Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The consistent kitchen

The other night Jonathan noticed me flipping back and forth between the two Angelina Ballerina books we had in the house. "What are you doing?"
Me: "I LOVE this kitchen! Look at it! Look how intricate it is!"
Him: "And you're comparing the two to see if they're consistent?"
Me: pause. He caught me. "Yeeeessss..."

So today at the library I checked out a few more, and settled down for a thorough kitchen comparison. The answer is yes, Helen Craig is consistent in the portrayal of the Mouselings' kitchen. The number of beams, pipes, and other permanent items are the same, the pots and kettles on the stove are the same pots, the dishware patterns are the same, and while the items on the pantry shelf are not identical, they're arranged in the same way consistent with an actual cook who uses the staples on her shelf. For what it's worth, the best view of the full kitchen is in the original Angelina Ballerina book on the page where Angelina knocks over a plate of cheese pies.

Jonathan laughed. "I'm glad you compared them and they're consistent. I really am."

About those turnips

Bitter turnips look like a pretty common problem. This author recommends peeling them and adding sugar. This thread says the bitterness gets worse with age and sponginess. Wikipedia and another article talk about how there's a genetic component to how intensely people taste the bitterness of turnips and other cyanoglucoside-filled greens like kale.

This is probably why potatoes caught on.

Update: I'd forgotten it, but I blogged about turnips back in '08, complete with a recipe for Pirate Stew.
I had also linked The Great Turnip Conversation, which is still pretty darn funny.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Three projects

Milani 116 Hot Pink, Revlon 250 Pink Freeze
 I put together THREE quick projects today which I thought I'd share.

First: ombre toenails. They turned out pretty cute. I swiped across the ends of my nails with the opaque Revlon polish, let it dry, and then painted over the entire nail with the sheer sparkly Milani one. I like it for a cheerful early-spring look.

Formerly white sneakers
Second, I picked up a pair of white canvas tennies to oxford-ify. These came from Wal-Mart for $5, so if they were a disaster, not much harm done. I painted them with red craft paint and then sprayed them with hairspray to hold it. Woo! We'll have to see how they hold up.
Pot pie

For my third project, turnip-and-chicken pot pie. The method was great, but the turnips were bitter. Next time I'll go with potatoes.

I cooked a giant chicken breast in the crock pot with the diced turnips, carrots, and onions, as well as a couple chicken bouillion cubes, a dash of sage and bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Then after Jonathan got home I shredded the chicken and put it all on the stovetop with a little milk, butter, and flour to make the broth thick like gravy. Then I tossed it into an oven-safe bowl, put a bought piecrust on top, and baked the thing.

Ideally, the crockpot would be stovetop and oven-safe so I don't have to use THREE pots, but oh well. I like this method because all the prep can be done early in the day when I have time and energy and then it comes together quickly for dinner.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A really strong cup of tea?

The old coffeeshop in Los Alamos had a sign to the effect of:

"Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love."

That's kind of how I feel about tea. But I'm finding decaf tea bags, especially the cheap ones I buy, tend to be lacking in the strength and flavor departments. So, I know a lot of you guys who read this also drink tea. Can anyone please recommend a non-fancy-flavored decaf black tea that comes out really, really strong?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tea time

Meg and I had a lovely day at a different library, exploring, and at the playground with some other families. When we came home, I celebrated naptime with a cup of tea. The rose on the tag even matched my mug.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The things she says

I love Meg's relationship with grammar. It's so reasonable and not-really-English. She uses "Me too" to mean, "I agree!" As in, "Cinnamon rolls are yummy." "Me too, Mommy!" She uses "snuggle" as a transitive (and imperative) verb, as in, "Snuggle Pooh bear now!"

Of course, some of her conversation is just funny. She was talking to her auntie on the phone and that gold bust of Bismarck on her top shelf came up. "Bismarck is heavy. Love him. Love Bismarck, love Bismarck, love Bismarck." I am ruining my child.

In other news, while Meg was napping today and not talking, I applied the lemon oil of righteousness to the baseboards of humidity, and they went from grayish blah to shiny and wooden-looking. My method is simple: apply lemon oil to rag, apply oily rag to wood. Repeat as needed. Good stuff, lemon oil.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Red rocks

We went adventuring on Saturday and discovered Red Rock Wilderness Overlook.

It's a small wilderness, but then we have a small girl. But it does have trees, streams, bridges, unpaved trails, steep cliffs with actual rocks showing, and even access to the Potomac!

Now that is exciting.

