art, craft, creativity, food, needlework, painting, paper crafts, personal, sewing

Switching between modes?

Now that I know there are no additional assignments for my course and the end is in sight, I’m feeling a good deal better about it. For the past few days, I’ve been chipping away at this, trying to get it done before I need to. The bright spot here is that I’m now ahead of schedule, to the point that I can relax a bit.

By next Friday, I hope to be totally done, though through Tuesday (it’s currently Friday), I’ll have at least half-day commitments.

I’ve decided to use library computers for my ongoing job research; at least, where it comes to accessing previously unknown websites. Although I’m using a relatively high amount of security on my computer, I encounter enough broken links to make me cautious. (Actually, the cautiousness pre-dates the security — it was just validated by my need to keep myself online while I was in school.)

I’ve also written my last thank-you note from Graduation. :) That was more fun than I expected…I got to draw with translucent and opaque markers on top of a printed card. I also included one of my tatted butterflies (which seemed to legitimate the process of having made it). So the paper-crafting…I’m wondering about combining it with sewing. I don’t know how that would eventually work out, but I got the idea by using one of my awls to punch holes in the card, in order to tie on the butterfly (which I did with a needle and thread).

I really really really want to do something with a needle and thread. I’m not sure whether this will be hand stitching (like quilting or garment work), or embroidery — or beadweaving — though maybe I shouldn’t categorize it, at this point. Maybe I should just start piecing things, or embroidering samples to be stitched together later. I did see some really nice counted-thread needlework at the State Fair which encompassed shapes (curves) that I didn’t expect; but I’m not sure I’m that precision-focused.

What I did do today was practice my tatting. I’m still working on combining rings and chains, and haven’t yet had to restart my current sample (though I want to do it in pink and red instead of ecru and green). I’ve learned to watch for having put in the correct number of double stitches and picots before closing loops, and to keep from inadvertently catching threads within those loops before closing them. Because the pattern I’m working with now always has four double stitches before a picot (loop) or a join or turn, it’s easy to remember. And I am getting better — my hands mostly remembered the motions.

The really good point about this? I’m using DMC #5 perle cotton, which comes in tons of colors and is super cheap, so I don’t feel bad about using up expensive thread while learning. Really, the most expensive things are the tatting shuttles, and they’re reusable.

Since Wednesday, I haven’t physically worked on painting at all (unless you consider buying pads of quality watercolor paper, work; I’ve learned not to), though I have watched some instructional videos on painting. I suppose it’s easier to keep doing something I’m already doing (working on the computer), than it is to switch modes into something else.

However…let’s see. What have I been doing for the last three days?

So Wednesday, I was basically studying. Yesterday (Thursday) I did some produce shopping, specifically after things I could cook and eat, which weren’t sweet. Today (Friday) was the gym, and cooking. That was long beans with mild (Italian?) sausage, onion, green onion, a little hoisin, a little soy sauce, and a little sesame oil. It turned out surprisingly well, though D suggests using ground pork next time, so that I can tweak the seasonings myself (instead of having to deal with the sausage, which had some surprising flavors of salt and anise — although I have had Chinese recipes with star anise before [like Red-Cooked Chicken]).

I still need to shower, wash my clothes, and maybe change my sheets. Tomorrow, I might be able to hit the Farmer’s Market for stone fruit. We bought maybe 10 lbs. (D estimated) of stone fruit last week, and I’ve eaten the majority of it (that is, I haven’t had to toss much moldy fruit from that batch). That has had some odd consequences for my digestion and my weight, but I haven’t gotten upset stomach, yet. (That can happen.) The thing about Farmer’s Markets is that they have fresher and riper fruit than most of the stores.

I picked up some kale and Savoy cabbage to cook with bacon; I also bought materials for mushroom chicken (yellow, zucchini, and white zucchini squash; we have the mushrooms and frozen chicken breast). I’m thinking the kale is going to be the next thing to become unusable, though, meaning I should probably aim to prepare it as soon as feasible. (It generally just gets wilted and mildewy [fresh kale should never smell like mildew at the store], but it’s easy to replace.) The Savoy cabbage is the regular Savoy (a compact head), not Salad Savoy (a blossom-looking thing), so it will likely last longer.

EDIT: Actually, mushroom chicken with rice, sounds good for tomorrow’s dinner.

And, right: I got Poblano chiles and onion, to try and make rajas. I found out when making corn salsa last week, that scorched Poblanos with the skins peeled off are really delicious. You just take the seeds and ribs out and put them face-up under the broiler until the skin blisters and darkens and pulls away, then you can take the skin off (after they cool)…and the chile tastes excellent, just like that. I was really surprised. Rajas, as I’ve gotten them in restaurants, have Poblanos and roasted onion, though I am not sure how to do the onion, yet; I’m planning to try and broil them with the Poblanos.

On a wide scale, I’m looking at the probability of switching between modes of thought and behavior, moreso than now. I’m wondering if it will be possible to do detail and system-oriented technical work for my job, and not let that have an effect where I’m impacted in my creativity, at home and in my art. I mean, actually, work on not letting that have an effect, as a goal, and reason to pursue the Art.

