Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Photo Dump

I'm clearing off the photos from my camera. Here's some pictures that never made it into blog posts yet.

Things found in my yard:

Holly trees and mowy boys.

Things that go Bloom!

My catnip brings kitties to the yard.

Silly Fiver, cowslips are for Owsla.
(sorry for the photo quality, this was taken through the screen on my bathroom window with the highest zoom my camera has.)

Our new patio furniture.

Chris made me a cherry pie from scratch for my birthday. (We're not in the "things found in my yard" section any more, by the way)

Remember when I used to spend my Saturday mornings at the Majestic Theatre? Well now they've got a machine to do my job!

Quilt Project #3 - Checkerboard Pot Holder

For my first pieced top, I made this checkerboard pot holder.

There's a trick to it. First I cut four long yellow strips and four long black strips and sewed them together in alternating colors. Then I cut the resulting bumblebee looking piece into perpendicular strips. Then I flip every other strip and sew them back together.

The hard part is getting the corners to line up exactly. I made it difficult on myself by using so many squares (this is usually a 9-square instead of a 64-square) and by using such small squares (small errors become proportionately bigger).

For the quilting stage, I decided to use the "stitch in the ditch" method where you quilt along the seams of the pieces. This was a little more tricky than I expected. It was hard to keep my stitching in a straight line, and little variances are more obvious with this method.

I also had difficulty with unintentional pleats. These were formed when I pressed the seam allowances. The fabric folded, and the folds were ironed in, so the "ditch" was inaccessible to stitch. When I pressed the seam allowances, I always pressed them onto the darker fabric so that it wouldn't show through. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but of course this wasn't possible once I got to the point where I was sewing the alternating strips together. I realize now I should have pressed the seam allowance open. This would have prevented the pleats, and the show-through problem would at least be symmetrical.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Box of Veggies (4 of 22)

This week we split the onions, potatoes, and beets (E&A took the beets and I kept the greens). I got the lettuce, tomato, cucumber, chard, and strawberries, E&A got the cilantro, garlic scapes, and carrots (am I forgetting something?, it seems like I took more than my share this week).

Last week I put the strawberries in scones. They were tasty, but it seemed like a waste of really good strawberries. This week, I sliced the strawberries and mixed them with a couple tablespoons of sugar and will use them as a topping. I had left over cream cheese from last week's carrot cake frosting, so I made stuffed french toast. The recipe I used called for Irish Cream liqueur which I didn't have, so I had to substitute soy milk and sugar, but I love the idea and will be pick some up the next time I'm at the liquor store for just this purpose.

The chard and beet greens will be blanched or steamed and served with potatoes as a side dish. The lettuce, tomato, onion, and cucumbers will be sandwiches.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pride in the Park

This is Tristen; you may recognize her from her photo in the paper. She is one of the organizers of Pride Corvallis, the first (and hopefully annual) lesbian and gay pride festival in Corvallis .

When I first heard about the event a couple weeks ago, I sent an e-mail asking if they needed volunteers. Tristen wrote back and said I could help set up. This mainly consisted of unloading tables, chairs, and one ridiculously heavy generator (for the 'bouncy castle') from trucks, but constructing the helium balloon arch was easily the highlight.

I missed the actual parade (I went to the Farmer's Market instead), but after lunch I came back to the park with my juggling props and juggled, took in the sights, listened to the music, visited the vendor booths, and juggled some more.

This was the most wholesome Pride event I've ever attended. There was no alcohol, lots of folks my age, and lots of little kids (there was a kids area with games, face-painting, and that bouncy castle). If this had been my first Pride festival 20 years ago, I'd have been disappointed. Back then I was young and looking for a wild time; I enjoyed seeing people in their fetish gear with their slaves on a leash, mostly naked go-go dancers, and flamboyant drag queens lip-syncing to disco. But now I'm much more mellow and I really appreciate the family-friendly and laid-back atmosphere.

I do wish there had been more shirtless guys though.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Tomato Update

A year ago today, I posted a picture of my first tomato.

Here's this year's tomato for comparison.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Box of Veggies (3 of 22)

This week we split the potatoes, spinach, mizuna and lettuce. I took the onion, carrots, and strawberries, and gave E&A the scallions, basil, and tomato.

