Monday, December 14, 2009


let us discuss bad customer service. last wednesday at something like 10am, i ordered some little black boots for the critter from livie & luca, whose shoes i love. i paid for 2-3 day shipping so they would be here in time for him to wear them for pictures today. i figured--they are a little boutique store--they'll ship the next day and get here saturday or monday at the latest, right? i get email from livie & luca on thursday saying they have shipped and including a USPS tracking number. so far, so good. and yet--no shoes do i have. i got online this morning (and a few minutes ago) to check the tracking, and the USPS gives me this message:
The U.S. Postal Service was electronically notified by the shipper on December 10, 2009 to expect your package for mailing. This does not indicate receipt by the USPS or the actual mailing date. Delivery status information will be provided if / when available. Information, if available, is updated periodically throughout the day. Please check again later.
hmmmmm. so i wait a few and check again--same message. so i call livie & luca, and there's no answer. hmmmm. so i email them, and have yet to receive any response. i've tried to call 4 other times today, and i just get a recorded message. so i tried calling the USPS, and got no further--they tell me the shipping info for my package is "not available right now". what. the. fuck.

and i realize this is just shoes. but come on, people. we will live without the shoes, but i think this level of service is just unacceptable. and you would think that a small independent company like this would be BETTER than some big box company to whom you are just a number. sadly, it just doesn't seem to be the case.

ok--i'm done ranting now. i still hope the damned shoes come today.

UPDATE: the shoes arrived, in spite of my rant and the utter lack of tracking available at the usps. they're awesome.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

am i the only knitter who hasn't seen this already?

even if i am late to the party, i am still in stitches. (no pun intended, i swear!) you should go watch this right now, even if you aren't a knitter. ann and kay from mason-dixon knitting are an absolute riot.

Friday, November 20, 2009

how i make stuffing, sans pictures

i meant to take a picture of this stuffing today before the work potluck, but oops--i forgot, and it was gone in 10 minutes. i'll try to remember to add a picture next week on actual turkey day. however, i didn't want to wait to post this just because i'm an idiot. thanksgiving day is coming, gobble gobble gobble gobble...

"recipe" is perhaps a strong word--it's kind of a made up thing with bits and pieces stolen from other recipes. but anyway, here are the basics:

large-ish loaf of crusty bread, cut into cubes (8 - 10 cups bread)
1 lb loose pork sausage
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped yellow or white onion
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup chopped tart apple, like granny smith
3-4 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 eggs
3-4 cups chicken broth

heat oven to 350F.

place cut bread on cookie sheets and dry in oven for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. meanwhile, brown sausage in large skillet, and set aside in a very large bowl. add the bread when it's done toasting.

use your stick of butter to generously butter a large baking dish as well as a sheet of aluminum foil with which you will cover the stuffing to bake it. put the rest of the butter into your already dirty skillet along with the onion and celery. sauté on med-high for 5-8 minutes until vegetables start to soften just a bit. add the apple and sauté for another 5 minutes or so. Pour this mixture over the sausage and bread in your large bowl. add all the herbs and toss. place bread mixture into the buttered backing pan.

in a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk, then stir in 2 cups of chicken broth. pour evenly over bread mixture. if it seems too dry, add a bit more broth. You want everything wet, but not soggy, if that makes sense.

cover with the buttered aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. uncover and bake for 15 more minutes.

serve warm with gravy, etc.

nothing hard--just time consuming. all measurements are approximate. i tend to heap things when I make this.

i've been thinking about trying a vegetarian version of this, in which i would leave out the sausage, replace the cup of apple with a cup of earthy mushrooms, chopped and sauted, and maybe add a 1/2 cup of walnuts. the chicken broth i'd replace with pacific vegetable broth, since i think it has actual flavor, unlike many commercial veg. broths. anyway--if any of you try this idea, let me know how it comes out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


where does the time go? seriously, i can hardly believe it's november at all, much less that thanksgiving is next week. i'm having a slow week at work, which i HATE. i don't have enough to do, but i feel guilty sitting around not working. plus, there's too much i need to do at home. mostly i'd really like a nap. really. a nap sounds just great right about now. maybe a movie marathon and some serious down time. not going to happen, though. i'm living right now for the two weeks off i will get at christmas. CANNOT. WAIT.

little lion
kyla, not so sure
giggly puppy
bailey as dorothy
anyway. halloween happened--my kid was a lion because it was 80 degrees, and gabriella's old lion costume didn't have arms and legs. he was pretty hilarious--he didn't want to wear the mane until i showed it to him in the mirror, and then he was all--ohhhhhhhhh! i'm a LION! i get it! he roared. he went to the neighbors' house and rang their doorbell and said "tick tick tick" when prompted to say "trick or treat." pretty good for 18 months. he took maybe 1000 dum dums from those guys and proceeded to get himself all sticky. we went over to my friend tina's and loaded the critter and her daughter into her wagon to do a little neighbor-visiting, which was great fun. got to see gabriella in her puppy costume, and our little friend bailey (g's cousin) made the cutest dorothy ever. after we came back and ate the spoils. k had 5 dum dums and a kit kat. my halloween philosophy is--you can have all the candy you want that day, and then we go back to normal. the pseudo-in-laws were in town, and i think the hippie's little brother was pretty thrilled to be in an actual neighborhood for trick-or-treating for the first time in his life. i somehow failed to take a single picture of him in his phantom costume, but it was a big hit with the neighbors and with his parents. the pseudo-mother-in-law dressed up as a witch, and hers may have actually been the best costume of the night. while they were out and about, i made some buttermilk cupcakes, which i gave to all our neighbors. i heart cupcakes.

