Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Big Party


So right now, I am in the midst of preparing for Will's birthday party. The cake has been baked an decorated, Swiss Steak (which I will give you the recipe for soon), a family birthday tradition, is in the oven and baking, cut potatoes for the mashed potatoes are on the stove. The girls (Kendall and her friend Ashley) wrapped the presents, Collin and Tim tackled the shoveling and salting of the walkways.


A word on the Swiss Steak. Around 15 years ago, I made my grandfather, who brought the recipe back from his WWII Navy days, write the recipe down. I'm so happy that I did. Ever since he died three years ago, it hasn't been made. I decided now was the time. I was going to use my pressure cooker (which had belonged to him and my grandma), but I got a little too carried away and made more than the cooker could hold. So now it is in a roaster pan in the oven stewing away. I am excited to taste it again, and my family is all showing up for a taste, too. The Vawters are German, food brings us together.


So that's that. Busy busy, while Will enjoys his billionth viewing of The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. I suppose I should change out of my cooking clothes, which are splattered and covered with flour, into something more presentable!


(Will's cake is a dark chocolate fudge cake with chocolate icing. I have no way of sharing a picture of it with you, however, as my hard drive has crashed. Yes, you heard me. Out of the blue, it crashed. So enjoy these pictures from We Heart It.)

Friday, February 26, 2010

3 Years Today


3 years ago today, at 6:10 am, you were born. You came 2 months early because mom's body objected to you being in there any longer. You were dazed with the biggest blue eyes she had ever seen. And you were strong. You may have been early, but you were ready for the world.

You have been happy since the day you were born. Your smiles light up the room. You have the silliest giggle. You take such delight in noticing and learning something new.


But, oh, you are stubborn! How your mom wishes you would just try a bite of fruit. She knows you'd love it. And the tantrums! You want what you want when you want it. But then again, you are three. And the tantrums rarely last long. You just are too happy.

Your mom is going to have trouble with the fact that you are no longer her baby. When she looks at you, you have turned into a little boy. A boy who knows his ABC's and 123's and loves to dance and sing and jump around. A boy who loves to kick and throw a ball, never saw a car he didn't like, and who doesn't mind getting a little dirt under his fingernails. You love goldfish and ever since you discovered that you can pick up the cats, well, they've been on the lookout for you! You are full of snips and snails and puppy dog tails.


Sometimes your mom wonders what your future will hold. But it doesn't last long, because she is here with you now, and every moment is magic. She loves you so, little three year old boy.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

10 Things

I sometimes like to be a follower. Right now, many of my blog friends are writing about the 10 things they love. I am jumping on the bandwagon.

Cat purrs


My grandfathers cardigan, made of "Pure Virgin Acrylic"

Freshly picked strawberries


Hot bubble baths

Waking up next to William, morning cuddles from my son

Waking up next to Tim, my strong, beautiful man

The myrrh smell of old fashioned roses


Socks, especially quirky ones

The calico colors of koi


I could go on and on, but it's just supposed to be ten things. What are your ten?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thanks for the "Get Wells"


I am really taken aback by how many people were concerned about my migraine! I've been getting migraines since I was a small child. Most of the women in my family get them, and they didn't skip me. In the beginning, it wasn't very often, but then high school came, when I was incredibly worried about whether I would get into a good college and I had to keep up my gpa. They got more frequent, maybe around once a month. Then in med school, about 2 a month. Then residency, 1 a week. In residency, you don't call off for anything less than loss of a limb or spontaneous bleeding from your ears and eyes. So I worked through the migraines. My friends thought I was one tough customer, but what do you do? You just pull through.


It did make me a very compassionate physician, especially when it came to pain. There is good even in the bad, though often when one is going through the bad, the good seems not to exist. You would be amazed at the number of young children that have migraines these days. Kids have much more to deal with, more stressors, than we ever did, and we had our share.


