Craft Retreat

                  Just a little bit of heaven that was very much needed!



A Bit of Midwestern Spring in the West

If you’re from Southern California, chances are you could live your whole life never having tasted rhubarb. The darn stuff really doesn’t grow here, just like peonies, lilacs and good apples. There are some things bred to resemble the items listed above but by and large, they just can't compare. If you’re from a part of the country where the ground freezes or at least gets hit with heavy frost, odds are that rhubarb is part of spring for you, just like peonies and lilacs. Sigh, just thinking of those voluptuously decadent looking flower heads and the heavenly scented bouquets of grand orchid and purple buds makes me ache. In Chicago and many other places in the Midwest, lilacs grow like weeds and can easily be found in alleyways. Their boisterous growth is tolerated chiefly due to the prize they bestow upon everyone in the spring. Scads of heavy bouquets whose scent makes you swoon.

So, when one discovers a bounty of rhubarb in the supermarket for .99/lb., one goes a little wild! I’ve never seen it available for less than $2.99 to $3.99/lb. I have spent the morning scouring the internet for recipes. I did have my mom’s for sauce, pie, crisps and cobblers, but have no idea where they are at the moment.

Initially, I started small, just rhubarb sauce. It’s something you can just dish up and eat like a soupy pudding or spoon over ice cream. Of course, then I noticed the same store had a pound of strawberries for .99! Well, the project and hunt for recipes grew and I was up to lattice topped strawberry rhubarb pie. It’s amazing how maniacal one can become over something that in another part of the country, is given away freely to friends and family because you just have so much. When I lived in Chicago that was the case. The house we bought had two fabulous buried treasures we didn’t know about when we bought it. The backyard held a 10’ x 15’ bed containing rows of rhubarb as well as an even bigger bed of peonies. A huge apple tree that defied identification topped this bounty. It must have been what everyone now refers to as heirloom. The taste was stunning. To this day I have not had an apple as wonderful. Of course, I’m overlooking the worms in the apples and the tonnage that could build up on the ground below the tree. Fortunately we had some wonderful neighbors, an elderly couple, who were raised in North Dakota and Indiana. They had gone through the Depression (the first one) and happily took all the fallen apples for applesauce, which we all enjoyed up through the next spring.

Ok, this has become a real tangent, sorry! I will end for the moment because I’m going to run off and get more provisions for my project. I’ll let you know what I wind up making once I decide. Till then I hope you have a magical spring.



Buying Memories

It’s so strange how I see a food and think “oh yes, that would be good to make” only to get it home and have it sit there, usually on the counter (or if it’s lucky, in the fridg) till it’s expiration date passed.  I would then throw it out only to see it a month or two later in the store and repeat the same process.  I couldn’t figure out what was up with that.  It suddenly hit me tonight while grudgingly making dinner for myself.  I say grudgingly because I really miss having someone cook for me.  Never mind that it hurt my feelings when he told me I wasn’t a good cook.  It was one of the things “we” did.  But, back to the subject.  Many of the items I buy are something I’ve never actually made myself.  They were things he cooked.  So I guess I was unconsciously trying to replicate a visceral loss and didn’t even realize it. 

I miss his cooking.  I miss going to nice restaurants.  I don’t mind penny-pinching, but I miss the going out and enjoying a well-prepared meal with someone who also appreciated it.  I hate that someone else gets to be cooked for and taken out to great restaurants and travel.  I don’t miss him, I miss the doing and the memories it created.  So here I am trying to buy memories back…memories which will no longer happen. 



Saving Money 101

Over the years, I watched my mother iron from a never-ending basket of items to be ironed.  The basket was always in the kitchen and the “over the door” device for hanging ironed shirts was another permanent fixture.  Very little was spared from her iron...even our blue jeans didn't escape.  (My brother and I always noted that we could never look like real hippies because our jeans were ironed and had creases down the front and back.)  She ironed my dad’s undershirts and boxers, saying it made her happy to see how much dad enjoyed putting on a well-ironed piece of clothing.  Come to think of it, she even ironed the bed sheets.  I hated it and the feeling of being such a slave to such a task.

I unconsciously vowed that I would never live with something like that hanging over my head.  Even in college, I bought or made things that required zero ironing.  After getting married and being expected to work even if we didn’t need it at the time, I advised my husband that like me, he could buy clothes requiring no ironing, iron things himself or use a dry cleaner.  After a few peevish attempts at ironing his work shirts, he opted for the cleaners.  Back then (jeesh I sound old!) washing and ironing men’s’ shirts was super cheap, not even $1.00!  So it made sense all around.

Now, as I get older and find myself facing a frugality I did not volunteer for courtesy of doltoid, lawyers and the economy, I have decided to eschew the dry cleaners wherever  possible.  So I iron.  

Unfortunately, in the past 10 years, my body has morphed and is not receptive to knits because the knit fabric currently being used is so thin and drapey showing every bump.  Add to this the fact that dry cleaning has risen to $5.65 for a simple blouse and frugality hit me hard!  So last year when I bought some new blouses and pants to refresh my very worn out pieces, I made sure they were machine washable.  Let me just state one more time for the record, I hate ironing.