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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Yarn Along: Finishing and New Patterns

It is nine days before Christmas, and I am still not doing marathon Christmas knitting. I am only working on one project for Christmas, actually, which I can't share here yet. I have one finished, of which I need to get a better picture to post, and I've given up on getting the Channukah present finished, as it does not have time to get there tonight, or this week. It will have to be a present for another time.

Since we had almost a week away last week, for Rich's work, I was able to do a lot of knitting and finishing. I'm pretty close to finished with Equinox. I did get Sea Smoke finished, revised, and rewritten. The hostess at our bed and breakfast, A Cascade View was a knitter and I was able to tag along with her to her knitting circle and have a morning of knitting. That was a lot of fun.

Rich took this picture of me at one of the evening events for his conference. I'm wearing my ring around the rosy scarf (which two of the commissioners' wives tried to take from me) and the lights made a fun effect.

I did finish the baby sweater, but just in time.

Two patterns have been published this week!

This is Mariam, though when she saw it, she thought it was Nejat.
Hoar Frost (the hat) can be bought on Ravelry and Nimblestix.

I had to take the picture with Lucy, because Nejat would not cooperate.
Sea Smoke can also be purchased on both Ravelry and Nimblestix.

Remember to favorite and queue them, but most of all, please enjoy them!

This week, we are focusing on music, crafts and cooking - art and home economics, with a bit of Latin, math (geometric calculations and conversions), and kitchen chemistry to boot. Three of the kids are knitters, and have projects they are working on, so I'm helping with that, and the rest are painting and building and doing all sorts of other, fun, creative work.

While we were traveling, I finished A Fatal Fleece (Seaside Knitters Mystery, Book 6) and did some more reading in Christ in His Saints. I've so enjoyed this book, but it is taking me a long time to finish it completely. I'm hoping that during our Christmas break I can get all the way through it.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Menu Plan: Third Sunday in Advent, Gaudete Sunday

Here we are at Gaudete Sunday, Joy Sunday, more than half way through Advent. I'm trying to keep meals fairly simple this week and use a lot of what we have at home. We are giving ourselves a few treats, for this bright spot during the fast. Before we moved, we used to put up our tree on this Sunday, and string it with lights. Now that we live in a smaller house, we tend to get our tree closer to Christmas Eve.

Rich and I were out of town for much of last week. He had another conference, this time he spoke at it. He did a great job, from what I hear. I wasn't there to hear him in person. We went over his presentation together, had him speak through it, and work out issues with his displays, and I did some editing to help. However, several people at the evening events during the conference made a point of coming to him and telling him how much they enjoyed it and how inspiring it was, both to them, but also to their commissioners who began to see other possibilities with port properties. That was gratifying for him, but also for me, as I am so proud of him and know how he values my eyes and assistance in his work. Anyway, we ate out for dinner at these events for most of the nights, while our kids were at home with friends who did an amazing job cooking and running the house while I was gone.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Monday, December 08, 2014

Menu Plan: Second Sunday in Advent

It is evidently Mexican dinner week at our house. I didn't really notice until I started to post this, but we have a lot of Mexican themed meals. We started with the chipotle beef barbacoa last night, which I did on the stove using steaks instead of cutting a roast and using the crock pot. That was so good! The leftovers are going into empanadas tonight, using some pie crust dough I froze during Thanksgiving. We have a couple avocados left, so I am mashing them up with some diced chipotles, garlic and salt to be a dip for the empanadas. We have lots of chiles in our freezers, so those are being used a lot this week, too.

We have a lot of winter and fall fruit in the house, so we're eating pears, apples, oranges and so on throughout the week. The pasta recipe on Thursday is an experiment based on someone else's recommendation. If it turns out well, I will let you know. Also, I evidently have an orange theme for Saturday's dinner. It may be monochromatic, but it will taste great.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Yarn Along: Presents, Progress and Packages (A Little Late)

So, it seems that Christmas is coming up soon. I have exactly one Christmas present made and eight ordered. That's it. Though I have several other things planned and in process. I have this baby sweater to finish for a shower, one Christmas present that is started, one Channukah present that is nearly finished, but still may not make it to our friends in time, and nothing else done. Also, Sea Smoke kind of got subsumed by Thanksgiving. I'm working pretty madly to get it published in the next week.

