Relearning an old skill

This week I’m diving back into programming. It’s been so long much has changed. The latest iteration of PHP is so different much of what I knew before must be rediscovered. What fun!

For months I’ve had in mind a program to produce conti-something stitch and row counts based on the user’s gauge and measurements. Paired with a database in which the data resides, the program will make all the necessary calculation to produce a garment that fits the way the knitter envisions.

I got a good start yesterday. From the initial start a few months ago I polished up the database tables and got the program started. I now have an accurate caston calculation, something I hadn’t done in my spreadsheet. Woot! Let the good times roll!

Beef/Pork Soup . . . OMGosh.

Beef Pork Soup

OMGosh. Awesome soup today. I made chicken soup for Wadly yesterday, which smelled fabulous, and beef/pork soup for me today. Amazing beautiful nummy soup

Prep: Make bone broth. Wadly gets huge intact beef leg bones from our local butcher. He whacks them apart into big chunks using a dedicated chop saw which gives both marrow and cartilage for bone broth. Roast the bones for 1 hour at 400 deg. Place in crock pot with 1/4 c apple cider vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns and fill to the top with filtered water. Let sit for one hour, then cook on low for 3 days. Bottle the broth. Freeze in pint jars until needed. Wadly gets multiple bones at a time and stores them in the freezer in clean pet food bags with a zippered top (reuse/recycle/re-purpose) and cuts them up when I’m ready to run a new batch of broth.
 
Prep: Black beans. Clean and rinse, add to crock pot, 5.5 cups water, 2 cups beans, sea or Himalayan salt, 1/2 c orange juice, 1/2 onion. Cook for 6 hrs. Drain off liquid and freeze in wide mouth pint jars until needed.
 
Prep: Canned diced tomatoes . . . run a 16 oz can through the blender. It’s about 1 pint of tomato sauce. Most blender rings will fit a small mouthed pint jar. I dump the 16 oz can into the pint jar, spin on the blade/ring and blend it for about 30 secs. Instant tomato sauce.
 
Dice meat (2/3 beef / 1/3 pork, hamburger and ground pork works just fine, 1.5 to 2 lbs). Sautee in a couple tbsp of butter. When it no longer looks like raw meat add spices. Oregano or marjoram/ thyme/rosemary/crushed red pepper, black pepper, a bit of sea salt (not too much). Add 1 cup bone broth. Add 1 cup tomato sauce. Let it simmer for a while. The acid from the toms add tenderness, the bone broth adds nutrition and flavor. The spices (use what suits you) adds flavor.
 
While that’s doing its thing . . .
 
Cut up three good sized mushrooms, sautee in butter.
 
Peel and dice 2 carrots (about 3/4 cup)
 
Dice onion (about 3/4 cup)
Dice zucchini (about 3/4 cup)
 
Add one more vege. I used asparagus as it’s what I had. Pick something you like. Squash, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Same thing, about 3/4 cup. The stronger the flavor of the vege, the more it will change the flavor.
 
When all the parts are ready, add them to a 6 quart or larger stew pot. Add an additional cup of bone broth, the rest of the tomato sauce and let it stew until the carrots are tender.
 
Ready to go in the freezer

Turn the pot off and stir in the pint of black beans. The result is a chunky almost stew-like soup loaded with nutrition and flavor. Serve with rolls, bread, salad . . . whatever your favorite side is. Store what’s not used in pint jars in the freezer for when you need a quick and nutritious meal.

Root Trimmin’

Plant wall, current iteration

It’s been a while since I posted anything about my plant wall. Having the begonia bucket overflow onto the floor is a good time . . . definitely. Root incursions are a thing and today was the day.

All the plants are doing great. Other than the aforementioned need for a very infrequent root trimming to keep the drain system working, it’s completely trouble free. It runs, I ignore it, It grows, I ignore it. Leaves die off, I trim ’em. Not too arduous a job in my opinion.

The begonia bucket is a small plastic flat backed bucket picked up at the feed store for a few bucks. It’s plumbed with an overflow and seep. The overflow runs into the pipe garden below it. The pipe garden also has an overflow and seep which feeds back into the fish tank. The begonia’s finally gotten so leaf-heavy I’ve got it supported to keep the leaves out of the way. All the plants are adding leaves, runners, off-shoots, branching . . . no blossoms yet on this setup but now that the begonia has grown legs and has produced an off-shoot, I expect by next spring I’ll have blossoms.

I might move the whole setup farther up the wall and add another tube for some of the plants I had before but eschewed when I started this setup, like primrose, peperomia, hoya, strawberry begonia . . . I have the tube and the caps and the drain system . . . I just need Wadly to spray that sucker green.

 

Crafting in small spaces

We have a bit of an unusual life, Wadly and I. We live on twelve south-facing acres backed up to forty square miles of Weyerhaeuser on a dead end road off a dead end road mere minutes from the freeway. As locations go, it couldn’t be more perfect. It’s quiet and private here. From the top of our property we can look out over Shoestring Valley and see Mount St. Helens in the distance.

4×6 cutting/crafting table

Once our mortgage was paid off we decided living small was better than bigger fancier accommodations with its accompanying debt. Because our living space is small, engaging in crafts like quilting takes some innovating and good organizational skills. Having a table that will fold up out of the way when not needed is a crafty thing indeed. When it comes to crafting in a small space, it’s all about maximizing use of space!

Unless you have a family whose members require personal space, bedrooms are a waste. They’re one-use rooms not used for most of the day. I’ve always though Murphy beds were a really smart idea. They allow the bedroom to be more than one thing.

