Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Touch of Pink...

As hoped, I finished a pair of SKYP (slip, knit, yarn over, pass slipped stitch over both knitted and YO) socks. It was the first time I've attempted a patterned leg (other than ribbing) and it was so simple, but makes them that much more finished in appearance. Now, I'm just wondering what pattern to do next. I've found a few I really like, so some people may be finding socks in their stockings this Christmas!

Two nights ago, I sat down and wound one of my two skeins of Pepperberry cashmere into a ball so that I could cast on the band for the Josie Newsboy. Wow, this is shaping up to be a super quick project. I finished the band in less than an hour and then took a break for two days of wine-soaked loveliness while my sisters-in-law came to town so we could go wine tasting.

As I have the goal of finishing it before heading East on Tuesday, I had to get cracking so I picked up the stitches for the hat section from the brim (which eliminates seaming, hallelujah!) this afternoon while I watched the dvr'd Oprah special of the Sound of Music cast reunion/interview and the boys got some of their crazies out in the back yard.

We're back from trick-or-treating and I've settled in to (hopefully) hand out the rest of our candy and work on the hat while I watch some mindless TV. Or Sex and the City 2, again, some more, since I obviously bought it stat. I read a review of it, and loved that they were just honest. It's kind of a hot mess, but it gives you a chance to reunite with the girls. What more do we want? Not much. 

I love knitting with this yarn! It's 100% cashmere, and hand spun in Idaho. Northwest represent.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

(Not So) Guilty Pleasures

I love, love, love the food blog 101 Cookbooks. Over the last couple of years, I've become more interested in having a 'natural kitchen.' Ms. Swanson's books Supernatural Cooking, Supernatural Everyday and Cook 1.0 are on my amazon wishlist. I'm gradually switching my kids over to Adams Peanut Butter instead of Jif, honey and maple syrup and sweeteners instead of white sugar (my cryptonite) and the idea that yogurt or fruit with some whipped cream is dessert. This is as much for me as it is for them. Well, actually it's probably more for me than it is for them. I love sweets.

The Game On challenge has been very good for me in helping me to identify the times I eat, the things I eat and, aside from my day off and meal off, eliminating butter, white sugar and white flour from my diet. I am not saying that nobody should use the above ingredients, I'm just saying that I grossly overused them in my daily life. There have been many meals where I found that a spritz of olive oil cooking spray did the job just as well or better than a pat of butter, and meals where I found the opposite. My attempt to make a butterless whole-wheat pie crust was edible, and better than having no pie crust at all on my roasted vegetable tart, but really, I'd rather save pie crust for a day of indulgence and blend those lovely crumbs of butter in.

The contest only goes for four weeks at a time. As we're settling into the third week, I've been trying to prep for ways that I can still implement a lot of the principles of the game in my everyday life in a way that's sustainable. Drinking three liters of water a day is something I should have been doing all along, and one of the facets I'll definitely keep. Drinking black coffee, or no coffee at all? Not so much. However, I've definitely developed a much lower threshold on the sweet factor and am satisfied with a lot less; one tablespoon of creamer is just fine in my coffee instead of the two or three that I would have used before. Also, and I'm admitting this even though it makes me ridiculous, if I were eating grape nuts or a similar cereal before, I'd have sprinkled a little sugar on top. I know. But, I don't anymore, so that's that.

I love to bake, so have been looking for ways to feel fulfilled in that area without feeling like I'm just filling my house with sweets. You can only bring so many treats to the school, afterall. 101 Cookbooks to the rescue again. I found a Peanut Butter Cookie recipe that is not only fairly healthy, but it's a recipe you can make for a vegan friend without having to make any adustments, and it fits into the parameters of the game (if you eat one and count it as your fat for the meal.)

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did! I think the biggest trick is in underbaking them a little bit so that they don't get dried out and crunchy. I had my neighbor taste-test them without telling her they were 'healthy' and she liked them. I didn't have whole wheat pastry flour, so I just used regular whole wheat flour and it just adds to the nuttiness of the cookies. Lastly, I measured out almost a cup of the Adams creamy (no salt added) and then topped off the cup of peanut butter called for with some Mara Natha Almond Butter. Yum! My kids loved them as well, and were able to taste-test the batter since it's egg-less. Bon Apetit!

Friday, October 22, 2010

All In The Family

Tonight, I got out my Kitchen-Aide, buttermilk, softened butter, eggs, German chocolate...yes, it's birthday cake time again. This weekend, I'm headed to the family abode to celebrate my mom and oldest sister's birthdays. I have been making the birthday cakes for the last few celebrations because I love to bake. This time, my sister requested the cupcakes I made for H's party (Billy's Bakery Vanilla Vanilla), and my mom said she would love a German Chocolate cake.

The weekend we celebrated my dad and niece #2's birthday, I'm sorry to say I punked out and made cakes from a mix. Not this weekend, said I. So, right now my kitchen smells divine as the first round of cakes is baking.

It has been busy, busy, busy over the past month. I have been at H's school for everything from random check-ins at recess to collecting money for a fundraiser and punching cards for a fun physical fitness program that a parent created for kids to participate in during recess a couple days a week.

Now that the play room couldn't be mistaken for a Chernobyl fall-out zone, I hosted the very fist play-date at our house this week that was just for Charlie. I have been having so much fun with him, as H is in school, and have to admit that even though I have a large soft spot for him; he's going to be 'the one'. He is stubborn. I know. My child? Stubborn? Get out!

On to the next. J completed his third half-marathon two weeks ago, and last week I went to Boise to visit my college room-mates and ran in the Barber to Boise 10k with one of them. Before I left, I finished the Serenity blanket, and have scheduled a post for November 7th (after it's given to its intended) so stay tuned. I'm so happy with how it turned out. It's definitely the most complicated pattern I've completed thus far, while being so simple at the same time.

