Sunday, September 30, 2007

Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy

Kyle and I went for a hike in the Kish- wauketoe Nature Conservancy in William's Bay today. Poor Punkin - we didn't bring her along because we couldn't find info on the net about whether she'd be allowed or not. She would have been. Shhh...don't tell her!

It was a beautiful day, and there were nice trails through woods and prairie. We didn't see as many birds as I was hoping for, but Kyle thinks we should go back in the spring to see more.

There was a nice observation tower (see the background of picture) from which we could look over a large expanse of prairie. It was windy today, and the tall grasses were moving in waves. It was very beautiful.

Trunk

The elephant is coming along, but I need a scrap of pink yarn to finish the trunk. I also am going to need to find something to stuff him with.

America's Next Top Model?

The scarf is finished. I had to resort to trickery to get this expression from Punkin. I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. Boy, was she excited. I had to follow through and take her around the block or she'll stop reacting in such a cute way when we say the w-word.

Pattern: Misty Garden
Source: Scarf Style
Yarn: Koigu Painter's Palette Merino, one full skein
Needles: US 3
Modifications: none

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Evening amble

We had a busy week, but I'm thankful Kyle talked me into a walk with Punkin before giving in the the list of Things To Do. I love this time of year, and it always goes by too quickly.

So close to finished

I have so little yarn left to knit into this scarf, but I couldn't keep my eyes open long enough to finish last night. I don't know if I'll have much knitting time this weekend, but I won't touch any other projects until this one is done. (Maybe.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Evidence of Fall















Fall-blooming beauty berry.
















Oak leaves (my favorite)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lovable

The elephant I'm knitting out of Last Minute Knitted Gifts is turning out to be much more fun to knit than the lace scarf I've been limping along on for almost a year. I take the scarf to work because it's easy and boring, but I let myself work on the elephant at home. Based on my progress so far and the amount of knitting I have left, I'll guess I have a couple more nights to go before I can stuff him and sew him up. I'm looking forward to the trunk.

Happy Oversight

A friend gave me a beautiful gift of pickled beets from her garden last fall, which I stupidly lost to the monster at the back of my pantry. I found them this weekend. Delicious!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Just a Perfect Sky

Dominoes and Matchbox Cars

We stopped by Jason's new place Saturday and it's very charming inside. He and Michelle taught us how to play Mexican Train Dominoes. Damn the pigeon toe! Michelle was the big winner.

We used Jason's old matchbox cars to mark when our "trains" were open. I think we had just as much fun playing with the cars after we were finished with the game. I may not have been too interested in them when I was little, but I sure have fun smashing them into each other at age, ahem, 29. Michelle and I wanted to build ramps and jumps. (I wanted to send the thermal-color-change car through a burning toilet paper roll for some drama, but the boys said "no".)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Difficult Choices

Today's high is supposed to be 88F. Ugh. I relish cool fall weather and am ready to be rid of this hot stuff. But as long as it's still hot, there's only one thing to do, and that's to make sun tea. My only problem is deciding which kind to make. As you can see, I have a few tea choices at my disposal. In most areas of my life, I believe that less is more, but when it comes to tea and spices you can never have enough. Unfortunately, cupboard space is limited in our small kitchen, and this post could also have been titled: Evidence of Kyle's Supreme Tolerance.

Gingerbread Cake

Last weekend it was 60 degrees in the house and I had a compulsion to make something that tasted like fall. Erika's recipe for Low fat Gingerbread Cake hit the spot. Low fat is not to be confused with healthy, however, as there was so much honey, maple syrup, and molasses in it, I got my sugar allotment for the month of September. Mmm....

2007 International P.E.O. Convention

Last weekend I had fun at the P.E.O. Inter- national Convention. P.E.O. is a women's group I'm in that provides educational oppor- tunities for women through grants and loans for college education. Convention was in Minneapolis this year, so it was close enough to drive to. (Note the obligatory canvas bags that all P.E.O.s carry around. For some reason, I find this humorous.)

Mom and Grandma get to be voting members of each convention because they are past state presidents of the WI chapter. Meredith and I were just visitors who sat in the peanut gallery. My favorite part of convention was the discussion about the amendments that were voted on. It seems that there is a general struggle between tradition and progress. I don't know that the two need to be mutually exclusive, but almost 1500 voting women can't possibly agree on everything. People felt very strongly about some of the issues, so the voting was exciting, as dorky as that sounds. Kyle pointed out that this is precisely why he thinks local civic meetings are interesting. I wouldn't know, because I've never accompanied him to those.

