Thursday, December 30, 2010

Merry Christmas Swap to Me!

My friend Julie and I did a Christmas Swap last Christmas based on our love of books and knitting. Julie's gift put mine to shame although I did like my idea of using Little Women. She based hers on A Christmas Carol and included lots of goodies besides yarn to knit a beautiful shawl. I promised myself that this year I would show her up, planning way ahead and thoughtfully buying little items to supplement my book and yarn choices months what did I end up sending two days AFTER Christmas??--My swap box for Julie. I did plan ahead and bought some items in November, but I couldn't mange to send the box on time. Shame on me again.

She, on the other hand, was punctual and once again left me practically breathless! She chose the book The Mitten, which happens to be one of my favorites. I'll admit to having an old, worn copy with chew marks on the spine from when Gidget was a puppy, and besides, that book was Paige or Kai's, not mine. Her yarn-related item was something I've been coveting since I saw it last year, a "mitten" advent calendar pattern and cushy Knit Picks yarn in rich, Christmas colors. Love, love, love it! As further evidence that Julie is the best giver ever, she also sent a beautiful Polish pottery coffee cup. I am a coffee snob. I don't drink "fu-fu" pretend coffee; I drink bold coffee specially ground and brewed for me by my husband every morning and usually every afternoon.

I savor those two cups each day. I used to have a pottery cup that somehow made my coffee taste even better, but it got broken. My Starbucks coffee cup, which I've used ever since, just hasn't ever measured up. It feels "cold." Now, I once again have a coffee cup to truly enjoy. This morning, I spent a relaxing (like I haven't been relaxing most of the last week and a half) hour drinking coffee, eating treats from Julie, and looking at a cheerful Baba ornament that she also included in our swap.

In other news...I'm kind of finished whining about Lyric Tree. I still think the pattern is confusing and over-priced, but the tree is pretty cool, and Paige loves it so far. I have to re-knit the sleeves because they're too long, but I'm feeling optimistic that I will actually finish it, and that Paige will actually wear it...that is, if it gets cold enough. She's outside "laying out" right now. It's probably only sixty degrees outside, but that better than being stuck in a blizzard!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away...Just Yet

I live in Central California, which means that we often have fewer than ten inches of rain a year. Heck, I remember years, when we've had less than four or five. This weekend alone, it has rained over three inches. What a wonderful way to begin my Christmas vacation, with an excuse to stay inside and do nothing other than read and knit! Now, for Russ, Paige, and me, reading isn't out of the ordinary, but catching Kai with a book is a little  rare sight. This may have something to do with him being told he couldn't play "World of Warcraft" until he'd read for an hour, but it still made me happy. He's reading A Christmas Carol, which Julie gave me last year as part of our Christmas swap. I've been reading and enjoying Chocolat and The Lost Art of Reading, and have about five other books sitting by the couch, tempting me.
I had finals last week, which for some stupid reason I thought would mean I would have more free time. I had a party of some kind every night and was pretty busy with school stuff still, but I did get one more set of my little mittens completed. My snowflakes on them are a little wonky, but who said snowflakes had to be perfect.

My most recent knitting project hasn't been too positive. Paige hasn't generally shown much interest in having me knit her anything, so when she said that she wanted me to knit her a sweater, I was excited. I had her browse through Ravelry to find something, hopefully something free. I wasn't too excited when she showed me her choice. It was called Lyric Tree, and it looked kind of "messy" to me, too unstructured. Of course, it was also $8, and the yarn cost $100....and I stupidly went ahead and bought it as part of her Christmas present. If I'd written this post this morning, I would have had to include a couple of cuss words to continue, but I've had a bit of a breakthrough after hours of re-reading the directions and pouring over forums and comments about it. I'd say that at least half of the people have had some of the same troubles I've had. I've decided that the designer is probably talented but inexperienced. She doesn't use standard knitting abbreviations and hasn't included a chart. The tree pattern is really pretty, and maybe I'll be happy with the finished product, but I'm apprehensive about it.  If I had trouble understanding her directions for simple cables, I hate to think what's going to happen once I get to the armhole and neck shaping.

Oh, and besides all of that, Kitty keeps sleeping on it every time I lay it down. Actually, I don't mind that. I think she's cute.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Baking...and More Knitting

A friend gave me her Napa Style catalog a couple of weeks ago, and besides wanting almost everything in it, I found more evidence that knitting isn't diminishing in popularity. I love these little wine bottle toppers. 

