Monday, March 30, 2009

All work and no play

leads to one very scary winter break if you are with someone named Johnny in the middle of Colorado. It can also result in a very grumpy stressed out snappy knitter who is too tired to knit sometimes. My team has been rushing towards a deadline at work and I've had my fair share of meetings and training coursework to keep me hopping from one day to another without having any real idea what day of the week it was. After three weeks of "asses and elbows" at work, I finally schedule a lunch out of the office with a coworker. We took the opportunity to have some sushi while another lunch buddy coworker was out of town since she prefers to have her food fully cooked.

That lunch on Wednesday was just down right fun. We joked and laughed and blow off some steam and I got back to the office feeling a lot less stressed and all round happier, so happy in fact, Italian commented on how he could tell I was unwinding at home because I was getting hyper. I let Little Clover stay up late indulging in his latest obsession:
From Irish Clover

Clue: The movie and the latest Clue board game, Clue: Mysteries.

The fun continued Thursday when Italian took Little Clover to basketball practice and I got to go to my LYS knit night. There were moments when I laughed hard enough to cause my cheeks to ache. I love my LYS for many, many reasons and knitting on Thursdays is just one of those. These ladies are amazing and cover a wide range of people, but boy do we have some good times. Plus, I'm making awesome progress on my Noro sweater. Behold! More than half a sleeve!
From WIPs

Friday, we kept the fun going by lounging in the streets with our neighbors. We have neighbors who are close to our ages, on similar career tracks, and who have similar interest. I supplied the six pack as we talked outside in one of the yards while our kids played. I feel very fortunate to have this type of suburban life. Unfortunately, I wasn't cooking up the dinner for our friends who were coming by that night. Hopefully, the didn't mind the delay. It gave me extra time to spend with them.

Saturday, Italian and I treated Little Clover to Magic Tree House the Musical. I love little people theatre! The excited is stunningly palpable and the buzzing as the lights dim is just adorable. These kids were excited to be at the show and the performance did not disappoint them. Little Clover had a ball and afterwards, we headed to the Kooky Kanuck for dinner and S'mores.

Finally, Sunday, Italian brought me doughnuts from a great little local pastry shop, Oh! Susannah's! I'm so not telling you what my favorite pastry of their's is because they go quick and I want more for me.
From Irish Clover

Thursday, March 26, 2009


When do you start listening to the little nagging, I'm always right, voice in your head? The one in my head is getting louder and louder and more obnoxious with every passing row of the sweater and I think it is right. There is just no way the remaining 2 skeins will be enough to finish off this sleeve, knit a second sleeve, and the turtleneck. No way.

St. Patrick's Day Aftermath

As I've gotten older, my St. Patrick day rituals have become more and more subdued. I'd love to be able to tell you about what I did on St. Patty's while in college, but to be honest, I can't remember. I do know there was a lot of green, there was cheap beer, and I vaguely recall Reggae music one year. Now that I am older, wiser, and more mature, I lean towards celebrating at home.

There is still lots of green. I have a plethora of Irish themed shirts to choose from and these shirts are not reserved for just St. Patrick's Day. They get worn all year round.
From Irish Clover

(If you look hard, you can see the green tee peeking out from under the cook's coat)

There is also still beer, but the beer has gotten better and much less is drunk (you can ignore all those bottles in the back of the photo. It takes more to make a pint of Half and Half).
From Irish Clover

There is also still bar food, but now, I make the food myself and I like it much much better.
From Irish Clover

This year, I tried my hand for the first time in making fish and chips from scratch and I went a bit overboard. Xavier Guy and I cut up 6 pounds of potatoes for the chips. Then, he made the beer batter and I got to frying. After all the chips were safely stowed away in the oven to keep them warm, I proceed to batter and fry the 5 pounds of fish. Then the four of us (yep, four people, 11 pounds of food, and two pints each) sat down for dinner. I'll be making this dish again.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Her gifts

Friday was my mom's birthday and we celebrated with our annual trip to a local Korean restaurant. We ate tons of kimchi, Little Clover tried the Korean pizza, and I had my usual seafood stew, but I didn't post. I had been wondering what I could say that I hadn't said before, and how could I say it to convey my love and longing for my mom. I still miss her, but I realize too she's not completely gone. She's with me always in my memories, in my son, and in what she left behind with me.

For starters, she left me her strength. She raised me by herself for the first year and a half of my life while my dad was on active duty with the Army. She left her country, her customs, her language, her family and moved to a brand new place when my dad's tour finally ended. She watched her husband go off to a war, and she dealt with a very upset teenager will he was gone. She lost children. Her strength helped her through it all.

She also left me her joy. She loved to laugh and her laugh was contagious and always girlish. When she smiled, she smiled with her entire body, and her smile beamed through her eyes. When she was feeling silly, she'd sing and dance. I never had any idea what she was singing because she'd sing in Korean. It was beautiful.

