Monday, December 29, 2008

5th Day of Christmas AND my 24th Wedding Anniversary

I'm officially ready to start doing something besides relaxing for the rest of my vacation, but I've sure had fun in the mean time. I've wasted hours and hours browsing through other people's blogs, admiring their accomplishemnts. Bear Toes knit Alan Dart's entire Advent calendar from an insert in the October issue of Knit Simply magazine. I, on the other hand, managed to knit one of the ornaments, the hat, which took about twenty minutes. I'm into instant gratifications, I guess.
I did manage to do one thing that took a little effort though. I cast on a sweater for Paige. I bought 10 skeins of purple Aurora 8 yarn on sale back in October, and I've been looking for a pattern that Paige would like ever since, a very difficult prospect. I've finally settled on The Perfect Sweater from Maon Dixon Knitting. I'm going to knit the V-neck version.

I cast on a picot edging with a contrasting color for the back. This sounds like I actually knew what I was doing, which I did not. I had to do a crochet cast-on. I've only crocheted with my fingers making a chain when I was a kid. This was my first time using a crochet hook, and it took a while to get the hang of it. It was kind of cool to use my crochet hook for the first time though. I inherited it from my aunt who died about twenty-four year ago. I know it was twenty-four years ago because even though she was very ill, she flew out for my husband and my wedding, which was... twenty-four years ago today. (As I told Russ, I do think that our anniversary is worthy of celebration; I'm just sick of eating right now, so we've just congratulated each other for making such good choices in our impetuous youth.) My aunt died several weeks after our wedding, which is very sad, but instead of feeling like it was our wedding that did her in, I like to think that she might have died alone had she not come to California.) I've mentioned before that I don't have much of a "knitting history," except for memories of this special aunt. She had severe scoliosis and never married, so we kids were pretty special to her, I thnk. She'd come to stay for a month each summer, which we kids thought was great. (As an adult, I now have to wonder if that didnt' bug my mom a bit since it was my dad's sisiter. I definitely wouldn't appreciate any in-law, even my two favorite "Ann" with and without an "e" sister-in-laws coming for an entire month.) My aunt wasn't a big time knitter really. She was an artist, so I more remember her sketching things rather than knitting. She did, however, get me started knititing. When I was in college, she took me to my first real yarn store. I still remember buying some mauve Brown Sheep wool there for a sweater from McCall's magazine. That was a huge tangent, just to make the point that I know that this crochet hook probably belonged to her mom, my grandmother who died before my parents even met. I like that I'm using it...even though it's probably made out of ivory from some poor elephant.
I'm rambling tonight, so I'll just continue. I crocheted my cast-on and when I was ready to pick up the stitches, I tried to unravel them, but they wouldn't unravel. I had to pick apart all of the old stitches to make the hem. I don't know if that makes sense. I guess I picked up the wrong part of the crochet stitch after the cast-on. It's all good now..until I have to cast on for the front.

I'm going for my record blog lengthwise tonight I guess, Barbara asked if I'd share some of my Danish recipes, which I'm, of course, happy to do. Here's another Christmas favorite. When I was a kid, anytime we had meatballs, unless they were in spaghetti, we called them frikkadeller. I doubt that they were authentically Danish. It was just what my mom and grandma called them. I use a Danish recipe when I make my own now, which isn't very often. This is a recipe from an old cookbook that I also probably inherited from my aunt...or stole from my mom:


1 1/2 lb. ground round
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 grated onion
3-4 slices bread
1/8 tsp. pepper
4 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk

Blend meats together. Add grated onion and bread, which has been softened in the milk. Mix well. Add the remainder of the ingredients, stirring well after each addition. Shape the meatball into ovals and in a hot pan with shortening or canola oil. Fry them until they are light brown.

I sometimes made Kronisburg Frikkadeller, which just means they have gravy on them with a few capers in it. Mmmm, you might as well add a little more fat to such a fattening dish. If I'm feeling really authentice, I also prepare rødkaal, which is red cabbage. Kai thinks it's gross, but Russ, Paige, and I love it. Here's a recipe for it.


