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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.

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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Monday, July 07, 2014

Menu Plan: July 6 - 12

Still no washing machine, though it looks like we have found one at a semi-decent price. We've been doing laundry every where we go now.

This weekend was another whirlwind of travel. We headed to Central Oregon as a half way point going down to visit our friends and kids' godparents in Eugene, on our way to a memorial for Rich's grandmother. Then we headed up to Rich's mom's place and went to church in that area, and went to his brother's for a barbecue. Each night, we were in a different city. All the folks in western Oregon were talking or complaining about the heat, but compared to our 90s of the weeks before and the 100s coming up this week, it actually felt pretty pleasant to us. Our only real mishap was that Amira tripped on the lava rocks on one of the volcanic paths where we stopped as we went through central Oregon. I actually saw the kids running down the paths, and predicted that Jerome would crash and burn and cry, but it was Amira we saw go down. She is our most stoic child, however, so she didn't really cry until I had to help her clean the wounds, her left hand, arm, and her right knee and leg were in pretty bad shape, but we cleaned and bandaged her up and she's doing alright now, though a little sensitive.

This week is a little more restful. We have Yasmina's birthday coming up, and she will be six. I can't believe how quickly five years have gone by - we moved three days after her first birthday. It is going to be a scorcher this week, so I'm trying to make a lot of the long cooking foods in the crock pot or early in the morning. I'm also trying for a lot more quick cooking or grilled food. There are a few repeats, because our schedule last week was so mixed up each day. We bought some cereal to eat at the hotel one morning, but the hotel had a breakfast there, so we are using it this week as quick and cold breakfasts. We have some Musgovian vegetables, so I'm kind of just tucking them into whatever meals I can.

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 06, 2014

Independence Day Weekend Randomizer Update

We met some friends for breakfast yesterday at a restaurant that none of us had visited before, but the reviews said that breakfast was their strong point. The breakfast was really delicious and the staff was friendly. It was a hole in the wall type place that anyone would have just passed by, but we were kind of at a loss for where to eat, so when our friends found it and we checked reviews we just went for it.

Everything was excellent except for the biscuits, which really were a big disappointment. Not to brag too much, but I make really good, light, flaky biscuits, so our family is a little spoiled on that account. When I mentioned to Rich that I had been so disappointed with the biscuit that I didn't even finish it, and it was too bad that his mother didn't have chickens, because at least we could have given it to them, Amira piped up from the back seat:

The taste reminded me of macaroni. Boxed.

That's my girl!

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Thursday, July 03, 2014

Crafty Mother Fail

People think because I knit and crochet and attempt to sew that I am crafty. I am not. I like to think I can be sometimes, but it usually doesn't turn out well. Fortunately, Rich is incredibly artistic and crafty, so our children get that from him. Is it going to get me in trouble to admit that for art in our school, I cover art history with the kids, then put Alexander (who is incredibly artistic and naturally skilled at art) in charge of all art projects? He is their art teacher.

Anyway. I like to modify Along the Alphabet Path for our kindergarten and first grade work, substituting pre-schism saints and so on to make it more fitting for our family. Part of her suggested ideas includes making felt saints for the children to look at and play a little - give the child something tangible to help solidify the story and lesson about the saint, and another way to remember the person. Sounds good, right? Remember what I wrote above.

In the tutorial for the Alphabet Path, she mentioned that you might want to paint peg dolls like Jessica did here. Jessica said that she wasn't very good at painting or drawing, but that she was able to make them reasonably well, and did them over a weekend. I thought to myself, "Well, I am reasonably skilled with my hands, and I can get acrylic paints." I found another post with some suggestions, so I bought some spray acrylic clear coat to seal the paint on when I finished. How hard could this be?

In the meantime, I found that there were some shops with some exquisite examples of these painted peg saints (there are lots of other shops on etsy selling similar items, some soft dolls which would be great for an infant at church, too). They were beautiful work, but I couldn't afford to get 52+ of them at the prices they were. It wasn't that I didn't think their work was worth it, it was just out of our budget. So, off to work I went.

First of all, it took me a whole weekend to make these:

Angel of God

Saint Anne with the Blessed Virgin Mary as a child

I got quick enough at them to make these in one day:

Saint Barbara

Check out Saint Barbara's hair! No wonder she had suitors lined up for her!

