Friday, October 30, 2009

10

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with my Grandmother about marriage. The subject of my anniversary had come up, and Gram - who was one half of the happiest marriage I've ever known - reflected that it was really good that we were passing out of our first decade of marriage. 'Things get so much easier after the first 10 years', she declared, and I could tell that she meant it with all her heart.

When I reported the conversation to my husband a few days later, there was a little pause after I shared Gram's wisdom. We then looked at each other and started to laugh. 'But it's never been hard at all!' we both said, and we meant it with all of our hearts.

Happy 10th Anniversary to my Dearest!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Super-Spiffy Kid

Every Friday the Princess comes home with her Friday Folder - which is filled with all sorts of interesting things, from her weekly behavior chart to completed assignments to classroom newsletters and school correspondence. This last Friday I opened her folder to find a certificate which said,

Congratulations!
Your Princess
has been selected to receive the award for
RESPECT
on Oct. 29th at 9:30
Thank you for all of your hard work!
You can imagine the tears when I read those words. I was so very happy and proud to receive that certificate!
OF COURSE! my husband and I attended the assembly this morning, as did his step-mother. The three of us were delighted with the Leadership assembly, and had a wonderful time. Fourth and Fifth graders led songs, did cheers and spoke from the podium about why we were there. The VP presented a slide show, and also played a video of a skit performed by another group children. 50 children from Kindergarten, First and Second grade were all given the Leadership award for Respect, each getting a moment to walk across the stage. Afterwords, we went back to the Princess's classroom for a quick photo with her teacher, Mrs. Snyder. We could tell that our girl was proud of herself and understood that this was indeed a very big deal.
Congratulations Princess! We are so proud of you!

A Pet Peeve And Other Tidbits

  1. Many of the talk and morning shows have devoted segments to super-saving Moms who are magically able to cut their grocery bills down to nothing through the power of coupons and planning. Just this morning a Mom on ABC's Morning Show took home $267 in groceries for literally one penny. Why does this bother me? Simple. WITHOUT EXCEPTION these moms are taking home bags and bags of processed foods. They always show a pantry stash, and it's always full of junk. Where's the advice for people like us? We do NOT eat processed foods, preferring to eat clean, healthy and organic when possible. Grrr.....it does drive me crazy when I see these segments. I'm sure I could save a bundle, too, but somewhere down the line my children would pay for it.
  2. I've lost some time this week to some pretty serious headaches. Those of you who see me regularly have permission to badger me until I make an appointment with my acupuncturist.
  3. This week I've had several conversations with friends about weddings. Sorry Mom and Dad, but I have huge regrets when it comes to my own wedding. While I did get some things that I wanted, by and large the day was more about my family's wishes than my own. (To be fair, they paid, so I shouldn't complain.) Someday when I have tons of money I hope that my husband and I can renew our vows...in the ceremony that I wanted.
  4. There will be a post later on today about my super-spiffy kid, the Princess, and her super-spiffy recent achievements.
  5. Knitting an old-fashioned cabled pullover in a basic wool is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered when the fall greyness triggers one's Seasonal Affective Disorder. (Never officially diagnosed, but come on....we've known about it since my freshman year in college.)
  6. I'm fighting my hair and fashion again over what makes me feel the most me. When I was 2ish, Mom started braiding my hair....an act which she did most every day until I went to college. Consequently, I feel the most myself when my hair is pulled back off of my face and tucked up into some sort of twist or bun. Nope, it's not at all fashionable and is probably not the best look for me. (If I'm honest I look best when my hair is short and highly styled.) BUT, it makes me feel good. This bears some thinking...
  7. My trainer would like me to work out 6 days a week, but that just might not happen. Saturdays are the only day I don't have to go anywhere, and on Sundays we are busy with church related stuff from morning to mid-afternoon. This also bears some thinking.
  8. I love my brother to pieces. He's the greatest brother in the world, and I hope he knows it.
  9. I made it on to my favorite podcast! My natural nerdiness prompted me to write a response email to a recent podcast entitled, "Why Are Women So Attracted To Vampires," on "Stuff Mom Didn't Tell You," which is produced by the website How Stuff Works. I enjoyed the show, but felt that their portraits of a couple of recent female characters - Buffy and Bella - were very flat and actually quite wrong. (The hosts admitted they weren't familiar with either.) They are going to read portions of my email on an upcoming podcast, and my nerdy heart is very happy about that. My husband has been teasing me about my newfound fame.