The last couple weeks have been pretty great for me, in terms of yarn, though. I had my Paradise package show up, Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere in deep, jewel, peacock colors, Peacock Room was dyed specially for the club, plus one MadelineTosh club had its last package this month and another started up this month, so I have two from them. The last shipment from one Magnolia club was DK Twist in a dark, plummy, maybe wood rose color, Satomi, and the first package from the other Magnolia club was a gorgeous silk and wool blend that is a new base, 50/50 DK, in a mallardish blue green called Wavelength. The colors this month are really me and go rather well together. I'd like to turn the cashmere blend into a beaded shawl, and the 50/50 DK into a sleeveless top (I have just enough), but I'm not sure what to do with the DK Twist, yet.

I've finished two books, though. One was for fun for me (and to see if it was appropriate to let our boys read it) and the other was for Elijah and Amira's lessons. The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus was a good conclusion to the series. I'm still not thrilled with all the topics Riordan introduced (especially as they seemed forced and not naturally flowing from the story or characters) or with the increasingly vulgar language that was used by the characters, but we're letting the older two boys read it, and are not sure about the rest of the kids. Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of 'The Iliad' was fun, and we enjoyed this story to go along with their history studies. I still come out of the Iliad thinking that Oenone is the only sympathetic character, and just barely.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Menu Plan: First Sunday of Advent

Happy New Year! This is the week of the first Sunday of Advent in the West. It is a little Lent, though with a family full of children, we don't keep it as strictly. Our menus this week will reflect the abstinence of the season, but we also have two small feasts this week: Saint Barbara and Saint Nicholas. We will be eating some foods which are traditional for those feasts and having a little celebration as a family. Our stockings will go up on Friday night in anticipation of Saint Nicholas' arrival Saturday morning!

Thanksgiving was lovely. It was the first year since losing Rayan that I managed to make every single dish for the day - and they all even were served that same day! It was so good to have our friends over and share a good meal and gratitude. I am, in fact, sick after our excruciating Nutcracker schedule right after Thanksgiving. Dress rehearsal went from 3:30 to after 10:00 on Friday. Then the two shows that were pretty close together. So, I'm trying to get well as quickly as possible.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Menu Plan: Thanksgiving Week

We are well into our preparations for Thanksgiving this year. Rich and I did our drive to the big city to do our grocery shopping and visit exotic places like Trader Joe's. I'm trying to keep most of the other meals pretty simple this week so I can focus on ahead of time prep. We're having only one couple and one family over this year. We also have Nutcracker dress rehearsal and two performances this weekend, which is really making me overwrought. I really hope we don't have this schedule again. Normally, my after Thanksgiving plans are to rest from cooking all week, and my day after Thanksgiving schedule is something like this: Sleep. Eat Pie.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Vacation Randomania

It's been a while since I've done a randomizer post. Our numerous trips this spring, summer, and fall have provided us quite a few winners. Here is a sampling.

While driving the long and scenic way back home from one of the memorials we went to this year, we passed a U-Haul with those giant clown spiders on it. Thus began our discussion of what the scariest creature ever would be. We finally ended up with a Copperhead Crocodile Clown Shark Spider. Then the boys decided that a great horror film could be made about such a creature that was a statue which came to life. Sleep well tonight.

On our second to last leg back home from Arizona, after going though California and getting stuck in fires set by an arsonist and having to go a longer route to get through, we ended up stopping at a Burger King to grab a snack and make a pit stop. The staff saw that we had a big crowd and gave crowns to each of the kids. Including our teenagers. They immediately put them on and declared themselves the princes and princesses of Burgeria. Everyone was a bit punchy by then.

