Car camping

tent, fly, stakes
tarp/ground cloth
cot
sleeping bag
flat sheet
pillow
duct tape
camp chairs
wood camp stool
cook kit

utensils, spatula, can opener
knife
water bottles
dish soap, dish rag, dish cloth, dish pan
hot pads
cutting board
coffee pot

milk can
cast iron pan
dutch oven and lifter
matches, lighter
stove and fuel
grill
axe and Sierra saw
shovel
tp
cooler
water cooler
flashlight, headlamp
bug dope
day pack
clothes line and pins
wet wipes
paper towel

canoe
paddles
PFDs
anchor

No wonder that the truck is full when we’re ready to go!

Practice

It’s been a long time since I’ve tried to sew clothing from scratch. With clothing so inexpensive at thrift stores, there is really no reason to, except I’m picky about the color, texture, and fit of my clothes. (Not that you’d know that by looking at me!)

Photo of pattern and shirt front

Pattern and shirt front

So I gave it a whirl, or at least part of a whirl, and the shirt ended up being too big. As I sewed, I felt that the shirt would be too small. Almost the next moment, it would grow to a huge size and then back to my UW-Platteville size.

The placket went together perfectly. Well, almost. There were no puckers and the top stitching was top notch! Somehow I made it one placket width off center though. Oh well, it is a busy print, and the front is pleated. (Another note to self: vertical pleats are not good for me.) Then I went on to put the collar on. It was too small, either from the same error that caused the placket problem, poor cutting, or both. I was about to make a new collar and put it on (because this would be the right time to do so; easier than doing it with sleeves and sides seams in place) but then the size kept growing and shrinking in front of me. I added the sleeves and side seams (no puckers or gaps, thank you very much) and tried the shirt on. It’s at least a size too big. I guess that is better than a tiny shirt, but only for my ego. I’m done with this shirt.

I’m not too discouraged, but my next projects will be adapting a couple of pairs of pants from the thrift store. I should try this shirt thing again before another 25 years pass and I don’t remember my mistakes. Just in case I don’t get back to it before my memory fails me, I’ve made a few notes for myself below.

Next time I will compare the measurements on a shirt that fits me well to the pattern before cutting it out. My body measurements did match the XL size on the B6099 Butterick pattern, but the shirt didn’t fit me. I was careful with the seam allowances.

Body measurements chart in pattern

Photo of back of pattern envelope

Note the Easy designation. Read the directions carefully anyway. It may help get the placket on center!

The button hole feature on the sewing machine is easy. Make sure the button is in the presser foot however, or you will end up with one really big button hole. (The busy fabric will disguise this.)

Pat’s Thanksgiving dressing (almost)

Four generations of my family gather for Thanksgiving annually. (The group is big enough to warrant the rental of a local church hall. This provides a little room to move around and two sinks for dish washing.) This year I joined another limb on my family tree to celebrate with. It also was good company and food, including the dressing, but it wasn’t Aunt Patty’s dressing. Today I’m making Pat’s dressing to make up for not having it on Thanksgiving weekend.

Slow cooker with stains that indicate use

Slow cooker with stains that indicate use

1 c butter

2 c chopped onion

2 c chopped celery

1/4 c parsley sprigs

16 oz sliced mushrooms

12-13 c slightly dry bread cubes

1 t poultry seasoning

1.5 t salt

1.5 t sage

1 t dried thyme

0.5 t pepper

0.5 t marjoram (optional)

2.5 – 3.5 c chicken or turkey stock

2 well beaten eggs

Melt butter in a skillet. Saute onion, celery, parsley, and mushrooms. Pour over bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add seasonings and toss well. Pour in enough broth to moisten. Add eggs and mix well. Pack lightly into slow cooker. Cover and set to high for 45 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for 4-8 hours.

My changes: I used butter rather than the oleo called for at the time it was written. Since I love mushrooms, I used sliced fresh ones rather than two eight-once cans of mushrooms, drained. The amount of liquid from the sauteed mushrooms reduced the stock required by one cup. Here’s the original recipe, as saved by my mom.

I use a 3 quart slow cooker. I’ve tried using whole wheat bread in this recipe and have found that it has a bitter flavor that I don’t care for.

Pat's dressing recipe

I must be in a cooking mood, because I’m also making spicy lentil and sweet potato stew. Either that, or I’m avoiding cleaning. The stew looks a little funky because I’m using purple carrots. They are fresh though, probably the only ones I’ve dug from the garden on December 6.

