Sunday, May 31, 2009

The week in closing...


A week of landscaping and yardwork with my husband and I have lived to tell about it. We had my parents and sister and husband over to celebrate last night - mojitos were enjoyed, and Apples to Apples played - it has been a great week. I have treated myself to a nice amount of non-dirt related things, I'd say it has been a perfectly balanced stay-cation.

I was able to meet Ysolda yesterday at The Knitting Tree. My knitting penpal, Christine had seen her in Mass. last week, so I was curious. I met her briefly, to get a quick autograph and collect my Whimsical Knits book. The book is stinking charming, that's all I can say.

yarn 253

(excuse the digression) As I picked my way back to my car, I saw the sweetest exchange. A woman was driving away, yelling "I love you", while two little boys ran along the sidewalk. I saw mom and dad - I inquired "That's got to be Grandma, right?". Affirmative. All grandmas should be worth of such a sendoff. It was a warm fuzzy for me and made my trip a little sweeter. I just think grandmas should be special, though some are not. I was lucky enough to get one of each kind, lucky enough to get at least one super special g-ma. At 87, she still reads books I send over. She inspired my reading and my fiber loving, I am sure of it.

I have joined a quiltalong with Old Red Barn Quilts. I have been jonesing a little to sew - I miss my machine. I have been squirreling away fabrics and I think this project will be a perfect foray be back to sewing. And this fabric is just juicy, it's Heather Bailey Pop Garden...I got a late start but I am nearly up to speed - so join in, if you care to, if you haven't.

this one?

I am also mid-sock, more car rides. It's the Cotty pattern by the charming Carrie over at We Do not Have a Knitting Problem. I love it from the tips of the picot to the toe - and it's quick in sport weight! Well, it's quick when you do not lose a needle, and since I have...

Yarntini Last Call Sport Weight

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Singing in the Rain

Or at least knitting in the rain...

duckfeet to duckies
Duckies in my own handspun, Funky Carolina aptly named "Duckfeet"

Our "stay-cation" has gone well. Despite some chilly, rainy weather, we finished every landscaping job we had planned, and some we did not. Now we are tired from the work, and tired of spending money on plants. I swear we did a Southeastern Wisconsin Garden Center tour - I've seen enough. Now I must rest, with my knitting.

Actually, the week has been productive on the needles as well - I managed to sneak stitches in in the car between stops, at a restaurant, before a movie and during several more at home. I have produced the pair of Duckies and cast some Cotty's on last night. Sport Weight socks may be my new immediate gratification project. It is nice to have a sock grow so darned fast. I think my sock mojo is found.

We did have a little fun on our stay-at-home working vacation. We ate out waaay much and enjoyed a few mojitos. Today we hiked a Kettle Morraine Trail, Scuppernong (don't you just like that word, Scuppernong?). I bought the book "60 Hikes in 60 miles", thinking we could have a summer of family hiking fun. We decided on this first hike that we are perhaps not in as good of shape as we thought - egads. Maybe if we had brought a picnic...


Friday, May 22, 2009

another match!

I could start calling this blog - I have another sock. After many months of wondering where my sock mojo had gone - I have recently knit up two singles to go with socks I started a year ago. My most recent finish in the Tesserae by knitspot.

::Tesserae in The Woolen Rabbit Burgandy Bean Harmony Sock Yarn::

I have to admit, I was bored stupid near the end - as I was fixed on American Idol, I knit and knit and knit, to get to the end of this mind dulling project. I love the texture but it disappears when you yank the sock on. But it's done and I have something useful. Whew.

And I have even started another sock. I know. It's the Marlene by Cookie A. My knitting penpal, Christine, made the first one. The yarn is String Theory MCN - it's so squishy, I love it. And the pattern is surely going to keep my interest.