As we drove into town again, I saw the signs up in English and Spanish about getting vaccines that are outside of Walgreens. Evidently, the Spanish word for vaccine is something like vacuna. However, every time I see it, I think it is something about a movement of vicuñas against meningitis. I never knew they had such strong feelings about it.

Rich and I had a short, one night trip to Portland in September. No kids at all, not even Nejat. I had forgotten how little time it took to pack for just the two of us. And how little we had to pack, period. We brought a backpack and my purse. Normally a one night trip with our family looks like we've decided to move in forever.

Technically, this was not during or returning from a trip, but in between a couple, Mariam told me about the 10 children she planned on having, including two named Rosie Rosie and Mary.

My favorite, though, was on our most recent trip. We were back "home" for a little vacation, and while at Fred Meyer, a sales lady told us how beautiful our family was, and especially what a sweet baby we had. Nejat, who had been marching around the floor while we looked for pants for Alexander, looked up at her, said "Cankoo!" and that lady told us she had made her entire day.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Penna Olives

One of the things that I introduced to my in laws and (less so, because he'd already had exposure in Turkey) Rich was my love of briny, sour olives. Olives were part of just about every meal at my house growing up, they weren't reserved for relish trays or cocktails or dinners. Rich and I share, and now our children do, too, a love of pickled anything.

So, I was thrilled when a friend from a cooking group told me about an opportunity to test olive and pickled products from Penna Olives. Our box arrived a little while ago with four products in it:

There were Spicy Pickled Beans, Sicilian Spiced Pitted Olives, Olivaseca, and Dirty Martini Mix, which is their mother brine, triple filtered, from curing olives. When I looked up the products on their website, I was pleasantly surprised at the prices, too. Normally products like these at our grocery stores are priced higher, sometimes as much as double.

The beans were absconded with by Rich and the kids and mostly eaten before I had a chance to think of what to do with them in the kitchen. They are garlicky and have a nice heat to them, but best of all, they really are crisp. There are no floppy beans in these jars. I have a few left that I am thinking of adding to my Slow Sauteed Green Beans later this week.

Martinis aren't my favorite drink, as I despise gin, so the Dirty Martini Mix was used in my Hamburger Stew a couple weeks ago, in place of the water. I made a huge batch for us and some friends, and it really added a little something to the dish. It wasn't overpowering, which I had worried about initially. It took a rather humble dish and elevated it just a little to something more special.

We haven't eaten a lot of the Sicilian olives, mostly because we thought we'd save them for our Thanksgiving relish tray and see how our guests like them. We enjoyed the flavor, they weren't spiced as they typically are, in my experience, but they were quite tasty. The other olives, the Olivaseca, were really our favorites, though. I have plans to make an olive bread with these, to keep myself from eating them all without sharing. I'll post the results when I have made it.

You (and any author or company who has asked for it) know that I am brutally honest in my reviews. These are definitely products I would buy for our family, as gifts, and I wish our stores carried them. I am scheduled to receive some more products to try from them, some olives to cure, and I'm really excited about that. I've wanted to cure olives for some time. One thing I really appreciate about Penna is how open they are to the idea that taste is subjective. In the materials I received from them, they specifically included instructions on rebrining the olives, should the flavor not suit us. It was refreshing to see that, and helpful to learn how simple it really was to change the flavors of the olives. I'll definitely be ordering from them, and if you know us, you may see some at Christmas this year.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Yarn Along: Baby Knitting

After a spate of finishing in the last couple weeks, I've been working on my Equinox, correcting my error and finishing one of two sleeves - I think I will have enough yarn left to lengthen it, now that I've seen how much was necessary for the first sleeve and started the second.

I've also done some more baby knitting for some friends. There is that sweater up top which will go to a friend's daughter, who is having a baby in a month or two. Sea Smoke is almost revised and reworked for publication, but there has also been a sadder reason to knit for a baby, for our friend who has lost one of their twins and is trying to keep the other in long enough. Please pray for them.

