Monday, June 18, 2018

New stage of packing

In May, I was tossing and sorting and packing items to ride up in the van to the new house. Now I am back with a lot of empty boxes and a rather confused plan. Where to start?
This batch of boxes will go to the new house in the moving van. It must be items that we want but don't need here, so there is plenty of sorting and donating to do. But we also need enough stuff here to "live" and "work" until the last minute, when ever that is.
I am preparing to toss towels that are really old and nasty. And bedding that is no longer comfy. But there are other things that need to be disposed of- like tools. Getting rid of tools is like getting rid of spinning wheels. I just can't seem to let them go.
While we were at the new house, we bought a new chainsaw. Wonderful thing. We had to take down a tree for some of the repairs and we cut it up and stacked it in the wood bin in minutes. Eduard was actually enjoying it. Old chainsaw down here- donate. It is not coming with us. But those are the easy things. The tough stuff is- socket sets, wrenches, screwdrivers, boxes of nails and screws. Just how much stuff to we really need to take with us? There is an entire strip mall up there of those things.
So part of the sort/toss experience will be about changing life expectations. There is much work to do up there, but how much of it will we actually do ourselves and what will we hire done?
I have the most lovely power drill, but I still need some tools for the work on wheels and looms. I have decided to clean out the drawers of stuff and pack only the most obviously useful item, in small boxes. And get rid of the obvious stuff I will not use- like glue guns. 10 years and have not glued a thing.
So this blog post will continually be updated until the end of July with info on how the tool toss is going.
Day  two- tool sort from lower cabinet, left side. We pulled out all the tools from this side and started sorting, which led to other areas of sorting. Things I had pulled from drawers in the brown cabinet- mostly socket sets- needed to get tossed. We now have about 3 full US measurement socket sets and the remaining duplicates are in a box to donate. Today, I sorted all the metric sockets and removed duplicates. It is ready to pack. We have maybe 5 socket drivers of different sizes. The little size sockets need the tiny end extender. It is packed in one box somewhere. There was no duplicate. What is that about. We have at least 3 of everything, but that. All small socket ends rely on the one reducing extender.
BUT- this is a really big clean out. After I get the top of the cabinet cleaned off and sorted, the cabinet will be almost empty. We have chosen to keep out a few tools we may need before the end, but as we use the to finish projects, those tools are packed up. The Right side of the cabinet has the soldering iron and solder, a hand saw that is leaving, and some detritus also leaving. I am packing the soldering iron today and the others go with the junk guys. Eduard will buy a new hand saw when he is ready.
Tomorrow- we will tackle the top of the cabinet. I want to get the cabinet cleaned out and only leave tools we are going to use to fix up the last stuff in the house. They will be in a cabinet that we will donate at the end and we will take the tools with us in the van. It is a plan. Yet, once again, I see the van as having way more room that it really has. 
RANT- when Eduard's mother would go to the store, she would buy lots of different chemical cleaners, and yet never clean her house. I think she was hoping that it would clean itself if there was enough stuff there. So when she was sick her housekeeper caretaker only used vinegar or windex and dish soap. Pretty much what I use. All the unopened cleaning supplies came to my house for inspection and disposal. 6 years later, I am still disposing of this stuff. Today- 4 bottles buried in the back of my regular cleaning items hit the land fill/ and sewer system. This took 1 hour.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sort and Toss

