Monday, December 31, 2007

Liel's new hat

I saw this super cute hat pattern on Ravelry today and I immediately decided to make it for Liel. I searched around for yarn leftovers and found some bulky charcoal gray Wool-ease and Peace Fleece in Baghdad Blue, Kamchatka Sea Moss, and Latvian Lavender. All held together got me the gauge for the pattern, so I set off knitting. In about 40 minutes I had the hat done (I still need to braid some proper ties for it, though)! And holy crap, it's so cute! Liel looks adorable and pixieish in it, and even though I'd probably feel goofy as hell in one, I kinda want to make one for me, too.

My last knitting project of 2007. Happy New Year, everyone!!!

And Cheese!

I recently read Barbara Kinsolver's new book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's a great book, well written, interesting and funny. At one point in the book she talks about making mozzarella at home, and it sounded so fun and easy...I just had to try it. I haven't been able to just yet, as I lack a couple of important ingredients, but I just ordered supplies to make mozzarella, cream cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese from New England Cheesemaking Supply. It was tempting to order for all sorts of other cultured dairy products, but I managed to restrain myself for the time being. If my foray into soft cheese goes well, however, there might be no stopping me!

So now I eagerly await the postman with my starter cultures and cheesecloth. I'm trying to decide how long it might take...they mail things within 2 business days but sadly tomorrow isn't a business day! Which would mean it should be in the mail by Thursday. They aren't too far away from me, I might be able to have it by Saturday....hope, hope, hope!!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Little goose (+rogue)

Zion has really been enjoying pretending to be a little goose lately. Nearly every morning he turns my comforter into a nest to keep him dry during frequent rain storms. At bedtime tonight I gave Zion a little back scratching. After a couple minutes I stopped, told him I loved him and gave him a kiss.

"Honk", said Zion, sleeply. "Honk, I sighed".

(Also, I finished the hood on Rogue. Hooray! Now I need to start the sleeves...)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

More fermenting

Back when I got on the "ferment cool things in your own kitchen" kick I was pretty excited to try making root beer at home. So I ordered up several kinds of roots used in root beer, and in the time that elapsed between ordering and their arrival I was consumed with other projects, as is often the case. So the poor roots sat all unloved in a corner of my kitchen.

Finally last week I started making a ginger bug, which is basically a fermented ginger mixture that's the starter for the root beer (because traditional root beers were beers, mildly alcoholic). Shortly after it starting actively fermenting I accidentally killed it by leaving it on my very hot oven. Whoops. But I started again and today I decided it was bubbly enough to use. So I made a tea of various dried, chopped roots (sassparilla, ginger, burdock, and a tiny bit of licorice). When it had cooled a bit I strained it and added honey (about 1 cup to my 1/2 gallon of tea). Then I added my ginger ferment, and the whole thing is sitting on my counter now. Allegedly by tomorrow it will have started to ferment and bubble, and then I'll transfer it to sealed containers to carbonate.

It tasted pretty alright as I was mixing honey in, so here's hoping it'll taste alright when it's done!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Rogue update

At this point I'd say I've put about 25 hours into Rogue. I am not a fast cabler. The hood on this thing is going to take me about 10 hours. For the hood. I've done 50 rows on it so far, and have 32 left to go. As I was knitting on it yesterday I timed myself and it takes me about 8 minutes per row. Good thing it's so beautiful, or I'd probably be in despair. Here's a picture of the hood so far:

Ooooo. Ahhhh.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beautiful Butterfly

I just put Liel down for her nap. As I lifted her into her crib I swung her a bit and said, "You're flyyying!!"

Liel giggled with delight and squealed, "I a turkey!"

Warms a mother's heart, that does :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Food freaks

Everyone has weird food habits, right? I mean, my friend Becka eats all her bread and salad dry- no butter, mustard, dressing, nothing. That's pretty weird.

One of my own food weirdnesses is mayonnaise. I know plenty of people who hate it, but I adore it (and Veganaise, which I feel is just as tasty). Everyone in my family natal family loves it, too, and we grew up eating on all manner of vegetable and meat. Broccoli? Dipped in mayo. Crab? Dipped in mayo. Artichokes? In mayo. Sliced tomatoes? With mayonnaise, of course! Any kind of meat is fair game as far as I'm concerned and I've never had a bad combination. My brother and I drew the line at peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches when we were kids, but they used to be a favorite of our dad's. My mom used to make a carrot salad that was essentially grated carrots with raisins and mayonnaise. When my mom was growing up my grandmother would serve her half an avocado with the pit removed and hole filled in with mayonnaise.

In grad school I had a friend who enjoyed snacking on bananas with mayonnaise and peanuts. Yesterday I glanced into the kitchen at my brother's house and saw our friend Jay eating a pickle with...mayonnaise. I was intrigued. I love pickles and of course I love mayo. He assured me that it was delicious both plain and as a sandwich. I haven't tried it yet, but I shall, and soon.

Tonight I'm in a mayonnaise kinda mood. But what shall I use as my vehicle? Both oven fries and potato salad are up for consideration, and in the end it probably doesn't even matter. As long as it's cloaked in smoothcreamyfattysalty mayonnaise goodness I'll probably be happy.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wisdom of children

Zion likes to roll around in the clean laundry when I dump it out onto my bed to fold. It drives me crazy, and he knows he's not allowed to do it. But he almost always tries. Today he was really testing my patience and thrashing and jumping and generally getting in my way, so I asked him to get off the bed. He didn't. So I shouted at him to get off the bed. He didn't, he just blew raspberries. So I really shouted and told him to get off the bed and into his room. He went, crying. I felt awful. 10 seconds later I heard him playing happily in there. Still, his recovery didn't change my bad behavior, so I finished folding his clothes and went in to talk.

We went over what he had done to end up in his room (jumping in the laundry, not listening) and then I told him that even though he was misbehaving I shouldn't have shouted at him like that and I was sorry. Zion looked at me severely.

"Yes, mama", he said. "What you should have done is said (insert very calm preschooler voice): Please get off the bed and go to your room. That's what you should have done. You say, Please get off the bed and go to your room, you do not start shouting like a jackass! Because we are nice people in this family and we do not shout and scream, unless someone is playing with a toy that you do not want them to have."

As his little speech progressed I resorted to snorting and hiding my face to keep from laughing. Luckily Zion didn't seem to notice, possessed as he was by the spirit of righteousness. When he was finished I agreed, and reminded him that even when someone has a toy we would rather she didn't play with we still shouldn't shout, but should use calm words instead.

Still, it's nice to know that he's listening, even if his application of the rule is rather lopsided, right?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

If wishes were horses

Then I'd have a big ass herd of horses. And I could sell most of them and use the cash for the upkeep of the horses I kept. I'd want one for me and one for each kid. I don't think Robert would be into having a horse, but we could pick one for him, sell it, and let him buy a really fancy robot.

Here are some of my off the cuff wishes this morning:
-I wish I were a Japanese pop star. I like cute things, and being an American pop star would come with entirely too much loss of personal space.
-I wish I had enough land to grow all the food I want to grow, and house the animals I'd like to have (see above re: horses. And also chickens. And turkeys).
-I wish, that out of our combined 3 sets of parents and 4 sets of siblings more than one set lived within 100 miles of us.
-I wish someone would come and clean my house. Really clean it.
-I wish I could get a decent burrito within my county. Srsly. Is that too much to ask, New York??

Friday, December 21, 2007

Just when I thought I'd heard it all...

Students are amazing. Teach college for a few years (I suppose the same is true at other ages, but I just don't have any personal experience with them) and you'll hear an amazing litany of excuses, thoughtless answers and ridiculous expectations. A college I taught at a few years ago actually had a case of plagiarism that was ultimately traced back to the student's father. Who had written his kid's paper for him/her. Only he hadn't so much written it as plagiarized it. The student had no idea that his/her father had cheated- but I suppose if you are willing to cheat by having your parent do you work for you, and your parent is willing to help you cheat in this way, it should come as no surprise that your parent might cheat in other ways, too.

After that I thought I'd be pretty hard to shock. But as it turns out I'm always wanting to believe the best of people. Good ol' Sherman Day Thacher. I really do believe in the words of the Banquet Song, and not just for myself: I still somehow believe that everyone values and strives for those things (for you non-Thacherites, the part of the Banquet Song I'm referring to goes, "May honor and kindess and fairness and truth/Be ours till life's struggle is through/May the stamp of the School be the stamp of our lives/Whose honesty carries us on/To do the best work in the world that we can/Till the best we can do is all done"). I think I'm going to keep believing it, too, because dammit, people should! Honesty and kindness and hard work are things the world could use a lot more of.

Today I got an email from a student unhappy with his/her grade in my class. S/he said that s/he knew that s/he hadn't really put much effort into my class, but his/her GPA was too low, and was there anything s/he could do to improve his/her grade?

