Saturday, July 31, 2010

Recipe Report - Peach and Blackberry Slaw

I like magazines; I subscribe to several and my mom gave me a gift subscription to Better Homes and Gardens, which is fun to peruse with all its home decorating ideas and recipes. I decided to try at least one idea from every issue, beginning with August 2010. I found a recipe on page 176 for something called "Peach and Blackberry Slaw" that sounded delicious--peaches, blackberries, cabbage and blue cheese--how could it not be delicious?

Well, I'm sorry to report that this recipe is a waste of perfectly good ingredients. DH wouldn't even spoon a bite of it onto his plate. Our son gamely let me dish out a large portion, and after a couple of bites declared, "This tastes like crap," and pushed his plate away. Folks, I slathered mine with blue cheese dressing and finished the entire plateful, but I've had years of experience being a professional food garbage disposal so that's not saying anything.

In trying to dissect what exactly was the matter with this recipe, DS and I concluded that the flavor of the cabbage overwhelmed everything else, there wasn't enough dressing and the dressing, having equal parts of wine vinegar and olive oil, was too acidic. The Wal-Mart peaches were mealy and the blackberries were sour, which, to be fair, is not the fault of Better Homes and Gardens. Also, coached by my darling husband, I shredded the cabbage until it would stick to the wall instead of making nice big photogenic chunks (see my picture above, and if you're still interested, compare it to the photo on page 136 of the magazine).

Am I discouraged? NO! I can't wait to see what's in the September issue!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Check out my Bobbin Lace!

I've been working diligently for the last few days on this bobbin lace yoke that I started a couple of years ago, and just finished it a few minutes ago, so I wanted to share it with you, along with this picture of what it looked like on the bolster. This is one of those projects that I just picked up every now and then, abandoning it for months at a time, but it's my summer to finish projects, and I'm on a roll. Reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin reinforced my desire to finish my current projects and release my imagination for new ones.

The next step is to buy some fabric to make a blouse for this lace to decorate. I love this color blue. The thread, by the way, is Aunt Lydia's. It was part of my friend Stephen Bowman's stash that he let me have when I was enrolled in his bobbin lace class. I ran out of the dark turquoise at one point and he was nice enough to lend me a ball of each color. Thanks, Stephen!

DH is also working hard to finish something--the last bedroom on the second floor of the sheriff's house, along with a tiny, but complete, bathroom and closet. I'll show you pictures when there's something to see. This is the room that used to be my sewing room, so I'm thinking hard about how to make a sewing space that won't look cluttered.

Summer is winding down for our son, and I still haven't figured out what shots he needs to get before school starts. The school system came up with some new requirements, and since our kids got their shots all over the place, it's hard to sort out what they had and didn't have. We're looking forward to getting our daughter back from Texas next week, along with her sweetheart, for some quality family time as the long days of summer come to an end. I hope you are all making the most of the bounty of this wonderful season.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Postage Stamp Quilt--Signed, Sealed and Delivered

And here it is--the quilt that I started in Tbilisi, Georgia, sitting in my first floor sewing room on a busy street, listening to passersby exclaim, "Ra, Bicho!" and the like. Sometimes our kids would be down there, too, helping to cut the little squares and laying out the blocks. I am so proud. The binding and quilting was done by Lisa Mowery, and it came out just beautifully. What a lot of blessings I am enjoying this week! Old floors and a finished quilt!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Floors

DH and I spent the weekend removing the paint-stained plywood that had served as the floor for the second-story hall and the sewing room since we moved here three years ago. We thought that, after taking out the plywood, we would cover the sub-floor with the hardwood we reclaimed a few weeks ago from the house that was being torn down next door (see June 9). Very early on, though, we discovered that what we thought was a sub-floor was actually a really great old floor. Even through several layers of peeling paint, we could tell it was a keeper. I was so excited to find a hundred-year-old floor already intact and just waiting to be sanded and refinished (okay, and patched in a couple of places) to become the floor of my dreams. In my mind's eye I could see the workers who built this house pounding the nails into that floor. I'm not sure why I'm not as enthusiastic about the workers in the 1970's who pounded the nails to lay the plywood, but somehow they don't inspire me the same way.

