This year's garden has had a lasting effect on our home.
What started as an attempt to use up an over abundance of zucchini has morphed into something entirely different.
An obsession perhaps. An addiction more likely. It struck again last night.
Yes, it's true... we've become addicted to zucchini bread. Over the past 2 months or so DQ has made countless (at least a dozen) loaves from this recipe and it never lasts more than a day or 2.
The finished product may not be pretty and it certainly isn't all that photogenic but it's delicious. DQ and Bruce battle over the ends (unless I swipe them first) and we all enjoy it for breakfast, lunch and any other time of day. It's really good stuff.
Unfortunately we have no more zucchini in our fridge. Must. Buy. More.
Sep 30, 2010
This year's garden has had a lasting effect on our home.
Sep 29, 2010
One week ago today I predicted that the 2 pairs of socks that were on my needles at that moment would be completed soon. Normally that would be the kiss of death and the socks would take another month to complete but this time I was spot on. Last Sunday evening, as the sun set on another great weekend, I finished the second pair of socks. No official pictures yet but the ends are woven in and these are foot-ready.
I thought my needles were empty and I was worrying over whether to start something new or not since the first clue for the TTL Mystery sock will be released this Friday. Quite the dilemma! But as I was searching for good yarns for the mystery sock I found a pair of socks that I started in August 2007 and pushed aside in favor of other things.
These are YarnSmiths Sockezze that I bought at Mosaic in Blacksburg, VA in July 2007. Looking at these I remember everything about the start of this project. I found this lonely ball of yarn and immediately thought of socks for Stinkette and decided to knit them 2 at a time to get every last little bit out of the skein. But I hate knitting socks 2 at a time on the same needle. Hate! I keep thinking that I want to separate these but I really have to knit them simultaneously to make sure that they stay even. Oh, the angst!
Now I have an even bigger worry. When I started these I was apparently not paying close attention and Ravelry was very new. Now I am a fairly experienced knitter and I have the luxury of looking up yarns on Ravelry to see what other people have to say. Now I know that there is likely not enough for a pair of socks. But it looks like there could be.
So on I knit, 2 at a time, hoping that I can squeak these out.
On a more positive note, I think that I found 2 good possiblities for the TTL mystery Socks. On the top is Pagewood Farm St Elias in plum. It's got a soft variegation that ought to work well with the pattern and the yardage is good. I specifically chose it because it is not blue or green. I feel like I ought to knit with other colors occasionally.
On the bottom is a yarn cake in my comfortable blue-green colors with a little more color change involved. I can't say for certain what it is but I think that it's Dragonfly Fibers Dragon Sock. The yardage on this one is fine too.
What do you think?
Sep 27, 2010
Today it's all about food. We're talking about 10 Things in Your Refrigerator Right Now. I'm warning you, my fridge isn't very exotic.
1. Cheese - I love cheese. Goat cheese, swiss, cheddar, munster, mozzarella - it's all in there. My cheese drawer runneth over!
2. Iced tea - Gallons and gallons of it. I drink it all. the. time.
3. Broccoli - If my family has a "family veggie" this is it.
4. Yogurt - Mostly cherry and blueberry. I eat it with cottage cheese for lunch many times each week. Stinkette likes it too.
5. Green grapes - Only green. DQ eats them almost every day.
6. Sliced turkey breast - DQ and Bruce like it for lunch.
7. Leftover hamburgers and hot dogs from dinner last night
8. Sour Cream - always!
9. English Muffins - Gotta love those nooks and crannies.
10. Eggs - You can never have enough
Since I had no good food pictures ready I'm prettying this post up with a photo I took this weekend of the Indian Museum. The cafeteria here is one of the better ones at the museums in DC which is why it was packed when we went there for lunch on Saturday. Yum!
DQ and I were fortunate to get a table near one of the windows so we sat and ate a delicious lunch in the air conditioned room while we watched the water splashing on the rocks. Perfect!
I wish that all the readers I know could experience the National Book Festival because there really is nothing like it.
