New Color

I have used green as a background color on this blog for almost a year.  It’s time for a change, hence the blue you now see.  Small change–I may look to make bigger changes at some point.  For now, however, a little switch up is good for me.

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Another New Toy

Our new Mac arrived today.  We finally have moved from the world of the laptop to the world of the desktop.  This puppy is pretty sweet I tell you.  Everything seems to work and work quickly.  We can watch videos!  We can download things zip zip!  We can…  Well, I haven’t played with it all that much.  

I can tell you that this blogger will have some fun playing, however.  Once we get the right cable to transfer everything from our old to our new computer, we will be golden.  I am looking forward to playing but also to use this new machine as a tool.  We use our computer as our newspaper, as a means of communication, to purchase things (like a computer, for example), to write and create, to manage photos.  It will be nice to have a better tool than we have had, kind like upgrading to a powerful cordless drill after using only screwdrivers for a while.

So I will get back at it.  Play time awaits.

New Toy

ipod touchesGot a new iPod Touch yesterday.  Loving it.  I finally figured out how to sync it with my calendar and contacts.  I had to call Green Mountain Access to retrieve my password (those folks are awesome!) because I deleted mine by accident, like a D-U-M.  Then I could get email.  I still can’t figure out why I keep getting the same emails over and over even after I delete them.  Weirdness is afoot.  Anyway, it still seems to get the job done, just in an overwhelming way.

I downloaded a couple of apps as well.  I look forward to using “Planets” once it gets dark.  It gives you a view of the night sky, based on your location (I entered my latitude and longitude) and the time of day (er, night) and tells you what it what.  The view changes as the clock ticks.  You can see when you will be able to see the planets and when the sun rises and sets and the phases of the moon.  Way cool.  And it was free.

I have a couple of other new apps as well (I did spend 99 cents on one) and I think this thing is just the grooviest gadget to hit the household since the cuisinart.  And I haven’t even begun to download music or podcasts.  Playtime stretches before me.  I just need to put the thing down long enough to make lunch for the children and take them to the library.  And sleep.  Oh, and have breakfast.

Maybe in a little while…

Free Stuff, Pretty Much

Recently we ordered a new computer, a Mac.  We also ordered an iPod Touch and a printer.  We are getting a pretty good deal, if you ask me.  If you don’t ask me I still think it is a good deal.  It is all sort of free.

How might you get a computer and an iPod and a printer for free, you ask?  Like this:  Apple has a deal right now for educators–if you order a new Mac you can get an iPod Touch for free.  Well not exactly free, but you can get a rebate for the cost of the thing, so it counts as free in my book.  So that was an incentive (aside from our aging computer showing some hints of age).  When you order a Mac you also can get a rebate on a printer.  The rebate is the same as the cost of the printer.  We did spring the extra 30 bucks so the printer will be wireless (and host a copier and a scanner) so we are out of pocket a Hamilton and a Jackson at this point.

The computer wasn’t directly free.  We have been saving points from our credit card for a while now.  We wanted to just use those to get a computer but that wasn’t an option.  You can use your points for a lot, but not that.  You can, however, use your points for a mortgage payment.  They make the check out to your mortgage holder and send it to you to send in as a payment.  You can get it for whatever amount, so we got one for the cost of the computer.  We pay for the computer instead of the mortgage and it’s a wash.

All three of the items on our order were shipped separately, from different places.  The printer was shipped first and arrived yesterday.  It came late, at 8:30, right when the children were falling asleep, of course.  I met the FedEx driver on the porch and he had three packages.  One was some unlrelated clothing my spouse had ordered.  Then there were two printers.  I asked if he was sure they were all for us.  “Yup, the two printers and this smaller package,” was his response.  Sure enough, both printers had the right name and address.

