365 Project – Week 17

I know I’m a little bit late this week with the 365 update, but it’s been a crazy weekend of bird-watching, garden-watering, and Tekken-playing. Because we’re awesome, that’s why.

365 2012-04-21

Pay no attention to the fact that the top name up there bears a striking resemblance to #2, which is a thinly-veiled attempt by my friend Jonathan to psych me out. The true situation remains that I beat him by over 10,000 points on In Bloom in Rock Band, and no amount of fiddling with the high score display will change that.

I also totally killed it on Blitzbrieg Bop on expert bass mode, much to our mutual surprise.

365 2012-04-22

Sometimes work days are a little slow on the creativity, but Dan came out punching with the smoothie-making right before I left. Yum!

365 2012-04-23

Bowie found a new place to nap in my office. Now he can track my every move in here from someplace other than my lap or the back of my chair.

365 2012-04-24

Breakfast for dinner! Scrambled eggs, sausage, and spinach is our go-to thing to make when nothing else sounds worth the effort. Delicious!

365 2012-04-25

Dan and I gussied up a bird feeder that had been languishing under our patio and put it out in the open where the birds could enjoy. Since then, it’s been crazy bird times out there. I predict that when we get to our 60s, we’ll be out in the woods with binoculars, counting warblers while wearing funny hats.

365 2012-04-26

A new kitchen experiment, created by Dan. A neighbor gave us a big bag full of hot peppers from his garden, and we filled them with homemade mashed potatoes and bits of ham and then baked them, turning them into tiny little twice-baked potato pepper bombs.

Dan enjoyed them, but I was physically unable to eat more than two before being forced to hold in a mouthful of milk for several minutes to quench the burning. Oh, the burning.

365 2012-04-27

Our library opened! This significance of this event is probably not immediately obvious, but New Orleans East has been without a proper library since Hurricane Katrina. Nearly seven years with just a little mobile-home-trailer Bookmobile sitting in an empty parking lot, but now it’s a real place with lots of great brand new stuff. I intend to be a loyal patron.

SUPER-BONUS-PICTURE-BECAUSE-I-WAS-LATE-TO-POST-THIS-WEEK:

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Baby possum! Opossum? Possum! This little guy likes to cut through our yard every afternoon for some reason, and the first time he was spotted, he trotted into the garage and seemed to make himself at home. He is adorable and probably vicious. I hope he figures out a new route if he chooses to become less skittish and unfriendly. Right now, he’s just big-eared and cute.

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Buried Treasure

I feel that I am a fairly crafty-type person, but there’s one lady who totally puts me to shame with her ridiculous body of work. That lady is my grandmother, Winnie.

Back in the day, she was a crocheting, quilting, pottery-glazing, porcelain-doll-collecting machine. She made quilts for every single member of her family in all stages of their lives. The ones for me featured Cheer Bear and little gingham cats cavorting in a field of flowers, lots of pink and purple.  The quilts she made for herself were a great deal more classy, flying geese and flowers, interlocking rings and nine patches. She has much better taste than my twelve-year-old self, obviously.

When Dan and I first moved in, we had to go through a bunch of boxes of my grandparents’ old things, and we found – amongst the copious amounts of Christmas decorations, model cars, and porcelain dolls – a number of treasures like photo albums, diaries, and a project journal that my grandmother started that featured photographs of every quilt she had made since the early 80s. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to find another treasure.

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I was going through closets to find Goodwill donations today, and I found a super-cute kitschy little project bag that I wanted to try to use for some knitting projects.

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There were some bedsheets or something tucked in on the top, so investigation commenced.

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Is that embroidery?

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Holy crap.

Yes, this is a giant cutwork embroidered tablecloth, in progress, with everything needed to finish it. Just sitting in my closet. For months, at the very least. Who knows when my parents picked this up and stuffed it in here, not knowing what was inside?

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Look at all that beige goodness!

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And all that incredibly complicated work that has yet to be finished.

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I wonder when she stopped working on this, if there was any particular reason. Did she put this aside a really long time ago because it wasn’t capturing her attention or because it was too much work or just not what she wanted to work on at the moment? Or was this a casualty of her quickly developing Alzheimer’s a few years ago?

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I wish I could ask her, but she doesn’t often remember who I am.

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Back to the moderately amusing observations, eh? What on Earth are “japanned” hair pins?

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I’m assuming it means that they are black lacquered. What do they have to do with embroidery?

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And what was the plan for all this crochet thread? Matching placemats and coasters?

So many questions!

Well, we have a very large dining room table that needs covering with something classy, and think this may be just the ticket. Loads of satin stitch might seem boring, but it’s much more my speed than attempting to repair the quilt that she gave me before I left for college that has slowly succumbed to age.

