Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Beatrix Potter!

Helen Beatrix Potter (July 28, 1866 - December 22, 1943)
Thank you for bringing such magic and imagination to my childhood; and thank you for being such an inspiration to me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Mumbly, Grumbly Monday Movie Rant

I love children. However, I've been called many a colourful name when it comes to my opinions about children in public. I dare say, when it comes to participating in events that are public, I find myself often powerfully annoyed by people’s kids. It’s usually in restaurant settings where others are often imposed upon by boisterous, undisciplined children; however lately, the movie theatre has been a repeat offender in the noisy, badly behaved child department.

My husband and I go to the latest showings of the movies we want to see mostly to avoid crowds and kids and texting teens. Most of these late movies end after midnight. We also tend to see movies that that are unsuitable for small children, but for the past couple of years, neither the late hour nor the movie’s subject are deterrent enough for parents who want to bring their small toddlers and infants along. Several times, and lately, this last time watching HellBoy II, we were dismayed to discover small children in the theatre, and left to deal with the consequences of it while moms & dads happily ignored it all. This time, a young couple with a small toddler settled into the row in front of us. They gave him sips from their soda, and fed him candy, and sat back to enjoy the movie, obviously quite able to filter out the ruckus the child was causing.

He was whining, crying and fussing through the whole movie. We could see all these faces turning towards them in annoyance. The child would run up and down the row and then the aisle. When the child starting climbing around the seat by my husband, he lost his temper and leaned forward to the row in front of us, asking them to control their child.

I understand people want to watch a movie. I understand it is hard to find sitters and such, but I have to question the parenting of people 1) who take their child out past nine-o-clock to see a movie that ends at midnight; 2) who feed them sugar and caffeine and sweets, 3) who think it’s okay for the child to be startled by loud noises, and scary images on the big screen, and 4) who think it’s acceptable to destroy the movie experience for everyone else simply for the sake of their own convenience. It’s so inconsiderate it makes my jaw clench.

What ever happened to common consideration, anyway? It’s like everyone has equipped themselves with blinders that shield themselves from the fact that they are in the world with other people, and that somehow by not acknowledging them, they absolve themselves of being responsible for their effect on the public.

After these repeated events with small children, I complained to the theatre; and I was told that the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) prevents them from keeping toddlers from late-night shows. The onus is therefore left on the people who are being imposed upon. We have to get up during the movie, go out to find one of the kids that works there, whose authoritative presence amounts to snot, and ask them to speak to the offending person. So, in short, I have to miss more of the already ruined movie to call the theatre’s attention to a problem they essentially cause by not heading it all off at the pass. If someone at the ticket counter looked down and saw the child, and said something like: “We allow children into the theatre at late shows, and in R-rated movies, however I must notify you that the child might be alarmed or bored and may disrupt the rest of the audience; so please be advised that if a disruption occurs, you will be asked to leave and to reimburse the whole audience that was disrupted for the $8 tickets they paid to see the movie” this would solve so many problems.

Okay, that’s harsh, but when going out to the movies is a rare treat, and when it costs so much in a crumbling economy and with tight finances, when we drive a distance to do so with present fuel costs, when we make sure we choose the latest possible showing to avoid the noise and din of inconsiderate people and hapless children and obnoxious, entitled teenagers with glowing cell-phones, I guess I just get angry that someone else can decide to ruin all of that for us, just because they can’t find a shred of consideration for anyone but themselves. It’s rude.

When I was a child and I mewled out of place, I would see the hard disapproving glare of my mother and chills would shudder down the back of my spine. If we dared to misbehave we were taken out to the car, or left at home.

I think there was something valuable in that. We know how to behave in public, we're good, considerate, polite people. Never once, were we allowed to behave like these kids do. Never once would we have been allowed to disrupt the adult world; not until we earned the right to. Unbelievable.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Friday Garden Stroll

I got home this evening and had to snap some pictures of the garden.

The stupid rose I can never kill. I keep trying and it keeps coming back. It's wedged into the foundation--so it's impossible to pull without digging through the blueberry roots. I'm not a huge fan of high-maintenance hybrids. I prefer natives. This one is defying me.

The Huckleberries are still producing. Such a lovely colour.

The millionbells seem to like the windowbox outside the kitchen window.

