Day 2 Nutshell

Had a good day, all of it out at the job site. I'm picking up the lingo and strategies of historic preservation pretty quickly, which makes me feel good. Spent the whole day with one of the principals too, getting to know each other better, so that made me feel more at ease too. (My very worst job ever was at a place where I felt like no one else there ever made any mistakes. Yes, the same place that gave me a negative performance review a week after I started working part time there.)

Then, I spent three hours visiting with a friend I hadn't seen in months. That was good too.

FB still takes too much time in the evening. I think I'm going to have to cut some of my activities there. No, not FT. That's top of the roster. I have some other bench warmers I don't need.

Wheels Within Wheels

My boys. Too cute.


First Day

In short, it was OK - a little nerve-wracking, but OK.

I got started pretty well. I got there on time, I was dressed appropriately without being overdressed, and I met up with the HR gal (my first appointment) on my way in.
Halfway through the morning, I got an enormous document from the principal I'll be working with first. It was the Historical Assessment Survey (or something like that) for the buildings I'll be working on first. It was not riveting reading, but I wasn't sure how much I could skim. We had a staff meeting, at which I was introduced to the rest of the firm. They seem like nice folks, though you have to get used to the ultra sharp wit.
After lunch (found a yummy cheese and tomato panini at a local deli), I managed to get an internet connection. I was at no time tempted to get on Facebook or Farmtown, and even felt a little nervous about dashing off a quick tweet. Part of that was because almost all the computers in the workspace (serving 7 employees) faced the wall, meaning my screen was constantly open to observation. The other part was that it seemed to me that no one else was taking any time to do personal tasks - that may have been due to the deadline looming tomorrow, but who knows? So, no risk of lollygagging here!
In the early afternoon, I was getting pretty tired, having stayed up late wrestling with CUBline (the unemployment claim website), and I was reading the gigantor report, which didn't help. A mid-afternoon tea help revive me. Towards the end of the day (as often happens), the principal showed up again and we talked a little about some of the things she'd like done. One of which I was pretty sure I could accomplish by the end of the day (in preparation for a site visit tomorrow). It took a bit of clever computing, but I managed to do what I intended. I wasn't able to do the little bit extra she wanted (which came up after I showed her my first pass and about half an hour from the end of the workday), but I wasn't really willing to stay that much longer than I already did. Yes, I worked late on my first day.
Tomorrow is a site visit! Woo hoo!
My one big mistake was mis-answering the phone with a simple hello. It was after hours and I was taken by surprise by my phone ringing. I was certain it was a wrong number. Of course, I forgot that I'm supposed to have my ultra professional answer every time. I was gently corrected by one of the other gals and I put a post it note on the phone to remind me until I get into the habit.
Speaking of which, one of the nice things about this firm is the number of women in it. Maybe it comes from having one of the two principals a woman, but it was always something I noticed about my last place -- especially after most of the few women who were there (and not administrative staff) were let go early in the layoffs.

Alright. Satisfied, my audience? Now it's time to go work on Farmtown. And cut up the strawberry marshmallows I made on Sunday morning. (A little bit too sweet, if you as me. Next time I'll try lemons or oranges or mangos or something.)

In the Meantime

While you're waiting to hear how my first day went, enjoy this lovely photo of a flowering artichoke sent to me by Mechanicky Gal.


Rollin' ...

Rollin' on the River

I finally got up to level 27 in Farmtown. That's the level where you can buy yourself a river! I've been looking forward to it since they added rivers to the FT game a week or two ago.
Here is my beauty:

Nice, eh? I'm trying to strike the right balance between the river and the trees. (On one hand, trees naturally grow on river banks, on the other hand, if there are too many trees around it, you won't be able to see it!)
I also added a mill (my second Fairytale reference: "First 'ouse past the mill...") which is quite pretty.

The next things I might want to get are: a large pond and a greenhouse. The levels for those seem pretty far away, so I have plenty of time to fine tune the current layout.



