Saturday, October 31, 2009
Leaving family in quite a quandary;
With no clothing to wear,
And too embarrassed to bare
In public their all and sundry.
Vestiphobes are afraid to wear clothes. Ablutophobes are afraid to wash. That must mean that Vestablutophobes are afraid of washing clothes. The cure is a drug called Sudzac, but I'm afraid I have an allergy to the medication.
Friday, October 30, 2009
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the whole point of NaNo is to write the rough draft of a 50,000 word novel over a 30 day span. Most likely, a really bad rough draft. But a complete story nonetheless.
That boils down to 1,667 words a day. This will be my first attempt at writing something this big, but after writing 5,000 words on Tuesday alone, I'm pretty sure that I can do it. By ingesting a significant amount of coffee and not sleeping at all.
Oh, and did I mention that I will also be typing up the novels that both of the girls are planning to write?
So, what am I writing, you want to know? Thanks for asking! The current story outline includes a boy named Citrian, a kidnapped mother, clues carved on cubes, talking/dying rocks, a villain filled with glass shards, and a double-edged allegory. If you want to find out how I intend to combine elements of geology, letterboxing, and mercy, you'll have to come back after I figure it out. I can't start writing till Sunday, after all.
Since I probably won't be carving for awhile, I had to make a stamp dedicated to NaNo. Just 'cuz.
The automatic "guest" posts will begin on Monday. See you all in a couple of weeks!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I may post a collage of all of the B. Kliban cats on Saturday*, but other than that, the Bonnie Project is complete. Unless, of course, I decide to stamp them "just in case" before I mail them off to her. ;)
And since These Boots were made for Walkin', this cat exits stage right.
*Upon further reflection, the girls and I have decided that this project might not be quite done.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Consequently, my blogging is going to be a little on the lame side this week. In preparation for novelling, the girls and I are trying to get ahead on schoolwork, housework, work work...oh, and because I have so much extra time on my hands I wrote a 5,000 word short story yesterday (remember that inspiration on the treadmill?). Sleeping is optional at this point.
The good news is that I have the first two weeks of posts for November planned out and I think you are going to love them! I am going to be highlighting the stamps carved by other artists for a very fun project that I had the pleasure of being part of some time ago. That's all I'm going to say until Monday.
And now, for your reading pleasure (or torment), an excerpt from my short story:
From the shadows at the back of the cold metal cage, two green eyes glowed. For weeks people had come into the shelter in search of the perfect pet. Each time the bell over the door jingled, the kitten had rubbed herself against the bars in hopes of being touched. And each time, she had been passed over.
There was a young woman with her son a few days ago. The boy had poked his fingers into the crate and scratched her between the ears. She had pushed her head against him and rattled her ribs with her tiny purr. But the boy had started sneezing and they left as quickly as they had come.
Later, a large woman clumped into the room. Her hair was piled high on her head and she smelled strongly of lavender. She tipped her chin up at the sight of the kitten and sniffed, “Black cats are bad luck!” She took home an orange tabby that had a runny nose.
A man with hunched shoulders came in next. His face was covered with bristly black hair. At the smell of him, the kitten had puffed herself up, trying to look larger than she really was. Her hair stood in spikes along the ridge of her back. The man had snarled at her and then chosen a solid dog that was as dark and surly as himself.
Others had come and gone. Some of them chose pets and some of them just came to look. When no one was there, the lady behind the desk would come and open the door of her cage and stroke the kitten’s back. It felt delicious. She would whisper softly to her, “I would take you home with me today, but my landlord doesn’t allow pets in the apartments.” Her eyes looked sad.
After awhile, the kitten stopped coming to the front of the cage when visitors arrived. She simply folded her paws neatly beneath her and watched as the parade of people passed.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It's not an aerobic workout yet, but it felt wonderful. Walking is so much more than, well, walking to me. Walking brings inspiration. In that half mile this morning I came up with an idea for a series of short stories for the girls. It also means that the weight loss can start. In fact, I think it has begun already. It will take another week to know if this morning's weigh-in was a fluke or not, but it gives me hope.
