Friday, January 25, 2013

Happy Cookie

Why does drinking half a mouthful of mulled apple juice move me from glum to hopeful? A speck or two of nutmeg dropped into 8 ounces of apple juice along with 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, heated to boiling and allowed to cool to drinkable temperatures, lifts my mood from "oh mumble, another day" to mildly hopeful. I was just trying to make drinking juice less predictable and got a mood improver. Oh Joy, literally. 

Of course I had to research it. Imagine my delight when I encountered, buried in an article on the narcotic effects of nutmeg, this recipe:

"Cookies for Preventing Sadness
Christian Rtsch and Claudia Mller-Ebeling (2006) offer the following recipe for "Cookies for Preventing Sadness" in their book Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide.
2 Tbsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1.5 tsp ground cloves
3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks of butter
2 eggs
pinch salt
3/4 cup chopped almonds 

Mix ingredients and bake cookies at 350F for five to ten minutes. The cookies are sweet, spicy, and they lift the spirits. Perfect for the holidays. "

There were no instructions on how to use the cookie dough. Did you roll it into balls before pressing it onto cookie sheets? Did you mash the balls down, like peanut butter cookies? Did you roll it into logs and chill, then cut off slices? I tried all these methods. Rolled into balls and baked is my preference. The brown dough does not get noticeably darker in baking, but the texture changes.

Cookies for Preventing Sadness are fine. I doubt that eating a Happy Cookie will quell a full blown panic attack. Neither will it transport you into culinary ecstasy.  

So far, eating three cookies a day means I accomplish more of the things I think about doing, and falling asleep is easier, or at least less impossible.  I suffer from seasonal glumness. When the days are short, so is my temper, and everything is an effort. Several times I have discovered that I am halfway through a project that previously was too much trouble. A coat needed its lining repaired. It's nearly done. Why don't I paint a metal washer with nail polish and see how it looks? Fairly decent. Why don't I use up those figs in a cake? Too much trouble.

I am not at all tempted to eat more than three, my arbitrary cookie limit, in a sitting. They are not particularly sweet. The amount of cinnamon makes my throat burn slightly. The cookie is crumbly, moist, and satisfying. 

For gloom, mild anxiety and sleeplessness, "eat a cookie and call me in the morning" seems a reasonable course of action.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sewing Hubris

1. Sewing hubris may strike at any time.
2. Just because something is possible doesn't mean it should be done. For instance, just because, days before Christmas, I learned that a tall skinny person wanted pajama pants and I have more fabric and patterns than any one person ought to, doesn't mean I should fill spare moments with a strange pattern. I did anyway.

3. Reading pattern instructions does not mean you should follow them blindly. I read the instructions. I attempted to follow them instead of just sewing pajama pants the way I've been doing for eons. I ripped out all the seams twice, and gave up on finishing them for the tall one. I would alter the pattern so it would fit a short rounded person: me.
4. Just because it is an old pattern does not mean the measurements are out of date. I assumed that the pattern from the 1980s would do what most vintage patterns, have done--shift sizes downward.  I added 2 inches to each side.  I assumed that I would have to add a diamond at the center back because I have curves and the person for whom I was making the pants in the first place does not. But wait! The 1986 pattern also came in Short, Average, and Tall, and I had used Tall. No need to add in back, just remove in front. And my, these seem roomy.
5. When the pants seem roomy in the try-on stage, they probably are. I marked the waist by tying elastic around my waist and pulling the extra fabric over the elastic until the fabric fell without wrinkles. Roomy, though.
6. Even when the waistband is elastic, it's a good idea to have a separate waistband. It is so much easier to manipulate 3 inches than 30 inches of fabric. I got this right.
7. Mark both the waistband and the pants into quarters and stretch  the waistband to fit the waist.  I lazily figured that it was elastic, and would fit, and ended up unpicking half the band and redoing it.
8. The pants are about 4 inches too wide all around, the precise amount I added. They are pajama pants, lounge pants, and  it doesn't really matter. Besides, loose pants are good when one is battling a knee wound that oozes constantly.
9. Accept it that sometimes what you sew is neither a win nor a loss.
10. The pattern you want to use will show up just after you complete the item with a pattern previously unused.
11. Perhaps I should cut and sew pajama pants that are less roomy. How often does one need pants to accommodate a herd of ferrets?