Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On the blackboard

I will stop being whiny.
I will stop being whiny.
I will stop being whiny.
I will...

It's just whine, whine, whine here lately, isn't it? Thank you to everyone for your kind comments. It's a bit of a tough time, but I think there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Not to mention so many good things that I could focus on. My car wouldn't start because the crunched-up trunk was preventing a light from being turned off, so once we figured that out, it was easy to disconnect it. I also am able to drive my husband's car, so I don't need a rental (it turns out driving stick is like riding a bicycle. Although I'm not sure I remember how to ride a bicycle...). Our insurance company is awesome and will reimburse us for the deductible for getting the car fixed--it's in the shop now. String Bean, cookies aren't necessary, but always appreciated :) Amy, I wish there was ice cream delivery. When I lived in Chicago, there was a restaurant that delivered that had Ben & Jerry's on the menu. I can't even remember what cuisine it was, but I remember they had ice cream!

Lilah is a terrific source of entertainment. Here is a little piece of artwork I call "Dog Chauffeurs a Penguin (in Little People toys and plush)":

Knitting: I've gone back and forth on the Knitting Olympics. I participated in the official Knitting Olympics during the last Winter Games and really enjoyed it. I chose a difficult (for me) pattern, and I actually finished within the allotted time. However. I now have a toddler and not much free time. I haven't been as into challenging myself recently, and my priorities are different--I can't just tell Lilah to wait a couple of weeks for whatever she needs. I may choose something simple and try just to finish it, but I'm not sure that fits the Olympic spirit, so I may just cheer others on. I have a sock yarn inventory to conduct so I can pick a new sock project. I'll post a picture when I get to it. It was overcast all day, so I didn't have good light. I've decided I don't have to finish the tiger sock before starting a new pair. Knitting is supposed to be fun and relaxing for me, and not add to my stress. Hmmm...maybe I should make "finish tiger sock" an Olympic goal (though it won't follow the rules, which require starting and finishing during the Olympics). Still, it would be a challenge for me, and maybe I could use the Olympics to get that finished so it's not hanging over my head.

Reading: Lots of good reading. I'm going to send you to On My Bookshelf for reviews again. Is that okay? I figure anyone interested in my reviews can see them all there, and the rest of you never need know they exist. It just seems silly to cut-and-paste them, and they take up so much room. I just finished a wonderful little book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, an epistolary novel set just after World War !!, in which a writer begins corresponding (by chance) with several residents of Guernsey, which was occupied by Germany and completely cut off from the rest of the world. The unlikely group forms a literary society to get out of punishment for a curfew violation, and the book reflects on what reading means to people and how a chance encounter can change your life. I found it deeply moving, but also very funny. I knew nothing about the Guernsey occupation, so the history was very interesting (parts heartbreaking, parts uplifting). I will write a full review on On My Bookshelf, but I wanted to mention it now so that you can all order it immediately :) I should also mention The Joy of Spooking by P. J. Bracegirdle, which I did review on On My Bookshelf--it's a delightful children's book in the tradition of classic horror, from the Tim Burton-ish cover design to its delightfully devilish villain. I had a blast reading it.

Writing: Not a thing. I'm trying not to give up hope.

Cooking: Not much. It's been hot and we've had all these things to deal with lately. The night after my car wouldn't start, I threw together an impromptu pasta sauce with some squash from a friend's garden, and it was really nice. If I had gone to the store earlier in the day (instead of being trapped by the lack of a car), I never would have come up with it! If I were to make it again, I think I'd kick up the lemon and skip the tomatoes. And if I'd had it, a splash of cream would have been very nice. And some fresh herbs.

Summer Squash Pasta

2 TBL olive oil
1 medium onion, trimmed and sliced vertically
2 medium to large summer squash (I used yellow)
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (14.5 oz.)
1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)
Juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound fettuccine, cooked according to package directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion; cook until translucent. Add the squash and cook until it begins to brown. Add tomatoes, peas, and lemon. Reduce heat to low and cook until vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with fettuccine and serve with parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where's Candid Camera???

So now my car won't start (probably a dead battery). We have no food in the house, which is the reason I was trying to start the car in the first place. The air conditioning is under warranty, but the labor is going to cost a LOT. AND the guy who rear-ended Matt in my car...turns out to have been uninsured at the time.

Seriously, am I on TV? Because I'd like to do something with my hair if I am...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A More Cheerful Post

Thank you to everyone for your sympathy on yesterday. It was a rough day. The a/c guy did show up and we have cool air! That's the good news. The bad part is that he had to add four pounds of freon, so he's coming back Monday to find the leak, and if it's in a non-fixable place, we have to buy a new unit. I'm trying not to think about that. It turned out that we were NOT involved in the boil order. The county listed a bunch of zip codes affected, which made it seem we probably were (and with a little one, it didn't seem worth the risk to not boil), but our City Administrator found out that, since water mains aren't laid out by zip code, the list was pretty much worthless, and our city was fine. And while there wasn't ice cream (it was too far for Cranky Lilah to be walked), there WAS chocolate. So things are looking up-ish.

