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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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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Belated Recipe Round Up: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

These are really tasty muffins. They aren't quite as cakey as the bakery muffins, which we think is preferable, but they are tasty and moist.

1 3/4 cup pastry flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease 24 standard muffin cups (and/or line with foil muffin liners) well and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together pastry flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract, and mix well, leaving the batter a bit lumpy. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop into muffin tins, filling about 2/3 of the way up the sides. Bake in preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes, until they are firm in the center and the tops bounce back when pressed lightly.

Cool in tins on a rack for about 5 - 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely. Or just eat them warm and melty.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Yarn Along: Saint George! (Plus Some Things I Can't Mention)

It's been rainy and grey, which is very unlike this area, for the past few days, so I have an in house photo of my project this week. I am finished with the knitting on Saint George. I really like the way it has corners and changes shape geometrically, but Alexander wants it square, so I still need to block it flat.

I'm finishing up editing the pattern notes and should have the pattern available for sale in a week or so. I'm also hoping to have another, free, pattern available by Thanksgiving. That one will be for a baby bonnet, so could be used for Christmas knitting or for a baby shower or for charity.

In other work, I have several unbirthday and holiday presents that are either recently finished or in progress. But the people who receive them might see it on the blog, so I can't really say much about those yet. I also have quite a few designs in the works, many of the simple and quick, but a couple that will be more complicated, that I hope to have ready over the next several months. Most of those are designs for my own stores, so I can discuss them here, but a few are not, so those will be surprises. I had another design idea that I was trying to finesse to meet the themes and requirements of a magazine's holiday issue for next year, but I just couldn't get it to fit both my ideal and theirs. So, I will be working on it for my own publication, or saving it for a time that it will work for them.

This weekend, I received another yarn club package from Paradise Fibers and my shipment for the Magnolia Society should arrive in the next week or so (registration is open now for the next one, too). When it does, I'll post pictures of both.

Now that I've had a little respite, and kind of read brain candy for a while there, I'm back to reading Christ in His Saints. I would really like to finish it before tackling another theological or spiritual book, though I have many I'm itching to read. It is so good, and it is something I can pick up and set down at will, since each character sketch is fairly brief. In my brain candy books, I also finished The Long Stitch Good Night: An Embroidery Mystery. This author's books are a little too predictable, but they are fun, easy reading for me when I can't quite handle other, more demanding writing.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Menu Plan: October 19 - 25

I just realized I was supposed to post my chocolate chocolate chip muffin recipe. I will get on that right away - our week and weekend were a bit more busy than we expected. Some friends of ours also gave us an opportunity to have an afternoon and evening to ourselves on Friday, so our meal for that night has been moved. Actually, it had already been moved, we switched Wednesday and Friday, then we pushed that meal to this week. So, we have a couple repeats on the menu this week. We've already had a few mornings that are below freezing, and our nights are pretty chilly, so we're having a lot more hot breakfasts and warming dinners.

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, October 13, 2014

Menu Plan: October 12 - 18

We had a much lower key week this past week, for which I am extremely grateful. Mariam is healing up well, most of us are over our colds, or mostly anyway, and nobody else had any more accidents or illnesses. Winter has come upon us. This is probably the longest, mildest fall we've had since moving here. They usually last around two weeks, and this one went from the week after fair through this last week. But now winter is here. And you all probably know how I feel about winter.

I have to share my grocery haul with you, though. This is why I shop Grocery Outlet first. I've heard that HEB and Aldi's offer similar deals, but we don't have those in our area. I bought all of this at the Grocery Outlet this weekend using their 20% off bag (fill a paper bag without ripping it and everything in it is an extra 20% off) and a small, separate, order of what didn't fit, using a $3.00 off coupon (the seasoned fish fillets, the pickles, the cat food, and the tissues):

For $94, I bought 3 pounds of frozen, wild caught, salmon fillets, 2 pounds of organic chicken drumsticks, 1 pound of pepperoni, 2 1/2 pounds of bacon, 2 1/2 pounds of frozen, Southwest seasoned, tortilla crusted, wild caught fish fillets, 4 pounds of co-jack cheese, 1 pound of Italian shredded cheeses, 2 pounds of ricotta, 8 ounces of boursin, 2 pints of sour cream, 2 liters of extra virgin, Turkish olive oil, 2 pounds of frozen, organic, California blend vegetables, 2 pounds of frozen, sliced onions and peppers, 1 1/2 pounds frozen peas, 24 ounces of tortilla chips, 3 quart jars of Claussen pickles, 2 tubes of toothpaste, 2 bottles of dish soap, 1 box of tissues, 16 pounds of cat food.

