Nori's Stuff - Gardening, quilting, cooking and dogs

Hydro/Aquaponics

March 2, 2013

Supervising the grooming of the flock and errata

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Grooming in progress

Grooming in progress

13-03BogFilter

Post winter depression with promise of spring.

 

The tire holds my gunnera which, at our elevation, will only winter over if mulched and covered. It’s still a bit soon to uncover it . . . maybe in a couple weeks. I want to make sure it isn’t frost bitten. We had hail a couple days ago.

I got the bog filter trimmed up a bit and all last year’s triangular reed foliage trimmed away.

As of yesterday the pump has been cleaned and water is circulating. Having both bog filters full of hydroton takes much less water out of the main tank when the pump starts running.

I haven’t pulled out last year’s hyacinths as the roots are doing funny things and I want to see what happens.

I have no idea if the penny royal in the upper filter survived. I can’t see anything on the surface.

The water beans are growing and the stems are getting thicker each year. Go beans! I’m hoping to get some winter hardy water irises in the big filter this year.

Knitting

Slippered

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Slippers, warm and comfy

Slippers, warm and comfy

13-03Slippers2

Bottom in perl, seed stitch cuff, hole-less decrease at heel.

 

I’ve been wearing my slippers for a while but it wasn’t until a week ago I got the laces added.  I couldn’t share them without the laces in place!

The bottom (part I stand on) has the perl out so they’re comfortable to stand on.  I used my standard toe up sock with afterthought heel and revised heel decrease that produces zero holes.  The yarn is worsted weight Red Heart Black Fleck.  I got a super saver skein to use for testing stuff.  I have no idea where the slipper idea came from.   It must have been an aberrant moment.

The next step is to add waterproof leather soles and a felt cushion.

Knitting

March 1, 2013

i-cord me

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Bamboo/cotton with copper lined beads

Bamboo/cotton with copper lined beads

Duster Scarf

Duster Scarf

I finished my scarf for Jennifer and it’s inspired me to do a repeat with a twist.  Jennifer’s scarf is a pull-on no fuss no fasten designed to keep the neck warm tucked inside a jacket or heavy shirt.  It’s got a natural rolled edge out of which beads peak.  The beads are #6 copper lined crystal seed beads and the whole feel is casual elegance.

This next scarf is going to be a bit bigger half-square triangle (240+16+8 stitches instead of 160) with an i-cord edge at the top ending in tassels or dingle balls.

I’ve used my own version of provisional cast on (Artisan square 2.5s paired with a long interchangeable needles cable with the yarn wound around both until the stitch count is met) and am using small DPNs (double pointed needles) to work the i-cord.  I’ve got stitch markers set to mark the decrease and the first row of bead work.  When those two markers meet, I work my first row of beads.  The decrease occurs at the start of each row 4 stitches off the edge.  This gives a lovely bound effect to the scarf.

The yarn is bamboo/cotton I bought from a vendor on Ebay.  He sells yarn from Asian manufacturers where the labels have been misprinted (my guess based on how the labels look).  It’s very good quality yarn and lovely to work with.  Bamboo/cotton makes it wash and wear.

Since I started this scarf I’ve found a video for an i-cord cast on.  Duh.  That would have been SO much faster.

Recipes

February 27, 2013

Healthy and easy casserole

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Tomato, onion, green and red pepper, broccoli and carrot.

Tomato, onion, green and red pepper, broccoli and carrot.

This is an easy and delicious way to get a mess of vegetables in an easy potentially low fat prepare-ahead meal. This recipe can easily be multiplied to feed more people. It’s an awesomely delicious and healthy lunch or dinner that I can prepare way ahead of time.

I don’t know if it’s fair to call this dish a casserole as it’s just veggies and a frank. You could make this with any kind of sausage or hot dog. I use Painted Hill’s Natural Beef Franks but it would be lovely with other types of commercial cured sausage.

Rough chop half a tomato and put it in the bottom of an individual casserole dish. Make sure you use the tomato. It provides the moisture and the acidity that will balance the dish and make it delicious.  You can use a couple tablespoons of tomato paste.  If you do, add a half-cup of water for the moisture.