I'm sure that there are lot's of book festivals but this one feels so grand because everyone is out on the mall and you can really sense just how many people are there. You feel like you are surrounded by readers and you are.
Where else can you find thousands and thousands of people gathered for no other reason than to hear authors speak? Just speak! These are people of all ages whole LOVE books. Small children, teens and seniors wait on line in the hot sun for hours just to get an autograph from their favorite author. People are bussed in from all over for this and they arrive with annotated schedules so that they don't miss anything.
You can hear cookbook authors like Spike Mendelsohn (of Top Chef) talk about their thoughts on why locally grown ingredients are so important. Or he may answer questions on why one of his restaurants plays hip hop while the other plays more rock. Or he could answer questions on what it's really like to be on Top Chef (long, hard, days) . Or why he isn't wearing his trademark fedora. He's smiling in this picture because DQ just asked exactly that question.
You can hear a hot author (like DQ's favorite, Margaret Peterson Haddix) talk about the inspiration behind some of her books. Why is the plane in her book, Found, filled with babies instead of young children?
You may also be pleasantly surprised to find out how gracious that author is when she stays late to sign books for hundreds of fans and agrees to pictures before and after speaking. DQ was thrilled to get books by Katherine Patterson and Ms Haddix signed.
What I love best about the festival is the stuff you never expected. This is James Ransome, an illustrator of childrens books who I'd never heard of before. I only saw him because we arrived early for Ms. Haddix' presentation to get good seats. He was a really good speaker and he ended by having kids come up and draw numbers on sheets of paper that he turned into figures before signing them and giving them to the kids.
I always look over the list of authors who will appear just as soon as it's posted so that I can prepare for the festival by reading the latest by authors I hope to see. I also check out authors on the list that I'm not familiar with and sometimes read something by one of them too.
That's what inspired me to try reading a few by Karin Slaughter. I've read two of her books so far - Blindsighted and Triptych - and really enjoyed them both. She was a really good speaker who had lot's to say. She made a great argument for why thrlllers are good literature and discussed why she gave one of her heroes a disability that my sweet Stinkerbelle shares. I loved her explanation that she wanted a character with a disability that was not a villain or someone to be pitied. She was also funny and we all had a good laugh when one of her fans expressed her surprise at finding that a writer of such dark books was "a goof".
Oh yes, I also met Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, and found that she's just as lovely in person as she is on her blog. Really, really, lovely.
Sep 24, 2010
Sep 23, 2010
Here's a little grin for today. Yesterday I looked at my girl as she walked into the school and noticed that she was wearing mismatched socks - one was light blue and the other was pink. I commented on it and she told me that she had stayed with light colors.
Today as I left the house to take Stinkerbelle to school I looked down again and noticed this. These match even less than the ones she wore yesterday so, again, I commented on it.
She grinned from ear to ear when she informed me that these too had a theme. Food! One is popcorn and the other is ice cream. She is very proud of herself.
Sep 22, 2010
I'm in sock finishing mode right now. I know it's the kiss of death to state that I intend to finish something by a certain date but I'm going to tempt fate and say that by this time next week I'll have 2 more pairs of socks finished. They will be my 9th and 10th pairs for this year. Not bad at all but definitely short of my goal of 18-20 for the year but there are still a few months left. I'd better get moving.
These have been finished for a while. They're just another pair of dead-simple toe-up socks but I really love the yarn. It's Madeline Tosh Sock in a color called Shoreline which was perfect for summer knitting and kept the beach perpetually on my mind. Too bad I never got there.
Can't you see the beach in those colors? The sand and the sea and the whitecaps rolling in to crash on the shore.
I suppose that it speaks volume for my color preferences that all of the socks I've finished this year and those that are still on the needles are in the blue-green family. I should be tired of knitting blue and green socks by now but I'm not. Not at all.
Sep 21, 2010
This past weekend we filled the house for the second week in a row. The main reason was to break the fast at the end of Yom Kippur but we kicked it up a notch and added a birthday cake to celebrate Bruce's birthday the previous weekend. Birthday cake is way better if there are lots of people to share it.
