Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pippin vs. Granny Smith

In one corner:

we have an American heirloom variety, which originated in the late 17th or early 18th century, and was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson.   This is a very firm, tart, 
apple, which often has a rough skin and a brown collar (russeting) around the stem.

Let's hear it for PIPPIN.....

And in the other corner:

we have a hard, crisp, juicy apple, which originated in Australia in 1898.  Maria Ann Smith propagated this new cultivar.  In addition to harvesting apples, she produced many children, and thus the nick name of Granny Smith was born.
This is a sweet, light green beauty that has an excellent shelf life.

Give it up for GRANNY SMITH.....

May the best apple for baking, especially an apple pie, WIN!

I have used Pippins since my apple pie baking days began back in 1968.   I was able to buy Pippins in the Fall at all the grocery stores, probably for 39¢ a pound at one time.
Then, oh about, 10 years ago those Pippin apples couldn't be found as easily, and then I couldn't find them at all, anywhere.  I had to carry on with Granny Smiths.

The Grannies did the job, but not as well. They cook to a much softer texture.  Think chunky applesauce.  The Pippins hold their shape, texture, and apple flavor better when baked.

I missed my Pippins, but being an optimist, continued looking for them every autumn.  I was willing to lay my money down for those superior baking apples, but I could not purchase what was not available.

A couple weeks ago, daughter #2 and her family went to Oak Glen, CA to go apple picking.  On a lark, I said "If they have any Pippins, bring me some--".

The day after their outing, I received an email from April saying, "I have a 1/2 a peck of Pippins for you."  I hopped up and down with excitement.  And then I started planning my October, 2015 trip to buy Pippins at an Oak Glen roadside stand!  I figured a bushel of them would carry me through the apple pie baking months.

A couple days after taking possession of my cherished Pippins, I was shopping at Mother's Market and Kitchen.  As I loaded my cart with organic lettuce, broccoli, and bananas and was checking out the other produce offerings, I glanced down to a bin which, What!, which had 3# bags of organic Pippin applies for $2.99 a bag.  Honestly, I had not seen a Pippin in any grocery store--Whole Foods included--for years.  The Granny Smiths looking more pleasing had over taken the Pippins in the grocery store.
We just might be seeing Pippins again on a yearly basis though, due to rekindled interest in heirlooms.  Fingers crossed.

I made a Pippin pie Sunday, and I did remember correctly.  To me, there is a distinct, wonderful difference.  The Pippins bake to a much different texture, and have a more apple-y flavor.  More complex and just plain delicious.

I have recently come to realize that not everyone shares my strong enthusiasm  about Pippins.  And, that's o.k.

But if I am going to put my time into making an apple pie and Pippins are available, Granny Smiths will be knocked out of the crust in my kitchen.

Does anyone else know what I am talking about? 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and I hope along with your pumpkin pie, you will have  a slice of a Pippin apple pie too.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

a bit like skrillex... only not quite as hip

posted by jennifer:

holy shit balls!  i am going bald.  kind of.  

yesterday, when getting myself presentable before the afternoon pickups, i went to pull back my hair into a barrette.   i was shocked to find a kind huge bald spot behind my right ear.   i
mean truly, skrillex came to mind.  

you know skrillex.  i do because i am a wee bit hip and read rolling stone.  skrillex is a dj known for his bass drops.

me... well it appears i mostly am dropping several hundreds of hairs a day.  

now mind you, i had to leave to get the girls minutes after i made the discovery... so i didn't have time to do anything but start to worry.
  -brain tumor on the right side?
  -wacked out hormones (still a possibility)
  -what kind of wig will i get?  a realistic one... or a brilliant blue punky style. and if i do get
    a realistic one should i go with one with emerging gray hairs or just a rich brown?

driving to the schools, i had more time to think.... 

holy shit balls!

showing my husband when he got home from work.  
  me:  "i just discovered something kind of crazy"
  him:  "oh yeah"
  me:  "yeah.  i have a bald spot on my head"
  him:  "yeah.  tell me about it"....."is mine getting bigger"
     side note:  i don't even think his hair is thinning
  me: "no really.  look."
  him:  silence
  me:  " i told you."

calling my sister to tell her.  her "holy shit"  or something like that.  i love how she agrees with my freaking out.  then her telling me.   "don't google search it.  it is only going to freak you out."  she did the google searching for me.  called me back, and told me to stop running my hands through my hair.  "no really.  you need to stop."

