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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Yarn Along: Birthday Presents

Travel usually helps me get more knitting done, as I have hours of sitting in one place. This time, it wasn't quite as much as I wished. There was a lot of knitting and unknitting and reknitting as I worked my way through swatches and design ideas. Also, since I was charting stitch patterns and working out designs, I couldn't really work on it while talking to other people. However, all of Mariam's planned birthday presents are finished. I thought of knitting a matching bib for her, but ran out of time. There hasn't been any progress on Equinox since last week, but I have a photo of it with the entire body finished for you to see. Here is the Bitty Baby Bib, I believe I've already shared the soaker here.

Aside from the design proposals I can't show you, there are also a few surprise projects coming up in the next couple months and I can't show you those, either, because the recipients read the blog occasionally. There are going to be lots of things I can't share until after they have been received or accepted. I made up for this by adding as many pictures to Ravelry as I possibly could, even if it was just to show the yarn being used. Cirrus has been frogged and renamed and I've reworked the pattern and am starting again. I'd love it if even one of my designs was accepted for the magazine, but I am not so secretly hoping that there will be two - a garment and an accessory.

I finally finished The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, and I really enjoyed it. I read a quick, happy, little murder mystery, The Quick and the Thread: An Embroidery Mystery, while we were on our trip during times that I couldn't concentrate on my knitting. Though I am still slowly absorbing Christ in His Saints, I have also started A Prayer Journal. I'll continue to learn from both East and West, I suppose.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Menu Plan: August 24 - 30

We have had what we hope is our final funeral/memorial trip of this year. We went and celebrated the life of Rich's grandfather, and he took us all out to pizza like he so enjoyed doing when he was with us. The next day, we were able to go to one of our churches and receive the Eucharist there.

It is Mariam's birthday this week, so it's a full, circle of life kind of time for us. Mariam, like the rest of our children, chose the meals for her birthday, and I think they are very four year old meals. She doesn't really have many friends who are not also either family friends or friends of her siblings yet, but she does have a particular friend among the kids' friends' siblings that she adores, so we invited the whole family over and she will get to play with "Ducky" on her birthday.

We have a busy week as usual, and our weekend is even busier. I was trying to figure out a quick meal that I could either get in the crock pot in the morning or throw together in the evening for Saturday. Some friends of ours are moving, Rich is helping them, and I know I will be doing last minute work on my design proposals. While I was asking the kids for ideas, Dominic offered to make a meal. So, he and Alexander are making a dinner from a cookbook of Alexander's, Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast. Alexander is going to take the main dish and one of the side dishes, and Dominic is going to handle another side dish and the salad.

Even though we aren't starting school next week, the kids' activities are starting up for the year, so ballet begins again for two of our girls. There is a meeting about the Nutcracker for the parents, and I am already stressed out about it. There are two days of shows, four performances, the first on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, with a full dress rehearsal on Friday. Those of you who know me, or who have been reading along long enough know that I start cooking on Monday and my schedule for the weekend is largely to rest. Friday I have set for eating pie and sleeping. I am not sure how I am going to handle this. I'm glad we didn't sign Mariam up this year, because I just don't think she is ready for two recitals, let alone two days of Nutcracker right at the beginning. Pray for us.

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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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Yarn Along: Hidden Progress

I haven't done a lot of knitting or reading over the past couple weeks, because it was fair week and we were slammed. I didn't finish Jerome's present, though I'm about 60% through it. Fortunately for me, his birthday party isn't for a couple weeks, so I can give it to him then (and we did have a couple family presents for him that he enjoyed). I have finished most of my Equinox test. I have the sleeves to do, and then weaving in ends and blocking, so probably 68 - 70% finished. No picture for that, sorry!

I'm really excited about the design proposals I'm preparing for Interweave Knits. One proposal is sketched and written, and two are in progress. It is the swatching I'm knitting on mostly these days (and Jerome's and Mariam's presents). These are also things that I can't post pictures of, because IK wants exclusive first publishing rights (though subsequent publishing is mine to do as I wish). What has been even more thrilling to me is that in seeking yarn support from various yarn companies for these proposals, I have had requests to submit some design ideas to the yarn companies, too. So, when I finish these proposals, I'm going to get to work on some descriptions for those. I have already had some yarn suggestions put forth, and come up with a few ideas that I think would work with those yarns.

