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Archive for January, 2008

Musical Shows this Week & Next

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

lilrevforaltus.jpgI am here and happy and occupied. Our guest is here, and he is none other than Lil Rev, musician from Wisconsin.

We met Rev on the Ukulele Circuit, but he does not only play Ukulele. He plays guitar, banjo, mandolin, and a very fine (award-winning) harmonica.

He will be performing Today, Thursday January 17, at Altu’s restaurant. Show 6:30-8:30.

This is an unusual Thursday night show (he leaves town Friday morning and we did not want to miss out on this opportunity). He offered ukuele workshops at Elderly Instruments on Tuesday and Wednesday. We jammed and laughed and had a great time tonight here at casa de Heftone. Tomorrow is showtime and we are excited.

Anne Erickson of the Lansing State Journal, writes a column in the What’s On section each Thursday. A few weeks ago she wrote a bit about Temesgen Hussein, the Ethiopian musician who is Altus’ house musician. This week she writes that she will have an article about Lil’ Rev and his show at Altu’s, in the What’s On. Today, show day! I am excited about this.

Here is the information about the show which we sent to Altu’s customers:

We are excited to announce that musician Lil’ Rev of Wisconsin will return to our restaurant this month. For those of you who joined us for his show last September, you know what a warm and entertaining show Rev presents. For those of you who missed it, now is your chance!

We would love to have you join us.

*******************************
THURSDAY January 17, special event:

Lil’ Rev

Rev is an engaging entertainer; warm, enlightening, talented.
Rev celebrates the roots of his music, yet keeps a modern flair.
Rev has won numerous awards for his work including:

– Best Folk Singer in Wisconsin — WAMI 2004
– Inducted into The Traditional Old-Time Country Music Hall of Fame – 2003
– Best Instrumentalist Harmonica — WAMI 2000
– Voted Best Acoustic Act in Milwaukee 1996-1997 Shepherd Express Reader’s Choice
– Hohner’s 1996 National Blues Harmonica Champion

Please join us, and bring the family!
No Cover, though CD’s will be available for sale, and tips are always appreciated.
Show 6:30-8:30pm

You can listen to some of Rev’s music on his website:
http://lilrev.com
********************************
As always, we will *not* accept reservations for the evening.

Friday night will be our turn. Brian and I as The Fabulous Heftones will perform at the Scene Metrospace Folk Festival in East Lansing, sometime after 7pm.

There is a wonderful lineup that night, we will be second in a long list of performers. I will make a separate post about that and our Stage 1210 show the following Friday, Jan 25. For now I’m going to sleep, but tune in again and I’ll get those shows up here Thursday.

At least a few of you do ask for this information when I run into you in person. So sorry to the out of town folks who read this but can not attend.

You all (in or out of town) are invited to visit the Fabulous Heftones website and listen and/or download a whole lot of songs for free. Does that make you far-away folks feel better?

Short Post

Monday, January 14th, 2008

I guess we are getting back into the swing of a busy life. I taught my “Toe Up Mittens” at Rae’s Sunday and then went directly to the Elderly Instruments holiday party. They always have it after the holiday crazy time is over, and I appreciate that.

(Now our holidays are officially done. Except for National Pie Day on January 23, but that is a new season, I’d say!)

We performed for the party (a music store has many musicians and we take turns entertaining). It is always fun.

Then back home to do more preparation for our guest. Mind you, I run a small yarn-dyeing, pattern-writing, knitting-instruction business out of this house… tucked into corners of the living room, the office, the eating area of the kitchen, the basement.

There is much good in right-sizing the business and getting papers where papers go, yarn where yarn goes, musical instruments where they go, and not mixing it all up and confusing things. And getting rid of items we do not use anymore, sending them on to where someone else can make use of them.

I am so grateful that I’ve had so much time to really work on re-organizing, tossing, giving away, letting go. With months of lead time I have been able to really look at how we use the house, not only when we have a guest but every day. (He is staying 3 days, and we have no guest room, so it takes a bit of preparation to make a living room into a guest room in a house this size.)

So this is all the time I have to type you a note for a while. I hope to unload the camera of its photos soon but for now it’s all about making our home comfy for a guest, for several days. It’s really worthwhile, and we will reap the benefits of this work for a long time after he leaves.

