Monday, March 28, 2011

Finally, my little Tulip sweater is ready to be sent to Kentucky to my little grandniece. I had been waiting for over a week for the buttons to arrive and was starting to get a little irritated because it seemed to be taking sooo long. When they arrived, I found out why. They had to come all the way from Lithuania, which I would have noticed had I looked at the Etsy page more carefully. The shipping was so cheap that it hadn't crossed my mind that they were being shipped internationally.

I'm very happy with this purchase. First of all, they're very pretty and sturdy, made from apple wood. Second of all, she included more buttons than I had ordered, even adding a couple of larger buttons, which would be perfect for a felted purse.

A couple of days ago, I was getting ready to pack my bunny and sweater, and  I couldn't find the bunny. I asked Russ if he had seen it, and he said, "yes," that he'd taken it to school. I thought he must have been kidding, but he wasn't. He was teaching third graders their spelling words, and one of the words was "knit." He'd told them that his wife knit things like socks, scarves, and bunnies. The kids were very interested and wanted to see one of the bunnies, so he took my bunny back to work when he came home for lunch. Later, I saw this little picture on the kitchen table. Sure enough! There's "Mr. S." with a bunny!
There is absolutely no reason to include another picture of this sweater and matching bunny, other than to show off, but that's what I'm doing. Now to get back to sock knitting.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Aran Bunny

I'm nearly finished with my grandniece's sweater, except that I'm waiting for some buttons that I ordered for it. What to do while waiting? Knit a bunny, of course. I'm especially happy with his little sweater. I used some left over Lornas Laces sock yarn that was close to the same color as the sweater.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sheep Again

These are not "exotic" sheep like the ones I see on some of the "sheepy blogs" I like to frequent, but they're still cute. Last Sunday afternoon, I  dropped Russ and Kai off at the head of the Kern River Parkview, planning to meet them an hour or so later after I'd done some grocery shopping. Instead of going in a straight line to my destination though, I thought I'd see if there any lambs out in the country. I hit the jackpot.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What's Cooking

My family does most of their grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. Although we appreciate the wonderful candy and wine selections, our main purpose in shopping there is the variety of healthy food. We have our staples that we buy every week but almost always try at least one new item every time we shop. A month or so ago, Paige saw their peanut flour and was interested in it, so I bought some, thinking that I'd be able to find lots of recipes on the internet to use it with, especially bread recipes. I never found anything that really interested me though, so yesterday I decided to experiment a little myself. I was in the mood for pretzels, and, of course, also wanted to use my precious sourdough starter. I found a recipe for  sourdough pretzels at Miss Organics Kitchen. It sounded good as it was, but I wanted to use that peanut flour, so I added 1/2 cup of it. Then, I remembered that the peanut four was non-gluten, so I added another 1/2 cup of high-gluten flour. I also added about a cup of bread flour instead only using whole wheat flour as her recipe suggested. In other words, when I was finished, it wasn't the original recipe at all, but I sure did appreciate her initial guidance. I've only made pretzels a couple of times before, but these are the best. They're not really peanut-y, but there's a definite hint of peanuts. We'd better enjoy this recipe while we can because I've been reading online that T.J.s had discontinued it. Boo hoo!

I'm reading Our Town with my students for the gazillionth time, and I still enjoy it. I understand that some people think it's slow, uneventful, and overly nostalgic, but I think that everyone can agree with its message that a lot of what makes people happy are the little, seemingly unimportant know, like having good soup for lunch. Every since I had Brown Butter Sea Salt Cookies, I've been excited about salt. 

