Saturday, February 28, 2009

New Beginnings

That's going to be the theme of our Mother-Daughter meeting tomorrow. Thing 1 and I figured that since we had to have a theme, and "Themes are Stupid" wasn't an acceptable one for this group since they're a bunch of overachievers, we'd get people to talk about the new things they were doing. She was amenable to any of my crazy schemes as long as a) she didn't have to talk about her feelings and b) there was birthday cheesecake involved. I'd planned to make it tonight, but it's too late now.

I offered to gel-draw some Feegles across the cake, but she said this group wasn't into them and so I should save my efforts for her actual birth day. I think practice wouldn't be a bad idea, but I don't have either the gel or the time, so we'll go naked cheesecake. Snort.

As she's growing older (almost 14! Where did the time go??) we've been enjoying watching movies together. Recently, we watched and talked about "The Matrix" trilogy. I walked into the living room the next day and saw this:

It's Fred, immediately post-freeing by Morpheus and the gang -- you can still see his ports from the "battery fields." She cracks me up. Thank goodness for Magz toys. 1000 uses, one small box.

The baby apricot tree has put out little buds, and I'm thrilled to think of a future with Blenheims in it. New beginnings, indeed.

Today's garden pickings. The new beginnings out there are, obviously, the seeds and seedlings taking the place of the pulled things. Poor broccoli raab. Once such a nice, bitter, rare green, and today perhaps I pulled all of the remaining stems of it and composted them. [Even my sister had started leaving bundles of it, lovingly picked for her to take home, in the refrigerator "accidentally."] There wasn't enough garlic in the world to render it edible any more.

So in place of some of it went a dozen cippolini onions, with a backup band of "True Siberian" kale and some tat soi. They've both done well and been delicious, so while we're waiting for the tomatoes and peppers to grow very big and the outdoors to warm enough for them, they can be the cool weather's last hurrah. Even though garden books remind you to reseed replacement plants every two weeks -- and sometimes I dutifully note that in my calendar -- I have yet to do it, so there are these vegetative boom and bust cycles. I overplant, forget to provide succession plantings, eat everything, and have bare soil until the next round. Maybe the garden can qualify for its own stimulus package. Real California real estate.

It's to my credit that there are no new knitting beginnings because as a result of not casting on for either another pair of Embossed Leaf Socks or a baby blanket for a friend, I'm only one sleeve away from finishing the stash alpaca raglan for my boy. Maybe he'll still fit it next week, and maybe it will be cool enough to wear a few times.

Of course I have three new courses beginning next week also, plus this session's three courses to pack up, gradewise, and the first meeting of the community fruit exchange. I had planned to make a batch of marmalade tonight for timing purposes -- if I'm going to lead a group, I should probably have trod the ground at least once. But I'm not going to. There's enough work to do and enough going on that I can let it go for tonight. And anyhow, if I'm not going to bake a cheesecake at ohmyhowlateitis PM, I'm certainly not going to break out my new jam pan and start shredding zest. Sometimes it's time for a new beginning, and sometimes it's time to go to bed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

All my fault

During one of the many, many wakeful periods I experienced last night I realized why the orange peel didn't work (or one reason; I suspect the peel isn't very "orangy").

I had a clear memory of me turning back to the sink for a second cup of water, thus rendering the syrup a 1:1 water/sugar mixture, rather than the 1:2 one called for.

Just a brain fade, probably because there are many distractions in my kitchen, but now I need to decide whether or not to re-syrup them or feed 'em to the compost and start over.

I know where more oranges are, anyhow. . .

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pretty but insipid

Taking a page from my buddy over at Homeschooling in the Kitchen, I decided to candy some orange peel today. I didn't get a lot of help from the kids, but some company.

One exciting thing, given my other activity lately, is that the oranges were foraged from an empty house. How about that? The economic crisis provides bank-owned houses with abundant fruit. Sad, really. The navel oranges were pretty, but I need to figure out a way to find juicy ones on the tree, because some were punky and dry.

After they were peeled, I cut them into strips. I tried to be careful to make them uniform, but I'm not the Queen of Details.

They were then thrice-poached,

Since Susan had said that they chopped too much pith off, I left more on, but I think it was too much. Maybe next time (if there is a next time -- this is a lot of peel), I'll trim the pith by scraping with a spoon before cutting into strips. Then they were simmered in syrup until fairly translucent, and I rolled some in sugar and left some dry for dipping in chocolate.

They look lovely, but tasted insipid when still wet -- it tasted as though the pith just held water. I can't imagine that dipping them in dark chocolate would hurt, but I don't want to throw good chocolate after bad peel. I'll taste them again tomorrow after they're drier and double check.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

First Crush

I really did finish.

