Saturday, January 30, 2010


OK, That feels better. I'm not ready to start over just yet, but I will.....I think.


A friend at work and I have had this ongoing conversation about success. We've noticed with our students that almost invariably it's tenacity that makes them successful, not intellectual superiority. I've had many really bright kids who were quitters, and quite a few kids with seemingly average IQs with so much drive and willingness to work through failures that they became excellent. Success is messy, but tenacious people work through it. My friend and I have both been married to our spouses a long time, he for over thirty and me for twenty-five, and we've also talked about how difficult some stages of ostensibly good marriages can be. I think that many of  the problems in solid, long-time marriages are often not that different from the problems in failed ones, except that the people in successful marriages choose to stick with it during and after the trying stages. They keep with it despite how messy (within reason)  the past might have been.

So, here's my knitting connection. I will often chuck bad knitting even if I have a lot of time invested in it. I'm not happy just patching it up and making do. I'm pretty good about not harping about past, perceived injustices or failures in my marriage. I much prefer to harp on current issues, like "What home improvement Russ "needs"  to be working on today." But, I just can't do that with knitting. I want a clean slate. I just can't overlook  even small imperfections and focus on the overall product. I've made several major mistakes with my current mittens, mistakes that are, of course, near the beginning of my second mitten. More discouraging still, I think that the second mitten is actually the correct one. I forced myself to knit a little on it last night, thinking that maybe I could force myself to finish it, and just accept it as imperfect. I'm unhappy with them. They were intended as a gift. I love the yarn, but I just want to quit. How sad!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lofty Goal?

I don't mind working: I just don't like working ALL of the time. It's so disheartening to have more to do than you can possibly accomplish well. If you're giving everything you've got just to keep your head above water, eventually it seems pointless to try so hard. I periodically find myself overwhelmed by work, which is my fault since I choose to do the extra college classes. Case in point, last semester I had almost 60 students in two college classes I was teaching online. I sometimes felt like I couldn't breath let alone keep up and be creative at home in any way. This semester I have just over 30 students total in both classes. It's so wonderful not to feel guilty just because I'm not working on school stuff every single minute, but I have no intention of filling that void by setting too many goals in some other area of my life.

 I do, however,  have a small resolution concerning my blog. I'm going to try to write at least one more entry per month than I did last year. That's it. As of this post, I've achieved my goal for January. Considering that I had three posts last year, it was fairly easy to achieve. I love low expectations.

I've finished my Wool Peddler' Shawl  from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls this week. I really enjoyed knitting it even though I did have to do a little unraveling several times, which amounted to a lot of stitches once I got to the lace section. It's been an extra special project since my friend Julie at Jewel Tomes gave me the pattern and yarn as part of a Christmas swap. I'm sitting on my couch this minute with it wrapped around me watching An Affair to Remember with Paige. What a perfect Thursday night!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cooking Sometimes Trumps Knitting

Since my family lives in California, Mexican food is a big part of our culinary lives. Few of the recipes we prepare are very "authentic," but the individual ingredients often are: jalapeno, chipotle, and ancho chiles, queso fresco, and avocados, to name a few. I don't know if langostino are authentically Mexican, but if  Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill puts langostino in their burritos and calls them lobster, that's good enough for me. Here's my recipe. The picture doesn't look that appetizing, but the consensus was that they were good!

Lobster Enchiladas

1 pkg langostino (about a pound)
3 Tbsp. lime juice
2 cups prepared brown rice (I use Trader Joe's Frozen brown rice that can be microwaved in 3 min.)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 small can sliced olives
1 small can chopped mild green chiles
1/4 cup chopped chilantro
1 cup  shredded Queso Fresco (I actually used Hanford Jalapeno Jack, which is a locally made Monterey Jack)
1 large can green enchilada sauce.
1 pkg whole wheat burrito-size tortillas

After running langostino under cool water to thaw, place in medium-size bowl and add lime juice. Saute red onion until just translucent. Add to langostino mixture, along with olives, green chiles, cilantro, and 3/4 cup cheese.

