Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wrapping up the Ravelympics

image courtesy of

OOPS! I had to go back and edit this post because I accidentally hit "publish" before I had even written anything. Well, the Vancouver Winter Games are done and well, so are the Ravelympics. I managed to complete 2 of my 3 projects! I realized that three events were just a little too much, but I'm happy about my accomplishments anyway. I managed two hats in the Hat Halfpipe. I knit two Chunky Cable hats- one for my sister and one for my niece. I had only intended to knit one hat, but I had another skein of this chunky alpaca yarn and I had to use it up. There was no choice. I had to knit two. I also knit a little sweater in the Sweaterboard Cross Event and I'm about 75% done on my Charity Curling Event. I knew last Friday that if I stayed focused I could have the bear project finished by the Closing Ceremonies tonight, but instead I cast on for another pair of socks on Friday and I knit away on my sock instead of the bear. I lost my focus at the end there, but I'm not unhappy with the final results.

Here's my niece wearing her chunky cabled hat.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ravelympics progress

I finished Tessie's Chloe sweater this morning. It just needs a button and some blocking, but otherwise it's done. I had one skein of Berroco comfort worsted in a deep cherry red and it was just enough. I started knitting this last Saturday night while watching the new Emma and I was astonished that I'm done not even a week later! Now that I know the pattern better, I'd like to make another one in Spring colors!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I want this cake for my birthday

My birthday's not until August, but this is the cake I want. I love a bundt and this was so pretty in the new Emma. (I forgot to mention this in my last post on Emma.) Isn't it so pretty?

Monday, February 22, 2010

The new Emma

At first, I didn't really think we needed a new film version of Emma. Actually, I still don't think we need another Emma, but I'm happy that we do have one. I went ahead and pre-ordered the new mini-series from Amazon and I rarely, if ever, buy movies. I figured that I'd want to have this one on hand for cold weather and cozy knitting and I was right. I watched it this last weekend and although I don't like it as much as the 1996 Gwyneth Paltrow version, I did like this one very much. It's so bright and cheery. There's so much color and I did like this new Mr. Knightley.

On a side note, I wonder why Mr. Darcy always gets so much attention when it's Mr. Knightley who's the most appealing man in all of Jane Austen's novels.

Overall, I enjoyed it immensely even if it's a little less funny and charming than the Gwyneth Paltrow version. Oh, I definitely prefer Ewan McGregor as Frank Churchill than the new Frank (I don't know his name.) By the way, does anyone out there prefer the Kate Beckinsale version of Emma? I think that one came out at nearly the same time as Gwyneth's, but I really didn't like it very much and I only saw it the one time while I've seen Gwyneth's too many times to count. Anyway, Romola Garai makes a fine Emma and it's immensely enjoyable. It's beautifully filmed and the color is just so rich. Just grab some tea and knitting and enjoy a cozy afternoon!

Goals this week

1. Finish my Ravelympics projects (I'm making my Chloe a solid color instead of stripes.) I'm also knitting one of these. Will I finish before the closing ceremonies??

2. Finish listening to The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (so sad and yet so powerful) and On the Far Side of the Mountain (with Luke)

3. Finish reading The Day I Became an Autodidact, The Happiness Project and Crossing Washington Square- these all need to go back to the library soon. (I've meant to get these books done for a few weeks now.) I mean it. This is the week that these books get finished!!!

4. Start reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for a book club this Friday (So, really I should have lumped this one in with the extensive reading in #3.)

5. Plan Luke's March lesson plans

6. Look for a cheery almost-Spring oilcloth tablecloth. Despite the few inches of snow around here, I can sense that Spring is coming. It's time to lighten things up around here.

7. Menu plan this week. Since I made such a big pot of soup yesterday, I don't need to worry about dinner tonight. I'm thinking about tacos mid-week and spinach lasagna on Friday.

8. Check Sunshine Yarns tomorrow for some color inspiration!

So, a lot of knitting and reading to squeeze in around everything else!

Have a happy week.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Soup on a snowy day

It's another very cold and snowy Sunday here and I decided to try another soup. I think Sunday is going to be soup night around here during the Winter. Here's a truly hearty chowder from The New England Soup Factory Cookbook. Recently, I made a corn chowder that turned out just kind of bland. So, when I saw this recipe, I had to try corn chowder again. This one's a winner! I baked up a batch of cream biscuits to go with it and it's the perfect meal for a day like today. I changed a couple of things in the recipe, but I've made note of it below in the directions.
I didn't quite have the amount of frozen corn on hand. So, I made do with about half of what the recipe calls for and I didn't think there was a lack of corn here. It's the slightest bit spicy due to the cayenne, but it's just a hint of spice.