And of course, it means that the serious hiking is getting closer. That Illinois pathtag will be earned. More boxes will be found. And more will be planted.
Inspiration and hope make a pretty powerful combination.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
The same holds true for my love affair with Delicata Squash. I don't ever have to worry about going to the fridge and finding the squash inexplicably missing. And even when the cooking aromas from the skillet are making my mouth water, there is never anyone else hovering over my shoulder and pestering me about when it will be done.
While Delicatas can be obtained year round, there is nothing like getting it fresh and in season. And it is beautiful too.
Here is my favorite recipe:
1 small Delicata squash
1 1/2 T butter
1/2 t. sage
1/4 t. rosemary
1/2 c water
3/4 c apple cider
1 T. red wine
salt and pepper to taste, optional (I omit these)
Peel, halve, seed and cube squash (I didn't peel mine for the photo). Melt butter in skillet and add seasonings. Add squash and liquid to skillet. Cover and simmer 20-30 minutes, or until squash is tender and liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Every autumn for nearly the past decade, my In Laws have purchased beef at the local county fair. The beef is hand raised, usually as part of a 4H project and therefore is the highest quality meat available. Once it is dressed, it is divided three ways and delivered to our freezers. All at no cost to us. This year, it was over 1300 pounds on the hoof, which means that my 15 cubic foot deep freeze is packed to the top with more meat than the four of us can possibly eat in a year. I have already started giving some of it away.
To refuse such a gift would be to deny God's provision for us through Chad's loving parents and would undoubtedly do damage to our relationship. Accepting it allows us to exercise good stewardship and be generous with others. I probably shouldn't even mention how delicious it is.
4-5 # roast
2-3 onions, sliced
1 t. onion salt
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. oregano
2 t. Italian seasoning
1 t. seasoned salt
1 t. basil
3 beef bouillon cubes
Put 1 inch water in bottom of crock pot. Add roast and remaining ingredients. Cook on low 8-10 hours (I usually do this overnight). Remove roast and shred. Place back in crock pot and continue cooking another 2 hours. Serve on rolls with cheese and peppers.
*tip~if there is any leftover juice, it makes wonderful gravy.
1 c. cooked whole corn
1/2 c coarsely crushed cheese crackers
1/4 c chopped green onions
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley (or 1 T. dried)
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 # ground beef
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. ground sage
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Shape into patties and grill over medium coals until well done. A "Foreman" indoor grill works well also. Serve with all of your favorite toppings.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
For the image, I took one of my Mother's quilt books and scanned all of the block patterns for one applique quilt into my computer. Then I used Photoshop to piece them all together and resize them. Which was insane. Still, I ended up with a decent image transfer and the carve went fairly well. I was still in my "pink stuff" phase and combining negative and positive carving.
I attempted to color the stamp like the quilt in the book. Even after practice it took 20 minutes. This is the best color image that I was able to get.
Want to hear a funny quilt story?
My parents went on a vacation and I stayed at their house to take care of things. One day, I was cleaning up and tossed a dirty quilt into the washer. It was mostly white, with a multi-colored double wedding ring pattern on it. I knew that Mom washed it and so did think anything of it. Until I opened the lid of the washer. The entire quilt was the color of cranberry juice! Only then did I remember putting some mulberry placemats in the wash the day before. I was positively sick. I cried. I couldn't eat. I was sure that my parents had received that quilt as a wedding present and I had ruined it.
A couple of days later when Mom called to check in, I confessed to what I had done in between sobs. I knew she was going to be upset.
The first thing she said was, "What? You mean the dog's blanket?"
We're still laughing about it.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
If ever there was a stamp with a tale to tell, it would be this one.
