arrived yesterday from RobinH, my partner-in-insanity last year with the finish-100-crafting-projects goal. There is NOTHING knitters do as well as gifts for other knitters, and what could be better than celebrating reaching crazy goals than by swapping gifts?
Aside from some fantastic LOCAL yarn,
Robin sent me REAL maple syrup (drool), something called Maple Cream which I haven't heard of but sounds marvelous
and now will inspire me to find a really good muffin or waffle recipe worthy of such amazing-sounding stuff. And....
these are milk chocolate maple creams. Having only had really hideous maple-flavored mass-produced chocolates, I had no idea how amazing these would be. OMG! Seriously, these are incredible--and I'm not even a huge sweets person. In fact, they are so incredible that here's the link to their website:
* That no matter how much rain, snow, and wind we get this time of year, spring clothes are always designed for warm weather?
* That the muddier the cat's paws, the more likely it is to sit on the white furniture?
* That when someone claims that something "is a sign from God," it's never a "sign from God" to quit using God to make political statements or get bigger television ratings?
* That the people who are most likely to be screaming about making English the official language of the US are the most likely to butcher the English language themselves? I mean, shouldn't one at least be fluent in one's native tongue before complaining about the fluency of those who speak it as a second language?
* That advertising is really all about making us unhappy with the things we HAVE so we will want the things we don't have?
* That the people who seem to have the firmest opinions about all subjects--and are the most likely to share their opinions with everyone--are the ones who are least likely to have researched the basis FOR their opinions?
* That while every salesperson around can explain to me how I can be connected 24/7 if I got a new "smart" phone, none of them can explain to me why I'd want to be? What's so smart about that?
There are some things I just do not look forward to. I'm not sure if I really dread anything, but if I do, it is the annual woman's wellness exam. Anything that involves stirrups but no horse is NOT going to be good. It's really the low point of my entire year. Last time I'd scheduled the appointment late in the day, and the anticipation ruined my entire day, so this time I decided to schedule it for first thing in the morning so I could just get it over and done with. To be fair, I didn't spend all of yesterday dreading it--instead I spent all of Sunday dreading it. So that really didn't work. But, that is how I started my day off yesterday.
As I also had a haircut scheduled and some errands to run, I wasn't going to have a chance to go home for lunch, and eating out is a huge problem on a no-or-low-processed-foods diet. Before our experiment, Subway was my fast food restaurant of choice because it had the healthiest options, but now that we have mostly eliminated processed foods, sliced sandwich meats taste a lot like plastic. So I decided to go through the Wendy's drive through for a "single" (only one hamburger patty, and that there are any other options for number of meat patties explains a lot about the obesity rates in America), with lettuce, tomato, onion, and extra pickles. The only reason I even like hamburgers is that they make a wonderful pickle delivery device. I love dill pickles, so I was almost looking forward to my lunch. I went through the drive through, handed over my money, got my sandwich and cup of water, and was already well on my way to the next stop before I discovered they had forgotten the blasted pickles! Seriously, I didn't even get ONE, and by this point I was running too late to go back and make them hand over my pickles. The bastards.
Operating on the "why ruin two perfectly good days," I thought I might as well go stand in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles to get my driver's license renewed as a follow-up activity. As this was opening day for the new location, there was a long line but the people waiting were generally friendly as there was a spirit of camaraderie in trying to figure out the new system. Still, it is the day once every 8 years when a total stranger gets to ask you if your weight is the same as it was 8 years ago (um, sure........) and the worst picture you will possibly have taken in the current decade is snapped and given to you to carry around for the next 8 years. This particular picture is particularly vile as the winds were going at a nice "gentle hurricane" clip outside and I will stand a good chance of no one recognizing me from the picture unless I have used the blender to fix my hair that day.
So, in case anyone was wondering why I was in pajamas by 3:00 PM yesterday, it's because it was a no good, horrible, very bad day.............
The very first day of the Department of Motor Vehicles moving to a new location is really NOT the best day to pick to renew one's driver's license. Especially when it's already 5 months overdue anyway............
A screening of the film Zoot Suit. And how exactly did we get to Zoot Suit Riots from Tibet, you might ask?
