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When you are alone…

I spend half of my year living with another person or two and the other half of the year living alone.  When I am alone my house is tidy, I don’t watch TV and very rarely put in a movie.  I spend my time reading, listening to music, sewing, cooking, recreating, gardening and drinking coffee.  I relish in my solitude.  When I am living with others I converse, play games, watch movies, listen to the radio (weekend NPR!!) and generally cherish the moments that I have with those I love.  Sounds perfect, right?  It is except for the embarrassing things that I catch myself doing when I am sure no one is looking.  For example, I WILL lick my plate clean.  Yep, I will.  I know that I am not the only one.  I know this because I have seen other people do this.  I am not proud of it, but I’m not really ashamed of it either.  If something is that good I refuse to let a single morsel go to waste.  So now you know my dirty little secret.

Glad I got that off of my chest, now I can share a wonderful little craft with you.  I picked up volume 3, issue 2 of Stuffed- The crafting of Softies, way back in 2010.  It sat on a shelf, in a box and then, on another shelf ever since.  Then, my beautiful, wonderful friend visited me and shared the most wonderful news in the whole entire world with me- she is having a baby!!!  This lit a fire under me and I got back into my sewing room and started creating.  I made swaddling blankets, burp clothes and a number of other things that revolve around babies.  But, I wanted to make her something a little bit special.  Something that could be carried through childhood.  I wanted to make a stuffie.  As fate would have it, I have been collecting cashmere sweaters for years.  I always intended to make something with them, but was never inspired.  That is when I saw the cover of Stuffed as it sat on my shelf, I knew what I was going to make: a bunny!

2010 Stuffed Magazine

2010 Stuffed Magazine

These sweet little stuffies are the brainchild of Savannah Carroll.  There is no pattern in the magazine, but I guessed and estimated and came up with a pretty close example.  If you are not interested in crafting a bunny and are just looking to buy one of these beauties, you can purchase pre-made or custom ordered stuffies from her Etsy site: https://www.etsy.com/shop/sleepyking .  She has numerous amazing designs.  Go there and check it out.

I got to work cutting up sweaters and picking out colors.  This was such a fun project.

A couple of pointers if you are going to make your own up cycled stuffie:

  • Be sure to prewash your fabric and dry it with some heat.  This ensures that it will be easy to cut-out and that it won’t shrink after you have sewn it together.
  • Sew your accents on before you see your two halves together (i.e. pink for ears and belly, face, eyes, nose, mouth).  This will prevent the frustration of having to hand stitch everything.
  • It doesn’t need to be perfect.
  • If it is for a young child or infant, use safety eyes to prevent them from being pulled off and swallowed.

Well, here is my first attempt:

Un-stuffed, upcycled, cashmere Mr. Hops!

Un-stuffed, upcycled, cashmere Mr. Hops!

I haven’t gotten Mr. Hops stuffed yet, but I wanted to share the work in progress.

All of my friends and family are currently smacking their foreheads as they read this because they know that the next gift they get from me will be some variation of this.  Ha!

This is the last post I have to complete for my class, but I will continue to post regularly.  I am going to be taking on Pinterest!  I want to see just how “simple” some of those projects are.  (Honestly, the only projects that make me nervous are the ones that revolve around make-up.)  Let see how I do.

Sewing and cooking and…school?

Yep, that’s right.  I am back in school.  College to be exact.  I decided that after a 10 year break, I should go back and see what I am missing out on.  So far I have battled with an instructor, passed a few tests, continued to battle with a professor, learned how to install memory into a computer, used a yard stick, battled with a professor (and finally dropped his class).  This is not the college I remember, but I think I’m going to like it.  I even get to use this blog for one of my classes…BONUS!!  Aside from the fact that everyone in class now knows that I am a self-absorbed, craft and thrift store addict, this rocks!

On my last post I gave you all a recipe for beautiful, fluffy, buttery, sourdough biscuits.  Over the years I have honed my baking skills.  I have learned from the best: Mama D, Martha, my mother and myself.  Its not that I think I am a master of baking, but I am a master of trial and error.  For about a year I made probably 50 loaves of bread and 20 batches of cinnamon rolls.  I have worked with sourdough and yeast, quick breads and flatbreads, pizza dough and tortillas.  It has been a labor of love brought about by an unsatiated hunger.  A hunger for a single, fluffy, buttery, cinnamony roll.

I have worked tirelessly on finding a great cinnamon roll in the city I live in.  I have gone to every bakery, coffee shop, breakfast joint and bar (the bars are mainly to help me drown my sorrows after coming up empty-handed in the “great cinnamon roll search”).  Its like trying to find a vintage sweater that doesn’t smell like old lady perfume or moth balls.  After 2 years of searching I have determined two things: a. this town does not have a decent cinnamon roll; and b. the Ocean Roll must die.  Who decided that some crappy, dry, cardamom-flavored roll was a, “great substitute for a cinnamon roll!”  As the girl behind the coffee counter cheerily replied to me.  Whaaa?  I do not think so.  Why did it have to replace it?  Why can they not coexist, side-by-side?  Who made this decision?

