[cooking] Blue Apron

I was able to try out Blue Apron for free last week. Basically it's a meal subscription plan where you receive ingredients and instructions for three 2-person dinners. Who knows what time the box was delivered to my rural house but when I opened it up after I got home from work, all the ingredients looked fresh and the meat (chicken, beef, shrimp) were still frozen between two ice packs.

My first recipe was a Thai red curry with shrimp and rice noodles:

Thai red curry coconut shrimp and rice noodles with collard greens and pea shoots. #blueapron

This was so good. I was a little worried about the coconut power and reconstituting it with water to make coconut milk- but it worked well. Plus- they show you how to plate and add little garnishes (like pea shoots) for a more photogenic dish.

Next: Soy-glazed meatballs:

Soy-glazed meatballs. #blueapron

These were fantastic as well- meatballs with an Asian twist. Here, the mixture is just ground beef, panko, minced ginger and scallion, salt and pepper. Pan cooked and then covered in a soy sauce glaze.

I didn't get to the chicken dish- the mushrooms have gone off before I had a chance to use them and our rabbit was given the kale (not because we dislike kale- I just ran out of his usual greens). But of course the meat is still fine so I'll just cook it up as something else.

The only negative thing I have to say is that there seems to be a lot of plastic waste associated with the delivery. All the ingredients are in individual plastic bags. One scallion? In a plastic baggie. The OTHER scallion I need for the other recipe? In different plastic baggie. The one radish? In a plastic bag. Thank goodness the LIME didn't come in a plastic bag.

Overall I'd give the experience an 8/10. You're doing all the cooking, the ingredients are excellent, the recipes are easy to follow and the finished dish is really tasty. I would definitely make these recipes again on my own and I can see how the program would boost the knowledge and confidence of people who maybe don't do much cooking at home. It was fun to tag my images with #blueapron and see all the other pics on Instagram. I may even order another delivery in the future- just for fun.


[gardening] What's flowering in late May

Vacation can't come soon enough. I'm taking next week off to do all of my gardening. Things on my list so far:

1. Tidy/weed beds.

2. Re-edge flower beds

3. Plant the vegetable garden

4. Plant things in the new raised flower bed

5. Fertilize and Mulch all the things

Ugh, I feel tired just writing all the stuff out. But hopefully I can get it all done and the rest of the garden maintenance for the summer will be easy.

Meanwhile, more things are starting to bloom. Creeping thyme:


Candytuft- woodchucks didn't get it so this one is a winner with me.

#candytuft just starting to bloom in the backyard "test" bed. Got it on sale last year after the blooms had gone by- didn't know it would flower this early. The woodchucks didn't eat it so I'm going to divide it and move it to the front of the house.

These bearded irises have already come and gone:

Bearded #iris blooming. Love this color!

I've come to love all primula- they are small and give a nice little pop of color in the spring:


Last year I added some Victorian lace primrose:

Victorian lace primrose I added last year.

Last year I moved some bungleweed to a new location. It is blooming now and the bees are loving it:

Bee bumbling busily between bungleweed blossoms. 🌸🐝 #bumblebee

I planted a few stalks of Soloman's Seal last year and they multiplied well:

#solomansseal multiplied well. Planted only 3 or 4 last year.

I love the dangling little flowers. That's a bit of lady's mantle in front of it. This area is a new shade bed that I dug last year. A month ago it was hard to distinguish things I planted from the weeds or what was going to come up where. Yesterday I inspected the bed and was kind of in awe of much I planted last year and how good the bed is going to look.

In the backyard shade bed, Lamium is blooming:

#Lamium. Nice groundcover with silver leaves and purple flowers. Want it to spread in front of the hostas. #gardening #shadegarden

I planted this ground cover in front of hostas.


[knitting] Copycat C.C. Beanie

CC Beanie

Copycat version of the popular Colorado Chick slouchy beanie. Pattern is free on Ravelry. I can't think of the yarn name but it's a worsted weight alpaca/wool blend with a bit of sparkle. I have the same yarn in a couple other colors- I will knit this again with a slightly longer brim.

This past Saturday I asked Dollar if he had a teeny-tiny screwdriver (a screw keeps coming loose on my glasses). He went downstairs to the basement to check his toolbox in the band room. Then he came running upstairs and hurried out to the garage. He came inside looking worried and I said, "What did you leave in Massachusetts?" He had a gig last Thursday in Worcester and only then realized that he had left his toolbox behind a curtain on stage at the venue.

