Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How I hope to not fuck up this sweater

So, hi there.

You know I'm working on this sweater for Bubba. And that there have been a few obstacles cropping up between me and the Long Awaited Sweater Success. But you also know that these obstacles have not been of the "Finny Created" variety, but more of "The World Doesn't Want This Sweater To Happen in a Reasonable Period of Time" variety.

To put it plainly, I haven't done any horseshit knitting to cause these delays, which is my usual modus operandi, especially with projects this large.

Well, that was all fine and good until WHOOPSY I had some cocktails and proceeded to horseshit knit myself right through the shoulder decreases all the while self-convincing that the weirdness I was seeing was attributable to my blurred vision rather than a result of actual bad pattern following (ie. Horseshit Knitting in its finest and most pure form.)

Now, common sense would tell one that using blurred vision and drunkenness as an explanation for something looking wrong would be, in itself, nonsensical. However, it's sometimes hard to tell what makes sense and what doesn't when you're knee deep in your Xrd cocktail.

Ahem. So, sometimes I'm stupid.

I came to terms with just how precisely I fucked up the shoulder decreases on this sweater as I sat in the backyard on Sunday morning squinting through the bright morning light as the dark-as-hell navy yarn decreased and then increased and then decreased right and then left all over the mothereffin place as though the person who knit this portion was...well...not sober.

*Sigh*

Does anyone else know the soul-crushing hell that is frogging many inches of 220 stitch rounds of sweater - a portion of which includes unsalvageable decreases (and increases - ha!)?

Basically, it's amazing, and something of a miracle, that I didn't pitch a nutty and throw this sweater, random increases and all, into the composter. And then light it on fire. All the while screaming new and improved swears at the top of my lungs despite my lovely church-going neighbors lingering near the fence.

It's a miracle we're all alive (and not incarcerated) to read this post is all I'm saying.

When I collected myself and the remaining shreds of my sanity, I sat with my freshly-frogged-back-to-the-armpits sweater and gave it a stern talking to. To the tune of, "DON'T LET ME APPROACH YOU WITH A COCKTAIL IN MY HAND."

Or else, etc.

Then I set to making sure this sort of shit didn't happen again. And since I recently rekindled my love affair with the label maker, I decided to throw him into the mix, too.

Yes, the label maker is a dude. And I guess the sweater could be a dude since it's FOR a dude. So maybe I had a bizarre Yarn-Label-Crazy Girl three-way happening there, but that's a little too obscure and, frankly, bizarre for even my addled brain to contemplate.

ANYWAY.

I came up with a little strategy for avoiding future shoulder decrease disasters. Even though there are only two decrease stitches (four total - 2 front and 2 back) and all they do is swap at one point to allow you to shape the shoulders, which SHOULD be easy enough to remember if you're a normal person, I need a strategy. Because I'm not normal, I guess. Don't laugh at me.

Rude.

First, I printed instructions for the front and back of each of the four decreases onto individual labels:

To get the space I typed out the first stitch, hit print, DID NOT CUT THE LABEL, typed the second stitch, hit print and THEN cut the label. It took a few tries because I'm a tard.


Then I peeled the backing off, folded them in half ala a lift ticket around that wire wicket thingee and slid them onto the safety pins I already had marking the beginning and end of the sleeve stitches per the pattern's instructions.

I made sure that the pins hung the right direction so that they showed the stitch I was supposed to be doing WHEN I was supposed to be doing it. Like so:

I had to shade this photo with my sombrero it was so bright out there. Yeesh.


Then, when I was finished SSKing the front right sleeve, I turned the tag over. Like so:

I like it when labels tell me what to do.

Then I began the sad task of working through the rest of the wiggly frogged yarn with my new directions under a penalty of death should I manage to drink myself into horseshit knitting again.

So far and BY SOME MIRACLE I've managed to decrease the body stitches, turn the corner and begin decreasing the sleeve stitches without resuming the previous disaster of zigzagging decreases.

It's a thing of beauty, to be honest. Too bad I didn't take a photo of that. Whoops. I think in my head I want to wait until it's really finished before I take any photos of Success. Since those can be used against me in court when I end up with another pile of horseshit and no one to blame but myself.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Craft: along April - So good I made a video.

Dear Donk

This project has been a long time in the making. 

The "Properly Organize Your Baking Cabinet So That It's Not Just Full of Zippie Bags" project has been, anyway.

See, I have this one big cabinet dedicated to baking. It's a corner base cabinet with a double decker lazy susan and it holds a LOT of stuff. And when we redid the kitchen and replaced the Surprise! There's a Chimney Behind this Alleged Wall! with this cabinet, I knew exactly what I'd use it for.

And then I promptly went bulk baking supply shopping and filled that beautiful huge cabinet up with ugly inefficient zippie bags of My Precious. Plus some other things that aren't so My Precious, but somehow ended up there anyway. 

Hi Duncan Hines Moist (barf) Deluxe cake mix!
Hello, stupid Yehuda matzo that's 100 years old. 


You know, My Precious' like King Arthur flour (not 2 years old - promise), shredded coconut, chocolate chips, flaxseed, corn starch, oat bran, etc.

You know.

