Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Yummy Carrot Cake Disaster

So.

I decided to make that carrot cake, you know the one the guy (Ian Cumming) made on GBBO’s finale. Not 5 layers, but the same cake. The recipe is on BBC, you can find it (here).

Except, that I’m not a patient cook. Also my kitchen and supplies are all in disarray because of the great painting project and the long-still continuing refrigerator saga. In the midst of the long rennovation effort and my fridge dying (twice!) about 1/2 the food in the fridge was pitched. The food in the fridge’s freezer was moved by DH to the new freezer, etc.

This means a few things:

  1. I don’t have the supplies I usually have on hand.
  2. If I do, I’m not sure where they are or how much I have.
  3. The same is true of my cooking tools.

So I started to make a 4 egg cake with 2 eggs in the house. I’d bought pecans, but hadn’t noticed they were to be roasted and chopped. I finally (after looking in many, many markets) found star anise, but it wasn’t ground. (Our pepper may taste “peculiar” for a while, the pepper grinder was the only thing other than the coffee grinder I could find which would work. We use the coffee grinder EVERY DAY, the pepper grinder not as much and it’s smaller.)

I bought cream cheese to make the topping even though I shouldn’t eat it and DH isn’t fond of it, but decided tonight that I’d put the glaze on and maybe make up icing for a few other people. Put the glaze on.

Couldn’t resist — tasted the glaze: powdered sugar and orange juice. Should be yummy — right? Tasted like soap.

SOAP?????

Thought okay, it’s the knife, had soap on it. Got a new utensil, rinsed it, dip it in the remains of the glaze in the bowl.

More soap.

I’d already drizzled this on the warm cake layers. Cut them in 1/2. The unaffected 1/2 layers are just great big carrot muffins, unglazed or iced — right???

I can still taste that soap, and I have no idea wtf happened. The sugar was put in a clean canister < 4 months ago. All I can think is that I got something with an adulterant in it or a f’d up recipe  — which ruined mine!

The star anise is an ingredient used in the original recipe and omitted on the BBC’s version for some reason. (If you look at the baker’s twitter feed he talks about it there.) I love this recipe, will make it again, but will do these things:

  1. Do all the prep work beforehand I should have this time (like counting eggs! If I didn’t have a neighbor who raised chickens, that could have been a disaster too.)
  2. TASTE my glaze before I put it on the warm cakes.
  3. Remember that I don’t have a springform pan, but that one 9″ removable bottom pan and one 8″ removable bottom pan work just fine.

What do you do when you’re avoiding being stressed? If you’re me and you have several hours where you know you’ll be stressed, you start a complicated recipe, with many more steps and ingredients than you ever use and don’t do the prep work, you’re going to “wing it.”

I’m lucky it turned out as well as it did! If I’d only tasted that glaze first . . . .

Note: Acc to DH, the cakes are just fine. After both of us nibbling bits here and there, our conclusion is that I have an aversion to star anise, at least this much, this way, or maybe it’s the fresh-ground cloves. Either way, DH says the glaze and all is very tasty. Reminds me of what happened after the motorcycle accident: most foods smelled rotten to me, except garlic. I ate a LOT of marinara! I don’t know what this is, but the next time I make this (later this week, probably) I’ll omit the white raisins, cloves and the star anise and see what I think. If it’s okay, then I’ll make another batch. I loved the smell, but something in there. . . .

 

Design?

It occurred to me yesterday that I’ve been so busy trying to clear out or update my old life, that is all the stuff, that I had no clear idea wtf the new life I *wanted* looked like?

A day spent writing, crafting, cooking, playing with math and making enough $ that I feel like I’m carrying my part of the load.Enough exercise that I don’t end up living on pills ten or more years from now, if I can help it. I’m not really interested in selling stuff, crafted items maybe but not antiques, collectibles, books, etc. Not interested in going to store after store looking for items to buy for resale.

