Thursday, February 28, 2019

yesterday was a good day

in which our plucky heroine keeps busy, warm, and well fed...

Tuesday this recipe turned up in my Instagram feed, and it looked so delicious I decided to try it... However, riding my bike to the grocery store in the bitter cold wind turned out to be less than ideal, but I was able to get as far as Green Zebra, which thankfully has a small butcher counter, and had chicken wings.

I made a few changes in the recipe: first cutting it in half, since am not feeding a whole family, and using my own plum sauce* instead of hoisin sauce, using my Awesome Sauce instead of honey (because sweet and spicy) and some garlic granules instead of fresh garlic, because I am so not going shopping on my bike out in the weather feeling like I do.
Baked it in the convection oven with plans to eat it for dinner, and save some for lunch, along with steamed romanesco broccoli. I call this a win! The wings are so delicious that it will be hard was impossible to not eat ALL of them!
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this is a most clear and useful explanation...
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Yesterday I took refuge in the workroom and turned on the kiln... time to start working on some of the enameling projects in my queue, and incidentally enjoy the side effect warmth of running a 1500F oven. Martin's Laurel medallion had a tiny surface chip, acquired somehow in the years he has owned it, but as I expected, once I removed it from the setting, the chip was actually a crack that went all the way through, and the broken enamel fell away from the rest of the piece.

Because the chip was still all in one piece (as visible here), I first decided to try simply re-fusing it to the surface in the exactly matching gap... while it did fuse, it also began to ball up into an irregular lump at the same time. That required that I grind that small section level and gradually fill in the area to match the rest of the enamel... On the newly repaired enamel, the formerly missing area is now indistinguishable from the rest of the surface
. .
After careful examination of the enamel, and making several samples of the opaque blue enamels I currently have on hand, it became apparent to me that the base color of dark blue is probably 1660 Ultramarine, of which I have only an empty jar currently, and the darker edging is Cobalt. I have ordered some replacement 1660, since it is a Most Useful color.

Apparently whilst I was initially creating this piece of regalia, I must have run out of the ultramarine, and decided to thicken the edge with the slightly darker cobalt, to a most pleasing effect. Indeed, I am very pleased with the detailing on this piece, both the subtly darker border, and the delicate painted leaf veining. I only ever repair enamels I myself have made, and I can count on one hand the number of such that have come back to me over the years... Glass on metal is both fragile and durable; it is vulnerable to being cracked, but also can last for hundreds, even thousands of years...
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersinkbag to Goodwill
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline bindingbag to Goodwill
3 11 4oz jars marmalademore chips spread bag to Goodwill
4 mushroom print blouse
chicken bedding bag to Goodwill
5 Seville marmaladebutton replaced rusty toolbox
6 4 jars Awesome Sauce Martin's Laurel
x
7 Pomelo marmalade x x
8 blood orange marmalde x x
9 indigo pinstripe dress
x x
10 charter #1
x x
11 candied peel x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x


today's gratitude - A well stocked pantry, and an Excellent small neighborhood market...


* One of my kitchen tenets is to put effort into making high-flavor condiments that can then be used to add savor to simple meals throughout the year; plum sauce takes the place of things like ketchup, and hoisin sauce, and if homemade, has no weird ingredients that require a chemistry degree to decipher, just things like tamari and garlic and vinegar and cayenne, and plums...

Chinese Plum Sauce:
2lbs. fresh plums
- pitted and quartered
C sugar
½C vinegar
3T soy sauce
1T ground ginger
2 minced garlic cloves
1/8tsp cayenne
Combine all, and bring to a boil,
then simmer til the fruit is very tender.
Puree, then cook till very thick
It will take some time to cook down...
Keep watch so it does not catch and burn
When suitably thickened, jar and process

≈4 8oz jars - ¼" headspace - process 10 minutes
recipe can be multiplied

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tuesday tidbits

in which our plucky heroine tries to keep warm...

It's mighty cold here, and multiple layers, even indoors, are needed. Mostly because of wind and a lack of cloud cover. It was beautifully sunny, so I decided to put the laundry out on the line, and almost froze my fingers off. Had to run them under warm water when I got back in the house. Riding my bike to the store didn't happen, it was just too bitter cold from the wind chill. Instead, have been doing indoor tasks and work.

