Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Mitered Square Jacket

It looks as if the mitered squares are becoming a jacket. I laid it out to see if it needs more squares, then loosely basted it together. This involved quite a bit of moving and rearranging the design. The original four joined squares are on the back.

Here's the squares just laid out, to see the design. They're on a sheet because that way I can roll it up to move the project to the table easily. You know you're at an advanced stage when your project needs its own sheet.

Basted loosely, here's the back. Those big orange stitches are the basting, which will be removed when I join the squares. All the trailing yarn ends will be used as joining threads.

And the front

Here you see it flat, from the front

And, side and sleeve seams not yet attached, here are the fronts opened.

I need to keep it flat for the next stage, the attaching together of squares. And the finishing of yarn ends. After that I can close the sleeve and side seams.

I think I may add a row of squares to the hem, since I like a long jacket. And I may still change the position or direction of a couple of squares. You can't really see the design till this stage, when it takes the shape of a jacket.

This went faster than I thought. I'm not ready to stop knitting squares! But I do plan on pockets.

Wondering if the pockets should match. And if the hem should be solid colors. And when I'll be stitching on my Coat of Many Colors and Stitches. And if the cold spring weather will continue so I can wear the Mitered Square Jacket before next fall..

Questions, questions.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Walking out in spring

 This is what happens in this neighborhood about now

Violets, not scented, just wild, dog I think, all over

First day of the dogwoods opening

This little feller's been there for years. I don't know if anyone owns and wants him -- he's a few yards outside a fence, on the edge of the trees -- so I end up leaving him there. I hope he doesn't get tossed.

Blossoms, maybe flowering crab?  Please correct if you know better.

More violets everywhere underfoot, which tells you this is damp ground.

Woodpeckers busy all around, crows shouting, Carolina wrens organizing territory, cardinals singing all their songs, a tree packed with mourning doves, like a convention bus dropped them off.

No toads yet. I expect to see one on my front path any day now.

This year the 17 year cicadas emerge. We don't get a lot in this neighborhood, just enough to know they're there and find them lying about on the sidewalks. 

I used to work in an office in cicada territory, old trees,  and the noise was dangerous to hearing. All doors and windows tight shut, still loud. Running to the car hands tight over ears. A few days of being reminded of the power of insects!  Every 17 years, long enough to forget from the last time.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

From Stodge to the Stars

Getting a bit tired of toast for breakfast and absolutely not up to making oatmeal in the morning, nor of remembering to start it the previous night, I came across a many ingredient recipe for Oatmeal Breakfast Bars. Approved by -- a hospital dietician. Oh. 

That explained the low fat, no fat, no sugar, vigorous attempts to avoid anything that might carry flavor. Despite decades of research showing that low-fat isn't the great thing some people still believe. And that sugar in moderation is fine. 

Our local hospital serves terrific food from a kitchen where good cooks work. No doubt they know about nutrition, too, but they keep the flavor, too. Just a shout out for hospital food which can be good if it tries.

Anyway back to the dietician, one ingredient was a ready made shopbought spread, which shall remain nameless, filled with additives, subtractives, preservatives, derivatives, exchange traded funds, and who knows what else. Not that I have strong opinions on this.  

But I adapted happily, because the basic idea looked okay.

It needed applesauce, which I didn't have any of, never do, really. But I did have two Granny Smiths, so first I made applesauce. Of  which I used extra, to account for the missing spread stuff.

And since the recipe wanted brown sugar and unsweetened a. sauce, also vanilla, I did my usual sub for brown sugar, just cooking down molasses with white, and added in the vanilla. All at once.  

One of the features of Granny Smiths is that they keep their shape. So after gentle cooking down a while, I mashed them  with the pastry cutter. Worked fine. 

Here's the oats, whole wheat flour, raisins, b. powder, cinnamon, salt. And an egg beaten into milk, whole not skim (!)

And there's the trusty pastry cutter, ready for its off-piste foray into an off-piste applesauce.

And about half an hour at 350°f, ended in these sturdy items. They're better than you might expect.  Not a ringing endorsement, I realize, but okay and will be eaten. Easy breakfasts.

Then dinner soon followed and I think I swiped this from the divine Mrs Moon.

Cauliflower, roasted with crumbles of blue cheese, kosher salt, excellent pepper, this stuff really is worth sending away for, Greek olive oil, sliced onions.