There was a time when all of this could have been gotten for between $50 and $60 at the Grocery Outlet, but these prices are still amazing, especially for the cost of groceries right now, so I am grateful to be able to provide good things for our family at a much lower cost. Our menu has a couple repeats this week because we had to shift some things around because of schedules or not feeling up to cooking something.

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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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Yarn Along: Birthday Design

So, two nights after Mariam split her head open, and the night I had her go to bed in her own bed, I had to go tell her and Yasmina to stop playing around and go to sleep. I found Mariam climbing the dressers, using the drawers as steps! The same girl who went to the hospital for stitches two nights before. Really.

It's been a busy week. Needless to say, there hasn't been a ton of crafting this week. I did get started on Alexander's birthday present, which is not going to be finished in time for his birthday, but I'm hoping to have it ready for his party. It is also a design I will be publishing, which I think would make a great Christmas present for a man (or woman, but men tend to be harder to pick knit projects for, in my experience). I wish I could capture the color of this yarn. Imagine the very darkest blue grey there possibly could be that still shows some blue to it. This picture makes it look either just grey or maybe a shade lighter than black. It is a blue black/blue grey, and it is really gorgeous. This shot is probably the closest, but it's still off a bit.

I still haven't really read much. Between our trauma at the beginning of the week, all of us fighting colds, and school work, there just hasn't been time. I basically have been pushing myself to the limit on trying to get as much of the essentials done, and just crash at night. Rich and I have been falling asleep immediately after praying with the kids at night. On separate couches. Then, we wake up later, and either go to our own bed, or realize that it's time to get up for school/work/church/making breakfast. It's been a rough week. We are getting a little better, and it was just a cold, but it kind of slowed us all down at the same time, and that was the real challenge. Still, I've almost finished Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn From the Latter-day Saints, and I picked up Stitch Me Deadly: An Embroidery Mystery for some light reading.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Monday, October 06, 2014

Yarn Clubs and Yarn Tasting Goodies

I joined two yarn clubs this fall, one semi-local, and one that is more well known.

The first is one through Paradise Fibers, which offers yarns dyed by American companies in colorways that have to do with the Pacific Northwest. You get a skein or two of yarn, a pattern to go with it, and it's a nice surprise each month. My first package came almost two weeks ago and had a skein of Three Irish Girls Adorn sock yarn in Spokane Riverwalk, along with a sock pattern to use with it (or not).

Paradise Fibers also had a Rowan yarn "tasting" a couple Saturdays ago, which I was able to attend with a friend. We didn't win anything, but the goody bag for signing up had a skein of Rowan Fine Art Aran, a skein of Regia Viva Color, and two skeins of Schachenmayr Boston, along with three patterns that could be used with them. My friend who came with me didn't want her fluorescent yarn and gave it to me, so I ended up with three of the Boston, instead of two.

Here is my Magnolia Society yarn club package for this month, two skeins of Twist Light in Caterpillar. I really wish I could have joined for all the different color possibilities, but I chose Naturals this round, and Jewels for the final month. I'll get a lot of Unicorn Tails in between. This is stretching me, because I don't get to quite choose the colors I get, but I like the surprise and the challenge of seeing a color with different eyes.

I tried to capture the color, and had a hard time with that. The first picture is too washed out and bright, but the second one is too dark and olive. But while the second is a little closer to the actual color, it isn't really right, either.

I would have gotten a goody bag from my knitting retreat this past month, but we cancelled so we could go visit Kim. However, they said they'd keep my bag behind the counter and when I could go pick it up, I could still have that. I was really sorry to miss my class, but think we made the better choice.


Sunday, October 05, 2014

Menu Plan: October 5 - 11

Well, after last week's adventures, I'm hoping for a more peaceful week. We have a lot to do, as usual, but I'm hoping that will not include a trip to the hospital. We still have a ton of apples, so we're eating a lot of that, and we had a great deal on winter squash at the Grocery Outlet, so I picked up a bunch of those for us to roast and eat. There are some repeats this week, and I'll try to get all the meals done, now that we aren't all really sick. Alexander turns 16 this week! I can't believe that he is so old now. We are excited about him starting to drive because that means we won't have to drive everyone to every practice and class and rehearsal ourselves. He won't be allowed to drive his friends for the first six months, but he can drive siblings! We have started him later, though, so he will be doing his practice and driver's ed this fall and winter.

