Sunday, August 21, 2011

Swimming Holes and Mathematical Formulas

Look what I found.

Do you remember when you were younger hiking through the woods or on trails to find that summer swimming hole? It was cooler and there were less annoying people than the ones at the community pool, for sure.

I couldn't sleep yesterday. I mean, I got a small nap early in the morning and woke up around 10am. The husband asked me if I wanted to go ride bikes with them up at Red Top Mountain. I thought for a while and said I would, but I'd prefer to walk. So we made picnic lunches, grabbed our bikes and my camera and headed out. Both the lake near my house and the park have "designated beaches". They are always too full of people for me to ever feel comfortable. So in my walk I found the above inlet. We're going there next weekend early in the morning.

The nice thing is it tired me out enough to sleep when we got back home around 3pm. Oh the circadian rhythms of the graveyard shift.

I made about three yards of bias binding out of black silk. It turns out the sleeves I drafted do NOT look right. Too much poof. I'll go back to the hard way using this mathematical formula later. For now I'm just going to make it a tank. No pictures as of yet, but its a beautiful woven polkadot pattern.

(I call these two photos "Summer Freckles")

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Comfort Food

Wilson's Soul Food Inc. 19

You know, I'm not sure when the term 'comfort food' became a popular culture buzzword. I remember it popping up in the mid 90's, around the time I was in high school. In my part of the world "soul food" is often interchangeable. I personally love this kind of food in all its forms, and the repertoire that I pull from is an odd amalgam of regional cuisine and worldly influence.

So what makes me bring this up? Well, poor Simon missed his first week of school due to a case of strep-throat. A nasty one at that. I've had a heck of a time getting him to eat anything and finally fell back on an old favorite, Cream of Wheat. Don't say yuck just yet, because this is my Mom's Cream of Wheat recipe and its converted quite a number of people. I'll share it with you, but also warn you there are no exact measurements.

(Not my actual recipe, but a picture I found. Omit the chocolate and add cinnamon and peaches I bet it would be good too!)

Chocolate Cream of Wheat
1) Follow the instructions on the box. Do not use instant! Use the kind you have to cook and use milk instead of water. If you are using whole milk you can do 50/50 on milk and water and it still turns out right.
2) Once the milk is warm but not hot add coco powder. This will depend on how much you are making. I use anywhere from 1-3 heaping teaspoons.
3) Add sugar or natural sweetener to taste. I'll use a combo between stevia and table sugar (I'm allergic to agave).
4)Use a whisk to stir while you bring it slowly to a boil and then add your cream of wheat. Keep stirring so the milk doesn't scald.
5) Once its cooked and has thickened, take the pan off the heat and keep stirring for a little bit while you add a teaspoon of vanilla flavoring.
6) Pour into dishes and let it cool. It will be like a really nutritious pudding.

Simon isn't a huge fan of chocolate so you can do this and omit the cocoa powder, too. Today I added some fresh blueberries and a small drizzle of sorghum molasses. Both of which were from a local farm.

Oh yes, that's the other news! One of the benefits of living in the "Conservative South" is there is a huge variety of produce and livestock grown here. One of the interesting side effects of all the 'tainted food' scares has been the small towns having a local farmers markets. I usually stop at the one in Kennesaw on the way home Tuesday mornings. But there are several others to choose one during the week. I got into a discussion with a lovely couple that run a small farm called "Spreading Oak" and found out they do farm shares! They also sell grass fed beef and free range eggs*. So I've signed up and paid for my portion the Autumn season and they said they'd also let me know when the next cow will be sacrificed for food. I told them I'd like to pre-order some more choice cuts (they are always the first to go as the local butcher shops buy from them too).

I intend to take the kids out there in the near future so they can have an understanding of where food comes from. They already get it, for the most part. Several of my in-laws still have farms further outside the city.

In sewing news I have a black silk Sorbetto type blouse cut out, with sleeves! And I want to sew up the short knit dress that was cut out ages ago. Not much time for sewing as this was a long work week, Simon's been sick, and I've been trying to get the household in order. I didn't get to bed until about 4pm yesterday because I got a call from Mom's roommate saying she was awake and asking for me around 2pm. Dad and I both went over to see her. Her mind is slipping further and further out of time and place when she is awake. She couldn't remember that her body doesn't work right anymore. Kept saying she wanted to get up and walk to the bathroom and we had to explain she hasn't been able to walk for years now. That was hard. I would have to gently remind her that I've been married for almost 11 years and how old Simon and Felicity are now and... sometimes I just kind of went with it.

If you've made it this far through my ramblings, thank you. There might be more posts like this but I'll try to add something of usefulness or interest as well. I feel a post about the sewing machine coming on, as its invention is reaching a milestone anniversary. And well, I'm a nerd about the history of science and tech.

* About Free Range Eggs: I have always bought free range and/or vegetarian fed eggs even when our food budget was so tight we probably could have gone on food stamps. Honestly it had very little to do with ethics and everything to do with taste. They just _taste_ better. I think this comes from the fact that even when we lived in pretty urban areas Mom had chickens. Up until moving to Georgia we ALWAYS had fresh eggs. Always. I can't stand them any other way.

Monday, August 15, 2011

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Blog with... SCIENCE!

Microbiology, to be exact. MIT is researching a very promising new drug called DRACO. It targets viruses. It could do for us what penicillin did for the 20th century. It almost seems to good to be true.