1 medium head red cabbage
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup vinegar (I usually use white, but it doesn't matter)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar (sometimes more)

Shred cabbage very fine. (I use the food processor.) Melt butter in a large kettle, add cabbage and vinegar, salt, and sugar. Cookly gently until tender, then season to taste with salt, and more sugar or vinegar, if necessary.

OK, I believe my work here is done:)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Danish Puff on the 3rd Day of Christmas

Willow noticed that our Christmas celebration had a decidedly Danish theme to it, at least food-wise. It's one of those traditions that my immediate and extended family enjoy a lot. Since all of my ancestry is Danish, my family would often prepare Danish food for celebratory meals when I was growing up; however,
I've been more conscious of preparing Danish food at Christmas time since writing my master's thesis on food in ethnic literature. Immigrants would have to give up so much culture-wise when they came to the U.S. Often it would only take a generation for kids to lose their parents' native language and knowledge of the old country traditions, except for the food traditions. I'm a second generation Californian and a fourth generation American, and I still eat herring for Christmas Eve. (Although I have to admit that it tasted pretty gross this year) Anyway, my point is that food traditions help define us and keep us in contact with our origins. Fortunately, most Danish food is really good, so my kids have something to enjoy handing down to their kids too, something to help them create a "hyggellig" (Danish for cozy..kind of) environment for their own kids.

One of my favorite decadent Danish treats is kringle. It's basically layers of butter and pastry and sugar..layers and layers. One Christmas when my sister and her family lived in California she and her husband brought some from a Danish bakery in Los Angeles, but usually I've either made it myself, which takes forever; or we've bought it in Solvang, which is less than two hours from us, or we've ordered it from O &H Bakery in Racine, Wisconsin. I didn't think to order any in time this year and didn't feel like baking it either, so I kind of cheated and baked "Danish puff." I don't know why I say it's cheating exactly. I have just always thought that it was something that Danish descendants made up to seem like kringle without all of the work. I've had a recipe from my great aunt for years, but I've never used it, even though I have tasty memories of her fixing it for me and my friends when I was in college far from home and would walk down the hill to her house on Saturday afternoons.

I've seen the error of my ways now though. I made Danish puff this week, and it is wonderful. I even found it in a Danish cookbook I have, and they called it "vandbakkelse," which roughly translates as water pastry. Here's the recipe.

Danish Puff

1 cup butter, divided
2 cups flour, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cold water

1 cup boiling water
1 tsp. almond flavoring
3 eggs

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

Cut 1/2 cup of the butter int 1 cup flour mixed with the salt to a consistency of course meal. Add cold water and blend well. Divide dough in half and press each half onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Four boiling water into saucepan and add remaining half cup of butter. When butter melts, remove from heat and add flavoring. Stir in 1 cup flour all at once. Beat until smooth and let cool. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each. Divide in half and spread this mixture over the pastry crusts on the cookie sheets. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 400 degrees for 30 to 35 mines longer. Watch carefully.

Mix frosting ingredients until smooth and spreadable. Frost while hot and add some sliced almonds. Slice and serve warm.

Friday, December 26, 2008

2nd Day of Christmas

What have I done for the last couple of days besides eat and eat and eat? I've knit a cute little snowman. My friend who dog sits for us has a snowman collection. I've seen several cute patterns for snowmen lately, so I thought I'd try to knit one and give it to her. He's not perfect, but I think she'll appreciate him. I used the felted snowman pattern from mummble-jummble.I have a front-loading washer, so it's a little difficult to felt stuff, but I'm pretty satisfied with the result.

I also finished a couple of felted Christmas presents for my mom. I knit a flower hotpad and a knitted bowl. I followed the pattern from Knit Noel for the felted bowl, I had a little yarn left, so I thought I'd knit a hot pad. I found one on Ravelry. It was a pattern from Whimsical Knitting Designs. She didn't felt hers, but I thought it would work out well with my yarn, and I was right.
It kind of looks like I've been productive this week, but mostly I've been lazy but so have a few other people around here. Russ has probably read three books since vacation began, and the beagles always accommodate him by curling up to take naps with him as he reads. I'm ready to get back to running and eating a little less now, but it's sure been fun while it lasted. Her's a small list of our family intake: medisterpolse (Danish sausage), frikkideller (Danish meatballs), krinkle (Danish pastry), Danish puff pastry, rødgrød (Danish fruit pudding), and numerous cookies. Wow, I'm thinking that a little salad would be good for the next couple of days...or weeks.

