Thursday, September 16, 2010


inside the club house at the Deutsche Bank tournament
Well, we've had a few milestones in our home this my first homemade fruit spreads, and Alex's first curse word.  Yep.  His word of choice?...the S-word of course.  (I believe that was my word of choice at 4-years old.)  We were just starting to watch Transformers (which he's gotten into because of the toys and Dad has been letting him watch the movies), when he decided to use the fateful word.  I snapped my head in his direction and shot him the coldest glare I could muster, said "what did you say?!", and got up to turn off the movie.  He was just devastated.  He cried for a full five minutes because I turned it off.  I told him that he's clearly not ready for Transformers and that if he was going to use that sort of language, he wouldn't watch the movie anymore.  I'm going to have a talk with my husband about the movies Alex can and can't watch.

My own personal milestone is much safer than Alex's was.  This week, I successfully canned a ginger-peach butter, and last night I did plum butter!  The whole process wasn't quite as difficult as I thought and I just love seeing those little jars in my pantry full of sweet, spreadable fruit that I picked off the trees myself.  Today or tomorrow, I'll start working on all of my apples.  I'm thinking apple butter, apple sauce, some apple cider (if I can find some mulling spices again).  I even have plans for an apple pie, after all, I have plenty of apples.  I need to go back to Walmart again for another flat of mason jars (pint jars this time) for my apple sauce.  Alex loves apple sauce so he'll be super excited about it.  And I think I'll use Kelly's recipe for the apple butter because hers turned out so good and I don't have to worry about adding any extra sugar to it.  With all the sugar in the other two recipes, it'll be nice to have one that's better for us.

Speaking of recipes, my MIL gave me one for a veggie chili that was fantastic!  It made a good amount, not too much but enough for a few days worth of left overs for my family.  It was a big hit with everyone except Alex, who decided after laying eyes on his bowl that it was "gross".  He went to bed without dinner and with no story just to avoid eating it.  But Dante and Aaron both really liked it.  Aaron gave me the standard "this is really it just need some meat in it", which is how I know if he likes a vegetarian recipe.  Anyway, the recipe calls for a 'large pepper', which could really be anything (I used a green bell-pepper), a zucchini, a yellow summer squash, an onion, some garlic, some canned tomatoes, corn, and two different types of canned beans.  There's no mention of whether or not the beans should be drained (I didn't), if the corn should be drained (I did), of which types of beans to use (I had black and Great Northern in the house), but overall it was quick and tasty.  It went really well with the Jiffy corn muffins that I baked up while it was simmering, and like most chili it taste much better the next day.  This would be a great recipe for people like me who are vegetarian, living with a family who aren't.  I can make this ahead, put some aside, and put meat in the rest for guys, or I could just put in large chunks of chicken or steak tips which I could easily pick out of my own bowl.

School and knitting are picking up.  I'm already in week 4!  There's a big writing assignment due for my art & humanities class this week so I've got some serious reading to do.  I'll be doing this while trying to host a knit-a-long that I challenged my buddies to.  One of my friends is knitting a beautiful sweater, and I decided that I needed on too.  So we're all knitting a sweater of our choosing, and we'll be peer-pressuring supporting each other as we go.  I'm working on Oblique.  I've wanted to knit this for years and I'm working on full sized swatches right now in two different yarns to see which one I'd rather use.  I intended to use my pink Queensland Kathmandu Aran for this project (as so many other knitters have) but I've had to go down to a pretty small needle to hit gauge and I'm not sure how I feel about the fabric.  My back-up yarn is my gray-green Berroco Ultra Alpaca in peat mix.  It's a worsted weight yarn (even though the patten calls for an aran weight) but I'm hitting gauge on a 4.5mm needle (which is what the pattern was knit in) and the fabric has a nice drape.  Once I finish the Queensland swatch I'll know which of the yarns to press on with.  This process might seem crazy, but it's given me a chance to feel how these yarns work up, and to test out the charted lace directions that I had to work up because I can't follow written directions without missing a step.  I seem to have gotten it right.

