Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Knitted Hat and Mittens Done!

The hat and mittens are complete.  As you can see, the hat is not the "Ironic Gnome", though I am still planning on knitting that for the teens.  Maybe striped.  In the end, William just wanted that hat on his head so I finished it off, put a big pom pom on the top and it turned into a hat from Peru.

The mittens were easy one point needle mittens from Lion Brand and knitted up in two days.  I knit both at the same time and they flew off of the needles.  Both the hat and the mittens only used one skein of Simply Soft yarn. 

So William is thrilled with his winter ensemble and I get to start something new.  I've been wanting to knit a traditional pair of Norwegian mittens and found a pair that uses sock yarn.  I bought alpaca so that they'd be warm and a cable needle so that I can learn the magic loop technique.  The pattern uses stranded color work so essentially there will be two layers of alpaca; I'm hoping they'll be warm enough for subzero Ohio winters but I'm thinking if they work in Norway, Ohio should be no problem at all! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cookies, Muffins, and Pies, Oh My!


I have been incredibly busy this week, but am enjoying myself. You see, I have been a baking maniac, and if there's one thing I love to do, it's bake. The regular baking lady at the local Farmer's Market is having her knee replaced and my husband mentioned to her that I am a good baker. She told me all of her prices, what she usually bakes, and gave me her blessing.

Thus far, I have baked 5 varieties of cookies in quadruple batches. Do you know that I used to hate creaming butter and sugar? Now, it's calming, meditative. And using my great grandmother's pastry tool, which prepared many a pie crust (though I am told that they were as heavy as bricks) makes the act even more special. Today is muffin baking day, and try as I might, I could not find large muffin cups, so it's going to be regular sized muffins this week (apple streudel, blueberry, and banana nut, maybe chocolate chip). And then there's pies. She usually bakes 25 pies the day before, small, large, sugar free and high test, apple, peach, blueberry, cherry, etc. That intimidates me, but I CAN DO IT!


Unfortunately, this may all be for naught, as it's been raining all week and may rain all weekend. Thankfully we have a large freezer and baked goods freeze well. And I have a family with a sweet tooth. So I may not have to freeze a thing, as it will all be eaten up and my family will be found in a sugar coma by the neighbors!


I found the most Ah-Mazing Snickerdoodle recipe. Mrs. Sigg's Snickerdoodles are absolutely, bar none, the best snickerdoodles I have ever eaten. They are like chewy Spritz cookies (German butter cookies) with cinnamon and sugar on them. I did learn that they have to be pressed down before baking or they will be very thick, but you might like them that way. Give them a try, but I'm going to warn you, it's hard to stop at just one. Smitten Kitchen's oatmeal cookie recipe is also divine, but unless you make minuscule cookies you will only get 1 dozen cookies from a batch. And that batch might not last long once you taste them!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lordy, Lordy, I'm Almost 40!

Today is my birthday.  The big 3-9.  Do you remember when you were a child and 40 seemed so old and 50 was positively ancient?  Now I wonder how I got this old.  Not that 39 or 40 or even 70 seems that old anymore especially when the day comes and you ARE 39.  Why, I'm positively a baby according to some of the women in my church.

Time is odd. Einstein said it was all relative and explained it this way: "When you spend a minute with a beautiful woman it seems like seconds have passed, but place your finger on a burner for that same minute and it feels like and eternity."  Right now, it feels like my life has passed by in mere days.  My child became 4 overnight and the time that I spend with those I love can feel like seconds.  My birthday wish is that God would slow down the important events in my life and let me savor them a little longer.  In the grand scheme we have only seconds on this earth and I'd like to enjoy each one of them.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ciao bella Chicken Cacciatore

I have a confession. I really hate chicken. It tastes gamey to me, nothing like it used to. The only way I will eat it is fried, with lots of gravy, or like this, when it has stewed in a wonderful sauce and, well, doesn't taste like chicken!

Chicken cacciatore is healthy, full of vegetables and protein, and has an earthy, satisfying flavor perfect for fall. And it is surprisingly easy to make. Just give it some time and you'll have a meal even a chicken hater will love.

