Thursday, December 1, 2016

Plotting and scheming

Seasonal scheme
I wish I had more scheming going on as far as presents go. K slammed the door this morning on her furious way to the bus stop and dislodged a pinecone. I re-applied it and added some cushioning duct tape on the back of the wreath. I will also plead for gentler door wrangling for the duration. Time to make a list of the xmas/solstice holiday things we all want to do. Gingerbread cookies. Tree. Send some cards - for which it'd be nice to have a photo.

Important soup
I have put sweet potatoes on the grocery list so I can get some soup going. Also for future reference, Roasted winter squash soup from I prefer to avoid chopping raw butternut squash when possible. Chopping raw sweet potatoes is okay, barely.

Pop drop
Stovetop popcorn tip from same site. The twist is to add kernels to the hot oil and then keep the pot off the heat for 30 seconds before returning it to the burner. This is supposed to bring all the kernels up to heat so they pop more simultaneously. I must try this. I have pretty good popcorn results but every once in a while I scorch a batch while waiting for all the kernels to finish popping.

From Amalah who is a gift:  "Proud bleeding-heart feminist environmentalist pro-choice pro-LGBTQ BLM pro-refugee pro-gun-control democratic socialist heathen liberal AF up in this bitch."

Catherine Newman wants the best for everyone as you can see from her very particular and joyful gift guide. I want most of them. It's also a fundraiser, 'tis the season in so many ways. If you visit her main blog page you will see that her 3 gravy recipes post is just below this one. In case you need to gravy. I'm planning to make mashed pots and mushroom gravy for the veggie and me soon.

I have begun thawing a 13#+ turkey in our fridge. My cunning plan: When thawed, cut/hack/slice the bird down the backbone and breast into two halves. Refreeze (I know, not recommended but what else can I do with it?) one half for later (xnas?). Roast the other half triumphantly, gravy, etc., etc. Profit!

"Eagles excited to get started" reads a headline in the local (virtual) rag. My first thought was that eagles were stepping up their winter fish grabbing by the dam. But no, this story is about high school sports teams of course, not real eagles. K saw an eagle by the dam last weekend so I know they're excited to get started too.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


If you do see Arrival and you like to read about movies afterwards like I do here are two pieces from the New Yorker magazine. Anthony Lane's proper movie review is not his finest work, that is reserved for things he finds ridiculous and can unload his arsenal of snark on. But it communicates how he was captivated and moved by the film and avoids spoilers which is a distinct challenge. Jia Tolentino's article contains what I consider to be plot spoilers and I'm happy I found it after seeing the movie. My own experience of sadness and hope while watching the events in the movie match up with hers.

The pinecone wreath is up. We'll see how long the hot glue holds. I started wiring pinecones to a wire wreath form but it was lumpy and I couldn't get them to lay down in layers as I had envisioned. After starting over a couple of times I had to give it up. Discovery: pinecones have seriously irregular and determinedly three dimensional forms. I don't love hot glue as a medium, I prefer wire or glue or thread but needs must. I'm happy with how it looks so far. I may try to add some evergreen sprigs once we have a tree to snip from. Although, I could sidle over to the neighbor's pine tree and see what I can reach...

I was stumped at how to get the bow formed out of the stiff plasticky ribbon I had in the xmas bag. As a good citizen of the 'net I turned to youtube videos. Here's the winner. Madame Fuschia Nails shows you how it's done and I am grateful to her. I haven't listened to the audio, just enjoyed the sight of those beautifully manicured hands moving masterfully over the work table.

I like John Scalzi's take on a lot of things. He's a liberal who supports himself with his art and lives in the midwest. He can appreciate things about his Republican-voting neighbors without his head exploding. This week's piece on what he expects from the start of the next administration is a good bracing read. Maybe follow it with some Orwell, I plan to.

MIL is home from the hospital and I need to call and check up on her. It was dehydration and what they call acute kidney injury. She had the same thing after returning from Ecuador. She sounded much better once she was in the hospital and IV'd up. I hope she's got a long stretch of wellness ahead.

