Friday, March 22, 2013

Random Bits: Vol 7

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. –Thomas Merton

I think about blogging a lot. I write posts in my head all the time. But getting them down “on paper” is another matter. This post is a patchwork of the things that have been on my mind the last week or so. I've often wished for a USB port behind my ear, so that I could plug in and download my thoughts. Then I could blog things one at a time. It's been so long, I don't know if anyone is left out there to read this. I hope you all haven't given up on me. There is still a ton of traffic here and I check at least once a day to see if there are new comments. I stopped getting excited a couple of weeks ago, though, because all there is is spam, spam and more spam. I know some of you are also getting spammed into oblivion. Do you think if we asked nicely, that Google/Blogger would put anonymous commenting in its own category to be turned on and off at will and independent of any other commenting options?

A Pocket Dial and Other Telephone Related Chatter
At work yesterday afternoon I answered the phone, but couldn't understand what the person on the other end said in reply to my “how may I help you?” spiel. This isn't uncommon; lots of our customers speak English as a second language, so I took a deep breath and prepared to do my best. However, the unintelligible reply was followed by a long silence, to which I answered “hello?” Then there was a snippet of a conversation, in perfect English, about bone spurs on someone's heels. I tried another “hello?” but it was obvious that I was not included in the conversation.

I'm still scratching my head over it. You have to be a very persistent pocket dialer in order to get to me. First you have to dial the main number, which could be on anyone's speed dial. But then you have to select option 4 or dial my direct extension. And bone spurs, even ones on heels, have absolutely nothing to do with how many people we billed them for last month.

There seems to be a funny phenomenon going on at my desk. Aside from the occasional pocket dial, no one ever calls me at work unless I'm in the bathroom. It's getting so I'm afraid to even go, because I know I'll have voice mail when I get back, which is ten times more work to handle than a straight up phone call. Three times this week, I've come back from a quick potty break to find I had a message. How is that even possible?

My New Best Friend
I'd like to introduce you to Mel. She's my new best friend, which I'm sure she'd be interested to know since we've never met. Mel has a food blog. And not just any food blog. It's a good food blog, which is just what I've been missing in my life.

A couple of months ago, I gave up dairy due to intolerance. Thanks to some great advice from Regan and P., who are both dairy free, I survived my first few weeks of wondering what I actually can eat. {Sidebar: there are milk or milk products in everything, from chocolate to bread to taco seasoning packets. Strangely, there is not milk found in Oreos.} Regan hooked me up with a good dairy-free “butter” and gave me lots of advice on how to live dairy free. P. commiserated over the loss of most chocolate products in our diets. And I muddled through, hunting down every last allergen ingredient list that could be found on the internet for fast-food restaurants. When nothing was available on-line, I called ahead to places I was contemplating eating at and harassed the poor employees into giving me the low-down on what was dairy free. I mourned the loss of pizza and ice cream and my favorite casseroles, which all have cream-of-some-kind-or-other soup in them. And I kind of quit cooking on a regular basis.

Eventually, I found a new-age hippie herb shop that sells lots organic and whole foods, as well as lots of dairy free food items like vegan “cheese” and “sour cream.” I was able to make some of my favorite dishes with the diary free substitutes, but there were still some serious holes in my menu.

Then I met Mel and her fabulous food blog. She has menu plans and a month's worth of meals that take 30 minutes or less. She's not dairy free, but her recipes are fresh, without a lot of processed foods. And she doesn't cook with cream-of-anything soup {at least not that I've seen}. Everything we've tried so far has been delicious. The wraps {with dairy free cheese and sour cream substitutes} we had on Monday were so good, I ate the left-overs for breakfast on Tuesday morning. And the Sweet & Sour Chicken we had for dinner on Wednesday night was also lunch on Thursday and dinner tonight. I've never been so excited to have left-overs. {Sidebar: whoever invented sweet & sour sauce is a genius. Seriously. On the one hand it is so innocently sweet that you want to take it home to meet your mother and on the other, so sour that your eyes roll back a little in your head.} {Sidebar: P., the sweet & sour chicken is gluten-free if you use the right soy sauce. And I'm wondering if you could use honey instead of sugar. This recipe seems to be saying “use honey in me.”} I've pinned about a dozen other things to try from Mel's, and I'm looking forward to it!

