Saturday, February 27, 2010

More random stuff

We had 19 at Knit Night this week -- four new knitters, a visitor from Australia and a sweet baby. A good night. I hurried and finished up my first project from Warm Fuzzies:
From the top:

Out of the 6 sweaters I bought at the Goodwill, 5 felted fabulously. One will be going back in my next donation run. The pattern I gave them this week was for a mock cable scarf ; very easy pattern, and it looks very nice on the wrong side, something you rarely get with a cabled scarf.

My college roommate, Lynne, turns 50 on Monday, so I sent her a little something every day for the past week. I've always wanted to make one of these banners that we see so often on sewing blogs; pretty easy, and made up with leftover fabrics.

And, it's reversible!
Will turned 17 yesterday -- more on his celebration later. He wants a motorcycle, but settled for a very cool pair of Wayfarers.

I'm reading Northanger Abbey, the Jane Austen book I probably spent the least amount of time on. When I was 25, I thought Austen was so serious -- now, I see her wit and snarkiness, and love her even more.

Oh, and Outlander? Now I get it.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Few Random Things

Yes, I know. My blog is a few random things. I really wanted to have one of those beautiful blogs that focus on one thing. Or one beautiful thing/recipe/pattern/photograph each day of the week. But really, where do those people find the time to produce something beautiful every day and then take gorgeous photos and then write an inspiring blog post? I choose to believe that either their homes are a mess, or they have a staff, like Martha.

So, what have I been doing this week? With 3 snow days, I should have been pretty productive, right? Not so much. But, it's not really my fault that they broadcast Olympic curling for 3 hours every afternoon. I have been back to work on my office/studio. (It was transformed back to a guest room when Allie died, then to the Christmas room, and is now in the process of transformation once again.) I am not sure how I am ever going to fit all my sewing/crafty stuff in the basement into that little room, but I think a trip to IKEA is in order.

While I have been working in the basement, sorting, pitching and sewing a little, I've been listening to The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, the famous book Pam has been trying to get me to read for 10+ years, the book that changed Susan's sex life (I know!). Well, actually, I don't know. While I will admit this is an exciting story, I am 1/2 way through and have yet to hear anything overly provocative or bawdy. But I'll let you know . . .

This is the first novel I've ever listened to. I didn't think I would like listening to a book, but it's been great company on those long drives to Chapter visits. (Don't tell Clay, but when I am finished with this book, I'm going to put Atlas Shrugged on my Ipod and give it another try.) Audio books scare me a little, because I have always been a big advocate of holding a book (or newspaper) in my hands -- I am afraid I will want a Kindle next. Yikes!

While hunting down red beans and rice for this weekend's Haiti dinner, I discovered a new Michael's store in Clarksville! Great scrapbook section, terrible yarn selection. But I did buy a pattern for a hooded baby poncho I cast on for Thursday evening during the men's skating.

And, I finally bought Warm Fuzzies, Betz White's felting book, and am anxious to go to the Goodwill for some wool sweaters and get busy.

Back to school for a full day tomorrow, I hope, then a busy weekend ahead.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Some finished things, some sweet things

No school for two days, and a 2-hour delay today. Didn't do much but knit, read and watch movies. I did get this sweater and hat done!
Patterns here and here. I had shared this hat pattern with Knit Night a few years ago -- the best part is you can knit it flat or in the round.

This is the raggy quilt I barely completed in time for the school auction. It looks Christmasy, but the flannels are a rose garden theme. And I learned that if I do another quilt like this, only use the good flannel from the quilt store -- the solids from WM were pilly -- I had to shave them!

We celebrated Nate's 4th birthday on Sunday -- lots of kids, lots of fun!

I love this picture of Will and Nate:
Will would call this "chillaxing."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Am I a Snob?

I try hard not to be. Throughout my educational history, I've known some pretty smart people who were pretty big snobs, so for many years, I pretended to not know answers to Trivial Pursuit and Jeopardy! questions so as not be appear snobby. I try listening to Bob and Tom, but end up punching the NPR button on my radio. I have to apologize after throwing bits of French into a conversation (but it's not my fault! I studied A LOT of French, even in grad school, and have never had a chance to use it!) See, even using the phrase "grad school" makes me feel a little snobbish.