Layer a selection of vegetables on top. I’ve used onion, potato, broccoli, green and red peppers, carrot, celery, zuccini and use a different variety as the mood strikes.  You can even use potato, just cut it in smaller cubes so it cooks thoroughly.

Whatever vegetables you add should equal four or five times the volume of the meat.  Place your choice of vegetables on top of the tomato. Cut the sausage or frank up and put it on top and put the cover on.  This is the absolute perfect dish for a toaster oven, which is what I’ve got.  Bake at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes.  Once the dish has cooled enough to eat, pull the lid and enjoy!

Recipes

February 25, 2013

Korean beef

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This is an adaptation of a Korean rice bowl recipe I found online. The first time I made it I followed the directions which called for cooking the meat first, then adding the veges but the very lovely beef I used came out so overcooked and tough I never did it that way again.

The original recipe called for a lot of stuff and I like fairly simple but great tasting food so I made some . . . uh . . . adjustments.

Make a marinade –

  • 1 or 2 crushed/minced/finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (I use tubinado instead – healthier)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (I use coconut aminos instead)
  • 1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch (leave this out if you want – it’s a make-you-fat thickener)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cooking sherry (optional but tasty)

Chop the beef in relatively small pieces and stir into the marinade until well coated.

Prep whatever veges you want. Cut the denser veges in smaller slices/pieces to even out the cooking. Use a carrot or two, a stalk of celery or two, some red pepper, some green pepper, a zuccini if you’ve got one, some broccoli if you’ve got some, half an onion. Pea pods would be good as would bean sprouts but add the bean sprouts right at the end when the veges are added back to the pan with the meat or they will overcook.

If you’re a minimalist, feel free to just use onion and peppers.

Stir fry the veges in a bit of olive oil. When the veges are not quite done, lift them out and add the meat reserving the marinade for later. When the meat’s is almost done, add the marinade sauce and layer the veges over the top.  Wait a bit to stir it all together. When the marinade has finished thickening and the meat is done, the dish is done.

Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on the top. Serve over rice if you like.

Recipes

February 24, 2013

Easy and tasty almond chicken for two

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This is my go-to recipe for just-for-me food.  It’s not super-quick to fix (about 20 minutes) but it’s delicious, packed with flavor and veges and, for the nutritional value in the meal, it’s uber-healthy.

I buy chicken thighs in the family pack size and zip them into sandwich bags, put them into a gallon zip bag and chuck them in the freezer.  I pull a thigh out in the morning and toss it on the counter.  By lunch it’s thawed and ready to use.

Skin and debone one chicken thigh per person. Slice the skin in strips and put the skin and bone in a small sauce pan with 1/2 to 3/4 cup water per thigh to make the required chicken broth.  This chicken broth is healthy and a zero dollar addition to the recipe from something you would have thrown away.  If you’re a broth purist, chop some celery and onion and toss it in as well.  I don’t see the need.  This dish is already max tasty, full of texture and flavor and excellent nutrition.

Slap on a lid and start it cooking. You want to bring it to a boil and turn it down to simmer while you’re prepping the rest of the stuff. Flip the bones over a couple times as it cooks to get as much flavor out as possible.  Because you’ve sliced the skin into strips, it needs zero attention.

Dice the chicken in 1/2 to 3/4″ cubes. Stick it into a marinade of (measurement is per chicken thigh) 2 tbsp soy sauce (or coconut aminos if you’re soy adverse), 2 tbsp Lee & Perrins Worchestershire sauce, 2 tbsp sherry (I use Sheffield’s creme sherry), 1 crushed clove a garlic and (optional and fattening so leave it out if you prefer) 1 tbsp corn starch.  The Worchestershire sauce adds a layer of very complimentary flavor and is not standard to the recipe.  One day I was short on coconut aminos and use the worchestershire to make up the difference.  I was so caught by the flavor combo I adjusted the recipe and haven’t looked back.

