Thursday, July 29, 2010


I had a gift certificate for a local yarn shop, and I bought some beautiful Malabrigo lace yarn. 


I had a pattern in mind when I bought it, but I decided I would get bored with it, so I started searching for something else.

Oh, my, did I ever find it: Jeanie.  This was the elusive Lace That Doesn't Look Old.*  Lace that looks intricate and beautiful.  Lace that is reversible and has cables.  Reversible cables, people.  Lace that has dropped stitches.  I've never done a pattern with dropped stitches (...well, not purposely dropped stitches, anyway.)

I know that there is a lot of ugly knitwear in the world.  Just because it can be knit, does not mean that it should.  The plethora of unattractive knitting patterns is one of my primary complaints about this hobby.

But this, my friends, is beautiful.

There's talk in the knitting world, and probably other worlds as well, about process vs. product people.

Process people are those who do something simply for the enjoyment of the motions, for the love of the action itself.  Process knitters would knit a project just because it's a clever and interesting knit, even if the product was not something they or anyone they knew would love.

Product people are those who do something always with an eye toward what the finished product will be.  Product knitters would consider it a waste of time to knit something that wasn't ultimately going to be loved by its recipient.

I'm about 90% product and 10% process.  I'll knit something that's miles and miles of black stockinette stitch  (coughStarWarsScarfcough) if i believe the person will love it, but I'd prefer to be working on something with cables or twists or some other bit of cleverness.

It took me two hours and an Internet connection to get the cast-on.**  The pattern has three separate charts and thirteen stitch markers that are used for each row.  I can only knit this in complete isolation.  I've been knitting it after I eat my lunch, and I've found that I can get two rows done after eating before it's time to head back to work.  Tuesday, I managed three, and that was pretty damn thrilling.

Now, it's possible that I'll get faster and/or that I'll get comfortable enough with the pattern that I can knit it outside of a closed, locked, silent room.  However, it's also possible that I won't.  

Two to three rows a day five days a week.  I had originally hoped it would be ready to be worn on my birthday... thirteen years from now.  However, by my calculations, I will never, ever finish this.  People will wrap me in it before they send me into the crematorium, tucking the needle under my arm in a futile attempt to make it look like I'm wearing something finished.

Process knitting.

I'll let you know.

*To me, anyway.  If you feel differently, please don't tell me.

**I hate provisional cast-ons.  Hate them. They make no sense to me whatsoever.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Presenting Spacorn Squash

The garden thus far has been a lot of heartache.  Seedlings that refuse to grow beyond 2" high.  Herbs that won't sprout at all.  Rabbits eating what plants do grow.  Planting of marigolds.  Rabbits eating marigolds.  Utter rotting of trellis netting and subsequent cascading and breaking of plants.  Tomato worm.  Squash gone wild.

I admit that I honestly believed that if I did the work to build the square foot garden, mix the soil according to specifications, and build the vertical supports that my garden would flourish.  It didn't occur to me that things wouldn't go well.

However, I have managed to harvest two items from the garden thus far.  They both look like this:

Huh.  I checked the map to see what should be coming from that area.  It's squashapalooza around there, so it's difficult to tell whether it's the Hasta la Pasta spaghetti squash or the Acorn squash.  I tell my mother it must be an acorn squash because of the coloring.  She says it's the wrong shape.  I agree.  I muse some more.

This thing is shaped like a spaghetti squash and colored like an acorn squash.

Sigh.  The only thing I've managed to get out of the garden is a hybridized squash.  I call it Spacorn.  I'll let you know what it's like when I cut it open.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gardening Grief

You remember how we built vertical supports covered with garden trellis so our many tomatoes and squash plants could vine?

Here's what's left of that.

It survived through the peas, but I think that was because the peas were so early in the season.  The netting just rotted.  If something named garden trellis can't last through a season, what will?  The website has this description of it: 

"Give your vine crops (peas, pole beans, cucumbers) and flowers (morning glories, sweet peas, nasturtiums) the space they need to thrive! Soft, unobtrusive netting made of nylon with 60-lb breaking strength, it can support very heavy crops. The 7 inch reach-thru mesh makes harvesting easy. An essential product for every gardener, this knotless netting prevents tangling and comes with an Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee. 5 ft x 60 ft. Supports not included."

I was upset enough that I called the company and they credited me for the purchase.  I wanted to ask them if they'd also come out and help me stake all my plants and mourn the tomato plants that were broken when I tried to put them in cages, but I did not.  Customer service reps don't get paid enough to deal with bad attitudes; I know that.