But I will confess to being a lower-level food snob. I think I have always known this, but Saturday evening while rifling through the "Chocolate Lover's" raffle basket we won at our school auction, I found myself doing the thing my Grandma P. always did when tasting, smelling or even just seeing a sub-par food product (ie, not something she made) -- squishing her eyes closed, sticking out her tongue and making the "ACK" sound, much like Bill the Cat (except with a little more "ick" thrown in).

But please. Don't expect me to taint my cookies with bargain bin chocolate chips whose main ingredient is "emulsifiers."

So, if I am a food snob, I blame it on my genes. My dad loved to tell the story about how Grandma got their family through the Depression by "beating the hell out of egg whites" for her famous angel food cakes, which she would cart to town and sell. Then, she'd take the yolks and make the best noodles you could imagine. I remember watching her in the church basement, bossing around the other ladies as they canned hundreds of jars of mincemeat to sell at their bazaar. She made my first birthday cake, a carousel, and I always had the most beautiful and intricate cookies to take in to school on my birthday -- turkeys and Indian chiefs. Sunday dinners at her house were a feast; holidays were a spectacle. Even the lunches she would haul to the fields were special -- I still remember her roast beef sandwiches, made with beef she roasted, wrapped up in wax paper and enjoyed with a cold bottle of pop from the Martin Box.

Grandma was a big fan of Cool-Whip*, Shake and Bake, Kitchen Bouquet, Tang and Folger's Crystals, things I am far too snobbish to use now. In her defense, in the '60's, these were considered haute cuisine in southern Indiana. She was on the cutting edge -- how I would love for her to serve me a Jello 1-2-3- parfait in a pilsner glass today. Even love the nasty coating it left on the roof of your mouth for hours after!

Like Grandma, I am amazed at the things people bring to pitch-ins and pot lucks and think are so delicious -- Hamburger Helper casseroles, veggie trays from the store, pork and beans poured from the can into a baking dish without benefit of brown sugar and bacon -- what a travesty. But I usually manage to keep my tongue in my mouth and my "ick" silent, something she found difficult to do, even at family reunions.

My propensity toward food snobbery has been further nourished by my recently acquired fondness for Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen. If they say something is icky, it is. If they say it is premium, I must have it. (And, premium to them does not always mean the most expensive -- good is good.) If you follow one of their highly tested recipes, it will turn out perfectly. But I don't really see Christopher Kimball and the other chefs as snobs, just people who like really good, really real food. And let's face it -- if you are going to spend your money and time on a meal, shouldn't it be real and good? And memorable, like Grandma's.


*OK, I confess, we sometimes use Cool Whip for big catering jobs, but I prefer whipping the cream myself. However, I will always be a fan of Reddi-Whip, which is why I will never graduate to mid-level food snob.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I've been reading

from the stack of books in my bedroom. The "buy 2, get one free at B&N" stack. The "I loved a book by this author and bought another" stack. The gift book stack. The "Clay read it and wants me to read it" stack. Yes, it's a very big stack.

In the past several years, I've read everything I could find about Haiti. Mountains Beyond Mountains is one I recommend for those wanting to know about the history, people and future of Haiti -- it has so much information, and is a great story of one man's efforts to make a better life for people there.

I finished Krik? Krak! this weekend, and I think now I've read all of Edwidge Danticat's fiction. This is a set of heart wrenching short stories, linked together by a Haitian village, aunt or friend. Just like the stories we have been hearing out of the earthquake -- someone knows someone whose uncle was at the place where someone from his cousin's village was visiting. The inter-connectedness between people there is astounding. Her books are so hard to read, emotionally, but you gain an understanding and love for the people and the culture, which is so different from our own.

And I read So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger (who wrote Peace Like A River, one of the best recommendations Pam has shared). It's a journey book that starts in the Midwest and ends up in the far west, complete with cowboys, murders and Pinkerton agents. I loved it, and through the book, kept wishing I could share this one with my western-loving Grandma H., fan of Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour.

My current upstairs book is A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which I purchased not only because of its great reviews, but also because the author shares a name with my future brother-in-law. I'll let you know how they both work out . . .


Friday, February 5, 2010


I made these little dolls for our school auction tomorrow night (weather permitting -- it's snowing like crazy at the moment!) I love this pattern, which I found here, and am currently working on three little pigs for the boys from her patterns, as well.

I used Knitpicks Palette and size 3 needles, but I should have used 2's -- you can see the stuffing coming through in some spots.
Stay warm and wear your boots.