tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
(I missed "month six" mostly because we were in Minneapolis. I've been trying to write since then, but it just hasn't been working.)

I really can't believe how much Kai has matured. He's gotten bigger, of course. And he has an increasingly full head of hair (which will want trimming before long, not that I know what to do about *that*). His facial expressions are much more varied and nuanced, as are his sounds.  But the part that perpetually amazes me is his physicality.

He went from combat-crawling backward to combat-crawling forward while we were at his grandparents' house, then learned to pick up his belly, and has now coordinated the motions of his arms and legs so that he can zip across a room in seconds.  I was intending to put soft stuff on the corners of a few tables to protect his head, but he's already lurching around much less than before and so that probably won't be necessary until he's walking - which might be imminent at this rate.  He has been pulling up to standing since a few days after we got back here, and can now do it quite expertly.  He cruises along the sofa and I usually set up a foam "wedge" pillow at a right angle to the end of the sofa, enabling his hilarious new trick: he stands behind this and "drives" it around the room, by means of a pelvic bump.  It's kind of like a walker, only dramatically less efficient due to the huge amounts of friction between it and the carpet - I'm looking forward to the day when his real walker arrives (thank you, Mum!).

This morning he found the wine rack and pulled himself up on it, then jingled the glasses for quite a while. That was wonderfully amusing, but we can't really encourage it, because we're just one overly enthusiastic jingle away from broken wineglasses all over the floor.  I'll have to put the glasses on a shelf for the time being.

He rolls all over the place, all the time, too. Of course he tries to do so when we're changing his diapers, which can be quite comedic.  Unfortunately, he has also taken to doing this at night - this wouldn't be a problem except that he hasn't yet figured out how to fall back to sleep afterward. I can tell that he's making progress; a couple of times last night all it took was a gentle hand laid on his back and he went to sleep.  Complicating matters is that we're trying to transition him to a crib after having him in the cosleeper all this time.  He would, of course, rather sleep with us in our bed.

I picked up a few albums of children's music: "Songs for Wiggleworms" and "Wiggleworms Love You" are both quite musical.  I checked a few more out of the library.  And Kai LOVES music.  I did bring him to a Kindermusik class last week, and I liked the idea behind it (a dozen babies & parents gather weekly to sing and move to songs), but I was really disappointed by the "music" involved.  So I'll look into other such classes.  Meanwhile, we both sing to him every day, and sometimes play guitar as well, so that's something.  I just think it would be neat to do it in the company of other kids. Maybe I'll set something up with the parents' group.  I could lead something like that if Eric could participate with Kai.  Or maybe I'll refrain from taking on another commitment right now. :)

Kai has now tried a variety of foods, and doesn't seem as excited by them as he did at first.  He seems to like everything that's mixed with breastmilk or is sufficiently fatty by itself (avocado), but not be as crazy about other stuff with one notable exception: I got him some rice crackers and he ADORES them - mostly, I think, because he gets to feed himself!

We have added some blocks and stacking toys to his collection, and he seems to really be enjoying them.  Of course he's not stacking or sorting them himself yet, but he really enjoys disassembling them and knocking them over when someone else has set them up.  He seems to especially love his cone sorter.

He also loves playing in the bath.  We hadn't been bathing him every day - how dirty does an infant get? But now that he's eating and crawling, I've been immersing him more frequently and giving him a couple of plastic cups to play with while I sponge him off.  He has discovered splashing, which is loads of fun.  And then yesterday I let him sit in the bathroom sink.  He pulled on the tap and, remarkably, water came out!  (He chose the cold water tap, but even if he hadn't I would have had lots of time to react; it takes practically forever for hot water to reach us up here on the third floor.)

I've been interrupted several dozen times trying to write this, so forgive me if it's impossible to read.  It certainly doesn't include everything that I intended to put in.  I really prefer to write stuff here, but that's mostly because something something cohesive whatever.  I don't think I'll be back here; I'm just going to post one-sentence tidbits on the things that I have a usable phone interface for: facebook and google plus.

