manifest. The current enameling project, which started out with one XP*1 design challenge already (which will be dealt with later), rather suddenly demanded an additional almost previously untried embellishment...

There are various technical issues with certain colors on different substrate metals. Since I have no chemistry, my guess is that the atoms interact somehow at the 1500F temperature, and some colors change in happy ways, some less happy. The requested background colors for this commission are purple and yellow. Since there is NO good opaque purple, that meant using transparent purple. Which meant that the layer of enamel at the very base would be transparent purple. Which meant the the yellow pelican nest must needs be opaque**.

Okay, I've a good reliable opaque yellow. But that is also the same yellow that is used for the Pelican beak. My design sense thinks that looks less than ideal, and somehow woke up this morning with the idea to cut "twigs" from cloisonné wire, fuse them to the yellow nest background, and then cover them with the beautiful precious Tea Rose enamel, which in the presence of pure silver, changes color to vivid transparent golden yellow.My near-sighted eyes and child-sized hands are in their element, and now there are tiny*** pure silver twigs waiting to be overlaid tomorrow with a layer of vitreous enamel that should look just splendid...if it is successful...

Tune in tomorrow for the next episode of Hot Fun In The Studio.
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*"X-P" was the name of the small stuffed cat that was the result of my repeated attempts at soft sculpture as a college student, trying for something that looked catlike rather than toylike. There were, if memory is correct, at least four attempts prior to relative success. XP5 is still around, I think in the child toy box up at the Menagery in Olympia.

** can have transparent purple or transparent yellow, but not both; purple + yellow = ugly brown

*** (largest twig is 1mm wide, entire nest is 4 cm long)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

cool days, good days

What a difference a few degrees makes, and how very much more productive activity is possible. Enameling is bearable when the temperature is lower. The kiln has been in use most of the weekend, and the two much belated projects are well underway.

One of them is a remake of a double-sided medallion that is lost somewhere in the studio, and rather than create more chaos by taking my storage boxes and drawers entirely apart, it just made more sense to re-do the project. (When the Good Folk bring it back again, it can become a bit of backstock, though probably be re-set as two separate medallions).
(adding another layer
of background enamel)
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Some scraps of Ikea fabric are now a tidy tote for clothespins, and the gifted wire hanger turned out to be plastic coated, which is ideal for such a use. There are so many small things that can be scavenged or created that make chores just a little easier. Instead of carrying the clothespins around in a basket, which meant constantly setting it down and picking it up while walking up and down the clothesline, now the pins can slide along just ahead of where they are needed - much better!
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Yesterday, a lunch break was a chance to visit with C, which was a most enjoyable treat. We ended up walking to Thai Ginger on Rosa Parks, and had a very tasty lunch. While I get quite a bit of exercise walking and riding my bike to run errands, I'd forgotten how very pleasant it is to just walk with a friend.
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Betwixt and between all this, there has not been much more preparation happening here for Self Stitched September. My mother sent a big box of fabric, most of which is a BIG piece of interesting wool in a large herringbone weave, that will be a good option for a coat, if IF it can be overdyed with blue. Wouldn't it be nifty to have a charcoal and blue tweed coat! (fabric is currently charcoal with brown and tan and cream herringbone)

Normally I have no difficulty with overdyeing fabric, but this is about five yards of 60" wide wool. There are no pots or pans here at Acorn Cottage big enough for this project, and acid dyes work much better need to be done as a hot water dyebath. Given the condition of the Acorn Cottage bathtub, if it gets used for a dye vat, it will be blue forevermore. Anyone out there have experience/suggestions about dyeing such a big piece of fabric?
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Though soon it will be cool enough for knitting to return as a take-along handwork project, currently embroidery is filling that niche. There are at least five more jumpers planned for autumn sewing, and one will be narrow wale grey corduroy. My original intention was to use black corduroy for the edge binding and some narrow stripes just above the hemline. This contest inspired me to add an embroidered component as well. Andrea's embroidery designs are pleasingly quirky, and it was difficult to choose which one to add to my jumper. Though tempted by this caterpillar, I chose this bird on a branch instead, and a variety of subtle almost-grey floss in various colors.
(partially completed couched outline,
some of the paper already removed)

