Saturday, January 5, 2008


Okay, I admit it. I can't keep my interests separate. They just get muddled with each other.

So, as much as I'd like to spare Linguini-ites the overpowering nesting tendencies of Domestic Derring-Do and spare the Do-ers from my occasionally caustic, decidedly canine, usually puzzling life on Linguini On the Ceiling, I'm beginning to feel fragmented. They keep spilling over into each other.

And so all future posts will be over on Linguini and we'll all have to live with the fact that sometimes I'm not pithy and clever and I really do have a side of me that wishes she never had to leave her little hill for the real world.

So, if you're a regular of Domestic Derring-Do, Welcome, and don't let the residents there frighten you. They're harmless, old friends, many related and all hold down normal lives. Well, relatively normal.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Like angels on the head of a pin...

Ya know what really tickled me when Chuck and I picked out this land four years ago?


I love moss, but haven't lived anywhere with moss since I was nine years old. I missed having moss. Now I have lots of moss and I never fail to get a 'heart val-ump' whenever I discover another patch.

When I was very little my mother told me that at midnight the elves come out and dance on the moss -- a strange memory in that my mother was not given to stories of fantasy. Most of her stories dealt with evil little girls who get their proper come-uppance -- like the one about the cranky little girl who wouldn't let her mother comb her hair, so she left the house without her hair combed and the birds mistook her head for a nest and started dropping worms and bugs and bird poop on it.

Perhaps because it was so out of character for her I believed her story well past the time I should have known better. I think some part of me keeps hoping to find a tiny shoe left behind.

Or some other evidence...

This is Gnome Hill, after all...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Peaceful New Year's Eve

No, really. Even with a party going on downstairs, for Chuck and me things were calm and quiet.

We played Scrabble and I made some homemade caramel popcorn and we toasted in the New Year with sparkling fruit juice (we were, after all, responsible for all those kids downstairs, who were remarkably well-behaved).

Not a bad way to spend many people's least favorite holiday. I think there is just so much pressure put on the New Year, it's hard to get into the required festive spirit. There is all this baggage of the previous year to reconcile and huge expectations for the coming year. It does us good to remember January 1st is just December 31st's tomorrow. That's all. No more onus on the day than any other day -- and just as much promise.

My caramel corn recipe, for those interested:

In a brown paper grocery bag put 16 cups air-popped popcorn (approx. 1 cup unpopped)

Place in a glass microwave safe bowl:

1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Microwave on high for about 5 minutes, stopping to stir at 1 minute intervals, until bubbly. (Alternatively, you can do this on the range top in a heavy pot until bubbly).

Take off heat and stir into mixture:

1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Pour this over popcorn in bag, close bag and shake well. Place in microwave on high for a total of five minutes as follows: 2 minutes, shake; 1 minute, shake; 1 minute, shake; 30 seconds, shake; 30 seconds, shake.

Pour into large bowl and stir a little more. Allow to cool and stir to break up.

(You can also add up to 2 cup of whatever nuts you may want. I like cashews, personally...)

Monday, December 31, 2007

Match and Swatch

I'm always surprised when I'm working on several projects at once, how they end up having some kind of common denominator.

In this case, the off-white fabric for the library would go wonderfully as a pair of pants or a skirt to go with the Evening Breeze tank. At least color-wise. Weight-wise, though, the fabric is much too heavy for the kind of weather in which you would wear a cotton tank. Maybe layered under something...I don't know how much I'll have left after finished the library. I'm not real anxious to put the lightest color in my outfit on my bottom half...'nuf said...

So...the off-white squares for the window seat cushion are cut and I've knitted my swatch. I've gotten this week's column roughed out and have successfully kept my husband and son from killing each other while they prepare the rec room for my son's party tonight. In addition, all six dogs are napping at one time. I'd do a general purpose happy dance if I didn't think it would wake them all up.

Tonight Chuck and I will be propping up our eyelids and policing Joe's lock-in party. Back in my youth I also stayed up all night and watched the sun come up on the beach on New Year's Day. These days it's an effort staying up awake after midnight. Thank goodness for a husband who is a 'night person.'

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Full Steam Ahead

Spent the day preparing the fabric for the library decor project. This must be pretty old stuff, purchased while my sons were quite little and the most I could do with fabric I'd just bought on a whim was throw it into the linen closet and hope I'd remember it later.

Certainly at the time there were people waiting in line to tell me how to better run my home and life so that perfectly good fabric would not languish for over a decade. I think I chose the better part in spending that organizational time with my sons instead and, if I failed somewhat in keeping all the plates spinning smartly at one time, at least I don't pretend that I did by editing the past. I remember this when I get the urge to "advise" young mothers, who need, instead to hear how well they are doing, not how well I did.

Anyway, the fabric had not been through a pre-wash and, therefore, still needed the edges zigzagged. These days I do all this within a few days of bringing the fabric home whether I know what I'm doing with them or not.

