Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Playin' Around

Been messing about a bit lately!

My big experiment has been trying to reproduce the Ukrainian method of milk-firing pottery. I started with a fired pot, mainly red in color, and I gave it a few baths with whole milk. Then I stuck it in my oven, turned it up all the way (550°F in my case,) and let it bake for about an hour.

The baking period caused the milk to turn dark brown and permanently fuse to the pot!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Paleo? Autoimmune Protocol? There's a New Forum!

Just an FYI for any of my friends who are on a paleo diet or trying to navigate their way through healing an autoimmune condition - there is now a non-Facebook based forum with sections for both standard paleo AND STRICT AIP!!!! Yayyyyyyy!!

The Paleomom Community

You'll also find there a LOT of promotion for the host's new book that details the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol in exhaustive detail. If you suffer from an autoimmune condition (or previously thought to be autoimmune condition, like fibromyalgia) you should absolutely check it out. It's not easy, most definitely, but feeling healthy is really really worth it.

Hope to see you there!

- Stell

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"Thank You" Turkey Cakes (AIP Compliant)

I didn't even bother taking a picture of these. They're brown and green and lumpy and bumpy....but tasty enough that my son David declared them "amazing!!"

So, if you're jonesing for the reminiscent comfort of a hearty turkey dinner, these might help you out some.

On to the recipe!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Smoked Fish 'n Kale Cakes (AIP-Compliant)

Yeah. Still not pretty. But they taste good, are easy to make, and you don't have to cook anything else to get a complete meal! Can't beat that, for sure.

On to the recipe!

Cinnamon Garlic Lamb Cakes (AIP-Compliant)

Yes, yes, I know. They don't look great. None of these meat/veggie/root patty-type foods look very pretty. But ya know what?? They are fast, easy, AIP-compliant, and taste good. So there. And if you like shish kofta (spiced lamb kebabs) you'll probably like these, even though the cumin is missing (because seeds. Dammit.)

Ok, the recipe:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Even Bigger

It grows!

I'd estimate it to be about 4' wide from flat side to flat side, so there's definitely palpable progress!

I got bored with the fabrics I had in my stash, so I was naughty and went fabric shopping. I'm glad I did, though, because the new fabric choices got me through making that last round of flowers. I think I'll be running out of that particular yellow that I've been bordering with soon, though. So I'll have to transition to a different print. A different color would be an option, as well, but I don't know how I feel about that yet. Opinions?

Tom came over today to work on getting the little kiln in my basement vented properly. He says it's not a big job, but it sure seems complicated to me. Lots of wiring and riveting and drilling and cutting. Once it's done, I will no longer have any excuses to put off test firing it. I'm still scared, though!
In other pottery news, I have to go back to the Arts Center for the Thursday night class (which I am not in) because when we unloaded the kiln at class last night, my stuff took up most of a table. I got everything washed, got tomato stamps painted, and then got all the wax resist put on where it was needed, and by then it was nearly an hour past when class ended. So NOTHING actually got glazed. But Jim said that's ok, because his Thursday class hasn't glazed anything yet, so it will be good to have a couple people there who know what they're doing.

I also went to my doctor today to have an osteopathic manipulation done, because I've been having a lot of back pain, especially sciatica-type pain shooting through my hips. I forgot that when you get stuff like that done, you usually do NOT feel great right afterwards. Maaaaan, if I thought I hurt before.... I don't know what happened, but all the body pain that has somehow been keeping itself in check just decided to club me into submission. My everything hurts. Every joint. Most muscles. My head. My teeth. Just....owwwww. Probably a good sign that I need to stop making excuses and get back on my diet.

Speaking of diet, after making those smoked whitefish cakes, I started toying with the idea of making up various AIP-compliant meat-and-veggie "meal cakes" as ready meals while on my diet. My first experiment was a Cinnamon Lamb cake made with sweet potatoes, zucchini, lamb, cinnamon, onion, and garlic. I liked it a lot, however the children did not. More for me! I'll post the recipe once I play with it more - I thought it needed more zucchini, and I think I need to play with baking times and temps some, because they turned out a bit floppy and spongy. But I have a lot of different ideas, using different meat-root-green veg combos. It'll be neat to see what works and what doesn't.

- Stell

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oh Hickory-Stripe Overalls, How I Love Thee

Overalls, you don't give a crap what is or isn't in fashion. You just ARE, in your big baggy wide-legged comfiness. People can point at us and say "Oh my gawd, would you look at that!" and together we can say HAH. Don't care!

