Sheared Bliss

Schmapped Again
July 31, 2009, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Colorado, Randomness | Tags: , , , ,

Yup – more schmappage.  This time it’s the Denver Zoo.


Good Clean Fun
July 27, 2009, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Food, History, Museum | Tags: , , , , ,

This past weekend I joined the lovely ladies down at the museum for a day of soap making.  I’ve always wanted to make soap and never had the chance until now.  My chemistry class in high school was supposed to make soap until someone in the period before mine spilled lye and failed to tell the teacher who put her hand in it thinking it was water and gave herself a nasty chemical burn.  We’ll call that my safety warning.  Soap making uses some serious chemicals so be careful!

Step 1: Mix the lye into the water (not the other way around or you’ll have an explosion on your hands).  This creates an exothermic reaction (hey, look at me remembering stuff from chemistry class).  For those of you who don’t remember chemistry class, that means it heats up.  Really heats up.  It was 170 degrees the first time we took its temperature, but I’m pretty sure it started out hotter than that.

Step 2: While you’re waiting for the lye solution to cool down you can start heating the fat.  You can use pretty much any kind of fat – lard, bacon drippings, whatever you’ve got on hand.  We made one batch with tallow (mmm . . . beefy!) and one batch with olive oil (that makes castile soap).

V melting tallow over the fire.

Step 3: When the lye solution and the fat are both about 120 degrees, mix them together.

Step 4: Stir for all you’re worth.

Keep stirring!

Keep stirring!

As you stir, a saponification reaction takes place between the lye and the fat creating an entirely new substance – soap!

Step 5: When the soap is the right consistency (something like a thin batter), pour it into molds.

Dont spill!

Don't spill!

Step 6: Let it sit in the mold for at least 24 hours.  During this time the saponification reaction will continue causing the soap to harden.

Step 7: Tip it out of the mold and cut it into manageable pieces.

Step 8: Let it cure for a month or two before using.

Step 9: Lather, rinse, repeat.

We also made lunch because soap making is hungry work. 

Squash cakes, carrots and onions, salad, scones, nut bread, clotted cream, and two kinds of preserves – oh my!

After lunch we had to do something with this:

Thats a six and a half pound cabbage.  After hefting it, J commented that it was the same weight as her son when he was born.

That's a six and a half pound cabbage. J commented that it weighed the same as her son when he was born.

We made sauerkraut then called it a day.

What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
July 23, 2009, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Randomness | Tags: ,

 On my way home from work tonight, I saw a group of high school girls running along the sidewalk.  I assumed they were doing some sort of summer practice for a sports team.  When they got closer I realized that they weren’t running, they were galloping.  “That’s odd,” I thought, “Maybe their coach is crazy and makes them do weird things when they run.”  As they galloped past my car, however, I figured out what was really going on.  Several of the girls were holding two halves of coconuts and banging them together as they galloped.  They were reenacting Monty Python and the Holy Grail!  It totally made my day.

Tomato Trouble
July 21, 2009, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Garden, Randomness | Tags: , , , ,

I am sad to report that all is not well in tomato land.

The beautiful green fruit appear to be suffering from blossom-end rot.  I’ve decided to try a folk remedy that I’ve heard good reports about.  Supposedly blossom-end rot is a result of calcium deficiency.  One could go to the garden center and buy some kind of fancy calcium supplement for the soil, but I only have one little tomato plant here so I figure I only need a little bit of calcium.  I popped out to the local Walgreen’s and found myself confronted with a question one doesn’t often face when buying gardening supplies – would my tomato prefer assorted berry or assorted fruit flavor?

Yup, Tums.  Hey, it’s calcium, it’s cheap, and I’ve heard that it works.  I cut off the rotten tomato then crushed up the Tums, dissolved them in water, and watered the tomato with it.  Hopefully I caught it in time to save the rest of the tomatoes.

*     *     *

The superstitious part of me doesn’t want to post this, but for those of you following the bat saga we seem to be bat free.  Quick, everybody knock on wood!  On Saturday morning I hand delivered my strongly worded letter and photographic evidence to the property manager who promptly flipped out.  She claimed to have no knowledge that this had been going on, called Terminex immediately (they apparently have a sub-contractor who deals with bats), and promised that it would be dealt with first thing Monday morning.  At 9:00 Monday morning we were graced with the presence of the head of maintenance for the complex, Terminex’s bat guy, and roofer.  They found a hole big enough for the roofer to fit most of his hand in, determined that it did not appear to currently contain bats, and repaired it.  This is the fourth night with no bat noises so we’re cautiously optimistic.  Hooray!

Bat.  Outside.  Where its SUPPOSED to be.

Bat. Outside. Where it's SUPPOSED to be.

 PS: I went with assorted berry.

Enough Already
July 17, 2009, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Randomness | Tags:

Ok, I was all set to write another cute post about how the second bat got out of the fireplace and was safely released into the wild this morning, but it’s pretty much ceased to be amusing anymore. 

Last night – Realize bat two (the dumb bat) is still in the fireplace.  Try to coax it out unsuccessfully.

