Monday, October 26, 2020

Monday miscellany

in which our plucky heroine does her best to keep warm...

The weather turned suddenly to winter, with high wind and nighttime temperatures in the 30's. Time to put the flannel sheets on the bed, and dressing in layers becomes a necessity. Since the house got down to 50F, indeed it is cold enough that I turned the furnace on, though I had hoped to put that off until the new furnace filter (ordered but still in transit) would show up here.

I am resigned to sneezing and wheezing until a fresh clean filter replaces last years dusty used filter. I normally buy a new furnace filter each autumn; it did not occur to me, back in February, that my time of isolation would last into the next heating season. Now I suspect that this withdrawal from the wider world will be indefinite. Life was simpler when shopping was in person and not online ordering, but as I have so far remained healthy, the inconvenience is bearable, and I remain grateful for the sheltering roof of Acorn Cottage
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15 quinces and 3 persimmons are this years harvest gold. All of these must needs continue ripening for a while, before they are ready to use, and a shelf in the fabric storage area will be cleared to make room to store them temporarily.

The young quince tree is really a gem, as it only went into the ground here in 2018, and was pruned back to about 2 ft high at that point. It is now a sturdy small tree about 5 ft tall, and I will continue to prune it carefully to allow growth but not much more height, as I myself am only a little over 5 ft tall!

Last year, the persimmon tree in the parking strip had about 40 pounds of fruit harvested, this year only three fruit... I am studying up about how to better prune and care for the tree, as I have heard that with careful pruning it is possible to smooth out the feast or famine cycle of bearing?
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~ 100 day creativity challenge - day 66 ~
Nandina really wanted a fancy tote bag like the one I made for Xanthy, so I made her this “pumpkin spice” colored one… and while we were out and about on a morning walk, I found some acorn caps. Not sure that using an acorn cap as a beret counts as “making something” as it was more like foraging than making. ("something from nature" is the Tiny Rag Doll Nation challenge-of-the-week)
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I've never tried drying parsley before, but the new recipe I have, for homemade tahini "goddess" salad dressing calls for parsley, and parsley doesn't keep at all well in the fridge.

Tahini Goddess Salad Dressing
⅓ c oil
2¾ T tahini
2½ T cider vinegar
2 t tamari
2¼ t lemon juice
¾ t salt
1 T minced parsley
1 T minced chives
1 minced clove garlic
(or ¼ t garlic granules)
Mix together the tahini and the oil first,
to allow the tahini to be smoothly incorporated.
Then mix in all the other ingredients.
You can add some water at the end,
if the dressing is thicker than you prefer.

Truly this recipe is adaptable to variations,
for example, I use safflower oil rather than canola.
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beauty in the time of isolation - day 227:

pretty sure that this is Aconite
I'm going to take another walk down that alley, and take a closer look, though not touch, because Aconite, also called monkshood, or wolfsbane, though beautiful, is also highly poisonous...
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October SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 6 jars dilly beans
wheelie bin scrubbed
yard waste bin
2 3 jars vanilla port pears
east window repaired
old window trim
3 Xanthyreplace screen handles
yard waste bin
4 3 japanese books
washed two screens
recycle bin
5 Xanthy hat
moar apple pruning
yard waste bin
6 Xanthy flower skirt
reattached phone cable  recycle bin
7 6 jars St Clements marmalade
repair kitchen shade pull
yard waste bin
8 6+ jars Awesome Sauce
taller salad table barrier
x
9 8 jars tomato sauce kitchen window screen
x
10 Xanthy beaded bag
refurbish cabinet latch
x
11 5 flavor eggplant cooked
mesh barrier anchored
x
12 Nandina boots
perennials protected
x
13 7 jars Awesome sauce
x x
14 6+ jars orange marmalade
x x
15 2 new rice bags
x x
16 Nandina beaded bag
x x
17 x
x x
18 x
x x
19 x
x x
20 x
x x
21 x
x x
22 x
x x

today's gratitude -  I have the most excellent bedroom slippers! The very last shopping excursion I made, back in February, remains vivid in my mind. I rode the #75 bus down to the Hawthorne shopping district, and went to a fancy shoe shop, where I tried on several styles of Glerups which are wonderful slippers from Denmark. They are made from a mixture of Gotland and New Zealand wool, thickly and very densely felted about a half inch thick, so wonderfully warm and insulative. They have lasted much longer than previous wool slipper/clogs I had tried, and are in just as good condition now as at the beginning of my time of isolation.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Friday fragments

in which our plucky heroine is well preserved...