Imagine, knitter, your notions case/pouch/bag. We all have one. Mine contains crochets hooks, needle sizer, kitchener cheat sheet, a dozen different types/styles of stitch markers, cable needles, stitch holders, an Altoids tin full off safety pins, elastic thread, hand lotion, darning needles, waste yarn, highlighter tape, scissors, tape measure. Dollar's toolbox is the musician's equivalent- cords, extra strings, 9-volt batteries, tuning stuff (and presumably that teeny-tiny little screwdriver that I needed). It's all replaceable but it takes years to accumulate the things you like and use.

I said, "I have Monday off work. I'll drive down and get it." Because I'm a f'ing hero. We weren't going to have time Sunday because of an all-day music festival in NY. So I spent all day yesterday driving down, literally 2 minutes picking up the toolbox, and driving back. But. I made a stop at Hub Mills, the factory store for Classic Elite Yarns at their industrial warehouse. I read of their website that they sell Signature Arts needles, which I've been dreaming about owning for years. If Clovers are the Nissan Versa of needles, Signatures are the Lamborghini Veneno.

My first pair of Signatures. My reward for spending my day off driving to Worcester and back to pick up a toolbox that Dollar left at a venue after a gig last week.

Hey, I still use my Clovers. I started knitting with them and sometimes you want a dull tip and rigid cable. But these Signatures? So pretty, so pointy, cable so floppy. I bought a US 6 32" convertible circular. I was like, "You know shit's fancy when you have to buy the cable separately. And each size requires it's own-sized cable." Actually, I should say that Dollar bought it for me because it was a gift for picking up his toolbox. Now, I'm scouring my Ravelry queue for projects that specifically use a US 6 needle. I think I'll start with a baby surprise jacket...


[cooking] Thanos' Muffins of DEATH (by chocolate)

A few months ago, Dollar and I decided to try out Loot Crate and we've been consistently happy with it. There's always something for him and something for me. Yesterday we received May's delivery, which had a POWER theme. Inside was an Infinity Gauntlet oven mitt. Marvel + cooking? Two of my favorite things! The booklet that comes with the crate contained a recipe. I put on the oven mitt, wielding all the infinite power in the universe, to gather the chocolate muffin ingredients:

Loot Crate arrived with a mother-flippin' Infinity Gauntlet oven mitt and a recipe for Thanos' muffins of Death. #lootcrate #infinitygauntlet #marvel #thanosmuffins #kingarthurflour

Thanos' Muffins of Death:

Chocolate muffins so good, Thanos grabs another. For Death, of course. (She likes the cayenne.) 🍫❤️ #thanosmuffins #marvel #lootcrate #infinitygauntlet

These muffins are fantastic- lots of chocolate with a little extra kick from cinnamon and cayenne.


[painting] Abstract 1

Started a new Bob Ross painting last night which quickly went south. I wasn't happy with it but rather than walking away (and wasting all the oil paint I had put onto the palette), I used the knife to drag colors across the canvas:

bob ross painting quickly shit the bed. Turned into an #abstract instead. VoilΓ . #Art.

I'm actually pretty happy with it. I asked Dollar to check out my new painting and when he first saw it, he said, "Whoa, were you angry when you did this?" Hm. Maybe frustrated. But I liked that looking at the painting made him interpret an emotion from it. I'm going to try more abstract paintings.


[vermont] Snow in May

Woke up to this Monday morning:

Snow this morning. WTELF.

Heat kicked on in the house and I have a cold. What is this- Winter: Take 2? Of all the things I don't have time to deal with, "having a cold" is at the top of the list- especially since it's keeping me from visiting the new niece. Plus, I need to muster the energy to go to two concerts this week. I obviously didn't envision getting sick when I literally bought up ALL THE CONCERT TICKETS back in Feb when bands started announcing their summer tour dates.

Thankfully, I haven't had to cook anything at home. I've been personally benefiting from my mom over-cooking for my sister by receiving texts like, "I made too much lasagna. Come get some." And my friend doing Blue Apron sent me a free 3-meal kit, which should arrive tomorrow. So I don't have to think about meals for rest of the week. Which is good, since all I've had the strength to do is lay on the couch and watch the new season of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown on Netflix. Anthony, I get it, you're wicked into Jiu-Jitsu but I'm kind of tired of watching you do it. But congrats on your gold medal.


[knitting] Waimakariri socks

Pictures of the finished socks from Round 3 of Sock Madness 10:

waimakariri socks

The pattern is Waimakariri, which is the name of a river in New Zealand. The construction is interesting; toe-up, starting with a cable. Then the cable travels along sides of the foot, then across the ankles and around the leg. The pattern was well-written and clear. It just took a while for me to make the pair, only finding a bit of time here and there to work on them.

waimakariri socks

The fit is perfect for me. The yarn is Wollmeise Pure, 100% superwash merino. I didn't count but I think this yarn is 8-ply? It's insane. Very smooth, round yarn- perfect for cables. These socks feel like perfect, plush sweaters for my feet. I realize why people are so obsessed with this yarn. I may or may not lurk around the online shop tomorrow morning after the next scheduled stock update in Germany.


