Monday, December 30, 2019

The Great Winnowing Goes On

If you've been following the gripping saga of my getting stuff outta here, you'll know what's up.

New readers start here, to quote ancient magazine serials. Since I'm hoping to put this house on the market in the next couple of years, and move to a rented condo, yet to be found, but preferably ground floor overlooking anything but a parking lot, and not in an old folks place, things have to happen.

It's probably not a coincidence that my art career is moving away from painting, drawing, printmaking, largely into fiber arts. I'm at a general crossroads. Changing work projects, home, moving on to new skills, all seem to go together.

My ambition is to reduce the contents of the house gradually to just what I want to move with. Better to do it in stages than in a stressed out rush.

The studio is the hardest, so much good material, paper particularly, framed works galore. And changing media leaves a great moraine of materials from the previous medium.

So here we are:

Awaiting Handsome Son's assistance in carrying down two flights are four categories, garbage (small) thriftie (to be bigger) recycle (biggest) and donation to younger artists, which might be collapsed into thriftie if no takers.

Donations to younger artists

Note: the garbage bags are just for transportation. The contents will be dumped into appropriate places, the bags home again where possible. Trying not to add plastic to the waste stream.

And just to encourage myself, here's the result of the deciding and hauling:

This worktop was a solid mass of fabric scraps, now become a single manageable crateful. And the containers cluttering the windowsill, gone, too.

This area had almost disappeared under a mountain of paper and cardboard, now reduced to items I will use. The surfaces you see were buried.

Everywhere I look people are doing this. Possibly a national self care movement, in view of the dismal political state of affairs.

Anyway, it's therapeutic, not least because it unclogs your creative flow when you can find what you need. And have room to work. It's always the work surfaces that vanish first.

And looking further ahead, it  will simplify the stresses of selling and renting.

At least that's the plan. Pot of tea next, and bread baking since I am, shock, horror, Out of Bread.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Visiting artist at work

Kira, visiting next door, trying out her new sidewalk chalks in a great space.

Alphabet up to J, then she skipped on to letters she liked better.

Go Kira!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Merry and peaceful Christmas everyone who celebrates.

And a happy and peaceful Wednesday to our friends who celebrate other festivals. Happy Hanukkah, which falls alongside Christmas this year. I saw a lovely Kwanzaa display today. And we don't forget that Christmas was once a pagan festival and for some of us it's still celebrated that way. In fact the Christmas tree is really a pagan observance. So let's all enjoy it all.

My decorations are small and quiet, but you'll see old favorites, three creches, felt stars, tiny stocking stuffers from handsome son's childhood, a woven star on top.

However you celebrate, alone, in a small family, in a crowd scene, I'm sending waves of good will and thanks for our interactions this year. Enjoy, and remember to show good will to yourself, too.

Great clearing happened and happy shopping too..

Handsome Son's birthday gift to me was a block of time on Saturday carrying, sorting, hauling, stuff all over the house. Emptying cabinets I can't get all the way into, that sort of thing.

Several hours, stopping for one tea break. Much stuff at the dumpster area for anyone to pick over before the haulers came today. A carload to take to the thriftie this morning.

He ended up by springing for a pizza which he collected and served. It was a great gift. I cautioned him that I may ask for a repeat in a few weeks, as a Christmas gift..

So today I went to the thriftie two towns away, but the usually heavy traffic was fine, the thriftie was manageable, emptied my  car,and I even did a bit of shopping.

$7.99, cashmere twin-set. My Christmas outfit. To go with my pearls ( not thriftie) which  come out on festive occasions when I might want to clutch them. 

I think I'm going to be in costume as the respectable murderer in an Agatha Christie mystery, who wipes out half the village before the detective catches on.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Crumpets ahoy!

They're great, not hard to do, but they take a long time to make.

Mix warm milk, sugar and yeast. Wait five minutes. Beat in flour, salt, for ages. Leave to rise. Another hour. Stir in baking soda and water. Wait another half hour. Then fry, using these rings for shape, five minutes per batch.

So you need to spend time on this one. It's not something to whip up in a rush. Today I'm ready to have crumpets for tea.

Then a couple of neighbours are going to get a breakfast kit for Christmas: pot of homemade marmalade, couple of crumpets. They don't know this yet.

As you see, a birthday has happened again.

Seems no time since the last one.

This beautiful bouquet arrived from sister dogonart, looks and smells wonderful, totally raises the tone of the place.