Now I just need some sort of long TV series to get on Netflix to accompany me through all this work. Any suggestions?

Cabbage Overflow

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I made the infinitely intelligent decision to harvest the ginormous cabbage from our garden right before it started to rain. This resulted in a fairly comic tableau of me running into the house, starting to become covered in mud, holding onto the giant stem, raising what must have been like a ten pound cabbage over my head like some sort of crazy umbrella.  (Seriously, look at that thing!  It’s the same height as a decorative beer stein.  It’s the size of a bowling ball!)

That totally seems like something that would happen in a children’s picture book — all of the characters running around with different vaguely-umbrella-shaped objects over their heads during a rainstorm…cabbages, large birds, side tables…I’ll stop now.  I’ve been spending too much time in children’s book land.

Now, what does one do with so much cabbage? After washing it out and discovering what seemed to be an inordinate amount of tiny slugs, of course.

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Make an insane amount of coleslaw! Is coleslaw one word or two? Let’s stick with one, just to be consistent.

Coleslaw That People Who Don’t Even Like Cabbage Will Eat
adapted from 200 Super Salads, Coleslaw

Ingredients:
1 head of green cabbage
1/2 head of purple cabbage
4 carrots
1 red onion

Dressing:
1 1/2 cups of mayonnaise
2 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper
squirt of spicy brown mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Finely shred the cabbages, carrots, and red onion in your food processor. Do it better than I did. Try to make less of a mess, if possible.

Make the dressing by beating all dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl and seasoning to taste. Toss the cabbage mixture with the dressing and let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving so that the flavors can do a little mingling. And before you ask, the name totally rings true. Dan is not a cabbage fan, and he had himself a big helping and is even suggesting more of it for dinner tonight. We may have a cabbage convert.

Now, what to do with the outer leaves? In the past, I’ve made more traditional cabbage rolls to mixed reviews. I wanted to try to make something a little more crunchy and summery to bring for lunches at work.

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Lettuce wraps are a thing, right? In this house, we’re on the cabbage wrap train.

Curried Tuna Cabbage Wraps
adapted from Cooking for Two, Curried Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients:
2 cans (5 oz.) tuna fish
2 celery stalks, chopped
6 tbsp. mayonnaise
4 tbsp. dried cranberries
3 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. chopped dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
tiny squirt of spicy brown mustard
4 cabbage leaves (break off the large vein at the base of the leaf to make them easier to roll)

Directions:
Mix all the the tuna salad ingredients together well, seasoning to taste, if necessary. The original recipe then has you stuff this delicious stuff into some tomatoes, but spooning some into cabbage leaves, rolling them up, and shoving them into your mouth is also fantastic.

There we go, two ways to use up all that cabbage that I am probably the only person inundated with right now. I wish I had this problem with something slightly less good for me. Like I needed to hurry up and find several ways to use up a whole bunch of chocolate-covered strawberries and rare steak before it went bad. Hmm…our anniversary is coming up soon.  Hint, hint.

365 Project – Week 16

I didn’t take the first picture for this week. Dan did, but somehow I think I’ll be forgiven.

365 2012-04-14

Now, this might be cheating a bit, but no other moment that day or picture that could have been taken would have make me quite as happy as this.

That’s me. In the Curious George suit. I think at this particular moment, George was contemplating how to best set up his tent for his camping trip with the man with the yellow hat. It was awesome.

I was in the suit for about 30 minutes, and the little fan in the head that’s supposed to cool you off was not working. It came with an additional “fatty suit” to wear under it, but I decided that I had plenty enough padding on my own. All complaining aside, the little kids giving me big hugs afterward and waving goodbye to George made it all worth it.

365 2012-04-15

The Southwest Anklets bubbling away in a bath of Soak right before blocking. Is there a more satisfying feeling in a knitter’s life? Nope.

365 2012-04-16

My first crawfish since moving back to New Orleans. Oh, incredibly spicy potatoes that make my entire mouth burn with goodness! How I’ve missed you!

365 2012-04-17

More crunchy woolly goodness for a new hat, this time for yours truly.

365 2012-04-18

The beginnings of Claudia, the more delicate cabled partner to Dan’s Knotty, but Nice. I’m past the cable-y bits and right in the middle of the twisted ribbing and loving it.

365 2012-04-19

This little guy joined Dan, Bowie, and I during our breakfast, and he and Bowie talked a little squirrel-talk. I imagine it went like this:

Squirrel: Hello. I’m a squirrel.
Bowie: I want to eat you.
Squirrel: Hello. I’m still a squirrel, and I’m doing squirrel-type things. Right here. In front of your window.
Bowie: I want to eat your face right off.
Squirrel: I’m a squirrel!