not so sure about the train

passed out on daddy
the next day we went on a steam train in the cold-ass freezing rain. still fun, but there was much bundling. k is a fan of trains, but was a little nervous about actually getting ON one. he held on tight to his daddy, and then basically passed out for over half the experience. so cute and snuggly. he ended up getting sick later in the week, so he may have been feeling a tad off that day, in retrospect.

there's more to share and show--it's been a crazy busy month--but for now, i think maybe i'll cut out of here a bit early and go home to see if i can get a few things done there.

i'll leave you with some stuff to enjoy:

cauchy's spam embroidery, one of my favorite things EVER!
a christmas card that made me spit water out on my desk.
the hat i'm making for baby evey.

the cutest chocolate-y baby ever:

chocolate mess

Friday, October 23, 2009

accidentally awesome bean soup

bean soup

a few weeks ago i went on a southern cooking frenzy, and i made barbequed (how the heck do you spell that word?) boston butt in the crockpot and braised turnip and mustard greens with bacon. both of these things generated a bunch of broth-y liquid for which i had no immediate need, but which seemed too good to throw away. so, like a good thrifty housewife, i put it in the fridge overnight, skimmed off the fat, and then put it in the freezer. this broth became the base for some bean soup i made that turned out about 20x better than i thought it would. i think this soup will be ALMOST as good with just chicken broth or other stock, but the complex flavor of that pork roast and the greens definitely brought something to the table. one other note, everything in this recipe but the beans, broth, and tomato puree came from my local farmers market. yay for local!

it's fall--it's the right time for a simple hearty bean soup--get cooking!

1 lb dried white beans, soaked overnight
1 lb smoked polish sausage
~8 to 10 cups broth
1 can (14 oz.) tomato puree
1 medium onion
1 red pepper
2 bay leaves
1 - 1.5 lb red russian kale (or other variety of greens)
salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste

i made this in the crock pot, but i am sure you could do it in a dutch oven or large stock pot just as easily. slice the sausage in 1/4-inch slices and roughly chop the onion and red pepper. combine everything but the kale in your pot.

in the crock pot i cooked this on low for about 7 hours. then i added the kale and let it go for about one more hour before calling it good.

on the stove, i'd say bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for ~3 hours or so. if you do it this way, watch your liquid level and don't hesitate to add some broth or water if too much evaporates. when the beans are starting to get soft, but not mushy, add the kale and simmer for another 30 minutes or so.

add salt and pepper to taste, and hot sauce if you want a bit of a kick to it.

serve with some good crusty bread.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

the salty sheep

ss mosaic
The Salty Sheep Yarn Shop
105 W Church Street
Swansboro, NC 28584

i had the good fortune of stumbling across the salty sheep yarn shop in swansboro while on vacation last september. it's in swansboro, at the end of a little street of shops in the tiny historic district of the town. the building in which it sits also houses a fabulous deli/coffee shop/irish pub, a pottery shop, and a cigar shop. in our family, that means there's something for everyone.

i've been back to the store four or five times now, and that has been enough to make it one of my two favorite yarn stores ever. (the other is purl soho, where i get to go next month--whoo hoo!) this one is probably the closest thing to what i would do if i opened a store myself. i think it's a great example of where dreaming can get you. the owners, peggy and amber, were knitting friends who often joked about opening a store in this location, and then--one day--the space opened. amber called peggy, and less than 3 months later, they opened for business. just like that. not to make it sound easy--i think there was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in those three months, and a TON of work after the doors opened. but the fact that they pulled it off and have managed to build a profitable business in less than two years is nothing short of amazing to me.

this is a store full of fabulous. they decided early on to stock it with yarns they wanted to knit with, and this is working VERY well. any knitter who walks through their door is bound to leave with SOMETHING. they have a boatload of many of my favorite yarns, including malabrigo, blue sky alpacas, be sweet, dream in color, and rowan. it's a wonder i don't felt it all with my drooling. and if i were a sock knitter, i would just pull all the koigu and malabrigo sock yarn tothe floor and roll around in it. it ALMOST makes me want to knit some socks. (but not quite.) and here's the part i love: they are completely up to date. there's ravelry open and running in the store on one or both of their laptops. if you pick up something interesting, both peggy and amber can tell you 10 things you could make with it. i have been in so many stores where the help is kind of not there, but not the salty sheep. they are ON it without making you feel like you can't think for yourself.

further, the salty sheep is a community. i feel like part of this community in spite of living so far away and getting to the store so seldom. and i have discovered through ravelry that i am not alone in this. there are others here in the cary/raleigh/apex area who get yarn shipped from the salty sheep all the time in spite of many closer and larger stores. that truly says something.

on this year's beach trip, meredith and i were fortunate enough to be able to pull off going to the friday knit night at the salty sheep. there was yarn. there were snacks. there were about a dozen very friendly knitters and crocheters. and amber and peggy made is out-of-towners feel 100% welcome. meredith knitted practically a whole hat, and both of us spend too much money, which is only the Right Thing.

in conclusion, if you are down in the emerald isle-swansboro-atlantic beach-beaufort-morehead city-jacksonville area at all ever for any reason, and you are a knitter or a crocheter, then you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't find some time to go check out the salty sheep. it's utterly worth it, and i can't wait to go back!

the store: the salty sheep yarn shop
the ravelry group: the salty sheet support group
my pictures of the store: the salty sheep, a set on flickr

Monday, September 28, 2009

there's been some action in the yarn department

since last we discussed knitting, i've been--well--knitting.