My own mother has summoned her children to ABQ to celebrate her 75th birthday at the end of this month. I wasn't planning to go until my brother made his plans and I realized that she was telling me (by not telling me) that she would be disappointed if I didn't make it. I'm not exactly sure how we're going to kick up our heels in the dark midwinter in Albuquerque but I'll try and figure it out.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Low tide

Let's see what's washed up on the mind's beach today.

Greek island
Speaking of beaches... I always enjoy pretending to be David Lebovitz while reading his blog. Internationally recognized food writer married to a Frenchman and living in Paris? Why certainly! This blog entry about his vacation in September may be the most vicarious fun of all.

By the pitcher
From David L's mention, Ina's recipe for a pitcher of margs.

Metafilter thread recommending podcasts in French.

I have just walked into the corner of my desk again with my left thigh. This must be the fourth time I've done that since moving to this office. After minor cussing and gasping I am still walking. Very frustrating. (Tho' I suppose not being able to walk would be even more frustrating.)

We went to see Arrival on Sunday. It flattened me. I was crying for lots of reasons by the end of the movie. But what a clever, moving piece of work it is.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


In cars
Sweet gumdrops but I do love Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Margaret Cho teaching Jerry the word 'intersectional'. Jerry telling Kathleen Madigan that they're not really walking down the street, they're in a show. Clips of Will Farrell's SNL audition where he rolled around on the floor playing with cat toys in front of an empty theater. All good stuff. I even enjoy the car geekery although that is not my thing.

No never
Nod sent a message to a friend he hadn't heard from for a while. She responded right away and promptly invited him to an essential oils party she's having at her house this weekend. We both laughed and laughed at the idea of him attending. He's sensitive to strong scents and uninterested in MLM businesses. But it's good to know she's out there and keeping busy.

Sweet dream
Here are lyrics to the song recently featured on One Word. Gentle and ah. Someone compared Eleni Mandell's music to Tom Waits' ballads and that feels right to me. The houses getting undressed is my favorite image.

Eleni Mandell - Moonglow, Lamp Low

Moonglow, lamp low
All I need is a rainbow
And true love
Just like sugar in my coffee

Moonbeam sleeping
All I need is a sweet dream
And true love
Just like honey in my tea

The sky says goodbye
With the wink of an eye
Bright blue yawning to the west
Windows are shining
As the sun goes down fighting
And the houses on the hill
Are getting undressed

Moonshine dreamtime
All I need is a goldmine
And true love
Just like sugar in my coffee

The sky says goodbye
With the wink of an eye
Bright blue yawning to the west
Windows are shining
As the sun goes down fighting
And the houses on the hill
Are getting undressed

Moonglow, lamp low
All I need is a rainbow
And true love
Just like sugar
True love
Just like honey
True love
Just like sugar
In my coffee

Thursday, November 17, 2016


The Bitten Word guys are getting ready to be done with their blog. It will be sad to see it go but they have brought us much good reading and interesting recipes over the years. A toast to Zach and Clay and all the little Bittens!

I eagerly read through this year's readers' pie challenge. Full disclosure: I am a pie dropout, I signed up and received the apple pie with pepper jelly recipe from Southern Living. But my family said they didn't want to eat that pie and I decided I didn't want to either. The Christmas cookie readers' reports have always been big fun. They include a combo of beautiful food pix and some regretsy moments.

Thanksgiving is wafting towards us and I'm ready for some root veggies, roasting and pie! Here are more recipes calling out to me:

Carrot mash with mint and orange zest.

Bon Appetit's Bourbon Maple Brueleed Pumpkin Pie. Will skip the choc crust and the brulee actually.


Microwave caramel? Tell me more... I'm up for using the microwave to cut down on extended stovetop stirring and temp management. Alton Brown's microwave-caramelized onions for example. (Note: do not make caramel and caramalized onions one after the other.Those smells should not be combined - yick.)


