Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Dozen Scarves

A few weeks ago I came across the pattern for the "instant gratification" scarf, which is essentially a scarf that uses the twisted drop stitch.  It's very fast and was just what I wanted for a ball of yarn I'd picked up on sale a while back. 

I decided to try it with another yarn, and then a combo of yarns, and another.  And before I knew it I had a basket full of a dozen scarves.  Each one took little more than an hour.  Some were 7 stitches wide and some 9, depending on how much yarn I had.  I had such fun looking thru my stash for different yarn combinations.  I only scrapped one because I didn't like the way it looked.

Individual closeup images:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

orchid cross repotted into semi-hydro media

I repotted all of the seedlings into semi-hydro, using the smaller prime-agro.  I should have repotted sooner, since about half of them had some dead roots.  I ended up with:
  • 10 plants with small roots in square pots
  • 3 plants in 4.5 inch semi-hydro pots
  • 27 plants in 3.5 inch semi-hydro pots
#7 is in a 4.5 inch pot and has 2 leads
#34 is in a 4.5 inch pot also with 2 leads
#16 is in a 4.5 inch pot with just 1 lead

#12 is in a 3.5 inch pot and is quite large--could be two plants
#8 is in a 3.5 inch pot and has a fat new lead and a second lead
#13 is in a 3.5 inch pot and has a keiki with a tiny root developing
#4 is in a 3.5 inch pot and has 3 leads, so it's probably two plants
#3 is in a 3.5 inch pot and has very fat roots
#15 is in a 3.5 inch pot, has a nice new lead and fat roots

I'm expecting #8 to be the first to bloom, but I may be surprised.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Orchids in bloom now

The first one is BLC Robert and Michael 'Carmela,  the second is Vanda Robert's Delight, and the third is Onc. Green Valley Sweet.  Have a couple more in bloom, but don't have pictures of them right now.


Sunday, July 18, 2010


I kept seeing all these lovely photos of a kind of French cookie called "macarons."  At first I had trouble finding recipes in English, but I continued to look and found a couple.  The cookie is essentially a meringue with lots of ground almonds.  The most common filling seemed to be a butter cream, something I'd never tried either.

I didn't have ground almonds, but did have ground hazelnuts, so rather than go to the store, I decided to use them.  One recipe said to leave the eggwhites at room temperature overnite to thicken them, so that's how I began.  The recipe called for 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar plus 1 cup finely ground almonds and 3/8 cup egg whites, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt.  Problem was that I'd left two eggwhites out overnite and that was just short of the 3/8 cup.  So I took 5/6 of the other ingredients.

I beat the egg whites, added the sugar, and beat until I had stiff peaks.  Then I dumped it into the bowl with the powdered sugar and ground hazelnut.  It did not get to the consistency of "molten lava," like it was supposed to, but I continued.  It was a bit stiffer than that.  Could have been sloppy measuring on my part.

Didn't have one of those pastry tubes to squeeze the batter out so I just dropped it in circles on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and tried to flatten it some.  Let it sit for two hours to form a skin on the top, then baked them at perhaps 325 for about 10 minutes.

While they were not smooth on top, they did puff up as they were supposed to and were crunchy onthe outside and soft on the inside.  And they tasted good.

I then went on to make French butter cream--which someone else said was really Italian butter cream.  I made only 1/3 of the recipe, since I just wanted it for filling the macrons like sandwich cookies. So I used 1/3 cup sugar, 1 T corn syrup, 1/6 cup water, 1 egg, and a pinch of salt.  And butter.

I boiled the sugar corn syrup and water and poured it over the eggs while beating.  So far so good.  I cooled it a bit to lukewarm--which it really was already.  Then I beat it and tablespoon by tablespoon added butter.  I was supposed to add 1/3 pound!!  But the stuff thickened up and almost curdled after half that, so I stopped.

