Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

Good-Bye, 2012. You were a pretty good year in many ways. Russ and I have lost over sixty pounds between the two of us since 2011, mainly through exercise and non-piggishness in the eating department. Our kids are happy and both seem to be enjoying college and more independence, and we're enjoying having more time together, just the two of us. In typical fashion, we don't plan any big celebration tonight, just a nice meal with some good wine.
Bakersfield has quite a few good ethnic restaurants, which have opened in the last four or five years, but ethnic restaurants are nothing new here. Luigi's Delicatessen has been at the same location in East Bakersfield for over a hundred years, and it has wonderful Italian food. We don't go there very often, but I thought it would be fun to go there today and buy some homemade ravioli to have for our little New Year's Eve dinner. I neglected to remember that they are closed on Mondays. My solution was to make some myself. I kind of improvised, but my initial recipe for lemon ricotta ravioli with brown butter sauce was from Bakerita's website.

I had a little helper much of the time. Paige brought her little kitty, Cosette home for Christmas, and she was very interested in sampling the ricotta in my filling.

They look a little greasy in this picture, but they were a hit with everyone. I had plans to freeze some of them for later, but this was all that was left. ..and that was the end of our New Year Year's celebration. Russ and I have settled down to a cozy evening of Doc Martin, and Paige is watching it with us before heading to whatever celebration she planning to attend and Kai is happily ensconced in his room playing online soccer with some friends. That's as exciting as I need.  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas

I love Christmas time, and I'm definitely not one of those people who throw the Christmas tree out the day after Christmas, particularly since we've had a "fake" tree for the last three or four years. Another reason that I'm not too quick to let go of Christmas decorations is that I usually don't get them up until the week before Christmas anyway. This year was no different. We had school until the 21st, so I was pretty busy until then. I was proud of some of my little displays this year though. I knit gobs of these little stockings several years ago and usually put them on the tree, but this year, I strung them across the fireplace, using some little clothespins I found in a tourist shop this fall.

I have no new knitting to show off after almost an entire week of vacation. I'm struggling still with finding a focus. I have tons of yarn but no vision for any of it. I know that Paige could use some mitts for riding her bike to classes early in the morning, and Kai says he'd like a "cowl," which kind of surprised but intrigued me. So, what am I doing? I'm messing around with making myself a cowl out of some random yarn that I found in my yarn basket, which has obviously been the victim of our kitty, sharpening her claws because it keeps fraying. Oh well, it will give me a good excuse if I decide once again to unravel and start something new, ha, ha.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Typical Karoline Dilemma

I've had this dilemma innumerable times. I'll start a project, even a sweater or something that takes a lot of time and effort without being sure that I have enough yarn to finish the project. At least this time, I'm only talking about a small project. I bought Kristen Kapur's Twizz Mitts pattern earlier this fall and have been anxious to start a pair.  I thought I might have enough of the cashmere yarn that my friend Diana brought back for me from Montana, but I'm feeling a little unsure now. It's an easy pattern, but I've managed to mess it up at least four times and have had to re-start. Luckily, I had lots of time because we have a week off for Thanksgiving and spent our first day at the beach, which meant some serious "car" time.
 We started the day with a stop at Gohper Glen for some apples...and some cider....and an apple pie. I justified the pie purchase because Paige is usually our Thanksgiving baker, but she was thinking that she wouldn't make it home for Thanksgiving this year. Of course, this evening, she called me and said that she thinks she wants to come home after all since the Tahoe trip she had planned with her friends had fallen through. We're happy she may be coming home, and I'm sure I can find lots of other baking duties for her to perform.

After making a stop in San Luis Obispo at the Phoenix Used Book Store to see if they had any copies of Les Miserables so that Russ could re-read it before we go to see it on Christmas Day, we headed to Morro Bay for a little hike. We've hiked Black Mountain more time than we could every count, but we've never hiked it from the very beginning of the trail at the State Campground, which is quite a climb. It's not an easy hike, but it's a beautiful one. My only problem with today was that it went by too quickly!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Davis Weekend

The other day, one of my students was trying to get me to do something...I can't remember what, probably extend a deadline. Anyway, he said, "I'm thinking about applying to U.C. Davis and going out for swimming in the spring." His classmates all thought it was a pretty funny joke about how to get on my good side. Maybe I do mention how awesome I think U.C. Davis is "occasionally," and I know I tell them how much "fun" they'd have going out for swimming quite often. Our latest visit to Davis proved to me again that I know what I'm talking about concerning Davis!