I worked hard today. I cleaned my gutters. A friend (with roofing assessment abilities) had come a week ago to take a look at my possibly damaged roof. He concluded that the roof looked fine and he thought the water infiltration issue was due to the crumbling mortar of the chimney. Anyway, he DID note that I need to clean my gutters. This is no surprise to me, as I rarely feel like paying someone else to do it for me, but lack the size ladder needed to approach the task from the downslope side of the roof (there is no way I'm going to stand on the edge of a 8:12 roof and lean downslope towards the edge). My friend had a nice ladder that reminded me of the one my sister and BIL have, so I borrowed theirs and today endeavored to clean my extremely full gutters.
It took forever, or seemed to. Because of the weight of the crap I was taking out (a majority of which was wet and smelled like a dirty fish tank), I had to use one trash bag per 7'-10' stretch of gutter. There was, unfortunately, one side I couldn't really reach. On the alley side of my house, there's a small retaining wall. On the upper side of this, the ladder was a bit too short, but also didn't really give much slope on the ladder. I really would have preferred to put the ladder on the lower side of the wall, but then the ladder really was too short.
So. I'll have to figure out what to do there, but the rest is, if not "clean as a whistle," certainly clear of dead (and live*) vegetation.

When I was done, I was filthy and my ankle ached. Time for a nice hot bath!

I rested in the tub, listening to a CD of John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, with Eric Clapton, which I loved. (Thank you, SmartMan!) It has nice similarities to the sound of the Beatles, whom I've always loved. I am now retrieved from the bath, cleaned and loose jointed, and am listening to The Best of Cream. Nice, but not as compelling as the previous CD. (OK now "Sunshine of Your Love" is playing. That one is really good. Strong bass line.)

The funny thing about finishing up the gutter cleaning chore: I realized how little really hard work I've done lately. [laugh] Perhaps I should amend that. I've been doing little hard physical work. I have been doing a lot of hard emotional work. Very necessary. Not fun, but what hard work ever is?

* I had two or three places where weeds were growing in the material in the gutter.


Super Secret Stuff

I'm busy doing something, but as it's part of a gift for someone(s), I can't blog about it. I will, however, document it for blogging later.


New Work

Who: Me
What: getting a job as a project architect
Where: a medium sized architecture firm in Golden
When: Starting Monday, with a 3 month mutual probation period (I get to try out them at the same time they're trying me out)
Why: Because I need a job, and this one looks like it will allow me to stretch my abilities so that I may become a more well-rounded and developed architect. I'm used to working on one large project at a time. This position will have me working on anything from 2 to 12 small projects at a time. I will become a champion multi-tasker or perish. ;)

The first project I'll be working on is a historic preservation project in the Civic Center of downtown Denver. I haven't seen much to do with preservation in about 12 years, but I learn quickly. My brain already started clicking away when they described the project to me. The next project will be a border patrol station (?) in Texas. Obviously, there will be opportunities for domestic travel with a firm that has contracts with the federal government.

Thank you, everyone for your support. A special thank you goes out to Cheryl, who let me know about this position way back in April (when they started considering applicants). I do plan to do something celebratory (already went out to dinner with Stacey last night), probably a party of some sort.

Pro: While I love and appreciate my friends and family paying for me nearly every time we went out, I will be glad to not have to be a charity case anymore. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, my dears. You are wonderful. Now put your money away.

Con: I've gotten used to being free to visit family and volunteer for things whenever I wanted. AND this is seriously going to cut into my Facebook and Farmtown time. The horror! The horror!



When this post shows up was supposed to show up on the blog, I'll have just started my second interview at a medium-sized architecture firm in Golden, Colorado. I'll let you know how it went when I get back. :)
Thanks for all the texts and tweets and comments. I feel greatly supported by all of you! Many Hugs!

(Darn, meant to change the posting time, but forgot until just as I was clicking the "publish post" button. Grr...)