That went on for several minutes as the squirrel investigated our window, our bikes, and the area where Dan sprinkled some birdseed while transplanting the bird feeder. Bowie was nonplussed, vibrating with instincts he did not quite understand.

365 2012-04-20

This is what happens after you get crazy rain for two days straight and then full on sunshine for two more. Your garden goes insane. The little garden bunny statue was an Easter gift from my parents, and he’s watching calmly as the cucumber intertwines the zucchini and the cauliflower becomes sentient and starts demanding human sacrifices.

Unfortunately, next week will not include a picture of me dressed up as a beloved children’s book character. It’s all downhill from here.

Design Choices, plus New Socks!

When we last left Jinger and her socks-in-progress, the mood was less than savory. Remember? Yeah, me, too.

It took a few days of pouting, but the agony of the situation is all over. And now I have some cute new socks!

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My newly completed Southwest Anklets. Nice, yes? And what’s that bright orange bit hiding under there?

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Bam! Orange toe!

Yep, went with the popular choice (not like I really needed too much convincing), and although it’ll always be that project for me, I’m still quite pleased with the results.

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I’m delighted with my stripe management here. I made a deliberate decision to not let the pair line up whatsoever. If you get it right, it’s so, so right, but if you get it slightly wrong…just barely mismatched stripes…I cringe just thinking about it.  That type of stuff bothers me to no end.

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It’s better to make a big decision and have it be a choice rather than a happenstance occurrence. Anybody else who has ever been in a design class (probably theatrical design in particular) knows exactly what I mean. Grab those irregular stripes and that crazy orange toe by the horns and own them.

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And then feel safe in knowing how few people will ever care or possibly even notice this tiny little point that you spent hours deliberating.

Then kick up your feet and enjoy the hell out of those socks.

365 Project – Week 15

I’m a bit late to post these this week, so I’m just going to get right to it, in all its leafy, fruity, crafty glory.

365 2012-04-07

Getting the dough prepped for my Dutch Apple Pie for our Easter picnic. Lovely stuff.

365 2012-04-08

My view while resting on a picnic table bench at the park during our lovely Easter picnic. I didn’t realize how much I missed Spanish moss while living in Colorado.

365 2012-04-09

Cucumber plants are just plain delightful.

365 2012-04-10

My cabbage is ready to explode out of the ground and into my kitchen. I’m so ready. I have my cole slaw recipe all picked out. (Sam’s Coleslaw: a Rough Recipe from A Sweet Spoonful for you curious types.)

365 2012-04-11

Working in a bookstore and having friends who do as well has its perks. I’m set for reading for the next little while. I wish I didn’t tear through the young reader stuff so fast.

365 2012-04-12

Dan and I took my mom out for some much deserved yogurt. Of course, this was only after we realized the marble slab ice cream place we originally wanted to go to was all closed up. I’ll stop pretending that this was an actual problem.

365 2012-04-13

I have more fun than I should when we make crafts with the kids at work. This is my totally awesome kite from last night, as should be self-explanatory, as modeled by the lovely Maria.

In other news, I totally wore a Curious George costume and pretended to, among other things, start a campfire, get sprayed by a skunk, and run up a tree. I do it all for the kids, guys. Seriously.

You have got to be bleeping kidding me.

So. This happened yesterday.

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Notice the fact that the toe of the sock is not yet done. And note the fact that I only have about 5 inches of yarn left. With no other stash of this particularly unique stripey yarn. See those hash marks on the bottom, and how there’s supposed to be two sets of eight of them…and there are only between 5 and 6?

That’s when my brain exploded a little bit.

After I relaxed for a second, and I put my brain back together, I pulled out some possible contenders to fill in the tiny bit of toe that’s left. Here’s are the least offensive choices:

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I’m leaning towards number 2 from the left. The ones on the right are more mottled, and I think that would just be a little too obvious. Number 1 on the left is lovely, but it has silk in it, and a toe is not where you want softness and cuddliness. A toe is where you want toughness and strength and kick-ass-ittude.

Number 2 is roughly in the same color family, just a bit more vibrant, very slightly mottled in this tone-on-tone sort of effect, and just some nice sturdy wool and rayon blend.

What do you guys think? Weigh in, and I’ll stop being angry and just finish the damn socks already.

This is what happens, Larry. This is what happens when I try to knit only from stash. Goddammit.

A Perfect Picnic

How do you make the perfect Sunday picnic? Spend your Saturday morning making pie and potato salad, of course!

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My kitchen counter should look like this every Saturday.

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Get out your Betty Crocker cookbook and slice up some apples. Try to get particular about peeling them properly, but lose the muster quickly.

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Make a fluted crust properly for the first time in your life. Stand back and admire things for a minute while no one is watching you.

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Fill it all up! Top it with crumbly goodness and bake it.

