Saturday, September 26, 2009


Months ago, I launched into the Ulmus with vain hopes of having it done early in the summer to use as a light wrap. It certainly would have gotten plenty of use. But it just took a whole lot longer than I anticipated. In the time it's taken me to finish the one, others have made two or three. I can only dream of being that speedy.

But done it is - except for blocking, which I pledge to do tomorrow. I hope blocking will make it bigger since even though I did the big size, it seems a tad tiny. I love this pattern. It's challenging enough to be interesting without being overwhelming. The only hard part, as with all shawls of this style, is that you are constantly adding stitches so the rows get longer and longer. It goes really fast at first and then slows to a crawl.

The yarns are hand dyed bought in CT. Because the turquoise has some purple and the purple has some turquoise, they sort of blended together rather than having distinctive stripes. It creates sort of an impressionistic painting feel that I really like. I think I'd like the end stripe to be a little narrower but with 300 and some stitches on the needles, I didn't mind enough to redo it.

Now, it's time to start knitting for Christmas if I'm going to, I suppose!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sometimes I get bored

I have a confession: Sometimes, I get bored at the playground. There's only so much swinging I can take. I don't mind a trip or two down the slide, but sooner or later the little ones are off playing a no-adults allowed game and I'm left twiddling my thumbs. So, that's why I brought the camera. It was great until they got tired of me following them around.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

slow cook recipe worth trying

Finally, I found a slow cooker recipe that doesn't require a lot of pre cooking! It truly is one of those just throw it in the pot sorts. It calls for peanut butter and in my book anything that calls for peanut butter is probably good.
I didn't have salsa on hand so I subbed a can of tomato sauce, tomatos and onion. I also added extra peanut butter because I really like peanut butter.

I thought this was a great recipe and DH liked it too. I think dd 15 would have liked it but she isn't home for dinner. DDs 4 and 7 were not at all keen on it and chose to eat celery and peanut butter as a main course instead. DS who has been coming home super hungry from football wouldn't even try it. I'm trying not to take that personally.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall in New England

School has started and the trees are starting to think about putting their annual show, which means it is time for apples - lots and lots of apples.

As we forked over the bucks for an empty bag into which we put said apples, I had visions of Tom Sawyer and the white washing of the fence. "We're buying memories," says DH. They certainly are tasty memories, at least.

Don't tell that turkey that Thanksgiving is coming!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

quick escapes

I'm slammed on deadline for my grown up work this week which has meant very little time for crafting and lots of stress. My relief in times like this is to take peeks at what everyone else is doing and to live vicariously through them.

I have found a site that is worth sharing because it's like a gateway to what everyone else is doing. It is Whip Up - a collection of other crafters tutorials, book reviews and the like. Seeing what everyone else has done makes me want to spend my days doing nothing but sewing and knitting and creating gorgeous things. (I'm even thinking about making a quilt - although I suspect it's more about wanting to have a quilt than wanting to put together a kazillion little squares no matter how beaufitul the fabric.)

Beware before you go to the site - it's easy to get lost wandering from one link to the next.

Now, I MUST get back to work so that I can get enough done so I can get back to doing some actual knitting instead of just dreaming about it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Crock of Success

My children were beginning to doubt me. DH was getting ready for a big old "I told you so." But urged on by supportive friends and family, I persevered on the crock pot front, and by golly, we finally have a hit!
A BIG one. As in everyone loves this dish. As in the teenager said it's "the bomb" which is about the highest complement she has available to her at this point in life.
(Never mind that roast beef costs about four times what we normally spend on meat for dinner and that we ate nearly the whole thing so I can't really justify it saying we'll get two meals out of it.)
It's the beef roast slow cooker dinner from the Food Nanny book. I'm not sure what's more amazing - that the small kids liked it or that I did since I'm not generally a non-hamburger beef eater.
I consider this a double score because I bought it as a used book last summer while on vacation. And although I've enjoyed reading it, I had yet to actually make a recipe from it.
Not that I haven't wanted to. There many that sound absolutely delicious. I just hadn't made the leap from reading them to putting them into practice.
The book breaks thing down into themed nights, which seems like a fun way to organize dinner.
Aside from the recipes, it's a fun book to peruse. There are lots of tidbits on the background of the recipes as well as fun conversation starters.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

rain dance

I did something I thought I'd never do this morning: I ran a 5K race in the rain. Pouring rain. Buckets of heavy rain. I wasn't the only one, but there weren't a lot of us.