We left on Saturday at about 5:30 A.M., and arrived in Davis by 10:00, in plenty of time to pick up Paige and indulge in the Davis Farmer's Market. My first purchase was a reasonable $3.00 bag of tomatoes, cauliflower, and beautiful,  creamy white turnips. It was all downhill from there, fiscally speaking, at least We each had a $3.00 cup of coffee from a "fair trade" coffee booth, moved on to the Mediterranean food booths, which are always incredible. After spending about $15.00 on hummus and "hummus-like" products, I spied what I'd been waiting for since my last hurried visit in September...the fiber confections yarn booth.

Even though I recently claimed to be finished with bowls, I imagined the orange as a nice, chunky bowl for a Thanksgiving decoration. The teal and purple yarn will eventually make some nice, wintery socks.

Sunday morning, we got up at about 6:30 (because we're weird), and went to the "Arboretum Trail for a nice, little four-mile run. Along the way, we came upon a "yarn bomb." I made Paige walk back with us later, so we could enjoy it in all of its quirky greatness. It was a project for a design class at U.C. Davis, totally useless ostensibly, but "enjoyment inducing," so a totally worthwhile pursuit in my estimation.

This last one was my favorite, even though it didn't photograph very well. Besides the white on the trunk, it had little, tiny flowers and hearts hanging from the branches.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Enough Bowls

Ok, I think I'm finished with bowls for a while. This one needs to be felted a little more, but I think it will be pretty. I'm thinking that I'll give it to a friend around Valentine's Day with some soap or candy in it.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Mission Accomplished

Russ sent our daughter a little college gift box last week and included the bunny for her friend Melissa to give to her nephew. Melissa sent me this picture tonight. Her nephew actually lives in our town, which is five hours from them, but Melissa got to see him this weekend and deliver his bunny personally. What a darling little boy. I'm so happy he likes it.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Book Club

I've just been aching for an excuse to show off this M.A. Hadley platter on my bog, which is ostensibly about knitting, but sometimes about cooking and eating. I found my excuse today. First, let me brag about how I found it. I went to the Bakersfield Peddler's Fair a couple of weeks ago with a friend and saw this platter for $50. I haven't seen one just like it anywhere, so it's probably not even being manufactured anymore, but I'm sure I'd have to pay at least $100, maybe even $200 for it online if I could find it. I had to borrow $20 from my friend because I didn't even have $50 on me, and I didn't try to dither the sellers down at all because it was such a good deal.

Well, today was our monthly book club meeting, and we had read Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson, who was raised in Sweden. I made smørrebrød, which are Danish open-faced sandwiches, which I thought  close enough to be appropriate, and I used my...platter. Everyone loved the sandwiches, which was only a tiny bit surprising because my friends are adventurous. I've made quite a few smørrebrød before, but I found two different recipe on NPR to try this time. I made roast beef with arugula  and horseradish with creme fraiche and blue cheese and apple with bacon. I pretty much ignored the fact that I've been trying to be really healthy and ate a ton of them. I've had a cold all week and haven't exercised much, so, of course, it makes sense that I would also ruin my diet this week too, sigh!
 The roast beef smorrebrod were topped with a radish and a little grated carrot.
The blue cheese and apple ones were supposed to applewood smoked bacon, but I just used prosciutto, and it tasted wonderful. Food can be so much fun. I enjoy eating healthy, so I'm not dreading going back to being a little more disciplined, but it was fun to fall off the wagon for a day or two.

Monday, October 29, 2012

October Means Orange

I'm not a huge "orange" fan, but, of course, during October it seems like orange is de rigeur. I've usually knit some little felted pumpkins near Halloweeen-time, but this year all I had was a little bit of orange yarn, maybe enough to knit one pumpkin. So, I decided to knit a little knitted bowl instead. I don't remember what brand it was, but it was not very thick, maybe sport weight at the most, but it felted well. I ended up having enough for two bowls, and I think they look looks cute, holding my seed packets that are waiting to be opened, so I can start my winter garden.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I had my latest bunny packed to take on my trip up to my mom's, but I wanted to pack light, so I left him home and brought another pair of fingerless gloves to work on since they took less space. It didn't take much time for me to finish him up. Now, I just need to send him up to Melissa, so she can give him to her nephew. Very happy with him!