The Foxgloves are all over the place this year. They line the highway and grow all over the yard.

The birdhouse is now vacant of the little family that occupied it this Spring.

Happy Friday!

This is the background for something I'm working on. I haven't coloured it yet, obviously; and it's still very rough. I may redo it. Not sure yet.

It's Friday! Sunday is a Regency Picnic at the beautiful Pittock Mansion of Portland, Oregon.; I will post photos at after the event. How exciting!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. :)

The Hungarican Chick.

Monday, July 14, 2008

It's a Mumbly Monday

It's Monday. That feeling of ... blah.... as you drag yourself out of bed. It's hard to wake up and get back into the weekday mode. Especially after a fun weekend larking about doing fun things. It's so cruel.

Today's Pearls perfectly describes my mood today. I seek my gummy bear heaven.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Kind words from Tasha Tudor's staff

If you don't know who Tasha Tudor is, please follow this link and enlighten yourself. If you are any measure of a artist, crafter, creature of creativity and imagination, I'm sure you'll develop the same appreciation for the life of this woman as her fans have.

She was a character to be remembered ~ a woman out of her time, a soul of whimsy and playfulness, and beauty. She lived her life as she wanted; stepping away from the rat-race and using her unique vision to create a livelihood and a lifestyle that many of us long for, but do not have the courage to pursue.

She died recently. We fans are very saddened, I shed some tears. I sent a note to her website after her passing, expressing my sympathy to her family. They wrote back and said:

"Thank you so much for your kind words during this difficult time. It has been such a joy to read how Tasha touched so many lives, including our own."

It's sad to know the world goes on without a Tasha Tudor in it. However I choose to believe there are other souls out there to keep her type of vision going.

Farewell Tasha. :(

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Keep Quiet...

Helena stopped abrubtly, causing Thomas to bump into her; which produced a muffled giggle on his part. She hushed him, the spry, mischievious smirk on her face growing. The raven's feather twirled in her hand

"Keep quiet, Tom. You'll ruin everything..." she whispered, unable to hide the bright glint of her eyes.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sweet Cream Red Huckleberry Scones

I was in baking mode this Saturday. Hubby had put in a nice pork picnic for the afternoon, so I figured I’d use the hot oven when the picnic came out to make some scones. I also noticed while poking about the garden on Friday that some of the wild huckleberry bushes with their dainty little leaves have some ripened berries on them; little explosions of bright red among the mottled greens of this lush, leafy place where we live. At the rate they were being gobbled up by local wildlife, I decided I ought to go and grab some off the branches before they’re all gone.

I managed to reap a heaping half-cup of berries from my foraging efforts. They are tart little guys, with a strong berry punch. I think they’ll do nicely baked; at least I hope. ::smirk::

So here goes; I’m using my modified cream scone recipe; substituting one cup of the two cups of all-purpose flour with wheat flour. Yes, it’s another experiment. They could be melting clouds of huckleberry yumminess, or they could be hockey-pucks of doughy despair. Let’s go on with the recipe, shall we?

The Recipe:

Dry ingredients:
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 cup wheat flour
* ¼ cup granulated white sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* ¼ teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
* 1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
* 1 large egg, lightly beaten
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* ½ cup of heavy whipping cream or milk
* ½ cup of freshly picked Mount Hood Red Huckleberries. :)

So I combine the dry ingredients. It’s a leap of faith. The wheat flour makes it seem darker; gives it an ecru colour. As I add in the diced butter to the mixing bowl, and then the cream, vanilla and the egg, it crumbles into a coarse crumb texture as it is supposed to. In the last moment, I add my huckleberries. I hear a few of them pop.

I flour my little butcher-block island and rolling pin, and dump out the dough after pressing it into a ball. More berries pop. I roll it out to 1" thick (I think thicker next time)... the rolling causes more pops. I use a wobbly shaped cookie cutter to render myself ten fine small scones, which I arrange on my silpat for baking. My hubby has just removed the pork picnic; and it is delicious smelling and falling off the bone. The whole house smells so good.

A quick brush of whipping cream to glaze each scone, and pop, into the oven they go at 375º.
I don’t have clotted cream nor do I feel inclined to drive all the way to Portland to find some, but I do have a lot of whipping cream left. So I’ll whip up some cream for my consumption. Here’s a quick how-to movie to whip cream.