Wednesday night I made orange marmalade, and this time use the setting point chart to get a more tender result. I also used some of the remaining freezer tomatoes to make another batch of Awesome Sauce, using the assorted peppers from Chief Joseph Elementary community garden farm stand, including what I think were Habanada peppers. I love the idea of being able to add additional pepper flavor without also making a condiment that is too challenging to eat, and suspect it might a possible to  grow these peppers successfully next year? Worth a try...
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beauty in the time of isolation - day 224:
it was an early rising morning today, as I had promised my virtual presence before 9AM, and seen on drawing the curtain aside to the backyard were bands of pink clouds just post dawn. The fixed half of the window has this odd irregular discoloration, which only added to the pictorial effect. Beauty is everywhere, if you pay attention...
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While waiting on the phone (in case of need) this morning, I paced back and forth across the backyard, because it was quite cold, and because my mobile phone randomly drops calls if I use it inside the house. It then occurred to me that I could also pull weeds while waiting, since the Grandpa's Weeder is almost a one handed tool. Half the big wheelie bin is now full of Queen Anne's Lace, and dandelion, and cat's ears, and common mallow, and even some bindweed. Later today it occurred to me to look at my pedometer, and I walked well over four miles, just pacing... 

With that as a start, once I warmed up my poor cold paws, and since it was Not Raining, there were more garden tasks... There are now three new perennial vegetable plants that Future Me hopes will be happy here.The skirret was replanted yesterday, into one of the two BIG pots (about 22" diameter, and about 20" tall), and set along the shady north side of the house, on the pathway to the backyard, where I can keep my eye on it and make sure it gets watered regularly. Skirret is a streamside plant, and doesn't want to dry out too much
Today I cut and placed heavy mesh to protect it from squirrel depredation, and did the same for the tree collards, which is also in the other of the two BIG pots, but in the middle of the yard where it is more sunny. I also planted the 9 star perennial broccoli, in the ground near the front walkway, and surrounded it with metal mesh.

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In the interest of further preparation for winter, two new flannel sheets were ordered online, and arrived today. After 24 hours in coventry, the boxes will be opened and they will be run through the washer/dryer, and be ready to deploy. I also made two new rice bags, as the old ones had become threadbare, and the rice inside was all crumbled to bits after years of being heated in the microwave every winter evening. So bedtime will be just a bit more cozy... (I prefer rice bags, which are dry, to using a hot water bottle. A few minutes in the microwave creates lasting heat for hours, though I always make sure to put a small open jar of water in the micro at the same time, which does something to equalise the microwaves
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October SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 6 jars dilly beans
wheelie bin scrubbed
yard waste bin
2 3 jars vanilla port pears
east window repaired
old window trim
3 Xanthyreplace screen handles
yard waste bin
4 3 japanese books
washed two screens
recycle bin
5 Xanthy hat
moar apple pruning
yard waste bin
6 Xanthy flower skirt
reattached phone cable  recycle bin
7 6 jars St Clements marmalade
repair kitchen shade pull
yard waste bin
8 6+ jars Awesome Sauce
taller salad table barrier
x
9 8 jars tomato sauce kitchen window screen
x
10 Xanthy beaded bag
refurbish cabinet latch
x
11 5 flavor eggplant cooked
mesh barrier anchored
x
12 Nandina boots
perennials protected
x
13 7 jars Awesome sauce
x x
14 6+ jars orange marmalade
x x
15 2 new rice bags
x x

today's gratitude - I never get tired of looking at the sky.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

words on Wednesday

in which our plucky heroine reads aloud...