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, October 04, 2014

Recipe Round Up: Pesto and Ricotta Baked Pasta

This is really easy to make. It is a pasta you don't even precook. You mix it all together and let the water absorb as it bakes. I do cook the onion, peppers, and garlic, so you will use two pans for the whole dish. If you steam sauté another vegetable or two as a side dish, you can even use the skillet without washing it in between.

1 pound pasta (any shape you like, but not long pastas like linguine or fettuccine, unless you break them up)
2 cups pesto
2 cups ricotta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 pound sliced sweet peppers
4 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt, to taste
2 cups water
1/2 pound mozzarella (fresh or aged), shredded
1/2 pound provolone, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Place pasta in baking dish along with pesto and ricotta, and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil when hot, then add onions and peppers. Sauté until onions are wilted and starting to brown on the edges, then add garlic and salt. Cook for another minute. Taste to make sure there is enough salt and adjust as necessary. Add to pan with pasta. Pour 2 cups of water over the mix, and mix together well. Sprinkle with cheeses and cover with foil so it isn't touching the cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes, covered. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes. Serve with a salad, fruit, garlic bread, and/or another vegetable.

This isn't the best photo, but it shows the peppers in the dish.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Yarn Along: Secret Finished Object

Here is yet another poorly lit, blurry photo of my knitting. There is a little surprise in this, so you can't tell anyone! Those wristers are for a friend of mine, for her birthday. However, what they are sitting on is a split stitch that is so thin, that it would break and unravel in the first couple wearings. That I just found tonight. Smack dab in the middle of the stockinette on the back of my Equinox which means I will have to undo the bind off and drop the stitch back to correct it. It's not a huge deal, but somewhat demoralizing when I was feeling so close to finished. A little progress has been made on my friend's long distance hug. At this point, I'm hoping to have it ready for her for Christmas.

We are supposed to be getting ready for our first day of school tomorrow. And we will begin tomorrow. But this week has been a bear. Rich and I had a short trip to Portland for him to take a class. While we were there, we found out that a friend of ours had his mother die, and then that an aunt of mine had a stroke. When we got home, three or four of the kids were in the beginnings of a cold. Now a full fledged cold, which has also claimed Nejat. Then the news came that my aunt had died. Best of all, however, is that Mariam, while running to catch up with her brothers and sisters last night, ended up tripping and getting a huge split in her face, just above her left eyebrow, requiring her to go to the hospital at around 9:00. She didn't get home until after midnight. Now, our challenge is to keep her still so she doesn't pull or burst her stitches.

I haven't done much knitting in the past few days. Nor reading. I tried to tackle Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn From the Latter-day Saints, which I had been making good progress on this weekend, but it required too much thought. Even Christ in His Saints, with its short character sketches was too much. The closest I got to reading today was to grab a happy little murder and place it beside me. Everything is a little mentally taxing right now.

Did I mention that both Rich and I are feeling a little sick now, too? And that the two nights before Mariam's accident, we hadn't slept much because we were up with Nejat? Then last night, I took the couch with Mariam, to make sure she was okay and not in pain, and to keep her from falling out of bed or on stairs, while Rich took on Nejat in our room. Tonight, Mariam wanted to sleep on the couch again. With me. So, we're doing it one more night. Please pray for all of us. This has been the most exciting Michaelmas celebrations we've ever had.

Also posting to Keep Calm and Craft On

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Menu Plan: September 28 - October 4

We had another short trip this weekend. Rich had a class for work to do on Saturday, so he and I popped down to Portland and stayed at an amazing bed and breakfast, Heron Haus, which was built with salmon money at the beginning of the twentieth century. There were so many details to the house that I really like, so I was taking pictures to keep them for our own home. We stayed on the third floor, which was where the servants' quarters were when the house belonged to the Warren family. It was a wonderful place to rest, and even though Rich had to leave for his class too early to join us for breakfast, they packaged it up for him so I could deliver it to him on his break.

