Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Projects!

Projects in the Kitchen
 Bone Broth
This is the first thing I used my slow cooker for and it turned out wonderfully.  I ordered soup bones from the farm and followed this recipe from Balanced Bites (one of my favorite websites and podcasts).  I try to drink a bit of bone broth at every meal and I want to get the kids on board too.  It's pretty mild tasting (although it has a strong smell).  Next time, I will add some other veggies and spices just for variety.


 Soaking Nuts and Seeds to make Crispy Nuts 
Starting at lower right and going counterclockwise: walnuts, pepitas (melon seeds), almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, cashews)

 Paleo Pizza
I followed this recipe for the crust (but omitted the seasonings).  I made the sauce myself and the cheese is the cheese we get from our farm (made from raw milk produced by grass-fed cows)

Handiwork Projects
 A hat and scarf set I made for my friend's daughter who just turned one.  It's 100% merino wool.  It was a very simple project.  I had wanted it to be a lot more complex but I just couldn't get it together and figure out how to make it work.  So basically it's a hat that uses double crochet stitch with a shell stitch border at the brim and a silver satin ribbon accent.  The scarf is double crocheted as well with a shell motif down the center and a shell border at each end.  
Hat number two for my friend's daughter.  This project started out as a tool for teaching my crochet class.  By the time the class was over, I had made so much progress, I just decided to keep going.  The flower pattern I used is here and I just embellished it with a pretty button.  

This is the Milanese Hat Topper.  Unfortunately, I don't like how this hat turned out.  It curls too much at the brim and I don't think the yarn did the pattern justice at all.  I ended up giving it away to one of my students.  It was a great knit though: very relaxing.  

So I've been pretty busy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

How Amazon Can Straight Jack-up Gift Giving and Receiving

Recently I decided that it would be a good idea to get a slow cooker.  I wanted to start making bone broths but also the slow cooker would be amazing in a general way for putting together meals that require very little in the way of tending.  

Well, of course, I was talking about getting a slow cooker with my friend who has two kids herself.  We usually get together once a week on Wednesdays but two Wednesdays ago, I cancelled because we were kind of worn out and didn't want to go anywhere and her kids had a little bit of a cold.  That Friday, I went ahead and purchased a Hamilton Beach 6-Quart slow cooker.  I was thrilled when it arrived the following Tuesday.  Amazon.com does not play!   They send out your stuff with no dilly-dallying which is great and which is why I usually just go the Amazon route.

The following Wednesday, we went over to my friend's house as usual and surprise!  She had a gift for me.  Can you guess what it was?  It was a Crock Pot 6.5 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker!  Had we gone over the previous Wednesday, I would have gotten it then and would never have purchased the other one.  Dang it!  So now I had two slow cookers in my possession.   It should have been no problem--just return the one I bought.  Except that it's a serious hassle to return things to Amazon.com.  I'd end up actually having to pay money to send mine back--which it totally not the point of a gift.  I was trying hard to hold it together and to only let gratitude shine through.  After all, my friend had done this amazingly loving and thoughtful thing for me!  But it was hard for me to be completely and genuinely bowled over.  I wished desperately that I had just waited for a few days to place my order.  

Well, I took the Crock Pot home and here's the dilemma.  My friend totally did not want the Crock Pot to be something to cause me stress and offered to send it back herself.  But I really don't want her to have to pay to ship it back. It's technically my responsibility.  My friend and I were discussing and she didn't want me to feel stressed about it and asked me just to bring it back to her and she'd return it.  Then I offered to pay the shipping to send it back because I didn't want her to be stressed about it.  Then I thought that maybe next time I went over, we could do an exchange and they could just deduct the price of the shipping from the new order or something.  Ugh . . . who the hell wants to have this kind of back-and-forth over a gift!?!

Pre Amazon.com days, I would have simply taken the Crock Pot back to Sears (which is probably where one would get such an item) and even if they wouldn't give me the money back, I could exchange it for something else.  Underwear.  Suitcases.  Paint.  Whatever.  With Amazon.com in the picture, I really don't have many options.  I can't exchange it or send it back to Amazon without involving my friend and how the hell does that look and feel?  Totally awkward and rude.  

I could sell it on Ebay or Craigslist but again, what a hassle!  But I'm starting to think that selling it on Ebay or Craigslist is the only real choice I have here.  I am so very grateful for the Crock Pot but the Hamilton Beach slow cooker I purchased received better user ratings on Amazon and costs less (because it has less features than the slow cooker than my friend bought me).  I can get more money, I think, for the Crock Pot if I go the Ebay route.  I'm currently watching the same pot that's listed.  It's got one more day until the auction closes so I'm waiting to see what happens with the bidding.  

But goodness . . . what rigmarole.  Look at how badly Amazon jacked-up gift giving and receiving.  It really marred the whole experience and I feel so . . . I don't know . . . disappointed about it.  I feel like I need to make it up to my friend somehow but I'm not quite sure how.  
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