Monday, December 22, 2008

In the movies

Oh how I am ready for my Christmas vacation to begin, not so much because work isn't going well (it is despite regular ups and downs), but because I have a lot of things to do and work is getting in the way. There hasn't been any Christmas baking at the house, there has been little Christmas decorating, there have been not Christmas cards sent out, and I'm slightly behind in Christmas shopping (only 6 days left, people!). The worst of it, I'm behind in holiday movie watching. Christmas is the only time of year were I love, love, love being glued to the T.V.

I love catching glimpses of Miracle on 34th Street (the original only please), Charlie Brown Christmas Special, and The Christmas Story among others. My love for Christmas movies really heightened when I became a knitter because there are some beautiful sweaters in these movies. For instance, check out the lovely thick stranded sweaters Ralphie wears in the Christmas Story. They have a classic vintage style to match the movie and make me wonder if I could ever get Little Clover into something like that before he grows too big. And of course, you can't forget the long striped stocking cap Schwarz wears. I know Little Clover refuses to wear one, I've asked.

Another great movie for sweater porn is the Santa Clause 2. The North Pole scenes are more extensive in this film than the first Santa Clause which means there are more Nordic sweaters, hats, gloves, and mittens. I love the sweaters Santa and the elves wear while at the North Pole. They are beautifully knitted with some simple and complex colorwork patterns. When Scott Calvin has to go back to St. Paul, MN to drive the plot of the film, his donns intricate cablework works of art. This is Little Clover's favorite holiday movie, so we watch it a lot. You can find me on the sofa with a glass of egg nog and the remote watching, rewinding, and rewatching just for the sweaters. This behavior no longer seems odd to my family.

A Christmas Vacation also has some pretty sweaters, as does Love Actually. Neither movie has many sweaters, but the ones in the films are appealing. The sweater Beverly D'Angelo sports when cooking has a great 80s look and the sweaters when Colin Firth are in Portugual are cozy lacking in high style.

Monday, December 15, 2008


From Irish Clover

What you see is a free range laptop. For the last few months, my laptop has been tethered to a power cable due to a faulty battery. On a bit of a whim, Italian suggested we visit Batteries Plus to see if they carried the battery for my laptop and for our cordless phones. I was skeptical and thought an entire store devoted to just batteries was kinda pointless, but agreed to at least give them a try. Now I think an entire store devoted to one thing is wonderful. Not only did they have the right battery, but they recycle them, too. Batteries Plus will be my LBS, local battery store. With my laptop venturing out beyond the office, I can show what we've done this week.

We've accomplished a lot the past few days. We finally finished putting up our Christmas tree. I can now sit back and enjoy the festive glow with a little bit of wine and A Christmas Carol playing in my ear. Having the tree up really sparks the Christmas mood and I'm finally getting into the spirit.
From Irish Clover

A Christmas Carol is also keeping me company while I knit away at the Noro sweater. Since it wasn't ready for Thanksgiving, I am aiming for Christmas.
From WIPs

Granted this is still just the back and the only piece I've knitted, but I think finishing the sweater within the next 10 days is doable. Really, it is. Right?

I've also made a big step in my commitment to eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
From Irish Clover

I cooked a very simple pork tenderloin, roasted on a bed of carrots and shallots, accompanied by mashed new potatoes and mashed roasted sweet potatoes. I love cooking, especially when the dishes are simple and uncomplicated, where the flavors of the foods shine. My plans are to keep cooking the rest of the week and not eat out or serve prepared foods. Tomorrow, we'll mix things up by serving breakfast for dinner.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


In the midst of the spinning, reading, and general not knitting, we've managed to squeeze in a couple of our standard Christmas traditions. This weekend, we kicked off the holidady season with the annual local production of the Nutcracker. I think this may be the last year we see the Nutcracker. As Little Clover grows older, the ballet is loosing some of the luster it had in the past, and as Italian summed it up, "he's a plot man." We still had a great time going to lunch before the show at a local Canadian themed restaurant, but I think next year will be the perfect time to find a new tradition better fitted to a growing boy.

