News from the Nest, January 30
Good Morning all!
It is a bit of a rainy Monday here in southeast North Carolina and I’m here for it. I really don’t have to go anywhere today, well…maybe I don’t.
I told my kiddos that I am learning to bake sourdough and, naturally, they each would LOVE a loaf. All fine and well, except one lives in Philadelphia and one lives in San Diego. At first, I said I would bake for them the next time they are home, but they keep reminding me that they would REALLY LOVE a loaf.
So, I have two loaves in the fridge that will be baked today. One I’m a little concerned about; I don’t think I stretched it enough…I’m still learning. The other I think will be fine.
But…back to mailing fresh bread up the coast and across the country. Does anyone have any tips/experience with such shenanigans? Researching this folly is first on my to-do list today.
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Towards the end of last year, I discovered how much I enjoy working to the music of the many talented female jazz singers that have graced our airwaves. For most of January, I’ve been listening to the Nancy Wilson Station on Pandora through Amazon Music. This station plays the likes of Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and Blossom Dearie as well as more contemporary singers like Diana Krall and Stacey Kent.
on my nightstand
Many of you have written that you enjoy and appreciate my ‘book reviews’ (if you can call them that!) I always struggle with not giving too much away and am also cognizant that my likes are not everyone else’s likes. I think I am the ONLY person in the world who really didn’t think Where the Crawdads Sing was worth all the hoopla. 🤨
I am doing the Goodreads Reading Challenge again this year. Last year I read thirty books and this year upped it to thirty-three. So with that said, here’s what I’ve read thus far in 2023 and my quick and dirty review with one to five thumbs-up.
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 Wow, where to begin with this one? It’s a quick read, but it doesn’t feel quick. There is very little ‘feel good’ in the book, which is not a reason to not read it. McCarthy’s spare prose puts you right in the midst of this post-apocalyptic world, where, despite the suffocating hopelessness, a father and son still find hope. McCarthy does such a phenomenal job putting you in that world that one morning after I had read it the night before, I was slightly startled to hear birdsong.
- Howard’s End by E.M. Forster 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼 On the other end of the prose spectrum, this was an at times humorous and at times somber satire of the social strata of early 20th century England. I had never watched the movie before and followed the book by watching the Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson movie. The movie takes very few liberties, following the book closely.
- Burial Rites by Hannah Kent I haven’t quite finished this one yet, think I have thirty pages to go, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open to finish it last night. But, unless it completely falls apart in the last thirty pages, this will be another five thumbs up for me! So much so that I’ve already put in a request for the author’s other book. When I was describing the book to my mom, I read the first paragraph of the book jacket and remarked, “not sure why I choose to read something that sounds so depressing, but I’m glad I did.” It is a historical fiction based on the last beheading in Iceland in the early 19th century. Kent does a brilliant job with her prose of again, placing you in the stark and merciless world of Iceland at that time. We know how the story ends before it begins, but it is the way that the tale of our protagonist, Agnes, unravels that will keep you totally immersed in the book. It is a rare day that I take time during the middle of the day to sit down with a book, which I did with this one over the weekend. It is haunting, yet somehow lovely at the same time.
new on the blog
Roasting tomatoes is so easy and transforms them into something special. You can do it on the grill or in the oven. The grill is faster, but the oven essentially melts them into almost a ‘tomato candy’ that is otherworldly. It is rare that I don’t have a stash of roasted tomatoes in my freezer; we use them on our brothy beans, salads, and bowls, but their uses are endless. While not the prettiest food, they are way up there for being one of the yummiest and a great way to process and preserve mealy or tomatoes getting past their prime.
use what you have in the kitchen
I often challenge myself to use what I have in the kitchen for a month, allowing myself to purchase only perishables for that month. January has been one of those months, but as we still have a good deal of food in the freezer and pantry, it looks like February will be one, too!
For too many years, I found a recipe and shopped for the ingredients. Now I am trying to look at what I have and find or make a recipe that works for what I have. Here are a few recipes that we rely on when I actively work with what I have on hand:
- Brothy Beans I buy bulk bags of Cannellini beans, really because we enjoy these beans so much. This recipe is endlessly customizable and if you can’t find Cannellini, use Great Northern or Navy.
- Baked Omelet Use fresh or frozen eggs or egg whites or a mixture of both and the bits and bobs in your produce and/or meat & cheese drawer.
- If you have everything but Tomato Sauce, check out how to substitute some other ingredients for this common recipe element.
- Or try making your own Nomato Sauce if you’d like to avoid nightshades.
- Fromage Fort uses up the bits and bobs of fresh and frozen cheese for a delicious cheese spread. Get creative!