I have some good reports and another prayer request. My friend Kim has had much of her speech capabilities restored, which baffles her doctors. She has completed her final round of radiation, and the doctors basically think they have done all they can to extend her life. This restoration has them confused, and we are praying for more of that kind of confusion. We hope for the Lord to work mightily in her and baffle the doctors once more. I am thankful so often that I believe in a God who raises the dead. So, we are thankful for this improvement, and any other blessings that may come. However, Saturday morning, I received a message from my cousin's wife that our aunt (his and mine, our mothers' eldest sibling) had had a stroke, was in a coma in the hospital, and had a brain bleed from the blood thinners. I had to break the news to my mother, which was difficult. Before I really had a chance to communicate with our other cousins, I received news yesterday, that my aunt had died. She was already a widow, and had lost a 19 year old granddaughter to cancer, but is survived by three sons, two of whom are married with children, a daughter, her husband, and their children. She makes the third of six siblings to pass from my mother's family. I am grieving her loss, and am so sad for my cousins and their families, but also I am grieving the loss my children have, without even realizing it, since they had not met her, as they have not met so many of my family. They have not grown up with the summer visits, family stories and all of the laughter and history that I did, and I am sorry for that. It is the reality of living an ocean away on a different continent, but it is a harder reality sometimes. Please pray that God would have mercy on her soul, and for the comfort of her children and grandchildren.

Some friends of ours also lost a family member this weekend, so please pray for the repose of the soul of Eileen, who was mother to Paul and mother in law to Jill. Again, pray for the comfort of her children and grandchildren as well.

We are finally beginning school in earnest this week. We've done some reading and activities and small studies, but we're really serious this week. I decided to start on the first, just to make things a little simpler for us. The boys start up fencing this week, and co-op began last week, so we are at full schedule for this time of year. Michaelmas** is Monday, and Jerome's name day is Tuesday. We always try to commemorate these days with special foods and activities, but also this weekend, several of our children seem to have had a cold, so we'll see if a bonfire is really feasible for Monday night. We will slay our serpent, 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.

**Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world -- he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. -- Revelation 12:7-9

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits, who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in praelio. Contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur. Tuque princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo divina virtute in infernum detrude. Amen.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Recipe Round Up: Summer Squash Casserole

This is really simple, and really tasty, and a good use of the billions of squash you will either grow or have given to you by those who do grow them in the summer and fall.

I have successfully made this with regular zucchini, using a blend of mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan in place of the cheddar cheese, I think adding some thyme and oregano, and it was delicious. You could use pepper jack or whatever other melting cheese you like. This is a versatile dish.

3 pounds yellow crookneck squash, sliced 1/4 - 1/2" thick (if your squash is really seedy, scoop out the seeds)
6 tablespoons of butter, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup mayonnaise (homemade or store bought)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup panko or cracker crumbs, for topping

Grease a 9" by 11" baking dish and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Simmer squash slices in it for 7 - 8 minutes, and drain immediately.

While the squash is simmering, sautée the onions in 4 tablespoons of butter until wilted and transparent. Add the drained squash to this and sautée for a couple minutes to get a little bit of browning on the squash. Remove from heat.

Stir the cheese, eggs, mayonnaise, and salt into the pan with the vegetables, and pour the whole thing into the greased baking dish.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and mix with the panko or cracker crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the vegetables in the baking dish. Bake, uncovered, for 20 - 25 minutes, until the crumbs are browned and the casserole is heated through. Serve with anything you like!

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Yarn Along: New Nimblestix Store and A Little Progress

I meant to take a photograph during the day, outdoors, for a better shot, but I forgot, so you are getting an indoor picture with bizarre lighting instead.

Our most recent trip was another one in which it was hard for me to make much progress in either knitting or crocheting. It was so emotional and I had to help a lot with navigation, so I didn't do as much work as I thought I would with 45 plus hours in the car. I did get a little more done on my friend's long distance hug, though not enough to even be close to giving it to her when we saw her. Although I brought along Jerome's birthday present, I only finished up the i-cord ties and still haven't sewn up the bag. I have made some progress on Equinox, but I'm not sure I'll be finished before the end of the month.

I have set up my Nimblestix Store! I really encourage people to join up with Nimblestix as an alternative to Ravelry. It is a great site for knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, and tatters, without ideologically driven limits. I am not quitting Ravelry, but I am hoping to shift my presence more to Nimblestix for my new project pages and groups and so on.