While the skin and bone are simmering, prepare these veges.  The measurements are per thigh so double for two, triple for three . . . 1 carrot peeled, cut in half lengthwise and slice in less than 1/4″ thick slices on the diagonal. Slice 1/2 a medium onion thinly. Slice a celery stalk on the diagonal.  (Because I mostly cook this recipe for just me and don’t need to impress anyone, I pull the celery bundle out of the vege drawer and cut the top of the bundle off  in thinnish slices until I have the amount I want, usually 3 or 4 cuts.)  Add some mushroom.  I like mine cut in sticks but do what makes you happy.  Add a little sliced pepper (both red and green).  I like pepper in almost everything.  If you’re not a pepper fan, leave it out. Slice a handful of water chestnut slices (canned) into sticks. Cut a handful of bamboo shoots (canned) in half lengthwise.  Once I’ve opened the cans I process everything in the cans and put them in zippies in the freezer so they stay good until I’m ready to use them.  You can break them into portions (1 snack zippy with both water chestnut and bamboo shoots) and pull the right number of portions out of the freezer when you pull out the chicken.

In a small frying pan, pour 1/2″ peanut oil and start it heating. When the oil is hot (add a single almond slice – when it starts to sizzle, the oil’s hot) throw in 1/4 cup of sliced almonds per thigh.  If you’re making more than two servings, use a bigger pan so the almonds have room to brown. Stir and shake until the almonds just start to change color. If you wait any longer they will rapidly turn brown and taste a bit burnt so be ready to pull them out of the oil just as they start to turn color.  I’ve eaten them that way and it isn’t bad, just not great so keep a close eye as you’re cooking them.

Pour the almonds and oil through a metal mesh (screen) strainer so the oil drains into a bigger frying pan. Drain the almonds really well (shake and wiggle) and spread them on a paper towel to stop the cooking and finish draining.

Once the peanut oil is again up to temp, toss in all the prepped veges and stir/shake a bit longer than it takes to turn the onions transparent. None of the other raw veges will be completely done yet but close.  The dish won’t be horrible if you slightly overcook or undercook the veges, and you’ll prefect this with practice.  You’re going to cook them again so don’t over-cook them now.

While the veges are cooking, use the screen to strain the chicken out of the marinade.   I dump the drained chicken into the small frying pan so the residual heat will start to bring the chicken up to temp.

Dump the broth from the chicken skin/bones into the marinade.  The hot broth will help bring the marinade up to temp.

Dump the veges out of the frying pan into the strainer over a bowl to drain off the remaining oil.  

Dump the chicken into the big frying pan. Stir until cooked nearly cooked through.  Don’t overcook.  Add the marinade/broth.  If you’re using a thickener, wait until it gets up to temp and starts to thicken before adding the veges back to the pan.  Don’t stir them in just yet. Dump in the almonds and cook the whole thing just a bit longer.  You don’t want limp veges but you do want thickened sauce and done meat.  This dish is better if they still have just a bit of a crunch.

If you like bean spouts, they would be a good addition. Add them when you add the veges into the pan with the chicken. Any sooner and they’ll be overcooked.

Enjoy!

Quilting

February 16, 2013

New and loving it

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301A in a trapezoid table.

The picture my friend sent me.  It’s lovely!

 

Enough lint for three machines, packed in so tight it took extraordinary measures to get it all out.

Cleaning up.  Enough lint for three machines packed in so tight it took extraordinary measures to get it all out.

A friend, knowing I love Singer 301As and trapezoid cabinets, found one for me.  The cabinet’s a lovely thing, mahogany veneer with just a tiny chip on the right end of the under-table.  The 301 is a black short-bed that’s in really lovely shape, just needing a good cleaning and lube and new wiring.  The cleaned machine is very quiet and smooth and I had the necessary wiring in my stash of parts.

This machine came with three bobbins.  Two of the bobbins had four separate colors/lengths of thread each.  The remaining bobbin had seven different pieces/colors of thread wound on.  There was so much lint, packed in so tightly, I had to disassemble the bobbin carrier to get all the lint out.