Also, we're going to be renting a house.  There are photos on google plus.
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
I have the best banana bread recipe in the world!

And now, so do you:

1-3/4 c. flour (anything except King Arthur)
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. shortening (try the non-hydrogenated kind; it's great - and they sell it at The Wedge)
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. mashed bananas (3 bananas, unless they're exceptionally large or small)
1 c. chopped dates (or those silly red and green candied cherries that they only sell around Xmas.  But the dates taste MUCH better)
OPTIONAL - 1/2 c. walnuts, pecans, or whatever suits your fancy

  1. Preheat your oven to 325.  Use an oven thermometer!  Letting it climb to 350 is okay; letting it climb higher than that is *not*.
  2. Grease a loaf pan.  (I like the Pyrex 1.5 quart loaf pan)
  3. Thoroughly combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside
  4. Cream together shortening and sugar; add eggs and vanilla and mix well
  5. Add bananas and beat until smooth (using an electric mixer on medium speed we're talking under a minute)
  6. Gently, lovingly, stir the dry ingredients into the mixture.  Do this with a fork, wooden spoon, your fingers - anything but your mixer.  Stop when it's still a bit powdery
  7. Stir in the fruits and optional nuts
  8. Coax the batter into the loaf pan and - important! - let it sit undisturbed for 20 minutes before putting it in the oven (you're allowing the baking soda to begin rising the bread.  If you rush this, the bread will be too dense.)
  9. Place the pan in the oven.  Don't bother with a cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for one hour.  If your oven has hot spots, you can turn the pan once, but otherwise you'll get best results if  you don't open the oven at all.
  11. Cool the assemblage on a wire rack for 1/2 hour before removing the loaf from the pan

I am just so enamored of this stuff.  Not to mention that it's a great way to get rid of bananas that have gone brown.  I used to make it with nuts, but Eric doesn't like nuts in his baked goods, so now I make it without - it might be even more delicious this way.  You can eat it warm or cold, slather it with butter or not - heck, if you get really ambitious I suppose you could ice it, although that might be gilding the lily.

I'm a locavore hippie chick, so I use aluminum-free baking powder, raw cane sugar, cage-free eggs, and the aforementioned non-hydrogenated shortening.  I'm sure it would turn out just fine with more mainstream ingredients, but I'm changing the world here, awright?  Also, although it goes without saying: real vanilla - the best you can find.  It's worth it.

This recipe came from my grandmother - whence before her, I really don't know.

I hope you enjoy it.

tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Apparently not everyone has heard about this yet:

Hennepin County recently sent out its Proposed Property Tax Bills for 2011.  Most Minneapolis residents are staring at the annual percent change figures in shock and awe, but many find their market valuations feasible.

However, in some neighborhoods (I've heard "Northside including Camden," and "parts of South including Phillips" quoted), residents believe that the market valuations given to their homes are significantly and systemically too high.  Because the market value is used to calculate the amount of taxes a homeowner pays, an overvaluation of 50% can mean overtaxation of 50%.

Hence the U of MN law school has brought a class-action suit against the city of Minneapolis.

You can read more about it here:

ETA: Hey, folks!  Remember that renters pay property taxes too - it's just that they pay via their landlords rather than paying the county directly....
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
We need to give away two perfectly nice, gently used beds:
  • Twin boxspring and mattress with metal bedframe and wooden headboard  ...Pending
  • Queen boxspring and pilllowtop mattress (Original Mattress Factory)  Spoken for!
If you're interested, please arrange transportation for one/both and let me know when you'd like to pick them up. Any evening this week or a prearranged time on the weekend works for me.

(If I don't hear from anyone by Friday morning, I'm freecycling them.)

Test Post

Nov. 12th, 2010 05:26 pm
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
This is a test of the Emergency Dreamwidth Cross-posting System. This is only a test. If this were a real post, it would contain actual information.

