Surprisingly Good Chicken: Buddha’s Hand Marinade

Last week, when I did our grocery shopping, I spotted something nifty:

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It’s a citrus fruit thing called Buddha’s hand, and I had to get it.  I just love trying out new and strange produce.  Heh, just ask my mother for stories of shopping with me as a kid and begging for a star fruit or some other foreign looking botanical specimen.  (Back then star fruit was really strange, and I remember the first time we started seeing kiwis on offer and marketed with special little spoons.  It was the boonies, okay?)  Anyway, I didn’t realise that there wasn’t going to be any fruity pulp to try, but luckily I planned to do something involving the zest as I shopped.  Often I’ll make a lemon based marinade, so I figured that work with this thing, and grilling sounded tasty… maybe shrimp kebobs?

I ended up with boneless chicken thighs.  I’d also planned on getting a pork loin to cure, but the store wasn’t running any specials (as they always seem to usually, darn it!)  Chicken was dirt cheap though, and after some consideration I went for it.  I’m not a big fan of chicken.  Generally I kind of dislike it even, and I only prepare it a couple of times a year.  Usually I bake thighs covered a bit of mayonnaise, dill, scallions or onion, black pepper, paprika, and garlic salt.  Occasionally I’ll dredge cutlets in coconut flour for a sort of schnitzel.  Other than soup I think that is pretty much it.  I’m just not into chicken.

Once I finished putting away the groceries I threw the thighs into a bowl with thin slices of the Buddha’s hand, the juice of a few lemons (after seeing there was no pulp in this thing,) a bunch of garlic salt, a little black pepper, and a little bittersweet Spanish paprika.  My idea was to kind of brine it, I guess, hence more salt than usual and put it in the fridge for a few hours before grilling.  I didn’t even photograph this since I didn’t plan to blog anything about it.

But it turned out to taste AMAZING.

This was days ago, so describing it is difficult, but L and I were really, really, really surprised and amazed at just how delicious this chicken was.  The flavour ended up penetrating through beautifully, every bite had a delicate and tangy goodness with a bit of the grill char too.  Freaking awesome.

This isn’t pretty, but I did take a photo of the chicken after grilling, because I tasted a bite and was wowed.  I don’t even remember what was in the foil, shishito pepper?  Yeah, shishitos with olive oil and salt:

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So, the point of this post is to encourage you to try cooking with Buddha’s hand.  Figure out what went right with my experiment, or Google for recipes, but do try it if you ever see it in the shop.

Capezio Can Can Boots VS American Duchess Renoir Button Boots

This morning I took photos of the two pairs of boots to illustrate the differences between them.  Surely not many people out there are comparing these, especially since the Can Cans are discontinued now and custom made only, but here we go anyway…  (Actually, this website appears to be selling the Can Cans, but I cannot vouch for them personally, and the price is significantly less than I was quoted by Capezio.)

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So far the Renoirs win on comfort, I believe.  The lower heel is of course easier on me since I barely wear heels at all, and they are a size US8.5 which my toes appreciate.  While I have always found the US7.5 Can Cans to be wonderfully comfortable I’ll have to admit that the feel caused by the heels is not optimal (nor is the size now, but that isn’t their fault.)

As noted in a previous post, I’ve worn the Can Cans for thousands upon thousands of steps over the course of a decade.  They are very sturdily made and have been the most wearable shoes I’ve ever had.  I’m looking forward to the look once the Renoirs have been broken in, and I anticipate that they’ll win the wearability contest.  They appear almost equally well made with the Can Cans looking just a bit better in some way that I cannot put my finger on.  Thicker leather?  Something about the construction?  It is a tad difficult to compare with the Renoir pair practically unworn yet too, but I have hopes that they’ll fare well over the years.

Nearly $200 for the Renoirs is pricey indeed, but I generally select shoes in that price point.  Seeing them in person I have no complaints about the cost at all.  In fact, they are a bargain compared to nearly $500 for the Can Cans.  So, there you are: my thoughts on these two beautiful Victorian/Edwardian-ish boots.  I hope that seeing “after” photos of the Renoir boots may be interesting to someone even if they aren’t truly broken in yet.  I was scouring the internet for reviews and images that didn’t look the same as the pristine pairs on the original website.  I hoped to see them after buttons were adjusted and after conforming to someone’s feet.

Most of the original boots I’ve seen have a gorgeous shape which the Renoirs are lacking, but I’m not sure if that might change with more wear and button adjustment?  Perhaps anatomy and tolerance of discomfort have something to do with it too?  Or did the leather shrink?  I don’t know.  I love these curves!

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Will the Renoir boots approach this look after a while?  I hope so and will report back some day to let you know.

