Entries in Sticks and Strings (27)


Happy Recap

Some regular readers have emailed me asking for an update on some of our household routines. What, for example, happened with CIA Night last month? I'll give you the scoop on all the latest scintillating news.
First of all, I finished Daniel's sweater. He's a very gratifying recipient; he wants to wear it every day and gets mad when he can't wear it to bed. Yes, it turned out big, as I expected. But I'm glad (since he's the baby) that he'll be able to wear it again this fall. Everytime I put it on him, he exclaims, "I'm so cute!" Indeed.
As you can see from the photo above, at Needlework Group yesterday I started cutting fabric for two quilts. Tess and Daniel's flannel receiving blankets were taking up space in the linen closet, but I couldn't bear the thought of giving them away for some reason (I gave away almost all of their infant-sized clothing long ago). Their birthdays are coming up, so I decided to make them each a quilt. I've never made a quilt before (though I've tied several). My angel friend Karen lent me her cutter and mat and gave me a basic outline of what to do. I got the last blanket cut just before the big kids walked in the door. I'll see how long I can keep this project a secret.
The kids and their cookery: Christian made Chicken Enchiladas--yes, the recipe that elicited a proposal from Patrick. James made Roasted Butterflied Chicken with Potatoes and Broccoli. Hope and Tess each made a batch of Spaghetti Bolognese. Yummmmm.
And just for kicks, here's what I made for lunch today. I was able to work with what I had on hand; I felt lucky that I could put off a trip to the grocery store for a few more hours.
Lucky Egg Drop Soup
2 TB. butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pint homemade chicken stock
1 pint water
1/4 lb. wide egg noodles
2 eggs, beaten
In a 2-quart saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Saute the onion until soft. Add the carrots and saute a few more minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and parsley; stir and cook for just a few seconds. Add the salt, stock, water, and noodles. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Check the noodles; they may need another minute or two. Once the noodles are cooked and the soup is boiling, pour the eggs in and stir like mad for a few seconds. Amply serves two, with enough left over for a hungry 13-year-old's mid-afternoon snack.
There: I believe I've answered all outstanding questions! Enjoy the gentle breath of spring!


Free Association*

It's been very enjoyable associating freely with all the great women at the 5 Minutes for Mom Ultimate Blog Party. It runs through Friday; let's keep the momentum going, gals!
Who knew there were so many blogging moms out there? Apparently the advertising world is clueing in; a friend of mine in sales forwarded me an article about the buying power of our particular demographic. Apparently we are a force with which to be reckoned.

Some of you may have popped over to Cranberry Corner to visit my pal Jenna. Since she compares herself to a cranberry, and she's more than a little nutty, I'm posting a recipe for a delicious dish that's currently baking in my oven.

I got the recipe from a lovely German lady in our congregation (of course, I've monkeyed with it). Elga called it a dessert when she gave me the little handwritten index card, but I know she must have been kidding, because, ummmm, see, Elga, it doesn't have any chocolate in it.

But it makes a fantastic breakfast item. It's a great thing to make for a Ladies-Who-Brunch event; maybe I'll make it again for Needlework Group next Monday. I'm betting you have all the ingredients in your house right now: a bag of cranberries and some pecans rattling around your freezer, left over from the holidays, for example. Why not give this a try?

Cranberry Pecan Upside-Down Tart
8 oz. frozen cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch pie plate. Pour the frozen cranberries into the pie plate; sprinkle the brown sugar and the nuts evenly over them. Beat an egg in a small mixing bowl until it is uniformly yellow and thick. Add the white sugar and salt and blend. Stir in the flour and melted butter, mix well. Spread the batter over the cranberries with a spatula. Bake for 45 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve. Whipped cream is optional (not really). Delightful!

Which reminds me of The Upside-Down Show. Have you seen this program? It's brilliant. All five of my kids--the 13-year-old on down to the 2-year-old--and I are completely enthralled when it's on. It features two gloriously goofy Australian guys whose adventures are governed by the imaginary remote control they give to the audience at the beginning of each episode. It's very meta, and I never metafiction I didn't like.

Ahem. And now for something completely different: another reason to celebrate! Today I'll be able to finish Daniel's sweater. Look at the cute-as-a button buttons I found at Knittingsmith. They're the beysssst!

* If you need a little help with this one, click here.


Progress on Haiku

Daniel asks me every day whether his new sweater is done yet. I'm hoping to have it done by this weekend so that he can wear it to Hope's baptism. Spring is coming, but I've made the sweater large enough (I hope) that he'll be able to wear it in the fall as well.

Kristi Porter's Haiku pattern is really fun and easy; the only very slight pain has been keeping the panel of box stitch that runs along the top of the sleeve distinct from the surrounding garter--and that has everything to do with my attention and nothing to do with the design itself.
When I went to get more yarn for Haiku, Penelope actually did have more of the dye lot of the blue Filatura di Crosa Primo, but by the time I got to Knittingsmith, I was wedded to the idea of finishing the sweater in a contrasting color. I love the English Mustard against the Royal Blue--very boyish.

