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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Spring pre-planning

It's been in the fifties through much of January, so we had a good time doing the planning for this year's garden. We've got the veggie garden to plan, as well as Jeff's creepy garden and my half of the front garden. We ordered plants this weekend.

For the veggie garden, we got potatoes, sweet potatoes, walking onions, and kale. Plus, we're going to try to propogate some of the leftover seeds from last year for pumpkins, squash, sugar snap peas and broccoli raab. We'll see how it goes.

For Jeff's creepy front garden, we ordered Escobaris vivipara, Escobaria leei, elephant ears and some praying mantis egg cases. Plus, we kept some castor bean seeds from last year's plant (and not to make ricin), so we'll see how those come up.

For my half of the front garden, we got to have a little fun, getting "Bold Pretender" Louisiana iris, firecracker flowers, saffron fire flowers, and triplet lilies. And we're going to transplant a bunch of the lilies that are growing wild in the back to the front. First I have to dig up all the Virginia creeper, though. Ugh.

We can start some of them as soon as we get them, and then spring, here we come!


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Faux fish sticks

It's taken me three iterations, but I've finally done it: tofu fish sticks! Don't be intimidated by the prep required. It's worth it. Make a double batch on the weekend, freeze after step ten, then reheat during the week.

1 lb. firm or extra firm tofu

2 cups boiling water
2 sheets nori seaweed
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp kelp powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 c. fine cornmeal
1/4 c. rice flour (or wheat flour)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp kelp powder
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp salt
  1. For best results, freeze tofu in package and thaw in fridge.
  2. Cut tofu into 18 peices (cut into 6 peices across the short length, then cut each peice into 3 peices).
  3. Press tofu peices between two kitchen towels for 15 minutes.
  4. Pour boiling water over nori and let sit for 10 minutes to an hour.
  5. Mix together nori water (squeezing nori to remove the most flavor) and remaining marinade ingredients and pour over tofu in shallow, covered container. Marinate for 2-36 hours, turning occasionally.
  6. After tofu is done marinating, heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a foil-covered cookie sheet.
  7. Mix together breading.
  8. Remove each peice of tofu from marinade and coat with breading, placing on cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes, until crispy and lightly browned.
  10. Remove from oven and COOL COMPLETELY.
  11. Turn tofu sticks over and bake for 10 more minutes.
Serve with horseradish-mayo sauce and/or lemon juice. Enjoy!


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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Do your boobs some good

Support breast cancer research by comissioning one of the Diva Kitty Mom's scarves in time for a pink Valentine's Day.

If you don't do it for your own boobs, do it for the boobs of someone you love.


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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sweater & hat

My last pattern in my small series of crochet patterns from a seventies magazine. How sad.

This pattern really doesn't need much in the way of changes to be suitable for today. It's my favorite from the magazine. Change the yarn to something less frumpy, get rid of the flowers, ditch the dorky bows and ta-da! You've got yourself a shrug-like sweater that's right in style today.

What goes around comes around, I guess!

Click here for the pattern.


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Saturday, January 21, 2006

To do

For the past few weeks, I've been trying to make a list of what I want to accomplish over the weekend. Some of the stuff is easy and some a little harder. The list here (yes, our fridge is harvest gold, why do you ask?) reads:
  • make kongs
  • bring in Hogfather
  • fill Kaylee's prescription
  • grocery shopping
  • laundry
  • clean bathroom
  • vacuum
  • make fries
  • make peanut sauce
  • make rice
  • post office
I've decided not to make the peanut sauce, so that's crossed off already (I cleaned the pantry this morning and found some other stuff we'll be having for dinner this week).

I've also been to the post office this morning (your stuff is in the mail, Lady L. - media mail, so don't hold your breath!).

Kaylee's actigall prescription has been given to the pharmacy, but it won't be able to be picked up until Monday (and Kaylee's legs get weak/heavy from the Imuran, too, Deneen, so she knows how you feel!).

The grocery shopping is half done, but Jeff was deathly hungover this morning so he couldn't go with me to pay for the stuff he let spoil by leaving the stand-alone freezer door open - so only half done. Laundry, as ever, is a work in progress...