Well, I'm off to fix lunch for a hungry little boy.  I'll update soon with my yarn choice and maybe even a photo or two :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Done, done-done-done, done!

A boy and someone else's blanket
The Sleepy monkey blanket is done!  It turned out beautifully, and as you can see Alex loves it.  He's a bit sad that it's not for him but he agreed that I could give it away if I knit his one of his own.  Just one more thing to add to the list, lol.

I have a good amount of comfort worsted left over so I'll have to figure out what to do with it, but it's not quite enough to knit a sweater with or anything.

The blocking hid a multitude of sins, lol.  I did pretty well with the monkey panel, but the circles were pretty wonkey and definitely needed to have a good blocking.  The question came up as to how I was going to manage to block a double-think blanket made out of synthetic materials.  I could have done a full-immersion blocking but I really didn't want to wait around while a two layer thick blanket took it's sweet time to dry (plus there's the issue of chasing Alex away from it).  I usually turn to the iron for cases like this, but again...synthetic.  So I remembered my mom talking about a pressing cloth many years ago, so I pulled two clean dish towels out of the closet, soaked them and wrung them out, and used them to steam-block the blanket.  It worked like a dream, and my blanket is nice and smooth.

folded nicely and behaving
look what's on the other side!
The border even decided to lay flat.  I have to say, the knit border really makes this piece.  It's not nearly big enough without the border, but the border is part of what drew me to the piece in the first place.  I didn't realize that I'd be knitting it twice, lol, but it was worth it.

 The finished project isn't perfectly square, but it does fold up nicely and most of the edges line up.  I don't think the new-mom is going to be too particular about that.  I think she's gonna be blown away!  It's just so hard not to keep it for myself :)

Full-frontal monkeys

Back shot.

The happiest boy in the world!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

This is the song (or project) that never ends...

The Boy & his cat
It just goes on and on my friends.  Seriously.  On and on, and on.  Every time I think I'm an evening from finishing the blanket, I have to knit another increase round, or I have to knit another border entirely.  I'm so close to joining these two, but even then I won't be close to done.  It's what a smart woman who's blog I used to read calls "sleeve-island", only this is border-island.  This being said, I'd knit this blanket again in a heartbeat!  Maybe in wool this time.  But not until I actually finish my husband's crocheted afghan, the shop sample, my socks, and let's not forget my friend's bride's shawl for the wedding that took place this past June.  And then there's the new hat for Alex because he's grown.  And the hat & glove combo for The Boy per his request.  It just goes on, and on, and on (my que, that is).  This is the que that never ends...

Dante started school today and came home with the obligatory 5 pages of documents that needed my signature.  It took me a good hour to read through them all, fill them all out, and get them all signed and back on the table for him to collect (or maybe forget) in the morning.  His teacher's aren't messing around this year.  Eighth grade is a big step up from what they've been doing, in an effort to be sure the kids are ready for high-school.  My own classes are getting increasingly more difficult so I'm not sure just how much help I can be in terms of organization this year but I'll see what I can do.  Tomorrow I'm pulling him out of school early to take him in for an 'emergency' appointment with the psychiatrist because the meds he prescribed aren't being covered by our insurance company, so now we have to start again at square one and try to get him on something before we get too far along in the school year.  This appointment is at the same time as Alex's last appointment with his behavioral therapist so I'll have to miss that and take Dante to his, leaving Aaron to handle that one. 

And now that the bathroom is free, I'm finally off to bed.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day weekend

Today, I'll be spending my Labor Day by trying to finish my assigned readings for Unit 2, working on my discussion questions and my project for Arts & Humanities, working on the Monkey Blanket's border, knitting on the Willow sock when I'm not able to work on the other, and eventually going out to pick Dante up from his friend's house.  Yesterday he and two boys from his Young Men's group came over to play for a while and then they all decided to keep the party going by going over to one of the boy's to spend the night.  I wasn't too sure if that would be a good idea, with him starting school in two days and needing to get up early in the morning over the next few days so that he can start to readjust...but then I though about the peace and quiet of his being somewhere else for the night and I just couldn't turn it down, lol.  I know these boys pretty well as I had them all in primary so I know what can happen when they all get together.  I sure hope they weren't too much trouble for that poor Sister.  They probably ate her out of house and home, because they almost did that to me when they were here for lunch.  Who knew how much teenage/pre-teen boys can eat?!  I went through 5 cans of tuna, and about half a loaf of bread just for lunch!  Not to mention the chips and the drinks.  But I happened to be stocked with bread and drinks just in case we got his by Earl (who decided to go elsewhere) so I had plenty.  I guess I got hit by hurricane "Fortes, Gomes, & Washington" instead :) 