tarris heeter hat, fo

tarris heeter hat, the myspace angle

tarris heeter hat, the fit
first up, the tarris heeter hat, designed by a friend from my tuesday night knitting group. (ravelry link here) she literally followed a woman around in harris teeter until she had the woman's hat firmly in her head so she could pseudo-knock-it-off, using some information on reducing for the crown by the great and versatile ann budd. all in all, i LOVE this hat. i made it for a gift, but then caved and decided to keep it for myself when i couldn't bring myself to take it off my head. i lerve it. mine.

the yarn is lucious malabrigo, but i fear i've lost the label, so i can't tell you what colorway it is. i'm going with red. i bought it ages ago at bella filati. i have more malabrigo i picked up recently in hillsborough, and with it, i'm going to knit some more of them for actual gifts. i have plans to use some new dream in color class to knit one with a matching scarf (in the little box stitch that makes up the bottom half of the hat), my only christmas knitting so far.

bulky critter hat 2
i also made a bulky baby hat for kieran in one night from some blue sky alpacas bulky naturals. (ravelry link here) very instant gratification, and lovely and squishy in all the right ways. it was the color of this yarn that got me. and the hat fits the critter like a dream. so cute! size 15 dpns though--not my favorite. i'd knit this again bc the yarn is to die for and it's so fast, but i am not a fan of giant dpns.

making a shedir hat for the hippie's aunt. it's slow going, and there's not a lot to show yet, so i have no pictures. slow because 1) i have to concentrate on it, and 2) it makes me unspeakably sad. i'll take a picture when it's done.

almost done with a baby blanket for a woman i work with who has a tiny baby girl. i waited on this one for a bit, but now i am cooking with gas on it. it's pink and purple and fluffy and just like the hundred other fluffy baby blankets i've made in the past. i haven't take any pictures of it either--it's nothing you people haven't seen me knit before.

ball band dish cloth
made my mama a ball band dishcloth--my first one. (ravelry link here)i went home to see her a few weeks ago, and she was all bitching about how crappy all her dishcloths were. and then we had to run an errand to the super-walmart, which was FULL of peaches and cream. so--i grabbed 2 balls of it and some size 8 needles and whipped out a dishcloth for her. she reports that it's great but needs to be just a little longer than i made it. as a good daughter, i will oblige and make her some more of them. besides, it was superfun. :)

kieran's hoodie, WIP 2
let's see, what else? i've been working in fits and starts on kieran's hoodie, which now has a full body, a hood, and half a sleeve. (ravelry link here) i am 1.5 sleeves out from finishing the knitting, and then i have to sew down the casing for the drawstring, and i'll be done. if i actually keep working on it, i should have it done in time for cooler weather here. i really love it, but all the gauge problems i had with it in the beginning have worn me down. i pick it up now with a little fear in my heart every time. i'm committed now though--if the gauge goes south on me this time, i'm done. i don't have it in me to rip it out again. besides, it's so pretty!

i am sure there's something i am forgetting, and i have some new yarn to report on as well as a new and a favorite yarn store. however, i am saving those for later when i have both pictures of the yarn ready to go and more energy than i have right this minute. i am The Tired.

but really y'all--i've been missing this bloggy thing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

cucumber mojitos

cucumber mojitos
last week we went to the beach, as we do. and we made some stuff to eat and drink, as we do. we have old favorites, and we add a few things every year. one of this year's keepers is the cucumber mojitos grant invented/made for us. i pelted him with questions about the process, stole the one picture of them that the hippie took, and i made some notes so i could share. this one's worth the trouble, folks.

3-4 cucumbers
32 oz of decent white rum
4 limes
12-ish sprigs of mint
1 cup simple syrup
lime and cucumber for garnish
fancy straws and stuff


1. ~24 hours ahead: make the cucumber infused rum. cube the cucumber and place in a large-ish bowl. pour the rum over. cover tightly and go to bed. the next night your rum will be lovely and ready to use.
NOTE: steeping it longer than ~24 hours is a mistake--it becomes overwhelming;y cucumber-y. if you aren't ready to use it after 24 hours, strain out the cucumbers and put the rum in the fridge. save some of the cucumber cubes for in-th-drink garnish if you like.

2. make simple syrup--this is just sugar and water in a 1:1 ratio. combine in a pot and boil for a few minutes. cool. voila.
NOTE: can be done up to a week ahead.

3. make you some mojitos. juice 4 limes, and pull the leaves off the mint stems. if you are making a big batch, get out the blender and do the following: combine mint leaves, lime juice, and 1 cup of simple syrup. blend briefly, but don't overblend--you aren't pureeing those mint leaves. stir in the rum. pour generous helping of this mixture into tall glasses over ice, top with seltzer, and garnish.
NOTE: if you prefer to do it glass by glass, then you want to muddle about 1/2 a lime's worth of juice, about 1.5 mint sprigs' worth of leaves, and about an ounce of simple syrup in the glass. add about 3 ounces of rum per glass, top with seltzer and garnish.