You will need:
2 pounds of chicken, cut any way (I prefer strips cut into chunks)
2-16 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1-16 oz can of tomato sauce
1 package baby Bella mushrooms or portobellas cut in large chunks
1 onion cut into thin slices
1 green pepper cut into slices
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
3-4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil

Here's how it's done:

1. Add olive oil to hot pan
2. Brown chicken on all sides.
3. Add onion, pepper, mushrooms, and garlic and saute until onions are starting to look clear.
4. Add tomatoes and rest of seasonings.
5. Cover and let simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. It can simmer longer if you like.
6. About 15 minutes before you are going to serve the sauce, uncover and let some of the water simmer off.
7. Practice your Italian accent while eating this fabulous dish.

I like to serve this atop angel hair pasta or spaghetti. To make it really hearty, use linguini. The sauce is a little thinner than canned sauces and doesn't cling as well to shaped pastas, but they can be used also.Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Working on another hat: Could a free pattern be on the way?

So William needs a hat, mittens, and a scarf. He picked out the yarn from my stash, a very colorful variety of Caron Simply Soft called "Embroidery Print." It is perfect for a little kid.


When he looked at the patterns he loved the gnome and pixie hats. So using the amazing Ravelry I found a selection of free patterns for gnome hats. I settled on "The Ironic Gnome" (don't you LOVE that name) for "hipster gnomes" from the great blog The Work is Getting to Me. One thing I REALLY love about this hat that I don't know how to do is the color gradient dye job that XandY did to her yarn. It's amazing and she is promising a tutorial. Can't wait.

Side from The Work is Getting to Me

back from The Work is Getting to Me

I love the slouchyness (she used Paton's Classic and any acrylic isn't going to have the same slouch) and the aforementioned gradient dye.

BUT, as all of you know, I am a designer, and I'm always making modifications to everything I knit. My first was to start with ear flaps, which I worked in the following way:

Best worked on the dpns you'll use to make the hat
Cast on 4
Row1: Perl
Row2: K1, M1, K2, M1, K1
Row3: Perl
Row4: Knit
Row5: Perl
Row6: K1, M1, K4, M1, K1
Repeat rows 3 - 5
Continue to add 2 stitches to following row until there are 14 stitches on needles
Perl 1 row
Knit 1 row
Perl 1 row
Knit 1 row
Perl 1 row
Then add 2 additional stitches, continuing in this manner until there are 20 stitches on the needle
Perl 1 row
Hold each ear flap on needle

At this point I should tell you that I think I'm using size 6 dpns (I eyeballed them, so I'm not sure: can't find my measuring tool) since I'm making this for a 4 year old and the gauge was much smaller than called for in the Ironic Gnome pattern. So I ended up using a knitted cast on with 30 stitches in the back of the hat, knitting on the ear flaps, and 50 stitches in the front of the hat for a total of 120 stitches cast on. I also did a 2x2 rib instead of the 1x1 rib called for in the pattern. I added an additional stitch every 12th stitch on the first row after the rib stitch and am now following the pattern as written.

I am thinking of making the top of the hat longer and pointier and maybe adding a pom pom, but William didn't seem to thrilled with the Jayne Cobb hat when I showed it to him (how I love the Jayne)

source on Craftster

Maybe I'll just have to knit that one for myself!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Help! I am afraid to go back to work!

Ever since the day I entered kindergarten, I was a worker. While I was in school, I strove to excel. I had always wanted to be a doctor and knew that I had to be exceptional to get into medical school. So I didn't go to parties, I studied and read, and I learned anything and everything I could.

In college (Go Capital) I was a TA and LA for multiple science classes while carrying a full course load. I worked during the summer at the Summer Institute helping with Organic Chem lab (which I loved), lecturing for a few pre-labs, and tutoring. Sometimes I wish I had known how much I was going to love Chemistry; I would have majored in it rather than Biology, but that's another story entirely.

Then came medical school and residency. Learning medicine is in and of itself a full time job, and residency takes work to a whole new level. I started practicing medicine right after I graduated and practiced for another 5 years.

Then all hell broke loose. I got pregnant, lost my job, got in trouble for writing prescriptions for my husband's migraines, lost my license, and couldn't find a job to save my life. I was hospitalized twice for depression, in outpatient treatment three times, and have gone through countless hours of therapy. I essentially broke down. For the last five years I've been a housewife. Initially it was difficult but I've settled into a groove and have become comfortable.

The other day Tim asked me how much money I'd need to put together a proper work wardrobe. In other words, "since you can go back to work now, you need a wardrobe." The prospect of doing some serious clothes shopping is exciting; the idea of working fills me with dread.

