Monday, December 31, 2007

The year's last anecdote:

Last night I made Rice Krispie treats with Michelle. She complained they didn't look as nice as the ones in the wrappers. She changed her mind when she tasted one, though. (We made a second batch for her to bring home.) "They're so good! Is this an Alton Brown recipe?" she asked. We made Alton Brown cookies before I left for her and her mother to ice, and she liked watching his Thanksgiving episodes we had on at Thanksgiving, so I guess he's present in her mind lately.

"No, it's an old recipe from the people who make the Rice Krispies," I said, though that may not be exactly true, come to think of it; but that's where I always got the recipe except we added a half-cup more marshmallows.

"Oh. Is this what the ones in the wrappers used to taste like?" she said. I did not laugh; I only pitied her.
Eric just called to tell me that our water has been shut off. There's a leak on our side, they said. We have to get a plumber. We don't know where this leak is, or whether they'll be able to turn on the water tonight if we do get a plumber in time. We were planning on having a New Year's party, but a party without water will be problematic.

Aside from that, the Christmas break has been lovely. The trip to Seattle was great; we met some online friends, I saw M for the first time in years and Eric met her for the first time ever, we ate lots, we saw family, we delivered presents, it snowed on Christmas for the third time in sixty years; good times all around. I also checked out an apartment rental brochure. Rent isn't too bad. We're thinking Lake City or Bremerton might be good places to try for if we're going to move to the Seattle area rather than Portland (or somewhere in between). Eric says it's starting to feel more familiar, which is a good step. And he enjoyed his two Jamba Juices very much.

When we got back, we exchanged presents with Eric's family, which was a bigger to-do since they like to give lots of presents. I got a rolling pin (good-bye wine bottle rolling pin), knitting needles, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, an "Ove-Glove," the non-indie Regina Spektor CD, and a greenhouse. A plastic greenhouse on wheels. I love it very much. I can't decide what to do with it, though--put it outside now and protect my strawberries and sage with it, or keep it inside for extra seed-starting room in February and March.

I gave Mom her quilt and she loved it, and Eric his astrolabe (from the Michigan Renaissance festival) and he loved that, and we gave Michelle The Daring Book for Girls and she loved that. We made friendship bracelets yesterday for her to give to her best friend. We still have a few presents to give out, but overall I think we've done very well on the gift-giving this year.

I spent an entire day in Seattle making Christmas cookies: honey-lemon cutouts, Christmas bells, gingerbread people, lemon bars, and fudge (well, James actually did that one, from a box kit). I intended to make plain chocolate chip as well, but got tired out. "Jenny always makes cookies like that," Bev commented at some point during the family party, and I was slightly concerned about being so predictable before realizing that was ludicrous since this was Christmas, wherein every little thing you do can become a tradition if you're not careful, and everyone loves the cookies. Mom requested a double batch of the bells, most of which James took home with him; Dad assisted in eliminating the cutouts with imperfect icing; Eric enjoyed making mutant gingerbread people (two heads, a peg leg and hook, a third arm, that kind of thing).

I think I need a different gingerbread recipe for next year, but otherwise I was quite pleased--even more so when Mom gave me the cookie cutters and her old Betty Crocker Cooky Book, which used to belong to Grandma, to take home with me. We're having Christmas here next year--Mom became mostly reconciled over our stay--so I'll be making the cookies here, plus Mom and Dad don't bake really anyway. They didn't even have a full set of measuring cups, and only one enormous mixing bowl.

Today I'm making cranberry-and-orange spiral cookies, for the party if we have water, for the mothers to buy the use of their bathroom if we don't. We're mostly ready for the party except for the water. I think we're ready for the new year, too.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

We're off to Seattle! If all goes well, that is. I mean, we'll be off no matter what (we already are, I hear people pointing out), but if all goes well we'll arrive on time and with everything we intended to bring. We're not packed yet, though the important stuff--the Christmas presents and my knitting--are on the spare bed waiting. Eric gets off early-ish today and will be working on it, including finishing the last of the laundry so we have enough clean underwear. This has not been the most organized vacation run-up ever.

I kind of feel like this is the cutoff for my Christmas season. That isn't true; one of the first things we'll be doing in Seattle tomorrow is go buy supplies for making Christmas cookies, and one of the next things we'll (or I'll) be doing is wrapping the presents I didn't trust to stay wrapped in the luggage. There will be music and food and presents and evergreens and fun. But today is the last day I can look at my decorated home with innocent eyes (after Christmas the guilt sets in). I don't have all the presents that are staying wrapped and under the tree, and that disappoints me. I won't be able to make the cookies from my own Christmas cookie book before Christmas (unless I bring it, and I won't; I love Mom's cookie book too). My poinsettia will live or die without me.

Which is not to say I won't enjoy Christmas with my family, because I will (even with the recently-acquired knowledge that my brother is more of an idiot than I thought). I admit I'm getting tired of split holidays, though, and I've only been at them for a couple of years. My cousin Bev said recently that she wants to have Christmas at home every year, for her son. Now, they're traveling this Christmas anyway, because her son is the only grandchild around and there's much demand for him, plus she's coming up to see me at the family party on Sunday. But the concept is good. However, that'll be much easier to sustain if and when I'm settled within driving distance of my family. Until then, there will be more traveling and more dividing of Christmas.

However, it also divides up the present opening. Which is a good thing, especially considering my mother-in-law's love of giving lots of presents. (We audited our present stash last night and removed a few things to save for people's birthdays. I suspect my mother-in-law would consider us paltry givers, but I really think we did well this year; we just went slightly overboard in a couple of cases.) And to be honest, that's still one of my favorite parts of the holiday...though making Christmas cookies is also a top contender. Part of my time on the plane will be spent making a list of what to get. Flour, sugar, honey, cinnamon, lemon extract, powdered sugar...happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I woke up yesterday morning with the phrase "A recipe is an emotional deficit" in my head. In my dreams it had meant that people were supposed to learn to cook from other people, and following some stranger's recipe was a cold way to cook. Once I woke up, I rejected it almost completely. Recipes can excite great emotion, especially when they're for something you love and couldn't get any other way and they turn out well. Who is my subconscious to say that oral tradition is superior to the written word? But it is true, I think, that learning to cook from someone is more engaging and emotionally involving than learning from a cookbook. Though that doesn't explain why I like bread baking. The garlic bread turned out well--the dough was a little too wet, so it didn't rise very high, but it was soft and yummy and garlicky. It needs a little something other than the actual garlic, but I'm not sure what. I'll figure it out as I go through the loaf.

Last night was fairly productive--I felted the koala and finished the quilting, and Eric did some dishes. Tonight must be more productive, though--I must get at least halfway through the binding, do laundry and more dishes, wrap presents, and preferably vacuum. Ugh. Why must I feel so rushed? At least my Christmas shoppign is done. Except for the family shopping. But Eric suggested Amazon, and I think that's an excellent idea. Amazon has definitely been our friend this shopping season.

Monday, December 17, 2007

It is the beginning of the Week in Which We Leave. This would be a great thing if I weren't feeling so behind on things. I'm only really behind on the quilt, and not disastrously so. I should have finished the quilt top and done all the quilting by yesterday, and I finished about half the quilting. I've got a felted koala to finish, but it's on schedule. We've got wedding pictures to put into frames and family exchange presents to (suddenly) buy, but that's just a matter of a couple of trips to Target. I've got presents to wrap and possibly cookies to make (and some roasted garlic sourdough in the fridge, because I suddenly realized I would either have to bake this week or refresh the starter and throw some out, and I've started baking every couple of weeks partly to avoid throwing starter out), but it's really not that bad.

And the weekend was quite productive. Saturday we helped some friends move, getting some much-needed exercise for the both of us. Then we decorated the Christmas tree at last, including our first tree topper (we only got one, a red one, from Andersons because Eric saw them and had to have one). It looks like the tree has a great idea. Sunday it was snowing and snowing, and we stayed inside, doing laundry and dishes and quilting until Eric's mom came over to try out her new toy, a snowblower. I told Eric I was going to yell at her for depriving Eric of the exercise he would have gotten shoveling the driveway (everyone, including him, assumed he would be doing the entire long driveway while I stayed inside, presumably warming up the cocoa and mending his shirts while his slippers waited by his easy chair), but he got such a kick out of the new toy as well that he went to help her clean off the driveway and the cars at her house, so it worked out.

Today, the work is not slowing down as my coworker has repeatedly promised. I suppose I've only got until Thursday to worry about it anyway. After that, I don’t think about work at all; instead, I will be baking Christmas cookies, meeting old friends and online friends, and unloading the heavy presents that I foolishly bought to tote 2500 miles across the country.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Eric and I get ever closer to having an actual fight. By 'fight' I mean 'both of us are mad at the other at the same time for more than five seconds and express it.' (Was it Anne or Gilbert who said, "That's a pleasure all the greater for being deferred"? Whoever it was quoted it from something else, too. I'm going to have to get those books for any daughters we might have, mainly so I can read them again myself.) In our case, it's mostly deferred by Eric's not really getting mad at me. Unfortunately for him, I've inherited my mom's disposition rather than my dad's, so the converse isn't true--but it's also usually over quickly and tinged by guilt. (Dunno whether that's really helpful, or at least healthy, but there it is.)

Last night it was sparked by the Christmas decorations--the tree, the garlands, their not-doneness; and was really caused by our mutual weariness from this semester and what I called the energy imbalance--that is, that I have more energy to do things than he does (partly because of the medication he's on, probably--but it's hard to say). Also, I care more about domestic things--having a clean kitchen, putting up decorations--than he does, and so I feel bad asking him to help, but I also feel resentful doing it myself. This is an older issue, and one we've been working on already, but it's by no means conquered. This marriage thing, it can be exhausting.