And, well, it was a damn shame. That's what I'd say to myself when I went in there for something. Which was often, given the amount of baking I do. 

Every time I'd be like, Woman! You can do better than this. You are a shameful loser.

I'm a tough crowd.

Anyway, I finally did something about it. And IT involved many bulk containers sourced from points across the globe (Ikea, my garage, the hardware store, places unknown, one of Bubba's old boxes of crap from his first apartment)...

From left to right: Ikea, OSH, garage (jars), Bubba's bachelor pad (old-timey jars), OSH.

...and my label maker.

Oh sweet label maker. I missed you so. 

Even though I had to run out and get you a replacement label cartridge after I'd gotten all into my groove and made 2.5 labels and started cursing your name because sonuvabitch I haven't used you in a year and NOW you decide to run out of labels?! 

But still. Wuv you! 

Anyway, I think you can all appreciate the work that goes into turning a cabinet from this:

To quote my MiL, "What happened in HERE?"
To this:

Oh my yes.
video

Oh my yes, it was so amazing that I even made a video for once in my Flip Video having life. What is my problem, again? Oh right, I have no idea.

And if you think I haven't opened that cabinet just to spin the shelves and admire the wonder of a zippee-bag free baking cabinet, you have no idea where you are on the blogosphere. Read up. THIS IS MY GIG, MAN.

My life is small.

Thanks for choosing this project, Donk. My baking will go on now.

xo
Finny

Friday, April 24, 2009

Adopt a Crop update: It's been hot. Obviously.

It even LOOKS hotter in this photo. Because it is.

While I haven't done a garden update in about 7 days, these pictures actually only represent about 3 days worth of growth. To be specific: 3 days of 90+ degree weather when the vegs got off their asses and did something. 

The other four days were spent as Vegetables of Leisure, lazing about in cool normal 60 degree temps of April, splashing around in tiny puddles created by the sprinklers that didn't immediately evaporate because it wasn't yet unseasonably steamy hot in their beds. 

I mean, look at this same tomato, pre-HEAT:

Look at that damp earth. I think it was around 60 degrees when I took this photo.

It's not even up to the first ring of the cage yet in this pre-I'm wearing shorts and flip-flops and sweating into the night photo. This tomato was biding its time. Acting all sly with its "oh, I'm still small and not even thinking about putting out blossoms yet. Give me a minute to collect my thoughts here, OK?" when I asked it what it thought it was doing just all not growing and everything. 

And then the mercury hit 90 and what does it do? It grows half a foot in three days and suddenly has EIGHT blossoms as if from nowhere.

Like I didn't know you had those hidden behind your back the whole time, tomato. 

I'm on to you, man.

Not that I'm really mad or anything. I mean, this is what I want in life - vegetables that grow and blossom and make food for me - but I can only handle so much deception. You know?

Meanwhile, the basil was quietly growing into a tree.

You don't fool me, Basil. I know your kind.

I have a plan for keeping the basil in check and that plan is called Pizza Night. That's right, Basil. Your future is in the shape of a bushy shrub, not a tree - so don't get any funny ideas. And no going to flower when I have my back turned. That kind of disobedience will not be tolerated.

Thankfully, I have a few plants who know their place in life. One being the cucumbers. They know their lot in life is to become jars of dill pickle chips and they are working very hard to make that happen. Almost too hard, in fact. These seeds are suspiciously vivacious, germinating and putting on new sets of leaves every other day. 

Why are they working so hard? What do they have to hide? I may have to run a background check on these guys to see if they have any suspicious activities lurking in their permanent records. Smoking in the boy's room, perhaps? Some misdemeanor drug charges?

I'll get to the bottom of this.

Does anyone else smell smoke?

The beans are moving along well, even after I introduced some new roommates to make sure that I was getting my requisite 4-6 plants per pole as stated on the packet I forgot to read thoroughly when I originally planted this bed with 3-5 seeds per pole, whoops.

A few of the newly planted seeds have germinated while the 2 week old seeds are making quick progress toward the lines I restaked to the beds with strong staples. I just knew (read: because the neighbor said so) that those lines staked into the soil with spikes weren't going to sit strong and silent in the soil once these guys started winding their little fingers around them and pulling hard, and I wasn't willing to risk it. Because then I would cry and no one needs to see that.

However, I plan save my "Oh, I'm so impressed" face for when these guys actually grow tall enough to get on the lines. THEN we can talk about Wow beans this and look at the awesome beans that. For now, let's not bolster their egos too much. They get big-headed easily and I can't have my beans all full of themselves and trying to go over my head to management.

Come back to me when you've got a finger on that line, and no sooner.

The corn is still, on the whole, a pretty fucking amazing slacker. Officially, there are three corn seedlings OUT OF 27. 

Lame. 

Although, I reseeded last weekend after my excavation with trowel produced zero moldy seeds (which is what I thought I'd find given the cool rainy weather) and instead produced, well, nothing at all.

Methinks the bastard birds got to the seeds and THAT is why my germination rate was so poor. The Miraculous Three that survived to become seedlings were the ones lucky enough to be planted in such a way that when I ran the irrigation lines, their homes fell underneath and, as such, they were shielded from the pecking birds. While normally having a freeway running above your house is not ideal, in this case it was a strategic advantage. 

