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I got an interesting email from WordPress today, wishing me a happy anniversary. Anniversary of what, you ask?? I asked that too. But apparently, today marks 5 years of me being a blogger. I gasped audibly when I read that….has it been that long, really?? It’s kind of remarkable, isn’t it? 5 years is a lot of time to spend writing on the internet, but for the most part I consider it time well spent.

Obviously this isn’t my first blog (although  here we’re creeping up on our 2 year birthday here early next month!), but it was meant to be the blog that tied all the other blogs together—the craft blog, the travel blog, the music blog….I wanted it to be a place to write about anything. To an extent, I do, but there’s still a lot of posts I want to write but choose not to publish because I’m trying not to be political. I’d rather write about things that we can all agree with—there’s a lot of world to see and a lot of creative and delightful things to discover.

So, in appreciation of this lets-talk-about-almost-everything approach to blogging, here’s a recap of what widely varied activities have been going on here lately 🙂

IMG_1806First of all, I am very excited by how my little plantlings have been growing along. Peas have shot up even more since that photo was taken, and I think I might get some strawberries soon. Fingers crossed! IMG_1802I finally took the time to thin them out, and instead of just throwing the excess greens over the balcony, I gathered them up and put them in a salad. it’s mostly pea tendrils and beet greens, which are delicious on their own. I’d be pretty satisfied even if i don’t get a single fruit. Simply tossed with oil and vinegar and a bit of lemon zest.

We’ve gotten a bit of rain this weekend…rain that might better be described as a hurricane dumping on us. The little creek behind my apartment has completely flooded, any more and I’m afraid we’d be evacuated or something.

IMG_1827I had grand plans to go to church this morning, but when I woke up and saw that outside my window, I decided my best decision would be to stay off the roads.There was a festival in downtown Knoxville this weekend too, and a couple other things I wanted to see, but the rain has been so nasty it’s hard to muster up the will to leave the house.

Don’t feel too sorry for me though. I used that time at home wisely and embarked on an exploration of dairy products. It’s kind of embarrassing, but how many people can actually tell the difference between, say, Sour Cream and Creme Fraiche? Cottage cheese and Ricotta? Sure, they come in different tubs in the grocery store, but they all start with the same basic product. How are they made?? And then there are totally different products we rarely see…Clabber used to be commonplace, but most people today have no idea what it is. Or how about Skyr, a personal favorite of mine? Lassi?? It’s like I always say, it’s amazing how much common knowledge we’ve lost in the last century, and how much more there is out in the world we’ve yet to learn about. So, in the name of discovery, I’ve been experimenting. IMG_1832That’s my first batch of yogurt (and also an example of why you shouldn’t take pictures in dark rooms, and why you should always give your yogurt a whisk before photographing so it doesn’t look so lumpy…it isn’t!). It turned out pretty delicious, and I’m excited to never buy yogurt again–future batches can be made by simply introducing cultures to a quart of milk by adding a couple dollops of yogurt from the last batch. There’s some heating and cooling involved too, but it’s not rocket science. You’ve got to keep it consistently warm for hours while it does its thing, which is the hard part, and why most people buy yogurt makers (whose only purpose, as far as I can tell, is to monitor the temperature).  But to get around this, I had a brainstorm. When I first moved in here, Grandma Ida (hi grandma!) sent me some soup, which kept cold for hours in a styrofoam box. The box has been wasting space in the closet since then, but now it’s my offical yogurt inoculation box, and she is probably never getting it back. I poured hot water in the bottom, set in my little container of milk+yogurt starter, and voila, worked like a charm.

The best thing about yogurt is that along with the tangy and creamy substance we all know, when you make it yourself you are gifted with a tremendous byproduct–whey. You also get this from cheese, and it’s basically liquid protein. People could probably save themselves a ton of money on powdered shakes if they just made their own yogurt. The first time I encountered whey was last year during my extremely brief foray into mozzarella making (I intend to try again soon), and i didn’t really know what it was, so I threw it out. This time though, I was smart enough to strain it and save it. Let’s just say I have plans.

I made some ice-cream too, but I think I’m going to experiment a little more before I officially post about that. It had a perfect texture, but it tasted kind of like sweetened condensed milk. Good for a couple bites, then just a bit sickening.

I’ve started another project, too…still need to trim up those squares, but it’s fun to see them start to come together. Vote: which do you like best, Flying Geese or Pinwheels??IMG_1833To be honest, I’m probably going to use both of them. Why not 🙂

Staying at home a couple days also proved useful in one other respect: I finally got to see what nuisance is visiting my bird feeder.

IMG_1819I knew someone was coming because it was flinging seeds all over the porch. I’m still not sure what that’s about. I think it must be some sort of nasty-bird game. Anyway, I was sitting on the couch one afternoon and all of a sudden there was a nasty racket outside. So i looked, and here was this guy sitting on top of the feeder and screaming his lungs out. I scared him off, he came back and screamed some more. We’ve been doing this for 3 days straight. He doesn’t eat the seeds, just throws them around, yells at me, and scares off the cute birds. I’m about to take down the feeder to shut him up but I really wanted some nice little birds to stop in 😦 So, seriously, if anyone knows how to win this battle, let me know!!

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got to write about. Not much going on at work, but I think I’m progressing and they’re giving me a few more interesting things to do. We did a wedding last week where the plan was to pass appetizers at the wedding site just after the ceremony while the photos were being done, before the guests made their way up to the barn for the reception. They actually sent me down alone to do it, which i thought was quite brave of them. It wasn’t anything fancy, just simple cooking or assembling, but it was nice to be on my own. Not to mention that the wedding site was a cute little cabin next to a creek, and the weather was perfect, and when everything was done the servers gave me lemonade and I got to sit outside and enjoy myself until they finally sent someone with a golf cart to come pick me and my stuff up 🙂 I’ve also now done two successful services on fish station, so I guess I’m not exclusively Garde Manger anymore. I’m honestly a little surprised, because when I interviewed they told me clearly that I shouldn’t expect to do anything but GM until toward the end of my internship, so this is a bit ahead of schedule. I don’t really know if they were just testing to see how/what I’d do, or if they really think I’m ready to start rotating me around. We shall see.

Anyway it’s now 2:30am and I still have to be at work tomorrow, so off I go.