Cheddar-Corn Chowder with Bacon and Scallions

1 pound bacon
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 carrots peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 red potatoes chopped into 3/4 inch cubes
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsps ground coriander
2 packages of frozen kernel corn (16 0z)
2 cans (16 oz) creamed corn
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 C heavy cream
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 bunches scallions, sliced

1. I cooked the bacon in a frying pan until it was brown and crispy. I removed the cooked bacon and poured about 2 TB of the bacon drippings into my dutch oven.

2. I then added the onion, carrots and garlic. ( I didn't feel like chopping celery so I left it out.) Saute about 5 minutes.

3. I then added the potatoes, stock and cayenne. ( I didn't have any coriander so I left it out.)

4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 35 minutes.

5. Time to add whole kernel corn, creamed corn, cheese, and cream (This isn't a low-calorie soup!)

6. Simmer an additional 7 minutes.

7. Season with Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.

8. Stir in scallions and crumbled crispy bacon pieces. It's done!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

This 'n That

1. Normally I don't miss not having DirectTV or satellite. I'm just not a TV person, but right now, I'm missing the Olympics and I really love the Winter Games. I did get to watch the men's figure skating long program last night where US skater Evan Lysacek won Gold. It's the first time an American skater has won gold since Brian Boitano in Calgary in 1988. It's nice to see a US skater win, but since the 2002 Salt Lake Games where the French judge cheated, the sport has become largely unrecognizable to me. I have a really hard time with the new scoring system and because of the new scoring system, figure skating has lost a lot of its beauty. It's all jumps and weird kicks. Okay, I know, too much about figure skating. I'm just saying. I do hope the scoring system has deductions for ugly costumes because I would have taken a deduction for the glittery snake on Evan Lysacek's costume.

2. I've made a couple of soups recently that are pretty good and I thought I'd post the recipes here:

Chicken Tortellini Soup

(I adapted this recipe from the New England Soup Factory CookBook.)


1 pound cheese tortellini (cook according to package directions) (place in a bowl and toss with the olive oil)
2 tsp olive oil
8 C chicken stock or broth
1 C chopped cooked chicken ( I used more.)
2 C baby spinach
1/2 bunch chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, plus additional for garnish (I used WAY more.)
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a stockpot or Dutch Oven, bring the broth or stock to a boil over med-high heat. Add the Chicken and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cooked tortellini, baby spinach, basil, cheese and red pepper flakes. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Garnish, with extra grated Parmesan cheese.

Okay, this looked good, but I felt that it was lacking veggies. So, what I did instead, was heat a couple of TB of olive oil in the dutch oven and I sauteed a small chopped onion, a cup or so of chopped carrots and a cup or so of chopped celery and added a couple of garlic cloves. When the onions were transluscent and the veggies were soft, I followed the normal directions. I also chopped up the spinach because the kids can't pick out the spinach and they tend to eat it when it's all choppped up. Oh, and 1/4 C of Parmesan isn't enough. It's so yummy with more!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

(This is my friend Jen's recipe, but I might have modified a few things on this recipe too. I don't think she thickens her with flour since she's gluten-free. I'm going to have to check on what she does to keep this recipe GF.)


6-8 C Chicken Stock
6 red potatoes (sometimes, I use whatever potato I happen to have like russets)
1/2 onion, chopped
5 stalks broccoli
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 C heavy crean
1 C freshly grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic
3 TB flour
3 TB olive oil

1. chop veggies.
2. add 3 TB of olive oil in bottom of dutch oven on medium heat.
3. add flour to olive oil.
4. add minced or pressed garlic.
5. add onion.
6. saute onion, garlic, olive oil and flour.
7. add potatoes and broccoli and chicken stock/broth and simmer all ingredients except cream and cheese (about 15 minutes on low-medium heat).
8. add cream and cheese.
9. hand blend (optional)

I think this soup is really good blended. It gets so thick and hearty. I don't always blend it, but I prefer it blended.