Saint Benedict

But I never even finished poor Saints Christopher and Saint Catherine of Alexandria. I never even started them except for getting out their pegs:

I figured with the time I put into making them, the paints, the peg dolls, the brushes, the sealant, I easily surpassed the cost of the dolls in the stores. And mine didn't even look as nice as the non-crafty mom versions I saw online. I still have hopes to finish the set. Because I am an eternal optimist, even in the face of all opposition and reality. I have not only Saints Christopher and Catherine of Alexandria to finish, but also a male and female saint from the letter D to the letter Z. That's 48 for those of you keeping score at home. And it takes me about a day to complete two.

My friend Katherine's daughter Emily made these:

Myrrh Bearers

At the Empty Tomb

She is setting up an etsy shop, and as soon as she has a link, I will pass it on to you.

Here is another way to make these peg saints, using felt. These were also beautiful. Perhaps you can do this better than I. Please share if you have.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Yarn Along: One Almost and Two Finished Objects

Almost seven years ago, I started a ballerina tank top. I wove in all ends and sewed the side seams about five and a half years ago. Even though I modified the pattern to raise the neckline by an inch or two, it was still much too low for modesty's sake, so it's been languishing for years while I try to figure out edgings that might work. I think I've finally found one (the disturbingly named Baby's Tears), and I hoped to have it finished in time to post this week, but that wasn't possible. I'm still resting from my illness earlier this month and our surprise Vacation Bible School last week, and I've been too tired to even get much done on that score. So, perhaps next week you'll see a picture of a finished top for me. The project page has a couple other pictures if you want to see more. This picture is probably the closest to the actual color, but it's still not quite right. There is a tinge of purple, the color name is columbine blossom, and that is really what it looks like: Blue with just a touch of purple, a shadow of it, if you will.

The swatch hat is finished, and I am on to starting the actual sweater pattern. I'll post a picture of me wearing the hat soon so you can see the lace pattern better. I believe it is a variation on fir cone. I started with size 3 needles on the hat, but the gauge was too tight, so I went to size 4s, and it worked well. I didn't bother casting on again. Since I knit it top down, I figured it would be fine, and it was. I just switched to the larger needles on the plain stockinette section and kept knitting.

I am glad finally to be finished with Yasmina's heart bowl, and I think I'm finally happy with how it is felted and shaped. I'm excited to give her this for her special items in her room. It will be one of a few birthday presents from us. It's hard to believe that this little girl who was just starting to walk when we moved will be six in just a week.

There has only been negligible progress on my friend's Beatrix Potter Scarf, so I don't even have a picture. Imagine one or two more rows than last week.

I'm still looking for test knitters, 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 quickly read one of my happy little murders this weekend, Yarn to Go (A Yarn Retreat Mystery), but I was disappointed. I remembered trying this same author's crochet mysteries, but didn't like the forced social agenda in it. It was a little lighter in this new series, but it was still there, and was jarring and out of place. I don't think I'll read any more of her books. Also, I figured out who the murderer was in the first or second chapter (when that character was introduced) and got the motive pretty close, though I was wrong about thinking there was a conspirator. I'm terrible at figuring out mysteries, so when I can do so this easily, I know it was sloppy writing. The book did reawaken a desire in me to try to start a knitting camp and retreat.

The real meat of my reading though remains both Christ in His Saints and The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Menu Plan: June 29 - July 5

We are doing a lot of socializing this week, so many of our meals are with others. Our neighborhood has a summer picnic and barbecue each year, and this was the week for it. We ate so much there, that we just had a snack for dinner that night.

This past week was much busier than I had initially intended. I thought our church's vacation bible school was going to be in August like it had been last year. It was last week. So, we got up early each morning and headed out there, where our oldest two helped, and the younger kids were able to participate. So, our breakfasts pretty much were tossed out the window, in favor of whatever could be made and eaten quickly.

Alexander made us a really lovely dinner last week, as I ended up having to do some running around with Rich to get some errands done. Unfortunately, we have had two set backs this week. Rich's truck was leaking oil, and we knew it needed repair. We expected a $300 - 500 bill, but since we got such a good deal on it, and it was an excellent truck with the potential to run for quite some time, that didn't bother us. Except, the leaking oil was a symptom of a much bigger problem. We're still trying to decide how to handle it, but in the meantime, it's out of commission in our garage, while Rich takes one of the vans to and from work. Also, our washing machine, which had the bearings replaced not even six months before, had the bearings blow out again on Saturday night. We are not happy. 10 people in a house make a lot of laundry. So, please be praying for us and these set backs.

