Thursday, February 28, 2008

Knit Bit: Sally's Sweater

Yesterday I knit the button band for Sally's sweater. This is the first one I've ever done, and I'm pretty happy with it.
Now the quest begins for a button. (Jen, I wish you lived closer - I know you love a good button hunt!) The pattern calls for one (here's the buttonhole - it's a little hard to see - in the bright green section):
I told Sally she could pick whatever she wants. If she wants more than one button, I can sew on some snaps. I'm glad this is done - it was a fun project, but it took a long time and lagged in the middle. Mostly because I had to modify the pattern so much to fit her and I obsessed over it (but it was totally worth it!)
I'll try and get her to do some pics with it on :)
For the knitters:
Pattern: Mr. Greenjeans from knitty.com (heavily modified to fit a small girl)
Yarn: Fantasy Naturale in #9701 "Spearmint" (it's a cotton yarn).
This pattern calls for a wool yarn, but I used cotton because we live in California and my daughter is a little heater. I don't think I'd recommend using this yarn with this pattern for an adult - it is very heavy with all those cables, but since the size is small you don't really notice the weight. (This is also a machine washable yarn, which I thought was a real plus.) I want to make one of these sweaters for me, but (a) I can't find any yarn I like, and (b) it's getting hot and I'll probably wait until August or September to make myself a new sweater.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Knit Bit: Another Hat

My mom's friend was recently diagnosed with cancer, and my mom called me to ask about a pattern for a hat. I quickly emailed her two or three patterns and some yarn suggestions, and then I wanted to knit her friend a hat, too.This is a free pattern from Lion yarn called Lace Beanie and I knit it with a Berroco yarn called "Comfort". Great yarn. If I do the pattern again, I'll do it bottom up instead of top down. (And yes, that is my hair. I wear it straight sometimes.)

Knit Bit: Blanket & Hat

Now that I've given this gift to the mother-to-be, I can show you the pics of the finished Baby Boy Log Cabin
and matching stripd hat. Are they not so darling? I am charmed by my knitting cleverness.
This has been my favorite blanket to date. I love everything about it. I love the colors. I love the yarn (Lion Cotton Ease). I love the fact that I finally figured out how to pick up the stitches in a way that the back looks as good as the front. And the hat! It's a helix striped hat, and this helix technique is so so great. I kept shoving it into people's faces and saying "ISN'T THIS SO GREAT?!" (Several of my friends are glad I am finished with this :) )
To the nice family expecting their third child - and first boy - best best wishes and we can't wait to meet your son!

Room Re-do

I've been lax on the posting because we've been redoing Sally's room. I've been happily assembling IKEA furniture (except for the loft, which was wholly unsatisfying) and trying to keep Sally on task to get rid of stuff she doesn't need anymore. She's a packrat just like my mom and my sister, and she has a drawer full of old buttons and bbs. (bbs! why? why?) She keeps things that I think are trash, so whenever I offer to help her clean, she screams "NO! Thanks, Mom, but I'll do it myself." So I set the timer and leave her to organize her mountains of "stuff" into some kind of system. Here's some pics:

Before:
After:She's got a loft with a new dresser underneath (the old dresser she's had since birth!) and a computer desk with a computer (we had a extra one lying around, one of the perks of having a husband that works in IT). She has lots more floor space now and she loves the loft - her own little retreat. Although today she told me she woke up and sat up to stretch and bumped into the ceiling. I find that terribly funny.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bread

A while back, I wanted to work on my pie crust making skills. But after making some chicken pot pies and one fruit pie, I stopped. It didn't do it for me. Then a few months after that, I remarked to a friend that I would like to try to make my own bread. Not bread machine bread, but knead it myself bread. I did a few rounds of sourdough, but the starter proved to be a bit of a problem for me. (Mainly, I kept overflowing the container. The mess wore me down.)

Lately, I've been making plain french bread - the recipe from the red and white plaid Better Homes cookbook. A dear family friend gave me this for a wedding present and it is the one standard that I turn to all the time. I have a shelf of cookbooks, and this is by far the best. Anyway, I've been making the plain yeast french bread, and boy is it good. Here's the latest batch:



I like the long skinny loaves. We ate one for dinner, and the other one I made into garlic cheese bread for the next night. I really like good bread. I may have to try the sourdough thing again. Stuart loves sourdough.