Treats for Me

My dear cousin Susan took pity on me and my poor demolished basil and bought me a new one. It came in a really cool biodegradable pot. Here it is next to its older brother. Thank you so much, Susan! You are the sweetest! (I got to see her for the ladies luncheon and she looked gorgeous in an almost Edwardian style black gown.)

On my way home, I stopped at Barnes and Noble and finally used a gift card a friend gave me as a thank you gift way back around January. I got three cool looking books: The Art of War by Sun Tzu (always wanted to read that), 101 Things You Didn't Know About Jane Austen by Patrice Hannon (essentially a biography), and Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman (no, not Neil Diamond). This last one ought to be pretty darned funny.
I forgot to mention last weekend that Janiece, my fairy godsister, gave me a lovely book called Paper Architect. It's a fabulous book and once I get to a craft store, I'll see about doing some of them myself. ;)
I also stopped by Cost Plus World Market for something and was intrigued by a bar of dark chocolate with sea salt. Sound weird? Essentially it tastes like chocolate covered pretzels without the pretzel. Pretty yummy!

And here's the cards I've gotten recently. Do I know some lovely people? Yes, yes I do. :)


Great Weekend

Boy, oh boy, did I have a great weekend.

Saturday, I went to a Ladies Luncheon and Tea at Swan House in Loveland with a dozen other ladies of my extended family. It included two aunts, one sister, one sister-in-law, one honorary sister, two first cousins, two cousin-in-laws, and three first cousins-once-removed. All are strong and intelligent women. (Any attempt at organizing us was met with resistance.) Several were freshly returned from traveling (New York and England) and one was visiting from Pennsylvania. The ages varied from 81 to 15. Half of us got the luncheon and half the high tea. We talked about all manner of subjects and laughed a lot. As usual, the "leave-taking" portion of the event took quite a while.
It was extremely enjoyable to spend time with these lovely and lively women.
(The carpooling to and from the event also allowed some great time for catching up.)

Then, on Sunday, I went to the Clapton/Winwood Concert with Janiece, SmartMan, and SmartFriend. Janiece has already documented her feeling and her enjoyment of the drummer's enjoyment. It was, indeed, an awesome time. I can say without reserve that I always enjoy their company. (SmartMan, I figured out where I went wrong: The actor who plays Ed is Nick Frost. My subconscious pulled the wrong name.) We enjoyed a nice meal at Brooklyn's and then went to one of the most amazing concerts I've ever been to. I haven't been to enough concerts to have favorites -- they all still feel like each one is special in its own way -- so this one is special because the music was SO good. Eric Clapton really is a virtuoso guitarist and listening to him live was AMAZING! Steve Winwood brought a lot of balance and roundedness to the performance. He is an excellent musician in his own right.
One thing that became clear during the evening is that I need to be listening to more Clapton blues. I love me some rock and roll, but there are some times (and I've had a few) that are made for the blues.

Thank you, SM and J, you guys (literally) rock.

Here, for the folks who weren't able to make it out there:
Bluesy Acoustic Version of Layla (with Mark Knopfler)
Rock and Roll Version of Layla

(Last night, they played an acoustic version, which is Janiece's favorite, but both versions are fabulous.)


Room with a VIew

My dad sent me a lovely and complimentary letter with a photo attached.
I'm pleased to report that they still love the house, particularly this view.
Note how nice and cool the house looks in the summer. The deep eves prevent the sun from coming in. In the winter, however, direct sun comes in those large (south-facing) windows, warming the house.

Edited to Add:
Here's another view of the room, with different lighting conditions...


Misc. I

The latest on the job search: I have been asked back for a second interview, this time with the owners of the firm (next week).

Want to know how pretty the pumpkins are? Just look!

I just completely WOWed a six year old boy by being able to talk about Transformers. I am awesome, am I not?


I think I've found the motorcycle I would get if money were no object.
It is, of course, a BMW. Fine engineering wrapped in styling that is both sleek and rugged. It's a dual-purpose bike, so in theory I could go off-roading with it. I doubt that I would, but the conformation of it means that rough road conditions would be easier to handle. The other thing is that it's a bit bigger (engine-wise) than I really need. But hey, that's supposed to be a good thing, right?

