Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Blue Cheese Salad Bar

It was one of those days, you know the kind. Bothersome things that had to be done, nothing too awful, just a pileup of minor annoyances. I had to make a long transmission-related journey in the rain and hail-- made quite a bit better by one of the cheerfuller of the Brandenberg concerti coming on the radio-- that, and the happy expectation of going through a salad bar at some point in the day!

I found a pizza place near my destination and kept my hopes fixed on it like the distant star in the twilight. That was going to be the UP in the middle of the hail and the transmission. Then I picked up DH and found that although his plans did involve stopping for lunch somewhere, a pizza place wasn't what he had in mind.

He said we'd just take off back towards home and see where we ended up. I knew that left to himself he'd end up somewhere Chinese, so I made some phone calls while driving and found that the QFC next to the Safeway whose location I happened to know might have a salad bar.

First we went to the Safeway because he missed the "QFC next to the" part, and got all comfortably parked and didn't see why QFC's food would be any different from Safeway. I was gonna have to be sad if we didn't go to QFC! Then inside QFC I saw a bar in the distance, but it turned out to be an olive bar. A what??!

It was too late by then. DH ordered a roast beef sandwich and started eating it, while I wandered disconsolately up and down every single aisle in the store waiting for something to look good. I eventually got a cup of yogurt and sat down.

DH handed the last 1/4 of his sandwich to me. I pulled off the bread and roast beef and ate the lettuce, tomato and avocado. He said, "You just did that to amuse me, didn't you?"

No, I did it because I wanted a salad bar.

After that he decided we just had to go to the hardware store. THAT I happened to KNOW was right past a Top Foods where they have this EPIC salad bar that I just love. It's by the pound unfortunately, but I've gotten to be an expert at making a $4 salad.

The main reason I love a salad bar so much is because of the blue cheese dressing! DH won't let us buy blue cheese dressing any more because it's all made with soy. Not a single brand that I can find is made with anything but soybean oil.

I said I wanted to go by Top Foods, but he was all on about Costco and dinnertime and I don't know what all and he DROVE RIGHT BY the Top Foods exit. Then I started thinking seriously about crying. I do not care about dinnertime! Don't care what the kids want to eat! Do not want lamb chops! I just want what I want when I want it, is that too much to ask?

And then inspiration struck. "Blue cheese dressing" doesn't only come in jars. Buy some blue cheese and make it your own self!

salad-bar-blue-cheese salad-bar-with-blue-cheese-1

Tiny little chunk from Denmark for $4, or gigantic block from Costco for $4. There's various recipes on the internet, but the bottom line is blue cheese + mayo + sour cream + milk to consistency + blend. I can do that.


I didn't just want a salad, I wanted a salad bar, and finally I got one, with everything I wanted on it, and there was happies in every bite :-)

Andrea said, "You're taking a picture of your plate to post it on your blog?"

Um, yes.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Cool New Ersatz Piano

When I was first married I bought a piano after a lot of shopping, a Baldwin Hamilton chosen for its tone rather than appearance. It cost more than the others and I had to make monthly payments, but the sound was worth it.

Then I had a bunch of kids, and had less time to practice. The computer's easier to manage, because you can save work to resume later, and the projects don't have to be shared until they're ready! Anyway I'm not the performing arts type. I've talked about that before (huge rant...)

Then to top it off I got that magnificent yellow dog, who took up all the available room in this rather small house of ours. As the dog grew larger and larger, I sacrificed more and more things to try to keep him. I figured I wasn't playing the piano much anyway, and I could put his magnificent kennel where the piano was. So I let the piano go to a relative who wanted to borrow it / store it for me.

Once the dog reached full size, he went bonkers being confined inside a small house, and I didn't want him as an outside dog getting cold and lonely in wintertime, so he had to go.

Then I had neither dog nor piano.

piano old

I kept the twins!

Being pianoless was okay for a while. When I began to need music, I spent some time trying to play my old guitar, which happens to be a nice one, very mellow and soothing.  

But then I really started missing my piano. I found myself thinking of it at nights again. Now I have the space for it, but no way to get it back home. Estimates for piano moving started at $400, and I don't have a pickup and can't very well move an 800 lb piano with just me and DH anyway (were he willing to try it, which he isn't)


Andrea has an electronic keyboard, which I am allowed to play, but not exactly encouraged, shall we say? It's kept up on her top bunk with its wires wound around the bed frame...

(Anyway her middle G doesn't work, due to long-ago cat barf. Last year I cleaned it and got it working, but recently the same key went silent again. Middle G is kind of important. Here's the inside of a Yamaha keyboard, in case you're curious, with the "before" view of the problem. )


But, guess what! I have a piano again!


A lady offered this 80s electronic keyboard which has been in a church attic for years. It weighs a ton, and it's obtuse; at first I despaired of it working because it wasn't making any sounds in the headphones, but it turns out you have to read the manual and push a few buttons before it'll do anything! But it does work.  The keys are weighted, it even comes with a pedal. It requires external speakers, and I happened to have a set of computer woofers and tweeters up in the attic which I'd been about to give away thinking I'd never have a use for them! At first I despaired of them working too, but it was just a bad audio cable. I tried another audio cable, and that one was bad, too. Luckily there are at least five audio cables in the attic. My Dad was right, you should keep everything that might EVER be useful! :-)

The cool part about a real piano is that it plays even when the power's out, but the cool part about the electronic keyboard is that it's always in perfect tune. I would never spend the money to keep my poor old piano tuned. I did tune it myself with the free utility Tunelab, but that was such a big operation that I only did it every couple of years, and anyway it just doesn't sound quite as lovely as when the tuner does it.


