Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A baby blanket for a wombat, in numbers

The plan was developed in stages. I went to the store, looked at yarn, and found what I wanted back in July some time.

Initial skeins of yarn: 5 (2 multicolored, 1 green, 1 purple, 1 yellow)

Skeins of yarn purchased by the end of the process: 9 (3 multicolored, 2 green, 2 purple, 2 yellow)

Dan and I tossed around ideas for how to use the yarn I bought. We each used colored pencils and graph paper to brainstorm. Dan's design ended up being the one I used. Then, he calculated how many of each kind of square I needed to knit (4 solo multi, 10 half multi half multi/purple, etc.)

Ideas drawn before determining a winner: at least 10

Squares in winning design: 64

Patterns used in squares: 64 different (each square a different pattern)

Patterns I made up myself, either stitch patterns I knew or ones I concocted using graph paper: approximately 40

Patterns I obtained from a pattern book: approximately 24

Squares with suit patterns I made up: 4 (1 heart, 1 club, 1 diamond, 1 spade)

Size of each square: 6 by 6 inches (approximate; some squares were slightly larger and some slightly smaller)

Size of blanket, finished: 4 feet by 4 feet (after blocking, it appears to be somewhat bigger)

Hours spent knitting blanket: approximately 100. Maybe more.

Places I knitted: the couch, my national conference during sessions, hotel rooms, airplanes.

(Loki liked to help, too.)

Hours spent stitching blanket together: approximately 6

Time spent blocking: 1 hour, plus 15 hours drying time

Time spent finishing (crochet border): 2 hours

The yarn is machine washable and dryable and I hope I have constructed it such that it will be fully functional and easy to care for. Mostly I hope that it helps keep a very special baby warm through a cold and damp Bay Area winter.

Made with love,
Emily, who met his parents on the internet

Monday, November 24, 2008

More tease re: baby blanket

Tomorrow I will have a great big post with tons of photos. Tonight, well, here's another tease.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Good things come

a. I am feeling much better today neckwise. I hope this is a permanent and not a temporary thing.

b. Last night, I got that much closer to finishing Wombat's blanket.

c. Also, I made a successful brand new dinner (ie, made something I'd never made before): wild rice pilaf with turkey kielbasa and sauteed mushrooms, and I baked 2 halves of a golden acorn squash with brown sugar and butter. Super yummy!

d. Next week I get to see Leah and Simon, and Oldest Friend, and Scarlett, and spend time with my family, and spend time with Dan's family, and go to H&M, and go to Trader Joe's, and get a Specialty's cookie (the best cookies in the whole wide world), and go to Berkeley Bowl. And I don't have to do anything related to weddings.

e. A friend of a friend wants me to help with her wedding flowers (I offered before) and this has me very excited.

f. And I got my hairs cut today, finally! What do you all think? (It's not the most flattering photo (hello, bad skin in fluorescent light!), but you can kinda see the layers).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's not funny anymore

I hurt my neck in a car accident in June of 2006.

I hurt my neck again last December when I slipped and fell on our back stairs. And again in yoga class a few times. And had some sort of stress-related reaction in the same spot right before the wedding. I hurt it again right before my sister's wedding. And again in another yoga class, so I stopped taking yoga.

It had been a few months. I was back up to my previous weights in my weights classes, and was feeling pretty good.

Then, this morning it had dropped more than 30 degrees overnight, plus it sleeted a little, and I slipped on the back stairs again. I didn't actually fall down because I caught myself but boy howdy did I immediately feel it in that same spot in my neck.

I walked with my gym buddy at lunch, and felt a little better after that, but now my aleve has worn off and I am grumpy. I want to yell at my neck, but that doesn't seem to do any good.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Taking a page from Sara

and posting a sneak preview of the knitting project that has been forefront on my mind (and the thing I've spent the most time working on) since July.

It's Wombat's blanket, and it's awesome.

Full post with details and photos after his parents get it on Monday.

I am so close to being finished I can taste it. A few more evenings' work, and it will be fully baby-ready.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Urban Dictionary Meme

This is a meme I got from Bequi.

Go to and type in your answer to each question in the search box, then write the definition it gives you.

1. Your name:

a. slang term for a highly attractive and sexually intriguing individual. (It's true!)
b. A code word for alcohol. (eh?)
c. The hottest girl alive. usually gives people boners and she is a nice and loyal friend. (hee!)

