Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ten on Tuesday: 10 things in your refrigerator right now

Another easy one!

1) Heavy cream (I have this fantasy that we're going to make ice cream from scratch some evening, and I want to be prepared. I also have Nutella in the pantry for the same reason.)

2) 1% organic milk, for the males in the family.

3) Low calorie soy milk, for me.

4) All the cooked ingredients for a roasted vegetable soup that I haven't actually assembled yet.

5) Left-over cheese pizza. (My younger son likes it for breakfast.)

6) Steamed carrots. (One of the few vegetables my sons will voluntarily eat.)

7) Eggs, both raw and hard-boiled. (The latter is another great "oh-shoot-the-bus-coming-in-six-minutes-eat-something" food)

8) Apples, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, a lemon, part of a honeydew melon, and a grapefruit. (We may dodge the vegetables on occasion, but we all adore our fruit.)

9) Mozzarella, 3 kinds of cheddar, Mahon, Wensleydale, a goat gouda from the local farmer's market, feta, parmesan, and some very old Humboldt Fog. I think we also have some Camembert in there, but I couldn't find it just now.

10) Chilled water in the flask for making seltzer.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ten on Tuesday: 10 ways to have a happy birthday

Well, my birthday was only a few weeks ago, and it was lovely... so I think I have this topic under control!

1) Set reasonable expectations. Not everyone will remember. Some packages may be late. Be grateful for the gifts and cards you do get, and don't dwell on the missing ones.

2) Plan ahead, but don't get fixated on those plans. (We have baby-sitter issues some years.)

3) Sushi makes everything happier, at least for me. (And there's a decent sushi restaurant 2 blocks away from us, so it's very easy to make me happy...)

4) Don't eat so much that you'll be dieting for the next month. Think about how you'll "spend" your calories for the day.

5) Having said that, do indulge to a moderate amount.

6) If "alone time" is an important part of your day, absolutely demand it today.

7) Update your Amazon and Loopy Ewe wishlists at least two weeks before your birthday.

8) As much as your family will let you, sleep late.

9) This is a great day to cast on for a new project.

10) This is also the day that I start seriously thinking about Winter Solstice Knitting...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hugs-n-kisses in sage green

Here's a much better picture of the mitten, now with completed thumb!

Yarn: Berkshire Bulky in a color I think of as sage green, but I believe is actually called "mistletoe"
Needles: size 8 DPNs, wooden
Pattern: Bella's Mittens, modified to be 2 stitches wider, started at Row 16 (instead of Row 1, obviously), and with a hugs-n-kisses cable instead of the horseshoe cable specified in the pattern.

Verdict: I continue to love the yarn and the pattern. I've been gradually tweaking the pattern as I knit these (one modification per pair, thus far.) This is the fourth variant I've done. My next scheduled modifications are to make it fingerless (that should be a no-brainer as long as I plan the cables correctly) and to downsize it for a 6-year-old's birthday present. I was hoping to just knit the same pattern in Berkshire (non-bulky), but the recipient wants the super-squishy-thickness of Berkshire Bulky so I will try to intelligently downsize the pattern.

I've already cast on for the 2nd of the sage green mittens. Then I have to cycle back and knit the second of the light blue ones.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What I did on Saturday night...

I got almost all the way through a hugs-n-kisses version of Bella's Mittens! (Sorry about the terrible photo... I only had my computer to use as a camera.)

I'll post all the details when I actually finish it...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ten on Tuesday: 10 reasons to watch football

Wow, this is a tough one for me. I don't think I've watched an entire game on TV in the last 15 years.

1) It's good knitting time.
2) It's good for bonding with my officemates (9 men, 1 other woman.)
3) It allows for casual conversation at the salad bar once baseball season is over. (Did I mention that I work with a lot of guys?)
4) It's a great excuse to eat guacamole and chips...
5) ... or salsa and chips....
6) ... or hot cheese dip and chips....
7) ... or veggies with spinach-cranberry dip (don't knock it 'til you try it!)
8) I still have a vague fondness for the Colts. I went to a home game a year or two after they moved to Indianapolis. I think my high school's marching band was featured in the half-time show. This would be the only live pro-football game I have ever attended.
9) I should teach my children about this important American tradition.
10) It's only on once a week, instead of every day (like baseball) so it takes up less of my life.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bella's Mittens in light blue, shorter cuff

Modifications: began pattern on row #16 to make the arm shorter. Added 2 stitches (one rib repeat) to make everything slightly wider.

Details: size 8 DPNs. Berkshire Bulky in Colonial Blue, rather under 1 skein.

I'm suffering from Second Mitten Syndrome, in that I wanted to try out my next set of modifications Right! Now! and so plunged into the light green, hugs-n-kisses mitten instead of dutifully finishing up this pair. No worries - these are intended as Christmas presents, so I'm a good three months early with them.

The alert reader may notice that I haven't finished ANY of the items on my to-do list from June. This is largely because of the move: I have NO idea where Matt's mittens are, or the yarn for Shams, Pix, or Tommy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Books of the summer, part 3

I left a couple books out of my previous recounting, and read a few more in the meantime:

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated by Alison Anderson. I'm conflicted about this book. I know that should have loved it, but reading it at the beach totally spoiled the effect for me. I'm saving it to reread when I'm in a more serious frame of mind.

