Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nonstop Fun

You know, for the past few mornings I've lain in bed and let my mind wander back to a simpler time, when summer vacation meant actual leisure, relaxation and rest. Then the kids start yelling at each other, juice needs to be distributed, breakfast made, and we're back to reality. Anyone who looks forward to being able to enjoy some "time off" over summer break clearly doesn't have young children.

Now, last time we spoke I was feeling all introspecty and moody after reading a few chapters of A Gift from the Sea. Sadly, I've been unable to even pick up the damn book over the past few days, let alone read it, so you'll have to wait for any further insights I might have (I know, you're heartbroken. I can tell).

Now let me think.... Monday? I don't even remember what we did on Monday. Oh wait! Yes, the kids went to their grandparents' house for the evening and spent the night there, and Phil and I ordered pizza, I had beer, and then we went out to see a movie. Rather uncharacteristically, we saw a romantic comedy, The Ugly Truth. It was pretty good, even though I prefer Gerard Butler with his Scottish accent. I'd definitely recommend renting it.

Tuesday we picked up the kids and all headed down to Rouses Point, N.Y. for our annual day on Phil's parents' boat (and yes, I spent the entire day singing "I'm on a boat! I'm on a boat! Everybody look at me, 'cause I'm sailing on a boat!"). Again, this would be one of those trips that I used to look forward to before we had kids, and now I positively dread every year. There's just no way to get around it: having 4 adults and 2 children under 5 on a 32-foot boat just is not fun. The kids have to wear their life jackets all the time, which makes them really cranky (and I don't blame them), it's noisy, it's difficult to move around, and really, when you get right down to it, there isn't much to do.

And yet, there are indisputably a few moments that always seem to make the trip worthwile every year.
Maxime and Émilie both got a kick out of "driving" the boat, Émilie got to fish and swim in Lake Champlain. These moments are what childhood memories are all abouth, right? Let's just focus on that and try to forget the horror that was spending the night on the boat, shall we? The wounds are still too fresh on that one. *Shudder*

We came home on Wednesday and spent the day doing whosits and whatsits. I ran, Phil took Émilie to the municipal wading pool, the kids rode their bikes.

And today was much the same, excepting for the fact that Émilie got to go ride a pony with a friend from daycare who is equally as obsessed with all things "horse" as she is.

Whew! Thank goodness my vacation ends on Monday and I get to go back to work and relax!

I know I promised a return to knitting content as well. Now, I know it isn't much to look at yet, but I finally (finally!) cast on for a cardigan for myself last night, and I'm very excited. I'll be making Laura Chau's Amelia cardigan (from the Winter 2008 Knitty) and I'm using Madelinetosh tosh worsted in the Cherry colourway (oh, and about this yarn? Can I just say? Yum-O).

Speaking of which, I can hear it calling me right now. Toodles!

And Happy Knitting Everyone!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I had a few ideas rumbling about in my head today for tonight's blog post. Nothing about knitting, of course (the good news is that I'm just about finished my secret knitting project, so we should be back to knitting content shortly), but little tidbits, morsels of my daily life with the fam while on staycation.

For instance, we've discovered the barboteuse (basically a kiddie pool) at the local municipal park, and it's been a blast, for the kids and myself.

I've also continued my adventures in jam-making and made a batch of black cherry preserves yesterday. Here's an interesting fact: it takes 52 minutes to pit and stem 2 kilos of cherries.

And today we visited the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa and saw, among other things, the Mythic Beasts Exhibition. Sadly, our camera died shortly after this picture was taken, hence the lack of a non-blurry image...

Yup, this is what I was planning on writing about. Sort of like little gems of domesticity, I suppose.

But when we got home this afternoon, I was feeling a bit ill (The double quarter-pounder I ate at McDonald's apparently isn't agreeing with me - go figure!), so I retired to my boudoir and picked up a book my stepmother Margot gave me while I was visiting last week, A Gift from the Sea.