As I said, I haven't done much reading either. The book in the photo is my latest accepted purchase suggestion at our library, Pope Awesome and Other Stories. I love our library. I've only read the first several pages, but really, I'm putting it aside so I can finish two other books, and work on the knitting.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Menu Plan: August 17 - 23

So, fair week is over! We have a love hate relationship with the fair. We enjoy going, entering, working, but it is so exhausting. Rich and I kept falling asleep today every time we sat down. Every time.

Our Grocery Outlet had an amazing deal on wild caught, crab claw meat in a cans in the refrigerator section. It was $5.99/lb. So we bought six cans. We've had crab pasta, grilled crab and cheese sandwiches with sliced tomato, and we're going to have crab cakes this week. We also were able to pick up local corn for $1.00 a dozen this past week, so we've been eating lots of it. We also picked up a ton of pickling cucumbers and zucchini from a friend's garden, so we're eating a lot of that. The zucchini is great for making into ribbons like pasta and for grating for adding to sauces, breads, cakes, and such. The ones that are too big and seedy, we're feeding to the chickens, who turn it into eggs for us. I'm making corn relish, dill pickle relish, and my spicy bread and butter pickles this week with our abundance of produce. Our apricot tree is ripening nicely, so if I have time, I will try to make some jelly, syrup, preserves, and butter from them. However, with Jerome's birthday this week and recovering from fair and a memorial to go to, it may have to wait until next week.

I'm doing a ton of design work. I have three proposals going for the summer issue of Interweave Knits that have to be in their hands early in September, so I'm hustling on those. One proposal is almost finished with the writing, one is about half way there, and the third is just started, but it a more developed design in my mind, so won't take as long to write. However, there is still that matter of only two weeks to get it done and have all the swatching finished and everything mailed to them, so there is that. I'm still in denial about school, so I've done almost nothing to prepare. That is something I'll be hustling with pretty soon, though.

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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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Recipe Round Up: Potato Wedges

These are really simple and tasty. They are a great side dish, and are better for you than frozen tater tots. They are also super simple to make.

3 pounds potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
1/3 cup safflower oil

1/2 cup all purpose or pastry flour (you could probably use cornstarch or rice flour just as easily)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic granules
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In one bowl, mix potato wedges and oil. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Toss oil coated potatoes in the flour and spice mixture.

Bake on shallow baking sheets, in single layers, for 45 - 50 minutes.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Menu Plan: August 10 - 16

We have had many blessings at the farmers' market this week, and so we have a ton of plums, peaches, nectarines, some raspberries, loads of tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash, shallots, basil, watermelon. Plus there was a Yukon Gold potato glean from which Alexander and Rich brought home almost 175 pounds of potatoes, and our apricot tree is doing really well this year. I should take some time this week to do some canning and freezing. However, it is also fair week, so we will be rather busy with that.

I am somewhat in denial that school starts up again next month, and I haven't prepared as much as I ought to have done. We have a trip planned, though, and I think I will bring my planning books and finish up our calendar then. Most of our fall calendar is already set up, but I still have lesson planning and outlines to do.

Our climate here is such that we really only get two weeks of fall before it is all of a sudden winter. And fall starts the week after the fair. So, that's depressing. We've already seen mornings in the upper 40s here. I'm in denial about that, as well. I hate winter. And we haven't accomplished all the things we wanted to do this summer.