I almost. fucking. choked. Or cried. Or something. The series of selfish and idiotic expectations here is just dazzling. 1. Why on earth would you think you deserved a higher grade when you admitted up front that you didn't really try? 2. Why on earth would you think that your grade could be changed after the semester was over? And, you know, all work turned in and evaluated? 3. Why on earth would you think that you, and you alone of all your classmates, deserved a chance to do extra credit work? 4. Why, on G-d's green earth, would you think that you deserved anything but what you got when you didn't put much effort in??

Please. Teach your children, your students, your friends, yourself, anyone: Anything worth having is worth working hard for.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Speaking of raw milk

I called a farm near here that sells it to see about getting in on the raw milk action. Really just for the cheese making- neither Robert nor I are milk drinkers, and the kids aren't either (at least not of the cow variety). The Real Milk website instructed me to call and leave a message with my name and address and the farmer would mail me a calender and price list. So that's what I did, and I gotta tell you, it felt a little speakeasy-ish and clandestinely hip (I can't believe I just wrote that about something involving milk, but it's true!). Now I'm eagerly anticipating my mailing. Guess I didn't know price lists could be so exciting, either!

Also, Pete likes the knickers, so they are off in the mail. When I talked to him tonight I asked how he was and he said, "Better, now that a pink knitted thong is on its way to me!"

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Second time is even better

I think it's time I cleared up some of the confusion around my knitted thong.

1. it's not made of wool, people.
2. it's not itchy
3. it's machine washable! like real people knickers!
4. it's comfortable
5. it's dead sexy

Today I told Pete about it, and asked him if he'd like me to knit one for his girl. Finally, someone else's enthusiasm about the knitted thong matched mine! He said, yes, please, so I started knitting right then, and finished tonight while we watched The Bourne Ultimatum. For the curious, this one is made of a cotton blend, and I think it's even nicer than the first one.

See where a little enthusiasm about my knitting projects can get you? (Back in the day Pete was also the lucky recipient of a duct tape wallet I made. But it wasn't plain duct tape, oh no! It had a lovely print of the New Kids on the Block "Hangin' Tough" album cover. Good times.)

Hand made gifts

A couple nights ago I was talking to my brother on the phone. He was walking home from the Co-op at 7pm because one of their gift items had failed to produce delicious results, and he had been sent out to buy more ingredients so that he could go home and cook, hopefully finishing everything in time to package it up and mail it out the next morning. He commented that making gifts each year is exhausting, and I agreed. It is time consuming and tiring, and has potential risks (as his situation illustrates nicely). Sometimes, we both said, we thought it might be nice to just buy gifts and be done with it.

But we don't. Every year we plan hand made gifts and race around frantically trying to complete them because we love and value hand made. And since gifts are meant to show our love, this is the best way we know to convey our love to our family and friends: making it ourselves.

Last year Robert's sister Anne sent us a holiday box full of homemade peanut brittle and marshmallows. I couldn't try the peanut brittle (peanuts and Liel nursing and all) but the marshmallows were excellent. This year she sent us almond brittle. I'll be honest- I wasn't too broken up about not getting to eat the peanut brittle last year, cause in my experience brittles aren't usually very good. They tend to be both overly hard and entirely too eager to glue my jaws together. But Anne's homemade almond brittle has me singing an entirely different tune. I love this stuff. It's light and crisp and not over sweet or sticky in the least. Anne, more next year, please!

And today we got a box from my aunt and uncle and cousin Max. Max made beef jerky and it is delicious!! I had to put it away lest we consume it all as we sat around the box. I don't imagine many 14 year olds send out hand made gifts, and especially not ones that are this delicious. Max and Anne's gifts have completely restored my handmade gift mojo- I have such a kick ass family!!

Here's Liel, my little meat hound, snarfing the jerky Max made.


I've decided that I want to learn to make cheese. I hear it's pretty easy, and fun, and I like making shit! So there you go, it's perfect for me. I'm gonna order some supplies from here in the next month or so. First I want to looking into my options for local, small farm, grass fed, raw cow's milk. You can make cheese out of any milk except ultra pasteurized (this process denatures the proteins in the milk, thus disabling the cheese making process. Plus ultra pasteurization is really just a tool designed to allow milk to to be transported over greater distances. Is that something you actually *want*? Less fresh milk that's been denatured so it won't rot before it gets to you? Not to mention the fact that the further food travels to get to us the more polluting fossil fuels it uses. Yuck.), but raw milk is more delicious and more healthful, as long as you have a nice clean source for it (in other words: factory farms = teh bad for milk. Bad for cows, bad for milk, bad for you, bad for the earth).

How freakin' cool am I going to be when I'm making cheddar and mozzerella in my own kitchen?? So cool!

Monday, December 17, 2007


Last night when I announced that I was going to make a pear-gingerbread-upside down cake Robert was unusually enthusiastic. Unusually because, you see, my husband does not like gingerbread (or potatoes. Have I mentioned this? I mean, seriously, who doesn't like potatoes??). Being the optimistic girl that I am, however, I assumed that he'd finally come to his senses about gingerbread, at least, and cheerfully set about making the cake.

Only after I'd cooked and served this rather large pastry did he notice it was, you know, gingerbread. His lukewarmness returned. This morning he told he he'd eaten some of it for breakfast (we had next to no food in the house), and that it had been disappointing. Or unsatisfying. I can't remember which, because frankly when he starts spouting nonsense about kick-ass delicious food I kind of get this fuzzy noise interference thing going. No doubt it's my brain saying something like "lalala I can't hear you!!"

The upshot of all this is that I now have a 10" gingerbread-pear-upside down cake to eat on my own. Did I mention that it has a stick and a half of butter in it? Yeah. Good thing I've got me some good genes, cause it really is a very delicious cake (and ugly. Very ugly. I totally screwed up the upside-downing processes, so no pictures for you!).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I'll take that as a compliment

Tonight I put Zion's dinner down in front of him and went back into the kitchen to get Liel's.

"Mommy?", Zion called.


"Mommy, I do not want you to get cooked.", he said.

"Oh. Well, that's nice, cause I don't particularly want to be cooked."

"Yeah. Because you cook such delicious dinners!", he replied enthusiastically.

Such a sweet talker, that one!


So, last night at about 930pm I found myself wanting to knit some lingerie. Really, really wanting to. The trouble with this desire was that I didn't have any yarn that one might normally knit lingerie with, either in terms of the thickness of the yarn (mine was all too thick) or the content (ie, I didn't have any cotton!). I had a cool pattern to use, and no materials. Woe was I.

Still, I am not easily deterred when I want something. After careful consideration of my available yarn I decided to give it a whirl using an off-white acrylic yarn. At least it can be machine washed, right?

This afternoon I finished my first knitted thong, and it's even pretty comfortable. Behold!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Overheard at my house

Tonight, Robert was bringing his mom up to speed on the joys of Facebook- namely, Scrabulous (in short, you can play Scrabble online with far flung friends). Then he bewailed his current losing streak, and Kevin's recent string of bingos. Here's the half of the conversation that I overheard:

"You’re not supposed to root against your own child, you know", Robert said. "... Yeah.... You’re not supposed to relish his pain like this, either. You’re supposed to say, “Oh, what can I do to help you feel better??”

Target sighted

Mr. Faux called today. I thought it was odd, since we'd just spoken on Saturday, and sure enough he called with news...he and Kaori are engaged! We're quite pleased- Kaori is smart, funny, and not intimidated by Mr. Faux. Plus she's lots of fun and immediately joined in our Oscar betting and trash talking the very first night we met her. She even called him Mr. Faux, after we explained the amusing genesis of that name (in short: he made his students call him that when he was a TA because he felt that his age deserved that kind of respect. And he may be right! But his logic was this: when he was in high school, they didn't even have ATMs. These upstart college kids couldn't possibly understand life at that time, nor had they in any way earned the right to use his first name, since he had, more or less, been alive since the time of the dinosaurs as far as he and they were both concerned).

I had another amusing story to tell about Mr. Faux's call, but I'm afraid I've forgotten it. Forgetting doesn't make for very good blog posts. Or stories.

In other news, 1/2 my final exams are graded!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

For Sure

...I think.

My Peace Fleece came today!!!! I just love those guys. Ordered Friday night, in my hot little hands Wednesday morning. And in a recycled shipping box, no less. Rock on, Peace Fleece!

Anyway, I thought I knew what I was going to knit with what I bought this time around, but I don't. Or didn't. Yeah. Cause I just spent all of nap time staring at patterns and thinking and thinking and now I may have arrived at a decision. I think I'm going to knit Rogue, but as a cardigan. You can see an example of this (in Peace Fleece, too!) here. Only I hope I don't need 7 skeins, cause I bought 6! 6 skeins of a lovely limey green.

