Friday, September 15, 2017

Zombies! (the drink, not the dead guys)

Dude... I wrote this post in 2012 and didn't publish it.  All I'm going to say is that when I moved into my own place, the only thing I stocked my bar with was the ingredients for this drink. Well..and I'll say "damn" I started this blog THAT long ago, and my goal was to have at least 3 fancy drinks under my belt to pull out at will, and all I still have is this??  SIGH.

I aspire to have a few great mixed drink recipes memorized on the off chance I need to prove myself as a hip bartender someday, but so far I've just got this one.

Legend says it was created to help a a hung-over customer get through a business meeting.  he returned a few days later complaining he had been turned into a zombie for his entire trip.

Originally it had three different rums, lime juice, falernum (What the heck? sweet syrup with almond & ginger, &/or cloves, lime, vanilla or allspice) Angostura bitters, Pernod, grenadine & “Don’s Mix,” a combination of cinnamon syrup and grapefruit juice.

This is my variation that doesn't require unusual ingredients on hand.  It's very strong - two's pushing it if you don't want to risk feeling like the aforementioned zombie afterwards!  It's not tropical drink weather, but when I make one I get to pretend I'm in Cancun and the sky isn't grey.

Going by liquid measurements that 1/8 cup - 1 ounce

16 oz tumbler, filled to the rim with ice
1 oz light rum
1/2 oz spiced rum
1/2 oz triple sec
1/2 oz amaretto (besides french toast it's my only use for it!)
4 oz margarita mix
4 oz orange juice
1/2 oz grenadine (or a cherry syrup such as Torani from the coffee section of the grocery store)
1 oz dark rum floated on top

They can be put in any order, but I like the look of the dark rum floating on top, it makes me feel like a bartender! And yes that IS 3.5 ounces of alcohol, so it's a good drink to drink slowly while chatting with friends while the ice melts.  It's also just as nice with only 1/2 ounce of each rum.

I am pretty sure it was just warm out - DONT drink zombies and fall asleep in the sun!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ali stops procastinating and finishes an embroidery she's been working on forEVER

I am not, by my definition, an artist. I'm not saying I am not creative, but I have no talent for drawing, painting, sketching, carving. 

Julie Filipenko's "Veggie Friends"
However there are lots of artists out there who have art that I see and feel FEELS about.  I think a lot about the ethics of taking another person's art and turning it into an embroidery.  I feel OK with it because I make it to hang on my wall, but I know it's not an untouchy subject.

I've bought art from some of them. Some I'll never buy from because they are outside my price range, some don't sell their art even if I want it, or it's old or I find it uncredited and can't find the source.  Some I know I like today but won't like next year, and some... well I don't actually love the it in the media it was in originally, and have a twist I want to put on it.  
I've embroidered things from most medias - my success at translating isn't always amazing but enough of them turn out that I enjoy it.

 I always try to give credit and link to where the art can be bought if I can find it.

Julie Filipenko is from Israel, and has a charming slightly dark sense of style and a TON of talent and art to see on the internet.  I'm actually working on another of her sketches to, that involves a nifty bunny magician.  She used to sell on Etsy but the links to her store go to a dead link now - She sells some on Arsty, and it is very true I will not be affording it.

I made the kitty more happy-go-lucky, and the rabbit pissy as hell. I have this odd feeling I should've sewn actual feathers on the cat's head and I wish I'd been dinking around with watercolors or pastels when I started this, but I'm pleased anyway. I'm going to continue to be mystified at the art being titled "Veggie Friends" though, even if there's some random roots rolling around the original....

glittery eyeball doesn't show up so well on the Iphone!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Paper Pieced Tree Frog

I always find it a bit challenging to make a thing I'm not passionate about, I've learned to say no to making things for people when they ask (it tends to be a chore instead of a joy, and I have enough chores) but I do make gifts now and again that might not be exaclty to my tastes.

My boyfriend's mother is visiting later this month and I wanted to make her something... I don't know too much about her preferences, but I've been told she likes frogs.  I planned on going the ceramics route and throwing a bowl or mug, digging deep for my inner artist and sculpting a frog to it, but moving got in the way, so I defaulted back to sewing.

Craftsy has lots of affordable patterns, and then there are the free ones, which bring me so much joy!  I found a few paper pieced frog patterns online, but I couldn't really beat this one which is free and adorable.  The description mentions how the lady found the art in German, and deconstructed it into a pattern. It says intermediate difficulty, but I think if you have any experience with paper piecing you'd find it pretty doable.

I changed the size down to an 8" square, am adding a border, quilting it, and turning it into a box pouch.  I haven't done any free motion quilting or made any pouches for over a year so I'm sure I'll have some madcap adventures in seam ripping coming up!  I want to put googly eyes on it, but I'm not sure the recipient would find that as amusing as I would. :(

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Fabric Panels for Windows

Aaahhh the sweet smell of privacy.

