January 28, 2009

Snowy Day

Posted in Fiber tagged , at 5:16 pm by bookwoman

We have ucky snow today.  It’s not enough to look nice…the grass is poking out from under the snow.  The temperature went up, and precipitation continued as rain, which means lots of slush now.  It’s just a mess.  But, it was enough for a snow day!  This is one of the high points of the new job.  I don’t have to make the call about whether or not to open (and I totally would have opened the library today).  The other high point is that I very often had to shovel the library property myself.  Now, I just wait for someone to call me and tell me to go back to bed.  This is when I love a 5AM phone call.

So, I got to stay home. Unfortunately, Geek Boy was teaching today, so he couldn’t work from home.  So, I treated today as a Sunday.  Laundry, soup and knitting.  (And getting sucked into a Top Chef marathon…I can’t believe I just admitted that.)

I finished the blanket for The Nameless One (who does now have a name, although it apparently took two tries…my sister-in-law sent out a message welcoming Baby A, and ten minutes later sent another e-mail saying it didn’t stick, so welcome Baby B).  We didn’t get out to see them this past weekend, so I got some extra time.  Which means I did do the last two blocks, although some of the last few blocks were a little smaller than they were supposed to be.  Today I did the border and wove in the ends.  It still needs to be washed and lightly blocked, but I’m happy with the results.

finalblocks

Details:

Pattern: Moderne Baby Blanket from Mason-Dixon Knitting.  This is the first entry in the “try and knit from my books” non-resolution.

Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, because I love wool, but would never give a new mom something that can’t be maching washed.  Purchased at Slip Knot with the help of a lovely quilter.

Needles: Size 7 Chia Goo…I <heart> Chia Goo needles.  I started getting them over the summer when I needed some sock needles.  Cathy, at Finely a Knitting Party, carries them.  I can see myself slowly converting all of my needles to Chia Goos.

Modifications: None, really.  I made some of the blocks smaller than called for just because of the boredom factor.  This why I generally don’t make blankets at all anymore.

I’m hoping to deliver the blanket (with some books, of course) soon. 

Now, it’s back to the Amelia.

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January 22, 2009

Bad Aunt Bookwoman

Posted in Fiber tagged , at 10:12 pm by bookwoman

Things have been a little crazy.  Just busy crazy.  And all good.

Big news is that I’m an aunt again.  We don’t know her name yet.  So, she shall henceforth be The Nameless One.  (My sister-in-law left Geek Boy a message earlier today, but between her fatigue and Geek Boy’s bad hearing, he couldn’t make out the name.)  Her blanket is almost done.  But, to be honest, I’m tired.  It’s been a lot of garter stitch.

Here’s where the blanket is now

bad-aunt

It measures 26″x29″ right now.  There are two more blocks to do, plus the edging. 

So here’s my dilemma.  The nieces and nephew live a ways away, and we don’t see them very often.  If we get a chance to go up this weekend, it may be a while before we see them again.  So, I’d like to get this done “toot sweet.”  Which, to my garter stitch addled brain, means skipping the last two blocks and getting on with the border.

Does this make me a bad aunt?

January 11, 2009

Sunday Soup

Posted in Food tagged , , at 7:51 pm by bookwoman

Back in September, Geek Boy and I took a trip to Hershey, PA, to see Bob Newhart perform live.  It was an absolutely wonderful show, and we were some of the youngest people in the audience, and we’re not that young.

On the drive out, we stopped for lunch at Bube’s Brewery.  We had been there years ago before they were brewing.  Another time we stopped on our way home from another trip, only to find that they were closed that day.  So, after double checking the website to make sure they’d be open, we made a little side trip on our way to Hershey.  It was miserable and rainy that day, the last pieces of a tropical storm was passing  through town.  Bube’s had a baked tomato soup on the menu.  And it was wonderful.

