Saturday, March 23, 2013

What's going on!?

I have redone my blog!
Over time, I have timidly brought up my desire to change the blog's name from Big-Haired Jersey Girl in Oregon to...something. I didn't know what. The obvious, simple answer was here all along--Botanylicious. You know, to match the URL of this blog. The old title was problematic for a couple of reasons. First of all, I'm leaving Oregon soon. Then what? Will it be Big-Haired Jersey Girl in Virginia/New York (The State Not the City)/New York (THE BIG CITY OMG!!!)/Chicago/North Carolina/Our Nation's Capital!/Georgia/etc? To potentially change again in three years? No. That's just too complicated. Second, as I've mentioned before, I really didn't like the use of "haired" as an adjective, not in a blog title. But no one else seemed to mind, or they just didn't respond when I brought this up, so perhaps it made them even more uncomfortable than it made me.
HM, bless his heart, made the last masthead, approximately 33% of which featured a dreamy double exposure of my face floating above Crater Lake. I can only assume his love for me influenced his design (which was beloved by everyone, including the person whose face it prominently featured, but moreso by everyone else, as I was also uncomfortable with my face floating above the blog.) Anyway, I asked him to assist in the redesign of the blog, requesting a new masthead indicating the new title of "Botanylicious" meeting the following specifications: 1) My face, if at all present, would take up no more than 5% of the total volume of the masthead and 2) Simple and tasteful OR kitten unicorns.
I'm glad he chose kitten unicorns.
What else is going on!? I lost my job about a month ago. This is why I ought to have lots of time to write, and I do, but as I wrote previously, I've been writing more than I've been editing. I don't think you want to see (well, whatever you want, I don't want you to see) my unedited scraps of notes taken after morning walks such as, "pregnant lady with coffee cup" or "headboard garden." Other stories, even when fully written, need careful editing as they tread on that line between, "funny complaining" and "irritable curmudgeonly ramble." So, I'm waiting until I'm in the right mood to tell you about the damn kids and bicycles on the sidewalk and the elementary school class that was inexplicably being conducted on the road. Not sidewalk--road.
That's when I decided to try to go for my run before 9:00 am.
Now is a good time for some of the latest photos from my morning ruh-walks. According to my running/walking tracking app, this week brought, in addition to the following pictures, a bunch of personal new records in things like, "number of workouts," "average running pace," and "miles walked per week."
Above, rainbow seen from my office window shortly before my walk, during which I got caught in a hailstorm.

Last Sunday, the 17th, I came back from my walk in time to see Mariposa, the neighborhood cat, approaching. As I stopped to pet her in the driveway, one of my neighbors, a person who has lived across the street from me for more than two years, asked me a perplexing question--if I was going to bring the kids out to see the parade. I was so startled, I couldn't even manage politeness.

"Huh!?" was my response.

We were both saved by her husband, who announced, "The parade is coming by in twenty minutes! Go tell everyone in the house!"

"Okay," I said, realizing they were referring to the yearly bizarre neighborhood St. Patrick's Day parade. If you have been reading this blog since then, you may recall my post about the parade two years ago. The post is titled, "What's happening," which makes me wonder if around this time every year I fall into a strange slump. The post from around this time one year ago also mentions the parade (but with no pictures), and how it had been nearly a year since HM and I took our strange trip to the Oregon desert...which I was just talking about, at length, the other day. Hmm.

Anyway, the parade this time resembled an actual parade more than the group of neighbors, only some of them wearing green, walking their dogs at the same time.

Sadly, this year's parade did not include a Pepsi truck.

I still haven't figured out which "kids" my neighbor thinks I have to bring to a parade. Perhaps she thought I was someone else. There are no kids in my apartment building. I believe the youngest tenants are twenty-three.

I finished knitting the Selfish Sugarcane Shell sweater. I do not recommend sugarcane yarn for fitted garments. Extra seams made this sweater look non-ridiculous, but if I were to do it again, I would knit the thing two sizes small. I have a feeling the sweater is going to keep stretching every time I wear it.

