Monday, February 16, 2009


I could entitle half of my posts as "ramdomness," but I feel particularly random in my focus today. I had a lot of fun knitting my little Valentine hearts during the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day, but I did do some other knitting too. I worked on Paige's sweater quite a bit. Yes, it's the same Karabella Aurora 8 yarn that I bought back in October or November. I really think I have the right pattern this time. It's a pattern I downloaded off of Webs for $1.95 called the taconic V-neck pullover. It's a simple pattern with a pretty cable down the center.The back is just stockinettee stitch, so it was easy to complete. I should finish the entire sweater just about the time the weather starts hitting the eighties.

Some days my kids come home from swim practice starving. I'll be lying on the couch, and Kai will frantically ask, "What's for dinner??" I'll turn to Russ, who will then proceeded to make us a "tan" meal, which entails battered fish, the kind from the yellow box, mashed potatoes, the kind from another box, corn, and possibly sourdough bread. No one is particularly excited about consuming all of this starch, but it's fast and easy, and beggers can't be choosers. Tonight, my kids came through the door, and I had streaming bowls of Ina Gartner's italian Wedding Soup waiting for them. I saw her make it last week on "The Barefoot Contessa." It was easy and decidedly not starchy. Yay for me! Oh and to top it off, Paige came hom with a friend who loved the soup too and now thinks that my kids must have such a wonderful culinary existence with a working mother who doesn't let occupational exhaustion interfer with the preparation of tasty meals....Taco Bell tomorrow? Possibly.

These pictures have nothiing to do with knitting either, other than this is what our yard looked like a week ago. It was wonderful and very cozy to sit inside by the fire and knit for the two hours that it snowed. We had the day off from school, so it was the perfect addition to a great day. Kai went up to the hills behind our hourse with some friends to sled. He tried to leave in his shorts, but I stopped him. What a Californian!

Italian Wedding Soup

for meatball:
3/4 lb. ground chicken
1/2 chicken sausage, casings removed
2/3 fresh white bread crumbs
2 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. minced parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp. milk
1 large egg

For the soup:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 chopped celery
10 cups chicken stock (Of, course, Ina used homemade)
1/ 2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta
1/4 cup minced fresh dill (I didn't have this, so I used a Tbsp. dried)
12 oz. chopped fresh spinach


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, milk, eggs, salt, and pepper. Form into meatballs and bake on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large soup pot, and add onion, carrots, and celery. Saute until softened for about five minutes. Add chicken stock and wine, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 6 to 8 minutes. Add dill and spinach and cook another minute or two. Add meatballs and serve with a little gratd Parmesan.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

There are just a few hours of Valentine's Day left, but I thought I'd post the little bag I knit today. I used the heart pattern from Monika's Scarves from the Heart pattern. I put some wonderful-smelling Soap Opera soap in it to give to a friend. It will be late as a Valentine's present, but that's OK.I was really lazy most of the day, but I finally rallied and worked in the yard a little. Then, I came in and fixed Russ and me a cheese and spinach souffle. It was pretty good. Why shouldn't it have been when it had a 1/2 cup of Parmesan and a cup of cheddar in it; plus, a little chevre. It was bascially a Cook's Illustrated recipe, but I improvised enough to feel like I can share it.

Cheese and Spinach Souffle

1/4 cup Parmesan
4 Tbsp. butter
1 shallot, minced
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup Gouda or Cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of dried thyme
3 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup spinach chopped

Prehear oven to 350 degrees. Butter a souffle dish with 1 Tbsp. butter and 1/2 of the Parmesan and set aside.

Saute shallot in 3 Tbsp. butter for about two minutes until shallot softens. Add 3 Tbsp. flour and whisk until smooth, about a minute. Add milk a little at a time until mixture begins to thicken, about a minute. Remove from heat and add eggs yolks, mustard, nutmeg, salt/pepper, thyme and cheese. Set aside.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar with a handmixer until egg whites form stiff peaks. Fold into egg yolk mixture a little at a time.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Tiny Knitting

Whenever Paige is supposed to be working on AP Biology or Math Analysis homework (new name for Trigonometry and Calculus combined), she'll often tell me that she thinks she has A.D.D. I'm not the person for her to say that to because I think that A.D.D. is basicially a term made up by American doctors so that they can pump more drugs into our kids. I know that there are kids who have a hard time concentrating, but the answer is usually that they need more exercise, a more whoesome diet, and fewer distractions from things like computers. Paige wouldn't be distracted if she didn't have Facebook or My Space open behind the screen that she's supposedly doing homework on. Just like I would have her sweater done weeks ago if I didn't have the urge to check out my friends' blogs all of the time instead of knitting. This morning I found this video on One Day at a Time, a blog that I'd never visited before but was on Wool Winder's links. My kids never read Coraline, and are kind of old for the movie, but I think I might go, just for the knitting.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Hack, Hack, Sneeze, Sneeze

