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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Knitting Away

I have one more sleeve to do on the sweater shrug. I cast on last night, then fell asleep while reading through a new cookbook.

I started on the Wine and Roses Mitts from Interweave Knits, and was trucking right along, but I really don't like how loose the fabric is. I knit gloves and mittens more tightly like socks. I think they wear better, and it also makes up (on me) for how large the women's medium is. The cuffs looked loose on the skinny model, that should have been a clue to me. I am using my one skein of midnight blue Glimmer yarn. It looks beautiful. However, I was using size 2s, and getting gauge, but need to go down to 1s (maybe 0s, because of just how loose it would be), but I only have one set of size 1 dpns, and they are currently in a sock. So, I need to either finish that sock right away (I should anyway, I started the first one almost two years ago!), or buy another set of size 1s. I'll keep you updated.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

March Swap Assignment Sent

All assignments have been sent, so if you didn't receive one, please email me.

March participants are:

This month, we will be exchanging packages of green. With St. Patrick's day, there should be many opportunities for fun with this.

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Menu Plan Monday: February 26

Some people may wonder why I never have leftovers listed in my menu plans. It's mostly because we eat leftovers for lunch. However, if I do use leftovers for another dinner, I generally remake them into something else. I find that we all eat it better that way.

Monday: Penne with Red Sauce, Garlic Bread, Salad

Tuesday: Lentil and Sausage Soup (soup supper potluck at home group)

Wednesday: Potato Kibbeh and Salad

Thursday: Ham, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Lima Beans

Friday: Eggs in Purgatory, Toasted English Muffins, Salad

Saturday: Grilled Basa Fillets, Burghul Pilaf, Salad

Sunday: Lamb, Goat Cheese and Pine Nut Meatballs, Rice Pilaf, Salad

Please ask for any recipes you like. Here are a couple I have at the ready:

Eggs in Purgatory
This makes enough for our whole family to eat. I usually serve it with pasta or with garlic bread. Sometimes I add a salad or other vegetable, but often just this, the sauce and the carbohydrate. If I serve it with a pound of pasta (dry weight) or bread enough for the family, the cost of this meal is $5.09 for the complete meal, or $0.57/per person. If we add a salad or other vegetable, it brings the cost up to around $7.09 or $0.78 per person, so you see this is a rather inexpensive meal. It is delicious and filling, too.

3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups canned tomato puree or tomato sauce
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt, to taste
12 large eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Cook the garlic for a minute over medium heat in a small skillet. add
the tomato sauce and the seasonings. simmer over a very low heat for
about 10 minutes, or thickened slightly.

Using a spoon, make a well for each egg, and carefully slide the eggs
into the sauce. sprinkle with the cheese. Cover and cook over low
heat for about 10 minutes, or until the eggs are done to your liking.

Potato Kibbeh

1 1/2 cup burghul
6 cups mashed potatoes
3 medium onions, minced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced (I do both of these together in the food processor, you can use parsley if you don't like cilantro)
3/4 cup flour
1 tablepoon salt
3/4 teaspoon allspice

Soak burghul in about a cup of water. Place mashed potatoes in a mixing bowl. Squeeze excess water from burghul and add to potatoes. Fold in onions and cilantro. Add flour, salt and allspice. Knead to form a soft dough. Spread half of the mixture in the bottom of a greased baking pan. Top with walnut filling and cover with remaining potato mixture. Score into diamonds and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Walnut Filling:

3 tablespoons oil
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
4 onions, chopped
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (you can leave this out, or use another liquid instead, I'd dilute regular molasses with vinegar)
salt and allspice to taste

Heat oil over medium high heat, sauté all ingredients until softened. Set aside to cool.

What's on your menu this week?

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Friday, February 23, 2007

More of Other People's Thoughts

My good friend Rachelle wrote:

The "bright sadness" that is Lent is underway. As I have prayed about the purpose of Lent, I have been convicted this year that it is a relationship God wants with me. The denying of self is to that purpose. It isn't that fasting, giving up sweets, or television, in and of itself is what God wants. It is that these things distract us, get in our way, mute our hearing of the still, small voice of the Spirit. It isn't that different than a wife who wishes her husband didn't play video games or watch football. It isn't the activity as much as her desire for his attention, his heart.

Read the whole post and be inspired.