Now I feel really silly that we didn't take that plywood off when we first got here. Three years of trying to cover up ugliness that I saw every time I took the stairs anywhere. It wasn't that easy, though; I'm pretty sore from pulling out nails. And of course we chose two blistering hot days to do this work, so we were both sweating buckets, but every time I look at those six-inch planks I know it was worth it.

The pictures above are the "before" and the "during." Stay tuned for the "after."

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Fury, Final Chapter

You may remember a previous post in which I detailed the history of my very first car, a Plymouth Fury, sold to me when I was a college sophomore by my friend Jon Wesick, who was graduating and moving to Maryland. Jon is now a well-respected poet in California, but I digress. When I went overseas the first time I lent the car to a family member who abandoned it on the family farm, where it has sat since 1979. Buried to its axles in mud, DH and I tried twice this spring to remove it, but heavy rains, bad tires, a broken spring in the trunk, and a steep narrow incline up which it had to be towed kept the car right where it was, lodged in the woods behind an old Corvair and a Chevy truck.

I documented our first couple of visits in this blog on February 6. A few weeks later, our son came along and the two he-men wrestled off the four doors, the hood and the trunk lid, which brought about $40 at the recycling place. We had to leave the rest of the car. DH inflated three of the four tires but one was too far gone to hold air. On that visit we almost mired our own truck in a muddy patch just before the incline.

Today we returned with a replacement tire, and the third time's a charm, as the cliche goes. DH re-inflated all four tires and hooked the car up to a cable behind our red Dodge truck.

"I need you to steer the Fury," he said.

I looked doubtfully at the driver's seat of the old car. It was covered with dirt, leaves, pieces of rubber foam and who knows what else. I imagined mice, or worse, snakes, living under the floor. "I'll stand outside and steer it from there," I said.

"We have to go fast to get up that hill."

Glad to have a baseball cap to protect my scalp from whatever was hanging from the ceiling, I brushed off the seat and got in the car. I could feel a couple of inches of skin exposed on my back and prayed the snakes wouldn't notice and bite me there. It took all my strength to move the steering wheel. The car jerked into motion. I strained to keep it going in the same direction as the truck in front of me. We slid around in the muddy patch, but didn't get stuck, and started up the hill. I kept my eyes on the Dodge's red taillights and wrenched the steering wheel from left to right to avoid hitting any of the other junked cars in our family's scrap metal graveyard as we raced up the incline. Intent on keeping the car on track, I didn't notice until too late that we had made it up the hill and were headed back down. DH parked his truck and, without brakes, the Plymouth rolled right into it.

Fortunately there was no damage to the truck and we hugged happily and changed places to tow the car the rest of the way off the farm. We put it on a tow dolly at the end of the driveway and took it straight to the scrap metal place, where I proudly explained to the young guy on duty that it was my very first car. He looked me over and I imagined him thinking I didn't look to be in much better shape than my old car. After dropping the Fury near the scrap pile, we got back on the scales and discovered that the old car weighed 3,480 pounds even without all the pieces we had already removed.

As I looked at my old car one last time, I said, "I don't know what I was thinking when I bought this big heavy car." Then I saw the crunched-up left rear corner and remembered.

In the summer of 1978, five of us IU students took turns driving my car out to Fort Riley, Kansas for Army ROTC summer camp. One of us turned out to be a pretty terrible driver; while the rest of us slept, he pulled the car in front of a tractor-trailer. It could have been a deadly accident--both vehicles were going about 60 miles an hour. The metal over my left taillight folded like cake frosting, but the taillight still worked and no one was hurt. The tractor-trailer sustained considerable damage and had to be towed away. Maybe I didn't know what I was doing when I bought that big, heavy car, but my guardian angel was hard at work as usual.

I stayed in the truck while DH went inside to collect our money--a whopping $261. When he came back he said, "They asked if you were crying."

I laughed.

"I told them you were glad to see it go."