Thursday, July 31, 2008

Brown Sheep

I got to go on a tour of Brown Sheep today. This is the second time I've taken this tour and it was every bit as amazing. If you ever have a chance to tour a facility like this, do it.

Things I learned today that make me respect Brown Sheep:
80% of their wool is local (within a two-state radius of Nebraska)
They put in a $hiny, expen$ive, water recycling $y$tem. Between reclaiming 90% of their water and not wasting energy heating subterranean water, it will pay for itself within two years. Not too shabby.
The passion the V.P. (daughter of the P) has is inspiring. She has a mind for business and is forward thinking. At the risk of offending people, it felt strange to find this in rural Nebraska. Her business acumen would be welcomed in any large city.

Alas, I couldn't take pictures. I understand why (I would have been surprised if I could) so you will just have to wait until tomorrow for my treat to you.

A picture of the goods I got in their Seconds Store...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sewing Room Semi-Final

The sewing room is not 100% complete. But it's about 90%. As I'll probably start using the thing before I get completely finished I decided it might be time to start posting pictures.

As you walk through the door the first thing you notice is

My New Cutting Table

This side (ignore the 'workspace' on top--90% remember?)--note the understorage:

That side:

Turn to the left and you will see

My Wall of Shelving and Inspiration.

I will have more of these frames on the wall because I love the way they look (and I have too many UFOs) but just look at all that empty shelf space.

The next wall harbors a large window (north facing) and what remains of my previous mess. A box of trash, two boxes of stuff that lives in other areas of the house, and a whole bunch of empty bins.

The next corner harbors my personal yarn shop (I'm hoping if my room feels like a store, I won't be as tempted to shop elsewhere.

(Of course I painted the pegboard to match. Do you know me at all!?)
Then you pass a large closet that my husband stores Every-Halloween-Costume-He-Has-Worn-For-The-Past-18-Years-And-The-Random-Cr@p-He-Collects-At-Thriftstores-Just-In-Case. It bugs me, but then again, I have a yarn shop in my room.

Next comes my sewing area:

And finally, another wall of storage (look how much is still empty!).

There is one more crawl space after this. DH puts his camp gear there. I avoid camping and the fact that his entire campsite fits into that space scares me. That is one helluva tiny hotel room if you ask me.
But then again, I have 250 square feet of temperature-controlled space to sprawl in while he's camping.

Love That Pasta

One of my favorite things about being an adult (i.e. not under my parent's roof) is that I can make pasta whenever I want. I love pasta of any kind and DH doesn't even enjoy talian restaurants because I can make the same meals for pennies.

Look at the stunning color of this creation:

Pictures don't so it justice.

I made normal old spaghetti. I pureed some roasted beets with a little soy creamer and sea salt. Then I sauteed the beet greens in olive oil, garlic and chile flakes. I tossed the pasta with the beets. Topped it with the greens. Added a dallop of sourcream and sprinkled with marcona almonds and Fluer De Sel.

Kids ate it (minus the greens). DH did not like it. He has a fear of beets but he did try enough for me to be satisfied that he truly didn't like it. I loved it.

But, oh that color.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Recently I found an ice-cream maker at a thrift store. It was $4.99 and I didn't get it. As fate would have it, DH needed to go later that week and it was still there. It came home with me.

I have an infatuation with mexican chocolate. Ingredients vary but my favorite is strong on the chile and spices, with a gritty texture--usually from nuts. Today I made heaven. I fell in love. My kids liked it. DH says it's the best ice cream he's had. Better than Ben and Jerry (though I hesitate to type such blasphemy).

My recipe for Mexican chocolate ice cream:
  • 3 cups total of cream/milk/half-n-half/whatever you have lying around (I used 1 C. cream, 1+ cups half-n-half and the rest skim milk)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 oz (half package) dark chocolate chips
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 T almond meal/flour
  • Chili powder (I used about 1/2 t+ and it was spicy but the kids still ate it)
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cloves
  • 1 t vanilla

Reserve about 1/4 cup liquid and put the rest in a pot and heat gently. Add chocolate and stir until melted. Combine cornstarch and reserved fluid. Add to hot mixture and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and mix in remaining ingredients.

I am totally guesstimating my measurments. Just taste it and adjust as necessary. It should taste a little stronger and sweeter than you like because freezing dulls the flavor.

Chill mixture completely (you may want to put clingwrap on the surface to avoid a 'skin'). Put in ice cream maker per instructions.