Scribal - I finished up the small Leo Minor charter started last week, adding detailing to the flat simple base painting. I was trying for a sort of playful yet still medieval effect, as the Leo Minor is an award given to children
.

also started painting Charter #2 for this year, an AoA... I've never chosen this design before, as I have little confidence in my ability to paint faces, but it was the only other Kingdom charter blank on hand, so I decided to go for it anyway... Still have a lot of painting yet to do, all the clothing, and the dogs, and possibly some background as well. The very first charter I ever painted, my scribal mentor Marya pointed out to me that "not everyone in the past was white", and I have done my best to have charters I painted ever since reflect that.
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SWAP - I have been knitting away on my Sólbein cardigan for weeks now, since the beginning of January, and it occurred to me that it could become part of my SWAP, if I substitute it for one of the planned print blouses. The colorwork is too noticeable for me to call it a solid color, but in the three shades of denim/indigo blue, it will coordinate well with my Earth and Sky SWAP. (I still plan on sewing up all the print blouses, since they are already becoming a wardrobe staple)
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Preserving -  the last several days included making up some candied peel. This year I went with pink grapefruit (since I eat them as a breakfast treat when they are in season) and pomelo. I make candied peel every few years, particularly since it is a favorite confection of my dear father; sometimes I add to the delight by dipping it in dark chocolate, though not if I am going to send it by post...
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Once it cools and the syrup it has been boiled in has dried out somewhat overnight, it will be rolled in granulated sugar and dried further. One thing I did differently this year was to first peel the skins off in quarters, then did several initial blanchings, which made removing some of the extreme extra thickness of the pomelo much easier, as I was able to simply scrape it away with a spoon.

The lighter colored candied peel is pomelo, the darker is pink grapefruit. I was also surprised at how much milder in flavor the pomelo skin is than the grapefruit skin, considering that pomelo is closer to the "ancestral citrus"
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersinkbag to Goodwill
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline bindingbag to Goodwill
3 11 4oz jars marmalademore chips spread bag to Goodwill
4 mushroom print blouse
chicken bedding bag to Goodwill
5 Seville marmaladebutton replaced rusty toolbox
6 4 jars Awesome Sauce x x
7 Pomelo marmalade x x
8 blood orange marmalde x x
9 indigo pinstripe dress
x x
10 charter #1
x x
11 candied peel x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x


today's gratitude - warm wooly bits made for me by my friends... today I am wearing a recombinant chopshop cardigan my pal Elanor made for me, and my beloved Totoro hat knit by dear Ariadne.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Monday media

in which our plucky heroine is grateful for snow day averted...

This is sweet, and well animated, and made me cry...

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Last night was working on the final adaptation sketches, and inking in of, the Scythian style Three Mountains Baronial charter designs...in the interest of not acquiring more gadgets, and the necessity of it being after sunset, figured out that I can use my MUJI paper file carry tote as a nighttime improvised light box... tape paper to the lid, tilt lid at an angle, and shine the LED desk lamp through it! Worked like a charm.
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Despite the forecast, last night up here on the plateau we got a mere dusting of snow, unlike many of my local pals. This morning there are damp roads and mostly green grass, with fragments of the snow dusting in the colder corners... but for those who were caught in the storm, or still in the depths of deep winter, this charming snow day announcement made me laugh several times, and hopefully will bring you a smile as well

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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersinkbag to Goodwill
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline bindingbag to Goodwill
3 11 4oz jars marmalademore chips spread bag to Goodwill
4 mushroom print blouse
chicken bedding bag to Goodwill
5 Seville marmaladebutton replaced rusty toolbox
6 4 jars Awesome Sauce x x
7 Pomelo marmalade x x
8 blood orange marmalde x x
9 indigo pinstripe dress
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x


today's gratitude - dodging the snowfall last night, (though with full cognizance that overall, the less snow we get, the more the drought worsens...) There are no unmixed blessings.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

slip sliding away...

in which our plucky heroine suffers from butter fingers...



This morning began with my intention to refill the box-o-meds for the coming week, when to my dismay, a small bottle of needful medication slipped from my fingers and gravity sent it south, spraying the remainder of the tiny thyroid tablets across the floor. Sigh. Should probably waited until I was more awake to tackle the task, and now I have to buy a months worth of medication out of pocket. In the future, will do the refills over a baking pan, instead of just over the countertop, for safety's sake. Once back from the pharmacy, washing dishes was the next task of the weekend... and... oops, clearing the sink my grasp on a soup bowl slipped, and it somehow banged into the mini crock pot liner so hard that they both cracked! Taking extra care will be the watchword for the rest of the day...
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I'm quite happy with my new everyday dress, though it was too cold and damp this morning to go outside and take photos. Each time I sew one of my TNT patterns, I try and either improve it or adapt some detail, for variety sake. In this case, the plan was to improve the lower sleeve edge, by shaping the straight bottom edge into a complex curve. Having the back of the sleeve edge longer than the inner front will keep the sleeve from hiking up so much when my arms are curved naturally, or when in use; the back of the arm measures longer than the front when in that position. This was my first time trying out this variation, and I am delighted to find that it works a treat!
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Took a few minutes after breakfast to stitch the fallen button (that got snagged on my bike handlebars) back on my recombinant wooly cardigan. Then I spent a bit more time trying out this alternative way of dealing with multiple colors in one row of knitting. It might be "slower", but it is much less annoying, and as a bonus, it seems to make it easier to do a good job of keeping the floats on the back suitably relaxed to avoid puckering.

