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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Look, Knitting!

I know you can't believe it, but there's actually some knitting going on in our home.

That is the front. I have about a quarter of the way to go until it is finished. Then, the sewing up. I won't be able to wear it until late spring or summer, what with the snow and ice and wind we're having here, but I look forward to finishing it.


Black and Grey

I realized I had never posted this. I did get to thank Chrispy in person, because I was fortunate enough to meet her and her husband in town when they were heading out to visit her parents, but I wanted to show off all the neat things she sent.

That bag is handmade, and it has a scrabble tile M for the button! It is very cute. Along with the yarn, SWS and Silk Garden, there was a chocolate scented soap, a foot scrubber, a mini-checkers set and stickers for the kids, along with ribbons and some note cards. This was such a thoughtful gift, and we all enjoyed it here.

Menu Plan Wednesday

This is more for the benefit of my in-laws than anything else. We were all pretty much wiped out, suddenly, with a cold that laid us all out most of the week. It came on hard and fast, and seemed to go straight to fevers, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections, six out of seven had it. We are all doing much better now, though it looks like Rich, who had been taking care of us might be getting it.

I'm thinking of making richer food than normal this week, as we head into Lent next week. We will be hosting our traditional doughnut feast for Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras), and then Ash Wednesday will follow. Our church will be abstaining from meat on both Wednesdays and Fridays, and we will be trying for Saturdays here, as well. Our Lenten bible studies usually involve a shared meal, and it looks like we'll be having soup suppers again this year, so I'll be pulling out a lot of soup recipes to share.

What is on your menu this week?

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Finished Object Friday: Are We There Yet?

So, no, I am not finished with my summer top yet. I am not allowing myself to cast on for anything else until I finish it, not even for new baby things, so I really want to get it done. We should have a little bit of time this weekend, and maybe during our bible study, so I might be able to get a little progress made. I'm hoping to have the knitting done in two weeks at the most. How long it will take me to sew two side seams and the hem on the front is anyone's guess. How about you out there?

If you have one or more finished items this week, please sign Mr. Linky below and share all you have made. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Lonely Child

First, I wanted to thank all of you who have written and left comments congratulating us on our latest model. This just about puts us back on track for the trajectory we had with our first four children. People used to tease us about when our next child was due when we announced that I was pregnant with Amira, and we just answered May 2006, since that was the mathematical pattern we had established. Each child was born with the same time between him and the previous siblings plus two months. So, Dominic was born 20 months after Alexander, Elijah was born 22 months after Dominic, Amira was 24 months after Elijah. We just figured our next child would be born 26 months later, but we were running late, and Jerome was born 30 months later. This time, it is about 23 months different, so we are almost back in line.

Shortly after we started telling people about this new baby coming, we were at our neighbors' house for a small party. People were very complimentary about the children and spent some time talking to them and asking them questions. We overheard Amira answering what we assume was a question about her feelings about the new baby. She told the lady that since "Mommy was a lonely child, we are having babies one at a time."

This cracked us up, because we think she meant only child. However, she is right about my being a lonely child. I lived a great deal in my imagination, because aside from being an only child, we didn't live near too many people around my age, by about a couple decades, and we lived across town from my school, so until I was old enough to take the bus on my own or ride my bike through town, I was dependent on my mother or other people's parents to either take me or bring someone else to play. So, I made up siblings. When I was very young, only a little older than Amira, I had a whole story about how I had sisters, and a twin who all lived with my dad.

I didn't keep up that story for too long, I grew old enough to know it wasn't probable or credible, and it became easier to spend time with other children over time. It wasn't really until we heard Amira that I realized that my lonliness as a child probably was a part of my desire to have multiple children. My children do not have that loneliness to contend with, though perhaps they might wish to be alone one day. So far, it hasn't come up that way. They prefer each other's company, and almost always wish to include each other.

When they were in school, Alexander and Dominic chose to play with each other during every recess they shared, even when they were in different classes, and though at first we thought it might be important to get them to socialize more with other children, we finally decided that it wasn't exactly a bad thing that they liked each other. Since they did have friends in their classes, and played with people other than just themselves, we didn't worry about it anymore. It may not be normal anymore for brothers to be friends, but it is a good thing and we thought it was wrong to discourage it when so many other parents wished their children were as close.


Menu Plan Monday: January 21

Last night turned into a leftover night, as we had a lot left from the weekend, so we're having the soup for dinner tonight.

What is on your menu this week?