Today is the birthday of my friend Carole, the leader of our Ten on Tuesday so what could be a better topic than 10 Ways to Have a Happy Birthday. Go wish her a Happy Birthday, the list will still be here when you get back.
1. Eat cake - Chocolate is good. It could even be a cupcake.
2. Spend time with friends and family - preferably doing nothing at all. Just kick back and relax.
3. Take the day off - admittedly I really never do but it sounds like a great idea. Take the day all for yourself.
4. Eat more cake - on second thought maybe I'd go with lemon. Yum. I love fruity stuff.
5. Go get a mani/pedi - pamper yourself a little and you'll feel relaxed and pretty afterwards. Win!
6. Go somewhere fun - see a movie or a show. Maybe go to a place where you can paint your own pottery. Whatever - it just needs to be fun.
7. Eat even more cake - The more I think of it the more I think that an ice cream cake would be just the thing. Did you know that a B&R Fudge Round makes excellent shakes after the big day. Just sayin'.
8. Go out to dinner - it could be your favorite restaurant where they know your name and your "usual", somewhere new that you've always wanted to try, or even a picnic.
9. Sleep in - Forget alarm clocks, errands, and things that you have to do. Just relax!
10. Eat a cupcake - or maybe 2 or 3 really decadent, delicious, ones. You know, the really pretty and expensive ones that are as much fun to look at as they are to eat. Remember - the calories don't count on you birthday.
Sep 20, 2010
Yesterday they celebrated Frank Zappa Day in Baltimore, MD. It celebrates the anniversary of his testimony before congress against censorship. As a consumer, a librarian, a mother, and a citizen of the United States, censorship is something that I feel very strongly about so I feel that the occasion is worth noting.
On September 19, 1985 Frank Zappa spoke to congress at a hearing on Contents of Music and the Lyrics of Records (S Hrg 99-529) . The hearings were prompted by Tipper Gore and the other "Washington Wives" who founded their Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) to express their concern over "the growing trend in music toward lyrics that are sexually explicit, excessively violent, or glorify the use of drugs and alcohol." They sought warning labels and ratings on records and the removal of offensive material from the television and radio.
Zappa said in part "The PMRC proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children, and promises to keep the courts busy for years dealing with the interpretational and enforcemental problems inherent in the proposal's design. It is my understanding that, in law, First Amendment issues are decided with a preference for the least restrictive alternative. In this context, the PMRC's demands are the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation."
Later he made the slippery slope argument saying "What if the next bunch of Washington wives demands a large yellow "J" on all material written or performed by Jews, in order to save helpless children from exposure to concealed Zionist doctrine?"
His statement was very colorful but he was right. Who decides what is offensive? Where does it stop?
John Denver also spoke out in opposition to the PMRC citing his fears that the censorship is subjective and often censors misunderstand or misconstrue the what they're listening to saying
"My song "Rocky Mountain High" was banned from many radio stations as a drug-related song. This was obviously done by people who had never seen or been to the Rocky Mountains and also had never experienced the elation, celebration of life, or the joy in living that one feels when he observes something as wondrous as the Perseides meteor shower on a moonless, cloudless night, when there are so many stars that you have a shadow from the starlight, and you are out camping with your friends, your best friends, and introducing them to one of nature's most spectacular light shows for the very first time."
He has a point.
One of the results of the PMRC campaign was the addition of the advisory labels on some of the cd cases in the picture above. They all belong to Stinkerbelle, by the way. I bought them, in all their uncensored glory, for my girl and we listen to them together. I do not buy censored music. If I like a song then I buy it as the artist intended. To do otherwise would be like putting pants on Michelangelo's David. If it's offensive then I exercise my right to turn it off.
There is music out there on both ends of the spectrum that I think is just awful - too sappy or too violent. It is my choice not to listen to that stuff and I'm pleased that my girls agree with me for the most part because I listen to much of it with them. We talk about it. We talk about the themes and what is and is not appropriate.
