Thursday, October 30, 2008

I can knit that scarf in three days or less

Maybe. Our aunt's surprise birthday party is Saturday. On Thursday morning dh asked what we should get her. Suddenly it occurred to me that I should have knit her something. Maybe it's not too late - the felted bowls are fast, I can make a hat in a day, maybe a scarf? There's no time to shop so I am limited to what's in the stash - not much that isn't already committed. My rational minds screams at me - you're on deadline, your mother is coming in to town, it's Halloween tomorrow - DO THE MATH - there aren't enough hours between now and the party. But, just a quick lace scarf? NO! Just one felted bowl? Maybe, not really. But I know I can finish a wash cloth in two hours.

In the end, I decide my rational mind is right - I must finish the articles that are due. I don't need the distraction and pressure of slamming to finish a project when I should be enjoying Halloween. And I want to give mom lots of attention since I don't get to see her very often.

Thankfully, everyone else in the family is kicking in to hire the birthday lady a personal trainer. I'm off the hook. Christmas, however, is just a few weeks away...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Can you measure the severity of the coming winter by the number of hats a knitter feels compelled to knit in the fall? The leaves are turning, the air is crisp and I am driven by some inexplicable force to knit hats. It started with the little hats for the Innocent people then I knit the hat I'd been contemplating for my husband for months. There's was another for my secret pal and then one for Cori and one for me. And I've got a hankering to make more!

This one for the 3yo is by far the most fun of the whole batch. She designed it herself. She picked out the pink yarn from the store and then she went stash diving. It was fun to watch - she knew exactly which ones she wanted and which ones she didn't. Then we had to settle on the design. She turned down so many that I thought she didn't really know what she wanted. Finally, I drew out every possible shape and brim combination I could imagine. Right away she pointed to one. I showed her the drawing three more times, just to make sure. By the last time I think she thought I was totally scatter brained to not be able to remember which one she wanted! The only problem is that I almost don't want her to wear it because I'm so afraid she'll lose it. She has a habit of taking her hats off and walking away.
Mine is a lace edged cap with beads added for a little extra glamour.
I learned something about hat decreases - I didn't follow the patterns since I didn't have it with me. Instead, I decided to just wing it. I had 84 stitches, which meant starting the decrease with 6 groups of 14 stitches or 14 groups of 6 stitches. I chose the latter. I should have chosen the former. My top is okay but it's a tad bumpy because of having so many sections.
The yarn is Ella Rae, which I bought a long time ago to make a felted bowl that I never got around to making. I'm glad, because I love it for the hat. It's soft and comfy. A joy to knit with and to wear - I think it will be anyway. Ironically after my hat knitting flurry, it hasn't been cold enough for hats!
Soon enough, I'm sure.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween Part II

Just three days later:

Mom: Okay, so you want to be Hanna Montana, you have the boots, we can make you a cardboard guitar, what do you need for clothes?

DD 6: I don't want to be Hanna Montana any more. I want to be Tinker Bell.

The organized mother in me (she gets lost a lot, but she is there) wants to run right out and get the costume to check it off her list, but I've got a feeling that she'll be changing her mind.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween is on the way

It's that time of year again - that time when children drive their parents crazy.

What do you want to be this year?
I don't know.

How about a cat? We have the ears from last year.

How about a princess? You could use that gorgeous blue dress?
That's boring.

How about a Robot? We could make a costume out of boxes?
That's dumb.

Well what do you want to be?

Hanna Montana.

Because that's what my friend is going as.

How about something more, you know, creative?

But Hanna dresses just like you do, it's not like wearing a costume at all.

I don't care.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Red Sox Nation Rejoice

Forgive me my fellow Red Sox fans. I had lost hope. Down 7 to 1 after a demoralizing 13 to 4 loss to the Rays in the previous game, I figured the season was over for our beloved team. I should have known better. Our team has a history of charging from behind. And yet, sometimes I'm a slow learner. Tired from an extremely long day, feeling unable to emotional handle watching a losing game I went to bed.

All thoughts of the game were lost the furious rush of getting everyone ready for school this morning. You can only imagine my surprise when I heard the D.J. say to someone, "well anything can happen, look at the Red Sox last night." What? What? Could it be? Was is possible? Dare I even get my hopes up?