If you missed it, I do have a quick and easy headband pattern, Fog Bank, up on both Nimblestix and Ravelry. Favorite it, queue it, download it and enjoy! It is one of my Christmas presents to my readers and followers.

I've had such little time to read lately. The only book I finished is Thread End: An Embroidery Mystery.

My stack of books to read.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Menu Plan: November 16 - 22

I had planned on doing our menu plan last week, even though we had a vacation, because we were still going to be cooking several of the nights. However, on Saturday we received the news that my friend Kim died, surrounded by her family. Her funeral was set for the following Saturday, so we added another trip to our week. On top of that, we had a lot of schedule shifts and changes in meals, and I just scrapped posting anything. In the middle of our trip, the weather turned bitterly cold rather quickly, so we came home to some frozen produce that we had to deal with as much as we could before turning around again. This was a rough weekend for us. Kim's funeral was on the anniversary of us losing Rayan. We also found out a couple days before that some friends of ours lost one of their twins to a sub-chorionic bleed. When you are part of the lost children club you truly have compassion and feel it with those who go through the loss, almost like going through your own loss again. We are praying for the other baby to remain safe within the womb.

Kim's funeral was so beautiful. Since we've had the opportunity to go to many memorials and funerals over the past few years, especially this year, Rich and I were struck by the beauty and faith of this one especially. One of her daughters did the first reading and her husband did the second reading. The Psalm was sung by two seminarians, beautiful men with beautiful voices, and the music was all played by a string quartet. The recessional was a piece I had played as my senior violin solo, and was so appropriate and lovely. Kim and her family chose the Scripture passages* carefully, and it was such a powerful statement of their faith and hope in such a hard time. The church was a rather large church, and it was packed. There wasn't even room at the reception to fit all of us, and it was standing room only. Kim's life touched so many people, and I was so glad for Brian that so many were there to show their sorrow and love.

Losing a dear friend is always hard, but so much more so when she is young (Kim had just turned 48) and has a young family. Her children are all so beautiful, and I couldn't believe how grown up her son looked, though Rich pointed out that being in a suit will do that, anyway. I am praying for all of her four children and her husband that they would be comforted and given grace to continue the work that Kim had done in their family and in the world. Please pray for the repose of her soul, though I have to agree with the priest that her suffering on this earth as she died, and receiving extreme unction probably helped cleanse her from the effects of her sins. She suffered beautifully, caring for those who loved her more than she cared for herself. Memory eternal Kim! May light perpetual shine upon you!

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

*"But the righteous man, though he die early, will be at rest. For old age is not honored for length of time, nor measured by number of years; but understanding is gray hair for men, and a blameless life is ripe old age. There was one who pleased God and was loved by Him, and while living among sinners he was taken up. He was caught up lest evil change his understanding or guile deceive his soul. For the fascination of wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind. Being perfected in a short time, he fulfilled long years; for his soul was pleasing to the Lord, therefore He took him quickly from the midst of wickedness. Yet the peoples saw and did not understand, nor take such a thing to heart, that God's grace and mercy are with His elect, and He watches over His holy ones." - Wisdom 4:7-15

"The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Forever." - Psalm 23

"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors-not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." - Romans 8:9-23

"Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, "Look, He is calling for Elijah!" Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down." And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, "Truly this Man was the Son of God!" There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, "Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?" But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away-for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him." - Mark 15:33-41, 16:1-6

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Finished Object Photos Plus Fog Bank Is Live!

I promised that I would post some pictures of recent (and not so recent) finished objects on their recipients. So, here they are!

Alexander had wind blowing in his teeth and eyes while we took this picture, so this was the closest to a smile he could get. I'm going to try to get another, better, photo of him when it isn't so windy.

Here is my friend Christina in her wristers and headband* - the really funny thing is that before I decided just to let people choose what they want, I intended this set to go to Christina.