 Then after about 20 minutes at 400°f, tossed about a bit, then about 15 minutes more.

Nicely browned and tender, then I tossed it in lemon juice and plenty of capers.

Here's the nice thing about living alone and cooking. If you want just one food for dinner, that's what you have. There's nobody asking what else is happening, is that it, etc.

It was very good indeed, a new departure from my limited repertoire of cauliflower recipes which usually mean soup or a cheese sauce. 

This is a whole lot more interesting, and if it was from you, Mary, thank you. And there's more for tomorrow. At that point it will be a room temperature salad kind of dish. 

New year's resolution, late start

 Longtime blogistas will remember a couple of years ago I made the New Year's resolution to give up on trying to improve myself, hopeless cause, really, and start to improve my quality of life. Frugally.

This was the result

A bunch of cut flowers on the first of the month, just to enjoy. About five dollars' worth. Small outlay, great returns in spirits.

So here's today's bunch that should have happened  in March 2020, when my flower shopping came to a screeching halt. Late but very welcome. Sharing living quarters with a begonia in water.

Today was my first foray since then to the supermarket. No pix, since I guessed you've seen a supermarket before. 

Hello world! I felt quite intrepid.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Bits of news, some interesting


"FollowByEmail widget (Feedburner) is going away
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This is the announcement Blogger just made to folks like me who write blogs. This blog won't arrive in your email box after July. Blogger is being fair about this, since it's Feedburner who's decided this, not Blogger.  And this is plenty of advance notice for you to follow some other way.

If you get this blog via email and you didn't sign up for it, it's because I put you on the limited list Blogger allows me, so that people who just didn't know how to do it, could still read the blog.  That won't change, as far as I know.  It's open to a few local friends, people who really can't manage to set up a feed, but who are faithful followers and readers and responders by email, because they aren't sure how to comment online.

But if you actually signed up, you may need to consider how else to follow this vital and gripping blog.  You can bookmark it on your own system, the way you bookmark any site you want to find again.  Or you can sign up as a follower, I still have that widget in place.  If you have a Blogger feed, which you can get by signing up with Blogger, no need to have a blog of your own, just sign up as a follower, see right-hand column, if you do that, you'll be notified on your Blogger feed. Or you opt not to bother with any of that, you can just check in now and then. I usually blog daily, so you won't be wasting any clicks by searching..

I hope not to lose anyone, so please see what works for you.  

The other newsflash only matters if you were planning to sign up for Misfits Markets, and it's changes that will actually work pretty well, I think; they haven't happened yet. 

Up to now there's been a membership choice of small or large produce box.  Now there will be one size, and the price is higher for me, up to $30 from $22 minimum.  In practice it makes no difference since I usually order add ons and it comes to more than the new $30 minimum. 

Also instead of the menu selections, pick six from this list, two from this, four from that other one over there, there will be completely open choices, including what used to be add ons.  It's more like physical grocery shopping.  I think this will be okay.  Also probably less confusing that the old build your basic box and then wander around the add on market, and then get the choices all in the same place at the same time.

I have always happily got online at the appointed time to make my orders, and that won't change. But evidently some people who forgot to order got a sort of mystery box of produce to the same value but they hadn't given any input.  Now if you forget, they move on without you, but don't charge you, and you can jump on again next time.  

Anyway, I think it will be fine, but if you were going to be a new customer, you just need to know the new minimum price. Shipping is the same, no matter how much you order or don't. That seems very fair, also easier for them to manage, a good point. No, they don't pay me to say all this, I just like very much the great food I've been getting from them.

Since I've been doing Misfits, Handsome Son's grocery shopping for me has dwindled way down. This week it's one item: butter! 

Other news is the renewed search for a dryer for HS's condo, another blizzard of emails and texts in the search, and the finding of the specs, and the relaying of them to the appliance man, and the hope he can find something available in this decade.  Too dull to give a blow by blow, but it's under way. Again.  The current one broke down last March, just as shutdown started, imports ceased, deliveries couldn't happen, couldn't even place a back order. So let's hope for better this year.  I'm the landlady, so it's my responsibility, but HS will do his bit. 

Other bits of improvement and maintenance needed at the condo, one of which might be interesting, and there will be pix if it is, but we'll see.