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Not Much to Post Today

I am hoping that this will be a quiet day. I did my grocery shopping last night, so Dominic wouldn't have to try to brave the grocery store. Normally, I try to do a big trip on Friday, and I'm trying to eliminate the little runs because we forgot something. Anyway, today is also the first day without any help here. Rich's folks came up last weekend, for a bridal shower and because of the long weekend. His dad had to go back Monday, but his mom stayed until yesterday and helped me clean up and organize things, so the house would be in a better state, and I could look after Dominic and Jerome and rest. Rich's dad enlisted Alexander and they cleaned the windows! I was so excited, because I hate cleaning windows - as evidenced by the black liquid that came off of them while they washed. Since our home is still in recovery mode from the power outage and then the ice storm, it was really nice to have people who weren't sick of dealing with it come and clean up.

So, since I have nothing interesting to say, go read some other people who do:

All Tangled Up
Domestic Vocation
Antique Mommy
Boo Mama
A Dress a Day
Chocolate & Zucchini
Favorite Apron
Cooking with Martha Stalwart

Leave them comments, and tell them that I sent you. In the case of the Marthas, tell them to start posting new stuff again.

I'm also going to plug Fine Cooking's Website because it is a great cooking magazine, and they are doing a great deal to improve their website.


Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Last Winner

We have a long history of our children declaring themselves the winners at our meals. This began when we had a babysitter who encouraged them to race to get them to eat all of their dinner. It has worked rather well. About a week ago, Elijah and Amira were still at the dinner table long after everyone else had been excused. Elijah looked up at us and said that he was going to be the "last winner." Last winner indeed. He may not win, but he sure has high self-esteem!

Anyway, I am announcing the first winner, rather than the last one. Melissa left the first, and only, comment on my Ash Wednesday post, which was the 300th post. As soon as I hear from her with an address, I will get her package out to her. Congratulations Melissa!

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Lenten Observations

Ash Wednesday is not actually the first day of Lent. Today is. I read on the Touchstone blog, Mere Comments a prayer for Clean Monday in the Orthodox Church (their first day of Lent):

Let us observe a fast acceptable and pleasing to the Lord. True fasting is to put away all evil, to control the tongue, to forbear from anger, to abstain from lust, slander, falsehood and perjury. If we renounce these things, then is our fasting true and acceptable to God.

St. John Chrysostom spoke about this kind of fast in From Concerning the Statues, Excerpts from Homily III

I speak not, indeed, of such a fast as most persons keep, but of real fasting; not merely an abstinence from meats; but from sins too.

For the nature of a fast is such, that it does not suffice to deliver those who practice it, unless it be done according to a suitable law. “For the wrestler,” it is said, “is not crowned unless he strive lawfully.”

To the end then, that when we have gone through the labor of fasting, we forfeit not the crown of fasting, we should understand how, and after what manner, it is necessary to conduct this business; since that Pharisee also fasted, but afterwards went down empty, and destitute of the fruit of fasting.

The Publican fasted not; and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted; in order that thou mayest learn that fasting is unprofitable, except all other duties follow with it.

The Ninevites fasted, and won the favor of God.

The Jews fasted too, and profited nothing, nay they departed with blame.

Since then the danger in fasting is so great to those who do not know how they ought to fast, we should learn the laws of this exercise, in order that we may not “run uncertainly,” nor “beat the air,” nor while we are fighting contend with a shadow.

Fasting is a medicine; but a medicine, though it be never so profitable, becomes frequently useless owing to the unskillfulness of him who employs it. For it is necessary to know, moreover, the time when it should be applied, and the requisite quantity of it; and the temperament of body that admits it; and the nature of the country, and the season of the year; and the corresponding diet; as well as various other particulars; any of which, if one overlooks, he will mar all the rest that have been named.

Now if, when the body needs healing, such exactness is required on our part, much more ought we, when our care is about the soul, and we seek to heal the distempers of the mind, to look, and to search into every particular with the utmost accuracy.

I have said these things, not that we may disparage fasting, but that we may honor fasting; for the honor of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawing from sinful practices; since he who limits his fasting only to an abstinence from meats, is one who especially disparages it.

Dost thou fast? Give me proof of it by thy works!

Is it said by what kind of works?

If thou seest a poor man, take pity on him!

If thou seest an enemy, be reconciled to him!

If thou seest a friend gaining honor, envy him not!

If thou seest a handsome woman, pass her by!

For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eye, and ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies.

Let the hands fast, by being pure from rapine and avarice.

Let the feet fast, by ceasing from running to the unlawful spectacles.

Let the eyes fast, being taught never to fix themselves rudely upon handsome countenances, or to busy themselves with strange beauties.

For looking is the food of the eyes, but if this be such as is unlawful or forbidden, it mars the fast; and upsets the whole safety of the soul; but if it be lawful and safe, it adorns fasting.