This morning was the start of a different enrichment project. My aged parents live on the other coast, so even safely distant visits are not an option, and since interactive art activity via Zoom has not been a success, I am reading aloud to my mother. Today we started reading Gerald Durrell's delightful memoir "My Family and Other Animals"... I had forgotten what an excellent writer he is, and his superb use of vocabulary conjures up a time and place that provides a wonderful respite from our current situation

The reading is, as well, an aide-mémoire... we first read the novel decades ago when I was a schoolgirl, we visited his zoo on the isle of Jersey (at my instigation) on a family trip to Great Britain in the late 70's, and my parents and I actually spent two memorable days on Corfu as part of our trip to Italy Yugoslavia and Greece after my belated graduation from college...
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~ 100 day creativity challenge - day 65 ~

Nandina gets a new pair of boots...
since Xanthy appropriated the first pair I made

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ANTIDOTES TO FEAR OF DEATH
by Rebecca Elson

Sometimes as an antidote
To fear of death,
I eat the stars.

Those nights, lying on my back,
I suck them from the quenching dark
Til they are all, all inside me,
Pepper hot and sharp.

Sometimes, instead, I stir myself
Into a universe still young,
Still warm as blood:

No outer space, just space,
The light of all the not yet stars
Drifting like a bright mist,
And all of us, and everything
Already there
But unconstrained by form.

And sometime it’s enough
To lie down here on earth
Beside our long ancestral bones:

To walk across the cobble fields
Of our discarded skulls,
Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis,
Thinking: whatever left these husks
Flew off on bright wings
.

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beauty in the time of isolation - day 222:
water truly is life
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Yesterday I did manage to get a few things done, most particularly getting the bird netting on the new salad table protectors properly stapled down. Nothing like finally managing to get my morning started by seeing a gorram squirrel inside the salad table garden! An hour or two with the staple gun and some cut up plastic lids and the winter greens should be safe...
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October SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 6 jars dilly beans
wheelie bin scrubbed
yard waste bin
2 3 jars vanilla port pears
east window repaired
old window trim
3 Xanthyreplace screen handles
yard waste bin
4 3 japanese books
washed two screens
recycle bin
5 Xanthy hat
moar apple pruning
yard waste bin
6 Xanthy flower skirt
reattached phone cable  recycle bin
7 6 jars St Clements marmalade
repair kitchen shade pull
x
8 6+ jars Awesome Sauce
taller salad table barrier
x
9 8 jars tomato sauce kitchen window screen
x
10 Xanthy beaded bag
refurbish cabinet latch
x
11 5 flavor eggplant cooked
mesh barrier anchored
x
12 Nandina boots
x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

today's gratitude - past adventures that remain as vivid stories in my memory

Monday, October 19, 2020

Monday miscellany

in which our plucky heroine cooks and cleans and fixes things...

but the real treat for today, that I've been saving for a workday, was listening to the new episode of "Cast On". Brenda Dayne returns to podcasting. She was the very first podcast I listened to, and I didn't realise that I was spoiled until I tried to find another favorite when she moved on... She has a lovely voice, a niche topic, and intersperses her presentation with bits of music, interviews and commentary in a way that is a sort of delightfully rich fruitcake of an interlude (assuming one loves good fruitcake as much as I do). And... at the end of the month... she is going to start a second podcast inspired by A Pattern Language, and how she is applying those concepts to her own home. I can't wait. I have loved the work of Christopher Alexander for years...
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The window screen handles I ordered from Ebay arrived this weekend, and today I was able to repair one screen from the kitchen window... peel away the spline, attach the handles, re-insert the spline, and then scrub the screen thoroughly in the bathtub with the scrub brush. The screen is now clipped to the clothesline to dry overnight, and I can replace it in the window tomorrow. Now I have a half dozen spare screen handles, which is good, since they will eventually come in handy.
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beauty in the time of isolation - day 220:
the lights continually shift from orange to purple, and flash in different sequences and patterns, while the giant eyeballs watch over the street...
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Five flavor eggplant freezes well; it was a treat to have on hand while I was recovering from periodontal surgery this spring, as it was of suitable consistency, but intensely flavorful. Indeed, it is a treat to have on hand at all, and I cooked up the rest of the eight pounds today, had another easy dinner, and the rest is in ziplocs in the freezer for future meals.