She left me her values. She loved life, she loved her family, and she loved me. Her family was one of the most important things to her, and through all the ups and downs, we were a family and still are. I'm always amazed at how Little Clover feels a strong connection to her even though they never met in person. I believe her strong sense of family comes through and is the foundation of their special bond.

I owe my mom way more than a belated birthday wish and I hope each day to be the person she always believed me to be and to use the precious gifts she gave. Happy birthday, Mom.

Friday, March 13, 2009


FDR was not a knitter, otherwise, he would have really thought long and hard before saying "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." He would have known the terror of the fear of running out of yarn if he was a knitter. The fear of running out of yarn is real and palpable. It is due to this fear that a sweater is languishing from lack of attention. This poor forlorn sweater could have been, nay should have been a finished object by now. Instead, it lies hidden in a knitting bag while I dart furtive glances in its direction calculating in my head whether or not the final three skeins of unwound yarn will get me through two sleeves.
From WIPs

This fear of running out of yarn has not only paralyzed my knitting progress on this sweater, but has also driven me to, dare I say it, finish other things in my queue instead. Yes, there, I said it, I've been cheating on the sweater. I've been working on my travel knitting when I've been at home! I've knocked out a pair of socks in almost record time and a hat, and it felt good. My little fling with quick knits needs to come to an end. I owe the sweater that much.

From 2009 Finished Objects

My clown socks
Pattern: basic generic top down socks
Yarn: Trekking XXL
Needles: US Size 0 DPN
Notes: I call them my clown socks because the ball of yarn looked like clown barf to me. This is not the most pleasant image, so imagine my surprise when I began knitting the yarn and it turned out to form these pretty bright stripes. I loved it and didn't want to muddle the stripes with type of pattern, so a straight stockinette sock seemed perfect. Also, taking pictures of my feet is pretty easy.

From 2009 Finished Objects

Porom Beret
Pattern: Porom by Jared Flood
Yarn: My own handspun (yay!)
Needles: Denise Interchangeable in US Size 6 and 8
Notes: This is a very easy and well written pattern. It makes a lovely beret and Italian loves the way it looks on my. Jared puts together some fantastic patterns, so give this one a try. Finally, taking pictures of my own head is gosh darn difficult and results in some very funny pictures

Monday, March 09, 2009

The best job

A couple of months ago, I was bemoaning the decisions made by corporate executives to a couple of coworkers when one of them told me about The Best Job In The World, a six month job as a caretaker of an island in the Great Barrier Reef sponsored by Tourism Queensland. The job truly did sound like the best job in the world, expect for the requirement to move away from family for six months. Then, I thought, why not live out the concept of the job, but instead of spotlighting Australia, I should promote the great things about the city in which I live.

The idea faded for a bit, but was brought back recently. Italian and I had an evening out coming up and it seemed to be a good opportunity to start. Wouldn't you know it, but a very timely article in the local paper was highlighted in the program book of the Broadway play we were seeing. The article called out for all Memphians to speak up about the many great things our city has to offer, so without futher ado, put on your blue suede shoes and join me as we go Walking in Memphis.

Let's hear it for Broadway
From Irish Clover

Being former theatre people, Italian and I try to do our part in supporting the performing arts. Generally our support is limited to attending shows and plays. This year, we splurged on season tickets to our local Broadway theatre house, the Orpheum. Located on Beale Street in downtown Memphis, this historic theatre has had it's ups and downs. It began life as a premiere theatre of the South, hosting a wide range of opera and vaudeville performances. A fire in 1923 shut down the theatre for 5 years until it was rebuilt and reopened in 1928. In the 1940s, the theatre changed ownership to the Malco movie theatre chain and only showed films until the 1970s when Malco wanted to sell the theatre. The fate of the Orpheum was at a crucial point and the grand theatre was almost demolished.

Thankfully, the Memphis Development Group purchased the building and brought Broadway back to Memphis. The Orpheum also is home to Opera Memphis and Ballet Memphis. In the summer, you can still catch a movie on the big screen with the Summer Movie Series. One of the things I love the most about the theatre is the family series the Orpheum brings. Approximately four shows comprise the family series and these shows are great for introducing little people the joy of theatre. Granted, the Orpheum has brought in the likes of Blue's Clues, but they have also brought Frog and Toad, and Stellaluna, giving children a range of show types. The Orpheum has also been a venue for a wide range of musical and comedy acts, providing something of interest to the culturally diverse Memphis population.

Localvore's Delight
From Irish Clover

A night out to the theatre isn't complet without a night out to nice restaurant, and in Memphis, one has several restaurants to choose from. We decided to try out a new place located between our home and downtown. River Oaks tauts a menu filled with either locally grown or sustainably produced foods, including Arkansas quail and grass-fed filet mignon. When possible, the chef buys from local growers first, but will venture outside of the delta for sustainable goods like the diver scallops. At River Oaks, local or sustainable doesn't mean dowdy or boring. In fact, our dinner was beautifully prepared and absolutely amazing.

