Monthly Archives: January 2008

Domesticity Regained…

…at least, as much as it’s ever going to be.

Remember my descent into a feral state, chronicled here and here? Turns out it was just a brief visit, although I may return mid-semester and look at summer homes.

Not only have I knitted and quilted over break, often with other women and for charity (how “sewing bee” of us), but I’ve actually sewn clothing. Well, one piece of clothing, a corduroy wrap skirt, with another item, a vest, cut out and started (and another vest planned, if the first one works out*).

And if sewing and crafting isn’t domestic enough for you, how about bread baking? That’s right, I made a loaf of bread and when I say “bread,” I really mean something more akin to manna or Lembas** — in short, a foodstuff for which “carbohydrate” is too, too pedestrian a term.

And I can’t even take much credit. It’s all in the recipe. I about a year late coming to the NY Times No-Knead bread craze, but now that I’m here, I’m staying. How simple is this: Friday night about 9 p.m., I mixed together some flour, salt, yeast, and water, covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside. Took less than 10 minutes, and that includes sweeping up some renegade flour and wrestling with the saranwrap box. At three p.m. on Saturday, taking countless bloggers at their word that this recipe cannot be messed up, I dumped the dough onto a floured towel and kneaded in 3/4 cup feta cheese with garlic and peppers and 1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives. And when I say “kneaded,” I mean folded the dough about 4 times. Took another 10 minutes and that included pitting the olives and running them and the cheese through a food processor. Two hours later, I dumped the dough into a pre-heated, lidded casserole dish, put it in the oven, uncovered it at 30 minutes, and 15 minutes later took this out of the oven: (click to embiggen)

bread.jpg

Okay, it didn’t come out with 3 slices already hacked off, but I had two with my dinner and one for lunch. And just in case you don’t believe I really made bread, get a load of that messy kitchen table — yeah, that’s mine.

This bread is — oh yeah. Moist inside, crunchy, flaky crust — I’ve bought fancy bakery bread that isn’t this good. Of course, if I’m going to be making (and thus, devouring) bread on a regular or semi-regular basis, I’m going to have to increase the length of the dogs’ walks by a factor of, um, well, that would be math, but I will have to wear their little legs down to nubbins.

So yes, I’m all domesticky again. Emphasis on the sticky.

Speaking of the dogs, here’s a recent shot of Ricky with his latest beloved squeaky toy. After an hour or so of strenuous play-killing, you gotta take a nap:

ricky.jpg

And here’s Violet with a rawhide bone. See that worried, yet shifty, look in her eyes? Violet’s a possessive little thing — give her a treat and she’ll spend hours defending it from Ricky, from the cats, from me, from passersby outside the window (grrrrrrooowwwwwwllll) before actually settling down to eat it:

violet.jpg

*That’s the problem with sewing — no matter how much fitting I do as I sew, I never know until I’ve finished if I’ve made a chic (or at least, recognizable) item of clothing or a labor-intensive and pricey feed sack.

**Yes, I’m a hopeless LOTR dork.

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Ahhhh…..

I love BVU’s winter break. If not teaching during our January term (which I am not, as too few students signed up for a trip to NYC that I was to help lead), winter break is a month + long. Saturday, I had to check the computer’s calendar to see that it was, indeed, Saturday. Last night, I left myself a note reminding me to shower this morning. Yes, I am that relaxed.

But lest you think I’ve been doing nothing, let me give my January Achievement Tally: 6 novels read, 8 episodes of Angel (first season) watched, 1 corduroy wrap skirt almost completed (waistband, hooks, and hem still to go), 1 muffatee crocheted (while caucusing for Obama, no less), part of a tote bag knitted, 1 dentist appointment kept (broken tooth), 1 mammogram appointment kept (I almost fainted and had to sit down), 1 community ed class in journaling taught, with 2 to go, 2 group craft dates kept, with 2 more planned, and 1 meeting with colleagues to prepare a report. Phew! All crammed into a mere 14 days, with times for naps. Who says I can’t multi-task?

And what’s left between now and 1/23, when classes start? Finish the skirt, cut out and sew up at least one vest (I’ve got two planned, both of type of the right, ’cause the one on the left just looks dowdy), read and respond to report from meeting with colleagues, help draft a letter to a local prison warden about students teaching in the prisons, teach the two community ed classes, prepare 2 syllabi for three classes, help interview for an on-campus job, and, somewhere in there, give the house a good cleaning before the semester descends. Can I do that in 9 days?

Oh, and remember to shower…..

Coming ’round again….

Regular readers may remember that I spent much of last January in the bathtub, drinking fruit juice with brandy and tearfully pretending I wasn’t really worried about my looming breast surgery.

I’ve got to say, this January is progressing in a much more satisfactory manner.

After returning from a sybaritic 8 days in Kansas, I spent a few days hanging out with the livestock, reading mystery novels, and buying a bit of fabric. This week, I’ve cut out and halfway finished a corduroy skirt, spent a morning at a friend’s house piecing quilts for Project Linus,* and spent last night at another friend’s house with her, her almost-4-year-old daughter, buddy Kathy, and three other friends, having Craft Night. I knitted,** Kathy and Donna made earrings, Katherine cross-stitched, Ellen knitted, Stella, the four year old, strung a necklace and asked endless questions, and Chase, our host, embroidered a quilt square AND made earrings — her first pair ever, perfect and artsy. But we like her anyway.  Next Tuesday we will quilt for Project Linus again, and Wednesday have another craft night.

Lest we forget, however, the fleeting nature of contentment, my yearly mammogram is happening about an hour from now. Cross your fingers, please, for a good, clean reading — I’m all out of brandy and I haven’t scrubbed the tub in a couple of months.

*not that I know much at all about quilting, nor did my buddy Kathy. But Bev, whose house and fabric and project is was, marshaled our forces like a general d’calico, and graciously ripped out our mistakes without (too much) comment.

**Xmas present for my friend Robin. Robin, you’ll be getting this around Ground Hog Day, ‘kay?***

***and Jennifer, I haven’t forgotten you. Your prezzie is half crocheted and will be finished next time I settle down for an evening of Angel, first season.****

****In A Christmas Carol, Dickens asks us to keep Christmas in our hearts all year round. Crafters, of course, do just that, but with a sense of frustration Dickens probably didn’t intend.