The only thing new to me this week was the mizuna. It's a slightly bitter, slightly spicy leafy green - somewhere between mustard greens and arugula. It's usually used in salads. I will stir fry it later this week.

I'm not a big fan of carrots, but it's seems we will get a large bunch of them every week in the box. I can't just keep forcing them on E&A (like week 1) and I won't have a bunch of friends over for game night every week (like week 2); so I will have to find carrot recipes that I can eat. This week I made these carrot cupcakes.

I also made spinach calzones and strawberry scones. The potatoes are parboiled and ready for breakfast burritos, and the onion and lettuce will be eaten on sandwiches throughout the week.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quilt Project #2 - Hilbert Curve Pot Holder

The piecing stage of quilting naturally has a lot of possibilities for exploring some of the niftier properties of polygons and tessellation, but the quilting stage can have it's math appeal as well. For example, space-filling curves lend themselves quite well to quilting.

The SierpiƄski curve (above left) is ideal for quilting because it is a loop , and you can start it in the middle. This is important because as you sew, the layers of fabric tend to shift. Starting in the middle helps mitigate this effect. However, for my second quilt project, I decided to make another whole cloth pot holder using the Hilbert Curve (above right) because it only has right angles (way easier).

I'm still unhappy with the binding. I spent much more time fussing with it this time trying to make it work. It's better than last time, but still very sloppy looking.

It's hard to see the fancy stitching pattern from this picture. Here's a close up:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


One year ago today I posted my first entry on this blog.

Last year I posted a picture of our new house. Here's how it looks a year later.

There are a couple small differences:

- There was a dead tree in the open space behind our house. The top 12 feet of it crashed into our yard after a serious windstorm last fall.

- The arch that was covered in grandmothery pink roses is now covered with grapes (much tastier).

- There is no car in the port. Chris took it to Arizona for the summer (the car-free days of summer).

I thought the name "blogaversary" was a natural portmanteau of "blog anniversary", but then I realized that by taking out the "anni" from "anniversary", I'm removing the part of the word that means "year", so what would blogaversary actually mean? Maybe anniblogary would be a more correct term.

So for the fun of it, I tried googling the terms, blogaversary and anniblogary (as well as blogiversary, blogversary and annibloggery), and discovered that lots of people have already used these words in this context (go ahead, try it).

In fact most of the results come from blogaversary posts discussing which term is the most appropriate. Can you believe people actually do that?

I love the internet.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Box of Veggies (2 of 22)

This week's harvest:

We Got a Fennel Bulb, and Eric and Allison took the strawberries. We split everything else: carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, fava beans, turnips, and kale.

We had friends over on Saturday night to play Diplomacy, and served some of the carrots, cucumber, and turnips as snacks

The newsletter that they send with the box suggests cooking and mashing the fennel bulb with potatoes. I might do that and serve it with the fava beans. They also suggest slicing the fennel bulb, breading it, and frying it. That sounds tasty, too, and then I can save the potatoes for breakfast burritos. I also want to experiment with making tea from the fennel fronds.

Allison forwarded me this recipe for baked kale chips that looks delicious (and more importantly, easy), so I'll probably give that a try.

I'm still looking for something to do with the turnips. I'm leaning toward this recipe for Kashmiri-Style Kidney Beans with Turnips if I get a chance put some beans in the crockpot, Otherwise I'll try this simpler mashed turnip recipe (though I'll probably skip the last baking step). This Israeli Moroccan Couscous looks wonderful, but I'm not planning on putting that much effort into it this week - I'll consider it in the future if we get similar veggies.

Monday, June 15, 2009

South for the Summer

I expect this to be an annual tradition; Chris has an out-of-state internship and will be leaving town for the summer.

He's leaving today and splitting the 20 hour drive over 3 days.

Last summer he was in Seattle, which wasn't too far to visit, but this summer he'll be in Phoenix, Arizona. I will miss him, of course, but I won't be making a trip to visit him.