All the Windwracked Stars by Elizabeth Bear. The first third had me totally lost, and the next two thirds had me entranced. I can't wait for the sequel to come out in February! The book is very loosely based on some Norse mythology, but it all takes place after Ragnarok, which hasn't quite gone according to predictions. One Valkyrie, one steed, and one "tarnished one" survived. So did a huge cache of weapons. The humans are slowly losing ground against numerous environmental and magical woes. Loved it!!!

Black is the Color of my True-Love's Heart by Ellis Peters. Another superb mystery in the "George Felse" series.

The Case is Closed by Patricia Wentworth. I'm pretty sure I've read it before, but I recalled none of the plot, so I'm going to count it as new again. This is one of Wentworth's lesser books, but still entertaining to read. Miss Silver remains my favorite detective from that era of writing!

Song for the Basilisk by Patricia McKillip. I know I read it when it first came out but almost nothing in the plot had stuck with me, so I read it again yesterday. It's not the best of her books, but contains some lovely hints at plot twists that you have to be super-alert to catch. (I wasn't super-alert. The ending was a TOTAL surprise to me.) A bard who has spent 35 years at his school begins to recall his traumatic childhood, and returns to the enchanted, doomed city where he was born.

Overall, I'm a huge fan of McKillip's recent work. Basilisk was published in 1999 and is solidly in her "heraldic tales" period. Her more recent work has shown much more creativity and energy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ten on Tuesday: 10 things to do before the summer ends

Alas, my students return today: summer is officially over for me. However, we've got some hot weather rolling in, so I guess I can play along with this idea that "summer" still goes until September 21st.

1) Get in the water one more time (lake, pond, stream, pool, or ocean...)

2) Even out my tan. (Too many T-shirts and athletic socks in the middle of the summer, when we were moving. Now I've got a blurry farmer's tan. At least the two weeks at the beach got my feet to catch up with my legs, so to speak.)

3) Take full advantage of the farmer's market. (Actually, I already did that on Saturday, but I have to remember to head back every weekend until they close at Hallow'een.)

4) Mail birthday presents to my aunts. (Almost all of them were born in mid to late September.)

5) Mail thank-you notes. (My birthday was yesterday.)

6) Make fresh-tomato sauce. (I know the tomatoes are past their peak, but I only need a small batch to make me happy.)

7) Eat my fill of cherries and peaches.

8) Drink a cold beer on the porch while watching the sun sets while NOT wearing a sweater. (Running out of time for this one.)

9) Make a batch of popsicles.

10) Get ice cream at Scoop du Jour.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Books of the summer, part 2

I didn't make it to 100 books this summer, but I still have 10 days to go before my job really starts. Well, I'd have to read nonstop to make it to 100, and I don't think that can happen (still a lot of unpacking to do.) Here's a brief wrap-up of all the books I can remember reading...

Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle. I generally love this series of books, set on the alien world of Harmony, but this seemed like a particularly weak entry in the series. Oh well: I still want a pet dust bunny!

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Steward, illustrated by Carson Ellis. Sadly, I wasn't a huge fan. I thought the first 1/3 of the book was great, but it trailed off rapidly after that. I skimmed the last 120 pages just to see how it ended. If I'm seized with a sudden urge to read the next one, I'll get it from the library.

Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Anne Scarborough. Yeah gods and little fishes... it's tragic to see two such talented storytellers churning out sentimental crap like this. It's readable. They can both spin a tale. Yet the overall impression was that I had just thrown away two valuable hours of reading on complete drivel. I will not be reading the sequels.

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber. I got this because it had such a great write-up on The Whatever, but the book was only so-so IMHP. It's amusing to watch the author work in all the traditional gothic elements, but I didn't find the plot all that compelling. I probably won't buy the sequels.

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. What a lovely, lovely book! It's a simple tale of childhood, but so beautifully told that it just begs to be pushed on all of my friends and family. I've already got the sequel from the library.

After the Funeral by Agatha Christie. While vacationing with my husband's extended family, I came across a pile of old mystery paperbacks. I'm not a huge Christie fan, but this was a nice example of her story-telling skills. I was rather disappointed to spot the solution well ahead of M. Poirot.

Fallen into the Pit by Ellis Peters. I used to be a huge fan of Ellis Peters's Cadfael books, but I had never realized that she had written extensively about England in the 1950s. This is the first book in the series, and just delightful! I don't think I predicted any of the twists and turns in the plot. I immediately set out to find more of them.

Flight of a Witch by Ellis Peters. Another fabulous mystery in the same series. I only spotted the villain about 10 pages before the detective did.

The Knocker on Death's Door by Ellis Peters. Same series as above. A bit weaker on the mystery, but such a lovely piece of story-telling that I didn't mind a bit.

Half-Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls. This was required for my job, but I managed to get through it quickly and enjoy it. I plan to look for the other book in the series when it's back at the library.

My Antonia by Willa Cather. This was my other shot at reading "good literature" this summer, and a thoroughly enjoyable one, too. The book is on the recommended reading list for my students; I try to read one or two off that list every summer, to keep up. Having exhausted the easy ones (ie, the ones I've read before) I had to branch out a little this time. I liked it enough that I checked another one of her novels out of the library this week.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Terrific, gripping story. I immediately ran out and got (and read) the sequels: see below.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Even better than the first book.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Not as fun as the first two, and much sadder, but a very fitting end to the trilogy.

Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum. A good story, but the answer to the mystery was telegraphed far in advance of the actual solution. If I can get more of her books from the library, I will.