I could even make some knit progress in the next week. My husband and I have taken off together to do do landscaping work - which will inevitably lead to some car knitting as we troll the nurseries. A week of yardwork with my husband is a little intimidating. We do not work together on projects well - we are more independant workers, really. So far, we have our old, overgrown area dug out, dirt is ordered and we have rough sketch in our minds of what plants we want to try. We have some indoor projects "in case of rain". There are a couple of fun things on the itinerary to keep us working when it's work time. So here's hoping we can stay motivated and not end up playing Guitar Hero.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Birthday K.I.S.S.

As in, it's my birthday, and I chose to Keep It Simple, Stupid...

Grand plans never seem to work out - so I went for a less traditional lazy day with little treats just for me. By 10am I had watched East of Eden on Netflix. This was a thrill for me becasuse the book is one of my favorites ever, and this classic has proved to be impossible for me to catch on TV. Netflix let me just stream it right on my laptop - nice. And it's a free trial - so I got a birthday present from Netflix *wee*!!

Then I went for a walk and listened to a podcast of This American Life. Also a favorite. I just love Ira Glass. I just love NPR.

Then I shopped for landscaping ideas at a local store with my dh AND had a bagel sandwich - I know, simple, right?

And I worked on a second lonely Tessarae. My first needs a friend. Truth be told, he has needed a friend for a year! The two line pattern is ridiculous easy - love that. And The Woolen Rabbit is some pretty nice yarn to work with.

doesn't he look sad?

For dinner I had rhubarb pie, and for dessert I had birthday cake. Can't really top that. My mom makes the best pies ever, I am pretty giddy to have my own pie, happy birthday to me.

I'll end my day with a good book.

And lastly, I enjoyed reading a post by Carrie (who is sharing the Molly Wizenberg love) and followed a link to this blog eyebrows raised when I read "practice joy". I like the concept - to practice feel good things. My whole day was kind of like that - silly, simple things that I savor. It's kind of a nice concept to put into your pocket. So practice joy, friends!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


As in Thank Gosh Its FINISHED!

Noro Kureyon Socks - with a Pattern from Hello Yarn

Gosh - I did not like this yarn. I know others did, and I am baffled why it was such a drag for me. It just seemed so course. But the finished socks are kind of cute and glady, done. I did a pilates hundred to get this pose. The neighbors must have loved it. Oh yes, I scooped.

I also finished whacking this skein on Monday.

Funky Carolina Merino in Duckfeet

I was sick to death of the color yellow by the time I got this off of the wheel, I have to be honest. But I do like the finshed yarn - and it's the most yardage I have ever acheived with 4 oz. - 290 yards - woot! But here is a question for spinners out you just covet your handspun? I seem to be - doesn't it deserve to grow up to BE something? But what? Wow, that is so hard.

Lastly, I saw Elizabeth Berg last night - my favorite author! I learned that she has a newsletter she sends out which include a recipe and that she has a blog!

I enjoyed the reading so much. I purchased the book - which seemed silly after I tried to "do the right thing" when I rented it from the library. But when I learned she was coming to Madison, I could not fathom going to the reading and leaving empty handed. Anyways, I got there early and re-read my favorite part (pg 33) - savored it a little. Well, when Ms. Berg started her reading - she started with MY favorite part - it was like karma. To those who have read, I will never go to Anthropologie again without thinking of the main character, Helen. I mean, they should have someone doing exclusively gift wrapping, shouldn't they?

She was a treat to listen to, and wonderful in person. I felt a little giddy, like this woman would "get" me - she shared her lust for words and described herself as "a pain in the ass as a kid because she was so creative" - wow - my own mom could have said that. Gosh, I think she has.

p.s. I have continued on my quest to bake like Wizenberg. I made the Pistachio Cake with Honeyed Apricots. I felt a little sassy taking such fanciness to share with my co-workers. It was especially delicious to the pistachio lover. I also made the Arugula bread salad with cherries and goat cheese. to die.

Sunday, May 10, 2009 I went shopping

A Homemade Life :: Molly Wizenberg

I finished this book yesterday morning. I absolutely savored it all week. Each part of the book is capped off by a recipe - developed by the author, her family or friends - or otherwise tweaked from a magazine or other source. Each recipe has an imaginary string which ties it to a memory or a time in the author's life. I am enamored. I judge a book as a winner when, when I am finish the last word I close my eyes, sigh and think "who could I buy this for?" This is that book for me.