Since I cleaned the pantry this morning, we're having oven risotto with sundried tomatoes, roasted sweet potatoes and dark chocolate mousse for dinner tonight. Possibly a recipe for the risotto coming if it turns out well.

Wish me luck on getting everything done this weekend!


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Friday, January 20, 2006

Natural cleaning

Ever since Kaylee's been sick, and especially since she's been on Imuran (which surpresses the immune system), I've been trying to do better about keeping the house clean. With three dogs and a very messy husband, it's hard, considering I hate cleaning, but I'm trying my best.

In addition, Kaylee's allergic to some chemicals (she gets hives from window cleaners - so we tend to have very dirty windows :), so I've been looking for more natural cleaners. I've tried several brands, but just haven't found anything I've liked.

So I decided to make my own.

Not as easy as it sounds. But after some trial and error, I think I've found a few recipes that work for me. To spare others the trouble of trial and error, here's what I've come up with:

All-Purpose Cleaner
1/8 cup undiluted castile soap
20 drops tea tree oil
10 drops of your favorite essential oil
Combine first three ingredients in a 12-16 oz. spray bottle and fill with water. Shake well. To use, spray on surface and wipe clean. For stubborn spots, allow to sit for five minutes, then wipe clean.

Dusting/Wood Cleaner
1/4 cup vegetable-based oil soap (like Murphy's)
20 drops of your favorite essential oil
1 cup water
Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. To use for dusting, lightly spray on cloth and dust. To use for cleaning wood, spray directly on wood and wipe clean.

I find that these work wonderfully on pretty much all the surfaces in my house. It's almost - but not quite! - fun to clean using these. And my hands and house don't smell like chemicals, and I'm not hurting the environment. And hopefully, this will help keep Kaylee from getting any sicker.


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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Orphans of Chaos

I just recently finished Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright, and I'm still not sure if I actually liked the book.

I stayed up late to finish it, which would normally be a resounding approval in my book (ha!), but when I was done, I had more of a "huh." feeling than one of "I must read the next book" (not out yet, but apparently it's on its way).

Why am I not sure I liked it? I'm not sure about that, either, really. It started out kind of unfocused, but not in a bad way. I liked the characters, the descriptions were good, the physics was a bit much (it seemed accurate, though. G., you might like it for that), the plot was a little muddy, but really, that was kind of the whole point of the book. You know, chaos.

I'll probably read the next one anyway, but it's really a disturbing feeling to not now how I felt about a book. Anyone else ever have that happen? With which book?


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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"Lacy top"

I'm not sure I'd call this "lacy," but with a few alterations - like taking off the collar - this pattern from 1976 still works for today.

Maybe add a little shaping, too. And it's made with thread - not my favorite thing to work with - but I bet you could use a sportweight or DK yarn and just use fewer "lace" panels to get a very similar top.

Miss the cacti from the same magazine? Check them out here.


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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Do you crave cacti?

Like cacti, but hate the pointy bits? Crochet one!

Or two, actually.

In a 1976 knit and crochet magazine that I found at Half Price Books, there is not one, but two - count them two - patterns for crocheted cacti. Cat apparently not included.

Look for a couple other patterns from the mag to appear in this space soon. They're clothing patterns that have actually stood the test of time!


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Monday, January 16, 2006

Kaylee's check-up

Kay had her check-up on Friday, and everything seemed pretty good, except her liver values are a little high. Hopefully it's just from the drugs she's on, so we're stepping her back to half an Imuran and half a prednisone once a day.

Then yesterday, she had an IBD flare-up, the poor thing. But after some quality time in the yard and a codeine, she felt well enough to beat the crap out of the other dogs. I think she had the flare-up because she ate a lot the day before. Too much, apparently. She's still at the same weight she was a month ago, and I want her to be at least two pounds heavier, so we've started feeding her more. Maybe we shouldn't feed her quite so much, or at least spread it out more.