So, can you see this?

ETA: Testing editing of crossposts.

OTD

Aug. 20th, 2010 12:19 pm
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Today's Wondermark may have been written for my beloved husband.

Berries

Aug. 14th, 2010 10:26 pm
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
From Wikipedia:

In botanical language, a berry is a simple fruit having seeds and pulp produced from a single ovary; the ovary can be inferior or superior.

Examples of botanical berries include:

tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
The alt-text for today's A Softer World should read, "We are glad to have at least one of you as our friends."
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Whee! Okay, since it's been a million years since I posted, this is going to be a bit scatter-shot:

We have a house full of gorgeous and delicious tomatoes (3 varieties) peppers (beaver dam, others not ready yet), carrots (both), cucumbers, ground cherries, and assorted herbs. Eric has taken photos of at least some of these which I'll post once they're uploaded.

All of the peas are done for the season, and the green beans are few and far between. I let them dry on the vines and we threshed them (which is a funny term to use when you're doing it by hand, but whatever) yesterday. The seeds are still a bit moist, so they're laid out next to an air conditioner for further dehumidifying before I pop them in the freezer for de-weevilization.

The purple pole beans are still drying; they're very large and were the latest crop of the four legumes. We didn't end up eating many of these fresh, but they should be good dried (after I've pulled out as many as we desire for seed).

All of the peppers and all of the tomatoes except the Federles are free of blossom-end rot. Apparently the Federles need more calcium than the others. I'll fortify the whole plot next year; I bought plenty this time around.

As far as next year's planting, I think we'll need more space. I also need to change the configuration a bit; having short herbs in front, medium "bush" plants in the middle and tall/climbing stuff in back works for some items, but not others. More to come....

Increase:
  • Ground Cherries
  • Basil - this needs its own space
  • Sugar Snap Peas - at least double the allotment
  • Carrots
  • Green beans - although might replace bush variety with a climber
  • Onions - these need a larger, dedicated plot. I'll bet they would work well in my big containers

Maintain:
  • Cucumbers - as mentioned earlier, my Boothby's succumbed to cold, but the 2 True Lemon plants are providing about the right total yield
  • Most herbs
  • All peppers - may also consider adding a chili
  • All tomatoes - this is about the perfect mix, or would be if I got a full yield of Federles

Decrease:
  • Sunberries - I don't love them enough for the amount of space they take/shade they cast. Interestingly, they seem to be sacrifical - something is eating their leaves but nothing else.
  • Radishes - smaller plot, more frequent plantings
  • Broccoli - again, too much space/light for its yield
  • Purple pole - may not plant again, yet to decide
  • Snow Peas - I'm thinking of planting only sugar snap next year
In addition, the perennials are looking good.  The rhubarb is lush, the strawberries are thriving in their container and want to go into the ground, and the raspberries, which surprised me by being blush-colored when ripe, are delicious and now producing nicely.

I never did get any endive/kale/spinach/radicchio in (as a result of not doing lead tests), nor did I plant any corn/sunflowers/melon (ran out of room).  Next year, I hope.

Next episode - adventures in tomato seed-saving.
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Okay, so it's been billions of years since I've posted one of these.  Life is keeping me very busy, as is the day-to-day maintenance of the garden.  Writing is a distant third in my priorities. :)

I bought way too much at the Friends' Plant Sale, as always.  Some of it is still waiting to be planted/repotted; more on this to come, no doubt.  I am particularly delighted to have found a nice little bay laurel.  I also got a pomegranate.  It claims to be self-fertile; if I'm very lucky I may eventually get edible fruit out of the deal.

We had one cold night during the second week in May and lost a tomato and a cucumber.  The tomato I replanted, but I was out of cucumbers.  The basil lost it leaves but there was enough root there that it's leafing out again (although we did replant one of the three Genovese basil with one we had started in a pot).  A couple of the peppers looked rough for a bit but have now recovered.