Here's the thing - I thought it would be awful. I thought I would hate it. I thought I'd run my worse time ever. So why did I do it? Well, when I woke up and heard the rain, I thought to myself that it was pretty comfortable where I was and that no one would hold it against me if I didn't get up. The whole day I could say, well I was going to run a race, but the rain...

Or, I could drag myself out of bed and have a much better story to tell.

The race was in Revere, along the beach that was notably empty on this particular day. It was beautiful in a stormy, full of character sort of way.

Registration was thankfully inside. We were greeted by amazingly cheerful volunteers who were wonderfully inviting even though they faced standing outside in the rain for the next hour or so. The runners were equally cheerful despite thoughts of having to run through a shower.

We were soaked from just walking across the street from the registration room to the shelter in front of the start line. While we stood there watching it rain like someone was pouring water out of a bucket, it actually started raining harder. Then came the thunder.
I admit that I almost hoped lightening would follow and they'd call of the race. But alas, no.

We lined up, the horn blew, and we were off to the race. And you know what? It wasn't that bad.

My jacket did get soaked through and clung to me like saran wrap, but the temperature was about perfect for running. It turns out that once you're completely soaked, it's not so bad. It's the getting soaked that isn't so much fun. On the way out, we ran into the wind and the pelting rain. That meant, however, that on the way back, the wind was with us helping to make up for lost time.

I expected to run slower than my usual slow pace, but as I neared the finish line, I heard DH yell to me that I could do it in under 35 minutes. In the distance, I saw 34 on the timing board. It seemed too far away to make it, but I kicked it up anyway and crossed the line at 34:53. My best time ever, rain or not.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Crock pot Days 3 and 4

Determined to figure out how to crock pot, I perserved with an Autumn Harvest recipe. The originator made it sound oh so delicious - just add a little of whatever is around, some apples, some cinnamon and voila. The only change I made was to start with uncooked rice, figuring that it would be an unrecognizable mush if I didn't.

It ended up to be the consistency of oatmeal and with the apples and cinnamon, that's what it tasted like too, except with sausage. People ate it, but that might have said more about their state of hunger than the quality of the dish. There is still quite a lot left.

Day 4 is Pizza - from a pizzeria.

This weekend I may actually buy a pot roast. Believe it or not, I have never done that before. I'm not even sure what to look for. Mom says it's labled "Pot Roast." Yeah for moms. Too bad she can't come and cook it for me too. :0

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Crock Pot Day 2

I am bound and determined to make the most out of this crock pot thingy. I don't want it to end up at the Salvation Army with the bread maker or the food dehydrater as DH has predicted.

He's been laughing at me because he says I've been doing more cooking to cook it in it than I would otherwise!

Yesterday's recipe was fiesta chicken , which received mixed reviews. DD 7 loved it. DD 4 hated it. DH thought the chicken was dry. I thought it was tasty. It might have been even better if I'd had the can of Mexican style tomatos the recipe called for instead of the plain ones, but oh well.

In reviewing recipes, I think I'm going to do a whole new grocery shop. It seems we don't naturally have on hand the ingredients necessary.

Thank you to all who've sent suggestions - I will happily be making good use of them

Monday, September 07, 2009

crock pots

After much hemming and hawing and researching, I finally bought a Crock Pot. I feel like I have reached some new level of adulthood.

The reason I have held off so long is that I don't like beef stew and my image of a crock pot is that it's best use if for beef stew. But, I've been hearing about how wonderful they are for busy families and I was intrigued by the idea of dinner cooking while I'm out running around getting all the children where they need to be.

And so now we have a crock pot.

My first recipe didn't go so well. I thought I'd impress my family with breakfast the day after I bought our new toy. Let's just say there's a reason why they say to add the cheese 15 minutes before you want to eat. And they're right when they say it should be at least half full. We awoke to a wonderful smell but the finished product didn't live up to the aroma. It was a hardened burnt unappetizing mess. We ended up eating cereal since I'd used up all the eggs.