Monday, December 22, 2008

In The Bleak Midwinter

I have been knitting but nothing much to show off, so I thought I'd share one of my favorite hymns. I seem to remember that it was also one of my grandma's favorites too, and that's another reason it's special to me. I don't think I've ever been able to hear it without getting a little teary, but the Corrine May version is particularly a good way.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


I'm pretty sure that I haven't blogged for two consecutive days all year but I had to post my sheep pictures. When we took Kai to the orthodontist on Friday, we saw that there were a tons of sheep along the way to Bakersfield. Today when we drove over, I brought along a camera. The lambs are so fun to watch. They were running along in little "lamb gangs," I now totally understand why the words "frolic" and "prance" needed to be invented. Some of them were jumping up completely vertically and seemingly were enjoying being with each other. I've always loved sheep. When I was a kid, I remember that the shepherds would come so near our house on the edge of town that I could hear the bells on some of the sheep, and I'd run out to see them. Now, the sheep don't seem to be herded in the open much and are kept behind fences, but we do usually see sheep dogs out watching them. I could have stayd for hours watching them even though it was raining a little, but Paige and her friend had been promised a trip to Sephora, so they were a little anxious to get moving.

I knit a doughnut today.I've seen several patterns for doughnuts, but the pattern on Doortje's webpage seems the easiest. I suddenly remembered that I'd been planning to knit a "bakery" for my nieces. So far, I've knit four cupcakes and a piece of carrot cake. That's not much of a bakery. I'm going to try to really work on it this week.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Little Christmas Knitting

Today was St. Nicholas Day. When the kids were little, they would open one present on St. Nicholas Day, and I'd give the kids their Christmas ornament too. It was a fun tradition, but I've kind of let it go. I haven't even bought their ornaments yet, so I didn't mention what day it was, and they didn't even notice. I am starting to get in the Christmas spirit though. I finished little Christmas Bunny's dress. I knit her dress in the round up to the arm holes. That worked nicely. I don't hate seaming, but I don't really like it either. I haven't done much other Christmas kntting yet, but I am planning to do some, mostly Chirstmas ornaments. Garnstudo has their Advent Calendar up again, and I always get inspired to knit a few of their projects.

When we were up in Fortuna during Thanksgiving break, I didn't do much yarn shopping, but I did have to make one stop at Generations, a local Yarn Shop/Beauty Salon--not a combo I would have thought of, but... Whe you first walk in, you're assailed with all of this kind of scary Red Heart yarn. (Yes, I'm a yarn snob) On the other hand, I'm sure that there are plenty of people who are overjoyed to find "good" acrylic yarn at a shop instead of all of this annoying natural fiber stuff that's become so popular. (LOL) Anyway, they have a surpirse for you if you just wander in a little further, lots of nice wool and cotton yarn, nothing fancy but a really nice selection of Brown Sheep and Cascade. I bought some "Sockotta" yarn, which is a combination of cotton and wool. II can't say that I'm overly excited about the socks I'm knitting with it, but the yarn does feel nice, and it makes more sense for me to knit with yarn that has some cotton content since wool socks are only bearable for a few months a year here.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

I managed to give my poor bunny head a body on the drive home yesterday. I'm planning to make her a dress, but I've had to re-start a couple of times. I need to think about it a little more before I give it another try. I, of course, want to do something "Chirstmas-y and will probably resort to copying one of Julie's dresses.."I love that knitting keeps getting more and more popular. Yesterday moring before we left Fortuna, we stopped at Starbucks, and there was evidence that knitting has truly become mainstream. Not only were there wreaths made out of ball of yarn everywhere, the cups themselves show a faint knit pattern on them. Starbucks, there is a reason that you and "Google" are two of the only coprorations I intentionally choose to support. We dutifully gave Gidget her anti-nausea medicine before we left....and as soon as we hit the first set of curves, she promptly threw up...on my shoes. You can't just stop along Hyw. 101 in the mountains since much of it is in a rock slide area, but luckily we weren't too far from Laytonville.She eventually just fell asleep. It wasn't that bad, but maybe we should think twice about taking her with us next time...Nah!. Still, we all appreciate what an "easy" dog Rowdy, our older beagle, is. We stopped in Healdsburg again for a break, and the beagles got a lot of attention. Of course, Gidget barked at all of the other dogs, especially a rather large, "wolf-dog," while Rowdy was quietly dignified or possibly was simply scared stiff.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving in Humboldt