So, I’ve been in the mood for a good tomoato soup lately and really wanted something like that.  Lucky for me, the New England Soup Facotry has a wonderful roasted tomato and rice soup.  The tomatoes roast in the oven for about an hour, with just  a little olive oil and salt and pepper.  I made brown rice to stir in, thinking it would be a little heartier, which is good, since soups are my lunch each day.  Unfortunately, I cooked the rice in a pot that was too small for the amount I cooked, so it stayed kinda sticky.  But a few minutes in the microwave and it was good to go.  The recipe also calls for cheddar cheese to melt over top, but Geek Boy went for some parmesan grated over, and I think that worked really well.  (Raya, I’ll get a container to you tomorrow.)

My new recipe for the week was pretty good.  I made eggplant roll-ups from one of Rachel Ray’s cookbooks.  They turned out pretty well.  Only, I substituted prosciutto for hot ham.  It made them a little more sweet, than peppery and spicy. 

This week, I think it’s going to be another Rachel Ray.  Yes, I admit it.  Rachel Ray is one of my guilty pleasures.  She’s totally overexposed and way too perky, but a lot of her recipes are good and are in regular rotation around here.  So, tomorrow, pretzel chicken with dijon sauce.

January 8, 2009

The Mailman Is My Friend

Posted in Fermented Beverages, Fiber tagged , , at 10:13 pm by bookwoman

It’s been rainy and cold in miserable outside Philly these days.  On days like these, there can be one really bright spot: seeing a package sitting waiting on the steps.

The first package was the one from my falling down on the credit card incident order at Webs.  Item number one:

Tangled Up in Blue

Tangled Up in Blue

4 hanks of Louet Riverstone.  This is for the Aspen Top Down Sweater (Rav link).  This pattern is the reason I bought the book.  I’m thinking it will be #2 in my NaKniSweMoDo.

The other goodies from Webs:

You Say You Want  a Revolution

You Say You Want a Revolution

9 balls of Bollicine Revolution.  First of all, I am astounded by the shininess of the yarn in the picture.  It honestly doesn’t look like that in person.  It’s just a fabulous vibrant red.  This will go to the Simple Pullover from Cables Untangled.  Like I said, it’s a really simple pattern, but I think it would be quick and cute.  And with a crazy goal of 12 tops for the year, there’s something to be said for quick and cute.

Best of all, both sweaters will get me started on my other goal of knitting from my books.  I’ve used some of the cable patterns from the back of  Cables Untangled, but haven’t knit any of the patterns yet.

And, what better way to end the first day back to work after a two week break than to come home and find a package waiting on the steps.  What was in that package, you ask?  This quarter’s selections from the Beer of the Month Club.  I haven’t photographed them, I’ll do that later (I’m nice and cozy under the blanket on the couch).  For the last two Christmases my aunt and her husband have given Geek Boy and me a subscription to the Beer of the Month Club.  We get a box quarterly with three bottles each of four different beers.  We had a great time with it last year, and I discovered one of my new favorite beers, Black 47 from Nutfield.  It’s a nice, easy stout.  Lots of coffee flavor and great with pepperoni pizza.  I don’tremember what the breweries are in the most recent package, but one of them is described as a blend of porter and scotch ale.  That’ll be the first one I try.

January 4, 2009

Friday Feast and Sunday Soup

Posted in Food, Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 4:51 pm by bookwoman

Geek Boy and I do not go out for New Years Eve.  I’ve never liked going out then, and rarely had a good time.  So, a while back, I decided that it would be much better if I settled in with a hoagie, some beer and a few movies.  When Geek Boy and I started dating, I told him that he was free to go out with his friends, but he opted to hang with me.  And now it’s a tradition.  Friends of ours hosted a big party this year and other friends had asked if we were going to the party because they really wanted to spend New Years Eve with us.  We explained our anti-social policy but invited them to come to a New Years dinner instead.

I forgot how much I loved having little dinner parties.  There were only five of us, but I had a blast putting the menu together.  This also gave me a good start for my food goals for 2009.  Like with my knitting, I’ve decided I want to go to my books more often.  So, here’s the prep.