I will now hop down off of my soap box and give you some sourdough pointers:

  • Don’t buy sourdough.  Chances are, you know someone that has a starter that they will let you take a bit of.  Some people keep it a secret, so ask around.
  • If you can’t find someone with a starter, make your own.  There are plenty of tutorials on how-to online.
  • Your sourdough will last a lifetime if you properly care for it.  Mine is over 50 years old!  That’s much older than me and it carries with it a little piece of home.
  • Every sourdough will taste a bit different.
  • Find a great resource for sourdough use and care.

I have a sewing blog for you that I will be putting up int he next week.  I am preparing for the arrival of my dearest friend’s first child and have been sewing up a storm.  I look forward to sharing my creations with you!

Here’s a little taste of what’s to come:

IMG_0432

Meeting your blogger

Have you ever met someone that is almost famous? Not someone that the general public might be aware of, but someone that is famous in your world. Did you geek out a little bit? A lot? I have had this happen a couple of times. Just last week I saw a blogger that I follow at Target. He was with his family, so I wasn’t really planning on going up to him and going all “fan girl”. I stalked him from the racks of swimsuits that I was dreadingly going through for a class that I am taking. (The thought of wearing a swimsuit in public makes me nauseus.) Then, this wonderful self-help blogger- this man with nothing, but tips on success and how to achieve the best possible “you”- said something so unlike his online persona that I was left shocked. Shocked and awed as a matter of fact. I had just realized that this man who had all of the answers to life and business was, in fact, human. Mind- blown.

Yup, that’s right folks. Just like teachers and baristas and bar tenders, bloggers are just people. That is so freakin’ cool.

I bring this up because I was fortunate enough to meet a follower of my blog. Up until this point I thought that only my close friends and family followed my blog. I thought my bubble was small and that nobody really knew about me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that I am a world-wide phenom who will be offered a book, TV show or movie deal (although I wouldn’t turn it down, or maybe I would). I know that I am “small potatoes”, but it was awesome and flattering and rendered me somewhat speechless; although I did ramble to the poor gentleman some nonsense about other blogs and chicken coops and fodder.  That being said, it is nice to know you are appreciated when you are sending these messages off into the unknown.  Just as important, I feel that it is just as important to stay humble.

That being said, I have a recipe for you!!!

Have you ever cooked with sourdough?  Tasted sourdough? Do you know what sourdough is?  Even if you cannot answer “Yes” to any of these questions, this post will be beneficial to you.

I will start by saying that I have gone through stages of hating, loathing, tolerating, loving and obsessing over sourdough.  As a child, I liked sourdough toast for about 2 weeks.  Next, I wavered between hating and loathing it for about 15 years.  For a brief period I was intrigued by the different techniques of using it.  I spent about 2 months loving it.  Now I am obsessed with it.

…Sorry I have to interupt this post with a little message: “If your phone is particularly loud and clear, it is probably on ‘speaker’.  Please have the decency to deactivate this feature if you are in public; for your sake and mine.  I am in a coffee shop writing this blog, sitting next to a lovely couple that keeps handing the phone back and forth.  I currently know their ages, travel plans, mailing address, and I am sure that if I wait long enough their SSN and their credit card numbers.  Situational awareness folks!!…

Back to the blog:  The sourdough starter that I have is over 50 years old and from a place that I call home.  The most important thing I have learned about sourdough starters is to never, ever buy one.  You most likely know of someone that has one hoarded away in the back of their fridge or pantry; or you can start one yourself.

There are many resources for the handling and usage of sourdough.  Maybe someday I will take the time to become one of those people, but for now I will just say (without any affiliation) that I saw a post from King Arthur Flour on Pinterest the other day that I am sure would be great.  A couple of books that I would suggest are: “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery, and “Idaho Backcountry Cookin'” by Judy Hull.  I didn’t put links because I would prefer that you order them from an indie bookstore like Iconoclast Books (http://www.iconoclastbooks.com) than to order form b&n or amo-crazy-place.  SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE!!!  Both books are great resources.  If you cannot find Judy’d book please let me know, I have order forms.

 

Let’s Get Cookin’!

Because of my love of sourdough, I am sharing my favorited sourdough recipe with you.  Even the neighbor kids call these their favorite biscuits.   I may have started a neighborly battle with a stay-at-home mom.  Her child prefers my sourdough biscuits to hers.  Not bad for a “part-time mentor” and full-time “work-a-holic”.  A couple of tips for this recipe:

  1. Do not over mix- you want chunks of butter showing.
  2. Do not over knead, it will be a bit sticky.
  3. Allow it to rise- I usually allow 15-30 minutes depending on how long I have had the wood stove cranking’.
Because they are so good!

Because they are so good!

Sourdough Biscuits (from Idaho Backcountry Cookin’ by Judy Hull!!)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sourdough starter

Oven to 400.

Mix dry ingredients.

Cut in butter.

IMG_0455

Add sourdough starter.

Adding starter.  Be sure to measure by pouring rather than dipping.  Less likely to  contaminate your starter.

Adding starter. Be sure to measure by pouring rather than dipping. Less likely to contaminate your starter.

Mix until dry ingredients are wet.

Mix until just moist.

Mix until just moist.

On a lightly floured board, knead gently 2-4 minutes.

 

Fold and knead.  Adding flour as needed to keep from sticking to board.