Hide from your family. Don't forget the spoon.

Moldy Green Thumb

"Oh, you only need one or two plants. They'll take over your yard if you're not careful. You'd best plant them in a container."

My basil late July.

Everyone else's basil.

That's what it seems like anyway.

In retrospect, what's wrong with basil taking over a yard? I would love to sit in a yard overcome by basil fumes. I could roll around in it and market it as Parfum Pesto.

Foodies would buy it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Do I Qualify?

I made the Danish Braid that seems to be last month's daring baker challenge. I tried to get cute and make a bow at the end but it didn't turn out the way I envisioned. Luckily it tasted great.
Above is my assemblage of ingredients. After I took this picture I thought "Where are my apples?"
So I substituted four hard nectarines for the two errant apples. They dissolved into the filling, but gave it a thick, apple-butter feel.

See the windowpane? That part that looks like a hole is a thin film of well-developed gluten. When you have this, you know your dough is well-kneaded. I substitued a cup of whole wheat flour and my orange zest and cardamom are still pretty coarse, so the windowpane will tear easier than if it were a simple white dough. The warm, spicy scent of this dough is wonderful. The combination of Cardamon and Citrus reminds me of a Chai recipe I have.

Once the dough has been turned, i.e. stuffed with seemingly half its weight in butter and rolled into 54 layers of flaky goodness, it becomes a vessel for many things other than the strudel-like pastry in the recipe. Think crescent rolls, twisted churro-like sticks, and any manner of puff-pastryish concoctions.
This recipe earned a thumbs up from my family. I love that the pastry can stand on it's own without filling or frosting. That said, I think I will try a spicy pumpkin filling in the fall. I might also try a filling of caramalized onions, mushrooms and chard.

Favorite Things Friday: Cities

I haven't done a whole lot of travel. But here are cities I would willingly visit over and over again.
  • Seattle, Washington (would live there again)
  • Portland, Oregon-if I couldn't live in Seattle, this one is my second pick
  • Kauai, Hawaii-I have a dream to retire here and open a putt putt golf course with my DH. Hey if you're going to dream, dream BIG.

Daring Bakers

I was surfing around some vegan blogs and stumbled on one that talked about "Daring Bakers" and had a picture of a beautiful Danish braid. I thought it was from some cookbook and surfed merrily along. A few blogs later, I saw it again, then again. What is this Daring Baker thing?

Turns out, it's a group of people who love baking experiments challenges. They are given a new recipe each month and they make it and then blog about it.

Why haven't I heard about this sooner? I'm making the Danish Braid as I type (there's LOTS of waiting) and I will post when finished. I hope they let me in.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sewing Room

Despite DH being out of town, and my Ikea not arriving until today (not their fault--I ordered a tad late), my sewing room is trekking along nicely.

Some slight snafus:
  • My cabinets are TALL. When the table was assembled with castors I was able to rest my ta-tas comfortably on it. Seeing as I don't need mammograms yet (but get one if you do) I needed to rethink my plan. Setting the cabinets on their sides will do.
  • I need to shave the tops of my wall cabinet doors. I blame this on the previous owner as he refinished the basement and the ceiling is very dippy in places. By the time we discovered this I was unwilling to dismount and remount them. I'll leave the dismounts to Olympic gymnasts this Summer. Hopefully theirs will stick as much as mine.
  • I was moving along today during naptime and my power screwdriver battery ran low. It's a simple matter of recharge, but that takes 12 hours. I could use a normal screwdriver but I'd rather save my tendonitis for knitting.

I did some fast and sloppy math. This room is about 250 square feet. I will have all this space just for me. It's selfish I know, but it will be all mine. I hope I can live up to such a trophy.


It seems "Jerry" wasn't meant to be a full grown mouse either. After spending the day trying to get him to drink water and enticing him with oatmeal and sunflower seeds--none of which he ingested wholeheartedly--he died during the night. He seemed sickly from the start and it wasn't a surprise.

I'm certain they were from the same litter. I suspect something happened to their mother and these two stumbled out of their nest in desperation.

I hesitate everytime I enter the garage. I have visions of a baby-mouse army that knows my weakness and proceeds to invade the house and eat all my oatmeal.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'll be Darned

I got my mother to eat tofu. not only eat it, but clean her plate.

I cherish the small victories.

Here's the recipe. In our house we call it Urban Crusted Tofu in honor of my mom.

We're sentimental like that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

De Ja Vous

Guess what I found this morning?