2. Your age:

a. The age at which most women stop aging (or so they say!). (Should my birthday in March be an anniversary of my current age or a celebration of my new age?)
b. The traditional length of a balisong (butterfly knife) in centimeters. Approxiamatly 11.4 inches, of which the blade makes up for about 5 inches and the handle the rest.
c. 29 is akin to, in the words of most, "Humping a Humpback whale". The 2 from sideways looks like a whale's hump and tail, hence the whale part, and the 9 is you. 29 resembles you humping a whale. It is a strange new thing that is catching on rapidly. (WTF?)

3. A friend: (OF's real name)

a. A Crunchie; Brown on the outside, blonde on the inside. (not true!)
b. The act of throwing away like you throw away someone after bad sex. (wow, someone really needs to redefine her name on Urban Dictionary!)

4. What should you be doing? (getting my hair cut, because this one wasn't obvious)

a. (1) obnoxiously trendy scene kid with bangs that cover his or her eyes
(2) ob"scene" individual with ridiculously cut and teased hair

b. a drinking act involving:
- two people
- alchohol
- energy drink or gatorade
one person tilts their head back and closes their throat. the other person then pours small amount of energy drink, large amount of alchohol, and small amount of energy drink in that order. the drinker then tilts their head up and swallows the drink simultaneously. this is done for two reasons: you dont feel it going down no matter the alchohol percent and it gets you very drunk very fast. (damn, things have changed since I was in college)

5. Favorite color?

a. yes... it is most definitely referring to the marijuana... and also, upon occassion, any substance with similar uses. too, properly, of course, it is a golfing term, but that's really not very much fun, now is it? (If you're at Fort Fun it is!)

b. 1. adj. noob, unexperienced
2. n. Money
3. n. Weed, Marijuana
4. adj. Good.
5. The Color, Duh. (I think this was actually a good definition)

6. Hometown(s):

a. Home Of The Cloverdale Rodeo
Known For It's Gangster's and Cowboys! (must be a different Cloverdale)

b. small town in sonoma county (nor cal) where there is not shit to do (truer words were never spoken)

c. AKA geezer-ville, fucking-nothing-to-do-ville.

Tourists are constantly drunk, and coyotes are eating babies.

Some like to call it "Boonfuckalucka".
Person 1: What do you want to do?
Person 2: What the fuck are we supposed to do? We're in fucking Geyserville.
Person 1: POST OFFICE BABY!!!!!

7. Last person you talked to: (my supervisor's name)

a. a freak, that does not fart and has problems that nead to be worked out with a profeshional. (HEE!)

8. Nickname:

a. A way to call a person that switch schools after every schoolyears.
b. The letters MLE are an abbreviation that represents Melissa Etheridge's full name; Melissa Lou Etheridge.
The MLE initals are often used in place of speaking the name Melissa Etheridge out loud, or writing of the name Melissa Etheridge. MLE is commonly used by fans, as well as journalists.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Civil Marriage = Civil Right

Dan had some schoolwork to do on Saturday morning, so after I worked on Wombat's blanket (I'm so close to being done I can taste it) I headed down to the city and county building to attend the anti-prop 8 rally. The rally was held simultaneously in cities across the country, and the one in Denver probably had close to 1,000 people.

The rally was peaceful and beautiful. I just wish more people had known about it; I know PrideFest here attracts a huge crowd every year.

Here are some of the photos I took.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Things I dreamed about last night that I hope never to dream about again

1. Breastfeeding someone else's baby. WTF?

2. Getting an itemized bill at my work from someone who decided to charge me for commenting on my blog.

3. My family getting injured in a fiery flatbed accident.

4. My mom deciding not to put up Christmas decorations.

I didn't mind the part about modeling (like in ANTM) for someone with a camera, partially nude, with props like my cat's tail. It was all artsy and black and white anyhow.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Last night I made soup and it was hella good

Here is what I did.

First, on Tuesday night I rinsed and soaked about 1.5 (dry) cups of navy beans overnight. I changed out the water and continued to soak them all day Wednesday. When I got home at 7 PM, I chopped up one onion, 2 celery stalks, 1 large carrot, 1 small parsnip, and one small rutabaga and sauteed them in the soup pot for a few minutes in a little canola oil until they started to soften. Then I added the beans and 4 cups of chicken broth (I use water and a chicken base which is like non-hard boullion). I put the lid on the pot and let it cook at a pretty rapid simmer for about an hour. I added a cup of water. Then, I chopped up half a turkey kielbasa (into rounds) and about 3 large handfuls of baby spinach (coarsely chopped) and added that. 15 minutes later, it was done.

Seasonings were a little salt and pepper, some savory and some oregano. And the leafy tops of the celery stalks.

