Bundle up!

Published on Thursday September 3rd, 2009

Yesterday I sent Molly a message to say she’d won my little contest, and today I had a message back:

Hi Sarah – I’m tickled pink to have won your contest, even if by default!  That being said, I have a little proposition for you…did you happen to see the blog entry on Mason Dixon about the “Iraqi Bundles of Love”?  I really like this idea, such a simple thing to do – and who doesn’t need to clear out some space in that sewing/knitting drawer?  (or in my case, closet)  I don’t know if you have time to do this, they must mail out by next Tuesday, but if you do and you think it’s something you’d be interested in undertaking, why not include my prize in your package?

Molly rocks. I had seen the Mason Dixon link, but I was only skimming the blogs during lunch that day and didn’t go investigate the project further. The link is here.  Basically, a man who’s deployed in Iraq and has been visiting the country since 1994 is collecting all kinds of sewing, knitting, and quilting materials to put into the hands of Iraqis. The deadline is right around the corner–I’m planning to mail my bundle on Saturday–but there are great instructions on the IBOL blog and it won’t take long to pull some things from my excessive stash and package them up. It’s all going to an APO address (you have to leave a comment in the IBOL blog to get the address) in an $11.95 flat-rate box. Apparently there’s also someone in the Netherlands collecting bundles to forward from Europe. I’ll take a picture of what I’m putting in and post it here! And if you’re intrigued, consider this a nudge to do the same!

A Monday post, late as usual

Published on Wednesday June 3rd, 2009

When Monday morning begins with the dog escaping from the yard and cruising over to the neighbors’ to sample their buffet of dirty diaper trash, it doesn’t augur for a good week. Given that the subsequent clean-up effort caused me to forget both my lunch and the reports I needed to edit today, let’s not even try to imagine what the fates may have in store. The world is probably trying to throw us a little something to balance against a lovely weekend that included an early morning bike ride, a thrilling finish to the Giro d’Italia, a nice dinner out with the Senior G’s in honor of their 35th anniversary (producing the leftovers now languishing on the kitchen counter), plenty of sock knitting, a trip to the farmers’ market…

… and an impromptu celebration of my neighbor Barb’s birthday, lounging in the grass in their beautiful garden and enjoying a birthday cake I whipped up for the occasion. I went with my new favorite cake recipe, which I’d made once before exactly as written and found excellent: neither too sweet nor too time consuming. But this time, I had rhubarb, and when rhubarb is in season I’m generally of the opinion that it ought to go into anything I might bake. So Barb got Apple and Rhubarb Yogurt Cake à la Clotilde. We had (shockingly) run out of maple syrup, so I substituted 1/4 c. of Lyle’s Golden syrup* and a scant 1/2 c. of turbinado sugar. The rhubarb I chopped in 1/4″ to 1/2″ slices and tossed with about 1 Tbsp. more turbinado sugar. One medium size, long stalk was exactly right to cover the top:

I pressed the rhubarb slices gently into the batter, sprinkled (as much as one can sprinkle wet clumps) the remaining sugar in the bowl over the top, then layered the apple slices on above, sprinkled again very lightly with a bit more turbinado sugar. I neglected to take a picture of the finished cake (you can tell I’ll never make a food blogger), but I’m happy to report that it was delicious and the rhubarb added just the right pleasing tartness without making the cake soggy.

I also gave Barb a drop spindle that I’ll be teaching her how to use, in my admittedly inexpert way. She knits a bit and she’s been intrigued by the spindle since I busted one out at early morning 2006 Tour de France screenings at the bike shop where she works (her husband was the recipient of the hat I knit from the resulting fiber). She managed to acquire a heap of wool, so I’m all set to grow myself a spinning partner! Just imagine the attention we’ll probably attract, drop spindling away on one or the other of our front porches on summer evenings…

*A treat unfamiliar to far too many Americans—and you really should go read about it, as this article typifies the wonders of Wikipedia. I, for one, had no idea that the lion on the label is a) Biblical, and b) dead. I thought he was sleeping and bothered by flies. While I’m slightly stricken to be disabused of my gentler interpretation, I do love me a Peculiar Inventor story (someone remind me to Netflix that documentary about Dr. Bronner, okay? Go read the label of one of his soap bottles—ideally aloud to friends, and it’s best if you’re all a little tipsy or otherwise in a jolly mood—if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Arctic owls and Mark Spitz! All one or none!), and it looks like Mr. Abram Lyle fit the bill.

Things I love right now

Published on Thursday October 23rd, 2008

1. I feel a new color phase coming on. Soft greys, sunny creams, russets, bright tansy and sunflower yellows, navy and slate and icy blues, bark browns and greys, deep dark chocolates.

2. Rustic, simple shawls in earthy neutrals, like Terhi’s at Mustaa Villaa and Alexandra’s at Moonstitches.

3. Simple socks with just a touch of ornamentation, like Terhi’s here and here.

4. Cooking outside on the grill, even though it isn’t summer anymore. It’s right out the kitchen door under the porch overhang, so it’s just as convenient as the stove. Tonight before choir practice I’ll be tossing some Yellow Finn potatoes in olive oil, fresh rosemary and sea salt; stuffing some Anaheim and Gypsy peppers with mozzarella or Trader Joe’s beluga lentils (already cooked!) seasoned with lemon juice, toasted walnuts and some of the marjoram that’s taken over the herb bed; and dumping the lot on the grill.