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And, to end the week with a note of beauty and color on this blustery cold damp day, here are some flowers from the grocery floral section:
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersinkbag to Goodwill
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline bindingbag to Goodwill
3 11 4oz jars marmalademore chips spread bag to Goodwill
4 mushroom print blouse
chicken bedding bag to Goodwill
5 Seville marmaladebutton replaced rusty toolbox
6 4 jars Awesome Sauce x x
7 Pomelo marmalade x x
8 blood orange marmalde x x
9 indigo pinstripe dress
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

today's gratitude - the kindness of friends, which makes my life both possible, bearable, and delightful...

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Saturday snippets

in which our plucky heroine has a great day...

Despite our obvious differences, my new pal Mea and I have a Lot In Common, and I am just so enjoying the chance to spend time with her. Today she gave me a ride to the Terra Pomaria Calligraphy shindig. Randall and Leah also drove down from PDX to Salem, and did an excellent job of starting folks of on Carolingian Miniscule. A morning hanging out with old friends, meeting new people, and learning a new calligraphic hand was a great way to begin the weekend!
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When Mea dropped me back at Acorn Cottage in midafternoon, there were four little takeaway boxes with an assortment of Ethiopian food sitting on the oak chair on the front porch... apparently Isabel and the girls had been to Enat Kitchen for lunch, and brought me the leftovers - yummo!!! We missed each other by about twenty minutes, alas, but there was tasty leftover supper tonight, and will be either lunch or breakfast tomorrow.
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The indigo pinstripe linen dress is finished, and looks most tidy. Maybe photos tomorrow if it isn't too rainy/snowy. Am thinking that the next sewing tasks will be to cut out whatever additional blue/indigo projects need done for SWAP, probably the indigo/black linen pinafore, and the indigo batik rayon popover dress.
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Ten long rounds of "pick up - knit - drop - repeat"... Have started the "three color" section (ugh!) which I need to do by picking up and dropping each color in turn; I cannot seem to manage three colors of yarn in my two hands. I hate this process with a passion. Were it not that I can already tell how much I will love the cardigan and wear it often once it is completed, I would give up in frustration. Today I completed two of the long rounds, one while on the way to Salem, and one while winding down tonight, only eight more to go! Audiobooks and podcasts will save my sanity
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersinkbag to Goodwill
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline bindingbag to Goodwill
3 11 4oz jars marmalademore chips spread bag to Goodwill
4 mushroom print blouse
chicken bedding bag to Goodwill
5 Seville marmaladex rusty toolbox
6 4 jars Awesome Sauce x x
7 Pomelo marmalade x x
8 blood orange marmalde x x
9 indigo pinstripe dress
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

today's gratitude - living in the future, aka travel GPS... while our plucky heroine is a Good Map Reader indeed, not everyone is, and our modern world has very clever ways to help drivers stay unlost, even in cities they've never been to before.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Almost done with #5

in which our plucky heroine keeps on sewing...

SWAP 2019 update - Almost done with the fifth garment. This lightweight pinstripe indigo linen is in process of becoming the dress bodice. Last night I added the button bands and stitched on the half dozen engraved mother of pearl buttons. Final steps are the 3/4 length sleeves, then attaching bodice to skirt. My previous everyday dress, the teal cotton batik striped one*, has been in pretty steady rotation as a middle layer this winter, so it will be really great to have a second dress in my wardrobe. After this I've only one more "sewing kit" to complete (the dark blue multicolor floral blouse), so I'd best take an hour or two to cut out the indigo/black textured linen pinafore pattern this weekend. I really want a pair of dark blue or indigo leggings, but I don't have the right fabric, alas.

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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersinkbag to Goodwill
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline bindingbag to Goodwill
3 11 4oz jars marmalademore chips spread bag to Goodwill
4 mushroom print blouse
chicken bedding bag to Goodwill
5 Seville marmaladex rusty toolbox
6 4 jars Awesome Sauce x x
7 Pomelo marmalade x x
8 blood orange marmalde x x
9 x
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

today's gratitude - all the years of adding curated fabric to my "resource collection", which means that most of the time, I have great options for making new garments...