My usual methods of transferring designs work poorly on corduroy. What did work, oddly enough, was to simply print out the design, at a size that was appropriate, baste the paper, to the fabric, and stitch right through the paper. Once that is completed, it is pretty easy to tear away the paper, though fine pointed tweezers helped with some of the small bits stuck between where two stitches were close together. Once the outline is finished, comes the fun of "coloring it in" with fill stitches. Hmmm... satin stitch?, bayeaux tapestry stitch?, long and short stitch?...
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This week is time to put together a schedule for the enameling and metalwork classes this autumn, so as to have a schedule in hand for Art In the Pearl. My intention is to offer at least one class a month... any special requests?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

wasted day, peculiar behavior

Well that was both well and truly annoying, and also a little wierd... After arranging with the "two guys" (who supposedly wanted my car to fix up their own) that they would come and pick it up and pay me on Friday around lunchtime, between 11 and noon, I set up my schedule yesterday so that could happen... and waited, and waited, and waited...

After calling them around 2PM got a very odd callback about how the tow truck driver would pay for it and I should sign it over to him (!?! wtf?), then another callback to say that no, don't do that that they were on the way with the money (?!? more wth?) and then I waited...and waited... for another four hours!! The tow truck drove by, but didn't stop, our street was too small, and the ostensible "guys who wanted the car" never showed up at all! I called and left a message on their machine saying that (as I'd waited over seven hours) the car was no longer for sale -

There is no excuse for such odd and discourteous behavior, I just can't believe that they were stuck in traffic for seven hours; I know that the traffic between here and Vancouver is sometimes bad but not that bad!

SO Nimblefoot is still in the driveway taking up space, albeit now completely empty and without license plates (I paid for those plates, they don't go with the car. I'm going to make them into bookends) It was rather unexpectedly sad to clean out the car, there was still rather a quantity of Smokey hair dusted over the back seat debris...

Question now is: sell the car to the parts junkyard, or try to sell it on Craigslist...

Friday, August 27, 2010

hold on it's coming...

...stone-fruit September that is; as announced by Kate over at the Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking - the CanJam food of the month is stone fruits. Acorn Cottage is about jammed out already, but condiments are another story entirely. There is a gap in my pantry, a gap that only plum sauce can fill... Hopefully, somewhere in the next week or so, there will be some prune plums available. Plum sauce, as a local stand in for hoisin sauce, makes homestyle mu shu delectable (and many other things), and is a personal favorite.

(edit/update 12:30 - thanks to a suggestion from my friend Kat, I just thought to look in the freezer... there are several bags full of already halved and pitted plums, perfect for turning into plum sauce!)

These months of CanJamming have really increased my sense of confidence in the process, there are good guidelines to keep it safe, including this FDA listing of the pH values for different foods, and making small batches of things will both ensure variety and keep canning from becoming onerous. A few half pints is easy work after dinner, and there is no need to get out the BIG canning kettle when a soup pot, with a dishtowel or extra canning rings at the bottom will work, and heat up faster as well. At the back of the pot shelf, there is even an asparagus pot, that came from Goodwill for $1.99, just in case the urge strikes to make a tiny taster batch of just one jar!

My current thinking is about how much of what is realistic to process, (partially inspired by the idea of switching to non-BPA containing lids) and what kind of canned goods actually get eaten here over the course of a year... Jams and jellies* are really only for parties, or for gifting, so no more than a few dozen. Canned fruit**, no more than four or five dozen, tomato sauce** the same. Condiments*** could be about another two or three dozen at most. Now mind you, these are almost all in small jars, Acorn Cottage has a very small fridge (by choice) so storing big jars once opened is difficult.
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* wee little 4 oz jars
** half-pint 8 oz jars
*** either 4 or 8 oz jars, depending on contents