I was still learning to carve (and still am) and had begun experimenting with ways to create the visual image of texture with the rubber. It was mildly successful, and I was pleased with the results. The Humpback was carved for a postal and I was taken by surprise when it was hard to let it go when the ring started. Emotional attachment to a piece of rubber wasn't something I had expected.
Over the next 2 1/2 years it traveled. It visited more than 60 people in three separate rings. It spent countless weeks in a "black hole" on more than one occasion. That includes the time it slipped down behind someone's couch cushions and was presumed dead. Toward the end, I gave up trying to keep track of it. I retired the stamp and forgot about it.
And then one day it surfaced in my mailbox. Just like that. In perfect condition and with a full logbook. Talk about a happy dance!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
the Letterboxing Version
Then came the fateful day a few months later (July 9th it was). With backpack full of Marvy markers in one paw and clues in the other, BigBadWolf set out for the Fairy Tale Forest Preserve to hunt for the notorious "Building Materials" letterbox series. Very shortly after starting on the trail, he came upone a house made of straw. It was in ruins. The door was completely gone and the rest of it was a shamble. Nevertheless, he managed to find the letterbox in the rubble. He stamped into the log, and inked the box's stamp. Just as he was huffing and puffing on the stamp to moisten the ink, around the bend came three little pigs, laughing and jostling each other. They stared in horror at the wolf with his lungs full of air and the wreckage in front of him. He started to try to explain, but they ran away squealing.
The wolf shrugged his shoulders, rehid the box and moved on.
It was a considerable hike to reach the spot for the second letterbox and by the time BigBadWolf reached the top of the hill, he was quite winded. Little did he know that just ahead of him on the trail were the three pigs. The little pigs saw him come over the hill huffing and puffing and thought he was chasing them. Before he could call out to them, they fled in terror. Since there was nothing else he could do, the wolf found the second letterbox and stamped in; all the while trying not to let the thought of Muggles ruin his entire day.
The last box was the hardest and it took BigBadWolf a long time to figure out the clue. Just as he was about to give up, he spotted a suspicious configuration of bricks covered with ivy on the edge of a ravine at a heading of 137* from a round stone the size of a bowling ball. (Don't ask how a wolf knew what a bowling ball was.) He clambered up a slope and was feeling around the bricks (it was an old broken chimney) for the letterbox when some of the bricks tumbled, smashing a front and back paw as they fell. The poor wolf howled in pain. He hopped around on one paw huffing and puffing on his sore fingers for a minute then sat down in frustration. This hadn't been the best boxing day for him. Suddenly he felt that he was not alone. Slowly turning around, he saw three pairs of eyes peeking out from behind a dead tree.
"Please, come out." He said. "I'm not going to hurt you. And I could use the help finding this last letterbox before it gets dark."
Then, with many interruptions (they were little pigs, after all), BigBadWolf proceeded to explain to them what he had been doing that day and to tell them all about letterboxing. The little pigs helped him find the box in the chimney and he taught them how to be extra careful when putting the box back so that it would be safe for the next boxer that came along. He wrote down a couple of websites and they planned to keep in touch. Of course, the three little pigs went squealing "Whee! Whee! Whee!'' and doing their happy dance all the way home.
Now the 3LittlePigs and BigBadWolf are friends and go out on many wonderful letterboxing adventures together, even though the pigs prefer Postal Letterboxes because they are too fat to do much hiking.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Maple Spice Pecan Pie (see Gooseberry Patch Christmas books for the following recipes)
Candy Apple Walnut Pie
Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie
Cinnamon Ice Cream
1 quart half and half
1 quart heavy whipping cream
2 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. evaporated milk
1 T. vanilla
Cinnamon to taste-start light. You can always add more.
You're on your own here. Just follow direction on ice cream machine. Serve with above pies.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Today, I have a few condiment/snack recipes. I'm warning you though, the smell of these three will drive you crazy!