Last night I made Irish Brown Bread (recipe found here) and it was very tasty. A much thicker crust and very hearty, but the kids didn't like it as much. One nice thing - no yeast - so you make it, bake it, and it's done in about an hour total. The house smelled wonderful as it baked, too. I'm wondering if it would make a good pizza crust. I may have to experiment . . . .

Anyway, that's what's been going on in the kitchen. I'm still making the pumpkin cream cheese muffins often as everyone (excpet Mary) loves them. (Mary's not fond of pumpkin. I make her banana chocolate chip.) I'm baking a whole chicken tonight for dinner. Last night we watched a Good Eats about broccoli, and now we are looking for a recipe for a good broccoli slaw, which both Stuart and I have eaten and like, but we don't know how to make it. (Advice would be appreciated!) But making homemade bread, well, I've fallen for it. I love to make it. I love to see all that flour being mixed in. I love kneading the dough. I love the smell while it is baking. A simple pleasure.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Another Random Thought

Now that the writer's strike is over, is the next week of television going to be really really great or have we all gotten so used to the reruns and reality shows that things won't change much at all?

That thought just hit me while I was driving home from IKEA.

(I love IKEA.)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Knit Bit: Pink Scarf

The happy Pink Ribbons Scarf was the perfect thing to inspire me to finish Sally's sweater. I mean, look at it. Was there ever a less useful knitted item?It's more like a necklace than a scarf, but look at the beauty of this ribbon!

It's so beautiful. I love the colors.

So I've got Sally's sweater sleeves going, and I obsessed about the length and the decreases enough that I have a plan and it is going well. When I finish with them, then I'll have to do the button band (with no buttons) and the zipper. Just thinking about that will take at least a week. But, now that Idol is going to be on three nights a week for the next few weeks (!!!) and Lost is still going strong (LOVE Lost) I'll have plenty of evening knitting time to finish it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Website

Found this yesterday - great ideas if you have picky eaters at home.
The Sneaky Chef

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Conversations with Sally

Over breakfast:
Me: "I love bagels for breakfast. I could have bagels or muffins every morning and love it."
Sally: "Me too. I love bagels with cream cheese."
Me: "What would be your perfect day?"
Sally: "Well, go to Bagel Me for breakfast for a bagel, then go to school, then come home and do a craft . . . "
Me: "You would go to school on your perfect day?"
Sally: "Yes! I like school. I need to see my friends. Then we would have Chinese food for dinner."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Life Lessons

One of the things that I really enjoy about blogging is that it lets me look at some things in my life a little more closely, and it encourages me to put things into words that I would normally just leave as vague thoughts. Journal writing never did this for me. I would write for a few days, then forget about it for a few weeks. I could never keep up the discipline. I don't understand why blogging is different for me - perhaps the percieved audience of readers keeps me accountable in some strange way.

I've been thinking alot about my eye problems. (It's still feeling good, by the way. Thanks for asking.) Why would God put such a trial in my life at this time? I am sure there is an answer to that question, and not one that includes "bad things happen to good people for no reason all the time", although sometimes I believe that to be true. No, there is a lesson to be learned here, I just know that there is.

First off, the lesson is NOT "why me?" I figured out pretty early on that that was the total wrong question to be asking. In fact, most of the "why" questions were not worth asking. "Why did this happen - did I do something wrong? Do I have some disease of the eye? Did I neglect my eye health?" None of these questions - and I asked Dr K most of them - go down a path that helps in any way. Lots of people are prone to a corneal problem, and most of them don't experience symptoms the way I did. Sometimes you can't prevent bad things from happening to you.

So what did I learn? Plenty. To begin with, you don't have to see a problem to know that there is a problem. I think our society is so hung up on evidence and facts that we really do ourselves an injustice when it comes to intuition, hunches, feelings, and faith. I knew something was wrong with my eye, yet a doctor and an eye doctor could not find anything wrong with me. It took a specialist to find the problem. I need to trust myself and to keep working out a problem until I find a solution - even if everyone around me doesn't see the problem that I know is there.