3. I finished another pair of socks last night while watching the men's figure skating long program. These socks went super-fast on US 4 DPNs and worsted weight yarn. They are comfy! Now, I need to get back to my Ravelympics projects!

4. I've been meaning to take a picture of Tessie with her doll that my mom made for her, but now that she's walking so much, I can't really get her to sit still long enough for me to get a decent photo. So, here's her doll all by herself.
Here's Tess already on the move. See? I can't get a nice photo.
5. Luke and I are listening to The Far Side of the Mountain and so far, I enjoy it almost as much as the first book, My Side of the Mountain.
6. I'm going to try a new soup on Sunday, but I haven't decided which recipe yet.
7. I promise no more pics of handknit socks for a while!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another Knitting Post

I know. It's another knitting post and I'm sure that I'm really the only one excited here. I mentioned in a previous post that it took me a year to finish my first pair of socks. I did many other knitting projects in between that first sock and second sock, but still it took me a full year. Well, I'm happy to say that this pair took me a couple of weeks and I even had to start the first sock over. Anyway, I knit these socks on size 3 DPNs and I was worried the entire time that one hank of Sunshine Sport (colorway: Field of Flowers) was not going to be enough for a pair of socks despite what I had read on Ravelry. I'm not really good at judging whether or not I have enough yarn for a project or not. Well, I knit the first sock and I made sure it was only 4" when I started the heel flap. It turns out I needn't have worried. I have a small ball of leftover yarn and that makes me crazy. What am I going to do with this small ball of yarn? Now I know I could have made the legs of the socks longer --maybe 5"? The foot of the second sock is definitely longer than the first. As I was knitting the foot of the second sock, I realized I had more than enough yarn and I started to relax. I'm going to try these again using size 2 DPNs because Jenn says it's the only way to go! Well, I'm going to wear these socks today. I can already tell that I'd like these socks better knit on smaller needles. So, I do have another hank of Sunshine Sport in the colorway Victoria and I'll do this sock pattern again and it may only take me a couple of weeks!

Monday, February 8, 2010

February Daybook

Outside My window: I woke up this morning to snow. It's been snowing all day, but we've only gotten about two inches and that's snow I can handle. It's around 2 pm now and the sun is peaking out now.

I am listening to: the Kitchenaid mixer. Luke is baking oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies without my assistance. I'm sitting down for the first time today. I was knitting a sock and then I thought that I might update my blog. Tessie is still sleeping, but I expect that she'll be up soon from her nap, but for now, I hear the Kitchenaid.

I am wearing: I'm wearing a pair of jeans, red slippers, a pink long-sleeved t-shirt and a black fleece vest. It's comfy, but not pretty.

Favorite things: finishing books and projects. I hope to finish reading both The Day I became an Autodidact and Simplicity Parenting and my pair of socks that I started a week ago using sport weight yarn from Sunshine Yarns in the colorway Field of Flowers.

From the kitchen: Tonight, it's spicy turkey soup except that I'm using chicken (I know I've linked this recipe before) and well, Luke is baking cookies right now and even though I don't really love banana bread, I'm going to bake another loaf for Paul since he really likes taking it to work in the mornings.

I am creating: a menu for Lent and Luke's school schedule. He's been doing pretty well on his own, but I think he does even better when all of his tasks are written down for each day.

Home Comforts: We are trying to stay clutter-free as best as we can so that we can feel less overwhelmed by random stuff everywhere. We are getting there, but I feel we could do well with even more stuff removed from our home. I'm really trying to make good decisions about what I buy. Is there a place for it? Do I really want to store it? Do I really need it? The hard part is creating balance. I don't want an empty home. How does one create a cozy home with the right amount of things?

I am reading: The Happiness Project, Simplicity Parenting, The Day I became an Autodidact and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn....too much at a time. On the MP3 player: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Plans for the rest of the week: Getting our taxes together and organized, shredding some papers that we no longer need to save and hopefully selling some stuff on Craig's List....Slowly shedding unnecessary stuff is part of my Winter plans.

