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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hope Springs Eternal

Tonight we were discussing making a reading chart to keep track of either the number of books read or the hours reading that Alexander does, since he's such a great reader. We told him that perhaps we would consider a treat like going out to ice cream if he beat a particular goal. Elijah perked up at the words ice cream.

"Oh, ice cream! I like ice cream!"

I said that we weren't eating it tonight, and he immediately said:

"Tomorrow morning?!"

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Jokes from the Randomizer

Question: What kind of turtle do you get to leave?

Answer: When you look in the clock.

Question: What kind of ladybug goes home and forgets to take his keys?

Answer: To try to get the wall.

Then she began singing The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, only with her own special, individually created lines.

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Planned Projects

Here are a couple peeks at what I will be working on presently.

This yarn will turn into a pair of baby pants with a ruffled hem. I've been looking for an excuse to get this yarn for some time now, and the class I'll be teaching on making baby pants was the perfect excuse. I'll be making a standard, non-ruffled, pair out of some ruby colored yarn. If you take the class, you get the pattern for free, plus ideas on some cute variations.

This is one of my next sewing projects. The fabric (pre-washed!) is an ivory eyelet with a scalloped border.

This means I don't have to hem the top.

The pattern looks pretty straight forward, so the issue will only be in the quality of my sewing. In case you can't read the pattern number, this is Simplicity 4203. I'm making view C without the ruffled lace at the bottom, because of the scalloped hem. I will likely use this pattern to make the pants and the shorts in some solid colors and prints. They are elastic band, no buttons or zippers and consist of four pieces each. I think I can handle that.

Wish me luck!

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Photo Op and Product Recommendations

I never did post this picture from Mother's Day. This is the first picture we have of all of the children together.

Rich is behind the camera, so he's not in this shot. That's our next project. We took a walk on the marina after dinner and Rich thought to get a picture of me with the kids before we left. From left to right, Jerome, Alexander, Dominic, me, Amira in front of me, Elijah.

Yes, that is a baggage claim tag on Jerome's carseat. It's proven to be more entertaining to him than any other toys we've given him. We plan on making a drive to Sea-Tac and picking up one of every color they have and making a mobile for him.

Now, pictures of food items that you should go buy. This is the Jana Valley butter I've talked about before here.

It is found at the Grocery Outlet, is rather inexpensive, and a higher quality butter, with a lower water content than American butters. If you have a Grocery Outlet in your area, you should look for this. For a little over half a pound of good butter, we pay about $1.29, which is lower than most of the sale and coupon prices for store brand butter in our area. We buy cheeses and lunch meats, cereals, canned foods, wine, toiletries, lunch snacks, all sorts of things at the Grocery Outlet. You never know what you'll find, so it's usually better to pick up something that interests you, in case it's not there the next time. We've been known to buy one of something and try it in the parking lot, and send someone back in to buy more if it is worth it.

This next item is from Trader Joe's.

Since I get so many requests for the Thai Green Curry recipe when I post that we are going to eat it, I thought I'd show you the jar of simmer sauce, so you can find it for yourself. It is made of real food, and is quite tasty. I don't know why this photo is so blurry, but I am too lazy to fix it, I think you can tell what the jar looks like enough to find it at the store. While you are there, you can pick up some of their $0.99 marinara sauce, which is good on its own or can be doctored up when you need a quick meal. I don't often buy their instant foods, though they taste good, because of all the extra salt, fat and sugar. Even at their prices, they are more expensive than making a meal at home, but they are a pretty good deal if you are in a hurry and better than fast food. I shop for ingredients at Trader Joe's, parmesan, fresh basil, olive oil, frozen peppers and green beans, dried apricots, cherries and cranberries, nuts and seeds, grade B maple syrup. We sometimes pick up other things there, like the mini-peanut butter cups to make peanut butter cup cookies (use the chocolate chip cookie recipe from the bag, substituting the pb cups for the chips, using chunky peanut butter for half the butter and adding some almond extract).