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Dutch Apple Pie! Perfect for a springtime picnic in weather that already feels like the middle of summer.

Inbetween all of those steps, because you can’t not do at least two things at once, at least, if you’re me, which you are in this scenario, make your favorite potato salad. (That’s a lot of commas!)

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My absolute favorite is everybody likes sandwiches‘s Incredible Lemony Potato Salad, but made with small red potatoes instead of Yukon Gold. It’s pleasantly mayonnaise-less, which makes it great for picnics, or anything else involving warm weather and transport. All of that celery, basil, and lemon zest gives those potatoes a real brightness and tang.

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I’ve made it more times than I can count, and it never lasts long in my kitchen.

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Schlep it all down to a lovely park (Fountainbleau State Park in Mandeville), with some added sandwiches, fruit, wine, and bicycles, and you’ve got the makings of a perfect picnic.

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Dan and I conquered some very winding and swampy bike trails, including a moment where I very nearly skidded out of control and could have landed either in a giant mud pile or ran into a tree. Luckily, neither thing happened, but, according to Dan, I looked really cool while avoiding certain death.  Because we do not use the camera during these things, we will never really know, but I will gladly assume it to be true.

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I also made it out of the park with only one mosquito bite, which is pretty much a miracle. Usually I am serious mosquito bait. Plus, I’m super sensitive to the bites. At the end of most excursions into the wilderness, I am a blotchy, itchy mess.

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We definitely earned that lunch. White wine (Riesling, my favorite) and lovely sandwiches of roast beef, ham, tomato, and baby Swiss on wheat bread. Might be my new sandwich du jour.

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Dan traded out his cheese for jalapeno peppers from our neighbor’s garden and radishes from ours. You can’t see the sweet, sweet pain on his face here, but it was hard for him to get through that sandwich, delicious though it was.

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Of course, we couldn’t forget that amazing potato salad, plus fruit salad that I threw together with apples, grapes, and strawberries with just a touch of sugar and cinnamon. I’m not ashamed that we basically ate the whole thing.

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After lunch, we went on a trip to see some alligators. Dan was desperate to see an alligator. Little did we know how lucky we’d be on that front.

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Some of us look really cool while awaiting an alligator.

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Others spend our time doing our best alligator impression.

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This is not zoomed in or doctored up. The alligators basically swim right up to the docks, making you wonder how many people completely disregard the giant “Don’t feed the alligators” signs that are posted.

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It was almost like I’d already been there.

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After another bike trail and brush with mud (considering how finicky and prissy I am because of how frightened I usually am to ride my bike, this picture is a badge of honor), we sat down to eat our pie.

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A perfect ending to a perfect day.

I hope that everyone had a really lovely Easter, and that you spent it with people you love, doing things you love, just like we did. We might have to make this a tradition.

365 Project – Week 14

Well. It’s been a week of serious ups and downs.

And the ups! Oh boy, were they some delightful ups. Let’s take a look at them. Those that can be photographed, anyway.

Ups.  I just wanted to type it one more time.  What a weird little word.

365 2012-03-31

I was playing around with our tiny portable tripod to see if I could get a picture of all of my nails altogether, and I noticed that I had a cute, tiny spy watching me.

365 2012-04-01

Rodney’s Snowballs! A great way to finish a day of very sweaty and strenuous gardening. I’ve got cherry there, and Dan’s got some grape going on. Rodney’s, although very small and a tiny bit…dodgy, has always been my favorite place to go for snowballs. They put a gummy bear in the bottom of your cup so you have a little surprise at the end! Their ice cream flavor is my absolute favorite, but I wasn’t ready to have my whole mouth dyed yellow.

365 2012-04-02

Strawberry Shortcake! This was the extra pretty version that soon got toppled by way too much extra whipped cream. It was fantastic.

365 2012-04-03

Hooray! Got my acceptance letter for nursing school in the mail and promptly did a little dance in my chair. I can’t wait to be way too busy come fall. I wasn’t even peeved that they spelled my name wrong. Well, not much anyway.

365 2012-04-04

Banana bread, prepped and ready for the oven. I’ve started throwing all of our slightly soft bananas into the freezer as soon as it’s clear no one’s going to eat them and making lots of banana bread to slice up and freeze for later. It makes a great breakfast or snack, as long as you’re patient enough for it to defrost.

365 2012-04-05

Bowie in the early morning sunlight that creeps through our kitchen window. Although not much that morning, just the fact that the sun was shining at all was a relief.

365 2012-04-06

Nearing the toes on the second Southwest Anklet!

Here’s hoping that next week has just as many delightful up-related moments. I have a feeling it will. So far, there’s pie and potato salad, picnics, and a large Curious George costume in my future…what could go wrong?