That’s a bit different than what I would have thought! I’m sick of the endless buying x because it’s $1 and I should be able to get $5 for it. . . . Bored. I’m not good at it, therefore it isn’t fun — and it’s expensive. I’m not only tired of buying stuff, but selling it too. I want enough to keep and that’s it. I don’t think I’ll have a yen to keep editing my house once I get it the way I want it!

question

However, I really also don’t want to spend my day vegetating in front of a screen: type, type, and type some more — all day, every day either.

Dancing it seems would be good. DH and I keep talking about contra dancing as a way to exercise in the winter. It’s usually free, or cheap around here. It would get us out of the house, in a new group of people, and exercising, not bad. Now to see if I can get my partner to agree to it. We both have sort of got lead feet. . . .

contra dance

So that takes care of part of the exercise. I need to swim more, that is, I need to swim at least once weekly — and that’s the other part of the exercise.

This only leaves writing, crafting, cooking, playing with math and making enough $. . . to figure out, that’s all.

The writing thing I seem to do whether it makes me $ or not, ditto all of that, except the playing with math part. I keep putting that off because I’m not sure I’m smart enough to do what I want to do, that is, teach myself more that I had in school. I’ve looked into taking classes, but they’re too expensive. But the only way through is to start — and I haven’t done that either. Me bad.

This is very much like the living room re-do. I had to have an idea, a direction, to start with. Then I had to try and picture what the most successful conclusion would be? Then find the steps to go “thataway”. I’m not sure I’ll get there of course, but without planning or even a broad concept of what I want, the rest of the work I have to do just becomes overwhelming, depressing, and impossible. I have to have the vision, or glimmering at least, of what I’m working towards. It’s not enough, to only be dealing with whatever is on my plate, now.

What I had on my plate was so grim for so long that if I didn’t have an idea of what else I wanted, I couldn’t have moved. “Not hurt” as a life ambition isn’t much perhaps, but it was how I articulated the direction I wanted to go. I thought a lot about what that could look, smell, and feel like, then I’d go out and buy more books so I could run away, because secretly, inside, I didn’t think it was possible for me. My vision is much clearer now, but I’m stuck with dealing with all the crap — for a while yet.

Without the vision of my (new) future, in the distance to work towards, the past and the vestiges of it will just pull me down, again — I ain’t going without a fight.

tomorrow

 

 

 

 

 

Chore Status 8/29

It seems as I get things done I’m also adding more things to do. So, I edit and repost this every Monday so that I start each week with just the still pending list. The old list is available, with the struck through text, on the last week’s post!

to do list 1

Living Room:

  • Spackle  (as needed)
  • Sand: (as needed)
  • Primer (2nd coat) : wallboard walls as needed, log walls
  • Caulk: DH has done between the logs on the wall from the door to the entry wall and the short section of log wall on the kitchen wall. Remaining:  from 2nd window to corner, remainder of street wall, wall board walls.
  • Final Paint: entire room (street, oak, kitchen, bookcase wall, hall walls (closet, bath, pantry), stair wall, entry, stair interior wall, and stair rail.
  • Cull/clean: get fabric to Jeannie’s for reupholstery. Window replacement on north side. Means removing trim. Remove window trim for painting effort while doing 2nd primer coat. Label trim as it’s removed in case you can reuse it.
  • (long term) Replace window interior trim and mod hall door trim to match front door (and get rid of those F’n ledges!!!). Replace baseboards for same reason. Sand and redo floor. Move kitchen door?

In broad terms what remains in the living room prepainting effort:  the kitchen wall needs to be touched up over the lastest remudding/spackling job. Between the logs looked awful and was impossible to paint, so we’re caulking between the logs. What needs to be done: stove to street corner, street corner to the door.

We need to finish the additional spackling, patching, between log caulking and other caulking. Then we sand, again. Then we primer, again. THEN we paint!

Measure furniture. Make a floor plan so you move the furniture and books ONE more time, not more than that!

Hall: Replace smoke detector (future).