I am bogged down with questions: what if, psychologically, I can't handle it? What if I've forgotten so much that I make serious mistakes? Everyone wants me to go back to medicine, but I don't want to practice, so what do I do? I haven't worked for 5 years; am I cut out for work anymore? I am so scared, no, make that terrified, that I become frozen in my tracks whenever I try to make a positive move in the work direction. And this from a former professional gal who was damn good at what she did.

So how do I get through this and move on? Any input would be greatly appreciated. I suppose my dream of supporting my family off of my blog isn't going to come to fruition, so that means I have to get a job outside of my house. How did you working moms handle the fear, if you had it?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's 9/11/2011 and I don't know what to say. . .

. . .which brings back the helplessness that I felt on that day.  I had a day of shopping planned, which seems so frivolous now, and called my friend MaryAlice to chat.  She told me to turn on the tv because she thought the malls would be closed.  "Why in the world would the mall be closed on a Wednesday?" I remember thinking, and then there it was, on the screen, smoke billowing out of the North Tower, people hanging out of windows desperate to be saved, others jumping out from 90 story windows to certain death. 

And my total shock and instant feeling of helplessness.  There I was in Ohio, minutes before upset that I couldn't spend the day shopping, and now the woman on the tv is saying something about the tower collapsing.  And another plane flying into the Pentagon and another downed in Virginia.  This is really happening and I am watching it happen.  The other towers topple, people are covered in ash, struggling for breath.  First responders are trapped, most likely dead.  Did a plane really fly into the World Trade Center?  Yes, it did, there it is on the tv, along with a picture of a huge hole in the Pentagon.

I felt that same sadness today as I looked at photos of the plane flying into the tower.  Of people looking at conspiracy to explain the unexplainable.  Of people holding photographs of loved ones lost in the attacks. 

So really, I don't know what to say because it all seems trivial and words are failing me. But to say nothing is to ignore those that lost their lives.  We must never forget.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Dog Treats

Dogs love peanut butter. We all know that. Peanut butter has a lot of fat. We know that too. So how about using banana for your "oil" to avoid adding more fat? We all need to do what we can to keep our buddies svelte and gorgeous while at the same time letting them know what good pals they are.

These treats are easy to make and received the Carlie seal of approval (in order to receive the Carlie seal of approval, Carlie must continue to look for more treats a full 30 seconds after it is eaten in an attempt to eat more. Quite scientific, I know. I rock that way.)

You will need:

2 cups of crunchy peanut butter
3 mashed bananas
2 eggs
1 cup water
3 cups flour

Here's how you make them:

1. Melt peanut butter in the microwave to make it more manageable.
2. Add bananas, water, and eggs and mix well.
3. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, and mix well.
4. Turn out batter onto a well greased cookie sheet and spread evenly.
5. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and cut into 1" x 1" squares.
7. Return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes.
8. Turn off oven and leave treats in it for an additional hour and a half.
9. Take the dogs to peanut butter nirvana.

With my cookie sheet I ended up with 144 treats

I Want To Rule my Own Tribe! More Triberr Basics.


When you first join Triberr you will see that you are a tribe member of the tribe you were invited to and you also are given 3 tribes that you can rule. I would recommend being a member of a few tribes before attempting to start up a tribe of your own just so that you get a complete understanding of what Triberr is about and what it can really do. Once the time comes that you have rule your own tribe, there are several things you have to do to get that tribe off and running.

First, you must select one of the tribes you were given to rule and edit the information about the tribe. Your tribe will already be named, but you can change that name to reflect what your tribe is about. Let's say you want to start a tribe focusing on craft bloggers. One of your tribes was already named “Phantom Bloggers of the Fifth Realm” which is geeky cool and all, but has nothing to do with crafting. Hit edit, and you can rename the tribe “Crafty Bloggers” (or something much cooler than that).


Next you will see sections to fill out regarding the purpose of your tribe “to get lots of craft bloggers together so that we can reach millions of Tweeps”, etc. You can also talk a bit about any specifics that you are looking for “would love paper crafters and scrapbookers especially.” There is also a section for tribal requirements “75% of all posts must be devoted to crafts, no foul language, family content only, all ages, genders, walks of life encouraged to join in. Let's have fun!” This section must be filled out before you can start looking for members.