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tales from the Kitchen Classic: Just for the Halibut

In honor of the fresh, wild halibut we are seeing in the markets, here is a favorite of ours.

Originally posted April 20, 2006 to Tales from the Kitchen

Last night we had grilled halibut, a tossed green salad and watermelon for dessert. I had been planning on making some cous cous for the fish to sit on, but decided we would fill up quite a bit on what we had without it.

I based it on a recipe from Bon Appetit, but didn't really worry about measuring everything, increased the amount to feed the family and used the sauce entirely as marinade rather than brushing it on and spooning reserved sauce on top at serving. It was perfect. Not over done, not dry and flaky, but perfectly grilled, slightly smoky, meaty fish. We devoured it. It helped that there were wild Alaskan halibut steaks on sale.

The marinade was very simple, six cloves of garlic, the zest of one lemon, juice of two lemons, about a half cup of olive oil, a large handful of basil leaves, finely chopped, about a tablespoon of drained capers. I rubbed the fish with a tiny bit of kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper and Rich grilled them over fairly high heat on a well oiled grill for about five minutes per side, they were pretty thick. The kids loved it, we loved it, and it is all gone today.

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Because I Need More Yarn

I've been wanting to try Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Dyed Cotton for some time, and here is an opportunity to do so for free. You all know that I love contests, so I really couldn't pass this up. Ali over at Skeins Her Way is having a pre-summer contest, and she's offering her pattern for a Fitted Tank along with four skeins of the cotton to make it. So, I had to enter. I just couldn't help myself. The only question now is which color should I choose? I'm thinking of one of four: Circus Peanut, Shrimp, Thistle or Tomato. What do you think?

Circus Peanut

If you want to enter this contest, please tell Ali that I sent you!

As for my summer knitting goals, mostly it is to knit some tops for me. With the whole learn to sew project, I can make skirts, pants and shorts that fit and that I like, and what would be better than a knitted top wardrobe to go with them? I do have another goal of getting more of my own designs ready to be sold. Oh, and to make a lace shawl that I don't give away! So, three goals.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Second Sewing Success

And, again, completely unsupervised! I am so proud of myself. It may seem like some little, easy pillow, but I am sew retarded. Also my mom never allowed me to take things like home ec in school, because she didn't want me learning all those traditional female things, and betraying the sisterhood and all that. So, I am literally learning how to read patterns, cut fabric, thread a sewing machine, wind a bobbin, etc from scratch as an adult.

So, here is Jerome's new pillow.

He was really excited to see it this morning. I finished the slip stitching last night, and it isn't perfect, but it doesn't look any worse than a pillow you'd get at a store. edited to add: I didn't give credit where credit is due. I forgot to mention that Amira helped me stuff this pillow. She was so thrilled to pull out the polyfill and shove it inside. We had a great time doing that together. I think she might be sad when she finds out we only have a pillow form to put in her pillow. The fact that it is pink! with a bow! and floral patterns! should help mitigate that.

Amira is already impatient because I haven't made her pillow yet. We've picked out the fabric, I have the pattern, and the pillow form, so I will probably get on that this week or next. Then aprons, and skirts and dresses and shirts and pants and...Oh, I am so excited! Sewing is so fast compared to knitting, so it's like instant gratification.

While Rich was taking the older kids bike riding yesterday, I took Jerome with me to a couple fabric stores. There is a small, locally owned one in a town to the north of us, and there is the Evil Empire (JoAnns) nearby, where Simplicity patterns were $0.99 each and I had three coupons, so I went to both. There were loads of Cars licensed fabrics at the small shop, and even though they were expensive, I picked up a little so I could make a shirt for one of the boys, and I bought an overpriced kit for a Cars pillowcase which should go together pretty quickly. Elijah actually said he wanted to sit next to me during family prayers last night, just because I bought Cars fabric. He sidled up to me and said "Thank you for buying my Cars pillowcase Mama!" and gave me a huge hug and kiss. When all else fails, buy them off, right?