If you’re wondering what makes a trapezoid table so special, it’s for two very nice reasons.  The left end of the table is hinged and the swings out to support the table extension when it’s open.  Secondly, because the shape of the table is shorter on the front than the back, the table extension wraps to the front just a bit making it easier to keep things on the table.

I’ve already sewing a bunch of quilt bindings and today I’ll use this lovely machine to put borders on a quilt top.  Color me happy.

Knitting

January 31, 2013

Busy work knitting

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Self-striping merino blend mobius

Self-striping merino blend mobius

Caron Simply Soft - mobius with 3/9 silver lined seed beads

Caron Simply Soft – mobius with 3/9 silver lined seed beads

Caron Simply Soft - mobius with 1/0 silver lined seed beads.

Caron Simply Soft – mobius with 1/0 silver lined seed beads.

Nascent mobius, Lion Amazing

Lion Amazing – nascent mobius with amethyst 1/0 seed beads

 

Life’s been fairly busy for me the last four months.  I’m caring for a bed-bound family member and haven’t had a lot of time for the crafty stuff that feeds my soul.  Because I’ve been sitting bound to one spot I’ve been doing a lot of knitting.  Most of the knitting I’ve done is fairly mindless stuff I can do while watching and thinking.

I finally finished the knitting on a pair of sock slippers out of Red Heart acrylic worsted.  I’m intending to put soles on them but that’s a future project.  Until then, I’ll wear them without.  They do keep my feet toasty.

I’ve knitted two cowls, a bunch of mobius scarves and a few hats.

I knit a cowl in Caron Simply Soft Oceana to try out reversible cables on a seed stitch background.  That was lovely.  My sister-in-law got that one for Christmas and loves it.  I knitted a cowl for myself out of pink and green self-striping merino wool blend but it was a bit girly for me (cute ruffly edges and beads).  My SIL coveted it so I passed it on.

I got a gimmee skein of KnitPicks Biggo which I knit into a hat for my bed-bound friend.  That’s some wonderful yarn!

Close fitting cowls and hats are quick and fairly boring, but mobius scarves are interesting.  To knit a mobius scarf, you either have to join the ends (fairly obvious) or use a provisional cast on which is significantly less obvious.  Any time you can knit something without having to sew it together saves time.

Provisional cast on produces a shift in the columns of stitches at the point of cast on.  Because I like mobius in 2×2 rib, the provisional cast on is really obvious to me.  Seed stitch would hide the point of cast on but the stitch isn’t as stretchy and the point of this scarf is to stay close and keep the neck warm.  Because I’m fairly anal, I find the cast on shift unattractive.  By incorporating beads at the point of cast on, I minimize the obviousness of the shift.

The green and purple mobius is the first I made and is being worn by my niece.  It’s bright and smart and so is she.

The brown/gray/emerald/navy mobius is off to a friend in California.  She wanted me to make her a mobius when she was here visiting but I’m really bad at reading hints.  Once she got more pointed and said “I want a mobius”, I got it.  This color combo is perfect for her. Because she likes touches of sparkle, I added the beads.  This was my second knitted project with beads.

The blue mobius is for my friend and sister of my heart.  I originally made the striped one for her but she’s too sensitive to the merino wool.  She’ll have no problem with the Caron Simply Soft acrylic.  I used the beads to mask the cast on, adding beads at the edge to give it that ultimate “girly” touch.  Can we ever get enough sparkle?  I ran short of beads to finish the cast off so it’s on hold until I get more beads.

The blue/pink one might be for me.  The challenge will be to see if I can resist the temptation to give it away if someone admires it.  This mobius is smaller around than the others I’ve done.  I only have a partial skein of Lion Amazing left.  Of the three matching dye lot skeins I bought, I’ve already made two hats and a mobius.  This mobius gets what’s left.  Beads prevent it from being the ugly step child.

Gardening,Hydro/Aquaponics

December 29, 2012

Greening the desert

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I caught this off a permaculture site.  It’s amazing.  Take a couple minutes and watch.