Now comes the difficult part. The first five members that you add to your tribe must be completely new to Triberr (and you are not included in this count). Tweet, put messages on forum boards on social networking sites that you belong to, hit up every contact site that you belong to in order to find these people. Give them some info on what Triberr is (you can direct them to my post “What is Triberr and why should I join?” and have them read the faq at Triberr.com.) Request their web page address (as you will want to check out their site and make sure that they fit your tribal vision) and their twitter name.


Once you have found a person that you are interested in, email them or contact them through twitter and make sure that they follow you and you follow them. They cannot join your tribe if not. Then go to the page for that tribe and click “Invite”, choose the tribe you want to invite them to, and add their Twitter id. At this point, hold your breath and hope they join. When they do, make sure to welcome them with open arms. They likely will have lots of questions about how Triberr works; for some quick answers you can refer them to my post “I'm on Triberr! Now what?!”

It can take some time before you find those first five members. Hopefully you will attract a few people who are already members of Triberr who want to join your tribe; enlist them to help you find a few newbies. Once you have those first five you can open your tribe to inbreeding and watch the requests flood your inbox! Once again, use all of your social networking sites; you can also go to the “Seeking Tribe Members” Bonfire to enlist new members. Be vigilant in sticking to your requirements so that your tribe is exactly as you picture it. This is your tribe, as Dino says, "Rule it wisely!"


My Birth Story featured on The Spit-Up Chronicles <3

Please join me today over at The Spit-Up Chronicles as I share the story of William's birth (spoiler alert: he was a preemie and I turn into a pacing she-wolf.) Go to The Spit-Up Chronicles to read the whole story.

xo Erin

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Things Change When You Get Older: Camping Edition


I used to Love camping when I was a kid/tween. My cousin Rachael and I would travel around to various state parks and KOA campgrounds. And spend days relaxing, fishing, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, and just getting to know each other better. There is nothing like camping to get closer to family and friends. My grandfather would usually bring two tents, one for Rachael and I and one for grandma and him, outfitted with camp cots, lanterns, sheets, blankets, pillows and plenty of food and stuff to do. We would sit around the campfire at night doing metaphysical things (grandpa was a Rosicrucian and had to indoctrinate us a little) like changing the color of the fire with our minds (which really worked – one person would change the color and the others would shout out what color it was as soon as they saw it – they were more often right than wrong) and telling stories. Rachael, who was boy crazy, would drag me along as she scoped out the camp for cute boys. It was a blast. I Loved to camp.


This Labor Day weekend my family and I went camping with a group of friends at Mohican Adventures, which is directly connected to Mohican State Park in Loudenville, Ohio. The country in this part of Ohio is beyond beautiful; hundred year old oaks abound, along with conifers, ferns, wildflowers, and all manner of wildlife (we were continually pelted with caterpillars that were falling from the trees which kept the children endlessly fascinated). Directly across route 3 are many canoe liveries where you can rent rafts, canoes, kayaks, and intertubes and spend the day moseying down the Mohican River, which, again, is breathtaking. There are usually a lot of people on the river in the summer and a spirit of fun and friendship abounds. This isn't white water rafting or adrenaline junkie stuff; this is family fun, lazy days, and meandering waters.



If you feel so inclined, there is a treetop tour that involves rappelling, ziplines, and rope bridges, as well as horseback riding, mountain biking, and lots of hiking. Loudenville is a charming little town with boutique stores, one of which carries a huge selection of American Indian crafts, turquoise, vases, etc.


So I used to love camping. And I still enjoyed kicking back with friends, watching the children explore the wilderness and have a Fantastic time, sitting around the fire, all of that stuff. But I gotta tell you that when you are nearing 40, have fibromyalgia, the weather starts off at 100F (37.7C for my metric friends), it rains for an entire day, and then dips to the 60s (15.5C), you spend a day fighting your husband who is in some sort of finish line competition on the canoe trip, camping can be quite sucky. Did you hear the large sucking sound coming from Northeastern Ohio? That was my screaming body which could barely move after trying to sleep on the ground in a sleeping bag that has long since lost its loft.William kept on begging not to sleep in the tent house but the brick house with the beds, which would be our house. By the second night, I had retreated to our car, which at least had some padding, even if it doesn't offer the most ergonomic sleeping environment. By the third night, Collin, William, and I were all sleeping in the car just to get out of the wet air. Which I guess goes to show that I am not a tween anymore. And we desperately need an large air mattress. And a camp site with an electric hookup for a fan. Which Mohican Adventures does not have.


