Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You say tomato, I say...

Earlier in the summer I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbra Kingsolver, one of my all-time favourite authors (for realz). It chronicles her family’s experiences when they challenged themselves to live only on in season, locally sourced food for a year, and for reasons I can’t really explain, it really resonated with me (but then, so many things do…).

Not that I've become a zealot by any means, but the book really made me think about the food I buy and the meals I prepare for my family. I started reading nutritional labels (get BACK, high-fructose corn syrup!). I stopped buying exotic fruits like kiwis and bananas and tried to celebrate what was in season in MY area. And I think the book sustained my interest – beyond my habitual Spring enthusiasm – in my humble vegetable garden, which is thriving (about that? The stock market could learn a thing or two about returns on investments from the humble cucumber plant. Holy Freaking’ Crap.).

Maxime and I were cruising the Farmers’ Market this weekend when I noticed that I could buy 20 pounds of plum (Roma) tomatoes for 8 dollars. EIGHT BUCKS. My local grocery store is selling them for 1.59$ a pound. That’s a 75% savings right there, people! How could I pass that up? With visions of a giant pot of sauce made from locally grown tomatoes bubbling away happily on the stove, I handed over my money with a smug smile. It was a no-brainer, my friends. I would be able to sustain my family through the cold winter months with the sauce I would make from these tomatoes. Pride, motherly love, and yet more pride swelled up within me. I seriously ROCKED.

Hours (and hours) later, I had turned this:

Into this:

That’s 5 pints of tomato puree. FIVE. Sure, it’s made from locally grown tomatoes, and they were dirt cheap, but there are only FIVE pints! Hardly enough to keep us in tomato sauce through the Fall, never mind Winter.

Which is why I bought 20 more pounds today. And will likely go back again tomorrow.

Because I don’t think I can stop with the tomatoes. Recipe suggestions welcome!

Happy cooking, everyone!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tac(t) boards

Next Monday is the first day of school. Right on the heels of the mad jig of joy I break into every time I think of that comes a sort of sick feeling. I'm sorry to be a buzz kill, but there's just no denying it any longer : summer is drawing to a close.

Overall, I think it was a pretty good summer (all things considered...). Émilie has accumulated quite a few mementos of the summer months, various little bits and bobs that have special meaning at the time she receives them but that turn into, well... miscellaneous crap when left lying around the house for weeks on end. (Which wouldn't happen if I were the sort of mother who had keepsake albums and scrapbooks for my kids, I suppose, but that's a guilt trip for another day.)

These little things - the patch she got from the Red Cross after she completed the Junior 2 level in her swim lesson, the ribbon she got at horseback riding camp - could all go on the traditional Family Accomplishment Display Area (aka the refrigerator door), but that just didn't feel right. These are her treasures. They should be displayed in her room.

I was pondering this last weekend when I remembered a tutorial for a pin board frame I found on One Pretty Thing a while back. It seemed simple enough, so when Émilie had a friend over on Sunday, I got all the stuff and let the girls go crazy creating their own personalized pin boards.

Émilie personalized hers, writing her name in foam stickers and adding the occasional monkey face and flower. No sooner was it deemed "done" then she had pinned the various tokens of her summer's accomplishments to it and demanded that we hang it up in her room.

Émilie's friend proudly announced that she was going to use her board to display pictures of "My Best Friend", and proceeded to spell out said BFFs name in big capital letters across the bottom of the frame: Anne-Sophie

Also known as: NOT MY FRICKIN' KID!!!

*Snort* Wonder if they'll teach TACT in second grade?

Happy Making, Everyone!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The other kind of spinning

Since running the half-marathon last May I have completely mostly fallen off the exercise/running/fitness/yay! wagon, and my body has changed dramatically. I'm not a size 6 anymore, things that used to be firm are now unnervingly jiggly, and my energy level is really low.

I know what the solution is, of course. Start exercising again, re-connect with that feeling of DOING something for myself in the most basic sense, for my BODY.

But I'm having a hard time of it. I'm really jealous of my precious knitting/sewing/crafting time. Rather than patting myself on the back when I go out for a run, I find myself glancing at the clock and resenting the time spent exercising when I could have spent it sewing up a quilt block, knitting while watching True Blood with Phil, or even playing in the garden. Exercise has felt increasingly like a chore or a responsibility, and who the heck wants more of those??? Not me, thanks, my cup totally runneth over.

In an effort to try to remember that exercise is not only good for me but FUN! too!!! (*sigh*) I've been trying to switch it up a bit this past week. Trying new things isn't always an easy process to internalize, of course.

For instance, when I told Phil I had signed up for a spinning class this weekend? Dude totally thought I meant spinning yarn.

Kinda says something about how important crafting has become in our daily lives though, doesn't it?

