Thursday, August 31, 2006

All Twisted Up

Several months ago now I acquired a little drop spindle and some roving while on an adventure to the Sheep and Wool Festival with Ms. Knit-Whit. She got some spinning supplies too, and we have been saying ever since that we MUST get together and try our our new crafty stuff one of these days. Well, yesterday I got stuck waiting around here for a delivery so I decided I might as well have an experimental go at drop spinning to see what we were in for. Turns out, I wish I had one with the little hook on the other end which Knit-Whit informs me is a bottom whorl, but I managed to get wool fibers all over me anyway despite lacking that much-wished-for third hand. Here are the fruits of my very first effort with the drop spindle:

It's kinda addicting, but I'm thinking I'd rather use the roving for felting instead, since I despise how single ply yarns make my knitted stuff go all wonky and crooked and I dont' think I'll be up for plying anytime soon.

Anyway, the much awaited delivery did finally arrive which was very exciting since I had been waiting since June. Here it is getting the official Kitty Union evaluation:

I think we like it!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The State Fair Diet

I had some adventures in eating, people watching and photography with Ms. Knit-Whit yesterday at the fair, and today I bring you an overview of what was consumed :

Those cinnamon rolls. OH MY. Can you say YUM? And that last one pretty much sums it all up, no?

Overheard at the fair:
"that lady is taking pictures of her food?!?"

Monday, August 28, 2006

I am something of a fanatic when it comes to salad dressing. If I am at home, I almost always make mine from scratch, almost always some kind of vinagrette. Yes, I do keep a bottle of Cardini's Caesar on hand for our adored grilled chicken Caesar salads, but on some greens with a little blue cheese and some nuts or fruit, a fresh, bright balsamic or citrus vinagrette is the best thing going. But I am about to let you in on one of my secret little vices:

Add a delicious chicken, Swiss, sundried tomato and sauteed mushroom pannini, and dinner is served, complete with dressing bottle on the table.

Hey, at least it's not Western. Now that stuff is truly gack.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday Morning Sunshine

I hope the day is as lovely in your neighborhood as it is in mine...

Boy and I are off to paint a house. Because I REALLY haven't been doing enough painting lately.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Look For My New Act

Coming soon to a circus near you, it's called Highwire Acrobatic Painting.
So, a week, four gallons of paint, a new twelve foot step ladder that isn't even close to being tall enough, a lot of sweat, swearing and ladder climbing, and the south wall is painted. That this is about the fourth time I've made you hear about it is simply further evidence of the ordeal it has been.
Unfortunately, there is still one more gargantuan wall that needs paint in here, but hopefully that will be easier if only because it's getting a color that's likely to require FOUR FREAKIN COATS of paint.
And let me just say, for the record, that I am really not feeling the art of trying to navigate up and down a wobbly 22 foot extension ladder one handed while holding paint in a dish and a paintbrush and trying not to spill, to cut in that two inch swath at the ceiling where the temperature is about 95 degrees.
Fresh and energizing, the new chartreuse in the gym:

And just a little left to do up high in the corner:

So I guess the next question is: What color shall I paint that door?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dinner and Project Runway

It's a good thing we finished dinner before PR came on, because I'm really disgusted that Uli didn't win. And, for the record, I thought Vincent's dress was ugly.

Anyway, grilling is one of my favorite ways to cook pork tenderloin, because it takes all of fifteen minutes and always comes out looking a hundred times better than oven cooking. Tonight's version was marinated in pineapple and lemon juice, lemon zest, ginger, shallot and rum. And instead of just tossing out all that fruity deliciousness I poured it off into a sauce pan and while the pork was griling I reduced it to make a sauce. I had originally intended to strain out the chunky bits but I found that after reducing they were tender enough to keep in and I liked the way they looked. So that, a little smashed potato and some fresh steamed veg and dinner is served:

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

How Many Miles are on That Paint Roller?

All hail the 1735 mile biker:

Boy made it home safe on Sunday evening. The kitties and I are glad he's back.

Meanwhile, back at the homestead...

If I left it like this would you think it's on purpose? Like, at all?