Holiness in the every day: Gearing up for Lent and practicing contentment

Picture thought I am sharing :

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Just don't look too closely

This time last year I took a sock knitting class at my local yarn shop. I was pretty excited to learn how to knit socks. I bought sock yarn. I bought very small DPNs. I was ready! It turned out that we were to knit socks in worsted. So, I didn't use that sock yarn after all. Well, Tessie was only two months old and hoping she would sleep during my class, I brought her along. She did pretty well for the most part except for the night we learned to turn the heel. Class went longer than usual for this tricky part of socks, but my baby was ready to leave. So, I missed out on some vital info, but somehow I managed to finish the first sock. It doesn't look good. Abundant in errors and sloppy knitting, I put that first sock away and started the leg of sock #2. I put that sock away too and only recently pulled it out again ready to face sock knitting once again. Well, tonight, a year later, I have my first finished pair of socks. They are nothing to look at, but oh are they comfy. I wish all my socks were handknit! The good thing is that I can tell that I've vastly improved from the first sock to the second and that gives me confidence for more handknit socks!

Eating Peas

Tessie at 14 months enjoying peas
I see less crawling every day. I'm trying hard not to be sad that she's walking now. I know, I should be excited, but it just makes me sad that my baby is growing way too quickly.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Random Bits

January is a very nice month. At least here in Colorado, January is a nice month. Yes, it's cold, but it's beautiful and we usually don't get much snow. I actually really like cold weather, because cold weather is just plain old knitting inspiration! It's also just plain cozy, but it's gone already and February's here already. Looks like we've already settled into 2010 around here.

Okay, so I started knitting some of these socks on my trip to Breckenridge last weekend and I was making some serious progress when I thought that I better consult with Jenn about how long to knit the leg on the socks. It turns out that I was just happily knitting around and around and before I knew it, my leg was almost 6 inches long and with a single ball of Sunshine Yarn Merino Sport to make a pair of socks I knew I'd have to un-knit. Except that I didn't. I decided that I'm a much better knitter now and I boldly pulled out my DPNs and unravled several rows until my sock measured closer to 4 inches. I thought that I could easily pick the stitches back up and start the heel flap, but I couldn't. I got awfully close, but several stitches kept sliding downward and despite my best efforts with a crochet hook, I gave up and wound the yarn back into a ball. Oh well. I'll just start them again this week. I have plans for procuring some more
Merino sport tomorrow. I have not been buying yarn so that I could save my yarn budget for more Sunshine! I did however order some sock blockers today. I'm so close to finishing a pair of socks, but I really want to begin again on the Sell Your Sole sock pattern.

Book goals this week: I seriously need to finish Simplicity Parenting by Wednesday. I can't renew it, but I'm more than half-way on that one. Luke and I enjoying My Side of the Mountain immensely. We're listening to it when we drive around town doing errands. I love listening to books in the car. I also am working through The Day I became an Autodidact by Kendall Hailey. I know I won't be able to renew this one either. It's inspiring in the way that encourages me that there's learning wherever you want to find it. Just be curious and anxious to learn! I think that half the reason I like homeschooling so much is due to the fact that I'm excited and passionate about learning myself and I want to pass that on to my kids. I want to inspire them to want to discover and create throughout their lives.

Meal planning this week: Taking some budget advice from MaryG, I'm going to try implement grocery shopping only twice monthly. It should help me save a little money, help me plan better and make me happier because I'll be at the grocery store much less often. Okay, so this week, I'd like to make Chicken Pot Pie from The Pioneer Woman Cooks . I'm not sure that I'll use her crust recipe, but I'll try the filling recipe. I have plans for a hearty stew as well. I checked out the New England Soup Factory cookbook from the library and I'm going to make that stew. I also just got my new Cook's Illustrated and there's an article on how to bake the best chewy brownies. Usually, I'm a from -scratch baker, but I'll admit that box brownies are usually better. So, I'm now anxious to try the brownies in this month's Cook's Illustrated to see if they are better than my from-scratch attempts. Last week, I modified a chicken tortellini soup recipe from the New England Soup Factory cookbook and it turned out pretty hearty and tasty. I'll share the recipe later.

For now, I'll leave you some pictures from our short weekend trip to Breckenridge.

We strolled around the Snow Sculpture competition.

Tessie bundled up and in a good mood
I love this hat. It's a total boy hat. Sammy wasn't up for being photographed, but he's got one of these hats too in a nice red plaid.

Luke and I went ice skating and he's still trying to get the hang of skating while I worked on my repetoire of figures eights and axel jumps...Yes, I'm kidding. Happy February everyone! We'll see what Punxsutawney Phil has to report tomorrow.