Not noms

You may know a child or a larger version of a child who needs an Advent Grab Bag. They even provide a list of treasures if you have the energy and inspiration to DIY and custom assmble your own.

LMM / Maron interview link from David C. on nancynall:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fall y'all

I jogged after work last night. We're having mild temps for a few days. The fading light in the western twilight sky was gorgeous with Venus in the south shining strong. The track got harder to see so I ran on the white line instead of in between lines. It was worth doing. I still have a few strains from Monday's yoga. I must have overdone.

Picked up some pinecones. I love the long curving ones dotted with white sap. Maybe Eastern White Pine (photo is from linked page) although we are not very eastern.
I will look for some small round ones to add contrast.

Now that I look at that website I am quite charmed. I need to spend some time learning about the microenvironment of French Hill Pond on Mount Desert Island in Bar Harbour, Maine. But it's on private property so don't attempt to visit without an invitation!

We have not succumbed
The Leslie Knope election reaction I didn't know I needed. I've only seen two Parks and Recreation episodes and don't really get the vibe of the show. Doesn't matter! I also would like my girls to read this.

My husband was talking volubly about the election last night on the phone. He was having a good time and I could tell he was talking with an old friend. I'm glad that he's managing the rage and able to connect. I'm glad we've gotten through a week and are feeling more able to more forward.

Listening that is not political
From BigHank53 at
Podcasts that may help…there’s Backstory, which has three history professors looking at a single topic through the centuries of American history. They did a really good one a couple years ago on the history of Christmas celebrations, for example. Gretchen Rubin has her Happier podcast, which is not woo-woo but mostly practical advice on forming better habits, so you can make space to be a bit more cheerful. If you’re a gardener Margaret Roach has a great podcast.
The historian David Blight recorded his freshman course on the Civil War a couple years ago. He’s a brilliant lecturer, and you don’t need more than high school history to follow it. Search for the Yale Open Course to find them.

Sloth it
Maybe you need an enamel pin showing a sloth with a party hat captioned Coolio.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Crappy sweaters

I was thinking about the gray sweater that I started in November 2015 and stopped work on when spring started. I recently picked it up again and was able to finish joining the front and back with a neckline. I tried it on and it's pretty ugly. The front is longer than the back and the intarsia decoration I put on the chest is too small and too high up. Blocking might help the length issues but it's acrylic yarn (I know - not classy) so won't have wool's ability to morph. I couldn't face fixing it so it's back in the bag and I'm pouting. Hopefully I'll woman up and rip the front back to fix that decoration. Phooey.

Then I thought about a previous sweater I made with some ill advised departures from a pattern I'd never tried before. It was a pattern in a book with pretty pictures from yarn shops all over the country. I saw the danger signs going in! I loved making the cables especially where they joined under the sleeves. The yarn I chose was a pretty color and a wool blend that made me happy. The finished article is heavy and very homely but I will happily wear it (at home) in the coldest weather. It reminds me of a garment that could conceivably be used as padding under armor.

So I started laughing at my ugly sweaters. Then I remembered the huge squirrel hat I knitted. Also worth a chuckle. I have finished a couple of sweaters I like. As a self taught k-nitter I am proud of them. But when a project goes wrong it can really go wrong.

Speaking of projects I have decided to make a pinecone wreath for the door. I love pinecones but fear having them in the house because they're messy and possibly buggy. On the outside of the door I will be able to enjoy them without worrying about things falling out of them. But I don't have time to gather any pinecones on campus today. A piano awaits.

Last night I found a free piano in our local buy/sell page that had been listed that day. I inquired and got quotes for a moving company. It'll cost $235 to move which is the right price for a piano if you ask me. We'll see it tonight and decide if it's the one. If not I also got offered another free piano in the process of my investigating. So pianos are out there, people! I know they are like pets and need more expensive upkeep than most furniture. But that would be a neat answer to Kat's 15th birthday present. Fingers crossed.

As you can tell I am frolicking in the fields of denial today.