Sunday, August 20, 2006


For a week or two after Emma came to live with us, she refused to walk on the glass deck, but apparently the Kitty Union has now deemed it safe, because she prances around up there like its....well....a catwalk. Hehe.

We get a kick out of seeing little kitty feet from below.

And because dog collars are like handbags. Why have only one when you can have MANY?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Crafty Saturday

Since I had the entire day to myself I took the opportunity to bust out my sewing machine and get to work on a pet :) project.

A Martingale Collar, because greyhounds have very skinny heads. Now we just need a dog neck to put it on...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Quoting Boy

So boy flew out to the east coast yesterday to pick up a Ducati 998. He's riding it back, which, in case you're interested, is a really, really long way, particularly when it's on a bike that has a dubious reputation for reliability. And if it's anything like the two Ducatis we used to have, if he's lucky, he might make it to New Jersey before something completely crazy goes wrong with it. Oh well.

He wanted to know what his maxiumum rescue distance (i.e. come get me with the truck distance) is. I dunno...maybe like 40 miles? :)

While discussing the ride...
Me: "You're totally going to need a chiropractor when you get home."
Boy: "Um, yea, or maybe an ass-practor."

While watching Project Runway...
Boy: "hmmm so that's how it goes, huh? All the guys room together and all the girls together, no matter what?"
Me: "Yes. And no, they don't make the gay guys room with the girls if that's what you mean."
Boy: "I was just wondering..."

Speaking of Project Runway. WTF. Vincent stays and Allison goes? That is just beyond wrong. F-you, TV.

And because we need to have pictures...some newish ones that I really like:

Ms. Knit-Whit are running in a 5K this evening. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


With a deep breath and a bad attitude, a little paint has been slung:

Don't hold out waiting for the big reveal. With 23 feet of height spanning two rooms and 14 door and window jambs, it's gonna take me a while. And despite my deluded hopes, we're talking THREE coats here people. I may never paint again.
Too bad Boy got rid of all his rock climbing gear a few years ago, because this is one of the many projects in this house where I can imagine it would have come in handy...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Joey Nova's Pizza and Deli

When I read about this place in the current issue of Mpls St. Paul magazine, I immediately put it on my to-be-tried list, mostly because it's on my side of town and it sounded like they make a decent pizza. As it turns out, they do make a decent pizza, and from the looks of it, they're whipping up quite a few other delicious things too. We tried the Barbeque Chicken pizza, the Pizza Nova, and a basic Canadian Bacon and Pineapple, but because camera phone pictures suck, I can only show you the reheated, leftover slices of the Pizza Nova that got turned into lunch the next day:

We really enjoyed the pizza , and there is obviously some attention being paid to the interesting, quality ingredients in use (like homemade sauce and the fresh asparagus on the Pizza Nova) which put Joey Nova's in the above average category in my book, particularly where strip mall, neighborhood pizza places are concerned. Also on the menu are pasta dishes, several types of hot and cold sandwiches, salads, soup and wings, and I spotted some seriously delicious looking bread pudding that I'm going to be sure to save room for on our next visit.

Joey Nova's Pizzeria Delicatessen
5655 Manitou Road
Tonka Bay, MN 55331

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Fresh Almond Croissants

Another successful adventure in French pastrymaking. They turned out good, and of course I ate about four immediately, but next time I'll save it for cooler weather. The dough was a royal PITA to work because of the temperature and humidity and they did turn out a little tougher than they should be as a result. But still. FRESH, HOMEADE CROISSANTS. How bad can that be?
I've had the epiphany that I need to try toasting the blanched almonds before turning them into into almond paste, because I always end up feeling it's a little bland via the standard recipe...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Yarn to Match My Motorcycle

And a lovely time was had by all...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Is Orangeness a Word?

First, some amazing heirloom tomatos that made yesterday's lunch:

Sliced heirloom tomato and fresh mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of fleur de sel and cracked pepper. The taste of summer.