Table tilted up out of the way

Our bed is not a Murphy bed. It’s a metal frame that sits up high enough that storage bins can be placed beneath. To further maximize the space, I’ve mounted a 4×6 layout/cutting table on the footboard. The plywood base is covered by an Omnigrid mat I purchased from the factory on a Guild field trip. The mat is held to the table by tiny brass nails to keep it in place when the table is tilted up out of the way.

Color me crying

I’m had to update my theme and it makes me sad . . . very sad. I’d had the parchment/fall colors theme from my site’s beginning in 2008. The beautiful rich colors and feather-edged layout were perfect for what I like . . . but it had to go. The last time the theme was updated by it’s author was years ago. I been treating it tenderly and coaxed it along, but those days are over. I have to have more function and it can no longer rise to the task.

Color me crying.

Why I hate raglan

Fabric folds and bunches and point of shoulder pressure are raglan’s biggest sins.
Contiguous armscye crawl

I started knitting when I was very young. I made a sweater for my son when he was a toddler. It was raglan, but that’s not why I hate raglan. I hate raglan because it can never fit properly unless the body wearing it is very slope shouldered and the wearer keeps their arms out at a 45 degree angle to match the hang of the sleeves. Raglan is always loose at the neckline and tight at the shoulder with bunched fabric under the armscye. Sure it’s easy to knit/sew but it’s always a bad fit.

But here’s the thing. It is SO easy to knit it gets used all the time by knitwear pattern designers because they know people buying their pattern can mindlessly knit the result. Dolled up with attractive patterns or yarn and it has so much appeal people don’t notice the horrible fit or choose to ignore the horrible fit. Too many years of couture sewing has ruined me. I just can’t do it.

What brought on this rant? For the last two weeks I’ve been wearing good fitting sweaters in blissful comfort. Yesterday I washed them and while I’m waiting for them to dry I am wearing a poorly fitting commercial sweatshirt that bunches under my arms and is damned uncomfortable. Spending time trying to adjust my clothes to be more comfortable just pisses me off. It is wasted time. Ugh.

Contiguous is a great shoulder technique but to my eye it has two problems. Because the shoulder line on a top down contiguous garment cramps (effect of the series of increases in very close proximity), and the narrowness at the top of the sleeve causes the armscye to crawl onto the top of arm at the shoulder, it isn’t an appealing fit. It fits better than raglan but the aesthetics are still problematic.

No gaping, no pulling, no fabric folding, no discomfort.

The shoulder I like is a marriage between raglan and contiguous, separating out the increases between shoulder line and raglan. This solves the cramping caused by clustered increases, solves the problem of the raglan fit, and when paired with short rows on the sleeve cap completely eliminates any fabric folding under the armscye. The problem . . . it’s more complicated to knit. It’s more of a shoulder master class, unsuited to beginning or basic knitters. The technique has a lot going for it, it’s just not simple enough for everyone.

I ordered more yarn yesterday. I clearly don’t have enough sweaters if I have none to wear while they are being washed. Four sweaters is clearly not enough. Not nearly.

OMGosh stir fry

I’ve got a new super fast stir fry.

I bought a new gadget. I got a Zoodle from Amazon for $11. OMGosh. Game changer.

New fav meal. Oriental(ish) pork stir fry. OMGosh.

Thin-slice pork. Marinate it in sesame oil, basalmic vinegar and ground candied ginger (not available commercially, you’ll have to make your own – dehydrate candied ginger and run it through a food processor to grind it up).

Use the Zoodle to noodlize zucchini and rutabaga (yeah, new fav veg). Thin slide onion and break up into “noodles”. Add thin-sliced green pepper and some bamboo shoots (comes in a can).

You’re gonna need two frying pans, one for the marinated pork and one for the veges.

Add butter and sesame oil to both pans. Stick the veges into one and the pork into the other. Once the pork is most of the way done add the pork pan to the veges pan. When the veges are al dente the cooking us done!

OMGosh!

Burger Bowl!

In my continual search for really good food I can eat, I’ve discovered . . . Hamburger Bowl!

I have two version (with or without avocado) and they’re both wonderful. Those of you who eat carbs and bread/buns/etc. won’t think it’s so great, but for me . . . few carbs and no grains . . . it’s awesome!

On medium low, cook diced mushrooms and diced bacon in a 6″ skillet with a teaspoon of butter.

While that’s cooking dice a roma tomato and a slice of onion (choose the one you like, I’m using the basic yellow). Add two heaping teaspoonfuls of Farman’s Dill Pickle Relish in a bowl, add the diced onion and tomato and warm it in the microwave. Don’t COOK it, just get it warm so it doesn’t chill the hot ingredients. For my puny little microwave I use 55 seconds on cook, stir, then back in for another 15 seconds.

When the bacon and ‘shrooms are done or nearly done add the raw hamburger. The shape isn’t important, it’s getting chopped up when it’s done cooking. (I buy hamburger in bulk and package it in snack bags in the freezer for easy use. I get the amount of hamburger I need when I need it at a lower cost.)

When the hamburger is nearly done, dice up the hamburger and add 3/4 cup of black beans (drained and rinsed). Stir the beans into the mix. once it’s all heated up lift out the goodies (leave all the fat in the pan) and add them to your bowl of warmed and diced goodness.

Stir it all together and eat it with a soup spoon. OMGosh good! Heads up, this is more than will fit in a regular soup bowl.

When doing the avocado version I wait until everything’s mixed together and add the diced avocado to the top. Yummy stuff!