Monday, July 26, 2010

Geeking out

My inner geekiness really came out this past week. For the last few years, our local Broadway theatre house has shown movies during the summer, while they are between Broadway seasons. The lineup includes excellent family films and some incredible classics. Certain films, like Casablanca are repeated every years, and other films are rotated. This week, we went to our first movie at the theatre, Back to the Future, and I geeked out. During the scene where Marty meets 1955 Doc for the first time and enters his house, I caught myself thinking, "Hmm, I think that's the Greene and Greene house from Italian's woodworking magazine." As more of the house is revealed, I thought, "That is! That is the Greene and Green house from Popular Woodworking! Of course, I had to look it up after the movie just to be sure it was the Gamble house. Woodworking isn't even my hobby, but I love furniture design and architecture, so I steal Italian's magazines and furtively read them. Sometimes, I blatantly read them in front of him, when I'm feeling saucy. Never did I think I would get as excited about a film backdrop like I did.

We also used another film this week to fuel the budding foodie in Little Clover. Ratatouille, in addition to being an excellent film, inspires Little Clover to ask for food. This viewing, he asked for cheese and crackers instead of popcorn. Granted, he ate primarily American cheese and Ritz crackers, but every now and then, he reached for the artisan cheeses Italian and I were eating, and he liked it.

Finally, my knitting spoke to my geekiness as well. I finished the first Bartholomew's Sock and had a blast. Putting the heel flap under the heel gives the sock some cushiness, and I like the gusset placement on the top of the sock. These should be comfortable and fun socks to wear.

From WIPs

Monday, July 19, 2010


We've been busy with a few first at Clover fields.

1. Newton, our little fig tree, has produced his first fig!
From Irish Clover

Newton was a "just because" present to Italian. We planted him in the back corner of our yard, where we hoped he would get plenty of sun. He stands proudly at about 11 inches high and has been sporting five green little figs for the last couple of months. This weekend, when I peered out into the yard to check on little Figgy Newton, one of the little figs peered back at me, it's deep purple hue standing out against the green fig leaves. Being a blogger, I ran back inside to grab the camera. Italian and Little Clover followed behind allowing me to capture a rare barefoot moment.
From Irish Clover

(Little Clover still doesn't like walking around outside barefooted).

To celebrate the little fig, we ate it, and it was delicious.

2. I watched The Godfather for the first time.

Ok, it wasn't really the first time I've "watched" The Godfather. It's been on the television plenty of times while I've been in the same room, but we have a running joke in our family where Italian tells people I've never seen it. I'm pretty convinced it was a "family" movie in his household and he and his siblings have seen it many, many times over. His Sicilian grandmother told them what was really being said in Italian, and he knows the movie extremely well.

Casually watching the film while folding laundry or reading a magazine is not the same as watching the film with a Sicilian, so in one respect, I really did watch it for the first time, and unless you've seen it with an Italian, I'm willing to wager you haven't seen The Godfather either. Go find an Itailan-American, Sicilian preferred but not required, and watch the movie. It's fascinating. If you know the Italian-American well, you'll find the cultural study amazing.

3. We went to our first member night at our zoo.
From Irish Clover

Our zoo recently began hosting "Member Appreciation" nights. They keep the zoo open beyond the closing time for members only, run the rides for free, bring in a band or a DJ, allow kids to swim in the little stream and fountain area, and sell beer and wine. We had an incredible time. For starters, the zoo is great at night. It's beautiful to begin with and is even prettier in the dusk. As the air cools, the animals become more active. The tigers we've had since cubhood played and even pounced. Little Clover borrowed the camera and acted as the photographer for the evening, capturing some great candid shots. There was also something oddly relaxing about strolling around the zoo with a nice cool beer in hand. Even though it was our first, I don't think it will be the last members night for us at the zoo.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Jury is In

From WIPs

I've been a fan of Signature needles for almost two years. They are my go to DPNs and since I almost always have socks on the needles, I almost always have Signature needles on the yarn. When they announced the possibilities of Signature circulars, I became ecstatic! I had yet to find a set of lethally pointy circulars for lace knitting. I began buying lace yarn in anticipation of the day the Signature circulars would be available. That day came and went. I missed the first release by a long shot. Then the stalking began resulting in two lovely second generation sets.

They arrrived while the bohus sweater was in full swing, so I tucked the needles away into my needle case until this week when I casted on for Laurie. They didn't evoke immediate love like the Signature DPNs. I did have to work the stitches onto the needle. My first thougth was that I casted on too tightly, but I've never had that issue with my Addis. I vaguely remembered Clara Parkes mentioning something similar and the resolution of the issue, so I contacted, Signature, and as always, their customer service was impeccable. We are working out an exchange, which is fantastic. I switched Laurie over to a newer set of Signature circulars and they knit like a dream, instant love. The join is smooth and my stitiches flow smoothly across the needles.

