Tuesday, November 1, 2011

a secondary purpose for knitting needles

Apparently, knitting needles are quite versatile. Not only can they be used to create delicious knitted items; now the can be used to create delicious, homemade cheese!

Here I am perforating a wedge of castle blue with this knitting needle. The intent is to expose some of the interior to the outside air so that the blue mold will grow inside the cheese as well as outside. I've already got some of the blue mold starting to proliferate on the outside, and it's getting moldier every day:

I love blue cheese. Mmmm. It can be pungent when eaten on its own, but I don't think there's anything better than homemade mac and cheese made with blue cheese. I hope this turns out.


PS. James and I were hoping for a Halloween baby. I think James moreso than I. Unfortunately, Halloween has come and gone, and still no baby. This did, however, afford us the opportunity to rock our awesome Juno/Bleeker costumes last night (I didn't end up getting any great pictures with just the two of us, so this will do). I think James really enjoyed rocking his short shorts.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

okay, I'm ready now

Alright. So I finished the ridiculous sweater. And now, I have finished this ridiculous quilt top (disclaimer: not the entire quilt, just the top of it. I still don't even know how I'm going to go about quilting it).

All of my silly projects are finished. I'm ready now. The baby can come.

Plus, look at this adorable baby room:

With curtains!

I hope I get to meet her soon.


PS. I just shared Fitocracy with James. Beware of his competitiveness. I think he's going to try to upload all of his bajillion workouts from this last month.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

German and Lace

Good news! I found our favorite German restaurant again. It burned down earlier this year, and will now be in its third location, in about as many years. This place is great, and the owner is actually from Germany, so we get to hear German banter between her and the other patrons, plus delicious food. When it burned down, we still had some weisswurst in our freezer, but that is now long gone, so we may have to stop by to stock up again.

However, I should mention that our freezer is now full instead of homemade bratwurst and hot italians. Yum. Maybe we'll just have to stop by for lunch instead.

I got James some kitchen-aid attachments for his birthday so he could start out with the basics and slowly work his way up to charcuterie greatness. So far, so good. Best. Bratwurst. Ever. I approve.

In other news, I also approve of this lace knitting:

Yesterday I decided against a piece of pie, because it would mean that I would have to pause the knitting in order to eat the pie. That's how dedicated I am to lace knitting.


PS. Now that it's uploaded, I realize you can't make out many details on the lace. It's pretty, I promise.

PPS. Ich habe fast alles meine Deutsch vergessen. Wenn ich ins Restaurant gehe, kann ich etwas verstanden, aber ich bin leider zu vorsicht Deutsch zu sprechen.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

almost about triathlons, and almost about running, but sort of more about this stroller we bought

In honor of last weekend's Kona Ironman, I am going to talk about triathlons. Well, not really. Just a little. James finished an olympic-distance triathlon a couple of weeks ago, and he is on a triathlon kick. He's already planned out which events he wants to enter this year, and what distances he wants to train up for. He's salivating over triathlon bikes and plotting his training, even though it is technically the "off" season.

His enthusiasm is infectious.

I trained for a triathlon once (just a little baby sprint distance), and I never want to do it again. I found it hard to manage three things at once, and I didn't like being pulled in so many different directions. I'm a one-task-at-a-time sort of person. But still, his enthusiasm is infectious. It makes me want to go running again.

I know I'm going to have to wait a while, but the weather is getting cool again, and I would really like to go for a run. So it just got me thinking.

I have this sitting in the corner of the room, although instead of fueling more thoughts of running (this time with baby in tow), it is now a bit of a disappointment to me.

Let me ask you a question. Does this look like a jogging stroller to you? Because it does to me.

I really thought when we bought this, that it was a jogging stroller. And let me tell you why. First, it looks like a jogging stroller. Second, when we talked to the sales lady and indicated our interest in jogging strollers, this was one of the models that she showed us. And finally, the brand of this stroller is called "babyjogger." One would think this was a pretty straightforward jogging stroller.

Until I found this the other day:

"Warning: Do not exceed 3mph."


I guess this is not a jogging stroller. Either that, or the makers of this baby stroller expect new moms to be incredibly slow.

I guess my dreams of running again, albeit dreams far into the future, will have to proceed sans baby.


PS. I may be dreaming about running again, but I am also still dreaming about lace. Tomorrow I might buy some yarn. At least I can work on that dream.

PPS. Underwater sea creatures!


When I saw this, I thought of you, because you are the only person I have ever known who has done quilling.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

ridiculous knitting projects

This has got to be the most ridiculous project ever.

Ridiculous and mammoth and behemoth and gargantuan.

But it is finished.

I think I started this, what? Two years ago?

Let's look at some of those steeks.

