Saturday, January 29, 2011

Yay Me!

Yes, I know I sound like London from The Suite Life of Zac and Cody (or Suite Life on Deck if you're currently watching the show), but I got over another "blah me" hurdle and finally started my Knit Along Project for Goldenbird's New Techniques year long KAL! And I've found that I'm learning a few new techniques.

I decided on the Mini Mochi Entrelac socks (and if they don't fit me, I may cry until I totally dissolve, because I think they are going to be a lot of work).


I am using Premiere Yarns Deborah Norville Collection Serenity Sock Weight Yarn which is nice and cheap, 50% Merino Superwash, 25% Bamboo, and 25% Nylon. It is a little splitty, but at $4.50/230 yards, the price is right (but I am realizing I'm going to have to get more, as size 3 needles are recommended, and I'm using size 1 - as per the pattern, and I need 500 to 550 yards and I only have 460). And the colorwasy are lovely. I'm using Chili.

socks by PaulaStitches

AND, to get started, I had to learn a Provisional Cast on, which totally geeked he out when I watched Lucy Neatby's great video on it, as it's crochet AND knitting at the same time!! Could anything be better? You can watch the video here.

So, I'm only on the first knitted layer of the first sock, but I was so excited about knitting a few stitches that I had to blog about it. Why have I not been knitting? I LURVE to knit! Look for updates, I will try not to gripe as these are my mortal nemesis, socks.

Yay Me!

Friday, January 28, 2011


I was at Barnes and Noble the other day looking at a book that had creative non-fiction exercises in it. They were all really interesting and focused primarily on helping the writer remember his or her past. That's an interesting thing for me, because thinking on it, I find that swatches of my past have just disappeared from my memory. I suppose a bit of this is normal, as we are filled up with so much information through out our lives. But it's had me thinking a lot about the details of my past.


One of the first things that I remember of my early childhood is that in our house in the dining room there was a closet with louvered doors. For whatever reason, I thought that this closet was an amazing place to play and hide out, so I spent quite a bit of time in it. It was my pretend elevator, a substitution for the elevators at Lazarus department store down town, which was the fanciest place in existence to a little toddler girl in Columbus, OH. I could hear the mysterious "ding, ding" sounds that signaled employees to certain jobs and would imagine I was going to visit the Talking Tree in Santaland, the highlight of any child's trip downtown at the time.


I had a book about bees, and I remember sitting in that closet scrunched up in the corner looking at the pages of that picture book in awe. There was one page that was completely filled with a photo of a bee colony in the hive, and while I found this page endlessly fascinating, I always harbored a fear that somehow one of those bees would come to life and sting me. I'd never been stung at that point, but it wasn't something I really wanted to find out about.


I liked the space behind those white louvered doors. It was quiet, cozy, and enveloped me like a giant cocoon. It was the perfect place for an introverted, imaginative dreamer to while away the time. There are times that I wish I could have moved that closet around with me to escape to, to hear the long gone "ding, ding" over the department store speakers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The return of my Muse

Last night I was up until around 3 am writing a flurry of words in my journal. I'm not much of a journaling person, but words and phrases and sentences kept bombarding my thoughts so much so that I had to write them down. It seems that my writing muse has returned with a vengeance. I can only attribute her return to one thing - I opened up a book and started reading.
I was so out of balance that I hadn't even opened a book since before Christmas. Now I realize that reading not only transports me to new places but also ambushes me with new ideas. It seems that no matter what the book, from Chick Lit to Proust, Winnie the Pooh to the Little Prince I am left with something to ponder, something that sticks with me, seemingly forever. And I don't even have to Like the book (although I gave up the idea that I hac to finish books that I didn't like a long time ago), they still fill me to the brim.

And now I am bursting at the seams.

It's no wonder we all long to put words to paper. What an amazing legacy to leave behind! I had not realized until this week how often an idea from some long ago read novel creeps into my thoughts, and again, even form books that I dreaded reading (The Red Badge of Courage pops to mind - fine book, but for me was like bamboo under the nails torture). Yes, I want to leave something like this behind.
So now I am in a full fledged book orgy. Reading everything I can get my hands on - 600 page thrillers getting read in 3 days, meatier tomes causing me to stop an reflect and dog ear pages that I want to return to later on. So tell me, as I'm not up on what has been recently published, what should I read? I'll read a little bit of everything (except for scary, gratuitous violence). Give me some suggestions and a reason to pay off the fine on my library card!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I like cranky people

When I was living at home, my mom used to say that when she thought of me as an old woman, I was sitting on a rocking chair on my porch calling all of the neighborhood kids rotten hooligans. You see, I am a bit of a crankpot. Yes, I know, I'm a nice person, but being nice can wear on a person, and then my limited patience for ignorance turns me into Lucy Van Peldt (my favorite cartoon character).

My grandfather was the king of cranky. And I loved it. When everyone else was frustrated with his attitude I was there delighting in it. Loving the grumpiness. Is that crazy? I found it endearing.

William has a bit of a cranky streak. Do not push him when he is tired. His face turns as red as his hair and he turns into quite the grumpy butt. And I pick him up and kiss him and hug him and tell him that most people don't like grumpybuns, but mommy has her own grumpybuns moments. And mommy will love him always no matter what.