All Day Apple Butter
5 1/2# apples, cored and chopped (you can either peel them now, or run the butter through a food mill to remove the peels later.)
4 c. sugar
2-3 T. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. salt
Cook in large crockpot one hour on high and then on low 9-11 hours, stirring occasionally toward the end to prevent sticking. Use a food mill or hand blender (if you peeled in the beginning) to smooth lumps. Can or freeze.
Maple Walnut Popcorn
12 c. popped popcorn
3 cups walnut halves
1/2 c. butter
1 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. real maple syrup
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
Preheat oven to 200*. Place popcorn and walnuts in a roasting pan. Bring butter, sugar, syrup and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add soda and stir until thoroughly mixed and foamy. Pour over popcorn and mix until completely combined. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container. If the popcorn gets soft, you can crisp it back up by placing it in a 200* oven for fifteen minutes. Doubles easily.
Sugar and Spice Nuts
3 c. lightly salted deluxe mixed nuts
1 egg white
1 T. orange juice
2/3 c sugar
1 T. grated orange peel
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground allspice
Preheat oven to 275*. Place nuts in a large bowl. In a small bowl, beat egg white and orange juice until foamy. Add sugar and spices and mix well. Pour over nuts and stir until thoroughly combined. Spread on a baking pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until crisp and lightly browned. Store in an airtight container. Doubles easily.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
1/3 c. water
3 T Olive oil
1 1/2 T. Black Strap Molasses (or barley malt syrup)
1 1/2 T. vinegar
1 t. sugar
1 t. salt
2 T. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 t. minced onion
1 t. instant coffee granules
1 T. caraway seed
1/2 t. fennel
2 1/2 c. bread flour
1 1/4 c. rye flour
2 t. yeast
Whole Wheat, Sweet or Basic cycle in bread machine. For fun, you can use the dough cycle and then shape the dough into bowls and bake in the oven. This is the recipe that I use for Rye or Pumpernickel bread, and it goes really well with chili or a spinach or crab appetizer dip.
One of the greatest cooking compliments of my life is tied up in this recipe. One of the young ladies in our church is from Russia. When she gave birth, we were all providing meals for her family. Her Aunt was here from Russia to help her and, through a translator, asked me for the recipe. She said it was the best Black bread she had ever tasted. I think I beamed for days.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
2# beef stew meat, cubed
1 c. water
3 large potatoes, cubed
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 large bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. beef bouillon granules
1 large can tomatoes, undrained
1 can pumpkin
Place all ingredients in a large crock pot and cook on low 8-10 hours or on high 4-5 hours. In season, this recipe can also be made in a real pumpkin as a delicious and dramatic presentation.
2# ground beef, browned (I often only use 1#)
2 cans kidney beans, drained
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
8 oz. tomato sauce
2 medium onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T. chili powder
2 t. salt, opt.
1 t. pepper
1 t. cumin
1 t. oregano
3 beef bouillon cubes
Cook on low 8-10 hours or on high 4-5 hours. Serve with favorite chili toppings like: shredded cheese, sour cream, crackers, or in a Pumpernickel bread bowl (recipe to come)! Yesterday, I also added a medium chopped zucchini and it was a nice addition. More veggies can't hurt, right?
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Today I'd like to share three beverage recipes.
TLC in a Mug (Sugar Free version in parenthesis)
1/2 c. instant tea w/lemon (6T diet tea w/lemon)
2 c. Tang (2 packages SF tang or crystal lite)
1/2 c. sugar (1/2 c Splenda or equivalent)
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container (If you think you can spare a LnL, that would work!). To make TLC, heat 8 oz water and add 2 t. drink mix (or to taste). I recommend heat and mixing in a container slightly larger than a mug because it can foam a little when you add the powder (esp the SF version).