Right away I checked to make sure I had not ordered two printers by mistake.  I had, indeed, only ordered one.  The tracking number was only attached to one.  Our order status only reflected one.  Apple had made a mistake.  So we called.  Maybe you would not have called but we felt it would be the right thing to do.  Good karma and all that.  My wife asked “What if you made a mistake but we are happy with the mistake?”  The rep at Apple asked if we would use a second printer.  Then, with the answer affirmative, said we could just keep it.

So we had to pay an extra 30 bucks but then we got an extra printer.  We may actually be ahead after all this.  We aren’t sure what we will do with the extra printer yet.  Use it at home?  Sell it?  Give it to someone who could really use it?  Like a nonprofit agency?  We will have to decide at some point.  That thing is taking up space.  And it is a good printer.

The Touch came today and I am taking precious time away from exploring its features to write this.  But it is a good story, no?  The computer is scheduled to arrive on Saturday.  I can’t imagine they would make the same mistake twice.  But one can hope, no?

Kitchen Frenzy and a Soup Recipe

I got home from an all day meeting today about 4:30.  I headed right to the kitchen.  Last night I was going to make a tomato corn chowder.  Then I got working and didn’t stop until way too late.  So I planned to make it tonight.  And I did.  It meant I had to get cracking.  And I did.  It was, how to say this, tasty as all [insert expletive here].

I tried to find a recipe but just couldn’t scrounge one up.  That was probably for the better.  It would have taken me longer to keep referring to a book and then half forgetting what I just read as I chopped garlic.  Here is what I did:

  • Sauteed three small leeks in about a tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil in a large pot and then set that aside
  • Cut up two medium size carrots (small cubes), a couple pounds of red potatoes (cubed), two sweet peppers (diced) and sauteed all that in the large pot in about a tablespoon of butter and a splash of olive oil
  • Added four cups of water and two teaspoons of salt to the pot and brought that to a boil
  • Removed the pot and then removed a couple cups of the potatoes to keep them in chunks, then pureed the rest in a food processor
  • Tossed three small tomatoes (OK I used the one weird large tomato I picked yesterday that looked like three small tomatoes attached at the hip), diced, along with four cups of corn I had removed from the cob (already cooked) into the pot.
  • Heated the tomatoes and corn gently for about ten minutes, then added the chunks of potatoes and the puree
  • Added a teaspoon each of chopped fresh oregano, chives and thyme
  • Added a cup of whole milk
  • Topped with freshly grated black pepper, heated for another 10-15 minutes (stirring to keep it from sticking to the bottom)
  • Ate it up

The children chowed it, even my son, who has been pretty picky lately.  I have to admit, and my wife said this aloud, it was worth the hour spent preparing.  The vegetables and herbs were all from our garden or from our CSA.  Even the milk was local.

Item two was making the base for coffee ice cream.  I whipped that up while the soup heated and stuck it in the fridge.

Then I went out with the kids and picked basil.  We have more basil than I can handle.  This is first year that the basil has really just grown.  I clipped it pretty well not long ago and it really grew back well.  I cut 12 cups of the stuff with my eager children who lost interest when they decided to mow the lawn with their scissors.  They didn’t get all that far on that project.

I made three batches of pesto (it is supposed to get pretty cold the next couple of nights–basil doesn’t like cold), froze two and popped the other in the fridge.  By now the children were off to bed with their mother, and I tried not to make too much noise with the food processor.  They did fall asleep eventually, even after the delivery truck woke them up.  Late delivery.

I just polished off the small bowl of ice cream from the batch I made after the basil was stored away.  I probably shouldn’t have coffee ice cream this late–it is made with coffee after all, which people drink to stay awake.  But I had to try some.  What kind of cook would I be if I didn’t taste what I made?  Plus, I didn’t have that much.

I waited to eat the ice cream after I had cleaned up everything (except the ice cream maker bucket–that thing was way too cold to wash).  Cleaning too far too long.  I was ready to be done when the counter was still covered with dishes.  My wife still is healing from her sliced finger, otherwise I am sure she would have offered to do all the cleaning.  I cook, I clean, I eat.  All after a day at work.  Not bad, eh?