Fold and knead. Adding flour as needed to keep from sticking to board.IMG_0480

Cut out biscuits and place in cast iron pan (or on a cookie sheet if you don’t have one).

They don't have to be perfect.

They don’t have to be perfect.

Rise for 15-30 minutes in warm area.

Cover with a towels or plastic wrap.

Cover with a towels or plastic wrap.

Bake 13-18 minutes.  You are looking for the tops to become golden brown and for a hollow sound upon tapping the tops.

Apply butter and/or gravy and enjoy!!

Have fun with this one and please send me photos of yours.

PS  Thank you to my 12 year old photographer.  Than goodness he takes biscuits as payment!!

PPS  Yes, I am wearing a pink, cashmere robe I found at a thriftstore.  It is luxurious!!

One more huge shout-out: My friends and their parents are starting their own hard cider business.  Please check them out.  These folks are going to rock the cider world:

https://twitter.com/leadbettercider

 

Yes, another horribly long break.

Yes, I have taken another horribly long break from blogging.  A lot has changed and I can’t wait to catch you all up on what is new!  This is just a quick post.  I will be back this weekend with a new project and a new recipe!!  I am attacking my Pinterest folders and can’t wait to share my successes and failures with you.  There is also a little business in the making.  I hope you have enjoyed the break from me because I am back in force now!!

New topics and requests are being taken.

Because they are so good!

Because they are so good!

Ack! Year in Review…

Hello All!

 

I am going to write this like I haven’t taken a year + hiatus from this blog and will just dive into my thoughts, dreams, feelings, projects and recipes like I have been with you this whole time. And yes, I am aware that I have a penchant for run-on sentences and beginning sentences with the word “And”.  I appreciate my quirks and am choosing to embrace them (a New Year’s resolution that I decided to make in the middle of April…still counts!).

That whole paragraph is a lie (except fro the part about my resolution). I am going to tell you all about what I have been up to. Yeah for you!

First things first: I left you last year about this time because I accepted a new job. I spent last summer falling gracefully from helicopters and hiking the PCT. Yes, it was awesome. I got a wicked lung infection in September that was only calmed by a trim to the Main Salmon with a great friend. We ran the trails, hiked, gardened, fished and cooked in a wood fired oven. The lung infection aided me in catching this year’s flu, which lasted about 2 months. I cut all of my hair off, again.  Yes! After that I went to Weed, California for a month and took the Wilderness EMT class through WMI-NOLS. It was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone! After that I came home and prayed for sun or snow, but definitely not cold, gray rain. I got cold, gray rain. About that time I decided to hop back on the bike and log some miles. It was fantastic. I have spent the last few weeks honing some EMT skills and learning how to be a leader. I have been told that I am now ready to lead 20 young men and women into the woods to fight fire, with supervision. That frightens me a little because sometimes I am not sure I can even guide my legs into pants, but I am willing to give it a try.

So, now you are caught-up on what I have done.

A few other notes:

  • I have craved the following:
  • Cobb Salad
  • Late July Chips- Oh my goodness they are so salty!
  • Indian Curry
  • Tutus!
  • Bacon- duh
  • The desire to tell people: Yes, I know that my shoulders will never fit into cute women’s tops; my arms will always be a little too long; all shirts will look as though they were meant to be belly shirts on me; my legs are short for my height; I have child bearing hips; each of my thighs is the same circumference as my waist; I have man hands (told this by a boyfriend who refused to hold my hand); my thighs will never, not touch; and I have a high forehead. I have chosen to embrace these things. I have chosen to love myself. I refuse to allow anyone into my life that doesn’t do the same. I am worthy of love and compassion. My goal this year is to spread this belief among all of the people in my life. Everyone is worthy of love, its time that we acknowledge it.

That was profound and a lot to digest. I will leave you with that for now…and a picture of me in a tutu, because it is awesome!

 

noname

Yep, awkward pose, but I was with some fantastic 3′ tall princesses in similar outfits.

 

As I head into the spring I will bring you new projects, recipes and thoughts (lucky you). I hope you enjoy. Please let me know if there is a topic you would like me to explore.

Hey there, its been a while.

I know, I know, I have not been consistent in this whole posting thing.  My sister informed yesterday that I may have a mild, yet healthy, form of ADD.  No, I am not making fun of people with ADD or ADHD, nor am I making light of the disease.  I very easily get distracted by other projects and shiny objects.  Like yesterday, I started to instal the new-used microwave and realized that all of the parts were dirty.  I loaded them into the dishwasher and cleaned the kitchen and sought out more things to put in the load (e.g. light fixtures, flower pots, etc).  While that was running I decided that one of my cupboards needed two pull-out shelves instead of one.  I built those then realized that the rollers were, unfortunately installed by the home’s previous owner ( Read: And Finally When to Call a Pro).  Because he had built the previous shelf crooked, he just put in the rails crooked.  Problem solved!  So, I fixed one roller mechanism.  Then, I installed the microwave.  By the way, instaling an over the stove microwave is one of those times a person should ask for help (Read: When to Pull-Up Your Under-Roos and Do It Yourself).  The microwave is installed and one of the roller shelves is firmly in place.