4. drink up.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

on down time, and how i don't have enough of it

we've had one of those weeks here that feels like fall. i know it's a fluke--we have one or two of these every year right before it gets hot as hell again. but man, does it ever feel awesome! i've gotten to eat lunch outside a couple of days this week, and go for a few walks outside, and best of all--the windows are open. there's something truly wonderful about having them open and hearing the crickets and frogs outside my window while i am falling asleep at night. makes the mornings delightful, snuggling under the warm comforter while a cool breeze blows in the window. it makes my house smell like my grandmother's house always smelled when i was a child.

this weekend, the critter and i are packing up and heading to my parents' house on the edge of the mountains, and i am really hoping the weather holds. i'm overdue for a walk in the woods with my little guy, kicking leaves around. i'm also looking forward to some good nighttime conversation with my mama after everyone else is in the bed. i might even get some knitting done if i am far, far away from all the household stuff that usually distracts me from doing creative things.

sometimes in the day-to-day rush of living my life, i forget how important it is for me to take some DOWN time. i need it--i think everyone does--but it's so hard to take it when there are always 1000+ things you need to do, most of which you should have gotten done yesterday. but right now, i feel so overdue for a vacation, it's not even funny. i'll get one soon, but even the week and a half till we leave for the beach feels far, far away right now. so let's think about that for a moment, shall we?

Always N Season
let's look again at the house where we will be staying this year. let's remember some of the beach trips from the past, and let's revel for a moment that this one is going to include all of the original beach group but one person--kind of a miracle after 9 years. yay! i absolutely cannot wait for a whole week of sitting, and hanging out, and walking on the beach with my hippie, and talking to friends, and cooking, and eating, and knitting, and putting that baby's feet in the sand again. maybe i should start a countdown ticker for it, so i can let the anticipation build even more--it really can't get here soon enough.

Saturday, August 29, 2009



this summer, we have had some lovely herbs planted along the front sidewalk that we've been using in all manner of thing. it's been awesome to just run out front and grab what i need, and it's saved me a fortune. i found, however, that i didn't really use the parsley all that much. so when these fabulous huge yellow and black caterpillars moved in and started to chomp it up, we let them have at it. this photo is a testament to a) how awesome my camera is, and b) how much we've enjoyed these visitors to the yard. the parsley is gone as of a few days ago, and all these caterpillars are off being big swallowtail butterflies now. so cool.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

gone, baby, gone

so this will be news for some of you, and not for others. for those of you reading this and thinking--wow--who knew? i am so sorry for not talking to you in person about this. it's a conversation i just can't have over and over again, but for some reason, i feel like writing about it. so i am.

i took last week off. my nanny was having foot surgery, the hippie's sister was supposed to be in town all week, i was tired, and i missed my baby. once in a while, as a working mother, it's nice to take a week and pretend you're a stay-at-home mother instead. but anyway. i took the week off.

at the beginning of last week, i was about 6 weeks pregnant. now, i am not. over the course of the past week or so, i lost that pregnancy, and now, i am just me again, instead of me and a little growing bit. and folks, it's a weird feeling. i am rational--i know that losing an early pregnancy is unbelievably common. and i know that it means something, somewhere, in the nothing-short-of-a-miracle process of making a baby from a couple of rogue cells went wrong, and that's all there is to it. i didn't drink, smoke, eat a slew of high-mercury fish and bacteria-laden cold cuts. i didn't take up cage fighting, or start riding horses out of the blue. this shit just happens sometimes. and in some ways, i actually feel lucky. i didn't have a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy. i didn't have uncontrollable bleeding or a tremendous amount of pain. i didn't not know what was going on. i don't need a D&C to complete the process. my body just said--hey--this ain't right--and took care of it. ah, nature... what a bitch!

so it's weird. there's a sense of loss and emptyness, but i think far less than if you lose a baby later in a pregnancy. there's also an odd sense of just wanting it to be over if it's going to be over, so i can let it go and move on. and not to get all graphic, but i am so sick of the sight and smell of blood, i can't even tell you.

somewhat unexpectedly, it's made me feel incredibly closer to the family i have. i want to hold kieran so tight and never let him go. i want the hippie to sleep so close beside me that we are like one person. i want to hole up in the house with my family and not let anyone in or out for a month. i have more love than ever for them. where's it coming from? am i trying to protect what i have? i am honestly not sure. but it's a crazy side effect of this crap, that's for sure.

in the end, i am fine. we are fine. this was yet another accidental pregnancy for us--lord help us all if/when we actually decide to TRY to get pregnant. either we won't be able to, or i'll have triplets. lol.

ok--enough about that.

on an utterly different topic--i'm 40. when the hell did THAT sneak up on me? i don't feel any different, but there it is. where's that Box of Badass i was supposed to get when that happened? i DID get a brand new macBook pro and a whole bunch of unexpected guests over the weekend, plus a slew of other unexpected gifts. and a party. what i really want is a do-over week off, which i will get in a couple of weeks when we go to the beach. maybe i'll manage to get through at least registering the macBook by then. i have a real problem with time lately. there's just not enough.

when that Box of Badass arrives, i would like it to contain the following: some ID's for covert international travel, some plane tickets, a few interesting firearms, lots and lots of cash in various currencies, the ability to speak 9 languages of my choosing, PhD's in planetary science and mechanical engineering, some hidden macGuyver capabilities, black belts in at least 3 martial arts styles, and definitely, DEFINITELY the superpower that allows me to stop time for everyone but me so i can get some shit done and then take a nap before things turn on again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

dragonfly washcloth - free!

dragonfly washcloth

i blogged about this little washcloth i made an age ago, but since i am on ravelry and have emailed it out to bunches of people, i decided to officially offer it up as a free pattern. it's one of my favorite and most well-used knitted items, and it makes a great little gift with a bar of soap. so here ya go--have at it.

you can download it directly here.
or if you prefer, here's the ravelry pattern link.

ps--i have no delusions about becoming a designer or anything, but i might someday get around to drawing a few more washcloths. i'll keep you posted. :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

new toy!