This is the angle from which I first saw it. ROWR!

I borrowed the photo from a site with some good photos and a review of the bike. AND, for those who would like to see BMW's info on it... well, the structure of BMW's website doesn't make it easy to link to specific info.

(And if money really is no object, I'd probably buy my previous favorite - the Suzuki S50 - too, just for variety... )

Edited to Add: It also could have been this bike, which seems to be a street version of the above (R designator instead of GS). And from the same site, it looks like the GS doesn't have to come with knobby tires.



The interview went well. We laughed a lot and I think they like me fine.
The biggest question wasn't "am I qualified" but rather "am I a good fit for the firm?" I have specialized in larger projects and this company does lots of little ones. I really am well suited to larger projects too, since my attention span is longer than most (in this field) and I enjoy working on a team. I can adapt, certainly, and working on smaller projects makes me more well-rounded...


I liked my old job, dammit!

(Edited to add: Fear not, I didn't put out these kinds of ruminations during the interview. I tried to stay upbeat and crowd-pleasing.
I'm happy to say though, that the people who interviewed me asked some great questions and will probably do an excellent job of choosing a new hire.)

Farm Update

Per popular request:

(The buddy with me there in the center is Stacey.)

The farm is doing well. The trees are getting filled in pretty good. AND I get to plant pumpkins. YAY! They're so pretty. You'll also notice there are flowers now. That's new in the game (nice, since it adds color to the farm). I'm saving up for a river and a watermill.


Bad Mother- Shut Your Mouth!

But I'm talking 'bout hail...

*&$#% Hail

On Sunday, while I was away helping Janiece and her SmartMan with some yard work, my property was being shredded by hail. I had a nice pile of it on the deck when I got back home and the pear tree looked like this at the top:

Worse, I had taken my beautiful herb plants out from under cover just that morning. The only one that escaped unscathed was the thyme, since I had forgotten to bring it back out from under cover. It occurred to me that it might hail, but I didn't think it would, since the reason the plants were under cover in the first place was that on Saturday it had hailed very slightly and I caught it in time to put them under cover. It certainly wouldn't do that two times in a row, right? No, it hailed worse. :(
The most damaged one was the Italian basil (this photo was actually taken after it had recovered for 24 hours while my camera batteries recharged):


Susan, the dear, has offered to buy me a new basil, so I shall be basil-less for only a short while. Of the other damaged plants, I think the mint and the rosemary will probably recover. The Thai basil is 50-50.
Seeing my poor ravaged plants makes me feel like a bad mother who sent her kid to school without a coat.
I'm bad plant mother. :(


SD in Review: Balboa Park

San Diego has some awesome sights (including Coronado Beach), but among the coolest is Balboa Park. Not only is there a park (duh), but museums, performing arts venues, and a botanical garden. The San Diego Zoo is also there, but we didn't visit it this time around.

I think it's no coincidence (considering Mechanicky Gal's amazing green thumb) that we ended up heading for the Botanical Building. There was a gorgeous koi pond outside that is currently being rebuilt due to a water related mishap that killed the previous piscine inhabitants. As you can see, the current residents are enjoying the new digs.

According to the website, the Botanical Building is "one of the largest lath structures in the world." It was so cool how much the simple lath protection changed the climate inside the building. Lath, if you're wondering, is a simple narrow strip, with spaces in between. Often it's used as the structure supporting something else (like plaster), but in this case, thin wood strips provided a wonderful blend of shade and light that also allowed for air circulation. Very neat structure! [/architecture geek]

There were many beautiful flowers and plants, including a large variety of orchids. I can see how some people become collectors of orchids. They are all so different from each other! Endless variety of color and shape and size.

Janiece and I had gone into the Botanical Building while Mechanicky Gal had slipped off to see the special show by the Cactus and Succulents Society. When we looked for her later, we saw some fantastical looking cacti and succulents, including this cleverly presented one:

We eventually found MG in the market portion of the show, collecting new variety of plants. As we looked with her, I took this picture of a fascinating looking cactus. Funnily enough, Janiece too the same photo a couple minutes later.