For it would be among things the most absurd to abstain from lawful food because of the fast, but with the eyes to touch even what is forbidden. Dost thou not eat flesh? Feed not upon lasciviousness by means of the eyes.

Let the ear fast also. The fasting of the ear consists in refusing to receive evil speakings and calumnies. “Thou shalt not receive a false report,” it says.

From The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, vol. 9.

I was especially struck by the juxtaposition of fasting from lawful foods and indulging our appetites for unlawful desires. This is such an important concept. It isn't a balance where if one side has more then the other is evened out, but our sinful indulgences nullify our piety. It was good to see how he stressed that lawful desires adorn the fast, we do not abstain from pleasure, but we make sure our pleasure comes from licit sources.

An Eastern Catholic woman was writing about her approach to the fast being such that she saw it as returning to Eden, and eating as they ate. This is a very positive way of looking at it. I was blessed to read it. We are learning so much about the life of faith from our fellow travellers and those who have gone before us, and we are grateful for the Communion of the Saints whose wisdom still stands today as a guide for us.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday Thoughts

This is a strange Ash Wednesday for us. We will not be going to the service for the imposition of ashes this year, as Dominic is still pretty much relegated to rest. Since I am nursing, I'm not fasting, so I am doing a meatless day for the rest of us, Rich is fasting still, dairy and egg free for me today. Poor Dominic is still on Jell-O, popsicles and broth today, but we'll be giving him some Potato Leek soup tonight.

You may have noticed that I didn't post a Menu Plan Monday this week. Mostly, that is because we have Rich's mom here, and she is doing some of the meals, but also because there are people on so many different diets this week, that we're having lots of different meals served. I try to give everyone the same basic meal, usually, but when one person is fasting and another person is on soft foods and clear liquids, someone else is on an abstinent diet, and yet another person is on a different diet entirely, it's a little tougher. Since Dominic's night was a little harder on him, which we expected, we're still really easing him into normal food. He doesn't mind the fun things he's eating, but we've already had some emotion over missing out on some of the things his siblings had.

Alexander and I have been talking a little but about the reasons behind our Ash Wednesday observances, Lenten disciplines, and why we do them as a family, why the Church Fathers, in their wisdom, placed these disciplines for us. Today we are remembering that from dust we came and to dust we shall return. We are ushering in a Holy Lent. I saw on Domestic Vocation that a family was making a crown of thorns (she posted the instructions today) out of dough with toothpicks in it, and keeping that on their table throughout Lent. Each time any of the children does something in obedience to God, that child can take a toothpick out of the crown to illustrate how our obeying God's commands ease Christ's suffering. So, I thought that would be a good exercise to do with the children to help them with this penitential season, and to give them greater understanding about it.

There are some things I am prayerfully trying to eliminate from my life, not just during Lent, but forever, and I am looking forward to practicing these disciplines during the Lent. It will be wonderful to celebrate Christ's resurrection at Pascha, but I am actually looking forward to this time of stricter discipline, fasting, prayer, and alms giving. It is something I am learning to appreciate not as more work or as a deprivation, but as another spiritual work within me that will make me closer to the image of our Lord. I really love that this year the East and the West celebrate Pascha together. It seems right. May there be even more unity in the Church from now on.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

March Colorswap & Replies

I haven't sent out the assignments for March yet, because of the surgery. I will be getting to that in the next couple days, so watch your inbox!

Briana asked what color yarn I was using for my sweater shrug. It is basic Cascade 220 in 8893, which is a kind of spruce green. I'm almost finished with it, but don't have more photos. As soon as I have the pattern worked out, I will have it available for sale.

Remember to keep the comments coming, we are so close to that 300th post!

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Update on Dominic

Dominic's surgery was this morning, and we've been home for a couple hours now. He went in his new Spider Man pajamas that I picked up for him yesterday. They have webs!

It went quickly and well, the doctor said that he had never seen adenoids as large as his, and the tonsils were some of the larger ones he'd seen. Dominic chose not to have the versed, because he said he felt calm enough. So, he walked right on into the surgery with the nurse.

He came out of post-op quickly, and perked up much sooner than we thought he would. He was able to eat half a popsicle and drink a cup of juice pretty easily while he watched Between the Lions on the hospital television. He was also able to breathe through his nose right away, which he hasn't been able to do since he was a baby. He has minimal pain, and we have pain medicine for him. His ears hurt a little when he swallows, but his throat doesn't hurt more than it does normally, he said. We'll what he says see when the medicine wears off.

When we got home, he even walked over to the table for lunch when his brothers went to lunch. They had sandwiches, he had mashed popsicle in a cup. He is looking forward to a dinner of broth and wild strawberry Jell-O.