Tonight, he's got grading and I've got quilting, and we're putting this tree up but probably not decorating it. This is a problem with leaving town early for Christmas: we're both feeling very rushed. As I told him, once we have a kid we'll start having Christmases at home all the time and people can travel to us if they wish--another reason to get started on the having kids as soon as we might. Dad's already offered to come out to us next Christmas--now it's just a matter of convincing Mom. Considering the huge snowstorm they flew into the last time they visited me in Ohio, that may take some doing, but we have a year for it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

And the final tally is:
  • We had to get up to the alarm on Saturday to get to the bank and the salon. I didn't find any shoes during Eric's haircut, which was disappointing. Stores are scary this time of year.
  • I got about as much done on the quilt top as I projected--flower blocks finished. I also worked on the tree skirt; I shouldn't have used white as the main color but decided I don't care enough to put a backing on it, so all I need to do is apply the binding. This is fine, because:
  • We didn’t get the Christmas tree because there was an ice storm warning and we decided driving was not something we wanted to do. We will today, if the weather doesn't dump more ice on us. Eric's school is closed today (and it's his last week of the classes he's taking! Hurrah!) so he should be able to finish his homework during the day and we can go as soon as I get home.
  • The bread is baked. The sourdough was disappointing; I threw some rye and some whole wheat flour in and it's okay, but too dense, and not sour. Apparently it was just the extra-long ferment that brought out the sourness. The rye was very good structurally but the flavor wasn't as good as the previous version, and the crust is still a tad tough for Eric's liking (though much softer).
  • PV is finished. Final count: 105,375. Final count of the "cut scenes" file: 119,999. Eric asked if he could be my reader and give me feedback, and I said he could read it but couldn't tell me I needed to change anything, and I think he was annoyed.
  • I helped Michelle make two batches of Christmas cookie dough and bake one (cutouts). She loves my Kitchenaid stand mixer. She also loves Alton Brown, which is where the recipe came from.
  • The kitchen is slightly cleaner than it started. Slightly. I asked Eric to put the dishes away and he said he'd definitely consider it.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Here's my weekend list:
  • Finish the quilt top. Estimated likelihood: middling. I'm behind as usual. I'll get the flower block borders done and cut out the sashing at least.
  • Finish PV ONCE AND FOR ALL. Estimated likelihood: good. I only have the final go-through to accomplish and this writing-at-nine-o'-clock thing is working well for me.
  • Bake more sourdough and a different rye bread. Estimated likelihood: excellent. The sourdough starter was fed this morning and is waiting on my kitchen. (Contingent item: dry some sourdough starter as a back-up if the bread turns out well.)
  • Bake Christmas cookies and/or make peppermint patties. Estimated likelihood: fair. I'm looking forward to it but it's a lower priority than most of the others.
  • Clean the kitchen. Estimated likelihood: so-so. I'll clean, but will I clean again after I do all this baking? And if net cleaning is zero I don't think it counts. Like the physics concept of work, don't you know.
  • Get our Christmas tree. Estimated likelihood: extremely high. Unless we are completely snowed in and/or one of us falls ill, we are getting our Christmas tree this weekend. Because there are less than two weeks before we leave for Seattle, and after we come back there are only a few days until New Year to enjoy it, and I wish to maximize my Christmas tree enjoyment.
  • Sleep late. Estimated likelihood: 99.9999999%.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The rye is marvelous. Eric's only concern is whether the crust will soften, after a night in a plastic bag, enough to make him happy for sandwich bread--that and that the loaf could have been a little taller. If he's happy with the bread tomorrow I'll look at tweaking the recipe to increase it by just a fraction, maybe an eighth or so. There's also another recipe in the book to try; I'll try that one next week and see if it's better, worse, or just about the same.

My teeth and gums hurt. It started a couple of days ago with my gums hurting after flossing and continuing to do so for about ten minutes; now they're hurting when I eat things like an apple, or a crusty piece of bread. Dammit. I'll call the dentist Monday. What do they do to treat gingivitis, anyway? And where did this come from? I floss every day.
Woohoo! My sourdough is starting to taste sour! I made a No-Knead sourdough bread based on a recipe I found somewhere on The Fresh Loaf, but with more flour because I think my starter is more hydrated than it's supposed to be. I've been feeding it equal volumes of flour and water, not weight, and it's been fine, but I think I'll switch to weight from now on. Anyway, it was an extremely slack dough, kind of like a ciabatta, I think, so I baked it in a loaf pan, and it turned out golden and crusty and it's got a sour taste to it! Hooray!

In other news, we're one Christmas present away from done, and I have the task today of testing Christmas lights. Happily there aren't very many of them. I also need to go grocery shopping (tomorrow), finish some piecing, do the laundry, clean the kitchen, send Mom's tree skirt to her, finish my tree skirt, and make peppermint patties. Oh, and bake another loaf, this one of sourdough rye. December's starting well as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Oh yeah," Eric said sleepily as we settled into bed last night, huddled together to drive off the cold of the bed and the room. (Our bedroom is right above the porch, and the floor is the coldest in the house.) "I forgot about this earlier, actually we both did, but I guess that's the way it goes, so..."

"What?" I said, tense with wondering what he was going to tell me. Had we forgotten a bill? An appointment? Did we lose a bunch of money in our stocks?

"...Happy six-month anniversary."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

(We just watched "Spaceballs," through all the credits as usual, and as a result I have the theme song stuck in my head. "What you've got is what we need/And all we do is dirty deeds...")

Happy Thanksgiving! I slept twelve hours last night. This is because I got four hours of sleep the night before. We watched our six-month-old niece so that her mother could go shopping at four in the morning, and she decided three AM would be a good time to get up and five a good time to go back to sleep, and six-fifteen a good time to get up again and stay up until her mother came back that afternoon. It didn't help that we also watched Michelle so the mothers could go shopping, and her injudicious attempts to get Addie back to sleep--mainly the loud singing--probably increased that two-hour window in the middle of the night. We put them in the same room--foolishly--and I was too sleep-addled to insist on moving Addie's Pack and Play, so I took Addie downstairs and got her to go to sleep on my chest. The next morning we had problems with Michelle insisting on doing everything for Addie and calling her mother to ask what to do with her, without talking to me or letting me talk to her mother. She also took the baby away from Eric while he was playing with her. Suffice it to say we will not be watching the two of them together again.

Thanksgiving itself was great. I made two kinds of bread, and while the buttermilk rolls were too heavy for my taste other people seemed to like them. All my dishes turned out well; all everyone else's dishes turned out well; with the aid of my sewing table we had enough surface area for everything; and we didn't end up with all the stuffing after everything was done, which was good since there were pounds and pounds of it. We ate a lot and played games and had a good time.

Today I helped my friend from work pack up and move. She and her husband were not as organized about it as I would have been, but then they haven't moved nearly as much as I have. Have I mentioned this will be the first time I spent two Christmases in a row living in the same house since 1999? And in the end it didn't take too long to get them on the road--they're moving to Akron, so I didn't go with them to help unpack. They're coming to our New Year's party if they can. On the way home I dropped off two bags at Goodwill for them and bought three new Christmas garlands there for a dollar each. It's not time for decorating yet, but with Thanksgiving over I can think about it. Tomorrow I work on mom's quilt and lament that I have to go back to work the next day. Why is it that a double weekend still doesn't feel long enough?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I should have known better than to have posted such a smug bit of self-congratulation. Eric may be losing his job at the end of the semester. We've calculated before that we can live on my salary...but. It would also mean he couldn't do student teaching, which would mean he couldn't work next year either, or not the whole time. (I mentioned this to my boss's boss at work--I had to ask her something and she asked how I was--and she perked up when I described his background and reminded me we have openings, some of them part-time.) Things may be getting interesting around here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I did astonishingly well this weekend, productivity-wise. I cleaned, baked, did laundry, made ice cream (we've had no ice cream of our own in the house for weeks and weeks! Travesty!), worked in the garden, shopped, ordered Christmas presents, got an oil change, bought antifreeze and de-icer, finally decided the design for Mom's quilt, and got Eric to throw away the cough drop wrappers that seem to follow him everywhere. I feel like I have practically nothing to do this week, though that's exceptionally not true. I've got two knitting projects and one quilting project, more cleaning and cooking for Thanksgiving, and some writing to maybe someday kind of think about doing.

Eric and I were talking about money again this weekend, what we had and what to do with it and what we expect to have in the next few months. We like to do that. We like it, in fact, as I posited on Saturday, more than we would like having the things we would otherwise buy with that money. He agreed. It helps that neither of us is terribly interested in really nice cars or TVs or clothes or whatever, and it probably also helps that we have enough money to be comfortable but not enough to be extravagant. "We indulge a little," he said, and that sounds about right. As I told him, when I went shopping at Meijer I saw plenty of things that I thought would be cute or I'd like to have; I'm not immune to marketing or covetousness; but I almost always say no when I think about buying something. Which is why I came home without a pie server or butter dish or large tea strainer, even though I went out intending to buy them. (Well, in the case of the pie server, it's because I want a pretty one. I can't help it. Now that we have our cool pi pie plate, we're going to be making pies, and I don't want an ugly or plain server to serve them with. And I don't plan to go somewhere I can get a pretty one until after Thanksgiving.)

And then there's my fish bowl experience. When I was in college I often went with my friends X and M to the dollar store on the Ave. We got cheap Christmas candy and mechanical pencils and things like that. One day, I bought a plastic bowl shaped like a fish, for no reason other than I thought it was kind of neat and it was only a dollar. Several months later I sold it at a garage sale for twenty-five cents. I had never used it. That bothered me a lot, and it helped me stop buying useless frivolities (most of the time, anyway...I now own another bowl shaped like a fish, in fact, but it's stoneware and I use it for dipping sauces and I agonized over the $2 purchase until Eric just told me to buy it already). In retrospect, that was the best seventy-five cents I ever lost.

So I'm very glad Eric and I have similar attitudes towards money. Yesterday the mothers came over to look at the ductwork in our house, as they're thinking of putting in central heating and it would require similar ductwork, and we talked about the servant stairs that used to be where the coat closet is now. Apparently they're now being put into new houses again, but for kids rather than servants. One of the mothers said, "If you still have this house when you're making $300,000 a year (??) and having catered parties (???), you should consider putting them back in." The other mother said, "What makes you think they'd keep this house?" Eric said, "Why not? It's a nice house, big and well-made," and I said, "We could pay it off and keep the extra monthly income," and she said, "Do you know how many people your age wouldn't even consider that? They're all about the bigger house, the best everything," and we felt very pleased with ourselves.