Jill chose the cabled scarf I made. I wasn't sure whether this should go to her or the cowl, and the third friend who was going to be part of our unbirthday party ended up not being able to make it, but she doesn't really like blue and cream stripes in clothing. So, I'll just show it to her and see what she thinks.

Here I am in my Ring Around the Rosy scarf that I made in May. I really like this, and I'm glad I kept it for myself.

*Also, a heads up that Fog Bank is live on both Nimblestix and Ravelry now.

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Saturday, November 08, 2014

Recipe Round Up: Ful

This recipe is long overdue, and it's so easy to make. I usually soak the fava beans overnight, drain them and start them cooking in the morning before I shower and dress, so they can be ready to eat when I'm finished getting myself ready, preparing for school, making my bed, and so on.

3 cups fava beans
water to cover
1 head garlic, peeled and smashed (a little)
pinch baking soda (maybe two pinches)
salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil, to serve
any number of toppings or hot sauces - I simply puréed some onions and tomatoes with hot sauce in the above photo, but often serve it with Green Hot Sauce or Harissa or a chopped tomato, onion, and hot pepper mix

Soak the fava beans overnight, or for at least six hours. Drain and put them in a pot with water to cover by about 2 inches, garlic, and baking soda. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for an hour to an hour and a half. Drain almost all the liquid out, reserving the liquid in case you need more, mash the beans and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Put in a shallow dish, put your garnish of choice in the center and drizzle heavily with olive oil.

Serve with warmed Pita Bread or lightly toasted bread.

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

October Yarn Club

The first rule of yarn club is always talk about yarn club.

Here are October's yarns. The shipment from Paradise included a pattern for some fingerless mitts and a nice little pot of a cucumber melon scented lotion bar along with the very generous Kollage Happiness yarn in the specially dyed Lilac City colorway. I'm still not positive what I want to use it for, so it's sitting in the stash at the moment. The colors are really nice, but I want to find something that will highlight them and not muddy them.

The Magnolia Society shipment was 15 Unicorn Tails in a bundle called Color Pop made of five different colors: Aura, Celadon, Charcoal, Mandala, and Moonstone. I plan to make a granny square scarf with them, using the squares from this pillow. If I did the math correctly, that should be 60 individual variations using all five colors, with three colors in each square. That should make a scarf that is about 48 inches long, and seven inches wide, if I make it three squares across and 20 squares long.

The only complaint I'm having with the Magnolia Society shipments is that they aren't coming in the month they are supposed to arrive. I think they weren't even shipped in those months. So, September's was sent and arrived in October, October's was sent and arrived in November. Which means, I guess I'll get a nice treat for my Saint Nicholas stocking in December.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Yarn Along: Saint George is Live!

First off, here are the unbirthday presents! Only one of them is not finished, and I have been clipping right along on that, so I know it will be completed in time. I'll try to get pictures of them on their recipients on Thursday night and post those photos here. There has been a lot of finishing over the past week. I finally blocked Saint George, so Alexander can have his present. Saint George is written and for sale on both Nimblestix and Ravelry. Fog Bank (the head band above) will also available on both Nimblestix and Ravelry later this week (and it's free!). Again, please favorite them, queue them, and buy/download them! It helps me as a designer to get more visibility.

Here is Saint George, blocked and ready to wear!

I really liked how this picture of it blocking showed the diamond pattern between the blocks.