He'll be back in 14 weeks. I've started the countdown.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summer Juggling

There are two juggling clubs in Corvallis: The OSU juggling club, and The One Wheel Wonders Unicycling and Juggling Club. Both clubs move their meetings outdoors during the summer. Tomorrow is the first day that 1WW meets at Central Park downtown.

One of my many summer resolutions is to get back into juggling regularly. So starting tomorrow, I plan to juggle with the 1WW at their meetings on the first and third Mondays of the month. The OSU club meets at the MU Quad on Mondays and Thursdays throughout the summer. Every time I've ever showed up there during the summer, I've been the only one, but I figure I'd like to juggle weekly anyway, even if it's by myself, and the MU quad is as good a place as any, so I plan on practicing there on every Monday that the 1WW aren't meeting.

While I'm on the topic of juggling in Corvallis, here's a YouTube video from the Juggling Convention last March.

If you look close, you can see me in the background briefly; at 0:17, I'm the one kicking up the club.

Also, I meant to post this earlier; it's a video that I took at that convention of my friend Ethan with whom I used to juggle back in the day on the courthouse lawn in Boulder. He now lives in Portland and came down for the convention.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Majestic Gig Ends

Right now I'm hanging out in the box office of the Majestic Theatre like I have most Saturday mornings since November when I first started volunteering here.

This will be my last day here, though (at least for a while). I was informed last Saturday after my shift was through that this Saturday would be the last day I am needed here. The Majestic is temporarily closing in August for remodeling, and I figured I'd be doing this until then; they do have a show in July. But it turns out that the house manager here (my boss) is taking a leave of absence starting now, and so they decided to not keep the box office open on Saturdays any more.

I'd be happy to come back after the remodel, but I have a feeling they won't ask me to. I think the plan was to expand the box office hours to Saturday and staff it with volunteers for a little while to see if it was popular, but Saturday ticket sales are very slow and I usually just sit around for a couple of hours and post on my blog. I think the only reason they kept the box office open on Saturdays as long as they have was because they had an eager and reliable volunteer willing to do it for free, but it just doesn't make sense for them to open up the box office just for me.

I should probably find another volunteer gig for Saturday mornings before I fall back into my old lazy Saturday habits (sitting in my cowboy pajamas, eating sugary cereal, and watching cartoons). Maybe I'll check Craigslist again, maybe the Humane Society or Kitty Angel Team needs people.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Last Pride Home Game

The Corvallis Pride (The women's football team I mentioned last year) are playing their last game of the season tomorrow morning against the Portland Shockwave.

The team isn't the same this year. I first noticed something was different at their first home game (also against Portland) back in April. I recognized Simone Shepherd playing quarterback (and defensive back, place kicker, and punter), and I recognized Natalie Nash and Coach Buglione, but where was Michelle Derry? or for that matter, anybody else from last year's squad? I mean no disrespect to the athletes on the team who are all better football players than me, but the level of play was unexpectedly amateur compared to last season.

I looked it up when I got home and learned that they had in fact lost a lot of players this year and had been demoted to the League's Tier II classification. I found this article that described how the team was facing the possibility of not having enough players to play at all this season and they merged with the Redding team in order to play.

It's a remarkable story, but it doesn't seem sustainable. I hope they manage to recruit enough local athletes this off-season to stay afloat on their own, preferably Tier I caliber athletes so the games will be more competitive.

I wouldn't even mind if they were Tier II if there were other Tier II teams in the region to compete with. Wikipedia lists Bend, OR, Medford, OR, and Kennewick, WA as possible Tier II expansion cities.

If they can't recruit more players, there's a certain probability that they won't be able to field a team next season, and tomorrow would be the last chance to see them play.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My First Quilt Project

Inspired by Matt posting his sketches on his blog to record his progress, I've decided to do the same thing with my quilting projects.

When I decided to take up quilting, I had the misconception that sewing together the scraps of fabric into pretty geometric designs was pretty much all there was to quilting. It turns out this process is called 'piecing', and it's only one part of the project (and not even a necessary part).

The actual 'quilting' part is stitching together a sandwich of batting between two pieces of fabric. I had considered this a relatively insignificant "finishing up" stage of making a quilt, but this stitching can be very elaborate and is an art of it's own. Most importantly, you can do it badly, and after you've spent so much time piecing together an elaborate top, you don't want to mess it up by doing an ugly stitching job on top of it.