The name of the pattern is "First Crush" in Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool, and should one wish to purchase this pattern, it can be had at Piedmont Yarn. It's a little thing (despite the outrageous length of ruffling), but I'm pleased not only that it's knit up, but that it's written up. Even fiddling with the leaf pattern was kind of fun. There wre the usual Keystone Kops moments due to the fact that until I sat down and typed it out, my "pattern" was scribbled numbers on a piece of used paper.

Probably not what I'd wear usually, but fun, and that's about all one can hope for, huh?

(crooked picture courtesy of a 3 1/2 year old)
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Let the sun shine

The three children who were not sick in bed and I went to Sugarloaf Mountain State Park today to check on the status of a wonderful waterfall which of course runs better when it's been raining a lot, as it has. Since rain is predicted again for tomorrow (not enough to ease the drought, since reservoirs are at about 30% of normal now), we figured we'd get in and out during the dry.

And we did, although I remember the last time we were there having that odd, liquid light also. Middle of the day, lots of trees, but just. . . not really bright. That was okay, though, since that meant hand me down sweaters made by mom. Seeing my children in sweaters worn by their older siblings just makes me want to eat them up, especially this one, the last little one. Even though she didn't want to put up the elfin hood, she was yummy:

Things 2 and 4 found the entire experience rather meditative

(Insert sound of me and Eldest daughter laughing and falling about here), and if you noticed that I looked a little tired in these pictures -- trust me, I have not put up the ones that really show the effects of the last few nights -- the dog has been getting us up multiple times during the night to go out and do his business. Seems that the heavy drinking is not in fact a sign of kidney failure, but of canine diabetes. Fortunately I have lots of experience with insulin needles due to a couple of exciting pregnancies, so I'm the one shooting him up every day.

The fact that he ate an entire cheesecake that Thing 1 inexplicably left in her room today is probably not something I'm going to share with the vet during next week's glucose tests, though.


In more cheering news, when we came home, this is what the enormous walnut tree in the neighbor's yard looked like:

Doesn't the chicken coop look like something out of a movie about dust bowl farmers? I'm not one to willy-nilly cheer the chopping of large trees, but this one has dumped an enormous amount of leaves on the chicken wire over the chickens, making it dark in there, but more importantly, it shaded a huge part of our yard. Urban farmettes live and die by the sunshine hitting their yards, and this effectively doubles my growing area. It also means I don't have to dig up and move the Fuji apple tree right by the coop into a sunnier spot, as I had planned to do. Maybe I'll pop a fig tree back there instead!

So the next time it's really sunny, I'm sending the oldest kid up into the front yard street tree with strict instructions to trim out enough leafy branches that the sun at least dapples into the yard. The new persimmon and apricot trees are beginning to bud out, and I just put out six of a variety of rasp-and boysenberries out there. Come on, sun!

And tomorrow, I'll have pictures of an actual finished knitted object. Amazing, even to me.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Come on, rain!

There's a storm forecast coming my way. In fact, one weather site uses the words "drenching rain" for tomorrow night.

Potentially 275 gallons of summer water for my garden. Whee!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

That time of year again

I love watching my Thing and many others play ultimate. We even had a beautiful break in the rain for the game.

She caught. . .

And fell right down.

And she popped up

And got off a nice pass

Which was also caught.

Whenever I go to a practice or game, I don't recognize her on the field at first. She always seems so much bigger than I remember her being. Once I reset my view of her, she's a lot of fun to watch.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I got something done

The Hat fit for a Boyfriend in Louisa Harding's Grace Silk and Wool in a colorway that might have been called "Oh, So Incredibly Blue."

I like the decreases pattern on the top -- this is before blocking, on a smaller head. After I saw it from the side,

I had some serious worries about the length, even though I had carefully measured and then made it about an inch longer. So I brought it in and blocked it, and it covers my ears, so I hope it will cover Eric's too. If not, I guess I can pick out the top and redo it.


Only three more projects in the works and I can cast on for an hourglass sweater for me, in a green tweed that's talking to me as I speak.

In other news, I spoke in front of a City Council meeting last night in support of a project I've been planning. It would have been much less nerve wracking (I don't generally mind public speaking) if not for two circumstances:

1) I was called to come and speak about 40 minutes before the meeting, and

2) The person who called me used up all but one of my talking points in her off-the-cuff remarks, so I had only one thing to say. Fortunately, the council had lots of questions, so all I had to do was answer them and it worked out okay. It was a nice start.
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