While packing delicate things to take to my new home, I have found way too much stuff that I don't want anymore. Excess jars, kitchen gadgets, towels that are way past the rag stage. Really, how many measuring cups do you really need?
So much of the stuff that is heading north will be duplicates. The less desirable ones are staying here and will be donated at the end.
Three turkey platters. We don't eat turkey. How did this happen? His mother, my mother, and one I had for myself for the duck. I don't use any of them even one time a year. So only one is heading up with us just in case we have a party. But there are many other serving pieces that I am not going to keep. I have three gravy boats. Don't need. And many serving bowls in all different sizes. How about those little individual salt and pepper shakers? or crystal salt cellars with tiny spoons. Too much stuff.
As I sort and toss, I am going to list things here.
Starting with platters and gravy boats.
Excess coffee mugs and creamer pitchers that were hard to clean.
Did I say that I got rid of creamer pitchers? I have such a nice collection why would I let those go? I need to think about this again.
Tea pots- three so far. I don't really drink much tea and had a selection for visitors. Some were gifts from friends. Three left yesterday. I am seeing a bunch of threes here. His mom, my mom, friends... too much stuff from other people.
Awhile back, I decided that I would only give consumable stuff during the holidays. There is way too much stuff here and everyone I know has the same problem of too much stuff. So food items, home made items, gift cards to restaurants or grocery stores, experiences like entertainment places. That is it for me.
Now back to the list-
Clocks- three, one is an antique. I hate all of them. I am totally digital now, and silent.
Vases- you got it, three. I don't keep flowers in the house because of allergies. Why do I have vases at all?
So as I clean out the pantry, I am finding cake mixes and stuff. I am trying to use it up. Today was a german chocolate cake with coconut/pecan frosting. Two more mixes to go. Anyone having a birthday. I could bake a carrot cake, with cream cheese frosting.
I managed to pack up the drawers of the rolling cart. And tossed some things. The top is still pretty busy looking, but I am getting a lot of things sorted (don't look in the garage).
Paper, plastic and glass. I have been looking at my pantry storage chaos and realize that when my mom downsized I took most of her storage containers. At one time, my goal was to have everything in glass jars, within reach. The glass jar thing was good for me, but not so  much for other family members. Nevertheless, I found that the jars held a certain amount and the packaging was often more, but the plastic containers were much larger.
As I prepare to move, I am looking to get rid of lots of older plastic containers. As I tell people I am leaving my tupperware years behind- except I still have a massive amount of plastic ware. I am going to re-purpose some of this into the garage to hold- nails, screws and small items as I pack. And some will go into my wooly room to hold small parts and knitting items. And the tupperware is going away- because I can't get lids. I have replaced them several times and am so tired of trying to find a place to get lids. I hope Tupperware company can hear me- lids need to be available without a party.
Three, yes, three cereal containers. Three oval containers with no lids. I am beginning to hate the number three.
Another load went to the thrift store, but the house is still so full. Eduard commented that even with lots of stuff in boxes, and sent to the thrift store, the kitchen counters are more full than ever. As the cabinets disgorge their contents for the sort and toss plan, the counter is where all this is happening. Today- Sterno heating unit for fondue with sterno, second hot water kettle (three if you count the electric one), covered cheese plate, all the chenois (three), and the last of the bowls. I have one smaller box left to pack up stuff and a lot to take to the thrift store, again. 
When you contemplate the size of a house- say 1800 square feet- you are looking at the footprint, but often fail to notice the size of the leg, or torso attached to the footprint. I have been clearing out one cubic foot of stuff at a time. I am in fact making some headway. I have empty cupboards now. But it is hard to see the progress because they are behind the closed doors. And the full boxes are stacked in the garage taking up lots of space. This is why it doesn't feel like anything has happened. But I am seeing empty spaces where there once was clutter. I am taking it in stride.
So today's load for the thrift store is beading stuff, art supplies and jewelry making stuff. The last needlepoint stuff is being chased out. And duplication of things is being reviewed. I don't need two dye pots since I don't do the classes anymore. I am not going to make the little wooden cars, so the wheels can leave. No more spindles, no more painting. As I stare at the fairy wings, I am thinking that there may not be anymore Renfaire stuff either. Time to grow up and let the toys go. But there is a little fairy in me left that is not sure about that.

This post will be edited as I sort and toss.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Shifting my world north

For most of my life, I have wanted to move out of the southern desert and into the northern weather. Weather- like spring, summer, fall and winter. Weather- like rain, snow, wind, dark days and long daylight days. Weather- like cold nights by the fire place and hot days by the bay, for more than one day at a time.  I have finally made the move. Well, almost. My sweetie and I have found and bought a home in PNW and will be moving there in a couple of months.
It is very exciting and difficult. Trying to pack everything and stage each trip so that we accomplish all the stuff that we need to do. Sorting stuff, getting rid of stuff, packing stuff. Eduard and I have great quantities of stuff. Many duplicates. Some antiques, so new, some just worn out.
Stuff- what stuff do I want up there? cooking stuff for sure. My addiction to gadgets is noteworthy. And spinning/weaving/sewing stuff- all going. Tools, you bet. I love tools. Camping? hmmm. Time to sort stuff. Gardening- old tools leave, new tools will be purchased. Furniture? lots of stuff leaving.
Garage is full of stuff. Most of it I can't recognize any more. Old paint, wood, extra parts to items we no longer have. Time to fill the dumpster.
I have done a lot of work on this place. Painting, tile, landscape, caulking, electrical and other minor issues. It is time to let it go. I was sorting spray paint awhile back and emptied about 4 cans. Still have lots to go. Stain- mostly gone now. Paint is old and needs to get dried up. There is so much stuff here that I can't really begin to do it alone.
But this must be done soon. My time is running out. In three weeks I will drive a van load of stuff up to the new house. It will be essential to move some clothing to keep there, most of my craft stuff, and all of the china and crystal. It will barely make a dent in the great pile of stuff.
Boxes, bags, bundles and a few shelves. Room by room, this house will empty and get cleaned. I am feeling lighter just thinking about it.


