Wednesday, December 31, 2008
1. I love old movies. I'd almost rather be watching TCM than anything else. I love seeing a glimpse of past culture, seeing what people found funny, sad, entertaining or riske a long time ago somehow makes that time in history more real. I also just love the sound of an old movie - modern movies just don't sound that way anymore.
2. I have a fear of toilets overflowing - seriously. When I'm stressed out, sometimes I'll have nightmares involving a toilet that won't stop overflowing. I'm not sure why exactly, but the arm chair psychologist in me thinks maybe control issues are at hand...Either that or the scary, old fashion power flush toilets in my grade school scarred me for life!
3. I was obsessed with horses as a kid. I would plead with God to just let me have a horse and a lot of my play time involved pretending to ride. I was actually lucky enough to take lessons in high school, and I'm pretty proud of having that particular skill. I haven't ridden since college, which makes me really sad, but hopefully some day I'll have a little extra money around for some horse time.
4. I the youngest of three sisters, and we all shared one room growing up. It was the half-story upstairs of our house, but still, the teen years were pretty rough!
5. I think Katherine Hepburn was just about the coolest lady ever. She's my favorite actress, and I love her strong will, no-nonsense next to the moments of softness she played. I can usually identify big time with her characters.
6. I love to plant gardens, but sometime around August, it just gets to be too much. The heat gets the better of me and I get super lazy, and the weeds take over. I'd love to have a beautifully maintained garden one day - hopefully I'll get a little closer with T's help this year :)
7. I love sitting in rocking chairs - we grew up with la-z-boys my whole life, so sitting still in a chair can be a real challenge for me! I think this might actually be behind the knee pain I'm starting to experience, come to think of it!
Since Cheryl and I share a lot of bloggy friends, and I don't want to double tag them, I've just got one tag-you're it. Anyone else that wants to play along, please do!
Katherine at A Book, a Nap, a Dog
Saturday, December 27, 2008
So I made up some bread at the first chance, and it was so dang easy with this thing. My hands barely got floury people. The only tricky thing is knowing when you've got the right consistency or worked the dough too much or too little, since your hands aren't actually in it. Oh well, I'm willing to have a little adjustment period! This loaf came out beautifully, and was practically half-gone shortly thereafter. Yum!
Friday, December 26, 2008
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Since I had an extra day off today, I thought I'd finally take the time to hop onto the meme train, and answer this holiday related one from Cheryl.
01. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Definitely wrapping paper - so many pretty designs, and I'm a sucker for paper folding, and making the stacks of boxes all neat and pretty and shiny.
02. Real tree or artificial?
Well, I grew up with artificial, and I have an artificial one I got for cheapo in college. The thing about them is you only have to buy the tree once. I do very much want to have a real tree, but can't seem to make myself part with the money this year. The real thing does look and smell so wonderful.
03. When do you put up a tree?
Just after Thanksgiving. I like having it up and enjoying it for a while. Why not have the extra pretty up for a good long time? :)
04. When do you take the tree down?
Usually just after New Year's. I'm usually ready for it, but it's sort of a depressing day. All the fun and prettiness are over, and the real long haul of winter has just begun. :(
05. Do you like eggnog?
My goodness, yes! Oddly enough, though, since I very deeply hate eggs. But usually if you add enough cream and sugar to them, I can be persuaded to love them. Not to mention bourbon.
06. Favorite gift as a child?
The first year Cabbage Patch Kids were super big, my parents worked together to make all three of us homemade versions. Three dolls would have been a lot of money. Mom did sewing and Dad painted the eyes on. When I think of the time and effort involved, and remember sitting outside their bedroom door as mom was tyring to hide and work on them, I feel really lucky.
07. Hardest person to buy for?
Probably my Dad.
08. Easiest person to buy for?
My niece! Good books are a very easy sell with her.
09. Do you have a nativity scene?
We did growing up. I don't think I'd have anywhere to put it, now....
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I really don't know...Can't think of anything that bad.
11. Favorite Christmas Movie?
I have three! Charlie Brown Christmas Special, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and It's a Wonderful Life. Does Meet Me In St. Louis count?
12. Favorite Christmas Song?
That's a hard one to answer! I think my favorite carol is The Carol of the Birds, and my favorite secular song this year is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
13. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Oh, stay at home fer sures.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I can't remember if I have or not. I'm going to go with no, but that doesn't mean I never will, in an appropriate way, of course. :)
15. Favorite ornament or theme color?
I love silver and gold sparkly things! I also like a mix of handmade, "natural" looking stuff mixed in with the fancy things. Oh, and I super love my Victorian tree tinsel - it's thin, shiny twisted metal strips, so you can reuse it.
Well, what're your answers?
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I haven't done any embroidery in years, so this was a really fun and gratifying project. I simply cut out two layers of my shapes, and did any stitching that went through one layer only, like the hearts or the bird's eyes and wings. Then I layered them, placed the ribbon for the hanger, and used my machine to sew it into place. At that point, I trimmed up the edges to make them flush, and I was ready to stitch them together. For the star I went with the can't-go-wrong running stitch, and I trotted out blanket stitch for the bird. Blanket stitch was a little trickier, had to look it up first to remind myself, first. I really love the look of the stitching on the felt, so I'm pretty sure I'll be making more of these for my own tree!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
(Yes, it is sitting on a pillow. That's the only way I can get it into some natural light these days. Stupid winter. )
Well, I accidentally bought whole bean coffee the other day, and had a chance to get reacquainted with it. I think the hardware's rather nice, don't you? So, to grind coffee, you put your beans in the little hopper at the top, and turn the wheel. Peek in every once in a while and make sure the beans are feeding down in, listen to the comforting grindy-crunchy sound, and that's it. When you're all done, just open the little drawer, and there ya go - fresh coffee, ground by your own little hand.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
This is another so easy, so fun project that leaves you feeling giddy because the results are pretty darn cute. You simply take adhesive backed, business card size magnets - which I found in the most random aisle at Joanns - and you cut them into 2'' squares. This leaves you with a little left over piece that's odd sized, but still very useful.