And it was SO INCREDIBLY good that this morning Dan said he may need to relinquish his title of King of Soup. I told him that I'm a girl so I could be the Queen of soup and he could be the king still. He said OK.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On becoming a grown-up: The Hotel Room

We go to California several times a year. We've gone 7 times since August of 07 which I think has to be some sort of record (granted, one of those times was to SoCal, but it was still California). When we go, we always stay with friends or family members because it helps cut down on the cost of the trip - and we've been fortunate enough to have enough people who like us that it hasn't been difficult to find places to stay.

This time, we plan to spend most of the trip staying at my mom's house up in the 'dale. But we fly in on a Monday and we'd like to at least have Tuesday in the Bay Area to do stuff (I have an H&M gift card I'm itching to spend). And we'd like to spend Monday evening with Leah and Simon (Wombat permitting). So, what to do? Leah and Simon have a baby imminent. My sister and her husband have my other sister in their spare oom. My cousin will be just getting back from a big trip around the world. Maybe the Irish German has space? or maybe one of Dan's relatives wouldn't mind putting us up for the night?

It suddenly occurred to me when I was at the gym this afternoon that we could get a hotel room in the city. That way, since we fly into SFO we only have to drive up to the city. We could meet Leah and Simon somewhere in the city. And we could already be there on Tuesday morning (no need to drive all over the bay area or take BART) for the shopping excursion I'd like to do. It solves our issues, nobody has to be put out, and we get to sleep in a bed.

This is the first time I've ever thought of doing this. It's the first time since we've been together, and traveling to CA together, that I even considered the possibility of shelling out a little bit of cash for a lot of convenience and privacy. I guess we're at the point (old, married, gainfully employed) where we can actually do that, instead of having to rely on the kindness of our friends and relatives. It's not worth saving a few bucks and putting other people out.

I think this means I'm officially heading toward adulthood. It's a little bit weird, but not entirely a bad place to be.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Totally random things that I really really hate

1. Those creepy flappy blown up arm waving thingies that they have at car dealerships and store grand openings. They scare the crap out of me.

2. The band Rush.

3. That the phone company never seems to actually send me the rebate they owe me when I buy a new phone.

4. When I'm in the middle of knitting something and I get to a part of the yarn where they HAVE TIED A KNOT IN THE YARN AND IT IS NOT CONTINUOUS, which usually results in me having to either start over or un-knit (tink) the whole row.

5. That someone apparently stole my ipod which was my Christmas present from Dan.


Kimba, a new(ish? how long have you been reading?) reader and blogger, has bestowed upon me some blog love. Hooray!

In return, I'm supposed to pass the love forward. The rules, as I understand them, are:

Displaying the award.
Linking back to the person who gave it to you.
Paying it forward & nominating 7 blogs.
Leaving comments on their blogs telling them they’ve received one.
Enjoying the award.

Hm. Now I have to pick seven blogs that I love. But how can I choose when there are so many? These are the ones I've been loving most in the last month:

1. Great Big Nerd. Not only my husband, but also a mighty fine writer.

2. Jive Turkey, who makes me laugh or makes me think or both every time she posts something.

3. A Girl and A Boy. Because what's better than watching a friend gestate?

4. Nothing But Bonfires, who gets to travel for work and can make the most mundane events interesting to read about.

5. Smitten Kitchen: food porn extraordinaire.

6. Streaks on the China, whose election map kept my spirits high. Also, she is very pretty.

7. All and Sundry, which is by far my favorite "mommy" blog.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Disappointed in my home state

I have been wanting to write about this but haven't found the right words. Let me sum up: despite being elated at the result of the presidential election (and in particular how Colorado voted), the fact that Proposition 8 passed in California has cast a pall over the last several days. I am both flabbergasted and seethingly angry that California voted to make conditions more humane for farm animals, yet at the same time voted for a constitutional amendment to take rights away from people. Rights that my husband and I feel so strongly that everyone should be able to have that we used an exerpt from the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision on gay marriage in our wedding ceremony.

I...I just don't understand it. I don't understand the propaganda hate machine that somehow convinced 52% of the voting population that continuing to allow gay people to get married would equal children being "taught gay marriage in school", would mean that "churches would be forced to marry gay people!". Maybe I'm just an unfrozen caveman lawyer, and your world frightens and confuses me, but my husband and I got married in California and the few months California allowed gay marriage didn't affect our marriage one bit. Children aren't "taught" straight marriage in school, let alone gay marriage. During those months, nobody forced any church to marry anybody. Nor have these things happened in the other states that allow gay people to marry.

