Monday, March 29, 2010

in memoriam. . . .

. . . a picture of the daffodils that gave their 'full measure' to the clutches of wee toddlers.

You can surely see the one that caught my eye also last year - here's the picture from last year to compare. Of course they would decapitate my favorite flower. . . . Perhaps this will spur the bulb on to greater efforts next year, however, and we'll see two [dare I hope for three?] of these beauties!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

one week till Easter

The daffodils are out - but I have no pictures! We have more this year than last, though. Daffodils, that is.

You may recall we had a daffodil planting party in the fall - here's the link and while I'm linking, here are some pictures from last year's daffodils. They look much the same this year - although somehow we seem to have only two varieties this year: bright yellow big ones and white with pale yellow slightly smaller ones. I'm thinking perhaps the more unusual ones I marvelled over last year are later bloomers?

Oh, but the really pretty one from last year has succumbed already to the depredations of a toddler, who snapped off that bloom and clutched it in her chubby fists to bring inside and float in a bowl of water.

We had a lot of toddlers here yesterday - six, counting one mostly out of toddler range and another, just entering it. I'm not used to this! It was fun though. Luther was hard to convince that these were not exquisite play toys for him - the wind-up running and shrieking tots were very hard for him to resist! He stole their toys and periodically knocked a few kids sprawling when he got a chance. . . . He's sleeping now, gathering his energy.

Meanwhile, I found my copy of a Haggadah for the Passover Seder - the last supper of Jesus. I was astonished to see that it was illustrated by Leonard Baskin! I grew up with a painting by him of some other guy - or was it by some other guy of him? I can't remember now. It's always been a favorite of mine. It's of a face, but as a child, i thought it was of two kids and a maypole.

Yeah. Don't ask. It was years, though, before I could see a face in the frame. I still love the picture.

Anyway - Baskin did the illustrations for a Passover Haggadah, and I have a copy. Here's a link to look inside.

Yes, we'll incorporate some Passover elements into our Easter celebrations this year. I'll never forget the first time I experienced a Jewish Seder. It drove home to me the profound connection between 'Judeo' and 'Christian', something both sides tend to forget.

Meanwhile, I've mostly finished Elizabeth Zimmerman's green sweater - mine's off-white - and I'm working on a white bathroom mat from Glampyra's yarn made from T-shirts! Very cool stuff. I have pictures.


*illustration above is from "My Objection to Being Stepped On" By Robert Frost. Wood engravings by Leonard Baskin, 1957

Thursday, March 11, 2010

lampshades, large and small

The king finally took matters into his own hands and brought home these lovely shades for the the lamp just off the kitchen. It has warmed the room up nicely. One day, perhaps we'll actually inhabit that room in some meaningful way!

It just hasn't happened yet.

I think it started with its name. I have read [by someone who unfortunately never gives footnote references] that Einstein said the most important thing anyone could do is to name something. I have not named this place. Mea culpa. I refused to call it a "nook". I hate that word. I hate it at least when fancifully applied to rooms as in "breakfast nook". Unfortunately, I never came up with an alternate name so by default it became the noddanook as in "It's not a nook!"

Whether or not Einstein ever opined on the importance of naming things, when you don't have a name for a place, it's hard to say something like "Let's dine in the __________."

And that's a shame, because it's a lovely spot. It's a lovely spot with an inviting table, which invites stuff to be placed on it as you walk in. On any given day - in addition to the standard issue candles and plants - it accumulates the mail, gloves, sweaters, hats, scarves, recycling, party-ware, boxes. . . . anything that comes in or goes out seems to spend a bit of time first on the table in the whatever-you-want-to-call-it-(except-a-nook!) room. There's nothing on it now, but that's only because we have houseguests. I cleaned it off yesterday, and found exactly what I listed above. Come growing season, you'll also find trowels, garden gloves, herb snips, seeds, pots, and garden notes and catalogues.

Anyway, the king was convinced that the reason we don't use it was because the light is too bright without shades. The only problem was that I really wanted these other shades [click on link to see], but couldn't see my way clear to paying - wait for it - $90 each. Wow! I think they went up! They were something like $68. . . . Well that settles it, then! $90?!!! This is a wee chandelier shade we're talking about, here, and I'd need six of them! That's just ridiculous. No more secret pinings for those MacKenzie Child's Courtly Checks checkered shades. Although I might improvise a small checkered border. . . .

The king was right - shades really warm the room up. We still need a name for this room, however. Any suggestions? Do I have to run a contest to get help, here? Probably. Contests seem to bring people out of the woodwork. But that's another conundrum. For now, I'll just ask. Any names?

Friday, March 5, 2010

the crunch-bone

As promised, here is the report on Luther's new favorite treat, the crunch-bone! It started with a birthday present: a cookbook and cookie cutter.

An egg, a cup each of crunchy peanut butter, wheat germ, water and 3 cups of King Arthur whole wheat flower, half cup of rolled oats, and a couple of tablespoons of oil and you've got a heavy dough! Roll out to however thick you want the biscuits and cut out your shapes. No, they don't rise, so put them as close together as you like. I baked at 300 for three-quarters of an hour. You'll want to leave them in the oven after you turn off the oven for another hour or so, so they get nice and hard. These are dog biscuits, after all! In fact, they look pretty much the same coming out of the oven as they did going in. Here they are, all finished, close up. In an open taste-test between these and his erstwhile favorite, the Beggin' Strip, Luther selected the crunch-bone.*

Insofar as the ingredients of the Beggin' Strips are:

ground wheat, corn gluten meal, wheat flour, ground yellow corn, water, sugar, glycerin, soybean meal, meat, hydrogenated starch hydrolysate, bacon fat (preserved with BHA), salt, phosphoric acid, sorbic acid (a preservative), calcium propionate (a preservative), natural and artificial smoke flavors, added color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 6), choline chloride

and the ingredients of the crunch-bone are:

whole wheat flour, wheat germ, oats, peanut butter, oil and water

I am delighted that Luther prefers the crunch-bone!

A dog of impeccable taste.

Having made the second batch last night, I would report that the main problem now is that it's rather difficult to make these things. He gets one whiff of the crunch-bone ingredients and I can hardly work for him being under foot, nosing under my arms and trying to steal the dough off the counter. I practically had to lock him in his lair to get the cookie trays into the oven! Oh, and I can not photograph him with the crunch-bone - it doesn't last long enough. There is no posing to be had, only crunching (and then licking up the crumbs). None of which is exactly photographable. . . .

By the way, to make up for the lack of preservatives, I keep out a few days worth of crunch-bones and freeze the rest, replenishing the supply from the freezer as needed.
*The test consisted of placing a Beggin' Strip in the palm of one hand, and a crunch-bone in the other. Both hands, next to each other, were outstretched to Luther. Luther smelled first the crunch-bone, then the Beggin' Strip, and then returned to the crunch-bone, which he carefully lifted with his teeth and carried back to his lair, to be devoured.