Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I tried a new bread recipe

A while back, on a whim, I checked out Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day from the library. I love fresh bread, but I hate the 3 hours of needing to be home to make it (there's no hard labor with bread when you own a good stand mixer, but it is still time consuming). I skimmed it that night, and thought the book seemed like it was sent from heaven, but I didn't have the tools needed: Namely, a baking stone and a large container for storing the dough. Our old pizza stone cracked a couple of years ago, and we just never bought another. I returned the book, hoping that some day I'd get around to buying a dough bucket.

I finally did that last week. I bought some 4-quart Rubbermaid containers, and I went off in search of the recipe again. I found the basic "master recipe" from the book on the internet and tried it out. This bread in its most basic form makes enough for four round, rustic loaves. My first attempt yielded basically a lump of bread. It was ugly. Very ugly. And heavy. Made good toast, though.

Second attempt was to make pizza dough. This went very well. I will definitely use this method in the future.

Third attempt this morning went much better than the first. [pictures coming, but the batteries on the camera died before I could upload]It is still a little too heavy (I think the original mixture was a little drier than optimal), and I had a devil of a time getting it smooth. But it made for a very good sandwich at lunch (ham and sharp cheddar, with a little brown mustard, if you were curious). And it really does only take about five minutes of actual work, plus some time for proofing and of course baking. I'm going to get the book back out of the library and try again very soon. I also will be buying a stone in the very near future. Who knows, this book might end up a "must buy".

Friday, November 21, 2008

The front room is nearly done!

Before (this is the day we moved in):
From front room

From front room

Obviously I need to recover those chairs to make them match, and I also need more furniture for the other end of the room (it's a really big room), not to mention art for the walls, but it's basically done. I cannot believe that we finally tackled it. Three years of hating that 300 square feet of house, and now I just plain like it.
Pictures of the rest of the progress are here.

Update on Blogstalking #3

It has been brought to my attention that I omitted my first true finished knitted object. I cannot believe that I forgot it, but my mother was there to remember for me: My first true knitting project was a beer cozy. Looking back, I shared it on an online knitting message board on November 13, 2006. I've officially been knitting more than two years now. How time flies when you're accumulating stash.

There's a 4th assignment from blogstalking, and I'll get that put up this weekend. But first I need to finish the front room. The walls are basically done, there are now curtains in the windows and everything! I'm getting so excited!

Friday, November 14, 2008


It's cold and damp here, which is perfect weather for shopping for a few more wool sweaters for the winter. I had no luck finding items I could actually wear this winter, and was going to go home empty handed (young son, however had fallen in love with some Ninja Turtle figures). Then this soft and squishy lambswool sweater jumped out and begged me to buy it, as it was lonely among all its pilly acrylic and faded cotton neighbors. What could I do? It looked so sad, and was so cute, with its little red stripe across the middle.

Unfortunately, it's way too big for me or Mr. Deplume, so it will need work. But I cannot decide what shoud be done. i leave it up to you, dear reader, to decide this fuzzy fate.

Blogstalking assignment #3: Why I learned to knit

I have known about this Blogstalking assignment for a whole week now, but hadn't posted my answer yet because I could not come up with one decent answer about what possessed me to knit. I knew that one day I didn't knit, then next I threw some horrible blue Red Heart Super Saver in my bascart at Wal-Mart and started obsessively watching knittinghelp.com videos. I've been wracking my brain about it for days. I was prepared to come here this morning and admit that I don't know what came over me that spurred the yarny obsession.

Finally, last night, as I was drifting off to sleep, kicking at the cat to keep her from sleeping on top of my knees: It was the needles! I had needles first, and one day I saw other people knitting and said, "hey, I can just buy some yarn and I'll be a knitter."

