Friday, February 7, 2014

Welcome, Sesame!


Sesame is officially our dog! She is a work in progress (aren't we all?), but in the 3 weeks she's been at our house, she has learned the basic commands, how to be nice to our cats, how to ride in a car, and house manners.


Of course, I also taught her how to shake because every dog should know that! Little smarty pants got the idea in 5 minutes, and now she's a shaking fool. Anytime my hand approaches her, she daintily offers up her paw. 


Sesame came from Grateful Dog Rescue in San Francisco. I don't get on my soapbox often, but let me reiterate that there are plenty of great pets in shelters and rescue organization that are waiting for a home. Please consider them first when you have room in your family to add a new member.


She has claimed the purple recliner as her own, and I am hoping that she'll pull a Mingus so we can kick that nasty chair to the curb.


Although I tried to convince myself that we were a 1-dog family, the speed at which this all happened proves that we had a black hole the size of a GSD lurking in the background. Once again my life is full of obedience classes, my hands smell like dog treats, and my heart is full.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

So, This Happened...


More details to follow, but the short story is that we're fostering (and hopefully adopting) this little girly dog. Mingus is smitten, the cats seem to not give a crap, and we are all adjusting to life with +1 dog.

Dialing in a new dog is so much work. I take for granted all the time we've put into Mingus until a guest dog comes along who is clueless. She's bright and eager to please, so at least the work is fun.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

He Tries So Hard to Fit In


Sadly, Mingus, you are not a cat. Greaseball and Fifty can see you, even when you curl into a tight ball and squeeze your eyes shut.

Yes, the cats are cliquey. No, I don't feel sorry for you.

Now, get off the bed!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Refilling the Staples

Although I often yearn for a substantial, unstructured stretch of time, I've come to the conclusion that unstructured time and me do not mix. So with 5 days to spend at home, the boy and I tackled some house projects and food projects that we've been meaning to do. I'll spare you pictures of the house project since most of it involved replacing some cabinets (2 cars and 2 trips to the furniture store to pick it all up), and clearing junk from the old cabinets so we're not storing the crap we haven't touched for the last 10 years.  However, there are plenty of food pictures.


A side effect of brewing and bottling beer is that once in awhile, you'll end up with a flat bottle. Since it pains me to toss anything that resulted from so much work, we transformed a bottle of flat porter to honey mustard. Again, I used this recipe, but I added an extra 1/3 cup of black mustard seeds. The resulting mustard is thicker and spicier than my last attempt.

I also took over the mash for the chestnut beer that we recently brewed. After hounding the boy about his inefficient mashing methods and spouting off better ways I researched (but never tried) to hit the target gravity, he relinquished the role to me so I would stop. My main complaint was that he was "cheating" on achieving the target gravity by increasing the amount of grains instead of simply stirring the mash more. With my timer set to ding every 5 minutes, I stirred often and adjusted the heat. And guess what? This batch will hit target with the specified amount of grains so long as the yeast do their job and convert all that malty goodness to alcohol. This success does mean that I am locked into doing the mash, but it suits me and my OCD ways quite well. So long as I don't have to wash those giant pots, I am happy to help. It has crossed my mind that I was lured into doing this...


Have you read Cooked by Michael Pollan? My favorite part of the book were his private cooking lessons with Samin Nosrat, and I wanted to make her sugo recipe. Mincing 5 red onions, 3 stalks of celery, and 3 carrots was a job for a food processor, but since I just sharpened my knife, I tackled it by hand. Since I started the recipe, with everything already chopped, almost at midnight, I didn't roll into bed until 5 AM. It was about 2 AM when I started to wonder why I had to make the tomato paste from scratch. Still, the results were satisfying and I have enough meat sugo for at least 6 more dinners.


The boy and I also folded enough wontons to feed us for months. Admittedly, this could have gone faster if I remembered how to fold them, but once I made an emergency call to my mom, I got it sorted out. The tutorials I watched online were different from what I remembered doing as a child - I'll have to make a video of my mom folding since she is speedy. When coupled with the crab or turkey broth that I canned, wonton noodle soup can be mine in under 10 minutes.