PS: I was able to get the most lovely little folding button hook!  IMG_7046.jpg

A funny thing is that although I am a rather ambidextrous-leaning lefty it was much more natural to hook with my right hand.  I was surprised at how easily it went with my right while my left fumbled a little.  Maybe that is since my left is used to the idea of buttoning normally?  Heh.

The American Duchess Renoir Button Boots are Here!!! (Quick Review)

Today Yesterday I was staining the west side of the house, and I heard the mail carrier scan something.  Ooh, a package!  I’d been wondering if a button hook might arrive today (even though it is coming all the way from England) if I were lucky, but when I spotted a box by the door it was rather large.  Then I saw the sender was American Duchess with L as the recipient.  Surprised, I carried the parcel inside and tore into it, because I knew the Renoir boots were on pre-order and supposed to ship in 6-8 weeks!  I didn’t figure I’d get to see them until nearly Christmas.  Perhaps he had ordered another shoe as a surprise?  After all I’d emailed him a short list detailing my desires.  😀  Shockingly it turned out to be the Renoirs after all!

This photo is after moving the buttons and two long walks:

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I’m giddy with happiness about these boots.  Seriously.

When I was a kid I was in love with all things from the 18th and 19 centuries.  My focus shifted from time to time, but I especially was fond of the second half of the 19th.  I taped Dr Quinn, I read American Girl and the Little House books, and I watched the Shirley Temple version of The Little Princess quite a few times.  So, at some point I noticed high button boots and became obsessed.  Later, when I spotted impossibly tiny Victorian boots in antique malls I wished so badly that I could fit in them (although of course they likely wouldn’t survive being worn.)  I never really dreamt that some day anyone would offer brand new, real, buttoning boots for purchase.  I’m not even sure why it didn’t occur to me since plenty of 18th century reproduction shoes are available now, but I sure never saw button boots anywhere and assumed that the buttons themselves were the reason.

The nearest style, which I do love thought they lace up, are Capezio dance boots that they named Can Can.  They are extremely comfortable, well made, and durable, but my feet grew in the 10+ years that I’ve had them.  Unfortunately they are now only custom made, and I found the Renoir boots before L committed to getting me a new pair as a birthday present.

Yesterday I nearly finished this post but decided to wait until I could add the button moving process before and after etc.  I’m sure that the boots will evolve in their fit with time, but moving the buttons was pretty dramatic.  They still do not have the amazing curves of the real deal, but maybe I’ll shift the buttons again later on after wear and stretching a while?  I do think that they’ll never quite make it to the real curves since the heels are lower and apparently women had much smaller ankles and calves back then?

Last night we took a walk, and I found the boots comfortable.  I’d also worn them as much as I could inside too.  It appears that they are nearly as well constructed and durable as the Capezios?  As far as I can see they look comparable.  The heel is lower on these which is welcomed although it looks a little less pretty I guess.  My feet are picky, and I get pain and blisters from all of my shoes it seems, but two walks have proven the Renoirs to be some of the best to jump into that I’ve ever worn.  No hint of rubbing or blisters and no pain.  Very comfortable indeed.

This morning I spent performing button relocation surgery.

The right is snug now, but I’ll have to adjust the left for equality.  It seems that my left is a little narrower, which I knew, and the feel is not agreeable since I was afraid to take things in further than the other.  The time spent was annoying, one or two hours, so I’m not too quickly adjusting now.

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The right is done but that left is as it arrived:

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We walked for a bit and voted today, and I wore them:

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Review:

They are as comfortable as can be and surpassed my expectations on that point.  I do love them, but I’d be even more thrilled if American Duchess would make them in a style closer to the Can Can boots (curvier with the higher heel) and especially with the broguing and cherry colour of her new Oxfords.  That would be incredible!   The price is reasonable to me and a lot better than custom Capezios, and you can’t find real buttons anywhere else that I know of.  I’ll be having a cobbler rubberise the sole and heel, because they are a little slippery, and I know that the plastic heel cap thing is going to wear out like crazy.

I cannot wait to see how these look after breaking in more!

 

Halloween 2016: 1918

This year I didn’t take the time available to me to create a new costume, I am sad to say.  Mostly the reason was that there aren’t that many days of good weather left for staining our house.  That is rather unfortunate since, with IVF luck, perhaps next year a newborn might complicate the costume matter?  (I’m afraid to hope so too much, but it is a possibility.)

We didn’t even go out to a goth night on Saturday, because L made reservations at a really neat restaurant for my birthday instead.  I’d already scraped together old pieces to form a costume for going out though, so I wore it to our local haunt on Sunday night.  (They are closed Mondays.)