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

FO bliss

I've got a confession to make: when it comes to blogging, I've been holding back a little. I think you all know that I've recently discovered a love of sewing, and while I've been happy to share my FOs and some of my experiences as I work on my first quilts. I don't post every block I complete though, even when I'm practically bursting with pride at my accomplishment. Nor do I post about any fabric stash enhancement, as a rule. For the past 3 years, this blog has been all about the knitting. Even though I'm happy as a clam branching out into sewing, I figure knitting is what interests my readers the most.

Which is why I'm so excited to be writing today's post. Brace yourselves, knitters, for I present you today with an honest-to-goodness knitted FO!

That's right! Just in time for the cooler end-of-summer weather, I finally finished my beloved Akoya cardigan.

~Sigh~ Isn't she lovely? The trellis lace, the cables, the negative yield making it fit "just so". It's a perfect addition to my wardrobe, which I like to think of as "New Librarian Chic".

And I love, love, loooove the cables at the back. Attention to detail really is the key to making a garment exceptional, you know?

Insert happy sigh ***here***

Pattern: Akoya, by Carol Feller
Yarn: Quince and Co. Tern (just under 6 skeins used), Blue Bay colourway
Needles: 3.5 mm
Modifications: I had to go up several needle sizes to achieve gauge, and didn't like the resulting fabric at all. I stayed with the 3.5 mm needle and knit the larger size (37-39 inch bust) to achieve the 34-36 inch bust size, and it worked out great.

I'm already thinking about casting on for another sweater. After all, Rhinebeck is only 61 days away, and a girl can't have too many wool sweaters, can she?

Happy Knitting, Everyone!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Nightly ritual

Every night, when supper's been eaten and the dishes have been washed and put away, the kids and I head out back to check up on my our vegetable garden.

Every night, without fail, the three of us hunker down in the dirt and give each plant a good look-see. Is the broccoli plant EVER going to flower? Are there any peppers ready to be picked? Have the tomato plants produced any new fruits?

The kids will water my their plants while I pull out the occasional weed, and we'll all stop and take a whiff of the fragrant basil.

Then we head over to the "pumpkin patch" to see if there are any new baby pumpkins on the way.

My enthusiasm for the garden seems to exceed theirs for the time being, and the kids will invariably wander off and do something else before I'm finished with my examination.

Going out there every day, witnessing the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle!) transformations that occur from day to day, watching Maxime's face light up when he spots another of his cucumbers or Émilie's satisfied look as she eats a green bean right off the vine... it's become one of the best parts of my day. Maybe THE best part.

Heck, even Lori the cat wants to get in on the fun.

Happy gardening, everyone!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The swing of things

Summer vacation 2011 is now officially over (for the grownups, anyway). Phil and I are both back at work, the kids are in daycare, and I'm looking at the calendar and trying to not Wig the Eff Out at all the things we've got coming up, not the least of which is getting ready for Émilie to go back to school... (Have I done ANY shopping for that? That'd be a big NO. Ack.)

Deep, cleansing breath... OK, I feel better. Mostly.

Over the weekend we had our plates full with shopping, gardening (my vegetable patch EXPLODED while we were away, thanks in no small part to Kate-The-Enabler's mad waterning skillz. Thanks Kate!), and laundry... oh, the laundry. Wow.

I managed to find the time for the stuff that matters to us all, of course.

I got caught up in one of the Quilt-alongs I'm doing (We Can Do It Skill Builder Sampler)

I got a little knitting in and cast on for a new project (Koigu Linen Stitch Scarf - Mmmmm... Koigu)

I even managed to curl up with some new books that somehow found their way into my Chapters cart last time I was browsing on their site (isn't it funny how that happens?)

Slowly getting back into the swing of things :)

Happy Making, Everyone!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dear Blog

Tap, tap, tap... is this thing on?

Um... hi! Yup, it's me! I'm back! Er... yeah. Sorry about that! We're just back from our first EVER honest-to-goodness family vacation, and I totally meant to post before we left, but... well... time kinda got away from me. Does it help at all if I tell you I really missed you? You were never far from my thoughts, Blog. Every day, each time I'd grab my camera, I'd think "Gotta get some pictures for The Blog!"

In fact... I've been selecting, editing and cropping my fingertips to a frazzle for the past 2 hours, all in preparation for sharing the highlights of our vacation with you, Blog. See? I'm really not all that bad. Still love me?

Where'd we run off to, you may be wondering? Well, we spent a lovely (though frickin' HOT) week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, enjoying the beach, the ocean, the seashells, the pool, and each other (most of the time, heh). We've never really been AWAY with the kids before, and with everything our family has been through this year, we figured we were more than due for some fun in the sun. Plus, it was Émilie's birthday this week! Yup, the Little Miss turned seven on Wednesday. SEVEN! I keep asking her to stop growing older, because she's only dragging me down with her and I don't like it at ALL, but darnit, she just won't. Whaddaya gonna do, right?

Rather than give you a play by play of the week, here are a few highlights, photo essay style.

Good times, people. Y'all shoulda been there.

Happy Knitting, Everyone!