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 a week from Saturday.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yarn Along: Testing

This post was supposed to be written and queued up for publishing last night. But the best laid plans and all that. We were wiped out yesterday and the internets were not being cooperative, so here I am finishing this up now. I have started a test knit for Katherine to help her develop a pattern she hopes to publish this fall. Since I needed to do the swatch in the round, I decided to make a hat out of it, and then I'd have a matching hat, too.

Thank you to those who have offered to help me test knit Cirrus, please bear with me, as I am slowly working out the darts for the fronts, which will be my most challenging calculations for this project. I have tried to contact all the people who have contacted me, so if you haven't heard from me, please e-mail me with Cirrus Test in the subject line using an e-mail address you check on a regular basis. I'm still looking for test knitters, so if anyone wants a free copy of the pattern in exchange for test knitting for me, contact me via comments, or through the sidebar link to e-mail me if you are interested. I think if all people who are interested are on Facebook, I can start a closed group there to discuss the pattern and corrections. My goal 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 around late July or early August.

Progress is slowly being made on the Beatrix Potter Scarf, I am hoping to have it finished by the end of August. Yasmina's heart bowl is giving me some trouble. I've never had to try to felt something in a front loading washing machine before, and now I understand all the fuss about it. It is a pain! It was much simpler to felt things in our top loader. So, even though it took me something like a day to knit this, it's taking me forever to complete it.

Still working my way through Christ in His Saints. I just started reading, for real, The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, and I am pleased so far. She doesn't seem to be embroidering too much on the facts, but makes connections and gives information about each object and its significance that is fascinating to me.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Menu Plan: June 22 - 28

I forgot to mention something else that is nice about our small town (and surrounding small towns). Aside from our free bowling, free library programs, and free movies, there are also free activities at local museums and free concerts. Some for festivals, some just part of the summer programs here. Rich and I are really excited about Los Lobos coming to our little town. And there is a town sponsored Independence Day dinner (hot dogs, chips, drink, ice cream) and fireworks show, with a concert before the fireworks start. It's pretty nice. As hard as it can be for us here, missing trees, mountains, salt water, rain, Trader Joe's, this really is a great place for kids and families. So, even though we don't have a lot of travel planned this summer, we have so much to do each day (and we are so thankful for experience Christmas and birthday presents, like the water park membership from the kids' godparents, instead of more STUFF).

In August, my 20th high school reunion is scheduled. I'm a little wary of going, since nobody liked me then, and I'm not sure they will like me any better now. As an aside, one of the most beautiful, nicest, most godly women I know here also has this same feeling about her high school experience. She talked about how everyone thought she was ugly, and didn't like her. I cannot believe it, as she is so strikingly lovely and nice and intelligent, which I guess goes to show that all the nonsense in high school is really meaningless. Anyway, I went to school with many of them from grade school on, some from preschool even, and so I feel a tie to them like a kinship. After determining that the reunion was scheduled for the last weekend of the fair (for which we have serious responsibilities, as Rich runs the ice cream booth for our neighborhood fundraiser, with me and some of our kids working shifts each day and night) and at first saying that we just couldn't go, Rich floated the idea of us being gone the last two nights at one of the board meetings to let people know that someone would have to step up for those nights and that seemed to go over alright. So, it looks like we're going. And I can be unpopular and sit at the uncool table again. Though, at our 10 year, I did get to sit with the cool kids, but I think that was because of Rich and not me.

Anyway, this week turns out to be a busier week than I thought it would be. We've missed church here every weekend but three over the past two months, between illness and travel. So, we missed all the announcements about Vacation Bible School. I was still thinking it was going to be in August like last year, but no, it is this week. Starting tomorrow. Plus we have a field trip scheduled on Wednesday with a local homeschooling group. Since every little activity is still wearing me out (though I'm doing a little better, I no longer feel like the undead, just exhausted), I'm planning on resting at home with Nejat while the kids are busy at VBS.

We're still eating lots of asparagus, and snap peas and radishes from the garden. We are finishing off our produce co-op for the season, as the farmers' market is starting to be more full of local products.