On a personal note, I began making this recipe in college. It's great when you are feeling a little off, like I am today. Think of it as homemade Theraflu. When I was teaching preschool, there were days when you could tell that one of the children just wanted to be at home. I'd make a cup of this for them, and it always seemed to perk them up a bit. There isn't anything magic about it, but they seemed to think so. It might help that cloves act as a natural analgesic.
1 t. whole cloves
6 cinnamon sticks
1/2 t. whole allspice
1 oz. crystallized gigner
3 3/4 c. sugar
6 1/4 c. water
5 c. orange juice
3 1/8 c. lemon juice
3 1/8 quart cider
Place spices in a culinary bag (a large tea ball works too). Bring water and sugar to a boil in a large pot. Add spice bag and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 1 hour. Remove spices and add juices. Bring to a boil. Serve. Keeps well and can be frozen.
This Wassail bowl is simply a great recipe for spiced cider. And it's not just for Christmas anymore!
3 quarts fresh or frozen blackberries
4 c. water
3 c. sugar
1 T. whole cloves
1 T. whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
Lemon-lime, white soda or ginger ale.
(canning equipment optional)
A warning first. This beverage is a little extra work, and a little expensive to make. It is also going to look like you butchered a turkey in your kitchen. And I shouldn't have to tell you that blackberry juice stains. That being said, it is completely worth it, so you might as well double the recipe.
Crush the blackberries in a large kettle. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 10 minutes. Strain through a jelly bag, reserving juice and discarding pulp. Add water if necessary to equal 2 quarts; pour into a large kettle. (wouldn't it be nice if somebody sold bottled blackberry juice?) Slowly stir in sugar until dissolved. Place spices in a culinary bag (or large tea ball) and add to juice. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Bring to a boil; remove spice bag and discard. Pour hot into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust caps and process for 15 minutes in a water bath canner. Alternately, cool completely and freeze in pint containers. To serve, mix 1 part concentrate with 2 parts soda.
While this is a cold drink, I think it would taste just as good hot. Only I've never figured out how to heat it without the soda loosing it's fizz.
If you make this, I'd love to hear your reactions. It's quite surprising.
Monday, October 12, 2009
- Reason #32: When taking a Sick Day, the Teacher is entitled to as the same wages as any other day. He/She may also reserve the right to hire as a substitute one said Ms. Frizzle of the Magic School Bus, or any other substitute deemed appropriate in His/Her place; at no extra cost to Him/Herself or the educational institution in reference. Any work or learning that was to have taken place on said Sick Day may be made up at any time between said Sick Day and Graduation of child/children involved, unless deemed otherwise superfluous and unnecessary by the educational institution. For information on Sick Days taken by Students, please see Reason #33.
- Reason #33: Student Sick days may be taken one of two ways. A Sick Day requiring the complete cancellation of School must be made up at a later date at some point before Graduation unless deemed superfluous and otherwise unnecessary by the educational institution. Or, a Sick Day requiring only the abbreviation of School may be taken without the necessity of a make up day.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown -
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
~Robert Louis Stevenson
Friday, October 9, 2009
I'm not sure how much fishing actually got done, but lots of fun was had and memories were made, which I kind of think is the point of fishing in the first place.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
In spite of their selective digestion (read that as "can puke at will"), passive aggressive shedding, and casual disdain for our affections, there is something about them that makes me want to scoop them up and squeeze them until they object, which may or may not involve a blood letting on my part. One minute they are looking at me with an owly expression from the top of the bookcase, tail lashing in a threatening manner; and the next they are burrowing under the covers and curling up around my feet, purring ridiculously.
Truth be told, I'm not really sure that we are the more "evolved" species. Think about it: we wear their hair on our best outfits, feed them better than we eat ourselves, buy them silly jingly toys and even flush their toilets for them. We vacuum twice as often as we'd like and cover our plants (and sometimes our carpet) with aluminum foil to keep them away. And what do they do in return? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
This isn't like trying to see how many friends you can accumulate on Facebook, or winning a high school popularity contest. Is it worth their time to visit? Do they come willingly? When they leave, have they gained something? Maybe occasionally, I hope.