The points are lethally pointy and feel just right for lace knitting. Since the needles are aluminum, they do not make my hands stinky like the Addi Lace brass needles. I love how Signature is a USA made product and that they are needles made by a knitter for knitters. Yes, they are a luxury item, like a beautifully crafted pen, but to me, they are worth every penny. I would rather pay more for a well crafted item made here by a small company. It makes me think I'm doing more than just buying a set of needles. I walk away with needles and the sense I am supporting a small independent business and a local economy. Also, I get to envision what the manufacturing staff thinks and says when it's time to make the needles.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bring on the rain

From WIPs

There are few things in life better than a cup of tea and some knitting on a rainy afternoon, and I had the luxury of both this week. After months of constant unending sunshine, the rains have finally moved it. Normally, I'm an optimistic realist. I enjoy looking on the brighter side of things, but as of late, it has been way too sunny and bright in my world. There is only so much sun and heat and glare a person can take before they break! I was getting tired of it always being "another beautiful day." Finally, late Sunday night, the heavens broke loose and a violent thunderstorm decended. It was musical, it was bleak, it was beautiful. The weather report has thunderstorms forcasted for seven out of the next 10 days. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

My garden is definitely happy with the rain and I'm hoping the torrential downpour will drown the little bugger of a wasp that stung me twice while I was planting some flowers. As I ran screaming like a girl into the house tearing off my gardening gloves, my hand feeling as if it were on fire, I couldn't help but think how the little snot better hope I could still knit or else I would be out for wasp blood. Fortunately, I can still knit and have been now that I've put away the bohus sweater for a spell and changed the pattern for the Hill Country Sweet Feet I'm knitting. I've treated the hot wool of the bohus to the smooth silk of Louisa Harding Mulberry. I'm trying out the Signature circulars, and so far, the jury is still out. I need to knit a stretch of stockinette to see how I love the needles.

The wasp sting didn't interfer with my cooking either, which is very important since our CSA was refreshed Saturday. Plus, we still had the squashes from John's garden (excellent fly fishing guide, and I'm not just saying that because he's great with Little Clover). Saturday, I made John and Kathy's squash casserole.

Squash Casserole
A couple of large garden fresh squashes, sliced into rounds
Onion, sliced into rings
Cheese (we used raw milk cheddar), shredded
One sleeve of Ritz Crackers, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 400(F). Grease a 9x9 inch baking dish. Cover the bottom with a layer of squash, add a layer of onions, add a layer of cheese. Repeat with a second layer of squash, onions cheese. Top with crumbled crackers. Bake for 35 minutes. Cover with foil and bake for another 15 minutes.

We had plenty of squash casserole leftover. I am not a big eater of leftovers, but the squash was a gift and we as a family are working at the adage, "waste not, want not." The squash casserole became, then, a culinary challenge. Entering the kitchen last night, I put a pot of water on the stove to boil some pasta. When the pasta was on, I heated olive oil in a pan and added some fresh garlic. I lightly crushed the small tomatoes from the CSA with a potato masher and added them to the heated oil. The tomatoes then got a heathly showering of salt, pepper, basil, parsley, and thyme. After they were heated throroughly, I added the squash casserole to the skillet. The pasta was plated, topped with the stove top raghu, then I added some herbed goat cheese, and finally topped it all with sardines. No grocery shopping was involved, the leftovers were used, and the dish tasted like a very elegant grown up tuna casserole. I'm looking forward to the next time we have leftovers.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Fishing Stories

Our family was a bit selfish this 4th of July weekend. Normally, we spend the holidays with either the Clovers or the Sopranos, but this 4th of July, we selfish took some time for just the three of us to get away. Little Clover and I are terribly introvert individuals and we've been engaged in some extroverted activities of late. I begged Italian for a fly fishing trip and you are correcting in thinking I didn't have to beg very hard.

From 2010 June Fly Fishing

Fly fishing has many desirable traits. Generally, the scenery is beautiful, consisting of mountain rivers or tight little streams. The fishing is engaging and requires skill. You have to figure out what the fish are eating and then present them with yarn and feathers on a hook and convinve them it is a bug. This is shockingly harder than you would expect. Despite having teeny tiny brains, fish are remarkably picky and can tell that you aren't offering a real bug at all. My favorite part, fly fishing is a hobby in which no one expects you to talk to them. In fact, they expect you to leave them alone and they in turn leave you alone. You can go for hours without talking to a person even though they may be standing 20 feet in front of you. This was just my conference call overloaded soul needed.

We had beautiful weather our entire stay, lots of low wadeable water, and some incredible fishing. When Italian and I first began dabbling in fly fishing, we would encounter fly fishers coming off the river after a couple of hours in the morning as we were heading out onto the river and ask them politely, "How did you do?"

They would in turn politely respond, "Not bad, I got into about 30 fish."

I would then impotlitely think to myself, "Bull$#!&."

I now know catching 30 fish in a couple of hours is quite possible, because we did. Italian, Little Clover, and I caught a lot of fish. Granted we had the help of a guide, but we also now have more skills and I think we could do it again. When the fishing slowed down, Little Clover began keeping count, and he caught 13 fish in an hour and a half, and he caught them all by himself. He found them, he hooked them, he worked them in on a fly rod, he landed them, and he released them without any help from anyone. Let me just say, I was quite the proud mama on the river. The best was watching the grown men fishing next to him walk away in amazement because he was catching 5 to their one.

From 2010 June Fly Fishing

After our "hard" day of fishing, we would spend the evenings in more introverted activities. Italian would tie flies and I would knit. Vacation knitting is without a doubt, some of the best knitting, and I was looking forward to my vacation knitting. With the bohus sweater approaching a good stopping point, I dreamt of finishing the body while on vacation and putting it away once home until the cooler weather in late September. Our first night at the cabin, I reached into my knitting bag, and discovered I'd left the bohus sweater at home. Not only would the sweater have to wait, but my vacation knitting was sitting forlornly in my laptop bag at home. Luckily, I'd just bought a Namaste bag which is generous enough to hold a project. Plus, I'd brought my Golding spindle. I practiced my spindle spinning and I think I'm working out the kinks. The Blingpaca on the spindle consists of multiple different types of fibers, all of varying staple lengths. I found that spinning over the fold was the best technique to use.
From Yarn

Now that we are back, I'm determined to finish (the body anyway) the bohus.