Gotta go.....More later today!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Treasures

On October 17, my daughter participated in the Festival of the Arts at Access Arts as a weaving demonstrator. As I spent a very great deal of my youth demonstrating various types of handwork through various outlets, I was definitely one proud mama. It was so much fun watching her confidence build with each question she answered, and it was delightful to watch her work the loom with such focus and grace.

We did leave with a few new treasures, which I couldn't resist. Not only are they gorgeous, but the proceeds also support Access Arts, which is one of our favorite places in town. My two pieces are signed "Marypotz" and were done this year. I was drawn again and again to this woman's work, and think I found the two prettiest pieces! The spiral, though, is my absolute favorite. Several people pointed out that it matched the shawl I wore that day, and so I had to incorporate that into our photo shoot!




Monday, October 26, 2009

The Monday List

I once again had a wonderfully productive week! Yay Me!

To review: Last week I set forth a fairly ambitious, yet open Monday List. Rather than go point by point through the entire thing, I'll just talk about the important things.

You might remember the scary item - overhauling the girls' rooms - that led the list. The interesting thing is that my eldest has actually been quite proactive. She worked on it all week, a little bit at a time, and I can't even begin to tell you how happy and proud I am of all that she accomplished! (To be fair, a couple of times she traded work for computer time - her idea - but it was worth it.) One of the most important things she did was to start pulling things that she no longer wanted - including probably 2/3 of her stuffed animals. She's beginning to learn the lesson that so many of us struggle with as adults - that all the extra stuff is just taking up space, cluttering our hearts along with our rooms.

I did start my embroidery project, but it's on temporary hold until I can get a better marking pen for the pattern. It was VERY difficult to see on the brown background I had chosen, and so I'm afraid I didn't make it very far before I realized I needed to fix that. I also should probably locate my old hoop - which is much bigger than the one I was trying to use. You've already seen that I did some plying on my spinning wheel this week - all the better to jump into a new project - and I quite happily knit only fun things this last week. Specifically, I worked on my beaded lace shawl, got moving on a new cardigan and also began work on a new shawl that I'm doing as an 'along' with a friend. You've also seen the posts on all of my finished items, and those of you on Ravelry may have also seen the updated photos in my notebook.

Nope, I didn't work on my Christmas list or finish the costumes. Whoops!

As often happens, I really didn't touch the Wants and Wishes. Although, as part of my room cleaning ritual on Saturday I did take care of one item. I managed to find homes for all of my knitting books on the bookshelf. Of course, in order to do that I had to (ahem) take all of my magazines and stack them on the shelves in my closet. Amazing how much space 7 years of knitting magazines will eat up....

Now, on to the fun stuff...this week's list!

The NEEDS:
  1. Obviously, finish the Halloween costumes.
  2. Clean the Pixie's room, and box up all of the items in both rooms that need to go to charity.
  3. Finish my beaded stole for Saturday. This may or may not happen, but I would really like it to! Edited in the afternoon to add - THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! I'm not crazy, and given time constraints and the amount of work still left to do I've decided to just let it go.
  4. It's not at all fun - but I need to work up our family budget. We had to replace our hot water heater a couple of weeks ago (My first reaction to hearing there was water on the floor in our storage area - "ARE MY BOOKS OK!?!?!?!" My husband's reaction was more appropriate...along the lines of "Where is it coming from, and how do we fix it."), and with the holidays coming we need to make some plans.
The WANTS:
  1. I have a basket full of items that need to be fixed - mostly through needles and thread - and I would love to start clearing that basket out!
  2. Christmas list! Moved down this week because we have two other holidays to enjoy this week.
  3. Prepare the Sandalwood Merino for spinning.
  4. Redo the pattern for my embroidery project and start again.
  5. Keep working on current knitting projects as the mood hits.
  6. With the sewing machine set up, start working on either the quilt or the project bags.