 Monica Bhide was writing about paprika on her blog this week, and she mentioned that she loved the Spanish paprika from My Spice Sage. Obligingly, I got on line, ordered some Spanish paprika, some Murray River salt, some fleur del sel, and some applewood smoked sea salt. I could have a separate post to wax about the applewood smoked sea salt. It's intoxicating. My family used to spend time at a friend's cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains when I was a kid. There were innumerable reasons that I have pleasant memories of those weekends at "Uncle Fenton's" cabin in Idyllwild, but one of the memories I had forgotten until now was the smell. This salt smells like "weekends at the cabin"! I was walking around sniffing my glass jar of salt, when I realized that I needed to make soup, and I needed to season it with applewood smoked sea I did!
 I made lentil soup with red lentils, just kind of improvising, starting with several chopped cloves of garlic sauteed in ghee. Then I added carrots, sauteed them a little longer before adding Trader Joe's Hearty Vegetable Broth. I cooked the soup until the lentils were tender, about twenty minutes, and then I added a little cumin, applewood smoked sea salt, and a big handful of chopped parsley from my garden. I wish I had several nice, lunch-size portions, waiting for me to take for lunch this week in my fridge, but I would have had to been much quicker on the draw. It was gone in mere minutes.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Cake, Anyone?

Looking back at some of my earlier posts, I realize that the main reason I used to have more posts was that I wasn't at all afraid of randomness, posting about cooking, hiking, reading, etc. I'm still pretty random at times, but I was trying to stick with knitting for a while, but what's the point of that? If I have a big project going, it may take weeks for anything interesting to materialize when I have so many other "exciting" things happening along the way.
For instance, I had another field trip this Friday with a different group of kids from my trip a couple of weeks ago, mostly consisting of our sophomore honors students, who stage a re-enactment of the trial of Louis XVI every year up in the mountains near our town. They all dress up and have various activities before the trial. They play games that people would have played during the French Revolution although I'm not sure that the French Jacobeans had pinatas, ha, ha.
A group of students fix a French dinner. We've had some incredible meals, thanks to some very helpful parents, (We're talking Chicken Cordon Bleu and Coq au Vin )  but this year's group didn't have a reputation for being planners or hard workers, so the other teachers and I weren't anticipating anything fantastic, culinary-wise, at least. They proved us wrong!
 The food was good overall, and one of the girls brought a cake that her "caker-decorator" sister had designed especially for us. It was a cake that only teenagers would fully appreciate. They did have a couple of arguments about who would get to eat the head though.
The students read A Tale of Two Cities before "Rev Fest," and every year I bring my knitting along, thinking that I'll be like Madame Defarge, sitting with my insidious knitting. Usually, though, I'm way too busy, and this year was no exception. But, I  have evidence of my good intentions, both to get a little grading done and to knit.
Although it is less than an hour drive for us to get to the recreation center in the little mountain town, where we have our re-enactment, my teacher friends and I all agree that we're always exhausted by the end of the day, so no knitting last night, but this morning, I not only knit, I nearly finished my tulip sweater. Knit Picks came through for me with my swish yarn, which was exactly the same color as my original skeins, that I had bought last year or even the year before.
I crocheted an edging around one of the sleeves, but I'm thinking about a picot edging. I like how that looks, even though I always have to look up how to do it, and I mess up a lot every time I try it. It's almost time to get out a crochet hook, I guess.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Mostly Braggin', But Not About Knittin'

Well, my backup plan for not having enough purple yarn was foiled last week when I somehow misplaced the little bit of purple I did have left to finish off the last sleeve.  I admittedly deserve to be in such a fix. I often don't plan ahead. This may be a stretch, but there's a line in W.W. Jacobs'  short story "The Monkey's Paw," that I've always thought kind of reminded me of me and my knitting.

"Father and son were at chess, the former, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical changes, putting his king into such sharp and unnecessary perils that it even provoked comment from the white-haired old lady knitting placidly by the fire."

OK, so, there's the reference to the "old lady knitting," that I like, but my connection is the idea of "daring" within the context of a placid activity like chess, an activity that the rest of the world might see as...boring, or at least unexciting. "Wildness" in knitting also seems in congruous, but I can't count how many times I've started a project with the distinct possibility that I would run short of yarn.  Now, isn't that living on the edge? When I was in college, I would make my aunt cringe because I'd fix mistakes by pulling out the needles out of my work and ripping away, even if I was in the middle of a complicated lace pattern. I'm radical, I tell you, radical. I do have a possible solution to my yarn shortage, which was to order one more skein of Swish from Knit Picks. I'm hoping that maybe it won't matter that I won't have the same dye lot, since it is a heathered yarn.