As for the garden, I have completed one section of fence and I finally got the gate installed.  Now… about the gate.  I like to reuse items that have been cast away.  Items that people no longer see any use in.  I find many of this items at Pak-It, the local junk store.  Half of the time I go to Pak-It to find items I can use around my home the rest of the time I go there just to walk around.  The place is like my Dad’s shop and it reminds me of being a kid.  Anyway, I had been eyeing this fantastic old bed frame.  You know the kind with the mesh that looks like fencing and the small springs around the side that hold it to the steel frame?  It is a beautiful color of rust and was just begging to be incorporated into my  home.  I finally decided that it would be my garden fence.  Awesome!

The bed frame itself is a bit wobbly, so I set to work cutting some braces for it out of some scrap lumber that I had laying around.  I found some cool little l-brackets that would hole the wood in place.  Then came time to put the hinges on.  Now I am not an idiot.  Sometimes I do idiotic things or say idiotic stuff, but I am not an idiot.  So, when I get treated like an idiot my temper flares; but being a girl that spends A LOT of time at hardware stores I get treated like an idiot pretty regularly.  I went to a home store whose name I shall not mention.  Lets just call them the Depot of Home.  Whilst at the Depot of Home I wanted to pick up some drill bits that I could use on metal, more specifically steel.  I looked at all of the bits and found the ones that claimed to work on metal and had little pictures of steel beams on them.  Still, I like to talk to the hardware guys and find out what they recommend.  That was a mistake.  Hardware Man #1 Pointed at the little picture of the steel beam and said, “Well, the picture says these will work,” looking at me like I couldn’t possibly be dumber for asking him such a DUMB question.  Okee dokee.  I bought the ones that Hardware Man #1 recommended.  Upon returning home it took me about 3.5 minutes to destroy the bits he sent me home with.  (And yes, I was using oil.  How dare you doubt me.)  So back to the Depot of Home I went, destroyed bits and receipt in hand.  After the lovely woman at the return counter helped me I headed back to the drill bits.  I again called for assistance and after about 15 minutes of waiting Handy Man #2 arrived.  I explained to him that I had gotten Drill Bit Set A, but that I had destroyed them.  As he sighed loudly and rolled his eyes he explained that Drill Bit Set A was only coated and the coating easily comes off.  Once it comes off the bits are soft and easy to break.  “Okay, so what would you recommend?”  I say, giving him the opportunity to teach me about drill bits.  “Well, Drill Bit Set B is impregnated by blah blah blah.  Therefore, it can stand up to your, uh, what did you say you were working on?”

“A steel bed frame,” I said through clenched teeth.

“Ya, these are the bits you want.  Oh, and don’t forget to use oil.”

“Got it!”  I said as I strolled to the register.

Upon returning home with Drill Bit Set B it took me about 10 minutes to destroy this set, but I was not going back until I had finished putting the hinges on my gate.  Even if it meant destroying all of the bits on the set before I returned them.  So, that is what I did.  The gate is hanging perfectly and looks fantastic.

Look at that Awesome Gate!!!

Look at that Awesome Gate!!!

The next day it snowed and I spent the day in the kitchen moping and cooking.  I made pickled strawberries, blueberries and peaches, sriracha and the most amazing lunch ever.  I made a salad out of celery, onions, homemade arugula pesto, lemon juice and smoked sardines.  I ate it on sweet potato chips and topped with sriracha.  OMG it was amazing!

Pickled Strawberries with Cumquats!!!

Pickled Strawberries with Cumquats!!!

Making Sriracha

Making Sriracha

Best Lunch Ever

Best Lunch Ever

After the gate fiasco I decided to take a trip.  My summer job does not allow me the time to travel and see my family so I decided I should make one last trip to see them.  My road trip through Idaho involved finding out that my favorite restaurant/brew pub in Boise was closed for remodel and the new one would open the day after I left.  My sister and I finally found a place that had decent beer and some food which was on the top of my list.  One little not to restaurants: If your burger (meaning the meat) cannot stand alone and needs the bun and the sauce and the cheese and the bacon and all of the other crap you slather on it in order for it to taste good; then, it is not a good burger.  Just like you can’t dip a horse turd in chocolate and make it taste like a truffle (but it is one of the funniest April Fools jokes I have ever heard of).  Needles to say, the burger was no bueno.  We continued on to Pengille’s and enjoyed some amazing music by Hill Folk Noir.  Check them out, they are awesome: http://www.hillfolknoir.com .  The next day included watching my 7 year old nephew play an intense game of flag football, running in the Boise foothills, eating half a pizza at Flying Pie and spending over and hour trying-on and testing running shoes at Shu’s Idaho Running Company.  (Note to self: do not test running shoes after eating half of a pizza.)  Tasha rocked it and got me into a great pair of running shoes that are ugly as sin.  At least I know that no one will steal them.  I finished off my day with dinner with my Mom and a soak in the hot tub.

I left Boise and traveled on to the Main Salmon to visit my surrogate parents, Mama and Papa D, at my home away from home, Shepp Ranch.  While there I napped, ate, hiked and went mushroom hunting.

Look at the size of this mushroom!

Look at the size of this mushroom!

I finished my trip with a visit to Grangeville and, as always, left with a truck full of stuff.  Mostly metal cans and fencing for my garden.  My Dad always makes sure to hook me up.