Thank you for all your prayers.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Is It Really About the Unfairness?

I was reading some of my favorite blogs while feeding Jerome and came across a very funny Valentine's post on one of them. What struck me was the replies in the comments.

The post described a dishonest means of getting girls to make some sort of chastity vow in quite the hilarious manner. It was absolutely dishonest, and evidently at this church in the 1980s, they did not seem to think it was important for the boys to vow to be chaste. I'll leave off my thoughts on signing a contract to indicate acceptance of a vow, or the morality of extracting a vow by surprise, and the heavy burden and responsibility those church leaders have for any failures to uphold that vow, since they induced people to make them, rather than encouraging them to make a promise, I'll also skip the biblical understanding of the difference between a promise and a vow or the discussion of the wisdom of trying to get young people to vow to anything without giving them preparation, and a good understanding of what God thinks of upholding vow.

Anyway. Many of the people responding were outraged, outraged I tell you!, that the boys were not asked/required to make this same vow. I am there with them, actually. However, their further comments give lie to their care in whether or not boys or girls make or keep such a vow. The rest of the discussion indicated that the main reason for not signing on to such a thing wasn't because of the duplicitous means of extracting said vow, or because only the girls were expected to do so, and certainly wasn't because of any of the things I mentioned above that I'm not really going to discuss at the moment. Their main reason for not signing on was because they thought chastity unnecessary, foolish and unworthy. If that is the case, then I wish they wouldn't use their outrage about the boys as a smokescreen. It isn't the real issue. The real issue is that they disdain chastity.

I also really appreciated the comments of one person in particular, who wrote:

Pastor's kids are scary. The woman who broke up my marriage was a pastor's daughter. Nuff said.

Because we all know that one person is enough to brand an entire group of people. I believe there are some words for that in our language. Misrepresentation, prejudice and bigotry are the first three to come to mind. Don't get me wrong, I've known a couple pretty messed up PKs, but to paint with such a broad stroke is foolish, at best. The vast majority of pastor's/priest's kids I've known or heard of have been decent, faithful, nice people. They make mistakes and foolish decisions at about the same rate as everyone else I've known, but also seem to come to themselves and turn from their foolishness in better time. I also somehow doubt the experience of someone who, of her own words, avoids churches and religious people to have a great grasp on those people's natures. It is easy to see only the scary pastor's kids when you don't know that the people quietly going about their lives are also, some of them, PKs, especially if you go out of your way to avoid most church folk anyway.


More Knitting Progress

Now that I have thrown away about a third of what we had in the bathroom, I am free to post some more about my knitting progress. Also, Jerome was hungry for his second breakfast, so since I'm sitting anyway, I thought I'd get these pictures up.

This is the front and back of my sweater shrug. I still have the sleeves and neckline to do, but it should go relatively quickly (famous last words, I know).

I tried to show the color better here. It isn't nearly as grey-blue and it is darker. It is slightly bluer than a hunter green, but still solidly green, a kind of spruce green. I'm hoping to have it finished and the pattern available within the month. However, my urge to purge our home of junk and dust and dirt, and the upcoming surgery and recovery may extend that to sometime in March. In any case, I will let you know when it is ready.

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Tales from the Kitchen Classic: Perfect Iced Tea for a Crowd

Originally posted July 28, 2005 to Tales from the Kitchen

I like to use flavored teas, like ginger peach or plum, but plain tea is fine. I also like the tea pre-sweetened, you can leave out the sugar if you don't.

4 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 tea bags
12 cups cold water

Bring 4 1/2 cups water and sugar to a boil. Add tea bags and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags without pressing them (to prevent bitterness). Pour into a pitcher that will hold a gallon or more, and add cold water. Allow to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice, with mint sprigs and lemon wedges as garnish.

Update: I know that I am committing not one, but two heresies in this recipe. Not only do I pre-sweeten the tea, but I use flavored tea. Much like so many hard and fast rules about taste, I find that the only people who care about this are those who take delight in rapping people on the knuckles over the rules. Everyone I know who enjoys iced tea, with the exception of one family, has loved this. I most often use the Republic of Tea's Ginger Peach when I make it. I think I will make some today, in fact.

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Using Up Angora

I have another FO to announce, and it used up leftovers from a project finished about six years ago as well as the last bits of the angora left from the booties I made a little while back.

The knitting has actually been finished for some time, but I was so busy working on projects for submission, and writing patterns, that I never got around to sewing ribbon ties on and taking a photo. I finally did that two days ago, and here is the result. Since no child of ours is this small (both the booties and the bonnet are newborn sized), and even if we were to have another baby, it doesn't get cold enough to need them here, I need to find someone expecting in December or January to give them to or someone with a newborn baby in Antarctica. I'll keep you posted.