Someone from our family will be working our neighborhood booth at close time each night of the fair. So, I've tried to plan meals that could be packaged and sent with whoever was working the close without too much trouble. There will probably be some swapping of our booth's stuff for other group's offerings as well. I'm only working one day this year at the fair, and we haven't entered a single thing this year. Last year was the only year I didn't work the fair booth since we moved here, and that includes working up until the Saturday before Mariam was born one year. We're kind of sad about not entering at the fair, but we had so many things going on with our schedule, that it just wasn't feasible. We were planning on being at my 20th high school reunion this weekend, and missing two days of the fair, but then we had a death in the family, which required a trip to the same area within a week, and there were scheduling complications with Rich's work and the fair and some friends of ours who live in my hometown and it just became too much. By the time we realized we'd be here for all of the fair and around to collect the projects at the end, there really wasn't time or energy to dedicate to good entries. So, we're just looking this year. But next year, we're going to dominate yet again.

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, August 07, 2014

Yarn Along: Ambition or Insanity

Only phone pictures this week. I'm almost finished with the body on Equinox. One of Mariam's presents is finished, and I have one or two to finish for her birthday. Still plugging away, but slowly, on Jerome's present (I'm further along than the picture and stats show, but not by a ton).

Interweave Knits has put out their themes and submission guidelines for Summer 2015 and I am going to try to submit three design proposals to them. By September 5. While preparing for school, finishing the test knit, making birthday gifts, and going to family memorials. One of the designs I'm going to propose to them is Cirrus, which will probably go through a name change and means that all my begging for test knitters will be for yet a further future date, since they don't want me working on the pattern much until it has been accepted and revisions are discussed.

I took a break from Christ in His Saints and The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, though I'm this close to finishing on both. However, last month while I was away with Rich, I read Girl to Girl: Honest Talk About Growing Up and Your Changing Body, to see if it would be an appropriate book to offer our girls, as we discuss this topic. Except for the use of the word b00bs in one place, that was quoted from a girl interviewed for the book, I think it was fairly well done. Obviously, it still requires a discussion with me on our faith's and family's beliefs and practice, but overall, it covered the necessary things, without trying to introduce topics that were either inappropriate, or more appropriately handled by the family. In that same vein, Rich and I read Theology of His Body / Theology of Her Body, which is more appropriate for older teens. Or at least, in our house that is the case. Our kids are not exposed to much in the way of popular media, and since they don't get it from school fellows, they are pretty informed about the reality of human sexuality, but are still innocent in the licentiousness and lewdness of the world. I would think that if your children had more exposure to pop culture or were in school, this book would be appropriate at around 11 to 13. In our house, it it more like 13 or 14 for the girls, and 15 or 16 for the boys. We were very impressed by how the book handled this delicate topic, and except for one reference to the "stain" of original sin, we did not feel like we had to address any differences in theology. (We, as the early Church, and the Orthodox Church, and Eastern Catholics, do not believe that the stain or guilt of original sin is inherited. We do not believe that babies are born sinners. We believe that in the Fall, all Creation Fell, and therefore, all humans have concupiscience, which is the tendency toward sin, but that no one is a sinner simply by his existence. It is in his acts of sin that he becomes a sinner. The nature he inherits is not a "sin nature," but a nature that has a tendency to sin. It may seem like a slight difference, but it makes a big difference when it comes to the ideas of God's declaration that Creation was good and Man, very good, how we are created in God's image, and therefore are good, the nature of salvation as a substitutionary atonement as a rescue mission rather than a penal satisfaction, that there is no wrath of God to be satisfied in the Crucifixion, how Mary could have been sinless without requiring her to be immaculate - which is a solution for a created problem, and so on.)

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Sunday, August 03, 2014

Menu Plan: August 3 - 9

I made the steam sautéed carrots and red onion with garlic and basil as an experiment last week. It was a highly successful experiment. I will be doing it again when we have a lot of basil to use. The onions weren't caramelized, but they were soft and sweet and delicious. We've had a windfall of zucchini and cucumbers, so we'll be eating a lot of those this week.

Also, we lost Rich's grandfather on Thursday, so would appreciate prayers for the family and for the repose of his soul. We'll be making another memorial trip in the next couple weeks.