And then as I was laying in bed last night wondering how I could best exploit the leftover tomato, I happened to realize I had all the makings of this:

Sizzling and straight from the pan, I plunked the bacon down hot onto the sliced up remains of the fat and perfectly tangy, purplie red tomato. Toast, plenty of mayo so it got all drippy and yum when it mixed with the juice from the tomato, and some of that neato butter lettuce that comes with it's root ball still attatched straight from Carpinteria, CA where I grew up, and I got to sit down to one of the best sandwiches EVAH. To whomever invented the tasty BLT, my sincerest thanks. You, my friend, are genius.
So when was the last time you had a BLT?

In other food news from Casa Splatgirl, there are still croissants in the making, and let me just tell you what a major PITA it is to make croissant dough when it's hot and humid. Next time remind me that that is a winter activity, K?
Anyway, I ended up getting side tracked yesterday by some cool flowers I picked up at the grocery store, and that little project can be seen in all it's lime green and orangeness here

It's MotoKnitter night, so we'll see you at Betty's, right?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What I Need

Is a good, fresh almond croissant, like these, which were unfortunately baked and gobbled up long, long ago:

So I guess that means I'm off to the grocery store to buy some European butter, fresh yeast and almonds...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tastes Like A Vacation

Nothing makes me want to dance around and say ""Mine, all MINE" like a bowl of fresh mango.

That's all.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Time to Call the Color Police?

You may have figured out by now that here's not really a color I can't love (OK, maybe 80's peach or forest green), and usually the brighter and more vibrant, the better. I crave color like a junkie and I've never been afraid to go out on a color limb and slap up some paint, but choosing something for what seems like an acre of walls in my main living space has got me crazed. Aside from the fact that these two huge walls will have to coordinate with absolutely everything in the house, they start downstairs in the kitchen and end upstairs in the media room and gym. So I'm freaked about the sheer mass of the walls in question and the task it's going to be to paint them, but it isn't the effort that will go into painting them so much as it is the idea that if the color doesn't work well with everything, it's a lot not to like.

Here are the two, 23 foot high walls, two pictures of each to show the rooms they carry into upstairs:
East wall, media room upstairs/livingroom

South wall, livingroom/gym upstairs

Southeast corner

The pictures would have you believe it's dark in here but it's really so flooded with daylight in every room that we never need to turn any actual lights on anywhere in the house until well into the evening.

So, here is the palette I'm considering, keeping in mind the blue is the color I've already painted the kitchen:

I'm thinking of adding a tomato red in with the mix, since I've already got that going as an accent color with the lockers in the downstairs pantry and accessories in the upstairs reading nook and entry. I'm considering painting one of the smaller, upstairs walls this color but again, that means another color that's exposed to the whole living area.

Gray seems like the (boring) obvious choice. A good, modern neutral that will go in whatever direction I need it to for years to come, but: a. the outside of the house is all gray, and b. the concrete floors and steel deck and joists of the ceiling are gray, so I'm worried that adding gray walls will be overwhelmingly...well...gray.
And I've been obsessed with the chartreuse color, but while I know I can make it work in the rooms where it will appear, maybe it's a bit much for these huge walls (?) and I don't want to have to decorate the whole rest of the house around a lot of what could end up to be an obnoxious color. Plus I'm concerned about how it will stand the test of time, like maybe it's the next peach? On the other hand, it seems like more me, I do LOVE it, and it is only paint, after all.

If it's not obvious by now, I'm kinda stuck here, so I'd welcome any comments, suggestions or opinions.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Cooking Deliciousness

And eating, of course!
Fresh blueberry pancakes with the best bacon in the whole world for breakfast. Spinach-strawberry salad and steak sandwiches with grilled peppers, onions and mushrooms for dinner. Big thanks to Boy for the inspiration.
It's been a good day :)

Friday, August 04, 2006

More organizing

Some follow-up research after my coconut rice pudding adventure reveals that the dessert risotto thing is a legitimate dish. I found some good recipes and inspiration here here and here.

I've been cleaning windows (BOO!) and doing some more organizing around here. Unlike being creative, those activities ARE exhausting so I decided I needed a little time out at the computer.
Remember "Making Crazy Stuff"?