Thursday, August 26, 2010

glorybower days

Last year there were only one or two flower clusters, but this year there are enough to begin to see what it will look like as it grows up. One of the plants specifically sought, found at the recycled plant nursery in Hillsboro (which is no longer there), and planted near to the front doorway, so as to bring small joy often. This is the plant that I smelled walked past years ago, in a different Portland neighborhood (long before living here), and shamelessly picked a leaf and blossom, so as to try and identify it. Why, because it smells astonishingly wonderful. After much calling of nurseries, talking to plantly friends, and perusing of books, it was finally identified as Clerodendrum trichotomum (common name Harlequin Glorybower) Perhaps this year there will be some of the metallic blue "berries" that look like alien fruit.
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The cooler weather is inspiring me to move forward with many of the projects that are unfinished around here; hot weather is so enervating that simply managing to get to work and home again is challenge enough. But give me a cool-ish day with grey-ish sky and it is good to go. Next up after the demo prep will be more painting (porch primer finished, and the bathroom paint, which has been sitting under the cupboard for the last three years, could go on the walls), and the wood trim in the kitchen attached. I want to go into the rainy season with at least one room painted, and the bathroom is the smallest, the basics will take only an hour, and the decorative bits will be possible a little at a time. Getting the beautiful pot-rack up on the wall is another thing that will really make the kitchen more functional. That is a two or three person project, since the oak that it will attach to is pretty heavy, and must be attached to the wall studs first (since the studs are not cleverly lined up with the stove where the pot-rack will live) ...step by step...
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Today, most surprisingly, two men stopped and asked if Nimblefoot was for sale. Now that car has been on the "deal with it sometime" list for a while, and the carport space it takes up would be much better used as a place to barbecue, or to dry clothing under in the wintertime, actually there are several possible and not mutually exclusive uses for that nicely covered space, once the car and the other random bits that are drifted there get dealt with. And the little bit of money from the car will get added to the "buy this cottage a stove fund" I want a gas stove.

I want a white enamel gas stove, that works, safely, with Really Sturdy™ burner grates (not the flimsy ones that are on modern budget stoves). I'd really prefer it to be non-digital, so the stove will work without electricity. I don't care if it has pilot lights, those can be shut off (so as to be more frugal and not have a huge gas bill by running a flame all day and night) and the stove started with a striker. We did that in the Jamaica Plain walkup apartment. I know how to use a flint striker, I've been soldering since I was 14. A stove like this one would be nice...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tuesday tidbits

I will definitely be doing an enameling demo at Art In The Pearl, probably all day Saturday. Art In The Pearl* is a fun and free event, with wonderful art/craft work to look at, (and purchase if one has the money), and many booths of artisans demonstrating craft techniques. Time to finalise my class schedule for the fall/early winter; hard to think of that when the temperatures are in the 90's, but soon enough the warmth of the kiln will be welcome.
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Today our Neighborly Roundtable had a canning pickled beets afternoon. MaryAnn kindly made sure that everything went well, and the jars will be ready to pick up tomorrow, they were too hot to bring home. It was really really easy, though very very warm, the jars were processed for 30 minutes. Lots of spicy vinegar leftover, perhaps some pickled carrots might also be an option. Wouldn't it be fun to use carrots of several colors, if could be found locally, or carrots and daikon, like a variation on the vietnamese pickled vegetables that go on Bánh mì sandwiches? (like this recipe here, from the February Can Jam compendium. If this preserving activity keeps on happening, I just might need to get a mandoline ('cos wouldn't it be nifty to have long julienned strips of savory pickley veggie goodness?)

And look what I finally found online, a listing of food pH, from the FDA (your tax dollars at work) This is so very helpful, as there are many recipes online and in books that are of questionable safety, and at least this way it is possible to have some kind of clue as to what the initial ingredients start out as being, to make better choices about how best to proceed.
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Yay! I now have a wire hanger, thanks to the kindness of Liutgard. Soon there will be a Useful Thing, a bag for holding clothes pins, that can hang on the clothesline. Simple pleasures for simple people...
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This dress has the most amazingly constructed flounced sleeves, and many hours of cogitation resulted. Really, purchasing a spendy japanese pattern book for one sleeve pattern (since japanese patterns require great alteration to fit someone of my size) seemed not at all realistic. Even looked up the section in "Decorative Dressmaking" on flounces (that's a splendid reference book by the way, with each chapter devoted to a different vintage embellishment technique) Then, just by chance, ran across this current Simplicity!! pattern 2554, and view F has the same sleeves. While I rarely venture into the EVIL EMPIRE aka Jo-Ann Fabric, it just so happened that very day was "Simplicity pattern $1 day"... worth a dollar and a long bus ride to get another interesting option to play with. In a very soft rayon 'twould make a very pretty dress, if the bodice panels were lengthened to include skirt gores. So even if no garment sewing is happening here right now, the ideas are flowing...

