Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day Six Hundred and Eighty-Five

And that's Item #8 in the bag!  Well, in the tummies, if I'm going to be entirely accurate.

Last Christmas my mom gave my sister and me the two-volume hardcover anniversary edition of Julia Child's "The Art of French Cooking", which was responsible for this bit of deliciousness.  The Christmas before that, though, she gave us both another lovely cookbook called "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day."  She was making her own bread out of dough stored in a plastic crock in her refrigerator, and it looked easy and tasted delicious.

So, naturally, I forgot about it for an entire year.

Then last year at New Year's, my sister made focaccia bread from the same recipe book, and it turned out she'd been making fabulous bread of all sorts ever since she got the book.  I got inspired - I can do this!  I did a little research on wheat flour and bought a big plastic container and earmarked a few interesting recipes.  I was ready to go!

And forgot about it for another four months.

Finally, though, I got myself pulled together and made this focaccia bread, topped with olive oil, rosemary, and coarse kosher salt.  It was beyond delicious, and I have no idea why I promptly put the recipe book back in the cupboard and forgot to ever make it again.  Hmmm ... come to think of it, I've got a little time this afternoon ...

Day Six Hundred and Eighty-Four

Dude, seriously?  684 days?  That's a long time!


I wasn't sure how many of these I'd already posted, so I just grabbed everything that was in my "finished to give away" basket and took a picture.  Looking back through the blog, it looks like you've seen the green scarf, the brown scarf, and the stripy hat, but the blue hat and the baby booties are new.  Since taking this picture, I've also made two slightly goofy-looking hats with floppy brims which you will probably NOT see modeled, unless I end up in an appropriately goofy mood some time between now and when I mail them off to the "chemo caps" organization I found online.

This brings the total up to 12/20 - I should be able to make 8 more things in a little less than a year, I think!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day Six Hundred and Seventy-Eight

See, I told you I was going to get caught up!

Here are a few more for the Windows & Doors (and occasionally Stairs) project.

Stairs leading from High Street down to Pringle Park - from a trip with the kids to downtown Salem.


Stairs near City Hall, Salem, OR.

Stairs leading from the Frank Manor House (now part of the Lewis & Clark College campus) down to the reflecting pool.

Gated doorway to a second-floor apartment in downtown Salem, OR.

Looking through facing windows in the dovecote at Lewis & Clark College.

Side view of the Frank Manor House at Lewis & Clark.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day Six Hundred and Seventy-Seven

Whoops ... looks like I missed Day 600 too.

But I'm still here! I haven't forgotten about it! And if you're reading this (all three of you), then you haven't forgotten about it either.

I've done a few more things on the list since I last posted, and I'll catch up on those in the next few weeks. Here's one from back in March - not for St. Patrick's Day or anything, but because I had a lovely conversation with my grandparents and came home with a new recipe. The actual intent had been to fill in a few gaps on my grandmother's family tree, but Grandpa sat down and told me a few stories as well. He learned this recipe from his mother, whose parents had immigrated to Canada from Ireland before she was born.

Grandpa's Irish Stew

about 1 lb. stew beef (cubed lean steak or roast)
"a little bit of grease"
1 medium onion
1 lb. of carrots
salt, pepper, and powdered garlic
2 potatoes
1/4 to 1/3 c. flour, depending on how thick you like your stew

Braise beef in grease of your choice on low heat for at least one hour.  Don't overcook, but braise until tender, which might take up to half a day.  If you start the meat in a large pot, this is a one-dish recipe.

Chop carrots into 1" pieces, and dice onion finely.

Add carrots and onions to cooked meat, and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.

1 hour before soup is to be served, cube potatoes and add to pot.  Add some water so that the potatoes can cook - Grandpa didn't say how much, just "add water as you go."  Bring to a boil, and let it simmer for about an hour.  Mix 1/4 to 1/3 c. flour with enough water to make a thin paste.  Stir it into the stew.  When it boils and thickens, it is ready to serve.

I served it with my favorite homemade buttered biscuits (which of course have no calories at all) and a glass of cold milk.  I think the only way it could have felt more like childhood is if my sister was kicking me under the table!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day Five Hundred and Fifty-One

Whoops ... looks like I missed Day 500!  I didn't forget about the blog, but I did get a little stalled out.  Several of the items left on the list are quite large, or expensive, or not-bloody-likely (e.g., learn French).  I have gotten a few more done in the last two months, though, and here is one of them for your entertainment.  Item #73 (get all the paperwork off of the office floor) is finished!

Now, please understand that I could have taken the easy route through the truck-sized loophole I left for myself.  I could have gotten it off the floor by putting it willy-nilly into a cardboard box and carefully balancing the box on top of a bookshelf.  (I am guessing that my mother is probably remembering similar incidents in my childhood, in which a room was magically "cleaned" in five minutes, but the closet door was bulging suspiciously.)  I could have "gotten it off the floor" by buying a new file cabinet and putting things into folders with helpfully ambiguous labels like "Financial Stuff - before 2000" - "Financial Stuff - after 2000" - "Insurance Papers" - "Receipts" - "Medical" - "Important Documents" - "To Be Filed" - "Miscellaneous" - "?????"

I could have done that, but for once I decided to actually buckle down and do it right, in a more permanent way.  I am a little embarrassed to post this, but here is a picture of the rather dire corner that prompted me to put this item on the list in the first place:

Yes, it really looked that bad.  Every day.  All the time.  And I just walked around it because it made me tired to even THINK about dealing with it.  Not one of my finer moments.

In the process of repainting this room, a lot of the stuff in that corner got moved around, the papers were separated from the toys, and some of it was given to Goodwill.  (There were candle holders under there!  Who knew?!)  There were still a LOT of papers, though, and I took a deep breath and decided, in for a penny, in for a pound, and grabbed the overflowing box that had 16 years' worth of tax returns in it - every receipt, every utility bill from the years when I had a home office, every pay stub, ALL of it.  It was all organized, but much of it was no longer necessary.  So I put this excellent article by Liz Weston of MSN Money up on my computer screen for reference, turned on season two of "Monk" on Netflix Instant Viewing in the main window, made a pot of good strong tea, and set to work:

It wasn't pretty for a while.  But I did it.  All of my paperwork, both business and personal (old cards and letters, recital programs, etc.) now fits into the file drawer in my desk and the two-drawer filing cabinet next to it.  Everything else was recycled or shredded and will be hauled away tomorrow.  I put it all in a big bag, pictured below with a soda can next to it for scale.  (Also, you can see the new paint!  What do you think?)

So if you ever wondered what 15 years of paperwork looks like, now you know:

It looks like a cross between Jabba the Hutt and a coconut macaroon!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Day Four Hundred and Eighty-One

Item #82 is officially started!