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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Saturday, August 02, 2014

Recipe Round Up: Ribs and Beans

This is a recipe that works with whatever ribs you have and whatever beans you have. It is a great, inexpensive meal to make with tougher, less expensive cuts of meat. I've made this with spare ribs, short ribs, lamb ribs, you name it. We've used all kind of beans, depending on what we had available and sounded good. I halved the recipe to be for a smaller family, but if you have a big enough pot, this is a dish that freezes well, so doubling it and freezing the excess, either as an entire meal or in portioned out sizes, is a great idea. This is a meal that works as a one dish meal, or you can make some sort of bread/roll/biscuit to go with it, we like to serve fruit as a side dish to it as well.

1 lb Hutterite soup beans
water to cover
olive oil or other fat
2 pounds ribs (beef, pork, or lamb)
salt and pepper
4 ribs celery, finely sliced
4 carrots, scrubbed and diced
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
32 ounces canned, diced tomatoes with juices (if you use store bought cans, two will be enough)
16 ounces tomato sauce or purée (or about one larger can of sauce/purée)

Soak your beans for at least three hours, up to overnight. Drain and use fresh water when you add the beans to the pot.

Heat olive oil on med-high in a large, heavy, soup pot. Salt and pepper your ribs and lay them in the hot fat to brown. Turn once, then remove from the pot and set aside.

Add the vegetables to the fat in the pot, and sauté them until the onions are translucent and the other vegetables are softened. Stir in the oregano, cumin and chipotle powder. Return the meat to the pot, along with the drained beans. Pour in the tomatoes and sauce and stir it all together. Rinse out the cans and use the water to fill the pot to cover the beans well. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for at least an hour and a half, up to two hours, so the beans are cooked thoroughly and the meat can be easily removed from the bones.

Remove meat, and shred the meat from the bones, returning the meat to the pot. Save the bones and fat for stock in your freezer. Taste for to adjust seasoning. Serves about 6 people pretty easily.

To make this in the slow cooker, I do all of this, but instead I put the meat into the crock pot after browning, and add the sautéed vegetables, herbs and spices, the tomatoes and beans over the meat with a little less water than I do on the stove, as there is so little evaporation, cover and cook on low for about 6 hours.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Short Hair

So, I showed the picture with how long my hair had gotten. The last hair cut I'd had, except for a tiny trim in December, was in October. Of 2010.

I steeled myself, and found someone who could cut my hair locally, and I'm happy with it. Sorry for the picture of me in my pjs in our messy living room.

Rich was surprised it wasn't shorter, as he was preparing himself for it to be about four inches shorter than I had it cut. Since my hair was longer than it had been since we'd known each other, and he had been enjoying that quite a bit, I think it was a pleasant surprise that it wasn't shorter.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yarn Along: Progress on Equinox

I despise these bushes, they are the last two of them we have and they are havens for snakes, spiders, mice, wasps, and all sorts of nasty things. People grow them a lot here, as they provide some greenery and they require almost no water. My plan is to pull these last two out, replace them with elderberry bushes, Russian sage, and another plant with purple flowers which is also drought tolerant, but I can't remember the name. Rich doesn't want us to plant any pampas or blood grass because of how it spreads. Anyway, I found its only really good use, as it did provide support for the book and knitting. However, we're pretty sure that is where the baby rattle snake emerged from that we found, when heading to the gate to take the pictures! First one we've seen on our property since we moved and I called it. Fight or flight set in even before I identified it. I knew something was different about it, I started at the head and my eyes traveled down the body to the little, baby, black, rattle. Rich was saying it was a bull snake and coming toward it while I said, "No, this looks like it might be a ..." and its head pulled in and the rattle came up and shook at us. There was a handy brick in the weeds next to the gate, which Rich used to kill it, and the cats came and crowded around the corpse until one vanquished and ran off with the spoils.

I have made quite a bit of progress on my Equinox test. I've knit almost nothing else in the last week. I do have some work done on a gift for Jerome's birthday, and I will need to take a break to work on birthday presents for Mariam, but I think I could be finished with Equinox in a couple/three weeks.

I do have three new patterns available for sale: Laetare, April (there is a separate entry for the hat, but you purchase the pattern as a set). I have a freebie to offer as well, the April burp cloth, which coordinates with the preemie set I have for sale. (It makes a great swatch of the stitch pattern, too!) I have a few other designs nearly at the ready for sale or download, so in the next few months there should be some more added to my stores. My really exciting news is that Saint Catherine of Alexandria was accepted into the book being published next year. I have a variation made as well. When the book is published, I will also be selling the pattern separately.