Now I just need to ball my yarn, and wouldn't you know it, my yarn baller is at work, giving exams and attending meetings. Humph.

I is lazy

So today, I'm using fewer words. Rika sent me this video, and I was skeptical. But check it out, it'll make you smile and maybe even laugh, if you're lucky and laugh easily :) How's that for a ringing endorsement?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Sometimes, kids ask tough questions.

Tonight the four of us sat down to dinner accompanied by the sweet croonings of Mickey Avalon. As the last song came on Zion sat up a little straighter and listened with interest. Uh-oh, I thought. This could get sticky. The song, you see, is called "My Dick" and that's pretty much exactly what it's about.

"What's the song called, Daddy?", Zion asked, nodding his head to the beat appreciatively.

Robert and I looked at each other across the table. Glad I'm not the one on the spot, I thought, trying not to laugh and wondering what Robert would say.

Robert hesitated. "This is a Mickey Avalon song", he said. Zion returned to his cauliflower.

We looked at each other across the table again. "I assume you were imagining him at preschool, too?" Robert asked, smirking.

I got me a quick thinking husband. But then again, they don't hand out PhD's to chimps, you know.


Must be the holiday spirit hitting me at last ;) BUT! This morning Ysette sent me a link to this store, selling all kinds of silly/naughty/cool religious tschlock. I am sooo lusting after the Seven Deadly Sins Wristbands! (Lusting, get it? Oh man, I slay me....) What an awesome way to tell the world which particularly sinful mood I'm experiencing that day!

Santa, I know I'm a Jew and I don't believe in you and all, but if you find room in your imaginary sack of treats for the seven deadly sins wristbands for me, that'd be pretty cool.

Worth a shot, right? And hey, they're cheaper than diamonds!


Remember how I mentioned, in my 7 weird things about me, how much I love socks? Yeah. So when my mom said she wanted to get me just a few more little Hanukkah gifts, I immediately told her how much I'd like some more socks. The cold weather seems to bring out the sock hoarder in me- what can I say? Mom agreed, and off I went to Sock Dreams with her money burning a hole in my pocket.
The girls on had, as usual, given some very useful comments and reviews. This time I paid particular attention to the love that Sock It To Me socks were getting and I came away with:
-Diamond ribbed knee highs in navy,
-Sock it to me 2 color stripes in green and white,
-Sock it to me argyle knee highs in khaki/olive/brown
-M Squareds in bubblegum (these were not knee highs, more like mid calf, so I'm kinda bummed about that)
And, since even a sock lover sometimes needs to shake things up a bit, I also got:
-arm warmers in olive marl, and
-leg warmers! in charcoal.

Now who's smokin' hot?? Only thing is, I need more short(er) skirts now, to show off my awesome leg wear. I'm thinking about knitting some skirts, so stay tuned...

Monday, December 10, 2007

More knitting fun

I have been in a knitting frenzy here folks, not kidding! Somehow, starting in July wasn't early enough, and STILL some family members aren't getting knit stuff (I'm sorry!). Lesson learned- can't knit for everyone at the same time. Just. Can't.

I made this for my grandmother, though. Her request, and the design is my own. I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out! Now I'm just *fingers crossed* that she likes it and it's what she had in mind.

The sixth crazy night

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Happy Holidays

It's a youtube fest! Check out the goodies I have for you in my bag...

Goody Two Shoes! Mmmm, nothing says smokin' sex machine like a guy in a midriff baring top and eye makeup, right?

And look here! Music video history, kids. 1973 and shit. The story of the video doesn't make sense, and I always thought the song was called "Red Hot Love", but the car. Oh, the car is teh awesome. If I ever saw a car like that in real life I'd probably wet myself. Especially if Adam Ant were driving it. Heheh. Anyway, Radar Love!

Speaking of the height of cool (and really, when aren't we??), let's journey to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where dwellest the coolest of the cool, for the Hipster Olympics.

I've been to that park. Accidentally. I was 8 months pregnant with Liel, and I was meeting some friends in Williamsburg. It was October, and still pretty hot in NYC. I had Zion, 20 months and 28 lbs on my back in a mei tai. I took a wrong turn when I got out of the subway station, and what should have been a 5 minute walk ended up taking me the better part of 30 minutes. I walked all the way to Greenpoint before reaching the brilliant conclusion that this couldn't possibly be the right way. Yep.

Overheard at my house

"Oh dear! How do I make it stop?"

"What's that little cursor thing?"

"I'm not sure, but I know that if it touches you, you die".

"The wikipedia article says that there's an easter egg on this game! Oh. It's the game programmer's initials. Oh my G-d, that's the lamest thing I've ever heard."

Yep, Kenny and Robert were playing with our old skool Atari game today...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Rabbit Food

Liel has always been a big meat eater, as I'm sure I've mentioned. Her daddy delights in imagining her 16 year old self impressing boys on dates by consuming a plate of sausage.

Today she and I were playing when Robert walked in eating a turkey sandwich. Always quick to notice food, especially if it involves meat, Liel hopped up and hurried over to him. "May I have some of dat, Dada?", she asked, coyly batting her eyelashes.

"Sure hon", Robert replied, holding out the sandwich to her.

Liel peered at the sandwich critically, noticed the spinach in it and crinkled her nose in disgust. "No Dada", she said, pushing it away. "Don't want leaves!"

Thursday, December 6, 2007


I think there's a lot to be said for hibernating. Consider my day so far, for example: Woke up while it was still dark to get ready for work. The rest of my family was sleeping in their snug beds. I could feel the chill from the windows.

Drove to work uneventfully. Parked. Got out of car, slipped. Because you see, the parking spots were de-iced, but not the lot itself. Walked carefully to the stairs leading to the Quad, swearing quietly the whole way. Stairs were de-iced. But the Quad? Not. Not at all. So slipped and cursed my way to my classroom.

Classes were OK, so fast forward to getting home. As Robert is walking out the door Zion is shouting at Liel about the blocks and Liel is purposely antagonizing Zion by playing/hovering near where he doesn't want her to go. We work that out. I go pee. Liel says she wants to pee, but declines to actually sit on the toilet. Back out the living room. I move a pillow on the couch to sit down, and dislodge a bowl someone (Robert) left on the arm, sending to crashing to the floor, where it breaks. I pick up the pieces and move them to the kitchen counter to see if I can super glue them back together. First two go, no problem. Then the super glue container sticks to my fingers when I attempt to let go and glue the next piece on. I manage to fling it off just as Liel says "Uh oh...oh no!" and I look down to see a lake of pee forming around her ankles. So I clean Liel and the kitchen floor, and return to gluing the bowl back together. Forgetting about the leaking tube I glue my fingers to the super glue container again. This time it was harder to get off and my fingers sting. Get the fourth piece glued on and discover that too much of enamel inside the bowl has chipped off for it to be usable. Sadly give up on beloved bowl, and attempt to get super glue off of fingers. Nail polish remover smells bad and isn't really working so I give up on that, too, and am typing with icky thick swaths of dried super glue on my fingers. It doesn't seem to want to peel off, either.

AND it's cold. Clearly hibernating is the only way.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Foodie Nightmare

Sometime I worry about things that are far, far out in the future and/or unlikely to ever happen (I hope!). My current biggest yarn fear, for instance, is that my beloved Peace Fleece will stop making their fabulous yarns some day, and then what will I do?? (Thanks to Michelle in the Peace Fleece Lover's group over on Ravelry for planting this fear in my mind!)

My foodie fears are very similar to my yarn fears with two glaring exceptions: 1. They are much more likely to come true, given how often I seem to move, and 2. I can more easily do something about them by learning to cook various dishes all by ownself. Still, for some reason I don't tend to learn to cook my favorite foods from hometowns past. Some of them I just can't replicate for reasons of equipment or atmosphere. But I don't have those excuses for all of them!

So today I am taking the bull by the horns (it's a metaphor for the way I live my life, see? But it also really happened. Small bulls, I grant you, but bulls nonetheless. I'll try to find the pics to post later.) and trying my hand at ropa vieja. It's a preemptive strike, since the Puerto Rican joint down the road makes excellent ropa vieja. But. They only serve it on Mondays and Thursdays and I can't tell you how many Wednesdays and Fridays I've found myself craving it. I looked at some recipes and found I have most of what is required (I'll be using fire roasted red and yellow peppers instead of fresh, but otherwise we're golden), so I have a pot simmering on the stove right now. It smells pretty good, so hopefully when I go to sleep tonight it'll be with visions of ropa vieja fairies dancing in my head. Will keep you posted...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I'm really, really trying to get my holiday knitting done. And then today I had to tink back 3 rows on my grandmother's capelet. ARGH! It took me several hours to work up to actually knitting back, and now I'm waiting to work up to re-knitting. I seem to be a bit easily discouraged right now!

