Monday, March 28, 2011

Cooking: Pullman

Are you like me?  Do you save the half of your sandwich that's shaped like a perfect triangle for last because it's your favorite?  Then you'll love this.

I recently tried the recipe for Pain de Mie in my bread machine.  I loved the texture of the loaf, but it wasn't until I made it in the traditional pan, known as a Pullman pan here in the states, that I realized what great bread it really is.

The Pullman creates a perfectly square-shaped loaf of bread by using a lid that attaches firmly to the top of the pan.  As the dough rises, it fills all the corners, so what you end up with is a perfect equal square when you slice it.  So if you like the triangles, as I do, or have kids that want the crusts cut off, try a Pullman pan and this recipe from King Arthur Flour:

If you prefer a softer crust, then I recommend tipping the loaf out of the pan as directed in the recipe, but then wrapping it in a tea towel or other clean, lint-free towel until it's cool.  This will trap the steam and  soften the crust.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Shop Stuff: More Earrings

Well having strep throat all weekend kind of slowed my momentum down with the earring project.  I did manage to make several pair yesterday, snap the pics, and get some of them listed on the shop.  Unfortunately I also got sidetracked into making a pair for myself like an idiot.

I also got sidetracked by planning and searching for components for a True Blood knitter's group swap package.  Not surprisingly, it is very hard to find vampire-themed gift wrap in March.  One of my group's swap coordinators suggested drawing fangs on some cavorting leprechaun paper, but we'll save that for a last resort.  I am planning on making my package recipient a pair of silver and red heart earrings, since silver through the heart is so apropos to the True Blood show theme.  I have a feeling I'm not the only jeweler in the group that has thought of this, however, so my gift may or may not be unique, depending on where this other person gets their supplies.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Miscellaneous: Illiteracy, Laziness, and You

So I'm looking through art books just for fun, and a little inspiration, when I come across this little gem:

Great Book of Dragon Patterns: The Ultimate Design Sourcebook for Artists and Craftspeople

If you flip through the available pages on the "Look Inside!" popup, when you get to Chapter One, second paragraph it reads:

      "Because the dragon is created from man's imagination, his body shape, adornments, skin texture, color, and even his environment are open to the interruption of the crafter."

Obviously the word in bold is supposed to be "interpretation".  I spotted this in five seconds from a crappy, blurry scan in a PDF document.  What the hell?  How does this make it to print?  I'll tell you... cheapness, and laziness. 

I've seen a ton of misspellings, punctuation errors, weird paragraph splits (typesetters not watching what they're doing) in recent works.  This is not just printed works, but eBooks too.  As a whole, the literary industry in the US has gotten sloppy, lazy, or so overworked they can't take the time because publishing companies are too cheap to hire help.

Some published spelling or contextual errors are because someone just runs a spell-checker and calls it good.  Some are because there's a deplorable lack of standards in this country for education, and since everyone is equally poorly-educated, no one notices the error.

Yes, I have my blind spots and persistent errors when it comes to my own writing.  I'm not saying I'm perfect.  But when it's your job to make sure that things are spelled correctly, shouldn't you do so?  When it's your job to catch when an author uses "your" and "you're" interchangeably, and correct it, shouldn't you know how to do that?  Not relying on a piece of software, but to look at it with your OWN EYES?

And for some of you, this may seem like a trivial concern.  "Who cares?" you may ask.  I have seen huge fights break out (okay, on the internet, but still) over a misspelling because *one letter* totally changed the context of what the person wrote.  I'm talking a reaction where the cops were almost called to crack down on this guy in real life because people thought something disturbingly illegal was going on.  One letter.  And the problem with allowing misspellings in books is that it's not just one misspelling... it's one misspelling on millions of copies, exposed to millions of readers.

And trust me when I say this... when you read a misspelling often enough, you start thinking it's the correct way to spell it.

If you care about this sort of thing, and you spot errors in published works (especially published works you've paid for yourself) bring it to the attention of the publishing house.  Let them know that you, the reader, have standards.  Maybe they'll develop standards of their own.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shop Stuff: Earrings A-GoGo

The 30 Earrings Quest items have started trickling into my Etsy shop.  The new earrings are all Free Shipping within the United States, but if you add the coupon code FREE2SHIP to your order of any other items, you will receive free shipping on those too.

I've started with simple designs to get some momentum towards my goal, but anticipate getting more creative and complex as I go along with this thing.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Knitting: We're On a Break!

Channeling my inner Ross and Rachel, I'm taking a break from knitting.  Before the break though, I did manage to finish the Zauber Tote in the Chroma Pegasus yarn:

I'm currently on a quest to do 30 unique pairs of earrings JUST FROM MY BEAD STASH.  Some, obviously, are going to be more "unique" than others since I have assortments of various beads in the same shape but different colors.  They're going to be trickling up onto my Etsy site as I go, and as I take decent pictures of them.  Shipping will be free... it won't be fast, but it will be free as I've figured the cost of postage into the price.  It still amazes me that people will buy a $14 pair of earrings with free shipping, but won't buy the same pair that's $10 with $2 shipping.  Boggles the mind.

After the earrings, I will also be doing 30 bracelets and 30 necklaces, and if I get really wild, I might dip into rings.  Maybe.  My ring mandrel is cheap and flimsy, and I'm not sure how accurate it is.  Do you think the Bureau of Weights and Measures checks something like that?  Anyway, I want a steel one.  Some dapping blocks and new hammers wouldn't be bad either.

Silver has gotten inSANEly expensive.  I am tempted to send in all my silver beads and wire for money.... to Rio Grande, not some fly-by-night TV thing.

What has inspired my jewelry quest, you ask?  We are moving out of this teeny apartment this year if it kills me.  Every year we put it off, and this place just gets smaller and more run down.  I want my own house again, dammit!  I want to plant tomatoes in the back yard and watch them die because I suck at gardening!  I want to be able to take my garbage can outside and hose it off when someone misses the bag and gets something nasty all over it.  I want to be able to put up pictures without worrying about the walls... much.  And most of all, I want to be able to run my jewelry tools in the middle of the DAY without some idiot pounding on the wall.

So the quest for earrings is really a Quest for a House.  I hope you enjoy watching my progress.