I never in a million years would imagine that I'd be quoting John Denver but I think that his statement was right. He said that "that which is denied becomes that which is most interesting. That which is hidden -- excuse me. That which is denied becomes that which is most desired, and that which is hidden becomes that which is most interesting. Consequently, a great deal of time and energy is spent trying to get at what is being kept from you. Our children, our people, our society and the world cannot afford this waste." He went on to say that the music that our children listen to can give un insight into what they're thinking and feeling.
I find it a little sad that this is just as relevant today as it was 25 years ago. Censorship is alive and well.
Happy Frank Zappa day. I hope that you spent it listening to something good - whatever that may be.
Posted by hillary at 8:03 AM
Sep 17, 2010
Here is my favorite out of all the pictures I took on Wednesday. In the background you can see the building where I worked at my first job in DC after I moved here a little over a decade ago.
From this angle the figure looks kind of powerful and ready to take on the world. I'd like to say that reflects my attitude at the time but it really doesn't. I was more nervous and excited to be in a new career in a new city. It seems so long ago now.
Sep 16, 2010
I have a few things awaiting photo shoots and even more that are just thisclose to being finished but I found something pretty cool to share today anyway. This is an art installation in front of the National Museum of Women in the Arts which is about a 5 minute walk from my office. I went over yesterday to get a better look and some pictures for you.
This is the view as I approached it. I don't know if you can tell but the sculptures byNiki de Saint Phalle are placed in a raised and grassy median right in front of the museum which is to the right. The first figure that greeted me is called Nana on a Dolphin.
Then there are Les Trois Graces.
Here's a close up of one of the graces. I took the picture to give you a better view of the details in the shapes but now I notice that it really highlights the figures ample rear. Suddenly I don't feel quite so bad.
I just love this colorful Arbre Serpents. Right behind it is a building I like a lot. It's an old Greyhound bus station that is now the lobby of an office building. Very cool and art deco.
I'm kind of curious about these last 2 figures which are called #23 Basketball Player. The one in the red shorts has a #23 on the front of his shirt but I find myself wondering why he's being held up by silvery one. Can't he jump?
I really enjoyed taking these pictures and the walk itself was lovely too. Maybe I can try to do this a few more times before the weather gets too cold.
Sep 15, 2010
Look what came in the mail on Monday!
I am so happy to have my very own copy now. I lost track of the overdue fines that I've paid to my local library for their copy. It's new and expanded too. Woot!
The weird thing is that there were directions to my house from Google taped to the back. Am I alone in feeling a wee bit worried that the company that Amazon used to deliver my book had to Google my address? For those of you who haven't visited yet, you should know that my house is extremely easy to find. WTF!
Sep 14, 2010
No Ten on Tuesday today because I'd have a hard time finding even one reason to like watching football. I'm not a fan at all. But I will admit that it was very convenient that Bruce was downstairs last night watching the Jets lose. It allowed DQ and I to watch the finale of Bachelor Pad without his incredulous looks. We don't need any help being embarrassed at having been sucked in by the show.
Instead I've got a follow up to my post from last Thursday when I showed you my daughter's new bolero/shrug. It was a squeeker but I finished it and barely had time to block it the day before it was needed. Whew! that was close.
You may remember that the inspiration for this knit was the belated realization that my girl had 3 new and very lovely dresses but, in my book, none were appropriate for the Jewish High Holidays because they're all sleeveless. After spending quite a while with DQ trolling Ravelry we settled on Ysolda Teague's Briar Rose Bolero.
Ysolda really is a genious of design. I'd love to know how she comes up with the garment construction because it's unusual and perfect. Look at the way it the collar with the baby cables hugs DQ's bare shoulders so gracefully. I love how the lines move so gracefully from one element to the other and I really adore the slightly puffy sleeves. Just right!
The only place I had genuine difficulty was the decreases after attaching the sleeves but I'm apparently far from the first to have issues with this. I think there's an error there but it's really not fatal and if I'd had the time to give it some real thought then I could've easily figured out the fix. As it was I muddled through and made it work and I dare you to find the fudge points. Well, most of them. One of them was stupidly placed and glaringly obvious but the rest of them are very well hidden.
