2014-09-25 17.53.46

Fermented Cucumbers

The longest and most time consuming step in making fermented cucumbers is procrastination! It is so easy to ferment vegetables that it is almost a crime to buy them.  I do love the mild kimchi made and distributed by the Sanjas brand, but kick myself every time I buy it because I just know how easy it is make on my own.

Fermented vegetables and other fermented foods, like ginger ale, kombucha, etc. aid in digestion and are probiotic. I was thinking about how my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ diets often included pickles and sauerkraut. Undoubtedly for the same reason that I appreciate my fermented salads. They taste good, and help with digestion. Who could ask for more?!

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The primary ingredients to make fermented cucumbers are really simple:

  • cucumbers
  • salt
  • water

Then I also add:

  • garlic
  • dill
  • pickling spices (I buy pre-mixed from Penzey’s)
  • horseradish leaf – this is supposed to keep the cucumbers more crunchy.  I’ve also seen recipes that use oak leaf for this purpose.

Mix the salt, about 2 tbsp depending upon how many cucumbers you have, with hot water and let it dissolve.

Put the horseradish leaf, dill, garlic and pickling spice at the bottom of the jar.

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It is my experience both with utilizing the jar most effectively and creating the right pickle serving size that it is better to cut the cucumbers.  I usually try to slice them on the diagonal lengthwise, unless they have a wider circumference – then I get a little more creative in splitting them.

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For lack of a better word, I then cram the sliced cucumbers in my mason jars, packing them in as tightly as I can, leaving a little bit of space below the part of the jar with the screw threads.

I did add some coconut vinegar into each jar this time. I’ve never done that before, but thought it might add some additional tangy taste. Vinegar is also helpful during the fermenting process, but is not necessary. For the large jar I put about a tablespoonful and for the quart jar I used about a teaspoon.

Fill the jar 3/4s of the way with the salt water.  Add warm water to finish.  Make sure the pickles (to be) are completely immersed in water.  Screw on the lid and put away for a week.

And here’s the best tip that I can share.

Fermented cucumbers

Write on the calendar when to check them.  I need the reminder one week later!  I will not remember otherwise! (Note: it’s okay if you leave them longer, they just get more sour.) Place in refrigerator when they reach the taste you like.

Happiness Challenge

Happiness Challenge

A friend of mine tagged me in the “Happiness Challenge” on Facebook where I was instructed to post 3 things that define my happiness for 6 days.  I’ve collected all the posts here.  In doing this challenge,  I found myself recognizing happy /  amusing / funny moments throughout each day.  That was the true reward.  Although, picking 3 and sharing them each day with my Facebook friends also made me happy.

Day 1
1. Happiness is being tagged for the happiness challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated Marcy’s posts and while I am more typically a voyeur than a participant, I am touched that she tagged me to do this.
2. Happiness is seeing my son growing up and settling into his new independent life.
3. Happiness is reading true life love stories in the NY Times In Memoriam section. One of my favorites is “I don’t need to visit you because you are with me every day.”

Happiness Challenge Day 2
1. Happiness is sleeping with the windows open.
2. Happiness is thinking of the next trip with my daughter. Barcelona? Milan? Paris? Florida?
3. Happiness is watching my daughter excel in and completely enjoy her college experience.

 Happiness Challenge Day 3
1. Happiness is transforming a ball of string.
2. Happiness is visiting my local library at 11 PM via my kindle.
3. Happiness is our weekly mah jongg game even if I don’t win and even if we have to miss a few weeks here and there.

An impromptu happiness post. Happiness is seeing Italian tourists at MY farmer’s market, glad to be able to share a nice American experience with them!

Happiness Challenge Day 4
1. Happiness is clearing out my garage and having a little extra cash in my pocket. (Thank you, Lois, for organizing the community garage sale, and thank you, Jill, for selling alongside me.)
2. Happiness is being able to go to bed early and sleep late after a long day.
3. Happiness is knowing what I need to do today, and fitting spending a long morning in bed (unfortunately by myself!) into the schedule.

Happiness challenge - a cleaner garage
A clean(er) garage!

 Happiness Challenge Day 5
1. Happiness is finally having the sense to turn my air conditioning back on and enjoying a good night’s sleep.
2. Happiness is knowing that I did not miss the canning season and will have fresh tomatoes in the winter. (I’m thinking creamy tomato soup on a cold winter day.)
3. Happiness is seeing my friends’ travel posts. Thank goodness for FB since getting together for slide shows like my grandparents used to do just would never happen these days.

Happiness Challenge
Ready for canning

Happiness Challenge Day 6, the final day of posts
1. Happiness is dragging myself out of bed, late, this morning, after having spent a wonderful evening catching up with an old friend.
2. Happiness is having the opportunity to review one’s life (while catching up) and being content with the decisions I’ve made in it.
3. Happiness is having a bright spot of color in an otherwise drab landscape (i.e. photo accompanying this post).
The tradition is for me to now tag other people to continue this practice of posting 3 points of happiness for 6 days. Only because it really isn’t painful, and it’s actually been nice to recognize points of happiness, I hereby nominate Christine, Gisela, Kathy (when you’re feeling better) and Linda. I look forward to reading your posts!