Now, I’m back home and all of the trees are covered with buds, the hops has emerged and all of my bulbs are in full bloom.

Now my summer begins.  This is a bitter-sweet time.  The bitter part being that I will not be around much to write for all of you, but the sweet part is that I am hoping to have some contributing writers keep you entertained while I am away rapelling out of helicopters.  I will still write when I can and throw you a recipe or sewing pattern or gardening tip every once in a while.  I just won’t be able to do it very often.

Do you have any ideas for blog posts?  Would you like to contribute?  Let me know.

Our Hearts Are With Boston

As we all go about our lives today, getting-up, embarking on our daily routine, we do so with a little bit more sorrow in our hearts, a little more confusion.  What happened in Boston yesterday was a tragedy that none of us can even begin to understand.  How could this happen?  How could someone take something so joyous and so beautiful and try to turn it into something so devastating and ugly?  They tried.  But we are an amazing species.  Even during the early moments of the emergency, when chaos was running rampant, people proved that the true identity of a human on this earth is created by compassion and caring for our fellow human.  Nobody cared where anyone was from, what color they were, what religion they were or what their name was.  Their ethical beliefs were not up for debate, neither was their political affiliation.  What mattered during those moments was that they had someone to help them; someone to hold their hand; someone to calm their fears; someone to tell them that they were going to be alright.

We forget sometimes that we have to exist in this world TOGETHER, regardless of OUR beliefs.  We are all doing our best to live a truly meaningful life.  Our primary responsibility is not to get angry and shout at one another.  It is not to tell people that they are wrong and we are right.  It is not to physically force our beliefs and systems of operation upon one another.  IT IS to help one another; to be compassionate; to stand tall in the face of adversity and stand-up for those that are weak.  It is to love one another, as humans.

Just like previous tragedies that have occurred, people are moved to action.  Many of them will go out and give blood, help the families of the people involved and some will be moved to make a statement against such actions.  People that would normally criticize and shout with anger will find that spark of compassion and will make that love known.  Yesterday Patton Ozwald made a statement that truly moved me.  That is saying quite a bit.  He is known for his crude and rude style, but in the face of adversity he let his heart guide him.  Yes, there is some adult language, but it is his statement and his feelings.  Here is what he said:

Boston. Fucking horrible. 

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”

But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths. 

But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness. 

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago. 

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

Other people look for signs of “goodness” or as the Dalai Lama put it “lovingkindness”.  One friend pointed out that we need more Mr.Rogers.  I second that.  He was a man that was not afraid to tell others that he loves them, that they matter, that he is happy to see them and that it is okay to cry.  He showed the children and adults of America, and beyond, that compassion exists and that to show it is honorable.  Thanks Jessica for bringing this man back into the forfront of my brain.  Here are two clips that make me smile and light up my world.

Just try not to sing along.  Bet you can’t.

(I am new to links so you will have to copy and paste into you browser.)

Greatest remix of all times.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFzXaFbxDcM&feature=player_detailpage&list=SP26EE48981A093CA0

So today, and everyday after, look for the love in this world and share the compassion in your heart.  Don’t forget that you will always get a better response with kindness than you will with contempt.  And above all, help teach those around you that you love them, that they matter, that you are happy to see them and that it is okay to cry.

When To Learn How To Do-It-Yourself

It’s been a big week.  I know I said I would have this post up by Wednesday, but I just couldn’t make it happen.

First things first, my sister visited and helped me with a couple of lingering projects.  I may have a couple of things to add to the “When To Ask For Help List”.  She was a rock star, as usual.  We were able to get the fence around the garden started and we hauled a couple of loads of soil/compost from the nursery down the road.

I learned something VERY IMPORTANT this week:  Make sure you discuss the contents of the compost you are buying from landscape and nursery companies.  I bought bulk compost this week and asked them to make it a mixed load of garden mix (which they also market as potting soil) and compost.  Now when I think of compost, I think of twigs, bark, greens, dirt, etc.  When I unloaded the compost into my raised beds I found a blasting cap, cord, painted wood chunks and some plastic.  That is only the stuff I found, who knows what I missed.  When I returned to the nursery the next day to ask about it they told me that they could not qualify what was, or wasn’t, in their compost and that it really should only be used for building up berms and the like.  That would have been useful information at the time of purchase.  I would like to think that if someone was asking you to combine your “certified organic” garden mix with trash-filled compost you might say something.  My opinion, take it for what its worth.

Best Sister Ever

Best Sister Ever

Enough of that.  The second thing I wanted to tell you about was the awesome food I had this week.  When my sister arrived she requested a Coffee Cup Cake.  It is the most wonderful coffee cake in a coffee cup.  I got the recipe off of prudentbaby.com (http://prudentbaby.com/2011/10/entertaining-food/a-cup-of-coffee-cake-in-under-five-minutes-2/).  They have a lot of wonderful desert-in-a-cup recipes.  I kindly made her an “original” and got to work making a Paleo version.  I might, just might, be a freakin’ genius.  Like Kanye, but not as creepy and arrogant.  So good.  I am posting a picture so that you can see how amazing it was.  I will be sure to post this recipe when I can recreate it without it overflowing in the microwave.

The Happiest Breakfast Ever!

The Happiest Breakfast Ever!

