Big news!

Things are so hectic here right now.  My aunt Debby and my friend Althea threw me a shower this weekend.  It was so lovely to see everyone together (my Dad even came to meet Marc’s parents for the first time – it was a coed shower.)  We are so, so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family, and I’m really touched by how happy everyone seems to be for us.  Althea bought Marc these:

Yes… LEGO shaped fruit snacks.  I know I’ve mentioned Marc’s LEGO hobby, but I’d like to point out the LEGO contributions to our upcoming wedding.

On the left: our wedding cake topper (although we are having cupcakes… same difference!) On the right is the groom’s cake topper.  The little guy looks so scared!

And the church in legos, a work in progress:

He built the church his sister was married in for her wedding, and it was a big hit.

And my big news is that I’ve been promoted at work and am now the director of the entire music program!  It’s really very exciting, and while it is a lot more work I am looking forward to building my own program.

We’ve also just sold my car (*sniff* farewell green bug!) and are looking for a new car.  Marc has a Volvo now, so we’re hoping to find a nice used Volvo and make it our only car later on, since Marc doesn’t really drive. So… many things going on now, but very little knitting!

I am planning some yarn purchases, as the knit nook is having their summer sale on my birthday in a few weeks.  Marc is going to buy me the yarn for the Vintage Pink Cardigan as my present, since I could not bring myself to buy the Blue Sky Alpaca silk myself.

Doilies?

I’ve come into a bunch of vintage crochet books recently, and looking through them has made me really interested in working with crochet thread.  I’ve done quite a bit of crochet with fingering weight yarn and loved it (finer crochet is easier IMHO) so today (while I was avoiding the Derby… I live way too near downtown) I went to the craft store and bought some thread and the tiniest hook you’ve ever seen.

I’m going to make the pattern pictured above first, and if I like it I’ll think about tackling some of the vintage terminology.  I’m really interested in some of the lovely table runners from the 40s as well.  I like the idea of making items that my grandmother made.  In fact, I think that’s one of the things which attracted me to knitting in the first place!

Last night I started another round of mad swatching.  Here are my swatches and reviews of a few yarns (and yes, I make my swatches 4″ wide but not quite that tall… I always get tired.)

Elann Sonata

Sonata knits up really nicely.  It’s a cabled yarn, so it’s impossible to split, and it feels nice in the hands.  I knit rather loosely with cottons, so while this is on the recommended size 6 needles, I’m getting 5st/in instead of 5.5.   This is a mercerized cotton, so it’s not a soft yarn, but it wasn’t straining my hands at all.  Perhaps the secret is to not try and get your stitches as firm as you might with wool?  I had a few people ask me about this yarn, and my recommendation is to go for it.  The color selection is fabulous, and you really can’t beat the price!

Berroco Nostalgia

Knits up at 4.5 st/in on size 8 needles for me.  Recommended gauge is 5 st on 7s, but I can’t see how that would work.  This is a thick feeling yarn, and I would not want to knit it on smaller needles.  The fabric made from this yarn is really pretty – I love the shiny bits from the nylon thread wrapped around the yarn.  The nylon thread is really easy to snag, so that’s something to watch for.  It’s not my favorite cotton yarn ever, but I think the effect of the nylon makes the difficulty worth it.  I’m going to use it as a sub for the Skacel Evita called for in the A-line tank (Knit simple, summer 07)
Classic Elite Classic Silk

I have been desperate to make “Daylight” from the Rowan Kasbah Collection.  Unfortunately, it’s knit in Summer Tweed, which I’ve recently decided I cannot deal with.  I started thinking of subs and thought of Classic Silk.  I made my Ms. Marigold from this yarn, and it has a similar silk/cotton nubby effect.  It has also worn really well, becoming softer with every wash.  The gauge is a bit different, but I thought I could compensate by knitting a larger size.  Imagine my surprise when I swatched and found that I was able to get correct gauge using size 6 needles!  So I will be making this very soon, and hopefully it will be cute!  So anyone looking for a substitute for Summer tweed, this is one to consider.  I think in plain stockinette it might require some math, but in this pattern it measures the same!