Don’t worry if I bow out for a few days, I’m fine and happy here (where the snow has returned and it looks like January again). Seeya!

Dancing at Cadillac Club

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

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habibinancyeudora.jpg

Tonight the Habibi Dancers were part of a fundraiser for Nancy Brandon who had a stem cell transplant to fight her Parkinsons Disease. (Nancy is about my age and has been fighting this since before I knew her; she’s very involved in the creative community of Lansing.) We had a good number of dancers for the event, and we had a wonderful time.

habibinancyamy.jpgI always say that Lansing is big enough that not everybody knows all your business, but it’s small enough that it seems all the creative folks in any realm, will know the others. I saw musicians, dancers, photographers, actors, community activists and more in that crowd. What a show of support for Nancy, who really is at the center of the community in more than a few ways.

habibinancywinona.jpgWe did quite a full concert, with group numbers and solo performers. Brian works on Saturday but he took photos as soon as he got there, and he is sharing these photos with us all here tonight. Thanks, Brian!

(The lighting was problematic so most of the shots are grainy and/or blurry, but I think they give a sense of the event anyway. I hope those who have Apple computers can see these, I know they display photos darker than my Windows machines and these are pretty dark already.)

habibinancygarnettmolly.jpgNotice how there are two shots of the crowd at the end of our show. We danced out into the audience and invited those seated to stand and dance with us. A good handful did just that, and we had a great time indeed!

In the first photo, we were doing a cane dance, balancing canes on our heads as we move. I love cane dances. They are a bit hard to photograph but Brian did just fine!

The first solo photo is me as Eudora. This may be the only time you see me wearing black and gold, and no other colors! The other photos I will not identify, some of the dancers I do not know their dance names and in the crowd scenes of course I do not have all the names. Please enjoy the images, at any rate.


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A Work Day

Friday, January 11th, 2008

(For the record… in the preceding post, I am not advocating denial or encouraging folks to ignore feelings. I am trying to put things into their proper perspective. I’m talking about getting all frustrated about having to cook dinner, clean the kitchen after dinner, do laundry… normal, ordinary things.

I personally seem to think at times that the world should revolve around what I like to do and not “make me” do ordinary maintenance, never mind that all humans have maintenance tasks. In my case, my life is very good and I really have nothing to complain about, but I do it anyway. That’s why I want to put “small potatoes” in perspective. When they are truly small issues, that is. End of digression.)

Saturday was a work day. I am not ordinarily a tidy housekeeper. I would much rather focus on cool new creative projects all day, all week, all month, all year… than notice that things have gotten enough out of hand that I can’t find things anymore.

Well, we are delighted that a friend is coming in from out of town. He will stay with us for 3 nights. We do not have a guest room, just an air mattress on the living room floor. I want any guest to feel really comfortable and right at home. In order to do that, i want my mess to be enough contained to make things not feel like they will fall over when we breathe too much in the wrong direction, you know?

So Friday I spent a lot of time finishing up the clean-up of my yarn area, which occupies half of the living room. It was really worthwhile, taking that time. I did not just make it tidy, I went into boxes and sorted and tossed and gave away. Some things will leave the house never to be dealt with again, which is a relief.

Our kitchen mostly stays relatively tidy (although packed to the gills) all the time, and the bath is no big deal, but I still will need another day to work on my office. It is in the area that was once the dining room, when the house did not have eating space in the kitchen. It is the next room over from the living room and fully visible from any seat in that room.

Again, I tend to be relatively messy. This year, though, has been more extreme in that regard. The desk is piled with so many papers that I think I could lose a ball of yarn in the mess. So I’ll start working on that room tomorrow and finish it up on Monday (when I have no appointments on the calendar.

Meanwhile, tomorrow I will be dancing with the Habibi Dancers at the Cadillac Club in REOTown at 7pm. I think 9 of us are going to be dancing. I will be doing three numbers, as my alter-ego, Eudora.

The event is a fundraiser for Nancy, who is one of the partners in Magdalena’s Teahouse (where we had our CD Release party a year and a half ago). She’s been fighting Parkinsons since I have known her. She had a stem cell transplant earlier this year, and had to take out loans to do it, so this is to help handle those costs.