[misc] She's here!

I'm an auntie:

I'm an auntie. 🌸❤️πŸ‘Ά❤️🌸 Ripley born 5/14/16 7lbs 9oz. πŸ‘πŸ™ŒπŸ’―πŸ’

I've been an aunt for years to Dollar's many nieces and nephews but this is my sister's first baby. She's perfect. Her name is Ripley and she was 7lbs and 9oz. My sister delivered naturally like a champ. Finally nice to meet the little one who is going to be wearing so much of my handknit stuff.


[gardening] Pulmonaria

Lungwort starting to bloom in the shade bed:

#lungwort blooming. First hummingbird showed up today!

Things are growing well- looking forward to a bit of rain this afternoon. Saw my first hummingbird of the year yesterday- it was zipping around where the feeder hung last year. They remember. My two feeders spent the winter outside the garage, sitting on some gravel. So they were in a state of yuck. I got a toothbrush and scrubbed and rinsed and filled them with nectar. I hung them and the hummingbird came and took a sip out of each hole around... and then flew away. Usually they'll come, sit and drink for a good long while. Maybe they're too gross. The feed store is having a sale so I'm just going to get two new ones.

I finally (FINALLY!) finished the socks I started on... April 5. I guess that's not so long ago but it feels like it's been forever. They came out beautifully but now I'm beside myself trying to figure out what to start next!!! Plus, I'm going to prep a few canvases with black gesso this weekend to do some more Bob Ross painting. I'm so so so tempted to go to NH Sheep and Wool tomorrow but it's nearly two hours away for me now since it moved from Hopkinton to Deerfield. I obviously know I don't need any more yarn and I don't want spend the whole day away, so I think I'll pass and start a shawlette instead.


[gardening] Primula

Primrose in the back yard shade bed started blooming:

#primrose starting to bloom.

It's going to be nice and sunny and hot today. Going to work in the flowerbeds this afternoon- putting out some seeds and seedlings that I started indoors. It's going to rain tomorrow, so want to get stuff into the ground today so I don't have to think about it any more.


[cooking] Tteokbokki and Bibimbap

Made my semi-annual pilgrimage to Hmart with my mom this past weekend. Usually we go to the food court for lunch and then do our grocery shopping. This time, I wanted to stop by the liquor store next to Hmart first, to pick up soju which I haven't had since I visited Korea years ago and haven't been able to get in the states since. I think this liquor store must have started carrying it once they built Hmart and every Korean person in New England started going there to shop. This place had a good selection of different types of Korean spirits (and a excellent beer selection- will need to browse longer next time). My mom and I bought a healthy variety.

Then on to Hmart. Food court for lunch (#kimchijjigae4life). Then shopping. I did not buy any Vermont Curry:

The Vermont Curry display at Hmart is out of control. No one from Vermont eats this.

Vermont. Curry. I've seen it at Hmart before but this was an impressive end-of-aisle display. Vermont Curry in three levels of spiciness. Just Hungry has a very erudite explanation on why this popular Japanese curry is called what it is. I've not ever had a desire to try it- sweet and mild curries are not for me.

I made sure to buy all the fixings to make tteokbokki at home. These spicy rice cakes are actually not one of my most favorite Korean dishes to eat but I wanted to make it for a friend. She's just joined Blue Apron and after I checked out the menus online, I was surprised to see two weeks of tteok recipes (BA must have gotten a great deal on wholesale rice cakes!). Here's what I made at home for us to try:

#tteokbokki #drunkistagram

We picked at it as an appetizer but I still feel "meh" about it. I love bibimbap more and it takes virtually zero effort to make at home when I buy all the pickled vegetables premade at Hmart. All I had to do was cook the rice and fry some eggs. Then put it all in a dish:

bibimbap at home

By this time I was three sheets to the wind and was just impressed everything made it into the bowl.


[boardgames] Splendor

Picked up a few new games, all of which are playable for 2 people. Dollar and I tried out Splendor first:

First game of #Splendor. A day late for International Table Top Day but perfect for a rainy Sunday.

Quick game, good replayability. Plus, Kid Rock:

My name is kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid-

I'm not crazy, right? That definitely looks like him.

There's a Splendor App that I paid for and downloaded to the iPad. We've played that a couple times and really like it.


[misc] Murderface Monday

Murderface in bed next to me.

