Pickle Relish & tingling hands

I just made a batch of pickle relish to use up some of our cucumbers. My friend Heather shared her recipe, and hopefully my shortcuts won’t hurt the final product. First the recipe, then my modifications:

12 lg cucumbers, peeled, seeds removed and diced
12 onions (2” diameter), diced
3/4 c salt
2 lg celery stalks, diced
6 lg sweet peppers, diced
1 qt white vinegar
4 c sugar
2 Tbsp mustard seed

Mix the cukes, onions and salt and let sit for 10-12 hours. Drain until dry. Cook the vinegar, sugar and mustard seed in large pan over low heat until thick. Add the veggies, and cook over low heat until thick and the cukes turn golden. Ladle into hot canning jars and process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath. Makes 6 pts.

First of all, whenever I see a recipe like this, it bugs me a little. How big is a large cucumber? I wish they had a secondary measurement like weight or volume. Anyway, I started with the largest cukes I had, and by the time I got to a dozen, they were getting smaller, so I tossed in an extra. I used Torpedo onions from our CSA, which are oblong. I don’t remember whether I used 5 or 6, but they seem to have stronger flavor than the white or yellow onions I would otherwise choose. The celery and peppers were also from the CSA. I think I used 8 stalks of celery, and it still probably wasn’t as much as “2 large stalks”. I thought the peppers were all sweet peppers (I used 6 — not all large) but my fingers are still burning a couple hours after cutting them up, so now I think some of them might be a little higher on the Scoville scale than I bargained for. Then there’s the preparation. Dicing all those veggies sounded like it was going to take a while. With a toddler underfoot (and limited naptimes) I didn’t want to take all that time, so I used my trusty food processor. I shredded the cucumbers and chopped everything else. So it’s not quite as pretty as Heather’s was, but she made that batch before she had kids. :) And after all, it’s going on a hot dog… how precise does it need to be?

The other change was that I didn’t feel like dealing with canning at 11:30pm. So I used 6 half-pint freezer jars, and filled a couple other containers with the rest. Hopefully it’ll freeze well. I’m thinking about using some ice-cube trays to freeze some of it, too, but that will depend on how much time I have tomorrow. Now I’m anxious to get some hot dogs to try it out!

Sweet Summer Days

It was just brought to my attention that summer is almost over. The pool is having the “doggy dip” this weekend — you can bring dogs to the pool to swim on the last day of the season, and the money raised goes toward the dog park (I think). Now, I don’t have a dog, and haven’t been to the pool since Chloe’s swimming lessons ended in early July… but I kept thinking we could always go later in the summer. So, umm… tomorrow?

I certainly haven’t done as much outside as I hoped. During the winter I kept saying that when the weather got nice we’d resume our evening walks. We’ve only grilled out a few times. The lawn gets longer than usual in between mowings, just because we don’t get out and notice that it needs it. However, I have been able to enjoy the weather at least a bit, mostly due to Chloe’s social life. Between park dates on Wednesdays and outside playgroups on Thursdays, I’ve been forcing myself (aka scheduling myself) to spend a few hours outside just playing in the park and talking with the neighborhood moms. This morning we were out three and a half hours, and it was great. The dishwasher didn’t get emptied or filled, laundry didn’t get done, and I didn’t think about supper until 4, but it was worth it. School starts next week, and these lazy summer days are tapering off. I’m grateful to be able to enjoy them. And it makes me wonder how much else I’d get done simply by putting things on the calendar.

Twisted and Django... starting to get harmonious

David Reid started getting Django running under Twisted.Web.

Here it is.

Creative Overload

I’m not sure why, but lately I’ve been in a very creative mood. Sewing, scrapbooking, baking… you name it, I’ve come up with all sorts of projects I want to do. That’s before you consider video project ideas, too.
For the sewing part, I keep buying fabric (at good prices, of course) for all sorts of projects. Yesterday I bought a handful of zippers and various pink and purple buttons. Presumably I’ll combine them with some of the remnants I’ve picked out that would be perfect for making something for Chloe. Granted, I’ve only made her a couple things thus far, but they’ve turned out well. It’s not as overwhelming to think about making something in her size than in an adult size. Then there’s the quilting part of me. I’m doing a nine-patch exchange through the quilt shop, in addition to the block-of-the-month club I’ve been in for the past few years. This afternoon, I was looking through my stash and thinking of all the neat projects I could do with the goodies I already own, and I had to keep reminding myself that I don’t have unlimited time to focus on that sort of thing.
Then there’s scrapbooking. I’ve never really done any scrapbooking, so I don’t have oodles and oodles of gear. Last week I really started putting pictures in Chloe’s baby book, though, and it was really satisfying. So then I started thinking about my Spain pictures, and I’d really like to get them in a useful format. Right now it takes quite a while to look through all the pictures, and unless you’re me, you don’t know what’s going on, anyway (except for the obvious ones like “Anne and friends in front of the Eiffel Tower”. You could probably figure that out without prompting. Then I found a little album from the year I went to Spanish Camp… I couldn’t remember who most of the people were… should I just throw out the pictures, or maybe find a few and make a page or two. It feels weird to consider throwing them out, but does it make any sense to keep more than a token few to represent the experience?
Okay… Chloe woke up from her nap and is now very sad… time to cuddle.