The performance is a multicultural dance event (we are not the only dance group involved), and I think it will be a really fine show. Nancy knows SO many performers in town.

Sunday I teach “Toe Up Mittens” at Rae’s Yarn shop, the first of two sessions 2 weeks apart. It’s an afterthought-thumb (like Norwegian mittens) with a knit-to-fit start similar to my First-Time Toe Up Socks pattern. Much fun.

After that class, Brian and I will go to the Elderly Instruments holiday gathering and we will perform for Brian’s co-workers (there are many musicians working there, so we will be one of many acts… and they are a very good audience! We got named The Fabulous Heftones when we performed at one of these parties, back when we were not yet married if I remember right.

It should be a good weekend. (I’m cheating right now and using old photos.)

A New Year, a New Attitude?

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Chelle writes about choosing a word as the theme for each new year. Every year for many in a row I’ve considered “Balance” to be my choice. I think for me that balance will be a life-long learning session, and one well worth the learning curve.

I sometimes tend to “bounce off walls,” which is perhaps OK when it’s about passion for a new creative idea or project. It’s clear to me that it’s not so good when I get distracted by something negative.

Recognizing Small Potatoes

I keep thinking about my Gramma Illa, who might be said to have had a hard life, at least during parts of her 82 years. Surely if you looked at the statistics, it would appear so.

She lost her mother and a younger sister when she was 6, which is pretty big all by itself. She and Grandpa moved to the farm as adults when the depression made it clear Grandpa’s job as principal of a school would not last much longer. They farmed with horses at first, at a time when there was no public electricity in their corner of Minnesota, no flush toilets, no central heating, things I absolutely take for granted every day of my own routine life.

But no matter what the list of these and other facts might be (between happy facts, I’m sure), I do not remember hearing her complain about anything. Someone else might focus on the down side. Illa was not that sort of person.

If you wanted to go on about what this or that person said that you disagreed with, she might reflect to you (in her own gentle and loving way) that your complaint/concern might be “small potatoes.” When her kids came home from school with he said/she said kid concerns (which might disappear on their own tomorrow), that was her common reply.

And isn’t that really true? The things we get stirred up about today, we often do not remember next week. And people who try to take us down are no doubt not worthy of our energy. If we go forward and make our own lives right for us, standing tall about our own behaviors, then another person’s petty maneuverings are indeed small potatoes in the garden of life.

Being Right/ Being Heard/ Being Happy

I believe that in great part, happiness is a choice. We all have disappointments and losses but we can choose how to approach those. We can certainly grieve when that is appropriate, but focusing on being right all the time will just make a person tired. And it seems to me most of the time when I spend excess emotional energy on things that are truly small potatoes, it’s because I need to feel that I am right.

But I was thinking about this the other day. Maybe what I really need to feel is that I have been heard? Maybe I need to know that my input has been weighed and factored in to what is going on, if in fact the situation calls for input at all. After all, there often might be more than one correct view in a situation. What is “right” depends on more than just my own opinion.

I am not the Boss of Life

I have been practicing for the three years since my Africa trip, the concept that “I’m not in charge.” This is in no way intended to shirk my responsibility… I tend to be too responsible if anything. But sometimes we spend much energy trying to change things that do not have anything to do with us. Figuring out when we are *not* in charge, leaves us room to spend energy on those things which we truly *can* influence.

I can not change the weather. I might unwisely spend a lot of time focusing on how the weather “should” be, how the city should plow my street (which is one block long and clearly should not be first priority to the city, no matter how much I want it plowed) or how I don’t want flights cancelled or whatever. Actually, the first sign that something is out of balance is the word “should” in the first place. I tend to hold that word suspect.

If I am an employee, I can use the channels of communication to express my input or opinion, but in the end, I am not in charge of the resulting decision. If I get sick, I am not the boss of when my body will get better, though I *am* in charge of doing whatever my system needs to get stronger, if I know what those things are.

Letting Go When Useful

I can not make the winter be 84F, as much as I would like that. I need to give in to nature and the seasons, which others experience differently than I do, anyway. I *can* wear longjohns and warm sweaters and warm socks, wristwarmers, shawls, whatever will help me. I can get out my wonderful hot water bottle and put my feet on it when my toes are cold. I can even turn up the thermostat (this was neither an option when we were cold in Africa, nor for Illa on the farm).