And looking back over the the year that just sped past, it's been a lovely one.  Losses of friends, at this age sad but not too surprising, balanced by new friends, that was a surprise and a great bonus.

Some art honors and awards, and best of all, new learning.

The adventures in paper piecing have been so much more than I expected. And I have plans for some interesting work in silk to come. 

Meanwhile I'm receiving greetings and just having a good time!

To my fellow Sags, you know who you are, Quinn, Mary Ann, Elaine, Gary, Janee and friends, a happy birthday to us all!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Favorite Christmas movie

This is the time for the annual viewing of The Bishop's Wife, the only Christmas movie I never get tired of, from the skating scene to the magic sherry bottle, to Debby throwing a curve in the snowball-fort fight.

So on my tiny upstairs TV, I watched, sipping my golden milk. Perfect.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Shortbread cookies, very seasonal

Just watching Last Homely House, and Kate was baking shortbread cookies, rolling like pastry, and using some semolina.

I knew I had semolina in the freezer, so I thought I'll try that. Found the semolina was way past its sell-by date, dumped it. But I'd got the butter warmed and the regular flour sifted, so I soldiered on anyway.

I had refreshed my knowledge of fractions, because the semolina to regular flour is one to two. My recipe, different from Kate's, asked for two cups flour.

So my personal math, involving how much flour is one third of two cups, came into play. I got it figured then found the semolina was a nonstarter.  Oh. So just two cups then. Fiiiiiine.

And here's batch part one, on shiny baking tray

Batch part two, on dark baking tray. These browned better, as usual, always happens when you use a dark tray.

But they're good. Shortbread is funny, in that it's very pale even when baked, doesn't get that brown finish.

Rolling out like pastry worked fine, if you don't want to press the dough into a pan then prick and mess about making it into breakable parts.

So these will go out for Christmas.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Marmalade acting as orange sauce

Marmalade all cooled, nicely set, and in the fridge, here it's in action, as a sauce on a slice of banana/peach bread.

Though we use it on toast, it's actually a great tangy sauce on meats, chicken, ice cream, anywhere you like an orange flavor that's not too sweet.

To be shared with neighbors who will eat it on toast and who will incorporate it into real cooking.

Storm prep, marmalade making

The first storm of the season is here. So I'm making marmalade. There is a connection here, bear with me. I can't get out, so I may as well get on with the long planned marmalade making. Since I don't have access to Seville oranges, I use the Mamade mix I got from the UK.  It makes very good marmalade.

See containers and lids boiling merrily in the background.

Usual process, though, add sugar, water, boil then simmer. Test. Taste. Restrain yourself from spreading the lot on bread with no delay.

This is half a batch, since I didn't have enough sugar for the lot. This will be shared around various neighbors and friends. Handsome Son might like some, he still has to get back to me.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving evening.

Son gone home after a lovely day. Great food and chat, and video we slept through. Nice texts from friends.

Handsome Son always brings the cheeses and crackers to start, ginger ale, and the dessert. I do the bit in the middle.

Then, when he leaves, we have the Great Holiday Shareout. He  leaves me some pie, cheese and crackers, and I give him turkey, stuffing, sweet potato and cranberry sauce, so he has the makings of another meal. He turns down the peas and corn, already had his quota of them.

And now it's me and the bear in the corner, vegging out. Dishes can wait till tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone who celebrates today. Happy Thursday to everyone else.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Art starts off the Christmas season

Yesterday two artworks arrived here.

One is a handmade unique cookie from Petra's unique cookies, the other a wonderful crazy quilted artcard from Mary Anne of Magpie's Mumblings fame.

Lovely. The card will be treasured forever, the cookie not so much.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Bread, new twist

No pic, you've seen bread before. It's just that this time I put two cups of oats with the 5.5 cups of whole-wheat, and shook in some fennel seeds.

Really good idea. I've used oats before. It doesn't rise as much as with all flour, but it's dense and very good, great crust. And the fennel seeds, never used them before, are a great licorice flavor, very light, and really interesting. I'd reached for caraway seeds, found I had none, and tried these.

I'll do this again. Cheese toasted on slices for supper was very worth eating.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Two words. Kate Atkinson

The latest, a JacksonBrodie.Unputdownable.

For me, a bonus location, the Northeast coast of Yorkshire, recognized practically all of the scenery in a terrifying, great, narrative of human trafficking, heroines, dogs, incompetence, justice sometimes happening outside the law.

