Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Made This!

Saint Patrick's Day is nearly over - I hope you had a good one! I spent much of the day outdoors in the garden, not just wearin' o' the green, but surrounded by it, planting lots of alyssum, petunias, marigolds, and some herbs. We did our celebrating, such as it was, having dinner with at my mom's: corned beef and cabbage, the classic dinner. My contributions were Irish soda bread and Guinness ice cream; the soda bread I've made before, but the ice cream was a new venture. The recipes for both are at:

Here's the soda bread ready to go into the oven (the cross is not only traditional for religious reasons but lets it rise properly):
and here it is just out of the oven:
I made just half the recipe and baked it as one large loaf (the full recipe says to divide the dough into 4 round loaves) and added 1/3 cup currants, just because I happened to have them. I make soda bread occasionally when I want a quick, fresh, hot bread to have with soup or stew and haven't the time or inclination to make a yeast bread. I took this loaf out of the oven, wrapped it in a clean dish towel and headed down to Mom's, and it was still warm when we had dinner.
We ended dinner with the Guinness ice cream (recipe also from the above website):
Looks like coffee ice cream, doesn't it? It's extremely decadent - a 12 ounce bottle of Guinness boiled down to 3 ounces (presumably the alcohol cooks out), 2 cups of heavy cream, 2 cups of whole milk, and 6 egg yolks! plus sugar and vanilla. The Guinness reduction adds an interesting bitter note that's good with such a rich and otherwise potentially cloying custard base. Now that we've got the ice cream maker back out of deep storage, it will probably get used mostly for lighter sorbets and frozen yogurts. But as the Irish say, "A little bit of what you like never hurt you!" Just so long as it's a little and not too often.
But the main thing I'm excited about today, and the reason why I gave this post its title (stolen from the closing credits of an old TV show - the X-Files, maybe?) is my new IKEA dresser that I put together 99% by myself (Joe did help me turn it upside down to fasten the top on).

I am so incredibly proud of myself! It had been sitting in its box for a few weeks; I hadn't tackled it because, quite frankly, I'm married to a man who does all the handy craftsman-around-the-house stuff so well that it kind of intimidates me. But he's been busy with major garage reorganization, involving replacing a piece of the ceiling that came down when it was so cold and a pipe burst, so I though, why not give it a try. I've served as carpenter's helper often enough I thought I could handle it - and I could! And I did! And now I have room for all my socks in one drawer with space to spare! (My sock fetish started when I learned to knit on double-pointed needles - Joe's as impressed with my ability to turn a heel as I am with his carpentry, landscaping, and other know-how. One evening when we were watching TV and I was knitting a sock, he said in a tone of absolute innocent amazement, "It's just magic the way you do that!" Well, it isn't really, but I suppose the directions do look pretty arcane to a non-knitter.)

Notice the Hindu god Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, to the left of the oil lamp - I'm sure having him there in the room helped a lot, as I only got confused a couple of times and not for long. IKEA instructions are all pictures, no words worth mentioning, and I didn't use any bad words at all while completing this project! The hardest part was getting the drawers into position to slide properly, and that was my fault, not IKEA's.

Just a little feng shui note: our bedroom is in the love-and-marriage area of our house (nice planning on someone's part, huh?) so red is the appropriate color, in addition to being a main color in my favorite quilt. The dresser is in the helpful people area of the room, and the pictures above it are right for that spot. Clockwise from top left they are: a print that my grandfather won for my grandmother at the fair when they were courting (and a protective angel is always a good thing to have); a cross-stitch sampler I made years ago, a copy of a Shaker design and sentiment that I find both calming and instructive ("Hear and learn to be silent, be silent and learn to understand, understand and learn to remember"); my father's church Cradle Roll certificate from Gem, Kansas, 1921; and my mother's church Cradle Roll certificate from Emmett, Idaho, 1923. So in addition to Ganesh and another angel on the dresser, both on a beautiful doily Joe's Nonni crocheted, I think we have lots of loving, positive energy there, don't you?

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