* the teal batik stripe dress was my winning entry in the "Pre-2019 SWAP Dress Challenge" on Stitcher's Guild -

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

rounding up...

in which our plucky heroine is both frustrated and clever...

First off, here is a bit of wooly progress... Am now well into the yoke of my Sólbein cardigan (sleeves and body already completed)... and once this current band of "sunbeams" is done I'll be starting on the three color bands. Looking forward to when I can assemble the whole thing. It will be a lovely lighter weight cardigan for springtime. Image also shows the area towards the back of the neck where I added in short rows for shaping (center front of yoke is at the center top of the photo, center back is at the center bottom of the photo)
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Second time attempting to go to the SSA office this afternoon, to get the missing form that I never received. Tried yesterday but they close at noon on Wednesdays (my fault for not checking the website more carefully) Today they were open, but I had no idea that there was a metal detector checkpoint to get into the building. Big oops on my part, as I always carry my pocket knife, as well as the Leatherman micro on my key ring (not to mention my knitting). Security guards suggested I could just "leave all that on the sidewalk". Yeah... right...

Didn't want to go back home again, as it takes me quite a while to get there and back again, so I came up with the clever idea of using Powells as a baggage check. Took the Max and streetcar over to the bookstore, checked my tote bag, which is required to browse in the store, hopefully looked through the SF section for used copies of Becky Chambers without success, went back to the SSA office and eventually got a copy of my missing form, reversed my steps, picked up my tote bag complete with knives and knitting needles, and finally went home again.
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Tuesday was a good visit with the new podiatrist: I felt listened to and observed well (as in the doctor actually examined my foot and ankle, compared it to my better functioning one, and watched me walking) - wish I had gone there first. I am to continue my current self care regime. He suggested getting new custom orthotics will likely help, may need to continue indefinitely. Not sure that insurance will cover the cost, but they will submit it and see what happens; if not, I will need to save up and pay out of pocket, sigh... He also recommended some soft clogs (crocs) for in house slippers
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CMAG meeting Tuesday night was one of the best I have attended... The topic was getting and giving feedback, we each were to bring one or two pieces of our artistry for the activity. Divided the group into two smaller sections, and I chose the full on critique section, rather than the gentle commentary. It was fascinating to me to hear what other people noticed, or didn't notice about my piece, and also what aspects people found pleasing, or thought could be improved. Very different than my own thoughts about the piece. I really hope we do this again 
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SCA Project Night North was fun, though no one showed up other than Mea and myself. We ended up going full on scribal focus and both started on some Kingdom charter painting. This is the one I am working on, partially done:

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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersinkbag to Goodwill
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline bindingbag to Goodwill
3 11 4oz jars marmalademore chips spread bag to Goodwill
4 mushroom print blouse
chicken bedding bag to Goodwill
5 Seville marmaladex rusty toolbox
6 4 jars Awesome Sauce x x
7 Pomelo marmalade x x
8 blood orange marmalde x x
9 x
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

today's gratitude - the caddy I bought this weekend is exactly right and suitable for all my scribal art supplies, paints and pens and pen nibs and holders, and brushes, and layout tools... basically everything save large pieces of paper

Sunday, February 17, 2019

tuckered out, with good reason

in which our plucky heroine notices that Isabel and I got a LOT done this weekend, in addition to all I wrote about yesterday ...


The caddy I bought on Saturday had some structural issues that made actual assembly impossible. Exchanging it was easy. I  decided to replace the painted green handle wedges with ones of plain wood, which was an simple task with scrap wood, saw, and a bit of filing. I'm thinking of using it for scribal stuff...

Upon returning to Ikea, we also were able to score some Really Large pieces of corrugated cardboard from their recycle bins. Slowly over time, we've been laying down cardboard in the backyard and layering chips over them to help flatten the yard and suppress weeds. This weekend we probably doubled the area covered, as Sunday was not rainy,which made yardwork possible. My plan for the area around the plum thicket, which is really lumpy, is to first lay down some chips in the worst of the divots, then put down cardboard, and then another thin layer of chips to hold the cardboard down. My long range goal is to have a yard with assorted food growing areas and planters, and no lawn at all.