In other news, squash plants do not belong in a square foot garden.

This is what was left after I pulled out all the garden trellis and tried to haul the squash off of the other plants.  One squash had tendrils wrapped around a pepper plant, squeezing the life out of it.  I've just tried to manhandle them as much as possible (without breaking them) so most of the plant is growing out the back of the garden.  If my backyard is taken over by squash, so be it.

THEN I took a good look at my tomatoes.  Horror.

I stood, stunned, and stared at them.  The carnage was too high to blame it on a rabbit.  What could have done such a terrible thing?

Then I found it.

Dear lord, a tomato worm.  Following the example of my uncle, I put the bastard on top of our bird feeder, called out, "Anybody need protein?" and walked away.

I saw him snickering at me from the ground later.  I had horrible visions of him trekking his way back to the garden, so I checked again this morning but saw no sign of him.  Maybe I should have thrown him into the composter.  He would have lots of food until he died from the heat.   Maybe I just should have squished him.

I may not be cut out for gardening.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Recipe #26*: Banana-Oatmeal Bread

I had two bananas that were destined for one of two places: the compost bin or banana bread.  I decided feeding myself was a much more desirable option than feeding the microbes.

I started with this Weight Watcher recipe and substituted 1/4 cup. Splenda brown sugar for the 1/2 cup regular brown sugar called for, 3 T. applesauce for the canola oil, 2 eggs for the 1 large egg + 2 egg whites, and two bananas instead of three.  You may choose to believe these changes were based on sound culinary reasons.  If you are successful, you either have a very optimistic nature or you're just new around here.

Tampering notwithstanding, the bread is good

I was worried that the oats would be too chewy in the final product, but now I realize that, of course, oatmeal cooks and therefore won't be chewy after it's spent 50 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  I'm slow, but I do eventually catch on.

The oats are clearly visible in the finished product (those are oats you see, not bits of flour as I first feared), but I don't taste them at all.  I don't mind oats, but I do like that this banana bread has the added fiber of oats without tasting like anything other than banana bread.** 

I shall not lie. Immediately after taking that picture, I slapped some butter (albeit fake, light, only-sort-of resembles butter) on that slice and inhaled it.

I may very well do the same thing again before I go to bed... and maybe again tomorrow morning.  In fact, Andrew's on the phone with someone, so maybe I should just go ahead and eat the slice I cut for him--you know, so it doesn't get... hard.  Yeah, hard.

*I don't know what to make of the fact that I made a new recipe so quickly after finishing my New Year's resolution.  I think I'll choose to ignore it.  Probably a blip.  I really expected this to turn into a full-fledged knitting blog with the occasional theological rant--you know, 'cause that would captivate a significant percentage of the human race.

**I also like typing the word "banana."  Banana. Banana.  Bananananana. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Recipe #25: Chocolate-Blueberry Cake and Resolution Wrap Up

My mom is staying with us this week while she attends a workshop in the Big City, and I've been pretending like I cook even though she knows that I really don't.

Monday we had Zucchini Grinders and edamame, Tuesday we went to a new Mexican restaurant that was horribly salty, and yesterday we had Deep Dish Pizza and a new dessert--my recipe #25.

This is Fat Free Vegan's Chocolate-Blueberry Cake.  We had a tiny bit of blueberry-pomegranate ice cream left in the freezer, so we had that alongside it.  The cake is not very sweet and has a dense texture due to the whole wheat flour and flax seed.  It's also under 3 points in the Weight Watchers world, which is awesome.  I believe I've decided that I like it, and I'll like it even better when it's served with more vanilla frozen yogurt or low-fat ice cream.

I also like that it now looks like Pac-Man.

That's it.  I've met my New Year's Resolution of making 25 new recipes in 2010.  Thanks for hanging out with me while I did it.

Recipe #1: Baked Apples - Not very good, but I have another baked apple recipe I like, so it's not devastating either.

Recipe #2: Butternut Squash Soup - Delicious and worth repeating, especially since I get to use the immersion blender.

Recipe #3: Vegetable Stock - I'm not convinced that vegetable stock needs to be this complicated.  I may try another version from the same cookbook that doesn't have roasted vegetables.  If I do use this one again, I want to better use the veggies leftover from the stock. 

Recipe #4: Black Bean Soup - Very good, although Andrew isn't a huge fan of any form of bean soup and it's a lot of work for soup for one.

Recipe #5: Sweet Potato Salad with Apple and Avocado - A lot of work for the final product.  I also remember getting very tired of these leftovers.