Gardening

December 20, 2012

Broken pot garden

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Broken pot garden

Broken pot garden

I saw this on Facebook this morning.  It is beyond cool!  What a clever use for a broken pot!

Gardening,Hydro/Aquaponics

November 20, 2012

Getting your toes wet

Self-contained counter top herb garden using airlift technology.

On Facebook today Homestead had a post featuring a new Kickstart project, a self-contained aquaponic garden.  This is really neat!  I’ve supported other projects on Kickstart and this one is definitely worthy of support!

Cordwaining

November 3, 2012

Silicone molding

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The molding clay stop in place with the register dents.

The resulting silicone cast. See where the silicone cast is separating from the last at heel and toe?

I’ve got the first batch of silicone on my last and here are my observations.

First is that I shouldn’t put off until another day the continuation of the project.

Second is that I should put on a lot more silicone in the first coat.  I can work with what I’ve got, I just think it would have been better to keep at it.  When mixed 1:1:1, the combination is spreadable and sets up to the point additional layers could be added in under 2 hours.

Third, I should have used plaster instead of molding clay to build up the ankle and toe of my test last shape.  The silicone and molding clay separate beautifully . . . . but a little too eagerly.  Where the plaster will absorb the water the silicone puts off as it cures, the molding clay cannot and this creates hydraulic pressure which separates the silicone from the clay.  Despite that, I think I can work with this.  It’s just a test and the important bit is neither the top of the ankle OR the toe.  I’ll coat the silicone with a couple layers of mold release and then add the remaining layers of silicone.  I may have to pin the bits that are separating, but I don’t see that as a game changer.

Cordwaining,Pioneer Spirit

November 1, 2012

Testing the molding

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Materials

Molding clay with silicone mix pasted on.

End result after about 2 hours.

Let the games begin!  I’m testing molding.  After lots of research, I’m actually testing!  Woohoo!

  • Modeling clay (doesn’t dry out)
  • Something to use as a base (glossy scrap cardboard)
  • Pure silicone caulk
  • Xylene
  • Corn starch
  • Stir sticks (old plastic spatulas)
  • Mixing container

I used the modeling clay to make something to mold against.  I cut a piece, stuck it down to the glossy card stock, mixed equal parts corn starch and silicone caulk, then added xylene to get a spreadable consistency.

I then plastered the silicone mix onto the clay.  Not pretty, but pretty really isnt’ necessary.

The third picture is the result after two hours.  The silicone was largely set.  I didn’t do a good enough job getting the silicone into the register holes.  I’ll know to watch for that when starting the actual mold making.

Knitting

October 20, 2012

Broken promise

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Harmony wood needle tips, size six.

I ordered a Try It pack of needle tips from KnitPicks.  I really like the concept, one set of cables and one set of needle tips.  Sadly, the Harmony wood needle tips didn’t hold up.  I had just started another mobius scarf and the wood separated where it entered the metal portion of the tip.  If I’d bent the needle, it would make sense, but I was pulling the stitches along the cable while holding the tip.

I think the wood needles would be fine in a bigger diameter, but in something as small as a six, they just aren’t going to hold up.  I’ve switched to size seven nickel plated tips.  I’m fairly confident they’ll hold up to the task at hand.

Knitting

The joy of giving

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Third batch

I’m on my third batch of stitch markers.  I’m not losing them, I find myself giving them away to people who have the same complaints I do about the commercial stitch markers.  I have the same policy with earrings I make, so it’s a natural extension of something I’m already doing.  Fun!

Plant Wall

October 7, 2012

What fish?

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Aquarium obscured by Ricinifolia Immense, strawberry begonia and creeping philodendron.

The wall has really grown this summer.  I mean REALLY grown.  It’s now a struggle to see the fish.  Somebody remind me . . . wasn’t this project for the fish?  That’s a 50 gallon aquarium hiding back there!

Knitting

September 26, 2012

Clever stitch markers

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Bead stitch markers.

Worsted weight yarn, size 9 needles, stitch count markers (12 stitches from end, 48 stitches from end and every 48 thereafter).