Mental note: If there ever comes a time when I'm fearing for my life due to a drastic rise in the pterodactyl population, I'll be sure to approve the city's plan to extend I-280 over my backyard.

Traffic noise is a bitch, but at least I'm only five minutes from Trader Joe's.

To shield these new seeds, I put the Supah Technical frost cages over the beds to keep the birds out. No more on-the-clock snacking, you jerks.

Anyway.

The lettuce is busy playing Teacher's Pet. It's perfect and does exactly what it promises and then sometimes surprises me by randomly sprouting up under a dirt clump (not pictured) and pushing it out of the way with its mighty lime green leaves. 

Unfortunately, lettuce is a little slutty and, after a few beers, tends to throw its skirt up and show you its frilly underpants, which we have decided is something we're willing to look past given the sheer magnitude of salad greens it will produce.

Promiscuous lettuce is welcome in our house any day.

Of course, I'm banking on the beans actually getting on the lines and growing to the top of the tepee so that there will be some shade for this lettuce so that it doesn't get all bolt-tasic on us and turn into a bitter tree of failure, but it's too early to be that pessimistic. Even when the beans are teasing me by setting new leaves while leaning away from the lines. 

Such a tease.

And while this is an update on crops and not on $.99 cent landscaping, let's briefly glace at what's going on in the pee hole if for no other reason than the fact that it's happening without any interference (ie. work) from moi:


Apparently it's poppy season in the pee hole because there are poppies of all varieties coming up with the borage, lupine and myriad daisy-like things. Standard poppies, California poppies, Iceland poppies, big poppies, small poppies - all growing and thriving and all without my help. It feels good to not be needed.

It also feels good to know that if WHOOPSY neighbor kid Max appreciates any of these flowers by running his tricycle through them, they'll either spring back or reseed themselves at no cost to me. 

Yay for DIY landscaping where the Yourself is aimed at the plants rather than me. That's right, plants, YOU do it YOURself and leave me out of it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth: It's what's for dinner.

These beets have been in my fridge for so long they left a dent in the bottom of the drawer. Not really.

Do you like my cheesy title? Yeah, I'm not so sure of it myself, but I'm in a bizarre mood brought on by the pink (raspberry to be barfingly specific) dress I'm wearing and the fact that it's a HOT MUTHA in NorCal again today, after three 90+ degree days.

I haven't been sleeping much due to the heat, y'all, and so I go crazy and wear pink. And then I make Earth for dinner.

Well, I make beets for dinner. And some people say they taste like dirt. And, to me, dirt = Earth, so there you go.

It's a tenuous link, but it's what I can manage for Earth Day since I'm not going to be preaching recycling or organic gardening or hugging trees or any of that other hippie crap you might hear around here. No one needs that in their lives.  The preaching part anyway. 

No, today we're talking beets. Because recently I had a little whiny moment about What the F do I do with all these beets and then promptly set to figuring it out like a grown-up. 

I cooked them. 

All of them. 

All 20 lbs of them. 

Just so that the hard part of dealing with beets was out of the way. Which is what I realized after my whiny bitch moment - my big problem wasn't WHAT to do with all my beets it was HOW to make that happen in a way that didn't have me turning on my fucking oven every night when it's already in the nineties around here. 

I would have been eating beets all the live long day if only I didn't have to have them sitting in my oven for an hour just heating up my house like crazy before I could have the simple beet salad that is all I wanted in the whole wide world. 

OH. OH! This is a logistics problem, not a beet problem. I can totally handle logistics! Well, if I remove my head from my ass, I can. Tee dah! Beet Epiphany!

After taking a breather from my Major Beet Epiphany, and dispatching all the beets via oven, I made a couple different salads from them that were quite pleasing and so, I will share them with you. 

So that you, too, can eat the Earth for dinner if you so choose. And I also recommend that if you have a stash of beets (and if you're part of a CSA, you probably do), just do yourself the favor of cooking them all at once so that you can keep them sliced and chilled in your fridge to have with dinner until your whole house is stained with purple fingerprints. And don't go running off to the Internets claiming you don't know what to do with all your beets because, DUH, of course you do. Dummy.

For the record, Mr. I Don't Like Beets Bubba ate his salad right down to hitting his fork on the bottom of the bowl, beets and all, and has claimed himself a beet-liker now. 

Well, how do you like that? The craziness. It never ends around here. First chard, then brussels sprouts and now beets?! It's almost too much for me to handle. 

Almost, I said. (See above: "I can totally handle logistics.")

Anyway, this first salad won't come as much of a surprise to y'all if you've ever had a beet salad since I'm pretty sure it's your run-of-the-mill beet salad recipe, but here goes:

Gold + Red beets = Fanciness. Make a note.
Finny's Your Average Beet Salad
Recipe by moi. Yippee.

Ingredients
A buttload of uncooked beets OR 3 per person
Arugula (1 cup per person)
2 T toasted pine nuts (per person)
2 T goat cheese (per person)
Extra virgins
Balsamic vinegar
Salt
Pepper 

To makeAlign Center
Preheat your oven to 425.

The world's largest baked potatoes? No.

