Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It was just my imagination...


...or not! I have been unable to put my imagination to use this week, at least in anything other than in my brain. I've lots of ideas roaming around, and I'm itching to get going, but I think the constant struggle is lack of time. Sort of like supply and demand. The demand is high for wanting to create but the supply (of time) is low. So I leave you with some imaginative sketches from my youngest who has a very good sense of humor:


Friendly Monsters


Squared-Toothed Robots

and


The Battle of the Evil Snowmen

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Early Morning


I am not an early riser, typically.
But early on Friday, I tiptoed from of the house.
What took me outside?

Yes, there was a crispness in the air,

beautiful patterns in the frost,

the sun winking at me...
but what really caught my attention was this:

A bucket you say?

Yes, a bucket of 'diamonds' my children had collected the day before.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wintry Whites





I didn't join the Winter Whites challenge this week - too busy. But if you visit there, you'll see 54 very talented people who have participated officially - beautiful photographs.

Besides being too busy with school and teaching and having nothing crafty that was white-ish, it hardly snowed here this week - a mere inch... then it was gone. It was cold however, and the kids could hardly stay out very long before their ears, noses and cheeks were turning bright pink.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sunshine for a Cloudy Week

Well, actually today is beautifully sunny, but this past week was on and off with clouds ~ typical I suppose for this time of year and this area of the country. I sat looking at the huge bowlful of oranges I had bought - navel ones - very juicy and sweet - and wondered what to make with them. I stumbled upon this blog and was inspired to make the orange cake that she made.

So after a few mathematical adjustments, I got to work. Funny thing though, as I was in the process of making it, the name of the original recipe's author, Claudia Roden, was sticking in my mind. She is well-known of course. I even borrowed this lovely book of hers from the library. But it was more than that. Where had I heard her name? Very close by, I realized. After searching my shelf (well, my floor right now), I realized that I own one of her cookbooks, a cookbook that I had bought at a second-hand store many many years ago. And bingo! I had the very same recipe at hand.

Did the kids like it? Not too much. But my husband and I loved it. I'll definitely make it again ~ very easy. And like Mettes Potteri says, it IS very cozy and it should last a week, but it won't!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fizzler

Usually I get inspired about 2 months before a major holiday to knit madly, holding onto the idea that I'll become a year-round knitter and enjoy all the textures and colors that yarn has to offer; not just in the dead of winter, but when it's nearing 98 degrees and every time in between.

But then I fizzle out. I'm a fizzler.

Another interest, creative pursuit, takes hold of me, and sadly, my knitting time suffers. Don't get me wrong - I love yarn, I love visiting yarn shops, I love pouring over yarn magazines and books - all very inspiring stuff! It's just that I like to multi-task, and I'm event-oriented, and if there's not an event to shoot for, then somehow I just wander aimlessly around with half-finished projects calling my name...


But not this time (hopefully).

My renewed interest in knitting is not waning. Maybe it's because I'm learning new stitches and trying new patterns. That, and the fact that there's a very nice yarn shop just 'round the corner...

Before Christmas, I found this wonderful hand-painted sock yarn (at least I'm going to use it for socks - my first pair, mind you). It's Araucania's Ranco Multy in colorway #307. The colors remind me of a good ol' fashioned tie dye t-shirt, well worn, well loved. Good thing I was forewarned about what threads NOT to snip when I went to wind it on my swift. There were many threads keeping the skein from tangling and quite a few of them were actually PART of the skein. The nice girl at the aforementioned shop 'round the corner thankfully told me which threads to snip and which to keep. Otherwise, you'd be staring at several smaller mounds of yarn right now. Hopefully these will turn into swirly socks from this book.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Shape of Things


Getting over a head cold, the rigors of getting back into homeschooling after a 2+ week break, and lots of drizzly weather, I decided I needed some comfort food.

Recently I've been reacquainting myself with the goodness of eggplant. Awhile back, I thought I might be allergic to it, but since I've had no problems since, I think the culprit may have been another ingredient of that dish.

Today, I had 2 medium eggplants in my fridge and thought I should use them up. So I made a very tasty and easy recipe. (At least my husband and I appreciated it! The kids? Well...)

Easy Eggplant and Pasta
2 med or large eggplants, washed, chopped into cubes (leave skin on)
1 large vidalia or other sweet onion, diced
1 jar spaghetti sauce (I use a low-salt variety)
1 can (15 oz?) of stewed tomatoes (no-salt added variety)
1 cup water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup red wine (or more to taste)
1/4- 1/2 cup olive oil
parsley (I used dried and just threw some in - I'm heavy-handed with my spices)
pinch of salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne, or to taste (both are good - 1/2 tsp is if you like it spicier)
1 lb pasta (small shape like penne or mini ziti - don't use spaghetti or such)

Put onion, spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, garlic, and water into large pot on stove. Bring to boil and let boil for about 5 min. Mix in eggplant, oil, red wine, parsley, salt & pepper & cayenne. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 35-50 minutes. Adjust seasonings if needed. When getting closer to eating, cook pasta in separate pot as usual. Drain. Combine pasta with eggplant mixture. Serve with cheese on top. (we like feta, asiago, parmesan, goat - something sharp). It's good with bread and salad or just by itself. Tastes even better the next day.


I think I may see more eggplant recipes in my near future... say, maybe this one or this one or this? Or maybe this or this or any of these... and of course there's the old stand-by, our all-time favorite that all family members like... baba ghannouj! We used to get THE best baba ghannouj (like gold) from a small Lebanese grocery store and restaurant about 45 min from where we used to live. I haven't found any good stuff around us now, but I did meet a Lebanese baker who told us how he makes it at home. He gave me some tips which I'll share another time.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

1,940


Almost 2,000 in 2 weeks! That's how many miles we traveled during our winter holiday. What a whirlwind of a vacation. We enjoyed family and friends, a good museum, several restaurants, and I didn't have to cook or clean up the whole time! We had excellent weather for driving and little traffic, and we only arrived home with a few sniffles and scratchy throats (nothing worse). In some ways, I wished we could have stayed longer, but I have to say that it's good to be sleeping in my own bed again and returning to a routine.


I did manage to finish my mom's Christmas gift: no longer the sumo thong but a knitted purse.

I used Manos del Uruguay's wool in Stellar (110) colorway. I knit a herringbone stitch for the bag panels. I love working with Manos. I love just looking at it too.


I also finished a quick scarf using Noro Kureyon in #170 and #183. They are actually very similar colorways so at points the colors melded together. This is the Children's Rainbow Scarf pattern from this book but knitted a bit longer. It was easy easy easy and looks nice. I think I'll try it again. The only drawback is that Noro seems a bit 'rough' so I may have to let it soften in some wool wash.