Many of the buildings in the park are historical, originally built for a World's Fair.

And for those who read Jim's online fiction experiment, this is the fountain featured in one of the big events. (Thank you to Janiece for pointing this out. :)


Michelle is Awesome

I have some of the best friends ever. I've raved about them here many times. Today, you get to hear how wonderful Michelle is. Today, when I got back from helping out dear Aunt Ruth, I found the pictured flower arrangement on my doorstep. I knew it was from Michelle (the cryptic message was not so cryptic when you know Michelle). I was having a super crappy ass day yesterday, and Michelle, being the sweet, reach-across-the-country-to-hug-you kinda gal she is, sent me beautiful pink and red flowers.

I love them, Michelle, and I'm honored to be your friend. Thank you for the smile.

SD in Review: Activities

Within minutes of arriving at Mechanicky Gal's adorable abode (OK, we noshed on Mexican food first), we were climbing the avocado tree next door.

Actually, MG and I climbed and gathered avocados while Janiece and Carol Elaine stayed on the ground to catch the fruit.

It was a lot of fun, especially after I got the hang of climbing.

The next day, we went to the spa and (among other things) got pedicures (documented on Janiece's blog).

On Sunday, we toured San Diego and besides seeing lots of cool houses, I saw the famous Hotel del Coronado, walked on the beach and dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean. (I also got my shorts wet, which made me a bit self-conscious that someone would mistake it for a bladder control issue, but [shrug] what can ya do?)

Activities continued tomorrow with Balboa Park pictures...


SD in Review: The Flora

Mechanicky Gal has an adorable house, but even a more amazing garden. She has focused on xeric plants, those that will survive in San Diego's climate with no additional watering, and plants and herbs used in cooking.

She had huge rosemary bushes.

And a huge artichoke bush that reminded me that my mum had told me that when she read Day of the Triffids, she always thought they looked like artichoke plants.

The neighbor has an avocado tree and Mechanicky Gal convinced us (after checking with the neighbor) to go over and pick a boatload of them. MG and I climbed the tree (with some assistance from the ladder) while Carol Elaine and Janiece spotted us from the ground and caught the avocados we tossed down. Strangely enough, we didn't actually eat any of them (99% of them weren't quite ripe yet) and I really wish I had thought to bring some home with me. :/

MG also had a fig tree (so cool!), but few ripe figs yet.

Two items reminded me of Farmtown: the orange tree...

... and the lemon tree (more like a bush).

There were, of course, lots of beautiful flowers.

One of my favorite things, however, was the jasmine plant that was planted just outside the front door. MG kept her front door open much of the time and the breeze flowed in, bringing with it an intoxicating scent.

And last, but certainly not least, the faux flora:
Can you see that one of these things is not like the others? It's a cell phone tower, disguised as a palm tree. Awesome, isn't it?


SD in Review: Food and Fun

We ate lots of junk food, including Entenmann's, Cheetos (crunchy style), Oreos, ice cream, and for some obscure reason, Captain Crunch with Crunchberries.

In an effort to raise the bar, we also got the makings for a baked brie with honey and walnuts (see picture) as well as port and brie with bread. With the leftover puff pastry, I also made a strawberry tart. It turned out OK - a little uneven, but tasty.

Janiece and MG's habit during these trips (when they're not eating junk food) is to eat Mexican food. The reason for this was clear to me when I had my first taste of SD Mexican from a drive through shack (Nando's) - it was absolutely delicious. The meal we had at an actual sit down place (Por Favor) was equally delicious. Yum!


SF in Review: The Cast of Characters

(Left to right): Me (wearing my official UCF garb), the smokey-voiced and sultry Carol Elaine (visiting from LA for the first two days of our trip), Mechanicky Gal (Janiece's lovely and outspoken ex-Navy pal and our excellent hostess), and the beautiful and generous Janiece.

