Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fresh Start

I'm trying blogging again, but with a fresh start.

The 3 F's

Please check out the new site.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Things have been a little nuts lately. Some highlights:

Geek Boy cut down a tree yesterday. He then told our neighbor that he was putting Miracle-Gro around the the stump in the hopes it would come back. That's because she laughed at us last year when we said the obviously dead tree might still come back.

Even though it's not necessarily their "signature beer," I think New Belgium's Trippel is their yummiest!

Our most recent cooking club theme was chocolate. Early responders took the dessert or mole option, so I needed to find something that could be a side dish. Strange as it may sound, roasted parsnip and vanilla chocolate soup is quite tasty.

I'm thoroughly enjoying Cranford, can't believe how Torchwood ended, and will go nuts if I don't find out soon who the fifth is.

Oliver Wyman may have just become my favorite audio book narrator. I'm even enjoying him more than Jim Dale. (Which reminds Pushing Daisies coming back?)

I have a big meeting tomorrow afternoon, and forgot to get my hair cut last week. I'm heading into deranged poodle territory, and my hairdresser is closed today. So, I may have to go to a drop in place, which has never been a problem before, but this time there will be no wiggle room.

Very little knitting has been done.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Startitis Continues...

...but things are getting finished.

This weekend was the second baby shower in the past month. I missed the first one for cooking club, but Geek Boy represented (we were mistakenly informed that it would be a co-ed shower...and the father is a friend of his...unfortunately, he spent that afternoon hearing the word uterus more than he would have liked).

Anyway, after a crisis of yarn shortage, I think Haiku came out quite well.

The sleeves are done in Plymouth Wildflower, my favorite baby yarn. I don't remember what the green yarn was. Something I got when Technicolor Sheep was going out of business. Luckily, with the construction of the sweater, the green rows at the top of the sleeves blend in well with the body of the sweater, making it look intentional.

The hat is my basic baby hat. Plymouth Wildflower, 72 stitches. Quick and easy. If it's for a girl, a little eyelet pattern gets thrown in.

The new mom loved them. And the grandmom, who is my mom's best friend, called my mom the next day to comment on how much they all liked the sweater and hat.

So, with one item off the needles, my rampant spring startitis needed something new. Archiknist recently posted pictures of her purple shawl, from Victorian Lace Today. I was smitten. I checked the book out from the library and spent last night leisurely pouring over the patterns. I have some weddings coming up and thought a nice wrap would come in handy for over-air-conditioned receptions. There's some Sundara silk and fingering silky merino marinating in the stash. I have plans for the silk, but have been trying to figure out what to do with the silky merino. When I got home today (primary elections were today, and we're a polling place, so I was in at 5.45 AM and got to leave around 2.30PM), I mowed our seriously overgrown lawn, and then settled in with the book again and decided to do this:

It's aspiring to be the Handsome Triangle in Sundara fingering silky merino in Blossom (which I think will look lovely with my brown summer wedding dress). This is my first lace. I have the lifeline going already. The benefit to this pattern is that it's one where I can just knit until I run out of yarn. I'm hoping that I'm right in thinking that the magic of lace is in the blocking. Because right now, it just looks like a big old blob. However, I think one of my first tasks tomorrow is to photocopy and seriously enlarge the chart. Otherwise I might go cross-eyed.

I've also finished the first Rustic Arrow sock for Sockdown April. I had hoped to get my electric pear yarn in a good shot with the blossoms on the pear tree out front, but suddenly, they were all blowing off, so I had to go with what was left.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Tale of Three Socks

I have been experiencing severe sock knitting ADD lately.

Now, I've never been a totally monogamous knitter, but this is ridiculous. Usually, I have a pair of socks on the needles, and then one other project, either something big, or something with a deadline. The year started out well. I participated in the mitten swap, and stayed pretty faithful to the mittens, since they were on deadline, and the stranded knitting was new to me. I think they turned out pretty well and were definitely well-received by Theresa in CA.

Meanwhile, I had started a pair of Nutkins for my mom. She loves her knit socks that I gave her last year. I made a new pair for her back in the fall. Unfortunately, they didn't fit over her heel, so she gave them back to me so they didn't just sit.

Then, just when the mittens were finished and on their way to CA, Geek Boy and I took a long weekend trip to Texas to visit his step-mom. As a general rule, I always start a new project when we travel. I've never had a problem taking my knitting on a plane, but just in case my particular TSA agent doesn't want to let knitting needles through that day, I don't want to lose work that I've already done. (I realize that this doesn't make that much sense, since on the return trip I could lose it all, but hey...)

So, I pulled out my Cherry Blossom yarn from Sundara, thinking it would be great spring knitting (plus, the yarn has been languishing for almost a year in the stash). A pair of Nutkins for me. I really like this pattern, and I had memorized it, so it would make for easy plane and car knitting.