In other news, the first night of Hanukkah was tonight! Zion was super excited about it and has been eagerly anticipating it for days. This is the first year he's cared, and it's really cute and fun :) From the moment I got up today he was talking about needing to clean the melted wax off of our menorahs, "because we do not want dirty menorahs for Hanukkah!" So true, so true.

This afternoon he and I made latkes while Robert and Liel ran some errands downtown. When they came home we lit the menorah, had some latkes (and gelt- oh how the children wanted that chocolate!) and opened a gift. It was very pleasant. I think that Saturday will be our best Hanukkah day, just because Uncle Kenn and Aunt Giselle will be here, thus making the holiday what holidays are really all about.

They're about knitting, right?

Monday, December 3, 2007


I am sad and stressed. But tomorrow will be better, right? Or at least one of these days...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Joe-Joe's: Better than Thin Mints

This post goes out to all y'all that love Thin Mints and have a Trader Joe's near you (or have a good friend with a Trader Joe's nearby!).

Every year during the holidays Trader Joe's sells Candy Cane Joe-Joe's (Joe-Joe's are Trader Joe's version of Oreos)- two chocolate cookies smooshed around candy-cane studded creme. This year, I bought my first box.

Not to sound like a paid advertisement or anything (oh, how I wish I were!), but these suckers ROCK. They're like Thin Mints, but without the nasty partially hydrogenated oils, AKA trans fats. We all know how evil those are. *shudder* Oh, and you know what else? They're less expensive than Thin Mints, too (approx $2.50/box vs approx $4/box)! So, buy buy buy buy buy! I mean, c'mon, they're practically health food!

Snowy Day

Today we were planning to go to Upper Manhattan and meet Ysette, Brian, Abby, and Kevin at Dinosaur BBQ. Abs and Kevin are in just for the weekend for a wedding, and since they insist on living in California we don't get to see them much.

Anyway, when I woke up this morning it was snowing! Not a lot of snow- just an inch, inch and a half. But my poor, Californian brain instantly went, "Oh crap. How are we going to see everyone? We can't drive in the snow!" Luckily Robert, despite being a Texan, is a very good winter driver (he learned to drive in Chicagoland, you see), so it all worked out. Of course, Brian wanted Ysette to call and see if we'd be able to make it in the snow. Nice that I'm not the only one with no confidence in my ability to get around in inclimate weather! ;)

We had a lovely lunch (sorry, no pics, we left the camera in the car!), and Abby even wore her riding boots, going strong at 17 years old. Dinosaur BBQ isn't the best BBQ ever or anything like that, but it's perfectly decent, especially for NYC. The braggart in me also wants to point out that we put Brian and Ysette's meat eating skills to shame today (whether or not this is actually something of which to be proud remains to be seen, I suppose). The kids were great, too, even though it was nap time when we were there. Robert and Kevin got to geek out with the Scrabble talk in person (they play daily on Facebook), Ysette and I got to admire Abby's engagement ring (square cut natural yellow diamond bezel set in yellow gold- very unique and beautiful) and a good time was had by all.

It wasn't snowing anymore by the time we were driving home, but of course the roads were still wet and slushy and salty and our windshield was quickly coated in grime. As it steadily worsened over several minutes and Robert made no movement towards the windshield wipers I finally asked if he was going to clean it off? "Nah", he replied, shrugging. "I can see."

"You have windshield wipers, you know", I helpfully pointed out.

"Fine", he sighed, and turned them on. They smeared salt and grimy water all over the windshield. Unperturbed, Robert drove on.

"You know", I began, when it became apparent that he wasn't going to do anything else, "there's wiper fluid, too."

"Eh. It's just water on there...I wiped it off."

"Water and salt. The wiper fluid would help".

"It's fine", he assured me.

"You can do it with the little button right there", I said, gesturing. "It's not like I'm suggesting you stop the car and get out or something!"

Robert sighed. "Alright", he said. And he used the wipers and the fluid and behold! A normal person could see out of our windshield again.

Just as I was typing this Robert said, "What are you doing?"


"Oh. About lunch?"

"Yes. And the windshield."

"I see. Did you notice that I did it several more times after that, all by myself? I'm such a good husband", he said.

"I noticed", I assured him. And I had.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I love butter. So does my grandmother. So does my brother. So does my dad. My husband? Not so much. Now, he's no butter hater, but in his world it appears to be some sort of accent flavor, as opposed to the main show. Or to put it another way: in my family, bread is largely a vehicle for butter (my paternal grandfather even ate pats of it on crackers!). Vogelman! once turned to me after watching Robert sparingly butter toast and said "It's painful to watch him butter toast, the way he's so stingy and scrapes at the bread!" (or something to that effect).

Zion hasn't shown any real feelings for or against butter, but Liel loves it. When we eat in restaurants that bring a bread basket she spends her time squeezing butter out of whatever container it arrives in- usually straight into her mouth. Eventually we realize why she's being so quiet and move the butter away from her. Then she starts trying to slip a little butter in on the sly. I wouldn't mind so much, but she makes a huge mess and I don't want her wrecking her clothes with butter stains (how's that for lame? Man, never thought I'd see the day I was so worried about laundry. Next thing you know I'll be shilling for some ring-around-the-collar treatment and crowing about how much better it's made my life. And I don't even have ring-around-the-collar).

I was sharing this little personality quirk of Liel's with some mama friends today, and one of them reported that she caught her son dipping his breakfast sausage in butter as if he were eating fries and ketchup. Robert was repulsed when I told him about it- I was intrigued. In college I knew a girl who's aunt used to sometimes share a special snack with her: a stick of butter dipped in white sugar.

Cause there's no wrong way to eat butter.

(This post is dedicated to Becka, who I love despite the fact that she hates butter even more than Robert does.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Better late than never


Here ya go, Stace, 7 weird facts about yours truly :)

1. I love socks. (also shoes, but this one is not so unique!) My mom swears it is genetic, as my dad would also be delighted to have drawers and drawers of pleasing socks at his disposal.

2. I am a terrible housekeeper, yet my mother and grandmother are both fabulous housekeepers. That gene skipped me, apparently. However, I do look forward to their visits, so they can clean my house. And, um, other reasons, too! Of course :) I like to think of it as Zen- I can't possibly vacuum in the corners because I have no attachments. Hell, I might not even have corners anymore, there's so much stuff piled in them.

3. I am convinced that pie is the food of the G-ds. Seriously. It's PIE. What could be better? (PS Pies should contain fruit. Chocolate pie is not Pie. Butterscotch pie is not Pie. And heaven forbid, Peanut Butter pie is not Pie.)

4. I think that smell is one of the most undervalued senses. Scent can transport me back to a person, place, or time faster and more completely than anything. My grandfather died when I was 8. I don't remember a lot about him anymore. I don't know what kind of cologne or aftershave he used, but sometimes I smell it, out there in the wide world. And it's the only way I really know my grandfather these days.

5. I never eat oranges unless I am at home. Never. Why? Because I've yet to have a decent orange anywhere else. Ojai oranges are The Best. Period. They are sweet and tart and sunshine and juice and chapparal and home and Thacher and cut up in a bowl with strawberries when I get up in the morning at my parent's house, and juiced fresh and bought in huge quantities an eaten with joy.

6. I am kind of double jointed (where would my list be without this one?). I can bend my joints in all sorts of unnatural ways, and I can partially unhinge my jaw, like a snake. This means I can win virtually every "what can you fit in your mouth" game (what, you didn't play those??). Growing up, Kenny and I loved playing a game that was essentially a contest to see which of us could fit the most of X (usually grapes) into his/her mouth without crushing them. We last played this game in high school, and I won (though narrowly, I must admit). I put 42 grapes in my mouth, and spit them all back out, whole, on to a plate for counting. Our mom always worried that we'd choke playing this game. Now I can see why.

7. I do not do well being TOLD what to do. Suggestions are always welcome, but man, someone telling me what to do really gets my hackles up in most situations. And I tend to fight or resist something fierce.

So- tag! Becka, Rachel, and Jill! Your turn!


The kids were pretending to be bears today and started asking me to give them various pretend honeys- yellow and orange and red and black and green. Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea! Why not set up a honey taste-test for them? So I got out the honeys we currently have (mesquite, rasberry, and buckwheat) and put some of each on a plate and let them taste them. Wow was that a hit! I was able to empty the dishwasher and sweep in the kitchen and dining room while they tasted honey. Zion told me he liked the raspberry honey best which was interesting as I'd wondered if he would have a favorite (for the record I didn't ask him if he did!). And the raspberry one is my favorite, too ;)

I'd totally win some kind of parenting award for thinking of this clever activity, except that it turns out that, you know, honey is kind of messy. Especially when paired with preschoolers. When I turned my attention back to the kids they were licking the plate in a honey frenzy. Liel had honey on her shirt, her hands, her stuffed owl, and all in her hair. Bath night!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tomorrow's Class

I'm creating my class for tomorrow and thought I'd post some of it here since it's so blindingly interesting and insightful :P The topic is Popular Music and Religion, and my thesis is that since the earliest days of the record charts (and before, of course, but I only have 55 minutes so I have to narrow it down somehow!) singers, songwriters, and musicians have used songs as a medium through which they can both express their religious beliefs and challenge the religious (and social) status quo. Because music is so popular, fluid, and well broadcast its an ideal medium for the message, and the message can easily be found in secular music the world over. To illustrate this point we'll spend time listening to and watching (what is shown in music videos can be equally as important as what is said in the lyrics) music and videos that encompass many different genres (R&B, gospel, rap, soul, pop, rock and roll) and nearly half a century.