I've been on multiple meds. I take an anti-depressant to try to prevent them (and deal with some of the lowness that comes with constant headaches). Imitrex helps, but you can't take it every day, so that's where the Excedrin comes in. And I don't take it every time I get a headache because too much hurts my belly. If I get a really unmanageable one, one that I absolutely cannot stand, I go to the E.R. They are incredibly good to me most of the time. But thankfully this rarely happens (knock on wood!).


I am forever grateful for how many people offered a "get well." I have a some great readers! Thanks so much.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Aisley Cowl


Those of you that follow the blog may recall that I have talked about a cowl that I designed for my husband. The plan was that he would model it and then I'd use his pictures for the pattern. My husband, I found, is not a willing model. So I bit the bullet, took pics of myself in it, and now am offering the pattern!

The cowl is knit in a basket stitch with super bulky yarn, making it a quick knit and fitting in with the trend toward bulky knits. "Aisley" means "Down in the ash glade," the colors remind me of the ash tree. I used my recycled wools, but have found that Rowan "Biggy Print" Yarn in Biscuit is pretty close to my final product (or you could choose any super bulky yarn and modify the pattern to your liking). The cowl is knit on size 13 needles and the ends joined with a mattress stitch. Easy Peasy!


The Aisley Cowl

Size 13 needles
Any super bulky yarn (6 stitches per inch) - To get similar results in color, use Rowan "Biggy Print" yarn in Biscuit.
Buy around 100 to 125 yards
Gauge doesn't matter so much!

Basket Weave Pattern

Row 1 (RS): Knit
Row 2: Perl
Row 3: *K1, P4, K1, rep from * to end of row
Row 4: *P1, K4, P1, rep from * to end of row
Row 5: as row 3
Row 6: as row 4
Row 7: K
Row 8: P
Row 9: *P2, K2, P2, rep from * to end of row
Row 10: *K2, P2, K2, rep from * to end of row
Row 11: As row 9
Row 12: As row 10
Rep these 12 rows

Cowl instructions:

CO 30 stitches (cowl can be made taller or shorter by casting on in multiples of 6; remember, this is the height of the cowl on your neck.

Follow Basket Weave stitch pattern for approximately 24 inches, ending on row 12 of the pattern.

Bind off edge.

Join end to end using a mattress stitch. If done well, you shouldn't see where the join was made.


Hope you enjoy the pattern. Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions and let me know if you have any questions!
ADDENDUM: Aug 22, 2010 - Someone who remained Anonymous left a message that they had knitted the pattern and it didn't turn out like the swatch. Have you had this happen, too? I've knit this three times from my own pattern and it turned out okay, so let me know if you've had a similar experience.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Short Migrainous Post

I've had a migraine for the last few days. So I haven't much wanted to write. I get them often; this one is s doozy.


I am working on a few things:

* A pattern for some gauntlet gloves with a Celtic motif

* A new book I bought on creativity which I will talk about a lot, most likely

* My lace, which I realize I haven't posted a picture of

* I also want to finally finish my Michael Kors sweater (that I think I've been working on for 2 years now).

* The yarn still needs unraveling and rewinding

* Hopefully I'll place some cute vintage stuff on the store's site in the next few days

* Oh, and taking lots of Excedrin migraine to keep this headache under control.

Hope all is going well for all of you and I'll write more tomorrow!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Easy Peasy Pizza

I've always been intimidated by pizza crust. Anything with yeast in it just always seemed like much more work than I was prepared for. I don't know what I was thinking! This week, I decided to tackle my fear of pizza crust and found that pizza is deliciously easy!

I grew up eating at a mom and pop pizza shop called Minelli's. Do you find that the pizza you grew up on is the best pizza in the world? Well, I feel that way about Minelli's. The most pleasing thing about this recipe is that it has the crust that I grew up on. The toppings are totally up to you.