I don't need to pay $20 apiece for my "winter apparel" for my wine bottles though.  I used a mini-mittens pattern from Ravelry, to make my own, and I'm pretty happy with the result. I may try to go a little smaller next time. My wine bottle definitely needs a hat, as well!

Besides knitting, I've been spending a lot of time baking. I have had the same sourdough starter since last spring, and I'm almost obsessed with it. I take it out of the fridge and sniff it, ask anyone who's around to sniff it, feed it on a regular basis, and am constantly experimenting with it. The bread above is just simple sourdough bread. I don't even use a recipe anymore for bread like it. It's just starter, flour, and salt, but it's still really good.

A lot of sourdough recipes take a long time to finish but you can ignore it most of the time, so it's not as bad as one might think. This bread was an olive/rosemary bread that was from Sourdough Home. It was so good. I used Santa Barbara Olive Co. calamata olives, which come in a delicious marinade, so I think my bread was probably better than the original recipe.

Hungry family members got to these rolls before I could take a picture. I made these rolls twice last week, by starting the "sponge" when I came home for lunch. I only have about twenty minute, so it didn't take much time to get it started. Sourdough takes longer to rise than regular yeast bread, of course, so it worked out perfectly for me to come home from school and shape my rolls, let them rise another couple of hours, and bake them.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Good-Bye Thanksgiving!

We got an entire week off for Thanksgiving, and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. I did have quite a bit of grading to do, but I got a lot of it over with early in the week. What a typical whiney thing for a teacher to mention! In between cooking, baking, and reading, I, of course, knit. I had some beautiful wool from Maine that a friend bought for me last summer, and I've been looking for the perfect pattern to knit it into since it was very special. I decided to knit the Cherry Leaf Scarf, which I found on Ravelry. It was such a nice pattern to sit and knit while watching movies or just listening to NPR.

I wore it to church this morning and felt somewhat lovely, even though I feel like scarves kind of accentuate my chubbiness, which is not something I'm very happy about currently. It kind of hid my double-chin though, so that was nice. What would be even better would be to get rid of my double-chin, so I'm heading down to the workout room with Paige and Kai to try to "skinni-fy" myself for the umpteenth time in my life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Still Knitting a Little

I had a goal this year to try to blog at least one day more each month than I did last year. I've done pretty well, but I missed my October goal, and it's unlikely that I'll get seven posts completed this month, considering that the month is nearly over.  Jay Jay at Trouble with Trebles had a post last month about blogs, talking about how so many people are not into blogger as they were several years ago. I remember being so excited to discover the world of knitting blogs four year ago, and I've been a little sad to see so many people give it up. I understand, especially for people who put a lot of effort into their blogs, that there's a little pressure to have something of interest posted regularly.  I'm still not entirely sure why I blog, mostly as a craft journal I guess. I really don't have any idea how many people read my blog, but I do feel a little pressure not to be too boring, and when I feel boring, I definitely don't want to blog. Case in point, this month hasn't been any busier than my normal, somewhat hectic life, but I've been uninspired, writing-wise. I blame elegant empire. I just didn't enjoy knitting it, and I'm not happy with my finished product. It was way too big after I blocked it, and then I decided to shrink it a little, which only worked out OK. It looks kind of cute on Paige, but she's not interested in it. Oh! and I forgot to make the button hole in the band, and I'm sure as heck not going back and fixing it. I almost don't feel like blogging about it now, but I'm going to, and then I'll give it to the Goodwill and forget about it.

I did have fun with my little felt ornaments this month from Prairie Point Junction. I still have them up even though Halloween is long gone. I can justify the apple and pumpkin ones, but maybe I'm being a little eccentric keeping the ghosts, black cat, and Jack O'Lantern up.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Time to Re-Group

Sooo, it was the end of the quarter at my high school last week, and even after nearly twenty-five years, it almost did me in. If teachers, English teachers, at least, are honest, they will admit that they cannot possibly accomplish half of what's expected of them by administrators, most of the time. Strike that, most administrators don't care much about actual education, so the real problem is that teachers with a conscience, who want to truly educate their students, have to balance real teaching with fulfilling often mindless, time-consuming, state requirements. Most of time, I do pretty well with keeping my sanity, but this week, I didn't. I took today off, and I feel much better. When I was a little kid, I loved Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes." I keep expecting someone with authority to say about the current educational testing culture, ".. they have nothing on at all," but that will never happen because the "tailors" out there in education-land are making a fortune pretending that they're weaving cloth when they're actually full of crap.