We begin with Sam Cooke. Where else could we possibly begin? Born in Mississippi in 1931, Cooke moved to Chicago as a small child. In 1950 he joined the gospel group The Soul Stirrers (one of the most popular and influential gospel groups- they'd been around since the late 1920's) as their lead singer. Cooke had an immediate hit with the Soul Stirrers with "Jesus Gave Me Water", although my personal favorite from this time is "The Hem of His Garment". Cooke spent the next 7 years with the Soul Stirrers, and when he left in 1957 to pursue a pop career the Soul Stirrers most successful days ended.

But Sam Cooke was just getting started. Between 1957 and his death in 1966 he had 29 Top 40 hits, and is considered one of the most influential musicians in the creation of soul. His musical influence is wide ranging and encompasses such performers as John Lennon, Al Greene, Rod Stewart, Otis Redding and Bob Marley.

Early reggae was, in many ways, essentially gospel set to a Jamaican beat. My favorite of this genre (and since I'm giving the class I get to pick my favorites) is "Rivers of Babylon", which was written by Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton of The Melodians (a Jamaican reggae trio formed in the early 1960s). Many of the lyrics are taken from Psalm 137, a psalm that was written about the exile of the Jewish people to Babylon in 547 BCE. Some lyrics have been changed or added to reflect the Rasta beliefs of the song's writers. Many people have covered the song since- everyone from Sinead O'Connor to Sublime. I grew up listening to Jimmy Cliff sing it, but these days I prefer the Sublime version. You can listen to it in the music player at the bottom of my blog. Here are the lyrics:

By the rivers of Babylon,
Where he sat down,
And there he wept
When he remembered Zion.
Oh, the wicked carried us away in captivity,
Required from us a song,
How can we sing King Alpha's song
Inna strange land?
So, let the words of our mouth
And the meditations of our heart
Be acceptable in Thy sight.
Oh, verai!

And Psalm 137:
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion

There on the poplars
we hung our harps

for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"

How can we sing the songs of the LORD
while in a foreign land?

"Zion" is an important religious concept in Judaism, Christianity, and Rasta. Another well known song that touches on this theme (and owes some debts to both Reggae and the Bible) is Lauryn Hill's "To Zion", written for her son. You can hear this one on my blog music player, too. In it, Hill (perhaps somewhat immodestly) places herself in the roll of Mary in the Annunciation (when the angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit), and Zion is both her beloved son and a longed for place of religious fulfillment. She critiques the cultural claim that children are a burden, particularly to young women with careers, and G-d as the source of the blessing of children. Lyrics:

Unsure of what the balance held
I touched my belly overwhelmed
By what I had been chosen to perform
But then an angel came one day
Told me to kneel down and pray
For unto me a man child would be born
Woe this crazy circumstance
I knew his life deserved a chance
But everybody told me to be smart
Look at your career they said,
"Lauryn, baby use your head"
But instead I chose to use my heart

Now the joy of my world is in Zion
Now the joy of my world is in Zion

How beautiful if nothing more
Than to wait at Zion's door
I've never been in love like this before
Now let me pray to keep you from
The perils that will surely come
See life for you my prince has just begun
And I thank you for choosing me
To come through unto life to be
A beautiful reflection of his grace
For I know that a gift so great
Is only one God could create
And I'm reminded every time I see your face

That the joy of my world is in Zion.

Some performers, however, are critical of religion and its broader cultural context, and use this critique to illuminate all manner of social ills. Immortal Technique is an independent New York rapper (he has refused offers made him by record labels) and cultural critic. His songs are harsh, and dripping with anger and profanity- but they are also educated and eloquent. Here is the video of "Point of No Return" (warning for those sensative to profanity- there is lots!):

I cannot deny the value of anger.

But I don't see anger as the only tool of social change. U2 (most especially Bono, the lead singer) is well known for their religiously motivated (and generally positive) lyrics and their political activism. Since 2004 Mainline Protestant churches have begun using U2's secular songs as hymns in services called "U2-charists". U2's list of religiously inspired songs is so long I don't even know where to begin- but since we were talking about Psalms earlier I guess we can start there. The last track on U2's 1983 album "War" is called "40" and is based on- you guessed it- Psalm 40. "40" has been a frequent concert closer from 1983-1990 and 2005-present. Their 2004 album "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" contained the song "Crumbs from the Table", the title and lyrics of which reference Matthew 15 (and Luke 16): the story of the Canaanite woman who follows Jesus begging him to heal her daughter. He refuses her twice, telling her that he is sent to the Israelites alone, and that it is not right that dogs should be given food when the children are still hungry (nice one, Jesus!). She replies that even the dogs get the crumbs from the table when the children are through, and he praises her faith and heals her daughter. U2-charist services appear to gravitate to late 80's and early 90's U2, using such songs as "Until the End of the World" (which features a conversation between Jesus and Judas Iscariot), "One", and "Mysterious Ways". I'd guess this is a demographic choice- 30 somethings are heavily courted by churches these days. Here's the video for "Until the end of the World".

Just as U2 helps to contemporize Christianity, so Outlandish presents us with an up-to-the-moment Islam. Outlandish is a Danish hip hop group comprised of 3 members- 2 Muslim (of Moroccan and Pakistani descent) and one Christian (of Honduran descent). There music is not, therefore, exclusively Muslim, but a number of their songs are. "Look into my Eyes", the first single from their 2005 album "Closer than Veins" uses a poem by Palestinian Gihad Ali as the lyrics. Ali wrote the poem as a teenager and it deals with issues of American foreign policy in Israel and Palestine.

Outlandish also does an English-language cover of "Aicha", a song first made popular in French by Algerian singer Khaled. I am particularly interested in the video for "Aicha", as it features such a variety of Muslim women: in hijeb, in typical Western clothing, shopping, teaching, with families and children, women who are of Arabic, African, and European heritage. Muslim women are so routinely portrayed as one dimensional in our cultural image, and I appreciate the way this video give some breadth and depth to the faces and lives of Muslim women, all the while affirming their worth and desirability. See for yourself:

Longest blog post ever, eh? Well, that'll probably wrap it up for my class tomorrow. But I really can't leave you without recommending Tom Wait's "Chocolate Jesus". That man is unique, and so is his delicious religious song. Here he is live on Letterman.

...And that's what I do for a living!


Zion's daddy and I both have relatively big egos. It must be genetic- we come from big ego stock. And last night Zion gave my genetic theory a little nudge forward.

Yesterday afternoon one of his friends called to invite him to play at the park. He was still napping, but when he woke up we all went down. His friend was thrilled to see him and came running across the playground, but Zion hasn't really moved into social play yet and he gave her a lukewarm reception. Luckily she didn't seem to notice or mind! So the kids played on the equipment, and ran all around, and generally had a great time. After an hour or so it was getting pretty dark, and we all headed home. Zion's friend gave out hugs and kisses to everyone. Zion managed to say good-bye, after being prompted and reminded several times. Hey, they all develop at their own pace, right?

Anyway, last night as I was snuggling with Zion before bed I couldn't resist asking him if he was looking forward to seeing his friends at school tomorrow. "Not really", he said. "Oh", I said, "but don't you have fun playing with them?" "I don't really like to play with them", Zion said. "Well, I think F. really likes to play with you", I said. "She was happy to see you today, and I bet you could have fun playing at school tomorrow." Zion considered this for a moment and it evidently pleased him. "Yeah!", he said. "F. likes me. But you know what? F. does not really like listening to her mommy. She mostly likes listening to me."

(For the record, F. actually listens to her mommy very well!)

Wait...where am I??

As the kids were eating lunch today Zion asked for some ketchup, "to dip in". Liel, who is currently repeating nearly everything Zion says chimed in right away, "May I have some ketchup to dip in, mama?". So I said yes, and went into the kitchen. I got down two bowls and took the ketchup from the fridge. I put some ketchup in each bowl.

"What are you doing, mama?", asked Zion, watching me.

"Getting you ketchup", I replied.

"Why?", he asked.

"Well, you wanted some and asked me for it".