flip ultraHD 120

this little video camera is my new favorite toy. i wish i had had it sooner! the hippie asked me when the critter was born if i thought we needed a video camera, and i was all--nah--i'll never use it. I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG! i have a friend with this one, and as soon as i saw it i was beside myself with jealousy. and now--i have one too! yay! this thing came just in time for the weekend, and i think i made like 25 videos in a day and a half. HIGHLY recommend. this one is my favorite so far:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

and now for a little something different...

last night i blew off all responsibility after the critter fell asleep and retreated to my studio to make a spontaneous birthday present. i haven't made any jewelry in ages, but one apparently doesn't forget how to do it. i am pretty pleased with how this came out, and kerstin LOVES it, so WIN! this is a stone pendant ( i think it's jasper) and many many glass beads (the leaves may be smokey quartz actually--i can't remember), with matching earrings. analysis in 3 parts:

1. the necklace is on beading wire with crimped ends. sadly, my crimps are a bit assy. turns out that my crimping pliers a little too large for my tubes, so i am a little concerned that the crimps aren't going to hold--we'll see. could be i'll be re-stringing this in a week.

2. the earrings, which i basically made as an afterthought, are my favorite part--for once i am actually really proud of myself: the wraps are beautiful. this is a tiny detail that no one who doesn't make jewelry would ever notice, but to me, getting them right is absolutely crucial.

3. i am a fan of a) making necklaces adjustable in length, and b) adding a little fob detail to any open chain end. this is what my friend rita, who is a phenomenal jewelry designer, always does. i think if i take my cues from her, i can't go wrong.

so yay for some pretty jewelry! now i want to make more stuff. stuff begets stuff, people. it really does.

Monday, June 15, 2009

progress report (aka, third time's the charm)

hoodie for kieran, WIP_sm

one of my goals for the year is to knit kieran a sweater. i tried once already, and ran out of yarn due to a mistake in the pattern i was using. boo. so i decided to go for this children's hooded pullover, which i have made before, as it would be reliable and simple,and useful. silly moi--little did i know i was going to have gauge issues out the yin yang! i started and ripped this sweater twice due to gauge problems (i swatched, i swear!), and had to put it in time-out for a little while before i wanted to work on it again. however, i really want the sweater, so i thought--ok, one more time... and so far, so good.

i love the color, although dark heathered charcoal grey proves to be remarkably difficult to photograph. the yarn is mas acero from brooks farm--i bought it at SAFF specifically for this hoodie while i was still pregnant. it's listed as worsted--it's not. this yarn is DK, or i will eat my hat. however, i find that i like it knitted at the worsted gauge--i am on size 10 needles to make that happen. it's a little looser of a fabric than i usually knit, but it's giving it this lovely, beachy feeling. and in NC, that's not such a bad thing--it just means he'll be able to wear it more. i am concerned about colorfastness--my fingers turn corpse-grey when i knit this yarn for more than 20 minutes. i think perhaps a vinegar soak will be in order before it gets officially washed. but anyway--so far, i am loving it. links and details are all in ravelry for you knitters who might be interested in those. otherwise--isn't it pretty? still have a ways to go...

Monday, June 08, 2009

new farmers market--whoo hoo!

WARNING: i am a farmers market evangelist.

western wake farmers market
everything in this picture is labeled--just click on it to see the notes.

the western wake farmers market is changing my life. it's one of a handful of new farmers markets that have opened in our area this summer, and it's the closest one to us of any size. we missed the first weekend it was open, but we've been every other saturday for the past month and a half. it's impacting our weekend and the way we shop for food, which i think is a VERY good thing. we are getting to know the vendors, who have come to expect us--also a VERY good thing.

i have long been a fan of the raleigh farmers market, but a) it's HUGE and sometimes a little overwhelming, and b) it's far away. we still go--just not as often as we did when we lived downtown. and there's something to be said for a smaller marketplace--it's more intimate. the farms represented here seem to be fairly modest in size, and the farmers and sellers seem knowledgable and enthusiastic about what they do. it gets us all excited about the food we are eating, and it has definitely made me more enthusaistc about cooking lately, too! it's a little more expensive than going to the grocery store, but i feel so much better about the quality of the food and about the types of farms we are supporting that i think it's worth every cent.

so far, we've bought the following things from the new farmers market: arugula, radishes, romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, swiss chard, a basil plant, whole wheat and seeded breads, stuffed baguettes, carrots, radishes, squash, eggs, ny strip steaks, breakfast sausage, lamb bratwurst, ground beef, a whole chicken, pork chops, goat cheese in various forms, camambert, mozerella cheese, broccoli, savoy cabbage, spring onions of every color, elephant garlic, asparagus, flounder, swordfish, trigger fish, scallops, shrimp, sunburst tomatoes, grape tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. i am probably forgetting some things...

some of the more amazing meals we've made featuring these things?
  • grilled cumin-rubbed NY strips, sliced and served with a two part salad. part 1: baby arugula tossed in a french vinaigrette with sliced radishes and shaved goat manchego; part 2: chopped sunburst tomatoes and purple spring onions with basil tossed in olive oil, balsamic, and lemon juice. (we've made this a few times, because we love it so much!)
  • pan fried trigger fish with cheese grits and sauteed swiss chard with soy and lemon.
  • diver scallops sauteed with garlic, butter, lemon, and white wine over pasta with sundried tomatoes, spinach, and baby portabella mushrooms tossed with cream and parmesan.
  • roasted herb-stuffed chicken with sweet potatoes and steamed asparagus. (made stock from the carcass.)
  • lamb bratwurst with roasted rosemary potatoes and savoy cabbage slaw. (see recipe below) (see also picture)
  • flounder soaked in buttermilk, breaded in cormeal and 3 peppers, and pan fried in peanut oil and butter with the leftover potatoes and slaw from the above meal. (see picture)
  • and last but no least, lunch after the farmers market run has become 1/2 a mini stuffed baguette from la farm bakery with a salad made from whatever fabulous veggies we got that day.
here's the recipe for the fabulous savoy cabbage slaw i made my messing around in my fridge this weekend:
1 sm. head of savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, grated
1 white or purple spring onion, thinly sliced
1 clove fresh elephant garlic (could use 1/2 a clove of cured elephant garlic or 1 clove regular garlic as well)
~1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
~2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
juice from 1/2 a lime
1-2 tablespoons good vinaigrette (i used briana's traditional french vinaigrette)
2-3 tablespoons miracle whip (yes i know--hush! i grew up eating this, and have not yet found a replacement for it in salads. i like the sweetness and the creaminess
mix it all up. chill. eat.

