Tuesday, July 29, 2008

While you were out

I discovered this week while the baby was in Disney World that I am an incredible sap and extremely boring. I ended up crying one more time mid week because I missed Little Clover terribly. Italian and I did manage to keep ourselves entertained. We cooked late night dinners, ate out once, played a full tennis match, and had dinner at The Engineer's. Then, Saturday came along, and I discovered I'm really, really boring.

Italian had to work a bit and had also made plans for some man time in the early afternoon. I pretty much had the entire day to myself, and was excited at the prospect of doing laundry. Lucky, I stopped myself before it was too late. I then had to intervene again when the thought, "I could finally get the house cleaned up" popped into my head. I grabbed my yarn and iPod and sat down to knit. I spent the afternoon, knitting, spinning some yarn, and reading. I am boring and lazy. Here I was all alone on a Saturday afternoon and all I could think of doing was laundry, cleaning, or finally settling on reading and knitting while plopped down in a comfy chair. I liked being lazy and boring. After a few hours of boring bliss, a little spark went off. I could go get a pedicure and manicure and no one would miss me. So I did. I hoped on my bike and peddled to the nail salon to pretty up my toes. I then further redeemed myself by taking my knitting out to a baseball game that night where we watched the home team blow a 7 run lead in the ninth inning. At least the beer was cold.

Italian noted we should do just fine when Little Clover leaves for college, and I think he's right. Between baseball games, movies, long conversations during dinner, and boring knitting, we'll find a way to manage.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

All grown up

with someplace to go.

That's my little guy this week. He decided last minute to pack up and accept his grandparents' offer to go to Disney World and left Sunday. I've only cried twice, which is a huge accomplishment for me. I think I'm getting better. He's having a grand time on vacation and is telling us all about the rides he's tried and the food and driving. From what I hear, Little Clover has been driving a go cart. He's growing up way to fast.

While he's been gone, I've been finishing up my last week of Lean Sigma training. This means a couple of late nights at work and a fierce competition. I'm really only getting this training for the trophy. Outside of work, I've finished one of my watermelon socks and made some significant progress on my second attempt at the Shaped Tee from Knitting Lingerie Style. My first attempt at the silk tee end woefully when I tried to stretch the front across my front. I casted on the required number of stitches for the 38 inch size. The front was supposed to measure 19 inches across, but only came out to be 14 inches across. I have no idea what happened, so I'm knitting two sizes up and will see what happens.

I've also been staying up late reading "First Among Sequels" which is fantastic, just like all the other books in the Thursday Next series. The book hit the I-can't-put-it-down phase this weekend and enjoyed each word. Fforde is a witty and brillant author who has done an excellent job bring the classics and a character to life.

Now I just have to figure out what to read next to keep my mind off missing my little guy.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


I took a rare and much needed lunch break Thursday and actually left my office complex. It was liberating and exciting and I even got to spend it with Italian as a little mini date. I was happy for the chance to be out and about until I passed a bank with a nice screen displaying the temperature outside. 104 F (40 C). That's really hot, people. The humidity has been down though, hovering around 35%, which is good for the Delta. Rumors are flying around the office warning people to expect humidity in the upper 80%. That's hot and muggy, people. Oppressive temperature like this makes me wonder yet again why I live in the Delta. Fortunately, I got a bit of a morale boost this week in the form of cow.

I am lucky enough to live close to a hormone and antibiotic free, pasture raised, grass fed cattle farm who delivers. They dropped off our quarter of a cow this past Monday and we celebrated by having local steak for dinner accompanied by potatoes from Mr. Soprano's garden. Opting to try pure steak, Italian simply gave the steaks a sprinkle of salt and pepper with a little bit of olive oil. They were then grilled to medium well, a bit over cooked for our taste, but amazingly good. Most steaks I've had cooked to medium well doneness tend to be bland and lacking in flavor, but not these steaks. They smelled like cow and tasted like what one imagines steak to taste like. I know, this is the oddest and most non descript way of describing these steaks, but they tasted like steak, real steak! To celebrate our cow delivery day, we served Chimney Rock wine with the meal and savored every bite of our locally made meal.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Orginially, I had planned on starting the Bayerische Sock in Trekking Pro Natura wool/bamboo yarn as soon as I finished the Uptown Boot Socks, but the Watermelon yarn was just way too fun to pass up. Besides, I needed some relativelly mindless knitting for the Fourth of July weekend. Wine and Bayerische just didn't seem like they would mix well. Flipping through Favorite Socks, the Diagonal Cross-Rib Socks by Ann Budd seemed to be the perfect pattern for the Watermelon yarn. The rib would match the varigated colors and the diagonal cross would add enough interest to keep the socks from being boring. I grabbed the Watermelon yarn and some newly purchased blondewood Sox Stix in size 0 prepared to use my new favorite sock cast on, the Channel Island cast on.