In fact, almost everything is looking fabulous.  The sunberries are unbelievably vigorous; I hope they taste good, too.  The broccoli is amazing, as is the parsley.  Most of the tomatoes and peppers look grand.  Everything is going like gangbusters except the cucumbers and rosemary, which are getting kind of a slow start.  For rosemary, of course, that's just the nature of the beast.

I got myself a very nice hoe - the compact triangle-head variety, which is fantastic for a small garden like mine.  I love it; I can't imagine trying to do all this weeding by hand.

The peas are in blossom, but nothing else is yet.  However, I've already harvested half the radishes.  We re-seeded with carrots because I think we'll end up eating many more carrots than radishes.  It surprised me how much spicier the radishes got after just a few extra days' maturity - these claim to mature in 21 days, and they're not kidding.

Lessons for next year:
  • I think I already mentioned that I intend to start all my indoor seedlings in the large pots (36 per tray).
  • Start peppers and tomatoes just a bit later - Mid-March should do the trick.  Start rosemary very early and cucumbers very late.  I know that various organizations provide charts for this, and I'll use them this time around.
  • Remember to put the darned calcium in this time.
  • Make sure to put the broccoli where it can't overshadow anything.  It's not tall, but it's dense!
  • The vine on the south fence is incredibly vigorous; I'll have to remove it at the source if I intend to grow anything sun-loving near it.

I haven't managed to deliver plants to everybody who spoke for them, but I do still have them!
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
We had an incredibly productive couple of days digging things up, cutting things down, and chopping things apart, followed by a little bit of planting (3 rhubarb crowns).  Eric was mighty, and persistent enough to rid us of a few tree stumps that had taken up residence in the chainlink fence several years ago, not to mention a huge hunk of concrete formerly used as a fencepost anchor.  I found a circa 1900 silver teaspoon and a badly corroded pliers.

We agree on our hatred of chainlink fence, but we'll keep it for a this year, at least - it makes a perfectly good trellis for climbing crops, and I've placed the garden up against the fence with that in mind.

The Karens were right - the cucumbers are already  flowering, darn it.  I think it's time for coldframes & bees.

We did have a visit from a honeybee yesterday.  I told him that he was a little early, but there would be wonderful things here for him before too long.

It's also time for me to take soil samples for lead testing - right after lunch.  Results will determine whether I do raised beds; I'm hoping it won't be necessary.

It will be a struggle to keep writing here as the weather gets nicer.  If previous years are any indication I'll be tempted to turn my computer off in May, and back on again in November.
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
And just in case you're missing the Important News of Today, you might want to check out Slashdot.
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
We have lots of little crocuses coming up in the lawn - several white, a few lavender, and so far just a single deep purple one.  So far they're all on the north side of the lawn - those always show up sooner than their opposite number.  I planted them there a few years ago, and they have mostly hung in there, although it seems I lose a few on the south side and gain a few on the north every year.

* * * * *

The seedlings are doing well.  I let some of them get too dry to the point of wilting yesterday, but they've all recovered.  The broccoli and cucumbers are about to lose their seed leaves.

The wilt problem with the tomatoes was confined to just a couple of plants.  Looking closely at one of them it appeared to have bred untrue, so I culled it.  There's one more that isn't quite as dramatic; I'll give it a few more days to see whether it's going to straighten up (literally & figuratively).

* * * * *

I repotted 3 houseplants last week: the new fatsia, the ficus lyrata, and the ficus elastica.  No more ugly plastic nursery pots in the living room!  And it only took 6 years or so.  :P

The jasmine has scale, and apparently gave it to the fatsia.  So last weekend when the weather was nice, I took them each outside, hosed them down, spritzed them down with spray oil, and let them sit outside until dry.  The fatsia seems completely cured.  The jasmine was so heavily infested that I'm going to give it another go next time the weather is decent.  I can see the ugly little things beginning to fall off already, which is good.  I hate scale.