Today was a good day to visit thrift and craft stores on the far end of the city.  We were invited to a Derby party, but as a native (and an inhabitant of a fairly touristy area) I prefer to hide.  Besides, we had friends over for dinner last night, and I don’t like to socialize two nights in a row (I’m a quiet person, so it takes a lot of energy for me, and I like time to recharge.)  I bought a few nice tops at a thrift, and got the crochet things above, but my favorite thing was actually an ebay purchase that arrived this afternoon.

Oh yeah.  You know you’re jealous of my Star Trek cookbook!  Some sample recipes:

Plomeek Soup a la Neelix

James Doohan’s “Scotty’s Lemon Chicken” (Scotty is my favorite Trek character… I was so sad when James Doohan passed away)

McCoy’s Mint Julep

El Bouche: Klingon Throat Stew

There’s also a section on food props, and one on the drinks from Quark’s bar.  So fun!  Combining two of my favorite things at once!  Now if it only had a chapter like “Deanna Troi’s needlepoint tips” I would be in heaven.

And yes, I’m a dork.

Recipes from the past

It seems as though the less time I have for actual cooking, the more time I spend on the internet searching for recipes.  My standard cooking varies from Italian to Chinese and doesn’t include much else.  I’m a good cook, I just have this obsession with rice and noodles you see…

I’ll be on winter break from my job starting December 15th, and while the holidays are going to limit my cooking experiments, I’ve still been searching for recipes I want to try soon.  We are, for example, going to have some of our vegetarian friends over so that I have an excuse to cook vegetarian.  Given the choice I think it’s highly likely that I would slip into vegetarianism.  I was raised on a healthy diet, and meat doesn’t usually appeal to me all that much.  Marc doesn’t feel that a meal is complete without meat of some sort.  He tolerates my veggie cooking, but I occasionally catch him over at the fridge after dinner, eating a slice of lunch meat to round things out.

I want to make these Hungarian Hamburgers though.  I could not tell you how authentically Hungarian these are, but I can tell you that this recipe is a variation of my most requested food at my Grandmother’s house growing up.  I’m pretty sure she used ritz crackers instead of the bread, but other than that it’s her mother’s (my great-grandmother’s) recipe for hamburgers.  I had completely forgotten about these, and I’m so happy that I found the recipe.  They manage to be even worse for you than regular hamburgers, but I think they’re worth a splurge (and how happy Marc will  be when I cook them!)

Today was better…

Today was a better day than yesterday.  I had a new student who was just lovely, and I made up a yummy recipe for chili in the crockpot.  I loved it, although I think Marc wished it had bacon.  His dad’s chili has bacon in it, which was enough to make me not eat it.  I think I’m the only person on the planet who hates bacon.  I don’t even like the smell of bacon cooking.  So anything that requires bacon either gets subbed with ham or italian bacon, or just doesn’t get made.  I toyed with the idea of making veggie chili today, but it would have only made Marc sad.  I frequently toy with the idea of being a vegetarian.  I think that I’m unlikely to ever go full throttle on the idea, but I’m not really big on meat.  I like vegetables better, possible because I was raised on a diet that was light on the meat, heavy on the granola.

I frogged my Jaywalker sock because I wasn’t sure about the size.  I want to consider my options before starting over.  I like the stripey yarn, but I think it might be better suited to a different pattern.  I saw some finished ones where the stripes on the foot were all wonky… so maybe I’ll use some Lorna’s laces I have instead.

I put in another hour or so on the Short Row ribbed scarf tonight while watching Angel.

Sorry for the crappy picture… it’s late and the flash makes the colors totally fluourescent on this one.  It’s brighter than the picture, and I think it’s going to be very striking when it’s finished.  It’s 4′ long, and I really want another foot at least before casting off.  I remember from my last silk garden scarf that it really grew in washing, so I don’t want it to get too long the way that one did.   I don’t know why I’m finding this scarf so tedious, but it seems to never end!  The silk garden hurts my hands, so who knows when I’ll actually finish the thing.