Kitchen: (Cull/clean) Get the 2nd Hoosier into the kitchen.  Dismantle the f’n 30 square foot counter and redo it to something saner!!! (long term) Pull the windows, put in the new wall and windows. Finish the sink window trim.

Laundry: (Cull/clean)  (longterm) Get the switch thing set up so you don’t have to pull the dryer out anymore!

Bathroom: (Cull/Clean) corners, window,  clear out.

Bedroom: (Cull/Clean) get couch downstairs. When reupholstered chair returns, put it here, not living room.

Attic: Get the 1 base cabinet in there (or elsewhere) and the cabinet which canme from the storage. Get the doors for the cabinet from storage with the cabinet. Get the bookcases from office 1 into the attic.[1 base cabinet used in kitchen 8/20]

Office 1: . Get the counter cleaned. Remove everything from the bookcases on the north wall and get the cases moved into the attic.  Bring in the new dressers?

Office 2: Clear off the blue desk. Sell/cull items awaiting that. (long term) Move the office function to the other office.

Dining Room:  Take down candlabra, sell. Paint china cabinet and relocate the 2 Hoosiers.

Storage: Remove the 2nd Hoosier for the kitchen.Get at least 5 boxes out and deal with the stuff in them. Move to a smaller storage unit 10 x 20.

Garden: Continue, finish and keep up the weeding, so that the weeds don’t take over the yard and next year’s vegetable garden is a disaster accordingly! [Worked on this 7/24-5, week of 8/20, 8/27, 8/29]

Get the windows done. SR door panel 27.5 x 64,

Get the online and computer files cleaned out. (Drafts here = 51 as of 7/27, 50 as of 8/1, 48 8/9, 49 8/22)

Systems, Mostly Long Term: Heating: order 2 cords of wood. Finish basement insulation. Order 2 more cords of wood. Roof: get new back roof. Water: get clips installed on both roofs. Get guttering/water barrel.Landscaping: Walls, fences, gates, plantings as needed.

Home Truths & Musings

These are my “rules” that is, they’re the things I’ve found that make so much sense I’m using them to make decorating, purchasing, or other decisions and choices.

  • Flat towel racks hold towels better than rounder ones, but towels need to be folded to look tidy.flat towel rack
  • Hooks don’t require folding towels, but the towels might not stay up very well either. towel hook
  • Towel rings are probably the best compromise.towel ring 2
  • Colors go out of style less often than patterns, so use more solids than patterns.solid color fabric
  • “Classics” whatever they are, are classic because they don’t go out of style. This includes basic geometric patterns: dots, stripes, plaids, etc.
  • Black and white is probably the absolute classic color combo, use it!

black and white deor

Which is all well and good, but most of the images of black and white decor, even the one above, I find too stark and cold! I want more color in there and more softness. I think I’d leave the couch alone, but use a thick cushy rug, a salt & pepper combo perhaps? I’d want more color on the walls and side table too. I’d want a warmer white paint.

I guess I’ll never be a successful decorator? My taste is just too cluttered, too many colors, too soft? I went through many images to find the one above; the others weren’t even close.

I like jewel tones, love the depth.

But I also like what I call “dinner mint” colors. I like industrial, retail, farmhouse, modern, classic and deco. I’m not that fond of shabby chic or boho, but like elements of both.

[Previously, I would have said I had eclectic taste. It’s totally over used, and has gone from an interesting description to way beyond trite — it’s an unthinking label for clutter and lazy writing. So don’t tell me I’ve got eclectic taste, please!!!]

I like simple lines.

The problem is that knowing all this doesn’t really help me design the house.

  • It has gotten me away from buying paint of whatever color to buying shades of white.
  • It has caused me to buy less patterned material for house projects.
  • It means that the repro luggage rack we’d been using in the entry was moved to the bathroom as a towel rack.
  • It means that the new shower “curtains” are just two shower curtain liners, one each solid black and solid white.