No really, guess. What did I find this morning in the middle of my garage, squeaking and toddling around?

Another baby mouse. Yes I did catch it (I'm a sucker, I know!). I'm also putting the cat in the garage for the afternoon as his instincts are better honed than mine. Me: Oh look at the swee' wittle ears! Cat: Catch. Play. Dispose.

I am a book of hypocrisy. Bite me.

In Memoriam

Out little mouse, Taco, died last night of our monster cat throwing the Kritter Karrier off the countertop in an effort to satiate his catnip munchies and stunning the poor thing to death natural causes.

He was a pleasure for the brief time he joined our family. We will remember fondly his love of oatmeal with sunflower seeds and almond milk. His long naps curled up on the heating pad. and his sweet little ears, whiskers, and feet.

Goodbye Taco. We will cherish the few precious moments we had together.

Now, back to the Sewing Room.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mice and Men

6:00 AM:

DH: Bye. My plane leaves later today. I'll see you on Thursday.
Me: Bye Mister. I love you. Kiss the boys before you go.

6:15 AM:
DH enters room with something in his gloved hand.

DH: I found a baby mouse in the garage. Do you want it or should I put it in the bushes?
Me: I don't really need this now. Put it outside.

Dh gets halfway down the stairs. I jump out of bed. I can't do it. I can't let that baby be killed by a snake (which is, of course, the only other option it has by being freed in the 'wild' at this age). Dh was also feeling a little soft hearted: "He's just all curled up and warm in my glove."

Why this is stupid
  • Wild animal=fleas, rabies, plague, etc.
  • The whole sewing room project was started now because of mouse droppings in DH's camping gear.
  • I have a cat.

Why I'm doing it anyway

  • History: I have raised a baby mouse and a baby chipmunk before. I also had another mouse (probably a vole) that didn't survive (I was eight).
  • It's just a baby.

We live by catch and release here. Spiders, bugs, any other creatures are shuffled outside when discovered. Except Mosquitos, the bloodsucking vampire larvae that they are. I see a mosquito and compassion leaves me. This mouse, should s/he make it, will be released when s/he is able to eat seeds and leaves. The last time I did this, it took less than a week for the mouse to grow that independent.

My sons are, of course, infatuated.

As is my cat.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


There is a floor! I can't believe it, a floor! We have been painting, nailing, screwing, lifting, running to the hardware store, craft store, and thrift store, sweating, packing, unpacking, sorting, running to the hardware store...

And it looks great. Not finished yet, but great. Camera is camping with boys. I will hold pictures until the end. Which oughta happen when Ikea shows up with my cabinets. Nope, they didn't make it for the big weekend.

And did you know that paint will dry while you make a quick run to watch $ex and the City at the dollar movies? Hey, a weekend of all work would just be...

A normal weekend actually.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Favorite Things Friday: Sewing Room Organization

I'm a little one track minded today. I'm spending the weekend working on my sewing room. I have been shopping all week for the vision and I'll share my favorite ideas:
  • My sewing table is a door. I purchased it from Home Depot for 25 bucks and it already has a hole for my electric cords. I had previously priced out doors without knob-holes and called my mom to see if she still had the drill bit she bought years ago to install a deadbolt. This I where I demonstarte how slow I am. Not only are doors without holes more expensive, but I wanted to put the hole along the edge (against the wall). Luckily I made the stunning mental leap and bought the cheap door.
  • My cutting table: I bought 4 15" wide bookshelves which I am bracing together in pairs. I have castors for the shelves and another door to put on top to make a rolling table. The table top is being lined with corkboard (so I can put pins in it) and then fabric my mom found that has a 1" all-over grid with measurements and demarkations. I can't wait to see the end result.
  • Art: I found the wooden bars artists use for stretching canvas and painted them white. I will nail the frames to my walls and then add pretty hooks to hang up my works in progress--voila! instant art.
  • Fabric stash: I already own Ikea cabinetry for above my sewing machines. I cut foamboard into bolt-sized rectangles and wrapped my fabric stash around them and then slid them into the cabinets. It looks like my own fabric store when I open the cabinet doors.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oh Yeah...Knitting.

Don't worry, I have been knitting. It's just that I have been driving kids around to their respective activities more.

This will soon become my winter coat. I am about halfway through the sleeves (two at a time--try it it's genius) and then I'll just need to seam it, edge it, and block it.