- If you stash nuts and seeds like I do, you might have all the ingredients to make this Rosemary, Fig, and Nut bread. Don’t have dried figs? Use dates, apricots, or other dried fruit. Don’t have all the different nuts and seeds? Substitute what you have. No almond butter? Use peanut, cashew, or a mix of both. Gluten-free!
- Lemons that need to be used before they go bad? Freeze them in cubes, with or without ginger. It makes it so easy to get a daily dose of lemon in your water or tea.
- Wraps are a great receptacle for any number of fillings you might have or be able to make with what you have in your kitchen.
knit or crochet things
- Seven dishcloth patterns to use the cotton yarn you have. As long as they are the same weight, consider stripes to use up all your skeins with small yardage.
- Don’t have enough yarn for the blanket you want to make, check out how to resize blankets, throws, and dishcloths to use what you do have.
- Apply a crochet edge to napkins. If you have a stash of material, make your own napkins, too.
- Speaking of knitting, I created quite a brouhaha on Facebook with my Seed Stitch post. Seems that what I learned as the Seed Stitch is called the Moss Stitch in different parts of our great big world. Who knew?!
- Our favorite purveyor of DPN holders sends this message:
I want to thank the knitters for patiently waiting for the Double Pointed Needle Holders.
Unfortunately, the new postage as per January 22nd was not lowered for first class mail so it didn’t make any difference. The holders were mailed out Monday and the last batch on Tuesday.
Those, who did not send their request before my inventory was exhausted, can hopefully make their own with the instructions that were posted in Lynn’s newsletter before. Happy Knitting and Cheers, ToveTove
if you want to use what you may have for your next craft project
- Use copper paint to transform a metal tub or bucket into a lovely ‘copper’ tub or bucket, with or without a lovely blue/green patina.
- Have or know someone who has a stained and well-loved Candlewick or Chenille bedspread in their attic? Make lovely hand towels with what can be salvaged! Just make sure it is cotton for absorbency.
- Do you know those plastic frames that have the cardboard box on the inside that were quite the rage some time ago? I used the plastic ‘box’ and marbleized it. It is still the perfect little tray for my desk.
- I know not everyone has a door laying about, at one time I had two in my attic! But in case you do or know someone who would love to part with one, you could make a desk with an Ikea frame. This has been my desk for the past seven years! I still love it.
- Save your wine corks and use any spare knobs you have to make these wine stoppers. Access to a drill press or something similar is useful.
- With a terra cotta saucer, some high gloss sealer, and a stand, you can make your own bird bath.
- You might have some copper pipe and old silverplate pieces laying about. If so, make a bird feeder!
- This burlap-covered bulletin board holds the photo Christmas Cards we have sent over the past 25+ years. An old bulletin board and fabric are all you really need.
Did you join the declutter challenge? If not, you can do so here. I was encouraged by this kind note from Cindy,
I am a very organized person and I still found things new to declutter from your lists! I look forward to them each week!
I just found these little bins at Walmart which may be perfect as I work through my craft room closet. I like that they are clear. I am always hesitant to buy things to declutter, seems a little hypocritical unless you do need help organizing your stuff. I have oodles of paint bottles that need corraling somehow and haven’t found the best method yet.
a few other fun finds
- If through your decluttering you tossed some worn and well-loved throw pillows, these fun pillows could add a bit of refresh to your space.
- Cute little bud vases that make lovely gifts with flowers from your garden.
Well friends, I’m off to bake bread and figure out to mail it across the country so that it is still tasty when it arrives. Any suggestions? Please send them my way.
RE: Where The Crawdads Sing. What can I say, didn’t hate it, but didn’t like it either. Really had to force myself to finish it as my best friend & reading buddy just raved about how good it was. I kept trying to give it a chance, but honestly, didn’t do it for me. Certainly will NOT go see the movie even tho my friend did & raved about how good it was. No thanks! I did read another book that if I may recommend to you “When Crickets Cry” by Charles Martin. This author wrote “The Mountain Between Us”, starring Idris Elba & Kate Winslet you may have seen the movie? Very good also!
Just had to comment on the book as I felt much as you did!
Thanks for your postings – love’em!
Barbara from TN
Yay! Another like minded person! I wholeheartedly agree with you. It was so predictable. I will give ‘When Crickets Cry’ a try! Thank for the book recommendation Barbara!
I didn’t love it either, and so glad to see I’m not the only one. It really feels like everyone else on Earth adores the book, but I was left feeling quite underwhelmed.
Yay! I just really didn’t like it while everyone else did somersaults over it! There have been a couple like that where I felt I was the only one not loving a book, so I’m always hesitant to give recommendations!
‘underwhelmed’ is an understatement!
I’ve got another good one now, though. It’s called Hamnet. BEAUTIFUL writing!