As a result, all week I plotted shopping for my own Mother's Day breakfast. You see, breakfast is my most favorite meal of the day, and contrary to my husband's opinion that it is only for morning - I believe in the power of breakfast at any time of day. It is true that I squirm with a joy a little when I go to a restaurant that will serve me crepes at noon. So I decided, page 89 :: Burg's French Toast it shall be.

I took the day to myself - my debit card, my book and a list. I went to my favorite shops - Trader Joe's, Williams-Sonoma, Brennan's and Whole Foods. I find the food stuff at these smaller, fancier digs to be decadent and a treat, I get full just looking. I can't afford to buy the whole week's she-bang at Trader Joe's but oh, I am smitten with the dried figs.

I bought a number of things I hadn't before - but they each made sense and tickled my taste buds at the mere thought. I purchased some Sherry Vinegar (I coulnd't find the author's suggested Banyuls - but I will), Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate, raw, shelled pistachios, crystallized ginger, baby arugula and those dried figs. I felt so good rolling in with my recycled brown-bags filled to the brim. I felt ready to cook, ready to eat.

Voila my breakfast::

the aforesaid french toast...with whole milk and fried in oil - egads, decadent right. But oh, so good.

Two thumbs up Molly Wizenberg (I love her blog, too!) I loved this book and hope to make a special something for weeks to come. I truly appreciate good food and tastes - so for lunch Bread Salad with Cherries, Arugula and Goat Cheese (page 115), for a birthday treat later in the month The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake (page 312), for my family this week Pistachio Cake with Honeyed Apricots (page 278) and with dinner, Arugula Salad with Pistachios and Chocolate. I will be sure to report on each one - now aren't you hungy?

many of her recipes can be found here. but really, trust me, you need the book.

ps - Happy Mother's Day, mothers. My most special gift today was my 9-year old riding her bike. I cried a little. We live in a spot with no sidewalks and we have a lumbering hill of a driveway - so it's been hard to find the space without pressuring her to learn, she is so afraid to fall. Anyways, while I was out buying my food goodies yesterday, her dad helped her learn. What a treat to see her hair streaming behind her - and no daddy hanging on. Hurray for Libby!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Elizabeth Berg :: Home Safe


oh, elizabeth berg, you have done it again.

I read this book in a day. I love Berg, her stories tell tales of real people. The characters often have endearing quirks and insecurities. And Helen is no exception. She is the mother of an adult child and a recent widow. She is struggling in her first year as a widow. Helen was lucky to have been married to a soul mate for 30+ years and then finds herself alone and somewhat helpless - helpless, if not a little by choice. She and her husband shared fairly traditional roles and his was to take care for her. So she finds herself learning how be alone, which is so much fun to peek in on.

Her relationship with her daughter is also excruciatingly funny to watch. Helen wants to take care of her daughter but her 27-year-old independant girl will have none of it. In one chapter, Helen tries to buy a sweater for her but knows how her daughter will hate that, so wears it herself - convinced that Tessa (her daughter) will compliment her on it and then she can give it to her. I love this convoluted thinking. It's charming and adorable. Berg shares many of Helen's funny thoughts - what she says and then what she'd like to say. It lends such a fun, human quality to Helen.

Berg typically creates good friendships for her characters - enviable relationships in the strangest of circumstances - somehow I find that comforting. That in the current world we live, there is opportunity for friendship anywhere, you just have to look abd be open. Note to the author :: perhaps you should consider a novel where blog-friendships evolve - because there is an example in my life where I have found surprising comraderie *wink, wink* (yes, I am talking to you).

I am a Berg fan since forever - this one did not disappoint. Thank you!

P.S. the icing on the cake is that the author is coming to my local Borders next week! So, while I tried to be sensible and rent a book from the library, clearly I will have to buy it so she can sign it! Oh well - the best intentions!