The WISHES: Well, because of the two holidays and because my husband will be taking a bit of vacation time this week, I'm not even going to think about my wishes! You just never know what's going to happen!

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I Had Cookies For Breakfast

After deciding that today was going to be all about pleasure.

Then I took some pictures - which I will share with you tomorrow.
When I was done with that, I turned to my bedroom. I cleaned up my space as well as possible and then got out every craft thing I thought I might want.
I also set up my sewing machine so that it would be ready, although I had no intention of actually using it today. Once everything was to my liking, I added a few more rows to the cardigan I started this week. I had forgotten how wonderfully instinctual cables can be, and I wanted to put in enough so that I could read my knitting instead of the printed pattern.
Then a friend called, and I spent a fair amount of time on the phone having an in depth conversation about knitting and audio books.
It was such a nice day that we all went outside for a couple of hours.
The girls were very excited about the leaves.
I don't remember enjoying raking when I was a kid....
But hey, what do I know?
And anyway, they were fun to watch. The raking was followed by an old fashioned jump into the leaf pile and then lots of games.
While we were outside, I started a new shawl.
When we came in, I contemplated working on my lace piece....but it was just too fussy for today.
So instead I rewound a couple of skeins of yarn that I had wound way to tight a few days ago.
I briefly contemplated a nap with my cat....but as I didn't get out of bed until 9:30 this morning I felt that I probably shouldn't. (Saturdays have been my day to sleep in since the Princess was about six months old. It's a wonderful luxury!)
I wanted to spin, but rather than start something new I decided to go ahead and finish up an old project.
Plying the alpaca silk singles was not much more fun than spinning them was, but at least it's done and I can move on with a fresh heart.
My cat - who often sides with the Green Woman - felt that it was only fair that I choose my next spinning project.
It wasn't difficult at all to select this lovely merino in the 'Sandalwood' colorway.

We've just finished dinner and are now in the midst of bath time for the girls. Afterwords I imagine I'll either settle in to the Saturday night Scy Fy movie or I'll crawl into bed with a few podcasts and my knitting. I'll end the day with a book in my hand and my heated rice bag tucked nicely under my feet.

It may not have been some people's idea of 'pleasure,' but for me it was. In fact, it was just about a perfect day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sweet Pumpkin Cookies

Today was the quintessential rainy fall day. If I hadn't had children to deal with, I would have curled up in bed with my knitting and my books and slept all day! As it was, my eldest got out of school early and the youngest was needy, so I needed an activity that would keep us all busy and happy. The answer....baking cookies, of course!

I used to bake cookies all of the time - going back to high school when I cooked a double batch of chocolate chip cookies for my dad nearly every weekend. It's fun, it's relaxing and it feels like home. Quite naturally, though, my baking has been severely curtailed by my recent health initiatives. I've missed it - but not so much as you might expect.
However, it's fall, and in our home fall means pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cookies. We LOVE them, and almost always have some on hand. In fact, just last night my husband gave me puppy dog eyes and said, "You know, we don't have anything pumpkin...." Seriously, the pumpkin goodies are the only baked treats that he goes nuts over!
And so today the girls and I made Sweet Pumpkin Cookies. Yum. I love that baking with the Princess has now become a reading and math lesson, and I love that the Pixie is discovering the joys of dumping stuff into the mixer. Life is good.
While I've never before talked about cooking here at chez Green Woman, I couldn't resist sharing our favorite pumpkin cookies with you. Enjoy!
Sweet Pumpkin Cookies
from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics (with a few of our own tweaks)
1 c. butter
1 c. natural cane sugar (florida crystals work really well in baked goods)
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. toasted peanuts
1 c. raisins
1 c. chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375.
Cream together the butter and sugar, and then add the pumpkin, egg and vanilla. Mix until well blended. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt and then add to the mixing bowl. Stir well to form a soft batter. Stir in nuts, raisins and chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded spoonfuls (We use a cookie scoop) onto a cookie sheet, and bake for 10-15 min. (Ours only take 10.)
These cookies are actually quite light and cakelike, and while I know the combination of ingredients sounds odd...trust me when I say they are incredible!

