The Crafty Polymath

I couldn't choose just one, so I chose them all.

Gratitude (of a non-obligatory nature) November 29, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Crafty Polymath @ 12:12

Americans stumbling on this black hole will note that yesterday was Thanksgiving, and without going into the political yadda yadda that normally accompanies the discussion of Thanksgiving, I’m going to head for the more new-age view and discuss what I am actually grateful for. I have a long list, really, but what’s ironic is that, here it is Friday, and I’m feeling not at all as at peace as I was yesterday. What’s that about? I’ve gone and fallen into the same trap that I use to accuse Black Friday shoppers. The irony is not lost on me.

I spent the holiday alone. That in itself is a long and exhausting story, so I won’t go into it. All you need to know is that yesterday, for me, was a day of crafting, cooking, and classic Doctor Who (Baker Baker years, y’all). I cooked roast chicken dal, which is actually one of the first recipes I blogged about. I got a lot of headway toward Christmas. I took pictures, but I forgot to send them to my computer, so those will come later.

My friend Bonnie did make a brief appearance here to eat dinner with me before she had to go to work. That was nice.

And I had a lot to be grateful for. I was in the house, so that means I have a roof over my head. I had food, and enough to share. I have a job that pays well, and I’ve gotten out of retail. Despite not being with family, I got to Skype with my folks because I have a nice computer and internet access.

I have an abundance of wonderful things in this life, so I feel a wellspring of gratitude. And even if I look at this morning – I made a batch of brownies to take with me to a gathering, and they didn’t come out the way I liked. I had to remake them. But again…that just means that I had enough flour and cocoa and oil to make two batches of brownies. What the hell do I have to complain about there?

The thing is, yes, there are things I would change about my life right now. Some of them I’m working on and others I can do nothing about. But I have so many things that I am blessed to have, and maybe, instead of just one day to celebrate them, I should quit my damn complaining. Just a thought. I’ll probably forget by tomorrow.

But I am not going Black Friday shopping. Hell no.

 

The snow is snowing November 24, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Crafty Polymath @ 09:32

It has been snowing this weekend – lake effect, of course, none of that easily-predicted crap that most of the state/country gets.

I really want to be angry about it; I want to rail against the nerve of Lake Michigan to make it snow so close to Thanksgiving and travel time and etc, but I can’t actually be bothered to. I’m looking outside, and it looks peaceful and quiet, and I feel kind of awkward and, well, American, about yelling at it. Michigan doesn’t shut down over the snow; I’m coming to accept that.

It might make holiday travel a little cumbersome (once I determine the plan. Kind of down to the wire on that), but honestly…I’m over it. I am over it. I can’t stop the lake from pushing that cold air around, and even if I could, I wouldn’t be getting the experience that will turn me into a winter-hardened mid-westerner, with the work ethic and bone structure to match. Ok…so maybe I won’t be changing my bone structure, but I could do with feeling a bit hardier.

Today I have a mission, anyway: Pumpkin. Chocolate chip. Cookies.

Eric and I used to buy them all the time at the QFC down the street from our apartment in Seattle this time of year (sans snow and below freezing temperatures, of course), and I want to reclaim a little bit of that, I think.

I will try to remember to take pictures this time, too. :)

 

I made a souffle November 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Crafty Polymath @ 20:16
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I’m not even going to bother with the niceties regarding how long it’s been.

I’m posting now because I made a souffle. Like an honest-to-god-bechamel-and-meringue-powdered-sugar-on-top souffle. And it was delicious. Because I was the one behind the wheel, though, I did have to start over on the meringue, and the best part was that I got the souffle right – easily the hardest thing I’ve ever had to make – but the custard didn’t come out right. Typical.

I start a new job on Monday. It’s a big girl job, with a set schedule and a salary, and I’m really excited about it. Maybe that’s why I’ve been feeling adventurous. So adventurous that I went out and bought a yellow sweater. Me, the girl whose closet has consistent of fifty shades of black since middle school. So adventurous that I made chickpea curry for dinner the other night from scratch, eschewing the easy way out (read: jar of butter chicken sauce).

Dinner tonight was mashed root vegetables. That was it. Just potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots mashed and cooked in an onion-garlic-rosemary oil. So why not go beyond that for dessert?

Of course, as mentioned, the night was filled with irony. The first being that my initial goal was to find a dessert without a lot of sugar – something with the semblance of being healthy. The second, again, being that I couldn’t make the freaking sauce to go on top. I was frantically whipping it, trying to get it to set, and I look over and my gorgeous souffles are falling. I practically screamed at Eric: No! Eat it now! Forget the sauce!

But they were good.