The Mostly Castles folks, Jo and Ian, have started a new YouTube channel, real time jigsaw puzzle assembling!  For hours they put together jigsaws, show you the picture, all the pieces, you get to listen to them chatting and arguing, and you watch them trying pieces and you can shout, no, not that one, and it's very slow and nice and a relaxing thing as a change from loud bangs and music and so on.  And, big deal to me, they DON'T have music going in the background. It's great.

 Because they're in Wales, they haven't been able to make any new videos and travel to castles, study the history and show us, for ages, so this is their new socially conscious idea!  They're nice people. Check them out.  They're not exactly given to the hard sell, so I'm taking it on myself to push this a bit,

 Pieces Down

This link ought to work, but Blogger's ways are unsearchable, literally, so if it doesn't, they're Pieces Down on YouTube and you can find an upload about Whitby Harbor, Kippers and Dracula.



Friday, April 16, 2021

Umami lunch

 I got this idea from the Umami Bomb book I mentioned recently. 

I needed labneh (yogurt cheese) so I started yesterday, draining plain yogurt in a cloth over a strainer, catching the whey, now saved for soup, and it was ready this morning.

Then caramelized a pan of onions down to a little delicious heap.

I'd steamed and diced the giant beet when I first got it from Misfits.

Fresh bread, bit of butter, sauteed crisp in oil in the onion pan.

Then the building of the thing, don't know its name.

And it was very good. Each bite was a combo of sweet and tart and soft and crisp.

There's plenty left, to do this again tomorrow with a fresh lot of onions. And the labneh will work as a spread on anything. Anywhere you might use sour cream, too. Or butter.

 It needs a fancy name. If it already has one, and you know it, please let me know.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Hajji Baba scores again

Great presentation on Zoom this morning to an audience of scholars from all over the world, and people like me, who are interested in textiles.

Famous Florence dealer and collector, general authority on carpet trading in the 19th century

First he gave us an update on the lockdown in Florence, the pace of vaccination and his own, one dose down, one to go, status. He reminded us that the Florence museums and sites he discussed are closed as of now. So this was a chance at an otherwise impossible viewing.

Then he got into his subject, a work in progress, ongoing research into the trading and provenance of mainly oriental rugs, in the nineteenth century, with reference to the Bardini Museum and its founder, Stefano Bardini, a bit of a character by all accounts

Here's the neighborhood and 

Here are the desirable premises

A lot of rhe lecture was interesting more to serious scholars, but it had its moments.

Such as the explanation of the blue walls in the Gardner Museum in Boston. 

Isabella G had seen the Bardini Museum with its blue walls, then a startling new idea as a background for art, and persisted until she got a description of the mixture from Bardini, and a paint sample to use for her own collection.

I noticed how many of these pieces of Islamic art are lodged, in true colonial style, in western museums.  As here

But in recent years, the Doha  Museum of Islamic art has recaptured some. A good use of oil money, I'd say. It's their cultural capital,  anyway, they should have a say. 

And massive rugs were divided, separated and sometimes bits were clung to by various museums, presenting a kind of jigsaw effect to researchers and curators trying to reassemble them. 

Museums don't like giving up treasures as we all know, even if they were originally looted, don't get me started, you'll be listening to me shouting about the Elgin Marbles, even the name's a travesty, no, no, another time.

But such beauty of the spinner and weaver's art. A couple of the rugs are listed as S spun, interesting technical point. The convention now is to spin Z for singles, then ply S to create a two ply yarn . I need to find out why the single was spun S. 

Often researchers who are not spinners know the direction, and note it, but don't follow up on why. At least the presenters I've asked sort of coughed and shuffled their feet, maybe translating to don't ask me, I only work here.

Anyway a terrific experience in the company of scholars, for your humble blogger. They put us all on the screen, and people could ask questions directly as well as in the written q and a.  I listened to my betters!

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Twenty five squares and counting

 With the addition of this cheerful mob

recently, the selection has a lot more energy

and here's steaming in progress

In fact all the current squares are steamed and squared up. From this point I'll lay them out on the dining table, which is the computer table, the cutting out table, and the tax filling out table,  to see how to arrange them, as I go. Since there are no beloved cats to rearrange and bite them, the squares can stay out as I go.

I need to decide how many solid colors I need to knit to balance the stripes. And laying it out will tell me what manner of thing it will be in the end. 

The four squares I started with and knitted together will probably work like a center or anchor piece. 