you see, i have this habit of running my hands through my hair... when i am bored.  maybe when i am stressed. and in thinking about it, it is usually on the right hand side... behind my ear and upwards.  the last few weeks, a lot of hair is between my fingers after doing so.  i actually thought the other day  "i am going to go bald"  hahaha!  good one jennifer.  you were so right.  hahaha.  you see, i am laughing, because i want to cry.    

so now i have a list of things to try:
   cedarwood oil
   evening primrose oil
   rosemary essential oil
   lavender essential oil

and i have been doing all i can to not touch my hair.  i saw a sign today.  the san diego river runs through our city, and there is a sign near part of it that reads:  habitat restoration in progress   do not touch.    and i couldn't help but think of my head.  but switch out habitat for hair.

so um, yeah.  a bit like skrillex.... only not quite as hip.


Friday, November 7, 2014

faux fur and military jackets

posted by: jennifer

so, i have been totally inspired on the tote bag front lately.   it had been on my to do list for the past month.

  to do 10/2 - 10/10:
    - photograph/list remaining ornaments
    - decorate front arch for fall
    - planting in front yard
    - make 1+ tote
    - clean chicken coop

  to do 10/13 - 10/20:
   -chicken coop
   -start on halloween costumes
   -make 1+ tote
   -dentist appointment
   - blog post time mismanagement

  to do 10/21 - 10/31:
   -finish halloween costumes
   -make 1+ tote
   - clean chicken coop

do you notice a trend?  the tote bags never got crossed off the list.  (well sure, neither did the chicken coop... but one of the girls is now molting, so i think it is good i have waited.  all those feathers!)

but, this past week, i am now getting very little done but tote bags.  and i wanted to share.
i have made 3 new totes in the past week!  sure, the house is suffering a wee bit, but you can't deny the creative juices when they start to flow now can you?  i say no.

i am so please with how this tote bag turned out.  the colors, the textures, the contrast.  
i used scraps of a scrap of an antique crazy quilt, vintage clothing labels... all great britian referenced, and some super soft and cozy faux fur.  i call it "great britian glamour" .  as i was making it, i thought, if scotland had broken away from being part of great britian, i wouldn't have been able to use the mac intyres of strone argyll label.  i am glad i was able, because i think it looks fabulous next to the pride of england label.

and then jumping to the opposite side of the pond....

"a nod to the union army"
i think one of the reasons i like this tote bag so much is that it is not the normal direction i would go creatively.  military style jacket feel.  i was flipping through an instyle magazine, and saw a picture of chris martin... of the coldplay variety.  it was an older picture where he was wearing that great military style jacket.  it inspired me.

and this is what i came up with:

i kind of did i bit of a play on the whole union army thing.  i had this great piece of vintage ribbon that had a union made label attached to it.  i thought hey... military... union. a perfect marriage for a unique design.   and these vintage buttons?  they are not something i would normally gravitate towards, but i can't imagine anything else in this design.

and i am so excited, because my mind is not slowing down with design ideas, i have materials that are begging to be reborn, and a house that isn't going to die if i don't clean it. i really should get to that chicken coop however.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Old Men in Party Hats

My latest.
12 matchboxes.
Meet : Bill, Frank, Tom, Bud, Ed, Leonard, Gus, Arthur, Walter, Mortimer, Charles, Milton


and a poem to go

Their wives who have music and dancing in their hearts
brought them to this party.
At home- their best friend, Routine.
Fuss, fume, sulk wanting to stay with him.
Party hats begin to lighten their downward sloped wrinkles
The wives dance and laugh and then one by one
Bill, Frank, Tom, Bud, Ed, Leonard, Gus, Arthur, Walter, Mortimer,Charles, Milton
head to them. To the swirling joy.





Monday, October 27, 2014

Poo tickets as a teaching aid

Speaking of poo tickets, npr, and things I love...

Paleontologist, Louise Leakey, used a helpful analogy for geologic time on a ted radio hour broadcast last week. 
The vast scale of geologic time has always been a barricade in my brain for the appreciation for the length of geologic history.