A strange assortment of ingredients

A strange assortment of ingredients

I did one old standard, the Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake from Nigella Lawson’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess.  Nigella’s one of my favorites.  So, I went to Feast and found a fabulous vodka marinade that I used for a couple of tri-tip steaks (it’s in the Kitchen Feasts chapter).  If you are a meat eater and have Feast, or can get it at a library, try this marinade.  It’s phenomenal.

Geek Boy keeps me supplied with Cooking Light magazine, and the December issue had some great stuff in it, including, colonial corn pudding, brussels sprouts with chestnuts, and egg nog ice cream.  All keepers, although I would probably cut back on the amount of burbon in the ice cream.  It wasn’t bad, but I’d still cut back.  We like sweet potatoes, and I remembered an old CL recipe for white and sweets mixed.  I couldn’t remember which issue it was in, so I just went looking for something on line and came up with this, which is definitely a keeper.

It was a wonderful night.  Great food, better friends.  Just sitting around the table talking all night.  So, another new goal for 2009 is to do this more often.  Have friends over for a nice quiet dinner.  It’s cheaper than going out and you don’t have to feel guilty about taking a server’s table for too long.

In true weekend and back to work fashion, this morning was dedicated to making soup for the week.  A very yummy smelling mushroom barley soup from New England Soup Factory.  I made it this morning, but haven’t tried it yet.  It’ll probably be dinner. 

We’ve got the Eagles game recording on the DVR…we’ll wait a while before we start watching.  This way we can scan through the half-time crap.  So, in about half an hour we’ll get ourselves some dinner and settle in to watch the game.  I’m on block six of the blanket, and since it’s garter stitch, it’ll be a good game knittin’ project.

Go birds!

January 1, 2009

Resolved…

Posted in Fiber tagged , , , at 11:37 pm by bookwoman

I have never liked making new years resolutions.  Most of the time, I joke that the only resolution I ever kept was several years ago when I resolved not to make any more resolutions.  Plus, it always seemed to make more sense to make “new year” resolutions at my birthday, because that’s really my new year.  Either way, I don’t resolve on January 1st. 

However, I can be sucked into setting goals.  Somehow, I’ve been enticed by this one.

Apparently 2009 is the year I lose my mind.

Apparently 2009 is the year I lose my mind.

In fairness to myself, I did come up with my goals first, and then found NaKniSweMoDo (rav group).  My idea for 2009, knitting wise, was simple.  I have lots of knitting books, and continue to add to my library.  But, I sometimes get so distracted by neat designs I find on-line that I forget to check out my own pattern stash.  So, for 2009, I want to make a true effort to knit from the books I have.

To that end, I had a little credit card falling down incident.  (Does it count as falling on your credit card when it’s an on-line order?)  I got sucked into the Webs end of the year sale.  There are two sweaters I’ve been wanting to make:  Veronik Avery’s Aspen Top Down Sweater and the Women’s Simple Pullover from Melissa Leapman’s Cables Untangled.   I feel like the Simple Pullover is a cop-out, considering all of the gorgeous, complicated sweaters in that book.  But I just want something quick and cute.  So, thanks to the end of the year sale, I got a two sweaters worth of yarn for under $50.

Plus, I was already working on Amelia, which I love.  And even though it would have crossed the January 1st line, and completing projects counts for NaKniSweMoDo, I decided to put it aside and concentrate on something that has a deadline.

I learned to knit when I found out I was going to be an aunt, six years ago.  The first thing I ever made was a blanket for the Chickpea.  Then I made a lot of blankets.  Then I got tired of blankets.  After my first year of knitting, blankets were reserved for the siblings of those who had already received blankets.  Thus, our nephew, Geek Boy Jr., has one.  And since the Niece-to-Be-Named-in-January is due to make her debut any day now, I needed to get cracking on her blanket.  Originally she was expected in mid-January, but apparently the doctors were a bit off in their estimations, and my sister-in-law was having contractions on Christmas day.

I already had the yarn, bought before we heard if we were expecting a niece or nephew.  Cascade Superwash in blue, green, yellow and red.  A lovely quilter who happened to be at Slip Knot helped me choose the colors, since I have no sense of color design.  And I would say she did a great job, wouldn’t you?