I kept making/finding things with peacock blue in them. Apparently, I really really like the color. I surrendered to that. Peacock blue is a hot color for boho. Finding an image of black and white anything with something peacock blue even close to something I’d put in my home wasn’t easy. This is as close as I got, and it isn’t! The stripes are too bold. Put black and white tweed on the big pillows and make the smaller pillows black and white and peacock pinstripes, and it would be a lot closer, but . . . .

black &amp; white and peacock

I don’t know if others go through this type of editing/worry/? or not. The idea of “designing” my space to suit me is brand new. For decades, my space has been a dumping ground. Editing the stuff, culling or finding, so that I can have a warm home with quirky touches is fun!

Love/Hate

I have a love/hate relationship with my youth, where I was raised, my childhood friends, my family, etc. On the one hand, I’m fascinated that it was so long ago. The 15 years or so I’ve spent since diagnosis heads-down focused on undoing the PTSD means that I missed a huge transition.

I’m old now, my childhood friends and former customers are grandparents, retiring, etc. and somehow I missed the last act. There’s a part of me that’s going, “Okay, now I’m healthy. I can have kids.” Except of course, I can’t, and if I could I probably shouldn’t.

It’s like the house and everything else. I’ve been so focused for so long on dealing with the pain and ramifications of the kid crap that I’ve had “hardly any” time to actually be an adult. I still have to get rid of the stuff. I still have other pieces to undo. But while I’ve been focused between my head to my toes, the rest of the world . . . has moved on.

And I haven’t.

Okay. I can deal with it. I’m not sick. I had resigned myself to not having kids years ago. But I feel like I just got out of college or something. I’ve spent decades working towards this point, and by the time I wade thru the remaining crap, empty the storage and finish the projects I have started, it maybe time to check into a mortuary or old folks home. Or, I may have a few more years where I can move and talk and function — or I may not.

As I said in another post: years ago I decided I did NOT want to be a character in an Ibsen play – work and work and work towards something and then “poof” it’s gone, for some reason the character has no control over. Mr. Ibsen must be laughing his f’n head off.

 

Annoyances

 

I’m getting a shortish fuse.

Hm.

Last time this happened I was seeing my therapist and working on the house. This time, it really doesn’t feel like it’s about the house. It feels like it’s because I haven’t been able to “let my hair down” since June when my therapist retired.

The funny thing that resulted from my being more easily annoyed is related to a method I found to categorize chores. I’d already broken them down into “shorts” and “longs,” that is things which had to happen in the next few days or longer than that. Decided that I wanted to be more specific and a graphical representation, so I replaced shorts with “rabbit” tasks and longs with “kangaroo” tasks. Kind of cutesy, but okay. Today I was thinking about how to further divide this and deal with the annoying things I have to do almost every day, and I came up with an entire scale:

  • flea (annoying — has to be done today!)
  • rabbit (the coming week)
  • kangaroo (the coming month)
  • 7 league boots (the current quarter)
  • herding continents (the general direction I want to go)

I could see how dividing things this way might lead to my actually being organized, accomplishing my goals, both short and long. Pretty bizarre if you’re me! It could be something like this. . .

Month Week 1: Review day and week chores. Week 2: Review daily, weekly and monthly chores. Week 3: Review those and add quarterly chores. Week 4: Review everything, Alter or change as needed.

Not complicated, but forward thinking. I don’t think I can do this; I’ve never been able to before  — and has that ever stopped me from trying another approach?

Never.

So it may be one more futile attempt to do an end-run around the PTSD which is terrified that if I’m actually finishing things or accomplishing something people will see my fatal flaws, or it won’t, because I’ve finally, finally done enough work to get past it.

I have no idea.

I also have no idea about why I’m getting mad so much. The only thing I can think to do to counter it, aside from start with a new therapist (not really an option) is to start swimming again — dopamine is my friend!