This satisfies my "piano" urge, it sounds lovely and the keys feel almost like the real thing, and this all cost $0 to put together.
See, that's the top hutch from my old computer desk!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Latest Crop of Spiral Seam Dresses

From around the net: 

oscar_de_la_renta__ivory_silk_organza_wedding_dresses_10854_view0 Blue-and-White-Wedding-Dresses-3Accessories-White-Spaghetti-Straps-Silk-Satin-Pnina-Tornai-Wedding-Dresses-e1322225011835 

The white ones are Oscar de la Renta and Pnina Tornai

They only used striped fabric cut on the diagonal, not spiral seams  :-) 

Proenza Schouler Spiral Stripe julia-stegner-and-proenza-schouler-gallery

This one does use spiral seams but only on top! 


And that links to a doll pattern for sale:

IMG_5411-1 robespirale_pic4 

Charlies Angels spiral dress

Not sure if I've shared this before.  There's Farrah Fawcett in a white gown that is the ideal spiral shape. 

Here's a spiral seams wedding dress, called "Rae" by Priscilla of Boston

Vineyard_DressSketch_Rae rae6465larger_image rae_priscilla_of_boston_vineyard_collection

For some really pretty spiral skirts and dresses, check out the brand "Sacred Threads" on ebay. 

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Crazy Quilt Squares

Today's random great idea. 
Yes, of course those masterpiece quilts you see entered in the fair are BETTER. 
And the first square of such is always great fun, and the second and third square in pattern are easier, then the fifth and sixth squares are efficiency itself. 
But after that, it starts to be a bit too much like "work" and "doing what I'm supposed to be doing" neither of which are my really strong talents. 
I do find myself craving a more "pieced", organized look, without quite getting started on a pattern...
So I did this  :-) 

crazy quilt squares 1 crazy quilt squares 2

Foundation square, with  one piece in the center, and others added as they may fit around it. 

crazy quilt squares 3 crazy quilt squares 4

This is fun!

crazy quilt squares 5 crazy quilt squares 6

It has enough of the "puzzle" quality to keep me interested.  Where's the next piece that will fit? 
I rock at jigsaw puzzles.  Also, this is using up my little bits and scraps, and FRUGALITY is a talent of mine, which I inherited at the genius level  :-) 
I was raised by famous Great Depression survivor pack rats, under whose tutelage I learned never to get rid of anything that might someday have some use thought up for it. 
I've had a lot of clutter issues to get over, as you can imagine  :-) 

crazy quilt squares 7 crazy quilt squares 9

But I do love my box of scraps

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sharing Miscellaneous

The favorite fabrics quilt is done, bound and in use! 


And here's a bunch of miscellany that can only be filed under that delightful word.  Some have been sitting in my Sharing folder for months, getting gradually older and less relevant, but I just can't delete them until I share them.   And that's what a blog is for! 


Somebody's homemade camper.  I LOVE this.  Someday I would love to make a homemade van conversion camper thingie myself.  I don't suppose mine would look this camperish on the outside! 

Here's a project that I could totally do:

I would want a van that you can stand up in, like a furniture van or delivery van.  I would want nice bathroom facilities, but I wouldn't care if it had any kind of kitchen or not, as the sort of thing I'd like to eat while travelling is avocadoes and apples and mixed nuts.   I would drive around the country staying a few weeks or months in each place, visiting my grown up kids or going to conventions.  I'd put solar power on the roof...

Speaking of mixed nuts. 


Ed bought raw cashews, pecans, walnuts, etc and mixed them up with raisins.  Yes, it's a bit pricey, but it's so good and so nutritious!  


My favorite Christmas card image this year.  That's my idea of a perfect scene. 

kitty-dive-dive-1 kitty-dive-dive-3

Here's Kitty in the "Dive!  Dive!" position

boys-room-airport  boys-room-Lego-wonderland

Lego Airport. 

Mike-Lego-castle-387 Mike-Lego-castle-381

Lego Castle

Lego-hotel-1 Lego-hotel-4

Lego Hotel 


Awwww, look!  The adorable little child has learned to use the decimal system to find what he wants at the library! 


Somebody's Cow Dane that I passed in a parking lot.  I can guarantee you it's not Photoshopped, but I can only hope they don't dye their dog like that on purpose just to make us do a double-take! 

RV show 49

Here's a sick bastard who's tied a teddy bear to his bumper just to impress us all with what a sick bastard he is. 
I said, "That is a truck full of MEN!" and the kids discussed whether or not that was true; one thought it might be a woman in the front seat. 
We sped up to find out.  Indeed it was THREE men in a pickup truck.  Ed says women in groups of three or more is trouble waiting to start, but here we have three men and a pickup truck and a teddy bear...


My pencil sharpener catcher thing basically disintegrated; it was past the point for duct tape (see previous post about that) and time to do something new.  


That's an imaginative paint job!  I've been seeing cars and vans with these pretty all-over graphical designs, but all of them so far have been commercial.  Wouldn't it be great fun to buy some auto paint in cans (not spray cans) and some disposable brushes and just let Karen loose on a vehicle? 


The perfect breakfast is anything cooked in cast iron.   It just tastes better.  I took a picture to capture this sizzling moment in time. 


Finishing up with a really pretty saucer that I saw at the Goodwill.  What on earth would I do with a saucer?  But I couldn't let it go without taking its picture.  It was just so pretty.