So I know I already did the Six Weird Things About Me meme, and it's not like anyone requested some bonus weird, but here we go anyway, since I have a story to tell. I like spiders, I really do. I love Charlotte's Web. I think spiders are fascinating, and they eat bugs I don't like. So the rule in our place is that spiders are allowed to stay if there aren't too many and they stay in the corners, and I am able to deal with my slight issue with how many legs they have and how they're really a little scary, even the non-venomous ones. There is the, "Is it on me? I feel like it's on me" response when the spider has left it's corner. But a couple of nights ago, one of the resident spiders broke the rules and was on the wall right by my lamp when I got up in the middle of the night to feed Lilah. Usually rule-breaking spiders get relocated with the sophisticated cup-and-piece of paper method, but it was cold and I was tired, so I ushered him into the bathroom with a Kleenex and went back to sleep. Then I was feeding Lilah a couple hours later, around dawn, sitting up in bed, and all of a sudden, there was a spider SIX INCHES FROM MY FACE. Ack! I really don't think I'm so fascinating that it's necessary to float down to see me from the ceiling. So I grabbed the changing pad and scooted him toward the oppposite wall, and he's now happily installed in the bathroom. But he (she?) necessitated a new rule, which is No Spiders Allowed in the Bedroom. My husband doesn't think it's really that traumatic to have a spider show up right in front of your face when you're half asleep, but I'm not alone here, right? That's scary!
Thank you to everyone for your kind blogiversary wishes! I am also SO glad that I'm not the only one who started Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell ages ago :)
Knitting: I finished the Gryffindor Socks!!! Here they are, modeled by my husband, who wouldn't roll up his pants legs any further than that.
Pattern - From The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, men's medium
Changes - I did about an inch of ribbing, then switched to stockinette for the rest of the sock. I also used size 1 needles for the whole sock, and didn't change sizes.
Yarn - Gryffindor Stripe from Sunshine Yarns
Notes: Dani periodically posts new yarn for sale, and there isn't always Gryffindor Stripe. Even when there is, it sells out fast. I was excited to get two skeins at different times. I believe Dani takes special orders, though, if you contact her. I used an entire skein, plus additional red for the toe. For a woman's sock, one skein should be plenty. I cut out the yellow parts of the yarn for the top ribbing, heel flap, and toe.
Needles - Size 1 dpns
Gauge - 8 stitches per inch
Thoughts: I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of the heel flap method. My next sock attempt will be a short-row heel. These fit Matt really well, even though I worried partway through the first sock that the stockinette would make it too snug (the pattern as written is for ribbing). I love the yarn. The rest of the second skein is for a pair of Gryffindor socks for me! Final thought: men have big feet. Making socks for women is much nicer, but Matt really liked these, so it was worth it.
There we go! That's my last Christmas present knitting! Now, on to more baby things.
Reading: I finished Jane and the Genius of the Place by Stephanie Barron. Like the others in the series, I enjoyed it. It's more political than the previous entries and discusses the Napoleonic Wars quite a bit. The mystery wasn't quite as good, and I missed Lord Harold and Eliza. But Jane's voice makes it a fun read, anyway. I'm now reading The Shadow of the Wind and loving it so far.
Writing: Still slow revising. As we get used to Lilah's schedule more, I'm working on re-incorporating things like exercise (I missed you, Billy Blanks!) and preventing the apartment from devolving into total chaos (ha! too late!), so there's been less writing of late.
Cooking: I am very lucky to live near Lee, a fabulous cook (and also a knitter, and we were treated to a lovely homemade Indian feast, so we have been able to skip some cooking. I did, however, make cabbage soup, and this time came closer to the yummy vegetable soup served in Basque restaurants, so I'll post what I did.
Cabbage Soup (With or Without Beans)
2 TBL olive oil
2 small onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups stock or water (if you use all water, add a bay leaf and perhaps extra garlic and onion)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 large head of cabbage, shredded
2-3 cups pinto beans, Great Northern beans, navy beans, or chickpeas (canned or cooked) (optional)
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper to taste (you'll use less salt if you use salted stock, canned beans, tomatoes that aren't no-salt-added, etc.)
Heat the oil in a stockpot. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook 30 minutes, or until vegetables reach desired tenderness. This makes a ton of soup! Serve sprinkled with grated parmesan and ground black pepper.
I used half vegetable stock and half water. I used chickpeas because I had some cooked ones leftover from making hummus, but I would have preferred pinto beans. At Basque restaurants, a bean-free version of this is served alongside bread, salsa, and soup beans (pinto). You scoop beans and salsa into your bowl, then ladle in soup. Yum.