Recent reads include Ape House by Sarah Gruen, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (highly recommend it), and am in the middle of Run Like a Mother (love, love, love and follow them on facebook and their blog) and The Graveyard Book, which is aimed at children 10 and up, but so was Twilight, so hold your comments.

I have discovered how much I love having a dog. He is essentially me in dog form; afraid of the dark, needs to be with people, and has gastric issues that he's not afraid to share with the crowd. Getting crop-dusted by him has become a regular part of my morning coffee routine. Mmm. Good to the last drop.

I'm smack in the middle of a pair of socks (my first with a pattern other than ribbing) for that same patient friend, and next up is the Josie Newsboy, an uber-cute child's version of the Hannah newsboy hat. Both of which I need to complete before I head out to visit my besties in Woouhstuh the first week of November.

I am SO excited to run with my group again, I can't even stand myself. It's been very bittersweet to watch them train for the Cape Cod Marathon for the last four months, being so proud of them, but also knowing I'd be right there with them if I were still in Massachusetts to be swept up in the whirl of comraderie and suspended disbelief. Alas, I am where I am, and happy to be here; time to organize my own Walla-Mamas running group. If Moses won't come to the mountain, right?

Halloween is right around the corner and, of course, I volunteered to head up the party for H's class. I've got visions of sugar cookies and cupcakes dancing in my head. Yes, each child will have little pumpkin cookies to decorate with their own little portioned out ziploc bags of frosting. I. Am. Out. Of. Control. I know.

And, la piece de resistance: Charlie peed in the potty for the first time tonight! M&M's for everyone! (except me, who's smack in the middle of a round of the Game On! diet with my sistahs and best friend)

Whoops, the timer's dinging so that's all the time I have!

Photo of the Josie Newsboy is by Heidi Hennesy of Pepperberry Knits, designer of said pattern who hails from Boise, Idaho. (yay for local artists!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hot For Teacher

Okay, I will admit before I even start that the title of this post is totally inappropriate given the serious nature of the topic, but I couldn't think of anything that was more fitting, so there you have it.

Here's the deal; we've all had that teacher or student teacher that we thought was so cute, right? The vast majority of us just think of it as a harmless crush that we think of fondly as we grow up and see what real relationships are all about. But what about those kids whose reality is so much different? For the girls and boys whose affection for their teacher puts them in the position to be victimized, it's a tragedy indeed. I heard today that the very object of my student crush had 'been busted' for sexual abuse, which involved allegations of sexual relationships with at least four students.

I just felt sad. Sad for those girls whose vulnerability was capitalized on, sad for his wife and family who have to be humiliated by this revelation of a man that they obviously didn't really know (or, if they did were just as culpable) and, selfishly, sad that my fond memories of this person are now dashed. At first I looked online to find out if it was in the allegation stage, what the actual charges were, etc and it became more and more clear that this was for real. The guy was my facebook friend for crying out loud! Correction, was my facebook friend because it appears he's no longer on it. Shocking, I know.

Last week he pled guilty to charges which are much less severe than the original charges, leading me to believe it was a plea bargain, which also leads me to believe that he has a lot to lose if they were to go to trial. The whole thing just makes me sick to my stomach. But what made it even worse was that when I started to enter his name into google, numerous hits instantly pre-filled.

As I read some of the entries, I thought that it was crazy how the information age has really just given another platform for the town crier. I don't care about his feelings in this, because his choices to have relations with his students that were not only morally and ethically wrong but also illegal, take away a bit of his rights to privacy, but the victims, the families of the victims and his family now have one more (actually hundreds more) venues in which their veracity is questioned, their dignity taken away and their humiliation by association compounded.

He was being discussed on websites from Bad Bad Teacher to Telonu (neither of which I'd ever heard of before), but what was even more apauling to me were the number of people who were not at all hesitant to blame the victims. 'They were coming on to him, and he was confused.' 'I know him and those tram-I mean girls should have just kept their legs together.' Really? In 2010, we're really still defending a 37 year-old man's (a married man and father I might add) sexual relations with children? Someone said 'Maybe if they were like 12, I would understand, but these girls were old enough to know better!' Really? Were they old enough to vote? To live on their own without a judge being involved? Join the military? To have a credit card in their own name? To rent a car? To give sexual consent? There is a reason our government has established the age at which we become adults. Most people are out of high school at that point and are naturally in a stage of life when they need to be making independent decisions. Until then, they are children and deserve our protection.

Every adult has the responsibility to protect children, whether legally obligated to do so or not.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Moving On Up

This continues to be a very fulfilling, addictive and 'character-building' pattern. Each time I think I've done something wrong, or that the pattern is written incorrectly, I just keep doing what it says to, count, count again and it works out. I don't know if you can see the stitch markers in the picture, but along the top, there are red and blue stitch markers. Looking from right to left, you have one just to the left of the cabled spine, and then all the way to the other cable; that is one-fourth of the blanket, and it all repeats, ending with either a k4, or 2 over 2 cable to create that spine that will look oh-so-lovely when blocked. I'm really excited about this pattern and already planning what fun colors I can do it in next. The famiy this is going to requested neutrals, so no peony or cornflower or lime green just yet.
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Friday, October 1, 2010

Hats Off!

My friend Michele is one of the most creative and talented photographers. She was the uber patient recipient of the newsboy hats. Here's a little taste of her photos, and if you want to see more, you can go to her website. Some of the best photos are part of a project called 365 where each day she takes a photo, two of which had to do with the hats (including the one featured above). If you live in New England and want the best family photos for a ridiculously reasonable price, contact Michele immediately!