Pour about 1/4 cup of enchiladas sauce in the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan. Tear 3 of the tortillas into 3 strips, and line bottom of the pan with them. Add 1/2 of the langostino mixture. Add another layer of tortillas, using 3 more tortillas. Add another layer of langostino mixture, and top with tortillas again. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over tortillas, and top with the rest of the cheese.

Bake for about 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

If Albertson's had had decent looking avocados, we'd have slices a couple of them to put on top when the enchiladas were done, but they didn't, so we had to persevere without avocados.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How to Enjoy a Weekend

I woke up early this morning, which probably had something to do with taking a two hour nap after work yesterday,  I'd guess. I started the day by doing a little knitting on a pair of mittens I've been working on. I can't say much about them because they're a gift, and the recipient reads my blog pretty regularly, but I will say that they're been fun to work on, even though I've had to pay careful attention to the chart most of the time. I'm using Andean silk from Knit Picks, which is very reasonably priced and wonderfully luxurious feeling.

It's so fun having a full uncomplicated day stretched out in front of you. I did a little baking, and then I went out to our orange tree and picked about twenty oranges Our oranges aren't great this year, kind of mealy, but the juice itself it good. I squeezed a nice pitcher of orange juice, which took way longer than I remembered it taking in the past.

 It was well worth it though. (I'm not talking hand squeezed; I used an attachment on my old food processor.) I was so happy with it that I hand delivered some to Paige, who was tanning out in the backyard...yes, tanning. It may start raining tomorrow, but today was the most perfect day I could imagine. Nothing like Central California in January!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Happy New Year!

Without a doubt this has been the most relaxing Christmas vacation my family has had, but we needed it. 2009 was  a good year in many ways, but it wasn't an easy one. We're all ready for a great and a little less stressful 2010. Starting tomorrow, however, the only one napping around here for a while will be kitty, but that's OK, we're ready!

Whenever we have a vacation of any length, I feel some pressure to go, go, go. It is fun to travel and have some adventures, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed this vacation because we didn't do much traveling at all. It gave all of us time to just hang out together, and it gave me time to do my two favorite things--cook and knit. I finished my nephew's Debbie Bliss Cable Yoke sweater without too much trouble inserting the zipper, and for the past week I've been working on my Wool Peddler's Shawl from Folk Shawls. I have loved working on this shawl. I received the pattern and the wool for it in a Christmas Swap with my friend Julie. The swap was Julie's creative idea. We were supposed to use a favorite Christmas scene from a book as our inspiration. Julie used A Christmas Carol, and literally left me speechless with all of the wonderful presents she sent. Besides, candy, a candle, a cup, and Icewine tea, she sent me this pattern, some pretty wool, and a set of gorgeous stitch markers. I didn't need the stitch markers for the first part of the shawl, but I wanted to use them, just to admire them!

I didn't cook as much as I had planned during the past two weeks, but I did have a couple of successful cooking experiences. My brother and sister-in-law sent us a fun book, Ebelskivers. I haven't tried any of the recipes from it yet, but I did make some æbleskivers. I had meant to bake some kringle too, but never got around to it. I did bake some weinerbrød though, which was almost as good.
I used an old copy of From Danish Kitchens which had been my aunt's It's a great book, which is still in print, but my torn-up copy is extra special because it has lots of writing and recipes in the margins.


6 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups lukewarm milk
3 yeast cakes
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter (I used 3/4, but I'll go back to the whole cup next time)
1 tsp. cardamon
1 egg
1/4 cup almonds

Dissolve yeast in milk and let stand for 5 - 10 minutes. Mix flour, sugar, salt with yeast/milk mixture. Roll dough out on a floured surface. Add butter in dots and spread with a knife if butter is room temperature. Sprinkle with cardamon. Fold and refold - let rest for 30 min. Roll, refold three or four times using a light quick stroke. Place aside in a cool place. Roll to a one-fourth inch thickness. Cut into one inch strips. Twist and form into pretzels. Place on buttered sheets, brush with slightly beaten egg, sprinkle with chopped blanched almonds. Let rise over boiling water (I don't really understand what this means, but I tried it by putting a cookie sheet over a pan of boiling water.) When double in bulk, sprinkle with sugar and bake in 400 degree oven.