Then I went to bed thinking about all the things we'd do to this house if we had the money and were staying. Eric's mom recommended we replace the patio in the back, as it's cracked as badly as our driveway was and slopes toward the house. I had actually thought about getting a quote from McMillan for it, but figured we'd see how the driveway turned out. We discussed putting in pavers ourselves, since Eric should have actual free time next year. We'd only get another year to enjoy it, but it would be good practice and would help with house appeal for when we sell it. And then, if we were really making $300,000 a year, we could put in another half-bath and put better carpet down and improve the master bedroom closet and put in more light switches and clean up the basement...but it's still a good house as it is, and I’m fairly happy with it, and I think the new garden and new driveway and patio are probably good enough.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I made this bread today. It started yesterday--well, Thursday really, with taking my sourdough starter out of the fridge and feeding it. I'm really liking this starter thing. I flubbed parts of the recipe, but the bread turned out very nice anyway--crackly brown crust, chewy inside with pretty good crumb. It makes an excellent toasting bread with cheese. Still not sour; I think I just need to wait for my starter to be older for that, but even if I never get actual sourness, the starter seems to make pretty darn good bread. This recipe made four small loaves, just enough for me to eat before it gets stale (with maybe a little help from Eric). I may freeze the others for Thanksgiving--or I may keep them for subsequent weeks. I plan to make this Buttermilk Cluster roll for Thanksgiving, so we won't be completely lacking bread.

I made a Meijer run today, while Eric was getting fitted for his first pair of glasses ever (he only needs them for driving so far, the lucky stiff), for Thanksgiving supplies. We're having Thanksgiving here--I forget if I've written this before--but not actually having it, so to speak; the mothers are still providing most of the food. But their house is undergoing a Five-Year Plan for renovations, and our dining room is bigger, so we're eating here. But I'm still making rolls and casserole and mashed potatoes (because Brenda doesn't like cheese) and squash and pie, and serving snacks and cider. So there is preliminary cleaning happening this weekend, with the bulk of it happening Wednesday (which Eric might have off), and there will be preliminary cooking and chopping Wednesday. I love the holidays. Hearing the Christmas music in the stores already is only half spoiling it. (I was in Meijer today in the shoe section and heard "And so this is Christmas," coming out of the loudspeakers, and said aloud, "No, it's not, it's not even Thanksgiving yet, people." I truly don't understand this.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

It's taken all week, but my work to-do list is finally empty. This has been an incredibly busy week. I guess that happens when half the department--the more experienced half--is on vacation. I learned quite a bit this week.

I also had a very good annual review. The only thing bothering me is that we didn't discuss money. I was told last year that I'm getting a hefty raise this year because my pay grade boundaries got raised, but I haven't heard anything this year. I'm not too concerned, but it would be nice to know what our budget for next year will look like.

And after I read that paper about EEP, I had yet another talk with Eric about how ambivalent I feel about my work and my prospects. I talked about how I'm only in the job I'm in because I know we're leaving in a year and a half, and he asked, "What do you want to do once we move?" And I didn't know. It has never occurred to me to plan something. So I'm trying to figure out a plan. This is hard, because part of my aimlessness is that I can do a lot but almost everything would take a little prep, and I haven't felt firm enough about any particular career path to do that prep and thereby forsake other choices--but that's how I've ended up doing nothing and being nothing. So I need to pick something and work at it. I don't think I've done that in a long time (except for the hobbies, I suppose). I wish this whole career thing were easier, but at least I'm thinking about it instead of just lamenting it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oddly, not spam.

"Your fingertips have never felt so empowered."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I think I participated in the survey for this paper, which Eric is using for a research paper he's writing. And I'm depressed. There's one quote in it that pretty perfectly sums up how I feel these days, and I'm jealous of everyone who's done better than me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bread

I baked my first bread made from my sourdough starter today. Aside from not actually being sour, it turned out wonderfully. I'm all excited about having grown my own yeast. The bread is soft with a crispy crust and a pretty open crumb, tastes pretty much like French bread from the store (it could use slightly more salt, too), and made a great grilled-cheese sandwich. Also good with apple butter, but then, any bread is good with apple butter.

I also received Amish friendship bread starter from Eric's sister and brother-in-law (I'm not sure which of them actually did it). It came with a recipe. The recipe requires a box of instant pudding mix. What kind of Amish recipe is that? I'm going to make the bread, as it so happens we have a box of instant pudding mix that we're unlikely ever to use up any other way, but I was tempted to track down the originator of this recipe and take issue with him or her. I'm fairly sure that boxes of instant pudding mix are not a common Amish crop.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Marvelous

The vanilla bean ice cream turned out marvelously. We made a good vanilla last year, and I used the same recipe but with a slightly higher cream:milk ratio and with the vanilla seeds simmered in the milk and cream rather than simply adding extract. The butter pecan was surprisingly good, but a little light on the flavor--if we do this again we'll amend Ben & Jerry's recipe. The lemon bar was a flop--too much lemon extract gave it a candy flavor, and the cookies didn't add all that much. And then I made cherry-vanilla using frozen cherries we had spurned for an earlier batch of ice cream, and I think it's pretty good. If it passes the taste committee (the birthday party tonight) I might try cherry-chocolate.

I also drove on our new driveway for the first time last night. So this is what a real driveway feels like! No bumps, no dips, no gentle steering around obstacles. I almost crashed into the back of the garage because I was waiting for the usual dip that tells me I've gone far enough. Marvelous. Maybe not $6803 marvelous, but marvelous nonetheless. I might even take it over ice cream--some ice cream, for some period of time, at least.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Important bulletin

It turns out freezing cream is a bad, bad idea. We had extra from the wedding, see, so I stuck it in the freezer. I pulled it out last night for ice-cream making. When I opened the carton this evening it wouldn't come out because it had clotted into a tangled mess. It smelled fine, it was just clotted and protein-y and...yuck. I made my fastest run to Kroger ever. (Where they had boxes of satsumas! At least, they said that's what they were. The boxes were $8 each and I didn't quite believe, so I didn't get any. But I will later when they get cheaper, if they're still here. If I can get satsumas out here--?)
I dreamed last night I was Christmas shopping with M and Z. Z went to try on a white butterfly shirt that I said would look good on her, only it was attached to some sort of decoration with meat hooks on it so I was worried. M and I wandered around the rest of the store, where I watched people pushing each other in the aisles and wished I had stayed away from the stores as I had intended to. Then Z came out and had us all try on suits made of carpets.

I made my first by-the-seat-of-my-pants bread Saturday. It was pretty good, but not a complete success. I put a little too much oil and salt in, and not enough yeast. The amount of rosemary was good, though, and it was nice to have some bread to snack on. And my sourdough starter is nearing readiness (I think) so I'm going to give that a shot soon. I also have to figure out what kind of bread to make for Thanksgiving. Sourdough's out, as half Eric's family doesn't like it. A rustic loaf? Rolls? Both?

I also made two batches of apple butter, sour cherry jelly (which is indeed very good, and it even jelled the first time--after I added half a second packet of pectin), and an apple pie. Plus feeding the sourdough starter and cooking meals. We own two sets of measuring spoons and three sets of measuring cups, and when I was finished I had a two-thirds cup, a one-third cup, a one-quarter teaspoon, and a one-half teaspoon left in the drawer. I even used the one-half tablespoon and one-eighth teaspoon spoons. (I did not, however, use the auxiliary set of measuring spoons--dash, pinch, and smidgen. They're not in the drawer; they're hung up on the wall.)

The next cooking step is a bunch of birthday ice cream for Wednesday. Brenda and Michelle have birthdays around now and are sharing a "family party" dinner. Originally we planned to make peach ice cream, which they both love, but the peaches I bought and lovingly ripened inside my green tomato box (rapidly turning mostly red) turned out black inside and mushy and bland. Michelle's second choice was vanilla and Brenda's was butter pecan, so those are the ones I'm proceeding with tonight. Plus I noticed Brenda's "birthday cake" was lemon bars, and I decided to try to make lemon bar ice cream. I may or may not release that to the family, depending on how the test run turns out.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I am applying for a credit card for some arbitrage as I type. OMGB. (The B stands for Becky, of course.) This makes me exceedingly nervous. The idea appeals to me in theory; actually staking my monthly bills and credit rating and peace of mind is something else.

I am also making vegetable stock as I type. It makes the house smell good (and the kitchen windows fog up). Eric agrees, which surprises me a little--though I don't know why; he does eat his vegetables. I'll have to make him some soup with my stock. Maybe some rye bread to go with it. I'm thinking about the breads I want to make, especially now that I have my KitchenAid stand mixer. Ours, I mean. Our stand mixer. Anyway, I have no-knead bread with rosemary and olive oil in the fridge and a new sourdough starter on the fridge. I do believe it's fall.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I made apple cider jelly last night. Or rather, I tried to make the jelly Saturday, along with apple butter. The apple butter came out perfectly, as it usually does, but this was my first attempt at jelly and it didn't jell. So I let it sit on the counter--it was in sealed canning jars, so I wasn't worried--until last night, when I boiled it again and recanned it, and now it's congealed and lovely.

I've never been particularly tempted by jelly- or jam-making before. What inspired this was actually our Ben & Jerry's cookbook; there's a recipe in there that calls for apple cider jelly, and mentions it's difficult to get ahold of; and though I'm not interested in making that ice cream, the idea of apple cider jelly intrigued me. I like apple jelly, and I know two good cookie recipes that call for it (or at least can use it with yummy results). I hope I'll like this as well. I got six half-pint jars out of it, 50% more than the recipe said I would get. And now? Now I'm wondering if sour cherry (juice we have from an ice-cream attempt) or pomegranate (it's getting to be that season) jelly would be any good. It may be a good thing I don't have any more jelly jars left.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Christmas shopping

I went Christmas shopping yesterday. Our plan was to finish Christmas shopping by the end of October, in order to avoid the too-early Christmas decorations and music. I found that, near the end of October, I was too late--to avoid Christmas merchandise, at least. Christmas merchandise in the fall is acceptable and even laudable in a craft store, because it takes that long to finish things. Lowe's? Not so much. Lowe's was even playing Christmas music, a circumstance that caused me to decamp as quickly as I could once I found they didn't have what I wanted.

