Friday, September 28, 2018

Mochi

One of the fun things about exploring ethnic grocery stores is finding all sorts of new treats to sample.


This box caught my eye.  I thought it was a cookie with some sort of a honeydew flavored cream center.


Very pretty, isn't it?


But it is no cookie!!  Gelatinous but not really sticky.  Firm but very soft.


It springs back to pokes by finger or fork.


Here's one cut through.

I have never eaten anything like this!  The texture is soft... almost silky.  But as you chew, it does not readily come apart.  Just like when it is poked ~ it bounces back!!  You really have to work on it.

 The flavor is unique and appealing.


At another shop I found a different brand in Green Tea flavor.  Again excellent.  Less sweet than the melon flavor.


Cut away view.  This type was slightly better quality.

I had to learn more about these tasty little treats.

They are made of gelatinous rice which is traditionally pounded (and pounded and pounded...) into a "paste".  Modern prep uses rice flour that is cooked.  It is then somehow molded.  Various forms are special treats for holidays such as New Year's.  During cherry blossom time, pink ones are popular.

There is a dark side to mochi...  Remember how I said you really have to put some chewing into eating one of these?  They are a big choking hazard in Japan, especially among children and elders.  Because of the texture, they are also very difficult to get out of the airway.  It is recommended to cut them up before eating.  

It's good advice.

Below is a video of mochi being made using the traditional method.






Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Our Little Piece of Desert

Himself and I have always enjoyed cactus and succulents.  For the last 3 or 4 years we've been slowly adding them to our plant collection.  We summer them outside, usually set here and there.  Not a good way to be able to enjoy them.


So we set up a little piece of desert in the front yard.


These are waiting to be repotted.  The two cactus will go in an rectangular hypertufa pot that I made a while back.  The succulent will into a clay pot.


These baby jade plants are ready to be repotted too.  (Besides... I need my bonsai pot back!)


On the left, a volunteer succulent that I have everywhere.  It will be replanted with its brethren this fall so I can have my pot back.  To the right, a kalanchoe.  When it flowers is as red as its pot.


My cactus dish garden.


Not sure what this is.  It's a clearance rescue plant.


Don't know what this one is either.  If you look at it hard, it will drop a leaf or two.


My big jade plant is getting stringy.  I need to decide what I'm going to do with it.


Between the jade and the drop-a-leaf plant, I've gotten a bunch of pieces to propagate.  You can see the ones on the far right have already sprouted 'pups' (babies).  Since I took this photo I've had to add another propagation tray.  These will be ready to have their own pots by late fall.

Below is another problem child...


Yes, I've neglected this one.

The jades have gotten leggy and the aloe have taken over.  I'm going to completely pull this apart.  The aloes will be potted up in several ways.  The jades... I'm going to have to ask some advice on what to do with them.

Other than my own propagations (and well, maybe a rescue or two), I don't plan on getting in more this year.  But I'm ready for next spring!

Look at what they have at the Amish produce auction!!







Yep... next spring...



Saturday, September 22, 2018

Creativity From a Fancy Napkin

Now that my studio is finally functional, I can start creating!  But... it has been so long since I've done anything I have a bit of 'creative block'.  A challenge from one of my creative groups for a post card swap using decorative napkins was just the kick start I needed.


Do you remember back a while when I did some swapping of sea charts for decorative napkins to use in my Bible journaling?  I got TONS!  And maybe 25% are not what I'd use for Bible journaling.  So it was a perfect project to get started back up with.


I try several different layouts to see what pleases me.  (This set is to do a post card for the 88 year old cousin in MN.  Himself was telling her what I was making and she wanted to see one.)


Here are the 2 napkins I decided to use for her.


Time to get the post cards created!


This is one of the finished cards for my swap.  Three were made to trade and one for me to keep.


And here's the one I made for the cousin.

That got the creative ideas going... time to start my Bible journaling again!


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Here's the beef

In looking over the papers I picked up at the learning center at the Bluegrass Stockyards, I realized it was really good information.



If you like a better view of the info on the top chart, go to:


In fact, I'd recommend exploring the whole site.  There is a lot of really good information there! 


Monday, September 17, 2018

It's Still Raining and They Are Already There!

Help is rolling in...


Samaritan's Purse disaster relief team is already at work in coastal North Carolina.  They are repairing roofs, removing fallen trees, clearing debris, and doing 'mud out'.

If you want to help folks recover from Florence, donating to Samaritan's Purse is a trust worthy way.



Sunday, September 16, 2018

Collect Rocks Day~ My Suiseki

As I mentioned last month, although I didn't have a tree ready for the Nashville Bonsai show I did have my kusamono (accent plants) and my suiseki (viewing stones).

"Viewing stones" originated in China (gongshi) and then came to Japan.  To put it most basically, it is 'rock hounding'  turned into a fine art!  The stones are even sorted into categories.

Classification by shape~

Landscape Suiseki (Sansui keijo-seki): in the form of a mountain, island, waterfall, shore- or coastline, cave, canyon or a plateau.

Object stones (Keisho-seki): representing a person, animal, boat, house or bridge.

Classification by surface~

Celestial (Gensho-seki): with patterns resembling the moon, sun or stars.

Plant (Kigata-ishi): with patterns picturing flowers, fruits, grasses, forests or even Bonsai.

Weather (Tenko-seki): resembling rain, intense sunlight, lightning or snow.

Abstract (Chusho-seki): with surfaces similar to animal prints, tangled nets, etc.

While suiseki are most often seen accompanying bonsai in displays, they are also displayed and shown in their own right.  There are many ways to display the stones.  Below are some photos from suiseki shows.


Formal with complete emphasis on the stone.


Traditional display of just the stones (my favorite).


And a complete display showing all elements.


Suiseki shown with a bonsai display (from the Nashville show).


Here is a display as you'd see in a home.

I'm been a 'rock hound' almost as long as I've been alive.  As I learned about suiseki I realized I was already half way there with the stone and mineral collection I own.


These are my first batch of stones I pulled from my collection.

There was a lot of scrubbing and polishing that had to happen before I could exhibit any of them!

Some of the finished results:


Third row, second from the left.
(From granite from North Dakota)


Third row, far right.
(From Alaska)


Second row, first on left
(Iron ore crystals from Missouri)


(Basalt from Scotland)

There are many different types of stands to display suiseki on (none of these stones are mine)...

The most formal are the individually carved 'dais'.  They can also be made from clay (pottery).



Some are set on a table type stand.


A piece of drift wood could be a stand (here sitting on a tray).


A shallow pot/bowl filled with sand makes a nice display.


Or you could fill it with water to bring to mind an island.


Another method of using sand.


Here a decorated plate displays a stone as an island.


Stands can be simple object like this cutting board.


A clever stack of plates.


A bonsai pot filled with sand.


Or a simple coil of rope to hold the stone upright.

Since trees grow slowly, I'm putting some energy into my viewing stone collection and display stands.

Instant gratification!