Enjoy!
PS. If you don't have any of the Moosewood cookbooks, all I can say is RUN to your nearest bookstore and get as many as you can. New Classics and Low-Fat Favorites are our favorites.
PPS. YES, I've dutifully entered the recipes into My Daily Plate - the website that I use to track my food - and so I can happily incorporate them into my food plan.

Whoops!

It occurred to me yesterday - as I was catching up my Ravelry page - that I hadn't ever shared with you my lovely Old Shale Triangle. Why? I simply forgot to take pictures of the finished shawlette. I'm guessing that happened because it disappeared into my shawl drawer when I cleaned said drawer out this summer.

Whoops.

I'm actually quite fond of this little piece. Knit from June 24 - July 3, my Old Shale quite effectively used up some leftover handspun merino. (The yarn was originally spun for a pair of mittens that I gave my Grandmother for Christmas 2 years ago. It was my first official knit project with handspun.) I found the pattern - by Evelyn Clark - in the Summer 2008 issue of Spin Off, and had fallen in love with it's simplicity and versatility. For some reason, I just feel that handspun often calls for a simpler pattern so that the yarn itself becomes the focus.

I quickly discovered during my photo session that this color was going to be difficult, and so before I show you the finished piece here's a color-accurate picture of the work in process. I'm not much of a red person, which is why this particular red - with strong blue undertones - appealed to me in the first place. What I can't share with you is how delightfully soft the yarn was!
The beauty of this pattern is that I knit until I ran out of yarn. The finished piece is just big enough to work as a scarf - preferably with a pretty shawl pin.

I could have blocked it for a bigger scarf/shawl....but I chose not to because I really liked the feel and texture when it came off of the needles. I think it was the right choice, and I do love my Old Shale just as is.
As I said, it was VERY tough to capture the color. The first two pictures of the finished Triangle are color corrected to the best of my (limited) abilities. Just for fun, I thought I would also throw in this last picture that hasn't been retouched in any way possible. This way when I gripe about my camera you'll know why!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fancy Socks

So I lied. I tried my socks on again a few days ago and found that the twisted toe wasn't near as bad as I thought, and that the size was perfect after all. While normally I would never leave any sort of imperfection if I had the power to fix it....this time I decided that it wasn't worth the effort. After all, they will be on my feet and quite frankly no one will ever be close enough to notice.
And so I recruited the Princess for a photo shoot this afternoon. She did pretty good!
Pattern: Kai-Mei by Cookie A. in Sock Innovation
Needles: 2.25 mm Harmony by Knit Picks
Yarn: Dream in Color Starry purchased at Hillcreek Yarn Shoppe. I don't remember the colorway, and am simply too tired to dig it up tonight.
Time to Knit: July 29- Sept. 20, 2009
Comments: I really did enjoy making these socks, and I think the yarn is gorgeous. I did make a couple of slight alterations - adding a couple of extra stitches in the ribbing that falls on the back of the leg and in the foot so that it would fit better. My only complaint is that the starry part of the yarn is completely wasted on socks. The tight gauge swallows up the silver strand, and you barely see it at all. If I buy more of this yarn it will most likely become a scarf or a shawl.
So there you have it, I CAN knit fancy socks!
Now back to the plain ones.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Lovely and Limey

At long last, I am delighted to bring to you the finished lime Baby Surprise Jackets and Bonnets!
The yarn is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which is one of my absolute favorites!