It was a great encouragement to me this last weekend to find out that there are a lot more people paying attention than I would have imagined. I lost track of how many times someone asked me about my laundry. Maybe I should start carrying a photo of unfolded laundry in my wallet; right next to the pictures of the kids and the dog.
Folks wanted to know if Kirby or the girls were with us. Was I the Mystery Mailer? Many of them had solved (and enjoyed) the recent "evil" clues, or the oddball recipe. They liked the logbook tutorial better than the carving tutorial (mostly because of picture quality, I think). Several of them secretly read "the other blog".
Oh, and my cat's butt is famous.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
All in all, it was fairly ordinary. Don't read that as boring though. I just mean that nobody got set on fire, or arrested, or any such nonsense.
I purposefully left the file size of this photo huge so that you can click on it to enlarge the picture. I thought about trying to identify everyone, but quickly gave that up as too daunting a task for this early in the morning.
I only carved one new stamp for the event. M has been bugging me to carve Doctor Who's sonic screwdriver for months and I finally gave in. It isn't any light saber, but if I had to choose one to have "for real", I'd pick the sonic screwdriver in a double heart beat. There isn't much that little gizmo can't do.
On the way home, we stopped for dinner at the Chicken Basket, one of Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive ins, and Dives. It has been on our list since February. Yes, the fried chicken and mac n cheese were as good as we expected. Maybe the guy does know what he's talking about after all.
Of course, this begs the question: Could a person, theoretically, put together a road trip that combines the best of both the letterboxing and the foodie worlds and convince said person's family to actually take such a hypothetical journey?
Monday, October 5, 2009
The image in the center is the Master's Seminary logo, where Paul graduated from several years ago.
Eric just asked for a Celtic knot design. I'd really like to redo all three of these since my ability has improved drastically since then. But we can't recarve all of them, can we?
This last stamp was commissioned by a friend of Eric's and he asked for the Egyptian Ankh symbol, although I'm not really sure why.
Curiously, although we are constantly tripping over piles of books here in our house and the shelves are stacked every which way, I have never carved a book plate for myself. I really should, since I have lost track of all of the books that I have loaned out and then promptly forgotten where they went. With the gazillions of books in the world, I figure that there are only a few that I would take the time to read more than once. However, I think my bookplate would probably read "This book stolen from the library of..."
Books I would read more than once? Watership Down, Count of Monte Cristo, Les Miserables, anything by Robert Frost or Rudyard Kipling, and several theological tomes. Holy Scripture might seem obviously missing, but in my mind, it doesn't even belong in the same list with secular literature.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Whether he likes it or not, I want to take the opportunity to brag a little bit about my "outstanding man".
Chad is a farmer through and through. He is gentle, quiet and patient to the point of being exasperating. He is very good at taking things apart, fixing them, and putting them together better than before; and I'm not just talking about the vintage tractors that he restores. He is better at planning ahead than I am and much more even tempered. "Spontaneous" is not a word I would use to describe him, and most of the time that's a good thing. We balance each other out quite nicely.
He is a hard worker and complains very little compared to the amount of pain and health issues that he has had in the last few years. I am in awe of his self will every time the alarm clock goes off at 4:30 in the morning. Our girls adore him, and so does the dog. I am grateful for the opportunity to live here on the farm where we can all be so close to him when he is "tinkering". When he is not at his 9 to 5 job, that is.
I've mentioned that my husband is a farmer, right? That is to say, he is not a letterboxer, and likely will not ever be a letterboxer. However, he is willingly attending a gathering with me this weekend. See? I told you he was outstanding! To that end, I carved the above logo for him as a pseudo signature stamp. He isn't really interested in a trailname, so I am debating listing him as a Personal Traveler. What do you think? It doesn't get any more personal than that!