Also featured above are the scrap hats I recently finished. It has been nice to have a couple of extra hats in the hall closet, for when someone's favorite has been left at school or gotten soaked in a snowball fight.

The one on the left is mostly Malabrigo, (leftover from the many Coronet hats I've made this winter), with some nameless purple wool from deep in the stash on top; the one on the right is the last of the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran I bought when I made the Yoked Pullover from the Fall 2003 issue of Interweave Knits. Norah Gaughan used Lite Lopi in the published design, but the Cashmerino worked great, and I wear that sweater all the time.

Speaking of Interweave, they are launching something that looks fun...I've signed up, so we'll see what turns up in my email inbox in the spring.



Q: How best to handle Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

A: Adriana advocates blood oranges (mixed with a few other ingredients); Patrick uses a light box. Jane takes lovely photos, and Carmen plans (then actually takes) exotic trips around the globe. Jenna does karaoke; Melissa does yoga. We all eat chocolate whenever possible.

The kids aren't feeling it at all; they are cozy on the couch right now, happy as Larry while watching House of Flying Daggers. They're still feeling fresh from a couple of hours outside hurling melting snow at one another with their lacrosse sticks.

I've been feeling logy all day. Adding to my low spirits, the cardigan in the photo above has been taunting me from the top of my dresser. I've been wanting to knit this particular sweater for years. The pattern is from Simply Beautiful Sweaters, by Beryl Hiatt and Linden Phelps, the first pattern book I bought after taking up knitting again about eight years ago. It calls for two luxurious yarns, both by Welsh yarn sorceress Colinette: Fandango, a chunky cotton chenille (I chose Velvet Leaf ), and Zanziba, a funky thick-thin viscose blend (I used the Lilac colorway). It was an easy sweater to knit, but the finishing was very time consuming.

I sewed it together a while back, then realized AFTER weaving in about 7 billion ends that I'd messed up the crocheted border on the right side. Look: the left side is perfectly straight, indicating that I was paying attention as I crocheted approximately two stitches to every three rows of knitting (thank you, Elizabeth Zimmerman and Theresa Vinson Stenersen). I must have done the right side during a particularly gripping part of some movie, however; that buckling you see means I've put in too many stitches. Not quite as frustrating as receiving the critique "Too many notes," but close.

There's nothing for it but to redo that side, which actually won't take long. It's just demoralizing to contemplate, as is the rain falling outside my window right now. Everything is gray and drippy.

My SAD coping mechanism this week has been working on a cardigan for Daniel, using Haiku, another genius knitting pattern brought to you for free by the ever fabulous Knitty.com. I'm using Filatura di Crosa Primo superwash wool in bright blue. It's soft, yet crisp enough for great stitch definition, so the box stitch interspersed with a lot of garter looks terrific.

I bought the yarn when I was pregnant with Daniel, intending to make him a tiny sweater. He's now a strapping almost-three-year-old; I only bought four skeins, which means I won't have enough of the blue. I figure, though, that I can do an Asian-type color block thing with another color (maybe a turquoise or a clear yellow; I'll have to see what Penelope has in stock). A trip to Knittingsmith is antidote for almost any problem, I've found.

But I think I'll take a break from Haiku for the moment and see if I can't tackle that Colinette cardigan edge. Finally getting to wear that lovely fiber will definitely help chase away my winter blues.


Happy Feet

Here's the place I'll be buying our summer shoes: www.tomsshoes.com. I read about Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, in Time Magazine; he and TOMS have also been featured in Vogue. Moved by the sight of countless barefoot children on a visit to Argentina, Blake decided to start a shoe company with a unique business plan. For every pair of shoes purchased, he donates a pair to a child in need. He doesn't call himself the CEO; instead, his title is Designer/Chief Shoe Giver.

Modeled on a traditional Argentinian shoe called the alpargata, TOMS come in a variety of appealing fabrics. They look like a cross between espadrilles and the surfer shoes I grew up with called Vans--very hip. They are inexpensive as well, especially when you consider that you are buying two pairs (one for you, one donated) for one price. And how great--Blake is coming out with a line in leather just in time for the fall. We'll have happy feet year round!

Other news in happy feet: Hope is loving her Irish step dance class. She's obsessed with Jean Butler and all things Riverdance, and has been practicing on her own every day. Of course, the cute dance shoes add to the fun (photo above).

And my socks are so comfortable! My Mephisto All-Rounders (the walking shoes I bought for our trip to Italy--the most comfortable shoes EVER) show them off nicely. Patrick has requested a pair of socks for himself (in a quieter colorway).
I hope YOUR feet are toasty and happy this bitterly cold day!