We have a cat named Foxy. She is the grumpiest and most particular cat in the entire world. Touch her wrong and she lets out this cackly meow, one that sort of makes me think of my grandfather in his grumpiest moments. Like most cats, however, I think she knows my inner being and knows that I am a kindred soul, even if my Ego suppresses my desire to be the crankiest person in the universe. She loves me more than most. We are fellow crankpots.

I know that most people cannot relate to what I am talking about. But I suspect that each one of us has a character flaw that they secretly love. Maybe it's because they want to live vicariously through these people, or maybe it's because they can relate. So how about you? Be brave and let us know all about yours!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A goal and a reflection

"My students were middle-class kids who were ashamed of their background. They felt like unless they grew up in poverty, they had nothing to write about . . . I felt sorry for these kids, that they thought their whole past was absolutely worthless because it was less than remarkable."

-David Sedaris

As a writer, I have been struggling against the mundane. My life has settled into a predictable daily rhythm that varies very little. Take care of the kids, cook, clean, spend time on the computer, do the laundry. Last year was very difficult for me, a huge struggle climbing out of the abyss of depression and pain that I had dug myself into. And it made for a lot of writing fodder. Now I am happy and I don't know what to write about.

It shouldn't be like this as life in and of itself is a remarkable journey. The joy of waking in the morning and looking at my husband, of watching my children sleep, of sitting with Will and having a toddler conversation, these are moment writing writing about, preserving. This is now my challenge. To not need Sylvia Plath like sadness to reflect upon, but the normal moments of everyday.

Since I am having a bit of trouble finding my writing groove, I am using "The Pocket Muse" by Monica Wood to aid me in my writing (that's where the quote above came from). I am also making a goal of posting at least twice a week, but hopefully more. If you like, you can use these writing prompts to help you post, as I'm sure I'm not the only person who suffers from writing block, and I know I'm not the only gal out there who is also living a relatively boring life.
So what are you struggling with in your writing life? Are there mundane events in your life that on the surface seem unremarkable but upon further inspection actually have their own magic?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What I should have known all along

A few weeks ago to a realization that has made my life inexorably less stressful and more fulfilling: when I meet God, He isn't going to ask me how clean my house was. Instead, he will focus on my interactions with his creation. Was I a good mother and wife? Was I there for those who needed me? Did I turn away the angels on my doorstep?

Don't believe me? Read this:

At the Home of Martha and Mary

"Mary and Martha," Maurice Denis

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

Jesus isn't giving us permission to be slobs, but what he is doing is telling us that we have to focus on those things that are truly important. My family will always be more important than my kitchen floor. Always. So think once again about a question that I am sure you've been encountered with before: Are you a Mary or a Martha? What are the consequences and positives of your answer? Are you focusing on what is important or what you think needs to get done?

Friday, January 14, 2011

What? Knitting content?

I know. It's been an inordinately long amount of time since I posted anything about knitting on my formerly knitting blog. But guess what, knitty friends? I'm writing a knitting post! This is all brought on by the fact that I joined Golden Bird Knits' 2001 New Techniques Knit Along and am feeling that urge to pick up the sticks again. She's having a giveaway right now; go check out her site and become a follower (and the KAL is on ravelry).

Anyhow, I have never knit a pair of socks that properly fit me. My calves are genetically large and I have a very very very high arch. So when I go to put on my knitted socks I (a) can't get my foot into them and/or (b) constrict all of the blood in my calves to the point that my foot looses all circulation. I Want to knit a pair of socks I actually like! And in the process, I'll practice a few techniques.


Crystal Palace Yarns has a really cool pattern for entrelac socks that uses two single pointed needles. The Mini Mochi Entrelac sock pattern offers me a chance to learn entrelac and also learn a new sock making technique. The ravelry reviews on this sock have said that it is a large sock, which fits my huge calve needs, too. And it's so darn cool looking, and would give me an opportunity to use some of the self striping yarn that I have.

This pair of kilt hose was knit by Ravelry member mrsmcg

Then there's the Tiorneach Kilt Hose. They have a lovely lace edge which hides a garter to hold up the sock. The calves are ample and the pattern uses DK weight yarn. I have some cashmere blend Karabella yarn that I've been holding onto forever, waiting for the right pattern, and I think this might be it. And I like the "seam" detail that runs up the back of the hose. This pattern was designed for man legs and can also be modified, so I'm thinking they just might fit me.

So what do you think? What pattern do you fancy? I'm not sure which to start with, so let me know what you think!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Off Balance

Hello all! The last week has been a crazy one here at the homestead. A stomach flu that has affected all of Marysville crept into our house and caused much unrest and other unmentionable and uncomfortable moments followed by the furnace dying at 8:00pm on a Friday. Apparently this same problem was plaguing many of our fine citizens as the furnace repairman couldn't make it to our house until 1:30 pm on Tuesday. Much firewood was used, we all huddled under blankets, and space heaters arrived from any of our friends that could spare one. Nevertheless, it was too cold in most of our house to do much of anything, so laundry, dishes, cooking, and all manner of housework was abandoned in favor of a spot in front of the fire, preferably under a blanket cuddling with someone warmer.

