Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Generic Soup Results; and What to Do With Unexpected Bounty

Filed under: Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen — folkcat at 6:14 pm on Thursday, August 25, 2005

When last I wrote, I was mid-way through cooking a batch of soup I called Generic Crocking. Generic because, I was cooking without a recipe, really. The main method was to hunt through the freezer for potential ingredients and toss them into the crockpot using my layered approach to ingredient proportions.

As we left the soup, I was waiting until the last hour of cooking to check the flavor for any final spice additions, and to decide if I was adding a pasta or rice. The verdict was – the flavor was still thin (you may recall, I had deliberately made the base broth weak to allow the flavors of the ingredients a chance to do their thing), and, while it would be unusual for a soup as chunky as this is, I decided it would be a great chicken noodle soup. As to additional spices – I decided it didn’t need any. There was enough salt from the soup base, and the flavor, while without subtle nuances, was good, basic chicken. Nothing wrong with that.

I added in another tablespoon of Minor’s Chicken Base, and I grabbed a small handful of angel hair pasta and broke it in two. Stirring both into the soup, I left it for another hour on high.
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Ultra Chunky Chicken Noodle – Yum!

Gryphon had a bowl when he came home from work that night, and declared it a success. I tasted it during cooking, of course, and I’m pleased with the results.

I haven’t done any exciting cooking since then, but I will probably be pickling again tomorrow. We had an unexpected bounty from a friend’s neighbor’s garden, and as it happens, Gryphon’s running low on the batch of pickles I made him last time. The collection of veggies we’ve been gifted includes a nice bowl full of green (and other) beans with edible pods, and a pile of the oddest-looking vegetables I’ve seen in a while – lemon cucumbers.

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Two Kinds of Beans

The other items I’ll be adding into the pickle include a couple of peppers, some broccoli, and a couple of zucchini.
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Lemon Cucumbers

Gryphon has been enjoying the pickles I made him a great deal, and I was worried with our tight budget that I wouldn’t be able to make him another batch. Now, he’ll be all set for at least a few weeks more!

Folkcat’s Tip: It’s the rare vegetable gardener who has developed the skill to grow only just the vegetables they will use with no extras. If you have a garden, please consider if any of your friends, neighbors, or family members are having a tough time. Offering up surplus produce doesn’t feel so much like charity to the recipient – in fact, you can often make it seem they’re doing you a huge favor by keeping good food from going to waste!

I encourage you to look around and see if there’s anyone in need who could genuinely benefit from your own garden’s bounty. In the event you don’t have someone close who could use the help, please do check into your local food bank. They’re usually more than happy to supplement their offerings with garden goods from locals.

I’d like here to offer my sincere thanks to the friend who gifted us these vegetables. They are a huge help in a time when we’re struggling to get by. Hers is an act that truly has made a difference.

The Madness Continues

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile — folkcat at 5:53 pm on Thursday, August 25, 2005

I hated working on those beaded stitch markers yesterday.
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Clockwise from top left: Ribbed AB rounds; 6mm striped crystal discs; Pink Champagne 8mm crackle beads; Swirled blue beads with green dogbones.

I mean really, really hated them.
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Plastic Miracle Beads

I’ll be surprised if I ever make the darned things ever again.
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Owl beads purchased several years ago from Blue Moon Beads brand.

It’s terrible, really. Just how much I couldn’t stand making these things.
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L. – Vintage Blue Bowties; R. – Blue & Crystal Swirled Flattened Rounds

I hated it so much, I couldn’t manage to make more than a dozen sets today. No more.
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The Entire Dozen, in all its seductive glory.

It was so awful, I’m going to make myself wait until tomorrow to make more, so that I can actually spend some time using them with my knitting today!

Beaded Stitch Markers – the new crack for cross-disciplined beader/knitters!

Thursday – I Have to Admit, it’s Getting Better

Filed under: Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 5:36 pm on Thursday, August 25, 2005

Many thanks to the well-wishers I heard from after yesterday’s post. By the end of the day, I was able to sleep all right, and today I’m no worse than on an average day. Which means I’m able to get on about my business and get things done.

Today saw Gryphon and I dealing, once again, with our tight budget. This being August, it’s time to renew the registration on my car. Fortunately, we knew this was coming and plugged the numbers into Quicken weeks ago.

So we had the money allotted for it. The bad news, however, is that it left us no wiggle room this week. We have no option to put off registering the car, because we really do need to have it on the road, and the month is running out. And the few other bills we’re paying this week – well, the vendors have been kind enough to allow us a few delays already, and we don’t feel we can push that kindness any further.

That leaves us with $20 for groceries this week. Yeah. We’ve already spent just over half of it today, for such luxuries as bread. Milk. You know, non-essentials like that. We are so reckless with our money.