I know I've mentioned my favorite wedding photographer before, and it makes me feel good to know there are so many people in California (both in the wedding industry and not) who are so in favor of everyone having the right to get married. Jessamyn Harris wrote a beautiful post in her blog (and included some amazing photos she's taken of same-sex weddings this year) here. I hope that the energy that helped to boost our next president into the White House can continue in the fight against Prop 8, to restore what should be a civil right for every adult in this country regardless of sexual orientation.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Food on Friday, plus, it's time to celebrate!

Today was my last training of the year. Hooray! I don't have to travel any more for work. It's time to celebrate.

And what better way to celebrate than with pie? Or, to be more precise, with a browned butter pear tart? I made this last weekend and it turned out amazingly good. It was delicious warm; it was delicious cold. It may have been even better along with some gewurztraminer or other spicy white wine, or even some champagne. But we just ate it as it was, and Dan said it was one of the best baked goods I'd ever made. And that's saying something.

MLE's browned butter pear tart

Filling: 2 large ripe pears, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly (Comice worked VERY well)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp white sugar

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 cup (half a stick) butter
enough ice water to make dough stick together

1/2 cup finely chopped or sliced almonds for topping

Oven: 375F

Prepare pears, gently toss with ginger/sugar and set aside. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. When butter has started to brown, continue to stir until butter is the color of brown sugar. Remove from heat and refrigerate until butter is solid again. Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients using pastry blender. Once butter is completely solid, cut into flour etc. until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. It will smell hella good. (Can you tell I'm from N. California?) Add ice water a few drizzles at a time and toss with a fork until the dough holds together OK. Transfer dough to a floured surface and gently press it out into a flattened circle with your hand, then roll it out enough to make approximately 10 inch circle. If you roll it out on waxed paper (like I do), you can lift it up and turn it over onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Pile pears in the center of the crust, then fold edges over so they overlap the pears an inch or so. Top with almonds. Bake for 30 minutes or until filling is soft and bubbly. Let it sit for a little while before you cut into it.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

It's not nice to throw things at a pig

This past weekend, Dan and I had the idea to go in search of a corn maze for some daytime outdoorsiness during what may have been one of the last nice weekends in a long time. Due to our not having internet at home, we decided we'd just drive up to the northeast a bit and see if there were any signs advertising one, but we made it to Ft. Lupton without any luck so we turned around and settled for going to the pick-your-own berry farm again.


Of course, there were no berries available for picking this time, it being way too late in the season for that. But it's a working farm and they grow a lot of other stuff, so we knew at the very least we'd end up with some super tasty produce. It turned out we managed to get some pretty good photo opportunities as well. One of the great things was that the chickens and the turkeys and the pig were all out and about, and let me tell you, you haven't lived until a fat potbellied pig has snuffed her nose into your leg begging for some attention, or until you've heard four different roosters of varying colors and sizes in a crowing competition, or until you've seen domesticated turkeys up close and in person, because DAMN those things are weird looking.

There was no gobbling, just a sort of weird alien burbling sound.

Where I grew up we had wild turkeys, which traveled in big flocks and were less than half the size of the domestic guys (they would also never have just stood still with people only a few feet away). We also had chickens when I was a kid, but never had more than one or two roosters at a time, and our chickens were all of the brown or speckled white-and-black varieties, so to see a whole bunch of different breeds of chicken was pretty cool. Especially the ones with the feathered feet.

Feathers! On their feet! Nutty!

It's not easy being normal when all your fellow chickens are all cool and feather-footed.

It was a glorious afternoon, and we came away with a great haul: purple potatoes, a delicata squash, a purple kohlrabi, candy onions, a pie pumpkin, a huge red bell pepper (the last of the season). We each got some really nice photos, and there were only two drawbacks to the outing. First, while we were there a whole lot of military families converged on the place, and the parents seemed far more interested in paying attention to each other than to what their kids were doing. I didn't mind so much seeing little boys chasing chickens around the place, but it really bothered me when the super friendly little pig settled down by the feet of a dad seated at a picnic table, and several children gathered around. At first, they behaved OK, taking turns at giving her pets. But one boy started throwing dirt chips on her, and then another one, and then all the kids were kicking and throwing dirty bark in her face. It made me really angry that none of the parents discouraged their kids from this behavior.

The nicest pig around.

Second, the eastern part of Colorado grows only a few main crops: corn, beets, and onions. A neighboring farm was "doing" their onions (I was told by the lady at the berry farm, though I don't know if this meant they were picking them or cutting the tops off or what, but damn, that was some irritating air to the eyes). Even being inside wasn't much better; the air was laden with hurty onion-ness and it felt like the worst allergy attack ever.

I think it's supposed to look like this.

Much better to look at than to eat.

