Knit dress refashion

The first project of the new year!

This tunic began life as an old Lands End knit dress that belonged to my daughter.  It’s been languishing in a laundry basket for about three years, but I couldn’t bear to throw it away, because it was nice knit material.  It was (ahem!) too small to wear in its current state.

I cut it down the front and added a border to the opening.  The border is made from two folded-over strips of cotton fabric that covered the rough edge.  I top-stitched the border so it would lie flat.  I haven’t decided if I’ll do anything to the sleeves, which are three-quarter length, but it’ll work in warmer weather over a tank top & jeans.   And I have that nice glow of virtue (I recycled something!) to keep me warm in this freezing weather.


What a Mom would say


How the Web affects my house


The Great Pumpkin

A few years ago, my mother gave me a recipe for a pumpkin dessert–pumpkin ice cream, I think–and I remember being amused that it started out with directions on how to cook the pumpkin.  I mentally classed this activity as being among those things only earnest Martha Stewart-types attempted, like making hand-embroidered gift tags or mining your own salt.

We had a stunningly unsuccessful squash crop in the garden this year.  A couple of years ago, we had about 36 pumpkins, and lots of zucchini and spaghetti squash.  Last year, the entire crop died in the space of about two weeks from powdery mildew.  This year, though I saw lots of blossoms, we got exactly two zucchini and three small pumpkins.  Oh, and we had two spaghetti squash, which Gene ran over with the lawn tractor.  Oops.

We bought 5 enormous pumpkins at a farm stand down in Allegany County, on our way home from Friendship.  The girls carved two, and I roasted some very tasty pumpkin seeds.  The other pumpkins sat there, looking at me accusingly whenever I went through the door, so yesterday, I finally decided to try cooking one of the little ones. First, though, I had to figure out what to do with this mysterious vegetable. When we carve pumpkins for Halloween, the taste treat I anticipate is the seeds, roasted and seasoned, not the pumpkin itself.  I can figure this out, I thought, after all, I am an information professional!  I went in search of reference material.

The first cookbook I went to told me to “treat a pumpkin like a winter squash.” This was singularly unhelpful, as my experience of winter squash involves eating what my daughter turns into pie, and what other people serve me at Thanksgiving.  This type of squash apparently grows in 15-ounce cans or rectangular 10-ounce boxes.   I tried two more cookbooks, which told me how to make pumpkin bread (from canned pumpkin) and how to make pumpkin soup (“puree some cooked pumpkin.”)

I headed to the laptop and the Web, where the mystery was solved.  It turned out to be very simple. The cooked pumpkin was a lovely yellow-orange color, lighter than canned pumpkin, and made divinely moist pumpkin bread.  (Mary:  “Gee, Mama, look–one of the loaves didn’t come out of the pan very neatly.  There’s a chunk out of the bottom.  WHAT a pity!  We’ll have to eat it.”  Rachel:  “Yeah, what a shame.”)  I remember that Mma Ramotswe, in the series by Alexander McCall Smith, likes to cook pumpkin for her family.  I wonder how ladies in Botswana prepare pumpkin?

Cooking a pumpkin: Wash the pumpkin.  Cut off the top, scoop out the guts (save the seeds for roasting,) and hack the pumpkin into pieces about the size of your hand.  Put them in a baking pan, and pour in about 3 cups of water.  Cover with lid, or failing that, aluminum foil.  Bake in a 350 degree oven until the pumpkin is tender enough to be easily piered by a fork.  Carefully take it out of the oven (the water will be boiling!)  When it’s cool enough to handle, scoop the pumpkin flesh out of the tough skin.   Then you can mash it up or puree it, and–holy cow–you can use it just like canned pumpkin!!!!

Next:  mining my own salt.

You need rain? Wait ’til I hang the laundry…

Whenever the garden gets dry, I can always fix that up by hanging laundry on the line.

I asked my husband to fix a laundry pole for me (for any youngsters out there, the weight of the wet laundry drags the clothesline down, and you stick the pole under the line and hoist it up a bit so the laundry is off the ground.)  I wanted something that wouldn’t come crashing down and kill the dog if there was a bit of wind, so Physics Boy fixed me up with a old volleyball net pole with a key-ring thing on the end to attach to the laundry line. Isn’t he smart?  What a great refashion!

I’ve just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and so was all fired up to eat locally, save energy, grown my own veggies, and generally save the planet.  I did manage to work in the garden a little, pick some veggies for a neighbor, and hang a little laundry (cue rain) but my venture into the new Wegmans grocery store in Henrietta just made me depressed.  A sign out front says that Wegmans was selling “57 varieties of organic produce today!” and a big sign as I entered explained Wegmans’ commitment to local growers.   I asked the employee working in the produce department how I could identify local produce, and he said he thought there would be a sign.  There was–by the corn.  So here we are in New York harvest time, and everything I picked up was from California!

Back to the farmers’ market.

BBC’s Booklist

Anybody seen NEA’s Big Read list?

This isn’t it.  I (bad librarian) picked this up from another blog and…didn’t check my sources. A reader noticed and so I’ve updated this post.  Check and see how many you’ve read.

A top 100 list was compiled by the BBC, but just like a game of Telephone, the list I picked up had morphed a bit as it passed along online.    I was interested to discover that when the votes were in, The Lord of the Rings trilogy was Britain’s best loved story (counting the three books in the trilogy as one, I guess.)

The ones I’ve read are in bold.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
4 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger Continue reading

Bad crafter. No biscuit.

I gave in to temptation and bought two knit shirts, because I still suck at sewing knits, though now that I have a new sewing machine, I plan on getting better at it. I had to wear a heart monitor for a day, and all my shirts showed that I was wired like the Bionic Woman. I will be good now.