I want to make a hat for Marc, because I want him to no longer wear the bright orange acryllic hat he’s owned since 1989.  I like the pattern “Shedir” from knitty (I want to practice my cables), and I’ve seen some great “manly” renditions, but I don’t want to make it from Calmer – he walks to the bus every day and I want something warmer.  I was thinking of Merino style, which I have stashed in a nice olive… or I could go buy something nice and tweedy.  I know Calmer is super stretchy, but I’m feeling cheap here, and wanting to use up some of my small yarn amounts.  Maybe if I went up to sz 4 needles it would go better?  (I say because I don’t have a sz 3 16″ needle and would have to buy one – how is it possible that I still don’t own every needle?)

I’ll have to swatch!  I know I’m the crazy knitter, but I love to swatch with a new yarn.

Is your Ipod cozy?

Because mine is!

The yarn is Noro Kureyon #52, left over from the bad clapotis.  It only took me one episode of Angel last night, and now my Ipod has a happy place to rest!

I’m now knitting my first hourglass sweater sleeve!

I’m using DPNs instead of the called for 12″ circular needle.  I hate small circs, and to be honest I just love using my DPNs.  It’s too bad I’m not into socks, because I so rarely get to use them.

Lastly, I have to review the Lasagna soup recipe I listed on my last entry.  It was amazing!  If you make it, I recommend adding a bit extra pasta, and definitely don’t leave out the cheese in the bottom of the bowls.  It tasted exactly like lasagna, except my lasagna never turns out that well!  I’ll definitely be making it again.

Tonight’s experiment promises to be exciting!  I can’t wait to try out the Broccoli rabe.  Poor Marc tried to make breakfast pizza for his office halloween brunch this morning, but apparently it didn’t go so well.  I woke up to a smoke alarm and burned pan on the back porch, and the kitchen door standing wide open.  Clearly some sort of kitchen carnage went down.  Leon was terribly upset about the open door – I wondered why he kept waking me up every 15 minutes.  He’s like Lassie, except not, since all he probably really wanted was the screen open for him to escape.

Plundering

I have knit 2 more increase sections on the hourglass sweater, but I can’t show you.  The cat would be upset.

Poor Dionne… left here alone with me all day.  She doesn’t like me much.  She likes Marc.

Yesterday (Sunday) was insane for me.  I had to play/sing three masses, and in between we went to finish cleaning out my Step-Grandma’s house.  She died a year and a half ago, but due to family legal issues (don’t ask) we’re only now allowed to get rid of the junk.  I went through it all and found some things I could use.

I love these bowls, even though I’m not sure what their purpose is.  They have little handles, but surely you aren’t supposed to cook in them.  Ah well, I’ll just use them for decoration, in case they have like lethal amounts of mercury in them or something.  They look cute stacked on my sideboard.

Next to them are the 4 brown cornholders I found.  Didn’t everyone’s family have a set of these in the 70s? Marc is thrilled, so even though I will never in a million years make corn on the cob (I hate corn) I’ll try to find a creative use for them.
I also found out that Dorothy (my step grandma) must have been a dedicated sewer before marrying my grandpa.  Check out the collection of patterns from the 60s and 70s.

The little book is also full of patterns.  Too bad I’m not a sewer – I just adore some of these patterns, like the blue “Valentino original” on the right.  Maybe I could bust out my sewing machine… but no.  This would only lead to disaster.  These are probably destined for ebay (although I am keeping that jar of buttons.)

There were a ton of old crafting magazines.  I took them all, but I won’t be keeping most.   There are a few knitter’s magazines from the 80s that I want for the retro patterns, but most of the rest are of the “country craft” variety.  I remember the 80s, and if I never see another goose dressed up for holidays it will be too soon.
There were a few  old  women’s magazines.  I love these – and the family circle has granny square projects from 1975!