So: being clear about what I have control over versus what is not my job, my responsibility, within my control, is important to my happiness. Getting angry about how businesses do their work is not within my reach to change, but choosing which bank, telephone company, restaurant or clothing store I choose to do business with *is* in my power.

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Watching Kids’ Learn these Lessons

And I can remember, like Gramma Illa, that when someone feels like picking on me, their pushes and pulls are truly “small potatoes.” I remember working with kids at a community center years ago. They would get into a fight because “He said my Momma…”

I would ask “Does he know your Momma? No? Do you think he was trying to get to you? Did it work?” Kids do not know that they can just walk away saying “You don’t know what you are talking about, goodbye.”

My mother used to teach first grade. Kids would come to her with “he said/she said” stories. She would ask them “Does he have a problem?” The reply would be “Yes.” The next question was “Aren’t you glad that you don’t have a problem?” Another affirmative. And that would be the end of that. Maybe advice to stay away from someone who has a problem, but generally it was about boundaries. And how good is that?

Learning from a Toddler

I have spent some quality time lately with little Isabel, who is one of the most enthusiastic and positive people I know. She happens to be 3-1/2 years old, with all the enthusiasm for learning that comes with that age.

I take her on dates to the coffee house when I am lucky. She plays with my polymer clay buttons, sorting by size or color. She counts them, she makes me put them in her outstretched cupped hands until she can hold no more. She stacks them until they fall down. She also has an ongoing commentary as she works, often about colors.

The other day when I was helping Rae and her mom put samples out in the new store, they were reviewing old sample items and decided to let go of three scarves they felt were tired. I asked if I could pass them on to my little friend. I was pretty sure she would enjoy playing dress-up with the shiny but soft ruffles.

Here is a photo with Isabel wearing her three new scarves, all at once. I took this photo at the coffee shop about a week ago. Um, I think we can safely say that she liked her gift. Thanks, Rae! (That first photo is of my Gramma Illa as a young woman, I’m guessing somewhere around 1920.)

A Question… You often like questions.

So how do you all keep focused… if not toward the good stuff/happiness, at least away from the tempting complaints and low moods that can come your way? I’m thinking about “small potatoes” this week, myself. I am trying to focus on the stuff that really matters… and remember that if someone is causing me trouble they may have a problem, as my Mom says. I hope I don’t also have a problem of my own. I’ll work on that one hour at a time if need be.

I’ve Been Knitting… a Sweater!

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

sweateronshouldersfeathered.jpgMy friend Altu is really excited to knit on *her* sweater. I, on the other hand, am supposed to lead her through each new section with new instructions.

I am knitting the same thing she is, so that I will be sure to understand each new instruction. Which means that I have to stay about where she is on the sweater she is knitting.

The Project 

We are doing the Split-Neck T-Shirt (!) #257 Sweater by Knitting Pure & Simple (it’s an Aran-weight/ somewhat-heavy yarn, raglan sleeved, 3/4 sleeve sweater, so I’m not sure how they thought it could be called a T-Shirt). Despite the name, it is a very nice design that apparently (given what I’ve seen on Ravelry) looks good on a lot of different body types/sizes.

This design is particularly promising for curvy girls, since we can knit top down and adjust for bust shaping or at the very least decrease a bit after the bust to make up for the fact the sweater size was chosen for the disproportionate bust measurement. The model herself has some curves, which is a good hint this will be a good choice.

I am using some yarn that is not quite as fat as it should be, but at least one of my swatches met the stitch gauge so I’m going with it. I really needed to knit from stash, I have enough yarn for about 6 sweaters right now and since I’ve only ever knit one adult sweater with long sleeves by hand, I really could not justify more yarn for a sweater project. At this rate I’ll have enough yarn for 5 sweaters very soon, and a new sweater to boot!

The Yarn

The yarn is Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece. It’s mostly pima cotton with some wool, which is a really excellent combination. I do not usually like cotton yarns and I love this yarn. The way it was spun is quite beautiful, and really shows off the fiber combination well. It is very pleasant to knit with, very nice.

The only complaint I’ve ever heard about this yarn is that sometimes the colors will run, because cotton and wool take different types of dyes (not at all good if you are doing red and white stripes). However, I’m doing a single color: cherry red. It’s beautiful! I will be careful to wash it separately. It will be spectacular, I can see it already.