Maybe my art can be my time to break loose from systems and precise, regimented thinking.

Well — there’s also a gradual transition here from being a student, into becoming a fully-functioning adult…which is a place I haven’t fully occupied, before. That is a good thing (the former, not the latter)! I mean, if I look at what I’ve been doing today, it’s normal life stuff. That hasn’t been “normal” for me, for a long time, if I’ve ever even been in a place like this, before…

food, self care

Restarting cooking.

Today marks the start of my cooking again for the first time in…likely, months, if not longer. I’ve needed to begin learning (and practicing) again. One of the few things that I actually know how to do without any help (and have done relatively frequently) is tabbouleh. There’s that, cornbread, and various salads (mixed green, Waldorf, fruit, bean, etc.), that I can remember offhand.

Because I have a tendency to be overly cautious (verging on paranoid) about kitchen hygiene, I’ve been hesitant to prepare things containing meat…particularly poultry. For about as long as I can remember, we’ve had stomach trouble from various…sources. Which I won’t name. What I can say is that growing up and eating other people’s cooking (outside of my immediate family) has frequently and repeatedly resulted in food poisoning.

However, I still do appreciate some meat, as versus going totally vegetarian. (I just am not a person to think of meat as always the core of a meal.)

I know that I have done ground turkey before, as a flavoring for stir-fried long beans…I also would be partial to beef, lamb, and fish. I think I can remember also making won ton with pork and shrimp, which really wasn’t that bad, even though it is most easily mixed manually. The other option is humanely-raised organic chicken, though I’m fairly certain that this will be a treat rather than a mainstay, at least until I can get used to working with meat.

I mean, I’m a type of person who would cut my nails short (which is almost a practical necessity in my line of work anyway), wash (everything) frequently in soap and hot water, and use a nail brush after working with poultry…

Otherwise, I’m most likely to do stir-frys with various mushrooms, and things like summer squash or fresh string beans or bok choy or choy sum. It really would be great to be able to do mushroom chicken; like Criminis or white mushrooms, zucchini, crookneck or Patty Pan squash, and chicken breast.

Now that I think of it, I’ve also done some work with baking sweet potatoes, Russet potatoes, and winter squash, which isn’t really difficult (other than cutting the squash in half, which can be hard).

Oh hey — and there are also the miso soups that I’ve done in the past. Because there have been Prop 65 (carcinogen) warnings plastered on dashi iriko (tiny dried fish used for stock) in the recent past, I haven’t made it in a while. I’m not sure why the warnings are there sometimes and not others, but I’m waiting for a cleaner harvest.

Also, there is hiyayakko (had to look up the name), which is basically just cold silken tofu with dried seaweed (nori), bonito flakes, green onion, grated ginger, and shoyu. I also read (at justonecookbook.com) that mentsuyu can be used (men = noodles; tsuyu = the strong sauce sometimes put on top of noodles [this is sold bottled]), although I kind of can’t believe I was able to translate that out, having never seen it before. Japanese lessons must be working.

I’ve just found myself a bit upset over being dependent on others to bring food for me, but since I am graduating, I don’t have to deal with University or GPAs anymore, and have time to devote to actually living instead of just studying. That is, I’m transitioning into a phase where I’m beginning to take care of myself, rather than letting family take care of everything for me. I think it’s important.

Today D and I took a ride to the produce market so that I could get ingredients for the tabbouleh. While I had a few free hours alone, I basically made it and cleaned up everything.

Right now I’m not sure whether to focus on the job search or cookbook browsing, the next time I go in to work. I’m not certain what the different subdivisions of the 641.5s (cookbooks) represent yet, either. However, I just found a map of the 641.5 divisions at LibraryThing! AAAH!

It looks (from that page) like the “Melvil Decimal System” (which they show) is a public-domain and early version of the Dewey Decimal System. Not equivalent to the current Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) version (which they say is copyrighted by the Online Computer Library Center [OCLC]), but close enough.

I’m also getting to the point of being creative with my creativity. By that, I mean that I realize that I could direct my creativity into areas that could help me survive, like into work as a Librarian, or into cooking. For a while I’ve had an identity as a creative person, but I don’t really know if channeling that creativity into arts and crafts is serving me, in the long run.

Of course, though, making my own jewelry and clothes does give me a sense of control over my presentation, which is obviously very important. That’s especially so, as I have had stretches of time where I loathed and had anger towards almost everything that fit me and was in a gender deemed “appropriate.” So…maybe jewelry and clothes-making, I can keep. That does serve a purpose.

It also depends on whether I end up becoming a Reference and User Services Librarian, or a Cataloging Librarian. They’re way different paths. Right now I’m aiming for a Cataloging position, but I’m not sure as to whether I can even become a Cataloger in a Public Library system, fresh out of Library School (or if I’ll need to log hours as something more like a Reference Librarian, first). I need to ask a particular co-worker about that.

Still don’t know what to do, tomorrow. I guess it depends on how much time I have free, and whether I feel like browsing job ads or looking in the stacks…