 

I’ve used a variety of stitch markers but was wholly unsatisfied with what’s currently available.  They’re either bulky or intrusive or too easily dropped/lost, all of which are frustrating.  I’ve worked out a couple solutions that work better for me.

If I leash together two of the commercial markers (I’ve used plastic split ring, round plastic and triangular) they work much better as the marker doesn’t get lost and is easily retrieved if it slips from my grasp when transferring from one needle to the next, but they’re still bulkier than is comfortable when using sock yarn and size 1 needles.  On the plus side, if the leash is tied to a clip or pin so it can be fastened to the work, they don’t fall away when they’re dropped.

An even better solution are markers made from filament and beads.  The flexible filament is very thin and keeps the marker from interfering with the work, the bead makes the marker easy to spot and acts as a handle or connector and are big enough that both needles can simultaneously be inserted into the marker reducing the chance you will drop it when transferring between needles.

Beyond that, they’re pretty and make me smile.

 

Plant Wall

September 14, 2012

The wall

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A happy wall.

This is so not a Pink Floyd thing . . . here’s the wall in all its glory.  I’ve reorganized my sewing space and can’t back up any farther to get the trailing things in the picture.

Quilting

September 13, 2012

Vertical!

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Vertical orientation looks better.

In test driving orientation for the fog, it looks like vertical is the best direction for laying the blocks.

Knitting

September 11, 2012

An afterthought

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The middle sock was my first (modified sweet tomato heel). The left sock was second (different modification to the sweet tomato heel). The black cuff/heel/toe was the last (short row with the sweet tomato stitch pickup technique).

Perfect technique, far from perfect yarn matching

I love the Paton stretch sock yarn and I love wearing the socks.  I only have one pair of socks I like as much, a Smartwool sport sock that fits as well as the socks I make for myself.

In the socks I’ve done so far, I’ve got two modified versions of the sweet tomato heel and a short row heel using the sweet tomato stitch pickup technique.  This time I’m going to work a modified version of the afterthought heel.  The single row of black yarn near the needles is where the heel will be inserted.

After three pair of socks, I think I’ve found my rhythm . . . sort of.  The trick is to wear glasses strong enough for me to see the stitches.  I’m no longer dropping stitches or inadvertently adding stitches.  Who knew?  Go me!

I’ve refined the pattern I’m using (toe up sock).  My wedge toe has more of a pleasing curve (magic cast on 40 stitches, increase every row for 4 rows, every other row 2x and every 4th row 1x for a total of 68 stitches).  Now that I’ve got the technique down and have wised up and started wearing strong glasses things are coming together nicely.  I just need to test drive this heel technique to see which one works best for me (least number of holes and fits the best).

Because my feet are so short I can get a whole pair of socks out of a single skein of sock yarn if I don’t need tall socks.  If you discount the ~30 hours it takes to make a pair of socks, these are a bargain at about $6 a pair.  If I want the socks taller than a 3″ crew, I need just a touch more yarn, thus the black toes, heels and cuff.

This latest pair of socks show I can’t seem to get the quality of work paired with the pattern matching.  Admittedly, this yarn is the left over from the very first pair of socks, so I’m cutting myself all kinds of slack.  As I seldom leave the farm, the likelihood of anyone but me noticing the pattern doesn’t match is pretty darn small.  And if they do notice, I’m pretty certain I won’t care.

Quilting

September 9, 2012

The tree and the fog

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Tree and fog. I’m lovin’ it!

I’ve got not quite a quarter of the honeycomb blocks done for the background on Lorr’s quilt.  In this picture I have only about half the finished fog on the wall.

It’s gone a bit slowly because I’ve been testing ironing seams this way, that way, pressed open . . . I think I’ve got what I want now.  I’m happy, happy, happy.

The colors, the variety, the textures.  Yup, I’m happy.  If all goes as planned, this will be a stunning quilt.

Now that the picture is up, can you see what’s wrong?  This is why pictures are so important!  In the very center of the picture, see the blue sky showing through the leaves?  Oops.  Can’t see the sky through the trunk.  I’ll have to replace that with a non-sky piece.  It’s the little things . . .