Monday, April 2, 2018

A Changing World

For a few years now, E and I have been getting ready for his retirement. Not just not working, but finding a place to live that fits our needs and wants. We started looking about 2 1/2 years ago for a place we could call our new home. I have actually been looking for several years, but he was not sure he was interested. Lately, though, he has agreed that what we want is not here in San Diego or Encinitas.
We decided on Bellingham, Washington, which is close to Canada, has wonderful mountains with lots of wild life and many fewer people. Last week, we bought a house there. Our plan is to move slowly over a few months. He stops working in November. By then, there will only be a small amount of stuff here and we will make our permanent exit.
There are many memories here. Some good and some bad. We have buried 3 parents and all of our children are grown and into their own lives. It is time for us to explore the things we want to do before we run out of time. This is a really happy and scary adventure.
I am looking forward to a real winter and some real rain. I have lived in southern California all my life. The desert environment has made me miserable every summer. It looks good on vacation but it is a bitch to work in. I look forward to coming to visit as a tourist.
Eduard and I plan to drive down once a year to visit friends/children and escape the house for a bit in the winter. It is the only time I like the environment here. We may also travel to Hawaii a few times. I like to work in my garden and do my crafts. I will be looking for new friends and people to share time with up there. But I won't forget my friends down here either.
Hoping for a wonderful new adventure with lots of birds and other animals.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Spinning linen

It is 2018, March, and I am getting that feeling I get every year that I should be hanging out with sheep at some shearing day. My cotton plants are blooming and making squares. But I am devoted to a project that has been in progress for 10 years.
In 2008, I went to Black Sheep Gathering in Oregon and took a class on spinning cotton and linen- bast fibers. I got so excited about it that I came home and bought a full pound of Irish linen/flax from an on-line seller. I had a few small bags that I had picked up at the gathering. It all went into the pile because as much as I like spinning it, I was not sure what to do with the yarn.
2010-Then I took up weaving. I was told that weaving linen was tricky so I needed to practice a lot on other stuff first. Ok. I finally got enough experience to weave linen and I found that it was really easy and not the problems I had been told about- 2012. Hmm. It was time to find those bags and start working through the flax stash.
Unfortunately, life is complicated and there were a lot of events and time consuming activities happening. It is now 2018 and I have spun through 1/2 pound of my box full of stuff. I have enough yarn for the warp on something. But what loom shall I use. Ok, part of that busy time was accumulating looms and weaving other things. But I have successfully woven linen now and want to finish off this box of stuff. There is bast bamboo in there, too.
I started spinning this batch of linen in October 2017, but had to put my wheel away while I had extended house guest. I was able to start spinning again in March 2018. I managed to finish about 6 ounces of the 8 ounce bag within a week. I now have a full 8 ounces of spun linen. One bag down. I will start the next bag soon, but need to do a little house work first.
At some point I will warp up the loom and weave this as hand spun warp and weft.
I have joined a Yarn Moratorium group with the promise not to buy yarn for 12 months. Easy, peasy. But making my own yarn adds to the stash so I need to weave more to get this stash down.
There is no time for housework now. I just want to spin and weave until my piles are manageable fabric. Then we can look at the sewing room and see what must be done.
Linen is pretty easy to spin. I use a wet method so my fingers are damp most of the spinning. When it is cold out, this is not as much fun. We have had a fire in the fireplace for the last few days and it had made the spinning go very quickly. I don't have to stop to warm my fingers. I am hoping this will be a trend and that I can get through all the linen in a couple of months. Yea, right.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sausage Day