She suggested...
Unrolling (or just thinking about) a 400 sheet roll of 



(Hi there!)

would not enter the scene (of geologic time) until the 19th sheet from the end of the roll.
The asteroid that "wiped" (ha, ha, ha) them out didn't hit until the 5th sheet from the end of the roll.
So stegosaurus, T-rex, triceratops, diplodocus, coelophysis and all their families,  friends and enemies were around for 14 sheets of t.p.
Mammals start arriving after the dinosaurs were extinct.  But our species doesn't come into being until the last millimeter on the last (#400) sheet of quilted, bleached white, ultra soft toilet paper.
This tangible minute-amount of toilet-paper-time (200,000 years) presents the whole history of our species.

There are multiple websites that address this teaching aid, but I had never heard of it.
And geologic time is still mind boggling when I let my thinking wander to the big, ancient history of little me, but 
it does give me a clearer understanding of just how old  I am  the earth is.  

By the way, did you know that toilet paper used to come in colors?  Yes, you could match, or at least coordinate, your t.p. color to your powder room wall color. 

Things to think about when you're visiting the loo.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Sunday, October 26, 2014

a few things i am loving.... by way of australia

posted by:  jennifer

recently i have come across a few things i am loving... and they happen to all originate from australia.   and you know i am practically an honorary australian.... having an aunt and uncle and two cousins there.  in perth to be exact.   

and no, i have never been there, and have met one cousin once, the other never, and have not seen my uncle in over 20 years... but you know.

and, i practically was a pioneer on bring the slang "no worries" to the west coast... i mean i started saying it regularly a few years back.  and now you see and hear it everywhere.  there is a billboard in our town for a bunch of personal injury lawyers.... you know the type... top notch ambulance chasers... they have a billboard and above all there heads is "no worries" spelled out in big, bold letters.   i think of myself whenever is see that billboard.


but in all seriousness,  i need to share some discoveries.  the first being courtney barnett.  

i first heard about her on npr.   here and now, dj sessions.  this was back in march of this year.   she is from melbourne, australia.  and she is sweet as*.... and deep, and hilarious.  she was described on that npr segment as tellling the ultimate slacker stories,  the lyrics are great. 
it is one of those albums where you can listen to a song 10 times, and then pick up on a line you have missed the previous 9 times.  and it makes you like the song even more.  here are a few lines from one of her songs, avant gardener:

         i'm breathing but i'm wheezing
         feel like i'm emphysem-in'
         my throat feels like a funnel
         filled with weet bix and kerosene and
         oh no, next thing i know
         they call up the triple o
         i'd rather die than owe the hospital
         till i get old

 so good.  but you really have to hear it because the delivery is where it is at.   the album i have is the double ep: a sea of split peas.   you can find it here.

the second thing is a new author i was introduced to.  liane moriarty.  she is a brilliant author, and has a great voice.  the plot of her book, the husband's secret,  is gripping, like break the rules (my own illogical rules of no pleasure during the day) gripping,  and i would  plop down on the bed to read whenever it suited me.   i love a book that i can't put down. but i think the thing that made it even more enjoyable to me, were the subtle nods to as what life is like, as a wife and mother and a woman.  here are a few of my favorite bits:

     "She could not meet another brand-new group of mothers.  She'd found socializing with
       the school mums difficult enough when her life was in perfect order.  The chat, chat,
       chat, the swirls of laughter, the warmth, the friendliness (most mums were so  very nice)
       and the gentle hint of bitchiness that ran beneath it all."

       ".....it occurred to her that if Polly was having PE today, then Liam would be too, 
        because weren't they in the same class?  And of course he wasn't wearing sports shoes.  
        Nobody had told Tess it was PE day.  Or perhaps they had, but she hadn't registered it.
        She wondered if she should stop at her mother's house and pick up Liam's sneakers.
        She wavered.   Nobody ever told you that being a mother is all about making what 
        seemed like thousands of tiny decisions."