I keep it less complicated than the movie. I wash out my mixing bowl and the balloon whisk and pop them into the freezer for a few minutes. When they’d chilled, I pop them onto my KitchenAid, and pour in the cream, I set it on a medium speed; it starts to thicken very quickly—I slowly increase the speed. I use a regular tablespoon to pour sugar in at the edge of the bowl after the texture starts to appear cloud-like and billowy, but not quite stiff. I pour in two light tablespoons (slowly), tasting it as I go. When it’s whipped to stiff peaks, it’s ready. I pop it into the fridge to fix the whip into place. And that’s it.

Oh my… these are good. Crispy exterior, soft, moist interior, a tart bite of berry every mouthful; softened and complemented by the fluffy cloud of whipped cream and sweetened by the dollop of strawberry jam. A heavenly treat and a delicious dessert. I wonder if these would work as bases for a lovely strawberry shortcake.

I can’t see why not.
Nummy! I think I’ll have another.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Little Katie was quietly enjoying making a crown of daisies under the boughs of the old chestnut tree; enjoying the early summer day while mother worked nearby, grinding acorns to make a lovely creamy paste for acorn tarts. It was such a quiet, dreamy moment, the only noise the harmonious buzzing of some bumble bees who lazily sampled the flowers in Mrs. Squirrel’s garden, and the sound of mother’s grinding.

But Legs was a mischief maker, and noticing little Katie below quietly working her pile of tiny daisies, he couldn't resist having a laugh. So he dropped down from his web in the high boughs, and came to hang right in Katie’s line of vision. He spread his eight legs to make himself as big as possible and cried out “BOO!”

Poor Katie’s daisies went flying, and her cry of startlement turned into tears as she fled to mother’s arms in fright.

Naughty Legs!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My Dassenplank Fix

Years ago, when in the class of the irascible Mrs. Pamay, 5th grade teacher extraordinaire, we used a device to knit ski hats for our class ski trip. It was a square of thick cardboard about a foot square, with a head-sized hole cut in the center of it. Then, dowel pegs were inserted and glued all around the inner edge of the hole. We would wind the yarn around the pegs and then flip the yarn from the prior row over the new one. We’d end up with these tubes that we would gather at the end, and then tie on a yarn pom-pom we made on another device that had two nails hammered into a brick of wood.

Mrs. Pamay was one of those teachers that just makes an impression that will linger on for the rest of your life. She was really creative, and did projects like this with us all the time. Applied learning. She was great.

Two decades later, my sister, who is a fiber arts maven; sheep-raising, wool shearing, carding, lanolin adoring, wheel spinning, dying, knitting queen of the world gave me a Dassenplank for Christmas of 2000. It is the same principle as the hat circle from 5th grade, except it’s long and rectangular. It is also known as a knitting loom.

This particular one is a fine wooden device with pretty pegs topped with wooden knobs. It was made by the husband of a woman called Pamela from “Pamela’s Homespun”; a fiber-arts. She had a website at some point, but I can’t find it anymore. My sister got both of them at the Black Sheep Gathering—a mecca event for the fiber-obsessed.

My sister had taught me how to knit in 2002, but I always revert to the dassenplank. With this thing, you can churn out blankets and scarves and all other items in record time. When I was present for the birth of my Godson, during my friend’s arduous labour, I sat in her room, knitting away, I started with two inches of product, and when the child finally arrived I had about five feet. No kidding. It’s much, much faster than traditional knitting.

The Dassenplank is now readily available at Michaels in variety packs, made of plastic with a nice groove in each peg for your hook. I haven’t gotten those yet, but they are there for the taking. They are sized for hats, socks and so much more. They are great to have if you really want to knit something but are too daunted by the needle method. There are lots of creative ways to use the dassenplank, and to modify your knit and patterns.

I’m working on a new sofa throw. I have six colours of a similarly styled yarn, I’m just knitting simple panels of three colours, which I will bind together when they are done for a nice lap blanket to keep me cozy when I’m watching a movie or television.

I’d put the project down for a few months, but picked it up a few days ago. I just have one and a half balls of yarn to do now. I’m excited to finish it.

A Youtube Movie of Knitting Loom/Dassenplank basics (they wouldn't allow embedding)

This video is an HGTV segment:


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