“Real Salt”

Real Sea Salt

I think someone’s gone a little overboard with their marketing.

My favorite part is the ingredient list: “Ancient Sea Salt.”

(And they weren’t kidding about the “unrefined” and “60+ trace minerals” – the salt inside is rather sandy looking.)

Feline Friend

After years of longing and disappointed hopes, in the form of my parents’ cats, neighborhood cats, and friends’ cats, Maxwell has finally made a feline friend!  A cat has been hanging out near our home for a little while now, and after making some friendly advances – in the form of sitting perfectly still, staring, and maniacal tail-wagging – Maxwell’s hopes have been rewarded in the form of a tiny, fluffy, super-friendly, super-talkative black cat.  The cat came trotting up to him a couple of times on our walks over the last few weeks, and then last weekend, ventured onto our front porch.

Max at first was quite puzzled.

Maxwell is curious and anxious to meet the cat

Cat Friend was not at all interested in doing the usual meet-and-greet sniffing ritual.

Attempting a sniff

Instead, it seemed to want to nuzzle, which Max could meet only with wide-eyed confusion.

After the opening introductions of sniffing and rubbing, both cat and pups became relaxed and happy.  I was quite surprised at the cat’s bravery; most seem to be frightened of Max (even though he only wants to sniff & explore), but it didn’t even stop at cuddling and walking around near him.

After making friends with Max, the cat turned its attention to me, trotting over, talking to me, staring at me, and after a moment or two, jumping right onto my lap, at which move Maxwell was once again thrown into confusion.

 

As CF sat on my lap and purred, Max contemplated this extremely weird turn of events…

… but decided after a while that he could share my affection with his new friend.  For a while, Max and Cat Friend were quite happy together, and whenever we’d hear CF meowing out front, Max would run to the door, and they sat happily looking out together.

happily sharing the porch

 

If the mean humans wouldn’t let Max out, they would have to resort to crude, distant through-the-window communication, which was pretty cute (at least until CF jumped up and tried to climb the screen).

Unfortunately, Cat Friend is not in a good position.  It must be a stray, since we’ve discovered it was being fed by our neighbor two doors down – and very sadly, none of us have seen it since yesterday (Wednesday) morning.  Most of our neighbors have been friendly toward it (the one has been feeding it, and another talked about possibly adopting it) but one has made clear that she loathes its dirty, horrible strayness, its outdoor living (and presumable bird-murdering) and the overnight meowing it does outside her bedroom window.  I’m afraid that the third has prevailed, since an animal control van was patrolling the next street over on Tuesday.  I hope that this is not the sad ending to Max’s budding friendship, but …..

On a separate note: what do you think of his hilarious new haircut?  He had his first official professional groom last week, and even though I said we like him to have some hair left on top, this was the result.  It’s taken a while to get used to; for a couple of days, every time I saw him I had to stifle a giggle at his extra-round looking head and cropped bangs.

Raspberry Success

Of course the summer has not even begun yet, but I have good news on the Raspberry Experiment front.

The bushes are growing nicely:

Berry Bushes… berries are forming:

Future Berries… and we even have one just about ready to pick and eat.  (Since it’s our first, we’ll either have to flip a coin or split it in half.)  I didn’t get a great photo of it, but – since these are yellow raspberries – the ripe one is the rich golden one on top, partly behind a leaf.

Ripe Raspberry!That greener one in the front ought to be ready pretty soon, too.  Yum.

It’s hard to say whether the berries are more exciting, or the growth of the bushes.  They’re looking much better than when we first potted them, and very much like they’ll continue to thrive despite not technically being in a full-sun spot.  I’m so glad.

Berry bushes in the sun

 

Pizza Experiment (still nameless)

How does bacon-and-egg with pesto on a whole wheat crust sound?

half-gone pizza

John and I had a pretty typical conversation in the grocery store last Sunday – I asked him if there was anything particular he wanted for dinner this week, and the answer was no, nothing in particular.  In the frustration of trying to come up with another six days of interesting-ish meals, but out of ideas myself, I demanded that he tell me: if I made a pizza this week, what would he want on it?

The answer was basil, bacon, and eggs.

OK, I thought, those are not the usual things I put on pizza, but why not?

Since I made enough pesto last summer that we still have about a quart in the freezer, and there isn’t any fresh yet at the farmer’s market, I decided to use pesto as the sauce instead of putting basil on top.  I sliced some fresh mozzarella, sprinkled some bacon on top, and popped it in the oven.  (We cracked the eggs on top about halfway through the 11 minute cooking time; they were still jiggly at the end, but looked like their whites had been fully cooked, so we crossed our fingers and called it good enough.)