Other things I ate: Fried (Cauliflower) Rice (recipe to come), Deer Steak Stir-fry, Yummy Chicken-Squash Curry, Sushi, Burgers Grilled to Perfection and Salmon River Steelhead.  I have been in heaven.   Oh, and I also made Paleo Cookies.  Don’t worry, not all of my recipes are going to be Paleo.  I promise I will follow my motto:  “Everything can be made better with butter, bacon and/or cheese.” 

Okay, onto lists:

First up, When To Have Someone Teach You How To Do-It-Yourself.  Many of these list items are here because the damage you can do when you “do” improperly can be expensive or dangerous.  Others are here to save you from heartache and frustration.  However, as I was just so kindly reminded by my amazing roommate, some people just learn better by being taught by another person and others can read a book and be an expert.  Got it.  As I have stated before, this is MY opinion.

When To Have Someone Teach You How To Do-It-Yourself:

  • Operating Power Tools- I say this because power tools are amazing and fantastic if used correctly, but they are equally frustrating and dangerous if you don’t know what the hell you are doing.  Case in point:  I have battery-operated tools.  Just like a cell phone battery, they gradually degrade and before you know it you only get 30 minutes worth of work time out of a full charge.  Tools that are plugged in have limitless life, but a whole butt-load (yes mom, that is a word) of power.  I sprained my wrist the first time I used my corded drill.  I have found that it is best to have someone teach me about the tools before I use them.  You never know, they may actually show you how to adjust the height of your circular saw or how to change the blade on your jigsaw.
  • Cutting Down a Tree- Chainsaws are dangerous!!!  Learn how to use one before you even think about cutting down a tree.  Have someone show you how to fuel it, add bar oil, adjust the chain tension, set the chain brake, safely start it, safely turn it off.  Operating a saw is relatively easy, once you have been taught the proper way to do so.  I have never been so nervous as when I watch people become over confident while operating a chainsaw.  It takes less than one second for a chain to tear through your flesh and leave you bleeding and in need of urgent emergency care.  That being said, learning how to use one properly can keep you safe and also help you avoid fatigue.  Macho men tend to muscle their way through cutting.  Not necessary.  If you can find a female that operates a saw, she can teach you how to use your entire body to maneuver your equipment and avoid fatigue, there by avoiding safety risks.  Bam!  If I can figure out how to put a video onto my blog, this will be one of the first instructional videos I post.
  • Changing Your Oil- Cars are expensive.  You don’t want to screw this one up.
  • Working On Your Bike- Bike shops are great!  I say this because I use to work at one and it was one of the best jobs I ever had.  Bike shops will do anything to get you to spend money at their establishment.  Some shops are even starting to serve beer.  Finally someone is listening to me!!!!!  Many shops will host bike maintenance clinics for free with the intent of selling you tools.  Take advantage of these clinics.  They will usually teach you how to fix a flat (most important skill ever), adjust a brake, adjust a derailleur (shifter thingy), clean and lube a chain and much, much more. GO.  LEARN.  RIDE.
  • Learning A New Sport- It always helps to have someone tell you what they did wrong while learning to ski, mountain bike, climb, kayak, golf (ha! Just joking, we all know that golf is not a sport).  Hopefully, they can help you avoid the frustrations that can cause a person to throw up their hands and say, “f*#% it, I’m going golfing.”  Plus, sports and outdoor activities are always more fun when there is someone there to back-up your story of the epic crash or super sweet 2 inches of air that you caught off a jump.  Plus, as I’ve said before, no one should drink alone.  And any sport that is worth doing is worth following-up with a cold beer!
  • How to Use a Kitchen Knife- I recently cooked for an event in which we prepared food for over 200 people.  I had some wonderful volunteers helping me in the kitchen.  I cannot thank them enough for all of the hard work and time that they put in.  That being said, I spent a lot of time teaching them how to safely and efficiently use a kitchen knife.  I think that steak knives have ruined our ability to chop.  Everyone seems to think that we need to saw through everything.  NO!  If you have a sharp knife and you are chopping veggies or fruit, you are not sawing it.  Find a friend that is an amazing cook or seek out a cooking class.  Also, get those damn things sharpened.  A sharp knife is a safe, and sane, knife.
  • How to Operate An iGadget- Find a class or a 10 year old to teach you how to operate anything with a lowercase “i” at the beginning.  Many phone service providers will have classes for iPhones and iPads.  Our local community education organization is starting to offer classes as well.  Take advantage of it.  Even if it is not free, it will save you the frustration of trying to figuring out how to turn the damn ringer off.
  • How to Knit- Ever tried it?  Yea, have someone teach you.  Also, make friends with someone that is “fluent” in knitting.  You will have questions and you will mess up.  I have a scarf that I have been working on for more than 4 years now, but I never learned how to finish it.  So, it is about 12 feet long with no end in sight.  I should probably take my own advice and seek help.

Wow!  Can I ever ramble?  Well, I think I will stop here for today. I have a fence to finish today and some dirt to haul.  So I better get to it while the sun is shining.  I will give you the “When To Hire A Professional” list next week.

Do you have any additions?  Any questions?  Any corrections?  Let me know.  I am happy to take requests.