This whole think was foreign to me because in my neighborhood, I'm the 'mean mom'.  Kids rarely come to the door to ask if Dante can come out.  We only have one who's brave enough to ask to come over and play.  No one has ever asked to stay overnight.  If I catch Dante doing something foolish, I'll address it (usually inside but occasionally right on the spot), and if the other kids are a part of it, I'll be sure to include them in the scolding.  Last week I had to seriously adjust Dante's attitude and because he's 13 now, he got a little cocky and wanted to know why I wanted him to come I told him exactly why he needed to come inside...right in front of his little friends.  Then I told them all that they should be ashamed of themselves for their behavior.  So, given all of this, it was a little strange for me to see that so many of the young men wanted to come over to my house.  I only had room in the car for two, and had to promise the third that he could come over next Sunday.  My husband says that it's because the kids at church are totally different than the people who live in this neighborhood (which is true), and because these kids all really know me.  They know I can be strict, but I love them all and I'm really a nice person under the intimidating surface.  It was really nice to see that they were so fond of me.

The whole time I was serving in Primary, I never realized how the kids felt about me or my presidency.  So yesterday was my first day taking Alex down and leaving him there on his own.  Before I could leave, the new president took me aside for a minute and said that the kids were really sad about the sudden change and she wanted to if I would like to do a guest-sharing time in the near future.  I was so excited about the idea and I jumped at it!  I was so tired of sharing time by the time that Heather came back from Utah that I thought I'd be pleased if I never had to do it again...and then I got that wish and was beside myself.  The idea of coming down and teaching sharing time for an afternoon made me so happy that I almost cried.  And then I went up the stairs to class and had to hold myself together because I missed those kids.  And then I got into class and relaxed because I was learning things at an adult level, and I really did miss it, but I think I love those kids more.  I got all of my manuals and I tried to get caught up on the current lessons, and before I knew it it was time to go down and pick up Alex.  And when I came downstairs to get him, several of the kids came up to me and told me all about what they'd done in sharing time, lol.  One boy told me that he'd earned two stickers because he gave both prayers.  Another told me what he'd done in the lesson.  And a third was dressed up in a dress-shirt that used to be Dante's.  He looked so nice in his dress clothes, and I made sure to tell him so, and he looked really proud of himself.  They were all really excited to see me, and I never realized that they'd all loved me like I love them.  It was just like when I come home after work and the boys are telling me what the did that day, even before I have both feet in the door.  So now, I just have to wonder how I can help these kids now that I'm no longer in the Primary.  Other than supporting the new primary leaders by volunteering my time if they need help, I'm not sure what more I can do, but I'm sure that the Bishop will think of something.

And on that note, I'm off to spend the rest of this holiday weekend doing homework.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Monkey's & Good Waiting