And then, I decided I wanted to do the Sockdown challenge for April, and found a pattern with no picture, Judy Summer's Rustic Arrow, which called for sportweight yarn, and I had another Sundara yarn, Electric Pear, hanging out in the stash.

As if that's not enough. My fertile friends are at it again. There are six babies due between the end of this month and August. The first one got a little hat. The next shower is in two weeks, and I rescued a Haiku from the UFO pile and thought it would be perfect. The body and most of one sleeve were done. Finished sleeve one, and started sleeve two. Then it happened. Four rows left, but no yarn. Emergency trip to Finely a Knitting Party, since Cathy stocks Plymouth Wildflower. I figured for four rows, dye lot wouldn't be that big a deal. But she didn't have the color. Ugh!

I came home and re-examined. There was enough of the body color left to finish the four rows. Now I'll just have to undo the last for rows of the first sleeve so they match. (The first sleeve is camera shy, and I couldn't find it for the photo was located later, hiding in another knitting bag.)

And now I want to start something on slightly larger needles because I just got these great stitch markers.

I was never a big fan of the "fancy" stitch markers. I mean, the little plastic loops work just fine, and are only a couple of bucks. But when I ordered from Zen String last year, she included a little set of stitch markers. I discovered I loved having them hanging from my project. And since I've recently become addicted to etsy, I finally ordered some new ones for myself.

So, that's what I've been up to for the last month or so. There were some other things. A little heartbreak (nothing serious), some travelling, some airport taxi service, new appliances and new beers (more on those later). Thanks for coming back.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mindless Becomes Mindful

For the most part, I'm pretty easy going. One year, I was hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my family. I think that year we had maybe 19 people coming for dinner. Our oven died in the middle of cooking the turkey, and refused to be resurrected. Luckily my folks don't live far away, so we just finished the cooking over there and warmed all the side dishes on the outdoor grill. When my mom showed up with the fully-cooked turkey, she just looked at me and said, "19 people for dinner, your oven dies, and you LAUGH. You are *such* your father's daughter." (But, really, is there anything funnier than warm side dishes huddling together in a dead oven trying to keep warm?)

However, lately, I have been having trouble taking things in stride. So Geek Boy and I enrolled in the Penn Program for Stress Management (he took it many years ago). The program is based on mindful meditation and the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn. It's been very interesting. The goal is to practice being present in the moment. Paying attention to your breathing, the physical sensations in your body, your thoughts (which you then let go of), and what's happening now.

It's been an interesting experience. I'm not usually someone who goes for things like this. In fact, when I first brought up the idea of taking the class, Geek Boy's first comment was, "You do know it's based on meditation, right?"

A side benefit has been one night out each week with Geek Boy. I take the train downtown after work and meet him at his office, we go to dinner and then to class. It's really lovely.

The train ride isn't very long, but with waiting time, I can get some knitting done. When this started, I decided to take the Nutkin socks with me as train knitting. Lovely yarn, interesting pattern, that was easy to memorize. Perfect mindless knitting.

Then something weird happened. I started getting mindful about my mindless knitting. Rather than just zipping away while looking out the window, I started watching my hands, the needles, the color changes in the yarn. Nothing new was happening. It's still just knitting. I just started using that time to just knit and not to think about anything else (well, as much as's only the 5th week I've been trying this whole thing, and I've got a long way to go).

Now, I haven't become a perfectly mindful knitter. Most of the time, I still just pull something out to keep my hands busy and have something to show for my addictions to Jon Stewart, Keith Olberman and Mike Rowe. But every now and then, it's nice to stop, breathe, knit.

And it doesn't hurt that the yarn is gorgeous. (Claudia Handpaint in a colorway I think is called Urban Jungle.)

In other knitting news...progress continues on the mitten swap mittens.

This is actually start #3. The first one was too tight. The second attempt, I tried double knitting, and it was too big. Now, I'm doing two handed color work with weaving and it seems to be just right. It's also going much faster than the double knitting. I'm further along than the picture indicates. I took it a couple of days ago, but haven't had a chance to post. I'm well into the third repeat of the pattern.

And today's fun in the mailbox:

Sundara Yarn Fingering Silky Merino in Blossom. New yarn! Yay!

Oh, and this week's soup is a fabulous Potato, Bacon and Horseradish soup from New England Soup Factory. Yummy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

C Is for...


I love to cook. In college I enjoyed the nights when we skipped the caf and used the dorm kitchen. Better yet was senior year when we had our own apartment and our own kitchen. We weren't amazing cooks. Some company had come out with Chicken Tonight sauces. So, we had a lot of shrimp cocktail and chicken cacciatore. Nothing terribly exciting, but it was homemade, so it was good.