I also had a fantastic vacation. We had a week at the beach, then Matt had to come back for work. We had a week with my parents, then drove up to Sacramento to see my brother. I can't believe how awesome Lilah was on the long flights, the Sacramento drive (4.5 hours EACH way), the drive to the airport--she's a really good traveler.

And...I washed this:

Pattern: Alpaca Baby Shawl
Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Cherry Moon (every bit of four skeins)
Needles: Size 6 - dpns, 16" circ, "36" circ
Mods: I was concerned about curling, so I added another garter ridge before binding off. I actually intended to do a couple more garter ridges, but last few rows really suck up the yarn. I was obviously going to run out before my intended border, so I called it a day after one additional ridge (one knit and one purl row).
Notes: I love this pattern. It's so easy that after the first lace repeat, I didn't have to look at the pattern anymore. I love the way it turned out. I bound off too tightly, which is pretty usual for me. It makes for a not-quite-square blanket. I really like the yarn, but the cotton makes for a heavier blanket than the alpaca would. I washed it on gentle in cold water and hung it to dry. I didn't pin out the points the way the pattern asked--I could be wrong, but I felt the cotton was too heavy to really hold that kind of blocking. The blanket is nice and soft, and the color is lovely. It calmed down a bit after washing (when they warn you that the dye may bleed a bit, they are NOT kidding). I used almost every yard of the four skeins of yarn I had. The blanket starts at the center and gets bigger and bigger, so the last skein really only contributed about 2 inches in diameter. Around and around with not much progress. It's a quick pattern because of the alternating increase rows and lace inserts. Interesting, yet simple.

Okay, knitters are going to think this is sacrilege, but I'm not the kind of person who seeks out yarn stores wherever I go. However, I finished the baby blanket in Cotton Fleece, then found out we had 9 hours of driving coming up (we drove up to Sacramento to see my brother). So I hit the LYS in my hometown, which is quite nice. I found Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo in an orchid kind of color to make a Placket-Neck Pullover from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, and some Rowan Cashsoft Aran in cream to make a Miss Dashwood. The Baby Bamboo is lovely and soft, with a gorgeous sheen, and it's machine washable. It remains to be seen how it holds up, but it has a nice drape, but also a bit of elasticity. Anyway, funny story--I had it in my head that I had the needles I needed because the baby blanket used dpns, a 16" circ, and a 36" circ. When I got back from the yarn store, I discovered that I'd taken the dpns and smaller circ out of my luggage, not wanting to bring anything unnecessary (the blanket was already on the 36"). And we were driving to my grandmother's that evening. And leaving early in the morning. So I had to get to a yarn store in Sacramento. There was one walking distance from our hotel, and I quickly found my needles. While i was waiting to check out, a display of Kureyon Sock called to me. I've been wanting some for a long time, so I snagged a skein. I have no idea when I'll get around to knitting all the sock yarn I've accumulated. I'll make a list if I get the chance, but it's sort of ridiculous.

Matt was listening to NPR and they did a piece on the knitting boom and bust (many yarn stores are folding). He mentioned that one person interviewed owned a yarn store in Reno that does 80% of their business online. "Oh my gosh, was it Jimmy Bean's Wool? Haha, it was. I just thought that was funny. It's one of my usual yarn-ordering spots.

Reading: I've done a LOT of reading since my last post here, so I'm going to send you to On My Bookshelf, where I posted all my reviews. I'm up to date on the Sisters Grimm books (I LOVE this series--I know I say it all the time). I'm currently finishing up Kate Kingsbury's Manor House mysteries, waiting for my two ARC review copies of books to show up. While I was gone, Matt moved all my piles of books into a corner, so the organizational system is shot. It's a good thing, probably, as I now have to re-organize them.

Gwyneth, I tried the first Alexander McCall Smith book, years ago, and couldn't get into it. I'm not sure why. But you're not the only one to recommend them--I may have to try them again.

Writing: Ugh.

Cooking: I was on vacation, so not much. I'm making muffins for a thing Saturday, though.

It's been one of THOSE days...

I will have an actual FO picture up soon (maybe tomorrow), but I wanted to vent a bit. I just got home last night with Lilah from a couple of weeks visiting my parents.

1. The four-hour flight went really well. Lilah was awesome. Then we were stuck in holding patterns for an extra hour before we could land, due to thunderstorms.

2. On the way to the airport, my husband was rear-ended while driving my car to pick us up. There's a busted taillight, so I'm stuck at home until we get the insurance figured out and get it fixed.

3. The air conditioning is iffy, not really keeping up when it's hot. Our a/c guy has postponed twice now and he didn't call today like he was supposed to.

4. I was expecting to have my two ARCs for review waiting for me when I got back...nope.

5. We are on a "Boil all water" warning until further notice because of a power outage at a water treatment plant last night. I found out about noon today. Yuck. We're not even supposed to bathe.

6. Lilah and I are both jet-lagged and cranky.

7. There is NO ICE CREAM in the house and no store in walking distance. And I can't drive my car.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Vacation Post

I'm on vacation! Too busy at the beach to do a real post, so I was thrilled when I saw this quiz on Stefaneener's blog.

I don't actually think the description is very apt, though Mint Chocolate Chip is one of my favorites. Maybe my vacation mood is different from my normal personality and that affected my answers...