Top your beets (if the greens are small and young and good shape (meow), set them aside and toss them in your salad. If not, toss them a little farther into the compost pile.), slice off the top and tail and wrap them in foil. About six per packet works just fine. Roast for 50-60 minutes, or until a fork slides easily to the center of the biggest beet.

Do yourself a favor and let these cool otherwise I won't be responsible for your hand welts.

Open your packets and let those beets cool for a minute or two before you hold each one with a paper towel and slide their skins off. They come off real easy like and make a fresh red mess on your paper towel, which is kinda cool if you're me. I like these kinds of things. Like dinner tie-dye. 

Ok, it might just be me.

Now that you've denuded your beets, slice them into wedges and toss them with the extra virgins (a few Ts), balsamic (a couple Ts) and salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. 

I always think the gold beets taste better, like they're red M&Ms or something, but I'm pretty sure they're about the same.

In your individual salad bowls, lay down a nice green bed of arugula (or whatever kind of salad green you like. Even though arugula is awesome for offsetting the sweetness of the beets. But I understand some people don't like arugula because they are communists.), a good helping of these tasty beets, a healthy crumble of goat cheese, some pine nuts and another grind of pepper for show.

Picture this salad with sliced kumquats on it and you will then know what my Heaven looks like.
Enjoy it up.

Variations:
-Add sliced kumquats (FAVORITE ALERT)
-Swap pine nuts for walnuts and goat cheese for blue cheese
-Swap arugula for sunflower sprouts
-Add peeled orange wedges
-Swap balsamic vinegar for red wine vinegar
-Put a wedge of chocolate cake on top (KIDDING)(Only sort of)

So, now I only have a handful of cooked beet quarters left and I've decided that I am going to use them to make that cake I wanted with this recipe from Mango Power Girl. 

Especially nice is the fact that the What the F do I do with all these beets question has been answered. 

Answer: cook them.

You know, just like I told you NOT to tell me because sometimes I can be contradictory and a fresh pain in the ass. Either way, problem solved. And there will be cake!

Happy Eat the Earth Day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Adopt a Crop update: They know it's about to be hot

Before hot weather, tomato plants can be smaller than basil.

I believe that the slow/nonexistent progress with the corn and tomatoes is due to the fact that they're wise to the coming weather.

Vegetables have the weather gadget on their iGoogle pages, too, don't they?

In case you are not as gadget-happy as my vegetables, I am happy to tell you that Nature thinks it's going to be almost 90 degrees here on Monday.

Yes, you heard me right: NINE OH degrees. Wow. Get me my shorts.

And I am also happy to tell you that this is probably why the corn has been so slow to start from seed (3/27 seeds germinated is not the best ever) and why 3 of 4 tomato plants have shown zero change since I put them in the ground a few weeks ago. 

This minuscule growth makes me look like a rockstar.

One of the tomato plants is visibly doing some growing and putting out new leaves, but he's clearly some sort of show off and I have it under good authority that the other tomato plants think he's a jerk, so do with that what you may.

Dude in the front is the obvious jerk-off. He's way bigger than the others and so I love him more.

The lettuce, however, seems to be enjoying this cool April and has, thus, been growing all proper like - putting out new leaves happily once I thinned the encroaching herd of overseediness resulting from my haphazard planting tactic known as, "just throw the whole fucking packet of seeds in there because who can be bothered to individually plant tiny ass lettuce seeds anyway?

I like my new, bigger office. Thank you.

I do like growing lettuce from seed, I should tell you, because it is so utterly satisfying in its ease and quickness. Run your finger through the soil to create a little gutter, pour some seeds in there (or the whole packet, whatever) cover it up, let Nature do some watering and BAM a few days later you have some sprouts. Then you do some thinning - leaving just the biggest and baddest seedlings - and BAM a few days later the remaining big and bad lettuces have grown new leaves as a sign of appreciation for the extra room to move.

Like a thank you note from the lettuce, is how I see it. Because I'm Crazy with a capital NUTJOB.

Now I have to go back and re-thin since the new open space just left more room for the stifled seeds to sprout. Yippee.


The basil is doing not much, probably because it hangs out with the tomatoes and they're on strike until the hot weather comes. The basil is such a follower.

The beans seem happy to do their growing regardless of the weather and are, frankly, impressing me with their sheer will to get on the lines I've not yet properly staked down. I feel like their motivation to grow comes from their desire to prove my neighbor right about how the stakes I used to fix their lines into the soil will pull out the second the beans get on there if I don't stake them down more permanently.

We're preparing our rebellion.

Yes, the beans are obstinate traitors. That is what I'm saying. 

So, this weekend, after I try to kill myself by running 10 miles, I am going to get out my hammer and nails and properly secure these lines to the bed frames so that I don't end up with unstaked beans because that would ruin the whole Bubba-built-me-something-for-the-garden thing if it doesn't work out just perfectly like I said it would so that he would build it for me.

So you know, "working out just perfectly" means that the beans are to climb to the tippy top of the bean tepee meanwhile providing shade for the bolt-happy lettuce underneath. It's a master plan of mine but won't come to fruition if the lines of the tepee don't hold down the friggen beans, now will it?