Look how excited Jerome is to see me finish something!

The excitement didn't last long, though, he had other things to occupy him soon enough.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Moderating Comments

I have been reading, lately, about the merits of word verification versus moderating comments on several blogs, and have decided to do away with the word verification, in favor of moderation. I hope this causes no inconvenience to people, and that it enables more people to post comments, who would have otherwise been put off by the hassle.


St. Valentine

is a Christian martyr. St. Valentine's day is not a holiday commemorating generalized feelings of love. It is a feast day in honor of that saint. The only romantic love associated with this Saint is marital love, since he was imprisoned for continuing to marry Christian couples after Claudius II banned marriage in an effort to gain more soldiers for his war. The tradition of sending valentines has to do with the notes of encouragement this holy priest received while in prison. There is also a legend of his befriending a jailer whose daughter was blind, and his sending a note to her signed "From your Valentine." Some legends say that he healed the daughter and that his friendship and prayers were what brought on their conversion. We don't know that for sure, though.

In any case, the only notes sent were notes of Christian encouragement, and the only romantic love celebrated was that of marriage. So, you can see why it annoyed me that even in a Christian school, they had the kids sending lovey dovey valentines to each other. It is inappropriate anyway, I think, to encourage little kids to send love notes to each other, but on top of that, it is simply following the pagan pattern of our culture. I was greatly encouraged to find out that this year, they are not doing that, but are sending notes of encouragement to wounded soldiers in Germany instead. This is more in the spirit of honoring this day.

Married people, however, celebrating their love and romance is entirely within the parameters of this feast, and so I encourage all married people to celebrate and remember that this holiday came about as a result of an honorable priest who married men and women, even against the law of the emperor, and eventually lost his life because of it.

Other people can celebrate Sts. Cyril and Methodius who were brothers, a bishop and a monk, and missionaries to the Slavs. Their feast day is also February 14, and they are a story of encouragement to all parents of siblings who don't get along. They had a rancorous childhood relationship, but grew in faith and maturity, enough to work together as missionaries, with one as bishop over the other.

Updated: It turns out that the kids are exchanging valentines in class. We found out today. And about the party for which they need parent volunteers and food and drink. The day after tomorrow. The kids and I decided to make hearts on the candy hearts website I posted on Wednesday, with the words "Feast of Saint Valentine" and "February 14" on each, and make a card outlining the story of St. Valentine. Dominic's idea was to put part of the story on each card and number the back so the kids had to work together to get the whole story, a game of sorts. We liked this idea. I figure one of two things will result: The kids, teachers and possibly parents will learn something about the real St. Valentine and the meaning behind the celebration, or the super anti-Catholic parents will be so upset about the so-called Catholic idolatry of it that they will call for a ban of its celebration at the school. Either of these options are fine with us.

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The Many Uses of Coffee Filters

You know that blogs are taking over your life when you dream about them.

On Saturday night, I had a funny dream involving Alison, of the Blue Blog, whom I have never met nor really talked to, except to post a comment or perhaps ask a question. She is pregnant in real life, but in my dream, she had the baby. We visited her family, she had a lovely large house, to help them pack and move. While we were there, Jerome had a huge blow out diaper, and when I tried to change him, I found that every diaper in the diaper bag was dirty as well, and that we had no extra clothes for him. So, I asked to borrow a diaper from them, and Alison told me that they cloth diapered the baby and her older boys weren't in diapers so she took me over to a supply type shelf and offered me a large coffee filter to put on him. We had to cut leg holes out. Evidently, it occurred to nobody that we might use a cloth diaper.

If that isn't funny enough, on the shelf above the coffee filters, there were size four diapers, and when I asked if I could use one of those, she said that they were far too big for him, and so she wouldn't let me have one. So, we had a naked baby in a coffee filter while I went to a store near their home to buy diapers and clothes.

I am going to send her the link to this post and hope she doesn't think I'm a crazed stalker.


Menu Plan Monday: February 12

Monday: Enchiladas Blancas with Chile-Lime Tomato Rice

Tuesday: Red Beans & Rice

Wednesday: Goat Cheese, Greens & Sunflower Seed Roll Ups for the Kids, Grilled Salmon, Garlic Pasta and Salad and Two Heart Shaped Molten Chocolate Cakes for Rich and me

Thursday: Roast Chicken Pieces, Vegetable Burghul Pilaf

Friday: Cream of Poblano Soup with Black Bean, Roasted Corn and Pepper Salad

Saturday: Pizzas & Salad

Sunday: Garlic Lamb Sausage with Onions & Peppers and Egg Noodles

Any recipes will be provided upon request.