One, Two, Three

Fizzy, Round and Just Plain Odd

Fizzy, Round and Just Plain Odd

I picked some more tomatoes today.  You can see the one on the right is a bit mis-shapen.  It looks like three tomatoes in one.  On the vine it seemed even more so.  I wasn’t sure if I was picking one big old fruit or three, or somehow two.  But, like all things, it was connected.  I have not sliced into it since the photo shoot (laboriously shot with sharp detail and vivid color  in my kitchen studio, as you can see) but I look forward to learning how sweet it is. The variety is called Cosmonaut Volkov.  I’m pretty sure it was developed in Russia, but that’s really just a guess.

The object in the middle is also a tomato.  That one is a different variety.  It is called Crimson Sprinter.  Supposedly it will ripen in about 60 days after transplanting.  It was around 70 days from gently easing the tender plants into the ground until I was blessed with this perfect, red, juicy, sweet and delicious globe of loveliness.  Not bad.  I ate my first of these two days ago.  Bring me more.

The third object is just my glass of seltzer.  It comes pre-flavored with lime.  Isn’t that convenient?  No need to cut an actual lime to flavor the fizziness.  The seltzer is nestled comfortably around ice.  I had considered creating a gin and tonic but, really, I was just too lazy to cut the lime, not to mention pour two liquids into the glass.  My wife cut her finger on a 10-inch chef’s knife yesterday afternoon and, although she is healing up nicely, I have to wash all the dishes for a few days.  With all that labor, I don’t have time to be slicing limes.  Or tomatoes for that matter.  Slicing will have to wait until tomorrow.  Once I polish off this beverage, I’ve got some work ahead of me washing out the glass.

Things I Would Like to Make Soon

1. I have been thinking about coffee ice cream.  I am ready to make it.  I just need a little time to whip together some cream and sugar and milk and eggs and coffee, and Voila!  Frozen confection.

2. Tomato corn chowder.  We have lots of corn left over from last night and I need to use it ASAP.  And now we have tomatoes.  Save a little of that cream from making the ice cream, add some fresh herbs and some other tasty bits and Voila!  Soup for a royal family.

3. Some bookshelves.  We have tons of books and I love to read and the good tomes are all still packed into boxes.  A post and beam home has one drawback–much less wall space.  That means less room for art and for furniture and for shelves.  So our books sit unread.  With a little creativity we can fit in some bookshelves.

4. An orchard.  Well maybe not an orchard on the scale of, say, one that sells fruit to markets, but a small one, with lots of trees to give us peaches and pears and apples and maybe even something more exotic, like walnuts.  And some more blueberry bushes.  And maybe some grapes.  That might mean a lot of work, I understand, but apple pie and peach ice cream and grape juice…

5. Some poems.  My writing has been limited to blogging and work, at least for the most part.  I should be tossing out some more creativity.

6. My wife happy.  I know one can’t really make someone else happy, but let’s face it, someone trying sure can make a difference.  Not that she isn’t happy, but one of my favorite things in the world is to see her face glowing with joy or laughing with abandon.  Seriously.  Seeing her happy makes me happy.  I love that woman.

7.  I also want to make some kindling.  Winter will be here soon enough and having a big stash of kindling on hand makes things a lot easier.  If I can make it soon enough that it will dry before we need it, I will be ahead of the game.  For years we had an supply of dry leftover lumber bits but that ran out two winters ago.  Now I have to gather and split to get the fire going.

8. A will would be good.  We have put that task off for too long.  We did talk with a lawyer at one point but then that morbid responsibility fell off the list.  Time to put it back on.

9. I need to make myself stronger.  I have been running and biking and that just plain old feels good.  I need to keep that up, and then get to a point where I can really get out there and fly.  Who doesn’t want to fly?  A long run, or a run in the middle of a snowstorm, or a zoom down a tree-lined path, those are like flying.  I want to fly.

Making things is about being creative.  And isn’t creativity a form of flying?  That is really what I want.  I want to fly.