Happiness Challenge: a spot of color!

What are some of the things that make you happy?

Gelato!

Back to Clean Living!

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The reward to clean living is feeling good. It’s as simple as that.  My trip to Italy lasted beyond the time there and I spent much of the summer continuing to eat gelato and grains and other things that make me feel bloated, depressed and unsatisfied.

There are three things that help me follow the lifestyle I really want:

  1. The (Right) Mindset
  2. The (Right) Resources
  3. Acknowledgement of how I’m feeling (and why)

I stopped my 3x weekly visits to Crossfit in May due to a combination of excuses. First, I sprained my wrist and was medically advised to not use it, especially for working out. Then, we went to my son’s college graduation. My original goal for Crossfit was to look good in the photos for his graduation. (Check!)

Proud Mom!
Proud Mom!

Then I went to Italy. Then it was too hot. Now I’m too out of shape to go back! LOL. It’s like straightening your house before the cleaning people come. I want “it” (the house, my body, etc.) to be somewhat presentable before the experts take a look.

Of course, I have to get my mind back in focus. I am getting there. I finally acknowledged that a lot of my physical complaints – upset stomach, gas, poor sleep, always hungry for one more taste – were due to my increased consumption of wheat and sugar (more specifically, chocolate). I knew I had to stop eating those items to feel better.

I was able to get back on track just by reading a new ebook for grain-free snack recipes, Ditch The Wheat. I have not made any of the recipes yet. But I have all (or most) of the ingredients already.  It made me realize “I can do this,” and it’s not that hard. The snack book is similar to one of my favorite books, Primal Cravings, icon
icon and has recipes for all types of snacks – sweet, savory, chewy, crunchy.  There’s also an e-book with 70 grain-free desserts. The recipes do not overlap between the two Ditch the Wheat e-books. I would recommend buying both!

I bet you’re wondering what about the “living” part of this post? This post seems to be about clean eating. Well, I finally dusted off my 10-minute kettle bell workout DVD this morning, and did 2 of the sets. YAY ME! Of course, I am so out of shape that I was wobbly picking up the morning paper off the lawn after that “little” workout. I am not belittling myself. I am getting back to the land of clean living, and taking proper care of myself once again.

Now I’m off to make some of those Ditch the Wheat recipes…that must be why I recently purchased the organic gelatin!!  Clean (living) gummy worms, anyone?

Sigil

LD lent me the book #GIRLBOSS to read. It is a hit with her sorority sisters, and LD has been reading these great business books, so I wanted to read it too. In one of the chapters, Sophia Amoruso, the author, speaks about the word Sigil.  Sigil is a real word, meaning a symbol, or a sign or word having power in the occult or magic, I suppose like “Abracadabra!”

#GIRLBOSS resommends using a Sigil as an empowering phrase to be used as passwords or other daily shortcuts as a reminder of your goals.

I’ve been transitioning my role in my job, against my wishes. I’ve really been fighting it (with massive complaining!) for awhile. While I am doing a good job in my new responsibilities, the tasks themselves are B-O-R-I-N-G (more than just Boring with a capital “B”) and, I feel, don’t take advantage of my more fruitful skill sets.

It is a Catch 22.  I’m always going to do my best and do a good, NO, a Great, job, but I don’t want to do so well that I get stuck with these tasks forever.

When I was first transitioned, I trudged to work each day, going later and later as the days went by.  I listen to NPR on my way in to work, and got little glimpses into the BBC World Report at 9 AM.  I like their style of reporting, so kept going in a little bit later so I could listen to more of it. Then I found myself leaving the house at 9 AM so it would be playing.  Not good as I should be in the office by 8:30!

I took a note from #GIRLBOSS.  I came up with 2 Sigils.

The first one was bcrtv85%. Be creative 85% of the time.  But then the rules started flowing: only when you’re awake, some things have to be done and don’t have to be creative (doing the dishes, the laundry, etc.). I stumbled across a blog post on wildcreativesoul about how it takes so much work to be creative.  Hmmm…back to the drawing board (pun intended)?

The second one is – Njwhtrdng.  Enjoy what you are doing.  So much better!  No need for parameters or rules.  And guess what?  The job got better.  I’m feeling happier.  More knitting projects on the horizon.

Njwhtrdng.

Knit Scarf

Two Scarves, Complete!

Complete, Completed. Words you don’t often see in my posts! I am happy to report that I have completed two scarves!

Tunisian Crochet
Tunisian Crochet
Knit Scarf
Leaves pattern knit scarf

The knit scarf uses Rowan Fine Art yarn that was included in my Goody Bag from the Vogue Knitting Living Gala Dinner. I must say that this offering of knitting treats has truly made my 2014 year of knitting very pleasurable. It has given me the opportunity to try new yarns that I never would have picked out on my own.