What would color-impaired knitters do without kind quilters?

What would color-impaired knitters do without kind quilters?

I had another pattern in mind, but in keeping with my goal to knit from my books, I decided to try the Moderne Baby Blanket (rav link) from Mason-Dixon Knitting.  I wasn’t sure I’d like it, picking up sitches falling into the “too fiddly” category for me.  However, picking up stitches in garter stitch is so very simple.  This has been a great veg out project and has gone quite quickly.  I’ve been working on it for five days (and yesterday didn’t do any knitting on it at all) and I’m already on the sixth block.  Unfortunately, I just ran out of red.  So, there will be a return trip to Slip Knot this weekend.  Then I can finish this off, and get back to Amelia and all of my 2009 insanity.

December 29, 2008

Froggy Friday

Posted in Fiber tagged , , at 9:02 am by bookwoman

There are two days a year when I let myself sit on my tookus all day long, do absolutely nothing constructive, and feel zero guilt about it.  The first day is Black Friday.  For the past several years, Geek Boy and I have hosted my family for Thanksgiving dinner.  This event can range from 9 to 25 people (and once included a non-functioning oven).  So, the week before involves lots of cleaning and shopping and prepping and cooking.  It’s always a lovely day.  And then Friday comes and I plop my butt on the couch and don’t move the rest of the day.  A lot of knitting gets done on that day, and usually a fair amount of on-line Christmas shopping.

The second day is Boxing Day, a true holiday in our home, for largely the same reasons as Black Friday.  Before we became Uncle Geek Boy and Aunt Bookwoman, we used to host Geek Boy’s family for Christmas dinner.  A much smaller affair, but just as much work.  We don’t host any longer, because it’s easier to go to where the kids are than to drag the kids away from their new presents, but now we have a bit of a hike, at least an hour each way, and lots of prep work in the morning for whatever dishes I’m bringing to the dinner (this year, pineapple stuffing and roasted root vegetables with pear glaze a la Mollie Katzen).

However, I did do a few productive things last Friday  There was some general straightening up in the living room to make space for the new Wii.  And I spent some time playing in the kitchen with my newest toy, a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, a Christmas gift to both of us from my folks.  I broke it out and made some bread.  In a role reversal, Geek Boy made the soup today.  Turkey soup from yesterday’s carcass…neither my mother-in-law nor my sister-in-law wanted it, so I claimed it.

I also got a fair bit of work done on my Amelia cardigan.  Although most of it got undone.

froggyfriday

There is a possibility that this yarn is cursed.  This is the fourth sweater I’ve started with this yarn.  The yarn is Cascade 220.  Purchased during the early days of Technicolor Sheep’s going out of business sale to make this (Rav link).  I think I got this for about $3 a hank.  And it is obviously meant to be used with the buttons I had purchased there long before.

The Devil made me buy them.

The requirements were pretty simple at first.  A cardigan that only needed three buttons.  Perfect pattern…the Tilted Duster from IK Fall 07.  I had most of it done, when I remembered that I hate seaming.  And this sweater was going to require a lot of seaming.  To the frog pond.

So, new requirement, something in the round.  I toyed with the idea of Cobblestone Pullover with a three button placket.  Someone had posted theirs on Ravelry and I figured I could figure it out.  But then, the February Lady Sweater hit the scene.  I had just finished my first February Baby sweater and loved the pattern, so great!  But for some reason, it just wasn’t looking right.  To the frog pond again.

Then, I decided to try the Cable Yoke Coat from Knit Picks.  I like cables, it looked like it was all done in the round.  Perfect, right? Wrong.  Once I got the pattern downloaded, there was lots of fiddly stuff with hems and hemmed buttonbands that were picked up, way more fiddliness than I wanted.  Frog pond for the third time.