I have been stress baking. Pictured are the multigrain carrot date muffins from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook by Sara Forte, the banana bread with chocolate and crystallized ginger from Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life, a cloth napkin that I recently made, and finally! Julie Klausner's book.

I made a sweet potato and leek quiche. Regular quiche, not a vegan one this kind. (And I just realized I may not yet have written about the three different kinds of vegan quiche I tried, systematically like to-do list items, since being laid off. Whoops!) What was remarkable-ish about this one is that the crust was made with breadcrumbs in addition to almond meal. I threw together about a cup of each with an unmeasured (eyeballed) amount of olive oil. It the easiest pie crust I've ever made, and it was pretty good! I may be done with regular pie crust, as almond meal crust is so easy to make well. I highly recommend saving breadcrumbs from the cutting board in a jar in the freezer and then using them to help bind almond meal-based pie crust.

HM and I made classic sole meunière (recipe here; thank you again, Molly Wizenberg!), but the pictures of that are not very pretty. The sole cost less than $6.00 at the farmers' market, and the recipe came together quickly and easily. I want to make it once a week! We also made, together, another bread recipe from The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. Have I mentioned these recipes before? I took a break from sourdough to go back to the beginning and relearn how to make bread. You know, how to really make bread. (I don't even know what I mean, exactly.) These recipes...I almost wish I never discovered them. I almost wish the bread wasn't so good. Because it takes quite a bit of kneading. While the other recipes I regularly use make perfectly delicious bread, the five-minute knead and the no-knead recipes, nothing makes sandwich bread like the recipes of The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. You can butter that bread with ice cold butter and it will not tear. It slices easily too--the entire loaf. No weird ends unfit for sandwiches, good only for sopping up soups or dips. All this without the use of any white flour. But it takes 300 "strokes" of kneading per loaf, and this currently takes me well over twenty minutes.

There must be a happy medium between this bread and bread that is tasty but not good for sandwiches. When do I really need to spread ice cold butter on a piece of untoasted bread? Never! But I was looking for white-flour-free sandwich bread. The search continues (and may be found as I continue to work from this book.)

I tried to make one loaf as a "steamed hearth bread," a boule made in a Dutch oven, but I missed the part about greasing the Dutch oven. Oops! And now you know the source of the bread crumbs for the crust of the above-picture quiche.

That's about it! That's what's going on! A lot of domesticity and morning running/walking. No romantic road trips planned, nothing like the one I took two years ago at this time.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring is here (The Blog Post Title Curmudgeon)

An uninspired title, I admit.

An overdue post I've been drafting is about the circumstances that have led me to, theoretically, have more time to write. I have so far not made enough time to edit, which is why nothing has been posted since February 11th.

One thing for which I have made time is running and long walks. Now that it is light out--not only light out, but sunny!--when I go for a morning run, I can't help but stop to take pictures. I am contented to see that I am not the only one. Today I ran past a woman who was, the entire time she was visible to me, as still as a statue, clad in running clothes, the sole sign that reassured me that she was not taken ill her smartphone positioned close to the inside of hellebore, setting up the perfect shot.

It contents me to know that I am not the only one, and therefore probably do not attract attention when I abruptly stop running to stand for up to ten minutes, attempting to get the perfect shot of fallen camellia blossoms or cherry blossoms fallen on cactus pads.

I don't know how to make these pictures bigger. Picasa has changed, and I don't know how to use it the way I used to, if that's even possible. I don't want to say I don't like it, because maybe I just haven't learned how to use it yet...but to be honest, I currently do not like it.

Post currently in draft format, edited version to come later, about how I may be a curmudgeon. The post is about being a Sidewalk Curmudgeon, but I may also be a Picasa Curmudgeon. Oh, heck. I'm a Technology Curmudgeon. Even though I work in IT, I still don't embrace all technology quickly. I still complain about DVDs not doing certain things the way VHS did, and I recently learned, from one of the LSAT prep videos, that DVDs were released in 1995. So I have been complaining, since before I was a teenager, about this thing that has been around for nearly twenty years. (The thing is not being able to stop the video and then start it again, in the exact same place, but rather having to find the scene and re-watch parts of it or fast-forward.)