We also made a quick trip across the river to Vancouver, for anti-inflammatory topical salve, and checked several sources before finding the wood trim pieces to finally finish putting the bathroom sink area together. That saga originally started back in 2007, and the new sink installation began five years ago. If all goes well, the trim pieces will be painted and installed this year. Truly, I am not a house carpenter, I don't even play one on teevee, and most of these sorts of things require figuring out How To Do It, since most of them are not simple standard repairs covered in the books and videos of DIY


These are two of the three "housey-tool zones" which Isabel and I spent a lot of time decluttering this weekend... now everything in there is both Actually Useful and clearly labeled, as well as no longer obscured by all the random "could maybe be useful someday" bits. There is another set of shelves that holds things like hardware, and light bulbs and tape oh my... but that is a task for a different day.
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersinkbag to Goodwill
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline bindingbag to Goodwill
3 11 4oz jars marmalademore chips spread bag to Goodwill
4 mushroom print blouse
chicken bedding bag to Goodwill
5 Seville marmaladex rusty toolbox
6 4 jars Awesome Sauce x x
7 Pomelo marmalade x x
8 blood orange marmalde x x
9 x
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x


today's gratitude - as the saying goes... I might be old, but I got to see a lot of good bands...

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Saturday snippets

in which our plucky heroine is ready for a nap...

One thing I really wanted to complete prior to the weekend was a set of a half dozen new bigger baprons, for dear Kestrel, who keeps growing... She has outgrown the original ones I made when she was just a nurseling and learning to eat solid food, and now as an active young toddler, her parents say that if I wanted to make a few more than just six, that wouldn't be amiss. They are fast and easy to make, are a great way to use up small fabric pieces and apparently work Really Well. In fact, I am wondering about somehow adapting the concept for adult sizes, for those messy tasks....

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The final installment in the marmalade series is blood orange marmalade. This might be my favorite. It has a delightful complex flavor all its own; one recipe made eight 4 oz jars and two 8 oz jars, and now the section of the pantry shelves devoted to marmalade are full up.
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One surprise when Isabel arrived was that a visit from Jarvis was part of her plan... Jarvis, you must know, is her Roomba. I have never before experienced the helpful robot vaccuum, and I must say that I was mightily impressed! While she dragged me off for an Ethiopian dinner at the wonderful Enat Kitchen, Jarvis cleverly made a go round of the public spaces here at Acorn Cottage. I was both pleased and horrified at what a difference his labors made. Now mind, vacuuming the carpet happens here fairly regularly. But I don't have the sort of rotating beater brush on my wee little vacuum, and we ended up running the Roomba three more times!! The new plan is to have Jarvis accompany her on future trips here, so he can work his magic while we do other needful activity
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February 14th is one of my least favorite holidays... If only I lived in Finland, if only for that day... read about "ystävänpäivä"
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in addition to running various errands to pick up things like decorative wood trim for the bathroom, and cardboard from Ikea and Costco, Isabel and I found time to declutter and reorganise the entryway cupboard, and the backdoor hardware shelves, both of which have been rather terribly messy for years now. Various bits of formerly missing tools have been rediscovered, I have, in fact, several sets of allen wrenches, and the sorely missed pump drill has been put back next to the workbench where it belongs! Mystery hardware funkitude has been rehomed. Like bits now stored with like bits, and everything has been dampwiped and dusted. Exhausted now!!
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersinkbag to Goodwill
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline bindingbag to Goodwill
3 11 4oz jars marmaladex bag to Goodwill
4 mushroom print blouse
x bag to Goodwill
5 Seville marmaladex x
6 4 jars Awesome Sauce x x
7 Pomelo marmalade x x
8 blood orange marmalde x x
9 x
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x


today's gratitude - Isabel's kindness and generosity

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

brought to you by the color red...

in which our plucky heroine gets some baking done...

It was rather an indulgence on my part, but if all goes well, these individual silicone baking cups will be filled with muffin sized crustless quiche, which can then be frozen for deployment on difficult mornings...

I call this a success! My usual recipe made just the right amount of filling to fit neatly in the six silicone cups. Baked, they rose up just above the rims, and looked rather like little souffles, though, just as when baked in the larger rectangular baking tin, they deflated when cooling, I can already tell that the liners will peel away cleanly, and the benefit of baking them in individual portions is that they cook more evenly as well. I know what I am having for breakfast tomorrow!
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It may still be winter, but this lovely red camellia was blooming downtown...

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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersinkbag to Goodwill
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline binding-
3 11 4oz jars marmaladex -
4 mushroom print blouse
x -
5 Seville marmaladex x
6 4 jars Awesome Sauce x x
7 Pomelo marmalade x x
8 x x x
9 x
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x


today's gratitude - half a dozen homegrown chicken eggs from the backyard, herbs and green onions from the planter boxes, Oregon-grown dairy products, and a tiny bit of local bacon ends from the store turn into almost a weeks worth of breakfasts

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tuesday tidbits

in which our plucky heroine shares some random bits and pieces...