Go, do it. RIGHT NOW. Everyone needs more science.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

In Which I Wear Horizontal Stripes.

SO this is what I would have been sporting had I made it to Oona's Birthday Bash! (I'd probably had snagged some moonshine from the brother-in-law's still while I was at it.)

I did it! I finished a dress! This is from the July 2011 BurdaStyle magazine and you can get the pattern here. To me it looked like the perfect summer dress for the days that make me scream "I'm MELTING I'M MELTING!!". Not quite so bad as Arizona, but bleh.

I'm really proud of how the binding detail on the front slit turned out. Click to embiggen!

I wish I had taken some pictures of the modification process. I might have but I don't know where they got off to. So the list of mods are:

1) Three inches to the bust. If this didn't have the giant slit down the front I would have added five. This also added inches to the waistline and length in the front.
2) Rounded shoulder/upper back adjustment. I work a computer job, forward shoulders are a work hazard.
3) Length and width in the back to accommodate my bodacious booty.
4) Omitted the pockets. The thing I want to put in my pocket most often is keys and phone. Pockets on these flimsy materials really just don't seem to work for something that heavy/bulky.

And this was all from a Burda size 44. And this is also my wearable muslin. I used fabric that came from Mom's stash eons ago. I'm sure its at least 20 years old. My only gripe is I put the elastic in a little too low for my taste and oh, don't mind the not-quite-matching stripes. This was not an easy one to match and I've never done it before. Ooops.

Mom Update: She's really not doing well at all. Any of the times I've gone to visit she's been sleeping and unable to be roused. The nurses tell me she has periods of being awake and talking, but somehow I keep missing them.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Late To The Party

I have some sorta-good-news. And also some self-indulgent whining, and then wine-ing. As you can tell by the above picture, I have not had much in the way of good rest lately. Look at those raccoon eyes!

The good news is Mamma Katza apparently found out about Oona's Birthday Party and decided to wake-up just in time! In fact she demanded that the nurse call me at 3:30 in the morning. I work nights, so not really unreasonable. Except that I was in a pain medicine induced sleep because apparently fighting off bears isn't what causes my back to have a relapse. Nooooo.

No. It was picking a lid to the sauce pan off the floor that did it. *Insert screaming here*

But, lets focus on the fact that Momma Katza is awake, and she still knows my name! Never-mind the fact that she can no longer feed herself and that she thinks she's in Scandinavia. That's not important. What's important is that her grand babies are no longer bawling their eyes out cause Grandmama Katza doesn't know who they are. Thank Goodness for small favors.

So here at Casa de Katza we're taking it one day at a time. I DID try to finish sewing up a red sparkly dress for the party (it was one of the three I had cut out a couple weeks ago). Halfway through I realized I'd only cut out one half of the skirt portion. *HEADDESK* So I decided to work on #3, an outrageously skimpy number out of STRIPED fabric. Oona would be proud of me. Its pretty wild for me. I just need to make some more self-bias-binding and i'll be ready to roll.

I am also going to jump in on the Rooibos Sew-a-Long since I had JUST bought some fabric for that dress when it was announced. AND I'm going to work on the RTW Tailoring one from ages ago(cropped jacket), going with my original plan of using black velvet, since it will match my Rooibos. Ya know, once that mythical cold weather gets here.

I also want to make several Sorbettos. Its just going to be a Colette couple of months around here. And while all that's being planned, I've made doctor's appointments about my back to find out if we should just wait and see if it calms down or if I'm gonna need another MRI (and god-forbid, more surgery).

So, Oona, I raise a glass of wine to toast the end of your birthday week. I'm glad it was a great one!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Because I Promised

Here are some of the photos I took on our trip up to the Appalachians. This was about an hour and a half drive north of where I live. The most memorable, besides the bear trashing our campsite, was the horseback ride through the back country. We got to see some of the old talc mining entrances, some beautiful waterfalls (I didn't get to take pictures, not taking an expensive camera on horseback, thanks), and then we were attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets. Simon's horse took the brunt of it and tried to panic and run down the mountain. But Simon kept his head and his horse under control long enough our guide got hold of the harness and calmed the horse down. I'm so proud of that boy. Both my children really. We also went swimming and Geocaching.

You can see my house from here.

Candid photo of my daughter.

Walking stick bug!
I love the look on my daughter's face. Its so... something. Makes me laugh.

Brother and Sister. This is about their normal pose.

Exploring the woods

Cool Snail!

Random leaves

Boy and his horse. :)

This was our guide, Alexis. (The woman, not the horse) She was a natural.

Not really any pictures of me as I was behind the camera. I haven't pushed myself so hard physically in a long time so its been several days in recovering. Of course, from one thing to another... Gonna go sit with my Mom for a couple hours before going to work. Take care ya'll!

Status Update: Mom

So for those of you that were around way back when you may remember Mom had a bad turn and was on hospice. She came off for a while and was doing fairly well once we found her a decent nursing home. She went back on hospice for pain management last Friday and the day after I got back from camping I got a call from the nursing home. Mom's taken another turn for the worse again. She is barely responding to anything. Sometimes in the morning she will be responsive enough to drink some water. Everything points to a pulmonary embolism. Per her wishes we are not doing anything other than keep her comfortable and there is no telling if she'll come round or not.

Mom has been in so much pain for so long that I'm praying she goes peacefully in her sleep. The doctor's said she could be like this for days and its most likely her heart that will give out.

So later I'll try to be funny and cheerful. Today, I don't really have the strength of will.