We had only a small memento of Mardi Gras this year - a King Cake alone. I was tied up with appointments, and Tyler and Paul went to Boy Scouts. So no party. But I had the presence of mind several weeks ago to order a gluten-free King Cake from Sweet Ali's in Glenview. It was beautifully made, and included the requisite plastic baby (added after baking, of course). It was really delicious! I was worried about that, and even considered getting a regular cake in addition, but the whole family liked it. Sweet Ali's is an excellent bakery. We are fortunate to have them so close.
A little over seven years ago, I began seeking more humidity for our home, specifically for my harp. What resulted was a *bit* of a disaster (read here). Fast forward to two years ago, when the humidifier was no longer working, and we had a new one installed. Sometime between then and now, something happened to the spigot for the thin copper water line that feeds water into the humidifier. Water was no longer flowing, and the humidifier started churning out white dust (dried water sediment from the pad). Four days and three repair visits later, along with another leak that started (thankfully) while the repairman was here, we now have a working humidifier.
Yesterday I watched a webinar (free!) presented by Dr. Axe. I was interested in the whole "leaky gut" business because my doctor diagnosed me with Hashimoto's and CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) last year. I had an understanding of how the gut plays into this, but needed reinforcement because I am easily tempted to cheat. To my credit, I have been working assiduously for the past month to avoid it. I'm doing very well. The only hang up is the small amount of gluten contained in the Communion hosts each Sunday (I have read that they do make reduced gluten hosts, apparently low enough that some celiacs could potentially consider using them? But don't go by me on that!! Ask your doctor!) My doctor felt that for me, a non-celiac, the weekly host would not be a problem. But I may gently probe around at church, see if they do offer them. For those who are not familiar with CIRS, here's a nice general definition from a website: "CIRS is the illness that occurs when someone who is genetically vulnerable to bio-toxins is exposed and reacts with chronic and systemic inflammation. It turns out 25% of the population carries the genetics responsible for this condition." I found the webinar talk to be inspiring, just the push I needed. I wanted to have a small renewal, have plans to make an immune-building soup, plus this yummy other soup I made previously. But my fridge was woefully in need of a cleaning and purging. I did this, there was some "Eeew" involved in the back of the vegetable drawer, got the shelves wiped down (need to do the door shelves still). Here it is, emptied out, waiting for new groceries:
Groceries are bought, waiting to be utilized. I started today baking a large butternut squash for tonight's soup. Tomorrow I'll do the immune-building soup. I also want to make a soup I posted about previously (here). It was so yummy, and made enough to freeze, which I did. Last week I thawed it out for dinner - still yummy!!
I see my doctor at the end of the month. I hope my month of gluten-free strictness and this new motivation to improve diet even more will pay off.
I liked the book Doctor Zhivago. At times it got a little long, and I must admit - the politics got somewhat tiresome. But it has to be said that the descriptions in the book are stunning. The way the author described food (especially the food), sunrises, landscapes, etc. Truly poetic. One part that caught my imagination early on was a part when one of the characters, Misha, an eleven year old boy, was on a train where a tragedy had occurred (a suicide). "Misha was examining a small collection of mineralsfrom the Urals in a wooden box - the dead man's last gift." This little boy made me think of Tyler, and I set out to find one small wooden box of Russian minerals; this would be part prop for Book Club, part gift to Tyler. I found a lovely wooden box on Etsy. Perfect: small, six little compartments, beautifully made. Then the real fun began at Dave's Rock Shop in Evanston. The people there are very helpful, and did not seem to mind my rather odd request: six minerals from Russia, that will fit in this box, very pretty ones if you please. So I searched through and found some gorgeous specimens. The only hang up was the last one. I wanted to have a bright color, but there were no other colorful Russian minerals that I liked. So I broke protocol, and substituted a nice Orange Calcite from Mexico to liven it up. To complete the box, I found an old-fashioned looking map of the Urals, copied it and secured it to the inner lid of the box. I made a key listing the minerals, may eventually put this in place of the map. But I wanted the Russian map because I brought the box with me to Book Club, where we discussed Doctor Zhivago, on loan for a day prior to being given to Tyler, who will be the new curator of this tiny collection.