I have about a gazillion sick days, most of which I accumulated during a long stretch ten years ago or so when we got paid fifty bucks for each of our ten yearly sick days ifwe didn't use a single one of them during the year. That practice has long since gone by the wayside, which is fine because fifty bucks is not enough money to bribe me into going to work if I'm not feeling up to it. I do take an occasional "mental health" day, but not very often, and I hardly ever am too sick to go to work. This week was different. I was kind of tired last Thursday, and I just felt like I needed a break, so I carefully planned ahead of time and took the day off. I guess I shouldn't have played hookey because I've been sick ever since, really sick, the kind of sick that you just sleep all day and feel like you're making a huge effort if you get up to get your own glass of water. Mostly my head hurt and I had/have a lot of chest congestion with a painful cough. Poor Kai had it even worse; he had the congestion and stomach flu. I kind of did a "every other day" work week, but I really should have stayed home the entire week. I sounded pitiful when I tried to talk, which, of course, is pretty important for an English teacher to be able to do. Kai seems to be almost back to normal and even made it to swim practice on Friday, but I'm still not feeling great. How sad to have all of the open time and not even feel like knitting. I did knit one more little heart though.
And during one of my rallies, I practiced crochet cast-ons with a picot edge. I knit a little hat, which is probably too little even for a newborn, but it was fun.

My biggest accomplishment of the week was a
Calorimetry for Paige. I didn't know if she'd like it that much, but she says she wants more of them now. That shoud help allay my guilt for not finishing her sweater that I started for her in November.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

What I've Learned This Week

  • I've learned that felting is kind of fun, but it's also probably a huge waste of water and energy in a front load washer because I had to put this hot pad, which I discovered on Purl Bee's blog though an "express" cycle at least three times to get it to felt, and even then you can still see some of the stitches.
  • I learned that it's also probably not a good idea to use really fuzzy red yarn with not-so-fuzzy cream yarn if you're going to felt. It didn't exactly bleed, but it sure did "fuzz" onto the cream.
  • I learned that you can make mistakes in your knitting when you plan to felt, and it doesn't matter because you can't see that much stitch definition even when you do use a front load washer.

  • I like knitting hearts. I found this pattern on ravelry, and it's fun and pretty easy, just a ittle fiddly at the beginning and end.
  • I've learned that it's fun to prepare to celebrate little holdiays like Valentine's Day if you ignore the sappy, materialistic corporate barrage of commercials. I knit these little hearts, and I'm going to knit more of them and just give them to people I like...and keep some for myself too!

  • I've learend that bugging Russ to build stuff for me doesn't work and that I should just let him know what I'd like him to do and patiently wait because it's always worth it. He started this "built-in" bookcase a couple of days ago, and I'm going to love it. Mmmm what knitting-related items can I display on the top?

  • Finally, I learned that even though I live in a dusty, oil town that can be the most misterable place in the world during the summer and is pretty much lacking in any culture whatsoever, I'm happy and proud to call it home. I've never hated it here; My husband and I make a good living, which gives us a lot of freedom, and we've always known that we were lucky to live in a nice neighborhood with good friends all around. In these two weeks since Shaye's funeral though, I realized just how deep that "friend" pool is here. The night I wrote my post about Shaye, over two hundred people (mostly kids) showed up in front of her parents' house and laid hundreds of roses around a tree in their front yard, then they quietly left to go to one of two homes of fellow teachers who had opened their doors so that the kids would have a place to grieve and be comforted together. The principal of our high school let school out an hour early so that our students could more easily attend the funeral, and he drove a van full of kids home from school early that day so that the regular bus drivers could attend the funeral. Over 1200 people attended the funeral--that's in a town with a populaiton of just over 20,000. There are all kinds of other "good" things that I could write about, but I think I'm finished. It's still a horrific thing, as Paige says, "It's so terrible, I don't want to go there most of the time." But, life is going on. My friends have returned to work.. at the same high school their daughter attended, and, as I said earlier, I've learned that I live in a place surrounded with wonderful, caring people.
  • Oh! And I didn't need to "learn" this because I already knew it, but it was also reinforced for me, just how kind the people I've gotten to "know" through blogging are. Thank you for all of your kind and supportive words.