The very good news is, we have friends, and they spontaneously do things to help because they know the situation we’re in. Yesterday, one of these friends asked when we’d be home today, because she’d been helping a neighbor with his garden after he’d injured himself. She came away from it with more produce than she could hope to use – but she thought of me and Gryphon.

Here’s the bounty that wonderful friend brought by.
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Garden Bounty, Generous Heart

It warms my heart that she thought of us, and this will be a big help – especially this week. It takes a lot of pressure off of the pocketbook for keeping us fed.

I’ll probably write about what I do with all this over at Folkcat in the Kitchen, sometime in the next couple days. Meanwhile, I’m just going to enjoy the fact that we have some very, very good friends.

It helps – a lot – to know that.

Now that the car is registered, we have to get it inspected by the tenth of next month. Keep your fingers crossed that it passes!

Books/Fiber/Knitting/Philosophy: The Knitting Goddess

Filed under: Folkcat's Craft Library — folkcat at 8:41 pm on Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Finding the Heart and Soul of Knitting Through Instruction, Projects, and StoriesTitle: The Knitting Goddess
Author: Bergman, Deborah
Publisher: Hyperion
Copyright: 2000

Additional Categories: Books/Fiber/Knitting/Patterns

This colorfully-covered volume integrates mythology and folklore with knitting projects that invoke the philosophies of the goddesses presented. Bergman presents discussions of how knitting (and any creating with the hands) connects to the soul; shares traditional myths about goddesses from a number of world traditions; and then offers tutorials for the beginner as well as projects for knitters of all skill levels.

Each chapter includes tips specific to the project at hand, and also calls out a special section titled “New Knitter’s Workshop” which explains the more basic concepts that may be unknown to the newbie.

This is another book where I haven’t worked any of the projects yet – but I enjoy browsing through it and reading the myths, along with Bergman’s suggestions for how to celebrate the goddess qualities in yourself by knitting.

Recommended for any knitter who feels a spiritual connection to working fiber, and who wants to know they’re not the only one.

Knitting with Beaded Tools

Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 8:31 pm on Wednesday, August 24, 2005

First off, many thanks to Teri for including me in the gallery of Extreme Knitters. The bridge picture was lots of fun, and I expect there are more to come.

Once upon a time, we had plain stitch markers for our knitting. They were simple, plastic rings in dark green, red, and blue, and they were boring. In the new, hip, trendy world of knitting, all that has changed!

I went to continue working on the “Wings of the Cat” shawl today. Row 2 (the first row was a foundation row in purl), and as I got ready to knit the first stitch, I realized something – I had no stitch markers delicate enough to put between lace-weight stitches!

Having read other peoples’ fiber blogs for all of 2 or 3 months now, I am hip enough to know that the current trend in stitch markers is to make your own with beads. Now that’s something I am well-equipped to handle!*

For the full details and close-up pictures of the beaded stitch markers, you can visit today’s post at my beading blog.

Once I had achieved stitch markers, I got to work, and actually managed 4 pattern rows before deciding today’s stressed-out brain had enough.
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Five Full Rows Done

Here you can see two sections of the lace patterns in progress. In the section between the markers on the left is a full repeat of “String of Beads”. On the right, 2/3 of a repeat of “Narrow Cat’s Paw”. The patterns have a lot of similarity, but just enough difference that I think they’ll work well together.
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Detail is Good

As I promised, I’m making notes as I go so that I’ll be able to offer this as a pattern eventually. So far, 5 rows take up 2 1/2 pages of a 5″x7″ notepad.
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The Pattern Thus Far

That’s all for today. I’m pleased to be started on “Wings of the Cat”, but I can see that this will take my concentration, especially since I’m not just following someone else’s pattern – I’m creating my own as I go. But I’m already enjoying it, and I’m delighted to have you all along for the ride!

* Regular readers of my blog will have made the connection that I am an avid beader who, until Easter Sunday this year, owned a bead store. There is no shortage of beading supplies in this house!

Personal Geocaching – Bogged Down, But There’s Hope.

Filed under: Folkcat & Gryphon's Geocaching Adventures — folkcat at 7:05 pm on Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Gryphon and I haven’t been able to get out and geocache much for most of a month. With the brake lines on his truck needing replacing – and not being able to pay a garage to do it – we’ve been stuck at home every weekend while Gryphon does the job himself.

It’s been quite the saga, and Gryphon’s telling the story in a multi-chapter format over at his blog. The first chapter can be found here.

The brake lines are finished as of last weekend, though, and they seem to be holding up. So we have every reason to expect that, come this weekend, we may be able to get out and find another cache somewhere.

Just keep your fingers crossed for the weather!

Beading For Knitting

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile — folkcat at 6:52 pm on Wednesday, August 24, 2005

As I’m not having the best of days today, I’m keeping the level of my crafting down to where not much brain-power is needed.