Meanwhile I have to keep my reading and watching going. 

I've been waiting forever for the Joan Didion essays. Her work is so measured and modest and mind-blowingly accurate that it's great to find something of hers I haven't read yet. She's a California person with a viewpoint I like to know more about.  And a world class analytic ability. Crystalline prose style. 

Flambards I know nothing about except it's a costume drama, and I'm in it for the hats. And horses. And carriages. And interiors. I expect there's also a storyline, too, come to think of it.

And the craft book was recommended by a person who loves crafts. She keeps renewing her library loan, so I need to see what it's about.

And that's us today, steaming, knitting, reading, watching. I was hoping for tea on the terrace, well, patio, when Handsome Son comes over later, but the weather changed and it's tea in the drawing room, milady, instead.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Salted butter cookies, chocolate postscript

 Since handsome Son is visiting tomorrow bringing groceries, I baked a little something to go with tea.

This is the recipe, half a recipe, to be exact, enough for now.

I used whole wheat pastry flour, which always seems to need more liquid. So I added in a couple of teaspoons of plain whole milk yogurt to enable the dough to hold together.

I shaped it a bit before cooling, just for a  change. Then 350° f oven for what ended up being nearly 20 minutes, rather than 12-15, because of the yogurt.

The shapes are interesting. I was aiming for fancy langues de chat, cats' tongues. They're more like dog biscuits now I study them. I might drizzle a bit of melted chocolate over. 

I sprinkled coarse seasalt over, really cool contrast, which put me in mind of the chocolate drizzling idea. Seasalt and chocolate are friends.

Don't go away...

Here's what happened next

Chocolate chips melting over hot water

Piping bag being made. Tiny corner clipped off baggie. No need for fancy equipment.

My Mom, the professional cake decorator, made her piping bags from parchment paper she made into a cone, dropped a piping tip into it, filled with royal icing, and decorated like Raphael.  Such hands. Such control.
My own piping is more modest.

Here's the piping bag, loaded, and I'm squeezing down the chocolate to that tip, ready to wave about to make drawings.

Since the chocolate has just come off the hot water, this is a sizzling job for your hand, but it's in a good cause.

And here are chocolate hieroglyphs or something. Hoping I haven't committed some obscene mistake in a language I'm not familiar with..

Testing, testing.

In other news, the lovely yarn from dear C arrived and was instantly employed in brightening up the dark colors I had on hand. 

After this, and before baking, I fitted in getting dressed. 

Sun after days of beating rain

Some daffodils were flattened by the days of wind and rain. So they're indoors.

And the sun's welcome reappearance through wet trees this morning.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Some of these things are not like the others

 This is a selection of the squares, and, as expected from using a wide variety of yarns, they're not all the same size, though they all have the same number of stitches and same needles. 

So this is where some of those trailing yarn ends come into play, to crochet edges on the smaller ones, equalize the sizes, and join them all. There may be contrasting joining color throughout, to unify this wild work.

And there will definitivo be steaming before any crocheting happens, to see just how close they are in finished size.

The small handweights are the result of a discovery yesterday. 

I thought for once it would be a change to take a bath instead of a shower. I have grab bars, all that, and it's worked up to now to take a tub once in a while.  I also have my phone right by the tub always.

So I enjoyed a soak, lavender and almond oil, and then went to climb out. Only to find that my recent weeks, of vaxxing and the search for the vax, involving exhausting hours round the clock, recovering from vaxxing,  and neglecting my weight lifting, had reduced my arm strength.  

To where I couldn't raise my poor old bod from the tub. I did manage to scramble out, from all fours. But I decided I'd better recover some form.

So I dug out the weights and found my larger ones that I used regularly, until a few weeks ago, are now too heavy!  So for the moment I've dropped back to these littler ones, until I get back up there.  I don't always want a tub, but I do want the option.

And I did a series of upper body lifts, to get started. These smaller weights are going to be right in sight, so I remember to work with them. I'm hoping I'll soon be up to my heavier ones, but my arms will tell me when.

Thrills but no spills, glad to report.

And today soup happened. Cashews soaking overnight, and I blended that Misfits vegetable broth with the last of the split pea batter, carrots, garlic, onions, ginger, dash of chili powder, no nutmeg this time.

And it made a good soup for yet another cold rainy day.

So that's us from this damp corner of the planet.