We were happy to see an old family friend, Cathy, who helped us explore around Minneapolis while Mom was off gallivanting with some friends. We even got to have dinner (Thai, of course =) ) with her two daughters and their growing families. Jenny and Sara were friends of mine in high school, but I'm terrible at keeping in touch with people, so I hadn't seen them in ages. They have such adorable kids and it was wonderful to see them again. (I had a moment of slight panic while imagining what it would be like to mother the 2 year old if she spoke only Thai. Yikes!)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Speedy Sock

Considering the previous socks I knit took 2 years, I'm pretty pleased with myself for finishing the first sock of this pair in just over a day (during which time we also hosted dinner for Mer and Ewan, did some gardening, and took a walk with Punkin).

I even finally got the hang of grafting, which I had to do on both the toe and heel. I'm pretty psyched to finally feel comfortable with what I used to think was some kind of impossible torture test that tried my patience and destroyed my knitted object at the very end of a project. Woo hoo for grafting! Now, if I stay true to form, I'll finish the second sock around Christmas of 2008.

Yarn Purchase and Sock Progress

At Sheep and Wool, Erika and I found discounted Cascade Sierra Pima Cotton/ Wool blend that will be perfect for knitting toys. I managed some self control and only bought 3 colors.

I also got a skein of lime green Shepherd's Wool from Stonehedge Fiber Mill. Kyle was quite concerned by the color and wanted clarification that I wasn't knitting anything for him from it, was I?

I am knitting a pair of the Solid Jazz Socks from Weekend Knitting from this skein (for myself, I think), and I am amazed by how soft the wool is. It is very nice to knit with. If it wears well, I'll definitely need to try some other colors - I think it would be excellent for a sweater for Critter.

I made a lot of progress on the first sock yesterday afternoon. (I've never done a sock with this type of heel construction before, and I don't fully understand it. I knit in a half row with waste yarn that I'll be removing after I finish the toe, and then I'll pick up those stitches and somehow knit in a heel. I'm following the pattern with blind faith that it'll work if I just follow one line at a time. Could be interesting.

Bleating and Shearing Sheep

From WI Sheep and Wool for your viewing pleasure.




Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, 2007

Erika and I took our annual pilgrimage to WI Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson yesterday. Meredith and Ewan joined us after phoning and discovering we'd (gasp!) gone without inviting them (that'll teach them to go out for Thai food without calling us first).

As expected, it was a lovely day with alien-looking angora rabbits, alpaca who did NOT want to be petted, dogs herding ducks for demonstration, sheep shearing demos, and two barns full of products for purchase.


Friday, September 07, 2007

Nick of Time

In preparation of the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, I knew I needed to get at least one knitting project off my needles to justify buying more yarn. I did some fun knitting Friday night while we watched a bunch of season three of Six Feet Under from the library. (I love the library!)

I started these wrist warmers more than 2 years ago, while working at a different job, for a former co-worker who requested them. I suck. I'd love to catch up with her so at least now I have an excuse to give her a call. I don't know why I didn't just finish them earlier. I had them off the needles in less than 2 hours Friday (including the time to rip out 4 rows when I accidentally knit past where the thumb whole needed to be), and wove in all the loose ends the next morning before leaving for Sheep and Wool. I modeled them for Kyle, who knew exactly why I'd finished them without being told. He just shook his head. I've been to S&W enough times for him to know I'd come home with goodies.

Pattern: Last Minute Knitted Gifts, Women's Hand/Wrist Warmers
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft (color Grey Heather) and Rowan Kidsilk Haze (color 595)

Love Letter

Oh Nuggets, how I love you. I love to eat your crunchy selves, and drown you in spicy mustard or sweet and sour. When we're not together, I sometimes dream of you. I adore you although I know you are no good for me. When we're together, it breaks Kyle's heart (because he doesn't want you to destroy mine). He's right. We just can't keep meeting like this. Although it will be hard for me, I need to say goodbye. I'll always have fond memories of you. Please try and understand.

Empire Falls

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I was in my pajamas until noon today. I couldn't pull myself away from the book I was reading - when Kyle returned home from work early to see I still wasn't dressed, all he could do was laugh. I'm surprised I was so engrossed in this book, actually, because I picked it up again and again over the last few months to try and get into it. But once I got further into it, I really wanted to get to know the characters better. Thank goodness I finished Empire Falls so I can now return to normal life, although I think a few of the characters will live on in my head for awhile.

