Sunday, November 28, 2010

3 More Books In 33 Days

So, there I was cruising along on my goal to read 100 books by the end of the year, and now with only 3 books left to go and over a month in which to finish them, I'm really stalling.  I'm not sure if I've lost my drive or have just taken some detours into some tough books.

As always, I'm reading more than one book at a time.  Andy laughs at this, but some days I feel like humor, some it's history, and at other times I want a murder mystery with lots of bodies but not too much blood, guts, or gore.  So I need lot of options around at all times.  And this system usually works for me, but right now I'm floundering just a bit.  I can't decide if it's me or the books.  After all, is it possible to be reading 3 different books and not that "into" any of them?

Problem book number 1:  Two For The Road by Jan & Michael Stern.  While the Sterns are funny, charming, and a sheer delight, their tale of when they were reviewing diners across America in order to write their first book, Roadfood, just really revolts me.  It isn't the food that they're eating (although I can't say I share their love affair with deep frying and/or fat), it's the amount they eat that keeps forcing me to put down the book because I am literally nauseated.  Eating 12 meals a day, and not in a "sampling" sort of way--they clean their plates.  It turns out that hearing about someone eating so much food is almost as repulsive as seeing someone eat that much.  I'm not sure if the charm of their wit and writing is enough to get me through this thing.

Problem book number 2:  No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting.  History AND knitting--what else could I ask for?  Well, maybe less tedious detail.  Right now I'm bogged down in how early American education was knitting & other "domestic arts" for girls and anything resembling intellectual subjects was left mostly for boys--which sums up several pages of the book without losing much.  Still, this has gotten very high reviews on Amazon, so I am determined to slog through this thing....and really hoping that it becomes more interesting somewhere along the lines.

Problem book number 3:  52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and The Perfect Crust.  Another title might be "How to take something basic that people have been doing for thousands of years and make it really fussy and difficult."  The premise is that the author sets out to recreate the "perfect" peasant bread that he tasted once in a restaurant.  Not that I wouldn't applaud such a quest, but it seems to fit into a recent trend that really gets on my nerves:  take something that people have done for a long time and tell them that it's really very difficult and that it needs lots and lots of specialty products/techniques that--Oh my!  How very shocking!--will be yours  if you ONLY buy the author's book/product/whatever.  I have seen this over & over with knitting, riding horses, sewing, cooking, gardening, and obviously baking.  It gets on my nerves.  Seriously, I'm supposed to believe that someone who is doing something as a HOBBY knows more about something that others in the past did day in & day out for a living?????  This book is--in case you hadn't guessed--the one that is most likely to be jettisoned.  Today I did read about an interesting trip to a yeast factory, and the author made me laugh several times in the introduction, but I sincerely hope no one ever reads this book without having first baked bread and realized that it isn't even CLOSE to as difficult as this author makes it out to be.

I am SO CLOSE!  I need 3 more books, and I am reading 3 books now.  This could be so easy!!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Black Friday!

In which we slept in, having attended TWO Thanksgiving soirees, both of which involved quite fantastic food.  I made my first non-sourdough dinner rolls
and aside from their mutant hyper-active yeast appearance, they turned out pretty well.  Is there such a thing as over-achiever yeast?

We did not participate in any shopping today, which is no surprise as I have yet to meet the product that could convince me to get out of bed at 3:00AM, but I think if it exists, it would involve free cashmere.  If anyone hears a commercial mentioning THAT, we'll talk.........................

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

BRING ON THE HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is officially the "Holiday Season!"  Or perhaps you're a stickler and it kicks off tomorrow with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, and I can certainly understand that viewpoint.  I LOVE this time of year--and in fact, the house is already decorated, trees and everything.  We will be attending two Thanksgiving dinners tomorrow...and will probably spend Friday exercising and wearing pants with elastic waists.  And, to truly "kick off" the holiday season, Andy raided the library system:
Clockwise starting at the back, we have a lesser-known Rankin Bass special called "Jack Frost," the Bloom County Christmas cartoon (which I didn't know existed), In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash which is the book that "A Christmas Story" is based on, a biography of Santa Clause, and a Shrek Christmas movie. 

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's 28 Degrees Right Now

I guess we got winter.  AND we can be very proud of ourselves to have planted the garlic in the snow this weekend because it isn't supposed to be above freezing all week.

Not that I'm complaining.  On the contrary--I'm all for this cold weather.  I hope it kills off the entire world population of grain moths.  I think we finally have driven the beasts from our house but that does NOT mean that I don't still carry a grudge.  With any luck, it kills garden slugs as well, but I would be content with just the pantry moths.

Other good things about cold weather;

*  It gives me a chance to wear the 20+ sweaters I've knitted over the years.  Ditto the wool socks

*  When I want to go to bed early, I don't feel like such an old lady.  If it gets dark at 5:00, one can start contemplating bed at 5:00.  This is obviously what nature intended.