Ever since my sister and her family moved to the Midwest, we've usually spent Thanksgiving with just ourselves. It sometimes feels a tiny bit sad just to have the four of us, but we go all out with cooking and still totally enjoy the day. This year, I thought that we should go up to my mom and dad's since we had a whole week off for Thanksgiving. On a good traveling day, we can get up to Humboldt County, where they live, in less than eleven hours. It took us longer this year, but it was worth it. We had lunch in Healdsburg on the way up and had turkey/cranberry sandwiches.
I got to knit for most of the trip, and started one of my favorite projects---yes, another bunny. I let the bunny head absorb the scenery, which my kids found slightly unselttling.We spent most of Tuesday in Eureka, eating at one of our favorite restaurants, Hurricane Kate's.We've gone there since the kids were little, and love both the food, which is touted as "World Fusion Cuisine," and the atmosphere. They have butcher paper on the tables, so Kai is particularly happy since he can draw while we wait to eat. He drew a musketeer this time because we are listening to The Three Musketeers on the trip up. Russ and I are also particularly happy while we wait for our food because we always have French press coffee in indivudal presses with brown sugar cubes and cream. I had a falafel sandwich with sweet potato fritters. I'm a little annoyed remembering this fact because last night I was anticipating having the leftovers as a little snack, and I discovered that one has totally fessed up...had eaten it. The kids had Cajun chicken soup, which was spicy and delicious; and Russ had an "Angry Samoan," which was pizza with Canadian bacon, pineapple, red bell pappers, basil, and something that made it hot, but not unbearably so.We also made a stop at Euerka Books because we decided that listening to The Three Musketeers is fun, but we need a text for reference or if one wants to cheat and read ahead as Russ was doing last night.
We spend Thanksgiving at some friends of my parents, who are dairy farmers outside of Ferndale. They have a beautiful one-hundred-year-old house. They must have had twenty people or so comfortably crammed in their dining room. Our families go way back, plus we all love travel, reading, music, and share similar political beliefs; so the conversations were great. We all agreed that it is wonderful to have someone about to enter the White House, who is one of our own know, the kind who read books, speak in complex sentences, and can think analytically.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hearst Castle Once Again

My Thanksgiving vacation began a little early with our annual Honors fieldtrip to Heart Castle. Paige, who is in my Honors English class this year, has probably been to Heart Castle ten times and so have many of her friends, but they still had a great time. After we go up to the Visiter's Center to see the movie that "convinces" us that W.R. Hearst was not an egocentric, war mongoring, yellow journalist, we go back to the village of Cambria and give the kids a couple of hours to walk around, eat, and shop before we head up for the evening tour. One of my favorite yarn shops is in Cambria, The Ball and Skein, but they're in the East Village and we go to the West Village, too far for me to walk in the time we have. Happily for me, though, Flying Fuzzies was open. It's mainly a cross stitch shop, but she has yarn too, and I always enjoy seeing the unique variety of "handcraft" items she carries. I ended up buying a bookmark counted cross stitch kit to make for my mom for Christmas; and, although I've mentioned innumerable times that I don't need more yarn for years, I couldn't resist some Fiesta Alpaca/Tencil yarn. The color is "African violet," and it's just beautiful. I don't think forty-six is least for me. I've seen lots of "old" forty-six-year-olds, but I don't act or feel old most of the time. Still, I have to admit that riding on a school bus for several hours has never been comfortable for me, and it gets more uncomfortable every year; however, I do get some good knitting done during those long drives. I finished my socks.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Back Again

I guess I'll begin with the knitting blogger's cliche: "I've been knitting; I just haven't been blogging." It is my choice to teach college classes, so I shouldn't complain, but I do sometimes feel like I'm being a bit of a sell-out to my values by working so much. On the other hand, it's pretty rewarding...and I get paid well, which means we can do more special family things, so I should just "put up and shut up." As one of my friends at work would say, "That's a good rationalization."