Just read it.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Salt, fat, acid, heat and I

I've been hearing about this for a while, in fact I know of a entire course created as a result of a local great cook reading it, and thought I'd take a look.

It's this month's book selection for the Bite Club, run by the aforementioned great cook, who's a reference librarian by day.

And, by gum, it's as transformative as they say. I've just read the section on salt and already I've decided about the Thanksgiving turkey breast prep. I'm going to brine and spice it.  And, to read  is to act around here, I tested my new salt knowledge  with my nightly cup of cocoa.

I always use the real cocoa the kind in the can where the complete list of ingredients is: cocoa.  And a pinch of turmeric, honey, whole milk powder. And this time I used sea salt, coarse. And remembered to taste it after each few grains.

It was a whole lot more interesting than the unsalted kind I've always made. I figured that since salt on dark chocolate is great, this might be, too.  Try it. It's good.

And there's a lot more to salting than I realized. I like kosher salt for a lot of use, coarse seasalt and pink salt too, rarely use iodized, don't like the aftertaste. And we can get iodine from other foods. But now I'm learning a lot more about using it.

So I thought I'd just say.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Shopping in the closet, again

Needed a jacket, decided, after studying catalogs, not necessary to shop. I had this one, up to last night a v neck sweater, nice cashmere, from the thriftie. I've worn it quite a bit.

Now it's a jacket, just cut down the front. I thought about a silk edge binding, using Indian sari silk, but decided it didn't need it. So here's my new jacket.

I don't like taking sweaters off over my head at meetings etc., so this joins my little wardrobe of Nice Handy Comfy Jackets.

I've done this in the past to alter turtleneck sweaters which are hopeless for meetings where you never know how hot the room might be, and they became really useful.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

DIY meets wabi sabi

This all started when a mosquito bit my ear, it swoll up real bad, the ear, that is, well I guess the mosquito too, come to think of it. By the time the ear had gone down enough to put in earrings, the piercing had healed up along with the bite.

So I'm looking for ways of converting pierced earrings to clip ons, and there are findings you can use for that. Which took me up to the studio to rummage through my jewelry findings, just in case I had any, which I didn't, have to buy some

And I noticed a supply of gold metallic paint while I was rummaging, which reminded me of a wabi sabi approach to several areas of my bathroom needing repainting.

This is where a squirrel bit into the roof and chewed through a condensation pipe above the ceiling,a caused a leak and exploratory cutting into the ceiling to find and  fix it.

This is where Andy long ago fell getting out of the shower, clutched at the towel rail on his way down, it tore out of the wall and hit his head, insult to injury. That's when I had all the towel rails replaced with ADA-compliant grab bars, which I strongly recommend.

And this is the access port I had cut into the wall which backs onto the shower in the other bathroom, which reduced s subsequent plumbing visit dramatically since I had it open, found the leak and it was fixed very fast. But it needs painting, not very scenic. Bare wallboard.

I'm not up to painting entire rooms at this point, but I think painting just the bits where repairs were done, might work. And rather than buy a gallon of paint for a couple of square feet, why not make it a wild contrast, enjoying the imperfection instead? Art instead of  matching.

So this may happen tomorrow.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Bread, security food

Today the just in time bread, only one slice left from previous batch, is whole wheat, with one cup each oatmeal and unbleached white.

The white lightens the texture of the crumb, and the oatmeal makes a lovely crisp but not hard crust.

Toasted, with butter and honey, lovely with a cup of tea.

I always feel more secure with bread in the house. What's your security food? The one you really don't want to run out of?

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Dogs and pumpkins, perfect together

The NJ tourist motto is NJ and you, perfect together, spoken in the patrician voice of gov Kean, puhfect togethuh.

Gov Christie Whitman, thanks to whose TDR legislation this farm is permanently protected from developers, used to do a killer impression of him.

Anyway, today beautiful October day at the farm, pumpkin picking, and every dog owner seized on it as a great outing for pooches and their people. I must have seen a dozen dogs happily dragging their owners to the pumpkin patch.

I was in search of apples and tomatoes and broccoli and sweet potatoes, all picked this morning. Stocked up now.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Freecycle for Dollivers

This is part of a freecycle haul, and it looks like one of those pictures of a family's entire possessions strewn in front of their home. Remember those?