The other pets are doing well, though Cordy was being a brat in the middle of the night last night and didn't want to sleep any more. I would have just let her out of the bedroom, but she's gone back to one of her fun-filled teenage habits, eating tissues. I wasn't sure there weren't any within reach, so I kept her sighing, fidgiting, rub-my-tummy self in the room. Brat.


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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Food ... yum ....

Today, with the help of Mr. Bento, I had for lunch falafel with yogurt sauce, rice with nummy veggies, and carrots (to dip in the remaining sauce). Oh yum!

For dinner, roasted red pepper and tomato soup from Trader Joe's, spiced up with shallot pepper, tiny open-faced swiss cheese grilled sandwiches with green onions, and kale with onions and garlic. It's a rainy, yucky day and wow, did that hit the spot!

Can you tell I've been into food lately? :)


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Heil Kaylee!


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Thursday, January 05, 2006

One more fun blog thing

Look! Baby goats! From Lindsey's mom and dad.


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Fun stuff from other blogs

I'm feeling lazy, but I'm feeling like posting. So how about a round-up of some stuff from other blogs?

From Lady Linoleum's lair, we have jellyfish and a recipe for freeing your inner toaster.

From Lee Ann, we have cute Chicago kitties.

From the Diva Kitty, we have creativity and photo-hogging.

From Consumerist, we learn why the music industry wants us to be criminals.

From John Scalzi, we are reminded that its his blog and he'll talk about Whatever he damn well pleases.

From Neil Gaiman, we find a link to Crowley's and Aziraphale's resolutions for the new year.

From Warren Ellis, we find a cool future Fell cover and a viking playing an electric guitar.

Hope you find something you like!


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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Mr Bento, I love you

Mr. Bento is my new lunch companion. A present from my husband, I've used him several times already and am well in truly in love and can't imagine how I've ever lived without him.

Who is Mr. Bento? At first glance, he's not much to look at, hiding in his black carrying sack. But even that black sack has a big outside pocket, perfect for a napkin and other skinny things, and inside harbors a set of chopsticks in a nice little carrying case. I'll admit I haven't used the chopsticks yet, but mostly because I keep forgetting they're there.

Strip him of his sack, and he's still a mystery. He looks pretty much like an oversized thermos, all brushed steel and gray plastic. Not too heavy, not too light. He securely latches shut. The lid doesn't screw on, but it only took me ten to fifteen minutes to figure that out.

He comes packed with four plastic microwave-safe containers of various sizes and uses, ready to be filled with all manner of home-cooked yumminess.

Top left is 15.2 oz. and is for rice and other things that won't spill. It's got a thermal lid that can keep stuff warm or cold. Top right (9.5 oz) is for wet things, like soup. Also thermal, it has a vent to keep it from, you know, exploding. Both of the bottom ones (left=10.1 oz.; right=6.8 oz.) are for non-soggy side dishes.

Click on the picture to see what I had for lunch today. Yum!

Call me dorky for hauling my lunch with me to work every day, but not only does it save me money, but I really do love my own cooking. :) And, as an added bonus, With Mr. Bento doing the hauling, I'm constrained by his size in what I can bring, so I don't over-stuff myself, though I'll certainly never go hungry!

So thanks, Jeff! I love Mr. Bento. And you, of course. :)


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New year's accomplishments

Isn't it nice when you make a long list of things to do over a weekend and you actually get everything done? Over the long new year's weekend, I got done (with Jeff's help):
  • Clean up front yard
  • Clean up back yard
  • Take down holiday decorations
  • Clean/rearrange the kitchen
  • Get rid of a bunch of stuff
  • Start to clean up basement
  • Hang pictures
  • Rearrange Indy's room
  • Laundry
And probably some other stuff I've forgotten now.

I really feel that I'm getting a handle on the de-cluttering of the house. I've been feeling buried under stuff, and getting rid of it is incredibly freeing. And get this: I actually have a big empty plastic tote in the basement, and I couldn't figure out what to put in it! That's like a miracle. (But don't worry, I'm sure I'll fill it up soon, and no, you can't have it. :)

So happy new year. I hope yours is as accomplishment filled as mine!


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