I haven’t really been doing NaNo this year, so this was a much-needed success in the right side of my brain. I’ll take it.

 

Idea: craft vacations October 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Crafty Polymath @ 21:39
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I hopped on a jet plane to Florida last Friday, came down to visit my amazing grandma. When I decided to come here for a week, it was a multifaceted thought  process. I wanted to get away before the ridiculous rush of the holidays starts, and I wanted to get away from…well…everything. I could have gone anywhere, I guess, but I realized it had been a while since I saw my grandma, and I thought the sunny weather would do me some good. Not only that, but my grandma is skilled in the kitchen and the craft room. What a perfect time for a craft polymath that has slipped too far off target.

Today is my last day here. I do feel lighter in a way. And I did some cooking, and I did some crafting.

First thing, grandma and I made butternut squash ravioli. She didn’t want to make the dough, and she found a recipe that called for the use of wanton wrappers. We baked the squash, then mashed it, mixed it with ricotta and Parmesan cheese, then put tiny amounts in each  wrapper and folded it. Boil those for about two minutes (until they float), and then serve in a sage butter sauce. I didn’t take pictures of them, alas. I was too busy, you know, making them.

Ravioli I’ve made, and while the wanton wrapper idea is a new one, the basic idea is one that I’ve written about.

The new thing, the exciting thing, was that I finally learned how to crochet! Knitting and I are not on speaking terms and haven’t been in some time. Sure, we’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship for a few years now, but I think it’s time to call this what it is. So move over knitting. Hello crocheting!

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Hip to knee so far

I learned a single crochet, a double crochet, a triple crochet, and a shell pattern. I started a scarf, and it’s now past my knee! I seem to have found the needle craft that was waiting for me this whole time.

Next up is camping, and I’m hoping to get creative with some camp food.

Now, as much as I would love to go on and on about all of this cooking and crafting, I kind of need to get back to it. I’m running out of time.

So tomorrow I’m off. In the meantime, keep it crafty.

 

And then there’s… September 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Crafty Polymath @ 11:43

The past week, week and a half, have been like floating through a story that has eliminated the human construct of time. Unless bound by social norms to perceive time in hours and days, I’ve literally just existed, and it’s been interesting, to say the least.

I’m not saying the darkness is gone because two weeks from now, I might be balled up on my bed, clutching my Marvel pillow while I shed tears over an innocuous line from a television show. It happens, you know. I am saying that, rather than manic, this up-slide has me feeling more calm and maybe…I wouldn’t say bitter, but let’s just say I’m cafe without the lait. It’s made for an interesting mix of happiness and I-don’t-give-a-fuckness that I think I could live with.

Wednesday I spent the whole day reading. I read an entire book and half of another, and that was all fit in around walking down to get FroYo (the fact that they have self-serve heaven so close to my apartment makes me convinced that the Universe is trying to forgive me for my foibles), going to the library, and even cooking a meal for myself. Actually cooking, too, not microwaving.

Thursday I made a Tilapia pesto bake that could have only been improved if the potatoes had been cooked all the way. Still not bad. And then I made two cupcakes. Exactly two cupcakes, and they were so good. I am so into this baking one or two at a time thing. I have found my oxytocin fix in baking with tablespoons instead of cups. It’s both weird and very fitting all at once.

And in case you’re wondering why I’m throwing around fancy science terms like “oxytocin,” it’s because I’ve been reading about the chemical makeup of our brains and emotions, and it is fascinating how much depends on our cells being able to bond with chemicals. It would sound like a poor excuse for things except that it’s scientifically proven.

So things are good. And then yesterday the main reason for my leaving the Holland store decided to creep up again, and rather than feel down about it all, I just got mad. I got so mad about how the people there treated me, how they fed me so much crap and manipulated me into being as miserable as they are. Did you know that humans respond to other humans’ chemical levels? That’s why women who live together will end up with concurrent menses. So, surrounded by surly, lonely people, they just increased my own levels of surliness and loneliness (read: lowered levels of oxytocin and higher levels of cortisol FTW). I am clear of all that now; yesterday was my last day filling in at Holland for as long as I can manage.

My previous moments of mania were difficult to sustain, but if there’s anything I’m good at, it’s bitter and sarcastic. If I find my peace here, then so be it. There are worse fates. To be sure there are much worse fates.