"5 Flavor Eggplant"
(savory, salty, sweet, sour, spicy)

about 2# long skinny eggplant 
1 tablespoon salt 
1½ tablespoon tamari 
1 tablespoon vinegar 
1 tablespoon sugar 
1 teaspoon cornstarch 
2 tablespoon oil 
+ hotness as desired

put the salt in a big bowl, add several cups of water, and then clean and cut up eggplants, tossing the bits into the bowl of salt water - I cut them first the long ways into quarters or sixths, then cut the long pieces into chunks. I try for about ¾" cubes more or less by volume, because big pieces take a long time to cook through, and undercooked eggplant is nasty.

when all the eggplant is in the bowl of salty water, it sits there for a half hour... I occasionally stir it or push the chunks around to make sure they all get drenched... you want to have enough water that they are all floating.

Meanwhile, combine the tamari, the vinegar, the sugar, and the cornstarch. Drain and dry the eggplant bits. (my current innovation is to use my salad spinner after pouring off as much of the water as I can)

In a big frying pan, heat up the oil, then fry the eggplant until it is FULLY COOKED and slightly browned. (Trust me, you want it cooked till it is SOFT, not al dente) Pour the sauce mixture over the eggplant (give the sauce mixture a good stirring up just before you pour it), and cook til thick, which will take only a few moments, because cornstarch...

At this point, I usually add some awesome sauce (spicy chili jam) but you could add a dash of tabasco, or sriacha, or whatever you prefer. The original recipe called for adding jalapeno peppers at the beginning, but that was WAY TOO HOT for me. YMMV, and the spicy aspect is entirely optional for that matter.

Truly, this recipe is almost faster to cook than to read, most of the effort is in cutting up the eggplants, and in waiting while they soak in the salty water. I had always in the past done the sprinkle the eggplant with salt, let it drain, rinse it off thing, which is a whole lot of faffing about. I had never heard of soaking them in lightly salted water, but it works really well!!
 
Tonight's dinner was some of the eggplant, along with some rice and some heated up Trader Joe's frozen teriyaki chicken pieces (sans sauce, the eggplant is flavorful enough without adding anything else)

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October SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 6 jars dilly beans
wheelie bin scrubbed
yard waste bin
2 3 jars vanilla port pears
east window repaired
old window trim
3 Xanthyreplace screen handles
yard waste bin
4 3 japanese books
washed two screens
recycle bin
5 Xanthy hat
moar apple pruning
yard waste bin
6 Xanthy flower skirt
reattached phone cable  recycle bin
7 6 jars St Clements marmalade
repair kitchen shade pull
x
8 6+ jars Awesome Sauce
taller salad table barrier
x
9 8 jars tomato sauce kitchen window screen
x
10 Xanthy beaded bag
x x
11 5 flavor eggplant cooked
x x
12 x x x
13 x x x
14 x x x
15 x x x

today's gratitude - somewhere, a farm grew the eggplants, and last Saturday a woman chose to pick them and bring them to the elementary school and serendipity brought me to where they could be found, and now I have good food

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Sunday snippets

in which our plucky heroine maintains a modicum of forward momentum...

This time of year is, in part, all about pruning. There are dry days interspersed with (hopefully) the coming rains of wintertime. I have done a bit more apple tree pruning, and am thinking that acquiring a pruning saw might be a good idea, there is only so much that can be done with my loppers, and my trusty Felco. It is always necessary to cut back euphorbia, that one four inch plant fifteen years ago has done well for itself, and scattered offspring all over the landscape.

I noticed after the first rainy day that the side yard ferns, volunteers all, had greatly overgrown the walkway and would prove to soak my legs all winter long if I did not Do Something. There was much cutting back, and I discovered that the scratchy bracken? left my hands and arms very itchy indeed. Time to get started on my DIY work gloves project!
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~ 100 day creativity challenge - day 64 ~
So, this weeks Tiny Rag Doll Nation challenge was "accessory", and after much thought, I decided that my little friends needed some tiny tote bags...

I was inspired by this exquisitely beaded 19th C Seneca figurine from the Metropolitan Museum. Years ago I did a lot of bead embroidery, and I still have a lot of supplies. Some faceted black seed beads were stitched as a decorative border around all the edges of a little felt tote bag; I modified the size and shape of the Ann Wood satchel pattern to add a flap, making it more like a messenger bag.