After seeing the Nutcracker on Saturday, we headed out hunting for a tree at our locally owned urban garden center and did the urban equivalent of chopping down a tree. Basically, we pointed to one and said "we'll take that one." Little Clover did pick out a beautiful 15 footer right off the bat, and Italian and I then began the annual negotiations, trying to convince Little Clover that a 6 to 7 foot tree would be just as lovely. Plus, we found out this weekend that a 6 to 7 foot tree fits inside my car; yet, one more reason why I love the Honda Element.
From Irish Clover

Little Clover said he felt like he was riding home in front of a hole in a jet plane. I think he loved it.

As we've been slowing decorating the tree a little bit each night, I've been neglecting my knitting in favor of spinning. The Spinning Sundays sessions have been quite fun and productive. After plying up the purple tweed, I was motivated to continue spinning and wanted to try som new techniques. I originally pulled out a 2 pound bump of turquoise merino wool intending to spin it into a sport or dk weight sweater yarn because I need the practice in spinning bigger singles. At the same time, I also need practice on spinning skinny sock yarn singles and there is a bump of lusciously fun merino in my stash. Spinning sock yarn also requires I use the fast whorl for the very first time so I quickly tossed the turquoise back into my stash bin and pulled out the socks-to-be merino. Not only is spinning on the fast whorl very easy and fun, but the fiber warms me up with its hint of summer. Can you guess what the colorway is called?
From Yarn

Yep, Neopalitan. Yum.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Books galore

I've started spinning some new fiber and will show pictures later this week. I'm completely loving the new fiber and have been spinning more than knitting this week. My knitting though is still managing to get some attention. The Noro sweater is growing and the colors are just fun to watch. In the meantime, as the blog waits for yarny pictures, here are reviews on some books I've recently finished.

Book Reviews
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I hungrily hunted for this book when I finally had a gap in my reading list. The bookstore only had one copy left and I'm glad I snatched it up. This book is different than the Omnivore's Dilemma . It does not explore food history, but instead, focuses on eating habits and how these habits impact health and enjoyment of food. Pollan tells you in the first paragraph the entire premise of the book, and then uses the remainder of the book to explain in depth what he means by "eat food, not too much, mostly plants," and how the Western diet goes against this philosophy. Reading this book renewed my commitment to healthy eating and how the time spent in preparing good meals is time well spent. If you enjoy food and love to eat, then this book is for you.

View all my reviews.

The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime, Book 2) The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
After discovering Fforde a couple of years ago, I became an avid fan of the Thursday Next series. When the Jack Spratt mystery, The Big Over Easy came out, I downloaded the book, loved listening to it, and then bought a paper copy for my DH. DH actually brought The Fourth Bear home and was the first to read it. I enjoyed the book, just not as much as the Thursday Next series or the first Jack Spratt book. I'm not sure if my reduction in enjoyment is reading it after listening to characterization of Jack in the The Big Over Easy, but the Jack in this book a harsher than I originally expected and Mary Mary is not as strong as in the first book. I'm not sure what Fforde has in mind for Jack and Mary, but I will continue to read the Nursery Crime series.

View all my reviews.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I gained an appreciation for Lincoln after reading Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. This book seemed to be a logical next step and it did not disappoint. The narrative is engaging and the portrayal of Lincoln seems closer to completion than other books. The book could have gone into greater detail and left me wondering if portrayals on all the figures were as complete as they could be. The descriptions of the historical figures tended to be one sided and supported the author's views of the men and women.

View all my reviews.

Since the Christmas season is upon us, I've picked a Christmas book to read, The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore. I find Christopher Moore to be very amusing and funny author. He isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy fluffy dark humor, then give him a try.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Was there supposed to be knitting?

There has been woefully little knitting going on in my life. I'm ok with this, really I am, mainly because I've been filling the time I would have been knitting with spinning. I've been trying to implement "Spinning Sundays" which has resulted in my third full bobbin. The third bobbin was quite a surprise. After filling the bobbin on my wheel, I pulled the other full bobbin out of my spinning basket and then walked to the closet to retrieve my lazy kate, wishing I had enough fiber to spin a third bobbin because I prefer the look of a three ply over a two ply. I reached into the closet, pulled out the lazy kate and lo and behold! a third full bobbin was waiting for me on the kate ready to be plied! I danced a little.

