Thursday, December 24, 2009

A top made for Mardi Gras

tempting top

From this angle, this top looks pretty great, right? It's the Tempting II top from Knitty, knit out of the Tess Yarns Microfiber Ribbon. It's a fun knit, and can be dressed up or down, depending on the accessories.

(For the record, what you can't see in the picture is that I'm also wearing some sassy, strappy, brown heels.)

Unfortunately, or fortunately in Andrew's case, the slightest movement, and BAM! I'm eligible for Mardi Gras beads. Mom actually said that it would be more modest to simply go topless. (Thanks, Mom!)

Alas, the designer is not to blame, the folly is all mine. When I cast it on (ahem, in November of 2006), apparently, I had grand aspirations of gaining 2-4" in the bust. You would think that after middle school, then the Epic Weight Gain of 2001, I would know exactly how this stuff works.

Given that sometimes I'm prettier than I am smart, this is not a complete surprise. (In my minds' eye, I'm also close to six feet tall, as opposed to five.) I also completely abandoned this project when I had to cast on and knit teeny, tiny little sleeves to attach before I could knit the yoke. Not exactly the Mount Everest of challenges to overcome, but a ribbon top of a thousand yards begins with a single stitch, bla bla, and sometimes it's more effort to go and dig up your DPNs than it is to start something new.

You can tell which option I chose.

When I picked it up to finish it in September of this year, I counted the stitches, looked at the size, and deluded myself into believe that it would be fine. Sure, the neck is open-hearted. Sure, this is supposed to have negative ease, not positive ease. Still, I pressed on, certain that it would "be fine".

[NOTE: If you ever declare that your knitting will "be fine", just stop. It always ends in tears, or in this case, offended modesty.]

All was not lost; Andrew took the picture, I declared it Too Big, then called Melinda (the incredibly talented dyer of the ribbon) and offered her a sample for the low-low price of replacement yarn.

I could go on about how it's about the journey, not the destination, but I won't bore you with platitudes. Sometimes it's about weaving in the ends on an awesome top and rocking it; not realizing that you're going to have a wardrobe malfunction at the grocery store as you get in the car.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All hail the sous chef!

One of the best parts of being Mom's caretaker is that in the amount of time we have been spending together. I'm learning tons of new stuff! A couple of weeks ago, I got all ambitious and decided to cook up all of the veggies from the CSA box into three different soups at the same time. I'm proud to say that the only non-organic, non-locally grown veggies were the potatoes and celery in all three soups, and the list of things we needed from the store was minimal.

I did a boo-yah dance while I made the grocery list. Using all the vegetables in the CSA box is like having three yards of yarn left when you finish your project, minus the I-hope-I-have-enough stress.

On the way to the store, I told Mom that I thought this might be a huge disaster, and she assured me that it wouldn't be. On the way home from the store, I told her that statistically, one of the three soups would end up an utter disaster. She disagreed with my math, being utterly confident that all three would turn out well.

Mom sous chef-ed for me, washing and peeling the veggies while I chopped, cooked, set timers, and prepared not one, but three soups, simultaneously. To my utter surprise, all three worked out famously, and turned out to be positively delicious.

If you're curious, I made a potato leek soup, a potage of turnip, and a nearly-vegetarian borscht (I supplemented leftover chicken broth from the potato leek soup for some of the water, about half a cup), all out of Barbara Kafka's Soup Book.

Given the success of my soups, the next morning I decided to bake biscuits and serve them with freshly whipped cream and the apricot preserves we got in our box.

Now, to understand how good these preserves are, you need to know that I don't like jam. I'll have fig jam on brie with crackers, but other than that? I don't put anything on my peanut butter sandwiches, and toast is butter-only territory.

When I opened the jar of apricot preserves, I smelled summer apricots. There's was nothing sugary or gross about it- I could have eaten this stuff with a spoon out of the jar, and I probably would have if I had discovered it alone.

Given the successes I had with the three-soups-at-one-time experiment, I referenced my favorite soup book, pulled out a recipe for quibebe (not this recipe), and with my trusty sous chef, we made Definitely Vegetarian Borscht (with gold and red beets) at the same time.

The quibebe has gotten rave reviews, and the borscht is steadily winning over those who are not beet-inclined. I may have inherited my mother's jihad against vegetable haters, converting them with well prepared veggies that they've had historically adversarial relationships with.

I'm a big fan of doing a whole whack of cooking at once- we fridge everything that we're not eating, and we eat (basically) leftovers all week, and it's AWESOME. Not only am I making delicious, nutritious, low-sodium food for everyone, but this leaves me with more time to do other things than I had before.

Things I have learned:

  • My father can sense when dinner is nearly ready. Reliably, about 30 minutes from when the food will be ready, he'll call to see how I'm doing.
  • If there is a dumb, slow, and frustrating way to do something, you can be certain that I'll do it that way first. Then, Mom will see me suffering through some sort of ridiculously challenging task (like peeling garlic), and teach me the fastest, smartest way of doing it.
  • We have a "one butt" kitchen.
  • I like to chop, Mom likes to peel.
  • Studies show that food tastes better when the chefs are grooving to my "good songs" playlist, which has a lot of booty-shaking songs.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The last five years

Dear Andrew;

I have done the math, and it seems that we've been married for five years today. FIVE YEARS. How does that happen? Sure, we've had challenges, but for the most part? It's been fun.

I love that you're handy, and fix things around the house. I especially love that you can troubleshoot problems with spinning wheels like a pro. You totally rock that toolbelt.

Thank you for making dinner while I detached myself from the headphones, rescued me from the pile of fleeces that tried to eat me, and made sure I had clean clothes and food while Mom was in the hospital. If nothing else, things are never boring around here.

So, happy anniversary, Monkey. It's been real.



Sunday, December 6, 2009

Call back search and rescue, everything is okay

That's right, things have been steadily improving since Mom came home on the 24th. It took us entirely too long to get her home, but I'm happy to report that she's making steady progress with her recovery, and is doing better every single day.

There has been knitting. Hospitals, it seems, while not conducive to rest or healing, are places where an incredible amount of knitting is accomplished. I knit the bodies of two sweaters, a pair of wristers and a matching cowl, and who knows how many socks while Mom was there. Pictures will be coming soon.

In a fit of holiday/hospital inspired pique, I have red hair now. Not Scully red, or crayon red, but an arterial blood red. It's a good look, but I'm still surprised when I look in the mirror and don't see hot pink.

What I have been doing is watching movies with Mom.

The first was Alien vs Predator 2: Requiem, which wasn't bad enough to be good, or good enough to be good. What it lacked in exposition, character development, and plot, it tried to make up for with special effects and gross factor.

12 Men of Christmas seemed promising since the trailers had Kristin Chenoweth and the promise of naked men, which we all know I love. The downside? It was a Lifetime made for TV movie with anemic, predictable and half-hearted tropes, the adorable Ms. Chenoweth didn't sing once, and the naked men? More like shirtless men.

(All of you who came here hunting for Patrick Wilson naked all know how much I enjoy a good beefcake. Interesting fact, Gerard Butler - who starred in Phantom of the Opera with Patrick Wilson- evidently also has a naked clause.)

Bottle Shock was surprisingly good, with a stellar cast. It was better than I expected a movie about California wines to be, the initial draw being Chris Pine. Though I consider myself more of a Spock kind of girl, Chris Pine is handsome enough to make me consider being a passing mention in his Captain's Log, if you get my meaning.

(By the way, if you haven't seen the new Star Trek yet, you totally should.)

With that, I'll promise you stories about my adventures, knitting, and all those incidentals that belong in a good blog post.