We also cooked our first live crabs (horrifying to me, but not to him) and made a tasty vegan mac-and-cheeze. If you make the mac-and-cheese, you can use a neutral oil to make the roux instead of Earth Balance.

If you have foods that you make in bulk for quick, weekday meals, please share them with me in the comments. Bonus points if you link a recipe.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

How do Californians with an aversion to cold have a white Christmas? We go to the beach, play in the ocean (stand up paddle boarding is quickly becoming my favorite water sport), and dig holes.




I love how he crafted himself a bed with a pillow.


Happy New Year! May 2014 be your best, craftiest year yet!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Point Isabel Cowl

The Point Isabel Cowl is a luxurious cowl that can be dressed up, dressed down, and worn by everyone. It is a must-have accessory for both women and men!



 

Although the resulting cowl looks intricate, this pattern is easy to memorize and great for working on while at the beach or while watching a movie.

Going for a retro look? Pair two high contrast colors like blue and white or red and white.  Going for a modern look? Pair two muted colors together like black and gray.

This pattern includes a tutorial for the sewn bind off.





Thanks to my awesome pattern testers and the Ravelry Free Pattern Testers group all your help! If you are a Bay Area peep, you can see a sample cowl at The Yarn Boutique.

Bucket of Chicken and Orange Foods



In my quest to use every last scrap of yarn in my stash, I made these tiny chickens for my knitter friends. The free pattern is from Mochimochi Land, and you can find it here. Yes, they were a random gift, but who doesn't love chickens? Most of them are gone now, and my only regret is that I can't take any more cute pictures of the brood together.



In that same spirit of "use what you got," we've been eating a lot of orange foods. I have a backlog of carrots and winter squashes from my CSA, so the carrots have morphed into a French carrot salad with raisins and toasted nuts, and some of the roasted winter squash pulp (this time I used honey nut squash, a sweeter cousin of butternut squash) was transformed into an easy flan with toasted hazelnuts and Gorgonzola. Both recipes were based on ones in Dorrie Greenspan's book "Around My French Table," the first cookbook I've been compelled to buy in ages. I first checked it out from the library, and after renewing it as many times as I could, I was convinced that it would be a worthy addition to my cookbook collection.


Mingus has found another buddy, or is it the other way around? I was startled out of my daydreaming when I saw a flash of GSD butt run past my kitchen door. When I walked outside, I found a husky-GSD mix dog as friendly as can be walking around the front of my house. It turns out that she belongs to a neighbor's friend, and that she had been visiting with Mingus for some time. Mingus often sits on our front deck, and these two have been in love with each other for a few months. I invited her to our backyard, and these two ran around the yard for two hours before they had to part.


I don't think either one of them wanted to be apart, though, since I found her sitting outside my front door after the playdate was over. Then, she walked over to the kitchen door and stared at us. If it weren't for the wrath of our cats, I would have let her inside, but Greaseball and Fifty would never forgive me.


She's a goofy dog who has an unfortunate name (she is named after a sexy female character). I can't even type the name without feeling gross, and I've been trying to think up reason why someone would willingly name her that. One friend suggests that her owner wants to say, "I sleep with ***!" Ew, ew, ew!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Flow

Can you spot the dog? Yes, that's him running amok with the poison oak!

The time from Thanksgiving until New Year's is always a blur. Traveling to fulfill familial obligations, holiday prep and festivities, and work combine with shorter days and colder weather. This, in turn, makes the passing weeks speed by and I'm always left wondering how it got to be the middle of December when just yesterday it was August.

Does this photo make her butt look big?

Fifty-Fifty and I have been fighting over who gets to sleep on the hearth. Yes, it's stone. Yes, it's dangerously close to the glass window that is so hot my bare skin will stick to it and sizzle off. However, it's the warmest place in the house and that little kitty and I can sit there most of the day (and we still are too cold). Maybe we are both part snake.

