Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Keeping Warm

Our high temperature on Sunday was 0. That's 0 degrees fahrenheit! The guys are taking advantage of every sunshiney day (as are Lilah and I):

And Geronimo, looking like he's on a throne:

Knitting: I'm nearly done with the Ribbon-Edged Cardigan (ribbon-free edition) from Debbie Bliss Special Knits for Lilah. It's in a lovely rose color. I started the 0-3 months size ages ago, and I'd better hurry and finish it because she is growing fast! With the cold lately, layers are essential, so it'll get much use. After that, I need to finish the Placket-Neck Pullover. Then I think I'll rip out T-Twist and reclaim the yarn for a baby blanket or something. I have to take a look at my patterns and yarn and come up with a to-do list again. I have some Sunshine Yarns sock yarn in Strawberry Banana to make myself socks. I have the Blue Sky Alpaca Silk in blush from the failed attempt at Vintage Beaded Gloves from Handknit Holidays that I can make into a scarf or something. And, believe it or not, I still haven't looked at the Winter edition of Knitty! I was really pregnant and uncomfortable, and then I've been busy with Lilah.

Reading: I finished The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. This is part coming-of-age story, part mystery, part magical realism. It starts with Daniel, age 10, who discovers the book The Shadow of the Wind by a mysterious author, Julian Carax. When he looks for other Carax books, he learns that someone has been collecting all the copies and burning them. He becomes obsessed with finding out everything about Carax. The story is as much about Carax as Daniel, and the characters are well-drawn and the suspense masterful. This is a flawed but beautiful book. I'm not sure how much is the author and how much is the translator, but you could easily remove a third of the similes and a quarter of the adjectives with no ill effect, and probably shorten the book by 100 pages. There's also a part near the end of the book that changes points of view for nearly 100 pages, which is jarring. Those pages are compelling, to be sure, and I'm certain that's why the author couldn't part with them, but they took me out of the story that was already in process. That said, I truly enjoyed this book. The mystery was satisfying and involving and the characters intriguing. It managed to be funny and bitterly sad. Lovely book.

I'm now reading One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson. I love Kate Atkinson. The first book of hers that I read was Human Croquet, which I picked up on a whim at the bargain table at Barnes & Noble. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the Whitbread Book of the Year prize, and is fantastic. Her most recent novel, Case Histories, was a departure for her--a detective novel. But not your grandmother's detective novel--the main criticism that I have heard is that it's too open-ended and focuses too much on character. If you read her earlier books, these are probably the things you love about it. One Good Turn is a follow-up to Case Histories, sort of the second in a series. So far I like it, though I'm still not sure how I feel about one of my favorite literary authors writing a detective series. I think I've adjusted okay, as the books still use her brilliant character development and intricate plotting.

Lilah and I are reading the first Harry Potter aloud when she's sleepily nursing (when she's awake, we read books with pictures).

Writing: Still slowly revising. I also...er...started a children's book I've been thinking about for the last couple of years. The first lines just came to me yesterday (as I was feeding the cats), so I've been jotting things down. My main project is still finishing the murder mystery, though.

Cooking: I made the Black Bean Chili from the December 2005 issue of Cooking Light. I also made a sourdough starter, though I haven't named it yet. I also made bread, this Italian Bread, which says it's New York style. I have no idea what that means, never having been to New York, but it is GOOD. Squishy, yummy white bread with a slightly crisp crust. Mmmmmm. I used the bread machine on the dough cycle, then formed into baguettes. I also made a cracked wheat bread based on this recipe. I doubled the recipe, used honey instead of sugar and upped the amount to 1 TBL, and used 2 cups bread flour, 4 cups whole wheat flour. Partly this was to make it healthier since I was already making squishy, worthless bread, but partly due to an excess of whole wheat flour hanging around. I used the Kitchenaid to do the kneading for me. This one turned out well, but I made too much, forgetting that my husband isn't a huge fan of "healthy" bread. And this tastes healthy. It's dense and slightly nutty, and I like it a lot, but it needs to be eaten in thin slices, because it's the bread that eats like a meal. It went very nicely with the artichoke dip I made for Super Bowl purposes. I use reduced-fat versions of mayo, sour cream, and cream cheese, and it's one of my standard bring-to-a-party dishes because it's easy and everyone loves it. I still have pumpkin and cranberries I need to do stuff with, so maybe I'll make muffins or a quick bread this week.


Rachel said...

I have One Good Turn on my nightstand, and I expect to get to it soon. Case Histories is the only other thing I've read by the author, and I did enjoy it, but maybe I'll try her non-mystery books as well, since you praise them so highly.

Glad to hear that knitting continues to happen. This is a nice time of year for it...if for very little else. :)

KnitPastis said...

Ribbon Edged Cardigan sounds really nice and looking forward to seeing that. I totally understand wanting to rip out the stitches on something and putting it towards something else...baby blanket.That is something I will do one day with an old top I knitted. Great yarn but bad looking top:) Artichoke dip...where's the chips!!

Knittypants said...

Lovely sunshine, enjoy it. I'm looking forward to seeing the ribbon edged cardi, but I can see how you might be finding it a bit tricky to fit in knitting time right now.

Stefaneener said...

Geronimo looks so dark in the first picture -- I just realized how lucky you are, photographically speaking, to have light cats to take pictures of. My boy just kind of looks . . . black.

I have a hard time thinking of you being intimidated by cables when you crank out knitting WHILE NURSING A BRAND NEW BABY. And cooking. And writing. For Pete's sake! You even do lace, as I recall. Aiiieeeee.

I hope you all keep nice and warm.

String Bean said...

Thanks for all the comments!

I'm looking forward to seeing that cardigan, too. I'm looking through baby patters for Lilah. Mainly quick ones so she doesn't outgrow them too fast. Can't decide between a bootie/mitt/hat set or a cardigan.

Rain said...

You must be in your element with such a lovely little one to knit for.