Also, Mom I’m sorry I used bad language, but it really helps me get my point across.

Ooh, one more thing:  I will be providing a recipe in the next post.  Hmmmm, what shall it be?????

When To Pull-Up The Under-Roos & Do It Yourself

The first thing that I want to say is that there is a time to complete a task all by yourself; a time to ask for a helping hand; a time to have someone teach you the right way to do it; and a time to hire a professional to do it for you.  For example, everyone should know how to fix a flat/change a tire and be able to do it themselves.  If they can’t, they should not be operating anything with an inflatable tire (i.e. a bike, a car, a wheelbarrow).  If a person does not know how to fix a flat/change a tire they should take the time to learn.  They can either teach themselves through trial and error or they can ask someone to show them how.  There is no excuse for not knowing/learning how to fix a flat tire. NONE.

So, I figured for ease of use and understanding I would make some lists.  Why? Because I love lists.  I make them all of the time.  My lists tell me about all of the things I need to get done, all of the stuff I need to pack, all of the food I want to eat, and all of the really wonderful people I have in my life.  That being said, lets begin:

List #1:  When to do it yourself.

  • Yard Work- raking, mowing, picking-up rocks, pinecones and poo, pulling-up sod (read earlier blog post).
Image

Hauling firewood 1 mile down to the river!

  • Cooking- because homemade food tastes way better than anything you can get at a restaurant.
  • Washing Your Car- This one can also be deferred to your children or an attractive person wearing minimal clothing. (Nuf said)
  • Painting- Inside or outside this is way cheaper than hiring someone.  It is also well worth it.  Just be sure to spend some of that money you saved on drop cloths and tape.  Although many carpets that are sold now days have multiple colors within the weave, you are not suppose to add color to it once it is installed in your abode.
  • Gardening- People do this for relaxation, therefore, enjoy your time playing in the dirt and soak up a little vitamin D while your at it.
  • Changing A Tire or Fixing A Flat- (see above)

List #2: When to ask for a helping hand.

  • Lifting Heavy Objects- There is no reason to hurt yourself.  Ask you significant other, strong friend, handsome construction worker looking man next door, brother, sister…you get the point.
  • Incoming Weather-  The storm is approaching and you only have a couple of hours to rake leaves and get them burned?  Gather-up some friends and neighbors and get-er-done.  This may set you back some cold beers and juicy burgers, but is totally worth it.
  • Burning Yard Debris-  Because nothing is more pathetic than drinking alone.  And, I don’t know about you, but if I am going to light sh*t on fire, I had better have a cold beer in my hand.  Nothing is better than a cold beer while you are burning, but if your anything like me a 6-pack will leave you crawling and just like chips, you can’t drink just one.  Invite someone over to help.  Give them a cool moniker (like Burn Boss), a lawn chair, a pitchfork and a cold beer.
  • Layout-  This sounds like something you should totally be able to do on your own, buuuuuuttttt…  It is always better to have another opinion.  Many times I get hung-up on the perfect image that I have in my head.  I know exactly what my new garden will look like; new dish will taste like; new dress will feel like; new lotion will smell like; new wind chime will sound like (I think I covered all 5 senses there, ha!).  I have found that having a partner in these ventures not only makes me less lonely, but also gives me perspectives on things I may not have thought of.  I may not have realized that I was attempting to put lemon mousse with fresh raspberries when lime would totally be better, or that I was attempting to hang a planter full of yummy, tasty kale within reach of the fat deer in my neighborhood.  Plus, I spend enough time alone having full-blown conversations with myself.  It’s good for me to have the “help” even if it is only emotional.
  • Starting a Blog/Etsy Account-  I learned the hard way on this one.  Blog service providers (I am not sure if that is what they are called, but it sounds official) make starting a blog easy.  Yuppers, starting it is easy, but knowing how to edit it, design it, change it, approve/deny comments on it…VERY CONFUSING.  This is especially true for someone that is more likely to tell you what is wrong with your bread recipe or teach you how to start a chainsaw than to know how to turn on/off their iPhone (still working on that one).  As for the Etsy thing, I cannot take a decent picture to save my life, but I have a friend that is a natural.  Perfect!  She has agreed to take the pictures and I have taken on the task of sewing, building, painting and finding merchandise for the store.  Bam!
  • Image

    If your photos look like mine, ask for help. This is really a picture of Bigfoot and I could have made a gagillion dollars off of it, but, alas, my photo-taking abilities are sub-par.

…so, this post is turning into quite the ramble.  I will leave you with these first two lists for now and post the next two: When to Have Someone Teach You The Right Way, and When to Hire A Professional, very soon, like, Wednesday.

Do you have additions? Subtractions? Questions?  Let me know.  I am happy to hear from anyone, ANYONE, that is reading this blog.

One more little tid-bit: My sister is visiting this week to help me put in the new garden.  I love hanging out with either of my sisters.  We are all exact opposites of eachother.  I’m not really sure how that works out when there are three, but, we are.  She has a good eye for design and is bringing me my moped.  Woot!  Woot!  Time to Rally!  This will definitely lead to an adventure worthy of a post.

I have also been perfecting some Lemon Chiffon Pancakes  (Paleo and Non!).

Its a sod, sod story…

As I promised, here is your post about sod.  I know, you are so excited.