The Method 

Many sweaters are knit from the hem up to the top. This one is top down, which allows for more clarity and opportunity to fit as we work. First we started at the neck, and then we had to increase for raglan sleeves which are part of the body (not sewn on later).

The neck is shaped somewhat, more like a v-neck than a true split/cut neck, so that took some more attention for a while. Then when the split was finished, we joined the piece into the round and now are knitting in a circle rather than back and forth (aaaahhh).

It is interesting… when we knit flat, we actually knit a row and then turn the piece around and purl back. For those non-knitters out there who are still reading, a purl is merely a reverse/backward knit. A knit has a flat side toward the knitter and a purl has a flat side away from the knitter. However, when you start going in a circle you are always looking at the flat side (outside of a tube) so you no longer need to purl.

It turns out that I purl more tightly than I knit (many people purl more loosely than they knit but I guess I had to be different). When I started, I had rows with taller stitches on the knitted rows and if I had continued it would have become obvious. Since I was using Denise Interchangeable Needles, I switched so that the working needle for the purl side was one size larger than the knit side, and I do not see a problem in my fabric. Save!

The Progress

It is so far an easy-to-follow pattern. At one point it called a Knit-in-front-and-back increase a “kfb” and once an “inc” in the same sentence, but both instructions were clear (inc was defined as kfb at the beginning of the pattern). So no big deal, and every instruction thus far has worked out well.

sweatertojoin33.jpgWe are proceeding as though we both have done something like this before. We sort of have, in that Altu has made up a lot of sweaters (not using patterns) and I have followed many patterns (but not for sweaters). It is a fun thing for us to do together.

The only down side is that Altu gets eager to proceed further, sometimes when I’m not available to show her the next part. Small potatoes, as Gramma Illa would say.

So here are photos… one of the piece flat, and one of me wearing the bit that I’d finished just as I started working in a tube. I took the photo of myself in a mirror, so forgive the fuzziness if you will.

I think by the looks of this preview fitting, it will work out just great for me! Woohoo… now we just have to proceed to the end. This will not be a problem, as Altu is a very determined woman and I can’t see her slowing down now. Good for us both!

June Temperatures, December Skies

Monday, January 7th, 2008

snowmanmelt.jpgWhat a strange weather day we have. We will not see a hint of sunshine today, even at noon it felt like dusk. The temperature is 60F/ 15.5C, unheard of in January in this area. The sky looks like a typical full-cloudcover December day. It’s almost surreal.

It rained two nights ago and started to melt in earnest around then. Our January 1 snowman has lost any resemblance to a snowman, it is now just an unusual pile of snow in the middle of the front lawn. He gave us (and some of you) much joy in his short existance, at any rate. We got about 3 good solid days out of his glory before things started getting warm.

I am sharing two photos with you today… Yesterday’s sad snowman-remains, and the glory of a perfect Michigan snow, from my mother’s front yard on the 2nd, just four days before. Sometimes the sun does come out, and if it is right after a lovely snow, you can get photos like this.

I think I’ll go for a walk today, anyway. It will be another day without appointments so I can play with my schedule a bit. There is SO much to do from my home office/studio, but if it is 60F, I just think it is imperative that I take a walk.

I hope your day is great. So many folks are going back to work and school today. I hope this brings the joy of reunion rather than a sadness at the routine. Remember, if you are one going back to work… income is definitely a wonderful thing, not everyone has work right now.

And truthfully? One must have a place to belong. I figured that out when I had too much alone time and not enough work, back when I lived alone. Peers are essential to a person’s life, particularly if you are like me and relatively social by nature.

(I’ve been knitting… photos tomorrow.)

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First Pair Finished in 2008! Sock Pair #159

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

pair159-22percent-375wide.jpgOn Thursday, I finished a pair of socks for Brian that I mostly knit last year. I did one heel on New Year’s eve (these are afterthought-heel socks) and the second at the evening knit-in at Rae’s Thursday.

The yarn is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. The needles were probably size 3 US. They were started toe-up as if to knit my First-Time Toe-Up socks, but then I made them afterthought heel instead. I knit the whole thing stockinette except about an inch and a little at the top which was K3P1 rib, followed by a single-crochet bind off.