In the meantime, I chose this winter's large knitting project, a tank from the Spring 2004 Knitters. If you think it's too early to be knitting for summer, know I am the world's slowest knitter, partly because when I broke my wrists a few years back I didn't get it set for a month and some of the muscles simply don't work, and partly because I just am. I haven't knit a swatch yet to see if I have enough to complete the tank. I don't even know what this yarn is (I at least know it's cotton) or remember where I got it. It's pastel, which is unusual for me to buy, but so was all that blue fabric. Obviously I have a split personality with a totally different skin tone.

Since I don't possess a ball winder and swift, this was put away in hanks, also evidence that I did not buy this at Knitting Addiction while vacationing at Outer Banks because she always winds the hanks for her customers.

No problem, though. It gives me the chance to use my new stationary yarn swift that my nephew got me for Christmas. It only looks like a step stool so that it blends in with the rest of the kitchen equipment. To each his own...

Miss Whiskers thinks it's a kitty tent.

I certainly don't want to be the one to tell her otherwise.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Stash

Anyone having anything to do with sewing, knitting, crocheting or crafting knows what a 'stash' is. Most of us have one of various sizes, some having transcended the name and blooming into a full-blown compulsion.

A stash can be comforting in that you always have something to do if, say, you are snowed in for a few weeks and there is nothing to do but sit in front of the fire and knit or sew. That's the thought anyway.

Personally I find that whenever I am in a position where I can't go anywhere and I try to fall back on my stash, I usually can't find a pattern to match or I have the wrong needles or I have the pattern and needles but something has gone awry with the supplies I do have like someone has used my fabric scissors in their tackle box or used my size 4 double pointed needles to build a miniature log cabin for a project.

And if all the elements come together for the actual project, being snowed in with a husband, two teenagers and six dogs means you spend the entire time wiping down counters, putting dishes in the washer, mopping the floor and cooking.

So I've never really worked at building up my stash and I know that, compared with most, it's a sad little pile indeed, built over the past 20 years out of fabrics that were timeless, at a ridiculously low price and in abundance or one-of-a-kind fibers that instantly brought its use to my mind's eye.

One of the first projects I plan to do in 2008 is to decorate our library which currently, while serving its purpose of accessibly housing our books, is otherwise a barren, uninviting tunnel that right now is merely a conduit to my office. There is my off-white recliner in there and every now and then I try to cozy it up by sticking the recliner in front of the fireplace and plopping a basket there, but that doesn't to more than take up a tiny percentage of space in a room with so much potential.

I have been making it a policy, however, to not purchase anything new if I could make what I already have work or if I already had something functional even though it may not be cosmetically aesthetic. I'll admit it was with a heavy heart that I approached my meager stash of fabric, needing a good bit for curtains, a window seat cushion, pillows and a throw. It had to have a wine color to it, since that's how the couch is upholstered and it needed to match up with the beige walls that have a blue-tone to them. Oh, and some off-white to bring in my recliner might come in handy too.

I was pretty much resigned to pigmental discord in the library. After all, my palette, at least on the first floor, leans toward the earthy green, red and brown.

Tell me the universe doesn't cooperate when you're on the right path:

All of these fabrics were bought at different times years apart. And there is enough for all the projects.

So I'm feeling right proud of my "foresight." At least, that'll be my story next time I want to add to the stash...

Monday, November 5, 2007

No Photographic Evidence...Sorry

Someday I will post photos of pasta-making. This weekend's foray was impressive, but certainly not graceful.

I've made pasta before using a rolling pin and knife, but since Christmas the pasta maker that attaches to my mixer has been taunting me from the cabinet. After all, on the Food Network, pasta-making is nothing: slap the egg and water into the flour, commercial break, there's a nice, smooth dough, knead it around, commercial break, now it's sliding smoothly through the pasta machine and Presto! Chango! Fettucine!

Need I say it's not all that simple?

There I was surrounded by Joy of Cooking, the pasta machine manual and Lidya's Kitchen cookbook advising me what to do, and the first quarter-batch looking like a rat had gnawed on it. I think at some point Joe, my youngest son, started pounding it into the machine, laughing maniacally.

He finally gave up and left the kitchen saying, "Break out the San Giorgio, Mom."

Undaunted, I shut all the books and let The Force take over.

And that's my advice to you. Once you have a general recipe, use The Force and your own common sense.

The last three quarter-batches should have been filmed for Food Network -- or at least for Domestic Derring-Do. And if, at that point, I'd have had the energy to climb the stairs to get the camera you would now be seeing pictures of waves of fettucine pouring fluidly from my pasta machine and me with a serene smile on my face. You would see a big photo of steaming pasta with a simple tomato sauce and husband and brother with happy faces. I would be writing about how simple it is to produce a bowl of pasta and how I do it all the time: Presto! Chango!

I aspire to get to that point where I can be smug about pasta-making ("You mean you buy boxed pasta? What's wrong with you?").