Did you know you can give yourself privacy with fabric?   I'd forgotten. Several years ago I did research for cheap fixes for the lack of drapes in a rental, and  found you can put fabric up, with spray starch.  And it's cheap!  You can even make your own starch if you didn't go a bit bonkers and buy a 3 pack of starch you didn't really need like I did some years ago..

Tula Pink's Meteor Shower
In that rental, I just cut out sheet pieces to size, I'm a bit more upscale this time.  Admittedly I don't love my choices.  I mixed and matched Liberty of London bits for my front door, and I'll probably change it soon. I'm not exactly a floral print sort of girl. 

I just traced the shapes with paper for templates, then cut the fabric out.  I sprayed starch on the glass and and the light fabric just stayed right where I put it while I sprayed another heavy mist on top. It's a bit lopsided since it's temporary, but *shrug*.

I thought I'd do a window in the kitchen while I was at it, after I forgot to close the blinds and found myself being surprised by my neighbor pretty nearby in his yard (I was wearing clothes though, phew!)  I chose Tula Pink's Birds & Bees Meteor Shower in Cinnamon, but will probably switch to something less opaque soon once my fabric is all unpacked, since I could use as much light as possible in the room I spend so much time in!

Heavier cotton fabric means it's good to spray the window AND douse the fabric with starch before you put it on the glass.

A squeegee can help you work out any air bubbles, and if you're a bit off in your measuring you can carefully use an Exacto knife to trim any excess.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Living Alone, and Lack of Fear

I'm going to be honest.  I thought it would be very pretty scary to live alone.  I thought once the sun went down I'd be double and triple check every window and door compulsively, have a baseball bat for self defense, if I hadn't given in and bought a gun (I happen to be a pretty good shot)..

When I was 20, I moved in with my boyfriend and three of his good friends. It was a great household, full of awesome music and laughs, and we were all damn good professional cooks.

One roommate started having his cousin and friends over.  One day my boyfriend was about to walk with them to the bus stop, but decided making out with me was more important.  15 minutes later there was a drive by in front of our house.  One person died and two ended up in the hospital.

Apparently the roommates cousin was in a gang, and my roommate was having struggles between the path he was on (hanging out with white dudes and listening to punk rock) and wanting to connect with his Hispanic roots, which in this case, meant his cousin's gang. Instead he ended up in the hospital.  

Yay, my boyfriend stayed home and didn't get shot and we got married and had 13 great years and are still good friends because of hormones!  But was suggested the cousin's gang was going to do something back to the shooters, which meant since the other gang knew where we lived, and I was a pacifist alternative hippie batcaver who was "WTF??" about the sudden turn my life had taken, decided to pack up our stuff that day and went to go stay with my mom.

For 25 years after that, I've been a bit anxious to be alone at night.  Of the "sleep with a knife by the bed when my partner is out of town" variety.  In college I wrote papers on the recidivism rates of sex offenders.  In Chiropractic college, I went into school very early one morning to study and a naked man was in the otherwise empty building who was wandering around and stopped and posed, his genitals pointing at me (not the first time a strange dude has done that).  I am female and vulnerable, and I hate it.

I've moved to a place where there are lots of car break ins, vandalism, security systems. I know what registered sex offenders are in my neighborhood. I am on Nextdoor, where every day I get to see my neighbors report the crimes of the last 24 hours (and be aware that maybe 5% of them are on there so things are far worse than that).  I subscribe to the newspaper which fills me in on all the horrors of this city, both in print and digitally!

But... I haven't been scared.  I've been pondering that this week, it is unexpected.  I want this place to be a fortress -  It's not, but for some reason I don't feel terrified once 10pm rolls around. I don't feel terrified at 2 am after 3 horror films.  I haven't made it to Goodwill to pick up a baseball bat and it's been almost a month.  I'm only peripherally aware of where my pepper spray and metal baton are.

Now..what I DO hate is people knocking on my door.  Although it's like the phone, its for MY convenience.  I don't owe the person a response to as they infringe, uninvited on my solitude.  I feel obligation to answer in case it's an emergency or my neighbor, and ignoring it makes me feel a bit guilty.  But damn...Jehovah's witnesses especially, why do you think two guys knocking on stranger's doors during the day are going to make a lady alone at home want to open the door? 

Tonight was a good chance to feel scared.  A few strangers have knocked in the few weeks I've lived here when I'm home but it's been while it was light out. This place has a half round window at the top of the front door, which I thought was high enough above the peephole to provide me privacy so I let it be.  Tonight I found out at that tall dudes can look right through it, when somebody knocked at the door and naked me (it's in the 80s here dammit) went to go hide in the kitchen until they went away.  What I felt though, was mostly irritated at being interrupted.  Minding my own business, watching Project Runway All Stars, sorting my fabric...go away.

