Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Back in the snow...

So, I did it again. I went out of town and didn't say anything, because I always think, "I'll have plenty of time to blog remotely." Ha! I should know better. I never blog remotely, even when I bring my laptop and camera and cable. Why? Not sure. The lack of wireless internet is involved. I am too lazy to plug the cable modem into my laptop and hit the reset button. And the computer desk there is not comfy. And I get busy doing things with my family. This deters a person whose first internet experiences involved AOL and a 2400 bps dial-up modem? Sad, eh? (That 'eh' is for you, Tim.) Anyway, I was at my parents' house in California for an extended Thanksgiving trip, since I won't be able to travel at Christmas. My husband had to come back shortly after Thanksgiving, but I had an extra few days, including a bonus day since I was supposed to fly back on Friday, but the blizzard pushed it back to Saturday. It was a lovely trip, complete with a wonderful baby shower. Watching all the parents with small children at the airport, I really appreciated how easy Butterbean is to travel with right now :) Sure, she makes my feet swell to unbelievable size on the plane, and my back hurt in the oh-so-comfy coach seat, but I got to travel with my own stuff instead of a huge bag of baby things, and she was very quiet on the flights and in the airport! In other news, the doctor says that Butterbean has turned head-down, so yay! Since it's been ages, I have a fair amount of things to blog about today.

Oh, this is funny. I was talking to my mom before leaving for California and I said something about how nice it would be in the warm weather, and she told me, "It was 55 today! It was cold! Bone-chilling cold!" Hahahaha!

Kitty story of the week: So, we have a down comforter with a cover that buttons at the bottom. Today, I hear Geronimo doing this weird meow in the other room, and I go looking for him. In our bedroom, I notice Mirando standing on the bed, but I don't see Geronimo. But then I notice that Mirando is standing on an odd lump that doesn't belong there. The lump is meowing, and Mirando is stepping all over the lump, clearly distressed. I lift up the comforter to check on Geronimo and realize that he has managed to climb up INSIDE the down comforter cover. Mirando obviously doesn't approve of this. Figuring Geronimo is stuck and can't figure out how to get out of there, I unbutton the bottom of the cover, reach in, and pull a meowing Geronimo out. He's fine, and goes running off. We are all covered in down. Lovely :) Cats are hilarious. We clearly need a cover that zips.

Knitting: Here's the baby blanket. I was going to do a nice ruffle edge, but I didn't have enough yarn. So I just picked up stitches on a long circ and knit around in stockinette, increasing two stitches at each corner on every row, with an eyelet row to include a ribbon, and a crochet cast-off. Cashmerino (or, Acrylicmerino, as the case may be) is easily tamed with a high-steam ironiing, so the stockinette was fine.

Number of eyelets I should have made per row: 10
Number of eyelets I did make per row (after counting eleventy-seven times "up, down, up, down" to make sure I would end up with the ribbon on the same side at each corner): 11
The ability to call a stupid mistake a "design feature" with a straight face: Priceless.

Pattern - sort of the Garter Stitch Blanket from Debbie Bliss Special Knits, except I made it a square instead of a rectangle. And there's no satin edge. And I knit on a border with an eyelet row for a ribbon. Okay, there's no pattern here. I wonder if I remember how to do it well enough to write it up...
Yarn - Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in pale yellow (6 balls)
Needles - Size 8 (40" for border)

I'm done with the back and sleeves of the Ribbon-Edged Cardigan from Debbie Bliss Special Knits, and onto the left front. It's looking cute. If I have any yarn left, I'll knit up a hat to go with it. I started the Placket Neck Pullover from LMKG in Knitpicks Crayon in Purple, and got up to the armholes--it's a nice travel project. I'm thinking I'll unravel my T-Twist and use the Brooks Farm Fourplay in a baby blanket of some type. Maybe with another yarn in a Big Bad Baby Blanket? Not sure, but I love the yarn and want to use it. And it's December!!! I have to make at least my husband's Gryffindor socks, even if I'm flaking on any other Christmas knitting this year. I'm thinking of whipping up a couple of scarves for gifts, too, along with a couple of the Lace Photo Mats from Handknit Holidays. Physically possible? We'll see. My husband's pretty understanding--the year I made him a sweater, I wasn't quite finished at Christmas, so I wrapped up the WIP for him to open and finished it in a couple of days. He may be opening one sock this year. I've also made Butterbean lots of sweaters, and no pants. That look might work for Donald Duck, but I think I should get going on some pants for her :) I'll probably prioritize Christmas stuff first, then move on to the rest of the Butterbean projects. Two photo mats, three scarves, one pair socks. In less than three weeks. I think it's do-able with mostly small projects.

I almost forgot--while traveling, I busted out four more Branching Outs for my baby shower hostesses. One in Cashcotton 4-Ply in a light aqua, one in Cashsoft 4-Ply in cream, one in Elann's Peruvian Collection Baby Silk in lavender, and a shorter one in Cashsoft DK in dark red that's more of a neckwarmer. Did I take photos before gifting them? Of course not! I totally forgot. Here's the Baby Silk one, anyway.

Other people's projects: My grandmother came to my baby shower and gave me this gorgeous baby blanket she crocheted. It is so soft and beautiful, and it's so special that Butterbean has a blanket made by her great-grandmother.

My future sister-in-law is also a crocheter, and she made this darling hat and felted hedgehog. The cats have no idea what to do with the hedgehog. It has them completely perplexed.