On a happy note, it looks like our doggie may make it after all. You can see in the picture how his legs were shaven for his I.V.s.  His eyes are still bloodshot, but he's himself otherwise: lazy, ornery, and hungry much of the time. I really did appreciate the good thoughts that so many of my blogging buddies sent my way when I was so worried about him.

I've been working elegant empire sweater intermittently in the past couple of weeks, and I've felt a little apprehensive as I've come closer to finishing the second side. There was just something about the left side that didn't seem right. I figured out why I was feeling that this afternoon. Finishing the right side, I tried to match up the two sides of the back, and I realized that they don't match up. I'm off by at least ten stitches. I don't know what I did, but there's some unraveling in my future. Ravelry knitters rate this as an easy sweater, but I guess I'm just not careful enough. Oh well, when "knitting failure" happens, I look for quick success--a bunny. I called my last bunny a little amateurish, but I'd be falsely modest if I said that about this one. I love it. I used Julie's head pattern from her little Easter bunnies egg cozies, but I used Barbara Prime's  bunny pattern for the body and legs, with a few of my own alterations. This is the most satisfied that I've been with any of my bunnies. Now, I guess I better get to unraveling.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Back to School--Cooking School, That is

I got up at 6:30 this morning, a Saturday, and drove an hour to Bakersfield College. That's quite an accomplishment for someone who hates starting her Saturday's too early. I'm going to take pastry classes at the Levan Center at B.C. for six weeks. Bakersfield College offers a degree in cooking, but our class is more for people who are interested in enrichment. A friend of mine, who loves cooking like I do, is taking the class with me, and we had a fun time. All six sessions are just $130. My cooking friends and I have spent $80 for one session several times in Los Angeles. After our orientation, we made some "Peanut Butter 'n Jelly Thumbprint" cookies. I would categorize myself as a pretty good cookie baker, but today I learned how much I had to learn. First of all, "Chef Ray" reinforced something that I already knew, that your ingredients should all be at room temperature. Secondly, he taught us another thing I also kind of knew, that when you add your flour mixture to your wet ingredients that you should just barely mix them together.  As I say, I knew these things, but I have rarely adhered to them. I think I will try to from now on because these were some of the best cookies I've ever baked. I learned some other neat stuff, but I'll share the recipe instead of rambling on too long.

Peanut Butter 'n Jelly Thumbprints

3/4 cup Chunky homey-roasted peanut butter, divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup jam or jelly
1 egg

1. In a large bowl, comgine 1/2 cup peanut butter, the sugars, butter, and egg. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat at low speed until soft dough forms. cover with plastic wrap. chill 3 to 4 hours, or until firm. (We didn't chill our dough, and our cookies were perfect.)

2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Shape dough in 1-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Indent top of each cookie with thumb. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until set.

3. Immediately indent cookies again. Spoon 1/2 tsp. each of jelly and remaining peanut butter into each thumbprint. Cool completely before storing

I still have not knitting to show off. I've been working on my elegant empire pretty steadily, and continue to make no progress, as I am still unraveling mistakes. I'm not discouraged really, but it has put me in the mood for some instant gratification. I made this little pumpkin ornament from Prairie Point Junction this afternoon. I'm planning to make six or seven of them and hang them from our mantle this month.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Eternal Conflict