And now I'm feeling introspecty and reflective. Asking questions, analyzing my reactions to certain passages, wondering if I'll react to the same passages if (when) I read this book in a year, five years, a decade from now...

The book is about the challenges of finding serenity, or "grace" for women in modern society. I haven't finished it yet, but one of the keys to finding that balance, according to the author, is simplification (less stuff, less clutter, less pointless busyness) and solitude (to re-source yourself, to "fill the spiritual pitcher").

This might seem very personal and unrelated to the main topic of this blog, which is supposed to be knitting. But oddly, it's not. Knitting, writing this blog... I'm left wondering if they're ways of filling up time with pointless clutter to quiet the soul from expressing it's demands, or if they're part of my re-sourcing process, part of my creative alone time.

You'll be glad to hear that so far, I'm leaning towards the latter.

Happy Knitting Everyone! I'm off to read, ponder and reflect.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Summer Vacation

Wow, an entire week since my last post. Sorry about that! The kids and I went to visit Nanny and Bumpy (aka my Dad and stepmother Margot) on Friday and we only returned last night. Phil came as well, but was only able to come for the weekend. It was a great trip, tiring, trying (I flew back with both kids solo - fun times), but worth it, as always. They live on this really great property in the middle of nowhere Ontario, and we look forward to going every year.

Not much knitting got done, or rather, not much knitting that I can share with you here (I worked on my project for Little Miss Enabler, mostly). But for today I give you:

10 Things I did on my Summer Vacation:

1 - Went on a plane with both kids for the first time.

We usually just make the (gulp) 10-hour drive when we go to my Dad's, but this year we decided to fly as Phil was supposed to be working in Toronto that weekend and would be flying there anyway. The trip wound up being canceled at the last possible minute (as in, 30 minutes before he left on Friday), but the tickets were bought, so off we went. The flight went well, but nevertheless I won't be making any reservations to New Zealand with them just yet, heh.

2 - Introduced my 14-year old nephew to Rage Against the Machine. Judging by his reaction to the subtle, pensive lyrics of Killing in the Name ("This song reminds me of my mother!"), I think my brother is going to want to have a word with me when they get back to Alberta.

3 - Was introduced to the Lonely Island by my nephews. Although it could be argued as inappropriate, anyone who hasn't heard Mother Lover sung by a 12- and 14-year old doesn't know what real laughter is.

4 - Watched Emilie hunt frogs. All. Day. Long.

5 - Ditched the kids and made the drive to Waterloo to visit a friend from University whom I hadn't seen in three long years. When I told him I'd be blogging about our day together, he found it amusing that my adventures in travel had taken me from The Louvre to The 'Loo.

6 - Got my nephew to EAT MY DUST when we went out for a run together. After 10 minutes or running, he had to stop by the side of the road for a wee rest. Hah! I RULE.

7 - Went to Sauble Beach with the entire family (minus Phil, sadly). It was great fun, as always. You know, right up until is started to rain, sigh.

8 - Saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Meh! They'll never recapture the magic of the first film.

9 - Also introduced my eldest nephew to the Twilight movie. Despite his assertion that "it sucked" after his first viewing, he watched it TWICE the next day, and once the day after that. One at a time, that's how we do it!

10 - Got my Dad hooked on texting and sms. We were actually texting each other while standing together in the kitchen. It was pretty funny (but maybe you had to be there).

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

There goes the wagon

I've mentioned a few time how all I seem to want to knit lately is cardigans and sweaters. Socks and lace are all well and good, but I'm really craving the deep satisfaction from knitting a sturdy garment. Now normally this would be sheer folly in the middle of July. But since Mother Nature is apparently completely off her bird (it was a balmy 18 degrees here today), I guess it's understandable.

As I've also mentioned a few times, I have very little in terms of sweater yarn in the stash. At least, none that is suitable for the kinds of cardigans I want to knit Right Now. Quite the conundrum when you're on a (self-imposed) yarn diet.