I'm still looking for test knitters for my design, so if anyone is interested in testing Cirrus, please e-mail me with Cirrus Test in the subject line using an e-mail address you check on a regular basis. My plan is to have this available in five sizes, XS, S, M, L, XL, approximately to fit a bust of 34", 36", 38", 40", and 42", and I'd like at least one tester for each size. I anticipate having the pattern available to test in late August or early September (I've been delayed).

Still reading Christ in His Saints and The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things. I've made a dent in the Jane Austen book so that I am almost finished, and I have a little ways to go on Fr. Reardon's book.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Recipe Round Up: Sausage and Egg Breafast Casserole

I found a similar recipe to this on Pinterest, which used tube crescent rolls and a few different ingredients in different proportions, and I decided I could make it one better using my butterhorn rolls and some other changes. I do this one of two ways, either using hot breakfast sausage and sage, or using chorizo and oregano. I have used everything from cheddar cheese, to pepper jack, to a mystery garlic and herb cheese that I found at the Grocery Outlet. As long as it is that kind of melting cheese that can be shredded and is a flavor you enjoy with whichever sausage you choose, it will be fine.

If you do not have as big a pan as I do, you can make this in a 9" X 13" and a 9" square pan. If you really want only a smaller amount, you will need to reduce everything by about a third to fit into a 9" X 13" pan or divide the recipe by three to fit into a 9" square pan. But, you really want lots of this. It is great reheated (in the oven or toaster oven, or even lightly pan fried) and the extras can be frozen, if you cut them into servings first.

1 recipe butterhorn roll dough
1 1/2 pounds bulk sausage (I use either hot breakfast sausage or chorizo)
1/2 pound cheese, shredded (anything from cheddar to pepper jack, something that will melt well)
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions or chives (optional - I did not use it in the example photographed above, but it really is good with this)
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons either dried sage or oregano (depending on the type of sausage you choose)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Grease an 11" X 15" pan well and press the dough into the bottom, pushing up the sides and making a 1/2 - 1" border for the crust. Set aside, covered with a clean kitchen towel. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Brown your sausage and set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the other ingredients. Shred your cheese, if you have not already. Chop up your scallions or chives as well. Whisk together the eggs, milk, sage or oregano, salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the sausage, cheese, and scallions or chives evenly over the dough inside the border of the crust. Gently pour the egg mixture over the top to cover, without covering the border you have made. Bake 25 minutes, or until egg is just set and bread is puffed and golden brown. Cool about 5 - 10 minutes in the pan, cut and serve. This makes about 24 generous servings. I like to serve it with fruit to offset the saltiness of the sausage and cheese.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

New Patterns for Sale (Plus a Freebie!) and Some Other Pattern News

I have published three new patterns this past week! Two for sale and one for free. They are available on Ravelry, though I plan to spend some time in the next couple weeks figuring out my Nimblestix store so I can upload patterns there as well. I really like Nimblestix, and think it is a great place for knitters, crocheters, and spinners.

Laetare is now published and for sale. This is designed as a nursing shawl, though it can be used in any way you wish - it could work as a shoulder shawl, a nursing cover up, a kerchief or head covering. The name, though, is linked to its function as a nursing shawl. As I've mentioned before, laetare means milk joy.

You can now purchase the pattern for April, which is a set for preemies sized three to five pounds, around 32 - 36 weeks. Ravelry strongly encourages designers to make a separate entry for each item in a set, even when they are downloaded/sold together, so here is the separate entry for the hat. (I didn't do that with Adam and Eve, and probably ought to edit it to correct that.)

I came up with numerous names for this before I settled on April. April was the first to come to mind, and I kept coming back to it, though. April was when Nejat started to come, so it is forever imprinted in my mind as our experience with a preemie.