Reading: Travel means lots of reading time. I finished Jane and the Wandering Eye, the third Jane Austen mystery. I continue to love this series. I also read Bubbles Ablaze, which I enjoyed. Bubbles is a hoot. I think I've mentioned this series before, but Janet Evanovich fans should check it out. What else? Besides baby books, I decided to start rereading the Diane Mott Davidson series when I was looking through the books for a muffin recipe I love. I like the books, despite some repetition and irritating bits. Seriously, having your character look in the mirror and describe herself? Bleh. (Do you hear that, Dan Brown?) Anyway, some of her recipes are really fantastic. The Grand Marnier Cranberry Muffins are divine, and the Gourmet Spinach Soup is lovely. And lots of nice baked goods.

Writing: Well, at least I got something done during November. The holidays pretty thoroughly derailed me, though, and it's back to work this week.

Cooking: I need to start baking stuff. I haven't baked in ages.

It's been cold, so there's been soup. I thought I'd post my soup blueprint for quick and easy veggie soup. I made a spinach version today that was lovely, though people less enamored of spinach may want to cut the amount in half (I used a whole box of frozen in three cups of broth). The blueprint makes two good-sized bowls. You might want to eat the whole batch if you're really hungry, or save half for the next day if you have bread or a salad to go with it. To keep it simple, I often eliminate the sauteeing step. So yesterday, I just chucked frozen peas and alphabet pasta in broth, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then whisked in egg and parmesan. Today I had a bit more time and did some sauteeing. I also do a cabbage and bean version or a tofu and pea version in which I eliminate the egg. Parsley is almost always very nice if I have it on hand.

I got the egg-thickening idea from this recipe for Paraguayan Zucchini Soup, and I love it. By the way, if you're a soup-lover, that's a great site to poke around on. Anyway, the egg adds protein, which means all I need to eat at lunch is the soup, and it really gives it oomph (technical cooking term).

Simple Soup Blueprint

Step One (optional): Saute some combination of onion, leek, and/or garlic (about 1/4 cup, obviously less if you're using garlic alone) in a teaspoon or two of olive oil.

Step Two: Add 3-4 cups of broth (I use my homemade frozen veggie broth) and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper and dried herbs to taste. If you use canned broth, watch your added salt.

Step Three: Add 1-3 cups of vegetables (e.g.; a box of frozen spinach OR a diced zucchini and frozen peas OR shredded cabbage and white beans OR frozen peas and diced tofu OR whatever's in your fridge or freezer) PLUS 1/3 cup tiny pasta OR 1-2 small diced potatoes. Simmer until tender.

Step Four (optional): Whisk 2 eggs together with 1/4 cup grated/shredded cheese (parmesan, fontina, asiago, romano, whatever you like) and gently whisk into soup together with any fresh herbs. Cook 3-5 minutes, until egg is well set.


YarnThrower said...

Your blanket is beautiful!! It sounds like you had a great trip, before returning to a place where "really cold" means something other than what it means in California.

Just a word of caution. When I was pregnant and reading everything I could find about child safety, etc., there was a lot I found about being careful that there are no long strings which might get tangled around a baby's neck. There are pacifier holders which have ribbons on them, etc., and I had made a Fair Isle blanket for my firstborn which he managed to pull several pieces of yarn out from the back to make large loops. I finally took the blanket away from him, because I was afraid that one of the large loops would get around his neck in his sleep -- they are so erratic with their arm movements, etc. Anyway, I love the way the ribbon on the blanket looks, but I just want to caution you about the potential hazard. Do I sound like the mom-you-never-wanted now?

Glad you're back!

Annie said...

Fantastic blankets! Baby things are so exciting. :-)

snowdrop said...

That blanket is truly gorgeous! And I love your Grandmother's crochet blanket!
Egg in soup is one of my favourite things, works like the easiest charm...

Holly said...

Glad to have you bad! I missed your posts! And your baby blanket is SOO adorable!

My friends in California are telling me how cold it is too. I told them I didn't want to hear anything about the cold. It's 2 freaking degrees today! :-)

Holly said...

oops that was supposed to say "back" not "bad". :-)

Areli said...

Welcome back! The blanket is so beautiful, your daughter is going to be such a princess in all her beautiful knits!

You've been knitting like crazy, can't believe you whipped up 4 branching outs as gifts, you're so sweet.

Rachel said...

Ack! So much to respond to! First of all, FOUR Branching Outs? You have higher endurance than I do if you really cranked out four idential lace scarves in a fairly small amount of time. What wonderful hostess gifts!

I love the baby blanket, though I have to say that up-down-up-down mistake is exactly the sort of thing I'd do -- you must have been stunned when you realized you'd made the mistake after being so careful. It looks wonderful, though.

Speaking of nice-looking blankets, the one your grandmother crocheted is beautiful! Butterbean will be one well-blanketed kiddo.

Good to have you back!

mle said...

Good to have you back!! Glad your holidays were nice!
The baby blankets are both beautiful! and I really liked your cat story...it's so funny how they get themselves into messes like that!

Rain said...

How busy have you been! I don't know how you do it.

The blanket look lovely, cashmerino is such a nice yarn that it will feel so warm and cuddly for the baby. I like what you did with the ribbon for it.

The blanket your grandmother made is simply stunning.

Marie said...

Very belated comments but I can't believe you knit four Branching Outs in such a short period of time! You're amazing! (And here I am plodding away on my one lace gift scarf...) Your story of Geromino had me chucking. I can just see poor Mirando being so confused!