Archive for the ‘home’ Category

Custom beds

July 3, 2013

We’re far far from home right now in Vermont.  Having put our little spot in Dripping Springs on the market, we decided to stay away for 6 months.  The first we spent in a friend’s snow bound cabin in St Adolphe d Howard, about 2 hours from Montreal.  The next 5 months, we’re spending in our preferred rental house in Burlington, Vermont.

The thing about me is that though I love to travel and feel the various textures of the world, I am an inveterate home body.  To me, the best part of any ocean crossing adventure is the pull I feel, constantly, to return to my not so tidy hobbit hole.

Here I am now, 3 months homeless.  I have no permanent address, and my babies are sleeping on crib mattresses on the floor.  The hobbit in me quivers.

If there’s one thing I do better than feather a nest however, it’s plan.  I have lists, databases, and maps of potential next homes.  I have flowcharts in my head of just how our move southward will go.  I also have custom furniture.

My brother in law, Matt Mitchell, it turns out is quite the artist when it comes to woodwork.  He has recently founded a custom furniture business called Austin Joinery.  He’s building a portfolio, and so I managed to commission two very special beds for my girls.  These will be the first feathers laid in my next nest and I find it appropriate that they are for the girls, made by family, and flecked with symbolism.

The frame is of Massaranduba, aka Bullet proof wood. To stand up to my kids and our frenetic life, bullet proof is good:

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The inlays are burled walnut. Burled as in full of knots. Imperfect, just like their mom.

The final touch is a walnut inlay of a personally significant deco rose design:

That design is very similar to one that I have tattooed on my back. It’s a memorial tattoo for my best friend and my father’s father, who died within months of each other in 2001. The grandfather grew beautiful roses. The friend’s memory confronted me repeatedly on a trip I took to Scotland. I first saw a similar design in Glasgow and it reminded me of her and him simultaneously.

As it stands, I have no permanent address.  I have a home, the place I carry with me to where ever Andy and I land.  My nest is only really in my mind just now though, and  these two pieces of furniture built with the aid of a talented craftsman, are the first feathers I have for it.

Banana Nut Muffins

May 12, 2013

Okay. I admit once and for all that I don’t measure anything. Ever. So you’ll have to use your eyeballs when assembling these muffins because they were both the bomb and the diggity. If it looks too wet, add more dry. If it looks too dry, add more wet. We’re grown ups and can handle this, right?

3 horrendously over ripe bananas I’d forgotten on top of the fridge
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce I needed to be rid of
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted  (Yes.  You read that right.)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup maple syrup (I really  just glugged until Andy shouted “HOLY SHIT!”)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup pecans or walnut pieces

Beat the bananas and apple sauce until smooth. Slowly wiz in the melted butter. Add in the rest of the ingredients one at a time except the nuts. Fold those in at the very last minute.

Pour into lined muffin tins, almost filling each cup. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until just done. Makes about 2 dozen muffins.

Feed them to a baby so hungry, she’s prepared to eat her own foot. Save some for yourself.

Dude, I should blog more.

December 31, 2012

I just got my 2012 year in review and it basically tells me that I haven’t blogged since my 2011 year in review.  My dude is at least partially responsible for those fireworks on your email thingy, so he  got to be amused to see what would happen when a person had exactly one post.  January 1.  1 firework blast.  And there was much rejoicing.

It seems like most of the people that find me by search terms are looking for information on Tibial Plateau fractures.   I had one on January 25, 2009.  It’s an easy date to remember because it’s about 12 hours after this happened:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It looked like this a few days after surgery:

It looked like this a few days after surgery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 2 years later I had the 6 screws and the plate taken out. It looked like this (I particularly like the “yes” which means “Yes. Please cut open this leg. Again.)
For the TPF curious: It was very painful after repair and didn’t feel like my own leg again for the two years between the addition and subtraction of metal bits. When the metal bits came out it stopped feeling like there was a car bumper in there and I mostly don’t notice it any more. It hurts if the weather changes or if I try to kneel on it, or hit it with the car door. Otherwise, aces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In other news, I have two awesome kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My dog is Bean, because she has pintos over her eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a very nice husband too. This is part of his face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy new year. This is my favorite shoe.

 

 

 

Our Daughter

March 5, 2010

Working title: Georgia Marie Skelton

Lentil Moussaka

January 10, 2010

We’ve decided to stay up in Vermont for the winter. I know! I know! Most people fly south for the winter.  After spending 29 of my 30 years in Texas, however, I decided an actual winter was in order.  So I wake up to this every morning:

This is where Andy spends most of his winter days.

Of course, the dude can work any where he likes. I on the other hand am continuing my unemployment trend in pursuit of another life long goal.  This gives me ample time to cook and blog.  Hopefully this will end the 6 month or so long blog dry spell.  I’ve been cooking all this time, but also teaching 8th grade, so there’s been very little time to actually write about it.

The weather seems to make me want nothing but soft, warm comfort food. When I was recently asked to bring some sort of hearty vegetable dish to a family gathering, the only thought that would come into my head was Moussaka.  I love all things Greek. I love eggplant. I love feta cheese.  I certainly love béchamel.  The only thing I don’t love is the current lack of Zoe-friendly meat in my freezer.  We’re pretty much on vegetarian rations right now.  That’s fine, actually.  I do love the challenge of filling us up without the ease of using meat.

The following is what I came up with after pursuing recipes for moussaka.  It’s a combination of different points from the many that I read.  Over all, I loved it.  It was a rather time-consuming recipe, but I was in the mood to chop and fuss and prep.