I'm a litle dismayed to realize that food must be cooked before it can be crock potted! Is it really then a time saving device? It could still be valuable just from the stand point of moving the bulk of the cooking from just when we want to eat to earlier in the day when we have more time. Not sure, however, if it will be worth it.

Now I need recipes. Lke I said, I don't really like beef stew.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

more math

I finished a bunch more diamonds yesterday and then looked at the directions again. I did them right (whew) but only now noticed the "make bigger diamonds by casting on 38 stitches..." Doh. I forgot to add in weaving all the ends! I could have cut that in half (or at least a third) by making bigger diamonds. Oh well, I'm way too far in to it to change course now. I have finished all the yarn from one ball...

Maybe Christmas is too much to ask. Her birthday is in June...

I finally saw Slumdog Millionaire because DH saw it and insisted that I would like it. It was great. If you've been waivering - go see it.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Math uggh

One of the dangers of taking children to a yarn shop is that you will be so distracted you will end up buying more (or less) than you wanted. The other danger is that they will fill up a basket with yarns tha they can't bear to leave behind. That is how we ended up with a small bundle of pink and purple cotton yarns chosen by my dd, 4. The ensuing dilemma, of course, was what to do with them. She requested a scarf, but a scarf in cotton won't be warm enough to withstand our New England winters. A purse? She lost the last one. Finally, I decided to break my no-blanket rule and make her a blanket. Stripes? Squares? Log Cabin? I thought about them all before settling on small diamonds. I'd seen the pattern in my pattern-a-day calendar from two years ago and came across it again during a web search.

Now for the math. Every diamond is about 5 inches across and 5 inches tall. I'm figuring a good size would be 50 inches by 60 inches or ten diamonds by 12 diamonds. That means 120 diamonds. Each diamond takes about 30 minutes. So that means 60 hours of knitting? Really? Huh. Weeks? Months? Years? What if I can get the knitting down to 20 minutes per diamond? I never was that good with story problems!

This addition/multiplication/division doesn't account for all the mis-knits - the diamonds that aren't on gauge. All the yarns have roughly the same stitch per inch count on the label, but they're very different in real life.
I'm not good at math, but I'm great with deadlines. Right now, there's no deadline so no incentive to finish. I'm thinking maybe this should be a Christmas present.
The other issue is that the three skeins she picked out already won't be enough for this project. I figure that, however, is a good thing because now we'll have something to look for when I take her to the yarn shop.
And if we're going to finish this in time for Christmas, we better get shopping! (And I better get knitting!)
On a separate note, my friend Danielle over at knitting niche has some yarn in need of a project. She's looking for suggestions and running a contest.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

School Days and making the grade

With school starting up again, I can' t help but think about whether I'm making the grade as a parent.

I made sure she was reading all summer long, but we didn't keep a proper writing log. Also, she didn't read off the "suggested" list since what she chose was more difficult than what was recommended. C+? B-?

I set aside her name tag that her teacher asked her to wear on the first day, but we forgot to put it on her! I found the paperwork I was supposed to fill out and filled it out, but then couldn't find it when it was time to go to school. I think that's pretty much an F on both of those assignments. However, I did send her with a backpack of all supplies but the notebook. I even had the box of tissues to share with the class. Also, I think I get bonus points for sending her in with a bird's nest. And, we sent the teacher a post card from our Wisconsin vacation. On top of that, her hair was brushed, her lunch was packed (including 50 cents for milk) and she has new tennis shoes. I think that should be enough for at least a B overall, right? I also rememembered the camera and we were on time - that should be worth some extra credit too. B+? A-?

Maybe parenting should just be a pass/fail?

I worry about how the impression I give as a parent will affect how the teacher views my kid. Will she think my dd is a dope because I'm not completely organized? Will the birds nest make up for the lack of a name tag? Does the fact that we didn't do the optional summer reading give the impression that she won't be a hard-driving motivated student?

Do I worry about all of this too much? Probably. It's just that I only get one shot at it and I want to be perfect for her or at least really, really good. She's a great kid and she deserves that much.