Recipes

September 8, 2012

Perfect rice, the easy way

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Pick your weapon.  Any shape or size, as long as you can get the rice in and out, it’ll work!

Fill it with rice

Fill with water (yup, with the rice STILL in whatever you’re using to measure).  You now have a rice and water mix.  Dump it in the cooker.

Don’t worry about the rice left inside, you’ll rinse it out in the next step.

Fill your measure with water one more time.  Add it to the ricer and water already in the cooker. If you’re good, all the stray rice will end up in the cooker instead of left in your measuring device.

Add a little bit of oil. It helps keep the rice from sticking together. I don’t know if this step is advised for sticky rice so you’ll need to check.

Cover the cooker and switch it on. When it switches itself off (or, in my case, switches to warm), your rice is done!

This method of cooking rice is super easy, no measuring cup required, though I take the lazy man way and use a rice cooker. You can, depending on your cooker, make any amount of rice you want, enough for one or more!

Pick your measuring device.  I’m not saying don’t use a measuring cup, but you certainly don’t need one with this method.  I’m using a small drink glass for my measure here.

This method works because it provides the right amount of water for the rice every time.

Fill your measure up with rice.  With the rice still in your measuring device, fill it up with water as well.  You now have a mix of water and rice in your measuring device.  Dump the rice and water mixture into the cooker.  Filling the measure with rice and water gives exactly the right amount of extra water.

The amount of water we’ve added won’t be enough, so we have to add one more measure full of water.  Remember, it doesn’t matter what measure you start with, just use the same measure all the way through and it will come out perfect!

Just so we’re really clear, you’re adding one measure of water and one measure of rice and water mixed.  I add the full measure of water after the rice and water mix to rinse the rice out of the measure so none is wasted.

Top it off with a drizzle of olive oil, put the lid on, plug it in and turn it on!   When it shuts off, you’ll have perfect rice!

Quilting

September 7, 2012

Auditioning fog

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Test auditioning the fog fabric.

Drafting the template

Now that the leaf portion of the tree for Lorr’s quilt is done, I’m working on the background fog.  I don’t want it to be all one foggy piece of fabric, I want it to be more in keeping with the rest of the quilt, more random color and texture.

I’d been searching for over a year to find enough foggy batik fabrics for this part of Lorr’s quilt, but they just aren’t out there. Progress was at a halt.

Our Guild had a fabric dying workshop with the fabulous David Christensen.  I dyed 10 yards of batik quality fabric trying for perfect soft shades for the fog.  Some of the pieces are too dark, but not too many.  Overall, the result was a nice collection of soft greens, blues and grays with enough texture to be interesting.

I had originally intended to use one of the Dance template sets for this portion of the quilt, but I’ve since changed my mind.  I’m going with a machine sewn honeycomb block.  Sewing this block by machine isn’t for the faint of heart.  I’ve developed a technique that gives me accurate placement of the pieces.  I’ll try and get a tutorial together showing the technique.

I drafted the 2″x4″ template for the honeycomb block on pallet slip sheet cardboard.  I get this at the local feed store.  It’s a 4’x4′ sheet of thin cardboard that’s waxed or plasticized which makes it a little difficult to write on, but it makes great templates . . . and it’s free!

I used my cutting fabrics using cardboard templates technique so as not to damage my template.  The only adjustment I made was to not move any of the fabric for the second cut as it preps the end of the strip for the next template placement.

I think I’m going to like this block and fabric for the fog.  The sewing’s a bit tedious and nearly every seam is a Y seam, but I think the end result will definitely be worth the effort.

Quilting

September 4, 2012

Striking a chord

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Fantasy Petals

I get a weekly newsletter from Quilting Books, Patterns and Notions and I occasionally find inspiration therein.  This week the periodical has a lovely and splashy flower wall hanging that’s lovely, full of bright color and made from batiks.  Not only does the color sense suit my style, this would be a perfect pattern for machine pinning.  Perfect!  The pattern is available here.