February isn't really its best and brightest. A few wild roses and clumps of grass and moss were just starting to sprout. The river bottom was all grayish and sandy, kind of blasted-heath looking. I think it gets flooded and not much ever grows down there. The woods are probably prettier in summer.

But did I mention it has real trees, hills, streams, bridges, and access to the Potomac??

I think we'll go back soon.


Peacock necklace
I love holiday weekends. Yesterday I puttered around and organized my recipe binders, and today I puttered and organized my necklace collection.

A lot of my jewelry is really boring. I also have a bunch of necklace-less pendants, single earrings, and bracelets that aren't my style anymore. So, I spent my afternoon taking them apart and reassembling them to be more interesting.

Detail of peacock pendant

This peacock necklace started as a lonely earring, two bracelets, and a hummingbird pendant from my great-aunt.

Seal and jewel

This was a Forever 21 necklace and a red jewel I got free with ordering a magazine. They look good together.

Russian necklace

I liked this combination. It's a really heavy former earring on a bead chain I got at a museum store. A single brass loop finding was visually too light for the pairing, so I used three to heft it up. It strikes me as vaguely Russian, in that "yes it's forty below but we're going to wear velvet and go to the opera" kind of way.

Pink rose

My sister gave me that rose pendant and it's been languishing ever since. I attached a pink sparkly pendant I've had forever and a couple of doo-dads off other jewelry I dismantled. I feel like it could still use something, so I'm going to think about it and maybe add more.

Chunky pearls

This is my lovely new pearl necklace which broke. All the hardware was still good, which was nice, so I just gave it a new wire.

I love holiday projects. Anybody else make things this weekend?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cello Wars

Must watch. It's Star Wars, only with dueling cellos. And lightsabers. And dancing. Chewbacca's in there too. "You will start cello lessons... now."

Thanks to Sarah B., who sent it my way.

Downton Abbey updates

Downton Abbey. Ay-yi-yi. We watched three more episodes tonight of Season Two.

Personally, I think Mary needs to get out of the engagement with the newspaper man NOW, and tell him to publish the scandal and be darned. It's a problem when the guy threatens his fiancee. Also, he has ugly taste in decor. We thought he was untrustworthy, and now we know. Mary should then go marry Matthew. I can't remember - she did tell him about the Turkish guy, right? But he won't care, not really. Lavinia's a really nice girl, but he tends to be on best behavior for her, and you notice Mary's always the one holding the throw-up bowl. I think they'll be happier with a spouse they can depend on.

Jonathan called that interesting plot development with Bates' wife! We're debating how and why. I don't think Bates or Anna is responsible, and it wasn't her because she had him over a barrel. Maybe her old lover?

I suppose Sybil is about to tell her parents she wants to run away with the Communist Irishman chauffeur and Granny will make unhelpful snarky comments.  If he were a really wonderful guy, it would be worth ditching her family over, but he's not. What, does he intend to put her up in his parents' cottage milking cows while he goes and revolts in Dublin? Sybil's got terrible taste in men.

So does Edith, for that matter. I'm not convinced the missing heir was legit, but he was certainly annoying. Whoever he was. I don't suppose he'll die for real and spare us his presence in any future episodes...

O'Brien is turning out almost human, but then Bates or somebody always snaps at her. I wish someone would be kind. She might come back to the light side. Thomas, well, Thomas is just trouble.

Poor Daisy doesn't have "the sense God gave the common goose" as Jonathan put it. I kind of expected William to live just to make things awkward. I do hope Daisy bucks up and keeps on with her determination not to take the widow pension. Mrs. Padmore's perpetual bad advice was really inexcusable. Why didn't Anna or Mrs. Hughes intervene??

Also, I think Lord Grantham still doesn't know about the deal with the Turkish man. They need to stop hoarding secrets around that house.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What my Valentine's Day looked like

I got some really adorable fabric last week, sort of red and turquoise satellite bursts on a white ground, and today during Meg's nap I took the leap and thought I'd make it up into a little jumper for her. I'd even already gotten a red turtleneck to go under it.

The first problem was that, contrary to my assumption, I did not know how to line a bodice. So I spent the WHOLE AFTERNOON fighting with it. I would consult the internet, it would let me down, and I'd fight some more. I finally got it put together, to discover it was way too late to start the Valentine's dinner I'd been planning.

So I got up Meg, went to pick up Jonathan, and he took me out for dinner. Then he took me to the electronics store to get a new camera battery charger (yes! yes! yes!).

We came home, and now that Meg was awake to try it on her, I discovered the second problem: the dress was completely, totally, and unfixably the WRONG SIZE. I had wasted all that fabric AND a whole afternoon I could have been doing something else. Meg started howling at me and I howled right back.