First, though, I decided to actually read the pattern, (I know, novel thought) and the pattern called for a Norwegian cast on. Intrigued, I flipped to the notes section and gave it a go. The Norwegian is very similar to the Long Tail cast on, but with a couple of extra little maneuvers. It results in a chain across the cast on edge, which looks quite pretty, especially in the white of the watermelon rind.

Getting the color repeat just right took two tries and both ends of the yarn. To have the "watermelon" sitting correctly, I'm knitting from the outside of the ball instead of the preferred inside (are you and inside or outside the ball knitter?).

After finally getting the color repeat down, I knitted the cuff and then began the diagonal crosses, which are really just a one way slanting cable. Here again, the pattern recommends doing something different from my normal way of knitting cables, and here again, following the pattern gave way to better results. I think Ann Budd is a genius.

I generally knit cables without a cable needle by knitting into the second stitch on the left hand needle, then drop the first and second stitch of the left hand needle, then place the first stitch back on the needle to cross the stitches (either moving this first stitch in front or behind the second stitch depending on the cable cross. I can explain in another post with pictures if anyone is interested). This pattern though called for knitting into the back loop of the second stitch on the left hand needle, leaving the stitches on the left hand needle, knitting through the back loops of the first and second stitches on the left hand needle, then dropping both stitches of the left hand needle. I tried it once and was in fear of my new Sox Stix breaking, despite the amazing amount of flex the needles had. I thought it was a hassle and didn't see a need for it...until I did a full repeat of the diagonal cross pattern. I noticed that on the one cross where I followed the pattern instructions one time, the diagonal looked better and more like a diagonal. Hmm, I wondered what would happen if I used the new technique for a full repeat. This required changing needles to my much pointier heavier Knit Picks nickle needles, but the result is worth it.

The diagonal cross towards the top of the sock is using my classic cabling technique, while the diagonal closest to the bottom of the picture is using the new technique.

I have true diagonals without the sloppy "step" effect of the needless cable technique. I'm using this new method from now on for diagonal lines.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I had a quick trip up to Minneapolis last week and on the flight back Friday, I sat next to a very nice guy. After the flight reached cruising altitude, I popped in my iPod and began knitting and listening. At one point in the flight, I caught a glimpse of the guy next to me nodding and smiling. I looked over and he smiled at me and pointed to a lady across the aisle and one row up. I looked at her. She smiled and held up her knitting. I beamed back and held up my knitting. We both waved our works in progress in the air, hers a Five Hour Baby Sweater and mine a Shaped Tee. There is no telling what everyone in the rows behind us was thinking.

But this isn't why I'm blogging. Today's blog post is to show off how awesome my hubby is. For the last few months, he has been working diligently on an entertainment center:

This entertainment center is not just any entertainment center. It is a mission style, designed by Italian, built primarily in solid cherry. Little Clover helped.

He built drawers with a removable drawer divider to store DVDs, and we have almost already filled the drawers. Finally, it looks beautiful in the living room and is a lovely piece of grown-up furniture, worth the wait.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Nature Boy

I was once strongly in the "Nurture Camp" of the Nature vs. Nurture argument, then I had a kid and he is all boy. Granted, I love being outside and I love hunting for wildlife. I've even held a frog once, but my little guy seeks out all things wild in the great outdoors, with great success. While I'm happily snapping photos of the life I see, Little Clover is in the mix of it and loving every moment.

At our annual Fourth of July Cabin outing, he hunted out a little green frog after hearing Xavier Boy had to coax one out of the shower.

Then, he played with the tadpoles swimming in the fountain outside the cabin door before he found a little red toad in the clay.

His weekend was filled with little wee beasties, bird spotting swimming, and massive amounts of yummy food. I sneaked in a slice of watermelon while everyone swam in the lake.