Second, I needed the physical pain to give myself some time and space to deal with some emotional pain that I had been carrying around for awhile. I processed some stuff, and then took the rest and tucked it away and never knew I was still carrying it around until the pain of my eye put me in bed for a few days. I was able to mourn some things that I had forgotten that I had lost. When I think about it, I'm pretty grateful that I was forced to deal with my emotions in this way, because otherwise, I might have turned to some self-destructive behaviors that wouldn't have been good for anyone.

Finally, I think that I needed to be reminded just how good God has been to me. So I had to get my eye scraped off (twice) - I'm still very very blessed. I have a wonderful husband, two great kids, and a life that makes me happy. My extended family include some of the best people you could ever hope to meet. My friends are always there for me.

So, why did God put this trial in my life at this time? Because He knew that I needed it. Does God put bad things in our life for good reasons? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. Sometimes bad things happen that God did not intend for us. Sometimes there is no nice little lesson to be learned. Still, in those times, I think that God can take our pain and troubles and redeem them. "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Knit Bit: Baby Stuff

Isn't this so so so cute?For the knitters:
Hats: Bernat Cotton Tots yarn & basic baby hat (a modified pattern)
Baby Booties: Plymouth Dreambaby DK Solid (aqua) and Lion Baby Soft (pink) & this pattern ("Bev's Easy to knit Newborn Booties") (a great pattern, btw - very fast and very easy, and yes, I know that they will fit the babies for about three days, but I don't care - they are so so so cute!)

Friday, February 08, 2008

(one day late)

Gung hay fat choy!
(that's Happy New Year for you white people)

thanks to http://www.123greetings.com/events/chinese_new_year/ for the image

Hot Vanilla

The newest thing for the kids in our house is Hot Vanilla. My mom got me a subscription to Family Fun Magazine for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) and it had this recipe in the February 2008 edition and we just had to try it. Here's the recipe for Hot Vanilla. At our house, we put the whipped cream on top, and then drizzle the chocolate sauce over it (instead of mixing it up into chocolate cream - it's faster that way). Enjoy it with your kids! (Alison, could I make Pink Hot Vanilla? :) )

Prepare to be Amazed

So have I mentioned that Stuart and I love the show Scrubs? We do. I don't know how it happened, but this is the show that we watch right before we go to sleep and it erases any scariness from any other show we have watched (Stuart likes those reality ghost buster shows, and sometimes I watch them with him . . . .) and somehow it erases any cares or concerns from the day. Perhaps it just kills brain cells. Anyhoo, we always have five or six or eight Scrubs in the little TiVo folder on our TV.

So last night we settle in for our Scrubs, and the unthinkable happens - there was an episode in there that we actually haven't seen yet. Did you hear that? We have not seen all the Scrubs that are out there. (pause for reflection) AND it was the one with Clay Aiken as the cafeteria worker that Dr. Cox has to fire and I LOVE Clay Aiken!

A Scrubs that we hadn't seen before. I turned to Stuart and said, "I'm SO blogging about this tomorrow."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hotel Photos

The kids ready for bed. This hotel has such great rooms - the kids slept on the hide-a-bed couch and watched some TV before going to sleep. Stuart watched some of his shows, and me?
You guessed it. I read a little and knit a little (because I watched a little of the show he was watching and got into it, so had to stop reading and watch the end). It was a great little trip. Thanks again, honey!

SeaWorld Photos

Stuart and Sally feeding the bat rays.

Sally and Samuel got all wet - the hungry
bat rays splashed them when they came
over for some food.


Looking at the starfish.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Miscellany

I just finished paying my bills and balancing my checkbook. I love using Quicken because it makes everything so fast. Last year, I switched our paper filing system from categories (gas, electric, phone) to monthly - I just made a folder for each month, and any bill I pay or receipt I get I put in in there. My filing gets done right away and I've been saving lots of time there. I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to find things, but after working on our taxes and getting all the right papers together, I am pleased to report that the monthy files are working great and will continue for this year. (Yes, I know you are thrilled to hear this. I told you it was "miscellany" - never know what you'll get.) Now, to throw away those old utility bills . . . .