Pizza Crust

1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2-1/2 to 3 cups of white flour (if you want whole wheat crust, substitute 1 cup wheat flour for 1 cup of the white four)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used garlic infused oil)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons garlic powder
cornmeal for sprinkling

1. Add sugar to the warm water, then the yeast. Put aside for about 10 minutes, or until the water mixture becomes foamy.

2. In the meantime, combine 2-1/2 cups flour, salt, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder in a large bowl.

3. Put olive oil into the water/yeast mixture, then pour into dough.

4. Flour your hands, then combine all ingredients with your hands. Knead dough for 6 to 8 minutes, until it forms a nice dough ball. If this mixture is too wet, add more flour until the dough ball is no longer sticky.

5. Place dough ball into a bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes (until dough has doubled in size.

6. When the dough has risen, divide in half.

7. Place half of dough on a liberally f1oured surface and work with your hands or with a floured rolling pin until it is the size of a 12 inch pie (or the size of your baking sheet). Sprinkle cornmeal onto baking pan, then place the dough on the pan.

8. Place dough on the top rack of your oven at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes.

9. Remove dough, then top with whatever topping you want.

10. Put back into the oven for about 10 minutes more, or until cheese is golden brown and fully melted. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

Eat your yummy homemade pizzas!


I made a pepperoni and cheese pizza and a traditional tomato, basil, and mozzarella cheese pizza. I used marinara spaghetti sauce for the pizza sauce, but I used only about 2 - 3 tablespoons of sauce for each pizza. Of course, the beauty of pizza is that you can load it with whatever toppings you like. Want a whole wheat broccoli, garlic, and cheese pizza? Make it! I like onions, tomatoes, and basil, but I have to warn you that it smells like an old shoe! Soon, you too will be a pizza baking fool!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tears of Joy

Going through my Google Reader just now, I found myself crying tears of joy. You see, my sister Bambi, her husband Adam, and their family had been trying for over two years to adopt a beautiful little girl named Vania from Haiti when the earthquake hit. Vania was missing for days. It was torture to not know what had happened to her; I can't even imagine how my sister handled it. But, by the grace of God, she was found (and all of the orphans in her orphanage were also located). With much finagling all of the children who had adoptions in process were sent to the US, so now Vania is with Bambi and Adam.


Why the tears of joy? Well, as if that weren't enough, my sister wrote a post yesterday on her blog Haiti or Bust about a wonderful little boy that I know who took it upon himself to get his class to send "Welcome to America" cards to Vania. I didn't know about this at all. I had asked for prayers for my family and Vania, but I didn't know how far reaching this request would be. Please click on the link and read the story. It will restore your faith in the human race.

I am verklempt.

A Spring Sort of Mind

I've been thinking of the spring trees lately. Magnolias, flowering cherries, peaches and plums. I have been in a spring sort of mind.


I guess I've been in a sort of pink frame of mind. It's better than wallowing in the winter doldrums that have been plaguing me.


Winter has always been difficult for me. Not enough sunshine, cabin fever, all that. But having this to look forward to makes it a little easier.


Because who doesn't love the smell of magnolias, the waft of lilacs as you walk by?


Who doesn't smile and feel a little fuzzy about bees, heavy with nectar from the mock orange, days laying in the grass with the heady spring breeze?


So I will stay in a spring sort of mind - a time of renewal, a time of love, a time of new hope, a time of resurrection.


All photos on We Heart It.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Etsy finds for Will (and Mommy)

William's third (THIRD!) birthday is the 26th, so last night I took a tour of etsy trying to find items I might buy for him. As always, I found some wonderful stuff!

At Lisa J Honey's Sweet Things you can find the most Amazing felt food. Check out this cheese tray for $20. Looks good enough to eat!


Speaking of felt, asherjasper offers The Cutest egg people. They start around $15, but for $70, you can get this custom ordered set of your own family. Email a picture and you will receive this amazing set (even with the family pet!).