I've been knitting some saguaro socks, using Colinette Jitterbug. It's a free pttern from Ravelry, and I love it. I also love Jitterbug. It's so cushy and soft. It ws nearly 80 degrees today, so I won't be wearing them for a while still, but I'm enjoying working on them.

I have lots of projects in the works. The main reason for this is that I had an "extreme knitting" Saturday with a couple of my friends. We spent the day visiting local yarn shops. There are three in Bakersfield: Bead and Yarn Studio, which has recently moved to District Blvd. across from the Dreyer's Plant, ABCs of Creative Pursuits, and Classy Knits and Yarns. We had a wonderful time browsing, buying, and just enjoying each other's company. Add a nice lunch at the Sequoia Sandwich shop, and we had a perfect day.

I had a nice opportunity to knit endlessly last weekend. We drove seven plus hours up to Chico State to look at the campus with Paige and her best friend. Russ and I loved it up there, lots of beautiful, old trees, and a lush park with a stream running through the center of town. We stopped at U.C. Davis on the way home too, which is "only" five hours away from home. Russ and I have always liked Davis. We have a good friend who went to school there, and we, of course, appreciate the great natural food choices. Paige and Kai are used to going to Co-ops to find lunch when we're in "healthy" towns. Paige's friend, Melissa was a good sport about it, but I noticed that she didn't try any of the hummus or tofu that we bought....Paige really surprised me a couple of days ago though, saying that maybe she'd prefer to be closer to home. I'd love to see her go to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which is barely two hours from us, so I guess I better pretend that I don't care. (LOL)

This has nothing to do with knitting either; in fact, it kind of is an "anti-knitting" thing since it kept me from knitting a lot of the time for four years. I sent a chapter of my thesis to the Polish American Studies Journal for consideration for publication last month, and. they accepted it, which is really exciting for me. I read on their site that last year that they accepted 26 percent of the articles submitted to them, so I feel quite academic. My friends have been appropriately impressed, and then they ask if I'm getting paid .

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Fall Might Be Here

After a month of 90 degree temperatures, it looks like fall might be here. It's cloudy outside and may even rain. What a relief! I have to admit that I may have bit off a little more than I can chew this semester again, but that's not the main reason I haven't been blogging. It's just be hot and oppressive for much of September, and I haven't felt like knitting in that weather. I've started tons of things, but just couldn't get excited about anything. I did knit this little bunny to donate to a craft and bake sale that my church will have in a month or so.

I've finally gotten a pair of socks going again too. I get a little bored of knitting plain socks, but I don't realy like knitting intricate ones because they accentuate "unskinny" ankles such as mine. I've gone back to my Loksin pattern. I used to have trouble with it, but I'm finally passed that, and I'm thoroughly enjoying knitting them. I have the pattern memorized, so I don't need to concentrate too much while I'm working on them.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Let the Whining Begin

I wouldn't describe myself as a hypochondriac or sickly, but it does seem like I usually get sick sometime during the first few weeks of school. I knew I was in trouble when I had to start teaching my two extra college classes, got jury duty for a murder trial, and my usually unimposing, old-fashioned department chair, who's been my friend for over twenty years, started acting like a dictator. Things have calmed down this week, but I've also had a head cold that I just can't shake. I got kicked off the jury when the prosecutor asked if I knew any criminal defense attorneys. My older brother is one. I'm really proud of him, but that fact definitiely doesn't make me think that indictments are handed down to innocent people very often. That prosecutor didn't know that I was pretty much in her back pocket. The defendent was obviously a gang member, meth was mentioned a lot, and the defense attorney had "reminded" us that we should consider a homeless man's testimony with the same openmindedness as a police officer's. I'm not saying that cops can't be lying jerks, but I do trust them more than drug addicted homeless people. Just call me narrow-minded. I hadn't already made up my mind before the trial started. I'm just saying that I also didn't leave my commom sense at the courtroom door either. I was relieved to be excused.