5. The Japanese anemones and Joe Pye weed in my garden, which bloom faithfully from July through October.

6. Oregon apples from the farmers’ market. We favor Tsugarus, Akanes, Honeycrisps, Ambrosias, and Jonagolds in mid-October. I find the names of apples enchanting (I weep that I somehow missed the Black Gilliflower (Sheepnose) variety), and despite the luscious bounty of summer peaches and berries, they’re my favorite fruit.

7. Early-season West Wing episodes on DVD. I *heart* my fictional government.

8. David Copperfield. It’s our geekier-than-thou book club selection for December. We dig the classics.

9. My new Keen shoes from the REI sale, the only model that seems to be narrow enough for my feet. I went for the army green with orange stitching. They’re my everyday fall shoes, and I finally feel like a real Portlander now that I’ve got the Official Footwear.

10. Homemade chiya – the Nepali version of chai: Brew up a pot of black tea (I use Red Rose) with sugar to taste, slices of fresh ginger, and cardamom pods. Drink it like that for kaalo chiya (black tea) or add hot whole milk (1 part milk to 3 or 4 parts chiya is generally good, depending on the strength of your chiya) for dudh chiya. I made a big jar of kaalo chiya, removed the tea bags after they’d steeped, and have been keeping it in the refrigerator to reheat a cup whenever I want some (which isn’t quite four or five times a day, as in Nepal, but it’s been nice to have at tea time).

11. SouleMama’s blog, whence cometh the spur for this post. I’d like to be able to order a future family life out of this enticing catalog. Mine would take place on San Juan Island, but the rest – the cute and clever kids, the crafts, the walks in the woods, the little daily discoveries, the mad photography skills to capture it all – would be much the same.

That which is imitated

Published on Wednesday June 4th, 2008

Meg tagged me nearly two weeks ago, and since she asked (and what wouldn’t I do for somebody with a Corgi puppy and a camera?), and since there’s nothing interesting to see in the fourteen inches of blue stockinet plus a couple of lace rows that currently comprise my Indigo Ripples skirt, I give you a meme. But first, a digression: haven’t you always wanted to know exactly where this weird word ‘meme’ comes from and how to pronounce it? I have. And having been schooled to compulsive dictionary use as soon as I could read, I looked it up. You say ‘meem,’ and it’s a noun used in biology to refer to an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation. It was coined in the 1970s from the Greek mimema, ‘that which is imitated, on the pattern of gene.

1) What was I doing ten years ago?

Ten years ago I had finished my first year of college, and I was on my way to visit my friend Elisenda, who’d been an exchange student at my high school, in her hometown of Barcelona. I was shortly to become lost overnight because Elisenda and I had miscommunicated about the dates, leaving me stranded at the airport without her address or phone number or any skills in Spanish or Catalan. Fortunately a nice man called his English-speaking wife and had her explain to me how to catch a bus into the area of town where there are youth hostels, and how to buy a phone card in a tobacco shop so I could call home and panic my poor mother, who did have Elisenda’s phone number. I spent a sniffly night feeling very alone in my tiny hostel room, but all was well the next day. Barcelona and the surrounding countryside are beautiful and I intend to return one day.

2) What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today:

* go to the park to frisbee the dog into all-too-temporary exhaustion

* concoct some sort of interesting Indian-inflected dinner involving cauliflower, chick peas, tomato paste, garlic, and ginger

* rip out a few rows of my secret project for Pop Knits

* hand-quilt a few more flower shapes on my Bend-the-Rules Lap Quilt

* read another chapter of Elizabeth Enright’s wonderful children’s novel The Sea Is All Around, which I’m discovering far too late, and which really ought to be in print, if anyone at FSG is reading this

3) Snacks I enjoy:

Goldfish crackers, apple slices (the crisper and tarter the better), Trader Joe’s lime leaf and chili pepper peanuts, mochi wrapped in seaweed and dipped in tamari, hummus with vegetables, ants-on-a-log, chocolate digestive biscuits, toasted hazelnuts, peppercorn or herbes de provence Oregon Sublimity from Brian the Cheese Guy at the farmers’ market. Can you tell it’s getting to be tea time?

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Pay off the mortgage, build a mudroom (and a new deck before someone falls through), help out friends and family members whose dreams are out of reach, travel with my husband and family, endow scholarships everywhere I’ve studied or taught, fund projects to help make life in my communities more sustainable – environmentally and socially, and generally try to rise to the responsibilities that come with great privilege. If I happened to acquire a few more pairs of cute shoes along the way, would that make me shallow?

5) Places I have lived:

San Juan Island, WA; Portland, OR; Brunswick, ME; Balkot, Nepal; Deep Creek, Eleuthera, The Bahamas; New York, NY… and back to Portland

6) Jobs I have had:

veterinary assistant, construction crew member, admissions interviewer and overnight hosting coordinator, middle school teacher, assistant editor of children’s books, school office assistant, publications editor

Memes are like fast food for your blog. Drive on through if you feel the urge. Decide later whether you feel guilty about taking the quick and cheap route for content. Me? Nah. Once in a while won’t hurt. But I’ll have something more exciting and homemade for you next time.