*  I can make things for dinner in the crockpot that would be considered "pasty muck" at any other time of the year

*  Christmas

*  The lawn is dead and doesn't have to be mowed or watered for several months.  YAY!

*  The canning equipment is put away

*  The cats are less likely to catch any "gifts" as half their quarry flew south for the winter

*  Flannel pajamas.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Garlic Is Planted!

It's been snowing this weekend, but we did get our garlic planted finally.  It's about a month later than usual, but our weather has been so warm that even my zinnias were still alive until sometime last week.

Harvesting tomatoes in the rain, planting garlic in the snow..........having a garden is supposed to be good for our health, right???

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This One I Had To Share

I usually don't listen to much local news, but one of the local radio stations has already switched to full-time Christmas music, and I've been listening to it, so I'm getting caught up on my traffic reports and advertisements for totally useless items.  I know it's early, but I do love the holiday season, and after the whole mutant moth saga, I could really use some festivity.

One of the leading stories for today is that charges have been filed against a transgender person for practicing medicine without a license.  The medicine this person was practicing?  Giving breast exams in bars.  


This leaves me with a few questions:

A) Is groping breasts in bars really practicing medicine, and if so, why are 89% of heterosexual males between the ages of 21 and 35 not incarcerated?

B)  While I realize that there really are transgender people and that it must be a very sad and confusing state for those people and I certainly don't want to belittle their situation, if you are lying to women in order to fondle their breasts, is there really any sort of gender-identity confusion?  Doesn't that--almost by definition--make you a heterosexual male????

C)  How stupid do you have to be to believe you're getting a medical breast exam in a BAR?

And the BIGGEST question.....


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Best Laid Plans....

Last year after Christmas I braved the crazy crowds at the store to pick up some LED blanket lights for the shrubs in front of the house.  LED would save energy and last longer, and blanket lights would make it much easier to decorate.  They were even on clearance, and I made sure to put them somewhere we would be able to find them this winter.

And this spring, we ripped the shrubs out. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Think We MIGHT Finally Have Found Them All

I found a couple places still containing moth beast cocoon things, so I'm reassured that the steps I've been taking with everything that has been allowed back IN the pantry are working.  The latest offenders were a cardboard box that somehow managed to miss Andy's vacuum/bleach/bleach again/move-out-into-the-storage-shed-so-the-beasts-can-be-killed-by-the-frost attack.  We have all these serving trays/bowls/chaffing dishes/etc. that we keep in their original boxes until we need to use them--which also seem to make good pantry moth nurseries.  We're going to double-check the ones out in the storage shed later this week just to make sure we really got the beasts, but the boxes will also remain out there for the entire winter.  It was a bit frustrating to find something we missed, but not nearly so frightening as it would have been to have found a moth and NOT to have found something we missed.  Basically, I have had to recheck EVERYTHING before it goes back into the pantry, and especially the things we cleaned early on in this little moth war.  At the beginning, we had NO idea what we were truly up against, so we just didn't understand that what we were doing to combat them wasn't even going to slow the monsters down.  But, I think we MIGHT finally be on top of it, and the house is finally getting back to normal, and we think by the end of the day we'll actually be able to use the dining room table again!

Such little things make me happy lately..............

Saturday, November 13, 2010


There was a moth in the pantry this morning.

Do you think they can exist on plastic now????????

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Big Girls Don't Cry.....

But sometimes they could really use a drink.

We have washed, bleached, caulked, and sprayed the pantry (repeatedly), and with no sign of the pantry moth beasts even NEAR the pantry after the spray, I decided it was time to start moving things back in--checking everything thoroughly before letting it back in, and so far I'm to here:
Things were going well through the alcohol--I admit, that's where I started as it had never been infected in the first place and I sort of assume alcohol would probably kill the little beasts--and the things in cans, as there's really no way the beasts could ever get inside those.  They were safe, stackable, and almost completely incapable of infestation.  (It's good to work your way up on these things.)

Everything--and I mean EVERYTHING--is sealed up.  I've even gone so far as this:
because the little beasts like paper & since they were in the coffee filters, I see no reason to consider paper baking cups safe.  I realize I am going to come out of this saga with a pantry that would make me an obsessive-compulsive disorder poster child, but it's either this or move, and we're still trying to unpack from the last move, so........

Alcohol dealt with, it was time to start on everything else.


If you ever find grain moths in your pantry, save yourself the trouble and just throw out EVERYTHING that isn't airtight.  If you want to know if a container is airtight, fill the sink with water, close the lid of the container, and submerge it in the water.  If water gets inside, the moth beasts can get inside.  Trust me.