Still not finished with either Christ in His Saints or Northanger Abbey: (Classics hardcover) (Hardcover Classics) (I was supposed to finish Northanger Abbey by the end of October!). Though I did read another happy, little murder: Cross-Stitch Before Dying: An Embroidery Mystery, which was fun and slightly less predictable than the ones before it in the series.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Monday, November 03, 2014

Menu Plan: November 2 - 8

I still never posted the ful recipe, which is ridiculous, because it is quite simple. I'll post it this week, in the next couple days. There was just so much going on with friends and family last week, rehearsals and helping with campaigns and birthday parties and busy times at work. We also had another apple glean, this time for Cameos, which we really like. So, I'm hoping to get some apple sauce and pies made this week. Tuesday's meal ended up being moved to Thursday and Saturday's meal ended up being changed entirely, because our situation and schedule changed entirely. And I spent much of Saturday asleep, trying to recover from a rather late night and fight a bad cold. Rich took over my ferrying and chauffeuring that day.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Friday, October 31, 2014


“Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead.” –St. John Chrysostom

I've talked before here about the poverty of inconvenience. Over this past year, we've had several opportunities to see some real poverty up close. We live in a small, rural town, so though there is plenty of poverty here, plenty of kids go hungry at night, and we are aware of that, it doesn't show up in the same way. Because people have friends and family that take care of them, because restaurants take extra food to those who are in need at their back door, our soup kitchens, food banks and senior centers are set up in such a way that, even though there are a lot of people who use them, it doesn't seem so in your face. In some ways, I wish it was more in our face, because our government welfare and food stamps makes the poor somewhat invisible to us. We no longer have long food lines that make poverty visible to everyone.

That wasn't a problem while we were in San Antonio. We saw more obvious, and lonely, poverty there than we have in a long time. Our first night there, we were walking around, trying to find a pizza place we'd read about, when we passed a homeless man on the street. He was friendly, we smiled, and he asked where we were headed, we told him what we were looking for and, though he couldn't help us find it, he had been given a pizza to eat, and he offered to share it with us. On the one hand we didn't want to take food from a man who may not see it regularly, on the other hand, we were so touched that this stranger would share what he had with us. We didn't take it, but we did remember him and pray for him.

The very next morning, on our way to church across from the hotel, we were met by a woman, Kim, who had been abused by her husband. She had burns on her leg that she showed us, and she showed us ID to prove that she wasn't scamming us. This is not a part of our normal life, needless to say. She needed money for a bus ticket to get to her mother's. Since the bus station wasn't open yet, and we were on our way to church, we invited her to join us, then we would walk her to the bus station and pay for the ticket. She was really reluctant to go in, seemed to feel she wasn't in the right clothes or position to be in the church. So, Rich asked her to wait outside for him, while he got me settled, then he would return to take her to the bus depot. As we went in, we told the ushers that there was a woman in need outside, who needed prayer and assistance, but when they went out, she was gone. I don't know if she thought we were lying to her, or if she was just uncomfortable. Rich went after her, though, and found her to help. We've been praying for her ever since.

Even one day there while Rich was coming to meet me for something, he ran into a man, Eric, who was just out of prison, had turned his life around, but was having a hard time finding a job. Rich talked to him as a man who hires people and tried to give him some hints and assistance with ideas for interviews and applications, and he took him to lunch. We normally do not run into this many desperate people in a year, let alone in less than a week. Poverty is not as openly displayed here.

When we went to Ballard this summer, there was a man playing piano in the park. I stopped there to listen and sing along and knit. As he played and sang, he talked about his life, and how he was once a resident of this rather posh neighborhood. But he was down on his luck and had been homeless. He now played piano for the city, who did pay him, but he was not allowed to take tips. The only way I could assist was to listen. So, I did.

Rich and I are more and more convicted of our duty to provide for the poor in whatever way we can. Time are tough for everyone, but for us, it means tightening our belts a little. We don't have a lot that is extra, and with hospital bills and whatnot, there really isn't any extra anymore, but it is always possible to cut something or cut back on something to provide for someone else. Homeschooling allows us to bring our children with us to food banks to work, or to assist at the church soup kitchen. Even our gleaning club, while it provides excellent produce for us, and allows us to cut our grocery bills considerably, first gleans for the food bank or senior center, then people glean for themselves. This weekend, Dominic went with Rich to glean huge, organic, butternut squash and red onions, and after gleaning for the food bank, and for our family, the farmer told the gleaning club that there was another group there gathering squash for another charity, and their volunteers didn't all show up, so up Dominic went into the bed of a semi while Rich was tossing squash up to him to stack in the bins. We want our children to grow up with compassion and generosity for the poor, rather than disdain.