The only question mark with this project is the yarn. Berocco Vintage seemed perfect. It's a nice, deep black and wonderfully soft but it feels delicate. I find it hard to envision a long relationship with this bolero because I'm pretty sure that it'll pill like crazy. I hope I'm wrong because right now the sweater is perfect but at least if I need to make another one I'll know to work out the sleeve decreases some other way. I'll also know that this is a very quick knit - just over a week.
Sep 13, 2010
I'm back at work again after a holiday weekend that became longer and busier than expected. It's all good but I am exhausted after being out late last night seeing Jackson Browne in concert(one of the last minute things).
It was a holiday for me and we celebrated Rosh Hashanah in a big way by hosting a sit down dinner for 23 in Thursday night. I didn't exactly plan on such a big feast but once the ball started rolling it didn't stop. Thank goodness that the weather was gorgeous and we have a large deck.
The best was when we were in services on Thursday and DQ came to me with a big grin on her face. She was sitting with a friend who mentioned that she didn't have any special plans for the evening and my daughter, being every bit my kid, couldn't let that be. She asked if we could invite them and pointed out that she was just following my example of making sure everyone had a place to celebrate. How could I say no? Thankfully we had enough food and everyone had a good time.
The other big theme for the weekend would be softball/baseball. On Saturday DQ and I went to see the Nationals play. We were given the tickets at the last minute (thanks Deb & Steve) and it was a nice surprise. DQ hadn't been to a game yet this summer. It was a gorgeous day and we really enjoyed the game even if the home team lost. We were more upset that Teddy lost again. Poor Teddy.
Then on Sunday we watched the debut of Stinkette's new team in a double-header. We lost the first and won the second but it was a great day regardless. Stink is thrilled to be on a "select" team and her skills are improving every time she takes the field. I can't wait until her next game.
Sep 10, 2010
This is one of the many things that you do when your garden produces and abundance of zucchini. You get creative and make things like Chocolate Zucchini Cake.
We had so much darn zucchini that we've made 2 of these and countless loaves of zucchini bread too. All very, very, good. And very handy when your holiday dinner expands to 23 people in the blink of an eye. Love all, serve all.
Sep 8, 2010
The Dazzling Dozen potholder swap continues and I'm really enjoying it. Each month I look at the answers that the member of the month has provided to the little questionnaire they sent and their Ravelry profile for inspiration. It's kind of fun challenging myself to change it up for each one. I could just keep doing the same thing over and over but then it starets to feel more like work and less like fun.
For the August potholder I used a pattern by Julie Bolduc called the Tumbledown Trivet. I really like this pattern a lot. It needed a wee bit of tinkering to make it work in a larger version for my purposes but the results were really great. It ought to make a fantastic potholder because it came out really thick. No burnt hands with this baby.
The yarn was an assortment of Elann Sonata and Tahki Cotton Classic. I love the color palette that mixing the 2 yarns together gives me. The picture above represents the colors best 2 greens, 2 blues, and 1 yellow. Can you see the difference in the 2 blues? It's subtle in these pictures but it's there.
As usual I kept it simple on the reverse. I just made stripes of different widths using each of the colors once.
Now I'm thinking about the September potholder and this member likes jewel tones which is a wee bit outside my comfort zone colorwise. It could be really good or it could be a train wreck.
Sep 7, 2010
This is where I spent a good part of my weekend - though not nearly enough. Thankfully there is still just a little bit of summer left to enjoy it. I can go out there in the fall too of course but that's a very different thing.
As the summer winds down I feel especially aware of how hot, humid and extraordinarily busy it was. Happily Summer isn't quite over yet and because there are a few things I'd still like to do.
1. Eat on the deck - the weather and the bugs got in the way but maybe we can work it out now.
2. Spin on the deck - I stil really want to do this and DQ wants to join me. I can't let that opportunity pass me by.
3. Finish weeding the beds in front of the house - not fun but necessary. It's actually very satisfying in a weird way.
4. Read more from my summer reading list - I've read a lot lately but not much from my list.
5. Go to the water - I'm not really that far from the shore of the Potomac or other bodies of water but it feels like I am. I need to make time to go and be restored.