So, now I’m trying Amelia.  And it seems to be going well.  The early issue is one I suffer from often.  I went through the pattern and circled all of my counts and measurements.  This is a practice I learned when making my Picolvolis, where I made the same mistake each time I made the top.  What I forgot to do, was highlight the point where you switch needles.  Once upon a time, I may have just shrugged and said, it’s only and inch and a half, I’ll just switch now.  But, I’m not that knitter anymore.  So, tink, tink, tink went all of Friday’s work on the Amelia.  I made up all of it and then some on Saturday, so the sweater is coming along nicely.  However, since the yarn is close to that reddish that is so hard to photograph, more pictures will have to wait until I have some more progress.

I do have to say…Cascade 220 is a workhorse of a yarn.  This yarn has been knit and frogged several times, wound and rewound, and it still looks fabulous.

December 22, 2008

A Good Day for Soup

Posted in Food tagged , at 11:05 pm by bookwoman

So, the weather is turing to actual winter weather in our little part of PA these days.  Yesterday, I was curled up on the couch under a blanket for most of the day.  Part way through the afternoon, Geek Boy came to me and asked if I would make soup today.  If I made a shopping list, he would make a trip to the produce store. 

Soup has been a regular thing at Chez Bookwoman and Geek Boy for about  a year.  I try to make a batch every weekend.  It’s then packed up in single serving containers and we have lunch for the week.  Since the school year started, I’ve been particularly ambitious, often making two soups each week for variety.  This is partly of necessity.  The school where I work does not have a cafeteria, so I have to bring my lunch each day.  There is an option to order from a local pizza shop, but I’m trying to be healthful and frugal.  So, homemade lunch it is.  (With a few Trader Joe’s noodle soup packets stored in my desk for those days when I forget.)

The receptionist at school is also a soup maker and eater.  And she is one of the sweetest people you would ever want to meet.  One day I mentioned I was eating canned soup (but it was Amy’s, so it was good).  The next morning she gave me a container of her homemade soup because she didn’t want me eating canned.  And as a Christmas gift, she gave me The Complete Book of 400 Soups.

So, with Geek Boy’s offer to go out in search of produce, I spent the day perusing the options.  We finally decided on Corn and Sweet Potato Soup.  Geek Boy is my sous chef, taking care of doing all of the chopping and dicing…his knife skills are far superior to mine.   This particular soup has two things going for it.  First, it has corn.  There’s something about corn in soup that is just extra warming to me.  (I made a corn chowder a few weeks back that is one of my top ten favorites.)  Second, it’s one of those soups where you puree half and then stir the pureed portion back into the pot.  So, you get a slightly thick, slightly chunky soup.

soup-blender

I have found that I really prefer my blender over the food processor for this job…especially since Geek Boy found the beehive blender at a yard sale this summer.  It’s just so cool to use. 

So, we’ve got a nice warm soup to get us through the week.  Bring on the winter weather!

 

 

 

December 21, 2008

Fresh Start

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:21 pm by bookwoman

So, a lot has changed since my last post over at bookwomansbyob, and I thought I’d try this again, but wanted a fresh start.  I’m doing some book blogging for work, so I dropped the books from the personal one.

The biggest fresh start I’ve had is work-related.  After almost 6 years as the director of a public library, I’ve gone back to being a school librarian.  The public library I was at was a small one, but there were enough administrative duties for me to realize I am not cut out to be an administrator.  I’m not good at managing people or playing the local politics that a position like that needs.  Now I’m thrilled to be back in a school setting.  I’m doing much more hands-on librarian work and that makes me very happy.

I’m still knitting like crazy, making soups almost every Sunday, and frequenting beer fests with my Geek Boy.  A few weeks back, we attended at fabulous beer fest at Cliveden with some friends.  We upgraded to VIP tickets for early entrance and an hour of imported European Christmas beers.  Most important thing learned: The French should stick to making wine because their beer is just terrible.

I’ve got two weeks off now…one of the other perks of moving to a school position.  One of my goals for this break is to actually get a new cardingan made.  I just printed out the Amelia pattern.  More on that tomorrow.  Tonight, it’s off to the World Cafe to see Jacqui Naylor.