"Why did I want it?"

Luckily, with all the Baghavad Gita reading and lecturing I've been doing, I think I'm now able to answer this age-old question: It's because G-d really, really likes ketchup.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Yes, but...

Is lust (or love) ever actually logical? Dissin' on my oh-so-practical knee-high moccasins? What's next??

However, if you are some WARM boots y'all can get me ;)

I also like these! Good ol' Texas burnt orange...

So: practical AND cute enough for ya?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Boot lust

It's winter time, and a girl's thoughts turn to boots. Here are some of the pairs that I'm lusting after!

From Medieval Moccasins:

I have two pairs of their Low Top Moccasins (in black and brown, I am so boring!) and I love them. They are in the Top 3 most comfortable shoes category, and I think they're pretty fly. I want them in other colors, I must admit. Anyway, back to the boots up there. Aren't they neat-o? Wouldn't they look good on me? Ah, someday, perhaps....

Logical inference

Just a moment ago I heard Zion sitting on the potty and telling a story to his stuffed fox.

"And they heard big footsteps coming up the path...thump, thump, thump. Hmm, I wonder what that could be? Thump, thump, thump. It sounded like a biiiiig person. And then they heard oinking! Oink, oink, oink! Now, the thumping sounded like a person, but the oinking sounded like a pig! So I wonder what that could be?!"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I hear Bambi's pretty tasty, too.

Tonight I made roasted cauliflower. If you haven't tried this method of preparing cauliflower, run, yes run, out for cauliflower and try it! It's amazing and delicious. Sometimes I drizzle it with tahini and pomegranate syrup and some chopped parsely, but only if I'm feeling fancy, cause it's yummy enough on it's own. Here's what you do:

-heat oven to 425
-chop your cauliflower into florets. smallish ones.
-put cauliflower in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle w/salt and pepper
-roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Anyway, Zion whined and moaned about how he didn't like cauliflower anymore, but after he actually tried it he ate without protest and even murmured, "Mmmm, mmm" to himself as he polished off his last bit.

Liel didn't really complain at all, which is unusual for She of The Suspicious Palate. At one point she held up a love little floret that was completely caramelized. "May I eat this?" she asked uncertainly. "Yep", I told her, "that's an extra yummy one!" Liel put it into her mouth. "Is it yummy?", I asked. "Huh!", Liel nodded, "Tastes like butterfly!"

Leftover Turkey

Here's my recipe for what to do with your leftover turkey this November.

clears throat

Dip it in mayonnaise. Or Veganaise- that works, too, and even better in my opinion. For now let's just avoid the irony of slathering meat in a vegan marketed product, shall we? I've plowed through half a turkey breast in the past 3 days using this recipe. All by myself. And did I mention that we had a 19 lb turkey for the four of us? So that's some serious meat-eatage.

Ah, mayonnaise. Is there anything it can't do?

Baby news

Just a couple of shout-outs...Ruby Zell was born November 20 to my friend Alissa and her husband, Chris. I've known Alissa since we were in utero- our mom's met in a Lamaze class in 1976. Ruby was a footling breech and consequently a scheduled C-section. Mama and baby are doing well, and my mom reports that Ruby looks like Alissa :)

And last night my friend Abby emailed to tell me she was having mild contractions! Abby has a son the same age as Zion and a daughter the same age as Liel, and she and Colin are expecting a second daughter. Abby and I both grow posterior babies, and she's needed her previous two labors augmented with pitocin (posterior babies often don't put sufficient pressure on the cervix to cause it to dilate fully). Nonetheless, Abby is a strong natural birth proponent and has avoided all pain medications in labor. Go, Abby! That's some strong woman stuff, there. I haven't heard from her since last night, and I'm saying lots of little prayers that things are going well for them.

Look for more baby news in the next 4-6 weeks- I have two more friends due in late December/early January! Everywhere babies...

Holiday knitting

I gotta hold myself accountable somehow, right? OK, here's my bare minimum to-do list:

-second glove for Max
-caplet for Gramma

But, I I really want to do just the minimum? Of course not! So here's my "more flair" list:

-scarves or neckies for kids
-vest for Dad
-hat for Kenny
-second sock for Mom
-fingerless mittens for Giselle

I love my family, and I love knitting, but I will not be knitting for the holidays again, at least not for everyone in the same year! Having such a long list of time stamped projects kinda kills my knitting mojo.

Finger paints

This morning Zion asked to do finger painting, and I decided it would be fun to make our own. We have finger paints in our craft box, I just felt creative this morning, I guess. So I looked up some finger paint recipes and settled on one that used a cooked cornstarch mixture. Cornstrach made a nice, slippy product, I reasoned.

So we cooked it up and added food coloring (Zion wanted to make orange and brown. I'm pretty pleased by the color mixing lessons this and our bath salt making are teaching!), and Zion went to work with some paper.

Oh. Dear. This stuff is chunky. And ewwww. I mean, yuck. He had a great time spreading and spooning them around on his paper but we won't be using this recipe again, lemme tell ya.

Brains. Brains! Vomited up brains!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dancing Turkey

What can I say? My mom set a bad example for us when we were impressionable young children. She played with our food. Mostly poultry, really. Whenever she was preparing a whole chicken or turkey she'd make the uncooked bird "dance", holding it by it's wings and spinning it around the sink. Turns out that my brother and I were both deeply touched by this little ritual, cause we both dance our birds around, too. And Zion? Loves it. He came home early from the park today so he could see the turkey dance, something he's been looking forward to since Monday, when I brought it home from the store.

As I wrestled the 19 lb bird around the sink in a kind of awkward shuffle Zion had a smile on his face that most kids would probably get from visiting Disneyland. I kid you not, I wasn't just making his day, I was making his week. After a couple of dances the great bird obligingly flew over to the roasting pan, where I rubbed it with butter, salt, and pepper. "That's right, turkey!", Zion said encouragingly, "Now you will be delicious! Mama, can I eat his wing?"

PS. In case you're interested, my mom was delighted to hear she'd started such an excellent family tradition, and informed me that she herself had danced the turkey she was preparing this morning. And when Zion woke up from his nap he asked if he could have the turkey's right leg, too. To go with the right wing. We gave him both, and he gnawed happily at each in turn- my perfect little gentleman!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tofu Sandwich

Ah Thanksgiving, the holiday of food. And yet, as I sit here on Thanksgiving Eve, I find my thoughts drawn, not to tomorrow's delicious feast, but to tofu sandwiches.

I'll come clean upfront: I don't like tofu sandwiches. But I'm pretty sure this is at least 60% due to my personal history with them. Remember those vaguely hippie indignities of my childhood? Yeah, this is one of them.

Picture it, if you will. A warm later summer day in Chico, CA. The year is 1982, and I am off to my first day of first grade. I presume my day went normally, well, even, until lunch time. Lunch time is when my memory of that day becomes crystal clear. I opened my lunch box only to find that it contained a tofu sandwich. Whole wheat bread, sliced tomatoes, mayonnaise, mustard, alfalfa sprouts, and sliced, raw, blindingly white tofu. Kids aren't dumb. In fact, they sometimes read and understand unspoken social norms better than adults. And everyone knows that the food you eat situates you socially. Kobe beef burgers? Spicy curries? Ramen noodles? Raw food? No animal products? Locally grown? What we eat sends out a clear social message about who we are and what is important to us. Unfortunately for my 6 year old self, children have very little control over the messages they send out, since they largely eat whatever their mothers give them. And some well meaning mothers, it turns out, give tofu sandwiches. Well, at least one mother!

I closed my lunch box. I did not eat my tofu sandwich. Can you blame me? Social ruin was staring into my first grade face, its rays no doubt reflected off the pearly white tofu. Disaster was averted. (I am reminded at this point of Will Smith's classic "Parents Just Don't Understand". As he bewails the horrific back to school clothes his mom has chosen for him she responds with the well meaning, but nonetheless completely wrong, classic parent line: "If they're laughing you don't need 'em/Cause they're not real friends". Um, maybe. I'd probably laugh if I saw one of my friends dressed in the get-up he describes. But that's beside the point, because the issue is: do I want to find out of if my friends are real or not by risking becoming a laughingstock? No, I didn't think so.)

However, I was not the sauve social mastermind I fancied myself, as it turns out. Instead of throwing the offending sandwich away I brought it home. And my mom made me eat it. When I protested and whined and dragged my feet about it she put a timer next to me and told me I had X amount of time in which to eat the offending item. If I'd known enough social theory to construct the tofu sandwich as my enemy I might have been able to take some small amount of pleasure in its demise at my hands, but as it was it mostly just sucked.

In the end I learned two valuable lessons. The first was that I should never bring home any food that was too hippie to eat at public school. The second was that tofu sandwiches are not very delicious.