As a little bonus, I made up this pattern for a coordinating burp cloth for April. It is a nice pattern to swatch for the vest, too, and helps you to work out the stitch pattern before tackling any shaping or other aspects of knitting the hat or vest. I hope you enjoy it!

My other news is that Saint Catherine of Alexandria was accepted for the book _Little One-Skein Wonders_ which will be put out by Storey Publishing and should show up either on that link or this one soon. It is scheduled to be published next year, I think around March - May. I've shown it above in both sizes. Nejat is wearing a variation on the pattern, done in a different yarn and with a seed st edging.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Menu Plan: July 27 - August 2

Our plans for next weekend are still up in the air, so I'm not sure if our menu planning will stick for that part of the week. However, the rest should be pretty stable. It's heating up again, so I'm going to try to get as many trips to the pool as possible this week. I didn't get the breakfast casserole recipe posted, as our internets have been spotty for much of this week. I will try to post that in the next couple days, after talking to our ISP.

This afternoon was our church picnic, so we filled up there for linner and ate veggies, fruit, leftover lunch meat, olives, toast, and potato salad left over from the picnic for a semi-dinner. I couldn't find a way not to cook at all this week, in the heat, but I'm trying to use the oven as little as possible, and I'm using the slow cooker for the short ribs.

Our apricots are ripening well, so we'll probably be eating a whole lot of them in the coming weeks, as well as preserving and freezing as many as we can. Those of you who are local to us may want to check in and see if you can come pick, too, as we will have extras.

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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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Yarn Along: Ballerina Top and Equinox Test

This past week was either our last road trip or second to last road trip for the summer. I'm still equivocating over the class reunion. It was really nice to have so much time to knit, both in the car and while on our trip, since Rich was in class all day and I had no children with me. I made quite a bit of progress, as well as had rest, time to read and pray, time to walk and visit parks, shop bead and yarn shops, hang out with my buddies from back home and solve the world's problems over coffee. Rich and I had several lovely dinners out and we got to go to a concert on the harbor one night and a salsa dance another night. It was so much fun! At night, walking back from our dinners, Rich would say that we had time to walk a little more and I'd tell him that I had time, but he had homework. I hope his instructor appreciated that.

As you can see above, I finished the neckline edging on the ballerina tank top. Unfortunately, I forgot to pick up every other stitch on the front and back of the neck, so the lace ruffles out. I'm going to work on the armhole edging first, because I automatically picked up the right amount of sts there, and then see if threading a ribbon through the faggoting around the neck and cinching it in a bow will solve the ruffle problem, or if I have to rip back and redo all of it.

I made quite a bit of progress on my Equinox test. I'm hoping to have it finished by August 19, or August 26 at the latest. I have three birthday projects that need to be done in that time, as well, though, so this may be delayed.

Here I am working at the bed and breakfast, which we cannot recommend highly enough.

And here is the yarn I bought at two different shops. The light blue in the back were freebies. I picked up some odds and ends and unicorn tails at one place for some color work, and the Tosh Merino Light in (the ill named) vermillion at another shop - I think it should be called summer rose or ripe raspberry.

I'm still looking for test knitters for my design, so if anyone is interested in testing Cirrus, please e-mail me with Cirrus Test in the subject line using an e-mail address you check on a regular basis. My plan is to have this available in five sizes, XS, S, M, L, XL, approximately to fit a bust of 34", 36", 38", 40", and 42", and I'd like at least one tester for each size. I anticipate having the pattern available to test between late July and August.

I'll bet you are bored of the same books all this time, but I am still reading Christ in His Saints and The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things. There just isn't as much time for me to read, and the knitting has taken priority lately. I'm about half way through the Jane Austen book and almost finished with Christ in His Saints.

These pictures aren't related to the knitting or reading at all, but I thought I'd share a shot Rich got of my hair while we were at the concert on the harbor and a picture of us after we had gone out dancing. I really need to get my hair cut, though Rich has been enjoying how long it is, but kept waiting until I could go see my former hair lady in the harbor. I did get to talk to her, and it turns out she has had a shoulder injury, so she is semi-retired for the moment, but she said to try her later. This means that I have to try someone here, which really freaks me out since it took me several years to find this lady. I was going to try to schedule something in time for my birthday this week, but that hasn't worked out, so maybe in the next couple weeks I can get my hair done. Wish me luck!