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The Tunisian Crochet scarf was an effort to see the allure of a finished product using this technique. I had wanted to see the kind of pattern that would be shown by using a larger crochet hook with a finer yarn.

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It’s interesting. i don’t think it really looks like either knitting or crochet stitching.

Tunisian Crochet

 

I used a multicolored, multi fibered yarn, that gives the piece additional interest and dimension.

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I know I only scratched the surface of Tunisian Crochet, using only one repetitive stitch for this piece.

So what’s next now?  This concept of “completing” could be inspiring…

LD'scardigan in progress
LD’s cardigan in progress

We shall see!

The (Online) Dating Game

online dating
Really? Is this supposed to make me want to use this site?

The Online Dating Site business is a tricky one. The companies really do not want their users to be successful because then they won’t need the online dating services anymore, but the businesses still need some success stories to gain new members.  They need to make each site user think that his or her match is out there AND using this particular site, but at the same time keep you looking for more so that you won’t leave.

There are all sorts of ways to encourage users to become paying members – no ads, more privileges, the ability to browse invisibly, the ability to send messages, chat, etc.

Each site has its own set of rules – what you are or are not allowed to say. Some don’t want you to mention anything that has to do with sex (we’re all chaste and looking for the same) while others encourage you to admit your fantasies and what you want to do to your partner or be done to you.

The most head-scratching experience is trying to determine if the other users are actual people, scammers, married, immature, uneducated, educated, etc.

What is most amazing to me is that I met DDSO on Yahoo Personals almost a decade ago.  I don’t really expect lightening to strike twice, but in the words of the NY Lottery, “you have to be in it to win it.”  I feel there is some power in at least putting my intentions out in the universe.

My Kind of Game Show

For some reason I have been recording Hollywood Game Night. I do not follow celebrity news, do not know many of the celebrities on the show, refer to the show as Extroverts Extroverting Themselves, and have no idea how the participants can connect in the final round in describing so many so-called famous people.  It’s like a study of another world.

It made me think –  In what kind of Game Show would I excel and be interested?  Here are the clues that I thought would be fun:

  • Loves variegated colors, dyes her hair in crazy colors…
  • Does great cable designs, publishes in Vogue…you bookmark all her designs, really great at construction
  • Her patterns often resemble nature, recently retired from Berroco
  • Founded KnitPicks, has a podcast
  • Has a store in Reno, has great customer service, they’re very helpful with everything!, wrote the Red book about Knitting to help fight against heart disease
  • The queen of Fair Isle, British

I was at work the other day, lamenting with a co-worker about what we would rather be doing…turns out we’re both knitters!  I’m betting she would have the answers to the above…

  • Lucy Neatby
  • Deborah Newton
  • Norah Gaughan
  • Kelly Petkun
  • Jimmy Beans Wools – Laura Zander
  • Debbie Bliss

Knitters Unite! Let’s go to the TV Execs and ask for a show that would really be interesting!  Knitters Having Fun talking about the Knitting Culture!

knittinggameshow

 

Tunisian Crochet

Tunisian Crochet is described as “the knitter’s crochet.”  All the stitches get loaded up on the hook for a row and then are crocheted off.

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It creates a densely woven fabric that was originally only used for pillows and upholstery, but is now also used in clothing patterns.

I practiced the basic stitches described in the Tunisian Crochet book (“the book of knitting with the ease of crocheting”) I purchased from Knit Picks (True Confession 1: I received the Vogue Knitting book and pattern sale email, compared the selection to the Knit Picks 40% off sale and ended up buying the book and a set of hooks from Knit Picks.)

After knitting, err I mean crocheting, about 6 inches, I stopped and assessed my progress.

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Pretty.  Interesting. Pretty interesting.

True Confession 2: Not fully satisfied with the piece of fabric.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I do like it, I just don’t think I’ll ever do anything with it even if I finish it to become a scarf.

Frogged it!
Frogged it!

I’m thinking it might be fun to take a really thin yarn and Tunisian crochet it so that the stitches are loosely woven.

In the meantime, I like knitting the best.  It allows more flexibility with the shape of the created fabric, the stitches can be tight or loose, lacy or not, all in one single pattern.  I think there’s a lot more room for creativity with knitting.

Back to the work in progress…The next time I post a picture of this scarf, it will be done.  (True Confession 3: I hope!)

More than halfway through!
More than halfway through!

Why I…Love Knitting

Why do we knitters love knitting?

Numbered, but not listed in a particular order (other than my chain of thought).

1. Divergent Thinking.  I can knit and sort out different matters while concentrating on my knitting.

2. Tangible evidence of time spent.  No, I wasn’t just watching TV/attending a meeting/socializing with friends.  I also knit all these rows!

3. The yarn. Such pretty colors.

4. The yarn. Feels so soft!

5. The patterns.  So many choices.

6. Creativity. Mine, or someone else’s, or a blend.

7. Community.  Common language, always an opportunity to learn and to share.

8. Ongoing. My list of projects, the number of choices, the yarn, my stash, my queue.

9. Gifts. To give! (and receive!)