I've uploaded a bunch more pictures of that little adventure and put them in their own Flickr set called "Making a Concrete Ofuro", in case you get the urge to play with a ton or two of heavy wet stuff anytime in the future. Looking at my stats, my original post about that project gets the most hits via keyword searches of anything I've got up by about a factor of ten, so hopefully a more thorough, narrated photo log of the process will come in handy to those adventurous souls who are out there looking.

It's looking like it's going to be a grand weekend weather-wise and I'm feeling the need to get my cook on, yet I remain uninspired and searching...
Anyone got any good new recipes to share?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Last Nights Dinner

A fresh and yummy antipasto with grilled chicken and some great baguette:

And then, in search of a treat:
I started off trying to make Thai style coconut sticky rice, except skipping the endless washing of the rice and using a whole can of coconut milk because I can't stand to have part of the can left over and I wanted something extra coconutty. Oh, and I added a bunch more sugar too...
I tossed in rice, straight from the bag, the coconut milk, sugar, some vanilla bean paste and a little water, but for some reason my rice cooker wouldn't cooperate. It shut off after about ten minutes and then refused to stay in cook mode, which I suspect is related to the sugar and the coconut milk being heavier than a standard rice and water mixture.
So I dumped everything into a saute pan and started stirring over low heat. I ended up cooking and stirring for about a half hour and added about another cup or so of water gradually as it was absorbed by the cooking rice, just like with risotto. To finish, I added the juice of half a lime and some zest and topped with some toasted flake coconut. I think it would have benefitted from some butter at the end too, but that would have put it into the Ina Garten stratosphere of fat content (given the presence of an entire can of coconut milk) and I just couldn't stuff my guilt THAT far down.
Garnished with a lime slice and there you have it...dessert risotto, aka coconut rice pudding, risotto style, because you never know what you might invent if you've got a big enough sugar jones.

I thought it was pretty darn good, but you've definitely got to be a rice pudding or sticky rice eater to appreciate it. I think it would have been great with mango or any other slightly tart tropical fruit, either mixed in at the end or used as garnish. Boy and I disagreed on this, but for me the addition of the lime zest and juice was what really made it work.
It's definitely got to be eaten warm. I had a taste of the leftovers from the fridge for breakfast was too gummy.

Risotto Style Coconut Sticky Rice

1 1/3c. short grain sweet rice. (I used Apple Brand from the Asian market but I think regular arborio rice would be fine too.)
14oz. canned coconut milk
2/3c. water, plus more as needed
3/4c. sugar
Vanilla bean or bean paste
1/4tsp. salt
juice and zest of 1/2 a lime
toasted coconut
lime slices

Combine rice, coconut milk , vanilla bean and 2/3c. water in large saute pan or skillet over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed, gradually adding more water as needed, like you would with risotto. Cook and stir until rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the juice of half a lime and 1-2tsps. of zest. (Stir in a tablespoon or two of butter here, too, maybe).
Spoon into serving dishes, garnish with toasted coconut and a slice of lime and serve warm. Makes 4-6 servings.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Getting Organized

I recently bit the bullet and upgraded my Flickr account so I've been trying to get things uploaded and organized over there. Today's project was creating a set dedicated to our adventures in countertop construction, entitled Making Concrete Countertops.
If you're at all interested in this or have ever thought about casting your own counters, do take a look.

I wish I could have done a better job with the photo documentation, but the whole adventure was part of our final push to wrap up the housebuilding project and I was acting as the head mud girl and wielding the screed and trowel in between helping Boy mix concrete in a wheelbarrow. Being at the mercy of a hundred or so square feet of timing-critical wet concrete is a pretty hefty distraction, so photography was left a little by the wayside, but you'll get the idea and I've written captions that hopefully describe things a little better.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Approved by the Kitty Union

Newkitty seems to be settling in well and I have it on good authority that these crazy modern houses aren't so bad. Likewise, rumor has it that the people they come with are pretty nice too. The verdict remains out on that whole faucet and sink thing though.

As I type, it's only our little newbie that isn't cowering under something because of the thunderstorm. And in an apparent attempt to prove that her claws are worth keeping, she achieved her first witnessed voyage to the top of the screen door today.
Quite the little gymnast.

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