Filling:
1/2 cup of green lentils
4-6 cups water
2 small yellow onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup beer
2 (14 oz) cans tomatoes, diced
1 cup cherry tomato, halved
2 tbs fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tbs fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
2 tbs fresh oregano leaves, chopped
kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper

Casserole:
2 eggplants, peeled and sliced
2 zucchini, sliced
2 baking potato, sliced
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup whole grain bread crumbs

Bechamel:
5 tbs unsalted butter
4 tbs unbleached flour
3 cups 2% milk
1 cup half and half
1 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of white pepper (which I didn’t have, so I used black)

Peel eggplant, and slice it about 1/8 inch thick.  Place the slices in a large colander and apply a very liberal amount of salt.  Set this aside for at least 30 minutes while you prep the filling and slice the other vegetables.  The goal here is to pull some of the moisture from the eggplant.  After 30 minutes, rinse thoroughly with water and then dry with paper towels.

To prepare the filling: Boil the lentils in the water (salted) until almost done.  Leave them with just a little bite to them.  Drain and set aside.  In a large pot, sauté the onions in a small amount of olive oil.  Add garlic, and cook just to soften.  Deglaze the pan with the beer, then add the canned tomato. Add back the lentils, fresh tomato, and seasonings.  Simmer the filling for a bout 30 minutes.  The filling should be quite, thick and most of the liquid will reduce.  (I had extra filling which I used on top of some whole wheat spaghetti for lunch.)

In a large skillet, heat a little bit of olive oil.  Brown the eggplant, one side at a time. Set aside.  Brown the zucchini in the same pan and set aside.  Add a small amount more oil, then cook the potatoes until they are a bit softened, but not fully cooked.  Set aside.

In a 13X9 inch pan, lay down a layer with each of the vegetables.  You will have more eggplant than anything else, so try to work it so that each of the 3 layers will have some of each vegetable.  I placed eggplant, zucchini, and potato in bands.  For the bottom layer I placed: eggplant, zucchini, eggplant, potato.  In the next layer I placed the vegetables so that they were directly above a different vegetable. The idea was that each piece cut from the casserole would contain all three vegetables.

On top of the first layer of vegetable spread about 1 cup of the lentil filling, then top that with a little feta and a little Parmesan.  Top with another layer of vegetables, then filling, then cheese.  Make sure to end the layering with vegetables on top.  Bake the casserole at 350°F for about 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow it to stand for about 15 minutes.  The casserole may be a little watery when taken from the oven, but should reabsorb most of the liquid.

While it cools, make the white sauce.  In a straight sided skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.  Sprinkle the flour on top of the butter and whisk together to form a roux.  Cook the roux until it is a dark sandy color, just starting to brown.  Add the milk and half and half, whisking to incorporate.  Continue to stir until the mixture thickens.  Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Taste for flavor, and re-season if necessary. (You will have extra white sauce.  Use it on pasta, or any recipe that calls for a cream sauce.  Mine will probably go into Tuna Noodle Casserole to be frozen for later.)

Pour just enough of the béchamel over the vegetable casserole to cover it lightly.  Top with the bread crumbs and more cheese if desired.  Bake uncovered until the potatoes are fully cooked, about 30 minutes.  Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

The view from my dream house.

July 8, 2009
Near Oakalla Tx

Near Oakalla Tx

Perfect summer nights

July 2, 2008

I love summer.  Love the desperation of it and the way that heat can be something you get molded into. Love watching my skin turn into the olive and brown it has adapted to through six or so generations in the swelter.  Love the feeling of grit on the back of my neck and a the shock of knowing that my body can’t tolerate this indefinitely. Love realizing that I must have water.

More than that, I love a cool summer night after a muggy, blastedly hot day and eventual rain.  Love the clean smell of it and the momentary respite, sitting in a wooden swing.  It reminds me that in about three months I’ll smell something crisp and feel the first tiny breeze of fall just before the summer kicks up into its last, bitchiest wave.

95°F and Sunny

May 9, 2008

Warm weather starts sometime in the middle of February in my little bit of Texas. It gets broken up with weeks, then days of gusty cold until late March. Sinking into May though, Spring is almost over and the world is so impossibly bright a shade of green, you just know that tomorrow you’ll wake up and everything will have suddenly burned into the particular brown I believe should be the state color.

Its probably not for everybody, but extreme heat is in my blood. I feel a kinship with lizards and snakes sunning themselves on hot rocks in the desert. I even love the kind of heat that’s so dry and fierce you can feel your eyeballs drying out a little as you walk from work to your car. It will be so hot in a month or so that I won’t do anything strenuous outside while there’s any sun showing at all. On those days I’ll spend my non-working daylight hours slathered with SPF 30, and soaking myself beside some body of water.

In New Braunfels, that means toobing (spelling intentional) on the Comal river. A friend works the river, so I can usually get my tube for a few dollars or a few beers. When that doesn’t pan out, the 2 or 3 hours spent in spring fed water with a cooler of beer is well worth the $11. My favorite toob bin is Texas Tubes. www.texastubes.com

When I’m in Austin, like today, I enjoy flinging myself on the shores of Barton Springs. This is a beautiful natural free flowing swimming hole in Zilker Park. The people watching is fantastic, with occasional visits by the head to toe tattooed couple, countless topless sunbathers in the bathrooms, and a cadre of Austin oddballs. The water is often filled with a gauzy green moss, and an endangered salamander lives in the muck. I’m not a fan of chlorine, so this is a perfect spot for me. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barton_Springs_Pool

New Path

April 13, 2008

Today my brand new rock way was installed. This updates the former flagstone path and porch, sunk in concrete instead of sand. Hopefully this will survive the first rain.