*read about my take on the event last year here

Sunday, August 22, 2010

DIY daze

Earlier this weekend I wrote a post that was all grouchy and whinge-y and grumpifying, about being forced to DIY, mostly about cleaning products. Well actually the whole DIY option is a good thing, most of the time, and a way to actually get what you need, if in fact that is possible

Now probably most folks don't really care about something like dish soap. The one I've used for decades is now, alas, nowhere to be found. Say goodbye to another old faithful - Crystal White Octagon (hand dish-washing soap) has been discontinued by the manufacturer, supposedly for low sales. It worked well and was the least expensive option. And last month I was whingeing about Bon Ami, which I've also been using for decades, now "improved" at a higher price, and the new formula needs twice as much applied to do the same job...

In the interests of continuing to have a somewhat sanitary domicile, this recipe for scouring powder, and this one for dishes soap sound good, along with adding some calcium carbonate to the scouring powder, since that is the "active" ingredient in Bon Ami. If my research is correct, calcium carbonate = chalk = limestone = agricultural lime...

The scouring powder works pretty well, and an empty small plastic shaker-jar makes it easy to use. As expected, the soap was a bit trickier. It dissolved nicely in the boiling water, but precipitated out in layers as the water cooled. The texture was completely different than my last experiment, (being curd-like rather than slimy) but scooped up with a dishcloth turned the washing-up water suitably soapy, and cleaned the dishes quite well. Adding a bit of vinegar to the rinse water also worked to make certain the finished dishes were clean.
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There is a recipe in Liana Krissoff's "Canning For A New Generation " for sushi ginger. Y'know, the pink stuff. There was a package of young ginger at Fubonn, which needed to come home with me, and the red shiso on the front porch gave up a few leaves for the cause. There are now four little quarter pint jars of pickled ginger cooling next to the stovetop. The rest of the tomato syrup is now safely in jars also, three pints, with added lemon juice for safety sake.

Next up, our Neighborly Roundtable group will be meeting next Tuesday to make pickled beets, and Mary Anne, who's hosting, asked that we all have our beets prepped (skinned and cut up) ahead of time. The farmers market yielded three different bunches of beets, so there will be enough for six jars, four red and two golden. One bunch was the red cylindrical beets, which are easy to slice, and really easy to peel.
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Though not a lot of sewing is happening right now, when this tutorial caught my eye, it was clearly so very easy and useful, and probably not just here at Acorn Cottage. The bobbins full of thread get all jumbled in the drawer they inhabit... not any more! it literally took less than ten minutes, including gathering all the tools. I was very VERY careful cutting the tubing with a box knife, and while it is not all perfect like a manufactured bobbin holder, it works like a charm, and is in fact, good enough.
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The concept of good enough is curious and very useful. E in Olympia first told me about the idea, which is somehow jumbled up in my mind with the quote "the perfect is the enemy of the good". To know when to stop, when the effort expended is appropriate to the results needed, is a lesser challenge to me, my greater challenge is to begin, knowing that my results will not meet the platonic ideal that lives in my visualisation.

Friday, August 20, 2010

randomised update bits

This afternoon, on the way home from work, stopped at New Seasons to pick up some canning jar lids, for the last of the tomato syrup, and to have handy for pickled beets next week. My word, the lids have gotten rather spendy, for something that is a one use only item.

I'd seen some reusable lids online, when researching non-BPA options (since sadly, all the regular canning jar lids have BPA in the coating, and there is only one manufacturer in North America) The reusable lids are made from some other food grade plastic, with reusable rubber rings, rather than the more common disposable metal lids. (For those with really a lot of extra cash, there are always the gorgeous German "Weck" jars)

Aha, bookmark list to the rescue: Tattler Reusable Canning Jar Lids. A bit of math made it clear that though definitely pricier than disposable lids, they would pay for themselves after only two to four uses! The company has been around since the mid seventies, and the lids are made here in the US, which is reassuring. Anyone out there tried them, or shall the Acorn Cottage kitchen undertake an experiment?
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Portland is really the biggest village ever... my social circle while not tiny, is quite small in proportion to the general population. To have a car honk, and have it be my friend S, who just happened to be stopped at the light, while I was waiting for a bus home from Twisted, in a part of town far from home. Kept me smiling for hours, of course her sweet compliment didn't hurt either!
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Been thinking that this pattern, intended for a bento box carrier, would make a dandy traveling knitting bag. Or any kind of handwork bag. Wouldn't you think so? And the sewing fabric stash is chock full of smaller pieces of fabric, not big enough to make clothing out of, unless you really like patchy-colored clothes. Must try it out and see; having my handwork project be all jumbled with the rest of the tote bag contents is getting tiresome.
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Once the current enamel projects are done, and the prep for Art In the Pearl, there are several personal sewing projects (that have been put on hold for now) which I'm eager to move forward with: the raincoat, and all the jumpers for autumn, fitting the Athena Two blouse, as well as making some Teacher Jumpers for my Olympia pal. I'd like to play along with the Lady Grey sew-along, but realistically, adding any more projects to this years sewing is not realistic. I think.
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And just for fun, though not an activity on my schedule this weekend...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tigress Can Jam : golden treasure drink syrup

