Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bottling up the whines

Our plum wine/brandy/moonshine project continues, without a lot of input from me. It's not that I'm not that into it (I'm not) but I've been working more than usual, often at night. That means I come home to a kitchen looking like a science lab, interesting implements in the dish drainer and pots of cooked plums in various states of fermentation. I hear Ernst mumbling in the kitchen about sugar content and yeast bubbles - I just walk on past on my way to crash in bed.

I must say he has been neat and tidy about it, and so far no exploding plums on the walls. But this does seem like a lot of work for a jug or two of alcohol that may or may not be up to serving to guests. The plan is that if the wine doesn't work, we switch to Plan B (Brandy). Plan C? Compost! We will have the happiest worms in the west.

We (he) decided to forgo putting this stuff in normal sized wine bottles, it's going into large glass jugs so it won't seem too pretentious. If it turns out sort of decent, maybe next year we'll go the wine bottle route. Then there will be the question of a name, perhaps some fancy labels, the decision of corks versus screw caps. A homemade wine with the slightest undertones of skunked dog - get ready to take some sips and lie to us through your slightly plum stained teeth!

Taking up precious fridge space.
So how much did this half jug cost, all told?
Don't ask. Don't tell.

Does he think I don't see the still in the corner of the kitchen?

All ready for the first tasting.
Hoping for a strong skunk overtone with a slight hint of rodent.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Finding Nemo Eviscerated - Tales of a Dog Sitter

Today's post is written by our dog sitter, house sitter, neighbor and friend. Or at least she was when we left for a week in Chicago. Here is the note we came back to that gave us a laugh at 3 am.

Welcome Home! Hope your flight and drive home went smoothly. (It didn't at all, but getting home is still nice, especially getting back to our wonderful, cute, adorable, fluffy bundle of love - Molly!)

The Chronicles of Miss Molly

First night went after, in her undaunted, determined, self-willed, one-thought-only-on-the-brain, a skunk, behind the kayaks. If not for the thought of having to bathe her skunked body, I would have left her to bark herself hoarse because she definitely did not want to return to the house, but I was as determined as she was. As Linda (her sister) says, her respect for the intelligence of skunks has gone way down. Why would they continue to travel through a yard of someone rabidly enthused about catching, killing and playing with their poor little selves?

Also, as I did not get the instructions re: inside toys do not go outside, something turquoise ended up outside. (That would be Nemo.) I never saw it whole. Early on I picked up a piece of turquoise something along with some fluffy white innards and set aside thinking something could be saved. Alas, no redemption for Turquoise Thing. Before my very eyes, I saw its remains violently and viciously ripped apart. I gathered up the remaining puffs of white innards and through no fault of their own, had to consign them to Gehenna.

Sadly not the first attack on poor Nemo.
He lost some innards a few weeks ago.

Sewing Nemo.

All looked well when we left.
But once her toys get outside, they are as good as skunked.

I've been very careful with Dolphin toy, so much so that I forget to put it down for Molly when she is inside. But she adjusted by becoming the "yarn thief"! The first time she was carrying the whole bag away. I kept moving the bags (I had 3) but she would somehow get into them and trot out with a skein in her mouth. The last night she was all the way outside before I realized (it was dark) that she had the big skein of brown yarn in her mouth - Oh No! - it wasn't the yarn, it was the cowl I had finished knitting and had been in the bottom of the bag. She was very sneaky and cleaver and oh so quiet.

I know Molly will be so happy to have her people back!

And I know our dog sitter was probably very happy to pack up her yarn and get out before any more damage was done. Must add yarn thief to her list of felonies.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Plane Misery

What is worse than catching a really early flight in San Francisco that requires a 2:30 am alarm clock set? That would be not needing the alarm because I never slept. Feeling so tired from prepping for a trip on top of being sick on top of being a clean freak for the house sitters, at one point last night I was one heave away from fatigue barfing. And that of course explains why I could not fall asleep ever at all for the 2:30 alarm. Which really doesn't explain anything, because Ernst, equally tired, conked out out 8:30.

The drive went well, we breezed through the fastest security line ever, boarded the plane and waited for takeoff. I immediately conked out, the kind of sleep that involves wide open mouth and head tipped up. Occasional snorting is often heard during this type of sleep, but never by the snorter. It was blissful, it was lovely, it was so needed.