I picked up Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn From the Latter-day Saints some time ago on the recommendation of a friend. A lot of what the author says is good, but I think could have been said with many fewer words. Also, I get the feeling that if he read more N.T. Wright, or Orthodox theology, or Apostolic Fathers, or even more deeply into the Catholic Magisterium that he claims, he would find that it isn't necessary to look to Mormonism to see the kinds of things he is recommending other Christians consider. Many Christians already not only consider, but believe and claim the things he wants to encourage them to return to in his book. I'm trying to finish it, but he keeps restating so many things, and I'm getting to the point of skimming.

While we were doing Morning Prayer in the hotel one morning, our reading perfectly coincided with one of the saints I had read about in Christ in His Saints. So, we read that aloud when we were finished with Morning Prayer. I'm going to keep posting about this until I am finished with it, because I think it is so good and worthwhile for any Christian (or non-Christian, for that matter) to read. Each person is written in a short sketch of an essay, which is just about my speed at the moment.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Menu Plan: September 21 - 27

I owe you a squash casserole recipe from a couple weeks ago. I will post it this week instead. Our schedule was shifted considerably the last couple weeks because of a sad development with a dear friend of mine. Please offer prayers for Kim, her husband Brian, and their four children, Caisey, Rebecca, Ana, and John Paul. We were gone, on an impromptu vacation to Arizona to visit a friend of mine who is in the last stages of brain cancer. Since we already had the vacation time planned, and Kim's health was deteriorating rapidly, we decided to change our plans and took a drive to Arizona and back.

On the way, we were able to visit some other friends, in Idaho and Utah, and while in Arizona, were able to visit my friend who lost her husband this year (though I didn't have her scarf finished to give her). Since we were so (relatively) close to our church's cathedral in San Clemente, Rich said we should try to go there on our way home, coming up through California, and worship there. It was beautiful and wonderful to share that with our children. Rich had been there twice, and I had been there twice, but never together, and the children had never been there at all. We were able to have lunch with some friends of ours who live in the Los Angeles area, and were going to visit some friends in the Bay area, but we were running late and then found out that the wife had bronchitis and had developed asthma, and we didn't want to burden them with the ten of us, when they also had a house full, with the eight of them.

On our way to Arizona, we took a wrong turn on the highway, which ended up being a blessing in disguise. Had we taken the correct turn, we would have been in the back highways with few towns or services when our van died. Which it did. In a canyon in southern Utah. Fortunately for us, we were only about 12 miles into the canyon, and Rich was able to coax the van back down the hill into the small town of Cedar City. He searched for a mechanic (thank you Lord for phones with internet!), and we found Miner's Auto Repair (you can read Rich's review there), which we can recommend whole heartedly. Not only were they honest, and inexpensive, but recommended a great place for us to eat while we waited. Rich had gone back to ask if they had a time estimate on the van, and called me to tell me to pray immediately and fervently. Everyone thought it was a fuel pump failure, but instead of just going with that and replacing it, which would have cost us multiple times more than we paid, Rick investigated, and found a cracked fuel filter, replaced it, test drove our van back into the canyon (further than we had driven) and had us back on the road in a couple hours. He even called us the next day to make sure we made it and the van was running well. If you are ever in or near Cedar City, UT, and need your car worked on or repaired, please go give Rick some business. We paid less than $100 for the repair, and though we weren't planning on spending any on a repair, given the symptoms the van had, we though we would be spending more like $800 - 1200, and his honesty and skill saved us all of that.

Heading up I-5 in California, we ended up stuck because of the Mt. Shasta fires. We were blessed that we were right on the beginning edge of them, because we were able to drive around some roads and get back on I-5 a little north of Weed, before Weed burned, and jumped across from 5 near Ashland to get back onto 97. It meant another night on the road, because of the extra time and the stand still on the freeway before the detour, but Rich was fortunate to have been able to get an additional day off of work, since we changed plans to go farther. We stayed at Homewood Suites in Arizona and in Sacramento, which we highly recommend for families. If you have a big family, call the local hotel, and see if they have the two room suite with a king bed in one, two queens in the other, and a pull out bed in the living room. The website often won't let you book for a family our size, but the local hotels will, if we explain our family size and the ages of our children. We had Rich and me in the bedroom with the king bed, Alexander and Elijah in the living room, Amira, Yasmina and Mariam in one queen bed, Dominic and Jerome in another queen bed, and Nejat in the pack-n-play. They have breakfasts, decent ones, every day of the week, and dinners Monday through Thursday. All of this for between $130 - 220 a night, plus tax. It is a great deal for families. And they have a pool and hot tub at nearly every location. The only down side is they still have p0rn on the televisions, unlike Marriot and Omni Hotels and Resorts (and Nordic Hotels in Scandinavia). We are commenting on that in our survey responses. Rich tried to turn on the television to find an animal show or kids' programming for the children to watch while we rested a little and said the main page started with ads and imagery for the smut, and so he just turned it off and unplugged the televisions. He found some Road to Avonlea on the internet for them to watch online instead.