Grapefruit and Cardamom Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a great make-ahead Thanksgiving dish in my world, cause it doesn't need to be reheated. Somehow reheated dishes are never quite as good, you know? So this afternoon I made cranberry sauce for tomorrow. I figured I'd make some kind of orange-cranberry sauce, probably with ginger. A quick look around the kitchen changed my mind, however, since I didn't have oranges in any form (including juice), nor did I have powdered ginger. Hmm, just realized I do have fresh ginger...oh well! I made a yummy cranberry sauce with grapefruit and cardamom (and also candied ginger, shhh don't tell Robert!), and here's the recipe.

Cranberry Sauce with Grapefruit and Cardamom

approx 1 lb fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cardamom
2/3 tsp grapefruit zest
1 1/4 c water
1/4 c candied ginger, chopped fine

Put everything but the ginger in a pot and cook it over medium high heat (or high if you're really impatient, as I am) until the cranberries pop and get all nice and soft. Stir in the ginger. Yum!

This does make a slightly tart cranberry sauce, but another beautiful thing about cranberry sauce is that you can adapt it however you want, so feel free to add more or less sugar to taste.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wife P0rn

A few months ago Abby sent me a forward that was titled something like "P0rn for women" and was full of pictures of guys saying things like "Of course! I'd love to go shoe shopping with you!" and "Let me just clean the kitchen now so I don't forget to do it later!" It was pretty funny.

Since then, whenever Robert does an unusual amount of cleaning while I'm teaching, he'll gesture to the kitchen, practically bursting with pride and say, "Did you see all the wife p0rn??"

And I gotta tell is pretty smokin'.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Falling Leaves Scarf

I finished it! Here's a better close up of the stitch pattern:

And here's me, looking kinda goofy in said scarf:


If you're intersted, here's my pattern for the scarf (note: I did not invent this stitch pattern! It's called Fern Lace):

Materials: 1 skein Malabrigo Worsted in Col China (216 yards/3.5oz)
US size 10 knitting needles


CO 31 stitches using long tail cast on
Row 1 (WS): purl
Row 2: k3 (k2 tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k5) twice, then k2 tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k3
Row 3: and all WS rows: purl
Row 4: k2 (k2 tog, (k1, yo) twice, k1, ssk, k3) twice, then k2 tog, (k1, yo) twice, k1 ssk, k2
Row 6: k1 (k2 tog, k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, ssk, k1) three times
Row 8: k2 tog (k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, sl 1, k2 tog, psso) twice, then k3, yo, k1, yo, k3 ssk
Row 10: k1 (yo, ssk, k5, k2 tog, yo, k1) three times
Row 12: k1 (yo, k1, ssk, k3, k2 tog, k1, yo, k1) three times
Row 14: k1 (yo, k2, ssk, k1, k2 tog, k2, yo, k1) three times
Row 16: k1 (yo, k3, sl 1, k2 tog, psso, k3, yo, k1) three times
Repeat these 16 rows until scarf is desired length. Work 2 rows in St st and bind off. Weave in ends and block.

If anyone actually makes this I'd love to hear about it/ see your project!

Teach your children well

My house is a bit of a mess this morning. A moment ago, in an attempt to make a dent in this mess, I cleared off the dining room table and put 3 empty wine bottles in the recycling. Liel watched me with horror. "No, no, mama!", she wailed, "That is wine, that is wine!!"

Fly Scarf Designing

Last week I bought a skein of Malabrigo from another Raveler. I didn't have any particular plans for it, but it looked pretty! When I saw it in person I was strongly reminded of the trees and leaves around here right now. And then, when Malabrigo Cast On Week was announced at Ravelry, I knew what I wanted to do- design a scarf that would help my yarn look even more like fall leaves. I've never designed anything other than simple hats, so while I know this scarf isn't rocket science or anything, I'm pretty excited anyway. And it really did take a while to come up with the right stitch pattern, needle size, number of CO stitches etc!

I call it the Falling Leaves Scarf. It's not done yet because we went to Korean BBQ with Brian and Ysette last night, and then they came over and we drank wine, and as it turns out, drinking wine and talking to friends and knitting didn't really work for me. I'm hoping to finish it up today, but here's current progress:

A close up of the stitch pattern:

As an aside, we had a super cool time w/the Guevarowe's last night. The kids dug the Korean BBQ ("more beef!" Liel kept begging), and they were super well behaved. I mean, they're usually really well behaved in restaurants (a fact I attribute to our living in NY and going out pretty often, to all kinds of places), but the speed with which Korean BBQ and it's accompaniments arrive made everything even easier. At the end of dinner the waitress brought fruit- oranges, honeydew, and a few grapes. Zion loves grapes, and most of them off our plate. Then he turned his attention to Ysette's unloved grapes. "Aunt Ysette?", he said "May I please have one of your grapes?" "You may have all of them", Ysette replied. "Oh, THAAAAANK you!", Zion whispered, taking the grapes. Ysette was highly amused. Them's some cute kids we got!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ode to Yoga

When I was 8 years old my parents started doing yoga, and had my brother and I get up with them to do it, as I mentioned yesterday. At the time I was pretty neutral towards yoga. I was good at it (natural flexibility), so I liked that, but I didn't much care for the getting up early, nor for the fact that yoga was the latest in a long list of vaguely hippie indignities to which my parents subjected me and which I knew I must never mention to any other children, lest I become a social liability (this list largely consisted of food related events, and they deserve their own blog post soon!). Yoga was not cool in 1984.

The 6am stuff stopped, but the yoga kept up. It became one of our chores, literally. Kenny and I had lists of daily chores, and yoga was on that list several times a week. I stopped doing yoga regularly when I went to Thacher, as I was rarely home, and hence did not have chore lists other than during the summer and other vacations.

When I got pregnant with Zion I started doing prenatal yoga. Robert did it with me, and we virtually never missed a morning for 9 months. Then I had a baby, and yoga went by the wayside again. I tried to do it when I was pregnant with Liel, but never managed to make it a part of my daily routine.

Lately I've decided that yoga and I need to be BFF again. I really can't do it when the kids are awake (the crawl all over, me demand trips to the potty, stories, and adjudication of squabbles), so nap time it shall be. I've never actually taken a yoga class- yoga is entirely home-based in my life.

Immediately after making this decision about getting close with yoga again I got sick. And man, I just didn't have the energy for yoga. Hell, I barely had the energy to sit on the couch and read the kids stories! But a few days ago when I crawled out the other side of this illness I did yoga again. I was still sick- in fact, I couldn't breath out of my nose at all. I did a pretty mellow 30 minutes (mentally cringing at how much better I'd been at some of the poses when I was 9 months pregnant and 50 lbs heavier- yeah, I've got some work ahead of me!), and you know what? By the end of them I could breath out both sides of my nose.

Yoga, I love you.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Some people, however, could use a good does of sick.

Yesterday morning the sky was a deep, dark gray lashed with rain as I drove to work. I didn't really want to be awake, but Zion had woken us up at 530am. I didn't want it to be gray and rainy. I didn't want to be driving to the Bronx.

As I crept along I remembered the other times in my life when I regularly woke up much earlier than I would have chosen. The first time was when I was about 8 years old and my parents decided it would be good for the entire family to get up at about 6am and do some yoga and meditation. The second early-rising period was when I was in high school, and would wake up at about 6am and go feed my horse and clean his stall. I spent 4 years doing that nearly every morning, and as I drove to the Bronx yesterday those memories were so clear in front of me I could almost feel the chill early morning desert air, smell the horses, and see the sun rising over Topa Topa. The heart never leaves some places, right?

My 8am class seemed to be in an extra stupor when I got there. Huge numbers of them were literally slumped over backwards in their desks, mouths open. I decided to ask them a question in an effort to get their minds working, if even just a little bit. So I asked them: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, doing anything, where would you be?

And do you know what they said? Sleeping. Every student who answered the question insisted that if the world were open to her, she would be sleeping. When pushed one of them suggested she might be sleeping on the beach, and several choose to be sleeping at home (as opposed to their dorm rooms).

I offer the world, they choose a dorm room in the Bronx. And to that is what is wrong with their generation!

I'll steal your honey like I stole your bike!

And that, my friends, is how good I'm feeling today. I'm still a little sick, but man! So much better than the past week. Nothing like illness to make even sub-par health feel like you could take on the world...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Good Night

I leave you with some sweet amusement. I made falafel for dinner tonight, and the kids and I always eat those little Lebanese pickles with falafel (not Robert, he eats Clausen's. I haven't managed to re-train him yet. Not that I'm down on Clausen's, but with falafel??), and Liel quickly scarfed her first pickle and asked for a second. But her second pickle still had a stem attached to one end. She stared at it in concern for a moment before gamely taking a bite from the stem end. She spit it back out into her hand right quickly and said, "I do not like this. It is not good. Here, mama". I put out my hand. Liel shook her head, clutching her soggy pickle stem. "No mama", she said. "I want to put it in your mouth."