It took most of two evenings of peaceful sewing to stitch the beadwork, and when I was done, I decided to add a little metal lotus blossom to help weigh down the outer flap, so it would stay closed. While rootling around in the bead bucket I found some vintage hooks and eyes, and it occurred to me that they would make a very suitable closure for Xanthy's waistcoat:
I think that Xanthy looks ready for whatever they may find out there, and since they are not wanting to give the black boots back to Nandina I had best be busy about making some new boots for her, and a tote bag for her as well!
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I've been reading up about figs and persimmons, how to prune them properly for better fruit set and a healthier tree. One thing at a time, but the tasks, and the learning, never end... Am considering starting a hard copy notebook of yard/garden/food plant info for reference.
The squirrels this year are becoming truly pesty, going bonkers digging holes in any soft dirt they can find. This week I built a new taller barrier for the salad table, using the long straight shoots from pruning the apple tree, and once I get the bird netting properly stapled in place it should serve all winter. I planted the greens that were sent to me, mostly kales with a few lettuces, and the determined purple shiso, which I have been using to flavor a jar of vinegar.
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beauty in the time of isolation - day 219:

very seasonal, and these are Xanthy's namesake - chrysanthemums!
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October SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 6 jars dilly beans
wheelie bin scrubbed
yard waste bin
2 3 jars vanilla port pears
east window repaired
old window trim
3 Xanthyreplace screen handles
yard waste bin
4 3 japanese books
washed two screens
recycle bin
5 Xanthy hat
moar apple pruning
yard waste bin
6 Xanthy flower skirt
reattached phone cable  recycle bin
7 6 jars St Clements marmalade
repair kitchen shade pull
x
8 6+ jars Awesome Sauce
taller salad table barrier
x
9 8 jars tomato sauce x x
10 Xanthy beaded bag
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 - a surprise watercolor paintbox tin showed up here from Amazon, with no indication as to who had sent it... further queries eventually turned up that my artist pal Marya was the generous source of this new inspiration... I shall have to clear away enough space on one table or t'other to do some painting!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

wistful Wednesday

in which our plucky heroine keeps busy in the kitchen...

The beginning of the week felt rough, in part the combination of not getting outside for walks because rain, and intense feelings of both missing my friends IRL, and a wave of despair about the timeline we are living in. As I cannot change much, am trying instead to focus on the small bits of world that are under my hands...
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~ 100 day creativity challenge - day 63 ~
Xanthy and Nandina came with my on my morning walk today. Last week I added a bit more detailing to their eyes and faces, and today I played with Photoshop to do something different with the crop and process images than what I usually do...
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I made tomato sauce yesterday, (storing tomatoes in the freezer makes for easy peeling, but takes up a lot of space, multiple spheres not being very compact) 10# = eight jars for the pantry and there was just about two tablespoons left in the pan, so I made "kiddo pizza" as a snack. Toasted a slice of sourdough bread, spread it with the leftover sauce, and sprinkled it with grated cheese... microwave to melt, and eat it up yum! (I can't eat commercial tomato products, so homemade sauce is a real treat. Now there will be some tomato based meals this winter)

notes for future reference: 8 oz jars, 1T lemon juice, 1t sugar, ½t salt, ½" headspace, process 35 minutes 
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sometimes you just need to listen, and the world will tell you what you need to hear next...
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Gradually working through various seasonal preserving tasks, as best as can be managed given the shortages of canning supplies. I want more applesauce for certain, and more marmalade.
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beauty in the time of isolation - day 215:
it isn't pink...
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October SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 6 jars dilly beans
wheelie bin scrubbed
yard waste bin
2 3 jars vanilla port pears
east window repaired
old window trim
3 Xanthyreplace screen handles
yard waste bin
4 3 japanese books
washed two screens
recycle bin
5 Xanthy hat
moar apple pruning
x
6 Xanthy flower skirt
reattached phone cable  x
7 6 jars St Clements marmalade
repair kitchen shade pull
x
8 6+ jars Awesome Sauce
x x
9 8 jars tomato sauce 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 - online acquaintances who share music I would otherwise not likely hear, that is wonderful..