Over a period of time, usually months, I collect pork on sale and freeze it. the goal is to find time to make sausage. Last year, I made some Medister for my darling husband. We fell in love with this sausage while on vacation and can seem to find it for sale anywhere. So we decided to learn how to make it ourselves.
The first batch, last year, was really tasty. This batch is even better. And I made more. 14 pounds (almost 7 kilos).
Sausage is an all day event. It starts with cleaning out the refrigerator so there is room for the frozen pork to thaw. Then, on the actual day of sausage making, there is a bunch of fussy sterilization of tools. I have a large industrial grinder/stuffing machine, and all the parts have to be sterilized before use. I make sure it is really clean before putting it away, but I often wash all the parts again before I sterilize. I use a boiling water bath to sterilize so this take a bit of time (1 hour).
While the pot is boiling with the tools, I am getting the meat ready. Everything is cut into 1" wide strips so that it is easy to feed to the grinder. 11 1/2 pounds of lean pork, 2 pounds of salt pork, 1 pound of lard. This is now ready for grinding.
Onions- I use fresh onion about 3 pounds for this batch. After trimming them, I cut them into smaller pieces and use my Food Processor to chop them very fine. Then with a couple of tablespoons of butter, I saute the onions until they are starting to sweat and become transparent. Not too long. When the onions are cooled a bit, I put the spices into the onions- 2 tablespoons fresh ground cardamom, 1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper, 2 teaspoons ground cloves. Then 2 tablespoons salt. The onion mix is set next to the bowl of meat.
After grinding all the meat the first pass, I add the onions and lard and mix by hand. This goes through the grinder again (second pass). I like to stop at 2 passes on the large grinding blade because I like a bit more texture.
Now for the Casings. I purchase my casings from 99Ranch market here. They are frozen in a small bundle and I have no idea how many there are or how long. The first bundle I made about 7 pounds and had more than half the bundle left. I stored it buried in salt until the next use. I thawed the casings when I thawed the meat and set them to soak for two hours while the tools were sterilizing. There is a second soak in warmer water. They went in while I was grinding the meat on first pass.
It took E and I a long time to figure out how to slide the casings onto the stuffing tool, but we worked it out doing this in water in a pan. We got pretty good at it after about 4 casings.
Stuffing- it took us about 2 1/2 hours to stuff all the mix into the casings. The remaining casings were again packed in salt until the next sausage day. And the beautiful sausages were waiting for steaming. I like to steam them cooked then store them in vacuum bags and freeze them. I don't have to worry about spoilage that way. But they do lose a bit of fresh flavor.
It is not time wise to try to make a small batch of sausage. And we tend to eat all of them within a couple of months. So for me, 14 pounds of sausage is a good day. Now I need to make more pickled cabbage. We ate the last of that last week.
The kitchen never stops.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Learnings from the Internet

I often try different things in my garden based on curiosity and sometimes impracticality. I will grow things that don't really do well here just to see if I can. When I started growing cotton, I knew the area would be good for it with some water, a warm place in the garden and the right kind of seeds. And it does well. I have planted wheat, oats, and other items that need lots of space just to see what they look like and how they are processed. Sometimes I find seed on the internet and some of the growing instructions as well.
Learning how to grow something from information on the internet is precarious. The information is scattered about different sites and it is hard to accumulate all of it in one sitting. Sometimes it takes several growing seasons to find out what is wrong.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are a good example. You can find information about growing potatoes. They are cool weather roots, need fertilizer and lots of water. They will grow deeply if the ground is soft enough. You can sprout a potato from the store. But then you read about storing the potatoes and you have to age them a little to get the sugars to set. I have never needed that information. I just dig them up when it is time to use them. There are never so many that I have some to store.
Sweet potatoes are a warm weather crop. They like warm ground, fertilize one time in the spring, water deeply weekly, long time until harvest, vines run like crazy and run over other items so plant them in their own bed, roots grow deeply and slowly. And then, after you manage to get a harvest, it has to rest for a couple of weeks to get the sugar to form. Otherwise the sweet potato is starchy and dull. This information has been gleaned over a couple of years as I find things not working well from the original sparse information.
There are many other examples of incomplete information on the internet. Knitting patterns, sewing patterns, cooking recipes, weaving instructions, product assembly... the list goes on. I am sure many other readers have found problems in getting a full rounded education on a subject from the internet.
But I am grateful for the internet and its scrambled information. I have been able to try so many different items in my garden, select trees for fruits, make preserves and jams, cook lovely meals...all because the internet has lots of really good ideas and information.
But it is necessary to caution about the sources. I have spent many hours looking and many articles to gather enough information to make a good choice and to make that choice work well. It is not instant gratification. There is work to be done there.
I have learned about myself as well. I may be very optimistic about my abilities and the environment, but you can't make something grow where it just can't grow. Learning to recognize a potential failure in the garden has been a big challenge for me. I have dug up many trees that just could not do well here. I have failed to keep some plants well watered while I was on vacation. I have neglected plants that are heavy feeders. I have ignored insect damage too long. If there is a garden no-no I have probably done it more than once.
I have no machinery, like a tiller, so everything is done by hand and shovel. As I grow older, I am less able to keep up with the physical demands of the garden and see myself looking for ways to maximize energy and leverage. I will probably look into hydroponics at some point. And I am sure the Internet will have all the information I need, somewhere.