I present to you, Pair 159 in my lifetime. I’m happy to finish something right now. It seems as if I’ve been in quicksand but I am feeling much more alert or something because things are turning around, and not just in my knitting life.

A Question out of the Blue…

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

Advertising just makes me think of doublespeak. Pre-owned as a way of saying “used” is just the tip of the iceberg.

Today I had to go buy something on the OfficeMax website (I need a drum for my printer which is old enough to require special ordering of supplies). I buy from them occasionally, they do a good job thus far.

But how can they use the title “Back to Basics” for an advertisement… for a 4-in-1 Hewlett-Packard printer/copier, etc??? Isn’t basics a pencil and paper? Or a printer that just prints (forget scanning, faxing and copying), if you must talk technology?

OK, I feel better after having spoken up. More fun here soon. Hand-knit socks, to be specific.

Food Ramblings & Strawberry Recipe

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

ColorJoy, the blog, is a place for all artforms. Today I wish to focus on cooking. Yummy! At the end I will share a new recipe I created today.

I love food. Some of you know that there are a lot of foods I can not eat because of allergy/sensitivity reactions.

However, because of my food restrictions Brian and I eat very well. Everything we eat at home is from scratch. We eat a lot of organic food, a lot of “ethnic” foods, many things I had never heard of while growing up. In fact, I feel really lucky to be living in these times, because so many types of produce are available to me fresh or frozen for most of the year.

New Foods for Me

cookedtaroroots.jpgI am learning a lot right now about root vegetables. I don’t do too well with potato, but taro root which has been boiled and then peeled is a lot like potato, a little more flavorful and a little more work to prepare. They are maybe a quarter of the size of a standard baking potato, and can not be peeled easily before cooking.

They look awful at the store, like small fuzzy brown rocks, but they are worth the effort. Here is a photo of some taro roots after they were scrubbed and then boiled. They look much nicer here than at the store, but they are quite nice to eat (after peeling) with just a little butter or olive oil.

We eat a lot of sweet potatoes. And now I am trying what is sometimes labeled “white yam” which looks like sweet potato, with a purple skin but flesh that is cream colored before cooking and has a few pale green veins after cooking.

It is very smooth in texture, not very sweet but sweeter than potato or taro. I put it in some green (frozen) pea soup the other day and it was incredibly good.

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Flat Breads from Root Veggies

I have been trying to make things like tortillas, chapatis or potato lefse (pronounced LEFF-suh, a Norwegian flat bread which we always had at holiday meals when I was growing up). I am not having a great success with this, but I keep trying. (I can not have yeast, but I do not miss regular bread the way I miss tortillas.)

The best so far were the ones last week, made of taro and brown rice flour. The night I made them, they did roll up fine, but they hardened up a lot overnight (see photo).

Honestly, if I just want a bread to eat on the side they work out fine. However, I have not yet done well making anything that would roll up like a tortilla or lefse.

However… when it comes to desserts I am doing great. I make several versions of tapioca pudding that I really enjoy. I make teff spice muffins and pancakes (both gluten free), which are no compromise at all. I make a chocolate cake that is pretty good and I am still working on brownies.

My Friend in the Kitchen: Tapioca

It seems that tapioca is my friend. My mother always used instant tapioca to thicken pie fillings when I was a child, rather than cornstarch. It does have the telltale bumps in it, which I do not mind at all, but it is much cleaner a taste than the cornstarch, less sticky somehow. I know now that tapioca starch can be purchased much like cornstarch, so one could use that without the lumps for pie filling if desired.

I remember the years we would climb up in the neighbor’s cherry trees and pick cherries until we wished there was no such tree. Then we would sit together and pit the cherries, and mom would make wonderful pies, or sometimes just the sauce which we would put over ice cream.

Strawberry Experiments

So tonight I bought two bags full of organic frozen strawberries. What a treat! It is January and the snow is deep, and I can buy organic strawberries in Michigan! I determined that I wanted some sort of sauce or pudding made of strawberries.

I found one recipe that Diana, my Sis-in-Love, had found for me months ago, for a pureed strawberry/tapioca dessert. It seemed to be all sauce and no fruit, and I do not own (or want) a food processor or blender with which to puree fruit.