Yet another reason to prefer Home Depot--they also had Christmas stuff out, but they weren't as obvious about it. Plus no employee there steered me away from the perfectly serviceable stones I was considering for my garden paths saying "You'll want something more decorative, and I’m afraid we don't have anything; you should have come in two months ago."

I did get some good things, including exercise equipment for Mom and a woodcarving vise for Dad (why did I buy such heavy things for flying with me across the country?). But I got quickly tired out. I don't have the stamina for shopping anymore. I'll go to the bookstore tonight (and return the shelving unit from BB&B I bought for us that fell apart as I took it out of the box), and everything else--except things for Eric's friends where he has no ideas and I can't help him--I'll order online, and we'll be done. And then we won't go shopping, except for the grocery store, until January. Let's see how well this one works out.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Smile for me

I smile compulsively when I'm on the phone at work. That's how I make myself sound pleasant. I think. At any rate, I do sound pleasant (unless I’m almightily miffed), and I do smile. It's worse on the short phone calls, probably because a short phone call almost always has a much higher ratio of pleasantry to substance than a long one. Sometimes I hang up the phone and my face aches slightly from the smiling.

Seriously.

I'm not sure if I need to do something about this or not.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

We're getting our driveway redone, finally. The price still makes me wince, even more so because we came home last night and found they hadn't laid things out the way we wanted. This was only digging out and laying boards, so we were able to talk to them this morning. Eric did most of the talking, because his family inclines towards belligerence and mine tends towards giving in, and when the contractor tapped on the kitchen door to show us what they'd done in the driveway (one beam is sagging, apparently), he asked for "the mister." That annoys me a bit, but I can let it pass. After all, Eric did most of the talking.

With luck, they'll finish everything today, and tomorrow's rain won't spoil anything. Then we wait ten days, and then we can start driving on it. In the meantime I'll see if I can rescue any of the plants that they've buried or clobbered while digging out the old driveway. I really shouldn't have planted anything there. Oh well...plants are on sale now, and there's always next year. Next year with a smooth driveway, even if it's also with a significantly smaller bank account.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I made potato-cheese casserole last night for dinner. Normally this requires potatoes, cheese, broccoli or green onions or neither or both (broccoli in this case), and cream of onion soup. Last night, I started the potatoes boiling and grated the cheese and then realized that I had no cream of onion soup. So I made my own, of sorts--it was more of a gravy or a roux, but it worked quite well, and it was interesting to see the cumulation of twenty years of watching my mother cook, then assisting, then doing it myself staring up at me from the pan. The casserole tasted fine.

My dad e-mailed me a news item about Rowling declaring that Dumbledore was gay and said he was disappointed in her. I contended it might not have been a political statement, maybe that was just her backstory for him; but I'm afraid of what this means about his own views.

I'm feeling very quietly discontented with my life. Not that this is anything new; but I wonder what it'll take to stop it. Moving? I've been here two years now.

I did pumpkin-carving at the local Metropark yesterday, for the Ghosts of Providence program. I'm also going to be leading lantern tours on Friday. I've never seen the program before, so this should be fun. Afterwards I went to Andersons for produce and another wintergreen plant, and found that they have any number of potted citrus trees. I was tempted by the kumquat or the minneola--but not $60 worth.

I also stopped at a farmer's stand that I've been meaning to stop at every time I go out to the Metropark. All their summer produce is gone, of course; I wish I'd visited earlier. But they had very nice pumpkins and squashes, and lots of apples. I bought a buttercup and an ambercup squash (the latter purely because it's pretty) and I'll have to figure out what to do with them...later, though, as I accidentally nicked one of my four homegrown butternut squash later that night, so I'll be making roasted-squash-and-bean soup tonight.

I'm due to make apple butter and apple cider jelly this week as well...also stock, from the bag of vegetable leavings I've been keeping in the freezer. I wonder how much or how little of this do-it-myself business I'll retain once I have kids.

In Jennifer Housewife news, my floors are shockingly dirty. Also the laundry is going slowly because a three-inch spider has taken up residence just beside the washer, and so I'm either making Eric load and unload the washer or moving very slowly with my eyes fixed on the spider the whole time. I suppose I could ask him to get rid of it, come to think of it, and that would speed things up.

The construction company was supposed to come and fix our driveway last week. But they didn't come and didn't call, so I left a nasty (well, nasty for me) voicemail today, and not long after the owner called to say he was very sorry and they would be out tomorrow. We'll see.

So here's my week's list:

-vacuum
-mop
-make apple butter
-make apple cider jelly
-make stock (broth really, I guess)
-use butternut squash
-finish B's bear
-finish C's glove
-transplant herbs and strawberries

Why is so much of that food-related? I must also take some walks...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm glad it's Thursday. The weeks have gone by so much slower ever since the wedding, with the result that Friday and even Thursday are more welcome than they used to be as harbingers of the weekend. Not that the week itself is onerous, but it stretches so long.

Yet another conversation with Eric last night about my attention span--both our attention spans--and what sort of career it is I want, and why my life currently isn't satisfying enough. Eric said, "Don't you have a career in what you're doing? Not quoting, but being this scientific liaison-type person? You've had several jobs like that already." I guess you could say that, but I don't know that it's been intentional. Maybe I just feel I need more purpose. We talked about dabbling, and how when you've got a lot of interests do you pick one, and why should you have to? But I feel I do have to. I think. I don’t know. Anyway, more talking and more thinking.

My department went to lunch today (Mexican! It wasn't very good but it wasn't bad, and I haven't had Mexican since, I think, the last time I went to Azteca with Mom and Dad in Seattle). One of my coworkers and I talked about college while the others talked about their kids' grades. It was cold out, so we talked about sweaters and coats and so on during the drive back. I have a cardigan I've been knitting for three years, and I think it's time to abandon it. I can buy sweaters. Or maybe a different pattern, or a different yarn, would inspire me more. Of course I won't be doing much knitting after the new year, but I don't know how long the embargo will be in place, so maybe I could make one for next winter.

My kitchen sink gleams--I finally did all the dishes and was so disgusted afterward that I Cometed the whole place. I love Comet. Tonight the Comet will be sullied by lots of parsley, but it's a fair price to pay.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Cold is coming.

It's going to be cold tomorrow. Midwest cold. Yesterday it was 90. Tomorrow it's supposed to be 50. "Sounds like Midwest weather to me," said my neighbor as he ripped out tomato plants. Then I confessed to taking some of his Garden Peach tomatoes--only the ones that had grown on my side of the fence, and he said early in the year I could have any I wanted--and went inside, my neighborly duties fulfilled for another day. I like the neighbors, but I have little social grace. I'm working on developing a good professional telephone personality, though.

We're supposed to go to Cedar Point this Saturday. It's pretty much our last chance, so cold won't stop us. (Besides, Shel and I got very warm matching jackets when we went to Costco.) Rain will, so I'm hoping it all comes early. I'll gladly use the umbrella and the coat now for some screams and french fries later.

The housewife thing is getting to me a bit. I'm trying to stick to the not-complaining thing...I had to resort to calling Bev last night, though. Only two months left. I tend not to wish my life away, but I'll be very glad when it's December.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Not the most efficient customer service

I needed to get the routing transit number for by bank account, because Sky was recently bought by Huntington and Huntington gave us all new account numbers and told us we had to switch any automatic payments (deposits are fine). So I called the number the website said to call, and after some rigmarole I got told by the computer there was a 2-4 minute wait and I could get a callback.

It seemed silly, but it didn't sound like the computer was giving me any other options, so I gave my phone number and hung up. I got a call back almost immediately, and the computer said "Please press any key when [I am] on the line." I hit a key, and the computer said, "I'm sorry, all our associates are busy assisting others. Please hold."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I'm tired. Eric had a bit of an emotional breakdown last night, which taxed both of us. But I think he's feeling a bit better now. I shall still keep an eye out for a psychiatrist referral though--I had called the local hospital to inquire a few days ago, because he's been having problems with sleep and depression and was thinking about seeing someone, and the woman who answered asked first "Why isn't he calling?" I didn't get that response when I called to schedule him a dentist appointment. Then she wanted to know his symptoms; then she told me the attending psychiatrists aren't taking new patients and his only option would be a resident's clinic from 9-10:30 Tuesday mornings.

James is home; they put a stent in his pancreatic duct (?) and didn't find anything specific, but the doctor suspects the general trauma and inflammation there were caused by his motorcycle accident a couple of years ago. I'll have to ask my dad whether I should send James some books or not.

I'm watching Michelle tonight, supposedly helping her spin, but after I agreed the mothers started talking about how they would be able to use the free time so I suspect they just wanted a childless evening. I was also asked to watch her tomorrow. To be honest I'm a little irritated by the mothers' assumption that we're constantly available for free babysitting. (Maybe they'll get Eric his expensive widescreen computer monitor and I'll forgive them.)

We're finally, finally, at last getting the driveway fixed, in two weeks. I have to move plants and reconcile myself to parking on the street. I will be so extremely happy to have a real driveway to park on this winter, though; for that I'd move ten times as many plants (or leave them to die, either way).

I do not think I will be posting here any more frequently than I have been. It may be time to give up a general-topic blog; I don't know. Or maybe it's just that I'm tired. I will be giving up crafts as a major hobby after the holiday work is done; I'll keep a project or two going, but nothing with a real deadline, so that I can concentrate on other things: writing and gardening and career and that sort of thing. Sorting myself out. You'd think there wouldn't be much to sort, and there isn't--maybe that's the problem. But clearing both my schedule and my head of the additional clutter can only help, right?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Don't run and they won't chase you

I dreamed last night that I was in the Cincinnati airport (which I have never been in, except for a single gate when my plane to Baltimore was diverted in 1999) and the central hub was a series of smooth hills and curves like slides, frictionless so that you jumped in and glided to wherever you needed to be, and I thought, this would be a great place to write a chase scene.

(There were also enormous alligators roaming around. They didn't attack as long as you didn't run.)

Saturday, the mothers, Michelle, Eric, and I went up to Ann Arbor. First to Shar to get Michelle a violin (to rent; her accelerated program is doing Suzuki violin with fourth-graders and she wants to practice at home), then to Trader Joe's, where we introduced Edith and Michelle to the beauty that is Trader Joe's. Eric and I were more profligate than usual, buying chocolate-covered bananas (bad) and lemon cookies (good) and orange-peach-mango juice (very good).