Mum's clivia miniata is blooming beautifully.  I'm so lucky it's hanging out with me for now. :)

Tomorrow Mum & I head to Ikea to pick up some more of that incredibly cheap utilitarian shelving they carry.  I have cleaned out the grow room and intend to use one wall for storing indoor plant supplies.

* * * * *

Thank goodness it's spring.

Food

Mar. 24th, 2010 07:49 pm
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
For dinner last night: Chana Masala, steamed broccolini with lemon, spinach salad, and Korbel Brut (because I really wanted a white wine and didn't have anything else chilled - poor planning). The entree was tasty, a little spicy, and really light - the versions I'm used to are a little creamier. So I asked a co-worker who is 1) from southern India 2) a bit of a gourmet (and 3) afaiknolj) how he makes his, and he promised me a recipe.

This afternoon I visited Clancey's for some sausages, duck jerky, and chuck. Tonight I've put a beef stew on - it should be done in a few minutes, and we'll have it with the fresh honey wheat boule from Great Turtle and a mediocre Chilean cabernet (I know this because some of it already went into the stew). Perhaps I'll freeze the wine for use in cooking later.

Food

Mar. 22nd, 2010 10:19 pm
tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)

For dinner tonight: ginger-poached catfish fillets over rice; stir-fried green beans with kosher salt; "Evolution" eclectic white.

(I should've taken a picture; it was pretty.)

Eric was a fan of the entree; I liked but didn't love it. The texture was grand, but it was a touch too gingery for me. Eric's choice of wine was inspired. We both loved the beans.


tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Things look good this morning after yesterday's changes.

The only tomatoes that seem even the tiniest bit wilty are the federles, and I'm beginning to suspect that it's just their habit. I grew some of these last year from seedlings, but I can't clearly recall whether their tips drooped over this way.

Fixture height:
T5: 8" above low tray; 5" above high tray
HPS: Unchanged


tesla: Wedding photo: Eric and Tesla in Millenium Park on their wedding day (Default)
Perseverance has paid off! A couple of rosemary sprouts are up.

Because the rosemary and oregano were right in the middle of the tray that got too hot (and because I love them both), I have planted more of each.

I transferred the survivors from the 128-cell tray to a new 72-cell. I see two problems with the 128-cell tray: it's really hard to water each cell selectively, meaning that some cells are soaked while others are barely moist enough; and the cells are just too small to allow things to get a decent foothold. I'll keep the tray, but may not decide to use it again - especially not if I'm planting this early.

A couple of the tomatoes are looking just a bit wilty at the top, so I have moved them off the heat mat and (from the HPS) to the fluorescent fixture. This is very convenient, as it allows me to put the smaller guys (including the newly sown ones) on said heat mat. To compensate for the taller seedlings, I raised the fluorescent fixture - I didn't get a measurement tonight, will have to do so tomorrow. I raised the tray of little guys by setting it atop a spare tray that I had overturned and putting the heat mat between the trays.

I hope the wiltiness is nothing serious; will have to do some research. I've allowed the soil to go dry between waterings, but may still be overwatering a touch, so I'll back off for a bit. I don't think they're damping off; their stalks look fantastic, and I did use a sterile potting mix. I could stand to thin a couple of the cells, and it's almost time to fertilize again.

On a lighter note, I think someone's messing with me: I've had a couple of "accidentals" pop up. Nothing shocking, but the way in which it's happening is most amusing. The catnip sprouted broccoli and the borage got cucumber - in other words, everything is a lookalike to the inhabitants of the cell it's showing up in. I'd think it was a practical joke, if only Eric had known which sprouts would look alike while he was planting.

Saw Nicole on Friday and she was telling me how wonderful ground cherries are. So now I'm really looking forward to getting to know them, plus I know to whom I can contribute one of the seedlings.

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Tesla Seppanen

January 2012

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