I turned to the news station and it was confirmed. This beaten down, injury-wracked team had pulled it off again! Of course this wasn't the final game and they still face an uphill battle. But I am so impressed that they're still in. And I'm really kicking myself for going to bed and missing what was by far the best come back in decades.

To me, this isn't just about baseball - it's about life. Don't give up. It may look grim, but Big Papi may just have another homerun in him, so hang in and keep swinging.

Go Red Sox!!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A cooking mystery

The meatballs tasted fine, but there were green flecks throughout. Those same green flecks appeared in the apple pie, which also tasted fine.

What could possibly have happened?

Bugs? No.

Crayon? A possibility given our household, but no.

Food coloring? We haven't even had any around since last Christmas.

Meatballs: meat, garlic, cinnamon, mace, egg, bread crumbs.
Pie: apples, sugar, cinnamon, mace, flour.

Think you know the answer? Check comments.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A mighty big thank you

I do not always look forward to getting the mail given that there are always more bills than checks. Besides, who writes letters these days - we all email each other. But on one particular day recently is was thrilled to see the mailman because he was carrying a special package just for me all the way from Finland. My wonderful secret pal, now revealed to be Hanna, had sent me some very soft lace yarn, some delicious candies, a darling book with babies and animals and this gorgeous shawl that matches not only my dog, but nearly everything else in my wardrobe. Before becoming a knitter, I thought of shawls as being sort of for the antique set, but now I appreciate how chic they can be. And this one is a lovely shade of blue in a stunning pattern. Plus, I feel so special when I wear it because someone made it just for me.

Speaking of feeling special - I am loved. My good friend Allison in California has nominated me for this oh so nifty award - Thank Allison! Go check out her story about cheerio chai - too funny.

Here's the deal - it's my turn to nominate four other other fab bloggers -

Here are the instructions:

1. Post the award on your blog

2. Post a link to the person who awarded it to you.

3. Nominate four other bloggers

4. Add links to the bloggers

5. Notify the recipients

So here are my nominees - be prepared to travel around the world!

1. Say bonjour to Anna. Her blog is in French, so you may not get all of what she's saying, but the pictures are gorgeous.

2. Check out my Secret Pal revealed. Hanna blogs from Finland.

3. For a fun take on parent, as well as knitting and living in Alaska, fly on over to Holly Jo's blog.

4. For the best socks ever - and some really cute bags and other things, skip on over to Monica's Works for Yarn.

And on a final knitting note - I've been meaning for many weeks to knit a hat for my husband for his birthday, which happens to be today. So why did I wait until the day before to start it? Well, mostly because I thought it was two days before -- I just didn't (apparently) have a solid grasp on the date. Other than that, I had been planning on buying yarn for the hat but never got around to it. When the deadline loomed, I dove into the stash and found a healthy supply of Cascade 220 from some former project and plenty of a gorgeous verigated yarn hand spun by another former secret pal at Saratoga Knits. The pattern is That Chocolate's Gone Straight to Your Ribs, which is worth knitting just for the title alone! The only adjustment I made was to knit 90 stitches instead of 100 on size 5s.
I realized halfway through the day just how close to the deadline I was and kicked the knitting into high gear. I managed to finish without too much effort in time for bed. Heck, maybe I should cast on a scarf - I have a few more hours before the birthday is over. Maybe not - I do have to make a cake after all!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Pure Mutt, Pure Fun

Check out this handsome pup. And isn't that a lovely collar? It's sturdy too. And I'm not just saying that because we won it in a blog contest!

It was run by a fellow knitter and dog lover at Lapdog Creations . Check out her blog for photos of some darling dogs and some fun knitting.

Pure Mutt is a line of dog and dog lover products to promote the adoption of homeless shelter dogs. A portion of the proceeds goes to support Abandoned Pet Rescue. A good dog deserves a good home, right?
We really needed a good collar since he'd worn his on a recent roll on a dead fish. It took several washings just to get the smell of him.

Watson is a tennis ball addict. He will play for hours - maybe longer - we always give up before he does! If he can't find a whole ball, he'll settle for whatever tiny piece he can get his teeth on. The saddest thing is when he chews them until there is a tiny hole and then brings them out to the water where they sink. He doesn't understand the concept and swims around looking for his ball!

