Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - Thresholds

Today's Ten on Tuesday topic is another interesting one: 10 Thresholds You Cross Every Day. This one has made me think...

1.  My motivation threshold
This is the one that gets me up and out of bed in the morning. Some days my motivation is my morning stimulant beverage; other days it's a long to-do list, but overcoming my get-out-of-bed threshold is always tough.

2.  My bedroom door threshold
Because our house is old and has been added on to several times, my bedroom threshold has a small step down. I've been crossing this threshold for almost 25 years and sometimes that little step down is still a surprise!

3.  The threshold into the kitchen
This is where my day really starts - with tea, dishes from a 21-year-old eating in the early hours of the morning, dinner planning and preparation, and sitting at the table pondering my day.

4.  The threshold from the kitchen to the cellar
We're lucky to have Youngest Son here at home over the summer (probably for the last time!), so I have enough laundry that I need to do a load or so a day. It's not all his, but truck repair, motorcycle repair, gardening, work, exercise clothing, towels, and sheets all add up to quite a bit of laundry, which needs to get done in the cellar.

5.  The threshold from the cellar to the backyard
This heavy old door with a latch that I can barely move in humid weather leads out to the clothesline where I hang most of my laundry. It's also the threshold to the garden, flowerbeds, watering and outdoor chores.

6.  The threshold into the garden
We live in a small town but it's still rural enough that we have a marauding herd of deer. I don't mind sharing with them, so they're welcome to help themselves to my violets, roses, hostas, ivy, and bird seed, but I'm not so good at sharing our garden produce. This fence and threshold helps remind them that good guests don't eat everything in sight. If only the rabbits and groundhogs had also gotten that memo!

7.  The threshold deeper into the cellar
This isn't a pretty Martha Stewart type of picture, but it is one of the more impressive thresholds that I cross every day. This very substantial stone threshold is the doorstep into the depths of the cellar where we have pantry shelves and our large freezer. I cross it every day and marvel at its size and durability every time.

8.  The threshold into Youngest Son's room
This is where I drop off clean clothes and leave quickly so I don't trip over shoes, archery equipment, motorcycle parts, or things that I'm better off not naming.

9.  My nonsense threshold
I may not cross this one every day, but I do have a low tolerance for nonsense, pseudoscience, and just plain BS. Sometimes it seems like sources are everywhere, from new town laws (don't put your trash out before 5 pm because it's trashily unattractive) to politics or stupid stuff on facebook. I have to remind myself to step back from this threshold:

10. My creative threshold
At the end of the day I almost always sit down to read, knit, or both. Over the years this has increasingly become a necessity and not just a luxury. Reading takes me over the threshold to other people, thoughts, places, times, and cultures. Knitting, especially with the thrill of new yarn and a new project, takes me over the creative threshold to possibilities!

Head over to Caroleknits to see what everyone else has to say! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Today's Reason for Celebration...

I just made our penultimate undergraduate tuition payment!

Since I just handed over the electronic equivalent of a large canvas bag stuffed with lots of money, this is how I think the receipt should look:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In a Pickle

 Take these... 
 Add these...

 Do this...

And you'll have dill pickles!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - Please Ignore the Dust!

This week's Ten on Tuesday is quite interesting - 10 Things About My (Favorite Piece of Furniture). I've spent the morning dithering about what my favorite piece of furniture is, would I have to dust it to take pictures, could I write ten things, and generally making this more difficult than it needed to be. So, 10 Things About My Desk!

1.  This is my bill-paying, try-to-stay-organized desk in the kitchen.
2.  I love the small size that fits perfectly in the corner, like it was meant to be there.
3.  I love the bookshelf on the bottom. The fact that it is small forced me to weed out my cookbooks and keep only the essentials I really use.
4.  I love that the top is covered with things that are important - my great-grandmother's cookie recipe, ink wells, insulators, and small bottles that my kids dug out of the dirt in our back yard and proudly presented to me, bird feathers that they've collected over the years, and a Snuggle bear that Youngest Son gave me years ago. This was the highest gift that could be bestowed at the time, and I treasure both the bear and the memory.
5.  The desk was a Christmas present from my husband 16 years ago.
6.  He brought it home from an auction, thrilled that he had only paid $30.
7.  I was not entirely thrilled because the whole thing was completely painted over with white paint with a less than lovely aquatic scene inside with orange, purple, and multicolored fish!

8.  He spent a lot of time removing the garish paint and refinishing the lovely oak. I didn't peek during the process, but remained sceptical.
9.  When he brought it in after his refinishing, I almost couldn't believe it was the same desk.
10. I'm very glad for the reminder of how much I love my little desk. I look at it and use it every day, so it's too easy for me to take it for granted.

Look, no fish!

Head over to Caroleknits to see what everyone else has to say!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - On the Side Edition

This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is 10 Favorite Summer Side Dishes. I have a love/hate relationship with summer cooking. I love doing something on the grill and love eating salads and vegetables, but I hate heating up the kitchen with the oven and coming up with new and interesting side dishes to serve with the grilled main entree. I can't wait to read everyone's lists and will be stealing from them with abandon!

(Yes, my husband had to eat some raspberry jello directly from the bowl.)

1.  Good Old Macaroni Salad
My usual isn't a "fancy" pasta salad, but rather the old-fashioned kind I make with elbow macaroni, mayo, celery, olives, and some crumbled bacon if I have it.