Recipe #6: Mexican Flavored Edamame - Delicious.  I've made it again a few times, including on Monday night.

Recipe #7: Twice Baked Apples with Cinammon-Yogurt Vanilla Sauce - Also delicious, and I spent most of last winter microwaving apples to eat with yogurt and cinnamon.  Super easy and fast.

Recipe #8: Quinoa and Parsnip Rosti - Impressive looking, and kind of fun.  I would like to try it again with the modifications I noted.*

Recipe #9: Oven Roasted Potatoes - A waste of time, at least in this form.  Oven roasted potatoes sound delicious, but I'm obviously missing something(s) when I make them.

Recipe #10: Rice and Peas - Yummy and easy.  I need to do more with rice in my life.  I fear it a bit because it's high in Weight Watcher points, but I think that is an unreasonable fear.  I have a stir fry recipe I recently printed that I'd like to try.  Also learned in this recipe: Butter, even fake butter, is delicious.

Recipe #11: Grilled Pears with Honey - In which I learn that All Fruit Can Be Grilled.

Recipe #12: Santa Fe Salad with Chili Lime Dressing - Very good and worth repeating.  I would like to find a way to keep this salad from getting soggy though.

Recipe #13: Steamed Artichoke - Something I'd wanted to try for a long time, but was very disappointing in its result.  Again, I feel there are vital pieces of information I'm missing... unless artichokes just aren't very tasty.

Recipe #14: "Sausage," Peppers and Onions - Huh, I'm glad I'm doing this wrap up.  I'd completely forgotten this dish.  It was good.  I should start saving my money now so someday I can afford to go back to Whole Foods and buy this fake sausage again.

Recipe #15: Curried Tempeh Salad - A recipe I would eat again, although I'll have to find more friends to eat it with me since Andrew hates mayo.

Recipe #16: Acorn Squash and Black Bean Casserole - This was very good, but made way too much.  I wonder if it freezes.... More importantly, I wonder if I'd actually take it out of the freezer and eat it if I froze the leftovers.  I don't have a particularly good track record with that.

Recipe #18: Veggie Lasagna - Very good, and I made it again on Sunday.  I roasted the veggies this time, and that worked well.  It still takes a long time to put this together, but it's good and pretty healthy.

Recipe #19: Grilled Fruit with Rich Chocolate Sauce - Delicious.  I believe all chocolate pudding should have instant coffee thrown in.  I bought stuff to make that again this week, actually, but my bananas are too ripe and may need to become banana bread.

Recipe #20: No Knead Bread - This must be the week of repeat cooking, because I also made this again this week.  It's not good.  There.  I said it.  Hear that, online cooking community?!  IT'S NOT GOOD.

Wow, I feel better.

Recipe #21: Chimichangas - Disappointing

Recipe #22: Deep Dish Pizza - Have eaten it at least twice since this I first made this just over a month ago.  Want to eat it twice a day, every day, for the rest of my life.

Recipe #23: Kale Chips - Puzzling.  I have more kale in the fridge, so I may remake this.  It's. so. strange.

Recipe #24: Mexicali Chop Salad - The only reason I wouldn't be eating pizza is because I would want to eat this salad dressing.  Delicious.

Recipe #25: See above.

I was a biology minor, so I know my way around an experiment.  My highly technical evaluation of this project is as follows:
*I see the appeal of the blog for personal record keeping.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Courtesy of Stephen Sondheim

This post is brought to you courtesy of Stephen Sondheim's genius.  Enjoy these lyrics from the song "Move On" from his musical Sunday in the Park with George.  This is a conversation between Dot and her great-grandson, George, who is an artist.  (Dot is deceased, but that's beside the point.  It's musical theater, people.  Normal rules do not apply.)

Are you working on something new?


That is not like you, George.

I have nothing to say.

You have many things--

Well, nothing that's not been said.

Said by you, though, George.

I do not know where to go.

And nor did I.

I want to make things that count, things that will be new.

I did what I had to do.

What am I to do?

Move on.  Stop worrying where you're going.  Move on.  If you can know where you're going, you've gone.  Just keep moving on.

I chose and my world was shaken.  So what?  The choice may have been mistaken; the choosing was not.  You have to move on.

Buy the movie or CD here.  It's brilliant.

I'm not exactly sure why this is swirling around my head today.  Yes, I adore Stephen Sondheim's work.  Yes, I know most of the lyrics to this show.  No, it's not particularly unusual for Broadway tunes to be rattling around in my mind.  I suspect, however, it goes deeper than that.