At some point, we discussed chocolate-covered raisins (dark or milk) and Eric said something about But Jenny doesn't like raisins, so she won't eat them anyway. Brenda, voice full of laughter at her own wit, said, "Jenny. How can a vegetarian not like raisins?"

I said, "How can an omnivore not like cheese?" There was a pause, while Eric put an arm around each of us and grinned, and she said, "Good point," and we all laughed. Sigh.

My brother called me last night, finally returning my call of several days ago. His surgery is today. He wants to go to culinary arts school, he thinks. He told me that and then about how you can't get a good job as a chef and he wouldn't want to work in the apprentice-level jobs, so I doubt anything will come of it. Still, I'm thinking of sending him a book on opening a restaurant, since that's one possibility for getting to the top without working his way there. Maybe he can read it during his convalescence

Friday, September 28, 2007

It's a Friday night and I ain't got nobody

Well, this was my second time biting into a fruit and seeing a worm inside. Whole both times, thank you.

I have finally done the dishes. They've been sitting there for <hangs head> five days. I still haven't completely cleaned the silicone baking cups; they're having their second soaking. I didn't think to use spray on them because I thought they wouldn't need it; I'll try it next time, but unless matters dramatically improve I wouldn't recommend these at all.

I am also finally alone in the house. Eric is off at gaming night (board games, that is), being cheered up by company after a long week of work and school and intelligence-insulting work assignments and a wife who's getting tired of hearing him complain every semester about a class he feels is doing nothing for him but not do anything about it. (I'm not even going to try to check the tenses in that last sentence. Excuse me.) Yesterday my friend C from work came over and we finished her Christmas tree skirt, which we gave priority over mine because she's probably leaving town in the next several weeks. Today I'm contemplating working on my own, but mostly I'm reading and writing some trash and contemplating uses for zucchini. It'll be a good night.

Oh, and my boss confirmed that I no longer have to come in an hour early. Hallelujah!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Interlopers

I was in the garden a couple of days ago, picking tomatoes and eggplant and pottering a little, and listening to a bunch of kids in one of the back yards abutting mine. There's a treehouse right next to my fence, and every once in a while I find a ball in my yard. (I chuck it back, usually in the yard with the treehouse.) Today, the kids were playing tag, because I heard someone say something about hovering near base.

Then an actual argument broke out, then some scuffling; then a girl jumped out of the tree house into my yard and ran behind my pear tree. I turned and stood, watching, as a boy also jumped down into my yard (staying near the fence, however) and they continued to argue. After a few exchanges the girl turned to me and said, "Did I touch his pop can??"

I said, "I don't know, I wasn't paying attention. But you two are both out of bounds." They got the message and climbed up out of my yard, and I don't know how the argument ended. I told Eric about this later and he said, "Practicing to be a mom already, huh?" Now I'm just wondering if it's not the squirrels after all who keep taking the pears out of my pear tree.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I'm a regular

I went with my friend at work to lunch today, to the Coney Island we usually go to. The waitress there, our favorite, knew our drinks before we ordered them. I've never been a regular anywhere before. It was kind of neat, but also kind of scary. We'd go other places if there were any within reasonable driving distance.

I don’t know why I've been so quiet on this blog of late. I know it's partly because the gardening thing is interesting and easier, and it's partly because my words seem to have dried up a bit. But journaling is usually easy. I've been writing 500 words a night on Shoelace, most nights anyway, but it gets hard and most of what I've recently written is bad. I don't know what to do, other than keep plugging away at it and maybe doing some exercises to practice more. I want to write, but I also like to do other things, and almost everything else is easier, so I do those other things. I had a much easier time of it in 2001 when I was writing PV and had no other hobbies.

Part of it might be because I have Eric now, which means (a) someone to tell things to and (b) someone who shares my life but probably doesn't want to be written about a lot. And I am still adjusting to this whole being married thing. Or rather, this whole having-someone-else-share-my-life thing. I'm mostly happy with the way things are, but it still requires thinking about when I can no longer say "Sure, come on over" because my husband might need quiet for studying, or when I have to think about whether to get an expensive Christmas present for him because he might or might not think it's worth spending our money on (I decided he would), or when--for example--I really wish I were in some other city doing something else but I can't because I promised I would stay. And also, of course, because my husband and best friend have to stay. And it's very strange to want to go, with him, but also want to stay here because it would make him happy and moving will make him sad. My marriage does not suck, but the complexity of thinking required in married life sometimes does.

(On the other hand, I kind of like this feeling that I've moved up from a beginner's level of adulthood to perhaps journeyman level. I don't know when master level kicks in. Or does it ever?)

Anyway, yes, things going on, I'm not unhappy, but I'm a little dissatisfied. I don't know if it's because I'm too settled or not settled enough. Arrgh.

But at least I now have someplace I can go where, if they don't know my name, they know what I drink.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Without a trace

When C first came to work I talked about her a lot to Eric. "Ohmigod," I would say. "What makes her think I care about her son's football games?" Or, "She says she can't move items in Word tables because 'they go all funny' when she copies and pastes." Or, "She was telling me about buying clothes for her son, and she said, 'We got these nice pants, they were cream, or whatever you'd call it for a boy.'"

Yesterday I got to work early, as my boss asked me to for September (due to potential overseas customers we needed someone available to talk to while they were still at work). When my boss got there, an e-mail went out. "As of Friday, C is no longer working here," it read. "Until we find and train a replacement, each of you will have to do your own [document creation]."

I asked my boss what happened. "Well...we just had to let her go," he said. My coworker Tony hinted that he knew and it was dramatic, but he didn't tell me about it and come to think of it, I was there Friday after C left, and I didn't notice anything going down.

Today I was creating a document, one of the things that's normally C's job. I had a little difficulty filling in one spot, so I opened up an old one C had done for me and I had sent to a customer. Turns out she had had difficulty too: the spot was incomplete, still with the ~99 where the information was supposed to go. I was exceedingly annoyed. I could even see opening up a document like that, something I'd sent to a high-paying client, and wanting to fire the person who had messed it up. But my boss isn't a short-tempered man. So what much-worse-than-that thing did happen with C?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Insurance insurance

We just finished the job of calling our respective insurance companies to get quotes. Actually, that's not true. I called. Eric said, "You're so much better at talking on the phone...I'm better at talking face to face," and I said, "And what jobs do we have?" and new, previously unthought thoughts dawned on his face.

The Allstate person was friendly and helpful, and didn't mind my muttered asides. The Liberty Mutual person was also friendly and helpful, but somewhere during the conversation--it was shortly after I said Eric wasn't a football person, but I'm not sure why that would reflect on me--he started treating me as if I had an IQ of about 91. Also, Liberty Mutual is more expensive. The Liberty Mutual person told me, before I could get off the phone, to make sure that I compared not just the numbers, but the actual coverages, that maybe other companies wouldn't cover my computer, that with the towing and rental service I could just sign and drive away, it was irreplacable to be able to have things like that. I get the idea they know they're not the cheapest around.

However, the Allstate person mentioned we could buy "Your Choice Auto" (I think) coverage, which meant that if we had an accident our insurance wouldn't go up, plus if we stayed Safe Drivers we'd get 5% off the premium after 6 months and $100 off the deductible after 12 months or something. "Wait a minute," Eric said when I hung up and reported this. "You can buy insurance for your insurance? Can I buy insurance for that?"

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Stardust the movie

Actually better than Stardust the book. Go see it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Vaccinations for all

I've had a mildly sore throat--tickly, feels better when I drink a lot--for thirty-six hours now. I had a slight bout of sneezing yesterday morning, and a slight attack of body aches yesterday afternoon. Did I mention that Eric is sick? From his fourth day of teaching? I've clearly caught it from him, but the onset is so slow that I'm hopeful that either I'm merely being inoculated and showing some vaccination reactions, as it were, or that the cold itself will be very mild because my body's evidently had time to marshall its defenses. Eric is very bitter about this.

I have also already failed as a housewife. He has no more clean underwear. It's laundry night for me.

We went to dinner last night at a relatively new Italian place for Edith's birthday and Eric's sister's, and it was fantastic. The gelato and the cappuccino were the only things that weren't delicious, and since I don't drink cappuccino and there was birthday ice cream waiting at home, that wasn't a big deal.

The ice cream went over very well. I made it Tuesday night, since Eric was still sick. We had chocolate mint, chocolate orange, and peanut butter chocolate with Reese's cups. The chocolates were a little soft and the peanut butter a little hard (probably because I put in twice as much peanut butter as the Ben & Jerry's recipe recommended--the flavor wasn't too strong either), but they were a hit. Eric's brother-in-law--well, I guess he's mine too--suggested we sell our ice cream at the farmer's market and Eric was sorely tempted. We'd have to work on scoopability, but I could see it being a fun day if we did it. I've been wanting to get to that farmer's market.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pitas

This is my entry for A Year in Bread's contest. Also nice to think about as I need to eat the last of our most recent tabbouleh tonight.

Eric loves tabbouleh. Middle Eastern food is the only ethnic food (other than Olive Garden-style Italian) he really likes, and tabbouleh is his favorite. I'm fond of it too. And when I pointed out how cheap parsley is at the grocery store, the natural next step was to make our own.

"We need pita bread," he said when we were buying some parsley, onions, and tomatoes several months ago to do just that. "You can't have tabbouleh without pita bread. Let's get some."

"Or I could make some," I suggested, and his eyes got wide.

I had a book, Rose Levy Berenbaum's Bread Bible, and a small amount of experience with baking bread. I've made cinnamon rolls and egg bread and No-Knead bread and pizza dough; I couldn't see how pita bread would be all that difficult.

So I found the recipe and made some pita dough. The book gave two options, cooking on a skillet or an oven, and since I understood the book to say both were equivalent, I chose the skillet. The resulting bread was fairly tasty--but too thick and too flat, nothing like the thin, dry, hollow rounds we got at the restaurants. "It didn't poof," I complained, bringing the plate of pancake-like pitas to the table. They were lousy for scooping.