We’ll see. But I’ve spent a large part of today being annoyed at somebody or something. Not my normal and a usual indicator that something is brewing down in the PTSD pit. First time this has happened since the therapy ended.

Wow I made it a whole 2 months — how’s that for sterling mental health? Only cost probably about $1,000,000 and took me 55 or so years. Terrif.

Chore Status 8/22

Decided because it seems as I get things done I’m also adding more things to do, that I should repost this every Monday. Also, that I should remove from this list the things I’ve done, so that I start each week with just the still pending list. The old list is available, with the struck through text, on the last list!

to do list 1

Living Room:

  • Spackle (2nd coat and as needed): kitchen, interior stair, stair rail.
  • Primer (1st coat): kitchen wall
  • Sand: as needed
  • Primer (2nd coat) : wallboard walls as needed, log walls
  • Caulk: DH has done between the logs on the wall from the door to the entry wall and the short section of log wall on the kitchen wall. Remaining: oak wall from corner to window, from window to stove, from stove to other window, from 2nd window to corner, remainder of street wall, wall board walls.
  • Final Paint: entire room (street, oak, kitchen, bookcase wall, hall walls (closet, bath, pantry), stair wall, entry, stair interior wall, and stair rail.
  • Cull/clean: get fabric to Jeannie’s for reupholstery. Window replacement on north side.
  • (long term) Sand and redo floor.

In broad terms what remains in the living room prepainting effort:  the kitchen wall needs to be cleaned, spackled and primed. These walls need to be primed: kitchen. Between the logs looked awful and was impossible to paint, so we’re caulking between the logs. What’s been done: from the door to the corner, the short log/kitchen wall, corner to the stove on the oak wall. What needs to be done: stove to street corner, street corner to the door.

AFTER I get everything primed at least once, then the additional spackling, patching, between log painting, caulking and other caulking can be done. Then we sand, again. Then we primer, again. THEN we paint! I need to remember to order the paint!

Measure room and furniture. Make a floor plan so you move the furniture and books ONE more time, not more than that!

Hall: Replace smoke detector (future).

Kitchen: (Cull/clean) Get the 2nd Hoosier into the kitchen.  Dismantle the f’n 30 square foot counter and redo it to something saner!!! (long term) Pull the windows, put in the new wall and windows. Finish the sink window trim.

Laundry: (Cull/clean)  (longterm) Get the switch thing set up so you don’t have to pull the dryer out anymore!

Bathroom: (Cull/Clean) corners, window,  clear out.

Bedroom: (Cull/Clean) get couch downstairs. When reupholstered chair returns, put it here, not living room.

Attic: Get the 1 base cabinet in there (or elsewhere) and the cabinet which canme from the storage. Get the bookcases from office 1 into the attic.[1 base cabinet used in kitchen 8/20]

Office 1: . Get the counter cleaned. Remove everything from the bookcases on the north wall and get the cases moved into the attic.  Bring in the new dressers?

Office 2: Clear off the blue desk. Sell/cull items waiting for that. (long term) Move the office function to the other office.

Dining Room:  Take down candlabra, sell. Paint china cabinet and relocate the 2 Hoosiers.

Storage: Remove the 2nd Hoosier for the kitchen.Get at least 5 boxes out and deal with the stuff in them. Move to a smaller storage unit 10 x 20 instead of 10 x 30 which is what you have now.

Garden: Continue, finish and keep up the weeding, so that the weeds don’t take over the yard and next year’s vegetable garden is a disaster accordingly! [Worked on this 7/24-5, week of 8/20, 8/27]

Get the windows done. SR door panel 27.5 x 64,

Get the online and computer files cleaned out. (Drafts here = 51 as of 7/27, 50 as of 8/1, 48 8/9, 49 8/22)

Systems, Mostly Long Term: Heating: order 2 cords of wood. Finish basement insulation. Order 2 more cords of wood. Roof: get new back roof. Water: get clips installed on both roofs. Get guttering/water barrel.Landscaping: Walls, fences, gates, plantings as needed.