How important is it to preshrink 100% cotton fabric if you are using 100% cotton thread to sew it? Can you tell I am eager to start cutting and sewing?

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Purple Box!

Jana sent me a gorgeous package! I received it Friday, but haven't had a chance to post about it until today. It was all wrapped in purple tissue, so I opened the package to that, and inside was:

There was the sunvisor, a knitting car bumper magnet, a little notebook, some purple tissues I can put in my knitting bag, a sock pattern, and the yarn. Not only that, but the yarn was yarn she dyed herself and it is beautiful! I cannot wait to break into it and knit socks for me! Go visit her etsy shop and buy some of her yarn, it is so much fun. The yarn she sent me is called tvyarn.

Thank you so much Jana! This was a great swap package!

Also, some general Colorswap notices: If you haven't sent out your May package or contacted your partner yet, please do so. I looked at the calendar and saw that it was May 29; it's almost June. Yikes!

I am in the middle of sending out confirmation notes to the people who signed up for June. You should have your assignments at the latest tomorrow.

If you have any submissions for a swap button, please e-mail me with a gif or jpg and I'll post it. The favorite one will win a box with one skein of yarn in each color from our year of colorswap themes at the end of the year. So far, Jana is winning, because she is the only one who has submitted any buttons. If there are other submissions by December, I'll post a poll and people can vote on their favorite button.

Thank you again everyone for participating.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Menu Plan Monday: May 28

Our Tongues of Flame Barbecue was a raging success, yet again. This is our third year hosting it, and it is a blast. We have our Pentecost service at church, and everyone heads over to our house where we cook meat and seafood over fire, eat, drink and are merry. People brought salads, mixed olives and vegetables, bratwurst, cheese bratwurst, corn on the cob, watermelon, ice cream, chocolate cake, I made brownies, potato salad and marinated the lamb kebabs, which Rich grilled, there were baked beans, rosemary raisin rolls and cheese and herb rolls, millions of kinds of soda, wine flowing freely.

One of our priest's sons really enjoyed the harissa I made at Easter, so I taught him how to make it, and he helped me put together a batch to serve with the kebabs. His folks took Dominic, Elijah and Amira home with them to be entertained by some of their kids and sent him and his older brother with us to help set up and clean, another boy from a different family from church also came to move tables and vacuum and clean up. They were a huge help to us.

We ate and ate, and played games, and told funny stories and blood and guts stories and laughed and ate and drank some more. A great time was had by all. We diced up some leftover brats and cooked them with eggs this morning for breakfast. Some of the leftover corn is going into tonight's dinner.

I meant to post earlier about the Thai Green Curry, but never got around to it. It is a simmer sauce I buy at Trader Joe's. It is made with real ingredients, and is inexpensive. I cook the chicken, dice it, sautee some onion in oil, add the chicken back, pour the sauce over it and simmer. It is great, and Rich who doesn't like cilantro, enjoys it.

What is on your menu this week?

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Finished Object Friday: Tiny Elf Hat

I have something to share this week! I finished that project I mentioned earlier this week. It is an itty, bitty, cute baby elf hat for our Christmas in July event.

Come to the the shop on or after July 17th to see it in person and buy the pattern. It may be available here if I can work out the kinks with ordering online.

I didn't finish this next thing, but I have only a little slip stitching to do. I cut a pattern out, cut the fabric, and followed the directions to make a pillow. It is turned out, stuffed and needs just a six inch opening closed. I'm so proud of myself. I've been terrified of my sewing machine, not to mention the finality of cutting fabric, so this is a big deal to me. This is a busy weekend for us, so I probably won't get it finished, much less a photo of it posted, but I'll try to do it next week.