Monday, October 12, 2020

and it is flannel season, all of a sudden

in which our plucky heroine replace the percale summer sheets with the fluffy flannel of fall...
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~ 100 day creativity challenge - day 62 ~
Xanthy got a little embroidered felt waistcoat, to go with the rest of her forest goth outfit...
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Local tomatoes stashed in freezer = tasty condiments for future meals...
400g whole tomatoes
3 to 5 chili peppers
2 small ginger knobs
6 cloves garlic
30ml Thai fish sauce
½ c cider vinegar
450g sugar

400g whole tomatoes
Blend 400g whole tomatoes,
peppers, garlic, ginger, and Thai fish sauce.
Add sugar and red wine vinegar.
Bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, finely chop another 400g tomatoes.
Add them to the pan, and gently simmer.

It will take some time to cook down...
Keep watch so it does not catch and burn
When suitably thickened, jar and process

5+ 4oz jars - ¼" headspace - process 15 minutes
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I also made up a batch of St Clements marmalade, using the oranges and lemons on hand...  at 225 F it was a mite overcooked, and the lemon peels became a bit tough, alas. I don't usually combine the two peels together, and if later on in citrus season it is possible to get organic blood oranges, I will try and put up some more marmalade. Fingers crossed for pomelo as well, that makes the BEST candied peel...
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October SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 6 jars dilly beans
wheelie bin scrubbed
yard waste bin
2 3 jars vanilla port pears
east window repaired
old window trim
3 Xanthyreplace screen handles
yard waste bin
4 3 japanese books
washed two screens
recycle bin
5 Xanthy hat
moar apple pruning
x
6 Xanthy flower skirt
reattached phone cable  x
7 6 jars St Clements marmalade
repair kitchen shade pull
x
8 6+ jars Awesome Sauce
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 don't remember where I first read the tip of freezing whole tomatoes, but it means that it isn't necessary to faff about with blanching and boiling water and skinning hot slippery nightshade fruit... by simply putting the ripe tomatoes in the freezer, and then removing as many as needed for a recipe, as they thaw, there is a "window of opportunity" when the skins most handily slip right off the still frozen fruits

Friday, October 9, 2020

Friday fragments and folderol

in which our plucky heroine rides a bicycle six miles...

to a destination and home again - contactless pickup at the hardware store. There is now more caulk, and a roll of spare windowscreen, and some spackle, and little insulated wire staples. The lattermost was immediately put to work reattaching the loose wiring along the east wall under the repaired window trim. It was easy, since the correct bit of hardware had been acquired! Now if only the hardware store also had the right window screen pull handles, but alas, those must (hopefully) be acquired via Amazon, based on a guess made by looking at a fuzzy and pixelated image... fingers crossed that they will prove the Right Thing!
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~ 100 day creativity challenge - day 61 ~
The week six challenge in Tiny Rag Doll Nation is "embroidered" I knew that Xanthy wanted a hat like the one Nandina had, the wonderful pointy Ann Wood hat. And a few rows of embroidery seemed just right. Now I am wondering about also making a little embroidered felt waistcoat… their goth outfit seems like it could use another layer?
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This brought tears to my eyes, and also gave me an idea of how to make the tinyworld folk another animal companion...
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October SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 6 jars dilly beans
wheelie bin scrubbed
yard waste bin
2 3 jars vanilla port pears
east window repaired
old window trim
3 Xanthyreplace screen handles
yard waste bin
4 3 japanese books
washed two screens
recycle bin
5 Xanthy hat
moar apple pruning
x
6 Xanthy flower skirt
reattached phone cable  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 have the best friends

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

wishful Wednesday - structural improvement

in which our plucky heroine is most grateful for help received when asked for...

about three weeks ago, I somehow noticed what had become invisible, in the way that things seen all the time do, and realised that the east window of Acorn Cottage was in very sad shape indeed:
Former Owners were pretty clueless about how to do things correctly...
   .  
There were actually several layers of boards of various shapes nailed together to fill in a space and create a contour that looked like a windowsill without actually being one and without ANY thought as to how the wet weather would intersect with what they built. And yes, it was quite rotten. Crumbly dry rot that I was able to remove by hand, for the most part. I mean, I am not a trained carpenter but even I know that things need to be put together in a way that guides weather Away and Out from the House Parts, not the other way!

so, after some phone consultation with Mr Dawson, I began to remove the rotted wood. At the very bottom, is the venerable original windowsill, which is still sound. Apparently the original color of Acorn Cottage was farmhouse red with black trim, based on the colors of the lowest layers of paint!

