Sunday, November 27, 2011

Curtains! Or: Nine Down, Two to Go!

Given that the Roman Shades in the front room took me four years to construct, I thought it wise to purchase the curtains and gussy them up, rather than beginning from scratch. The curtains are from Ikea, the curtain rod and tie backs are from Fred Meyer and the sheers have been up there forever, but I think I bought them at Fred Meyer also.

I took a strip of material from the Roman Shades and sewed it to the edge of the curtains to pull everything together.

With the furniture in place, with the curtains closed.

Furniture in place and curtains open.

Closeup of strip. I'm very happy how everything turned out.

The next step is to make a sheer shade for the windows. But that can wait as we have a workable solution right now.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winnowing the corn, with some grinding too!

I've noticed that its very difficult for me to start projects when I've never done them before. If I don't have a very clear picture of how things will go, I tend to put things off. But my "just one thing" this week was to deal with the corn I grew and so it must be dealt with.

I "threshed" (a term I'm not sure is correct in this case because I've only heard it used for wheat, but which Wikipedia says "is the step in grain preparation after harvesting and before winnowing" and that's what I was doing, so I'm using the term.) the corn easily enough. It had been drying on the table for a few weeks, and I simply grabbed a bowl and the corn and season 1 of the television show Heroes et voila! Done after only watching two episodes.

Winnowing was another matter. I had seen the concept: fan, stool, bowls etc. and had all the supplies. I had even watched some winnowing videos on YouTube. (Nerd!) But it took a lot to get out there and winnow. I also wasn't sure how long it would take, and this was a block. It reminds me of Wendy McClure's churning butter project in "The Wilder Life." She had read all about how to churn, but wasn't sure how long it would take, so she saved the task for a company holiday when she didn't have to go into work and started early in the morning to ensure she had enough time. As someone who has made butter from cream, this was rather amusing because the process takes minutes rather than hours. But how was she to know? And I was in the same boat with my winnowing.

Here is my bag of corn.

Corn that has been winnowed, safe in their safekeeping jars. I used two large Nancy's Yogurt containers to pass the corn back and forth in front of the fan.

Here's the winnowing setup, complete will spilled corn from when I accidentally knocked the fan off the stool and managed to fling corn about while trying to right it. If you google "winnow" you will be presented with a goodly number of pictures of brown-skinned people standing on a square of material covered in grain, holding a basket and flinging grain into the air.
That setup is because back in the day, people who wanted to winnow had to wait for a windy (and sunny) day. They would then throw their grain in the air, catching it in the basket and the wind would take the chaff away. Now that we have box fans and electricty, one can just set up a box fan and drop the grain back and forth between two "baskets" (or Nancy's Yogurt containers, in my case) and the fan blows away the chaff. Aside from the corn spilling incident, it went well and quickly. I think the whole process took 45 minutes with setup and break down. That gave me about 22 cups of grain. Not bad, not bad.

On to the grinding!
My mother brought over my Grandma Collins' old meat grinder. It has three settings of grind. It easily went together, attached to the table and a tiny drop of oil dealt with the squeaking.

An early pass through.


Even later!

My final product and supplies:
The polenta made was good, but not ground quite enough. I'll put it through more often the next time I grind.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pub Quiz

Inspired by the two "pub quizzes" that I attended at my church, I decided to throw a pub quiz of my own to celebrate 10 years in Portland.

Every pub should have good beer, and the people at New Seasons made sure I had a good variety.

The pub also served wine, both in glasses and solo cups.

There were four varieties of popcorn and both salted and unsalted peanuts.

People arrived, teams were formed and names were chosen.

The initial 20 questions (with 8 bonus questions) were read and the teams set to work.
Here the Trail Tigers (Drinda, Mary, George, Kelly & Margaret) ponder.

Total Domination (Blu, Heidi, Lee, Kristen & Julie) wonders what the answers could be.

The Droopy Dogs (Carol, Heidi, Joshin, Mitchell & C.J.) contemplate answers.
Behind them, you can barely see Home Team Advantage (Matt, Amber, Tyler & Geoff) thinking.

The Wasabi Honey Bears (Pat, Kevin, Deborah & Bahar) are deep in thought.

Team Slytherin (Sabrina, Burt, Kelly, Laurie, & Shan) retreated to another part of the house to think and answer.

After the initial round of quiz questions, teams set to work coloring, while I corrected their answer sheets. We had 10 song id's (5 from musicals, 5 more, one from each decade 50s through 90s) and a "dreaded fill in the blank."

In the end, Total Domination did just what their name said and took home first prize.

Prizes were the three listed, as well as the choice of bringing home all the excess alcohol.

It was a very fun celebration.
Incidentally, Total Domination chose the scratch tickets. They were quite involved in scratching them, but no one on the team actually took any home. I cashed them in and got $20.00! It was a prize for me too!

Do you want to take the pub quiz? Questions begin here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Party Preparations

I had two days off before the pub quiz which gave me time to do a massive sweep and mop. Where did all the furniture go?

Oh here it is! Right over here!

The cats, (a book I read aptly said something to the effect of "the cat has a Republican's disdain for change") were not at all pleased with the shuffling of furniture and hung about to see what would happen next.

I do love clean floors. Really clean floors, not only swept, but mopped.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

New Chair New Look

Thanks to a gift card from Linda and birthday money from my Mother and Aunts, I was able to change the look of the living room.

Before: I have grown disenchanted with the Chaise Lounge over the past year or so. It's not very comfortable and I've never been a fan of the white, it being hard to keep clean. Plus, it angles out in such an odd way.

Also, not one visitor has ever lounged on it. They all sit upright, awkwardly. I think lounging is an advanced visitor action that no one has yet acheived.

The other problem is that I have no place to stack my books. I've been making do with a guitar case and a stool.

It's crowded and hard to clean.

I bought an Ikea Poang chair and footstool, with a brown cushion. It's comfortable and cozy and the cats are fans, as you can tell by Sentinel's presence.

To me, it seems there is more space now.

The pink chair was (Great) Uncle Tom's chair. It's been present in all of my houses since I moved into the studio. One of the springs has sprung, so it's not the most comfortable chair. Plus, it doesn't match the decor. However, Antares has appropriated it as a massive scratching pad. I do my best to discourage it, but I'm scared to get anything else, in case he just transfers the scratching to the new piece. I have (far off) plans to make a cat perch to put there, then I will find a new chair.

This table was a Goodwill find. I really like the lines of it and it's old enough to not be constructed of particle board. Cleaning it, I could tell that it lived in a smoker's house, but it's all better now, and happy to hold my books.

I'm very happy with the new look and the birthday presents that made it possible. Next up? Finishing the living room curtains.