My school problems will settle down too. My deparment chair doesn't have the stamina to continue with her new-found interest in change. She has never really kept step with changes in education as they've come along as many of us have. It didn't bother me that she was set in her ways. It doesn't hurt kids to have an old-fashioned "drill and kill" teacher every once in a while. For some reason, she has freaked this year. We're figuring that our new principal has suggested to her something that he'd like done, and she doesn't know how to do it. Plus, she isn't familiar with all of the work that those of us who have kept current have done. We wants us basically to throw out everything we've done previously and to follow these "incredible" new textbook she's ordered...which didn't arrived until last week. She's been very dictatorial at our department meetings, something that doesn't fit her very well; and really rubs me and other veterans the wrong way. No worries, we'll wear her down eventually. The best teachers I ever had were not "rule followers." I can play the game and still make learning fun for my kids. You have to trick high school kids into learning. Most of them won't learn when you try to force them, espeicailly thing like knowing grammatical terminology ...all hands up if you're a higly functioning adult and don't know what an intransitive verb is...all of you? If kids didn't learn that when they were eight, maybe we should move on to more advanced stuff. I'm just saying.

Oh, yeah, I forgot that this is a knitting blog. I've knit cake this week. I'm still planing to knit a bakery for my neices. So far I have four cupcakes and a pice of carrot cake. Myabe I should get working a little more on this project.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Good Bye Summer

By the way, that truck is parked. It is not about to run them over.

When I was a kid, we always started school the day after Labor Day. As a result, I wasn't too happy when the Labor Day Weekend rolled around. I didn't hate school, but I also can't remember ever being anxious for school to start. In fact, I'd say that I never cared for the entire month of August because it was like one long Sunday afternoon. with school looming in the near future. That dread that "Monday" was coming kind of ruined the whole month for me. I've been back to school for two over two weeks now, so Labor Day is just a nice break to me now, and I've learned to enjoy the few days in August that I'm not working. This summer was a little more difficult than usual to give up because my kids seemed to enjoy each other's company so much, much of the time. Maybe it helped that Paige was gone for several weeks, and maybe they realized that their remaining summers together are numbered. Whatever the reason, there wasn't much arguing and there was even an occasional hug...OK, the hugs were usually a little exaggerated performances for their parents, but at least they weren't hitting each other.
I knit a lot this summer, but I kind of feel like I don't have much to show for it. I finished my Friday Harbor Socks from Knitting on the Road. I think they're really pretty and look forward to the days when it's not a thousand degrees outside, and I can consider wearing them.

I've also knit one Brigid sock with some beautiful lilac yarn
from Hill Country Yarns I was in their sock club this year but, I didn't like the pattern they sent with it. I love the yarn though. Once again, I don't expect to be wearing these socks any time soon...especially since I woke up to discover this.....Our little girl beagle is just lucky she's so cute because I was very unhappy!
I've also been working on my Bear Claw pillow. I'm knitting the back in garter stitch, which is very boring, but I didn't see the point of working so hard on the back of a pillow. I've never had to weave so many end in before, and it was a pain!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Humboldt County Fair

In the twenty years that my parents have lived in Humboldt County, we have missed the Humboldt County Fair two times, once because I was eight and a half months pregnant with Kai, and once because I had a chance to make way too much money teaching a week-long computer class for teachers.

The kids have toned down their midway activities, but they still love climbing the rock wall and riding the ferris wheel. ...and visiting the cow barn.

...and watching a horse race or two. Russ ruined his horse-betting winning streak this year. He's only bet on the horses a couple of times, and won every time. He was nine dollars ahead over the last twenty years. You can't see the horse he bet on in this picture because he is way too far behind the others to be in the picture! Really! Mmmmm. Lesson learned.

Of course, my favorite place to visit is the domestic arts building. I was a little disappointed in the knits this year. They covered up the items with the entry cards. I didn't even bother taking a picture of the socks because you could barely see them. I did like the little pink sweater and bear though.