Evidence that Mingus is a dork, part 1.
Last weekend was the 24 Hours of LeMons race at Sears Point, and because I'm part snake and because a company holiday party with an open bar was the evening before, I was miserably cold and underdressed for the event. Mingus, however, loves this day and he looks forward to it all year long. He's told over and over again that he is a beautiful dog (*rolls eyes*), and he gets to shake his pom pom and lure suckers over to him. Once a sucker is near, he leans on them and leaves a metric ton of white fur on their black pants. He's an asshole like that.
Evidence that Mingus is a dork, part 2.

Evidence that Mingus is a dork, part 3.
I have so much crafting going on, but none if it is sharable just yet. My newest pattern (a cowl!) should be ready to release next week, and I'm busy knitting my 3rd one for a LYS sample. I also have some adorable knitted things that I really want to show you all, but it has to wait until after they are gifted.

Speaking of gifts, for any of you local Bay Area peeps, The Crucible's art sale is this weekend! It's the only holiday craft fair I attend, and I usually finish off my Christmas shopping there. Can't wait!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Crocheted Things


Is it a sting ray? A bat? A bird? I intended it to be one of those things, but my intent wasn't obvious. This finger puppet doesn't live with me anymore, so I can no longer stare and brainstorm ways to make it look more like what I wanted it to be. That's a good thing.


At least this tortoise toy looks like a tortoise, but before I decide to crochet again, I need to remember my deep breathing exercises because damn those loops get tight! This toy tested me in many ways, and now I'm stuck with a huge bag of polyfill that is larger than my yarn stash. 


As is the way with handcrafted gifts that I'm making for the first time, I become frustrated in the 11th hour and I hand it over to the boy to finish. His job was to add the eyes and the mouth.  He did a commendable job on both.


This is our melting jack-o-lantern, just a few days after Halloween. It was rigid and proper for most of the day, but as I was leaving the house I noticed it leaning a little to the right. By the time I returned home, only a couple of hours later, it had melted completely and was laying on our doormat. Our poor, poor pumpkin ended his life in our compost bin, so at least the worms will be happy.

Oh, but it has not been all about frustrating projects and melting pumpkins in these parts. These November days are ridiculously warm and sunny, and the beaches are the ideal place to enjoy them. I know we need more rain and that these sunshine-filled days are cutting into potential snow time, but I'll savor them while they last.



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Allspice Dram, Part 1


Last Friday, I had a cocktail at Five that has had me thinking about it since the first sip. It's the Lion's Tail. The Lion's Tail combines the bourbon, lime (so odd to have lime with brown spirits),  bitters, allspice dram, and simple syrup - it sounds like those ingredients are from a random cocktail generator, but they worked! They really worked!


Allspice dram is an ingredient that I can't see myself using very often, which is why the $30 price tag for 375 mL was off-putting.  Could I make it? Several people have, and they say that in a mixed drink, the homemade version holds its own. 1 ounce of whole allspice berries were $.094 in the Mexican spice section of the grocery store. One cinnamon stick is roughly $0.25. We had some crap light rum purchased ages ago from Trader Joe's, too, so the price tag on the homemade version was convincing me to DIY.


I lightly crushed the allspice berries, the whole 1-ounce package, and tossed it into a mason jar filled with rum and a wee bit of vodka (I didn't have a full cup of rum). The next step is to break a cinnamon stick into the mix after a few days, and then to strain the mixture and combine it with a brown sugar simple syrup.  I also want to put some nutmeg and cloves into the mix. This will be something totally undrinkable on its own (liquid Christmas is what it reminds me of), but hopefully it will make one hell of a Lion's Tail.

Don't feel like making this? Then get yourself down to Five and try one for yourself. They have a "cocktails from famous hotels" (link opens a .pdf to some fascinating reading) series going on, and I would have tried them all if I wasn't such a responsible adult in charge of getting us all home.

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