lulu tries to blog

Monday, December 4, 2017

the red door

I have a lot of fascinations. I wouldn't call them obsessions because I don't think about these things every hour on the hour. There are just some things that hold my attention longer than others. One of these things is pretty much any red door.

I remember being very young, traveling with my parents to Milwaukee. We stopped to pick up some things and as we parked I noticed a brick building across the street with a red door. On that rainy day, that door seemed so vibrant and inviting. Weirdly,  it also had a bit of hauntedness that I couldn't place. At that moment, I thought to myself, "One day I will have a red door and another little girl will see it in the same way". Because well, I've always been precocious.

Photo Courtesy: quicksandala

Since then, I have learned that red doors actually have a lot of history.

  • For the Chinese, a red door is linked to auspicious energy and often used for shrines. Ancient Chinese law stipulated that high ranking government officials had to have a red door. This connected the practice with success and prosperity.
  • The Scottish also connect a red door with success and prosperity, as it is a tradition to paint your door red when your mortgage is paid off.
  • In early American tradition, having a red door meant that you would welcome road weathered travelers into your home. It meant that your home was safe and welcoming. Just as the symbolism was again used to represent safe houses for the underground railroad and refugees.
  • Many traditions believe that a red doors ward off evil spirits.
  • Red is also often used (sometimes in combination with white or gold) for church doors to signify spirituality and the blood of Christ.
  • Traditionally, red is the cheapest paint color to produce. So, it was often a good color to use for a splash of color to an otherwise muted color scheme. This was the reason behind so many red barns.
Anyways, one day...

Monday, November 27, 2017

how to dehydrate celery

Years ago, I bought a dehydrator on a whim. I don't know what compelled me to do this, at the time I was rarely home. In the long run, I schlepped the dehydrator through at least three moves. Then one day, I decided to put it to use. Since then, it has been surprisingly useful.

This Thanksgiving I purchased what can only be described as a radioactive bunch of celery. The thing wouldn't fit in my fridge's crisper. I had to balance it on top of a bunch of stuff and hope that I would use it all for my stuffing.

You may have guessed that I did not use all of this celery. Honestly, I barely made a dent. So, I decided to do some research on how to dehydrate it, as I did need to replace my almost empty bottle of celery flakes.

I learned that the process was fairly simple, beginning with a whole lot of cutting. I started with the celery leaves and then minced them into bits. Then, I cut the stalks into a bunch of more manageable pieces for blanching.

The blanch process is pretty simple. You get a large pot of water, set it to boiling, throw the celery in, turn off the heat and let sit in that water for two minutes. Then, you give them an ice bath. I just ran them under cold water because I am lazy.

After that was done, I cut the stalks and laid all my cuttings on a dehydrator mat. I've seen online that people use their ovens with a baking mats to dehydrate. So, if you don't have a dehydrator that is also an option.

You will notice in the following pictures the way I distributed the celery bits. On the left of each picture is how the celery looked before dehydrating and on the right is how the celery looked after.

This was how much I finally put in my almost empty celery flake container. That might not seem like much, but if I buy celery once a year, I will end up with a perpetually refilled bottle.

Quick Instructions:
Step 1: Mince celery leaves and cut stalks in half. 
Step 2: Bring a pot of water to boil and add celery stalks. Turn off heat and let sit for three minutes. 
Step 3: Cool boiled celery stalks in ice bath until cold. 
Step 4: Dice celery stalks. 
Step 5: Add to dehydrator trays with mats and cook for around six hours according to your dehydrator instructions. (Note: If you use your oven it should be around 150 degrees for dehydration. Set your oven to the lowest setting and if it needs to be cooler leave the oven door ajar for the same cook time.) 
Step 6: Move celery bits around as needed within that 6 hours. 
Step 7: Let cool and put in container.

Friday, November 10, 2017


I come from a long line of dumpster divers. I know that my grandmother did it and I was there for the many times that my mother did it. I have clear memories of my mother driving along and slamming on her breaks because someone had left a bunch of furniture on the curb. 

Giving your child whiplash is not as important as snatching up that credenza. Never you mind that we also had so Macgyver such things into our 1983 Ford Escort Hatchback. Luckily, my mom always made sure we had rope and duct tape in the trunk for such occasions. Side note: We also always had a box of trash bags and a blanket for 'picnics'. I'm not entirely convinced my mother wasn't one step away from murder.

The first item I remember seeing fit to drag back to my lair was a television. I was maybe thirteen and thrilled at the idea of being 'cool enough' to have my own television. My mom warned me it might be faulty, but based on the scrape of paper that had been taped to it that informed me it works, I felt I knew more.

As it turns out that television lasted another thirteen years and I ended up 'handing it down' to my parents when I moved away. 

In my current apartment, I have many items that I've dragged out of the trash. Two different shelving units. A complete fireplace set. A corner stand for our shoes. Random articles of clothing. BOTH of our dog crates. The list goes on. 

Is this gross? Maybe. Do I care? No. I don't really have shame.

Today, I scored a jackpot. I found two pairs of shoes that fit me perfectly AND a bunch of upholstery fabric samples. 

Yes, the gold shoes are a little beat up, but they are also AMAZING. 

Here I am sorting the fabric and then the resulting pile. A whole bin!

The crazy thing is that the fabric is not crappy fabric either. Most of the samples still have the original textile tags on them. This one is from third avenue in New York City.

You may understand what I would do with the shoes. Wear them of course. That's easy. What can I do with all that fabric? 

What I plan to do is make a patchwork slip cover for my couch. The rest of the fabric will go to various projects that require added fabric. I am so pumped about this!