I found another recipe on the back of my pearl tapioca bag (I have instant tapioca, too, but I rather fancied the larger ones tonight). It was for standard milk-based tapioca pudding. I did not want any milk in mine but it gave me hints on how long to soak the tapioca, how long to boil and how long to simmer, before cooling.

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Victory

And voila! I combined bits of both recipes, plus I tripled the amount of fruit the one recipe called for. And I made a wonderful dessert. We ate it warm like a pudding, but it would have been wonderful on ice cream or frozen yogurt. It would be a great topping on a humble poundcake or angel food cake.

Or, I am guessing, it might set up pretty hard after a long cooling night in the refrigerator, and it then could be eaten almost like a gelatin salad. I am making sure I don’t eat at least one of the portions until morning, so I can report back on that.

So here I present to you:

Very-Yummy Strawberry Dessert!

1/4c small pearl tapioca
1-1/2c water
3 Tbsp Brown Sugar (optional, or use white sugar)
1-1/2c Frozen Strawberries, organic if available

Measure berries and set aside in one layer, to thaw. Soak tapioca and water in saucepan for 30 minutes. While waiting, cut 1 cup of the berries into small pieces (may wish to thaw very briefly first). With a fork, mash remaining 1/2c berries (or puree in blender or food processor if desired).After the 30 minutes, add sugar and berries to pan.

Bring mixture to a full boil very briefly. Lower heat to very low, and simmer for 15 minutes uncovered, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat, allow to cool for 15 minutes. (At this point you may add 1tsp of vanilla or other flavoring of your choice, I did not do this myself.)

Makes four half-cup servings. Either pour over cake, ice cream, pancakes, or eat warm as pudding, or chill thoroughly in refrigerator and eat as a cool snack or light dessert. Consider topping with coconut flakes or whipped cream if desired.

Yummy!!!

I am guessing that you could mix up any fruit that was a little sweet and a little tart, and use the same recipe. Pie cherries or raspberries would be great but would need more sugar, blueberries might not need any sugar at all. The sky is the limit! Do let me know if you try it.

Do any of you have recipes calling for Tapioca in unusual ways? I’m all ears.

New Year’s Eve

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Prepare for photographs… I am giving in to more than usual for this post. It was a special night, you know?

On New Year’s Eve we almost did not choose to go to the Contra Dance. It was supposed to snow a lot and I was enjoying the warmth of the house. Brian reminded me that I would have a good time once we got there, and he sort of wanted a date for the holiday, so we went. He was right. I was glad I went.

We know most of the folks in the Contra Dance community pretty well. These are people we very much enjoy and very much want to spend our time with. Some of them we see only at dances, but it’s amazing how many are in our regular circle of acquaintances (for starters, Sharon, Julie, Rae, and Cynthia are all knitters I see regularly and who also dance). It is such a warm community! There is just nothing like a New Year’s Contra dance.

I find it fun that at a Contra Dance you will inevitably find a corner of the room full of knitters. We end up talking and knitting, and watching dances, listening to the great live music, but not dancing much. I love that there are a few under-20 young folks who are part of the knitting corner. They are more likely to talk knitting between dances and still do a lot of dancing, but it is a lovely addition to the dynamic.

Just before midnight they had a big circle dance and that was a blast! We all grabbed hands at the end and made a huge spiral of people. We were almost in the center of the spiral and it was amazing how long we needed to spin before the whole line of dancers was wound up together. It sounds crowded but there was plenty of breathing room even at the center, the room is plenty large for this sort of fun.

The band for the dance was The Cosmic Otters, who are otherwise known as Two Sock Knitters, or Meg and Jonathan. It’s funny, I’ve been reading their blog at least a year now and I was sure of Meg’s name, not sure of Jonathan’s (because she refers to him as “the fiddling fool” or just “The Fool.” I was sure of how he looked but now how she looked. It must be that she takes more photos of him than he does of her.

I also did not realize that Meg and Jonathan *are* The Cosmic Otters. As I peek at the New Year’s Eve post by meg, she shows a photo of “the band” and it’s Jonathan and two friends of theirs who joined them for the second half of the dance. With Meg the unofficial photographer, it’s no wonder I didn’t realize she was half of the band!! And no wonder I did not know what she looked like.