It's the eternal knitter's struggle--to knit or to read. It seems to me that most knitters I know are a bit on the introverted, or at least introspective, side. Those two characteristics also seem to go hand-in-hand with loving books. But, I'm not one of those people who can knit and read at the same time, so I have to balance two of my favorite activities. Sometimes, I'll go months without reading a book because I'm so hooked on a knitting project, but I've been quite a reader lately, which means that my knitting has gotten marginalized at times. I just had to laugh today passing by a little rabbit head that I started last week, sitting on my stack of books, waiting for a body  I'm in the middle of two of  books right now, Kitchen Confidential and The Hundred-Foot Journey.  Kitchen Confidential isn't mine; it's a friend of mine's, who got it signed by Anthony Bourdain when he came to Bakersfield this summer. Our book club is reading A Dog's Purpose, but I haven't started it yet. I was too busy reading Because of the Lockwoods by Dorothy Whipple, which I discovered after re-reading  The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket.  She has a list of "cozy" books to read, and Because of the Lockwoods was on it. I haven't enjoyed a book like that for a long time. It was a fairly simple plot, and the ending wasn't completely satisfying, but I still really enjoyed its "British-ness,"and when I finally plow through this stack, I may have to order another Dorothy Whipple book.
Our beagle, Rowdy is still not doing too well.  I have pretty much felt like he's not going to make it for the past couple of weeks. I would describe myself as a realist, but the rest of the world might say that I'm a pessimist. He just looks so sad and has lost quite a bit of weight. I am, however, married to an optimist, so he, of course, went to the library to try to figure out for himself what was wrong with his dog since three different vets don't seem to be able to figure it out. Kitty is trying to keep positive too and learn, by osmosis, what to do for Rowdy. Maybe with the two of them working together, there's hope.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bunnies Again!

I went through a  long period where I was practically obsessed with Julie's bunnies at Little Cotton Rabbit. I tried  innumerable times to buy one, but I finally gave up. I'd be ready to buy one at exactly the time she said she'd post them for sale, and I still wouldn't get one. I still love her bunnies though, and I always try to imitate her style. Her faces are so expressive, and I never feel like I give my bunny faces the personality that she gives hers. I was so excited last year when she published her Easter egg cozy pattern, thinking that finally I'd have the secret to her perfection. Her pattern is good, but I still don't feel like my bunnies measure up. Mine aren't terrible, but they look like everyone else's who tries copy Julie, a little amateurish. 

The baby shower was this afternoon, and I think that my friend, who is a knitter, was pleased. I spent the morning busily knitting to finish "her," watching The Natural History of the Chicken on Netflix, which my friend, Rani, suggested I would like after my post about Sweet Grass. She was right. I did like it a lot, even though I met with even more disinterest from my family when I suggested that they should watch it with me.

I have mentioned quite a few times lately that I don't need any more yarn,  for like...forever, but that doesn't mean I don't love getting some, especially when it's a gift. One of my good friends is from Maine, and when she went home this summer, she bought me this hall of yarn. I knew that she'd gotten me some yarn, but I didn't expect so much. I did kind of know that if it was from Maine, it was going to be nice. The color is my very favorite, and it feels luxurious. The fingering weight yarn is from Res Naturae Yarns. The handspun doesn't have a "company" name on it, but it's Romney wool and my hands feel just wonderful fondling it because of all of the lanolin. What a wonderful gift!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The problem with having a beagle is that sometimes it's hard to tell if they're feeling bad since unless they're getting offered a cookie or about to go on a walk, their normal expression is pretty much a "hang dog" one. Our seven-year-old beagle, Rowdy seemed a little more lethargic than usual a couple of weeks ago, and one day when I came home from work, he didn't even get up to greet me, which is way out of character. Russ took to him to the vet and brought him back heavily sedated, with three prescriptions, and no definitive answer from the vet about what was wrong with him.  Nearly $1,000 later, a three-day stay at the animal hospital, and quite a few evenings of tearfully knitting, of course, thinking Rowdy was done for, the vets now think it was not "Valley Fever, cancer, Cushing's Disease, or a tumor. They think it was a really bad infection of unknown origin, and that he should completely recover. We're still not totally convinced, but he does seem much better and even has taken to lying in his favorite position on his back. Our nephew's fiance, who was in a car crash seven months ago and had been in a coma ever since, died during the middle of our dog woes. Such a true tragedy quickly put our dog worries in perspective.  Still, we  do love our lazy, old beagle so much, and it's been hard being in limbo about his health...O.K, and shelling out so much money.
The nice thing about knitting is that it's the perfect activity no matter what's going on in your daily life. I'm still trudging along with my elegant empire sweater, but I needed a mindless project just to pick up too. I knit this little "paper bag" hat from Susan Anderson's Itty Bitty Hats last week. It's for a friend who just adopted a baby girl last month. It seems kind of big, but cute. The picot edge is knitted, which I've never done before. I'm not sure I like it as well as crocheted, but I'm satisfied overall.