We try to keep food in our car as snacks for the kids, and emergency rations should we get stuck somewhere, but also so we can give something to those who are at street corners begging. Even if they are drug users, they still need something to eat. We hope our children are learning that. So, on a recent trip to Fred Meyer, which requires a drive to another city now, I bought some rosemary bread and a roasted chicken to get a little lunch in me before I left. I saved the rest for the kids, so they could have a snack when I got home. However, at the light, there was a young couple, who were holding a sign asking for money or food. I was embarrassed to offer them my leftovers. But, I asked if they minded taking my leftovers, told them I had used a fork and knife on it, and they took it, rather gratefully.

Rich has an acquaintance that he met through his work who has had a terrible string of disasters. Some of his own making, which he will readily admit. But God keeps putting this man in Rich's path. He'll see him walking into or out of town as he's driving, and feels moved to pick him up and give him a ride. They talk, they pray. In fact, this man recently converted to Christianity, and came by Rich's office after hours while Rich was still working because he wanted to share that with him, thinking that Rich was one of the few men he knew who would care and rejoice with him. He said he appreciated how Rich had always been honest as well as compassionate, telling him when what he was choosing was wrong, as well as offering assistance, regardless of that.

I'm not sharing this to tell you how great we are. Or how we always get this right. We don't. I can tell you a story of a lost opportunity here in our own town that both Rich and I deeply regret. Near our home, there is a little parking area where people stop to walk, hike, hunt, play paintball, whatever. There was a motor home parked there for some time. Every time Rich went to work and back, every time I went into town or home, we passed them. At first we wondered what the deal was, and why they didn't leave. Then, we realized they were living there, probably because they had no other place to live. Rich wanted to stop and bring them something, but was worried that the woman might feel threatened by a man coming alone. I wanted to bring them something, but we were worried about my safety going to strangers in a relatively deserted area where there are lots of transients and not lots of witnesses. So, we kept waiting for a time we both could go. Until one day, they weren't there any more. We didn't listen to our consciences and make the time and we lost the opportunity.

We strongly disagree with most government programs to relieve poverty. Not because we oppose it, but because it is the job of the Church, and the government does it badly. St. John Chrystostom said:

For if you wish to show kindness, you must not require an accounting of a person’s life, but merely correct his poverty and fill his need. When you see on earth the man who has encountered the shipwreck of poverty, do not judge him, do not seek an account of his life, but free him from his misfortune. Charity is so called because we give it even to the unworthy.

Let us also do this, I beg you, without making any inquiry more than necessary. Need alone is the poor man’s worthiness; if anyone at all ever comes to us with this recommendation, let us not meddle any further. We do not provide for the manners but for the man. We show mercy on him not because of his virtue but because of his misfortune, in order that we ourselves may receive from the Master His great mercy, in order that we ourselves, unworthy as we are, may enjoy His philanthropy. For if we were going to investigate the worthiness of our fellow servants, and inquire exactly, God will do the same for us.

It is not that we should be contributing to someone's addiction or poor choices. It is that God does not give to us conditionally. It is important to know the root of someone's poverty, and alleviate that as well, but if we do not have any reason or ability to have an accounting of his life, it is simply our duty to give. It is not our business to go rooting around in his history to discover if he is worthy of our assistance. On the contrary, however, when government takes money from citizens to do this work, it is precisely their, and our, business to make sure the money is not being squandered. This is one reason it is better for such actions to happen with individuals and private organizations. Asking why a person is sick, poor, homeless, addicted, or otherwise in need does have value, but not in determining worthiness. The person deserves help because he needs it, and because God has called us to help our neighbor. He even clarified that our neighbor might very well be our enemy. By all means, if you have a relationship with the person in need, discover what contributes to their plight, but use that to help lead them out of the situation, which is an act of justice which, like charity, is a Christian obligation.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Yarn Along: Unbirthday

