Wednesday, February 19, 2014

All of my announcements at once.

So there I was, refreshing every webcomic site on my bookmarks list, annoyed at my favourite artists for getting JOBS and losing time to cheer me up every morning. For free. You know how it is.

Then I got a job. A job that was essentially blogging, so just as I stopped cleaning my own bathroom or kitchen when I worked as a hotel maid (sorry: suite attendant), I stopped writing here.

Things were good! Mildly stressful. Working from home for people several time zones away meant that I worked into my regular gin time, but that I could sleep in in the morning.

Then, a new addition to the family. I must introduce you to Rambo! Perhaps with a photo he took himself.

Cute as a button, non?

In any case, the bloggy job is winding down, because I just finished my first day at my ultimate dream job. It's going to be loads of work, lots of screen-time, and probably plenty of blogging too.

So what am I doing, am I officially announcing a hiatus from crafting? No. But I've not been putting any pressure on myself, at least not in this vein, and I can't see a reason to crack down now.

Don't worry. I'll be back. Things are good. Much love.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Knitting Setup

I guess I have a few things to mention that are relevant to a crafting/publishing blog. First, winter's come early and the knitting is out. I had a fire going last night, but I'm out of the mulch-logs and this summer's experiences have left my confidence shattered. Sure I can start a fire with real wood, but where there's fire there's smoke, you know.

In publishing news, I paid a visit to Wolsak & Wynn to conduct an interview for a paper I was writing. Came home bubbling with industry gossip and free copies of some of the books I worked on. I could have sworn I took another one, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was. And, as a rookie publicity mistake, I've covered David Collier's name on Hamilton Illustrated. I guess I shouldn't take ALL the credit.

And, a little late, this year's pumpkin features a smarmy snot-nosed pirate who's lost his eyepatch.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Roasted Habanero Hot Sauce

Those scotch bonnets growing in the garden? Oh they were habanero peppers. One of those instances where finding the labels for the plants should have been done before testing the fruit. No lasting damage done, except to the yogourt tub I attacked while my head was on fire.

MomBlom's household has never been one for spicy food, but with family additions we've been angling for the hotter things in life. As such, a plentiful supply of hot peppers was very exciting, but a little perplexing. What do we do with this much spice? We preserve'em!

As a perfect way to test out this preserving book I picked out at the gift show, I figured I'd get the peppers canned or jarred and see what to do with them next. First thing's first, they're apparently better roasted. That's easy to do! Just wash them and dry them with a paper towel, and lay them on some aluminum foil.

Sprinkle them with oil, place a rack in the top third of the oven, and broil the peppers until they're blistered and blackening.

Nestle them in paper towel (for the oil) until they cool, then slice off the stems (and seeds if you want, but I left them in).

Every time I did this I knew there was a whole new batch of peppers on its way, so instead of going right to the preserving process, I froze the peppers at this point. I don't have the book in front of me, but I think it says that they're good frozen for six months or so. At least three.

When I had enough habanero in the freezer, I got myself a brand new canner, some nifty jars, and a six-pack.

According to the book though, peppers aren't great to preserve on their own. They require a crazy method of canning that even this baby can't do. But sauces and chutneys that are high in acid can be preserved perfectly well with the boiling-water method, so I opted for a hot sauce recipe with plenty of vinegar. I've got the recipe on Pinterest, but for the sake of convenience, I found it here.

One thing I didn't know: the main ingredient in most hot sauces is carrots!

I think next year, if for some reason we grow this many pepper plants, I'll try a batch with fresh peppers. These just look so mushy and sad.

Here's the hot sauce post-puree and pre-simmer. I'm really curious as to the final product. The hot sauce recipe suggests simmering for five minutes to give a bit more of a liquid consistency, although I didn't notice much of a difference. The thing is, I've made two batches now, and each time I didn't have quite enough to fill the last jar. This means the preserving process wouldn't work, so those leftovers just go into the fridge to be eaten by me on everything. But I've yet to hear back what the finished preserved sauce is like.

The preserving process itself is really fun, because it seems so clinical and I like that in my kitchen. The dimensions of this canner make me SO ANGRY, but my first instinct to get squat, wide-mouthed jars was a good one. The boiling-water method is pretty standard and can easily be found on the internet, I'm sure. I got it from a book which makes me feel special, but then that book doesn't have a recipe for hot sauce, and the recipe I used doesn't tell you how long to boil the jars for. I made do with instructions for a tomato-sweet pepper chutney, which seemed to have most of the same ingredients, and boiled the filled jars for 25 minutes. That's why I don't know exactly how the finished product will taste; only the onions, garlic, and carrots are really cooked in the recipe, so I don't know what will happen to the heat or consistency after being boiled for another 25 minutes. 