Want to know what to look for?
See that webbing?  If this were some sort of grain, it would just look clumpy.  These beasts, however, like dried bananas--the stuff I nicely did WITHOUT preservatives. Maybe THIS is why the dried bananas you buy are deep-fried.  They taste terrible, but I bet the pantry moths don't like them.
A bit of a blurred shot, but you can see the little worm-baby beast hanging out IN the webbing.  Sorry it's a bit blurry, but there was NO way I was going to take the lid off this sucker.  Into the trash, jar and all.  Ditto the peanut butter jars full of millet, cracked wheat, and quinoa, all of which contained little beasts.  They obviously are NOT airtight.

Another sign you might have pantry moths:
see those little grains of brown rice that are hanging from the jar lid?  THAT is not static.  I had thought myself quite thrifty & resourceful in reusing these glass jars from Adam's natural peanut butter, but while they might come from the STORE airtight, they're like a little pantry moth condominium.  So much for thrift.

The GOOD news is that the 4 boxes of Rubbermade containers really do seem to defeat the little bastards.  The bad news is, I underestimated the little monsters when originally cleaning out the pantry.  Just because you can't initially SEE the infestation doesn't mean they aren't there lurking.  Today I discovered several containers where I had locked the little monsters INTO the container.
That white stuff all over the lid isn't a trick of the light.  That's the webbing these little monsters spin.  Spiders have NOTHING on these guys.  A spiderweb cannot hold large clumps of grain up.  This stuff can.  And you can see a smallish worm-baby.  They get bigger.

THEN I got to double-check the kitchen table--where all these moth-infested jars have been sitting for the last month, but luckily I didn't find a single moth or worm baby.  I'd be showing you a flaming tablecloth right now if I had.

Soooo, that was MY day.  And if anyone wants to know why I am drinking a white chocolate martini at 4:30 in the afternoon, I think I have a very reasonable excuse.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Excuses

So I'm getting a little bit tired of explaining to people who drop by why we have food scattered all over the house (not to mention it seems to really gross them out), so I think we need a new story.  Possible ideas:

1.  The canned green beans are afraid of the dark and the jars of salsa didn't want to be left behind

2.  This year for Thanksgiving we decided to decorate the entire house to look like a really big cornucopia.

3.  I saw decorating with jars on Martha Stewart and decided to take it one step further.

4.  It's for a play-at-home version of Iron Chef

5.  I just love grocery shopping so much that I wanted my home to look like Fred Meyer.

6.  Serious "munchies."

7.  We were expecting a LOT more trick-or-treaters.

8.  It makes it easier to use the pantry for games of hide-and-seek.

9.  We're taking inventory for tax purposes

10.  We've decided to jump right past the "lived-in" look and go straight to the "battle for survival" look.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Overheard Yesterday At Chateau Sutton Goar



Toni - discovering skin peeling off her hand and not initially realizing it would be because she burned the hand last week.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Things I Am REALLY Hoping This Week

*  That the "death to pantry moths" spray arrives soon.  Like today.

*  That the "death to pantry moths" spray arrives before I have to explain to the piano tuner why we are currently keeping potatoes on the piano.

*  That our recent 70-degree weather doesn't encourage the darn lawn to start growing again.

*  That the "winter" stuff I diligently spread on our lawn works in spite of global warming

*  That people continue not to notice that the economy has improved from 2 years ago and that the stock market is gaining little by little.  We're making quite a bit of money on the stock market this year, because one thing I learned from working as a stock broker is to always bet against stupidity.  If Fox News won't go away, at least we can use it to our advantage.

*  That we'll finally get cool enough weather to get our garlic planted.  Like the temperatures we had in July.....

*  That the three hundred dollars worth of "air tight" containers really are air & worm-baby tight.

*  That I won't have to incorporate jars, bottles, and rubbermade containers into my Christmas decorating scheme.......

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Things I've Learned This Week

*  Getting a steam burn on most of one hand does get one out of washing dishes for several days, but still probably isn't worth it.

*  If you had problems with the tomatoes ON the vine, don't think the green ones won't have problems too.

*  It takes a long time to kill off a moth colony.

*  Handing out toys instead of candy for Halloween is a good way to make friends with both kids AND parents--unless the toys are ones that make noise.

*  If one bratty little trick-or-treater says he doesn't like your toys and wants candy instead, handing him a 5-year-old sucker is rather satisfying.

*  Don't underestimate a pantry moth infestation.  We found them in a jar of polenta that I had actually already checked.

*  My friends pointed out that if we ate processed foods with a bunch of preservatives like normal people, we probably wouldn't have a moth problem.  Sadly, they could be right.

*  Mother Nature is a great practical joker.  In July, when I wanted my tomatoes to grow, it was 60 degrees.  Now the first week of November, when I want to plant my garlic for next year, it's 70 degrees.

*  When the UPS guy shows up with the industrial-strength pantry moth spray, it would probably be best to refrain from hugging the man, no matter HOW much I feel like it.

Fall! Finally!

Even without extremely hot summers, I've always loved fall.  A little coolness in the air, leaves starting to turn, sweaters coming out-...