The blog may have been quiet over the last seven weeks but that does not mean we haven't been busy.
There have been:
1. Decadent meals, my most favorite of which was a rabbit ragù with polenta
If you can get past the "bunny rabbit" issue and flashbacks to the infamous rabbit skinning clip from Michael Moore's documentary on Flint, "Roger and Me", rabbit is another great white meat that is both low in fat and high in protein. Personally, I believe it is best eaten stew style because it does have a tendency to dry out. In France, rabbit is an economical alternative to chicken although the New York Times article linked above does note that rabbit is no longer widely available in the US and therefore expensive. At my local market butcher, I purchased a whole rabbit for 10€ and when combined with the ragù sauce, made approximately 10 portions. We ate the ragù for two nights and froze the rest in individual portions. It makes for easy meals during the week!
2. Kitchen nightmares
The kitchen has undergone some substantial changes over the last month and after great battles with Vogica, the high-end cabinet maker that we very stupidly selected to design our kitchen (that should get its own post!), our handles were finally installed two weeks ago. Anyone who did the math would realize that was nearly 9 weeks after the kitchen was first delivered! Never again...
We returned the overhead fan after realizing post-installation that the dimensions of the fan did not correspond to the dimensions on the manufacturer's website. We bought it from Mistergooddeal because their advertised price was 250€ less than a competitor -- only they bought a lot from Fagor which did not correspond to the manufacturer's dimensions and failed to mention so on their website. To our great surprise, they offered to take back the fan. Two months and many calls to their hotline at 34cents/minute (which never fails to surprise me in France!) , they finally came to pick it up last week. Now we have to wait another 30 days to get the same fan ordered from a different store.
Those of you on Ravelry may have noticed that I finished the February Baby Sweater. As many Zimmermanics have noted, this is a fun and easy pattern once you decipher Zimmermman's "pithy" instructions and makes an adorable baby cardigan.
It will be shipped off tomorrow to little Molly who hopefully hasn't outgrown it already...
Pattern : Elizabeth Zimmermann's February baby sweater from A Knitter's Almanac (6 months size)
Yarn: Louet Gems Opal in Aqua (two skeins) and Rowan RYC Cashsoft DK in cream (leftovers)
Buttons: from Entrée des Fournisseurs, rue des francs bourgeois, Paris
And my Charlotte's Web shawl is patiently waiting for the ends to be woven in and to be blocked. I am dying to get my hands on lace wire blockers but cannot imagine how much it would cost to ship them to France.
In the meantime, I started a scarf for my friend Nathalie and so far, I think it is the most beautiful thing I have ever knit
Pattern: Muir from Knitty
With smoky amethyst beads
Unfortunately, between bar review classes for the French bar and the difficulty of knitting with beads in the metro, my progress has been slow, to say the least.
4. Being thankful for things going right
Ribbit and I have had a string of bad luck. Between the problems with the kitchen, the Turbo going out on our car (and 1500€ later, we didn't go to Budapest for New Year's as planned), and then the clutch going out on the car we borrowed from Ribbit's parents, and custom's seizing the boxes of wedding china shipped from the states, I was starting to think we had la poisse. But last Friday, things began to look better, the sun was shining, and I received an email from French Customs that if I would send them our marriage certificate they would detax my boxes, and Mistergooddeal sent an email saying the reimbursement check was in the mail and then...Ribbit called to tell me that good fortune happens in threes and tonight just happened to be a 130 million euro jackpot. After work I bought two flash tickets and won €9.60 (net win €5.60). I guess we might not have the poisse after all....
5. Going green
This seems to be a popular topic around blogland. Being from Oregon, thinking green comes naturally. After all, Oregon was the first state to pass a Bottle Bill and I remember paper recycling cans in all our elementary school classrooms. In France however, it is a little more challenging. We assiduously recycle our paper, plastic, glass and aluminum in the bins at home but have more recently switched to some Earth-friendly cleaning products. Andie is a great inspiration to all who may be thinking of making the switch.
When our old laundry soap ran out, I stopped by the local biocoop and bought a sack of soapnuts (noix de lavage). I had been curious about these little nuts since I saw them in the cleaning section of the BHV. They grow on trees in India (and Nepal and other Himalayan countries) and have been used for centuries in Indian homes. They contain a natural cleaning agent called saponin and I have been pleasantly surprised with the results. I loathe detergent smells and in the past was resigned to purchasing expensive, perfume-free laundry soap. The soapnuts leave no residual smell although you can add several drops of essential oils onto the bag containing the nuts to fragrance your laundry. However, my favorite part is how soft the clothes come out. Previously, I refused to use fabric softener because of the perfumes and the residue it leaves on clothes. But now even my towels are fluffy when they used to be hard and scratchy! (I sound like an infomercial, but this stuff really is great). Apparently, you can also simmer the soapnuts (used and unused) in hot water and create an all-purpose cleaner. But the best part is the price - at the local biocoop on the boulevard Voltaire, one kilogram of soapnuts costs 12€ and is good for approximately 100-150 loads depending on the temperature of your wash!
I also replaced our paper towels with washable microfiber clothes and bought a cloth dust-mop to wash our hardwood floors.
Next up...after my exams are over, I am going to try to make some of my own cleaning products with baking soda, white vinegar, washing soda formulas that are so widely available on the Internet.
Any other tips for being more eco-friendly?