Sunday, 24 August 2008

Dammit Dolls

Everyone should have one of these. Here's mine:
I made her as a "demo model" back when I was doing weekly craft sessions at a women's shelter. She's constructed from sturdy denim with embroidered features (a mouth stretched in a perpetual primal scream and a red coil of rage in her belly!) ... no buttons or hard objects attached so she does not damage furniture when used. I keep her on my desk, and when my computer ... or whatever ... frustrates the bejewels outta me, I recite this little verse with actions:
Whenever things don't go so well
And you want to hit someone and shout
Take your little dammit doll
That you cannot do without.
Just grasp it firmly by the legs
And find a place to slam it
And as you whack the stuffing out
Okay, in reality I just recite the last three words over and over until I feel better, not the entire verse!
The women at the shelter made some really delightful Dammit Dolls, and I wish I had had my camera to record some of their creativity. The dolls are super easy to make. The only skill required is very basic sewing. Most of the women at the shelter had never even sewn a button on before, but managed these fine once they mastered threading the sewing needle. The dolls are actually kind of cool if the sewing ISN'T perfect as the stuffing DOES start coming out a bit when they are used.
Here are the instructions:
STEP #1: Cut out 2 pieces of fabric of choice in the general shape of a person or a gingerbread cookie at least 10 inches (or 25 centimeters) tall. The shape really isn't that crucial.
STEP #2: Place right sides of fabric together, and sew around the edges, leaving one opening along the side of body for inserting stuffing.
STEP #3: Turn right side out, then stuff firmly with fibrefill or foam or soft rags or lonely socks, and sew up the opening.
STEP #4: You may leave your Dammit Doll plain, or use embroidery thread or fabric paints to decorate it however you like.
If you decide to make a Dammit Doll as a gift for someone (who possibly really needs it), you can print out the above verse/instructions and pin it to the doll.
Next time I post here, remind me to tell you about a very serious recent conversation with Little Madam C. about dolls ...

What happened to blogging about blueberry pie?

Did I say that? I did? Well, maybe I did ... but I got sidetracked by ... life. You know. Stuff happening at work. A good book (The Last Colony by John Scalzi). A very brief camping trip that wasn't really much fun due to the heat. The arrival of my September course packages from AU. And the blueberry pie? Well ........... I DID, however, document the MAKING of pie, and will now share that adventure with you. Better late than never, right?

STEP #1: Make your pie crust. A cranky ol' Yugoslav lady (who make incredible pastry) once told me the secret was FULL FAT YOGURT instead of milk or water and in addition to cold unsalted butter. I've been making pie crust her way ever since. It works!STEP #2: Mix a cup of sugar and about 1/4 cup cornstarch with your blueberries. WHAT? Those don't look like blueberries? You're right (and very observant). This documentary is of the last pie of the day. The all-blueberry ones were already baked, and cooling for the freezer by this point, but I had enough pastry left to make one more pie. I was short on blueberries, however, so threw in the last of the fresh cherries and about two cups of fresh raspberries from my landlady's garden (sshhh ... don't tell her!). It was the end of a marathon baking day, and a berry is a berry is a berry ... right?STEP #3: Spread your sweetened berry (berries) mix into your bottom pie pastry. Dot generously with butter. I prefer unsalted butter. Some people can't tell the difference.STEP #4: cover with your top pie pastry, pinch the moistened edges together, and cut some steam vents. I'm partial to tree-like steam vents, but any ol' design will do the trick.

STEP #5: Bake for about 55 minutes, and remember to take it out of the oven when the kitchen dinger says 55 minutes is up (I didn't ... oops!) Despite being a bit "browner" than expected, my official kitchen bovine taste tester declared it smelled delicious enough to eat ...

... but seriously nekkid-looking without a good big scoop of vanilla ice cream. I was pretty sure I had part of a carton of vanilla ice cream in the freezer ...

HEY! Who ate that piece of pie while my back was turned?????? While I was in the blueberry pie frame of mind (and trying to use up a whole big flat of ripe blueberries), I also made SWEET CORN AND BLUEBERRY CORN BREAD ... found that recipe in the August 2008 Canadian Living magazine.

STEP #1: Cook a couple of extra ears of sweet corn when you're doing corn on the cob ... enough to cut off 1 cup of kernels.

STEP #2: Mix together 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal, 1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

STEP #3: Blenderize (or process in your food processor ... I don't have one of those) your cup of cooked corn kernels, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 cup buttermilk, and 2 eggs. Oh, and 1/2 cup butter. Don't puree ... leave it somewhat lumpy and chunky.STEP #4: Pour your blenderized mixture into your dry mixture and stir until just combined.STEP #5: Fold in 1 1/4 cups of blueberries. Mmmm mmmm! Look at those yummy fat delicious blueberries! Good thing I've got me a half dozen bags of those babies in the freezer to enjoy over the winter!STEP #6: Spread into a buttered baking pan.

STEP #7: Bake at 350 degrees about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick tests clean when stuck into the middle of it. Yes, this is my oven ... combination toaster / broiler / convection oven. Don't laugh! Me and my goldfish do not require a huge regular oven ... and this little appliance makes life much easier. First, it's ON my kitchen counter so I don't have to bend down to get things into it and out of it. Second, it's much easier to clean.
STEP #8: Sprinkle with powdered sugar after it has cooled a bit. Yes, I sprinkled powdered sugar with my fingers ... the last time I saw my sifter, Little Madam C. was chasing her baby brother with it (and he was screaming about the gobbledy noises it made!)
Once again, my official kitchen bovine taste tester declared my SWEET CORN AND BLUEBERRY CORN BREAD smelled positively divine ... and it was, especially reheated in my handy-dandy little oven for breakfast!