Slow Cooked Pot Roast with Mustard & Horseradish Gravy from Fine Cooking

2 carrots, peeled and cut in half width wise (I used 4 and quartered them)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 4 wedges
3 cloves garlic, smashed (I use 4)
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large bay leaf
3 whole cloves or allspice berries (we use cloves)
1 cup homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine (they recommended Sauvignon Blanc, I used Pinot Grigio)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 boneless beef chuck roast (2 1/2-3 lbs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons brandy
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish (I used about 4 times this amount)
1/2 teaspoon grainy prepared mustard (again, 4 times this)
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon all purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely minced flat leaf parsley

Put carrots, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and cloves or allspice in
the bottom of a slow cooker. In measuring cup or bowl, whisk together
the broth, wine and tomato paste to blend.

Set large heavy based skillet over medium high heat. Pat roast dry,
rub with olive oil, salt and pepper all over. Sear roast in skillet
until a dark crust forms on one side, 3-5 minutes, turn and sear other
side. Reduce heat to medium and put roast on top of vegetables in the
crock. Add broth mixture to skillet, bring to boil and scrape the
bottom to loosen any browned bits. Pour the liquid over the roast and
cover the crock, don't stir. Turn the slow cooker to low, cook gently
without lifting the lid until the roast is fall apart tender, 8-10 hours
(I did this for 8 hours).

Transfer roast to a cutting board and tent with foil. Strain
contents of crock through a sieve set over a medium sauce pan (I used
the same skillet from before). Discard the solids (I disagree with this
and saved the carrots, onion and garlic to serve with the meat). Skim
fat from the top of the strained liquid. Bring to boil and simmer
rapidly until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the brandy,
horseradish and mustard. In a small bowl, mix the flour into the sour
cream, stir in a few tablespoons of the sauce, then pour the sour cream
mixture into the sauce, whisking vigorously to blend. Cook over medium
heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
Meanwhile, slice the roast thinly. Serve with the gravy and a
sprinkling of parsley.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

Jerome is almost a year and a half now. This is the time when his brothers all got their first haircuts. We always waited a while, because we liked their long curls. Jerome is the first son we've had whose hair just grew straight down his face. It got so we couldn't remember what he looked like.

We haven't had a chance to give him a proper haircut, but we really wanted to be able to see him, and for him to be able to see as well. So, we cut off his sweet little hair, but just in front of his face.

He's since taken a more active interest in reading.

Today at church, our priest's eldest son, who plays the drums during the praise music, let Jerome play with his drumsticks. He even let him play with his drumset. Jordan goes to college next year, so Jerome has a little bit of time to practice to take his place.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Finished Object Friday: Possibly in the Future

I'm really not enjoying the swimming lessons with the children. I have to struggle with Jerome, because I can't let him toddle around, what with all the water and the drowning and all. The first session, Amira would cry after the first 10 minutes, because she has no body fat, and the water was cold and she would freeze and be miserable. We have given her a pass, because she is so little, and we will wait until this summer to start her on swimming lessons again. Since we live in a place that is surrounded with water, we want them to at least know the basics of swimming, and not to panic in water.

The boys are enjoying it, but between wrestling with Jerome and comforting Amira, I was not really able to talk to other parents, walk on the track (I thought I might be able to exercise a little myself while they did their lessons, silly me), read a book or knit, the way all those parents on the various knitlists seemed to be able to do at their children's lessons/sports. Now, with Amira not taking swimming at all, I was struggling to find things to entertain her while we watched her brothers. So, this past week, I finally brought the double stroller and gave her a book. And I got to knit! I still can't walk and knit on the track, like I did when Rich would take the other children during gymnastics, but I did get to knit a little bit, since I can chatter with Jerome while I do it. I might even start to have more projects to share here if I can keep this up.

So, how is your crafting going? Is anyone else out there getting stuff finished? I've been so out of the loop for the last month, that I don't know what is going on in the knitting world anymore, let alone any other crafty things.

If you have one or more finished items this week, please sign Mr. Linky below and share all you have made. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

I Love Information

and statistics and I enjoy tracking things and making lists. This is part of what I love about my little ticker on the side there telling me how many visitors I've had. I am fascinated by the people who visit me here. I like to read about where they connected, which other website referred them to me, or what search terms they used to get here (oddly enough the most used search term that gets people here besides Arabian Knits is Epiphany jokes). When it comes to where people are from, I am most interested in those people who live either really near me or really far away. If you're in China or the Czech Republic or if you are in Tacoma or Bremerton, I am more likely to take a closer look at your entry. With my very simple site meter, I can see what operating system your computer uses, and to what language it is configured. It tells me how long you looked at the blog, and if you clicked on a link on my page. This kind of stuff entertains me, what can I say?

Well, sometimes when I am checking the blog statistics certain people stick out. Either they are repeat visitors that I have kind of gotten to know from seeing their reading habits here, or they are people I actually know, and certain things give away their identity. Shortly after I posted my update, I noticed a spike in a particular reader population. Some of these people visit the blog fairly regularly anyway, but one in particular struck me.