I took a little side-trip on m way home from seeing my mom to visit Paige. She biked over to the train station to meet me. Davis is a big bicycling town, and for now, Paige's only mode of transportation is her bike, which Russ "made" for her. He wanted it to be dependable and comfortable, but not too tempting to bicycle thieves, since there are a lot of bicycle thefts, along with all of those bikes. She loves it!

 She was very happy to see her mama, I'm sure, especially since we stopped by a local Asian grocery store, so she could load up on some of her favorite treats. I laughed when I saw her refrigerator because it was a mini version of ours, full of Trader Joe's spicy red pepper hummus, parmesan cheese, baby carrots, and spring mix lettuce. U.C. Davis has a good meal program, but Paige think it's cheaper to just feed herself.

I had to post these pictures because I thought they were so funny. U.C. Davis is about fifteen minutes from Sacramento and an hour from San Francisco. It's an agricultural school, so there are some wide open spaces nearby, but still it's urban....and Paige's apartments have a turkey problem. They're loud and wander through the walkways. Funny!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Home Again!

I took the train up to see my mom for a few days this week, and had a good visit. She's in a rehabilitation hospital for at least another week, but the nurses and doctors seem optimistic about her "recovery." My mom has been in poor health for years, so "recovery" is a relative term.. We have to just be grateful for small victories. She still enjoys life a lot of the time although she could do without the pain and inconvenience of having to always use a walker. I've posted part of the reason for her heart attack spinning wheel. My dad was out in his shop working on it, and my mom thought she's just kneel down and pick up an earring she saw on the floor by her bed. She got lodged in the space between their bed and a wall and was stuck there for an hour. My dad checks on her constantly, except this one time, of course. That's kind of a sad legacy for my beautiful spinning wheel to take on, but my mom doesn't hold any ill will toward it, and I don't either!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Making It

Besides a very nice husband and two comparatively easy-to-raise kids, I've had two constants in my adult life: knitting and running. I don't exactly like running, but I like being finished each day with running, and I like how it makes me feel. Knitting is different because I like the actual knitting process. It's both fun and entertaining for me as I do it, and sometimes I'm even happy with my finished products. I was kind of sad for the nearly six months this year that I didn't really feel like knitting. I'd try to start projects over and over, and I just couldn't get into it. This past month I've been enthusiastic about knitting again, something that I've been especially grateful for this past week.

My mom had a heart attack a week ago. She's nearly eighty and has had innumerable health issues for basically the last thirty years. She has also been one of the most health conscious people I've ever known, so that makes her poor health suck all the more. Anyway, I've been worried about her this week. Even though she is doing amazingly well, I know that she has to be discouraged, and, well, she's eighty; there's no cure for that. We live about twelve hours away, and I couldn't just take off work to be with her right away. I've been distracted about how she's doing all week, and running and knitting have helped me from being too distressed. I'm going to go spend a couple of days with her and my dad later this week, which means a twelve hour train ride.  Once again, knitting (on the train) and running (once I get there) will come in handy. I won't mind the trip because I'll have lots of time to knit, andI love running in Northern California, where they live, because it's so cool up there.

 My main project this week has been to finish Paige's friend Melissa's bunny. I had a problem that I hadn't anticipated, but which I've had numerous time. I started running short on yarn! I was smart enough to make him have "pants," so that didn't take too much of the brown yarn, which I was running out of.
 This is a pic of his second "hand." That little, tiny blob is all I had left. I had to cheat, and make part of his arm blue, which won't matter once I get his sweater done.
Made it! Now, all I have to do is knit up a little sweater for him. I'm going to knit him an aran sweater out of some cream yarn I found in my stash, and I have enough blue left  to knit him a little cap.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I tried so hard when my daughter was young to get her interested in knitting, or sewing, or stitching, or anything remotely related to domesticity. She didn't bite. She does know how to knit, and she's even knit a couple of nice hats and half of a scarf, but she's never been that interested. Her best friend, Melissa however, show a little bit of interest, at least for a while. Melissa decided last year that she wanted to knit her new nephew a little blanket. I, of course, jumped at the chance to help choose the yarn at a LYS. We found some beautiful Venezia merino silk that was on sale, and Melissa spent close to $50 on what we hoped was enough for her to knit a blanket. After a year, the blanket hadn't materialized, and one day Melissa showed up in my classroom, hoping that I'd finished her project for her. I was happy to give it a shot but soon discovered that we hadn't bought nearly enough yarn. My solution was to unravel what Melissa had knit and start over, knitting a little pillow cover. Melissa is away at U.C. Davis with Paige, so I figure she'll enjoy a little decoration for her apartment, and I'm hoping that I have enough yarn to knit a little bunny for nephew. It's going to be a close call. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