On the day of these photos, we had reasonably warm weather and the sun was shining bright. My 3yo rediscovered her witches hat from last year and is just as thrilled with it as the day we found it in the store! She was going to be a princess for Halloween, but has switched to being a witch.
The bigger kids are hunting for crabs. Much to the crabs' dismay, they found quite a few.

Monday, October 06, 2008

CJ's Apple Sauce

I have bought apple sauce all my life and never given it a second thought. I just sort of thought there was some super secret complicated recipe and it only came at the store. (My grandmother is roling over in her grave with that confession). Enter the 3yo. She found a book with pictures of people eating apples in all sorts of ways. Not being able yet to read she got it in her head that it had a recipe for apple sauce since there was a picture of people eating it. She was so excited about making apple sauce that I couldn't resist.

It turns out that not only is the recipe not secret - there are lots and lots of them and the basic ingredients are apples, water and sugar! It couldn't be easier - aside from the need to cut and peel a bunch of apples.

Of course I could have just picked a recipe, but I decided it would be more fun to take bits and pieces of a bunch of different ones. Here's what we came up with:

8 apples (cored, peeled and cut into pieces)

1 cup water

1/2 cup of brown sugar (can substitute white)

1/4 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon all spice (or cloves)

Mix together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. At this point the apples will be so mushy you can probably just mash them all with a fork. Otherwise, put it all in a food processor.

Serve hot or let it cool. I'm sure it would taste good cool - ours never made it that far. It was devoured almost as soon as it hit the table. In fact, it was all I could do to fend them off long enough to get the picture.

My 6yo has declared that we should have nothing but homemade applesauce from now on because all that store bought stuff is "lame." I don't have the heart to explain that although it is tasty, all that cutting and peeling is going to be reserved for special occassions!

You can leave the peels on, we tried one small batch that way. I liked it but the kids gave it a thumbs down.

I have been knitting - I'm still working out my sock phobia. I'm on my third pair for the year. Two at a time, magic loop. The toes went smoothly. The feet were fine. The stripes of the self striping yarn matched perfectly.

Then the heels. I'm trying a new short row method that has you place markers after every wrapped stitch. Much, much easier than relying on counting. But after I started knitting in the round again, I discovered that my perfectly matched stripes were no longer perfectly matched! They are off, just a bit - could be the yarn, could be that I knitted an extra row on the heels. I hope that it's the yarn or that it won't matter - I really, really don't want to go backwards!
Here we are all ready for Halloween! The 6yo and a friend and the 3 yo dug out our stash from the basement (by themselves) and went to town on the porch.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What to cook tonight

Since I've been working from home, cooking dinner has become one of my jobs. It's kind of funny since I grew up on hamburger helper, tacos in a box and chop suey from a can. It's even funnier because I don't really care all that much about food. It's not that I don't appreciate a good meal - it's just that I'm perfectly happy with a peanut butter sandwich. So one would think I'd be content to designate a dinner a day and have done with it - Macaroni and Cheese Monday, Taco Tuesday, etc. But not so. I have an inexplicable, deep desire for different. It's like wanderlust in the kitchen. It's a curse and a blessing. I'm constantly making discoveries - some tasty, some not so much. Tonight, we stumbled on one that was a big hit with all but the 3yo:

I'm calling it Adventures in Hamburger Casserole
It takes about 20 minutes to prepare and a total of 50 minutes to cook

1 pound hamburger
2 cups of rice (uncooked)
1/2 an onion chopped fine
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 to 2 cups of vegetables (I used broccoli - corn would also be good)
1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese plus 4 tablespoons.

Heat the oven to 375.
Start the rice (two cups of rice and 4 cups of water for my family of 7) Add a beef bullion cube for extra flavor.

Brown 1 pound of hamburger and onion
Once rice is cooked, combine it with hamburger, soup, vegetables and rice in a casserole dish. Top with 4 tablespoons of cheese
Add 2 tablespoons of water

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

The 15yo says its better with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top after its served.

I think it would be good with tomato soup or maybe cream of celery. I suspect that it's a fairly flexible recipe. But then, I'm from Wisconsin so I'm of belief that if it has cheese in it, it must be good!