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Menu Plan: July 20 - 26

We are back from our trip, which was wonderful! Rich and I had such a good time while we were there. He had to be in class during the day, but I had a week of (almost) no responsibilities, and rested, knit, walked, visited shops, went out to lunch, hung out in parks, whatever I wanted to do each day. In the evenings, we'd go out to eat together, and twice we were able to go dancing. Since we were on the west side, we also went and visited "home" twice. It was such a refreshing break.

Our dinner out on Friday was skipped, though, as all of the highways or freeways we needed to take home were closed or had significant closures in our way because of all of the fires and smoke. I-90 opened up and we decided just to push through to get home. Please keep the towns that have burned to the ground, the fire fighters, those who have lost their homes, and the rest of us who are still in relative danger of fire spreading, in your prayers. Our house had a fine layer of ash on every surface, inside and out, and the air conditioning in the big van puffed out ash before any cool air started circulating.

Since I hadn't been here to go grocery shopping, the fridge is pretty empty. We're fortunate that we have so much in the freezers and pantry, but there were also some things that really needed to be used up, so I'm making quite a few Musgovian dishes this week. Our dinner tonight was basically Musgovian, we had the ground beef, we had the sour cream, there were the tater tots and peppers in the fridge, and a tiny bit of salsa that was getting rather strong, that I added to the mix. It tasted pretty good, actually, and we were able to get in touch with Rich's white heritage this way. Our soup for tomorrow is also Musgovian, as there was the ham bone in the fridge, some tomato something or other from one of the meals, red lentils from Friday, some white beans in the freezer, and some sad vegetables that need to be eaten. Even our breakfast before church was Musgovian, as we had a bag of thawed peach halves in the fridge that we peeled and tossed into the hot cereal, and fruit from the fridge is featuring in many of our meals this week.

Also this week is my birthday. We've spent a ton of money on travel and emergencies that have popped up, so I asked Rich to grill steaks for us, and do some projects for me that I've been wanting done for a while. Also, I bought a few patterns online that I had been waiting on for a while, and of course, while we traveled, I picked up yarn, too.

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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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Menu Plan: July 13 - 20

We were able to take advantage of the Independence Day sales and bought a gigantic new washer and dryer set. They are amazing! We had to spend a lot of money on them, and I have already threatened children with garnishing their wages as adults if I find any more crayons, markers, playdough, or rocks in my dryer. We are almost caught up on laundry, and are at least caught up enough not to have to have piles of it all around our utility room.

This week, Rich and I get to take some time away from the kids. It's work related for Rich, but a break for me. I'm bringing lots of knitting, some design work, a few books, my copy of The 1928 Book of Common Prayer (we don't use the same translation of the Nicene Creed, as our church instructs us to use the form written and ratified in the Nicene Councils, rather than the changed version used after the schism between East and West), The Orthodox Study Bible: Ancient Christianity Speaks to Today's World, and my prayer journal. I'm hoping for a lot of restful time of work and study. Rich will be in class all day, we'll have dinner together, and then he will have to be studying, so I figure I will continue working on knitting/design/reading. During our time away, we will celebrate 20 years since the day we first met. We plan on taking that night to have a nice dinner out together - and there even appears to be an opportunity for us to go salsa dancing the last night we're there.

Since we were to be gone, I wasn't planning on doing a menu plan this week, not wanting to dictate how the meals should be made while I was away; but the people who are staying with our children at home said that it was immensely helpful, so I am planning some basic dinner ideas for them. No breakfast plans, only dinners this week. We have shelling peas that are ripe right now, so if they are interested in that, they can cook those up, too.

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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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Recipe Round Up : Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

Some of you may have grown up eating stuffed cabbage leaves, but you probably didn't eat them the way I did. I've heard of Eastern European versions with a kind of sweet and sour sauce and some other kinds that are mostly filled with rice or other starch. Not so with these, these are leaves wrapped around meat. And they are delicious hot, room temperature or cold. We usually make one and a half times or twice this amount.