My family generally respects my knitting obsession, which extends to loving sheep; but even they had to make fun of me for the movie that I found on Netflix last week. I just happened upon it. Sweetgrass is documentary about sheep ranchers. It has no narration or music, just the sound of sheep "baaing" and cowboys cussing, and it was wonderful. So far, I haven't been able to entice any members of my family to watch it with me, but I would watch it again if they would. It obviously appeals to a fairly narrow audience, but I loved it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Progress with Elegant Empire

So, I got Paige, my busy college student, to slow down enough to model my elegant empire sweater for me.  It has been moving along nicely after several missteps. It's one thing messing up a sock and unraveling it, and quite another messing up and having to unravel twenty rows of almost two hundred stitches, but I'm hanging in there. The construction is really different, knitting the left side, sleeve and back; and then the right side, sleeve, and back. I'm not entirely sure that I see where this is going, but I think I get it.

As happens every year, knitting has become all the more attractive to me since my time for it is dwindling away. I have a nice schedule at school, but have greedily agreed to teach two online college course again, so I have a lot of grading to do each week. I'm OK as long as I don't get sick. Come to think of it, my throat is a little scratchy. Better go take a couple of Vitamin C and go to bed...after one more row.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Something New!

I have always loved browsing through the Garn Studio website. I love all of the free patterns they have available there, like the little baby jacket  I was working on in June. Russ, Paige, and I drove over to the coast to get apples yesterday and decided that since Kai wasn't along to insist on a carnivorous restaurant that we would eat at Big Sky in San Luis Obispo. It's on Broad St., but there weren't any parking places right by the restaurant, so we headed to our favorite place to park behind the Mission on Monterey St. I noticed a new store straight ahead of us that said Nordic Mart and told Russ and Paige that I wanted to go check it out after we had eaten, thinking I'd be browsing through some quaint "Solvang-y" type shop. I was happily wrong! It's a knit shop, and not just any knit shop. It's the Nordic Mart website retail shop, and it's wonderful. Famous mantra of all knitters - "I didn't need any yarn, but..." I bought some purple alpaca yarn's purple alpaca yarn! And I bought some cotton to make a baby hat for a friend who just adopted a baby a couple of weeks ago.
The owner is from Sweden and is as nice as they come. I had a little stilted conversation with her in Danish. I usually jump at the chance to speak to someone in Danish. Why? To show off, of course. That's not exactly it, but I love having those little conversations. I think I've shared before that I must have a pretty good accent because I'll say a couple of simple things to a Dane, and they take off jabbering to me, and then I'm lost. I used to be fairly fluent, but I'm back to the basics now. Fortunately, we just had a short conversation which covered that she liked Danes and Denmark and how I had come to know Danish, so I didn't embarrass myself....I think. At least, I don't think I said something like, "This pig is a lovely color," or something like that.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just a Little Knitting

I always have a hard time getting motivated in August. It's always mercilessly hot, and I know that there's really no chance for a break for at least another month. That means that I usually don't accomplish much knitting during August. I'm running true to form pretty much this year. I did knit this pair of fingerless gloves on the long trip home from Humboldt County a couple of weeks ago. It's a free pattern from The Giving Flower. I'd kind of forgotten about it. I think she posted it like three years ago. I altered the cable a little bit, but I really like her directions for the thumb gusset. I also loved this yarn.  I got it from Rani last spring. I think it was from Woolgirl yarns, and I really liked working with it. I may even have enough to make another pair.

Yawn! It' just after seven o'clock, and I'm about ready for bed. I've been trying to go to bed early all of this week since I started school on Monday, but I'm still pretty wiped out. Oh well, I'll adjust.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Actual Knitting Narrative

Gingerbread Mansion on Berding St. in Ferndale
I remember reading somewhere that Meg Swanson had written something to the effect that she was envious of new knitters beginning their "knitting adventure." For some reason, I thought it seemed like a silly comment at the time,  but as I've gotten older, I've really understood what she was saying as far as the big picture goes and, of course, with knitting. It is exciting to discover something new, and that exciting feeling of "newness" can't be replicated. On the other hand, I still love traditions and going back to old haunts, remembering past experiences there.
Fleener Creek Trail, down to the beach which is less than a mile south of Centerville.