When, not in the lake, we enjoyed the company of our friends and neighbors in the cabin next to ours. We spent our evenings dining and drinking and making memories. Teh weather was cool enough to allow us to dine al fresco, and relaxed in the cozy comfort of the familiar. New faces and friends have always graced the cabin and I hope they always do. This lake house has watched children grow up and in my case, the chidren bringing children. Xavier Guy and his guest seemed to enjoy their first trip and I hope it is the first of many. All in all, I think we had a wonderful time at the little cabin by the lake. As I savor this last visit, I'm looking forward to the next one.

Monday, July 07, 2008

What are you eating

I've been reading the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan and last week, I hit the last chapter. I savored it like a good meal, pouring myself a glass of wine at noon on a Sunday and found a comfy seat on our sofa to enjoy the final crumbs of the book. The words swished about in my mind as my eyes enjoyed each letter. I didn't want this book to end.

The book, which covers the stories around 4 different meals, accompanied me through many evenings and lunches the last few weeks. I love to eat, I love to cook, and I love talking about food. Pollan's conversational style lends well to engaging readers in its conversations on food and often sparks discussions outside of the book. This book in particular lead to many intriguing talks with Italian, with knitters on Ravelry, with co-workers here, with co-workers in California, and with knitters in my local knitting group. I had a community of people who shared an interest in food and in knowing from where it comes, who had either heard of the book or were reading it themselves. It was an instant conversation starter and a community builder, and I didn't want it to end.

While finishing the final chapter, I thought of how this one little book impacted my life and in turn, the life of my family. I've replaced the BPA plastic bottles in my house with either BPA free plastic or with metal bottles. Another like minded friend forwarded a link to a local farm, and I've ordered a quarter of a pasture raised grass fed cow. I've found a source of Kosher chicken while I hunt out organic or local chicken, and Italian and I have started talking about having a little garden of our own next season.

Pollan does an excellent job of balancing out the 4 different types of meals. He doesn't leave you wanting to be a vegetarian or swearing off processed foods forever. Instead, he thinks people should know what they are eating and what the total cost of the food is, not just the price on the barcode label.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I'm with the band

We're busy packing to head to the cabin for the weekend and were in need of a little relaxation before we started our trip of relaxation. Who knew preparing to relax could be incredibly taxing? Packing required some shopping, so we decided to stop off for dinner at one of our local favorite restaurants, The Half Shell. Evidently, Wednesdays are devoted to live music and crawfish (a Southern Girls favorite). Little Clover really wanted to sit on the patio, and since the weather was cool, Italian and I agreed. Since they had already run out of crawfish, we settled on oysters on the half shell and made a mental note to come earlier in the evening another week.

The band was already fully into their set and Little Clover was enthralled. He told us later that the reason he wanted to sit on the patio was because he had never seen a live band before. Well, he had an awesome first band experience. The band, Afterglow, played steady favorites from the late 70s and 80s in addition to their own material. The covers were great and a few tables on the patio were singing along. Then, the guitarist played the opening riffs of the Clash's "Should I stay or should I go" and Little Clover lit up. This was the first song he knew the words too. He sang and bopped along, much to the amusement of the lead guitarist who chuckled. At the end of the song, he looked at Little Clover and said, "Man, whatever your parents are letting you listen to, they need to keep doing it." He smiled back.

At the band's break, the guitarist offered to show Little Clover all the equipment and gear. He beamed with excitement and came back saying, "Wow, I got to go backstage." How could a first live band experience get any better?

Little Clover "backstage" with the band.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


The gas companies and I almost had Italian convince! With gas inching towards the $4 a gallon mark in my town, the thought of getting a Vespa was becoming more and more appealing to Italian. I've been slowly working on him for the last five years or so and I was quite close to getting the green light. Then, I had a wipeout while riding my bike to the yarn store. I came home and asked Italian to help me realign my wheel. He took a look at me, then at my leg and said, "You are off of Vespa consideration." Seriously, I wish I wasn't so clumsy and didn't live in a city with a horrid traffic record! Oh well. At least my town has decent bike lanes, so I'll keep pedaling along.

I do love being able to ride my bike to my LYS, especially when she's got great yarn waiting for me. The shopowner has started contracting with a local dyer who is producing very fun and pretty yarn. One colorway in particular is in high demand and has been on back order for several months, but it was worth the wait. After all, what could be better for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend than a slice of watermelon?