This is one of my finds from Estes Wool Market. A 50/50 cashmere/silk laceweight. Those are reeses pieces for reference. Each of those blasted diamonds is 44 rows. I love it though and I can't believe I've been so monogamous (well, I haven't started anything new anyway). I think I'm only about 10 percent done. I can't wait to see this blocked.

I Told You

I have a fear of snakes. A mind-numbing, crippling fear of snakes. They can be anacondas or baby garter snakes (or worms for that matter) and I will panic.

Remember my post about my husband wanting to take me for a hike in 90 degree weather. I didn't go. Look what they found:

That is a big ol' diamondback rattler. DH didn't take official measurements, but he was about as big around as my 2yo's calf, and much longer.

See, it's a good thing I can't function in this weather. I don't think DH would have enjoyed carrying my inert body all the way back to the trailhead.

Sewing Room Before Pics

The only things I LOVE about my house are 1) the deck and 2) the gigantic basement room that takes up half the floorplan AKA my sewing room.

I have meant to "Do" this room. It is in despirate need of an overhaul. I have no storage (my husband has taken over the two closets for his stuff) and I have been doing my projects out of moving boxes. Brace yourselves, because the following pictures are scary. I can't believe I have been working this way.

Behold my improv bookshelves.

Yikes! (Though that is a mirror, so the mess is techniclly doubled)

This one is nice--I'm storing my serger (which costs more than my two computers together) on a director's chair (which might look familiar to the Adnostic since I took it from her). You can also make out an attempt at organization in the back left corner. Those labelled boxes have preserved my sanity...barely.
Ah, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have spent a year going to thrift stores and garage sales trying to find suitable furniture, but last week I gave up and just placed an order with Ikea. And best of all, my boys are going camping this weekend and my mom is coming up and we are going to make a big push to find the floor.

See look, I've already started. I painted a wall and mounted some (pre existing) cabinetry. After my mom's clever idea, I bought a door to use as my table top (It's not quite in the right place, I need to paint the next wall). I bought some foam board and cut it into bolt-sized pieces to wind my fabric around--you can see some of it in the cabinet.
Cross your fingers for me--I need Ikea to come soon.

The Quilt

Apparantly, people prefer reading blogs with lots of pictures. Not being a shutterbug, I rarely have a camera and I'm convinced that the more pictures I take, the less fun I have.

But on occasion I must please my audience:

Behold my quilt squares. This brings me to six total.
The above is the worst. I hate hand sewing.
This one is okay (it's my second quilt ever, give me a break). Somehow, my final product made it a little under the 5" square size I need it to be. I'll deal with this later.
It's too bad my fabrics don't contrast much here, because this one turned out rather nice.
Hmmm...Boring, but finished.

Somehow my circle became squarish.
I try to do three a week to catch up with my group (who does two a week). But, as you will see by my next post, I have taken a break to do a much needed project.
163 to go!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Too Darn Hot

DH: "Let's get out and go for a hike"
Me: clinging to the A/C vent and eating ice cubes "It's 98 degrees outside"

Then I get the blank look that lets me know I don't belong in Colorado. The one that says "Um yeah, it's Summer. So do you want to go hiking or not?"

Um, not, unless you want to stuff my melting body into clothing, watch the sweat drip off me and then listen while I get nauseated.

I liked it better when I could say "It's hot" and everyone in a 60 mile radius would say "I know! We hang out at the grocery store because they have A/C." or "My neighbor just got an air conditioning unit, let's go take some lemonade over there." or "Let's turn on the sprinklers for the kids and eat a million popsicles while we sit with our feet in the kiddie pool and whine about cooking in this heat."

Or my favorite: "Let's day trip to the ocean"

You can't do that in Colorado.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wisdom Woes

I finally had my last two wisdom teeth pulled. I have needed them pulled for years but avoid dentists like the plague. I finally cowboy-uped and got it done.

And I do not like percacet. I took a pill yesterday and got so loopy I taught my son how to dial 911 and asked my husband to call me every hour or so. I felt nauseated, faint and dizzy.

But there was no pain.

I decided it wasn't worth the side effects. Only Ibuprofin for me thanks. It's 24 hours later and I still feel icky.

Baby Jane Quilt

I have sewn five squares for my quilt. My camera cannot take good pictures, but I will do my best.

Just thought I might update.

Going Through My Head

Fictional conversation I may have with my mom:

"What's wrong with this sugar?"
"Why is it a funny color?"
"It's organic."
**Nose wrinkle**
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