What to pack when visiting a turtle

I’m excited to return to Wassaw Island National Wildlife Refuge with Caretta Reseach Project in July 2015!

The first step has been interviewing people about their recommendations about keeping cool on a Georgia coastal island in July. Maybe I should tell you WHY ON EARTH anyone would visit in July! If nature follows her pattern, loggerhead sea turtles should be both laying nests (the huge mature females) and hatching (the cute-beyond-belief emerging turtles, judging by photographs). Based on my interviews, staying cool will not be possible. Since we will be working at night based on the turtle’s preferences, I’ll be trying to sleep during the day in a cabin without electricity and away from any breeze that can be found on the beach. The cold shower does sound very appealing! I do like Mom’s recommendation to stay cool best: take a canoe, canopy, and anchor and sleep out on the water. If you know something about staying cool that my interviewees thus far have overlooked, please let me know!

All gear should fit in one large duffel bag and one small backpack. If duffel and backpack are not water resistant, put all items inside a large plastic bag inside the duffel and backpack for transfer to the island.

Sleeping

1 set twin sheets with pillowcase
PJs
earplugs (all volunteers sleep in a small cabin together and I snore)

Clothing

2 shorts
2 long pants
t-shirts
long-sleeve shirt
swimsuit and swim shirt
sweatshirt
windbreaker/rain jacket (poncho not recommended)
hat with visor or brim
hat with mosquito net?
lots of socks
underwear
walking shoes for beach (may encounter cactus and spines)
flip flops for cabin time

Sundries

2 towels
washcloth
medicines
sunscreen lotion
lip balm
toiletries
small first aid kit (band aids and mole skin)
mosquito dope
anti-itch cream
powder (back on the hot and humid theme)

Tools

wristwatch for night use
water bottles (one to use and one to chill)
small flashlight/headlamp (one with a red light/filter is great)
spare batteries
battery operated fan
A Georgia Native Plant Guide
paperback books
binoculars
camera, charger, and waterproof bag
cell phone and charger
earbuds
bandanas

Also pack clothes for return to civilization in a small bag to be left in the rental car. You will be happy to have them!

Czech it out

I’m researching the Czech Republic and using bad puns. [Have you read that China has banned puns?]

I’ve found Czech Republic: Recommended Books and Movies by Rick Steves and Honza Vihan useful.

The Twelve Little Cakes by Dominkika Dery

The Twelve Little Cakes by Dominkika Dery

I gulped down The Twelve Little Cakes by Dominika Dery. Dery’s telling of her father putting the secret police to work restoring the yard after a flood in the chapter “The Little Coffin” is wonderful. This recommendation came from ‘Czech Republic: Recommended Books and Movies’.

Another memoir, Under a Cruel Star: A Life in Prague 1941-1968 by Heda Kovly speaks of Nazi horrors and communist mistrust. This recommendation came from ‘Czech Republic: Recommended Books and Movies’.

References

‘Czech Republic: Recommended Books and Movies’. Czech Republic: Recommended Books and Movies | ricksteves.com, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. <http://www.ricksteves.com/europe/czech-republic/books-movies&gt;.

Winter warmth

My first window quilt is complete, after sitting in various stages of progress for literally years!

Completed Window Quilt

Completed window quilt

The window-facing side is made from a patch work of old jeans, inspired by the Quilts of Gee’s Bend. The jeans were hard to work with because I didn’t use the most stained regions (this means lots of old jeans) and the denim had lots of variability due to the variety of original weave, amount of wear, and that I didn’t align the grain. The conglomeration wanted to stretch in unpredictable ways.

Old Jeans and Bras

Old jeans and bras

The batting is fleece from a neighbor’s stash. It was bought for a project and never used.

The room facing fabric is from the thrift store. It was just big enough for this one window.

The new quilt can be opened!

The new quilt can be opened!

The hardware was from the Roman shade that was in the window when we bought the house. The pull had come apart some time ago and the shade was permanently in the closed position.

The replaced shade

The replaced shade

Fabulously, I was able to use hardware that I saved from old bras to route the pull cord. Before you start thinking that I lead a depraved life to gain such satisfaction from reusing bits of old underwear, note that the rings don’t quite match. That’s because I’ve enjoyed a variety of colored underwear: white, pink, tan. Also, each set of hardware represents new underwear. New underwear provides a joy akin to that of new shoes. If you haven’t experienced this, perhaps you have too many clothes. Or perhaps you are more spiritually advanced than I. To dispel you the notion that I have an unhealthy fascination with underwear, I also collect hardware from bib overalls. Still not convinced? Oh well. Artists are rarely appreciated in their own time.