All of it has left me feeling a little off balance. All has passed, but my practice of everyday photography has stopped as I just can't figure out what to take pictures of in a barren winter, my blogging has suffered with my inability to come up with something interesting to relate, and I am feeling inert and sluggish. I am not depressed, which is a blessing, but I think that anyone looking at me from the outside would wonder if I was. Oh, and after heaving with the stomach flu for four days, my diet went completely out the window, though I have lost 8 pounds even with the gaining I've done over the last few days.


On the positive, I scored a free ticket to SheCon '11, which is about the most thrilling thing in the world to me. So I've got to get the old tookus in gear with my etsy store so that I can afford the trip, lodging, and food for the conference While I'd love to stay at the conference resort, I don't think that will be within my budget (I'd need around $1000), as it is, finding a decent hotel in Fort Lauderdale for a business traveler in May will be tricky.


So, here are the questions of the day:

What motivates you when you've reached a totally un-motivatable state?

What photography skills should I be working on this winter?

How do I get to SheCon? You should know that the only card we own is a debit card. Also, getting a job at Family Dollar isn't totally out of the question. Oh, and how long does it take to drive from Ohio to Fort Lauderdale?

So that's the news from the Homestead. Hope it reaches you stomach flu free and toasty warm.

Friday, January 7, 2011

They Make Me Happy


* Little ones running around in footie jammies
* The sound of ice cracking when the salt is put on it
* The soft fur of a young, little kitty


* The shine of a freshly mopped floor
* That William actually believes that my kisses are healing
* The white glow of freshly fallen snow


* Cashmere sweaters (and gloves and hats and scarves and on and on)
* V's of Canadian geese flying across the sky
* Little squirrel footprints in the snow


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Recipe! Lightened Up Cream of Broccoli and Mushroom Chowder a la Lazarus

Today I had a hankering for Cream of Broccoli Soup, which, as we all know, is where calories go to spend the winter. All of the calories in all of the world. I was also daydreaming about the Amazing Cream of Broccoli and Mushroom Chowder that was made by a now gone piece of Columbus history, Lazarus Department Store. This store had the most incredible food. (Lucy, this one is for you!) However, like most cream soups, a serving of this has about 1000 calories, meaning that I'd get half of a cup on my current diet plan.

Sooo, I used a few lower fat cooking tricks I've picked up along the way to produce a soup that has 490 calories a serving and is rich, creamy, and really, really yummy. So you can have a grilled cheese with your soup and not fate yourself to a heart attack!


Lightened Up Cream of Broccoli and Mushroom Chowder, a la Lazarus

1 pound fresh chopped broccoli
8 oz mushrooms
4 oz butter
1/2 cup flour
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup 2% milk
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon tarragon

1. Steam broccoli in 1 cup water until tender, about 7 minutes. Put to the side without draining.

2. Melt butter, then slowly add flour to make a roux. Cook the roux 2 - 4 minutes.

3. Add chicken stock slowly with a whisk. Bring to a boil for a few minutes to start to thicken chowder.

4. Lower heat and add the rest of the ingredients, including the undrained broccoli. You may bring the chowder to a slow simmer to further thicken the chowder if desired.

5. Get out a spoon and enjoy!

8 servings, approx. 490 calories each.


The trick is to cut the roux in half (the original recipe called for 8 oz of butter and 1 cup flour) and to use less half and half by replacing it with milk and sour cream. Because you are using sour cream, it will thicken the chowder, thus decreasing the amount of roux you need. If you want to further decrease calories, you can use skim milk and fat free sour cream, but this will take away some of the richness of the dish.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Hey there, kiddies, and welcome to 2011! So did you make a New Year's Resolution? I never, ever have. This year, however, I have started to diet. Yes, die with a T, as Garfield says. The truth is, I really am at an unhealthy weight and I've begun to feel it. Shortness of breath, borderline high blood pressure, all that badness. So the diet has begun.
Actually, my husband and I struck up an agreement. He has used chewing tobacco since he was 13. He wants to quit but it's a difficult thing to quit nicotine. I know that I need to lose weight and it will make me feel better. So the agreement is that hubs quits the tobacco and I lose weight. We are accountable to each other and that makes it easier for both of us.
Sooo, I'm on a diet. I actually started it New Year's Eve, but it was totally destroyed by the bottle of champagne that I drank (totally worth it!). Now the plan is healthier eating, counting the points, avoidance of simple carbohydrates and more meat, fruit, and veg. For three days, it's been going well; we had Swiss Steak tonight, pita chips are in the cupboard along with lots of healthy nuts and twigs, and the good thing is that I actually like everything that we are eating. I don't intend for this to become a diet blog, but I may keep you updated every once and a while as to how the agreement is going.
Oh, and I'm also getting out of the holiday rut and back into life as we know it. Laundry is getting done, cooking is happening, and look, I wrote a blog post! I've been actively posting to my Tumblr blog, so if you need another thing to add to your web cruising, check it out!

So how about you? Resolutions or not? Getting back to the old ho hum? Please do share!

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