Those lines look tight now, but wait until the beans go ker-climbing their way up. Bad, stretchy news.


No. No, it will not. So, to get a hammer I go. And then I hope to not do this. Poor Kris. That is *so* something I would do. Except I would probably milk it for longer because I'm a whiny bitch like that. You know I wouldn't be docking lamb's tails or hosting a wedding for 150 people in my backyard with a busted thumb. Oh, hell no.

Anyway, back to the vegetables. 

Specifically, the Adopted Crop o' the Year: Lemon Cucumbers. Even more specifically - WTF? All the seeds are germinating even though it's been so cool! Even more specifically than that - Even the one I have growing inside almost by itself is putting out new leaves! 

Save me from this vile woman!

I guess the lemon cucumbers were meant to be, y'all - good choice. I'm looking forward to seeing how this crop comes out. Even though I have not yet figured out how to use the slicing attachment for my food processor. Anyone know how to use this? I scared.

Meanwhile, I should probably thin these two mounds of 100% germination madness, but I can hardly bear to do so after last year's near total crop failure of seeds. This boon has me wanting to save each one for...for...well, for I don't know what, but if you live near me and want one of these seedlings, let me know and I'll try to save it for you. They seem to have a very strong will to live and morph into pickle chips later in the summer. 

Don't you think I'd be hot as a pickle chip? Yeah, me too.

That's just what they told me though - I'm not making any guarantees or anything, FYI.

In the veg garden's outlying areas, which I like to call "the sites to be landscaped in the future but for now I'm mostly ignoring", the strawberries are putting on fruit, 

(mental note: put out beer traps for bastard slugs), 

we're imagining that the cherries are starting to turn reddish, 

They look sorta reddish-ish, right? Our wishful thinking powers are very strong.

the lemons are not dropping their tiny fruits (miracle), 

By now, they'd normally be dropping these all over the patio and I'd be crying.

and the apple tree has a new hairdo.

Don't diss the fro.

This is all good and supports my assertion that plants that produce food must not always be restricted to growing in specially designated areas. 

Landscape with food, that's what I say.  And get out the shorts in preparation for the heat. Also sunscreen. And the sombrero. And the ice cream maker. 

I have a lot of work to do.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

That's new to me. + Pie [RECIPE]

Normally, I stick to what I know. It's safer that way. And in my world of supah anal-retentiveness and control freakishness, Same = Good.

Sometimes, however, New = Good, even if initially I'm very anxious or freakish or get the poops because of it or feel the need to create a back up plan with my officemate because WHAT IF THINGS GO HORRIBLY WRONG AND I NEED TO BE RESCUED?

See - scary. Inside my head it's sometimes scary.

Well, I'm happy to say that I experienced three new things lately that were not scary or horrible and none required me to be rescued by my officemate, a fact about which I'm sure she's relieved. Also, I didn't get the poops, which is a relief given my history with this affliction. I guess I should really just be worried about taking an Excedrin on an empty stomach and stop worrying about everything else?

Anyway, let's talk about these New But Miraculously Not Horrible things.

First of all, my Blogger Blind Date.

Have you had any of these? Not like, a "date" where you've met someone on a blog with whom you want to engage romantically and then you meet up at a seedy bar with a rose between your teeth, but a date where you just finally lock eyes (to steal my blind date's apt term) with this person with whom you've been sharing lengthy emails about the similarities between your lives, husbands, gardens, political opinions (oh yes, we went there) and favorite cocktails.

Me? I've had only one before this one. Which went great! In fact, I've managed to meet up with that blogger twice even though she lives in Italy. She is fantastically nice and funny and interesting, just as I imaged she would be, but was afraid she wasn't going to be because YIKES I'd never had a Blogger Blind Date before her and didn't know what to expect.

She was my first. Awww. Hi Sara! You're swell.

Most recently though, I got to Blogger Blind Date with Dig This Chick who, if you don't read her blog, is a lovably spicy gal who runs with her dog, gardens like crazy, cooks delicious things that I love and is married to a man much like my own Bubba. In fact, when we were going to meet up, she said that she was going to bring "her Bubba", which I thought was lovely.

I'm sure you can see our similarities falling right into step, here.

Which makes my pre-date anxiety even more ridiculous sounding because OBVIOUSLY we were going to hit it off and swill some cocktails just like old friends and everything except that my brain started to get the better of me and then I told my officemate that I was going to meet a blogger friend and she looked at me like she might never see me again and I started to freak out a little.

Was I a weirdo? Was I going to get chopped up (a long time fear I'll have to share with you some time)? Was I going to get the poops?

Thankfully, before my mind derailed any further, she called and said she was on her way over the bridge and she'd be meeting me at the clock and then we could go get drinks. And she sounded all normal like a normal non-chopping person might sound. And I could hear the bug fussing in the background and "her Bubba" talking, so I figured things were on the up-and-up. 

How many chopper-uppers do you know that hang out with a fussing baby and the world's calmest sounding man? Yeah, see? None.

And then I went to the clock and we had that awkward cell phone moment where we're talking and trying to figure out who the other one is as we approach one another going, "I think that's you! Are you wearing a pink sombrero? No? Thank god. Oh! I see you!" and what not. 