But first, I need to tell you about the amazing dinner I just had.  I just ate a pork roast that cooked in the crockpot all day with chipotles, onions and cumin.  Then, I shredded it and put it over half a shredded cabbage.  Top that with pico, salsa and avocado. Capital Y-U-M.  I finished-off the meal with 1 1/2 pieces of Paleo Squash Pie (recipe another day) topped with coconut butter and accompanied by a cup of coconut milk.  I am so full, but not uncomfortably bloated-stuffed like I use to get when I ate that much.  I know, I took, like, three Beenos (apparently all of that cheese I use to eat kept the toots in), but I ate a three-person serving tonight.  Best part, I’m still rockin’ the “skinny-time-of-the-month-body”!!!!!

Anyway, right, sod.  So here is my stance: sod is evil, it is a product of the devil.  This is not me standing on my soapbox talking about the weed that is grass (we will cover that another day).   This is the me saying that if you ever plan on planing a garden of any kind, eventually selling your home or changing the layout of your landscape do not ever, in any circumstance, no matter how pretty it is, ever, ever, ever lay sod.  Ever.

Oh, but Kay, why musn’t I lay sod?  You musn’t because of one crucial, terrible, absolutely uncompostable reason: plastic mesh.  Sod is lined with plastic mesh.  Therefore, if you ever want to use an area that is covered with sod for anything other than “a nice place for the grandkids to play” (because parents still remember that kids like to play in dirt, mud and rocks as much as or more than they like the feel of cool grass on their tootsies), NO SOD!!!

THE DEVIL'S WORK: plastic mesh.  Ack!

THE DEVIL’S WORK: plastic mesh. Ack!

This morning I went outside and raked the pine needles out of the back yard.  We recently fell some trees that we are going to mill into lumber (that post coming soon!) and with the added light reaching the ground, decided that we should plant more than dead sod in the back yard.  As I was raking, I saw the mesh poking up through the dirt and knew the inevitable was to come.  I am not one of those people that can leave a scab unpicked, a hang nail hanging, a towel unfolded, or plastic mesh showing.  I knew that I was going to have to pull it all up if I was to see my dream backyard come true.  There was no way I was going to try to just rota-til that stuff in.  ITS PLASTIC after all.  After the first hour of pulling and rolling sod, I got thirsty and my fingers got raw.  I grabbed a drink and some gloves.  Funny thing, you have to be able to feel the mesh in order to know that you are getting it all.  Gloves off.

I just thought I would pull out the little piece of mesh sticking out of the ground.

I just thought I would pull out the little piece of mesh sticking out of the ground.

Sod encourages the trees around it to send their roots up.  When roots come up they get entwined in the mesh and create a mess.  I would roll a bit then cut the roots, roll, cut the roots, so on and so forth.  Because no day is complete without an accident…At one point I dropped the nippers I was using for the roots onto my hand.  The point stuck about a half inch into the palm of my hand.  No big deal.  I rubbed a little dirt in it and continued on.  I had an afternoon crossfit workout to make it through and I intended to have the backyard done before I left.

When I finished I realized that my bu-thighs ( the region from mid-but to mid-thigh) were in a giant knot.  Because I refused to kneel I was bent over at the waist rolling and pulling sod.   I have new wool yoga pants that I haven’t taken off in a week.  I don’t want to get holes in them because I LOVE THEM. so, no kneeling.  It was like doing 4 hours of deadliest.  Ack!

These rolls look like, but they are about 50#'s a piece.

These rolls look like, but they are about 50#’s a piece.

 

I attempted a "double-wide" roll.  After about 8 feet I couldn't move it.  Epic Fail at total awesomeness.

I attempted a “double-wide” roll. After about 8 feet I couldn’t move it. Epic Fail at total awesomeness.

Tomorrow I will start pulling the plastic mesh off of the sod.  I am so excited.  Hoping for rain

So, before you tell me, “Duh, Kay.  You know that they make sod cutters, right?”  Yes, I do know this.  But there are times in our lives when we should ask for help and there are also times when we should put on our big girl panties and do it ourselves.  This was the latter.  My next post will cover some of the basic “when-to” and “when-not-to” ask for help situations.

This is MY view on sod.  Although, I think that Kentucky Blue Grass (the plant, not the music) is bad, the plastic mesh used in the sod is evil.

I understand that the American Way is to get things instantly, when we want them.  Instant gratification is the way to a fulfilled life.  One day it is dirt, the next day it is grass.  No seeding, no waiting.  I too want everything cool I see right now.  That is why I have had to teach myself to sew and build and cook.  Because I cannot afford to have everything I want, I must make it.  I am still waiting to become independently wealthy by looking, uh, er, average, sans make-up, hair in a ponytail and in yoga pants that I have not taken off in a week.

What I am trying to say is that sod is bad.  Please do not lay sod.  They call it laying sod, because you are not planting it at all.  You are laying it on top of the ground.

Nuf said.  Thanks for reading.

Oh yeah, about the stab wound from the nippers:  I had to do about 50 pull-ups during the crossfit workout today.   The motion was great for squeezing out all of the puss that had built up.  Aside from being a bit bruised, it looks/feels great for now.

Next: When to ask for help and when to learn how to do it yourself!

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