Although the top piece of a quilt is almost always pieced together from scraps of fabric, it doesn't have to be. Whole cloth quilting uses one solid fabric for the top and is usually used to showcase fancy stitching.

But the stitching job doesn't have to be elaborate either; the most basic quilting pattern is called channel quilting which is just straight parallel lines.

Although channel quilting and/or whole cloth quilts are quite common (most store-bought bedspreads and sleeping bags are just that), it's not what most people think of when they think of a quilt; like me, most people think of a pieced top when they think of a quilt.

So for my first quilting project, I decided to start with simplest project I could conceive of: a whole cloth channel quilted pot holder.

It's not particularly pretty, but it wasn't intended to be. It does hold pots.

I figured it wouldn't be hard to eye-ball parallel lines, so I didn't bother with guidelines. When I noticed I was way off, I tried to compensate, and only made it worse.

The fabric also puckered a little. I will probably invest in a walking foot for my sewing machine to prevent that.

The binding was hard to do, and I don't like the way it looks; hopefully this improves with repetition.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kegger in Slugtown

Before moving to Corvallis, I knew little about Oregon. But my experience at the Great American Beer Festival taught me that Oregon (Portland, specifically) was the origin of the microbrew revolution in the 80s, and that Portland has more breweries per capita than any other city. When I first moved here from Colorado I was impressed by the beers here - not just the quality and diversity, but the availability; unlike Colorado, you can buy craft beers at the grocery store any day of the week, and it doesn't cost much more than mass produced beer (at least for now).

I'd also heard about the slugs. When I was a kid, my older sister went to Oregon on an Outward Bound program (or some such), and when she got back she told me about the banana slugs she saw here. Slugs aren't very common in Colorado, so when I first saw them here (the non-banana kind) I found them kind of endearing. After being here awhile I find them less so. But the easy-to-get inexpensive microbrews still haven't lost their charm.

Given the surfeit of beer and slugs in Oregon, it's not surprising that the "beer trick" for trapping slugs in your garden is common knowledge around here. But it was news to me when I first heard it, so I'd like to share it with my friends and family in Colorado (specifically my sister, who asked me about it).

- Get beer. It doesn't have to be good beer (slugs aren't snobs).

- Get a small jar lid. It doesn't take much beer.

- Place the lid near the base of the slugs' favorite plant.

- Push it into the ground so the lip is level with the ground, (this step is optional, the lip of the lid is a small hurdle for the beer-thirsty slug).

- fill the jar lid with the beer.

- Wait for the slugs to come in and drown.

I just leave the pickled slugs there. The birds will eventually come and eat them. I add more beer (more or less daily) to replace whatever gets lost (some evaporates, some gets washed away in the rain or during watering, some is spilled or drunk by birds or other critters).


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Box of Veggies

Local farm, Gathering Together Farms has a program they call Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). The way it works is, the subscribers pay a one-time fee up front in March, and for 22 weeks the farmers give us a box of whatever veggies they happen to harvest that week. The benefit to them is that they don't have to come up with the start up cash, and they don't risk losing big if uncooperative weather damages their harvest. The benefit to the subscriber is that we get a big box of fresh tasty vegetables every week without having to get dirt under our fingernails, plus we stand to benefit if they are lucky enough to have a bumper crop.

We signed up for the program this year, and I picked up the first box of the season this Saturday. We got Kohlrabi, Bok Choy, Chard, Rhubarb, a couple carrots and a cucumber. We are splitting the box with some friends of ours and they got the lettuce (one red-leaf, one green), onions (one of them might have been a leek), purple potatoes, carrots and a cucumber. After we split it up I realized that we got all the "cool" vegetables and they got all the "ordinary" vegetables (that wasn't intentional, Eric and Allison, we will have to work out a fairer way of splitting this up in the future).

This program helps me accomplish two of my summer resolutions: to eat more fresh produce, and to start planning my meals for the week (including bringing lunch to work instead of eating out). Maybe I'll copy my sister and start posting my weekly meal plan on my blog.