So will I become an intrepid camper? Maybe. As long as the aforementioned air mattress is involved. And good friends and food come with the price of admission.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Super Delicious S'mores Bars

Before we went camping over Labor Day weekend I whipped up a batch of these super delicious cookie bars. They are really easy to make and use only a few ingredients. You might just melt into a pool of mush when you try them. They are best eaten just a little hot (or with a spoon right out of the oven, if you just can't wait).

You will need:

11 full sized graham crackers, made into crumbs in a food processor
1-1/2 cups melted butter
2 eggs
8 regular sized Hershey bars
A bag of mini marshmallows

Here's how you make them.

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
2. Combine melted butter, 3 cups of the graham cracker crumbs, and eggs in a large bowl. Mix well.
3. Spread mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
4. Place whole chocolate bars in a single layer over the graham cracker mixture. Cover from edge to edge.
5. Spread bag of mini marshmallows evenly over chocolate.
6. Sprinkle remaining graham cracker crumbs over marshmallows.
7. Bake for about 15 minutes, check at 10. Bake until marshmallows are as brown as you would like them to be.
8. Let cool considerably, or at least until chocolate is cool enough that it wont burn your mouth to a pulp, and then eat lots of amazing s'mores bars!

I'm on Triberr! So Now What??


So you are a new member of Triberr. And you find yourself scratching your head wondering what to do next. What the heck is karma? And this inbreeding, what"s up with that? This article will hopefully clear up any questions that you have and make you a full fledged Triberr chief!

Tribes – a tribe is a group of like minded bloggers who join together to expand their Twitter reach. The hope is that if you extend your reach, more and more people will read our blog and your traffic will go through the roof. There are a few aspects of being a good tribe member that you should know. First an foremost, the larger the tribe, the greater your reach. Each tribe starts with 7 openings. Additional openings must be bought at a price of 30 bones. If a tribe member has extra bones burning a hole in their pocket, it is nice to contribute to the tribe by buying new slots. This takes the burden of adding all of the slots off of the tribe leader and increases the size of the tribe more quickly. In addition, keep comments nice on your tribe's page. You don't want your other tribe members to dislike you: remember, they don't have to send out your tweets!


Bones – this is the currency on Triberr. You are awarded a certain number of bones when you sign up to spend as you wish; once they are gone, they either must be bought (at pretty reasonable prices) or earned by giving your tribe members positive karma. You can rack up bones rather quickly by checking in a few times a day and giving good karma.

Here are the prices for those that I have come across:

30 bones – cost to add a slot to a tribe

50 bones – cost to become a member of a tribe you are being inbred into

70 bones – cost to open a tribe you rule to inbreeding

Karma – on your home page you will see a list of posts that are scheduled to be sent out by your tribe members. Beside each of these posts is an area with a thumbs up and thumbs down sign. By clicking on the thumbs up sign, you are giving that post positive karma. Each time you give positive karma you have the potential to earn additional bones. Make it a point to give your tribe mates positive karma. It will make them feel good and you get a reward, too. Remember, what goes around comes around!


Inbreeding – once you are a member of a tribe you can receive invitations from other tribal chieftains to join their tribes. This is called inbreeding. If you want to find other tribes to join, click on “Bonfires” and then find the section about tribes seeking additional members. Be sure you are a good fit for that tribe before requesting a place in it as you will need to pay 50 bones to join if you are given an invitation. It sucks if you pay those hard earned bones only to have to leave a tribe because you aren't what they are looking for. Also, the ruler of the tribe can kick you out any time without warning or reason. It's happened to me, and it smarts.

Bonfires – this is the forum section of Triberr. Any question you have can usually be answered here. Read the discussions, interact, become a member of the community.

Triberr is a great community to belong to. Not only will you reach more Tweeps, but you will gain new contacts, come up with blogging ideas, and become a more active member of the blogging community. Enjoy your Triberr journey!

In a few days I will post on how to start up a tribe of your own. Stay posted!

I am looking for Parent Bloggers who write original content who are new to Triberr. While the occasional giveaway or review is okay, your site may not be primarily a review/deal/giveaway site. If you are interested in joining Triberr and fit this description, please leave me a comment. I'll be a good ruler, I promise!

My Baby is a Pre-Schooler

Life moves much too quickly.  My little 5 pound baby is starting pre-school today.  Okay.  I don't think I can type any more as I'm getting misty.  Have a good day at school, my William.

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