And while I'm at it, I might as well transform this from knitting sculpture to actual sweater:

The frustrating thing is that I still have no idea whether or not it will fit me. Even after the steeks are cut and the buttons are in, I have this belly thing that sort of makes everything not fit me at the moment. So I guess I'll have to wait to see.

Do you know what I feel like knitting after this? What would you think, is it a quick project? Another one-week baby sweater, perhaps? No. Lace. I am dreaming of lace. In particular, this Maltese Shawl. Which might seem like another ridiculous thing to knit at the moment.

But let's take a second look. How ridiculous is a lace shawl, considering I just knit a stranded sweater at tight gauge, and I live in a town where the average high in January is sixty-five degrees? Seriously. That was the ridiculous project. And I don't even know if it will fit me.

Lace, on the other hand, is light and airy. Even if it's not the most "every-day" of finished projects, at least it's weather-appropriate. Plus there's no shaping.

I love lace.

Well, I love knitting lace.

Mmm, lace.

I am so glad that stupid sweater is finished. I thought it would never end. You might think that with just the cuffs to go, I would have been motivated to finish it up, but the end was like a long, slow death. And then I had ends to weave in still, and steeks to tack down, and a couple of mistakes to fix. This sweater took me just about forever to finish.

I'll let you know whether or not I end up starting that lace project. I need to wait a week before I will have access to a decent yarn shop.


PS. I was listening to Symphonie Fantastique today. And then some of Saint Saens' organ symphony. It made me so happy. I love those pieces.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

on teenagers and pregnancy

James and I made a brief appearance at our local high school football game this past Friday. Now, I have to admit that I have absolutely no interest in football. I feel almost un-American saying this, but despite my best efforts, I cannot for the life of me focus on the game. It's nice to chat and people watch though.

I really enjoy people watching.

Sometimes I marvel at how each person has their own "look." Or I like to watch the band members dancing around to their music. Sometimes I judge.

Like when I see the clearly pregnant high school student walking past with her group of friends. Or I see the teenage couple that looks oh-so-young holding their newborn baby in the stands.

James has a co-worker whose child attends this high school. The rumor he spread to James was that teenage pregnancy is such a problem here that the school sponsors a daycare center. Now, I haven't been able to substantiate this claim, but cursory google searches (for whatever they are worth) have indicated that teen pregnancy in my town is about the highest in the state. Which is saying quite a bit, since Arizona has some of the highest teen birthrates in the country.

I have been perusing Red Families v. Blue Families, and one of the topics in the book is teen pregnancy. I was shocked to learn that about a quarter of U.S. girls in their teens will end up with an unplanned pregnancy. I cannot fathom this. In an age of technology, with instant access to information, it cannot possibly be lack of information that is leading to these high rates. The book does a good job of accounting for variations in trends between different regions of the country (red vs. blue), and attributing these differences to family values, social norms, and importance placed on education in these different regions. But I still don't feel satisfied. And I still cannot fathom how teen pregnancy rates can be so high. I don't understand the term "unplanned pregnancy," because for most of us, isn't that the inevitable result of unprotected sex? Sometimes I just don't understand the choices that people make.

I read a fascinating article a couple of years ago that discussed how the adolescent brain is neurologically immature compared to an adult's brain:
"In sum, then, impulse control, planning for the future, appreciating cause and effect, and decision making are important skills that rely on numerous interconnecting cognitive components that emerge as the brain develops during adolescence. Exercising these skills requires a variety of cognitive processes that are not fully mature in early adolescence. One of the important reasons that these processes are not fully mature is that the biology of the brain that underlies these processes is not fully mature."
So perhaps there is a brain development issue? Oh my goodness.

I think I'm probably doing too much judging in this post. But once I realized how prevalent this issue was, I wanted to understand why. I don't think statistics will help me.

I have an opinion that young adults of today's generation are less mature and have fewer responsibilities than those of generations past. I don't want to be all "the good old days," especially if I wasn't part of those "old days," but I feel that we probably grow up in a more privileged environment than in the past. I read a good blog article that addressed this issue. I think it's probably at the root of why college has become almost a necessity in our culture in order to get a good job: a high school graduate simply isn't at the level of maturity that he or she was at in the past. And it may contribute to why the average age of couples at marriage keeps increasing. It's taking longer and longer for us to "grow up."

But, assuming I am correct, and our teenagers are less mature than ever, I am all the more saddened that teenage pregnancy rates are on the rise. I clearly don't have a solution, especially since I don't even understand the phenomenon. But at least I am becoming more aware.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

adorable and tiny and baby and you're married now!

Hello Mrs. Amy K.

I hope you are enjoying your honeymoon Iceland!