What will you cook this week?

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Cheap Dates

Rich and I have always been master and mistress of the cheap date. We went to movie revivals on discounted tickets, we drove until we could find the sun, we took all sorts of walks, we went to diners and danced in between the tables when they were empty, we went to fairs and festivals, we danced.

We started dating when I was a freshman in college, and he was working at a delivery company while waiting to go to flight school. We weren't exatly rolling in it, but I figured it wouldn't be that bad. You see, he tricked me by telling me he was rich.

Anyway. We met at a ballroom dance the summer before I started college. It's a highly romantic and funny story, and I'll tell you about it one day. We continued to dance there as well as at Latin clubs. When we got married, I worked for a brief time at a dance studio, and we have continued dancing since.

Fortunately, we aren't as poor as we were when we met, but with five small children, our budget for dating is only a little more than it was then. So, although we occasionally go out to fancy dinners, performances or other big night events, with the cost of babysitting, plus the cost of the date itself, we usually go out on the more inexpensive side.

Since we've been dancing together for over 12 years, you know I'm going to suggest going out to a dance. You think there are no places in your area, but if you look around, I'll bet you'll find at least a few. If you check the entertainment section of your local paper, or look online, you should find them. We go dancing at least once a month, there are several places we can go, all costing us about $5 a person. Recently, we've discovered a salsa club in Tacoma, which has half hour lessons and a dance every Saturday night. They meet at the Abbey Ballroom which is a beautiful little place that used to be a church. It is smoke and alcohol free, and though we don't mind dancing in clubs and bars, it is nice because we can bring people who are underage with us.

This gives us a chance to reconnect, to do something we love, to enjoy each other's company and to socialize with other people. We are actually going to go the Saturday after Valentine's day, with our priest and his wife, and possibly another couple from our church.

So, this is my cheap date idea. To find more, go to Shalee's Diner and get some good ideas. If you want to post your cheap date ideas along with the rest of us, check out 50 Cheap Dates.

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Mardi Gras

Normally, Rich and I host our church's Shrove Tuesday feast. We fry doughnuts, and eat all sorts of lovely, fatty foods (it turns out the doughnut thing is traditional for Germans, so this is somewhat appropriate for our family). This year, however, we won't be hosting. Dominic's tonsils and adenoids have become such a problem that the surgery we hoped to put off until this summer will be happening on the 20th. Mardi Gras. Dominic will begin the Lenten fast early this year. He will also be missing a week of school, the surgery is scheduled during their President's Day break (this is the first time I've been grateful for that break, though I have a little diatribe about President's Day that will have to be saved for another time). Please say a prayer for him.

We scheduled the surgery yesterday, which is why I didn't post my other couple interest post. I will try to do that today. Also, in a much lesser magnitude than Dominic's need, I am off to mail my submissions to the book people today. Please pray they are received well, and that they are accepted.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday: Sharing Your Spouse's Interests

Rich is a pilot, I am a knitter. What have the two in common? You might ask. There isn't a whole lot of overlap, it's true (although we have met lots of knitter wives at aviation events and lots of pilot husbands at fiber events). However, I have tried to make sure to listen to Rich when he talks about flying and I go with him to air shows and learn as much as I can about airplanes, because he loves those things, and I love him. Likewise, Rich has an amazing knowledge of knitting techniques, yarn, and he also attends fiber fairs, is planning how he can make me a spinning wheel (he even was inspired to try to make a circular sock knitting machine after seeing the one at Madrona). We both make a point of learning about and being interested in what the other cares about, because we care about the other. I know that Rich wants me to learn to fly, well more than the month's ground school and one hour air time I had in high school, and I will probably do it. Rich has asked me to show him how to knit, and he did it very well.

We both encourage each other in these endeavors and are sincerely happy when the other gets a chance to enjoy his/her chances to do these things. These are only two areas where this works, it really applies in all our areas of interest. So, while it helps that we have a lot of the same interests anway (I'll mention at least one of those tomorrow), even where we differ, we make the effort to love the things our spouse loves. It helps us to know more about each other, enjoy more time with each other and to learn to be less selfish, by being happy for the sake of the other person.

This works for us!

If you want to make some cool hearts like I did, click here. This is the only way I can stand those hearts, they taste terrible!

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March Colorswap: Greens

I was determined to be more timely this month, so here is your reminder to sign up for the March colorswap by 12:01 a.m. February 16, 2007.