So graceful, us gals.

A couple drinks later and we were close-face picture taking like old pals.

And then we had a lovely lunch outside in the sunshine on the Embarcadero in San Francisco that involved multiple cocktails at noontime, which I adore, and some not bad food and some live and in-person dishing which I found pleasingly similar to the emails we'd shared.

Dig is real. And cool! And not a chopper! Phew. Thankfully, I wasn't the only one who'd made backup plans, since she admitted to having "her Bubba" on standby via cell phone just in case our lunch went awry and I did something crazy or began to profess my undying devotion to chemical fertilizers or some other unacceptable act that would render us unfit for friendship.

Because, yay, I'm not the only one with Blogger Blind Date stage fright. This whole scenario made me feel all better but now I'm sad that this gal (Hi Dig!) lives far away in Montana where we can't hang out and talk smack about people and compare notes on our gardens in a face to face way all the time. Boo.

But let's not dwell on that. Instead, let's just say YAY for Blogger Blind Dates that don't result in chopping! and move on to the next New But Miraculously Not Horrible thing: the weather in San Francisco that day.

See - I don't live or work (usually) in San Francisco. Not because I don't love it there, but because my house and office (usually) live farther south where the sun shines more regularly, parking isn't a optical illusion and houses are properly equipped with backyards.

Which is why, when faced with a trip into The City (as we Bay Area folk are prone to calling SF), I begin to get nauseous. Not because their houses are just backyardless facades, but because the weather is usually too cold/rainy/drizzly/crappy for my taste and there isn't a GDF place to park LeeLoo.

The anxiety about these things can be crippling to me because I'm a wuss and spend a lot of energy trying my best to avoid all hassles. That's another story for another day though.

The New But Miraculously Not Horrible thing THAT day, my friends, was that I took a work shuttle into The City, thus negating the need to find a magical and illusive parking space and, wait for it...

IT WAS SUNNY. 

And lovely. 
Do you see the blue sky here? Not a Photoshop trick.
To the point where we could dine and drink al fresco on the waterfront just like I'd imagined in my wildest dreams. I would like it to be noted that in all my time dining in SF (which is somewhat significant given that I've lived in NorCal all my life and worked in SF for a handful of years), this is MAYBE the fifth time I've comfortably enjoyed a meal out of doors here. That includes baseball games. 

Sure, I've forced myself to dine out of doors in SF before when the weather wasn't great because I just wanted the experience of being outside, but the shivering and damp food can't be denied. Usually this is not a recommended plan - trying to plan on al fresco dining in foggy San Francisco. 

Anyway.

Good times - the weather cooperated for our Blogger Blind Date, and its timing couldn't have been better. Thanks, Nature! And thanks, Dig, for a great afternoon of drinking on the clock. You're a pretty cool chick. And now I will not make easy jokey references to your blog name because that would be too cliche and I would have to gag me with a spoon.

The final New But Miraculously Not Horrible thing is totally unrelated to the previous things but nonetheless very not horrible: Key Limes.

Those in the back there are kumquats. My favorite fruit evah.
What's up, wild change of subject?!

Yes, my uncle came to Passover last weekend bearing a sack of Key Limes from his tree (who knew these guys had a Key Lime tree? Not I.) hoping that someone ANYONE would want some.

Um, yes please.

Of course I was going to take some because, hello, I'm a whore for free produce. Especially the unknown kind of free produce because what the F do you do with Key Limes other than make Key Lime Pie?

Well, I still don't know the answer to that question because that's exactly what I did. I made Key Lime Pie. And it's goooooooooooooooood.

Now, I'll grant you that I didn't have much concern over whether this New Thing would end up Horrible because when is pie really horrible, but I was kinda worried that I'd taken too many (turns out, I took just enough) and that they were going to go bad and dusty in the fruit basket on my counter.

These babies were tiny. Like baby limes. Baby baby baby. Done.

That could scare a person! Well, ok, it could scare *me*. 

Thankfully, Joy of Cooking told me that I'd need a lot of limes for this pie and good thing you're greedy because this recipe is going to use all those limes. 

Wow, Joy of Cooking really knows me. Weird.

This doesn't look impressive, but it's very, very good.
Key Lime Pie
from Joy of Cooking
my changes in bold

Ingredients
14 oz can of sweetened condensed whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh squeezed key lime juice 
4 T grated lime zest
Reddiwhip
1 prepared graham cracker crust from whatever recipe you like

To make
Bake your graham cracker pie crust however you like in a 9 inch pie pan. If this means you buy it at the store and take the plastic off, that is AOK with me. I don't have to eat it. No pressure here, by the way.

Preheat your oven to 325.

Whisk in a good sized bowl: milk, egg yolks, lime juice, zest. Pour this mixture into your (potentially shameful storebought) crust and bake for 15-17 mins. Let this cool completely on your stovetop and then fridge it for a few hours or until it's nice and cool. Serve up some not-so-photogenic slices with Reddiwhip topping to your husband and neighbors and accept ample praise.

I do believe "best meal ever" crossed someone's lips (not mine), although that may have more to do with Bubba's amazing bbq brisket than my slightly ugly but nonetheless delicious key lime pie.