This showed up on the Stitcher's Guild message board, and I found it very inspiring... I hope I am that cogent and useful when I am 82, should I be gifted with that many years...

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Making slow if steady progress on my SWAP sewing, I've started the first of the indigo/blue/denim pieces, the indigo pinstripe shirt-dress. Stitched the skirt portion mostly together this evening, save for binding the hemline. There were some lovely engraved mother of pearl buttons in the button box that have laurel wreaths around the outer edge, that will be very suitable once the bodice is also put together...
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Body and sleeves are completed, so I'm starting on the yoke of my Solbein cardigan. Photo shows the yoke prior to beginning the colorwork patterning. I've added some short rows to the back of the neckline ribbing, as that helps move the neckline into a more anatomical position. Our necks are not centered front to back on our bodies, but somewhat more toward the front...

I knit the body and sleeves bottom up, separately, and will join them together and then graft the yoke in place. This also allowed me to use my new favorite invisible tubular cast on for all the ribbed edges. Both really stretchy and really tidy. I'm apparently incapable of simply just following directions. And, by knitting the various parts of the cardigan separately, it will allow me to be able to adapt the shape to better fit my own non-standard shape.
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersink-
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline binding-
3 11 4oz jars marmaladex -
4 mushroom print blouse
x -
5 Seville marmaladex x
6 4 jars Awesome Sauce x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x


today's gratitude - warm knitted clothing, and hats, and gloves... When I was really little, my mom knit things for me, well for all us children. When I was only a bit bigger, she taught me how to knit, before I was in school. Now I knit for myself, and for others, and some of my friends knit for me. Sticks and string have been a part of my life for over half a century

Monday, February 11, 2019

marmalade Monday

In which our plucky heroine catches up on some of the pantry preserving projects...

The second batch of marmalade is in process finished... Seville orange this time, with that wonderful edge of bitterness. When New Seasons had their big citrus sale, I stocked up on several varieties... still to come, blood orange marmalade, and an experimental batch of pomelo/rosewater/green cardamom.  There is also a bag of plum tomatoes in the freezer, leftover from last summer, and just enough for a final batch of Awesome Sauce.
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The sleeves are finally finished for my future Solbein cardigan and that means the next step is knitting the yoke. Complicated, sort of fun, would have been easier if I hadn't decided to reverse the shaping and knit it from the bottom up, but I never am one to just blindly follow patterns. I might not be a fast knitter, but it will be a treat to have an Icelandic style cardigan all in indigo/denim blues. Surely when it is all finished, it will be worth the effort. Still, never again shall I pick a pattern that has most of the patterning in three colors in a row; two colors per row is pleasantly doable, three per row is slow as molasses in winter.
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersink-
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline binding-
3 11 4oz jars marmaladex -
4 mushroom print blouse
x -
5 Seville marmaladex x
6 4 jars Awesome Sauce x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x


today's gratitude - memories of happy times... I was in school, and the northeast winters were a lot colder than they are here. My girlfriends and I would go out dancing on the weekends. The contrast between the crunch of snow under our boots and the warmth on the dance floor was enough to cause thermal shock... I remember this song

Sunday, February 10, 2019

flattening the band - for Mim who asked...

in which our plucky heroine makes one tiny improvement...

One of the minor challenges in sewing a knit top is getting the edges, particularly the neckline edge, to be cooperative with whatever appearance is desired. Some just leave the raw edges to roll as they will, some use a specialty sewing machine to "coverstitch" the edges in the same way that RTW knit garments are finished, and there are a whole variety of edge finishes that can be used. Most often I apply a narrow edge binding stitched down by hand, similar to the most simple Alabama Chanin style of binding.

The more common look in RTW, of a band finish around the neckline, is tricky to get right. There is no always correct rule of thumb as to how much shorter to cut the band than the neckline edge, in order to have it stretch just enough to lie flat. (not to mention that it can make a difference where along the neckline one stretches the band a bit more or a bit less...) Cut the band too short, and it will pull in so much as to gather the body of the garment; cut it too long, and the band itself will not lie flat, but instead flap loosely in an amateurish fashion.