and now, i leave you with one more picture. here are the blueberry scones i made at 6:30 this morning just because i wanted them. the berries in these are from right down the road, and are second in flavor only to the ones on my pseudo-in-laws' farm. so good!

blueberry scones

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

catching up

it's been so long since i have written that i feel like i need to catch the blog up on my life. kind of funny how this thing that's mainly cathartic and fun can sometimes put pressure on you. or well--i guess that's really ME putting pressure on myself, a thing you would think i would get used to after almost 40 years. lol.

so anyway. let's start with the kid, and then later i'll get around to mama.

kieran turned one. the fastest year of my life! it's almost impossible for me to believe he's one, to tell you the truth. i am still adjusting to the fact that he's actually MY baby and that i am not playing house with someone else's child. but i guess we'll keep him. :)

hatchling 5
for his first birthday, the hippie and i took the day off and took him to the zoo (pictures here), which was great fun for all, in spite of the fact that this kid is NOT a stroller napper. thank goodness he does ok without naps once in a while--he fell asleep in the car before we even got out of the parking lot on the way home.

then we had a birthday party for him (pictures here), which was just a simple cookout at our house with our friends and their kids. he had fun watching all the other kids, but was a bit confused by the singing and the FIRE on the cupcake. he got to have his own cupcake, with predictable results. he's a fan of the cupcake, it turns out. not too big of a shock--he IS my son, after all. i gave all the kids bubbles and beachballs and turned them loose in the back yard--much fun. :)

learning tower

standing around


dinosaur, deconstructed

in the month since his birthday, he's somehow stopped being a baby (although we still call him the baby), and started being a little boy. he has developed all these opinions about food all of a sudden. i LOVE avacados! i hate avacados--what the hell is that green mess you are trying to kill me with?! yay, strawberries! but not cut up like that please--i will take a whole strawberry mother, and i want it NOW! blueberries! oatmeal is my favorite, but i prefer to eat it myself with this spoon, which i will hold upside down and then fling. no mama--what are you thinking? YOU feed me! whew! i just offer the kid everything in the house, one thing and one form at a time, bot with and without utinsils, until something sticks. if he flings it, pushes it away, knoocks it out of my hand, or violently shakes his head, i take the thing away. if i try 10 things without succes, i give up and release him from the confines of the high chair. some meals he eats it all. some hardly any. welcome to toddlerhood. i know this is all perfectly normal, and that it is, in fact, important for his development, but it sure can try the patience at 7am. lol.

all that said--he's so freakin' cute! and lovey and affectionate and fun--he definitely makes up for it all. he continues to sleep well, develop at an alarming rate, grow like a weed, and make us both (all three if you count aunt jenn) fall in love with him 10 times a day. he's a joy.

observe the diffrence one year makes:
daddys hand 0-1

Friday, April 24, 2009

playing in the new yard

funny that it's been over two years,and i still think of this house in which we live as the "new house" and the yard as the "new yard." until this spring, my intentions for this yard have been mostly just intentions. my road to hell is well-paved. and i know, i know-i had a baby--yadda yadda yadda. but that baby is mostly an excuse for times when i just can't get my shit together. and gardening? well--it's hard! and i am ignorant about it, and digging holes sucks. and sweating. and when it's too hot, i tend to prefer sitting onthe porch with a big glass of iced tea to being out where the evil sun can smite me. but as always, i digress...

red bud tree, budding

dogwood buds 3

dogwood flower

shiny new leaves
this spring has been different. this spring, i have started to get my shit together. i have read books, researched, sketched things out in my head, and formed some long term plans. it's as though i am mentally accepting that we really do own this house and are allowed to do things like plant stuff in the actual ground instead of just in pots. oddly enough, our planting efforts seem to coincide with holidays. on valentines day, we bought two trees for the back yard: a red bud and a dogwood. old school, traditional trees i have loved since childhood. i learned that there are one million types of redbud and basically two types of dogwood, although the cherokee dogwood does come in two colors. i picked white, which is what i had growing up in the woods that surrounded my house. the redbud is a lovely lilac-y pink with these gorgeous shiny purple leaves. we got big-ass trees. the hippie dug big-ass holes. they bloomed a LOT, and are now leafy and thriving. one day, they will make a bower of shadiness between them, and i will put a garden bench there with a blueberry bush at either end. and there will be bulbs around the bases of the trees. and periwinkle. and stuff. but not yet. for now--they are just trees.



easter weekend we planted dirt. we dug out the from flower bed (if you can call it that), and replaced about a third of the existing dirt (by which i mean clay with rocks and construction debris in it), with a mixture of peat moss, fertilizer, soil conditionaer, limestone, and perlite. i have become a wheelbarrow chemist. we added a thick-ish layer of mulch on top. then on the following monday, i went to garden supply, which is AWESOME, and got two azeleas, two gerbera daisies, a dahlia, and a scabiosa plant. i had to dig my own holes this time, and i actually managed to get it all in the ground while the critter was a'napping--a miracle. so far, nothing has died and everything is blooming. yay!