Then it started. The Loud Talker. Right behind me. Directly behind my blissfully sleeping body. In the aisle seat sat the worst possible partner of The Loud Talker - The Question Asker. What is worse than getting on a plane with no sleep, getting seated directly in front of The Loud Talker and The Question Asker? This would be when the Loud Talker has an iPad and he shows the world's longest slide picture show, narrated of course, to said Question Asker. At top volume. The only volume Loud Talker knows.

The funny thing was that it was not just blather - Loud Talker was a world traveler who worked for some news program, and Question Asker had fought in Afghanistan. LT was about to embark on a lengthy trip in western China - so this was not just pitter patter talk and under other circumstances it might have been interesting. Those circumstances would involve ear plugs and possibly a glass of wine. Here are some actual snippets of the three and a half hour conversation:

If the Pakistanis would just build observation decks...
Took the train to Kashan and Ishkanbam and Fereberenish then on to Keristerikastan...
When the Mongols roamed the area...
Of course the Germans paved all the roads in Iraq...
They do have monsoons in Afghanistan...
When I was in the Kandahar province...
Swear to God, that is a real gold palace...
These are Buddhist nuns, they shave their heads...

And on and on and on and on, with loads of photos that required more loud talking. An iPad is a weapon of missed sleep destruction in the hands of a loud talker. Last night, while not sleeping, I told myself, don't forget to pack the ear plugs. Don't forget. Get up right now so you don't forget. But then I thought, what are the chances of being stuck right in front of The Loud Talker and The Question Asker?

Cucumbers don't make very good ear plugs.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Making moonshine in the sunshine

We are deep into the heat of summer here in Sacramento. Today was one more blast of high temps and now the Delta Breeze (capitalized due to extreme joy) is kicking in. I'm sick with a cold and have been stuck inside with the AC going as strong as my cheapskate self will allow. Whoever invented the air conditioner needs to be honored with a national holiday.

The garden is suffering from my lack of energy, I looked out yesterday and saw the zucchini plants wilting, so I very quickly stumbled out in my PJs to give them some much needed water. They revived in about 10 minutes flat. It was a miracle and my plant guilt eased a bit. They looked OK today, so hopefully no permanent damage. Can't be having squash murder ruining my summer fun.

The tomatoes are going gangbusters, making blossoms, blossoms and more blossoms. I saw one potential tomato that has emerged, but so far the yellow flowers are just taunting me for not planting a few weeks earlier. If they all turn into tomatoes, we are in for a bonanza.

On the fruit front, Ernst has been ordering the equipment to make our plum brandy. Yes, vats and pots and beakers and tubing are involved. Why are we making plum brandy?

  • Because Ernst is Ernst.
  • Because we have tons of plums.
  • Because our trip to Romania last summer was during full blown plum brandy making season, and Ernst was intrigued.
  • Because Ernst is Ernst.

Could we perhaps just eat them? Jam? Cobbler?
No, we're makin' happy juice.

I'm imagining plum guts all over the walls, he envisions sipping delicious aperitifs down the road. It's a glass half empty with exploding fruit, glass half full of the fruits of our labor sort of thing. As long as I don't have to crush them with my feet, I'll be happy. Plum brandy - it's what's cooking this summer!

I'm scared.

Power tools are involved?

Should have painted the walls a nice plum color

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Felina, the purrrfectly puffy rag quilt

Often when I have the most things to do, that's the time I decide I really must...just have to...can't wait any longer...the world will stop turning unless I do...forget it all...I have to make a rag quilt or I'll just go batty from batting withdrawal. This week I have gobs to do, so of course I just had to make a rag quilt.

There is a new style of rag quilt and I had to try it. They are not sandwiched with batting, they are stuffed with fluff. It involves a different type of construction, and I had to sit at times at the sewing machine as the gears (in my head) turned while the gears (on the machine) sat idle. But stretching the brain is good for me, and I'm thrilled with the results. I don't know how this puffy look would go over with more sophisticated fabric, but this bunch was up to the challenge.

I found some kitty fabric last year at the thrift store, and held on to it until I collected some more to match. When my sister Janice visited, she brought down some leftover fabric from her apron sewing, and it looked cute with the kitties. I also had some flannel left from some other projects, plus a soft and perfect purple corduroy skirt that, let's face it. would never fit me. I love the way it all turned out. I didn't overstuff the squares, and I'm glad because I think they might get out of hand with too much stuffing. It is much bulkier than my typical quilts, yet lighter without the batting. I would keep it, but our canine friend would have a good old time with all that puffy, fluffy kitty fabric and the fur would fly.

Felina - all cut up and ready to be sewn, stuffed and snipped.

Felina - finished, washed, dried and ready for a forever home.