On the home front, we have had multiple gleans and trades in the past week, so have a ton of red, russet and Yukon gold potatoes, onions, peaches, tomatoes, dill, apples, pears, and pumpkins. We are preserving! I'm working on peaches, blackberry peach jam with blackberries from our freezer and peach chutney, will try to get pears done this week, pear sauce and pear halves in syrup, and have been cooking and pureeing pumpkin for the freezers. The onions and potatoes store well - but not together! - and we are working our way through the tomatoes, with some plans to make some canned tomatoes and possibly sauce, and freeze whatever we can't can quickly. The apples we decided were best used in fresh eating and pies, because they were so delicious, but we have five of the large Jonagolds left over, and another apple glean, Galas I think, this week, so we may make some sauce as well.

We had already planned a later start to our term this year than normal, because of our trip that was scheduled. Now, I've moved it forward a little more, and taken away some of the days we normally take off to make up for it. Taking the longer trip, requiring over 45 hours on the road and spending time with Kim and seeing her losing her ability to communicate, when she was such an articulate, sharp witted woman, has really taken a lot out of us. On top of that, Kim had taken a turn for the worse the day before we arrived, and so only I was able to see her, Rich wasn't able to see Brian and our kids weren't able to see their kids, which left them heart broken. But we couldn't take the kids away from their mother when they didn't know how long they had left with her. So, even though they hadn't seen each other since before Kim and her family had moved to Arizona last summer, and even though we were in the same town, they had to miss out on seeing each other. That was hard. Kim has had at least one good day, after many days of deteriorating physically and verbally, but is entering her final week of radiation, so will need lots of rest and prayer to get through it. They are trying to prolong her life at this point, rather than save it. It is a hard path for their whole family.

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, September 07, 2014

Early Yarn Along: Free Chart and a Way to Help Christians and Other Minorities in the Middle East

This is a very little bit I can do to help our brethren in the Middle East. I am offering my own interpretation of this symbol as a chart for free, with a bonus reward. Please e-mail me with Nun in the subject line, and I will send you a copy of the pdf which can be used with knitting, crochet, and probably cross stitch or embroidery. I cannot figure out how to make a pdf link on the blog, sorry! *Update: It appears that while Ravelry has removed my pattern from my designer page and my Ravelry store, the link to download from Ravelry is still active, so I think you can download here and directly access the pattern. I am not permitted to make my pattern visible in my store anymore, and it has been put back in drafts, but here is a way you can download on the blog rather than waiting for an e-mail reply from me. This chart can be used for knitting, crochet, and probably for cross stitch or embroidery and many other crafts I cannot even think of right now. I have listed the pattern on Nimblestix as well. Please check it out there, as well as my other listed patterns and those of others.

This is how I listed it on Ravelry this morning before church:

The letter “nun” (pronounced noon) in Arabic is the first letter in the word for Nazarene, which is an epithet used against Christians. It is a letter used to mark homes and businesses targeted for death and destruction. It is an extermination notice.

I have created this graph for people to knit or crochet onto patches or sweaters or any other item they wish to make to stand in solidarity with our persecuted brethren in the Middle East.

If you provide proof of a donation of some sort to a group or agency providing relief to Christians or Christians and other minorities in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Turkey, the Sudan, or Nigeria, I will offer a one time coupon for a free pattern from my Ravelry store. (More details and suggested agencies in the pdf)

I tried to offer it on Ravelry, and posted it there this morning. In less than two and a half hours, the Ravelry administrators had removed it, stating that:

One.. ONLY charts from one’s OWN original artwork are allowed now and

Two… The pattern database is not the place for promoting “causes”

However, it seems like Ravelry's bias against certain religious and/or political points of view is also at work here. I replied that this a letter that I graphed myself, adding an artistic element to it and wasn't sure how that was different than any other alphabet or letter chart, which I’ve downloaded and used from Ravelry before.

As for causes, I’ve seen numerous patterns offered for a fee that would be passed on to other causes, and with pleas for donations to one cause or another. P/HOP comes immediately to mind, as well as various cancer associations and so on. It is where I got the idea in the first place.