Hardware for future projects

Hardware for future projects

What will I do differently next time? First of all, I will use whole cloth or match the grain on the window side of the quilt, mostly to expedite the process. Secondly, I will use a double-fold binding instead of self-binding the edges. This should give the quilt a tidier look. I like the haphazard look of the jeans-side, but the not-quite-even edge on the striped side isn’t as pleasing to me. Third, I would sew the bra hardware on by machine, so that the stitching holds all of the layers together. I sewed this one by hand, only through the denim.

I would use fleece again for a batting. It is light weight, insulating, and easy to sew through. Used blankets should be a good source of fleece. Did I mention this is my first machine quilting project of any size? It is.

Now what to do with the old shade? Do you need a short chicken fence? That will have to wait until next spring. Until then, enjoy the warmth of winter by bundling up!

Inspired Vegetarian Chili

Steamy Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 2 c sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 c finely chopped onion
  • 1 c chopped carrot
  • 3/4 c chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 c chopped celery
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 t medium hot chili powder (I used Penzeys Spices)
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 1/8 t salt
  • 3/4 t ground black pepper
  • 3/4 t dried basil
  • 3/4 t dried oregano
  • 2 quarts tomato juice, no seeds or skins
  • 3 c cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (about 26.5 oz canned)
  • hot pepper sauce to taste

Optional, advanced ingredients: Evenly diced sweet potato, parsnip, rutabaga, potato, and/or salsify.

  1. Heat olive oil in the large pot that that you’re going to add all the ingredients to. Add mushrooms, onion, carrot, green bell pepper, celery, garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, basil, and oregano. Stir and cook until the onion begins to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a simmering boil until the carrots are the consistency you’d like.
  3. In a separate pot, steam the optional root vegetables to your desired consistency.
  4. Add the black beans and root vegetables to the chili. Re-heat to a boil and serve.

Some cooks get their inspiration from flavors, texture, color, or culture. My primary inspiration is ingredient volume. My vegetarian chili (and all other chili, for that matter) is extremely variable due to random harvesting, dumping, and jumbling of whatever is on hand. The first attempt at this vegetarian chili started with a recipe, highly rated from the reliable resource of the internet. Immediately and purposefully, I mangled the recipe to suit my tomato format, which is wonderfully canned in quart jars, without seeds or skins, by my dearly beloved George. Why add tomato paste and water, when you can just add tomatoes? I love fresh ingredients too. They never come in neat sizes. Perhaps the perfectly medium-sized bell pepper is 3/4 of a cup, but certainly not one from the store or my garden. The carrots came from the garden and were very fresh. In fact they needed to be dug, topped, scrubbed, diced, and then cut into tiny pieces by my favorite chopper. Yes, a real chef would never use one of these things. If you eat my food, you want me to use one. My hand chopping of hard vegetables flings them all over, mostly onto the floor. You don’t want to eat off my floor. Another thing about the carrots, they are wonderful and fresh, but by the time I’m done preparing them, I’m cranky. We did have some beautiful carrots out of the garden. But now we’re down to the ones that weren’t properly thinned and the carrots are pinky-sized, at best. Prepping homemade baby carrots isn’t my idea of fun. Following this stream of consciousness, this will be my second winter that I plan to glue carrot seeds onto a long strip of toilet paper, at the proper spacing. By time time glue and toilet paper season had rolled around last year it was long past the baby carrot harvest and gluing carrot seeds to toilet paper seemed ridiculous. May my current conviction lead to greater follow through this year! Jumping ahead to the conclusion of the first batch of chili: I followed my adaptation of the recipe and left lots of containers of leftovers in the refrigerator (3 T diced bell pepper, the extra carrots, etc.). No root vegetables were added. In the end I found the chili too spicy without enough depth of flavor (the internet recipe called for 1 T chili powder and 3/4 t hot pepper sauce).

The next three batches found me only measuring what was easy (quarts of tomatoes, spices) and just chopping and dumping the rest. I think the final batch was the best. Certainly not repeatable since I didn’t really measure, however I did use about two quarts of diced root vegetables in addition to the other ingredients. As far as spiciness, it isn’t too spicy, but I figure the eater can add that with hot pepper sauce.

Pretty kale that has nothing to do with chili October 16, 2014

Pretty kale that has nothing to do with chili
October 16, 2014