All things considered, though, we had a good outing. And I finally put a kohlrabi to the use it was intended: I made cole slaw with the grated kohlrabi, a large carrot, and about 1/4 of a green cabbage sliced really thinly. It made a great slaw, but next time I'll wait to make it until we'll be feeding a larger group. I've been eating leftovers in my lunch all week.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What a difference 4 years makes

Four years ago, Dan made curried red lentils for dinner - a dish we both really, really like. We had the news on and were watching the returns for a while. We each ate about 5 bites of dinner. And we didn't eat red lentils again for at least a year.

Last night, after running a fruitless errand and picking up a bottle of pink champagne (in honor of Leah and Simon, who understandably chose Martinelli's instead), I prepared a meal of, well, stuff. I modified a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and it turned out amazingly good. When it was done, I ate every bite of my portion with great gusto as the returns came in on the teevee. This is a quintessential fall dish, and one I'm sure I'll be making again several times.

MLE's squash, pear, and carmelized onion thingy

1 smallish squash, maybe 1 to 1.5 pounds (I used a delicata, but I'm sure a butternut squash would work too)
1 large pear (I used comice because it worked so well in the pear tart I made over the weekend, recipe to follow)
2 small candy onions (you could use one medium sized regular yellow onion)
dollop of olive oil
1 cup cooked chicken, cut/torn into pieces (Dan roasted a chicken on Sunday night so I used chicken leftover from this) (Leave this out if you want the dish to be veg. friendly)
salt and pepper
garlic powder

2 slices dried bread, turned into crumbs (we save our bread ends to use for breadcrumbs)
generous amount of grated parmesan (maybe 1/4 cup?)
1 tbsp butter, melted
salt and pepper

Slice onions into thin rings and then cut rings in half. Carmelize onions in a skillet over low heat with some olive oil. This will take a while. Turn the heat up under the onions when they've all turned translucent. They will start to smell Really Good. Peel and seed squash and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Peel and core pear and cut into thin slices. Layer squash, pear, and chicken in bottom of 8x8 glass pan (mine went, from bottom to top: squash, pear, squash pear with chicken kind of mixed in). Add some salt and pepper and garlic powder. Top with carmelized onions. Cover pan with aluminium foil and bake at 350F for about 35 minutes.

When the stuff in the pan is steamy and seems pretty soft, remove from the oven. Combine bread crumbs, parmesan, and seasonings and mix in melted butter. Sprinkle over top of pan. Put it back in the oven, uncovered for another 15 minutes.


ps. Great minds think alike.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Full of Hope

Last night, as we were settling down for the evening, I told Dan that this was the first election in my memory that, in my opinion, there was an excellent candidate, someone about whom I am very excited, someone who I can't wait to see get into office. There have been good candidates, and terrible candidates, and worst-ever candidates, but never in my living memory a candidate that I thought was a truly great candidate.

I also told him that I want this candidate to be president, not just for the sake of the country (and our worldwide reputation) or for my sake but for the sake of my future children. I want my kids to grow up in a world shaped, in part, by this person.

While today has been somewhat of a nail biter (though I haven't actually bitten my nails), for the very first time in this long, drawn out election process, I am letting myself feel hope. Hope that the candidate I support wins the election, but also hope that the state I live in helps him to achieve that goal. I never thought I'd see Colorado go so blue (Currently, we have a Dem governor, one (soon to be two, fingers crossed! Dem senator, and likely 5 of 7 reps Dem as well. Crazy.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The only year it didn't bother me was 2005 because we were in China

I hate the fall time change.

There, I've said it. I love the spring one, because I see more daylight during my waking hours. I hate the fall one, because it's suddenly dark at 5 PM. This sucks. It usually takes me at least a week to get used to it, and both Dan and I are grumpy and crabby the whole time. I wish we could just stay on DST all year.

Here are some photos I took yesterday when we went for a walk a little after 4 PM, knowing we'd only have an hour left of daylight. We explored our street directly to the north for about 12 blocks, since neither of us had ever gone up that way. The biggest surprise was how many churches there were - and even a few that were no longer functional churches but that had either been turned or were in the process of being turned into expensive lofts.

This was the tallest hollyhock I've ever seen. It was at least 9 feet high. I couldn't get the entire thing in my camera frame. The sign on the church says "Slavery is wrong"

Also, I won't be officially blopping this year. We don't have internet at home and I'm just not willing to go to an internet cafe or something every weekend day of November. I do plan to post every day, plan to comment on the posts of people who are blopping, and plan to take lots of photos and put them up here for all to see. But posting all 30 days in November is just not feasible when the only reliable internet I have is at work.