This woodpecker print would be perfect for William's animal room. From Studio Lyon, $18.


Studio Lyon also offers these ABC prints; with a modern graphic they are a nice way to introduce the alphabet ($8).


I love this owl shelf for Will's room. Maple shade Kids specializes in eco-friendly Room Decor and Art. $59


It's hard to find great boy's clothing, but I think this car shirt from BabyBolt fits the bill. It's $20, and would thrill Will, who loves anything with a car.


These two are more for mommy. You may have gathered by now that I am fascinated with saints. Blame it on catholic school. But this St. Therese of Lisieux ($18) is detailed and just the cutest little saint ever. Saintly Silver and Saintly Sewing offer any saint you can think of, all intricately stitched and highly detailed. And cute!


Kelly Street Vintage (one of my favorite shops on ebay) has this wonderful late 1800's - early 1900's wooden alphabet toy. I so want this (I doubt Will would ever get his hands on it - this is a mommy toy, too). Priced at $82.50, I think it would be a wonderful addition to my antique collection!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spring Flowers Under the Snow

More Snow . . .

and more coming this weekend. 10 inches this time, I haven't looked at how much this weekend. I've resigned myself that Ohio has become part of the Arctic. I am also not shoveling as a form of protest against Mother Nature (this will stop as soon as I have to go somewhere, but I feel like a rabble rouser now).

I've been thinking a lot about the spring bloomers, buried under 2-1/2 feet of snow. They are enjoying the cold snap - it's a sign to them that they will be growing soon.


The crocus, first harbinger of spring

con_meo_mun, photobucket

Snowdrops, crocus' faithful companion

stripeyfray, photobucket

Grape hyacinth, miniature signs of Easter

kidspeak, photobucket

The confetti petals of witch hazel, yellow against a field of white


Daffodil's little sister, jonquil

grezh, photobucket

The miniature blooms of the star flower

And a little later . . .

MDCwithJ3, photobucket

Bleeding heart, indescribable blooms

brainardphotography, photobucket

It's woodland cousin, dutchman's breeches

trinimade, photobucket

And the elegant primrose, neon pops of color.

So dig yourselves out (if you aren't joining my protest), look about the yard, and dream about the flowers which will soon be filling it. Winter can't last forever!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Darn Yarn Needles and Thread


I'd like to introduce you to a new friend of mine. Lisa Krack is the soon-to-be purveyor of locally crafted fiber arts, supplies, and notions at her storefront, Darn Yarn Needles and Thread in Butler, PA. In addition to Handspun yarns by EnchantedYarn, e-reader wraps, hats & crocheted miscellany by Allkrackedup, Tapestries by HotShades Tapestries, Tri-Looms by Jim @ Sunflower Fibers, and Buttons and Shawl Pins by Handmade in the Hills, she'll be stocking recycled yarns from my company, Howard Knits! I'm excited for her, and excited to have my yarn in a store! She is slated to open on St. Patrick's day, so if you are in or around Butler, PA, make sure to check out her shop!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Crazy Love Story

One night, very early in Tim's and my relationship, we were sleeping. Spooning. Out of nowhere, interupting my deep sleep, I felt a WHACK on the back of my head! My former weight-lifting, body-building man had hit me with all of his strength, in his sleep, on the back of my head! After I had recovered from the unintentional beating, I turned over and kicked him and asked him what the heck he was doing. Still half asleep he said, "It was falling and I saved you," and that was that.


The next morning, my neck was hurting and I was determined to get a better story of why I was beaten out of my sleep. I asked Tim about it again, and he looked at me and then smiled. "I was having a dream that we were in a junkyard," he said. "One of those big magnets that holds cars was right over your head and dropped the car. I hit the car really hard and saved your life. I didn't mean to hurt you!"


My dreamy man had saved my life! I was in pain, but I had been saved.

I still smile when I think of this. I love my strong (and really gentle) man.
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