Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Shover.

The Shover got its start about 3 years ago, when I was living with 3 other women in SE Portland. The usual thing happened on a weekly basis- that is to say that mail, junk, legit and otherwise, would inevitably find its way to any surface- though most of the time it was the table. The solution to this endless clutter was happened upon quite suddenly and unexpectedly. I was at Goodwill with one of my roommates shopping for who-knows-what, when we stumbled upon what we eventually, fondly, referred to as The Shover.

The Shover was about a foot and one half tall about a foot deep, and made of solid wood and painted a rich royal blue. It had four square compartments stacked directly on top of one another and was topped with a tin roof and a little tin bird adorning the space directly under the roof. We had found the solution to our mail clutter.

The structure was purchased and brought home and the compartments labeled with the names of each housemate. I am unclear on the circumstances around when the term 'The Shover" was coined, but it was obvious that there was no way we could not call it this. The Shover's compartments were also referred to each person's individual Shover.

Not only did The Shover make household organization fun, it was also the source of endless entertainment;

"Has anyone seen the water bill?"
"Yeah, I put it in your Shover."


"Do you want to keep this oil change coupon?"
"Yeah! Just stick it in my Shover."

I have missed the presence of such a simple and effective device in my life since I moved out of this house. I have searched each second hand store for a comparable structure for shoving important (and not so important) documents into, but The Shover is an elusive thing.

And so this is my attempt to recreate The Shover, with fabric instead of wood, and one that hangs on the wall instead of being set upon something.

I call it The Shover 2.0!

If I'm being honest with myself, it's really more of a mail sling. I reinforced the 'sling' part with interfacing to give it a little more umph. I haven't tested the integrity of the slings, but I think it will be able to easily hold 3 magazines, a half dozen letters from friends and family and maybe, every other week, a bill or two. There is a tasteful pocket at the bottom for such things as pens, pencils or loose change.

I made The Shover 2.0 on Columbus Day, and as such, did not receive any mail, but it also makes decent wall-art. I found the thick stick in my backyard, stuck it through the 2.0 and hung it with thin wire.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The making of hard cider, part 1.

Nic and I have made an informal list of things we'd like to accomplish in Montana. The list includes; camping more, making sourdough starter (and keeping it alive) and making home brew. After a long period in which we wondered if Gallatin County had any brewing supply stores, we embarked a short and fruitful trip to Belgrade Liquor where Frank helped us out in purchasing all we needed to get started making hard apple cider. We left with a bucket, a carboy, a fermentation lock and several other brewing accouterments.

Step one, complete.

Step two was to acquire apple cider. We were searching for the authentic thing. We didn't quite want to settle for store-bought cider, we were willing to scavenge, glean and gather all the apples we could. After questioning neighbors and co-workers regarding the whereabouts to the best apple trees (my boss gave me the combination to her garage so that I could access her back yard and her apples). We once again, embarked on a shorter and even more fruitful (literally) trip to Rocky Creek Farms, just outside of Bozeman. They no only had crates of apples, but these crates of apples were located a short distance from a barn which, conveniently, housed an apple press!

The apple press is quite the contraption- it conveys the apples up to an apple crusher that pulverizes the apples and dispenses them onto a conveyor belt, which then conveys the apple mush through a series of squishing and then pours the phase-1 cider into a skive for the first stage of filtering. The second stage of filtering sent the cider upstairs through a secondary filtering device and came out of a tap directly bottled into half-gallon containers.

I should add that the above photo looks a bit messy- sticky would be another word to describe the apple-press room. There was also lots of pulp, foam and chunks. Still, the amount of liquid that you can get out of apples is sort-of impressive. We accidentally ended up with 10 gallons of apple cider- twice as much as were were originally hoping for.

That was okay though. Fresh un-pasteurized cider might be the best tasting thing ever (mulled cider following a close second). Step two was now complete.

Step three was completed last week, as we 'sterilized' the cider with campden tablets to inhibit the growth of wild yeast and certain bacteria. After a few days, we added the yeast, stuck a fermentation lock on the carboy and also a T-shirt (because direct light is not great for yeast).

The carboy now sits in our back room off-gassing and filling our apartment with a nice yeasty scent.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Squirrel Mittens.

It is snowing here today. It also snowed on Wednesday, September 30. As I stood by the window at work, amazed and somewhat concerned, a co-worker told me if I stuck around Montana long enough I might be lucky to see snow in July. It was on Wednesday when I decided I needed to finish my mittens.

The aptly named Squirrel and Oak mittens were a nice foray into my first color work project. I accidentally knit 3 mittens throughout the mitten-knitting process. The first squirrel mitten was knit too tight and no matter how much I tried to stretch it out it wasn't going to do, especially after I knit up the oak mitten- which turned out to be an inch larger the squirrel mitten. I could either have had a mis-matched pair of mittens or knit a third to match the second and scrap the first. So I knit another squirrel mitten.

When I first learned to knit, I learned the English knitting style, where the yarn is held in the right hand. After a long knitting hiatus I re-learned in the Continental knitting style. While I didn't do much research onto the technique for knitting with two threads, I held one yarn in my left hand (Continental) and one in my right (English). It worked out quite well. I feel that otherwise it may have become a tangled mess.

Anyway, enough with technique, I can't quite get over how adorable they are! Bring on the Fall.