Saturday, November 24, 2012

It's Been Too Long!

It has been too long.  I have almost forgotten that I have a blog.  Internet connection problems have slowed me down and taken much of the fun as well as the joy out of all things net related.  Some of these problems seem to be resolving.  So here I am trying to remember how to do this.

A few days ago, I was refreshing my memory in a skill that I developed twenty or so years ago--potpourri making.  I whipped up a big, big batch (nearly 30 cups) of Christmas potpourri, which I will bag this week for sale on my Etsy shop.

 Here is a picture of the potpourri in my big shiny aluminum bowl that was originally intended, I am sure, for holding salad.  (Big stack in grocery store of the day and my recollection is that the bowl cost all of four dollars!  Wish I had bought three!)

Below is a closeup of the potpourri in the bowl.  I wish I could share how wonderful it smells!

The next step after mixing all the dry ingredients together is to pick the wet ones and add them.  They are a mixture of essential oils and fragrance oils.  I try to use essential oils because they are more natural and usually also stronger and they last longer.  (Some potpourri that I made in the late eighties is still pleasantly fragrant.

 Here is a photo of the oils, after I had chosen them from the collection. 

 The house smelled heavenly.  Unlike baking the fragrance lingers several days later, even though the product is neatly sealed in a large zipper bag.  Since it isn't edible, it also doesn't have calories.  I should have done much more of this and much less of baking over the last forty years.  Oh well.  I enjoy baking too!

To bed to read another installment of Laurie R King's amazing re-invention of Sherlock Holmes with Mary Russell, his young apprentice and wife.  

Happy Thanksgiving to all.  I will show the potpourri later in the week when it is in pretty packages with ribbons.  


Friday, April 13, 2012

Plain Brown Loaf

Several months ago I discovered that the bread I had been buying as "whole wheat bread" was not what it appeared to be. After wheat flour, its next primary ingredient was soy flour!

I cannot eat soy, since it is incompatible with the thyroid medicine that I take. It explained why I had not been feeling well.

I opened the Safeway online website and began to examine labels. Too much soy. Not good.

Time to begin baking again. I have a wonderful beer-batter bread recipe, but beer has yeast, which in turn is on the list of things that may cause one to break out in hives, which has been a problem for several years. I have been trying to devise a diet that would lessen the occurrence of hives.

Soda bread seemed appropriate. St. Patrick's Day was approaching so that made it even more timely to make soda bread. I found a nice, tasty Irish Soda bread with raisins and made it several times. This most certainly was not what my ancestors made before they immigrated, though and I really wanted a whole wheat loaf.

 Finally, I found this recipe,"

 So yummy!  Highest recommendation to all of you who bake.  I have also made it with 1 1/4 c buttermilk substituted for the yogurt.  (And sweet milk soured with vinegar, I believe it would take one tablespoon, could be substituted for the buttermilk.)

It is becoming my house bread.  I am filled with gratitude for my plain brown loaf, my ancestors who surely made something similar and the Internet for making the recipe available.  It is a good, even wondrous time to be alive and I am glad.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Reading and more reading

Several years ago a kind neighbor who is another avid reader began to bring me books from the public library. Then she found out about SOS, short for special outreach services, a program our public library has that pairs volunteers to a person who cannot go to the library and with the help of one of the library staff, delivers books. My library card stays with the librarian who emails me once a month to ask what my wants are and I respond with requests.

In November I requested books with a holiday theme and discovered Jan Karon. This marvelous writer wrote a Christmas themed story, called, I believe, Shepherds Abiding and I loved it. The next month's bag of books included In the Company of Others, which is truly one of my all time favorite books. Set in modern Ireland with flashbacks through a journal to the nineteenth century I was transported. The characters are also a bit older than I am instead of thirty-five years younger, so this helps a great deal, too.

I have read a great many mysteries over these past few years too. A lovely recent one was The Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters. Her Amelia Peabody series is one of my all time favorites, along with Marjorie Allingham's Albert Campion series, and Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter.

Many of these books are "cozies", stories featuring amateur sleuths who have some other occupation in their lives than police work and who just happen to keep finding dead bodies and then figuring out who the murders were. They feature florists and chefs, bakery owners and quilters and they take place in knit shops and other small town venues.

Tonight I will go back to reading one of the chef's as she solves a murder.

I prefer stories that have good puzzles, interesting to quirky characters and one or few murders. I don't like the really, really dark stories especially since I read before going to sleep, but mainly because those are the kind of things that I am trying to avoid too much of on television.

Another favorite of mine is Earlene Fowler whose stories feature a heroine who is a small museum curator in a town on the Coast of Central California. Wonderful characters and very good writing make her books very good reads.

I have read most of Susan Albert Wittig's China Bayles series twice and think highly of them as well as the series of stories set in the Edwardian era that she co-authored with her husband under the pseudonym, Robin Paige.

If you have any books to recommend to me, please leave a comment.

I am so grateful for this service from the library and to the volunteer who brings my books and has become my friend.