A Fall Wreath

I am not an artistic person.  Like, at all.  I find art galleries boring.  I can’t draw a recognizable stick figure.

Don’t get me wrong—I can be quite creative (it’s a hidden talent of accountants, and contributes to much of the financial fraud in the world…).  I can cook you a meal that you will enjoy.  I can spin my children’s nightmares into funny stories that aren’t scary anymore.  I can knit, and I can hold a tune well enough to not hurt your ears with both my voice and my fiddle (though maybe not at the same time).  I can come up with all sorts of creative ways to procrastinate doing housework.  I can be witty, and I can insult you in that Southern style that takes you until I’ve left the room to figure out that I was actually being nasty.

But I don’t find Pinterest interesting.  I don’t browse it for ideas, or for decorating eye candy, or for fun.  I don’t find making art projects to be anything other than messy and stressful.  I have to really work at being the kind of mom who helps my kids achieve their creative endeavors.  I think in words, and spend all day creating word pictures.  I think some people think in pictures, or think more abstractly, and are able to translate those ideas into something beautiful.  I don’t see pictures in my mind of how I want something I am making to turn out, and if I did, whatever I was trying to create would most certainly not turn out that way, but would be such a bastardized outcome that might scare my children because it would be so macabre.

This is in high definition contrast to my sweet Kullervo, who not only grew up the child of two amazing artists, but also is quite talented himself.  (Don’t listen to his protests—he’s lying.)  Along with being capable at bringing ideas to life, he is also my Myers-Briggs opposite, and thinks in concepts.  (Most of our arguments can be traced back to my very concrete literalness and his vague approximations.)

We have been wanting to put up festive seasonal decorations.  I wanted to buy a wreath for our door—we have a door!  It’s OUR door!  It should be decorated and look elegant!  Kullervo, who has a hard time accepting that I am so incompetent at something that would come so easily to him, suggested that we (I) make a wreath.  I gamely went along with it–people like doing this stuff!  It must be fun!

I will not make that mistake again (and I imagine that Kullervo will, next time, take matters into his own hands if he wants a homemade art project).  I went to a craft store and got supplies to make a wreath—a foam circle, some other stuff that looked fall-like, gold spray paint, wire, and a door hook.  How hard could this be?

It turns out, basically impossible for me.  And, messy.

I spray painted the foam gold.  I managed to stretch out how long I waited for it to dry for at least three weeks, just in case.  Then I wrapped some woodsy looking stuff around the outside, and cursed at how challenging it was to make it stay in place.  And I broke a pair of scissors trying to cut it to the right size, because they only make scissors for right handed people, and I can only use left handed scissors despite being a righty.

These used to be my favorite pair of kitchen scissors.

These used to be my favorite pair of kitchen scissors.

After securing the woodsy garland to the foam (not particularly well–I don’t really have the patience to care if it isn’t perfect, which is probably why I’m not cut out for this stuff), I took a fall leaves garland and tried to make that look festive.  I failed.

This is not festive.  Or attached.

This is not festive. Or attached.

I decided to take a break (from not accomplishing anything), and took my little one outside for a bit to play ball.  He wanted to play Superman instead.  Fair enough.  He probably recognized my need for a hero.

Our front door version of a phone booth...

Our front door version of a phone booth…

After I put him down for his afternoon nap, I tried again.  Dammit, I will not be defeated by craft materials.  I have standards, and they are (slightly) higher than that!  So, I persisted, and I’ll be darned if there isn’t now something relatively unsightly and unprofessional looking hanging outside.

This isn't very pretty either.

This isn’t very pretty either.

 

I hung it up where Kullervo can't miss it.

I hung it up where Kullervo can’t miss it.

After I hung it up, I found more doodads that I had not figured out how to attach.  So, I have precariously perched them on the wreath.  I plan to cry if anyone disturbs it.

After I hung it up, I found more doodads that I had not figured out how to attach. So, I have precariously perched them on the wreath. I plan to cry if anyone disturbs it.  That’ll show them.

I am pretty sure I have learned my lesson–this is not my cuppa.  Some people can make wonderful, creative, beautiful things for their homes.  I can too–they’re called children.  And dinner.

Next time we want a homemade wreath, I’m delegating.  And then I’ll be a good accountant and balance the checkbook.

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Boil Them Cabbage*

We are members of a CSA, and all summer long we have gotten weekly drop offs of local, organic produce.  On top of that, we hosted the CSA at our house (so people picked up from our place), which meant that not only did we not have to go pick up our produce every week, but we got a discount for hosting, and if people didn’t pick up their shares… we got to keep them.