Visiting the town of Ferndale is one of those things for me. We always have to drive by the Gingerbread Mansion, walk the cemetery hill, buy a Moo Bar at Sweetness and Light Candy Company, drive out to Centerville Beach, and I, of course, have to visit Foggy Bottom Yarns.  The shop has moved to a to a "sunnier" location on Main St., and the owner, Jacquie Ramirez only sells knitting items instead of antiques as she has for years. She is always helpful and attentive although you think that she might remember me since I've been going there every year for at least the last fifteen years. I bought a couple of skeins of Cascade yarn there, not that I needed any yarn at all or that Cascade isn't one of the most ubiquitous brands around. It just wasn't quite enough for me  simply to browse even though I've had a pretty solid moratorium on yarn buying for most of this year.
I plied Kai with Mt. Dew so that Paige and I could go and yarn shop while Russ dozed in the car.

I'm not over the excited feeling I get if I found out about a new yarn shop during our travels, but I'm also willing to forgo going to every single one since family resistance can be quite extreme at times. Yesterday, however, I couldn't resist stopping at a shop that practically landed right in my lap. We're were walking down 2nd Street in Eureka on our way for our perfunctory once-a-year lunch at Hurricane Kate's when I passed by a sign that said Knittery. I figured that I would finagle a little time there after we ate. So, we walked on to Hurricane Kate's, and had a delicious lunch, complete with French press coffee.
We were a little disappointed that they didn't include  brown sugar-sugar cubes as they have every other year, but still heavenly

I've been to a lot of knitting shops, but this one seemed a little different, lots of higher end yarns, not super expensive, just nice! I repeat: I've been on a yarn diet, and haven't even felt tempted to buy any yarn for months and month. I started out by picking up a pastel skein of Louisa Harding angora yarn to knit some baby booties for a friend at work who's having a baby, but then I saw a cardigan sweater sample that was too good to pass up; and, of course, I had to buy the suggested yarn to knit it with, soooo, I had a bit of a splurge. Strike that. I had a splurge and a half.

The pattern is called Elegant Empire, and I don't think the picture does the pattern justice.  Hempwol comes in so many pretty colors, and I'm slightly apprehensive about the color I chose, not like blue isn't appealing. I'm just not sure it was the best choice. I would have preferred plum, but they didn't have enough of it. As I was checking out, I saw their  flyer for upcoming knitting workshops. There was man in a photo who looked very familiar. It was Franklin Habit, author of The Panoptican, which I don't read regularly but enjoy when I do. Then I had to do a double-take because the guy helping me looked an awful lot like Franklin Habit. "OMG! Franklin Habit has moved to the North Coast and I'm buying yarn from him!" Glad I didn't say anything stupid, because I suddenly had the realization that middle-aged white women might just think that all bald, gay, yarn-loving guys look alike.The nice man helping me didn't look like Franklin that much after all. Anyway, I think it's very exciting that they're having Franklin Habit come to their store, and I felt just a little more hip for having bought stuff there, and I wish I could be there this fall to take a class.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Last Hurrah

For as long we've had kids, we've always waited until the end of summer vacation to go up to my parents' home in Northern California. The main reason was to make sure that we would be able to go to the Humboldt County Fair at least one time. That tradition has been railroaded, however, by my school schedule, which has been set back a week earlier, so that my first day back at work coincides with the first day of the fair. I see on the website that Guy Fieri will be at the fair on the opening day, which also makes me just a tiny bit sad. He's not my favorite T.V. food personality, but I'd still go see him, and he is from Ferndale, which is kind of cool. (That he's from Ferndale, not  that Ferndale is kind of cool; Ferndale is way cool!)
So, this is our second year of missing the fair, but we're managing to enjoy the North Coast, ha, ha. There are just a few other things to enjoy up here. We had an array of de rigueur activities, but this year we  strayed from tradition and made a stop in Fort Bragg, where my runner partner , Diane and her husband, just happened to be staying there for a week of abalone diving and relaxing with her extended in-laws. We splurged and stayed at a hotel right on the beach and then met Aron and Diane for breakfast at Eggheads in Fort Bragg. It was a tiny place, but really, really good. Russ's egg benedict with tequila lime hollandaise sauce probably took a few years off of his life, but he would say it was worth it. Delicious!

View out our hotel window.