Since no particular day of the week sounds especially snappy with the word "plying," I've been plying the last couple of days. The singles really do even themselves out with plying and I am getting better at analyzing the singles as they zoom through my fingers, knowing what I need to do to improve. I think the yarn will knit up nicely in a tweedy sort of way. I'm hoping I have enough to make a vest.

From Yarn

Plying is one of my favorite parts of spinning, mainly because it goes very quickly and because the end is in sight. Plus, Little Clover seems to always pick up and play with my niddy noddy while I have it out for winding the plied yarn. This time around, the niddy noddy was used as a pick ax while he sang the song "Look Down" from Les Miserable. It was a nice break from seeing him reenact every Sunday football highlight.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thanksgiving Recap

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is over and Christmas is quickly approaching (24 days, people!). We headed to the lake house again this year to partake in our regular holiday tradition of campfires and paintball, and we added a couple of new traditions as well. Stopping by Books a Million seems to be a new part of the trip since we stopped there last year to pick up some reading material for Little Clover and then we stopped in this year to pick up a book for Italian and me. Maybe next year we should just try packing better.
From Family

Xavier Guy came with us this year, and I think he rather enjoyed himself. He was a bit befuddled by the picture in front of BAM, but let it go as me just being a blogger. He quickly got into the mix of things with my family. I was a terrible hostess and failed to introduce him. Honestly, I see him all the time, so I just figured everyone knew everyone else. My family is big enough that knowing names is not expected, so he blended in just fine. He did join in our annual post Thanksgiving paintball tradition and headed out into the woods to try his hand at a little battle. Despite my cousin, Red Head #1, bailing on him twice because she ran out of air, Xavier Guy held his own and managed to come back to the campfire unscathed.

Little Clover being the pacifist that he is, contended himself with target practice, shooting tree leaves, soda cans, and a wine cork. He did venture out to watch the big cousins run amok in the woods, but felt no burning need to play. I sat by the fire the entire time knitting away on Italian's sock, managing to finish one.

From WIPs

The sock is the generic Wendy's Toe Up sock knit in Trekking XXL. I've forgotten how much I love Trekking XXL. The sock will be sturdy, yet comfy and soft. Italian tried it on and it seemed to fit him just right. It knitted up extremely quickly in straight stockingette, which yes, is a little bit on the boring side, but extremely portable. I've knitted this sock on the plane, in the car, in a dark movie theatre, while walking. With the holidays making life hectic, I think I'm going to really love the stockingette.

My knitting sparked stories about my great aunts who were avid knitters. I heard about them teaching one of my aunts how to crochet and knit and how they visited their own LYS every week, on the hunt for yarn. I have no idea what happened to their yarn or their needles, but I now have a few stories and shared memories to keep with me.

I shared with my family some of my memories of the things I loved about my childhood. I reminiscence about camping every weekend in Colorado when we lived there and how I ran through the wildflowers. I heard stories about my mom and what she was like, and I heard the story about my arrival to the States from the point of view of my family waiting by the airport gate. I was surprised by how many memories filled the air this past holiday and the sharing of the stories was more warming then the campfires that lit the conversations. I'm hoping one day, Little Clover will look back on the many things, both small and large, we have done as a family and smile.

I know this Thanksgiving will be a special one I will recall for many years. This was the year we watched "A Christmas Story" out on the deck under a night sky. Papa Clover set up a projector and a bed sheet and entertained us with a Fleetwood Mac concert until everyone arrived for the screening. We all huddled by a fire with blankets and coats to keep us warm. We popped popcorn and watched Little Clover play air guitar to Fleetwood Mac.
From Family

This was also the year Little Clover woke up before dawn to play Wii games with my dad on the screen left over from the previous night's movie screening. He watched the sun come up with my dad. Later when asked what his favorite part of the entire weekend was, he told me playing the Wii with Papa outside, adding one more memory to our collective story bank.