You see, once upon a time, I was an active member of an online community of mostly women. It was sometimes friendly, and sometimes hostile, and there are some people from that group I still think of as friends, but it became less and less a group I had much in common with, and eventually, I backed out. I still check back every now and then, when I want an update on certain people that I just talk to via comments on each other's blogs, or when I am wondering about a particular person.

Well there was one person on the group who disagreed with me at least as often as I disagreed with her. We didn't get along, you might say. She always was rather vocal about how she was a defender of free speech however, and that every belief was valid, and everyone should have the right to his views, etc. I know this is going to come as a shock to you, but she didn't really believe that. Some years ago, she was so upset by my views and my insisting on expressing them, that she tried to get my internet provider to shut down my account. I don't know if she knew that the company is small enough that they just gave me a call when she complained to ask what the deal was, who she was and what was going on, or if she just didn't care. In any case, I made it a point not to respond to her from then on, and pretty much kept my distance without making a lot of noise about it. It was clear from her actions as well as the things she said that she was not all that hot on me either, so it was no love lost. Needless to say, hers is not one of the names I look up when I check in with that group.

What is surprising to me is that she occasionally checks my blog. I know where she lives, and her isp, and she is referred by something that, with her location and isp, pretty definitely identifies her. I do not know why someone so opposed to just about everything I believe in and stand for, who tried to get me shut up by my isp would purposefully seek me out and keep track of my blog. She never e-mails me or leaves me comments, so I can only assume it is idle curiousity, but it is a mystery to me nevertheless. I've sometimes been tempted to ask her why she visits, but I don't really want to start up what may be a headache for me.

So, do you follow, even casually, blogs of people you dislike? If you do, why? I have to say, I don't. I tend to read topic driven blogs, so that does generally put me reading people with whom I have at least some things in common. I do read blogs written by people with whom I don't agree, but if they say something I think it too offensive, or crosses a line with me, I stop reading them. I don't read blogs written by people who annoy me if they do it too often, I just don't have the time to dedicate to things that bother me that much.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Menu Plan Tuesday: January 15

This is a little late, but I'm trying to get back to normal with blogging. The last time I posted one of these was the week I got some food poisoning at the boys' pack Christmas party. This week there is another pack meal, but it's take out pizza, so I'm hoping I won't end up as sick as I did last month.

SInce we had taken it pretty easy during Advent with schooling, we tightened it up and started again after Epiphany. The boys are doing really well, and seem to be excited to be doing schoolwork after their Christmas break. We are only about three weeks from Lent. It comes early this year. Our daily office readings are leading us up to it, and it is interesting seeing how the manifestation of the Lord gave glimpses of the suffering and scourging that was to come. I am so glad to be teaching them at home where we can explore these things together.

Anyway, now that I'm not so sick and not so tired, well I'm awake at dinner time, I'm trying to get back to making decent meals for us. Poor Rich kept having to come home from work and bang together something for dinner. I cooked when I wasn't too sick, but often there would be ingredients out, and he'd have to figure out what to do with them.

Last night's dinner was short on style and long on comfort. I don't go for those casseroles with cream of whatever soup in them, but every now and then a casserole is nice. So, I made one with a white sauce and parmesan cheese. It was warm and filling, and nice for a cold night.

What is on your menu this week?

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Return from Hiatus

I am not dead, our family has not disappeared. I see from the notes I have gotten that my readership has not entirely fled. Thank you for the notes of concern I've received. We are well, I am just now getting past the illness that descended on our home in December.

Every single person in our house was sick over Christmas, and it lasted about three weeks altogether. Then last week, I got a new sickness, and I'm recovering from that. Poor Dominic slept through our Christmas dinner, he was so weak, and woke up long enough to decline any food, but we did get him to drink some sparkling cider.

Aside from a very quiet Christmas, we had a nice anniversary and New Year's celebration. Then Rich and I succumbed fully to illness. This was made even more difficult because I had another reason for being sick and tired.

It's not the clearest picture, we'll have a better one in about 6 weeks. So, I hope you'll forgive my long absence.

There is something else for which I need to apologize and correct. The colorswap fizzled, because I had been having trouble with the send on my pop account for my gmail account. I have dial up, and a slow connection, so using the web is not a reasonable option until we get a faster system. Anyway, it was so spotty that people weren't getting their assignments. I think it is all correct now, so if people are interested in doing that last swap still, please e-mail me. I will contact everyone who already wrote to me, to make sure how they want to proceed as well.

One last thing, I still have the button contest to do. In the next week, I will post all the colorswap buttons and a survey for voting. The designer of the winning button will receive one skein of yarn from each month's theme.

I think that is all the business I have now.

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