Recently in Homemaking Category


| | Comments (2)

I spent the last week at Golden Gate Fiber Institute -- a weeklong fiber arts retreat in the Marin Headlands. I have lots and lots of stuff I need to photograph and talk about, and the retreat was very inspiring, but the big takeaway for me was about stuff.

Even before I left, I decided to do a big purge of my art supplies and craft supplies, because I have a lot of stuff I don't use and it gets in the way of me using the stuff I want to use. But while I was away I realized I'd brought a lot of things with me that I thought I would need but didn't, and that that holds true in my house as well.

Decluttering is a sort of ongoing process for me, but in the next month I'm going to be going a little crazy with it.

My first step was to entirely empty a dresser that takes up a lot of space. To do that I needed to make room for the things we store there that we actually need, which is to say sheets. So I got rid of half my clothes in my dresser, and now the sheets can go in my bottom drawer.

I'm going to be going through storage devices with a heavy hand in the next few weeks. It's took easy for me to look at a thing and assume it's neat and tidy if it's stored, when really the storage device itself is untidy or takes up too much space. I'm definitely going to get two dressers that we use for linen storage out of the living space of the house. Plus our excessive collection of bedside tables, and assorted other furniture that is taking up more space than it is making.

I'm also going to do some blog decluttering. I've split various subjects out of this blog over the years in response to complaints or requests from readers, but I think that's not as manageable as I'd like, so I'm going to recombine them. I can then make custom feeds for various topics rather than whole separate blogs. I'm sure that would have been easier in the first place, but sometimes the software lets you get carried away.

In the meantime, I'm working on a video demonstrating Golden Gate Coffee Spinning. It's a traditional Northern Californian technique that has a lot of interesting benefits.

A Party, for a Change


Yesterday was Valentine's Day, the Chinese New Year, and President's Day weekend all wrapped up in one. So of course we had a party:

Obama window

Don't be impressed: I got both the dragon and the Obama picture at the party store. You can be impressed by my outrageously good freehand-cut hearts. I made those with scissors. I rule.

We also had a few decorations from our wedding shower lo those many years ago, so I hung them around:

Hearts in the doorway

Those are so pretty I'm just going to leave them there for a while.

Also, we had a minor miracle. Somehow we invited 23 people over and everybody said yes, so we needed more chairs. We went and bought some at IKEA, but we were still going to need to borrow chairs, when one of our neighbors set some perfectly nice chairs out at the curb. Noel dashed down the street and picked them up, I washed them, and we had enough chairs for a very weird dinner party. (Actually, we ended up running out of tables, which is a bit harder to compensate for.)

Anyway, it was fun, but it was too many people. My dinner party brain can only keep track of the needs and desires of guests up to about ten, and above that it's more like "there are many people here, wow."

Now we have a week's worth of dishes to run through the dishwasher (no, we were never in danger of running out of dishes), and Noel put in a special request to just go out to eat tonight rather than cook anything after two solid days of cooking. After that, I'll be eating leftover pasta and meatballs for a week or so.

Be Still, My Metal Pot


I've been incompetently building a steam distillation rig this last week or so. I started with this pile of stuff, some scrounged from neighbors or junk piles, some bought at thrift stores. The squirrel was Goldie's contribution.

Still materials

First up was drilling a hole in the pot lid, which Noel did for me with a fine step bit. I won't say how I attempted the job but I will say it involved that ball-peen hammer there and made quite a racket if no progress whatsoever.

The hole in the lid allowed me to put a compression fitting there to hold the condenser coil in place. Then I could move on to making a rack to go inside the pot and hold my material to be steamed above the water bath.

So we have a weird metal plate thing from the Sally Am, some long bolts, some washers, and some high-temperature adhesive intended for making copper coloured gaskets. Good stuff.

Material rack pieces

I glued it all together like this and with any luck, tomorrow morning it will be a usable rack that sits just far enough up in the pot to stay out of the water bath.

Glued-up material rack

This afternoon's fun was making a water bath for the condenser. I used the old bucket from the chicken waterers, and spent a good half hour wrestling with the copper tubing to get it in there. Some aquarium silicone around the hole for the drip-out, and 24 hours to sit and ponder its sins, and we will be ready for a test run.

Assembled still

Now to decide what to distill first. I'm thinking roses, since we're sort of all overloaded with roses out front right now.

Howdy Do


Everybody else I know is all worked up about Thanksgiving and how stressful it is going to be, but it's my favourite holiday of the year (secular, all about eating, what's there not to love?) so I'm not listening. Besides, we're doing another all-labrador Thanksgiving with some friends, so there will be eating and doggy love, too. Tomorrow I have the day off my internship and I am staying home baking cake and trying to think of something creative to do with some vegetables. Oh, and I might just do something with these guys:

Rose hips

Yup: rose hips. I'm not sure I picked them at the right time: we don't get killing frosts here so it's kind of hard to gauge. But I do know what to do with them: clean them, remove the seeds and core out the nasty spiny bits in the center, boil until soft, make into jelly. Mmm-mmm. Next year I will have to make lavender jelly, too. Those subtle herbal jellies are just stunning.

Oh, and here's Noel's new sweetheart. There's been a lot of musical instrument love here, lately, but this one takes the cake. This is a very nice piano that we got for nothing more than the cost of moving it. Noel has been very happy about it.

New piano (better photo)

Technorati Tags: , ,

Decluttering Again


We've been spending quite a bit of time decluttering, because a couple of weeks ago I woke up and just needed to get rid of a lot of stuff. So I've been making a big pile in the front parlour:

Clutter to go

Most of it is art supplies, especially paper I know I'm not going to use because I didn't like it when I tried it, and some paints and things that I got for specific projects and have never used again. I also pitched a lot of stuff, recycling drawings and throwing away old models. I don't need to keep this stuff forever.

And in the same spirit, I filled up four shelves with books that are either duplicates or books I know I won't read again (or couldn't make it through in the first place; my bargain-bin book habit can result in some really horrible experiences). Some of these have made the trip to the used bookstore and been rejected, some are new additions to the shelf.


I'm thinking of having a non-garage non-sale, inviting people to come over and pick through and take what they want. Anything left over will either be donated or thrown away.

Technorati Tags:



Happy anniversary to the poppy of my puppies.

And many more, sweetie.

Technorati Tags:

Progress on Growing Things


We came back from vacation to see that the plants I've had growing in the back window are really taking off. My sword fern, which is technically an invasive species (but a pretty one and easy to get rid of) is trying to grow out of the sides of the pot.

Sword fern

Technorati Tags:

Disturbing Plumbing


In order to distract ourselves from the overwhelming anxiety of the quagmire, Noel and I have been obsessively redesigning rooms in the house. Most especially the future bathroom under the stairs, and the upstairs bathroom (which was disconnected during the foundation work).

So after work today I made a brief stop at Expo, to check out some faucets and shower controls I'd been looking at in online catalogs. What I found was deeply disturbing.

Cherry-Berry Pie


Charlotte's cherry tree was in fruit, which gave me ideas for rehashing the cherry-berry pie I made at Thanksgiving. The recipe I used called for canned cherries, which I had never used before and will never use again. I decided to try it with fresh.

What's Up?


I haven't been posting, because I've been spending all day on the computer and coming home with little desire to sit around on the computer some more. But life continues apace. Work is good; I'm learning a lot about the business of architecture, and a bit about the nature of small companies.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Homemaking category.

Gardening is the previous category.

Music is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Powered by Movable Type 4.12