I think it has something to do with the fact that I live an awful lot of my life inside my head.  Sometimes I need to be reminded just to keep moving and stop thinking so much.  The choice may have been mistaken; the choosing was not.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dear Sir or Madam,

I do hope you are enjoying the garlic chives I have planted for your enjoyment.  There is spearmint in the front flowerbed if you find you need to cleanse your palette.

If you find yourself in need of anything else, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Your Servant,


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rick Socks Revisited

I attempted to knit Cookie A's Rick socks in the yarn I received with my May sock club shipment. I decided I didn't like the color but loved the pattern. I ripped out the socks and made the yarn into a scarf for Mom and then promptly started the socks again.

They're pretty fascinating.

Rick pattern by Cookie A. from this book, KnitPicks Kettle Dyed Essential/Stroll yarn (being discontinued) in Eggplant

I've knit a few of her patterns, and I like that she often mirrors the pattern on the left and right socks. It makes me not want to ever wear shoes when I wear these socks. It seems a shame to cover up all that pattern on the feet.

I love the spiral pattern, although it does make it difficult to get over my heel. I'm a bit worried about how they'll wear with all the holes* and the lack of stretch.

But they're beautiful, and I love them. I'm also extremely glad to be finished with them. They were very hard on my hands and wrists to knit, and the yarn was not the best choice for this pattern. The yarn is quite splitty, and this pattern has lots of ssk (slip, slip, knit), which are a pain in the ass to do with splitty yarn. I was too stubborn to rip them out again, and I think the finished product is lovely despite the splittiness.

I also had help in the photography.

"Remind me again why you're sitting on the kitchen floor?"

I have now started a surprise project for Brandy's birthday, so no pictures of that until the end of August.

*I kept trying to figure out how you write "hole" as a characteristic of these socks. Holiness obviously doesn't work. Holeyness? Hole-yness? Never mind.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Genie in a Bottle

Andrew sprayed the perimeter of the garden with the Liquid Fence this weekend.

It. Smells. Terrible.

After coming inside and washing his hands a few hundred times, Andrew asked me if I had read the ingredients on the bottle.

Putrefied egg parts.

For real. Putrefied egg parts in a bottle. No wonder it's supposed to keep the rabbits away.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Because I Persevere

Yesterday I stopped at the garden center after work with two objectives:
  1. Buy herb plants.
  2. Ask if there is some way to keep rabbits from treating my garden like a salad bar.

With respect to the first item: I've killed herbs in a myriad of ways. I've killed them in containers inside. I've killed them in containers outside. I've killed them from seed. I've killed them in a hydroponic planter. I figure there's only one option left--to kill them from plant in the garden. This is my chance to see if I really do have the Curse or not. I bought a hot & spicy oregano, a basil, and a coriander/cilantro. We shall see. I do not have high hopes.

With respect to the second item: You know that I planted marigolds, right? I think the rabbit has been EATING the marigolds. It's like the little bugger is just trying to add insult to injury.

I bought a spray bottle full of stuff that the person swore was earth friendly. It even said "earth friendly" on the bottle, but as it also said "family friendly," I'm slightly skeptical. "Family friendly" is a movie with no violence, nudity or moral ambiguity; it doesn't come in a spray bottle. Anyway, it's supposed to make the garden smell offensive to deer and rabbits, and they're supposed to steer clear.

I purchased this stuff after having the following conversation with Andrew:

Me: Damn. I forgot to get hair clippings yesterday.
Him: What?
Me: Hair clippings. Human hair sprinkled on your garden is supposed to make it smell like humans. It's supposed to keep rabbits away.
Him: Where are you planning to get hair clippings?
Me: Lisa. I was there getting my hair cut yesterday, and I forgot to ask her.

Beat. Beat.

Him: Don't you think that's a little creepy?
Me: Well, it's better than putting bonemeal or bloodmeal on the garden. Nobody was harmed in the making of the hair clippings.

Long silence.

Me: Maybe I'll just stop at the garden center and see if they have any suggestions.
Him: I think that's an excellent idea.

Marriage: It's about compromise and not unnecessarily creeping out your partner.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summertime and the Living Is Exactly the Same

I don't know what the situation was of George Gershwin when he wrote the song "Summertime" for the musical Porgy and Bess, but he apparently did not have a full-time job.

Summertime, and the living is easy.
Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high.

It is summertime, and the living is exactly the same as it is in the other three seasons. We go to work. We walk the dog. We try to figure out dinner.