Yeah well... about that? I had a wee bit of a slip up. Ahem.

It started innocently enough. I was going through my queue a while back, adding tags so I could find patterns (cardigans) I wanted to knit easier, and I came across Jared Flood's Hemlock Ring Blanket pattern.

I love this pattern. And it seemed to COMPLETELY fit my cravings. I mean? Lace AND a comfort item? AT THE SAME TIME? I was so there. And a little later on, I just happened to be browsing Red Bird Knits' site (Googling "Cascade + Ecological Wool + sale") where, would you know it?, they just happened to be having a sale on Ecological Wool! I KNOW, right?

So yeah, 2 hanks of Ecological Wool, in the Greyed Taupe colorway, destined to become a Hemlock Blanket.

Then! Then Robyn sent me ANOTHER pattern for my birthday. She had read that I was in lust, I mean LOVE, with Connie Chang Chinchio's Broderie, and bought me the pattern. What was I supposed to do??? It was entrapment, I tell you!

I was forced to purchase 11 balls of RYC Bamboo Soft in the Jewel colourway (the new Kim Hargreaves colours). FORCED I tell you.

Yup. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Friday, July 10, 2009


As I put Maxime to bed tonight, I read him one of my favourite children's books, Jamberry by Bruce Degen. It seemed appropriate and in accordance with the goings on at casa de Dear over the past few days.

Yesterday the wise, lovely, talented, funny, and über-kniter extraordinaire Alison came over to mentor me in my first foray into the jam making experience.

Making jam and preserves is one of those things I've always had a really romantic notion about, that I've always sighed about wanting to do and never actually did it. Well, this being the year of "I want to do it? Well, I'm gonna do it!" (tattoo, signing up for the 10km run...), I asked Alison if she would be willing to teach me how to do it, and she graciously offered to come over and show me the ropes.
Now, it must be said: spending time with Alison is always a privilege (she's an absolute riot and just an all-roud joy to be around), but spending time with her in the kitchen, learning from her? It was just a wonderful experience.

And dudes! The jam turned out SOOOOOO GOOD! Seriously, why would anyone ever eat the store bought stuff? Whenever I open one of these jars over the winter (because, there's no way in HELL I'm giving any away! Kate the Enabler will be the only recipient of my jammy love), I'll be savouring a little bit of summer, and I'll remember the time I spent with a friend to boot. I ask you: what could Smuckers possibly have on that? Nothin', that's what.

I'm now totally hooked on making jam. While on my lunch break today I strolled down to the book store and bought a book of jam and preserve recipes called Jellies, Jams & Chutneys which I can't wait to try out, as well as a Williams Sonoma book on baking bread. Because, you know, now all I want to do is smother my jam on fresh, homemade biscuits. Drooooooooooool. If Phil wakes up one night to find me gone, it'll be because I'm downstairs eating jam and making "Nom Nom" sounds.

Oh, and while at the book store I finally caved and bought myself Cookie A's Sock Innovation.

It's been so long since I've bought a knitting book! It was a toss up between this one and Wendy Johnson's Socks from the Toe-Up, but I figured since I've never knit a Cookie A. pattern yet (I may be the only knitter who doesn't have a pair of Monkeys...), it was time I let my guard down.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


As I mentioned in my last post, I finished Hamsa on Sunday night.

Knit with Knitting Notions Classic Merino Lace in the Very Berry Colourway (I won the yarn and the pattern at the Ravelry Party at Rhinebeck last year).

What can I say about this project? It was a lovely knit, I really enjoyed it. So much so that I ended up doing 12 repeats of the pattern as opposed to 9, partly because I like my scarves to be a bit on the longer side, and partly because I didn't want any of the lovely yarn to go to waste. But honestly, it was such a quick knit (you know,when I actually had time to work on it?), I really didn't mind.