After the dance, we proceeded over to the house where we’d spent lovely time just before Christmas, knitters and fiddlers. Meg and Jonathan were going to stay there for the night before heading home to Chicago (a 4-hour trek). So I sat next to Meg and we knit socks, while listening to a group of folks play old-time fiddle tunes. It gave us a little time to chat about knitting and Ravelry and sock yarn and all the things that internet-knitters might want to chat about. Much fun!

On the way home I noticed how beautiful the snow was. I also realized that it was a little above freezing. We drove past a house which had a snowman in it and I got this great idea that we should start the year with our own snowman. And so we did. I think it was a good way to start the year. We started with a play day together. Yup, the right choice.

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Photos: The first six photos Brian took, the last is mine. (The musicians, left to right, are Sam from Lansing, Jonathan, Chirps from Chicago, Meg. Notice the otters perched on the monitors, front right. Dance committee member Bonnie even gave one of the otters a party hat!) Food, dance, music, fun.

I wish I’d taken photos of the fiddle jam session at the house. However, I was having too much time getting to know Meg to think of it.

Back Online, Rae’s New Shop Location

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

raes1.jpgYou never know what you’ve got until it’s gone, they say. We just spent 36 hours without Internet service. We could not look up the weather report any time we wanted, could not look up any random question that came up by going to Wikipedia, could not use the internet to convert inches to centimeters, all sorts of things that we just do as a part of an ordinary day’s activities.

I ran into Julie at Rae’s shop and she is looking for photos of the contra dance on New Year’s Eve. However, I am actually typing this at Rae’s with wireless so that I can post something sooner. I will do New Years’ photos when I get time at home.

raes2.jpgMeanwhile, the big excitement on Wed/Thurs this week is that Rae’s Yarn Boutique moved to a new location (click for map). It is just a few blocks from the old location, and is in my favorite block in my city of Lansing, Michigan. The space is about 2.5 times larger than the old one. The lighting is great, the seating is wonderful, and there are two spots for teaching classes so we can have concurrent schedules if need be.

I was there on the opening day and there was a rush in the afternoon, with folks waiting in line to check out. It was a festive atmosphere and I ran into a lot of folks I enjoy.

Thursday night we had nine folks for late hour knit-in, not all at the same time but we had a very pleasant time and plenty of elbow room.

raes3.jpgHere are a few photos of her new shop. There is still a shelf unit or two needing to be moved from the old location to the new, but you can see the cheerful red and gray paint job and the roomy new space.

Congratulations to Rae on her new space. The East Side is getting more fun every day!

Happy New Year to All

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

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We had a great New Year’s Eve and I want to tell the full story of that with photos maybe tomorrow. However, the big fun for January 1 was the snow.

It is 36F degrees (just above freezing a bit) and last night we got several inches of gorgeous, wet, perfect snow. For some reason I decided I wanted to make a snowman with Brian today, as we drove home from the event last night. He was all for it.

So today we got out there and I participated in the first snowman-building experience since my father was alive. (Daddy died in 1973, I was 14.) I don’t remember doing it in college or in any of my former adult homes. Honestly, I’m not much for being outdoors any big length of time and I’m also not fond of being cold. But today there was not a whisper of wind, the snow had stopped falling, the sun shone, and the snow was about perfect for snowman building.

I have the perfect partner for me. He got us started and I followed suit, not remembering much about this process. He did the biggest physical labor parts, and we both had fun adding to the artful bits as we got going. Brian found sticks for arms and then he kept going with spiked hair, a great touch. I found gloves and an old scarf, the stem of a red Swiss chard leaf for a mouth and the end of a white yam (they are white inside and purple outside but not very sweet at all, I get them at the asian market) for a nose. He made eyes with bits of the sticks (they are actually spent flower stems from the daylily).

I think it’s a mighty fine joint artistic product! What fun.

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And because there was no snow coming down and no wind? We did not get cold at all. It’s great to have good warm wool/alpaca clothing to bundle up in while spending time outdoors. I’m not sure I’ll be building snowmen every year or anything, but there was literally no cold to complain about. It was a great thing to do, to start the year.

May all of you find 2008 to be happy, healthy and full of abundance in the larger sense of the word. I count you all as friends, and you are part of my own abundant life. Thank you.