this weekend, the hippie is going to help me make a box for a small raised vegetable garden in the back yard. and we are going to extend the from flower beds to accomodate some herbs. this part scares the beejeezus out of me. the herbs i think will be fine. the vegetable box could well be a huge unmitigated disaster. i have never grown a vegetable in my life. however, i am going to give it a shot at least. and if it works out, i will add a second box next year. and if THAT works out and i end up enjoying that part of it, i will add some raised beds to my long-term landscape architecting plan for the back yard. this plan is very long term, and involves things like retaining walls and screened in porches and how the neighbor's tree will grow to chade part of the yard, etc. there is much to consider.

there are days when i miss our old yard so much! it was insane, but it had once been heavily gardened and loved--there was ALWAYS something blooming, and things would come out of nowhere and surprise you. i miss walking through the yard and cutting little bouquets for my little bee bottle. but at the same time, i now get to create a whole little landscape, literally from scratch. it's kind of thrilling, but also intimidating.

so look people--help! if you have ideas or suggestions, or sources of information, or good gardening books to recommend, PLEASE share them! especially on gardening in the south, and vegetable and herb gardening in small spaces. i ahve been relying heavily on don hasting's book, month-by-month gardening in the south, which came highly recommended and has yet to fail me, but i know one resource isn't enough. so you know, help a sister out.

ps--i took all those flower pictures with my new camera, which is really not all that new at this point, but which i am finally starting to learn to use. the hippie gave it to me for my birthday last year, so he's been a little annoyed that i haven't used it more. again with the intimidation. however, so far, it's awesome! i think it will get even better if i get around to reading the book of instructions. hmmmm...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

used to be...

i used to design textiles. it was a lovely and rewarding and creative thing to be able to do for a living, an i am unbelievably glad for the experience of it. here's one of my designs:

last night, i had dinner with an old friend from the industry, one of only a tiny handful of people i know doing this now and possibly the best working relationship of my whole life. she's great, and seeing her was awesome--she is in NC for the high point furniture market, which is a shadow of its former self, but still important to the shreds of the american furniture world. but--we were talking about the state of the profession in the united states today, and friends--it is bleak. i know this, and have known since NAFTA passed that the textile industry in this country had numbered days. in fact, it's a huge part of why i left the industry when i did to go back to school. there were many reasons, but that was one of them. anyway. it's depressing as hell to me that this once great profession and industry, once something like the 3rd largest in our country, was basically handed over to other countries on a silver platter by our own government. where was the bailout money then? further, what are all those people i knew in the 6 years i spent in that industry now doing for work? i can count on one hand the ones still affiliated with textiles. there's no going back, i don't think, and it's woefully depressing.

today a friend from my current job, which is not at all creative, sent me a link to the website and blog of a wonderful woman in australia, and she said to me--i think this woman has your dream job. and she does. it's bittersweet to find things like this. on one hand, i LOVE her work, and i find her life inspiring. on te other, i am just not sure that kind of thing is even possible right now in the united states. i know people do it, but the ones who do always seem to have some other means of financial support and an etsy shop on the side instead of making a living designing beautiful things.

*sigh* i am not looking for a solution or huge insight here. i am just feeling a little melancholy today for the career that was and can never be again. i'll get over it.

Monday, April 20, 2009


this weekend, the hippie was out of town, and my good friend meredith was in town. i helped throw a baby shower for another good friend, and meredith and i had other friends over for brunch on sunday. there was much running around. the critter came to the baby shower with me, and was quite a hit. he provided much entertainment. i also made red velvet cupcakes, a cheese plate, and lemonade for said shower. and i decided you people need to know about this lemonade, as it's easy, fabulous, and excellent if you want to bring an easy-to carry beverage to a party. kids and adults both love it.

here's what you do. in a 1-quart container (i use old chinese soup take out containers for this, but a mayonaise jar or mason jar would also work well), combine the following to make lemonade concentrate:
  • 1 cup of fresh lemon juice (about 5 large lemons worth)
  • about a teaspoon and a half of lemon zest (from about half a lemon)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of hot water
now, shake it up. put this in the fridge until you need it--you can make it anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 weeks ahead. when you get ready to use it, just pour the concentrate into a pitcher and add about 8 cups of cold water (or seltzer, if you want some bubbly)--that's two quarts, so you can just fill up the container it's already in twice to get the right amount of water. it looks lovely if you top it with a few thin slices of lemon. pour over ice to serve, and add lemon slices, mint, or you know, vodka, if you want a little something extra.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

mama's potato salad

ok. i know. by tomorrow, what i meant was THURSDAY. and i know. there's no picture. this is because i can't remember shit anymore. but anyway--here's the cookbook entry all the same, and i promise it's tasty and pretty even though you can't see a picture of it! :)

my mama is famous for this potato salad. i can't tell you how many times i have eaten it at barbeques, cook-outs, pot-luck lunches, picnics, and holidays, and i still love it every time. of all us kids, my brother doug is really the only one who can make it like mama. i still try, and other people always seem to like it, but to me, it is just never quite the same. maybe it's because there are no measurements to speak of in mama's kitchen...the measurements are usually things like "some" and "a little."