I don't know what it is lately, I'm absolutely overcome with the urge to knit. Cardigans, hats, blankets, mittens. You name it, I want to knit it. It's made sticking to the whole "yarn diet" thing a bit... difficult. All I'll say is: stay tuned for some yarn pron in the next few days, OK?

I'll leave you with a picture of another type of berry, this one taken from one of my flower boxes turned strawberry patch. My good friend Alison is coming over tomorrow night to teach me the ancient and venerable art of canning and preserving, so this shot seemed appropriate :)

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Monday, July 6, 2009

I want candy

All day today, I would periodically refresh my email and ponder as to why there were no comments to my blog. Then I remembered that I hadn't posted since last week, heh. Whoopsee!

Well, despite what we might think, Summer must be here, right? Because everywhere I look, flowers are just on the brink of bursting open. My Bee Balm has grown to quite a prodigious size, and is covered with little buds, getting ready to seduce some unsuspecting butterflies...

My Hostas are stretching their delicate necks above their luscious foliage (gah.... I know, I'm trying to be all poetic and stuff, and it's coming out really cheesy, isn't it?)

And the little pumpkin plant Emilie and I planted a few weeks ago is sporting it's very first flower! See it?I don't know why I'm so excited by the idea of growing my own pumpkin for Halloween. Maybe I just watched It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown one too many times growing up? :)

Lots of my knitting is also on the verge of greatness :) My Mad Color Weave socks are past the heel, and I love them dearly, despite having to switch needles after having lost TWO 2.25 mm Harmony dpns! Those are the perils of commuter knitting, I guess...

I also finished Hamsa last night! It's upstairs blocking as I type, but by the time I was done threading everything on those blasted blocking wires (I. Hate. Blocking), the light had gone (as had my eyesight, to say nothing of my threshold for pain). Pictures next post, I promise.

And last but not least, I got some very special yarn in the mail last week. It's destined for baby knitting, for the yet to arrive Little Miss Enabler, so I can't really blog about it (Sorry!). But I can give you a wee taste...Oh yeah... this is going to be good.

Happy Knitting Everyone!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada Day

Apologies to all of you who come here for the usually abundant eye candy (Hah!). I'm going out tonight, seeing Kool and the Gang with my mother as part of the Jazz Festival, so I'm writing this post on my lunch break.

That's right, I'm working on Canada Day. *Sigh* My daycare lady decided to take Friday off for the holiday, and she pretty much calls the shots as far as vacation time goes around here. But there are a couple of upsides to this deal. First, traffic was a BREEZE this morning. Seriously, why can't every morning be this way? Second, I'm sitting in my office wearing shorts and flipflops and listening to really loud and obnoxious music, something that would really freak my boss out (but guess what? she's not here!!!). And third, as Phil usually has to take his day to coincide with the Fourth of July (his company has many American customers), we'll be spending the day together on Friday.

Yup, lots of upsides. But there's also a downside: sitting here with uninterrupted computer time, I'm finding it really, really difficult to not shop online. For yarn. *Sigh* I found a new site (thanks, Stéphanie!) that's got some absolutely drool-worthy worsted weight yarn that would be awesomeness incarnate as a cardigan for yours truly (have y'all noticed I'm really itching to knit a cardigan for myself?). Luscious yarn, good prices, and free shipping!!! Gaaaah!!!

A few of you have inquired about the sicks sitch. Sadly, I'm still sick. My voice is still AWOL, and I'm feeling a little run down, so much so that I skipped my run last night. By the time the kids were in bed it was beginning to rain, and while I would normally have scoffed at rain (with a toss of my hair and a resounding Hahahaha!!!), I figured it might not be the wisest thing in my current condition.

However, I felt so horribly guilty about skipping the run that I headed out at 6:15 this morning! The weather was nice and cool, the sun was shining... and people were out and about, showered and dressed and everything! Weird...

Happy Knitting Everyone!