This morning – Bat two comes out and we capture it in a basket.  CodeMonkey has to go to a meeting so I spend the morning on the phone with animal control, the county health department, a wildlife rescue organization, apartment management, NurseK, and my mommy (because sometimes a girl just needs moral support).  NurseK comes over to help with bat wrangling (we decided two pairs of hands were a good idea).  After repeatedly reassuring multiple people at both animal control and the health department that no humans or domesticated animals had come into direct contact with the bat and politely but firmly pitching a fit to our apartment management insisting that they immediately fix whatever hole is allowing the bats access to our fireplace, I had a very informative conversation with the nice man at the animal rescue place (Did you know bats can go into a torpor at will to conserve energy if they’re in a situation where they can’t eat or drink?).  Following his advice, NurseK and I successfully returned the bat to the wild.  I suited up in my protective bat wrangling gear (a hoodie and gardening gloves), carried the basket o’ bat to a wooded area, and released the bat into a cottonwood tree (not sure why, but cottonwoods are preferable and pines are no good at all).

Yay!  Happy ending, right?  Wrong.

Tonight – Shrub was still paying an inordinate amount of attention to the fireplace and, when I came near, I could hear the telltale high pitched squeaking.  Another bat.  This is getting increasingly less cute.  Especially now that we’ve realized that we not only have bat number three in the fireplace, but also bat number four. 

Pardon me while I go compose a strongly worded email to our apartment management.

Holy flying rodents, Batman!
July 16, 2009, 8:19 pm
Filed under: Randomness | Tags:

Soooo . . . have you ever had someone talk to you as you’re falling asleep and when you wake up you can remember that they talked to you, but not what was said?

The other night as I was going to bed CodeMonkey came in and told me that Shrub was acting funny and seemed to be stalking something in the living room.  He couldn’t see what it was, but we both assumed it was a bug (fun and tasty!) and he was glad because it meant she wasn’t bothering him while he was trying to work.  I was nearly asleep when he came back in and told me . . . something.  The next morning I woke up and vaguely remembered that CodeMonkey had said something, but I couldn’t remember what.  I assumed it wasn’t too important, but when I wandered out into the living room I started to rethink that assessment.  There was a hand mirror lying in the middle of the living room floor and the metal front of our fireplace was partly disassembled.  Hmm . . .  Did this have something to do with what CodeMonkey was telling me last night?  I still can’t remember so I trot back into the bedroom to poke CodeMonkey.

Me: Honey? (poke poke) Honey, wake up. (poke)

CodeMonkey: (mumble, roll over)

Me: (poke poke) No, really, I need you to wake up enough to tell me why my mirror is in the living room.

CodeMonkey: (mumble mumble) crevice (mumble)

Me: What crevice?  What are you talking about?

CodeMonkey: (making a great effort at coherence) I was using it to look in the crevices.

Me: Crevices?

CodeMonkey: (very annoyed now and still mostly asleep) In the fireplace!

Me: . . . (thinks hard) . . . OH MY GOD!  You told me that there was a bat in here last night, didn’t you?!?!?

CodeMonkey: Yes. (pulls pillow over his head)

After CodeMonkey woke up I got the full story.  Apparently Shrub was stalking something, but it wasn’t a bug.  She was sitting staring at the fireplace very intently.  Eventually CodeMonkey realized that the strange noises he was hearing weren’t coming from outside, they were coming from the fireplace.  He went over to investigate and saw this:

Yeah, somehow a bat managed to get in our fireplace.  No, not in the fireplace like it flew down the chimney and came out through the fireplace itself, but in the fireplace like it’s stuck between the metal fireplace insert and the surrounding wall.

CodeMonkey shut a very annoyed Shrub in the bathroom and proceeded to try to get the bat out.  He tried to dismantle the metal front of the fireplace, but realized that it’s actually cemented into the wall and there’s no way to get it out to free the bat.  During this process he also realized that there’s not one, but two bats.  Even better!

Fortunately, while messing around with the fireplace, CodeMonkey discovered that, even though he couldn’t take it apart to get the bats out, if he pushed on the metal frame it made a gap big enough for them to crawl through.  He pushed on the hole and bat one came popping out.  It flew a victory lap around the living room and landed on the floor:

CodeMonkey promptly dropped a basket over it and whisked it outside.  So far, so good – now for bat two.

Bat two (which CodeMonkey has dubbed “the dumb bat”) was having none of it.  CodeMonkey held the gap open for it, shone his flashlight in, made encouraging batty noises, all to no avail.  The dumb bat just sat there in the fireplace looking at him.  Finally at 4am CodeMonkey gave up and went to bed – the bat definitely wasn’t going anywhere.

The next morning after waking up, CodeMonkey called the apartment office.  The maintenance guy’s suggestion?  “Well, I guess you could light a fire and smoke him out . . .”  Um, yeah, thanks dude.  What’s worse than a bat in your fireplace?  A DEAD bat in your fireplace!

Thankfully we haven’t heard any strange noises from the fireplace since then so we’re hoping the poor batty-bat got out the way he came in.

And now, because it’s been stuck in my head for DAYS and I just have to share:

Tomato Tuesday
July 14, 2009, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Garden | Tags: ,

Oh, Sarah . . .?

You may have two plants, but I have actual produce.

How do you like them tomatoes?