This is vaguely making related. I'm going to either have to make a curtain or fabric cut outs to Modge Podge to the panes (I might have enough of some adorable Liberty of London print now that I think of it). 

Maybe I'll make a clay plaque that says "If I'm not expecting you, turn your ass around and don't knock"  Maybe I'll use my woodburning tool to carve that in a nice slab of walnut and weld it to my chain link fence.  Whatever, I'll find some way to craftily MacGyver the shit out of it.

I'd wondering if I should examine the reasons too closely I haven't felt the need to be on guard - but I should probably just enjoy the peace of mind while I can.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Garden of Sorts

Starting a garden from scratch is hard, especially when you find that your yard is made of rocks and debris!  #selfindulgentblogpost  (Actually, all my future blog posts are going to be self indulgent journaling.)

I moved mid August.  The sewer line needed to be repaired so it went from a house with dead grass & bare patches, to having dead grass, bare areas & a large section the plumbers managed to make sure was 90% covered with various sizes of rocks when they filled it in...

Good news though! The plumbers cut through the electrical supply to the garage, so it was re-dug and the electrician did a much better job of making sure some dirt ended up on the surface at the end :)  

The only real life in the backyard is a lilac, a couple large trees and two sad little landscape trees that I planted my flowers in front of.

The previous occupant was a bachelor who didn't care two whits about a yard, so I've been scurrying to get some stuff in the ground before rainy season (and while perennials on are end of season sales). I also stubbornly carted some plants in pots from my old place, and took cuttings from a few things in the interest of being thrifty.

panorama! the left used to be all dead grass, now it's also bare!

Side note - did you know you can use honey for some cuttings??? I used to have all the supplies for the proper propagation of plants but this time I was winging it.  I only got a chance to try it on sage.  Maybe sage is amazingly hardy no matter what, but this method had the cuttings sprouting new leaves within a couple of weeks, before I even had a chance to move and put it in my new garden.

I'm OK with my beginning herb garden, which has catnip, cat mint, chives, marjoram, cuban oregano (a new to me herb), oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme a not-pleased-to -be-transplanted anise hyssop - with some ginger mint tucked safely in a pot.

The new perennial garden is another matter.  The holes I dug were basically shovels full of rocks & chunks of metal, glass, plastic... my favorite finds so far have been a rusted pair of scissors and a kid's plastic shovel.  Update: today I found Barbie's left leg and a rusty utility knife blade.

I have seeded the ground with grass seed and it's growing in as best as it can, considering I keep walking on it.  I'm feel pretty determined to spend at least 15 minutes outside enjoying the yard instead of doing yardwork before rainy season arrives!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Spiced Blueberry and Plum Jam

I moved to Tacoma, WA this month, and found there's an amazing place near me called Charlotte's Blueberry Park.  It's land that was donated to the city, and has volunteer cared for fields full of five types of blueberries, free to pick.  I went with my sister, then briefly again with my boyfriend, and ended up with about a kilogram of berries, most of which I tossed in the freezer. 

My boyfriend seemed to really get a kick out of loopy me picking berries on 4 hours of sleep (moving always = plumbing and electric emergencies for me, and this time was no exception). My only blueberry picking experiences have been with puny bushes no higher than my waist, so these giant fields have been fun to explore.
courtesy of the boyfriend
I was all excited to make blueberry lemon scones with the fresh berries!  And then I figured out my post move pantry is missing baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 

I'd finally bought my first plums of the season, 5 whole plums that I shoved directly into the fridge, along with strawberries and raspberries I bought to also shove in the fridge, expecting them to probably sit there and die a painful death of neglect before putting out into yard waste...

I had already googled plum and ginger jam, but found I scarcely had a pound of plums, so found a myriad of plum/berry jam recipes. Although I'm nervous to improvise too much as a beginner...just kidding.  I double checked what other herbs/spices went with my ingredients and added rosemary. (Cause I managed to build and stock a raised herb bed before I'd lived in my new place two weeks, you gotta have priorities!)

18 oz blueberries
14 oz red plums
1.75 cups sugar
1.5 tablespoons lime juice
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
Sprig of fresh rosemary
Plum seed kernels

I chopped up the plums & macerated the fruit for two hours ( didn't have the patience to wait overnight!) cooked, then water bath canned the jam.

SO... I'd never heard of using the kernels in stone fruit, but one of the recipes I saw involved smashing the pits open to get them, so I looked into it a bit, and added some to each jar.  I use a big metal meat tenderizer which crushed them a lot and scared a cat in the process, so hopefully they actually do impart a lovely almond scent/flavor to the jam.

The recipe made not nearly enough 2 pints.  The kitchen smelled delicious while it was cooking too.