She immediately replied that "they make it in from time to time."

I replied with this:

The only reason I had the idea to do this was because of the prior example and experience I had with similar things on Ravelry.
In fact, here is a search on alphabet charts that I just did:


Here are some of Yin and Yang symbols, some embellished, but many simply the original symbol which was certainly not originated with the designer.


I know I have seen other motifs and symbols which came from books, cultures, movies, religions, television shows, and languages, in which the artistic work was the determining how to translate to knitting/crocheting and charting the symbol or motif.
Here is a specific pattern offered with a donation to the heart and stroke association:


Here is one with donations to the Japanese Red Cross:


Here is one with a contest offered for donating the finished product:


Here is a pattern offered with a plea to donate to the alzheimer’s association:


And then there are all of Frankie Brown’s patterns which I have thoroughly enjoyed which make a plea to the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation. Also all of P/HOP patterns which are offered via donation to a charity, Medecins sans Frontiers.
And here are searches with both donate and donation in them:



If this is a policy of Ravelry, it has obviously not been made clear enough.



These others have been on with well known and much more popular designers than I, for years. So, rather than confront their own inconsistencies and biases, or admit that they do not apply this "rule" to most people/patterns (if, in fact there is one), they are willing to remove/wreck other people's work (or at least give the impression of it - I doubt they will do this to religious or political views they affirm). Instead of reinstating mine, she said she'd investigate the others, implying that they might remove other people's work as well. Ravelry is theirs, I do not dispute their right to make rules as they see fit. It is the fact that this is so obviously not applied when they approve of the cause/symbol/faith/political view. Ravelry is a private organization and I fully support their right to discriminate in any way they like. I am frustrated by the lack of consistency and the apparent hypocrisy, but I do not think they should be forced to change. I do not endorse any boycotts or angry letters. I simply wish they were more honest and up front about their biases.

On the plus side, it gives me a greater incentive to figure out how to get my pattern store set up on Nimblestix, which I do try to promote to others. I do still want to be on Ravelry, as it is so large and well known, and there are so many people on it, but I prefer to promote and work with Nimblestix and hope for them to have such great success as to equal or eclipse Ravelry. So, here is my plug for Nimblestix! Go register and join, and help build up a fiber community which will not have such policies and pressure on those who do not share their views. Again, please do not send any outraged notes to Ravelry. It is a private entity and free to discriminate as they wish.

In the meantime, I have finished reading Yarn Over Murder (Knitting Mystery), with about the level of disappointment I expected. I am nearly finished with and still loving Christ in His Saints. My next book is still to be determined.

I will be working on only Jerome's birthday present, my friend's long distance hug, and Equinox, until they are finished. (I'll try to post some updated photos in the next day or so - watch this space)

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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Yarn Along: Birthday and Belated Bereavement

I'm trying to get Jerome's birthday present finished in time for his party. Sadly, I won't have my friend's long distance hug finished in time to get to her by her wedding anniversary. Her husband contracted the flesh eating bacteria at their anniversary dinner, and entered the hospital shortly after that, and I knew that even without that fact, she would be missing him even more this year, on her first anniversary without him, and wanted to have it ready to mail in time for that. So, I am pretty sad that I couldn't do that. I never made a promise about it, but I am disappointed anyway. These two projects, Equinox and three other birthday presents are my priorities this month. The other three birthdays are in October, so I'm hoping that I can get those finished in time to give.

Since I was asked if I'd be interested in doing some designs for one of the yarn companies I contacted, I am also busy sketching and writing a little about those, and plan on having some ideas sent to them by the end of this week or beginning of next. That's pretty exciting for me, too. I don't know how it will work out, or if they will even like my ideas, but it's nice to have people asking me to submit designs to them.

I am still loving and slowly working my way through Christ in His Saints, one taste at a time. I'm also reading some more fluff, though I'm kind of disappointed in it. I wanted to read something of more substance, but couldn't really handle it with all my pressing schedules and deadlines, so I picked up Yarn Over Murder (Knitting Mystery). Her first book was full of "sensing," everyone sensed this or that, and she used that word a billion times. However, her characters were good, so I stuck with it and read the next book. However, now, the juvenile sexual references are grating and more frequent, and this book's phrase is "Oh, yeah!" Out of nearly every character, and often on the same page. I think I'll probably finish with this book and not pick up one of these mysteries again.

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