So, what did you finish this week? Please sign Mr. Linky below and share with the internets 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. I will visit all the posts.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday: Teaching Generosity to Children

There are certain events and holidays in which we know the kids are going to get lots of stuff. Birthdays and Christmas, especially, are times when they are given many gifts. We are very purposeful about teaching the children to be happy for other people receiving good, and keeping the focus on the religious significance of a holiday or the experience of a birthday rather than all the stuff. The problem is how to do it, when it is so easy for a young mind to see all the things and think that is what the day is about.

There are three things we do that have helped:

The rewards of this kind of training are great. It really isn't hard, and the kids love feeling like they can give to others. It is a simple way to grow in grace, to do a corporal work of mercy and to encourage a spirit of generosity in the family. It also helps them to be giving and open handed with their siblings.

Teaching children to be generous works for me!

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Teaching Children to Worship

Our church has no nursery. This is actually selling point to us. Part of raising them up in the faith and preparing them to be adult members of the church is allowing them to participate in worship as young children. It acclimates them to a service that isn't geared at entertaining them, one where the worship of God rather than the playing of games is the focus, and it trains them in the practices of the church body.

From their first weeks, every one of our children has sat in church with us, and participated in the services. Rich and I do have to give correction every now and then, and a good look will usually settle them down now. We help them sing the songs, pray the prayers, stand or sit or kneel as necessary, we show them in the order of service where we are, and help them read along, if they can read. Our older two boys, pay pretty close attention to the sermon, most of the time now. The main point, though, is that they are learning the practice of sitting still, listening and participating in worship and learning. We do not expect them to understand it all, but we also don't expect them to suddenly get it one day and be able to participate if they have never had the exposure and practice.

"What about the noise?" You might ask. Well, we are a congregation with lots of young children and several large families, and little children do make sounds sometimes during church. However, we recently saw illustrated quite clearly the difference between children who are used to sitting through a church service and participating to the best of their abilities (and our church service is about 1 1/2-1 3/4 hrs) and those who have been sent to the nursery and children's church for their entire lives. In January, one family had their new daughter baptised. They invited their extended family as well as some friends of theirs who brought their own children. These were good children. They were not acting out with bad behavior, but they couldn't handle sitting, listening, singing and praying along with the other people. They just weren't used to it. The rest of the children, ranging in ages from two months to 17 years old, from different backgrounds, developmental stages, etc, were quite able to do so.

"Oh, but you don't know my child! He can't sit through the long service, he'd be bored. I wouldn't get anything out of worship, because I'd be spending all my time correcting him." That's what you might be thinking about now. I do know that we have raised five children to participate in church as best they can, we've seen countless other families do so, and know it can be done. Yes, you will spend the first several times correcting him, especially if this is new and your child isn't used to being in church. It is much easier to train children in this, as in anything else, if you start right away when they are infants and toddlers. You can sit in the back, where you can stand up and bounce a small child, or leave the sanctuary if it is necessary for a moment.

I want to challenge the last objection, though. Worship, by definition, is not something from which we should be "getting something." You might enjoy it, you might love the music, or the prayers, but it is something that God gets, not us. If our focus is on what we are receiving from worship, our focus is wrong.

The same family whose daughter was baptised recently went down to the mother's parents to visit. They went to church with her parents. As usual, they took their two children, who are well behaved and very accustomed to being in church, with them into the church service and sat down. The usher actually came and told them that the children were not allowed in the service. They were fuming, but tried to explain that their children normally were in church with them and they were visitors. No matter, the church rules were that no young children were permitted in the service. Rather than make a stink, the mother, her mother and the two children went to the completely empty cry room, where they could hear, but not see the service. It is no wonder that the modern church keeps having to reinvent how church services are run. The younger generation grows up never seeing or participating in the one their parents did. Jesus had something to say about adult believers keeping children from joining them around Him:

"Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."

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Shortly After Midnight, My Song Shall Rise to Thee...