2.  Baked Beans
This is kind of cheating, but I use canned baked beans, drained, and then add extra barbecue sauce, onion, and bacon. My family loves this version, far more than the real baked beans I've attempted.

3.  Plain Raw Vegetables
I'm not sure this even qualifies as a side dish, but it started when my kids were younger and weren't thrilled with cooked vegetables. Youngest Son always wanted to eat raw green beans, and one day it finally dawned on me to just wash, chop, and fill a big bowl with raw vegetables and serve them with assorted dips. We eat the usual celery, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower, but also snow peas, string beans, cucumbers, radishes, and jicama.

4.  Bill's Raspberry Jello
My husband's boss introduced this to me almost twenty years ago and I still love it. It's easy, healthy, cool, and tasty. Make raspberry jello (I use sugar-free and it works fine) with half the water called for, then add 1 cup of no-sugar-added applesauce and 1 bag of frozen raspberries per each 4-serving box of jello that you've used. This one may be veering towards dessert, but I'm the cook here at home and I call it a side dish!

5.  Cucumbers in Sour Cream 
I just remembered this last night when I had a surfeit of cucumbers and needed something to serve with hamburgers. I thinly sliced about 8 peeled cucumbers, and added about 1/2 c. fat-free sour cream, 5 or 6 T. apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. I would have added dill if I had any, but alas, there was no room in the garden this year.

6.  Fancy Pasta Salad
This is on my meal-planning list to make later this week to serve with grilled chicken.

7.  Coleslaw
I've been trying to replicate my grandmother's and mother-in-law's coleslaw for years; theirs have the perfect mayo/vinegar/sugar ratio. I still don't have it mastered exactly, but this comes reasonably close.

8.  Baked Pineapple
Baked pineapple sounded a little strange to me at first, but it's really very good. I use the microwave to avoid heating up the kitchen with the oven and it works fine. It's great with grilled ham slices!

9.  Zucchini Parmigiana
Later in the summer, we're usually trying to use up zucchini from the garden, so this was born out of desperation. I thinly slice zucchini and layer the slices with some shredded cheese in a 9x9 pan, then pour tomato sauce over it all. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until the zucchini is tender. This is better (and a little less runny) if it's served at room temp. or even cold. If you can avoid fainting at the price/pound label at the grocery store, this is even better if you add some prosciutto to the layers.

10. That Good Salad
I saved the best for last. It's usually called Chinese Noodle Salad or something like that, but we just call it That Good Salad. We grow Napa cabbage in our garden just so I have a ready supply. I've made some changes to the original recipe I received in the interest of saving some calories, but I don't think the taste is compromised. The recipe and my changes:

1 stick of butter (I don't use)
2 pkgs Ramen noodles - crushed, discard the flavor packet
1/2 cup cashews, chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (I don't use, cashews are enough)
Melt butter and saute above ingredients until browned (I don't do this)

1 head Napa cabbage
1 small onion
Chop cabbage and onion and combine in bowl.

1 cup vegetable oil (I use 2/3-3/4 cup)
1 cup sugar (I use 1/2-2/3 cup)
1/2 cider vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
Mix well

Combine Ramen, nuts, cabbage, onion, and dressing about 1/2 hour before serving. (I don't do this. I think the salad is better if the noodles soak up the dressing and the tastes meld, so I put it all together in the morning and eat way too much at dinner.)

If I had a row of Ramen and grew some cashews, I'd really be set!

Friday, July 4, 2014

What, Me Worry?

Yes, I do, and here are a couple of the big reasons why.

 Local motorcycle gang heads out for a ride

My husband has ridden and owned motorcycles since he was twelve or so, but several decades and three back surgeries later, he no longer has the strength nor reflexes of a young invincible. Youngest Son decided he needed a motorcycle when he was seventeen. In NJ, you have to take a motorcycle safety course to be able to get a license, so while I understand logically that Youngest Son has learned all the things he should do, has four years of riding experience, and Husband has many, many years and miles of riding experience, that still doesn't keep me from worrying about loose gravel, potholes, deer, and oblivious drivers. I'm always happy to hear the sound of returning motorcycles revving back down the driveway.

Oldest Son doesn't ride a motorcycle, but he is attempting to climb one (or two!) of Colorado's Fourteeners this weekend, so that will give me something else to worry about! (Here's why.)

Friday, June 27, 2014

All Right, Everyone. Go Back to Your Knitting!*

I have been knitting, but have not been very good at documenting. Let's open the project bags and see what lurks within.

I love this pattern (it's my third Hitchhiker!) and really love the yarn, but I'm beginning to think my neighbor may sneak over at night and tink everything I've knit that day. I'm up to 37 points, but would probably progress farther and faster if I quit falling asleep at night while knitting.

I may have to name this project "Please Don't Retire Until I Finish Your Scarf, Arlene!" My husband's secretary is a wonderful person who makes his work life run smoothly so he's not too grumpy when he comes home. I started this back in April, a week before Secretary's Day. Feather and Fan is one of my absolute favorite patterns, and how hard can it be to knit a simple scarf in a week? Apparently too hard for me, because here it is unfinished, two months later. Arlene is retiring at the end of this year, so I decided to make it a retirement gift rather than give her an unblocked 14-inch scarf for Secretary's Day.

These should be called "The Socks of Shame". I started them over 3 years ago for my sister, have worked on them here and there, but still haven't finished. My sister deserves better, and a finished pair of socks.

 It's time to heed the wise words of Dante: "The secret of getting things done is to act! knit!"

*Fred Weasley, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Movie