Turkish lace

For no particular reason other than I was admiring it today, some beautiful lace from a woman along the road in the Zelve Valley, Turkey.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Tomatoes in excess

The flood ended, and our two tomato plants have decided they like dry weather much better. The mosquitoes that hatched after the rain viscously guard the tomato patch, and we each gave a pint of blood to pick a basket full.

Kyle's wondering what in the world we can do with so many tomatoes. My favorite is something I learned from my Belgian family - sliced, with fresh mozzarella, basil (also from our garden), salt, and a drizzle of good olive oil.


We'll also be having lots of spaghetti (my favorite sauce recipe is also Belgian and has tons of veggies), fajitas, and open-faced broiled tomato-cheese sandwiches. It'll be a tasty week!

Reducing

Our rule to prevent Accum- ulation around the house is that for each item that we bring home, one item of equal volume must leave. We enforce it rather strictly, and consequently the amount of Stuff that we really don't need hasn't been increasing in the last year. Unfortunately, we began this system of non-accumulation after it was almost too late, and we still have far too many things that collect dust and make our lives more complicated. I cleaned out closets today and it felt wonderful to pack up three bags for Goodwill. This is simultaneously difficult and very freeing for me. I am too sentimental for my own good and can't always separate my memories from physical objects, but I also dearly love the simplicity of a room containing only the essentials. (I most certainly will never wear my high school letter jacket again, but couldn't quite part with it until now - I forced it out by allowing myself to cut off and save the actual letter with all of my medals.)

In my next life, I'm going to live in a one room cabin on a river in the middle of nowhere. It'll take us that long to dispose of all our possessions, but we're getting there.

Spicy Indian Chicken Recipe

My Belgian dad Leo asked for instructions to make the dish Punkin blogged about last week. I don't really follow a strict recipe but go by smell and taste, but here's my best guess. It's spicy - you've been warned!

Mix 3-4 Tbs. of curry paste with two chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces. While preparing the rest of the ingredients, allow to marinate in the fridge. If you can't find spicy curry paste in a jar similar to the one pictured (which is AWESOME), you can make your own. Instructions are provided at the end.

Heat 5 Tbs. vegetable oil in a large saucepan and add 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp. cardamom pods (crushed to expose the seeds a bit). Add 1 onion, large and thinly sliced. Fry until light brown. Stir in 1 tsp. turmeric, 3 tsp. cayenne pepper, and chicken pieces (with as much of the marinade as you can scrap out of the bowl). Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through (~15 minutes).

Add 1 tsp. salt, 8 garlic cloves (minced), 1 Tbs. ginger root (thinly sliced), and 2 tomatoes (skinned and quartered), and 1 bell pepper (cut into chunks). I often throw in a few hots peppers as well. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring.

Add 2 Tbs. lemon juice, stir well, cover, and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with a little desiccated coconut and serve over basmati rice.

To make curry paste instead of using store-bought:
3 Tbs. vindaloo masala spice blend
3 tsp. vineagar
2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. salt


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sweeping the Pirates

We enjoyed the Brewer game today. We had a sunny, hot day for tailgating (truth be told, despite lots of sunscreen and a hat, I got a bit too much sun and wasn't feeling great until I took refuge in the shade for awhile).

Most importantly, the hotdog (the sausage I always root for) won the sausage race (Kyle will blog about this tomorrow, so check out Punkin's diary). Oh, and the Brewers won, too, which is always nice.

Women's Day Out

Yesterday we celebrated my grand- mother's birthday with Mom and my sister. Each year, Mom and Grandma see a play at American Players Theater and this year Meredith and I were invited to join them. We ate at the Spring Green Cafe and General Store, which has delicious food. (My Greek salad sandwich and gazpacho were especially yummy.) We puttered around town and did some shopping and stopped at a nice gallery of Wisconsin artists.

Then it was time for the play. We saw The Merchant of Venice at APT. It's an awesome outdoor theater with an amazing company of actors. We had beautiful weather and several butterflies and birds flew through the performance. I wasn't familiar with the play, but it was very thought provoking and I enjoyed it. They will be touring several indoor theaters in the state this fall and I think Kyle would like it, so we may be getting tickets and I'll get to see it again.

The four of us had such a good time, we made a date to do it again next year.