Scripture is full of exhortations to rise early to praise Him and get our duties done. This is not so easy for me. Rich and I are both night owls, and naturally incapable of getting to bed at a decent hour. It takes pregnancy, illness, days of hard labor, major catastrophes for us to go to bed before midnight. We aren't too fond of all those Psalms extoling the virtue of rising early.

We have reasoned it out. 12:30 a.m. is morning. That should count.

The reality is, though, that the earlier I get up, the more work I get done, and the less guilty I feel if I spend part of my day resting or playing. There is that whole Proverbs 31 woman thing, too, about rising before her family (though I have a willing accomplice in this, Rich doesn't exactly push me to get up before him), not to mention the not having servants to whom to assign tasks. I think I could get up earlier if it meant I had a cleaning lady.

For a while before I was pregnant with Jerome, I was getting up at 5:00 a.m, doing many of my daily chores and making breakfast for the family. Things ran much more smoothly, we got a hot breakfast everyday, and most of my work around the house was done before the kids were even up, so it took less time and left time to be with them more, and do detailed cleaning later in the day, as well as allowing me freedom to take a break without worrying that the delicate balance on the housework would be toppled and I'd be behind again. Then morning sickness and pregnancy exhaustion set in. I haven't gone back to it since, though I'm starting to wake a little earlier now.

Yesterday, I read this and was convicted. I think it is time to go back to my 5:00 a.m. habit. As I recall, it helped me get to bed at a more decent hour (still late, but earlier than 2:00 a.m).

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sneak Preview

I want to be able to post something to my own blog carnival this Friday, so I'll save the full picture until then. That doesn't mean I can wait to post about a finished object, though. I finished my sample for the shop yesterday.

Why did it take me over two weeks to make a baby hat? Partly because I was trying to work out a kind of faux fur st trim on the brim, which took forever, was a huge pain in the rear, ended up frogged in favor of seed st. Not to mention how many times it took me to make a stinking pom pom. I'd never made one before, and had to make two and sew them on and remove them about five times before it was right.

Mostly, though, it was just a lack of knitting time. We have been busy working on an insurance claim, getting ready for the end of the school year, planning for the Tongues of Flame barbecue, and then there's all that household running and child rearing and cooking that happens here. I am looking forward to summer. Not so many drives that interrupt our daily schedule, and no school meetings or evening events or field trips that we don't plan ourselves.

So, the hat. This is a project for the shop's Christmas in July event. The hat will be on display there mid-July, and the pattern will be available for sale then, too.

I won't post a picture of the whole hat, but here's that lovely pom pom.

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Secret Food Shame

I confess. I love Pillsbury's canned crescent rolls.

I know they are full of ingredients that don't actually qualify as food. I know that I pride myself on making wholesome food from scratch for my family, even to the point of making bread, yogurt, jams and jellies, preserves, relishes and pickles. I know I eschew highly processed foods, high fructose corn syrup, margarine, vegetable shortening, artificial flavorings and preservatives in general. I don't even buy pancake mix, or cake mix, and the only boxed cookies I buy are the Nabisco Chocolate Wafers for when I make cheesecake. I even know how to make really good, butter rich, croissants from scratch that are flaky, light and much better than these canned things.

But. I love these rolls. I can eat two cans' worth on my own. For snack.

Needless to say, I don't buy them often. Maybe twice a year, but boy are they worth it.

I have two other food shames. When I was a kid, my mom's family would bring us all sorts of treats from Saudi Arabia when they would visit. Most of them were great pastries, breads, things like that. There was this one canned cheese (what is it with canned food products?) food product. I kid you not, cheese food product. Kraft. In a blue can. The selling point was that you could use the can opener on both sides of the can, push the cheese out and slice it with the edge of the can lid. They also have an upscale, creamy version that comes in glass jars and after you use it up spreading it on your toast, you can wash the jars (which have smooth tops, no threads for the lid) and use the jars as tea glasses.