Yellow pear.This month's fruit, of the beautiful solanaceae family, is one that I have an ambivalent relationship with. As a child, I hated tomatoes. Even now, I only really like romas and beefsteak tomatoes, and find cherry tomatoes alarmingly unpleasant. However, they are the very easiest to grow, probably since they are closer to the undomesticated form.

But what, you may wonder, does all this have to do with the preserving challenge of August? There are quite a few of last years tomatoes in the freezer. A quart bag of yellow pear cherry tomatoes inspired the creation of a golden savory jelly, using mostly ingredients that were local and homegrown (except the sugar and the lemon) Alas, in the throes of creativity, the scientific testing was neglected, and without confirmation of the pectin gel, despite empirical signs to the contrary, once canned, the jelly did not set, but remained a syrupy liquid, unlike my previous experiments with homemade apple pectin.

As I have no real taste for alcohol, I rather jokingly suggested that a trendy bar might make good use of my failed jelly. (I may not like to drink, but am quite aware of the current trend in foodland for homemade mixers and garnishes) My friends commented suggesting possible recipes, everything from a tomato-mojito to various rum concoctions to a "vodka caprese" with basil and a string cheese swizzle stick. Given the interest, I shall not simply add the beautifully transparent syrup to the future batch of ketchup as a sweet slightly savory addition, but will most probably pass it on to those who can best make use of it...

~ golden treasure drink syrup ~
1 quart yellow pear tomatoes
1 quart apple stock*
2 cloves garlic
1 T chopped basil
1 5" sprig rosemary
4 c sugar
bottled lemon juice

*cook green apples in water
till they are mushy, then let
liquid strain through muslin.
Do not press or squeeze if you want transparent juice
Start with the apple pectin-ish juice,
add the cherry tomatoes, the herbs and garlic.
Simmer 'till the tomatoes are reduced to mush.
Strain the whole thing through muslin,
which has first been boiled to sterlise it,
Do not press or squeeze if you want transparent syrup.
(You should have about 4 cups of liquid)
Add an equal amount of sugar, and 2 T lemon juice.
Boil hard till it thickens.
Fill jars, add 1 T lemon juice to each pint of syrup/jelly to ensure safe acidity,
seal and hot water bath process for 10 minute

Monday, August 16, 2010

there and back again, through the heat

It was a wonderful chance to have a few days off from my regularly scheduled life, to journey by train up to Olympia for a weekend party to celebrate the natal day of my friend J. Aside from a last minute kerfluffle about finding a substitute for chook-minding, resolved through the kindness of my next-street neighbors, my preparations, and the journey north, went off without a hitch. On the way to the Menagery, we stopped at the bakery to hopefully pick up some screens and a peel for the baking the next day, so there was music around the fire out back beyond and some tasty roasted lamb bits before arriving, then plenty of puppy excitement, and finally settling in for the evening in the corner of the Great Hall.

Fortunately it cools off a lot during the night there in the Delphi Valley, and with multiple fans running, the house there can be cooled off quite a bit before sunreturn. Awakened early and wandered a bit outside - their house-painting is proceeding gradually, with wonderfully colorful results, and in front of the south facing Great Hall windows, second-year hops are forming a sort of shady trellised canopy, an idea that I really hope to implement here at Acorn Cottage (B has promised me some hop starts later on)
garage door and hops trellis