I looked around for places that I could donate extras to, but I was wholly unsuccessful at finding somewhere that would take fresh food (unfortunately).

This week was the last week of the season, and after it was over, we had a ton of fresh greens.  There was spinach, there was kale, there were beet greens (which, for the record, are AMAZING on homemade pizza).  And there was so much of all of it that there was no way we’d be able to eat it all before it went bad without actually turning green.

So, I looked up how to preserve greens.  It turns out that you can freeze them if you blanche them first.  So, last night, in a fit of nesting energy, I washed:

 

blanched:

Blanching Spinach

and froze almost all of our greens.

Freezing Greens

The question I had while working was, of course, what kind of music should I listen to while doing this?

The answer seemed obvious–bluegrass!  So I set up Pandora, and let the banjo, fiddle, guitar, and other strings keep my mind off the fact that standing around boiling and cooling greens for a couple of hours while unreasonably pregnant made my feet hurt.

And this winter, when you’re looking for a fix for your cravings for teeny baby toes and fingers and soups and stews with organic, local greens… come on over!

*No, there was no cabbage.  The title to this post is a reference to a common fiddle tune called Boil Them Cabbage Down.

Chilly Anyone?

Ahhh, I’m so punny. No, really. Because jokes about cold are always funny when you live in Chicago, I had to go with this title.

Anyway, I hate chili. I have always hated chili. I don’t like kidney beans, I don’t like spicy foods, I don’t like chili powder, I don’t like the texture, the taste, the anything.

However, last week when my in-laws were visiting, my father-in-law wanted to cook us his chili. And they’re my in-laws. So I couldn’t very well say no, especially since I have such a terrible reputation for being ridiculously picky about food. (For the record, I’m not picky about food, and I will always try a bite, but I’m not going to eat a ton of food I don’t like, and if I have a say, I like to be the one cooking (so I can avoid things like chili) or helping to decide what to make.) So, I made rice on the side and determined to eat a small helping and fill up on rice and never, ever complain.

Here’s the thing though–it was really good! He used pinto beans instead of kidney beans, and didn’t use chili powder at all. What a difference! I guess one might say that those changes make the dish not chili at all… but who cares?! I didn’t have to lie when I said that I enjoyed it!

It also meant that when I came across a chili recipe in a magazine (Real Simple), I actually looked at it. And then I bought the ingredients. And then I cooked it. And it was delicious! I liked changing the ground beef to ground turkey in the recipe. The turkey adds extra flavor while providing a similar texture. There was a generous amount of cumin in the dish, but not so much that it overpowered it. And while I still omitted the chili powder, I did substitute some chipotle hot sauce from Kullervo’s Christmas hot sauce gift set. And, like my father-in-law, I also replaced the kidney beans. In this case, I used a can of pinto beans and a can of navy beans (both drained and rinsed well, of course, so that dinner didn’t taste like a can).

I served the chili with rice and with a French loaf, and basked in the praise as Kullervo raved all night about how delicious dinner was. All in all, culinary success!

American Idol – the short version

I drove all day on Friday to the Boston auditions for the next season of American Idol.  I will give a blow-by-blow later, but I’m still exhausted from the whirlwind trip, so suffice it to say for now that, at least right now, I am unlikely to be the next American Idol.  There’s a cool story, including really cool people, Ryan Seacrest, someone getting kicked out of the stadium…

But I’m still tired, so I’m getting ready for bed.

Audition

This evening, I auditioned for a part in a local theater’s production of Hello Dolly!

I am trying not to get my hopes up, for a number of reasons.
1. They didn’t have me sing any scales, which implied to me that they weren’t really interested in my range.
2. I closed my eyes while I was singing.
3. I didn’t do a very good job during the dance (I don’t think).

However, just going to audition was a big deal for me. So, even if I don’t get a callback, or even if I don’t get a part, I’m proud of myself for doing something difficult. I was so nervous during the audition that my teeth were chattering and I was shaking and freezing cold.

Boogas

In the last few weeks, I have made two Booga bags and one Mooga bag.

A mooga bag is a mini Booga–I wanted to make a smaller bag, and so I shrank the number of stitches required for a Booga. I haven’t felted it yet; pictures to follow when I finish felting them all, and send the one that is a gift to the recipient.

FO – A Hat for Hazel!

I made this hat–twice actually–for Hazel. I didn’t have a pattern; I just kind of knit, using a stitch I really liked (from the most recent socks I made for Conner). I had to knit it twice because the first time it was too wide and too short (so much for swatching…). However, since it was cashmere, it was yummy to knit with. I think it turned out well, especially since it’s really the first thing I’ve made without a pattern.

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Hazel likes to touch it too! (It’s soooo soft!)
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