To participate in the March swap, you must either be a member of KnittingMothers or be a knitter with a blog you update frequently. In fact, even among the knittingmothers, I'd encourage those few of you without a basic blog to begin one. I want people to be able to get to know each other a bit. If you wish to sign up, send me an email with your full name, mailing address, email address that you check regularly, and blog url. This is open to knitters worldwide, but I am going to make a big effort to pair people within the same nation or at least continent, since there is only a month in which to allow for something to arrive. These registrations need to arrive in my inbox by 12:01 a.m. on the 16th of the month preceding the swap month. For this month, that means by Thursday night, the 15th, my time. I am going to limit the swap to the first 50 respondents. Please feel free to spread the word about this, though.

The first thing to come to mind in terms of color is, of course, yarn, but please don't limit yourself to that. Handmade cards, candles, soaps, bath salts, stationery, candies, chocolates, knitterly tools or gadgets, knitting themed accessories and roving/fiber for those who are spinners as well are all good idea for gifts. Knitting something for someone would be a lovely gift. Including shipping, the minimum price for this swap should be considered at $25 (remember, that includes shipping and any packaging). I know how difficult it is to determine the monetary value of something handmade, or handspun or hand dyed, and I do not consider those things as cheap, but please keep in mind a general sense of the price of the package being sent. Participants should expect to receive one package and to send out one package for each round of the swap. Packages should arrive by the end of each month, preferably earlier.

Remember that registration for February ends 12:01 a.m. February 16, 2007 and the color theme is Green.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Reminder to Nominate Your Hidden Treasures

Everyday Mommy's Hidden Treasure Awards are open for nominations for one more day. Remember to nominate your Hidden Treasures in one or more of her categories. Voting will begin on February 8 and run through February 13, with the winners announced on Valentine's Day.

Arabian Knits Contest

I am about to hit my 300th post and I've been wanting to give something away for some time now. So, I have this lovely box of Elann yarns to send to the first person who comments on my 300th post.

pictured are eight skeins of rose heather Peruvian Baby Cashmere and five skeins of oxblood Peruvian Pure Alpaca

If, for some bizarre reason, the person who posts first isn't interested in yarn (I just cannot fathom it), then it will go to the next commenter, and down the line. This is my way of getting people to post comments, too!

Now, if nobody posts a comment on my 300th post, I don't know what I will do. So, come out of the woodwork and post your replies to me.

Also, to keep you interested, and to prove there has been knitting going on, here is a sneak preview of one of the designs I'm submitting for the book.

Guess what it is!

And here is Amira's felted purse. It was supposed to be a design for the book, but it didn't work out the way I wanted it. There are several ways I can try to make it right, but not in time for the submission deadline. So, this one is now a play purse for Amira, and I may continue working on the design to sell in another way.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Tales from the Kitchen Classic: Dinner Tonight

Originally posted June 8, 2005 to Tales from the Kitchen

Something involving bacon. We took millions of pounds of bacon with us on the camp out. This is about half of what Rich wanted to bring. I explained that even assuming four pieces a person (including the infants), we only needed eight bags of bacon. We came home with three and a half bags. They are safe to eat, but there is only so long that you can keep bacon in the fridge. So, we ate BLTs, we had bacon and eggs and tonight we are eating beans and rice.

The way I make them, you put pinto beans in the crock pot with water to cover, set it on high and leave it for an hour or two. Add a can of tomato sauce, season with salt and pepper and put it on low for another couple few hours. Cut up a bunch of bacon, a pound or so to use it up, less if you are just using it as seasoning, cook it over medium heat until it is nice and browned and crackly. While it is cooking, dice up some onion or chop up some scallions, and slice up some celery. Toss these in the pan with the bacon and cook until the onion is translucent and soft. Dump the whole mess into the crock pot and dice up a tomato and toss that in too. Cook for about an hour to meld the flavors. Cook some rice in whichever way you like and serve up the beans with the rice. You can make these into tacos by using taco shells or tortillas and adding some queso fresca and cilantro on top.

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Color Swap Clarification

It seems there is a little confusion as to whether or not the $25 is a maximum or minimum. I am counting it as a minimum, including shipping costs. If you wish to and can afford to send more, please do, but nobody should expect to have to spend more than that or to receive a package worth more than that. If you receive more, then that is a bonus.

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Thai Green Curry & Peanut Noodles

I've had a couple requests for the green curry recipe. Sadly, I am using a jar of simmer sauce from Trader Joe's and just sauteeing onion, garlic, carrots, cabbage and broccoli with the chicken and simmering it all in the sauce.

Here is a real recipe from Posie Gets Cozy, you can use whatever meat and vegetables you like.