I'm working on a long post about what I've learned from my eye problems. It is still feeling great and I can even see pretty well, too.

Something is wrong with my keyboard or my fingers. I have been making alot of typing mistakes in the past two weeks. It's quite annoying to me. I hope it's the keyboard . . . .

I have clothes to fold and some knitting to do. The first of the babies arrived a few weeks ago - twins! - a boy and a girl. There are three babies due in March!

Sally has finally found a book that lit a fire in her, and she has been carrying it around to read it when she gets spare moments. I'm so happy that I want to grab her and hug her all the time, but I only do it three or four times a day. (The Tail of Emily Windsnap, for those of you with young daughters. I've read the first few chapters - very cute so far.)

Great post over at Mary-LUE's place about teaching her son to drive. Scroll down for the photo quiz - awesome. Reminds me of when my dear dad taught me to drive. It was a manual transmission car, and we would come home and my mom would wordlessly hand him a drink. Have I ever thanked you for those lessons, Dad? Thank you!

Happy to report that my cousin Amy and my friend Joelle have made the Little Donuts and say they are indeed yummy. Alison, your kids would love them. Perfect for those dismal snowy February days. Valentine's Day is coming up, and I have told the family that they will again be served ketchup covered heart shaped meatloaves and pink mashed potatoes. (I give them The Look and tell them that they know they love it, even though Stuart and Sally get the heebies from the pink potatoes.) Any new fun ideas for a kid-friendly somewhat healthy Valentine themed dinner? I'm open to suggestions.

That's it. I'm out. And outta here.

Sally's SeaWorld Video #1

video

This one is the whales. Love the fingers.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Redecorating

Finally I've upgraded my blog! I hope you like the new colors - I was going to do a brown & pink thing, but the browns were not doing what I wanted, so I changed to blacks and greys. There's some new stuff on the side, too, so check it out. The Bookshelf has a new look, too (gotta love Superbowl Sunday).

I'm off to make some homemade pizza (Uncle Jon, wish you were here - it's just not as fun without you) and do a little knitting. Come back tomorrow for some new pictures :)

PS - Let me know if the font is too small. I'm having trouble deciding if I like it.

UPDATE - I made the fonts larger. I like this much better.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Mini Holiday

I had all these big ideas for posts this week, and they all got thrown out the window when I got an email from my husband with a lovely surprise - he got us a great deal on a hotel room in San Diego! So, with great screaming and jumping up and down, we picked up the kids from school Friday (Sally a bit early, Samuel on time) and drove down the coast to SeaWorld and a little mini vacation ("baycation" according to Samuel). It was a lovely time and just what we all needed.

While I was taking the kids to the bathroom in a restaurant, I was reminded of the Three Travel Laws of Bathrooms, which I learned from a friend while traveling in Europe. (Or I learned them from Sherry, I'm not quite sure.) They are:

(1) Take a wide stance. (We were on a train, so this was very important.)
(2) Use all available hooks.
(3) Never let anything touch the floor.

Yes, all good. Especially when dealing with a child who's feet do not touch the floor when he is sitting on the potty.

SeaWorld was a blast, and we were all amused at how several of the animals remind us of our dog. I think our favorite this time was the sea otters - we were lucky to see them at a meal time and they were so fun. They get a big frozen brick of shrimp, and they hold it on their belly and break off a shrimp and eat it with their little paws. One of them would hold on to the shrimp brick and do a roll over in the water to thaw it out a bit. He was fun to watch. A very close second (or first in Stuart's book) was the killer whale who would spit pieces of fish onto the rocks for the birds to eat. Truly, the whale was feeding the birds. We thought perhaps he was trying to lure the birds closer to eat them, but after watching him for awhile, he never made a move for them. He just kept spitting the fish into the air, swimming down to the bottom of his pool for more, and then surfacing to spit out another fish. It was surreal.

If you are lucky (and not prone to motion sickness) I may share a few of Sally's videos with you. My personal favorite is the one she shot at the Shamu show, where the person's head in front of us is in focus and she doesn't stop filming when she claps. It's a keeper for sure.