When I moved out on my own, my mom took me out to buy a set of pots and pans and she gave me my first cookbook.

I love this cookbook. This does not contain any groundbreaking recipes, but it was a great starter cookbook. Now, when I want comfort food, I go back to these dishes. With a bunch of years cooking experience under my belt, I can improvise much more. There's a shrimp and angel hair pasta casserole that I still occasionally make. Before, I would have had to have all of the listed ingredients. Now, I do a lot of, "I can use this, instead of this," and end up with something that feels the same but is radically different.

My cooking skills have grown, as has the cookbook collection.

It actually outgrew the bookcase and a portion is now housed above the sock yarn basket.

And then there are the magazines (Cooking Light, Everyday and Real Simple subscriptions (housed below the knitting book collection).

We keep our cookbooks in the living room instead of the kitchen because they're really reading material. I'll sit on a Friday night while watching TV, perusing the books, looking for ideas for the week, and making my shopping list.

Gotta keep the spice cabinet stocked. (These are just the savory spices...baking spices, honeys and specialty blends are on a lazy susan in another cabinet.)

And my nice countertop stove (where all the soup comes together). Peeking out from the corner there, you can see the bottles of balsamic vinegar lined up. I think there are 5 right now, including white, cherry and at least one high end bottle. (I tried getting a shot of my awesome wall oven, which once died while cooking the Thanksgiving turkey, but it's stainless, and reflects the flash in an awful way.) The pitcher belonged to my Nanny. When she moved into my folks' house I claimed this. It's old. It's stained. And I wouldn't make iced tea in anything else.

My sister, known around these parts as The Kid (despite being 27), just got married this summer. She and her husband (The Boy...he's 22) have tight finances. A few months ago, it got really bad, in large part due to their love of fast food. They were 10- and 15-dollaring themselves to death...financially and in terms of their heath. My folks worked with them to try and get their budget under control. As the big sister, I felt I had to try and do something. Luckily, I have a wonderful Geek Boy who goes along with all of my ideas. The Kid and I signed up for Dinner by Design, one of these come-spend-two-hours-preparing-frozen-meals places. For a few months we treated them to a freezer full of meals. The Kid and I had a great time together. Almost every day she would call me and tell me what they had for dinner and how good it was.

After two months, I got the hang of how the whole DbD thing worked. Now once a month we go grocery shopping together. We get everything she'll need for a month's worth of meals, head back to their apartment, prepare all of the meals and stuff her freezer. Some of it is simple stuff. We make hamburgers or put chicken and marinade in a ziplock bag. It can be a little difficult since The Boy is a very picky eater. But we've managed and we'll keep doing it.

So, C is for cooking: for the fun of putting together meals for myself and Geek Boy; for varied reading on a Friday night; but most of all, for time well spent with The Kid and the chance to know she and The Boy are saving some money and eating healthy.

I can't let this post go by without a C is for Cats.



Sunday, February 03, 2008

B Is for...


(Please don't say this surprises you.)

I sometimes feel funny about my beer snobbish-ness. There's something very high-falutin' sounding about going to visit a winery or going to a wine tasting. But a brewery tour or beer tasting just makes you sound like a lush. Probably a hold over from way back when, when those who ruled were from the wine-producing countries like France and Italy, and those up in the malt-growing, beer producing area were the "worker bees."

It's something that I enjoy and I'm learning not to apologize for it. Sometimes I get to use my beer knowledge for things like impressing my uncles. Like yesterday when my uncle was talking about a case of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA someone gave him for his birthday. I suggested he savor it, since the hops shortage means it may not be around for much longer. My mom just shook her head. "It's hard enough to see you drinking beer. But now you're an expert."

I don't drink a lot of it, rarely more than one or two in a sitting, but I drink what I enjoy. Monk's Sour Flemish Ale is right at the top of my list. Along with Dogfish Head Peche (once again, thanks, Tina).

We took a tour of Flying Fish Brewery in New Jersey yesterday. Lots of fun. The guys who own it are very down to earth and make a great product. I've always liked their Abbey Dubble (Belgian beers are always a favorite). One of their current seasonals is the 4-pack pictured, Imperial Espresso Porter. It's delicious. Roasty with a little coffee and chocolate flavor. It almost matches the memory of the holy grail of beers (we need another trip to Toronto).

Most interesting thing I learned yesterday, and a good reason to continue my affection for small breweries, Flying Fish employs Goodwill workers for all of their package assembly. They send all of their packaging materials to a local Goodwill employer and the people in the program put together the boxes and carryalls. It's not a huge thing, but it's nice to know they look for ways to be part of the community.

We'll be heading to a mid-winter brew fest in a couple of weeks, and even managed to score tickets to the Meet the Brewers "after-party." Can't wait for that. In the meantime, I'll head down to the cellar and see what's good for Super Bowl watching.