monkey side, pre-steek
This blanket is turning out to be a real pleasure to knit.  First you knit the monkey side, then you knit the back piece, then each piece are steeked and the border is picked up and the pieces are knit together.  It's an example of fabulous pattern writing, where everything that the pattern asks you to do is strategic.  Do exactly what it tells you to do and it works out fabulously.  It's also an example of "Good Waiting", which is a concept that I've been working on with Alex.  He's not the most patient child I've ever known, and before you say to me that most 4-year old's aren't, just know that the average 4-year old is infinitely patient compared to Alex, lol.  So the last few days, when he's done a good job of waiting a few minutes for something, I've made a big deal about what a great job he did is showing me 'Good Waiting'.  Now that he knows what it means (after doing it by accident a few times), I've been asking him to do it when he wants something.  Like yesterday when he wanted a juice pouch and we were still just coming in the door from the market.  I had him go sit on the couch and show me good waiting, and I praised him when I could see he was starting to get a little antsy.  He made it a whole 5 minutes without freaking out or making a nuisance of himself, while Dante went back out to the car to get the rest of the grocery bags (which is where the juice was, it turned out).  This is even more impressive when you stop to consider that the night before, Aaron was working the tournament and I had to drop Dante at Young Men's at about the time that Alex should have been getting in bed.  Then I had to hit Sam's to make sure we were prepared for Earl, and by the time I got home, Alex didn't get into bed until about 9pm.  Anyone who's been following this blog for any length of time will remember that missing bed-time at our house is punishable by one solid week of whining, tantrums, and defiance.  So far, so good.
inside of monkey piece, pre-steek
So I may have mentioned that my MIL took her sewing machine to these pieces for me so that I could steek them.  I cut them open the other day and remembered to take some photos pre & post steeking.  One of the things I love about steeking is that something that once was shapeless and weird suddenly looks like what it's meant to be after the cutting.  And it's not as scary as you might think to cut into your knitting, especially if you've run it through a sewing machine before hand.  I also love that when you pick up along the edge, the steek folds over nicely on hit own and lays flat.  Lesson learned: after you cut the steek and pick up the stitches, go back and cut the excess steek and sew it down.  In this case I don't have to do that because I used the sewing machine to reinforce it, but ordinarily you'd want to do that.  Alice Starmore's book on Fairisle knitting has a great illustration on how to do this without it showing up on the front side.
back piece, pre-steeking
I've been interrupted (what else is new...) in the process of finishing this, but I did have time to pick up the stitches for the border of the monkey piece and knit the 8 rounds prior to joining it to the circle piece.  Now I'm mid pick-up, and I'll have to knit a round or two before I use a technique similar to a 3-needle bind-off to join the two together and finish it off.  So, what's the hold-up, you ask?  Well, school for starters.  I have a project due next week for Arts & Humanities class.  Second, the first real sock for the Super Sock Scarefest hit on September 1st and I've started that too.  I'd like to try to keep up with them this year.
inside of the back, pre-steeking

The first pattern of the Scarefest is Willow, and it comes from Guernseygal, the ever-talented.  As the name suggests, the pattern is inspired by the best friend a slayer ever had...Willow Rosenberg.  I happened to pick up a barely-used  red-orange ball of Zauberball fingering-weight sock yarn for half price, and then this pattern came out and I thought 'this is perfect! it matches Willow's hair'.  So after casting off my long-suffering pair of Beetlejuice socks, I cast on last night.  These are knit toe-up so they won't go as fast as the top-down seem to do for me, but I'll get a custom fit.  I've already modified the pattern a little bit, by casting on 16sts instead of the 8 the pattern called for, because the wider toe is more comfortable on my foot.

monkeys, post-steeking
So, now that I have a case of bottled water in my trunk, a box of individual serve highly-pasteurized non-refrigerated milk, canned veggies and soup, bread, pb&j, snacks, tuna, beans, hummus, my freezer at it's lowest level possible, and I know the exact location of my's time for me to show Good Waiting and to stay inside and keep the boys busy until the winds and rain from Earl show up.  If nothing else, I've got the rest of this blanket, a pair of socks, the Lace Edge Swirl Shawl, and a major assignment to keep me busy till then :)

circles, post-steeking

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Inclement weather

So if anyone has been watching the news at all in the last week, then you're all aware of Hurricane Earl which will be passing by the East Coast.  Reports only expect high winds and rain, but we're being careful to prepare for power outages.  Anyway, (as I'm sure you'd expect) Friday's open-knit class is canceled as weather reports project that we'll get hit with the storm on Friday.  I've posted this message in the Bella Yarns group discussion board on Ravelry and figured I'd double post it here as well, just in case.  I'm sure we'll all be just fine, but take care of yourselves anyway.