Most of you know I'm an English teacher, and contrary to what you may see reported on Fox News, we teachers work our butts off a good deal of the time and can sometimes only grab minutes of personal time a day, even during a regular week, but it was the last week of the quarter this week, so knitting was pretty much out completely. I did take a little time out though on Thursday to be head timer (which means I wear a little badge, mostly) at the first swim meet of the season and to watch my son "fly" through the water. Kai has swum competitively since he was five, and he's always been good, but, on the other hand, when he was a freshman, he weighed less then one hundred pounds. He's now about eighty pounds heavier and a little over six feet tall, and he's FAST. OK, I admit it. It is fun to have a kid who's...awesome...or at least...really good. He swam his first race, the 200 individual medley, at about a body length behind the leader for the first 150 yards. In the last 5 yards, he pulled ahead and won the race. Yeah! I love swimming!

I was already happy with Kai this week because he wrote a great poem for my class, which made me feel like maybe his dad and I have done a pretty good job of giving him a good start in life. I shared Paige's poem several years ago, which I assign to my juniors every year. They have to write a poem based on Walt Whitman's poem "A Child Went Forth." Almost all of them, even  students who will do nothing else with enthusiasm, write wonderful poems. I, of course, anticipated seeing what my own kids would write. Neither one of them disappointed me-- no lines like,"And the mother loudly, yelling at her husband and kids, and the dirty dishes in the sink," ha, ha.

THERE was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain
part of the day, or for
Many years, or stretching cycles of years.

The scent of buckwheat pancakes became part of this child,
And baking powder biscuits, scrambled eggs with Pace salsa,
and beagles, and the Beatles songs.
And the summers in Nebraska, and the holidays up North
with the hippies, and the weekly Trader Joe's visits.
And the waking up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons,
And wanting to go running with his mother, all became part
of him.

The rainy first month and almost every other hot month
became part of him,
Warm milk, and the gravy-soaked meals of Christmas,
And archery targets of foam in the backyard,
And the fresh fruits and vegetables of his mother's garden,
and the failures of his own gardens.

And the walks to school and to Mary's, whence he had
once stayed,
And the first two and a half high school years that had
pass'd so quickly,
And the soccer, football, track, and swimming games and meets,
And the spiked hair, the vans and high socks on everyone,
who was anyone,
And all the changes of Taft, wherever he went.

His own parents,
He that had father'd him, and she that had conceiv'd
him in her womb, and birth'd him,
They have this child more of themselves than that;
They gave him afterward every day-they became part
of him.

The mother, both in class and at home, helpful, loving,
beautiful; also becoming one of his best friends, sometimes
chore enforcer, or spending hours on the phone with her
family, and the jokingly harsh words like, "Oh you shut up"
coming out of her person
The father, quiet, kind, sarcastic, care-free;
The online political debates, bike rides, and reading in
the middle of the night, And the healthy and unhealthy,
comfort foods. The family traditions, the educated words
the ever-swelling heart, Affection that will never be faded
-the sense of the future-the thought if, after all, it should
prove amiss,

The doubts of school-time and the doubts during sports,
the curious why and what, Why it is how it is, or what
is the answer, is it all memories and hopes?
Men and women disappointed and pleased, what
is their purpose? The Playmobiles and Legos, the long-
time friends, and pesto pasta nights, the favorite monthly
soda. The before bedtime stories, The animals old and new,
and once, feeding cockroaches to the kind-hearted dog.
The invisible and happy juice, the imaginative Lord of
the Rings reenactments with friends, The heart breaking
losses in football and swimming, the lost toys, the late
night Raiding and PVP, the concern of the approve-able
report cards, which destined his freedom,
The hope of attending the University of Nebraska,
The wondering what will happen to your kids,
when will you die?

These became part of that child who went forth every day,
and who now goes, and will always go forth every day.