Except that in this case it's handmade furniture and accessories headed chez Dolliver, and doesn't include their extensive wardrobes nor their dogs.

All the bedlinens and everything fabric is now in the laundry, the furniture damp dusted, and an old bookcase pressed into service as a habitat.

Quite a few tiny dolls and their stuff came too, but they're going to be part of the Christmas decor.

So here's the Dollivers, relaxing in the roof garden

While Canadian Doll,on her custom embroidered pillow is trying out the beds there. Angel Bear is guarding the new baby,  Little button and bobbin doll from Minnesota is galloping her new rocking horse.

Not much happening below in the dining room, not surprising since there's a total lack of interest in cooking as you see from the deserted kitchen.

Everyone's busy loafing in her own way.

Except boud who got no thanks for this labor, but loud requests for some more attention to the decor. Also Fall outfits.

To which I explained this is moving day , you can't expect Better Homes and Gardens the first day. Everyone got a seat, what do you want of my life?

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Crumble, flowers, early fall

The Montauk daisies bloom very late, after you're sure they won't. And there's a lovely mound of them. A couple came in, with some creeping Jenny, posed on a very old rescued crochet doily.

And the farm fruit, last peaches, blackberries and apples, in a crumble for dinner tomorrow with Handsome Son.

Roast chicken, spicy, with sweet potato mashed and buttered, lovely cheese cauliflower head. The farm is serving us well.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Rescue food

Handsome Son visited yesterday, and  brought over a bag of organic, fancy chips, vinegar flavor, which turned out to be waaaay too salty, in case I could use them.

So I offered to crush them, bread chicken with them, bake, and see how it worked. Very well, as it happened.

This is one section of then. Two more lots in the freezer.

Used as the only seasoning, the chips mellowed down to very good. As you see, they were very crackly and couldn't reduce to crumbs. So they're crunchy and very good.

He'll come over when I'm over this cold and have time and energy to make a fruit crumble, with apples from the farm, and we'll address it all together.

This is supposed to be a sick day. I've baked a raft of chicken, rescued herbs from drying up outside, taken out the garbage, brought in the mail, finished a stitching project and cleaned the stovetop.

Aside from that, I've just been loafing about.  It's evening now and I'm definitely taking the rest of the day off.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Vicks plant, cutting from friend's garden, flourished last summer in my garden, then caught and felled by an early frost.

Except for one tiny leaf. Which I tended indoors over the winter, put outside this year, and it's now almost as big as the parent, and doing well.

I brought it indoors early this year. Today, in fact.

It seems appropriate.

Monday, September 9, 2019

It must be Fall, there's brambles

Local farm grown known hereabouts as blackberries, but to me they're brambles. Local farm Honeycrisp apples.

First crumble of the Fall. Bramble and apple. Fruit macerated days ago and frozen ready. Oatmeal topping, which I ground today and chucked in whole oatmeal flakes too. Molasses and just a bit of white sugar. Butter to bind the crumble.

Afternoon tea on a cool rainy day. Crumble with plain yogurt. English breakfast tea.

Continuing mystery why people don't cook for one. Some for neighbors, for handsome son if he visits, to have a little something in the afternoon, to freeze for later.  All fresh ingredients, because I'm worth it.

Back to watching Grantchester now. Rewatching.

Major highway, aka Autumn Joy sedum

This season, the sedum is heaving with bees, several species, all kinds of other insects, several kinds of butterflies.

Here's  one of my favorites, a dusky swallowtail, a ragged old guy whose wings have seen better days. He's spent most of the morning on this sedum.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Walking is happening again

Now that the weather is cooler, 70sf, I can get out and walk for my half hour daily meander. Everything feels better when I can get out without risking heatstroke.

Bit of gardening, deadheading, pulled an armload of daylily foliage, and observed, outside the fence, this hardy soul.

The pansies bloomed from April to August through all the heatwaves, undeterred, then when they finally wilted, I put the pot outside the fence for the winter. And now she seems to be saying hey, not so fast!

Brown butterflies around, too, I've forgotten what they are for the moment.

And a great half hour walk, mostly on grass, some sidewalk, past groups of families putting kids on the bus for their first day. New shoes, backpacks, grandparents, parents, dogs, everyone seeing them off.

Funny how for the rest of your life, September is about going back to school. Even when you are only an innocent bystander, which I'm happy to be. Not even teaching a workshop, despite strenuous efforts to get me to.  Just doing what I feel like.