Monthly Archives: October 2020

Short Thought #283

Recently I’ve been seeing a Neutrogena® TV ad for a product that “fades brown spots” featuring a lovely young woman. The only visible brown spot on this particular woman’s head is her silky brunette hair. This ad reminds me of sooooo many others of similar ilk I’ve seen onscreen and in print, and I wonder, not for the first time, what do ACTUAL old women, women who really DO have brown spots, wrinkles, gray hair, “minor skin imperfections” 😕 and so forth, think when they see 20, 25, 30, or even 35 year olds, touting these kinds of products? Do they bust a gut laughing or does it incense them enough to want to lob a brick through the screen?

Let’s paint a “Barn Quilt” on the shed!

I promise this is going to be a post about painting a barn quilt but first I have to say that while I’ve been having a bit of fun, I cannot look away from what is going on as the coronavirus cases increase across the country and the election LOOMS. I’ve been feeling emotional and a little sick at heart. The air feels charged and not in a good way. That’s why I’m really glad I both have time for my projects and feel creatively energized while all this is happening.

So what, you (probably) ask, is a Barn Quilt? That’s what I would have asked too a few days ago before someone mentioned the idea to me. Barn quilts are apparently a “thing” in the country, and by that I mean, rural locations. I don’t live in the country, never have, and have no particular affinity for country style decorating; it’s just not my thing. All that said, when I saw a picture of what a barn quilt is – a huge painting resembling a fabric quilt displayed on the side of a barn – I was charmed.

From what I viewed online a barn quilt is typically painted on an 8’x8′ square board which is then attached to a barn. I realized somewhere along the way that it makes total sense for the painting not to be applied directly on the barn itself since that would be a lot trickier: getting up there, standing on scaffolding or what have you, braving the elements, and so on. A 3’x3′ square was suggested for a shed. I don’t have a board like that or any thought of buying one, so I figured I’d do the painting directly. I am just tall enough to do this project without a ladder.

Barn quilt designs can be very intricate but I wasn’t interested in getting too crazy, not for a shed painting and not for my first attempt. Getting intimidated would be counter-productive to my purpose! I googled painting a barn quilt on a shed which led me to a very basic pattern. I took this simple pattern, looked over what house paints I have here and adapted it to them. I made little mock-ups on paper to see how the designs would look.

The shed is a dark chocolate brown (from the last time I painted it) so I looked at each of my samples against the back of this pillow which fortuitously was dark brown.😊

I easily ruled out the first one but  was torn between the 2nd and 3rd. I thought the middle one with the light green was prettiest (the one I’d choose for my bed) and decided to go with it, thinking that should I change my mind & want the one with the dark green, it’d be easier to later paint over a lighter color than the reverse.

The first step was using painter’s tape and a yard stick to create a 3’x3′ square on the shed.

Next  I filled the square in with white paint; I figured a white base would be better than dark brown for adding lighter colors. (This proved true; I only needed to do one coat of color.)

I didn’t take a picture but next I used a pencil and the yard stick to draw the pattern on the white square. Part of why I went with the 3′ square was so that dividing it would be a fairly simple matter and I wouldn’t have weird measurements like 14.75″ for instance, which I’d be more likely to screw up. I did this pen & paper design just to show you what I drew on the shed lightly in pencil.

I had the little color mock-up with me so I could consult it while I painted (which I did so I wouldn’t accidentally fill in the wrong color somewhere 😯).

My completed shed “Barn Quilt” – I am delighted!

Bright young minds at work

Last weekend I dropped off my election ballot (yay!) at a special box installed at the local high school. On the way out I saw, on a high fence overlooking a highly traveled road, a temporary installation in large letters: CLASS OF 2021. Except that the sign had been altered to read

ASS OF 2021

Yes it was juvenile and not exactly high brow humor, but I laughed. The sign, not intended for permanence, was made by stuffing paper of some kind into the fence links, so it wasn’t truly vandalism. If I had been one of the people who’d taken the time to create the letters, I’d no doubt be annoyed, but as a mere observer, I kind of appreciated it.

Dear What’s-Your-Name

A relative, someone who is successful and I daresay prosperous by most definitions, and moreover, who wouldn’t know me if we came face-to-face on the street, sent (via a family email list) a request for money to subsidize their campaign for office. I did nothing but it would have have been fun to reply

Who ARE you and how did you get this number?!

Healthy Soft Pretzels…mmmm

Now that the weather has cooled, I’m more in the mood for baking. Last week I saw a post that gave me an idea. Soft bread sticks from a Betty Crocker recipe are already in my repertoire. I realized I could use that same recipe to make baked soft pretzels. Plus, I just bought a silicone baking mat and wanted to try it out. The real selling point is that they’re supposed to allow you to roll out doughs without sticking.

I won’t go through all the blow-by-mix instructions because it’s easy enough to find recipes online.

I used 1 1/3 water to dissolve the equivalent of a yeast packet (2.5 teaspoons), a little canola oil, a little honey, 2.5 cups whole wheat flour & 1 cup white flour. And a bit of coarse sea salt to throw over the prepared pretzels prior to baking (although to be honest, I forgot about the salt & hastily pulled the baking sheet back out of the oven just in time to add it 😯). That’s it for ingredients.

Risen dough

The Betty Crocker recipe said to make 24 portions so that’s what I did


After rolling the dough into a skinny strip, I followed pretzel-shaping instructions I found online

Give it a second twist

Then – and this is clever – FOLD the twisted half over so it sits atop the dough


20 baked soft pretzels


The bottom, golden brown

Because I started with 24 little dough balls, I had four leftover that I baked separately on a toaster oven sized pan. That worked out nicely because I promptly ate those four with a bit of hummus. OH-MI-GOD. So good!

I enjoyed using the silicone baking mat; the dough truly didn’t stick and it made the whole process easier. I’m curious how well it’d handle a pie dough. Due to very limited counter space I needed to move the dish drainer somewhere else but didn’t mind. And although I might have thought rolling out & shaping pretzels would be tedious, I found it cathartic. The Zen of Pretzel Making.