The trip started fairly smoothly. Janiece and I arrived in sunny San Diego and breathed in the creamy, oxygen-rich air as we waited for Mechanicky Gal to pick us up. Turned out, she was delayed by the &^%$@#* painters. After provisioning ourselves at the commissary with both junk food and alcohol (including an enormous quantity of Mike's Hard Lemonade), we made our way into downtown SD to pick up Carol Elaine. Janiece was on the phone with CE and I spotted a woman on the curb, talking on the phone and looking about expectantly. I took a chance and waved enthusiastically out the window. It was Carol Elaine! We had a sign prepared for her saying "Drunken Trollop" which made the observing bystanders laugh.

Carol Elaine had brought along gifts for the three of us, "My Little Ponies." Inside joke, I assure you. Of course, we posed with them. Sharp-eyed viewers will notice a lovely necklace that Janiece is wearing. (Thank you, Aileen and Ruth! She loved it!)

Another character who was not photographed was MG's charming Mechanicky Guy. He graciously put up with the sudden quadrupling of the estrogen content, though his main selling point was his clear appreciation of MG. We like men who appreciate intelligent and outspoken women!

And no accounting of characters would be complete without the inclusion of the pets...

This is Lucy (aka "The Gray One") and Madeline (aka "The Tubby One"). They were invaluable for getting me my required petting-an-animal fix.


Back Safely

After getting back safely from San Diego, I pet the cats, worked on my farm (had to do a major planting, since everything was harvested yesterday), let the cats loll around on my lap, made dinner, pet the cats, returned phone messages from over the weekend, felt my legs going numb from the cats sitting on me, and got caught up on internet reading.

I wanted to write a more detailed account of my trip, but now I'm pooped and it's time for bed. Make due for a while with Carol Elaine's version of the trip. I'll post something tomorrow morning, I promise.

News from SD: Sunday... err... Monday

We had a lovely time touring San Diego. In a nutshell, we drove through Kensington (a wonderful and artsy-posh neighborhood), went to Coronado Beach (also drove around and looked at the fabulous houses there), I dipped my toes in the Pacific Ocean, and then we headed off to Balboa Park. I must say, that is a very cool place. I love the combination of the lush park setting with the historical buildings and museums. We went to the botanical pavillion, a cactus and succulents show and market (where Mechanicky Gal added to her awesome collection of xeric plants), and then a famous fountain of some sort (don't recall the name and Janiece is busy at the moment).
We had more yummy Mexican food when we returned. The ever tolerant Mechanicky Guy had his reward when we did not object to watching a WEC program (the title fight was a rematch of Mike Brown vs. Urijah Faber, and it was awesome).

Now, Janiece and I are packing up to leave. :(
I'll be sad to have it end, but I'll be happy to see the cats again. I've gotten my kitty fix with the two cats here - Lucy (the gray one) and Madeline (the tubby one) - but I miss the boys. Stacey has been taking excellent care of them, I know, but I miss them anyway.

See you soon, Colorado!


News from SD:Saturday

Now we're back from spa time. (Pretty toes!) Break out the port and tortilla chips with cheese dip!
We're also making a baked brie with honey and walnuts, just to prove we also eat high brow junk food.

For pictures posted during this trip, visit Janiece's blog.



News from SD: Friday

Mechanicky Gal has an awesome garden, with a lemon tree, an artichoke plant, a fig tree, and an avacado tree next door, which MG and I climbed to gather avacados from. Brenda would love it here. (Photos will be forthcoming.)

AND they have some awesome Mexican food here. Yum!