Because this is actually a very time consuming project, we will often search calendars a few months at a time looking for free events. This works fine until they change dates of events. The Tibet lecture is scheduled for next week, so instead we thought we were going to see a movie called Chicano at the local university as part of Chicano Awareness Week. I don't know if it raised much awareness, but I assume it might have at least raised the awareness of the coordinator to A) plan ahead to actually have the film advertised, and B) to check to make sure the film you end up showing will actually play on the machinery that you have.
The movie is a filmed play about the Zoot Suit Riots in LA during World War II. I admit that while I had heard of them, I actually had no idea what the riots were about. After the movie, it's not that much clearer, but like so much of American history, they were about racism. Because I knew virtually nothing about Mexican-American history, earlier this week I watched A Class Apart on PBS online. Mexican Americans, many of whom became US citizens when we added states rather than by choice, weren't given protection under the 14th amendment because they weren't black. (Of course, blacks weren't actually given protection under the amendment either until about 100 years after it was passed, but that is a different story) Technically, Mexican-Americans were considered "white," but they were still discriminated against, beaten up, denied civil rights, and generally treated as second class citizens. I got much more out of the documentary than Zoot Suit, and I enjoyed the documentary more. Zoot Suit was hard to follow at times, especially when large chunks of the dialog and music were in Spanish, and like so many filmed plays, the over-the-top approach that can work in a play doesn't come across well in a film. But it DID raise my awareness of the Chicano Movement--largely because I had never heard of it before--and it made me aware of parts of our history that I had never really heard of, so it was a very successful evening.
Today is our first date anniversary. Not the day we met or the day we saw each other from across the room--we had met on Match.com, something we had to decide to admit or not. Should we tell people we had been so actively looking to meet someone--not just hoping--that we had joined an online dating service? Would they laugh? Would they feel sorry for us? Would they wonder why we couldn't meet someone the normal way?
We were at Bear Valley with Andy's kayaking group the first time someone actually asked how we met, and it just seemed natural to be honest. No one laughed. People were curious, some had been thinking of trying it themselves, and most thought we were rather brave to have tried such a thing. Everyone was warm and interested. Love, after all, is where you find it. Even if you have to go looking for it.
In an effort to both trim our food budget, reduce waste, AND stay on top of the no-processed-foods thing, I have started recording my grocery purchases in this little notebook
and then I go through it and check thinks off as I use them.
For the most part, this is working really well. I don't list everything because there are some things that we always buy and always use up (bananas) and some things that I didn't write down because they were "staples." And this is where I got into trouble. As of Monday--for reasons that can only be described as temporary insanity induced by getting too close to the dairy case--we had almost 4 dozen eggs in our refrigerator. This from the woman who pretty much hates eggs in any form.
Being a rather frugal person by nature and now a positive tightwad while we're on one income, I decided it would be a shame to waste all those eggs (and it being too early for Easter eggs), I made a fritatta for lunch, which in my version takes 2 eggs and enough vegetables to make the eggs unrecognizable, made a loaf of pumpkin cornbread
which used up 2 eggs and involves a super unhealthy butter & honey glaze on the top, then since I still had 1 cup of pumpkin puree left over (note to self: freeze pumpkin in 1 cup bags as well as 2 cup bags next time), I also made a loaf of traditional pumpkin bread
that isn't that healthy either and also used up 2 eggs, for a running total of 6 eggs. Aha! Down to just over 3 dozen of those darn eggs.
Being a Type A, sometimes my competitive nature takes over for common sense, so for dinner I decided to make a crustless quiche. Obviously, I'm not a big fan of quiche as it's basically an egg pie, but as long as there is enough other stuff in it, I can generally stand it in restaurants or at other people's houses, but it isn't something I've ever gone out of my way to have--it's usually more of an "I'm hungry and there aren't better options" sort of thing for me. Not having made a quiche of any sort before, this might be where a more rational person would follow a recipe. In my defense, I did look at a few, but I wanted to make it VERY vegetable heavy and with skim milk instead of cream. The recipes I looked at had no consensus on baking temperature or time, and used confusing terms like bake until "just set" and "until puffy," so I figured a recipe was unlikely to be overly helpful anyway. Time to dig in!