It's kind of sad that I'm so proud to finally finish a project, but I am. Now, I need to wait three months for it to be cool enough to feel like wearing this.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Making Progress

We took Paige up to U.C. Davis this weekend, which gave me lots of time to knit, on the drive home, at least. Russ drove a U-Haul truck, and I drove our Honda Pilot on the way up..all six hours. Paige could have driven part of the way for me, but I don't think she got much sleep the time before, so I thought I'd let her rest. Russ didn't feel comfortable driving over 60 mph, so it ended up being one long trip! I got to knit the whole way home today though, and I didn't even feel too sad. Of all of the schools that Paige could have gone to, this is the one I had hoped she'd decide on. It's least to me, 36,000 students, compared to the 800 students at the little now-defunct Lutheran College Russ and I attended in Nebraska, but U.C. Davis still doesn't feel impersonal somehow. I've always loved the town of Davis with its tree-lined streets and old homes. It's not slick or overly-citified, but there are tons of nice restaurants and activities. Paige seems excited about it all too. She's majoring in Biological Nutrition, which sounds impressive to me, whatever that means.

 Davis had a farmer's market before they become so ubiquitous, and I love how organic farming is so popular in that area. After a day of hectically getting Paige settled, buying $100 worth of "necessities" at Rite Aid, $50 worth of plants at The Redwood Barn Nursery because her Mama thought she needed some live stuff outside her apartment door, over $100 worth of stuff at World Market, like a rug to cover the blue 1980s carpet in her room, and nearly $100 at Trader Joe's, Russ and I were beat! Paige, who has two good friends going to Davis too, headed off to eat with them, and we found...The Farmer's Kitchen Cafe.

 So, the atmosphere is pretty much non-existent, but the food was wonderful. We shared a plate of heirloom tomatoes with aioli sauce, and then I had the best chicken noodle soup I've ever eaten. It had homemade noodles, lots of vegetables, avocado and lemon in it. Russ had tamales, which he said were wonderful too.

 We thought about ending the evening with a little stop at Let Them Eat Cake for a cupcake, but considering we've spent even more money than we probably realize, and that won't be letting up anytime soon, since tuition at U.C. Davis keeps climbing, we opted to go back to our hotel, which was the only unpleasant part of our stay. We'd only planned to stay one night, but Paige, uncharacteristically, wanted us to stay another day, and all of the hotels in Davis were taken by the parents of the 36,000 kids who were moving in this weekend, so we stayed at a hotel outside of town, which was.....well clean, but really cheap, as in cinderblock walls and no shampoo in the shower cheap.
We thought Paige would probably want to sleep in this morning, but she was game for breakfast, so we went to The Delta of Venus for breakfast. Paige just had oatmeal, but I had the  "Adam's Special," a huge plate of scrambled eggs with pesto and sundried tomatoes and jack cheese, and chilles. Did I mention that I'd like to lose some weight this fall? This wasn't the weekend to concentrate on that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Arwen Scarf

The alpaca yarn that my friend bought for me in Montana is called "Lupine Gardens," which is the perfect name for yarn with such nice subtle tones of purple and green. I should quit trying to take pictures at night so that maybe I can actually show the colors of the objects I'm trying to share. This pic doesn't do it justice.