6. Take a bike ride - I almost went Sunday but my riding buddy decided that she'd rather read a book.
7. Make Smores again - I just love flaming marshmallows
8. Enjoy the outdoors - go to a park or somewhere pretty and take a walk (with my camera of course).
9. Finish Que Sera - this was supposed to be my Spring/Summer sweater. It really needs to be finished before the Fall is officially here.
10. Get started on my closets - I need to remove the summer stuff and things that never get used.
What do you need to do before the Fall arrives?
Sep 3, 2010
Sep 2, 2010
It's September again and not surprisingly I've got a list of stuff I had hoped to finish that just didn't happen. This isn't to say that the summer has been a complete fail - I finished a baby sweater, a pair of socks, a few potholders, a hat and a shawl. Not too shabby.
The problem is that I keep picking up UFO's with the full intent of finishing them and getting sidetracked be needs, musts, and wants.
Here is Que Sera. I started it back in March and by late April the body was complete and the first sleeve was nearly finished too. Then something distracted me and the next time I picked it up it was August. Now I've got the second sleeve started and this should be a dash to the finish line but instead it's sitting again waiting till I have the time to look at it again.
One of the projects that got in the way was this pair of socks - Gothic Spire by Cookie A. The first one has been finished since the end of June and I know that all I need are a few short days to finish the second. I feel like the finish line is so close that I said I'd share them as a finished pair way back at the beginning of last month. So close and yet... not quite there.
Here's another thing that I'm working on right now. I call these my Staycation Socks because that's when I started them and they're likely to be finished before anything else just because plain toe-up socks are a no-brainer for me and I can take them out to work on anywhere. Even so, these are kind of stalled because of a need that kind of crept up on me.
Here is the thing that is forcing me to be monogamous. I realized 2 weeks ago that DQ has 3 new dresses that look great on her and yet, none of them is quite appropriate for the upcoming Jewish High Holy days because they're all sleveless. I just feel like the occasion calls for a bit more modesty but the dreses are brand new and in all other ways they're perfect.
Happily a black shrug or bolero is all we need to fix the situation so 2 weeks ago we chose the pattern and I bought the yarn. And put it aside because - what's the rush?
Now I remember what the rush is. The High Holidays are early this year - just a week away as of today. Why is it that they always creep up on me like this?
So, no matter where I am during the long weekend ahead - the pool, the deck, the store, a softball game - I'll be working feverishly on Ysolda Teague's Briar Rose. I have very little expectation of finishing in time but hope springs eternal. Then maybe I can think about finishing some of the UFO's.
Sep 1, 2010
Way back at the beginning of the summer our little friend Miss B got a Baby brother. Baby J arrived and, I started knitting. But only after lot's of angst. I already had the yarn, Debbie Bliss Rialto DK, but then I couldn't find a pattern. Then I found a pattern but I thought I'd need more yarn. You know the drill. I went on and on like this for at least a month before I found the perfect pattern in Sirdar leaflet #297-Cheeky Chinos. How did I not see these patterns before?
Anyway, I like a lot of the patterns in this leaflet but the very imaginatively named Design J really spoke to me. It had just the right amount of interest without being fussy.
This was a very good knit for me. The pattern was clear and easy to follow. I even managed to do most of the seaming without too much grumbling in a way that shows a wee bit of skill. I was a little worried about the collar at first but after blocking it sits exactly right. I love it.
As I worked on this I envisioned wooden buttons and I was so excited when I went to my favorite button store to choose exactly the right ones. It turns out that the right buttons weren't wooden at all. Something about the slightly purple cast to the yarn really wasn't right with the natural look buttons.
Perfectly matching blue buttons were way better. I really do think that the right buttons are important. Thet can make or break a project either by enhancing the look or distracting from it.
This was finished in mid July but I just gifted it a week ago. Thankfully I always knit a size or 2 into the future so this is still just a little bit big on Baby J so I bet that it'll be perfect for the fall and winter.