Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some things I love

Every now and then I feel the need to praise things (blame article of faith 13). So on the docket for today, things I am currently enjoying in no particular order:

PCHH (still)
Crystal Light Hard Candy
PB2 (in things, I don’t like it as peanut butter spread)
Soy Sauce, Mirin and Ginger
Hydrogen peroxide (mouth wash, cold sore killer and all around awesome)
Cloth napkins
Running with the Pack
My picture wall
Sherlock Holmes (still)
Asics Gel-1170

 What are you enjoying right now?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Making it Home-ish

I wrote in the past about my desire to have a picture wall in my house. Well, this weekend we were at Target looking for a wedding gift and happened by a clearance end cap with picture frames. We were able to buy a bunch and they all match!

I started immediately to choose pictures to fill the frames. Most of the 8x10 frames will have a collage of pictures, but a couple of them will just have 1 picture or a picture and a phrase. I looked back through pictures and found some fun, funny and sweet ones. Sent them to be printed and spent two football games sorting and selecting and cutting pictures and placing them in the frames. So far I have filled all except 3 of them. A couple of them still need a phrase put in them, but I’m almost done.

 To choose the placement I traced the frames onto freezer paper and cut out templates. Then I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find the perfect layout. It may not be completely perfect yet, but I like it so far.

 Now, off to finish filling the frames and paint the wall so I can get this done before my birthday!

Monday, October 8, 2012

If Ron Popeil was a Gardener

He would plant garlic.

A couple of weekends ago we cleared out yet another garden bed in preparation for winter. In that bed I planted garlic. I can not express my love for home-grown garlic enough. I use garlic all the time, but unless I planted an entire backyard of garlic I’m not sure I could grow enough for us to have a year worth of food. That doesn't stop me though.

This year, like last year I planted a variety that I found in OR. I can’t be sure of the exact variety, but it is hard-neck and has a purple skin/paper. I'm in love both with how easy it is to grow and with the flavor. It's almost sweet, but not sugary, just not as harshly pungent as the garlic that I find at the grocery store. I had my mom buy me 4 heads of garlic and mail them to me for planting this year. I’m hoping that next year I can save four usable heads and re-plant from my own harvest.

What is so great about growing garlic? I call it the Ron Popeil of Gardening. You know his showtime rotisserie and the famous line: Set it and Forget it! Garlic is as close as I have come to a food crop that I can set and forget. We plant ours in fall, then we cut the scapes in summer (when the scapes curl) and then pull it up when the leafy bits start to brown. Sure, there is a little weeding, but even that I am not entirely diligent about and have seen no ill effects. For the most part I ignore it whole-heartedly until it’s ready to eat.

The basics in the fall:

It's only an inch or so deep
1. Dig a trench

Do you have awesome pink garden gloves?
2. Break the cloves apart, try to keep the skin/paper on each clove  

Purpley garlics, set
3. Set cloves in trench, pointy side up 
Close up of happy clove
4. Fill in trench 
5. Then forget it!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Book Club Demise

Tradition: Short Stories

Story: Back in elementary school I was part of the Junior Great Books program. I don’t know how standard my group was, but we basically had a book with short stories and excerpts from larger works. Each meeting we read the “story” and then discussed it. It was my first exposure to participating in a book club. The best things about the club was the fact that everyone read the stories. We could talk about them and even go back and explore things we misunderstood. It was fun times. This club is also where I fell in love with the short story format. If I don’t love a short story then I have only spent a few minutes instead of a few days reading it, but if I love it I can re-read and dissect it with as much time as I want.

 This love for the short story has led me to a pick up collections of short stories all over the place. I always recommend the Best American Short Stories selections as a good starting point. Then search out short stories. Look in literary magazines and keep trying out the short story format. I love it. Since I buy so many of my books used (I miss Powell’s books so much) I just go to the section that has the Best American Short Stories collections and then I just browse the surrounding areas. This time I came across the book This is not Chick Lit. I have just about finished it and even though none of the stories blew me away, I found every single one worth reading. 

 Later in my life I participated in a book club that started out well, everyone had read the books and we had good discussions. As the club went on fewer people had finished the books and more and more people didn’t even started reading the books before the meetings. It sort of fizzled out. 

I keep being tempted to get it started again, but I just don’t want to “be in charge.” More than that I don’t want to exclude people (because I want people to show up), but I also don’t want people to show up if they don’t read the book. When I just want random babble about life I go to knitting or something, I don't open my home and prepare snacks. 

With those things in mind, maybe I should start a book club that focuses on shorter texts. Short stories and novellas and that sort of thing, then again maybe I should just continue to read what I like and not bother filling up my calendar with things that may not be enjoyable.

Do you have a book club? Do you have book/story recommendations? What is your favorite short story?