And I found the corn husk angel I made for them in the girlscouts.  See?  Always crafty!

Leon cared not a whit about any of this, but he says I’d better not take away his new magazine holder!

He was totally stuck and wedged in, but he didn’t complain!  In fact, he seemed sort of upset when we freed him.

I also got a few other things, like a bundt pan, a new avocado blender, and some cookbooks.  I was going through the extra saved recipes in one of the cookbooks when I realized they smelled exactly the way my grandparents’ house used to.  It’s funny – you wouldn’t think I would even know that smell anymore, as it’s been years since I’d been in the house.  It made me kind of sad.  Dorothy was the coolest step grandma imaginable – she wore makeup and fashionable clothes, and always was obsessed with weight, wanting my tips (this explains all the mid-70s Weight Watcher magazines I found.)   She was my grandpa’s second wife, after an unhappy first marriage.  He bought her a fur coat and diamonds, and showered her with trips to Branson.  It was the first time I remember him seeming happy.
After my grandpa died she stayed a member of the family, coming to holiday dinners and writing me birthday checks.  Her own son was, I think, somewhat lacking.  By keeping and using some of her things, it makes her feel more like my real grandma… which I suppose in a way she was.  I don’t feel a connection to my actual grandma, who was mentally ill and died when I was seven.  Dorothy was always special to me, and today I miss her.

I’m making Rosemary bread  in the breadmaker right now.  If you’re ever looking for a bread recipe to go with italian food, I can’t recommend this one enough.  It makes a bread that is almost like foccacia, and is perfect for dipping in olive oil.

I’ll be making Lasagna soup tonight to go along with it.  This is a new recipe to me, so we’ll see how it goes.  I’m off from work until Wednesday, so I’m getting in some quality cooking time.  I love to cook, but my nighttime working schedule can make it difficult sometimes.  Tomorrow I plan to make Rachel Ray’s Ginger flank steak with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes.  It’s in the “Express lane meals” cookbook, which I’ve borrowed from my Mom.  I also have some Broccoli Rabe to cook with it… I’m still searching for a good recipe there.  I love Rachel Ray’s recipes… I just can’t stand to listen to her voice.  I think that counts me as a fan.

Reasons not to let your boyfriend cook

1. He has been saving all the leftover butter and sugar packets from work

2. He has been shopping at the salvage grocery store again.  Marc is endlessly fascinated by a grocery where nothing costs more than a dollar.   The swirled choclate chips above are so old that they will not melt when you try to eat them.

3.  He’s been reading recipes off the back of Kroger brand saltine boxes for “Saltine Chocolate Pieces”

4.  He has too much time on his hands and a clean kitchen.

All of the above =

What we have here is saltine crackers, covered in butter and sugar, baked and then topped with stale white and regular chocolate chips.

The carnage:

Yes, he opened all those butter and sugar packets for this recipe.  My favorite part?  It didn’t even call for white sugar, he was substituting…

You want the recipe?  Okay…

Saltine Chocolate Pieces

1 sleeve Kroger Saltines 

3/4 cup brown sugar

1cup butter

12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a 10×15-inch cookie sheet with foil; spray very lightly with cooking spray.  Cover cookie sheet with saltines.  Boil sugar and butter for 3 minutes.  Pour mixture over saltines and spread evenly.  Bake at 400 for 5 minutes.  Remove from over and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Let set 1 minute, then spread melted chips with spatula.  Sprinkle with nutes.  Cut on diagonal then break up into pieces.  Can be frozen.  Yield: 30 pieces. 

Let me be clear here… under no circumstances should you attempt to make this.   I haven’t personally tried it, but it just looks like some sort of recipe that would include directions like “Now have an adult put crackers in the oven for you.”

I think I *heart* Marc for insisting on making this.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I think it’s adorable that he insists on using up everything in the pantry.  I can’t always get behind his ideas (pickle juice as a mixer? I think not) but it makes him unique… and a little crazy, but that’s ok.  I like crazy, because crazy in interesting, and always beats out normal and boring.