We took a lovely vacation in February. (Well, almost entirely lovely.) We went in February even though our tenth anniversary was in June because a) it's much less expensive to go on a cruise in February rather than June, and b) the ship is filled almost entirely with retirees, a much better option than hyper families. That was a very good decision for us.

However, now that we're in the height of summer, I find images of pools and margaritas filling my head. This is unfortunate since we don't have a pool and I've never made margaritas. I know that I'm extremely lucky to have had a lovely vacation this year. I'm lucky that we're both employed. I'm lucky that I get to hang out with people whom I love. I'm lucky that the biggest problem in my life is that I have responsibilities and can't fritter the day away watching fish jump and cotton grow.

I know this.

And still...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Recipe #24: Mexicali Chop Salad

This weekend we went to our friends' house for Mexican food, margaritas, and games. We stopped at The Tamale Place and bought a gajillion tamales with chips, salsa, guacamole, and cheese. I also made this salad to go with lunch:

This is the Mexicali Chop Salad from the July/August issue of Vegetarian Times. I can't link you to the recipe since it's the current issue, but I'm sure it will be on their website soon.

The tortilla strips were easier to make than I expected, and they added a nice crunch. The salad was pretty predictable, but the dressing was fantastic. It has lime juice, garlic, coriander, olive oil, cumin, sugar, salt, cilantro, and chives. Anything that has lime juice and cilantro is worth trying in my book, and this dressing was really lovely.

The next recipe will be Recipe #25, and that will be the official end to my 2010 resolution. I am considering what the last recipe should be and where I want to go from here.*

*Does anyone else start singing Evita when they read that? "Where do we go from here? How can I be any use to you now? Give me a chance, and I'll let you see how nothing has changed." Nobody? Okay, just me then.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

In Which I Fight Back

You remember the horror I experienced earlier this week.

Today I armed myself.

Duck, you want the birdseed under my salvia?

You're going to have to work for it. See that pathetic plant in there? It was beautiful until the ducks trampled it in their attempt to get birdseed. You could argue that I shouldn't have planted it directly under the birdfeeders, but a) I was expecting it to attract butterflies and hummingbirds and that seemed like a reasonable place, and b) I'm feeling very sensitive about my recent horticultural failings and you shouldn't make it worse by being sensible.

The fencing will need some encouragement from a rubber mallet, but it was after 9:00 when I got it in and I was in danger of being killed by mosquitos. This will give the ducks a challenge, and we can hammer it in later.

In speaking with people about my rabbit problem*, I was told I had four options: chemicals, bone meal, blood meal, and marigolds. Being a hippie vegetarian, I chose the flowers.

Marigolds surround three sides of the garden now, and hopefully the back is protected by the trellis.

You want it, rabbit? Hold your nose and go for it.

*Okay, my alleged rabbit problem. I admit to not actually seeing the little bugger eat my plants. There was one sitting in my backyard when I got home from work attempting to look cute. All I could see was a big neon sign about its head that read, "Hungry."

Dear Air Conditioner,

Let me begin by saying that I am so glad you let me know that you were feeling overlooked and unneeded. I appreciate you telling me now instead of waiting until either this weekend when the heat and humidity will be back, or, even worse, waiting until the dead of winter when we need your heat pump.

I want to make sure you understand that your work is valued. Yes, we had a couple of ceiling fans installed, but that wasn't to replace you; it was to complement you. It was our desire to take a little of the strain off of your tired compressor. I know it isn't your fault that our bedroom is warm. That's the price we pay for having a second-floor bedroom. We simply didn't want you to feel badly about our discomfort, so we put in the ceiling fans upstairs.

That doesn't mean we love you any less. In fact, it should make you realize just how much we do love you.

I would like to gently remind you that there are other ways to express your feelings than simply refusing to put out cold air. You are free to use the dry erase board in the dining room, for example. Or leave us a voicemail. Or send an e-mail. We're very accessible.

Perhaps you don't realize that your chosen form of communication requires us to call out a repairman. I know he's a nice repairman. I know you enjoyed spending time with him two years ago. I remember. However, we have to pay that repairman. It is an unexpected and unwelcome expense.

This is perhaps also the proper time to remind you that Andrew and I, unlike you, have full-time jobs. We actually earn an income. While your work is valued, it costs us in terms of electricity and, now, a visit from Mr. Repairman. Your run capacitor temper tantrum cost us $239.80. There are better ways to communicate.

That isn't to say we don't appreciate you doing your job; we do.

But you can be replaced. Don't push it too hard.