Despite my years of sewing experience, I am as subject to this difficulty as anyone. For my most recent knit top, I decided on a band neckline, garnished with some hand stitching to hold the seam allowances in place. Much to my dismay, after the first washing, when the fabric and stitching relaxed into their final configuration, the band was a bit flappy, just at the center front where the folded band edge curved in a "U". Obviously, I had not stretched the neckband strongly enough. Since redoing the entire neckband wasn't an option, I decided instead to modify the band while it was still in place...
Sometimes, when binding an edge with a "V" neckline, it helps to fold in a tiny dart just at the point of the vee, to help the binding turn the corner. It occurred to me that I could carefully fold in several tiny 1/8" darts in the binding, spaced far enough apart to take up the excess at the very edge, and allow the binding to curve more smoothly along the neckline. It was a bit of a faff to use the needle to tuck the knit binding into the configuration needed, and then take tiny fell stitches to hold it in place, but in the end the results were exactly as desired:

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Saturday snippets

in which our plucky heroine is a homebody...

Fortunately we did not get the amount of snow that friends slightly to the north received. Not that I am complaining, mind...  They got a foot or more, while here at Acorn Cottage, we barely got an inch and a half, if that, and it has mostly melted away, and the roads are dry. The bits of snow on the roof of the chook house are quite lovely, and I never tire of finding tiny moss landscapes.

I've been gradually taking care of various housey chores: washing the dishes that got put aside while dealing with the Undersink Saga, folding laundry, and rescuing my laundry basket that was left outdoors when I hung the laundry out yesterday and had a layer of icey snow in the bottom. Starting a batch of Seville orange marmalade. All good things for a cold February day.

I swapped out the thread in the sewing machines for dark blue, and will be cutting out two more indigo SWAP garments (batik rayon popover dress, and indigo/black pinafore) in preparation for completing the indigo blue part of my SWAP. Yesterday I realised that the neckline binding on the teal/feather print knit top wasn't lying smooth and flat, so I carefully hand stitched some Very Tiny Darts into just the binding, to pull it into a better curve. These sorts of small details are the kind of thing I just have to fix, or else they will annoy me forever. It is difficult to get the neckline binding on a knit top just right, sometimes I manage it, and sometimes I have to "get creative"

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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersink-
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top neckline binding-
3 11 4oz jars marmaladex -
4 mushroom print blouse
x -
5 xx x
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x


today's gratitude - I never stop being grateful for four walls and a roof. Spent the winter I was 29 living in the back of a truck on the streets in Cambridge MA. Snow and ice, and a Very dysfunctional boyfriend. I am a different person now. Maybe less trusting of Other Peoples Sweet Talk. But that tale is a whole long story of youthful stupidity, and I would rather count my blessings nowadays. Acorn Cottage might be a wee bit drafty, but it beats an uninsulated step van by miles!

Friday, February 8, 2019

let's play "stump the clerk..."

in which our plucky heroine may not be a plumber, but solves the problem anyway...


went to Winks Thursday morning and got to play "stump the clerk". Usually the knowledgeable venerable behind-the-counter folks there have seen it all, but the peculiar tee fitting I brought in was something really not standard, nor was there a standard non-tee fitting to replace it...

Unlike most big box shops, at Winks they take an interest in finding an actual solution, instead of just finding a product... The Useful Clerk sussed out that the tee fitting was actually three pieces attached together, and by deploying an allen wrench, was able to detach the WTF never-seen-this-as-a-separate piece piece so that it could be reattached to a non tee segment.

Our plucky heroine also bought a second non-tee segment, the allen wrench (just in case the correct one wasn't already at home, didn't want to make a second trip to the store) and a tube of the teflon paste sealer that both the Useful Clerk and my friend Randal had recommended instead of teflon tape. Am feeling right chuffed that this seems to have solved the problem, and having a backup on hand to redo the hot water line if needed feels very reassuring. I also made careful drawings of how the various parts fit together, again Just In Case, and will make up a wee repair kit to keep in the bathroom cupboard, so that all the bits are handy if needed in the future.
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Yesterday saw lots of bike riding for groceries in the dark and cold - since there was rumors of snow starting early Friday. While it is snowing further north, the frozen stuff hasn't come this far south yet, but last night could have been the last chance to stock up on emergency shelf supplies for a while, and prepared is better than thoughtless. Alas, Trader Joes is STILL out of their UHT cream-in-a-box, which is my favorite way to store backup dairy product. Instead, I pedaled over to Fred Meyers and picked up ten 8oz boxes of organic lowfat milk, since they are the only local store that carries plain unflavored milk-in-a-box.
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Put in a bit more work on redoing the mushroom blouse cuffs... otoh got complimented on it today, and wore the tiny morel mushroom earrings to continue the theme... Am thinking that the plain front blouse pattern, with a bit of adaptation, would also work for a basic jacket... add a bit of ease, suitable pockets, a different collar, possibly a swing back or motorcycle sleeve gussets, etc... something to think about anyway...
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom leaky undersink-
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top --
3 11 4oz jars marmaladex -
4 mushroom print blouse
x -
5 xx x
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x


today's gratitude -the love of friends, as manifested in the Very Warm Mittens of nalbinding glory, which are about a quarter inch thick or more of solid wool, made for my paws by dear Ariadne

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades...

in which our plucky heroine wishes for functional plumbing...