"Maybe it'll be better next time," Eric said.

Time passed. I grew a garden, with a big parsley patch and a tomato plant (okay, twelve), and one day we decided the time had come to make tabbouleh fresh from the garden. "And you'll make your pita bread?" Eric said to me. "Maybe this time it will poof."

So I mixed the dough, let it rise, divided it, rolled it, let it rest--with difficulty, for the correct time--rolled it again, and baked it. In the oven. I placed the first round with trepidation on a preheated baking sheet, closed the door, and waited the prescribed three minutes.

I opened the door to a puffy, ballooning pita. "It poofed!" I squealed. Dinner that night was the best ever.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

If not the world, at least our heads are going round

This household is embarking on a new chapter in our financial life: actual investing. We've done CDs, but that's the most I've done before. Eric's owned stocks, so it's not new to him--but our general financial situation is. Items:

-The driveway is going to cost us around $6000 to fix. We've accepted this. What's more, we have the money to pay for it. (Partly because of my mom's gift around last Thanksgiving.)

-Eric's tuition is going to cost us $1000 this semester and $2000 next semester above financial aid, because we've decided (read: I urged and he agreed) we will decline all but the subsidized loans so that we pay less interest.

-Our only debts are student loans, Eric's car loan, and the mortgage.

-We're putting away a nice amount every month in savings.

-We've decided we want to keep $8000 liquid as emergency money, and we have that and more.

So, we're putting $5000 into an investing account and buying some mutual funds, some high-risk, some moderate-risk. We'll put in more as we can (though we'll keep some in CDs too), and Eric wanted to apply for margin, which is basically a loan from Ameritrade (or whatever), but the interest rate is 10% or so, so we might consider getting a low-interest credit card and using the cash advance for extra investing money. Maybe not. I'm a little leery of this--we had to discuss it for a while before I would agree that investing makes more sense than paying off the student loan first--but it does make numerical sense, assuming terrible things don't happen to the stock market in the next few years, and we're in a position where we can stand some loss.

Eric keeps shaking his head and saying he has to get used to this feeling of doing well. He'll get used to it. And with our plans (kids, moving) we may never be doing this well again, so he'd better enjoy it. I am.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Time to go

"Here's the plan," my coworker says to me and the other coworker in the department. "P's on vacation; D's leaving at 2:30. If either of you are on site after four o'clock I will slap you silly for making me look like a slacker." Looks like an early day for our department. Thank goodness--it's been a long, long week.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Jennifer Housewife

Yesterday Eric stood in the kitchen with tears in his eyes, saying, "I'll be eighty-three before these kids are learning what they ought to be learning." We'd been talking about the curriculum he's been handed for a new class he's teaching, and how he regards it as grossly human-centered and inappropriate for a beginner's class. He has a book, Benchmarks, that he would love to have implemented, but right now, where he is, there's nothing he can do, and he hates it. And I saw, again, how impassioned he can be about the things he cares about, and how much he cares about teaching.

He is now working full-time, including teaching a class he's never taught before, and which he learned yesterday is full of brighter students than he thought he was getting. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; it just means he has to redo a bunch of work he's done on his lesson plans. He's also taking four graduate-level classes in the evenings. He is going to have a very busy semester.

I am now going to be solely responsible for dinner on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and primarily responsible on Mondays. (Tuesdays he has pizza with his gaming friends, and Fridays he has no classes.) I'm a little nervous about this. I've never been responsible for someone else's meals; up until now we've shared in the planning and cooking, not least because Eric is a picky eater and won't eat something if he's not in the mood for it. But if he's to get any decent nutrition this semester, I'm going to have to have food ready and he's going to have to eat it.

I have also--without mentioning it to him, because he balked enough at the dinner thing--decided that this semester, I will attempt to become his housewife. I will cook, and clean, and do the dishes, and pay the bills, and do the laundry, and buy the groceries, and try not to complain that he's not helping. I'm also nervous about this. For one thing, I'm terrible at not complaining. This is actually nontrivial; I don't like not talking about things, and it's liable to make me even more irritable than usual. But I think it has to be done. My schedule is much freer than his, so I can take on the additional work without trouble; and if I draw attention to it he's going to feel bad about putting it all on me, and his stress level is high enough without making it worse.

And yes, if I don't say anything, he probably won't notice. This is the guy who leaves empty boxes all over our pantry because it simply doesn't occur to him that taking the last can/bar/bottle/package means that the box no longer has a purpose.

So we'll see how this goes. In a way I'm kind of looking forward to it. There are lots of projects around the house that aren't getting done because they're our projects and we often find better things to do than put up shelves or organize old files; but if it's just me who's responsible, these things are more likely to be done because I'm less tolerant of clutter than he is and the sense of ownership isn't diffused. So maybe by Christmas we'll have a cleaner, more functional house. Or maybe we'll have the same house and two more frazzled people in it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mildly down, and thinking about childhood and presents and genius and crusades and what it might take to get someone like me (or, more specifically, someone like Eric) to really devote one hundred percent to a single cause. While I spin and listen to music and think about writing and quilting. More later, maybe.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Chocolate, the sovereign specific

I mentioned to Eric in an e-mail that I was having a particularly bad bout of PMS (pre- and peri-) this time around. He said he was going to the grocery store for things we needed, like milk and toilet paper. When I got home, two Symphony bars were waiting for me by the door.

To be honest pure chocolate might have been better as a cure, but it was so sweet that he'd gotten my self-professed favorite--and not the stuff that we both like--that my mood was lifted anyhow. "One of the few ways in which you're a typical woman," he said, watching me break open a bar.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Let us treat you to four cell phones

Eric told me last night over dinner that he'd transferred money from his account to our shared one, and to remind him to switch his direct deposit, because we only had fifteen dollars in the shared account.

"Fifteen dollars??" I screeched.

He looked at me as if it was no big deal. "Yeah. I was checking for my FAFSA. But now there's more, because I transferred some."

"We need to go over our finances," I said.

Accordingly, after dinner, we did. There were several last-minute charges that we'd made for the trip--I'm still not used to the idea of Eric using his bank card as a credit card and therefore rendering me unable to track the account in the checkbook--and there were also four charges made on the Tuesday we were in the Dominican Republic. Three to one cell phone company, and one to another. "Our account is compromised," Eric said, and called up the Visa number on the card and cancelled both our bank cards. (Later we realized that since I don't use mine except to get cash, and I can't remember my PIN so I don't even do that, it was almost certainly his card that was compromised.) Then, for good measure, we checked our credit cards, but there's been no untoward activity on those.

We kept our credit cards in the room safe while we were in the DR, and the only times we used money since that shopping trip last Saturday was to buy tourist cards to get into the DR, tip the maid, and buy dinner on Sunday, all with cash. My conjecture is that we ran into an unscrupulous cashier sometime on Saturday, maybe even one who overheard us talking about being out of the country. But I guess that's not the point. We're lucky that it was a bank card, and therefore the charges stopped once they used up the money in the account, and also lucky that we didn't have as much in there as we normally do. Eric transferred the money he'd put in the account, plus that fifteen dollars, right back out again, and he's going to the bank today to dispute the charges.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hello from the me with brown-lightbrown-darkbrown-red-darkbrown-brown shoulders

We're back. We're glad to be back. The vacation was too long, which means it was a failure, but we do know that we can be together continually for a week with not enough to do and not turn on each other, so I think the marriage continues to be a success (she says from the vantage of two and a half months).

There are bad doings related to the mothers. My garden is a mess. We have bills and the threat of gas being shut off (because they haven't taken a physical reading in a year, though if they'd, you know, knocked sometime in the past two months Eric would have let them in). We have a lot of work to do.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

TTFN

Honeymoon tomorrow. Shopping and lots of tomato processing today. Fiber and The Sims with Michelle yesterday, as well as the discovery my sunflowers are peeking out from behind the garage. Sheesh. Eric is panicked about the traveling, we're packing half our pantry, and I'm positive I'm going to forget the toothpaste. Bah. Tomorrow we will be in the Caribbean, and that's all that really matters.

Friday, August 03, 2007

It burns.

I saw this on a site just now: "Bees, mosquito's and ants, oh my!"

It's an article title. The mind boggles. I tried to comment, to say "How could you possibly, in any way, in any sense on this good green world we call home, think that that apostrophe belonged there? How?" but it didn't let me without registering, so I shall nurse my pain in quiet. I mean, after I hit "Publish Post."

I bet they have face painting

We went to the mall last night to buy me a bathing suit. (Another bathing suit, that is. I feel that being on a beach for a week warrants more than one, and maybe even a bathing suit that--oh shock--my mother didn't pick out. I have never bought a bathing suit for myself before because Mom sends me one every once in a while and they fit, so I keep them.) As pulled up, we noticed a security cart behind us. Then, ahead of us, a group of fifteen or twenty men, black, in their twenties or late teens, mostly wearing blue or white shirts. Trailing them were two more security people. "This doesn't look good," I observed as we stopped at a stop sign.

"No," Eric agreed as the group of men flowed into the street. "And they know they're being tailed."

"Still messing up traffic, though," I said.

"Yeah." Several seconds later enough of them had moved out of the street that we could go. "Part of me wants to stay and see what happens, and another part wants to stay away."

We drove on, speculating about why the men were there. "They probably were a gang," Eric said. "Men that age don't congregate in groups that big."

"But what were they doing at the mall?" I said. "Shopping for their mommas' birthdays? What do gangs do, anyway? Maybe they have ice cream socials. Or chicken bakes."

"Yeah, and they're bring-your-own-gun."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cooking and traveling and credit, oh my

Hello, August. I can't say I didn't see you coming; in fact, you've been awfully slow. Is it because you contain my honeymoon? That might be it. Just three days left, since today's mainly over and we leave at o-dark-thirty on Sunday. And then we get there at 10:15 and the room won't be ready until 3. The brochure advises bringing a bathing suit in carryon luggage.

I have tried two of M's cucumber recipes, and they were delicious. I fully expect the cucumber-carrot coleslaw to be equally so but I may or may not have time to make it before we leave. Since we'll be gone a week, a lot of stuff is with an eye to that week--cooking, laundry, bills. Tomorrow we go for haircuts (or Eric does; now I'm ambivalent) and my bathing suit, and maybe some snacks since I'm a little afraid there won't be enough to suit either of our palates.