      "She wished she could give Isabel a shield, like the ones riot police held, to protect her
        from male attention, that feeling of being scored each time you walked down a street,  
        the demeaning comments yelled out of cars, that casual sweep of the eyes.  She'd 
        wanted to sit down and talk to Isabel about it, but then she hadn't known what to say.
        She'd never quite gotten her head around it herself.  It's no big deal.  It is a big deal.
        They have no right to make you feel that way.  Or, just ignore it, one day you'll turn
        forty and you'll slowly realize you don't feel the eyes anymore, and the freedom is a 
        relief, but you'll also sort of miss it, and when a truck driver whistles at you while
        you're crossing the road, you'll think, Really?   For me? "
you can find the book here. or, as i did, check it out from your local library.  i know i will be recommending it to my book club to read. and it will not be the last book of hers i read.  oh, and one more little thing i read about liane moriarty:
   "Liane fits writing in between chores:  between pick-up and drop off times of her children,
    working the dishwasher, talking to her mom, and drying clothes."

no wonder i like her so much.  i can relate to her, and the parallels that so many women share come across in her writing. 

and to bring this post to a close, a few terms i think we should bring here to america:
   *sweet as:  good.   you mentally fill in how good/sweet it is
     fairy floss:   cotton candy.   
     poo tickets:  toliet paper
     knackered:  pooped; tired
we can do this people.   i mean if i can do it with "no worries"  we can eventually have everyone going to costco to buy a 30 roll pack of poo tickets.  come on... are you with me??


Friday, October 17, 2014

having fun with time mismanagement

posted by jennifer:

being a slightly crazy person, i feel it is important to take on time consuming, and unnecessary projects..... especially during those times in your life when you are feeling overwhelmed with all the things that need to get done.  

this last week, i worked on two such projects.  
..... while waiting in the wings was a birthday party for my now 12 year old baby girl....
a camping trip....and a pile of laundry that continues to grow to this day.  

but, in the process of completing them, i was able to cross two things off my to do list.  always a satisfying feeling.  

the first project was making about 40 felt flowers to decorate my front arch for halloween/fall/day of the dead.
i ripped off the idea from target.  i saw similar decorations there and loved them.  after an initial attempt to make some felt flowers without instructions.... having them turn out a bit sad looking... and then finding a great youtube tutorial, i ended up with these beauties.

i like love them so much i already have plans on making about 50 cream colored ones...with snowy glitter for my winter decorations.  love! love! love!

i think they look just smashing.  and do you remember these crows?  i think they look right at home next to the flowers.

the second project was making pomegranate molasses.  

we have a longtime neighbor, who we finally met.  he approached us with a trade offer. he would take the fruits from our prickly pear cactus, and in exchange he would bring pomegranates over every day or two.  who could resist...i mean i honestly had thoughts about making prickly pear jam this year.  but in all honesty, they were the same thoughts i have had for the past 10 years.  i figured that i could put it off for another 10 years or so.  

and who could say no to pomegranates.  the first 5 days or so of him bringing over 2 or 3 pomegranates at a time, we were ready for them.  the kids were plowing through them.  what a great afternoon snack... not to mention the beautiful spray of pomegranate juice on the gray wall behind the couch.  pink and gray compliment each other dontchaknow.

but all of a sudden i had a pile of pomegranates.
and,  i had a brilliant idea.  pomegranate molasses.  i have used it before when making salad dressing.  you can find the recipe here.   i also like to  use it in marinades for chicken.   so i decided to learn how to make it.

i watched a youtube tutorial on juicing pomegranates.  

i found a recipe for the molasses.

and then the pomegranates sat on the kitchen table.  and the pile kept growing.  and a half dozen or so started to mold.  who knew they would mold...they just don't seem like fruit that would,  but i guess if you leave them sitting for a couple of weeks, it happens.

well, on tuesday, i finally got to it. 
 if you have a lot of time to kill.  and aren't opposed to stained fingers...and splatters on your walls, kitchen utensils, and kitchen curtain... then this is the project for you.

it takes 4 cups of pomegranate juice to equal 1 cup of pomegranate molasses.  i ended up with more like 5 cups of juice, so i have in my possession about 1.25 cups of precious pomegranate molasses.   and it only took about 6 hours.  i am not saying i will never make it again.  i am a bit crazy that way... but let's just say, i have an appreciation for pomegranate juice.... and understand more why it costs so much.  the same goes for the molasses made from it.

i just realized that i hadn't taken a picture of the completed molasses.  and thought i should probably take one to show how much it cooked down.  but really people, this to do list isn't going to take care of itself.  how can i expect to get things done when i drop what i am doing to take a picture?

i have a lot of time mismanagement to get to.

and i plan on having fun...and making a bit of a mess, when i am doing it.