Turns out John’s spur-of-the-moment culinary invention was quite an excellent one.  The flavors worked well together and the eggs somehow became amazingly soft and custard-like, which accounted for their wobbliness.  The main downside, in my opinion, is that I still have to make a separate veggie on the side to make the meal acceptably balanced, but I definitely think this one will be returning to the rotation regardless.

And also – we were singularly lacking in creativity last night and couldn’t come up with a good name for the creation.  Any good ideas?

Cognates

Here’s my dorky side coming out a little: I really like thinking about (and finding) seemingly disparate words that are in fact closely related through their original roots.  One of my favorite sets, for instance, is that stemming from the latin word for “hang” – pendulum, pending, depend, suspend, append (& prepend), pendant, impending, perpendicular, appendage, etc.

I just discovered a new set that is (to me) pretty exciting:

  • Decapitate
  • Capitulate
  • Recap
  • Chapter

What do these have in common?  They’re all from the latin for “head.”  Decapitate is obvious, but I never connected the others to the same root (despite the common syllable) until yesterday morning.  It turns out that capitulating was originally surrendering in battle – and drawing up the terms of surrender under their various headings.  Recap is an abbreviation of recapitulation, which has nothing to do with giving in, but rather summarizing by going through point by point, or rather, heading by heading.  Chapter – same idea.  Headings!

I imagine that there is someone reading this (Dad?) to whom this set is one of the obvious ones… but it wasn’t to me, and I was excited to discover it.

And now, so this post is not a complete waste of time for those who are not interested in etymology – a ladybug, on a rather dirty leaf.

Ladybug

Yay.

Tatting

Anyone remember how I mentioned last winter that I wanted to learn how to tat, in order to be able to produce my own flurry of tatted snowflakes?  Well, I’ve had my chance.  Two weeks ago an expert tatter who was visiting in my weekly knitting group offered to teach me and another woman, so after the purchase of some basic supplies – a tatting shuttle, ball of tatting thread, and a tiny crochet hook (.75 mm!) are the only really necessary items – I am on my way!

Basic Supplies

It’s both easier and harder than I thought it would be.  Easier, since there is really only one stitch with a small handful of variations to remember; harder, because with tiny thread looping here and there, and getting tangled, and twisting, and knotting when it’s not supposed to, that one stitch can be pretty tricky to keep track of.

My impromptu teacher whipped up a bunch of little samples, and gave us quite a few printed and hand-drawn patterns to get on with:

Examples

Do you see her pretty little butterfly, in the middle at the top?  It’s a good point of comparison for my first completed tatted item, that rather wonky and lopsided butterfly at the bottom left.  I definitely need to learn how to tighten up between one ring and the next….

All in all, I’m quite pleased with this as a new hobby, quite complementary to knitting.  It’s much more transportable, since all the projects are very small, and there are no stitches to slip off a needle when stuffed into a bag or pocket.  I could slip an entire snowflake project into my jeans pocket and have enough to work on for a whole weekend trip.  It’s also a quieter and more unobtrusive activity than knitting, so perhaps better for taking out in public.  Hooray for tatting!

I’d forgotten until just now, but I have a photo of myself tatting away at the lesson, courtesy of my fellow student.  Me, tatting, or at least pretending to:

tatting

 

Quilt Projects

Last weekend, John and I went back down to the awesome Hollyhill quilt shop to pick out some fabrics for a new quilt project that Mom’s agreed to take on for us.  As you can see we’ve got mostly blues and neutrals, with accents of red and yellow.

fabrics for Living Room

 

The project?  We have a huge, empty space above our bookshelves in the living room:

Empty Wall Space

and thought that three little decorative quilts hung side by side would fill the space nicely, and fit in well with the cozy library feel that we’re trying to give the room.  We had some difficulty choosing colors, not helped at all by the huge selection at Hollyhill, particularly with my leaning toward calm, more muted colors, and John’s desire for Bright!! ones, but I think we hit a pretty good balance that we’ll both be happy with.  Blues that we both like – my neutrals – John’s bright accents.

While down there I also picked up some fabric that I hope to use to “slipcover” a metal bookshelf for my soon-to-be loft/office (by wrapping the fabric around the outside and sticking it in place with magnets).  I’m using as color inspiration a picture that my parents gave me for graduation, and for the bookcase, settled on a nice beach glass color with little pink flowers – leaning against the painting below.

Painting and fabrics

I also realized as I was going through some sample squares that Mom and I picked out back in January to help with the color decisions that some of them fit quite well with my upstairs colors.  I’m thinking of stitching these together myself, and trying my hand at a simple, small patchwork quilt.

Mini Quilt

 

I don’t want to pick up yet another crafting hobby – but having these right here seems like too good an opportunity to pass up. …we will see.