My other shameful food love is Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls. You know, those red wrapper, candy packages that people skip over to get to the Snickers? The ones that have been sitting on the shelf for so long that the fake marshmallow filling is now stale? Even though it doesn't actually have a shelf life? Those. I could eat them a handful at a time.

So, what are your secret food shames? Leave me a comment, and unburden your soul.


Monday, May 21, 2007

June Color Swap: Blue

Here is the notice for next month's swap. The deadline for registration is 12:01 a.m PDT. May 29, 2007. This is Monday night. If you wish to sign up, send me an email me at arabianknits at gmail dot com 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. 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 May ends 12:01 a.m. May 29, 2007 and the color theme is Blue. Have fun!

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Menu Plan Monday: May 21

Just so my FIL has some peace of mind, I am posting some of the meal changes to last week's plan. I wouldn't want him to worry that he can't believe what he reads on the internets. Perhaps this will restore his trust in the world wide web.

What is on your menu this week?

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The Knitters' "Been Around" Meme

I found this on Knitting Underway and thought it would be a fun way to take up space.

Key: Bold=done, Italics=Will Do, Normal=No Way

Garter stitch

Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down

Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn

Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk

Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns

Knitting with bananafiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items

Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns

Publishing a knitting book
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting

Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colours
Knitting items for a wedding

Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies...)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items)on two circulars
Olympic knitting
Knitting with someone elses handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit

Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn

Knitting art

Knitting two socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO

Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Entrelac Knitting and purling backwards

Machine knitting
Knitting with selfpatterning/selfstriping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern

Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies

Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/armwarmers

Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting

Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Tracking by Counter

I have a freebie, no-frills kind of counter here. Mostly, it's so I can see what kind of weirdos are doing strange searches that might bring up my blog, and modify word choices accordingly. Also, because I'm obsessive about lists and facts. I love that I can see that you checked on my blog from the Oregon State higher education computers at 2:36 p.m. on Tuesday, or that I can play the internet version of looking for other state license plates on the road by seeing what nations or states my readers hail from, or learning that you found my blog because of a search using the keywords: tatted holy leaves.

However, it seems that there are some folks in the backwoods of Oregon, who have been looking into the sunrise so long that their vision is spotty. No matter. Welcome to my new readers, nonetheless.

It's interesting how the word fundamentalist is used as an epithet. I do not describe myself as a fundamentalist Christian, because it is a specifically defined movement with which I have some rather strident theological differences. I imagine the feeling is mutual, that a strict fundamentalist would be glad to hear I don't call myself one, and would also have some serious reservations about the theology our family holds. All disagreements with the religious movement in America aside, however, the term fundamentalist, in and of itself, is not a negative. As I understand it, even the religious movement began as a return to the fundamentals of the faith, which is not a bad thing. Someone who might be called a mathematics fundamentalist is not some power hungry maniac who is trying to ruin my life by getting me to balance my checkbook on a regular basis, and forcing me to take calculus, but someone who understands and follows the principles mathematics and seeks to clarify the departures from strict mathematical theory.


Monkey Stew

Dinner last night was a veritable laugh riot. The kids came up with a new game, much hilarity ensued. I thought it deserved its own post.

Elijah asked what was for lunch (he was confused about which meal we were eating).

Amira answered, monkey stew. Dominic said kangaroo. Alexander said Winnie the Pooh.

The repetition of this trio and the laughter echoed for some time. They tried it again. Alexander asked the question that time. I decided to help them with the rules, because there was some dispute as to proper order.

If you, too, wish to play Monkey Stew, this is what you should do:

One person asks the question: What's for lunch? and calls on the person who should answer first. That first person answers with some silly meal idea, and the other people must come up with another that rhymes.

Rich, of course, decided to confound the children with oranges.

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I Have Found It!

