Monday, April 14, 2008

Totoro Blogpost

AKA monster blogpost. So, it’s been a while since I’ve last posted. Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to in the past few days…

Skirt-making. I’ve been wanting to sew a skirt for some time now, oddly enough. I have only one skirt here, and it’s an ankle-length denim one, and with the coming of doom- I mean, summer, I thought it’d be really, really nice to have something a bit more airy to wear to church. I’ve been wearing jeans lately, and even though I don’t stick out at church, I don’t feel right about it, for some reason. So I found a free pattern online (here), and then went to Target to buy fabric. Target has fabric, you ask? Well…yes and no. It has linens, and last week some of them were on sale, so I bought a blue flat sheet and a brown flat sheet. Except that the brown flat sheet actually turned out to be a fitted sheet, but that was most excellent because I needed elastic for the skirt! So my first attempt was on Saturday. The pattern is incredibly simple, though obviously I altered it A LOT. Basically I ditched the drawstring and “contrast fabric” and made it as long and as wide as I wanted. Well, it turned out to be too wide- boofy, in fact, and the elastic was too long, too (so the waistband felt a little too loose). So I made notes on the proposed alterations, cut some new fabric as well as muslin for lining, and then finished this second skirt this morning. It turned out pretty well; I’m happy with it.

In the past two weeks I have had the pleasure of baking three batches of black bean brownies. I mentioned seeing a recipe for them a while ago, and then had two events to make them for. I used a blend of the recipe I cited earlier and some decidedly less preppy recipes (and no butter, unless you count peanut butter). It was fun comparing the former with the latter: from light agave nectar, parchment paper lining for the pan, and fancy drizzling techniques to buying a box of brownie mix and adding pureed canned black beans.

Here’s about what my recipe is:
(group 1)
1 can black beans
1 cup sucanat/honey
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup cocoa powder
½ cup peanut butter
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons soy flour mixed in 1/4 cup cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla

(group 2)
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rinse and drain the beans in a colander, but save the can. Put the beans back in the can and then fill the cracks with milk. Puree the beans in the milk using your choice of puree device. In a large bowl, combine (group 1) and blend well. Sift together (group 2) in a smaller bowl, and then stir slowly into the wet mixture.
Grease a 9 x 13” pan. Pour batter into the pan and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
Bake 40 minutes or until done.

They. Are. Yummy - no- scrumtulescent. And I promise they don’t taste like beans. At least ten people were quizzed to see if they could guess the secret ingredient, and didn’t figure it out until they were pretty much told. This is definitely going on the list of recipes to calligraphize and illustrate. But I’d like to figure out how to make them denser/fudgier because I’m not a fan of chocolate cake and so far these have turned out to be pretty cakey.

For some reason, doing things that are good for me and that I even enjoy doing can be incredibly difficult. One good example of this is exercising. I didn’t have any errands to do today, so I kept putting off going for a walk. I love walking, and it’s good for me, and it’s been so nice out…but still, getting myself out the door can be an incredible pain. But I always get myself there, and I never regret it. It’s been pretty warm out these past few days, and we haven’t had rain in a while, but things look wonderful. Lawns and gardens aren’t really affected by rainfall or lack thereof, but the hills are still green, and along with the heat of the sun and dryness of the air, it’s been very clear and smogless, at least in this neck of the woods.

Oh yeah- speaking of “ woods”…a few nights ago I was awakened to sounds coming from around the side of the house. I have this stupid window in my room that’s sort of a cross between blinds and a window and it opens and “closes” with a little lever. It’s nice for air flow (I guess…), but terrible for everything else, like keeping out sounds. So anyway, I was pretty irritated when I figured out the noise was probably some raccoons that had gotten in the trash cans, and I had half a mind to get a flashlight and go yell at them. But I don’t know where to find a flashlight here, so I went back to sleep. In the morning, I went right outside to make sure the critters hadn’t strewn trash all over our front yard or the neighbor’s front yard. They had. On my way over there, I noticed that they had broken the wooden gate dividing the side/back yard (where the trashcans are stored) and the front yard. As I busied myself picking up trash, the neighbor’s wife came outside. I apologized for the mess and explained that I thought raccoons had gotten into our garbage last night. She replied that she and her husband had heard the noise, too, but their theory was that it had actually been a bear. Oh. Whoa. After picking up the scattered garbage, I examined the gate. It wasn’t just broken. One of the hinges had been snapped off, and the post it was mounted to, which was also mounted to the side of the house, had been pushed so hard forward that it had separated from the house. I’m sure this makes no sense, so as soon as I can get pictures off my phone, I’ll post them. At any rate, the extent of the damage is pretty convincing evidence that a black bear had “graced” these premises. (Don’t worry, Courtney, if you come visit, I won’t let any get you :) ) So maybe it was good that I didn’t march out into the front yard that night…although, given black bears’ reputation for skittishness and raccoons’ reputation for downright unpleasantness, maybe I would have been ok. Just really, really freaked out. It was probably a big’un. Certainly a determined one, at least. I have to admit- I’m kinda bummed I didn’t see it. I’d tried peering out my window in the direction of the noise when it woke me up, but of course it was pitch black outside and black bears are pretty hard to see in pitch blackness.

Ok…longest blogpost ever. Here’s a couple more things- I’ve been working on a commissioned drawing, may have another drawing commissioned soon, am in the process of getting selections from my portfolio made into prints (expensive! Bah!), and may be doing calligraphy addresses for a friend’s save-the-dates (and maybe the actual invitations as well?).

And a nice bit of whine, for a conclusion: etsy is awesome, but things like this really, really irritate me-

I cannot tell you how sick I am of kitschy, retro 70s art that kind of looks like it was made by an eight year old, except that the artist is actually thirty. Especially when it features deer. Deer with antlers and deer that look like bambi are everywhere and I hate it! Squirrels are pretty over-used, too, as are those tacky decorative elements. And owls.* What makes this example worse is 1) this seller on etsy has sold almost ONE THOUSAND items. Presumably, not all of them look like this, but still. And 2) this print costs $32. It’s a black and white print and then she colored it in using watercolors. It probably took ten minutes. Oh, but the black frame- it’s vintage, so you get added cool points there, I guess. Ugh!

Here is the second most-hated thing I’ve seen today on my artsy blog journeys:

And the accompanying text: “I came home last night to find this painting hanging above our bed! We have both been obsessing over it since we saw it on display at [x] a little while back, and then boom, here it is... my Valentine's day gift from the best husband ever.” Ummm…question: do you have eyes?!!?! Gah!

Ok, whew- that’s all for now, folks.

*if you don’t believe me, scroll your way through the many pages of this blog-
printpattern, which is pretty cool, but I do find myself wanting to bang my head on the desk a lot of the time…


Anonymous said...

haha, thanks for remembering my fears! I am surprised that a bear would wander into such a populated place just for a bit of garbage. I have been in the process of making skirts too. Katie Strader from church has offered to help me, I also have a certain guilt when wearing jeans to a service. Plus skirts make me feel more...girly :)
Madi ran away yesterday(which is about the 10th time this week so far) and we realized that the voltage level was on the lowest setting. So, it is now on the second highest setting, and she will no onger leave the yard! Thought that you would like to know that :)
Love you!

Bart said...

TOE toe row TOE TOE row...
TOE toe row TOE TOE row...


That bear picture makes me think of Steven Colbert. And the kitschy animal thing reminds me of Jägermeister.

Thanks for the long update! And for the crazy bear story!

Nicholas said...

ooh racoonbears!