For Book Club this quarter, we read Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. It is a long book, but good for cold winter days. The novel is set in the years 1903-1940's, but the majority of the book takes place in 1903-1920's. I was inspired to put together an Edwardian ensemble with a Russian flair. I also channeled my inner geology geek putting together a little box of minerals as a prop (see this post for that). I'll post from the inside-out:
Undergarments - If I had more time I would have finished my Edwardian Corset Coverthat I had started so long ago. So I just wore my older Edwardian undergarments. I did make one tweak though - I had gotten my Erté Titanic Overbust corset from Period Corsets back in 2012. It came with two sets of lacings for the back: one for the top-down and one from the bottom-up, meeting in the middle. This makes it difficult though if one wants to lace themselves in. Since I like to wear my corset during the week before an event to get acclimated to it, it is difficult when no one is home to help, as a two-laces corset requires (for the most part). So I contacted a representative from Period Corsets, and she very kindly sent me a single long lace, which I re-laced my corset with.
Blouse - I purchased an Edwardian reproduction blouse from Cotton Lane on Amazon. It's very pretty. I ordered a larger size (I have football-player-shoulders), then took in the sides.
Skirt - Oh dear...this was a problem. I used Rocking Horse Farm pattern #903 (Caution: Do Not Use This Pattern! Ever!!) that was simply horrible. The pattern lines for my size did not match up properly, I had to tape together the size small in order to see what they actually intended. Even with that there was this odd extra fabric on the bottom front that was completely illogical. There were no dots on the waistband pattern piece - needed for matching to the waistline of the skirt. There was also a pleat marking missing. The cut lines for it were on the pattern, and the markings were drawn on the suggested (tiny) pattern layout picture, but not on the pattern itself. I spent a lot of hours trying to redraw, adjust, improvise. The result was okay - from the outside. On the inside there were problems. It looked okay, but I was very frustrated with the lost time and aggravation of using a terrible pattern. I will have to write a review on GBACG (Greater Bay Area Costuming Guild). They have a Pattern Review section. I so wish someone had reviewed this before and saved me the hassle of working with a dreadful pattern.
Boots - The darling, lovely Manhattan Button Boots from American Duchess! I love these. Customer service here was also very helpful with the sizing. My foot is long but narrow, and their shoes tend to run a bit large. They gave me good advice on sizing and the boots fit perfectly. Button hook needed!
Hat - I bought a faux fur hat on sale from Fabulous Furs. All of their products are faux. This hat is very warm.
Coat - my coat is a modern-day coat, but I was happy to be able to match the faux fur of the hat with that on the coat.
Book Club was lots of fun. The ladies liked my outfit, and even chuckled at my very bad, well-intentioned Russian accent. I only said a few sentences in my fake-ey accent! Hello in actual Russian, and then some key phrases I put together watching YouTube videos, and here's a funny way if you need a fake accent in a pinch: Go to Google Translate. Type in the sentence you want in the first box, making sure you select English as the language to detect. Once your sentence is complete, change the language in that same box to the language you want to hear, and click on the audio clickable at the bottom of that box. You'll hear the English words, but with an accent of the language you changed the "Detect Language" to. It doesn't work with all languages, but did pretty well for Russian.
Yesterday we spent time putting things away in the attic. Our attic is accessed by pull-down stairs that fold up into the ceiling. Tyler has never been up there before. But he was intrigued, and went up to help. My job consisted of handing things up to Paul. We had boxed all of the Christmas decorations, but had not gotten to storing them. This included our tree. We also needed to put up a small wooden hutch, part of a play set that my dad made for us when we were kids (Ty uses the little stove as his end table; I sometimes use it as an extra tray table when I have ladies over for tea.) But the hutch is usually homed in Ty's closet, and we needed to clear a space for the "secret passageway" that will go between Ty's and Robert's (well, the guest room) closet.
It made me think about a decorative plate I have, one of a set of four that combines Victorian homes with cats! The name of one of the scenes is "Attic Afternoon". The four plates used to be in our old kitchen, on the wall that had weird paneling up so that upper cabinets could not be hung. Now that the shelf is removed (and languishing in the basement), the plates are sitting in the sideboard. I want to put the shelf up, maybe in the dining room, so I can put the plates out again.
See the plate below, although the attic pictured on the plate is so much lovelier than our rather utilitarian one. Oh well, Ty had fun, and our house is a little more organized.
We have three cats. A white one (Snuggs), and tan one (Donnie), and a black one (Boone, usually called Kitten, sometimes Kitaen - don't ask). He was having fun the other night, first in a box which he fit into perfectly, then joining us at the table as we played the kids' version of Apples to Apples.