Murderface in bed

Great weekend- went to see Captain America: Civil War on Friday night. Best comic book movie ever made ever in the history of ever. I can't even comprehend the thought of the next Avengers movie not being released until May 2018. At least we have Doctor Strange this November and Guardians of the Galaxy next May.

Went to Hmart with my mom on Saturday and stocked up on everything. Even made a pit stop to the MA state liquor store next door to pick up a variety of Soju (Korean rice liquor). Sunday morning I found some time to nearly finish my socks but spent the afternoon doing Mother's Day stuff. Didn't get to do any painting :(

Only plans we have this week are a concert in Burlington this week and the NH Sheep and Wool Festival is this weekend. Looking forward to some sunny weather this week! Gotta start getting the flower beds tidied up.


[painting] Winter Night

I did my most recent Bob Ross painting last Friday night:

Winter Night.

Season 3 Episode 4 (free to watch on YouTube). This was working on a canvas covered with liquid black, rather than liquid white, to create a night scene. At this point I didn't have many of the paint colors that Bob uses, so my background trees are green rather than grey. Also, I had a hard time with snowy-tree technique. I almost gave up on this painting halfway through but I'm glad I finished. No mistakes, just happy accidents.

Looking forward to having some free time this weekend to work on another one. But I really really really want to finish these socks I've been working on forever. And I'm going to Hmart with my mom tomorrow. And we've got to carve out some time to to see Captain America: Civil War (#TeamCap). I need a vacation.


[painting] Quiet Cove

Another Bob Ross painting:

Quiet Cove

The painting is "Quiet Cove" from Joy of Painting, Season 23 Episode 5. I wanted to do a sky color other than blue. Was very happy with how my trees turned out in this one. Practice practice practice.


[painting] Mountain Summit

The 2nd painting I've done at home is Mountain Summit:

Mountain Summit

I followed along to a DVD that came with the basic painting set but this scene is from Joy of Painting, Season 13 Episode 10. Pretty happy with it- still getting the hang of all the techniques but these mountains are fun to do.

I need to rearrange my craft room. I recently acquired a new (used) spinning wheel and a small one-person couch. Everything is kind of jumbled in there and I've been painting in the dining room. I'd like to have a spinning corner, a knitting corner, a painting corner, a sewing/embroidery corner... And the room doesn't actually have that many corners. I'm taking the last week of the month off for a little staycation at home, mostly for gardening stuff. I think that might be the right time to reorganize the craft room.


[painting] Mountain Ridge Lake

I've taken several Joy of Painting classes with an instructor certified in the wet-on-wet oil painting technique. I was thrilled to see Hulu add the last few seasons of the show and I started watching episodes. I realized that I hadn't seen the show since I was a kid and watching Bob Ross do the techniques kind of opened my eyes. I ordered all the basic supplies and my sister gave me her easel. I then picked and episode and did my own at home:

Mountain Ridge Lake

This is from Season 23 Episode 3: Mountain Ridge Lake. I was kind of amazed- this is the first time I have ever done a mountain with a palette knife. I followed along with the episode on my iPad, pausing it when I needed more time. This took just over 2 hours.

I've been much happier painting at home, I think because I get to choose the scene I want to do. Dollar said he thinks the paintings I've done at home have been better and I agree. I am so excited about this new hobby and love that I can start and finish a painting in less than three hours, including set-up and clean-up.


[vermont] Must be the season of the... ramps

Saturday was beautiful weather. I had two car appointments in the morning but raced home to get up into the hills to pick.

Ramps. Wild leeks.

I spent a couple hours filling two shopping bags. I startled three ruffed grouse (who startled me back when they f'ing TOOK OFF to the skies from right next to me like feathered demons from hell), ran into hundreds of spiders (I eventually starting waving a stick in front of me to break the webs apart) and found one deer tick on my arm when I got back home (and promptly stripped in the laundry room, threw everything in to the washer and ran to the bathroom to meticulously shower/scrub).

I put off washing all the ramps but did make a quick chimichurri sauce with a few for supper:

Pulled pork with a quick ramp chimichurri.

I don't make chimichurri enough. It only took a couple minutes with a small food processor-

4 cleaned, chopped ramps
olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
pinch red pepper flakes

We had it with some homemade pulled pork- which went well together. The sharpness of the ramps and acidity of the vinegar paired well with the rich pork. And that's a Pillsbury Grands biscuit in the background because I keeps it real. Just kidding, I WAS going to use them to make steamed buns like at the very bottom of this recipe, but when I realized all I had for supper was pulled pork and chimichurri and I was tired and only had enough energy to press a spoon tip into the seam of a boxboard tube- I just plopped them into a cookie sheet.

More washing ramps tonight and making the old standbys- ramp compound butter, ramp pesto, pickled ramps.