Before I left for your wedding weekend, I decided to start a new knitting project, so I would have something portable and easy to work on. But then, I never actually worked on it. I slept on the plane, and then the project sat in my bag the whole time I was in Iowa.

But I finished this sweater last weekend while James was running his triathlon! Look how adorable and tiny and cute baby items can be! Baby sweater goodness. I foresee Myra wearing this with some fetching hand-knit socks which she received from you:

I think it will be most fun when I have an actual live model to dress in these items for pictures, but for now this will have to suffice:

This is actually the only hand-knit item of clothing that I have made for the baby. Well, there was a hat. But the "superwash" yarn that I used did not end up being actually superwash. It was misleading and felted terribly, and I suspect it would only fit a preemie now. Let's hope this does not happen with the sweater. Although I noted after I had attached the buttons that the packaging warned "not suitable for washing or dry cleaning." I wonder why they would even bother selling buttons that are not suitable for washing. Sillyness.


PS. I loved seeing you last week--you were the most beautiful bride. I hope you are still on a wedding high and glowing with love for your new husband. Yay for you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

a cheese post

I have something to show you. I made this:

I know, it's not knitting. But it's brie! Look how moldy it is. I'm calling it a success. It is very important for me to consider this a success, because the brick cheese that is sitting around in my cheese refrigerator is not ripening properly, and the sweater I am about to cut open to see if it fits will presumably be a disappointment. So, surrounded by likely cheese and knitting failure, I am going to label this brie as a success.

Speaking of cutting open:

Look at that delicious gooieness. Doesn't it make you want to grab some crackers?

Well, okay. This cheese was not a total success. I let it over-ripen and it was . . . well, powerfully flavorful. And runnier that it had a right to be (see picture below). But this is the first aged cheese that I have ever made, and I am proud of it! Roar! Awesome cheese!

Also, as a side note. Because I look like this right now:

I am not really supposed to eat soft cheeses like brie (for fear of listeria or something). I just wanted to add a disclaimer and mention that I did bake the cheese before I ate it. Although it was as runny as the picture shows even before it was baked.


PS. You may wonder about the robot arms in the picture. I was attempting to hug the baby palm tree, but it was too tiny.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

bird sightings

I wouldn't have believed this unless I had seen it myself, but it appears as though our property is hospitable enough to host several different animals of the avian variety. Although we had seen several birds flitting about our back yard lately, there's not much in it that would entice a bird to stay. We used to have some lovely oleander bushes (the only flowering item in the yard), but cold from last winter appears to have significantly injured them, and there have been no blossoms this year. Yet despite this, I have actual photographic evidence of bird life on our premises!

I wasn't quite sure what this was when I first saw it, and so I imagine that you might not either. In fact, I thought at first that it might be a wasps' nest, and I was considering destroying it, when I realized that it was in fact a hummingbird nest. My apologies, as I have been unable to catch the hummingbird in its resting spot long enough to take a photograph. But still. Evidence!

Even more surprising, it appears as though there is a family of birds that have made their nest inside of our house. They have remained rather elusive, although in a rare bout of boldness, I was able to catch several of them at play long enough to photograph them.

This appears to be the mother bird. She is quite a large specimen and much more shy than her two fledglings. Here she is hiding behind an armrest.

The two babies have accrued many more sightings, as they tend to make much more noise and to play openly. Here they are balancing on top of a lamp shade.

And here is the interesting part about these birds. I don't know if this is a new category of bird or mammal altogether, but it appears as though this species is part marsupial. I find this to be quite curious. It is too bad that I do not know more about animal taxonomy, as I would like to know if there is any precedent for such a species. Perhaps I should have paid more attention during our biodiversity class lectures.


Monday, May 9, 2011

A sort-of first and a sort-of last

Here I will report on my two very exciting beginnings and endings. To begin, I have a first baby item, a snuggly blanket:

However, this is only a sort-of first, because I still have about a bajillion ends to weave in, as you can see:

The only reason why this project reached semi-completion is because (a) I started it well over a year ago (no particular recipient in mind), and (b) it was the most mindless project I could come up with. My knitting has languished over the past six months, and I fear that without this relatively simple project, I would have failed to have done any knitting at all. As it is, I am sure that I went weeks without picking up any project, though I am hoping to make up for that inattention to crafting over this summer.

And to end, this is my last day at school.

Only, it's a sort-of-last day, because I still need to clean out my desk and check out of the department. And it's not even my official last day of doing business, because I have a meeting to attend later this week (though technically not on campus, which is why I am considering this my sort-of last day at school).

So there it is. Two exciting, momentous bookends. A sort-of beginning and a sort-of ending. And just think, you will have your very own beginning and end in about . . . four months! Hooray for us.

Take care, Amy. I might send you some spoons so you have a more effective means of eating your yogurt.