Overalls, you don't mind if I've fluctuated three pants sizes in three days time. You still fit anyway. And stay up. And don't squeeze like those other meanie-pants.

Overalls, you are super-fun. You make me feel five years old, which is pretty awesome when I'm absolutely sick of being a responsible adult. With you, I can be a responsible adult disguised as a little girl in pigtails. So nyaaaaaah and PTHBBBBBBT to you, adult life!

Overalls, you don't care if I get stuff on you. You actually LIKE it when I get all clay-splattered and gross. You're HELPING. You've got a job and by golly you do it well! I can't wait to get out in the garden and get dirty together.

Overalls, you have the BEST POCKETS. EVER. A place for everything, and everything stays there, because you aren't girly sissy pants with stupid tiny pockets that don't hold shit. Thanks for holding my shit, dude.

Dear sweet stripey overalls, thanks for being such a pal. You're the best.

- Stell

New Tools! New Ideas!

So, I said I was going to post more pottery, and then I didn't because I was too worn out from work and other runnings-around this last week/weekend. So I will do that now, while I am resisting getting out of bed. Because I can.

It's not a very clear picture, but the pieces that I had ready for Tom's dishes set came out of the kiln right before spring break. I've been doing his stuff with my Tahquamenon glaze pattern, because he likes blue, and I totally dig all the drips and the Waterfall Brown glaze. They turned out quite pretty. He's just waiting on plates now (that little plate in the picture doesn't count. At all. It's crap.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Garden Progress

Well, the snow and ice have been steadily melting, as temps are staying above freezing fairly often.

Bulbs are just starting to come up, and those weeds that look like violet leaves are all going full-force already.

Looks like I should be able to go out and dig the beds sometime very soon. Better go buy a garden fork. That was my big mistake last year - I didn't loosen everything up really well, and we got really crappy root crops.

I'm still waiting for this pile to go away, because I'm thinking that a couple "lasagna garden" no-dig beds might be acceptable there. And less mowing. I checked city ordinances, and the only thing they prohibit growing on the easement area is nuisance trees. I'm responsible for keeping it mowed, which rarely happens, so more food and flowers growing would be a huge improvement.
I'm also waiting for the pile of snow to melt down from the upper driveway so I can move the big van. I can get it *in* the driveway, but I'd have to move it again later to let anyone else get in, and I'd rather just do it all at once. Monday might work for that.

The growing spaces up at the back of the house are all uncovered. Again, just a bit of ice to go and I can start cleaning up that area and get stuff planted.
I still need to make seed mats and build the structure for the bean house.
I *think* I have a plan for my keyhole garden beds....but it's going to require me learning to use a circular saw and locating a power drill to do. So that'll be coming up. If all goes according to plan, they'll be walled with strawberries! Lots of 2x4s and chicken wire and hinges! (I want to be able to disassemble and move them if necessary.)

I got the last of my seeds ordered last night, and Emily and I bought some rubber stamps to use in making our plant marker stakes. Out of clay, of course. Holy cats, I'll be hand-building something instead of throwing on the wheel!!

So that's that for this week! Hopefully I'll have it all pretty by next week!
- Stell

Monday, April 7, 2014

Smoked Whitefish Cakes

This week at work, Matthew made whitefish cakes for the hot bar menu. They were REALLY GOOD, but I only got a bite to taste test, and then kept forgetting to buy some...and then they were gone. So tonight we made some for dinner!

I haven't got a clue how Matthew made the ones at The a Grain Train, 'cause I was furiously baking at the time, so I just made these up. Here's how.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Making Friends is Hard

So.....since I left Dagorhir and stopped talking to my best friend, I've been trying to figure out how the heck I'm supposed to branch out and make new friends.


It's hard for me, anyway. I've discovered that I've kind of retreated back to that feeling that I'm intruding, in the way, and don't have anything to say that doesn't sound know-it-all-ish. It's a feeling that has followed me all the way from childhood, and for a while I seemed to bust free of it, but now it appears to have sat on me again.

It's hard to be open, even though I'm generally willing to talk to just about anyone about just about anything. I find that I deliberately close myself off when I'm in public places. Eye contact with anyone at all has always been difficult for me (feels intrusive) so I think I give off a "leave me alone" vibe to begin with. Even when I'm out with Dawn - she's got lots of friends that come by to say hi, and I'm always introduced....but I rarely say anything, or even attempt to include myself or engage in their conversation because, well, THEY are the friends talking to one another. It's that feeling of intrusion again.

