Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Good stuff

Thank you, everyone, on your kind sweater-related comments (and other comments, of course). I get a little frustrated with myself when I don't think things through, which I certainly didn't on this one. I'm actually delighted with the sweater, which I think will be adorable on Lilah's toddler friend. Good catch on the lesson "Intarsia is yucky," Amy :) No action step there, since sometimes I think intarsia is just too cute to avoid. And I like the look of the sweater with the dark blue placket and cuffs. I managed to get all the ends woven in over the weekend, during slow times in my booth at the festival where I actually SOLD stuff I made! One woman indulged in my free samples and then bought ELEVEN jars to give as Christmas gifts in her office. I was delighted. And, though I was concerned a bit that I would hate customers*, I really enjoyed answering questions about my methods and talking about possible future recipes and such. I sold out of nearly everything, and had so much fun. Now I have to figure out if I just want to occasionally sell stuff to subsidize my jam-making and baking habits, or if I want to try to take it further.

*I know this sounds like I should be off in a cabin in the woods somewhere, but my past customer service experience has not been great. While working at a software/internet company, here is an excerpt from a 20-minute phone call:

Old Guy: My internet picture won't open!
Me: I'm sorry to hear you're having trouble. Um, which picture is that?
Old Guy: The internet! It won't open!
Me: The browser? Does it say Netscape or Internet Explorer?
Old Guy: The internet, you know, Netscape.
Me: Do you get an error message when you double click on the icon?
Old Guy: I don't know. Am I supposed to have an icon?
Me: Do you get an error message when you double click the picture?
Old Guy: What about the icon? Do I need one of those?
Me: Don't worry about the icon. Double click on the picture and tell me what it says.
Old Guy: It says Netscape.
Me: Right. Does anything happen when you click?
Old Guy: (click) No! It doesn't do anything! That's the problem!
Me: Sir, you need to double click. Just clicking once doesn't open the program.
Old Guy: I don't have a program. Is that in my Welcome Pack?
Me: Sir, you need to double click to open the internet.
Old Guy: (click, pause, click) Nothing's happening!
Me: Sir, you have to click faster. Click-click!
Old Guy: (click, pause, click)
Repeat the last two lines for about 10 minutes, until Old Guy exclaims, "Oh, I had to DOUBLE click! It's open now!" So you can see that the word "customer" strikes fear into my heart, a reaction that was NOT improved by working for a children's theater company:

Me: I'm so sorry, ma'am, but tonight's show is sold out.
Angry Stage Parent: But my daughter is the star! I NEED 30 tickets for tonight!
Me: I'm so sorry, ma'am, but tonight's show is sold out.
ASP: But I PROMISED everyone! They're coming from out of town!
Me: I'm so sorry, ma'am, but there are no more seats available.
ASP: But my daughter's the star!

Knitting: ANOTHER placket-neck pullover is on the needles, this one for Lilah in pink Rowan Baby Alpaca DK. After finishing the ones for our friends' two children, I decided Lilah needed one, too. No stripes on this one :) I am wondering if the yarn is too nice for the pattern, which is a nice basic pattern, but nothing fancy. But if I wait to find the perfect pattern, I'll never make her anything with it!

Reading: Lots, but nothing especially noteworthy. I have to pick up the new Kate Atkinson book, which I'm really excited about.

Writing: Still stalled at the same word count. Food prep took up a lot of my free time. I hope to get some writing done while I'm in California. Speaking of which, I'd better start packing...

I made a nice Crockpot meal that turned out very well. I also baked up a storm for LakeFest--vanilla scones, cinnamon scones, cherry cornmeal scones, and chocolate chip almond biscotti. For the bake sale, I made pumpkin muffins with pear slices stuck into the batter for ears and put little bear faces on them with chocolate chips. They were so cute! I also made 8 loaves of rosemary focaccia for the bake sale. I'm pretty pleased with the scone recipes--100% whole wheat, and when I doubled the recipe, I forgot to double the amount of butter...and they tasted great! Hmmm, wonder how much fat I can just leave out of other recipes.

Crockpot Red Beans With Vegetables

1 pound small red beans
bay leaf
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 pound okra, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced
1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes, liquid and all
2 cups vegetable stock*
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen (no need to thaw)
2 TBL Tabasco garlic pepper sauce (this is milder than the regular Tabasco, and has lots of flavor)
3/4 tsp Liquid Smoke
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp salt

Soak the beans in cold water to cover 2 inches above the top of beans overnight or 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Cover with cold water to cover 2 inches above the beans, add bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender, but not mushy, about an hour and a half. Drain and place in Crockpot. Add remaining ingredients and cook on Low setting 8 hours. Check seasonings every once in a while. Serve over rice or as a stew with cornbread.

*I haven't made my vegetable stock yet (I make tons and freeze it to use all winter), so I used 2 cups boiling water and one cube of Rapunzel vegetable bouillon with sea salt.


YarnThrower said...

Congrats on your successful selling! I was looking for a scone recipe about two hours ago to supplement our dinner -- should have come here first! Great tip about leaving out half of the butter!

Amy said...

First: Hurrah, hurrah! Way to bring home the (veggie) bacon at LakeFest! I'm so excited for you. The pumpkin muffins sound ahhhwwwesome. And the half-fat scones. Cherry cornmeal, heavens to Betsy. Immediately bookmarked that recipe. When you say 100% whole wheat, do you mean 100% white whole wheat flour, like pastry flour? Or the hard red whole wheat, coarser but heartier whole wheat? I've been playing around with bread baking, and have had to play with ratio (e.g., use less than 100% of the coarser whole wheat) to get loaves coming out that aren't hard as rocks.

Second: Customers can be scary, boy howdy. I laughed and laughed at your Old Guy and ASP stories. Thank goodness the crazies didn't come out for LakeFest.

Finally - ah, yes, Liquid Smoke, the secret ingredient. Everybody thinks there must be a hamhock or something in there when you use it. This looks like a fab recipe, and it's high time I get the Crockpot out of hiding for the fall. I do want to try the Tabasco garlic pepper - sounds yummy.

I'd like to hear about how you make your veggie stock. I've read about this but have never taken the plunge. Lay some inspiration on us in a future post!

Knittypants said...

Congratulations! It must feel awesome selling all your goodies.

Those conversations are hilarious, (although I can see how they'd have been torturous to experience).

KnitPastis said...

Of course you would sell your things! I knew it:)

Lilah's sweater is going to be so soft with this yarn. You aren't going to be able to take it off of her. Watch Lilah want to sleep in it:) Can't wait to see the startings of this sweater.

Would love to see photos of the things you cook. They sound so good!

String Bean said...

Ah, teaching people how to use their computers... much fun.

Your stew sounds yummo. Where's the pictures!?

Mary said...

Thanks for the comment. Anon is actually my co-worker. She didn't mean it like it came out. And I did know about the calf-ankle thing but my mind obviously doesn't always follow the logical progressions. I guess I should add cankle to spell check :)