The patterns are, of course, Elizabeth Zimmermann's famous Baby Surprise Jacket and Baby Bonnet, both of which can be found in The Opinionated Knitter.
My much-loved Addi Turbo in a US4 helped me through each piece.
All in all, it took a total of about 8 days to knit up everything. I won't bore you with the specific times because it was spread out over a few months.
I took them out into the sunlight before biding a fond farewell at the post office so that I could get accurate pictures of the color. They do look like they belong together, don't they!

Recently, I told you the remarkable story of how these little jackets found their home. This knitter's heart is indeed glad to send these happy little sets off to their permanent home, and I hope they bring as much joy to their new family as they have brought to me.
As it would happen, one of the mamas writes a column for an online magazine, and she recently published a letter for her baby girls which my sister-in-law passed along to me about a week ago. I was touched with how well she wrote of the hopes and dreams that we all have for our children - for our girls in particular - and I hope that her girls and mine flourish in those dreams.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Monday List

This is the view off of my back porch....and yet the Pixie has been living in swimsuits for the last three days. Sigh.

The good news is that I did a great job with last week's list! My P.E.O. meeting was a great success, the lime BSJ sets are going in the mail this morning, the designer project was shipped off on time and I did get a haircut! (We tried for flu shots, but were apparently a day late as our doctor's office had just run out following shortage announcements a few days earlier by the health department. My husband and I have since decided to skip the seasonal flu shot for the kids and I this year. I have mixed feelings about it anyway....but that's not a discussion for this blog!) I also worked a bunch on a beaded lace project and I traced the embroidery design. Both of those were very good things.

The bad news is that by Wed. I was feeling rather drained. It's pretty sad when even the Green Woman can't muster up any interest in any projects! In an odd attempt to perk myself up, I found myself perusing the yarn shop, looking for a mystery project in rustic wool and garter stitch. I would like to point out that this was about as effective as my husband's occasional cravings for 'cartoon food.'

SO, I did what I always do....on Friday I cleaned my bedroom (where all of my craft things must live) and on Saturday I did a full stash overhaul. The process of emptying my bins and baskets, rearranging my yarn, examining my project list and rematching up yarn and patterns always helps to clear out my creative cobwebs. It took the entire day, but it was well worth it.

Which means that I am ready and willing to write down my list for the week!

The NEEDS*:
  1. The girls' rooms need to be overhauled - in part because my grandmother bought a new dresser for the Princess and it will be arriving soon. Ack!
  2. Start on my embroidery project. I don't want this to become one of those projects where I wind up buying the materials and then letting it sit forever. Besides, I have an actual use for the finished project!
  3. Spin something....anything! My wheel has been sorely neglected! So have my spindles! It might be contributing to some recent crazy....
  4. Plan out Christmas, and then get started on any Christmas projects.
  5. Catch up on photos for Ravelry. I am missing more than I thought.
  6. Two FO posts - which won't take long. I'll probably write them today and schedule publishing for later in the week.
  7. Knit something fun....an ambiguous, but necessary goal.
  8. I need to finish up the girls' Halloween costumes. It's not going to take long - just hems and a small tweak to the Pixie's dress.
The WANTS:
  1. Sew up some more project bags. I already have the pieces cut, and I'm starting to want them!
  2. Likewise, get to work on the quilt.
  3. I'm still thinking that I need a hat...and as I'm absolutely in love with a specific pattern it's just a matter of determining whether or not I can use stash yarn for it. I really, really don't want to have to buy anything right now!
  4. Figure out what to do about the fact that my knitting bookshelf is overflowing. There's now a foot-high pile on the floor of things that don't fit....whoops.

The WISHES:
  1. Yes, thinking about the journal really does take this long. My husband has suggested the Internet. That scares me because it really is a tactile decision (and an emotional/logical one as well).
  2. Order the yarn for the Princess shawl.
Have a great week everyone!


*Before I get any comments about my crazy list, I would like to point out that while there are many goals, none of them require specific details about what is to be accomplished. I could literally spend 5-10 min. on most and be done! I'm not crazy, but I do feel a need for variety!

Friday, October 16, 2009