And that's all for the New But Miraculously Not Horrible things I have to share. Every other new thing recently has sucked balls, apparently.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sleeves now. Almost 2 of them.

So, when we last saw our sweater, it was lying in torso-only form atop Bubba's "perfect fit sweater" as if to say, "Hey, check this shit out - we're the same size!"

This sweater is just this side of cocky, I'll tell you what.

But alas, it was true. And I couldn't have been happier to realize that it wasn't a horrible heart-breaking mistake to retrieve the "perfect fit sweater" from the closet for the purposes of comparing it to the sweater I was allegedly duplicating via knitting needles, yarn and my own two hands.

I put this particular event off for some time because I was sure that they were going to be very different widths and then I'd have to stab my eyes out with those needles and make up some new swears that would even make Bubba cringe.

And that's saying something, people, the man has been with me for nearly a decade now and he's heard some things. Swearing things.

Anyway - no super new and improved swearing happened and no one's eyes got stabbed out because MIRACLE - the sweater I was knitting was the same size as the sweater I was mimicking and so, for the moment, all was right with the world.

And then I'll ask you to remember that I had to halt production on this going-so-well project to await the arrival of the needles I had to buy at the last minute because WHOOPSY I didn't realize that I didn't already own them in my giant supah organized needle case. Damn it. 

Yeah, that was an annoying moment. I had to watch TV without knitting anything and I felt very useless and like I was wasting time. So, I dragged a book out from the office for a second chance which further convinced me that I *was* wasting my time in front of the TV because the book still sucks on Try #2 and now I was missing Tony's newest exploits where he eats "crispy-fried goodness" or whatever while his hair looks all curly and grey and adorable with his midlife crisis earring

Wow. That last paragraph really went off the rails.

Back to the sweater: I have since accepted delivery of said Addi Turbo #7 16" needles and completed 1.25 sleeves. 

True story!

See - here's one of the sleeves:


I'd show you a photo of the .25 of the other sleeve, but that seems sort of stupid. Showing you a photo of one full sleeve totally unattached to the sweater though? That's normal. Normal normal normal. 

And in case you, too, are thinking "Um, lady, that sleeve seems kinda short for a man who is commonly known to have a positive ape index." I will say to you - I know. 

I know it seems short, but I did exactly as the book said and I made Bubba try it on and it is, indeed, approx 2" shy of his armpitty and within the length range they recommend (given an extra inch for his positive ape indexiness) and so I stopped knitting right there.

If nothing else in this whole wide world, I CAN follow directions. In fact, I'm known for it. Seriously. Ask Bubba sometime who he knows who can do most anything if she is furnished with proper directions beforehand and he will say, "Duh. My wife. She fixed the dryer based on the manual it came with."

Not to be immodest or anything, but this is what I've got. And, let's be honest, it's not such an impressive thing to be able to follow directions since that's what they're for, right? Directions are created so that one person can do something another person has already done without that person having to be there to hold their hand. It makes sense that this new person should be able to read those directions and be able to do that thing. Whatever it is. Even if it's knitting a sleeve for a sweater so that it fits right and covers the length of a certain man's left arm.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand now we've come full circle! Phew. I was sure I was derailing again. But no, I pulled it out. I'm sure of it.

The status of the sweater, then, is that I've got the torso done to the armpitties, one full sleeve plus .25 of the other and enough yarn to conceivably finish this sweater in the event that nothing earth shattering happens in the mean time to throw me off my path. 

I predict that the "seamless" attaching of sleeves to torso will be that earth shattering thing, just for the record. And at the rate I'm working on these sleeves, that moment is fast approaching.

Send your suggestions for new swears.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Running update: Month of 10s

Since my first half marathon of the year is in June rather than October this year, I've had to push up my Supah Technical Training Schedule so that my 10 mile long runs fall in April rather than August. 

This schedule has its benefits, since it's way more fun (or just less torturous) to run 10 miles in April weather than August weather. Specifically, it's not so fucking hot.

The part of this silver lining that I'm choosing to ignore right now is the fact that I'll be grinding out long runs in the summer heat regardless, since I'm still doing that same half marathon in October. 

So, the fact that I'm running 10 miles now, in April, means very little, since I'll be doing the same 10 miles in August. When it's 90 degrees during the day and I have to get up when it's still nighttime to avoid my favorite summer pasttime known as heatstroke

*Sigh*

The plan is that once the Seattle Rock N Roll is done in June, I'll come home, recupe with much whining and then head back out after a few weeks to stay in shape for the San Jose Rock N Roll in October. I love how this plan sounded so doable at the beginning of the year. 

Oh, how I love to write checks that my Future Self will have to cash. 

I predict that I will cry a lot this year. And say many bad words that involve running, heat and running in the heat. New to the course this year - bad words about hills. Fun!

Yes, as I touched on earlier (have I mentioned this? Maybe not, but it's been in my head a lot. Which is kinda the same.), the Seattle version of this race has some hills. I'm not sure how severe these hills are or what type of physiological damage they're going to do to my body as I try to scale them with my wee "I don't do hills" legs, but the elevation chart does not lie with its scary bumpiness.