First off, thanks to Wanda for giving me a ride over to Parkrose Hardware to acquire a replacement cap/nut! This evening I replaced the wonky cap-nut and now the Undersink is no longer spraying a fine mist from pinholes in the sides of the nut, but instead the joint between the new nut and the fitting is oozing water (which is at least a more normal plumbing malfunction)... am currently trying adding additional layers of teflon sealing tape, one additional layer at a time. Started with a single layer, as suggested by the store clerk... that didn't work at all. Am currently up to two three four layers, which has slowed but not stopped the droplets from oozing out...

Stay tuned as our plucky heroine continues "the Undersink Saga"! Next step tonight is to remove the brass fitting entirely from the water lines, and replace it with something... said something being acquired hopefully tomorrow...

We are, apparently, going to have some wintertime this year. Today and tomorrow are the best bet for doing errands that involve traveling any distances... such as going to hardware stores for plumbing parts!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tuesday tidbits - somewhat soggy

in which our plucky heroine wakes up fast...

in the "well... that could be worse, but it also could be a lot better" ways to start the day: while in my only barely awake mode, walked into standing water in the bathroom, and the active sound of dripping. Woke me up right quick it did! My first thought, sans spectacles, was that the ceiling was somehow leaking, since there was also a puddle of water *atop* the closed toilet seat...

nope...instead, apparently one of the undersink (fortunately cold water, fortunately pinholes?!?) components failed sometime during the night after I went to bed, and was spraying tiny wee pinhole streams of water in several directions. Didn't fail at any of the actual plumbing joints. Very weird, very messy to cleanup but was just clean cold water, which is a blessing compared to the previous time something went sideways in there...

Also fortunate that I decided the last time the sink was fixed to not box in the underneath, but instead to leave all the undersink guts out in the open, which made it easy to simply turn off the shutoff valve to that half of the faucet. No using the sink until it gets fixed though. Now I will need to figure out just what is needed to replace that part of the water line, and Deal With It. Bah!... As I recall it was A Big Problem to get something that fit and bridged that gap... How I wish I had gone into the trades, instead of away to college!

If I was a young person now, instead of being old and broken, I would take that path. I have, fortunately, over the years, developed some minor ability at the kinds of home repair tasks that come up, enough to do simple things, but enough to know when to call for help... This should be a task that I can manage, IF I can find a Suitable Part... which was the problem in the first place as I recall...
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Almost done with Finished the cream/brown mushroom print blouse. Preparing the "sewing kits" ahead of time is proving really helpful, as I can do the cutting out when I am feeling like tackling it, and do the sewing when I want some fairly immediate gratification. If all goes well, I have three more garments in "kit" form, and four more yet to cut out. I'm not sure if I want to make brown jersey leggings, or yet another knit top. Probably should go for another pair of leggings, since I have more than enough knit tops at this point.

SWAP components progress report:
☑ jacket - brown/indigo/black cardigan (previously sewn)
☐ pinafore - indigo/black linen waffle weave
☐ pinafore - brown corduroy
☐ dress - everyday dress indigo pinstripe cotton/linen
☐ dress - popover dress indigo marble batik rayon
☑ blouse - brown/white linen (sewn before December 26)
☑ blouse - cream/brown mushroom print cotton
☐ blouse - indigo/black floral cotton lawn
☐ blouse - blue/brown/multicolor floral cotton lawn
☑ knit top - taupe/teal/multicolor feather print cotton lycra
☐ (leggings... maybe?) - brown cotton jersey
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MRI results - tendons are not torn, no odd tumors, there is inflammation and edema (and some degradation, but not to a worrisome amount, normal wear and tear of aging) PT says - keep doing exercises, water exercises, acupuncture, and other self care. A custom orthotic may be helpful... still waiting on referral to new podiatrist, but much relieved at the new data, evenn though frustrated at the continued pain. This gives me hope that in time I may eventually heal and be able to return to my everyday life, walking for pleasure, and maybe even easy rambles in nature... a girl can dream, right?
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February SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 bright feathers top for Mom --
2 taupe/teal feathers knit top --
3 11 4oz jars marmaladex -
4 mushroom print blouse
x -
5 xx x
6 x x x
7 x x x
8 x x x
9 x
x x
10 x x x
11 x x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x