Jonathan, meanwhile, played with Meg and assured me he liked having subs for Valentine's dinner, he would have been uncomfortable with a clean house, and that practicing a new sewing technique is definitely not a waste of time. Would I like a glass of wine?

Handmade Ryan Gosling, eat your heart out. He's my valentine.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fortune cookie fortune of the day

"Your winsome smile will be your sure protection."

That was Meg's. So real!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I love it

Downton Abbey. season two, episode one. Jonathan has spent the entire episode saying things like, "If you ever find your army double-parked in Flanders in August, remember the water table is only about an inch below the surface" and "I'm just saying, if I had been Kaiser, world history would have turned out differently." I love Jonathan.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Oh noes!

I just got cliffhangered. Downton Abbey season 1 only has seven episodes and I didn't realize that until the seventh was over!

It's spreading like a rumor weed!

Pinterest is spreading! Fine, maybe not like a rumor weed exactly. But that's not important now. The POINT is that the ladies over at Design*Sponge joined Pinterest, and then I discovered Jen of Epbot/Cakewrecks is on there too.

Jen and Grace both went to Richmond this last winter for their book tours, and I missed both of them 'cuz I'm not in Richmond anymore. I think I'll survive. But I enjoy their blogs, so I'm absurdly happy they're making the leap to Pinterest.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The terrible truth

Meg's new phrase is, "It's TERRIBLE!" She always uses a voice of doom for it. Sometimes she adds very sincerely, "Oh no, Mommy! What's wrong?"

So this morning I have to get some blood drawn. I've never enjoyed this, and usually I turn my head away so I don't see what's going on. The nurse inserts the needle, and "OH NO, MOMMY! IT'S TERRIBLE!"

Thanks, babe. That really helps.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

"The mother of all comic books"

The Bayeux tapestry is up and scrollable. I had no idea it was so long and narrow. It's "Like the mother of all comic books," says the incomparable Lars Walker.

I'm just delighted over it, actually. The illustrations crack me up, especially with the Latin which is mostly quite manageable ("Hic portatur corpus Eadvvardi Regis," and sure enough, there's a bunch of dudes porting the aforementioned regal corpus).

Possibly I have a warped and morbid sense of humor. Seriously though, this is awesome.

Be prepared, be very prepared

Today I packed two kits to keep in the car. The first is for general health and sanity in case we get stuck somewhere overnight, and it contains:
-Antibacterial ointment and band-aids
-anti-itch cream, sunscreen
-diaper rash paste
-nail clippers, tweezers, nail file
-toothbrushes all around, toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss
-shampoo, conditioner, styling gel, and a comb
-nail polish remover
-soap, face wash, lotion, chapstick
-a razor and shaving cream
-perfumes in sample sizes

The other kit is to keep inside the car, because I keep running out the door in a hurry. It contains:
-makeup for me - sample sizes/duplicates of nearly everything I use daily
-bobby pins, ponytail holders, and a comb
-safety pins

Temperature extremes could be a problem with some of this. But Leesburg is fairly temperate most of the year, so it's not going to get thirty below or anything, and I think most of these supplies will be fairly stable. I didn't pack anything precious, just in case. I'll keep an eye on it and see if anything spoils.

This is a great way to clean out my supply drawers, too. :-) I'm pretty excited! I just wish I'd thought of it earlier.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Downton Abbey

Somebody lent me the first season of Downton Abbey! Tonight we watched the first episode. So far, I think Mary's well out of it by not marrying that louse of a duke, and they should fire Thomas immediately. Lady Grantham's maid is just trouble and I don't quite understand her motivation. Now why did she want to help Thomas get rid of Bates?

I think we'll be watching a lot of it in the next week.


It's a gorgeous cool sunny day out there, and Meg and I did our grocery shopping and found three shirts for Jonathan and went for a walk. We wanted to go to the thrift store and the bookstore downtown, but when we got there they were closed on Mondays (always are), so we just got a walk. It was naptime by then, so I carried her home piggyback and put her to bed.

Something is tapping and clicking over from my kitchen. I sincerely hope that's my neighbors on the other side of the wall, and not my cabinets about to fall down. Or is that the ice maker?

My camera charger is still missing, and I really, really miss it. I've looked almost everywhere. I should NEVER put things in a safe place. My camera phone is just not the same.

Also, I can't for the life of me find decent grown-up yet affordable t-shirts that would look pretty ON ME with clothes I have, and I for reals need some. I'd take any sleeve length at this point - long, 3/4, short, or none!