Susie's Green-Curry Shrimp

1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 large shallot, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced (no ribbing please! — red parts only)
1 head broccoli florets
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Japanese eggplant, sliced then cut into quarters
2 cans light coconut milk
1 T. green curry paste
1 c. frozen peas
1 small can bamboo shoots (julienned)

Saute shallot and onion in equal parts butter and oil (enough to coat bottom of your pan) until translucent. Add garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add about a teaspoon of salt and enough pepper so that you can see it freckling the onion-y stuff. Add broccoli florets and saute until almost tender. Add shrimp and eggplant and cook until shrimp turns pink. Add curry paste and stir until everything is coated, then add coconut milk and stir until combined. Don't boil, just simmer until shrimp are fully cooked (just a couple of minutes at most). Add peas and bamboo shoots and heat through. Serve over hot jasmine rice.

The Peanut Noodles are what I'm actually making for real. Boil cellophane noodles according to the directions and dress with the following dressing:

1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

edited: I also toss in some chopped scallions with the noodles

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Menu Plan Monday: February 5

Monday: Chili & Cornbread (the hostess was making cornbread for Sunday, so we brought a salad instead)

Tuesday: Lamb Stew, Soda Bread & Salad

Wednesday: Baked Ziti with Peppers & Garlic Bread

Thursday: Shredded Beef, Sweet Potato Rolls & Salad (I ended up stuck in traffic most of Saturday, and Rich made dinner. It was really good, too, he cooked up some lamb and garlic sausage, onions, garlic, peppers, olives and capers and tossed it all with some egg noodles.)

Friday: Potato Soup and Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese, Toasted Pecans and Dried Cranberries

Saturday: Dinner out at our neighbors'.

Sunday: Thai Green Chicken Curry & Peanut Noodles

Again, any recipes will be provided upon request.

What will you cook this week?

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Another Milestone

I try not to post things that would embarrass the kids, or at least not too much, because I don't want to do that to them, and because they know I blog and mention them. This is the same reason you don't read much about our family here, we try to preserve their privacy, since I'm the one posting and not them. It is also the reason my best and funniest blog posts don't get posted!

However, we have reached a grand milestone in the Arabian Knits home. We are down to one child in diapers for the first time in, well, a long time. I think there was a short time before Jerome was born, maybe six months or so with just Amira in diapers, but basically for the past six and a half years, we've had at least two children in diapers/pull-ups at all times.

This past week, Amira graduated to big girl panties! Even at night! We are so excited! We hope, one day, to live in a home where we only know the details of our own bathroom experiences. This brings us a little bit closer to that day. She is about a month from turning three, so this makes her the earliest of all the children, but she is a girl and has three older brothers to imitate.

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Sonya's Replies

I never posted these for her partner. These are Sonya's answers to the color swap survey:

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer high-end/natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you?

If I am buying yarn myself I tend to buy wools or natural fibers. But I do not shun the occasional Red Heart or Lion Brand if it is special.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

No just knit

3. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?

none just knitting

4. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

really soft wools or wonderful wool blends

5. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

am not a fan of novelty yarns

6. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?


7. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?


8. What are you knitting right now?

chemo hats and Irish Hiking Scarf

9. Are you a sock knitter?

Not yet but hope to be some day

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Are there any colors you hate?

I love shades of green, yellow, browns and reds. I do not like pink

11. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Amazon [Ranee here, search for her name and or email to pull it up]

12. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.)


13. Do you have any religious prohibitions or restrictions?


14. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)


15. Do you burn candles?


16. Do you have a sweet or salt tooth?


17. Do you drink coffee, tea or cocoa?

cocoa yes, coffee occasionally

18. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

Married 11years 2 boys 1 girl ages 5-7-9 with girl in the middle. assortment of fishes, a turtle and a wonderful puppy named Hutch

19. What are some of your favorite things?

magnets, scary movies, roses, sweet tarts, books

20. Is there anything that you collect?

Things related to elephants

21. What is your favorite holiday?


22. What is your birthday? (You don't have to tell the year)


Friday, February 02, 2007

Not Much to Show

I've actually been doing quite a bit of knitting lately, but nothing I can show yet. I will try to get some fun photos to post soon. Actually, I have that cropped sweater I was working on before that I can post about, but I've put it aside while I try to get the patterns written and pieces knit and ready to send for the book submissions. They need to be in by the 14th, so I've set a deadline of the 7th to have them mailed. That's only five days from now!

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Did I Mention I Love Contests?

There's another one over at 5 Minutes for Mom. I have entered, in the hopes that I can win some pretty sparkly things for Amira's birthday, which is coming up in just over a month. So, wish me luck!


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