Thursday, May 28, 2009

I've gone high tech, I think

In an effort to make it easier for everyone to comment, I installed a new gadget that should allow you all to post comments without having to a) register/sign in to some web service and/or b) be 100% Anonymous.

In theory, you should be able to choose the "guest" option now, and then can type your name in the "nickname" box. Be warned, though, that if you forget to type something in for your nickname, it will name you "guest" and, well, that's no better than before.

If you have any problems, please email me your issues (normdeplume 720 at gmail dot com-- without the spaces, of course) so that I can try to fix them. I cannot seem to sign out enough to test it all for myself.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In which Norm is again stickin' it to the man

We love popcorn here at the Deplume household. I grew up in one of those homes where there was a dedicated popcorn-cooking pan. It was made in large enough quantities that there could be leftovers the next morning. It was a big deal.

However, when I grew up and Mr. Deplume set off to make our own household, we didn't have a popcorn pan. Nor did we have the room in our 465 sqft. apartment to have one, let alone an electric popcorn popper. The only 'real' option for us was to start purchasing microwave popcorn.

Problem is, microwave popcorn isn't any good. It's usually heavily-laden with that nuclear orange diacetyl (the butter-flavored chemical that tastes nothing like any butter I've ever encountered), salt (enough to kill a slug) and hydrogenated oils. Still, we stuck with it, addicted to the ease of plopping a packet into the nuker and pushing the "popcorn" button. I had resigned myself to doing this for the rest of my days.

But lately, we've been having troubles. First, our microwave was too small, so the bag would get stuck, burning the popcorn. Then, we upsized to a larger unit, only to find that the bag would still get stuck if we didn't center it right. There were other problems, all very irritating, which ended with one of two problems: unpopped kernels or charred popcorn-shaped briquettes.

So this morning I was avoiding housework (as usual)and started looking at popcorn poppers. Thanks to The Google's power, I happened upon this recipe for homemade microwave popcorn. I headed to the grocery store to buy popcorn and lunch sacks. Brought them home, threw 1/4 of corn in the bag with a drizzle of canola oil, folded it up, and two minutes later I had popcorn. Popcorn plus bag (both bought at full price in my little neighborhood grocery)cost $.27, which is considerably less than I normally pay for the pre-bagged stuff. Take that, Act II and all your friends on the convenience snack shelves!

I love being cheap-- bargains are fun.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I'm in full-on yard work mode right now. It's a neverending job, of course, but in the spring it is fun. It's not too hot, and I'm busy thinking of what my gardens could look like, with just the right amount of work and money and landscape know-how. (I don't really have the ability to follow through on that, but that's another post, to be tackled in August some time.)

But for now, I have my favorite bits of spring, the first buds on my roses, the little spinach leaves, the blossoms on peas, and my irises. These flowers are all gifts from other people's gardens, and I love them. While weeding this bed yesterday, I was accompanied by their wonderfully sweet scent, wishing that they'd stick around all summer long. However, in looking pictures of them, I am reminded of the constant problem of living where I do-- no picture of prettiness is without the ugliness of urban(ish) living.

Here, a photo of them shows off my neighbors' garbage cans and pool and shed. I've planted some roses near the alley to try to screen this from view, but it will be some time before they are large enough to do any good. I tried pictures from other angles, and the ones with our house in the background aren't much better. I'll fix that this year, right?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

While the rest of life speeds up, Norm goes retro

I have a problem. The more I have things I need to finish, the more projects I choose to take on. It can be seen in the many WIPs in my yarn cupboard (not to mention the things sitting around the rest of the house, as my knitting ADD has outgrown the cupboard). It can also be seen in the fact that my kitchen isn't much farther along now than a couple of weeks ago when I posted pictures. I could blame the weather (wettest spring on record here in my neck o' the prairie), but the truth is, I decided to knit in public, and it took a lot of time.

While my kitchen cabinets remain doorless, and the walls remain paperless, I signed on to knit at an event celebrating my town's sesquicentennial (that's 1859, in case you didn't feel like doing the math). Never happy to do something the easy way, I decided to make a dress for the occasion. This is a bit of a silly idea, because I am not an experienced seamstress, nor have I even sewn more than a button onto anything in well over a year.

But I had the idea in my head, and would not be dissuaded. Of course I had to start out by spending a week trolling the internet for ideas of what to sew. Then I realized that any real pattern would set me back $15 or more, not to mention that my procrastination precluded me from really ordering one anyway, so I asked my mom to help me out. She took a blouse that fits me and drafted a pattern from it (talented family members are a must, when daring to craft beyond your skill level).

I managed to follow her directions and ended up with a bodice that fit (although not quite period-appropriate), and then decided to do the skirt the way a gal would have done it 150 years ago. I ended up with a sore hand and shoulder from pleating all 135" of the top of it, then hemming the other end and attaching it to said bodice, all by hand. It sure was fun, though (no kidding). The apron is a pillowcase, gathered and sewn to a band of old tablecloth. Luckily, I can whip up an apron pretty easily, so that was done last-minute with a minimum of cursing.

In the end I ended up quite pleased with myself. The garden plants I bought last week may still be languishing in their flats, the kitchen may be unfinished, the dining room is still unusable, being filled with the kitchen's misplaced bits and bobs and shelves and glasses, but I got lots of compliments from people who saw me yesterday. And then I went grocery shopping in the dress -- I figured if I spend an entire week making something, I'd better get some mileage out of it!

I'm such an attention whore. Sometimes I think that's why I craft things at all.