I'm on a roll!

Man, I can't stop posting today!

I made this hat for Jill's little Chloe yesterday. Jill told me what colors and style she wanted, and I worked the pattern out all by my ownself! Not that it was overly challenging or anything, but still ;)


Or, doublepost. WTH?


Yesterday I watched my across the street neighbor raking the leaves in her yard. Everything looked so tidy after she was done, and my own yard appeared so...not tidy. I considered raking my leaves for the first time ever (I know, I must be getting old!).

Luckily I've come back to my senses. When I looked out my window today my neighbor's lawn was covered in a fresh carpet of yellow leaves. Her lawn and mine are twins again (Actually the leaves on my lawn are prettier, lol. They are red and orange!). I think that the Leaf G-ds don't like being raked.

For the Robot Girls on your list

Rika, Nate and Adelaide sent Liel these adorable robot hair pins for her birthday. Perfect! Liel loves robots, and she loves her new accessories (as does her mama, who is always pushing Liel's hair out of her eyes. How can she see like that??).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oh What a Night

Robert teaches a night class on Wednesdays. Somehow everyone- my kids, the universe- seems to know this, and to act accordingly. The last time Liel had a stomach bug it started on a Wednesday night. Now admittedly this was some time ago, but it's still etched clearly in my mind: me leaning over to put her in her crib, then freezing as she started retching. Quick! Get her over the floor, not the crib! She puked all over the floor, both of us, Fluffy, you name it. And I had Zion waiting in his room for pajamas, a drink, and a tuck in. And Liel was up like 5 times throwing up before Robert even made it home.

So by way of comparison, tonight was pretty lightweight stuff. Still, some days are Wednesdays, and some aren't. And today definitely was.

Zion didn't eat much lunch after school, but he told me that Gail (one of his teachers) had surprised them with little pies, so I figured he'd had a lot of snack and wasn't hungry. He conked right out at nap time, which was a relief since he didn't nap either of the past two days. Sadly, the unwritten rule in our house is that if one child takes a good nap the other will take a very short and insufficient nap, or no nap at all. As a result, I was busy with Liel much sooner than usual. Aside from that we had a normal afternoon of play, stories, and granola making. Zion kept asking when Robert would be home, and disliking my reply (not for a while, after you're asleep) he'd say, "Well, I think Daddy's going to have to be in trouble!" He was also very interested in pretending to be a sick corgi, and having Liel be the doctor who would treat him.

Zion asked about Robert again right before dinner, and when I told him Daddy wouldn't be home for dinner tonight he announced that he didn't want any dinner. At this point I started to add it all up and wonder if Zion was perhaps not feeling well. I sat the kids down at the table and headed into the living room in search of Liel's water. Oh snap! Guess what I saw??

Puke. On my new rug. I almost cried. Zion had thrown up about half an hour previously when Liel and I were in my bedroom and not told me about it. Of course I was sad that he wasn't feeling good, rug!! So I set to work to clean up the vomit, blot as much wetness as I could, scrub and press and try to restore the original colors. I was having reasonable success at this when Liel announced that she was done eating and wanted to get out of her chair. "Alright", I told her. "Just let me put these in the laundry basket". And I headed to my room with a stack of cloth diapers I'd used on the rug (cloth diapers- is there anything they can't do??). CRASH! HOWL! I ran into the dining room and found Liel and her chair tipped over on the wood floor. Thankfully she was fine- banged a little, and scared, but not seriously hurt.

I gave up on eating my own dinner until after the kids were asleep. Wednesday and all.


I don't really wear makeup. Some powder, a touch of concealer if I need it, but nothing fancy. For dress up I'll wear lip gloss. You could say that I like a natural look.

So can someone please explain to me why I am so so tempted by the gel eyeliner at Aromaleigh? It comes in colors that would look anything BUT natural. And I want about 8 of them. I'm so makeup challenged I don't even know what colors would look good on me!

I might regret asking this, but if you're feeling your enabling mojo and you have an eye for makeup colors, can you please tell me which of these eyeliners has my name written on it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Malabrigo Cast On Week

Over Ravelry way there's a fabulous contest going on: Malabrigo Cast On Week! The goal is bump Malabrigo yarn up the popularity scale at Ravelry, and so there are prizes (largely in the form of Malabrigo yarn, donated both by Malabrigo and the moderator of the Malabrigo Junkies group) in various categories for work cast on November 11-17. I'm designing a pattern for a scarf that I'm hoping to cast on tonight, but meanwhile I entered a couple photographs in the Most Creative Photo contest. Here they are (I call them "A nice Uruguayan Rose" and "mmmMalabrigo!"):

I'm no photographer, but I am, at least, amused by my results.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Yes, please!

I use stitch markers when I knit. Not all the time, of course, but whenever necessary. I don't think much about them, and perhaps as a result I've lost most of the plastic split-ring stitch markers I bought at Joann last year. No big deal tho, I make do with scraps of yarn, old earrings, and safety pins, and I don't mind.

Or rather, I didn't mind. Until today. Today Tamara helpfully sent me a link to these:

And I fell in love (and joy of joys, she makes pie ones, too!).


Thanksgiving is a-comin', but this post is about the other turkey. You know, the kind you buy pre-sliced in packets at the grocery store. The kind who's relationship to an actual turkey, even in the past, is suspect at best. The kind Liel loves.

To be fair, Liel is a pretty equal opportunity meat lover. Sausage is probably her true love, but so far she hasn't turned up her nose at anything the once roamed the earth. Still, pre-sliced turkey is a go-to item for her, since we have it in our fridge 50% of the time and she considers it to be a tasty and appropriate snack for a growing girl.

A couple of days ago I had the fridge open and Liel spotted the container of turkey. "Want turkey!" she cried, pointing. "May I have turkey, mama?" So I pulled out the container and opened the lid. "Get it myself!" she begged, so I held it out at her level. "I want dis one!", Liel announced, as she delicately plucked at the slice on top. It stuck a bit of the one below, but eventually she got it out. I started to put the lid on, but hesitated. Liel was eyeing her turkey slice with growing distaste. It had a tear in it. "I do not love this one!" she said, handing it to me. "Want dat one!" and she pointed to the slice on top. "OK", I said, knowing that it was pointless to argue. Liel is in a really fastidious phase right now and it's important to her that things be just so. I held out the container again. "Here you go". We repeated the process, complete with the slice tearing a tiny bit as she lifted it out. This time she realized that the goods were damaged immediately. "No, no.", she said, "I do not love this one. Want dat one!" And so it went, on through the remaining slices of turkey. Luckily for me there were only five or six left, and when we reached the bottom and ALL the turkey had been found to be defective she deigned to choose from amongst her former rejects, tearing and cramming it into her mouth with abandon.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Knitting Granola

The kids and I made granola this morning. I'm not sure if this pushes me over some hippie cliff, but let me tell ya, it was teh awesome, and I am now confused and unsure as to why I ever bought granola when I can turn this stuff out in my own kitchen. As an added bonus it's a great thing for kids to "cook" by pouring and stirring all the dry ingredients. I have a bunch of ideas for different types/flavors of granola swirling around in my head now. I told Kenny about some of them this afternoon, and he helpfully suggested that using bacon grease instead of grapeseed oil might give one of the recipes that nudge from delicious to decadent. Hmmm.

In knitting news I finished the pink cabled mittens I was working on. They aren't my favorite knit (the pattern had a bunch of errata on the right hand mitten that really slowed me down as I had to reconstruct the pattern from the left hand mitten), but they are reasonably cute and should do the trick. Crappy photo, but what'dya think?
Robert was talking to one of his friends on the phone while I was finishing them today and he told her that I was knitting a pair of mittens. She said, "Oh my gosh, that is so sexy!" Yep, nothin' spells sex like a ball of yarn and 2 needles...

The Wisdom of Children

We've been sick lately. Unable to muster the energy to cook dinner tonight, we decided instead to head to our local Vietnamese joint (side note: a recent review by the local paper was posted on the wall. The review mentioned that this place is the only Vietnamese restaurant in several counties. Man, we narrowly dodged a bullet we didn't even know existed...). It's a family affair, and our favorite waiter is a guy in his mid 20s. He's always happy to see us and is kind to the kids.

We were the only customers when we sat down tonight, and after he brought us water our waiter turned on the fake revolving fish tank, which always delights the kids. Zion's face lit up when he saw it go on, and then he turned to us and said, "Yeah, but they are fake fish". "Yes", Robert agreed, "but they are still pretty to look at". Zion turned back to the waiter. "We used to have a real fish", he said, "but then he died." The waiter made a sympathetic noise and said something like, "Oh, how sad". "Yeah", Zion agreed. "But", he said, brightening, "luckily we still have his boat (one of the tank decorations)!"