Last night Rich made dinner. I had a headache and was exhausted, so he came home, thawed some shrimp, scrubbed and microwaved some potatoes and heated up the deep fryer. He cut the potatoes into steak fries and fried those first, seasoned some flour for the shrimp, peeled them and got to work frying those, too.

After feeding the kids, he was still frying up some of the stuff in the kitchen (our house still smells like a Chinese restaurant), and tasted what looked like a particularly nice and crisp steak fry. He exclaimed Eureka! and waxed poetic about how he had discovered the perfect french fry.

Amira piped up from the dining table: "Paperika?"

I said no, not Paprika, he said Eureka.

Amira: I'm not Reka!

The randomizer strikes back.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Finished Object Friday: Getting Back to It

edited: I had this in my drafts all day, sorry so late.

Well, I had been hoping to have a finished Christmas in July project to show off here. The shop is doing a Christmas in July event this summer, and the staff have all been working on projects, patterns and classes to have for 12 days in July. My display project (and the pattern to sell along with it at the shop) is almost finished, but might be finished tomorrow. I just have had so much going on that I still haven't caught up with my knitting and blogging. Also, I will have the official sign up for the June Colorswap up tonight or tomorrow, but consider the sign up on. Some people have already e-mailed me to let me know they want in, but if you are interested, go ahead and sign up.

I would love to see what you have finished recently. Please sign Mr. Linky below and share with the internets 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. I will visit all the posts.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Someone Explain This to Me

While looking around online for some information about education in Washington state, I found a co-op (a couple actually, but one to which I am referring) dedicated to secular homeschooling. That's cool, I like that we have a state that is friendly to homeschooling, and everyone has the right to do so here, (although, I kind of figured that the public schools were where you went to get a secular education, they certainly aren't getting a religious education there). What I found perplexing was that after making statements about not wanting any religious dialogue, being free from Christian homeschool programs especially, I scanned down and saw that they met weekly at - where do you think? - a church!

Yes, I understand it was probably a matter of needing a place they could use weekly for little or no money. That actually makes me think even less of them. Have the courage of your convictions, folks. If you are so affronted by religious, and especially Christian, influence and want a strictly secular educational system, at least don't use the church. As it is, they are selling out their own so-called values, and using a Christian church (no, it wasn't Unitarian), to promote exclusion of Christian thought and influence in education. If it's nefarious for kids to mention God in graduation speeches at public high schools, why is it innocuous to promote excising Christian teaching from homeschooling in a church?

I also wonder at a church permitting this group, whose purpose clearly states that they wish to keep Christian teaching, homeschool materials and influence out of their co-op and discussion, meet there.


Menu Plan Monday: May 14

I'm trying to get back to normal this week. We have a good menu plan in place, so that is a start. Things are very busy at our home, though. We are wrapping up the end of the school year, and preparing for Jerome's baptism. Mother's day was lovely. We went to the Sunday night all you can eat crab feed at Anthony's and the kids ordered fish and chips, while Rich and I feasted on crab. We will be eating out of the freezer and pantry for the next couple weeks, but it was well worth the splurge, not to mention we have a pretty well stocked pantry and freezer. All of the following meals will be made with ingredients we already had at home.

What is on your menu this week?

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Sunday, May 13, 2007


There are those who would tell you that being a mother is a boring and unfulfilling job. They are wrong. I've heard people say, disparagingly, of mothers who were proud of their children and husband, that they had nothing better in themselves of which they could be proud. Those people do not understand that her work is what made those children's (and husband's) accomplishments possible. A mother at home is shaping the minds and direction of her children, she is helping her husband do his work, giving him a reason to work hard, and creating an environment in the home that affects the attitudes and achievements of everyone in it. It is true that a good mother can have a child turn out poorly, and a bad mother can have a child overcome her parenting and do great things, but for the most part, she has a huge role in the development and direction of her family.