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While I had no great idea for a costume I’ve been looking for an excuse to make something 19-teens-ish.  I’m certain, after watching Downton Abbey this summer, that this is my favourite fashion period in all of history.  Even before the show I was drawn to it and even based my wedding dress in the era, so I had some pieces that I could put together for this Halloween’s look.

I used the old under-bust corset, a thrift store silk skirt that I’ve had for years, the fingerless gloves from our wedding, a leather mask from Etsy, and a silk chiffon wrap tunic that I made some years ago.  I think it has a ‘teens look.

This shot from the trial run shows more of the fabric details:

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At some point I’m certainly going to make at least a few good ‘teens pieces.  A coat is a must too, like one (far right) in this fashion plate?

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Meanwhile, I am thrilled about some new shoes…  L has pre-ordered REAL button boots for my birthday gift, and as soon as I have them I’ll be sharing photos and a review.  (I Googled forever, but no one seems to have shared photos beyond those from the actual website or upon first arrival.  I’d like to see what they look like with the buttons adjusted and all broken in, so I’ll have to be the one to put that online it seems.)  I’d wanted to get a pair of my beloved can can boots, but they are really expensive and now only custom made as it turns out.  (I realistically need an entire size larger than the pair that I’ve worn for more than ten years.  They still look pretty good, after tours of Barcelona and NYC, but my feet grew…)  Maybe another time, but I’m seriously excited to get my hands on actual button boots!  Even when I was a little kid I wished I could have a pair like I saw in antique shops or worn by Shirley Temple in The Little Princess.  OMG, the want.  😀  I already ordered a few antique button hooks, and I look forward to a post or two about the boots when they arrive and after a while.  I’ve also gone ahead and received a pair of Edwardian shoes, but I have yet to adjust the buttons or anything.

 

Singer Single Thread Embroidery Attachment 26538

I did not finish this post on the 5th of July  Heh!  Anyway…

Today (I am not likely to finish writing this tonight, the 5th, but let’s pretend…) I received something very special in the mail: a vintage Singer embroidery attachment.

Some ten years ago or more, I saw a very expensive and very interesting attachment on eBay sometimes.  Whenever they popped up the bidding wars began between the Featherweight crowd, and over time the prices only became worse.  I’d been introduced to the ingenuity of the old treadle machines, and the attachments produced for them, and I was on the hunt for more, but I just couldn’t swing the big ticket embroidery attachments at hundreds of dollars (at least not unless I would forgo the actual machines, treadles, and more basic attachments.  Priorities and stuff.)  However, I put it on my to-acquire-eventually list.

Now I have one.  W00t!

Not only is it a nifty old embroidery attachment capable of adding beauty to my projects, but it is the rare “single thread attachment.”  They are hard to find outside of eBay, can be extremely expensive, and are tiny little marvels of creation.  It never fails to amaze me how cleverly designed old gadgets and machinery can be.  (Forget boring computerised and electric stuff!  The workings of perfectly designed gears and such are so darned lovely!)  :Swoon:

There isn’t too much information out there about the single thread attachment (or its more interesting-to-see-in-action sister, the two thread) aside from a few videos.  April 1930s is a great resource for vintage attachments, and almost everything I know about 26538 is from her site.  Across the web there are a few short reviews, videos, and mentions, but I haven’t found anyone posting their work produced with the attachment.  I hope to fill in that void and eventually share some finished projects.  For now I do have a tip that may be of use to someone, because I while I was quite lucky to receive a working 26358 from eBay today I… uh, promptly mucked it up.  Luckily I was able to sort things out, and I truly think/hope that the solution will help someone out there eventually.

A shot of the 26538 all set up on my Singer treadle 15-30:

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A view from the side:

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Close-up while I tried it out for the very first time:

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…and the very first sample:

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Isn’t that stitch lovely?  I’m looking forward to using this to create pretty things!

Here is a silly video that I took showing how the attachment works and explaining how to adjust and fix it if you screw it up like I did.  I’m rather embarrassed by the video, but I was tired of trying to film, speak, and sew… and will have to live with sounding ridiculous.  😀

 

 

 

State of the Garden 25th April, 2016

 

Today I must remove the last of the leaf piles from the yard and mow the grass before it grows too tall for the reel mower.  Luckily the weather is perfect for it, being overcast and with a high in the low seventies, but I’d really rather use my day off to tackle painting or even a sewing project.  The regular chore list is long for the day, so I doubt that I will get around to any painting, but there is yet a chance of brushing on a section of trim paint in the kitchen this afternoon.  I’m getting impatient with the bare primer in there, and I’m increasingly driven to buy a few cans of colour for the master bedroom/stairwell/dressing room now that I chose a shade, but I know it will realistically be a long while before I could actually tackle it.  In the living/dining room the trim around the windows is only primed too, and I keep going back and forth on using the ‘coconut ice’ trim colour to highlight them or the dark grey that I opted for on some of the trim and the heat baseboards.  Right now the grey seems like a nicer idea, but…

Meanwhile, at least the garden is increasingly pretty and pleasant to relax in.  All of the tulip varieties have at least one bloom, and I’ve accumulated so many photos in the last week or two that I’ll have to break up my posts into a few categories.

