Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hmmm...

You know, although I think the blog's new look is pretty - the more I look at it, the more I realize it isn't really me. Yup - I like it, but it's not my usual style. Not sure in what way I'm going to change it yet though, so it's staying until I come up with something better.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beautifying

As you may have noticed, I have added a title graphic to my blog. I changed the background color too. These are just some of several changes that I intend to bring about in the process of beautifying the blog's layout. Please bear with me, as it is possible that you may walk in on the blog while I am in the process of experimenting. If you have been on anytime within the last two hours, you could have seen any number of versions of the current title graphic as I posted, adjusted, reposted, etc. I think I'm happy with it for now - but you never know. I may hate it tomorrow and start tweeking it again.

Please feel free to give me any input you may have. Anything hard on the eyes, too contrasty, etc.

Thanks much!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I'm sorry I haven't felt much like writing lately. Probably because I've been so tired at the end of each day from all of the housework and gardening.

I started Spring Cleaning last week - mostly concentrating on the kitchen. I emptied out the fridge and scrubbed it down. What a repulsive task. I will never let it get that bad again. NEVER. How it happened in the first place is beyond me - but I will definitely be keeping an eagle eye out for anything that may have been forgotten and pushed to the back and I will get it out of there before it developes its own eco system. My husband and I have developed a new system and we are both going to follow it: brand new leftovers go on the top shelf on the right. The next day, they get moved to the second shelf and anything new replaces it on the top. The next day, they get moved to the bottom, and the day after that, if they still have not been eaten, they are tossed. That's it. End of story. Should be easy enough to follow, right? Also, every night or two, one of us will poke our head in there and check the non-leftovers (lunch meat, fruits and veggies, etc) for expiration dates and any signs of going bad, and anything that doesn't make the cut is history.

Also, all dishes will be washed (unless they absolutely need to soak overnight) before bedtime. If they don't fit in the dishwaser, they will be handwashed. Otherwise, I'm finding that the kitchen explodes rather quickly. This is especially bad in our house, because the kitchen is all open to the rest of the main floor, so if it's a disaster, it feels like the entire downstairs is a disaster - and then I stress over trying to catch it all back up again. From now on, I will simply not let it get to the point where it will need to be caught up.

Next week: Laundry room. I don't know what happened, but I can barely get in there. And that makes me put off doing laundry until somebody complains that they are out of underwear, because shuffling everything around to get the washer or dryer door open is such a pain in the patoot. Now, the laundry room is really tiny, and we have a two year old, and this tiny laundry room is a convenient place to shove things too keep them out of reach and/or sight of the two year old, as well as last minute guests. But, when we do that, we need to go back later and take those things back out of there and put them where they belong.

Obviously I have veered away from accomplishing my New Year's Resolution to keep the house in order. I'm trying really hard to get back on track. I think that some aspects of my housecleaning schedule need to be tweeked. For instance, I'm finding that trying to do all of the laundry twice a week just isn't realistic for me. I think I'm more of a one or two loads every day kind of a girl. One load of laundry is much more likely to get done than six. I can do lights and darks one day, jeans the next, towels the day after that, etc.

Anyway, it's getting late, and I feel like I'm beginning to ramble. So that's it for now.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sourdough Cinnamon Buns and Easter Eggs for Grownups

I've caught a yucky bug that's been going around, and I'm feeling pretty crummy, so this will be brief. I've had a very busy week trying to catch up on housework (only to get sick and have it all go back downhill again) and get ready for Easter, which is why I haven't posted in a while.

One of Jon's coworkers gave us some of his sourdough starter this week, which was very awesome of him. It was given to his wife's aunt fifty years ago when she moved to Alaska and her neighbors found out somehow that she didn't have any bread starter. So, they gave her some of theirs. We have no idea how long it had been around then, so we don't know how old it really is, but we do know that it is old. Jon and I made these with it yesterday for Easter dessert.

All I can say is WOW.

Best cinnamon buns EVER.

Well, okay, they were a little too gooey for Jon, but he's weird. He's not huge on Cinnabons(R) either. Weirdo. (He says he does like our rolls - he just thinks we should go lighter on the filling next time. Whatever).

We left out the nuts and raisins because we were serving them to Jon's dad, who is Picky, with a capital "P." (He approved, by the way. Said they were delicious.) However, we did freeze a section of uncooked rolls that had the pecans in them. Jon thinks nuts will help. Well, duh. Nuts make everything better.


Also, I made these:

I like to call them Easter Eggs for Grownups.
Instructions are here. I used cheesecloth to hold my plants in place instead of the nylons that the instructions called for because, oddly, I happened to have cheesecloth (which I never have) and I did not have any old nylons (which I always seem to have, although I rarely wear them). I must have purged them when we moved. The cheesecloth made a little check design in places, but I rather like it.

(Please note: these are hollow eggshells. If you are going to make these with boiled eggs instead of blown eggs, please DO NOT EAT THEM - especially if you don't know if the plants that you used for the designs are safe to eat. The juices could seep through micro-fissures in the eggshell, and if the plants that you used are poisonous, that would be VERY BAD. Also, I found a turkey baster works quite well for blowing eggs if, like me, you are squeemish about using your mouth for it.)

Okay, so post not so brief after all. I guess I had more to say than I thought I did.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

This Week's Projects

A quick update on what I've been working on this week:

I finished one of the Absinthe socks. I'm not thrilled with the bind-off that I used. Fortunately, I left a long tail, so I think I can take it out and redo it using a stretchier method.


(The color is a little off in the picture)

I'm taking a little break before I start the second sock, as I usually end up doing. I get one sock done, and well, I've been there, done that, and I'm anxious to get started on something else. I'll get to it eventually. The first sock was a fun knit, so I'm sure the second one won't be in limbo for long.

In the meantime, I've started on the Two Tone Ribbed Shrug from Stephanie Japel's "Fitted Knits." When I first went through the book, I really wasn't "in" to that pattern, probably because I had a hard time seeing past the colors. However, while looking for a shrug pattern on Ravelry, I came across it again. Most people did it in a single color, or used colors that are more to my liking, and I realized that it actually is quite a nice little shrug. I'm going very simple and inexpensive with the yarns - Lion Brand Wool-Ease Solids and Heathers in Grey Heather and Oxford Grey.



Also, I have finally begun to blind-stitch the border of Jon's Husky-colors quilt to the quilt-backing. The picture below is obviously one that I took before cutting the batting and borders down to size and pinning them in place.


(Again, I'm having trouble getting true colors - that should be more purple, less navy blue)

I also ought to update you on the bread experiment. The first loaves of bread that I made lasted only through the weekend, so Monday, I made two more. I was out of whole wheat flour though, so I decided to try the basic White Bread recipe from the same cookbook.



This one has milk in it, and I think that made a nice difference to the texture. It rose better too, and that probably had to do with a combination of things:
A.) I used a candy thermometer while heating up the liquid this time, to make sure I got it warm enough to make the yeast happy, without getting it hot enough to kill it.
B.) I used the bread-proof setting on my oven. This sets the oven at 100 degrees. Last time, I just filled a bowl full of warm water and set it underneath the bowl with the dough in it.
C.) There was no whole wheat in the dough. Whole wheat bread (from what I've heard, anyway) doesn't always rise as well as white bread.

These loaves lasted through the week. Yesterday they seemed to be getting pretty stale, so Jon turned what was left into french toast.