And then there’s this blog. I realize that it has fallen away from me. I’m just not the kind of person who thinks to take pictures of my baking activities until the goods are eaten, and I certainly am not baking to create aesthetically pleasing images of food in preparation. I don’t know enough about any one craft to be an authority to teach anything, except that I can recount the humorous tales of my mistakes. Happy to do that, mind, but I have to be active in the craft room to do that. I want to be crafty; I like creating things. But at some point I might have to face the fact that I want to be crafty in the same way that I want to have fifteen PhDs…it is a great fantasy, but it’s not realistic. It might be time to reimagine this place and stop enticing readers with false promises of crafts. And, seriously, how many food blogs are out there?? It’s like everyone with an English degree who can use a spatula decided, after realizing how useless an English degree can be, that they would find their treasures on the internet. This is a modern day gold rush; I would hazard to say that there is even a little bit of Oregon Trail/Donner party in this adventure. A century from now, bloggers of this generation will be known as CSSers, and they’ll tell tales about all of the people out to make their fortune that had to survive off of ad clicks until they struck it rich.

I think it’s great, but I don’t know if it’s for me. I’m scattered too much to have a blog dedicated to one, or even two things. Now if I could have a Technology/Football/Baking/Sometimes Crafting/Reading/Philosophy/Comics/British Television/Humor/Social Awkwardness/Look At What I Found On Pinterest blog, then I would be set. But I’m not sure what I’d call that except maybe the “Yes, I Like That Too Polymath”. I could market it as a blog where your useless thoughts and ideas go to die.

Anyway. This is, sadly, one of the longest posts that I’ve ever made. But I’ve got to cut it short. I’m going to try to make cheddar bay biscuits today. And then I’ve got to fit in a run/jog. And then there’s football.

Keep it crafty.

 

Isn’t it ironic September 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Crafty Polymath @ 00:19

When I was little, I had one of those domino knockoff things that had little steps and ramps, so you could almost set up an entire Rube Goldberg machine, were you so inclined. I say knockoff because they were colorful, and I know they were popular, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what the hell they were called. Colorful Rubes, for all I know.

Anyway, point is, I’ve been thinking about these things, stacking them, making intricate designs, and watching them topple over, one by one. A simplistic, yet elegant, example of cause and effect. Tap the first one, and they all fall over, knocking over their brothers and sisters. No matter how you set them up they would do their little thing.

So it makes me think about cause and effect in the real world, all of the little colorful tiles that we are, lining up to take out place in the chain, making some sort of pretty, intricate display for the universe. Every decision that an individual makes irrevocably starts that next chain, toppling over the next person in line who in turn makes a decision that topples the next and on and on etc.

How is it that every time I get philosophical I feel like I’m making excuses. I’m pretty sure this isn’t what self-forgiveness looks or feels like. I’m off track.

My point was that it makes me feel out of control in a way. I control my direct actions, obviously, but how many of those actions and decisions are based on the situations that were caused somewhere else down the line?

I don’t remember what got me here. It wasn’t the little Colorful Rubes; those came out of a greater thought process. And now…now I’m too tired and just buzzed enough to not care anymore. Conversely, I’m not buzzed enough to write the whole thing because while I’m watching the demon hunting stylings of the Winchesters right now, I’m not really in the mood to voice my own.

So just…ignore everything I just said. Or at least just take it with a grain of salt.

 

Week 1 September 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Crafty Polymath @ 07:38

So last week flew by, and this week doesn’t seem to be slowing down – not that I’m complaining. I’m up early because I have to fill in for my boss on a conference call today…not that I’m complaining. Seriously. I want to be in his position one day, so this will help with that goal.

In other news, football season started last Thursday, and it could not have come at a better time. I am in three fantasy leagues this year, and as of Houston’s 31-28 win over San Diego last night, I won two of those. And as for the league that I lost in, well, being in 11th place just means more room to move up, right? And I’m not going into Week 2 blind, either. Clearly picking up Jennings on the assumption that his receiving would be enough to outshine Ponder’s poor passing skills was a mistake, so Hartline is going in my flex position this week. Hopefully we’ll see another 20 point week from him.

But fantasy points wasn’t the only thing drawing my attention this weekend.

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I also made this football cake to celebrate, complete with embarrassing story of origin, which I will post at a time when I don’t need to be getting ready for work.

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I was inspired by the handmade crafts at a local Civil War muster put on by the history museum. Eric went with me to watch a brief reenactment of Gettysburg. Having been to Gettysburg, I wondered if reenacting enthusiasts who get to participate at the actual battlefield refer to it as “the show.”

Not pictured: Smore’s Cookies. Because the Sunday bonfire was cancelled. Sad day.

I got approved for time off in October, and I’m going down South to Melbourne, FL to visit my grandma. I’ll be in for a week of cooking and crafts with one of the coolest ladies I know, and I cannot wait.

For now…I’ve gotta find a defensive end who can put some points on my fantasy score board.

 

 
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