I've bookmarked a few other food blogs that look promising, and as soon as I stop drooling over Mel's Kitchen Cafe, I'm going to take a serious look and see what other food adventures I can take.

Quilter's Favorites
You meet the most amazing people in blogland that you might not otherwise ever encounter in real life. Have you met Geta yet? She is a seriously amazing quilter. In a little under two months, she is hosting the Quilter's Favorites linky party.

It looks to be quite the blog event. Anyone and everyone can participate. Geta's put together a list of questions that you can print out and answer as you quilt over the next few weeks. Then during the week of May 10th, you can post your answers, link up and then go learn something new from the other quilters who link up. I'm looking forward to clicking around the blogosphere to see what new project I just have to start.

The Tale of the Tortoise and the Snail or, What I'm Working on For Friday Night Sew-In
I haven't officially participated in Friday Night Sew-In for a year now. But with Mr. Bug on 3rd shift {midnight to 10:00 am}, pretty much every Friday night is Friday Night Sew-In at Bug Cottage. {Sidebar: I am so happy to announce that Mr. Bug is working days again! Do a little happy dance with me!} Even though Mr. Bug is home tonight, I'm doing Friday Night Sew-In, because he's still transitioning from being a nocturnal animal. We'll catch up on our TV and I'm going to see if I can get a little quilting done on Miss Butterfly's Zig-Zag quilt. I was hoping to be a little farther along on it by now.

Since I last posted {11 days ago}, I still had to put the back together before I could baste the quilt. Then I had to make the binding and I decided that I needed to pre-wash and dry the batting {for shrinkage purposes, and not at all because I was procrastinating; see also, persnickety}. After that I was distracted by some chain piecing on a really, really, really old Ph.D quilt that I hope to finish sometime this decade. I was certain that the Zig-Zag quilt need to rest for a little bit, kind of like bread dough. And I knew that basting it was going to be pretty hairy. I was right. It took 2½ hours. I procrastinated that until last weekend and have been working on the straight-line quilting a little bit at a time this week. I had a couple of no-sew days {I must have been really tired or busy to have a day go by without sewing at least a little bit; see also, Mel's Kitchen Cafe}. I have just shy of half of the white zig-zags finished. My goal for FNSI is to finish the rest of those and then wind bobbins for the threads for the FMQ in the colored zig-zags. I will probably bind the quilt before I do the FMQ {the quilt should be pretty stabilized by then and it is just that much less bulk to work with. Plus, it keeps lint from building up on the quilt as it rubs off the extra batting around the edges} , but it is always good to be prepared.

Why, yes. That is a twin size quilt, all 72” x 96” of it, balanced on my little sewing table. When I quilt, I hold as much of it as I can in my lap and then fold or roll the rest of it to fit on the table. This is the biggest quilt I've done, but so far, it is working out nicely.

Handmade by Heidi

Extreme Shepherding
Confession time: I started this post in December. I knew that in my next hodge-podge post, I wanted to show you this funny video. So I threw the HTML code in to a draft and have been moving the scheduled post date up by a few weeks every time the draft got old enough to drop down into the list of already posted stuff and get lost. There wasn't anything else in this post until today. And I'm hoping this is still as funny as I remember!


Paulette said...

I am still laughing over those funny "Baaa-Studs" video. Too cute!

I will definitely have to check out Mel's Kitchen. Thanks for the link. I'm glad you are finding it helpful. It's wonderful to have a resource when dealing with food issues. Hope you're feeling better now than before.

Shay said...

At least you have a message function on your phone. There is nothing more off putting than being in the bathroom at work and hearing your name paged to say you have a call waiting. That's what happens to me every time I try to tinkle ! Im starting to have performance anxiety!

Removing one of the major food groups from your diet must really be a challenge. My Mum has coeliacs disease so when she stays here I have to menu plan properly. Once you get used to it , you can find great alternatives though (and pizza doesnt have to have cheese – you can make it like a brushcetta and still get tons of flavour packed in there!)

Lane said...

Still here. Still reading. Still enjoying. Lane

Jennifer Lovell said...

Dairy free? I'm sorry! I wouldn't wish that on anyone. All of my favorite foods are pretty much at least 50% dairy. But I think anyone that can change the way they're used to eating is a champion, so GO YOU! Love ya!