Quilting

September 2, 2012

Glorious fall color

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Glorious fall color

I restarted the leaf portion of Lorr’s quilt.  My original iteration hung on the wall and I just wasn’t happy.  I couldn’t make myself continue with what I’d started.  It was months before I realized what it was I didn’t like.  I’ve redone it and now, I’m happy!

Recipes

August 27, 2012

Potato bombs

Plugging the bottom

Ready to pop in the oven.

Here’s how you make potato bombs.

Because I don’t have an apple corer, Wadly made me a potato coring tool out of a length of copper pipe.  This method requires an additional tool for pushing the core out of the pipe.

Core the potatoes.  Mine were really big russets so I cut them in half lengthwise before coring.  

Set the potato on its flat end and stuff it with your favorite potato partner (I used diced onions and bacon).  I used my push rod to pack down the diced onion, then added the bacon and packed it as well.  Plug the top with the other short section of core, skin side out.

Place the potato halves cut side down in a buttered baking dish.  Wrap the halves in bacon.  Mine took 1½ slices for complete coverage.  Toss the two remaining core pieces in the pan.   Waste not . . .

Bake at 350° for 1 hour.

If you’re barbequing and have good control of the temp in you grill, you can wrap these in heavy duty foil and cook them on the grill.  For full sized potatoes, turn them over at the half-way mark to distribute the bacon flavor.

You can’t beat this dish for awesome flavor.

Gardening,Plant Wall

August 25, 2012

Begonia invasion

Begonia as far as the eye can see . . .

Here’s what the wall looks like today. The begonias are taking over . . . and still no new gutter.

There’s a philodendron crawling across the floor . . . and the palm at the top is doing okay.  The spider plans are barely holding their own, the dieffenbachia is also doing well as are all the various dumb cane varieties.

The hoya is doing nothing . . . still.  It does occasionally get sneaky and route water off the wall onto the floor so I’m keeping an eye on it.

Cordwaining

August 19, 2012

Short casting to last

The plaster wrap from ball to ankle.

Cover with plastic bag and wrap with 4″ wide elastic wrap.

Cut the leather-hard plaster with a serrated butter knife.

Tie a strip of plastic bag around the casting to hold it close while it sets.

Here’s the sequence of producing the short casting. If I don’t have to deal with the toes I can do this by myself pretty easily.  Note that I have coated my foot and ankle with olive oil just after installing the tape (see below).

The only photo I didn’t get was of my foot set with forefoot on the ground and heel off and my leg correctly aligned.

Note the blue painters tape showing above the wrap.  It runs down almost all the way to the bottom edge of the plaster wrap and protects my skin from the butter knife used to cut the plaster wrap.

Cordwaining

Positive for last mold

Initial last shape, part plaster cast, part modeling clay.

I’ve used my modeling clay (has oil in it so it doesn’t dry out) and I’ve added to the casting I made for my heel seat press.  There’s no reason I can’t use that casting for both my initial last casting AND as the template for a press for the cork for my heel seat.

Once I get the initial mold made I can clean it up and do any final fussy shaping.  The modeling clay fleshes out the toe and the top of the last at the ankle.

Cordwaining

Sequencing

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I’ve been toying with making a pair of stitch-down sandal shoes ala Alan James Raddon but I could never figure out how to get the toe strap adjusted so it would be comfortably snug but not too tight.  When I need a solution to a problem, I’ve learned to just let things ferment.  Today I think I’ve found the answer.

Sewing sequence for the toe strap at SixSmith.org

I was researching shoe making stuff and in a search on lasts shoes DIY I ran into a forum that led me to a website that had this picture.  The site is SixSmith.org, a company that makes custom lasts and hold workshops on shoe making.

For making my own pair of sandal shoes, my brain was firmly fastened on sewing the outside first and I couldn’t figure out now to get the strap length right.  Duh.  This is just a little too obvious.  <rolls eyes at self>.  Sew the inside first!

In my weekly conversation with our son, I talked about what I’ve been doing to get lasts that would help me produce a better fitting shoe.  We’ve thrown a lot of ideas back and forth and it’s gelling.  We’ll see how it goes.