Weekend In The Dells

Spent last weekend up in Wisconsin Dells. We stayed at Chula Vista witth Anne’s parents. Friday night we saw Beth and Damien Stevens. Saturday started out pretty slow as I was sick and hadn’t gotten much sleep that night, but after taking an early morning nap, we went out to eat. I felt a lot better just getting out and getting some fresh air. Bought an Epiphone Chet Atkins SST Studio. That evening we went to the Lost Rios. That’s the on grounds indoor waterpark at Chula Vista. Surprisingly good tube rides there. Sunday we pretty much just came home.

I think it was Friday night that Chloe finally learned to crawl forward. She’s still a little slow at it, but she’s getting better. Now I got Chloe sick, but she’s taking it better than I did thus far. I’m hoping it stays that way.

6 months old

Anyone can use one spoon...

Chloe turned 6 months old last Sunday, and we started offering her solids. In this case “solid” means a very liquid-y rice cereal puree, but it’s still something she’s eating out of a spoon. She ends up wearing more than she eats, I think, but she’s getting some, and it’s at least giving her a taste for something other than milk. We’re going to try applesauce today. Mmmm…

It’s been a fun 6 months, all in all… her personality is blossoming, although she’s getting less tolerant of other people holding her, particularly in the evenings. She still loves to dance, and she laughs when she sees headbanging. Which of course makes Joe do it more! Supposedly this is a good time to introduce baby sign. However, I started teaching her ‘diaper’ around 2 months, and she’s been using it for a couple months already. I’m working on ‘hungry’ and ‘more’ right now, but she hasn’t started using either one yet. We’ll get there. Her favorite “word” right now sounds kinda like “hot! hot! hot!” Very breathy. Very cute.

She’s sitting up really well, and trying to crawl. She’s not really getting anywhere yet, but she’s starting to get her knees underneath her. She just hasn’t realized that it’s easier to move if your legs aren’t up in the air. She’s a great sleeper, but she’s not a big fan of going to bed. It probably doesn’t help that I hate to hear her cry. I’m more likely to just go back upstairs and snuggle her until she falls asleep again. I’m working on it. But I talked with a friend who had a little boy the same week Chloe was born, and she’s still getting up with him several times a night. So I’m counting my blessings.

She’s pretty much my constant companion, and I try to remember to talk to her about whatever we’re doing. It’s hard to do, and sometimes I realize I haven’t said anything for a long time. I think it’ll be easier when she starts talking. But I’m trying very hard not to rush it — she’s perfect just the way she is, and she’s growing faster than I’m ready for. I’m just trying to enjoy her just the way she is. Which is easy to do!

It's Christmastime already?

Christmas Tree 2008

This year has gone REALLY fast! I must’ve been distracted by something (or someone) but it seems like Christmas is sneaking up faster than usual. It’s a lot trickier to make gifts than it used to be, now that I have fewer, smaller windows of time to focus on a project. Fortunately, most people seem to have their priorities right, and assure me that spending my time nurturing Chloe is more important.

It’s really nice to have a pretty Christmas tree again. Two years ago, we just set up the little artificial one — and by little I mean an 18” pre-decorated tree. Last year, we had a smallish one out on the front porch, and it broke two Christmas tree stands, and tipped over a couple times after it was decorated… not much fun, and we broke a few ornaments. We also tried the solar LED lights on it, and it turns out our front porch isn’t an optimal place for solar panels in winter. Those lights work much better woven through the pergola over the deck. Very pretty, too. But this year, we have a lovely (managably-sized) white pine. (You may recall that the first year in our house, we got a tree taller than the ceiling, and it prompted us to remove said ceiling and we embarked on a LONG renovation process.) Anyway, this year the needles are soft, so we didn’t use a lot of the heavier ornaments, but it turned out lovely regardless. The only problem is that the tinsel leaps onto my clothing whenever I get near it. Grr… static.

Updated pictures

I actually updated the pictures (look at the link in the upper right). I’ll be adding more yet soon (I hope). We also have videos if you click the video link on the left.

6 weeks later

It’s hard to believe it’s been six weeks since I went into labor with Chloe. However, I can’t decide whether it seems like longer, or shorter than that. Fortunately the memories of that not-so-comfortable day faded pretty quickly. Practically immediately, in fact! But it seems strange that Chloe’s only been in our lives for such a short time, too. Joe and I were talking about that when we were still in the hospital, though, too.

Well, six weeks ago I had never held a newborn, changed a diaper, or done anything else with a baby other than held one for a little while (and handed him or her back to the appropriate parent at the first sign of distress!) Now I can change diapers in the dark and multi-task like nobody’s business. Yesterday I went out to lunch with the church ladies and they were impressed that I could nurse her and eat my lunch with chopsticks at the same time.

All in all it’s going well. We’re still learning, of course. She gets fussy a while each evening (either when I start to get supper ready or when I plate it… we’ve had a lot of really late, cold or multiply-reheated meals) but we’re getting better at finding ways to calm her down. I’m looking forward to teaching her some sign language so we can find out what she’s asking for more quickly. It has to be really frustrating for her. Even when I’m trying to talk to someone who speaks a different language, we can use gestures to get a message across. And frankly, I’m not that adept at deciphering her cries yet. But we’re working on it.

I’m also working on using nap-time for something more productive than watching her sleep. (Notice I said more productive rather than more fun or more important.) I’m still letting a lot of things slide (vacuuming? huh?), but I’m slowly getting a handle on things. And I’m getting better at doing stuff either while holding her or (more often) wearing her, Kinda makes me wonder what other new skills I’ll pick up…

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