All the rotted windowsill filler removed. This was two weeks ago, and there was rain in the forecast. I cleverly wedged closed cell pipe insulation in the gap temporarily, and covered it all up with a double layer of duct tape to keep rain from infiltrating until the weather cleared (which is did a week later)
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Just last Friday, Bill called and suggested that Saturday would be a good option for fixing the window, and most of the Mud Bay crew showed up here in their motor home around lunchtime. It was a rare treat to see dear friends in the flesh, rather than in the pixel world! I will admit, there was much petting of beloved Toshi the Wonder Dog, as well as much washing of hands... I have not touched another living being since before the pandemic. The child of the household is now three years old, and has become Larger and Much More Verbal. I was charmed. Ariadne and the kiddo went off to do some grocery shopping for me, and Bill got to work on the east window:
After removing ALL the trim from around the window, Bill then removed enough of the shakes from around the window to be certain (thankfully) that there was no internal damage to the wall surrounding the rotten trim

Once extra layers of protective materials were added, and new pre-primed trim fitted in place, it was time to begin carefully replacing the shakes. Most of them were able to be fitted back in their original spots, with a few cuts needed in spots to adjust for the new trim boards

repairing and replacing took hours of fiddly work, and it was well after dark before the project was complete. Since I lack an outdoor worklight, the floor lamp from the living room was a stand in, by removing the lampshade, and putting in the brightest bulb in the house, it gave enough light...

East window with new trim in place! Visible above the trim is the new flashing and drip edge. The whole thing needs another coat of paint, as well as some primer dabbed on here and there, but that will likely have to wait til next year, as cold rain is not compatible with a durable paint job.

(edited to add on Friday 10/9) Next on the list is to retack the phone wire that is dangling below the windowsill; ordered some insulated cable staples from the hardware store last night, and after a six mile round trip on my bike this morning for a contactless pickup our plucky heroine was able to do just that ...


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Tuesday tidbits

in which our plucky heroine is surprised...
 
 ~ 100 day creativity challenge - day 60 ~
Last week the tiny rag doll challenge was to make something using flower petals... which I found quite challenging as a concept. When I finally discovered a hair ornament in a box of craft supplies here, a black velvety flower, I thought to myself... hmmm maybe a little goth outfit could be an option, but somehow, Nandina is not the goth type. So, I decided to make Nandina a new friend. My original thought was a freckledy redheaded girl with some long braids. I found some speckledy natural linen and started on a new tiny rag doll.
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this is Xanthy... this morning they discovered the pumpkins growing through the hedge in Karla's yard. They are Nandina's new friend and housemate... I'm always a bit surprised at how each creation quickly shares their personality and preferences. They are a bit of a scamp, a bit of a goth, and very much non-binary. Xanthy let me know right away, for example, that they didn't want the long braids I'd envisioned, but for me to cut their hair a lot shorter...
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I bought two large (1 gallon) tomato starts from the local garden center, and was very happy with my Stupice and my Oregon Spring harvest this year. I managed to keep them alive and happy, and there were enough for salads and a few BLT sandwiches. I did a good job thinning the apples on the tree this year, and the fruit was very good sized (Next year I will try and get the nylon fruit protectors on the baby fruit, as that will mean that the good sized apples are not all wormy, I forgot to attempt it this year alas) My small young quince tree (planted in 2018) has 14 quinces which I will harvest next month
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beauty in the time of isolation - day 194:
black-eyed Susan flower
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October SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 6 jars dilly beans
wheelie bin scrubbed
yard waste bin
2 3 jars vanilla port pears
east window repaired
old window trim
3 Xanthyx yard waste bin
4 x x recycle bin
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 - there is no end to creativity as long as life and breath hold...