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During the past few weeks I have continued transplanting and sowing seeds.  I happened upon trays of ajuga at Home Depot and brought some home.  I’m rather excited at the idea that the spaces between the slate pieces might be filled in by it.  Of course I was pleased to get the blackest sort, but I broke it up with a mottled lighter sort too.  Today I’ll place the last few under the hammock and in that area.  I’d already sown seeds for dragons blood sedum all around the pathways, but I am unsure how well they’ll fill in.  Besides the seeds I bought a pot of that and put a few clumps near the garden beds.

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There is some of the ajuga a week or two back.  I’ve read that it spreads very quickly, but I wonder how fast that is?  I’d like it very much to have a dark filled path area this season!  The ajuga is welcome to spread into the grass too, heh.

There was a weird grass at Home Depot that grows like a cork-screw and likes shade.  I put it under the hammock stand to help it blend into the garden better.  Something more much be done to hide the stand, but it is not simple since I want to be able to approach it, it is shaded, and there are maple roots all over to deal with.

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I also picked up three pots of purple sweet potato vine.  Last year I added one late in the season and liked it, so this year I snapped it up at first sight.  This time I placed one in each galvanised tub and one in the old whisky barrel in the rather sparsely gardened back corner.  Sweet potato vine trails so beautifully, and they’ll have time to grow nicely.  This year I hope to keep the corner from remaining an empty eyesore, but the squirrels or something keep fighting with me on the matter.  They rip out half or more of what I plant there, and I’ve had little luck with seeds either.

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The temporary fence has, knock on wood, done a great job of keeping the deer away from the hostas and tulips around the house.  They only ate a bit near the cedar face this spring and left things alone otherwise.  I’m eager to pull up the ugly posts and have them out of my way, but last night I saw that the deer had just nibbled the hostas in front of the retaining wall by the street.  Should I risk it?  I’m so impatient and it would help with mowing and removing leaves today, but…  Darned deer.

In the front of the house I’d put in some fall bulbs, and some have bloomed nicely:

More views of the garden:

 

 

Now I must try to finish all of my chores.

 

First Tulips!

After the cold snap completely killed a few of my newest and most interesting plants I am glad that today I can write something positive regarding my garden.  It was a gloomy and rainy day until the sun came out and cheered things up for around two hours.  I’d begun some transplanting in the rain, and when I was done I napped in the hammock for a while.  I am so glad that the warm weather is now here to stay!  The extended forecast is perfectly spring-like.

I’m also very pleased that the deer never yet destroyed the tulips that I took a risk in planting.  Well, they did come over the fence and ate the ones that someone else had planted long ago, but they shied away from the house (unlike last year) or were thwarted by the string fence around the flowerbeds.  Great success!  😀

Knock on wood.

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As for the frost damage, the free Tibet plant is done for sure.

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I was even more sad today to find that the mottled angel wings were entirely gone too!  I hadn’t noticed or expected that, and it was one in particular that I really had wanted.  The other variety, sandy wings, is perfectly happy.  Strange things, plants.  Also, the underwood trillium lost one of the two leaves and looks unwell.  I was tempted to replace the three (well, hopefully add in the trillium case,) but I just can’t do it.  Perhaps next year?  I did find a site offering tomato plants beyond the sort big box stores sell, and the price was good enough, so tonight I purchased some heirloom and tasty varieties.  I’d entirely forgotten to source the seeds that I’d hoped to find and wouldn’t have time to start them even if I was decent at starting seeds.  I’ll post more about them later, but as an example I went for a couple of the Bulgarian tomatoes hoping they’ll be similar or as tasty as the Romanian variety I’d like to get.

These are the new ones that I planted today:

I have read that ajuga grows very fast and will be a nice ground cover.  I put it sort of staggered in the midst of the slate pathway.  I think the lighter and darker purples will be nice.  The sedum is dragon’s blood.  I also scattered seeds of it a while ago, but when I saw these at the store it seemed like a safer bet to start with too.

The first rococo tulip is starting to look less bizarre.  Some of the tulips are oddly short on the stem, I have found and don’t know why.  Meanwhile, I love the hellebore in the background.  I was hesitant to add it, but the blooms are so long lasting and pretty that I have the opposite of regrets.  😀

 

Tomorrow it will rain, but Wednesday is going to be sunny and gorgeous, and afterwards is looking nice too.  I’m sure I’ll be sharing as more tulips bloom!