Hi, Miles 5 - you will suck. There are no two ways about that. 

I also imagine that at Mile 10.5 I will begin to question my own sanity and contemplate suicide by PowerGel.  

My only vague hope for survival comes from the unrealistic hope that I will be able to get up enough speed from the downhill off mile 12 to coast into the finish line at 13.1. If I happen to do so by somersault, this is fine.

By comparison, let us look at San Jose's elevation chart and its enviable flatness:


Yes. This is what I like. Any course deemed "Flat and fast" by the race committee is my kind of race. Not because I will run it fast, but because flat means I can run it without dying or making a shameful mess of myself in front of thousands of others. So, while I've managed to retain some level of dignity in San Jose (which is good, given that it's my hometown), I have no such hopes for Seattle.

No, my dear sister and beloved friends who have so graciously offered to cheer for me at this event, I fully expect to make a shameful spectacle of myself in your town and for this I apologize in advance. I will love you no less if you decide to leave my name out of your cheers and pretend to instead cheer for someone who's not dragging limbs behind them across the finish line. Or cursing between sobs while giving everyone passing her the finger.

With hills like that, there's very little hope that I will avoid all of my worst running fears:
  • Crying in public
  • Running so slowly that I get passed by walkers. Pushing strollers. Talking on cell phones.
  • Tacking on full hours to my finish time
And what am I doing to assuage these fears? Am I running hill sprints and training my body up for such geographical challenges?

Obviously not!

Well, not yet anyway. 

The farthest I've progressed in my "I realize that there are hills in this race. That can not be ignored." training is accepting the existence of hills and my rank hatred for them. And then I made a mental note of a link on Runners World that said "Hill training".

I have not yet clicked on this link. I think it's because I'm scared of what it will say since I'm sure it will tell me to go out and run hills which I REALLY don't want to do. 

Do you see why it's scary to be in my head? It makes no sense in there.

Anyway, eventually I will go look at this link and hopefully it will contain some sort of helpful training advice (something to the effect of "go run hills", I imagine) and then I will probably give up and follow this advice, but I'm sure by then it will be too late and I'll still end up almost dying in Seattle so that my sister has to ship my withered pathetic remains home in my race goodie bag. 

Do you have advice on running hills? Do you have advice for training for hills that actually doesn't involve running on hills? Can I borrow your magic wand? 

Have you actually been on this course and found there to be no hills? Because if you have, that'd be great. 

Feel free to lie to me.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Adopt a Crop update: Accidentally secretive.

I've been having a million personal meltdowns about the garden, so I surprised myself when I realized that I hadn't posted anything about the Adopted Crop or otherwise since 3/25. 

Shit. What's my problem?

I mean, I didn't even show you any of the 50 photos I've taken of my super master indoor-growing lemon cucumber and then share with you the legend of how I haven't just forgotten it outside during ANY of its 3 day trips out there into the big bad world.

That bitch nearly left me out here to die. Thankfully,  I scream loud.

And then I haven't even told you about the farewell to the fava beans where I pulled them out, picked off a few beans (should have dispatched them last weekend - whoopsy) and turned them under into the very nice looking soil.

WTF? How can I be keeping these secrets from you?

As it turns out, I was barely sad to lose the favas.

I didn't even say anything when I spotted my first beans coming up at the base of the Bubba-built tepee or the very first (and only, so far) corn seedling or even the sprouting and thinning of the lettuce that's looking perfect in the future shade of the bean tepee.

Nope, not a word. Douchebag.

Something's already been dining on my corn and it wasn't me. WRONG.

At 3 seeds per pole, I have almost a 100% germination rate. That's a lot of beans.

I'll be thinning the lettuce again since I guess rain=more seedlings.
For the record, I'm fine with this.

RUDE.

But what's most inexcusable is the fact that I am watching the Adopted lemon cucumbers go fucking bonkers out there and haven't even made a peep about it. Well, that bullshit ends now.

PEEP

PEEP PEEP

PEEP PEEP PEEP


Yeah, I'm not sure if it's the extra rain we're getting or the warm weather we had last week or my magical sorceressness, but the cucumber seeds are germinating at an impressive rate. And, miraculously, don't seem to be getting chewed by whatever it is that's over there busting up my corn and for this I am mighty grateful. Not that I want busted up corn, but you know, last year with the cukes was a little heart-breaking.

Did you also know that my cherry and lemon trees are putting out fruit? No, no you don't because I haven't told you squat and for that I'm sorry.

To make amends, I will show you pictures. Forgive me.

I must have hit the lemons with food at JUST the right time because this little dwarf tree has about 100 blossoms on it. True story.

Neighbor, the tree, is acting like it's going to make enough cherries for a pie. We shall see.

Now, I'm not going to get all excited about strawberries yet, even though I saw some blossoms on there, because typically the snails find them long before I do, but let's imagine that there are little fruits on there and I'm giving you the heads up right here. 

That way when I forget later, you'll be less sad.

And I think that about sums up all the garden updates that have gone un-updated since 3/25 because I'm rude.

The whole garden is now in and looking grow-y and since it's raining I'm thinking that they'll be extra happy when I go out there every five minutes to check on them. 

It's garden season and my Crazy is on High.