A centerpiece of the weekend partying was the new brick oven, assembled in the driveway, for wood fired baking. Using the truckload of well-aged apple prunings that had come up from Portland earlier, many delectable pizza combinations were made over the weekend, including a dessert pizza with a creamy topping covered with fresh fruit.
< the new oven
fire in the oven>

pizza in the oven

Of course there were many additional potluck treats, and J made the most delicious homemade tamales, filled with homegrown chicken, and green olives and prunes... my humble contributions were a Thai coleslaw (modeled on my favorite mango coleslaw, but substituting local organic nectarines for mango), and a double batch of my sisters sweet corn cakes*, which mostly did not even make it onto a platter to be served, but were eaten as quickly as could be cooked, right off the griddle. The birthday cake, made by the amazing talented and gorgeous V, was astonishingly rich and delectable; the strawberry, raspberry and lemon fillings were a perfect complement to the fragrant rose cake.
cake in the firelight

Toshi, the young akita, is alarmingly smart. At not quite four months, he has a really good start on all the things that Smokey knew, including left paw/right paw. Being a puppy, he is still rather wiggly and not much of one to keep still most of the time...

But he falls asleep in the oddest of positions for a dog...

It was great to see friends long missed, E and T in particular, and to meet two of the newest children for the first time, young M from up in Seattle, and sweet C from Olympia. Even as babies, personality is so different from person to person. I've not spent a lot of time around really young ones, and you can really see their parents in how they look, but they are very much already their own people, even at only a few months old.

My plan had been to make J a dress as a birthday gift, while up in Olympia. For a big chunk of Sunday, instead, I copied two of her favorite jumper-dresses, one of which entailed making many sample bodices in order to get a better fit than the original. It was actually rather exhausting, since the weather was so very overly warm, but I am quite happy with the results as is she. New teacher clothing is now a possiblility.

With a lot of rest, and with enthusiastic application of ice and various other remedies, my shoulder seems to be on the mend. Another week or two of extra carefulness, and hopefully painting can still happen, but in shorter sessions of only a half hour or an hour at a time. Slow but steady would have been much more appropriate. Still, much gratitude for suggestions, remedies, and referrals - thank you all.

*Gigi's Sweet Corn Cakes
4 ears sweet corn
(or 2 c frozen)
½ c cornmeal or masa
½ c flour
1 t salt
1 t sugar
½ t baking powder
¼ t cayenne
1 large egg
¾ c buttermilk
3 T butter, melted and cooled
2 green onions, chopped small
If using fresh corn, cut the kernels from cobs,
(you should have about 2 c)

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl,
combine all wet ingredients in a bowl,
mix together and add the corn and the green onions.
Let rest in the refrigerator for at least a half hour or more
(cornmeal will hydrate, texture will be nicer)

Fry like pancakes 'till both sides are golden.

serve with green salsa and sour cream

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

wishful Wednesday - a new shoulder, please...

Ow Ow Ow Ow! That is all I have to say. My right shoulder is very very unhappy with me. WOKE me up often last night, and this morning, ummm not really very movable. I am not happy. Hopefully this is just the "hurts the worst on the second day" thing, as neither shoulder was 'specially grumpy yesterday. I actually took aspirin this morning, which I never do for dislike of the digestive consequences, but this really hurts. No painting overhead at all today, I can not lift my arm. Indeed, even typing here at the computer is painful, I dread going to work this morning...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

keep on painting...

I am so very tired now, another 4 1/2 hours spent painting primer on the porch. Thanks to Jethro Tull, Jefferson Airplane, Dire Straits, and They Might Be Giants for keeping me company. I'm not finished yet, alas, the portion that hangs over the garden still needs painted, and the very outermost edge on the south side. Must need borrow a ladder; my little step-stool will not make me tall enough with the drop down to actual ground level; as it is now, working with my arms right overhead all the time is getting painful.

In Olympia, for years, I got a massage every other week. Made a HUGE difference in my physical well being. Haven't found an arrangement here in Portland that has worked out; my creakiness quotient is rather sky high, worse now after starting this painting project. (grunble grumble) Just need to keep reminding myself that the porch will look a lot better when the painting is done, indeed the parts that are primed look better already. Once the colors are added, it will really look splendid!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

brought to you by the color blue

It is a good thing that I do not paint houses for a living... Finally got off my duff and started painting the front porch. Thought that, well, I might get the primer coat on this afternoon, and then tomorrow, the actual trim paint. Hah! It is like painting the craggy craters of an toasted english muffin. The underside of my porch roof makes me happy, because the structure is all visible, but dang that means that there is more cutting-in than actual straightforward painting, and almost all of it (while on a stepladder) up over my head. After somewhere between three and four hours, two of the eight ceiling "bays" are primed, and the inside side of the front. At this rate it will take me at least another three days to just get the primer done.