I'm currently on the phone with my customer service for my main card. (What time is it in India?) He keeps saying, "Allow me a moment, ma'am." I find that charming. The trying to sell me a credit monitoring system three times, not so much so. But at least I know this is really my credit card company I'm dealing with.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tomorrow's cucumbers will eat us all

Tomorrow we go to Jungle Jim's! And the KitchenAid sale. And maybe to see Phoebe's baby, if she's up for it and isn't annoyed that I wrote at the last minute. It's going to be a lot of driving…with rising gas prices, possibly the closest we'll get to a road trip until we move.

Eric went to the doctor and talked about the problems he's having, and has a new prescription and some advice that sounds good to me, including, "Exercise more." So now we both have a reason to get out and walk in the evenings. And in nine days we'll be flying somewhere that will have lots of opportunity for exercise in the form of swimming.

The mothers asked for a list of what they should do at our house while we're gone. "Take in the mail," Eric said.

"Water the plants?" Edith said.

"Nah, I'll water before we go," I said, and I think shocked her. When they were gone I was instructed to water every other day. But I've only got four plants indoors, two desert plants and two shade plants, and the outdoors ones have mostly been trained not to expect me to water them. I admit the papyrus will need to be good and soaked.

I will need them to pick produce in the garden. Yesterday I got a good number of Taxi tomatoes and cherries and one Brandywine, plus four enormous cucumbers that I'd missed because I let them run free through the garden. "They're baseball bats!" Eric said. "They're enormous!" We dropped off most of my harvest with the mothers. We have a ridiculous number of cucumbers in the fridge already, so I'm going to try to be more creative with cucumber salads and such. I'm sure Edith knows to hunt for vegetables, but I'll ask her to be careful anyway, or I'll come home to find the cucumbers have taken over my garden and are holding the tomatoes hostage.

Speaking of plants, I have a polkadot plant on my desk at work with red and white and pink shoots. The white and pink haven't changed much since I bought it but the red has shot upward, doubling its height. I don't know if that means it's grown or if it needs more light than the others. I don't sit near a window, so I was figuring this to be a gamble anyway. Maybe I should bring in a hosta.

I have done pretty much nothing in the crafting and writing areas. I do have an appointment today to meet a friend at Joann to buy fabric so that I can teach her to make a tree skirt. Since I only ever made one before, and it was a quick-and-dirty affair, this might be overweening, but I'm pretty sure it will turn out fine. She says "I want to be you when I grow up," and that's quite the incentive to do things right. Which I guess means I need to stop writing this so I can finish one last work task so that I can sketch out designs and figure out how much fabric we'll actually need.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On packing lunches when school is out.

The sky is darkening, and the sound of the Moody Blues is fading. They're playing at the Toledo Zoo, and since we live about half a block away, I got to hear a free partial concert. I spent some time outdoors walking and some weeding (and acknowledging that three cantaloupe plants is probably more than anyone needs, and three slicing cucumber plants certainly is). I'm more depressed than when I went out, which annoys me.

Eric's been off the past couple of weeks, and he's been (a) bored (b) listless because of a lack of a schedule (c) not eating or drinking enough (d) not sleeping well and (e) worrying because of all of the above. Thus he called me today, sounding extraordinarily down. When he's depressed, or highly anxious, he gets in a mood where he's low and self-pitying and won't listen to reason or experience (even his own), and it scares me a bit when he gets like that. It doesn't last, but as he says himself, what if someday it does? And why can't I do anything? I want to be able to do something.

I've been doing well at work these days (I'm not sure simple competence should have me feeling so chipper, but it does) and I suggested that I could start coming home for lunch, at least for the week and a half he's still got off. After that is the honeymoon and after that school starts, at least partially, and he should be fine. Until then, I think I'm either taking longer lunches than usual, or packing lunches for Eric to eat. When he's actually working he does it himself, but part of the problem is that he doesn't think about food until his blood sugar is too low for him to be able to make good decisions. He worries me sometimes. He's a high-maintenance guy.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter, and no, no spoilers

Eric and I went to the Borders Harry Potter party last night, where we witnessed some excellent costumes, overheard a girl sell her number to a boy for $23, and waited two hours to get a book because we had not picked up a color-coded bracelet. The manager shouted "Want to know the ending?" and got a round of "No!" back, and Eric and I discussed whether the manager would leave the store alive if he went through with this threat while reading the other books we were picking up while waiting. ($80 at the bookstore. It's a good thing it's not closer.)

This morning we read it, together, lying on the spare bed mostly. I read faster than he does. It was a lot of fun being able to react to text with someone, even if I had to hold my reactions a few seconds until he caught up to the place I wanted to gasp or laugh or exclaim at. It was a very good book, and satisfying in its tying up of loose ends. We consulted previous books four or five times about things that had been mentioned coming back. My head hurts now, but it was worth it. And now I can go and read the Internet and other media without fear.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Much better

Much better mood today. The movie was good, very good considering how much they had to condense and skip. Eric thinks the first half was very good and the second half fall apart…I agree the first half was better, but they did okay. Umbridge was excellent. The whole thing was definitely more stylized than the previous ones have been. In some places they overdid it. I also wonder what makes a screenwriter deviate from the book. I mean, in some places it makes sense, but when it's purely gratuitous, I don’t get it. As I said to Eric last night, maybe the problem is that the screenwriter is trying to produce the best movie he/she can and the audience is hoping to watch a movie that's like the book, and books aren't made to be like movies. Dunno.

We debated reasons for vegetarianism on the way to the movie theater and that made me feel better about my debating skills.

I'm anxiously awaiting more ripe tomatoes (I've had a ripe yellow, a ripe cherry, and now I'm waiting for a ripe red) so that I can use up some basil. I must think about other things to use it in--and dry some, too, of course. I wish we'd gotten those herb jars off the registry. (Well, we still can.)

I'm feeling very useful at work today. It's nice--though I've now mostly run out of things to do. On the other hand, I could get some writing done. Tonight we clean, make ice cream, and try pickling. (Sheesh, sounds like we're getting ready to entertain a pregnant woman.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Harry Potter and the High Expectations

We're going to see the Harry Potter movie tonight. Truth to tell, I'm not so eager about it that I would go see it the first night if it weren't for Eric. I don't think there's been any movie I was so fired up about as all that. And the timing means I need to cook dinner for the both of us (something that very rarely happens) and afterwards I go straight to bed and get up for work a little sooner than I'd really like.

But no more complaining. We're going to see Harry Potter! Right? No matter that Eric has been complaining that 90% of the book will be cut out (though this is the book that I thought could most use some cutting, really). Or that I barely remember the fourth one. Why am I so curmudgeonly about this? Sheesh. It may be because we were going to go with my friend at work and her new husband (we got married the weekend before they did) and she wasn't able to make it. Bah. I was saying before that I need to get out more. A movie is a good start. Plus, I love movie popcorn.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Not a true discontent

I'm sitting here as the minutes tick away to bedtime, caught by indecision and frustration. I can't make a CD backup of my files because my computer can't find a component of the CD burning software and I don't know where the CD of the software is. I should be either writing or spinning, and I could do either, but I can't decide which so I'm just going through old files and things instead. My first tomato of the summer was bland. There are ants in my kitchen. Grr.

I've been having problems with my right arm for too long now. It actually started in my last job, and is now carrying over into the new one. I'm wearing my brace but it doesn't help. I have an ergonomic keyboard but it doesn't help. I'm too young to be having this kind of problem...but I really can't say that for much longer. And it doesn't help that all my hobbies require the use of my hands. I can't be one of those people who are content to watch TV or go shopping, no.

James says he might have to cancel his exploratory surgery because his insurance won't cover it. I need to go see an optometrist because my eyes are hurting at work. (Maybe I just need a vacation from work. The honeymoon's in four weeks. I shouldn't be using my hands for much except putting on sunscreen.)

We planned to put together wedding albums for our parents, but we aren't doing it and I don't know where to go to get prints since we refuse to go to Walmart. I need to attend to something on the garden blog, and I haven't been posting here as much as I'd like. There are a lot of things we're not doing because our schedules don't mesh, and that separation brings out our laziness. Though Eric did go to Andersons today for produce and pickling supplies. All I've done is plant some seeds and do some dishes. I guess that's something.

I'm really not in that bad a mood...just thinking, and tending towards dissatisfied since I feel I haven't gotten anything done. But then, continuing to write down all the piddly things that discontent me doesn't get much done, does it? I still have a little time before I need to brush my teeth.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The weekend outlook

4,355 words today, almost all in my notebook because my hands and eyes hurt too much to type.

Tomorrow I go to Put-In-Bay with ten seventh- and eighth-graders and no vegetarian lunch, because this is the Midwest and nobody thinks of such a thing.

Sunday I go to the old mill and demonstrate knitting and spinning.

4,355 words. I don't think I've written that much this year so far altogether.

That is all.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Oh, brother

I slept eleven hours yesterday. What a great holiday. I didn't see any fireworks, other than a few scattered sparks of red from an upstairs window, but I harvested my first two cucumbers from the garden for dinner, and watered in the dusk, and sat on my back porch in the dark and watched the fireflies softly glowing. I didn't see fireflies until I was thirteen years old, and they're something I would like my kids to see growing up.

Today, I'm at work, relatively busy but in pain. I don't know what's wrong with my desk setup, but something evidently is. I told Eric last night that I'd been having several days of nausea-inducing headaches, and he suggested I go see the optometrist since it gets better when I'm out for a walk or working in the garden, but this morning my arms and elbow were hurting bad enough that my stomach was unhappy again though my eyes and head were fine. I had a desk job for three years before I moved up here and never had any problems; what gives?

I also spoke to my brother on his birthday, Tuesday ("I never thought I'd be this old," he said. Young whippersnapper!), and he says that he may have to cancel his second exploratory surgery because his COBRA won't treat him for a pre-existing condition. However he's got a job prospect and once he got a new insurance apparently his doctor could fix it to make it a non-pre-existing condition. I don't understand this but as long as it works, I'll not question it.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

On a Tuesday afternoon

I have achieved empty trashcan! I have also acheived boredom. That hasn't been hard the past several days, but today was especially easy because half of the working force is either off or taking the afternoon off.