I wasn’t even sure I was going to bead anything today. In fact, what I picked up to work on was my lace knitting project. I realized almost immediately, however, that to even work on the second row of my lace, I was going to need stitch markers more delicate than anything I already had.

Since I began reading other peoples’ knitting blogs a few months ago, I’ve learned that one of the hottest trends in knitting is to make your own beaded stitch markers. And me, with all these beading supplies laying around! I grabbed a pack of headpins and some beads and got to work.

These were quite simple to do. Anyone who has ever made a wrapped loop – you have the skills needed.

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4 full sets of 4 markers each

In about an hour, I had made 16 markers – 4 each in 4 different bead styles. Plenty for what I’m working on! The tool you see at the bottom of the picture is what I wrapped the loops around to get a good size. It might have taken me less time, but I’m out of practice with wrapped neck loops like this. I don’t make earrings very often.
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Green Discs…

My loops were about 8.5 mm in diameter, maybe a little less after wrapping the neck. I think that cinched them up a little.
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…Red Discs…Green Stars…

Just make sure to keep a good grip on the loop with flat jawed pliers as you wrap the neck. I used my chain-nose nylon jaws to get the best hold.
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…and the Man in the Moon

The great thing about this is I can have as many stitch markers as I need, whenever I need. I can color code them if I like so they’ll remind me to take certain steps when I get to them.

I like the integration of more than one of my crafts, too. Being able to bead a tool to use for my knitting – magnificent! Now, I wonder what I can knit as a tool for my beadwork….?

Best of all, I’m going to smile when I look at these pretty little things dangling among my knitting. And that’s never a bad thing.

Craft Goddess Beadwork Update

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile — folkcat at 6:39 pm on Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Judith Bertoglio-Giffin, one of the participants in the Popcorn Bracelets beading last week at our craft circle, sent me this photo of the end result of what she worked on that night.

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Crystal and Leaf Necklace
(photo (c) 2005 by J. Bertoglio-Giffin.
Used with permission.)

Itchy and Twitchy – Early Warning System at Full Alert

Filed under: Retired - The Life & Times of a Winged Cat — folkcat at 3:59 pm on Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I’m having one of “those” days.

I get infrequent and unusual migraines. Infrequent because it may be many months between bouts.

Unusual because I almost never get the headache that most people assume is a migraine. Sometimes, yes, but what I usually experience is a combination of other neurological symptoms. The aura (that glowing streak of light that comes into the visual field of a migraine sufferer), distortion of my vision, nausea, sometimes a tingling sensation across my face or arms. Sensitivity to light, too, and I’ll usually feel extremely tired and weak for a day.

Over the years this has been happening, Gryphon and I have noticed that the migraines will often be foreshadowed one to three days in advance. I experience a day when I’m extra twitchy, extra sensitive to noise, light, drafts – any extraneous and uncontrollable sensory input.

I’m having one of “those” days. I felt fine when I woke up, but within an hour, I was more sensitive to noise levels than I can remember ever being. Even the sound of toilet paper scrolling off the roll bothered me like fingernails on a chalkboard.

The best thing I can do is try to limit and control the input, and just be as comfortable as I can until it passes. I’m trying not to anticipate the migraine itself – given the intensity of today’s sensitivity, I’m concerned that it’s going to be a doozy.

Send good, calming thoughts my way today, okay? Thank you!

A Light Fiber Diet

Filed under: Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 10:32 pm on Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Not much of a knitting day today.

I finally decided to begin on my “Wings of the Cat” shawl design. I’ve settled on a border pattern from a web site that SheriO on the Summer of Lace group told me about: Knitting-and.com. This site had a huge number of lace borders, insertions, and patterns, many of them from vintage sources, and all free for personal use.

I found one that I liked a lot for my shawl. It’s called “Leaf and Acorn Lace”, and I think it will be just the thing to invoke a sense of New Hampshire’s forests.

Since I chose to start knitting, I had to consider my ball of lace yarn. When I spent so much time untangling the skein, well – it was such a mess that I didn’t take the extra trouble to make a center-pull ball at that time. So I began today’s fiber work with re-winding all 1700 yards or so of yarn.

Halfway to a Center-Pull Ball

Having spent most of my knitting energy on yarn winding, I still managed to cast on my first stitches, and purl my foundation row.

And So It Begins

Not very auspicious looking, I know, but it has been started. I’ve been talking for over two weeks about it now, and it’s about time. BTW, trust me – the yarn is ecru, the way the top picture shows. It was taken much earlier in the day, and I think the natural light in the room was better.

That white thing you see in the bottom right corner of the last picture is the notepad on which I’ll be diligently scratching down everything I do, so that I can offer this patten for you to re-create if you desire. I only hope that, with all this effort, it turns out to be worth it!

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