Though today was not all that hot, the humidity made it feel steamy. Fortunately there was actually a bit of a breeze, between the times when it actually spit raindrops for a few moments. Given the summertime weather, painting by hand, with brush and roller, is actually not a bad option. The primer, (and the two colors of porch paint) all come from the Metro Recycled Paint facility down at Swan Island. I've been really happy with the quality of their paint, the porch will be dark blue, like the rest of the trim on Acorn Cottage, and the ceiling will be light sky blue. I'm thinking about painting just the very underside of the rafters dark blue also. (If my arms don't fall off, the plan is to also paint the ceiling of the front walkway the same sky blue; that will be MUCH easier, since that is an actual ceiling, as in flat, just cut in around the four edges and roller away flat...)

Yet another Goodwill goody today - I can has blue suede shoes! - a new, unworn pair of Birkenstock "Tatami" clogs, in my size (this is a picture of a similar shoe, but my pair is stitched and trimmed in dark blue, eversomuch nicer with the blue suede) Very suitable to coordinate with my autumn clothing, all grey and blue and black, and at $7.99 the price was suitable too.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

trouble brewing and some small good

The trouble brewing is WASPS !! Not the invasion of the white people, but the small black and yellow stinging kind. When I went to refill the water in the henyard, there were wasps about. And as you may recall, stinging insects and I are not friends at all! Towards evening, when the weather cooled off and it was dusky but still light, I gingerly looked under the "eaves" of the shed, and there are several clusters what look like wasp nests, complete with wasps and hexagonal cells. I didn't get really close, as I am very cautious, and I have no idea what to do about this development... Given the position of the wasps, using the stand at a distance and spray poison method wouldn't work, as it would be necessary to lie on the ground and shoot straight up to get under the eave boards. And there is the complication that the henyard adjoins the shed; perhaps moving the hens and shifting the fencing needs to happen first; I can't let the hens eat poisoned bugs. I am actively seeking advice on this problem, anyone have suggestions??

Some small good things so far this week... I had a chance to visit with my friend Rois, who is as always a big inspiration for household goodness: new wall colors, new salvaged beauty, baby chicks growing up, life there at Hrafinstaad is never dull. We even had time for a trip to the Bins, and though it wasn't a great bins day, I did find a lovely stripey turtleneck in black and grey (what else) for when the weather cools off. If it ever does.

Two things that I miss from when I lived in Olympia are actually coming here to Portland, most unexpectedly -
My favorite vitamin store "SuperSupplements" (they carry many lines of high quality vitamins, heavily discounted) just opened a shop down near Clackamas, and will open one on W Burnside sometime probably in November. They are the only storefront that stocks the multivitamins I like (KAL high potency soft multiple-iron free), and it will be much more convenient to just hop on the MAX, than to mailorder them, not to mention saving on shipping charges. Also, the bank I used all the years that I lived in Olympia, Heritage Bank, has bought Bay Bank and Cowlitz Bank. While normally I would pay this no attention at all, there was a quarter page ad in the Portland paper, so I called them, and there will be is a branch downtown on 5th. As I still have an open account with them, this again will be much more convenient, and might allow me to shut down my account with Chase, (which is a bank that I hate)

The velour bathrobe commission is finished; when sewing velour, there is a lot of hand basting involved, which I'd not really thought about, that directional nap is really prone to movement otherwise. Today, a trip to the downtown library was deemed necessary, as I couldn't find my copy of Threads #19 anywhere (I'm guessing that it is somewhere in a box of fabric) That issue has the article by David Page Coffin about raincoat design and sewing. I've not made progress on The Raincoat Project, as work trumps personal sewing, but I keep thinking about it... On the way home, my intuition said "stop in at the Goodwill" and indeed, there was a $4.99 Calvin Klein sheet set in cool steel grey, Egyptian cotton. I'm thinking shirtwaist dress for the autumn; once I get the LaFred Athena Two blouse fitted properly it will also make a great dress bodice, if cut off at the waist.

I've noticed something interesting - if I post more often, it seems like I actually get more done; when I don't, time seems to just slip by unnoticed. The process of writing about life here at Acorn Cottage encourages me to focus on my daily life, which is actually one of my goals, as the days of our lives are all the wealth any of us really has.