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, June 21, 2014

Recipe Round Up: Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies & Papas con Chorizo

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

These really are the best chocolate chip cookies ever. Unless you are allergic to tree nuts. Then don't eat these. Otherwise, they are the best. I'll try to get a photo taken soon. Mostly, the kids eat these before I can snag a picture.

3 1/2 cups pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened (3 sticks)
2 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla brandy or vanilla extract (I make my own vanilla brandy)
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
3 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (we get either Trader Joe's store brand, President's Choice dark Belgian chocolate chips, or Ghiradelli's Double Dark)
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans (optional, but not really)

I don't really need to tell you how to make these. Almost everyone in America can put together drop cookies, but just in case:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line several cookie sheets/jelly roll pans with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, cream butter with brown sugar, until light and frothy. Add in vanilla and almond extract, mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.

Scoop by tablespoonful onto parchment lined pans, about two inches apart (I really put them about an inch and a half apart and they're fine). Bake for 10 - 12 minutes. Let cool a couple minutes on the pan, then remove to cooling rack and cool completely. Store in airtight container. If you have any left. This makes about 6 dozen cookies, give or take a few.

Papas con Chorizo

I'm sure this is not how your Mexican or New Mexican grandmother made this. It is how we make it. And, strictly speaking, it is, potatoes with chorizo, so the name is still true. This is delicious and cheesy, and if you have issues with fat, or calories, look away now.

2 pounds chorizo
safflower or sunflower oil
10 medium potatoes, diced (peel them if they aren't pretty, leave the peel on if they are)
2 onions, in large dice
2 pounds mixed bell peppers, sliced (I've used bags of frozen peppers, too)
4 poblanos, diced
1 - 2 jalapeños, finely diced (depending on how hot you like food)
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt, to taste (you will need very little, if any)
1/2 pound cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 pound pepper jack cheese, shredded
Serve With:
Sour Cream
Diced Tomatoes
Sliced Avocados
Finely Chopped Cilantro

Brown the chorizo over medium high heat in a large frying pan, chopping up with a wooden spoon or a spatula, into bite sized pieces. Remove to a plate and reserve for later.

Add some oil to the fat in the pan. Toss in the potatoes, and let cook until they start to brown on the edges, then add the onions, and let them wilt a little before you add the peppers and garlic. Cook all of this until the onions and potatoes are perfectly cooked.

Add chorizo back to the pan, taste for salt and adjust as you see fit. Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle the top with both cheeses and let cook a few minutes more to allow the cheese to melt.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, salsa, diced tomatoes, sliced avocados, and chopped cilantro. Eat with fruit or a salad to cut the grease. Mostly so you don't feel bad, because you really won't want to eat anything else.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Yarn Along: Birthdays & Plagues

I've already posted my finished object photos, so this is just a progress post. And not much progress at that. The day after my last yarn along post, I came down with a sudden attack of the plague. My voice is still pretty weak and raspy, and the littlest effort is still wiping me out afterward. I did read a lot, though. I finished six books in that time.

There is a little progress on Cirrus, but even that is pretty slow going. I found an error near the beginning, so dropped the st down to it to correct it, then used a crochet hook to hook up all the rest of the sts. I'm still looking for test knitters, so if anyone wants a free copy of the pattern in exchange for test knitting for me, contact me via comments, or through the sidebar link to e-mail me if you are interested.

I actually took a couple more photos than this, of my current WIPs, but now cannot find them at all. In any case, I have made some progress on the Beatrix Potter Scarf (my long distance hug for my friend who lost her husband a month and a half ago). Doing the foundation chain and first row with lace weight yarn was a huge challenge for me, but most of the work is done in the chain spaces, so it's going much more quickly and easily now. I am nearly finished with a present for Yasmina's birthday as well. I have done the first part of felting it, but it needs some more felting and shaping before I can count it as completed.

Aside from finishing the books listed in my sidebar, I also won a book (the book in the photo up there): Fancy Nancy: Ooh La La! It's Beauty Day. Harper Collins had a Mother's Day contest on Facebook, and I won! The book is technically for me, but since Yasmina is a bigger fan of Fancy Nancy than I am, it will be added to her birthday presents. Speaking of birthdays, today is both Rich's and Dominic's birthday! They are exactly 30 years apart.

I'm close to finishing Christ in His Saints. Each page has something new to learn or think on, and I think we'll refer back to it often.

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