You then pick our a cool fabric scrap, or fun picture from an old book, or just anything that will stick to the magnet, and lay it on there! Trim off the excess, and blammo, you have a unique, adorable magnet! The project creator advised using a little fray check on the edges of the fabric, to keep the little threads from going crazy. I also coated mine with Mod Podge, for a little extra protection. I kept thinking how epoxy would've been way shinier and cooler, but oh well. Maybe next time.
Now - it's winter. All of the other creepy crawlies that I expect to find wandering the house are gone. It was kind of warm this day, but come on! This guy was at least 1'' long, so I don't think he's a newborn.
Well, after the startle in me settled out, I obviously was intrigued enough to grab the camera. He really was a cool bug, and had the funniest hesitant gate. He actually reminded me of a picture book I read all the time, about gnomes and bugs and fairies. He looks exactly like one of the characters! Anyway, I thought he was kinda cool, and maybe just a little out of place.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
You can almost watch the sun come out from behind the clouds, then go back again in these pics.
I'm having a little love affair with jars, now, too. I just love the light going through their different shapes and colors, old jars and new.
Friday, November 28, 2008
I used some old painting canvas I'd had around for years as a liner, to make it really sturdy. The outside is a linen-like fabric, and I used a heat and bond film to applique the three dots. Easy peasy. Like always, the hardest part was wrapping my brain around sewing the lining to the outside and turning it inside out... Which I actually gave up on and just turned the seam allowances in to face each other and just sewed it all from the outside. Phew, much easier on the noodle, and looks just as good.
In order to carbonate, you have to add one last blast of sugar for the yeast to eat up - yes, those bubbles are just yeast gas (tee hee!). There are a lot different ways to do this, and this batch we're trying out using dried malt extract (DME). We dissolved the DME in about equal parts water, and boil it for around 10 minutes, to make sure there's no bacteria hanging out in it. Then we gently added it into the beer. Now we're really ready to bottle.
We siphoned the beer out of the carboy, previous to this, and into the bottling bucket, which has a spigot. At this point, you just turn on your spigot and fill up the bottles - carefully. There are little things you can attach to you spigot that make it easier - they fill when touching the bottom of the bottle, then stop as soon as you remove the pressure. Ours broke a couple of batches ago, and it wasted a lot of beer, so we're sticking to our spigot.
Well after 50, give or take, there you are - 2 cases of beer, made by your own little self. Sadly, we have to let these guys bottle age. If we drank them now, they wouldn't be fizzy and they might not taste as great as they will in 4-5 weeks. With cane sugar, you can usually drink after about 3 weeks, but DME takes a little longer. So, here they are, back in the coat closet, silently becoming delicious. Eat up, eat up, little yeasties.
Since there's usually a few sips that won't go into a bottle, we tested this out, and guys - it was good. It's always a pleasant surprise when it turns out the way you'd hoped. It tastes like wonderful, fresh, creamy Guinness - better than any I've had bottled or draft, in the U.S. or U.K. So, now we have another reason to be excited about Christmas Eve - we can celebrate by cracking open our own yummy Guinness!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I also made some simple stocking ornaments to go along with the birds, in matching fabrics.
They were very easy to make and I think they turned out sort of darling. And who doesn't love something with pretty ribbons attached?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
This is curds and whey, people! Let's shudder briefly for Little Miss Muffet, who hopefully was eating cottage cheese. The milk solids, well, solidify into a sort of custardy texture, separating from the whey. Now it's time to cut the cheese! Well, okay, cut the curds...
This is K deftly cutting the curds in a sort of grid to gently break them up, so that they will be ready for the next step, reheating up to 105 degrees, being "slowly moved around," as the instructions told us to do.
After hitting the temperature and with additional stirring time, our curds began to sort come together more in the whey, and ended up looking like this...
Kind of groty, right? I'm not gonna lie to you, at this point, there is an unfortunate (but faint)baby spit-up odor in the mix, but the path to cheese is not without its perils...Well, okay, it really sort of is - it's miraculously easy. Next we drained off the whey - K making a lot of great whey puns all the while. We were shocked at the amount we were left with, momentarily convinced that we had created matter. Here's the curds separated from their pal, the whey.
Now comes a series of trips to the microwave for short periods of time, to heat and then separate more whey. Then comes the stretching, when K bravely handled the piping hot curds, stretching and unifying everything into something that looked like, and - hey - actually was cheese! Before the very end you add in a little salt or herbs or hell, whatever you want.
There it is! Mozzarella cheese! This first batch took maybe 45 minutes to an hour, and the second batch really took just a half-hour, as the directions said it would. Here's the glamour shot of the cheese, right before we sat down and put it to good use with the help of some crackers.
Isn't it pretty? It was damn tasty, too. In addition to cheese, we also used some of the whey for a pizza dough, and made what is darn close to a salted caramel ice cream. All in all, it was a very fulfilling day in the kitchen. As Ricki the Cheese queen says, it's just the beginning of our cheese adventure!