This is the filling and method I use for waraq 'ounab (grape leaves) as well, with the exception that I don't core and steam the grape leaves. You can fill and make the rolls (of this or the grape leaves) and place them in a slow cooker with the sauce and lemon juice and water as well to cook.

2 pound head of cabbage
2 pounds ground beef or lamb
1 bunch parsley
1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1 1/2 + 1 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup basmati rice (or other medium to long grain rice)
28 ounces tomato sauce or puree
juice of one lemon

Core cabbage, and place in steamer insert above about an inch or two of water, in a medium to large pot. Cover pot and steam for about 30 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool.

Gently peel leaves off head and trim the thick ribs in the middle. You can discard those parts, or chop them finely and make a relish with hot peppers and garlic, all sautéed in olive oil with a little salt. My mother used to do that with either red serranos or jalapenos, depending on what we had. You can add some chopped tomatoes, too.

Puree parsley, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pepper. Mix this in with the meat and 1 cup of rice. Shape the meat into long, little ovals, to fit the cabbage, and fold in the sides, then roll up to form a package. Set these in the bottom of a large, heavy pot on the stove. If there is any remaining meat mixture form into small to medium football shaped meatballs. Place the kofta into the pot on top of the cabbage rolls. In the rare chance that there is some cabbage remaining, just put them flat on top of the other cabbage rolls in the pot. Pour tomato sauce over the top, along with an equal amount of water (rinse down the sides of the can and fill with water), remaining salt, and the juice of one lemon. Invert a small plate over the top of the food and cover with a lid. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat and cook for about 45 minutes, or until meat is cooked and rice is soft.

Serve with rice, spooning sauce over, harissa, if you like it, and make a salad.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Yarn Along: More Travel Knitting

I'm a day late on my yarn along, but we've had an exhausting couple weeks, and I'm still recovering.

While driving through Oregon and Washington, I made lots of progress on the lace edging of my ballerina top. I'm going to try to make a more compact version of the lace edging for the armholes that still mimics the lace around the shoulders and neck. It doesn't look much different than last week, though, because I've just rounded the corner on the neck and headed toward the back. What I'm showing you above is the test knit I'm doing for Katherine for her Equinox top.

Although I'm enjoying my knitting time in the car, I'm looking forward to our next trip, which is the first in a long time that doesn't include a memorial or funeral. This one, will just be me and Rich, and we each have some work we need to be doing while we're gone, so we'll kind of be dating in the evening, while doing our own thing during the day. On the 15th, it will be 20 years since the night we first met, so we plan on doing something special together that night, then getting back to our work.

I promised a picture of me in my swatch hat. I have started my test of the Equinox top. The pattern is well written, I like how the increases are on different rounds than the lace patterning. There are some elements of her pattern writing that I think I will incorporate in my own. Knitting is quick, and the lace pattern is easy to memorize, so I hope to have it finished in time. My daughter Amira assures me that this color looks good on me, but I'm not entirely sold on it, so if it turns out that I am not happy with the color, I will give the set, hat and sweater, to a friend of mine when I am finished.

Here is a closer look at the hat.

Yasmina was thrilled with her heart bowl, and since we're doing some organizing this week, it also gives her a place to put some of her treasures in her room. She told us she just wanted to do a family birthday party this year, so we did it up well, and had a great, though relaxed, time.

I'm still looking for test knitters for my design, so if anyone is interested in testing Cirrus, please e-mail me with Cirrus Test in the subject line using an e-mail address you check on a regular basis. My plan is to have this available in five sizes, XS, S, M, L, XL, approximately to fit a bust of 34", 36", 38", 40", and 42", and I'd like at least one tester for each size. I anticipate having the pattern available to test between late July and August.

I finished another happy little murder this weekend, Night of the Living Thread (A Threadville Mystery), and this one I enjoyed a bit more. It wasn't too easy to figure out who the murderer was, but there was enough there to make some connections and come up with theories. Still reading and really enjoying Christ in His Saints and The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things.

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