It won't kill anybody though, I know that.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Say it with Quilting

Everything I want to say goes into this. The fabric itself holds kisses and tears, hugs from a hoop, and months of neglect, because how can I give these things a sense of completion?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Motel Camping

Lovely camping weekend planned, until this happened. We made it through one night, but the tent didn't really, and I guess the equipment's getting pretty old. We haven't been camping in the rain in a while so we never got the chance to check how weatherproof it all was. Well, it wasn't. Still, we went for a pretty epic hike, for my standards.

Who's the slimiest little fungus? It's you!

Worth it?

Worth it.

Oh, and yeah. Since it hadn't stopped raining since we arrived, we checked in to a motel. While it sounds like giving up, it meant that we were free to spend the day getting as wet as we wanted. Rewards abound.

Friday, September 6, 2013

I Don't Know What I Am Anymore, But I'm Here

The internship is finished. FINALLY, I can COMPLAIN. My physical reaction to this schedule is something I've completely had to ignore in order to keep going. But two months of nonstop travel and six hours of sleep per night put me in complete fight-or-flight mode: insomnia, weight loss, vertigo, indigestion, constant stomach pain, gall bladder issues, the spontaneous loss of a toenail, and I STILL can't eat without feeling nauseated for half an hour afterward, but it's only been just over a week and I went to Halifax for the weekend. The sudden relaxation, of course, left my immune system confused enough for a head cold to walk right in and make itself at home.

But can I say, I still loved the work I was doing: totes worth it.

Now, I've got the quilting studio completely converted into an office, and I've started to get serious about this project report.

The experiences of the last... year? Four years? Month? Doesn't matter: they've left me totally broken open. And that's ok. I think it was time to realize that things happen and they're going to have their effect whether you're prepared, protected, vulnerable, alone, on the front lines, or elsewhere.

So yeah, Halifax. Well above, you see a visit from my spirit animal, lovingly posed in the Public Gardens.

And a pretty little scene that's only slightly ruined by the editor in me pointing out that Hey, this isn't Point Pleasant...

The harbour, ocean-side. Just a bunch of condos and fancy boats, I know. I hug it anyway.

Head cold remedies: whiskey punch at the Old Triangle.


What did we miss last week? Oh yes, turns out MomBlom's got some Scotch Bonnets growing in the garden, so I'm going to figure out how to make enough hot sauce to keep us warm all winter.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Week at the Gift Show

Spent a good part of the last week helping out with setting up and running the HarperCollins booth at the CGTA Gift Show. Culmination of my whole internship, basically, and with the office picnic tomorrow, everything's kind of got the old end-of-school-year vibe. I've been so... I don't even want to say stressed, because all of the work I put in was a joy (as it is for everyone: that life-size Gruffalo is hand-made by one of the sales assistants).  I guess I just love books. Hated them for a couple of minutes today, but naw, I love'em. I feel different than when I started this though. I mean, I felt a lot of things last week that were a result of steroids, but in general I think it finally hit me that only so much can drastically change before I change. And that's a huge relief, because it's that inner shift I've been waiting for, I guess. I just hope it sticks.

But also I feel sure that it WILL stick, if I just stick around books. Come on, look at this wall! I read more kids' books in the last three days than I have since grade school.

Then, oh my goodness, I found out that at the end of the show I get to take books home. Obviously, I went straight to the craft display. Tough call, but in the end I chose this modest pile:

Among which, most are for the nieces. Tal loves The Gruffalo (she even recited some of it at breakfast this morning), so I picked up a Monkey Puzzle board book. I think it's new; I don't even know. Also she likes planes, although that particular choice is rather basic. But no matter: maybe the Nai-pod will like it. My Zoo, who wouldn't like My Zoo? And The Crocodile Who Didn't Like Water, I actually bought that for myself. I keep putting it on lists and it's just the cutest. Also, it reminds me of a certain someone who thinks baby crocodiles are cute and also likes dragons (spoiler alert: this particular baby crocodile IS a dragon).

But admittedly, I'm MOST excited about these two. And you should be too, since they're the ones most likely to reappear in this particular setting.


That is all.