White Bread

Good white bread is as close as I get to junk food. I would fail at giving up refined foods because of this. Instead of buying stuff I think of as not-quite-very-healthy, I decide if I want to eat it I have to make it from scratch: it’s fairly easy, after all, to pick up a bag of Newman-Os or an OK loaf of sourdough from Trader Joe’s. Making it takes some effort.

I started a loaf of bread this morning and let it raise during the day while I was at work. By 10:oo tonight I had a nice loaf:

That’s my pope bottle-opener there on the bottom.

I haven’t baked bread in years. I took the recipe from the Treasury of Newfoundland Dishes, it’s the second bread recipe called “White Bread”. Yes, I did spend much of my life in a bakery; but I can’t always remember proportions. I think the recipe called for too much salt.

I just had a hunk. Yummy. But not as good as the white bread my cousin Pat’s wife, Betty, makes every week in Newfoundland.

Poppy Collage Finished!

Jeez, this took longer than I expected: total size will be 16″x 20″:

It was really cold today, by Tucson standards, and it’s going to freeze tonight, so I couldn’t laminate the collage to silk organza (because the messy process is done in my backyard). I’ll have to do that after work one day this week when it’s warmer. Then I’ll have 2 in my series (the first is the prickly pear I made last month). I just made a stack of color photocopies of saguaro cactus; that will be the 3rd design in this series. Once all are done I’ll quilt them and then hopefully frame for a triptych.

I guess I’m sounding a bit confident: I’m assuming the above collage will laminate successfully, and that I’ll have similar success with the as-of-yet to be collaged saguaros. I’ll keep you posted!

New Paper and Silk Lamination Project

I started a new project today; this time, it’s poppies, a shape well known to me from my previous quilt. You can’t see it too well here, I’ll post a better photo soon; this is the first of 6 poppies:

I ripped up color photocopies of poppy photos I’d taken in my backyard the last few years; I’m making a collage of the photocopy pieces, and will transfer the completed image to silk organza.  Here are a few more of today’s poppies:

After looking at my work, I’ve decided the shape on the left is going to have to go; I think it’s best if the poppies kind of “match” and the one on the left has blue in the “wrong” places. For some reason, the old Sesame Street song “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other” came to mind as I tried to figure out what was bugging me.

I’ll post better photos tomorrow or the next day, my work day permitting.

Dead Bees: A Sad End to the Topbar Beekeeping Experiment

Yes, well, I’ve guessed for weeks that my bees were dead but I was too chicken to open up the hive to confirm my fears. Who wants to look at a pile of dead bees, after all? That’s very depressing. There’s enough depressing in this world. I suppose I shouldn’t take it personally, but, it’s hard not to.

Today I decided I had to stop procrastinating. It’ll be warm here in no time, and Africanized bees (known simply to local beekeepers as crabby, irritable bees) will be swarming and looking for new homes….and a vacant topbar hive would be a perfect location for a swarm on the lookout for new digs. I suppose if I had experience as a beekeeper I’d have no problems with Africanized bees; but, I’m new to this (as is clear, I just killed off my first colony). I’d be intimidated by a hive of crabby, moody bees.

So, here was the sad sight:

And this, the white gauzy stuff in the lower left-hand corner is evidence of wax moths:

I scraped the comb off the bars and put it in my compost pile. I really didn’t feel like putting the wax to some practical use, no use explaining. Dust to dust as they say.  I cleaned off the bars with some linseed soap:

Clearly, the record-breaking cold weather we’ve had didn’t help my bees (2 nights in a row at 15 degrees, and the daytime temperature in-between didn’t get above freezing). And I now know that I should’ve been feeding my bees through the winter. Since our winters are mild, it didn’t occur to me to do this; I thought they’d have enough food. Was I wrong!

Print Paste Recipe

I hope to screen print some fabric soon, and that means making print paste. Anything not food-related gets prepared outside; in this case, by the washing machine, where the electrical outlet is located. Here are the ingredients….

…sodium alginate, urea (sheep’s urine; you see why this is not in the kitchen), my chemical-only-use food processor, some empty containers, a gallon of hot water.

First the urea (1 cup, divided, 1/2 cup for the first quart, 1/c cup for the next quart) is dissolved in close to a quart of hot water (above) in the food processor, and then 1/4 cup of sodium alginate is slowly poured in as the hot urea water swirls around, if you don’t dissolve the sodium alginate slowly and into moving water, you get clumps; the mixture quickens rapidly:

Here’s a nice smooth quart of thickening print paste. I pour this into a 2 1/2 quart container, add a quart of warm water, and then let it sit. I do the whole thing again to make another 2 quarts of print paste.

I don’t add water softener, like some recipes call for.

I left this out for a week, thinking it was cool enough; I was wrong. I checked the print paste and it had small bits of mold starting to grow on the top!! I had no idea. I quickly scraped off the mold and put the paste where it belongs, on a back shelf of my fridge.

I think my paste is a bit thin. I don’t think half a cup of sodium alginate per gallon of water is thick enough for painting, but I think I could use it for screen printing.

Progress…

Tomorrow is my only day off this week. I have to work in my garden; it’s going to get warm here quite soon and I have beet and carrot beds to dig up and get ready for something for spring, which is a very short season around here. Maybe snow peas. We’ll see.

Yesterday I put a mitered border on the laminated silk organza piece I posted about a few weeks ago. I don’t know if this type of border really works for such a non-traditional bit of fabric….but this is just a sample. I’m going to quilt it within the next few days and see how it goes:

This is roughly 16″ x 22″.