Of We Go, Into the Wild Blue Yonder

Back when I took care of the wonderful and goofy Baron, Janiece offered, as a reward, to take me with her when she went to visit The Mechanicky Gal in San Diego. No fool, I immediately accepted the offer. Friday morning, this promise comes to fruition. Janiece and I are bound for California (where I have never visited, except for a couple hours in LAX enroute to Australia). It is guaranteed to be four days of fun and Mexican food and lots of laughs.
What's more, fellow UCFer Carol Elaine is coming down from LA to spend a day with us! Yippppeeeee! :D

So, in preparation for being away and having a visitor in my house (my friend Stacey will be taking care of the cats), I took care of the remaining house cleaning duties, mowed the lawn, did a bunch of other chores, and set up the farm for a long absence. Whew! Nothing like traveling to give you a good kick in the pants to quit procrastinating.



I'd been having trouble with my mp3 player and my computer not communicating. I tried to fix it, but with no luck. So, as per usual, I put the problem aside for a while. I'm not a big fan of beating my head against a brick wall.

Then, I just tried it again (after it being on a virtual shelf for a few weeks) and lo and behold, no problem.


This happens to me on a fairly regular basis.

I wonder what other problems this method can apply to? ;)

Olive You

When I was a kid, I didn't like olives at all. Granted, there weren't any fancy olive bars back then (or if there were, they didn't have them in The Sticks).
Then, a few years ago, I was dating a guy who put olives in his chili. Because I like to challenge my own assumptions, I tried it (in this particular case they were green olives) and was surprised to find that I actually liked it! From that point on, I was much more open to olive tasting opportunities.
Then, a year ago, I went to a tapas restaurant with my brother and his wife. I loved the mild tasting olives they had in the olive plate. I remembered the name: "castelvetrano." However they proved very hard to find! One thing that hampered my search, I'll admit, is the fact that I avoid going into Whole Foods. I think it's fabulous and fun to go into, but that's the trouble. I end up spending MUCH more than I intend to every time I go there. Then, a few months ago, I saw that a neighborhood restaurant had a market area and an olive bar. Wonder of wonders, they had Castelvetrano olives! Last week, I used the excuse that I needed to take some offering to a dinner meeting and bought a tub of olives. Of course, I made sure a generous proportion of that was Castelvetrano olives. They are as good as I remember. They are buttery and salty and a bit sweet. It's funny that part of my brain still says "ewww olives, yucky!" but another (apparently louder) part that says "More Please!"

I found a couple of sites that talk about the Castelvetrano olive:
One, a blog post: it has some good pictures and descriptions
Two, an article about their new popularity: again, this has some great information.



I hadn't made it to the grocery store in a while and I was being creative to find things to eat when I realized it would be the perfect time to clean the fridge.

I actually tried to reorganize the fridge (put the shelves back in different places, etc.) but in the long run, almost everything ended up in the same place. You know why? Because the reason I did it like that in the first place is that it works better. At least I took a second look at it and didn't just take the solution for granted.

Here you go. Proof that I'm actually not just playing Farmtown all day long.


Butter Me Up

Yesterday, while online, I ran across a gal talking about making homemade butter. It sounded interesting, particularly since I had been thinking about trying to make compound butter (butter with herbs or other flavors in it).
Then, when I was buying the cream for the cobbler, I found that heavy cream was on sale. I though "Oooh, it's practically a sign!" So I bought an extra pint of cream.

And today, while also cleaning out the fridge, I did it. :D

Here's a beauty shot of the lemons and garlic I bought to flavor the compound butters.

Making the butter was shockingly easy. Put it in the mixer, whip the cream, keep whipping past the point of whipped cream, then suddenly, it will clump and become butter!

(Note the plastic "splash guard" I taped on.)

Aaaaaaaand here's the final product.

I looked up some recipes for compound butter, but in the end, mocked up my own mixtures base on what I had.
I made (from bottom to top): blackberry & mint, lemon & basil, roasted garlic, and then just salted butter (accidentally over salted slightly, darn it).

It is tasty, but then again, it's butter - of course it's tasty. I can't really detect an actual flavor difference, but the texture seems a bit smoother for some reason. I'm not sure. It's not cheaper than buying butter (of course), but it would definitely be something I'd think about doing again if I were making more compound butter. I think I will try that again, but perhaps will puree the herbs a bit, rather than mincing them. Hmmm... we'll see.