I joined a couple forums recently, too - a pottery one, and an Iron Age historians one - in hopes that maybe I'd be able to make some new online friends that way. It worked brilliantly back when I was sewing baby things and had a forum for that, and when I was active in the Dagorhir forums....but again, this time around, I just feel intrusive and irrelevant. Nothing of any real import to say. No good ideas for opening conversation to get to know anyone.

I suppose it probably doesn't help that I don't take very good care of the friends I already have. I'm off of Facebook, I don't call anybody, half the time I don't have the energy for interaction anyway. But what it boils down to, I think, is that I just plain don't miss people, except for one. (I don't even miss my kids when I'm away from them, so please don't take it personally.) And I think that's what is missing. I feel like I need to find new friends because I'm still looking for someone that can fill that "I actually want to talk to you every single day, and see you whenever possible" spot. It might never happen. It took me 34 years to find the first one. It's a frustrating and saddening thought.

But....I'll keep trying. I'll keep taking classes, working, going out with Dawn. Maybe I'll try harder to get over my intrusive feelings and actually allow myself to participate in conversations happening next to me.

Do people get better at talking to relative strangers with practice? Do you have interesting conversation starters that you could share? What's your favorite way to meet new people? Any insight from my fellow introverts? I can use all the help I can get!

- Stell

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Going to the Zoo

Mommy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow. Mommy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow and we can stay all day.
- Peter, Paul, and Mommy

As it is spring break this week, the kids and I decided that a trip to the zoo was in order. So early yesterday morning, we loaded up our van and headed off to Detroit!

In true my-kid form, we were all equally as enthralled by animals not meant to be on exhibit as we were with the exhibited ones. Happy minutes were spent watching a teeny tiny snail slime its way over a turtle's chin, or a spider make its way over a sign, or observing the just molted, white, twice-as-big-as-his-shell cockroach.

After lunch, a friendly and handsome peacock took us for a stroll, showing us much of the outdoor primate exhibit before guiding us to the primate house, where he left so he could go help other patrons.

The primate house (and every other building in the zoo, really) was quite fascinating. The Detroit zoo has a very healthy volunteer force, and most of the volunteers that we talked to had spent enough time in their respective areas that they had LOADS to tell us about the personalities, preferences, and habits of the animals. So it was a lot of fun just chatting and watching, and learning things.

It was just warm enough for the giraffes to be in and out of their house, and the male seemed to be enjoying the outdoors. But the female mostly stayed inside, so we spent a bit of quiet time warming up and resting with her.

The lions, tiger, rhinos, and anteaters were all active and exciting to watch, as were the zebras. A pair of them were....rather frisky. "And thus begins the circle of life," I said in my best nature documentary narrator voice, to be answered with cries of "MOOOOMMMMMMMM!" from my slightly shocked children. The lemurs also decided to come out and play, and there seemed to be enough to have a dance party. So I started doing my best lemur-dance, and sure enough, they joined in! A hopping good time, let me tell you! The kids were thrilled.

The seal pictured up at the top was a real showman, despite being blind. He spent the whole time we were in the underwater tunnel swimming upside-down toward the tunnel, then swooping around in a flip to swim the other way. There was another one nearly twice his size that swam right over our heads a couple of times!

We did make sure to visit everything, but didn't take too many pictures. Penguins were delightful, as usual, and we learned that they will be building the biggest penguinarium in the country for them soon. We sat carefully and watched quietly in the butterfly house (and showed random small children how to do the same,) looked carefully for birds in the aviary (and pointed them out to random small children,) and had a fantastic time in the amphibian house....again pointing out creatures to random small children. I think my whole family likes telling random small children about animals. It's a thing.

We finished up at the reptile house, where Amber had to take photos of every visible snake, and we all had a grand time asking random small children if they could see the display animals. I got a good lesson on how to identify a viper from a particularly enthusiastic pair of young snake fanciers.

By three, we'd all had enough of walking around, so we bought our obligatory souvenir t-shirts and headed off to my grandparents' house for a quick visit before driving home.

We stayed all day and I'm getting sleepy. Sitting in the car getting sleep sleep sleepy. Home already and I'm sleep sleep sleepy 'cause we have stayed all day.

- Stell