This yarn is so wonderfully soft. Did I say something about knitting a beret last week? I don't know what I was thinking. I don't wear berets.  I do, however, wear scarves. I found the perfect scarf pattern to show off  in my beautiful yarn, and that will be perfect for the 175 yards of yarn in the skein. It's the the Arwen Keyhole Scarf. I'm funny about my knitting preferences. I don't want a project that's too easy, or I get bored; plus, I'm usually not too proud of doing things that require no skill. On the other hand, I like having a project that I can take in the care and not need to have a pattern along. This is the perfect fit for me.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I love Saturday mornings. Russ and I usually get some good exercise in, and then we have a hearty breakfast, something we never have time for during the week. I usually fix something we call "cauliflower salsa." That may not sound that good to everyone, but we love it.  I finely chop up about two cups of cauliflower, some red onion, about a quarter cup red bell pepper, and a jalapeno or two. I cook the veggies in olive oil with a little ghee, until the cauliflower is a little browned, then I turn off the heat and add about a quarter cup cilantro. I used to put the "salsa" on scrambled eggs and top it off with a little cheddar cheese, but lately, we've been having it on brown rice. Today, we had it with both scrambled eggs and brown rice. We always top it off with Rock-It Sauce, which is wonderful. It was delicious! Not exactly diet food, but delicious.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Real Knitting

My running partner and I have been running together for over fifteen years. We're about the same age, we're both teachers, and we share a lot of political views, which is nice since we can rant to each other for an hour most morning without offending each other. Other than that, we're pretty different. She doesn't have kids, travels a lot with her husband, and isn't into crafting of any kind or gardening, BUT she is appreciative of those of us who are. Last year, she and her husband went skiing in Montana, and she brought me back some yarn from Creations Yarn Shop and Fiber Station in Ennis Montana. The varigated yarn is alpaca, and the purple is partly cashmere. What a nice friend! Both skeins have been sitting in my yarn basket,. In my attempt to find a little direction in my knitting, I thought I'd finally figure out something to do with them. I decided upon a beret. I'm knitting the meret from Wooly Wormhead.  I've just barely gotten started, but I'm feeling excited about it already. Now, if only the temps would go down, so I can actually imagine wearing wool.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Beach Saturday

  We lived close enough to the Central Coast beaches that a Saturday at the beach isn't much of an undertaking. In fact, there are several teachers at the high school and college who commute from beach communities everyday. We used to go with the kids quite often, but when they were in high school, weekends were usually full of soccer matches, swim meets, or volleyball games.With two kids now in college, we'v discovered that we like each other's company quite a bit still and have started making weekend trips to the beach a regular thing again.
 Living in a desert during September isn't very conducive to running, which is something we both enjoy, so we really like to start our day with a run in the nice, cool, sometimes foggy weather. This is a picture of the beginning of the Johnson Ranch trail near San Luis Obispo. It's three and a half miles, with some pretty good hills. We ran it twice on Saturday, with a minimum amount of walking. Russ finished about ten minutes ahead of me, so you know who did the most walking.

We usually spend our afternoons on the beach at Pismo, but we really like Morro Bay better. It's another half an hour to get there though. We got an early start on Saturday, so we decided that Morro Bay it was.  What a perfect day! I had kind of pictured knitting on the beach, but I opted for a nap instead.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Gotta Branch Out

 So...I'm still having trouble getting going with anything substantial on the "knitting front." It's  just so difficult to envision needing anything warm when it's still extremely hot outside. I still am enjoying mindless knitting though. I've been knitting tiny mittens again.
 I have a plan for them that I may not follow through with. My daughter, Paige, is leaving in a couple of weeks to attend U.C. Davis in Northern California.  She's excited to finally be leaving home after spending two years at our local community college. She'll be rooming with three other girls in off-campus housing, and, although they didn't know either other until a meeting on a Davis Facebook forum for transfer students, they've been planning "apartment" decorating all summer...on student budgets, of course. I have this idea that I'll send them little "holiday" decorations throughout the year. I'm picturing making a little mitten and hat bunting for them to put up around Christmas time. I've noticed a "pink" trend in a lot of their little projects, a pink gate with their names on it, for example, for a little gate they have in their back walkway.
I'm not sure how I'll feel on the day we drop Paige off five hours away from home, but right now, I feel happy for her...and us. It can't have been easy to have your mother be a teacher in a small town. I knew way too much about some of her questionable choices in high school and college. I think we're all ready to have her start her big adventure. I do think she'll miss us a little though. The other night she came home, and as she walked in, she said, "I love our house." I'm thinking she mainly meant the full fridge, but I liked that she seemed to already start appreciating how nice we tried to make it for her and her brother, whether they noticed it or not.