We began our meal with an appetizer of foie gras, artfully prepared and served on a cylinder of sauteed apples and onions balanced on a round of toast. The apples and onions themselves were a treat, but when placed with the foie gras, the taste were perfectly balanced and complementary. Then, our server brought over freshly baked zuchinni and olive bread which was dense and hefty and yummy. Our main course of lamb and quail arrived perfectly timed and perfectly cooked. The lamb had a lovely pinky center and was some of the best lamb I've ever had the pleasure of eating. The quail was also cooked well and oozed flavor and tenderness. The portions are designed for multiple courses, so when it was time for dessert, we were ready and not overly stuffed. The desserts didn't disappoint us either. The chocolate souffle was light and the accompanying vanilla bean ice cream was the best partner. Honestly, I can't remember what Italian's dessert was because I loved mine too much to take note of his. We have plans to come back to this gem of a restaurant. There were way too many items on the menu to pass up, so we're going to try them all.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

When I grow up

Last night I had an epiphany and realized what I want be when I grow up. I want to be a professional hobbyist. I came to this realization at my monthly fly fishing club meeting where Dave and Emily Whitlock gave a presentation on fishing the White River system in Arkansas. At one moment during the presentation, the thought, "man, what a cool job," popped into my headed and lingered there. Here I was watching a man in his 70s and his wife doing their job of talking about how great it is to fish and the decision he made to become a professional fly fisher. They both exuded excitement for their job and a love of what they do. I want to feel that, and I want to have a job I can do into my 70s, 80s, and 90s, and what could be more fun that living out my hobbies? Of course, my hobbies need to be marketable, and they largely are.

I love knitting and spinning, and the end products are sellable. I also enjoy teaching others to knit and being a knitting instructor is definitely a possibility. If I get good enough, I could even teach others to spin.
From Yarn

I love to fly fish, and being on the river is one of the most enjoyable things. I don't see why I couldn't help others fish as well.
From 2009 January Fly Fishing

I love food and cooking and feeding other people. Who knows, I bet I could find ways to market my love of food and eating.
From Irish Clover

Finally, I love to write and read. Reading, I think, makes me a better writer, and as long as there are readers and listeners, the world will always need writers. Between knitting, spinning, cooking, eating, fishing, food, and writing, I should be able to scrounge up a living of some sort when I grow. I plan on growing up in about 14 years, which should be enough time to get just good enough at something.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Snow take 2

We've had a remarkably cold winter in the delta this year with many evenings in the low 20s and bright fires blazing in our fireplace. The winter has been gray as well with rain when the weather crept up above freezing leaving the grounds soggy with deep mud. I've been trying to will spring to come by not knitting on sweaters and spinning Neapolitan colored yarn and knitting brightly colored socks, and I thought I was having some success in forcing Spring. We had a few days in the 60s. One day, it we even hit a high in the 70s, then this weekend happened and I forgot all my wishes for warm spring flowers and weather. We had snow, and not just a little bit, but a good 6 inches of powdery white beautiful snow.
From Snow Day 2009

The snow was perfect for throwing snowballs
From Snow Day 2009

and making snow angels
From Snow Day 2009

and sledding, it was especially wonderful for sledding. Italian and I marveled at having two snows this year and thrilled that one of those snows spanned two days giving us plenty of time to enjoy it.
From Snow Day 2009

When our fingers and toes were frozen solid, we hustled back inside and warmed ourselves by the fire. Before this weekend, I was wondering where we would store our left over firewood until next season. After this weekend, firewood storage is no longer an issue. We built a lovely fire and sat next to it, huddle together as we watched Muppet's Treasure Island. I knitted away on the second sock of the Trekking yarn I loving refer to as Clown Barf. The skein is not the prettiest in the world, but it sure does knit up into a super cute basic stockinette sock.
From WIPs

Besides snuggling by a roaring fire sipping coffee and hot chocolate, the snow made me want to cook and cook and cook. I pulled a whole chicken out of the freezer and for the first time ever, I roasted a chicken, and it was fun. Between the The Joy of Cooking and James Peterson's The Essentials of Cooking, I muddle through trussing a chicken and identifying the proper cooking temperature for the bird. Although the chicken took much longer than expected to cook, partly due to the cook turning the oven off instead of turning the temperature down, it still came out yummy and golden. We also had plenty left to make a big pot of stock, which will be used for making a classic Southern chicken 'n dumplings dish. Watching the stockpot also gave me time to try my hand at making pizza dough. The dough did not rise nearly as much as I expected, but hopefully, it will still taste good. I'll let you know later in the week when we finally make pizza.
From Snow Day 2009