  • potatoes (idaho, peeled, or red skinned, not peeled)
  • eggs
  • sweet pickle relish or salad cubes
  • onion
  • mayonnaise, or Miracle whip, if you want to be authentic
  • mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
so this is a dynamic sort of recipe based on how big your bowl is and how many people you are going to feed. let's assume a pretty big bowl, and that this is a side for a cook-out with like 10 people. i would start with one medium potato per person plus a couple of extras, so let's say 10-12 med. potatoes. peel and cube these, and then boil them until soft, about 20 minutes. drain well when done. at the same time, put 8-ish eggs in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. boil 10 minutes. cool and peel the eggs, then chop and add to the drained potatoes.

ok--this next part is where you get to use your zen. for this amount of potatoes and eggs, i would start with a big heaping tablespoon of relish, and about 1 and a half medium yellow onions, chopped. add these to the potatoes. next, add about a teaspoon of mustard, and about 2 heaping tablespoons of mayo. stir it up, and add mayo a little at a time until you get the right texture. taste often, and do not hesitate to add a little mustard or relish if you think it needs it. salt and pepper to taste--it takes more salt than you think it will, and don't be shy with that pepper!

this is a GREAT recipe to make a day ahead, as the onion flavor sort of makes it, and that takes at least a few hours to steep through the whole salad.

Monday, March 30, 2009

cookbook posts a'comin'

i used to have a pretty active website, back in the day. and part of the website was a little cookbook that started mostly as a way for me to keep track of recipes I had scribbled on pieces of paper--family stuff and things from all over the place that i didn't want to lose. i was making one such thing this weekend, it it ocurred to me that i should share these, as they are already written up and all...

so--these are on the way. look for #1 of them tomorrow. the rest i'll post as i make them again so i have pictures to go with them. :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

believe it or not...

i've been knitting!

kylie's baby blanket
yesterday at lunchtime, i sat outside in the lovely weather and wove in the ends on the blanket i knitted at warp speed for my friend kylie, whose baby boy is due in just over a month. this is a tried and true pattern for me, and one many babies love above all other blankets. plus it's affordable, machine washable and dryable (driable?), soft as clouds, and quick to knit. it's a simple 4x5 basketweave with garter edges. this one's 5 skeins of paton's melody in le grande bleu, knitted on size 15 addi turbos. knitted in less than 2 weeks, which for me, is nothing short of a miracle.

butterfly hat, FO
i also finished (and mailed!) the butterfly hat (free pattern on ravelry) for my friend amy in oregon, where she promises me it is still cold enough to wear it. i confessed to her that i actually wore it myself last weekend for emily and my walk on the beach in the freezing wind. it was a tad harder to mail after that--i may make one of thse for myself. this is knitted in malabrigo (the BEST hat yarn) in the velvet grapes colorway on size 8 something or others... anyway, totally fun to knit, and i love the result.

mabel, CO
i've also been having a bit of a delusional cast-on problem lately. i keep starting projects with this kind of field of dreams mentality of "if i cast it on, somehow it will get knitted." this is the mable dress from erika knight's book, simple knits for cherished babies, that i have wanted to make for years. however, i have never before known anyone having a baby girl at the right time of year for it. now i do, but odds of me being able to get it finished in time? well, we'll just see. if i don't make it in time for boo, then some baby sometime in the future is going to get a lovely little classic dress knitted from jaeger sienna in the creatively named colorway, 404. i will refer to it as lilac. so far, it's slow going, but lovely.

kieran's hoodie, WIP
and since mable isn't knitting itself up at warp speed, i needed a faster back-up project. thus this hooded tunic i am making for kieran. this is a pattern from knitting pure and simple that i have made before from noro silk garden--that one is one of my favorite finished objects of all time. this one is a dark grey (darker than the picture looks) wool, silk, and viscose blend called mas acero from brooks farm, which i bought at SAFF in 2007 specifically to make into a hoodie for my then-unborn baby. i was going great guns on this until i realized i might be having a weird gauge issue. i need to address that--there may have to be frogging and redoing on different needles--we'll see... so far, i am happy with the fabric, but i dislike how the yarn gives me corpse-colored fingers when i knit with it. this will get a vinegar soak before i wash it when it's done.

be sweet magic ball, lemonade
and as if that's not enough (and it's definitely not--who are we kidding?) i've started buying a new yarn here and there in spite of the fact i have enough yarn to last me a good 3 years of constant knitting. at the beach this past weekend, i picked up this lovely skein of be sweet magic ball in the lemonade colorway. nevermind that my pasty white face has no business anywhere near these colors--i want to knit a ruffle out of this. i almost HAVE to. my friend kerstin's fabulous suggestion was to make a skirt and put this around the bottom as a thin ruffle--i REALLY want to do that! now i just need to learn to sew...

i also bought yarn to make some chickens, but we'll get to that later. :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

6 or 7 years

6 years ago today, the hippie moved in with me. he's still awesome, and i still like him pretty well. we're not really doing much this year to commemorate, but he sent me some beautiful flowers at work--excellent surprise! the view from my desk right now is perfectly lovely. :)

pink daisy

love you, hippie!

in other news, it's also his mama's birthday, so we must include a happy birthday shout out to denise! :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


this past weekend, my friend emily and i snuck away for a little overnight jaunt to the beach to hang out, knit, eat, visit a fabulous yarn store, and walk on the beach. it was refreshing and awesome, and we got a bit of a break in that the weather turned out to just be cold instead of cold and rainy. here are some photos from our walk to make you jealous:


winter sun



bit of blue

the rest are here.

ps--stayed in the seahawk motor lodge. it was all good till my bed was full of sand. ew. next time, we're trying the atlantis. it's been recommended, and the sign alone makes me want to stay there.