Spread the stuff on one cookie and put it together with another.  Kept them in the refrigerator.  They look a bit rough, but they taste great--perhaps a bit too sweet depending on my mood.  And they've kept nicely for a few days.
 I tried freezing them and then thawing them in the refrigerator.  While they were still good, the meringues seemed to pick up moisture and lost some of their texture.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Red Currant Jam/Jelly

I've always made this by removing the currants from the stem, adding water, boiling them for a bit and then sieving them to remove the seeds.  The worst part is getting the currants off the stems.  

I tried something new this time.  I froze the currants on the stems, then thawed them and pressed them in a large sieve.  The freeze/thaw broke down the skins just the way boiling did.  I figured that freezing them would not add any unwanted "stem flavor" as boiling them on the stems might.

Since the recipe called for adding 1 1/2 cups water to the currants when boiling them down, I added 1 cup water to the juice I got, figuring some might evaporate during the boiling.  So I used 5 1/2 cups currant juice, 1 cup water, and 4 1/2 cups sugar for the low-sugar sure-jell package. Made 9 jars.  I think the flavor is better and even though I didn't strain the juice through a cheesecloth, the result is pretty clear--closer to a jelly than a jam.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

orchid cross beginning of May

Here's what the larger tray looks like near the beginning of May.  Plants are continuing to grow, but none look like they'll produce any flowers on the current growth.  The largest plant, which is sort of in the middle in the picture, is about 5 inches tall. 

The popsicle sticks have numbers on them that I'll use to identify them when they begin to flower.  The largest plant is #16.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

LIR seminar orchid order

I've been co-moderating a seminar on orchids for our learning in retirement group the last several weeks.  As part of our activities we ordered the Carmela's special of 20 in bud or spiking orchids for $242.  I'd never done this before and was crossing my fingers that they arrived on time and in good shape and weren't all white phals and dendrobiums. 

The box arrived just when it was expected and it was a huge box.  We had a mix of cattleyas and oncidiums, with only two duplicates and those two were very nice catts.  The oncidiums were already beginning to bloom and in the few days after I unpacked them and before the group gathered at my house, the catts began to bloom also.  Here's a picture of them set up on my dining room table.

Everyone was thrilled at the size and condition of the orchids for the price of $12.20 each.  There were 6 left over, which I and my co-moderator split between us and the leftovers are keepers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A cat and a catt

If I had been trying to get  picture of this, I doubt the cat would have cooperated.  However, since I was trying to take a picture of the catt, she had to investigate.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Potted up the rest of the seedlings

I think I should have done this sooner.  The sphagnum was looking a bit grotty.  So I have 45 little pots with one plant each and one left-over compot with perhaps a half dozen more, depending on how many of those make it.  Now I need to number them so I've got some ID on the indivdiual plants.

The ones I potted up in January are on the left and the new batch on the right.  I'm glad I was able to squash them all into two trays so I can keep them together.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

seedlings February 2010

I repotted about 20 of the seedlings a couple weeks ago.  The first picture shows just these seedlings in tiny square pots.

The next photo shows them next to the remaining seedlings still in their community pots.

They still seem to be doing well.  I'll pot up another batch of them in a few weeks.  First I do want to label and number the individual pots so I can keep better track of them.

And, in another couple months I'll be getting back another flask!

Monday, January 18, 2010


Both made with the bread cloche I got for xmas.

 They're not large loaves, but very tasty.  I do think the cloche helps.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Back to Pottery

I finally made a few more boxes and got around to firing them and a couple more vases.  I like the boxes, although I'd like to do something about the edges of the top and bottom that have no texturing.  Somehow these sections need to be finished better and integrated.

The tiny buttons are intentionally off center.  I'd like to have the insides a bright color.  So far I'm using scrap clay and the few bright colors I have don't work well on it.  Anyway, here are the boxes:

Next, here's the black vase.  I particularly like the feet on it. 

I'm still not completely happy with the top, but it's the best I've managed so far.  The texture I've used comes from a cheap lace curtain, the top, plain section rather than the fancy border.