To pass the time, I'm transferring automatic withdrawals from my old checking account to the new. Today I need to head to the bank, to deposit my paycheck (real check because I also switched my direct deposit, over the critical period apparently) and a check from my parents to cover the last of the wedding costs. And then to Home Depot to get dirt and mulch for the yard. Figures I'm dressed especially nicely today.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Trash

So I have this trash can at work. Actually I don't, it's a box with a plastic bag lining in it. My first day here I sat down to my desk and had no trash can--I assume the last person to sit here took it with her--and the nice cleaning lady who welcomed me to the company brought this box for me. It's a fine trash can. Wider than an actual trash can, in fact, so when I drop things blindly off the edge of my desk I have a better chance of scoring points by getting them into the container.

But recently we switched cleaning companies. I don't know why. All I know is that for the last ten days, my trash has not been emptied. People around me, with proper trash receptables, their trash is emptied every day. Mine piles up, and even with the nice wide top I can't drop things blind because they will inevitably bounce off. I have e-mailed the facilities person about this twice. He wrote back, "I'll let them know," the once, and there was nothing.

Today, my boss is ordering me an actual trash can, in the hope that this will help. (I only mentioned the problem to him once, the second or third day, and only because he noticed when I stuck my head into his office to see if his trash had also been missed and I was wrong in feeling persecuted. I wasn't.) Maybe now the new cleaning staff will be able to see it. If not, I will have to start thinking up more creative solutions.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Not exactly negative entropy, but we'll take what we can get

This makes me curiously happy. I've been thinking about environmental and economic collapse too much lately.

Babysitting

Yay for the storm last night. That's a smaller yay on average than it would be, since it blew over four of my tomato stakes and also a couple of supports in the Hutterite bean patch (I thought they didn't need support, but some of them seem to, so I stuck a leftover stake or two in there). My pants are now dirty from righting them while they were wet with dew and splashed with mud, but oh well--I sit behind a desk most of the day anyway.

I spent most of yesterday babysitting my niece, Addie, at her house. (Seems weird to say that rather than "her parents' house," but it's hers, too.) First alone, since Eric had school, and then when he got there he took over. Which was fine--I enjoyed her very much, but she wanted to be held constantly and as I told him, I was getting a crick in my spine from holding her and walking around (she wanted that, too; just being held wasn't enough). He told me, "You look prettier with a baby." He was the one to feed her, which put her to sleep, and though we agreed we'd get a different sort of rocking chair when we have a baby (theirs was uncomfortable), he hardly wanted to let her go for me to put in the crib. Diagnosis: severe baby-craziness.

Afterward we talked about what we'd do for daycare once we had one of our own--Addie's parents work different shifts, so someone's always home to take care of her, except when one of them has to work late like last night. Eric seemed pretty unhappy at the prospect of daycare. I'm not, as much, but I'd be happy not to have to do it if that were possible. We could potentially impose on Addie's parents, maybe in exchange for weekend care or money or something else, or some similar arrangement, but we don't have any such convenient schedule as they do; to keep our kid at home before school age hits, one of us would have to quit or work from home. And, at least currently, I make almost fifty percent more than he does (and more next year because of a policy change at work that increases the minimum pay in my bracket to more than my current salary), so it wouldn't be me--unless I could provide some of the missing income by working at home. We know Eric could, by tutoring and such. Me? No such employable skills, since nobody will pay enough for a quilt to make it worthwhile.

In other news, my office plant is slowly dying, probably because it doesn't get any natural light. Sigh. Maybe I'll get an ivy. Or a mint. They grow in anything, right? (If nothing else, I could get some bindweed. I'm sure that would grow here. And the flowers are supposed to be fairly pretty.)

Oh, and I read Jen's post on making rice milk, which prompted me to look up making soy milk. Soy beans are supposed to be easy to grow…maybe I should look into it. I'd have to convince Eric to drink it first, though.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Dinner from the garden

I was good and did a little work in the garden--tied up the tomatoes (who knew I had so many green tomatoes down there?), weeded, picked the last of the peas. And my dinner. This is what I walked in the house with:

The basil tops came with me because I noticed the plants were trying to flower. (Time for more pesto before that happens, I think. What else can I use basil in, in big quantities?) Those peas are the last of the peas. (The box is fruit strips from Target--kind of expensive per calorie, but organic, healthy, and very good.) The two carrots I pulled to see how big they were, and the zucchini is my first of the summer. The onions came in because, well, the rest of dinner was from the garden, so they might as well be too.

I sliced the zucchini thinly and chopped the rest. (Notice my nice new bamboo cutting board? Belated wedding gift from Phoebe. I love it with a fiercely burning love.) The onions went into hot olive oil, then the zucchini, then the green onions and basil. Some salt and pepper, not too much salt because of my bad experience with the Swiss chard.

It actually made more food than this; I was hungry, and I forgot to take a picture right away. The zucchini was about six ounces, incidentally. There are two more, not quite ready, but very close. Next time I might try shredding them with potatoes and carrots and making veggie pancakes. Or breading and frying them. The Gold Rush zucchini apparently isn't as prolific as some zucchini types, but the taste is good and it's certainly showing a willingness to supply me with all the zucchini I care to eat, so I'd better be thinking about recipes.

Recap, of sorts

No posts for a week, huh? Bad me. That's the problem with more than one blog, plus worknotes. Possibly also with having someone at home to talk things over with. Today, we have been married for a month, legally. I don't feel married. I don't really feel unmarried either.

We have our joint checking account now, and we're both slowly switching over automatic deposits and withdrawals. I'm feeling a little reluctant to do so--partly because it requires effort and I'm lazy, partly because I've never shared an account before (except with my parents when I was very young, which doesn't count). I think it's a good thing, but still, it's different.

We talked about potential middle names for a daughter over the weekend. (No, we have no concrete reason for discussing this, but doesn't every non-childfree-by-choice couple do it?) He likes Amethyst a lot, and we tried to decide if we could get away with that--certainly more easily than as a first name, but still. I'm in favor of Trouble, personally.

I finished my quilt at 12:30 Saturday morning, and went to the baby shower in Dayton at 12 PM the same day. One of my old coworkers crochets, and she said to me at some point, "I stayed up until midnight working on my baby afghan for today." I said, "I stayed up until 12:30." She said, "Well, I finished at 10 this morning," and I said, "You win." The quilt was well received--so was the afghan--and I maintain my record of baby quilts that look completely unlike the rest of the nursery, even when I know the theme. Also there was pomegranate punch, pomegranate juice mixed with Sprite, and it was very good.

I should have done a bunch of gardening stuff over the weekend and didn't, but luckily plants know how to grow without me. I should have two zucchini to harvest, plus the last of the peas and--still--a whole bunch of lettuce. (I knew half a row would be enough. We don't eat enough salad.) Marigolds and nasturtiums (so pretty! so gangly!) are blooming all over the garden, which is nice--also one potato flower. Eric said, "I hadn't realized potatoes have flowers. I guess I should have, since they're plants and plants flower." A lot of this gardening stuff is going to surprise him. I can't wait for the first cucumber to give to him--not to mention the first tomato to keep for me.

Now it's a new week and I have some cleaning to do, a few last thank-you notes to send out (yes, I know it's been a month), some vegetables to eat, and some time to think about what comes next. It's nice.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mishmash

This is what my side yard currently looks like:

I'm killing the grass to put in an herb (and greens) garden this fall/next spring. I tried clear plastic in the vegetables garden and it didn't work, but I did it in the fall; I'm thinking the opaque plastic in early summer will be much better, especially since I bought this stuff under the label "landscaping plastic." Unless it's meant to work like the stupid landscaping fabric the previous owners put all over my yard, but whatever. For the next few months, I'll be growing plastic in my yard.

I have four basil plants (aside from the globe basil that I planted with the tomatoes pretty much to help the tomatoes grow and to see what they look like--they're quite pretty, actually) and tonight I made homemade pesto with my pasta for dinner. It was wonderful. Next time I'll use less parmesan and slightly less garlic than the recipe (straight out of my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook) called for, but it was fantastic anyway. Eric was slightly repelled by the bright neon green that it became, but I loved it. I'm definitely doing this again. And soon, because I have another serving in the fridge and my plants hardly look like I took any leaves at all.

I'm behind on the quilt I'm making for Phoebe's baby shower. This is partly because we had a baptism to attend today (we weren't told about it until late last night, or at least I wasn't told and if Eric was he forgot) and partly because we did a lot of shopping and then napping yesterday. Still, behind. At least I've gotten the worst parts over with.

James's exploratory surgery was Thursday. It was inconclusive. Apparently they did an EU endoscopy and it told them that James's pancreas is damaged and inflamed (you think?) and to get any real information they'll have to go in through the duodenum. So he'll be doing that in a few weeks.

The mothers are going to Germany for a few weeks and we've been tasked with feeding the fish, watering the plants, and paying the bills. Eric's sister is taking the dogs, because they don't want to leave the dogs alone all day and night for three weeks and they're well aware that I don't allow dogs in my house. I feel a little bad about it, but not a lot, frankly. They know about my allergies and that I don't want dog hair and spittle and urine all over my floors and furniture, and in fact neither does Eric. He kind of wants a dog, but he definitely doesn't want to have to clean up after one.

Oh, and they gave me a flat-screen monitor! For my birthday. They never gave me a present then (in April) and I didn't think much of it, but apparently they had planned to give me this but had never actually gone out and purchased it. It's partly because Brenda had once mentioned that when she was done transferring the information from her old computer to her new one, she might give me her old flat-screen monitor, since both had it; but she never did. I didn't worry about it, but apparently she did. It pleases me all the more because a flat-screen monitor was on my list of things I covet but don't rate above having that money in savings.

This week, we're finishing the thank-you notes (I'm working on them now, and typing this to rest my writing hand), calling for quotes on the driveway, and cleaning the windows. Did I mention my family wrote all over my windows with a paint pen? Yeah. A girl came to our house the other night asking for donations to TEENS of the Future or something and commented on it, giggling. Oh, and finish the quilt.