Why did I have needles first, you ask? (I know you probably aren't actually asking, but I'm pretending you did.) Because long ago I took part in a handmade sewing and craft swap at amitymama.com. Each person makes 5 of the same thing, then sends it to the swap organizer. She then sorts out the stuff, and sends 5 assorted items to each participant. Everyone makes 5 things, everyone gets 5 different things back. It's really a cool deal, except for the shipping costs, of course. My friend and I coordinated the Christmas 2004 swap, and when you're the organizer, you sometimes end up with some odd things. And one of the items that I, a non-knitter, got were some handmade wooden needles (about a size 10 or so) in a little fleece pouch.

I brought them home, put them on the shelf with all my sewing thread and needles and bobbins and elastic, and ignored them for a couple of years. Eventually, here in the "new" house, I got quite burned out on home-improvement projects, and decided that a good winter replacement hobby would be knitting. I made a large swatch with the above-mentioned Red Heart yarn (now happily living out its life as a dolly blanket), then moved on to a boucle yarn garter stitch scarf that my mom got started for me the previous winter. It's a very functional scarf, but it is a bit of a trapezoid. By then I was hooked. I started with dish cloths and fell in love with the craft.

So there. All that, and to be honest, I still really don't know what prompted me to pick up needles and learn. I think it might be coded in my DNA somewhere.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

I love caulk

More specifically, I like caulk's ability to make my rickety house look less bockety. What pushes me into the realm of gushy squishy disgusting love is this, my newest toy:
From front room

I bought him yesterday morning, and I'm in love. He's maybe the most instantly satisfying home improvement purchase I've ever made. I have weak hands and perpetually sore wrists, and installing the molding around the bottom of the baseboards just about killed me. So to be able to effortlessly lay a bead of painter's caulk around said trim in about twenty minutes is a true blessing.

Unfortunately, my little battery powered caulk gun just isn't strong enough for DAP "Better than the Nail" Moulding Adhesive. So today, when Mr. Deplume and I installed the crown molding, he had to work the old-fashioned caulk gun. Luckily, the man is strong as an ox, and had no trouble rising to the occasion. We ran out of the specialty adhesive 4/5 of the way through the project and found in a spectacular manner that liquid nails is just not a good idea. I'm sure it's fine for people hanging trim in a drywalled room equipped with an pneumatic nailer, but that is not the case here, and we had an 8-ft piece of trim fall on our heads, leaving an unsightly blob of brown liquid nails on the floor. oops.

So back to Menards I went, and came back with the right tools for the job. And some wine and crusty Italian bread (not from Menards, of course). By 4:30 PM, we had 72 linear feet of polystyrene crown molding hanging securely along the perimeter of our front room. If you are planning on diving into the dangerous world of compound miter cuts, I suggest this video. After each watching it, we only made one cut wrong, but it was actually fine for a different corner in the room. We don't have a saw like theirs, but the miter box and hand saw essentially does the same thing.

I promise pictures of the finished molding tomorrow afternoon, once I get done with the paint touch ups. (At least my plan is to finish the paint tomorrow-- you just never know how things will turn out, though, in the Deplume house.)

I also finished a 4th and started work on my 5th sock yesterday. The 4th sock I started was the first ever completed, and Number 5 is its mate. I'll post about that soon, too. This room project is stealing my knit time away.

Addendum: Mr. Deplume and I are not responsible for the ladder being that messy. It is a hand-me-down and looked like a paint store blew up on it before it came into our possession 10 years ago. It has served us well, regardless of outer appearances, bless its vertical heart.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Blogstalking is back!

I found out that the folks over at Knittyboard started up Blogstalking again. For those of you not in the know, it's just a fun deal in which we all post on the same topic once a week. I missed week one (serves me right for not checking the board often), but week two's topic is:

"I love ________ because ___________"

So here it goes. I love high density foam paint rollers because they kick ass. It's true. If you have trim to paint in your house, invest in these. They are fast, don't leave stupid brush marks in the paint, and the rounded ends will even paint in the curvy bits of the molding. You only have to use a brush for the inside corner-y bits.

Last time I was at the home improvement store, I bought the jumbo economy size pack of the roller heads, and when the front room project is done, they'll also be the tool of choice for repainting the kitchen cabinets.