Monday, 4 August 2008

movies and cows

If you haven't seen this movie, do so soon! It's really good. Of course, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman seldom do roles that aren't good. Oh, and have the Kleenex ready. And after you see it, we'll talk about our own bucket lists, okay?

Since my last post, a number of you have called and asked about my cows. What gives? I didn't start this darned cow collection in the first place. So how DID I come to be a cow collector? Someone gave me a rather large stuffed toy ... a cow ... last year to put on the foot of my bed so I wouldn't be lonely. It was a JOKE, people! Next thing I knew, someone else gave me a cow candy dish that says "Udderly Delightful" on its side ... and so on. Seems SOME PEOPLE made it their mission in life to turn me into a cow collector. So here's what part of my kitchen window sill looks like now:
This particular herd of cows has a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colours ... including purple. I memorized this little verse in grade one, and the purple cows (yikes ... 2 of them!) keep reminding me of it:
I never saw a purple cow;
I never hope to see one,
But I can tell you anyhow
I'd rather see than be one.

The colourful herd of cows is now migrating to other parts of my kitchen. For example, this lovely lady (a paper towel holding cow) sits on top of my microwave:
At least she's practical! This nasty critter (cookie jar cow) nearly gave me a heart attack the first time I popped its head-lid off:She moos obnoxiously, and isn't even practical ... she only holds about 4 cookies. There's no point making only 4 cookies, is there? 4 cookies is only a teaser.

Now pay attention all you well-intentioned people out there. ENOUGH WITH THE COWS! They aren't funny anymore. They aren't even mildly amusing anymore.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Downtown on a Saturday

I'm not normally a big fan of busy downtowns or hectic shopping malls ... especially on Saturdays when EVERYONE seems to be there ... but once in awhile I feel the urge to exercise my consumerist capitalistic ... well, I just feel like shopping. So I went to our local outdoor Farmers Market.
It turned out to be a lovely sunny day, and a bit of a special one in honour of BC's 150th birthday. Vendors were out full force hawking everything from buffalo jerky to fresh herbs and veggies, and from handmade jewelry to fine woodcrafts. I managed to NOT be seduced by the wonderful aroma of deep fried bannock, although that was tough to accomplish, and made a beeline right to the veggie stand at the far end. Fresh baby beets with greens still attached ... YUM! And some delicious small yellow cucumbers. (I used to think yellow cucumbers were all over-ripe ... now I know some of them are meant to be that way ... and they taste fabulous!)

Of course, one can't ignore the handicrafts! I fell in love with this item:
She's about 24 inches tall. I'm not sure if it was her bare toes or her red hair or her naughty expression that won my heart! I knew the second I laid eyes on her that she NEEDED TO BE on my office wall at work. Currently, this is on my office wall ...
... nice enough, but NOT "me"!

From the Farmers Market, I strolled along the street toward the bakery. I was thinking chocolate eclair and coffee, but got sidetracked by an antique store I've never explored. (I told you I don't do downtown on Saturday very often!) Once inside the antique store, almost all thoughts of chocolate eclairs vanished. Of course, thoughts of chocolate eclairs NEVER totally vanish from my head! I found all kinds of oldies but goodies that reminded me of people from my past. I always imagine items in antique stores and flea markets all trying to talk at once, each item trying to tell its own personal story over the voices of other items ... and I want to hear every story! (Consequently, I get a headache from concentrating on listening, and avoid antique stores and flea markets.) I was particularly intrigued by a pair of framed pencil sketches of a very posh but dour looking couple from the 1890s, and a scarred but sturdy oak table with 4 unusual chairs, but came away with these instead: My "Grandma B." (no blood relation) had one of these little smelly piggies on her dresser ... in between her silver hairbrush and hand mirror set and a little porcelain dish with a picture of a poodle painted in it and used for her hair net and hair pins. Grandma B kept her little smelly piggie filled with lily of the valley talcum powder. If I was a good little girl, she would lift me up and let me pat the piggie ... which released a tiny cloud of lily of the valley. I'm not partial to lily of the valley, but the piggie reminded me of special moments with a special lady. I shall fill mine with lavender. Oh, and the little cows? Salt and pepper shakers. I keep receiving cows for my kitchen ... my kitchen window sill looks like a field of cow misfits! ... and I've finally stooped to buying cows myself. (Yes, L., it WAS inevitable!) They are kind of cute though, aren't they?Naturally, no trip to an antique store or flea market is ever complete without an hour or more spent browsing in the books section. I LOVE old books, and came away with this little gem. I find Oscar Wilde quite entertaining, especially for a loonie. I mean, especially when the book COSTS a loonie! Oh who am I kidding ... Oscar probably WAS a bit loonie too ...After all that shopping, I was surprised to discover afternoon was already slipping away. I paid a quick visit to another special lady on my way to the bus stop, and told her about my new-old Oscar Wilde book. (She is always happy to discuss books ... if you look closely, you'll see she has a copy of HER book, "Stony Creek Woman", in her lap.) Then it was home to weekend chores, including this:Have YOU paid a visit to your local Farmers Market lately? Or to your local antique store? Well? Do tell!