Monday, October 5, 2020

Monday music and miscellany

in which our plucky heroine is sitting here looking out the window watching a hummingbird getting nectar from the fuchsia bush in my front yard.
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~ 100 day creativity challenge - day 59 ~
the class on Saturday was great, and these decorative stitching patterns are not terribly hard to do. The most difficult part is to pierce the holes, and I would like to try using the little drill press for that next time.
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making preserves and pickles is a labor of love... of course, growing food to eat is also a labor of love. My Mud Bay friends gave me some of their garden bounty, including a massive amount of green beans. I decided that making dilly beans, which I've never done before, would be a good plan. While they only need a short processing time, cutting the beans to fit the jars was rather tedious. They need to sit for a month before they are ready to eat, I am curious to find out how they turned out...
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beauty in the time of isolation - day 193:

indeed we do....
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this is dark, but good, like the kind of chocolate I would eat if I ate chocolate more often than once in a blue moon....
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October SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 6 jars dilly beans
wheelie bin scrubbed
yard waste bin
2 3 jars vanilla port pears
east window repaired
x
3 xx x
4 x x 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 - green beans from Mud Bay


Friday, October 2, 2020

Friday folderol and fragments

in which our plucky heroine has ups and downs...

From my friend Countess E, regarding her solution to garden pests...
So my solution is removable covers made of welded fencing and stainless steel zip ties by my excellent spouse. These are large and a bit unwieldy but not heavy, and I can usually rassle them on and off without help. A couple are extra tall to accommodate Brussels sprouts and such. I can attach shade cloth with clothespins as needed, and bird netting ditto during strawberry season
something like this would be ideal for my garden beds, the mesh could be covered with bird netting, and the Nasty Bushytail TreeRats would be foiled from their eternal destruction!
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~ 100 day creativity challenge - day 58 ~
three Japanese-style book blocks that I am preparing for the class Saturday morning on "Japanese Bookbinding Workshop: Fukuro-toji variants"; we will be learning different decorative stitching patterns to hold the paper covers to the book blocks.
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Squirrels have been wreaking havoc in the planter boxes and large pots. Like they do. Grrr.

Earlier this week an early morning bike ride to my local medical clinic, so that I could get my flu shot in comparative safety, catch up on some of the regular though long put off health tests, and meet for a brief visit with my primary care doctor. As the clinic has a new piece of equipment, I got the results of one of the three tests in just six minutes, rather than waiting several days, as will be needed for the rest of the bloodwork. Very pleased to find out that the lifestyle changes I have been making are reflected in my test results. It was novel to be riding my bicycle out in the world with an actual destination, both of which are conditions that have been missing for months now. I may attempt to get out on my bike at least a few times before the rains start in earnest, I miss that sensation of free movement.

All this week, much more raking of plum windfalls, and the yard waste bin is almost too heavy to move. In addition, I cut away substantially more of the understory of the plum thicket, with my eventual goal being able to easily rake underneath there, and to have the trees be a bit more open to sunlight and air, while still preserving the delightful enclosure. I also pruned a bit more of the apple tree, thinking I can use some of the prunings to create a different style of covering for the salad table, to facilitate planting the baby winter greens...

I then scrubbed out the wheelie bin, which was still sticky and fragrant from the crushed and ferementy plums, and was already beginning to draw interest from Danger Bugs. Tied some rags to the end of a long dowel, and several rounds of warm water in a bucket made a huge difference. I'll set it in the sun to dry, and then can move forward on various small pruning of the fruit trees. We are supposed to have almost an entire week of dry and fairly warm, so I can even attempt further work on the plum thicket.
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beauty in the time of isolation - day 190:
large fuzzy buds of future new growth on this tropical-appearing plant...
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Since the Tiny Rag Doll World challenge of the week is "flower petals", I decided that Nandina needs a new friend, and said friend will be a bit of a gothy-girl... Mostly because the only faux flower petals I could find were some black velvety rose petals that are part of a hair ornament. Stay tuned for further developments...
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October SMART goals (x=extra)
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 x wheelie bin scrubbed
yard waste bin
2 xxx
3 xx x
4 x x 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 made it through yesterday, and then was able to sleep in til almost 8 this morning, and am feeling rested. Between yesterdays obvious deteriorata re F, and then spending over five hours on hold to Verizon, with no useful result, I was worn to a ravelling... Hopefully today will be an improvement, as I have already managed to achieve more...and it is not even lunchtime!