Not great a great picture, but the scenery itself is perfect.
We hadn't been to Fort Bragg with the kids that I can remember. It's 20 miles off of the hwy we take to get to Fortuna--20 miles that takes a good hour to cover. Usually, by the time we get to the turn off for Fort Bragg, we've been driving for nine or ten hours, and have no desire to add onto our time. But, we're glad we did it this time. If you like overcast weather with beautiful coastlines, which we do; it's perfect.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Accomplishments

5 trips to the beach - I started the summer with a long girls' weekend at my friend's beach house, followed by one pretty successful camping trip and three very successful day trips with my family. Visits to knitting or craft shops are not usually on the agenda when I'm with Russ or the kids although Russ doesn't mind if he can browse around in a nearby bike shop while I'm exploring. Paige went with us on our last trip the day before my birthday on the 23rd. Our first stop was in Arroyo Grande, where Paige and I purchased these cute little fat quarter packages at The Quilt Attic. Let's see, that's been over a week ago, and they're still just decorating my sofa table. I do have plans for mine, the summerhouse seat cushion from Posy Gets Cozy. The pattern looks really easy and fun. I think Paige is planning on sewing a pillow with hers. Now all I have to do is inspire both of us to actually complete them.

Eight books read - One day this summer. I posted on Facebook that I'd had a wonderful day with Russ - "coffee at our favorite coffee shop, shopping at Lassen's Market (health food store), and a trip to the library where we checked out ten books." Accusations flew from many of our ex-students that we are book that's an astute observation, ha, ha. Most of my reading has been fairly light although I am currently reading a book I've intended to read for years,  A Passage to India, which I'm enjoying quite a lot. Among my lighter reading accomplishments, I just finished The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Shop, which I started a couple of times this spring and just couldn't get finished. I have to admit that I was drawn to it mostly for the cover. II even like the feel of the dust cover. In fact, the copy I read is a friend's, and I may have to go out and buy my own to display on my coffee table. Wait a minute, I don't have a coffee table. Maybe I'll buy one, so that I can display it. I'm kind of over the "knitting" themed books, but I did enjoy the plot of this book and especially the setting, the coast of England. Other than that, it's not exceptional, but I don't think it's supposed to be. I like the author, Gil McNeil's writing better than Debbie Macomber's. Neither one of them are exactly wordsmiths, but their writing is easy to read without making you feel like your brain is atrophying either.

Numerous sourdough pizza crusts baked - I've had a lot of fun with my sourdough starter this summer, and I really can't count how many time we've had pizza dough using it. I went through a phase where I tried to be original; the rosemary - lemon crust, where I added a tablespoon of fresh rosemary and a couple of teaspoons of lemon zest to the dough went over pretty well, On the other hand, the consensus seems to be that my old recipe with just starter, half King Arthur unbleached flour/ half King Arthur bread flour, two tablespoons of olive oil, and two tsp. of salt is the best. Last night I made BBQ chicken pizza, the lazy way with Trader Joe's  BBQ sauce, but Paige and her friend were more adventurous. They used ranch dressing on one half of their pizza with red onions, basil, "fake chicken," and a mix of mozzarella and parmesan cheese. It was everyone's favorite...well, except for Kai.

Knit mindless simple items - I did knit a couple of pairs of socks, one pair that I ended up unraveling, but mostly I've been puttering around with easy knitting projects. I've had fun with felting even though I've had some failure. Two of my ex-students brought me a pink gerber daisy on my birthday, so I had to knit the pot a little cover with the last of some Lopi yarn I've had for almost twenty years. I'm almost embarrassed to post my other recent accomplishment, one little coaster. I used an "applique heart" pattern from Nicky Epstein's Knitted Embellishments I knit it mostly to see if the yarn would felt, which it kind of did.

I could brag about other non-knitting related summer accomplishments like:
  • playing at least fifty one hundred games of ping pong on our ping pong table that Russ bought for $10 from our neighbors, and which I chastised him for wasting money by buying
  • watching almost every episode of all nine seasons of Anthony Bourdain:No Reservations on Netflix,
  • spending endless hours outside willing my tomatoes and zucchini to ripe and trying to find the perp who keeps eating my basil
  • taking two-hour naps nearly everyday
  • going to a farmer's market almost every week

...but that would make it seem like I'm a boring person, and I don't want to admit that.