I sometimes have people ask me how I can stand to stay at home. Don't I hate the cleaning or the diaper changes or whatever (fill in the blank with the task you find loathesome)? Well, I don't want to make it sound like I just thrll at the possibility of a dirty diaper, or the sink full of dishes, or another load of laundry, but it is part of what keeps our home running, it is part of my job, and overall I find my job fulfilling and joyful enough that I don't mind the parts I don't care for as much. When I worked outside the home, there was certainly plenty I found annoying, monotonous or distasteful. I've worked at a yarn shop (which I love!), various childcare/daycare places (part of the reason I stay at home with my children), a children's science museum (another part of why I stay at home with my children), a Mail Boxes Etc. (now the UPS store), a dance studio, an insurance office, done yard work and descriptive writing for a mail order business. There was drudgery in all of those jobs; there were parts I disliked, and things I did only because they were paying me and I might not have my job if I didn't do them. There were also parts that I loved, and found interesting. None of them, though, not even the yarn store job, are occupations which fulfill any great calling.

I know it is out of fashion to think of motherhood as a woman's great high calling, but there is no other job in which a woman, or a man for that matter, can do which can affect the life of not only her child, but the world around her and the future of that world. Being a parent, but especially a mother, shapes how the neighborhood will be, how the town will be, how the county, state, nation will be. It is the only job that you might regret not spending enough time on when you are on your death bed. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world is not just some pithy platitude, it is a truth for which we find ample evidence these days with the way so many kids and teenagers behave and the adults who have chosen to be pals rather than their parents.

Being a mother does not always look like the noble calling it is. Rachelle wrote about that much more eloquently than I in her post yesterday. There is much trench work, and plain perserverance to get through some of the tougher or exhausting parts, but the bigger picture, the perspective I wish I always had before me, is that there is nothing more important or valuable to a child, a family, a society, than the mother at home.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Randomizer Strikes Again

Amira is very good at saying things that make absolutely no sense. She does it quite articulately. Here's the latest example. Her brothers Alexander and Dominic have been very much into developing their sense of humor. They tell jokes all the time. So, Amira wanted in on the fun.

This morning at breakfast, she told us a joke:

Q: What kind of ladybug can you eat?

A: A berry!

It actually wasn't any less funny than most of her brothers', but at least they try to make some sort of sense out of theirs. This is also better than her habit of having monologues with other people, e.g.

Amira (to her brother, any brother): Do you remember when we went to the fair and rode on the balloons? Say yeah.

We figure at some point she will no longer need to tell the other person what to say, and will just go ahead and say it for him.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Move Along, Nothing to See Here

There has been a lot on my plate lately, so I haven't been posting. Lack of time, not wanting to expose the personal lives of those who haven't given permission and not wanting to write about relatively frivolous things at this point are keeping me pretty quiet. Next week, I will return to my regularly scheduled blogging, including Menu Plan Monday, Works for Me Wednesday and knitting content. I will also get Finished Object Friday started again next Friday, so remember to check back.

For now, you can look on things funny and/or thoughtful, your choice.


Thought Provoking


Saturday, May 05, 2007

More from the Where Did They Hear That? File

We just got back from dinner and dancing. It has been a long week, and we were glad to get to go out to have some fun with another couple. We went to a hole in the wall type Mexican restaurant which had incredible food, it was also nearly empty because most people were out at those ghastly chains eating pseudo-Mexican. It was pretty inexpensive, and margaritas were only $3.00. Great fun! We danced almost every dance, and cracked ourselves up, because we were tired and punchy. I'm posting this now, because I didn't want to forget it later.

I spent the first part of the day at the yarn shop, and Rich did some chores around the house and yard that we haven't had a chance to get to for a long time. It was beautiful today, so the kids got to play outside most of the afternoon. While Rich was inside changing Jerome's diaper, though, he heard Amira call from the kitchen that she needed a broom, because she had to sweep. He asked her to repeat.

"I need to sweep! It's dirty and nasty in here - and whose sock is this on the floor?"

That's my girl!

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