Here is a mass of unbirthday presents. Who they're for, nobody knows! I was initially going to assign them for specific people at our unbirthday party, but then I thought I'd just put them all out on the table and see who wants what. One set is completely finished, one piece is almost finished, and one I just started. They need to be ready for November 6, when we'll have our dinner and celebration. We've all had a rough summer and fall, all of us are stressed out, homeschooling moms right now, missed celebrating all our birthdays, and a couple of us will be finished with local elections, for good or ill, so we're going to decompress, celebrate, commiserate, and eat delicious food.

I'm working on a really simple, striped cowl, that you can see above, knit at an aran gauge. It isn't a complicated or difficult pattern, the yarn was inexpensive (around $3.50 a skein), and it only requires four skeins, but just paying myself for materials and minimum wage for my time (which is $9.32/hr here in WA state, though in the past when knitting for hire I was paid closer to $20/hr), I am already at around $146.48, and I still have at least another six hours or more of knitting, plus a little time for finishing before it is completed. That puts the grand total at about $203, for a relatively small, simple, larger gauged item. Those of you who do handwork understand how much time, effort, energy, and thought go into a hand made gift, and that is not even accounting for the money used to purchase materials. I have no qualms about giving such a gift away, but always feel a little undervalued when someone puts a price on it. My late father in law talked about some $18 - 25 wool socks that were sold at his store (he worked for Keen, and they treated him and us so well) and I said that they were a bargain. I buy yarn for a pair of adult socks for that price and more. Even if they are factory made, which they are, and the materials gotten for a less, being bought in bulk, when you consider that the retail price is about three or four times the cost of the materials, work, employees' pay, overhead and so on, they really are rather inexpensive. This is why I write patterns rather than sell finished items.

Speaking of which, I still have some editing to do on Saint George, but the pattern is set to be released for sale at the end of this week. I hope you love it, favorite it, queue it, and buy it! Also, I spoke in error (typed in error?) a week ago. Though I do plan to have a new bonnet pattern posted by Thanksgiving, it is not the free pattern, that designation goes to a headband I designed for a friend's gift. There are so many designs in my head that I'm itching to get out there, but there is only so much time in a day, so I'm trying to pace myself.

There was a mention of a figure in the section on King Asa in Christ in His Saints that reminded me very much of someone I know. It's funny, because as I read it aloud, a few of my boys gave me knowing looks and said that they knew someone who fit that description extremely well. Aside from my reading there, I've finished another brain candy, happy, little murder: Moon Spinners (Seaside Knitters, Book 3) and I'm reading Northanger Abbey: (Classics hardcover) (Hardcover Classics) with The Motherhood and Jane Austen Book Club. I am ashamed to admit that, though I've read excerpts, this is the first time I've read it completely through, but I'm finding it delightful. Also, I realized a few weeks ago, that the reason the name abbey and so on appear in so many English estate names is a result of King Henry VIII stealing the Catholic Church's properties and handing them out to his nobility to ensure their support.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Menu Plan: October 26 - November 1

So, I forgot to post the ful recipe. I will be making it again this week, and I'll post the recipe on Saturday. I'm just calling it a do over at this point. There are a lot of breakfast repeats this week, but I think no repeats for any of the dinners. The jalapeño macaroni and cheese was a winner last week, but I think I can improve it. Also, though I completely messed up the ingredients in the Greek pea stew (we had to substitute more than I planned or cared to do), it was still delicious, so we'll see how it is made the right way one of these days.

This is a busier than normal week for us, but I think I can manage the meals anyway. Nobody was injured seriously this past week, so I feel like we did pretty well. A few things are up in the air for us this week, but I think it will still be alright.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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