I decided to make my experiment very simple, so I sliced 2 yellow onions and caramelized them in about a tablespoon of butter, then mixed up 4 eggs with a cup and a half of skim milk. I thought it safest to grease my pie plate, then I put the onions in it (which almost filled the pan all by themselves), grated just a bit of Parmesan cheese onto the onions (maybe a teaspoon?) then poured in the egg & milk mixture and hoped it would all fit.
It did, but only just. I started to worry about the "puffy" part of the instructions. They hadn't mentioned any definite spatial information, but I was going to be in trouble if the "puffy" part went very far.
One hour later:
this is what we ended up with. Having never made quiche before, I'm not sure if this is what it's supposed to look like, but I can now safely tell you that the reason all the recipes use cream and not skim milk is that what you see here is basically a little quiche island floating on top of a little lake of water. Good to know. Aside from the Loch Quiche problem, it actually tasted really good--even for eggs. I might even try making it again at some point................or start paying attention to the number of eggs I'm buying at the store. One of the two................
And today's great philosophical question is: Is there any household chore more pointless than cleaning the oven? If you cook, it's just going to get messy again, and if you don't cook, it never gets dirty anyway. Shouldn't a filthy oven be some sort of badge of honor for cooking???????
Last week's free event was a tree care class at the library--again a series of 4 classes, but somehow we missed the first one. There were handouts and I took as many notes as I could, but I left the class with the firm realization that I seem to know NOTHING about anything that grows outside our house.
Last week we learned the importance of trimming trees and how to do it. Or at least, that is the theory. If we manage to trim our tree without any visits to the hospital or emergency calls to arborists, then I'll be willing to say that we learned something. Did you know that lots of tree damage could be prevented by pruning off weak branches? From the looks of the trees in our neighborhood, this isn't common knowledge, so I guess I don't feel too silly. Or at least if I am silly, I moved to the right neighborhood.
So far this year we've learned that we have been putting the wrong stuff on our soil, that we have trees that will eventually have weak branches that could be damaging because we're not trimming them like we should, that we know nothing about Japanese architecture, that we had no idea what Goodwill Industries actually does, and that my education was almost completely lacking in the "Who first discovered this place?" trivia. This week we'll be attending a lecture on Nepal, which will be fitting in nicely to our theme of "things I know nothing about." Thank heavens there's a different library book sale coming up in April. Buying books--at least THAT is something I know!
It is snowing again today. Now, I'm not sure if you have noticed, but every time I mention getting ready for spring, it snows. I must be able to control the weather--or at least the snow part. This is a very awesome responsibility. Should I use my powers for personal gain--like hiring myself out to ski resorts so they can stay open longer? Should I start traveling the world to bring snow to drought-ridden regions in Africa? And should I contact the national weather service to warn them before I plant something like tomatoes or peppers? What if I cause a blizzard in June?
With great power comes great responsibility............
I have decided to try square foot gardening this year--at least in one bed. I'm rather intrigued after watching a DVD I borrowed from the library, so I have ordered the book and when it arrives, I'll explain it in a bit more detail. Basically the idea is to divide your garden bed into square foot grids, and plant like one tomato or 16 spinach or 4 cabbages in that square foot. The closeness helps choke out the weeds (which I cannot keep up with in our normal beds--not that I try all that hard, to be fair) and it should conserve water as well. The things I like about it is the ability to try just about anything (I may not want something badly enough to plant a row of them, but I can give up 12 inches to try anything), and that you plant flowers in some of the squares. I love that. I love flowers but have very little idea what I am doing, so this will be a flower testing ground for me. I feel lots of guilt when I kill an entire patch of flowers, but if they don't grow in their little square, I just replant it with something else--no matter what it really looks like.
* Few things wake me up as fast as the sound of a kitty barfing on the carpet.
* If a backyard greenhouse comes with little tent-stakes, there is a reason.
* No matter how many times I read "plant as soon as the soil can be worked" on the back of a packet of spinach seeds, it's still hard to believe planting something in February is going to work.
* Normally I have several books I'm reading at once, but it's too complicated if two are by the same author and both are murder mysteries involving doctors.
* My former accountant is one heck of an optimist. Even after they made a foolish mistake on our taxes, got us penalized by the IRS, and didn't return any of my calls, he was apparently surprised we would fire him.
* A yearly goal such as reading one hundred books a year is something one should REALLY stay on top of, or one might find oneself almost a month behind the day the third month of the year begins.