Friday, July 30, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WIP Wednesday

This is my first work in progress post in a long time. Part the reason is that my Tea Leaves cardigan is still in progress, and really, who wants to see the same project over and over again? The main reason though is that I had not been spending much time knitting as of late. There seems to be three categories to which my time is allotted: "The Things I Need To Do", "The Things I Should Do", and "The Things I Want To Do." Obviously, taking care of the boys and the basic tasks required to keep our house livable fit into the first category. Many things that fall off the bottom of that list land on the "Should Do" list; things like bathing (I know, this should be a need, but most days it is not) and yard work. That leaves knitting and sewing way down on the "Want To Do" list. I have found though, that by leaving the things I want to do for last, they never, ever get done. And at the end of the day, I feel a whole lot better about myself and my day if I am able to do just an hour of those things that I was considering optional. So I found myself thinking that I should re-prioritize and really try to spend just a little part of each day working on something from the "Want To Do" list. Who cares if I don't bathe anyway? Isaac and Noah don't seem to mind. A happy Mama is much more important than a Mama that smells good, right?

However, I had grown a bit bored with the Tea Leaves cardigan and was in need of a project to get me motivated to knit again. A package came from my sister at just the right time to help pull me out of my knitting funk. A fellow knitter, she sent me two skeins of super soft Malabrigo yarn, possibly in response to an email I sent her with this attached (only fellow knitters and Twilight readers will really get a kick out of it). Also in the package was a mostly completed light-weight jacket for Isaac. Ironically, the pattern, called Duck Soup, has been on my own knitting "To Do" list for quite a while. All I had to do was seam up the hood, block it, and add a toggle closure. Ta da! Nearly instant knitting satisfaction!
Chunky Isaac really fills it out, but will hopefully get a little wear out of it in the coming months. Since I finished up the jacket, I have been making an effort over the last week or so to fit knitting back into my daily rhythm. I sneak it in during those precious minutes when both the boys are napping, or after they go to bed at night. After much searching for the perfect pattern to use for a winter jacket for Isaac, I decided to use the Duck Soup pattern with a few modifications. The first time I saw this pattern, my intention was to use it to knit an oversize jacket and then felt it. Instead, I am going to make it to size and then line it with fabric. That is the plan anyway. I have never done a combination knitting and sewing project before and I really hope it turns out.The jacket is knit seamlessly (except for the top of the hood) from the top down with raglan sleeves. I should have done a provisional cast-on so that I could have seamlessly sewn up the top of the hood when it is finished, but the yarn wasn't cooperating. It is Brown Sheep's Lanaloft, a single ply, 100 % wool yarn in a color called Roasted Pepper. Overall, it is working pretty well, but it is loosely spun in parts and a bit splitty. There is also a lot of plant debris in it. The sheep must have had a good roll in the grass and weeds before it was shorn.
I don't have a lot of experience in knitting garments, and it makes me nervous when I need to make changes to a pattern. Choosing a size is complicated by the fact that Isaac is not even 6 months old and already wearing 12 month clothing. I am using the 4/5 yr pattern to accommodate my smaller gauge and hoping that it comes out to be about 18 month size. Instead of a garter stitch border, I am doing seed stitch. I am also going to use buttons instead of toggles. A good couple of hours were wasted just trying to figure out my buttonhole placement and technique. I added a few stitches to the front panels to create an over-lapping button band. I am still searching for the perfect fabric to line it with.
To top it all off, I am going to make him a new hat with this beautiful yarn from Crystal Palace called Mochi Plus.Here's hoping my new rhythm sticks and I make some good progress on this in the coming week.

Monday, July 26, 2010

At The Park

We are lucky enough to live within walking distance to several parks. Which one we go to depends on the time of day; I choose the park that is the most shaded at that particular time of day. Last night while I was at work, Noah (formerly not a fan of digging in the sand) spotted some sand toys in the garage and proceeded to dig in our garden. This morning, before we had even eaten breakfast he was trying to put his shoes on to go to the park to dig in the sand. Go figure. I convinced him to eat first, and then we packed up the toys and a blanket and headed for the 'blue park'. Even though I thought I was getting out early enough to beat the heat, I ended up stopping halfway to strip off Isaac's socks. By the time we got to the park, he was ready to lose his pants too. Once there, hot, sweaty baby practiced his sitting. It is hard to get a picture of him these days without his tongue sticking out like a little puppy.
Digging and driving boats in the sand also requires an open mouth apparently... Just like his big brother, Isaac loves to swing. I am not sure why he was praying while swinging. Maybe he thought I was pushing too high, and was praying for his life? Or is that a "Please, don't stopping pushing me" look?Another activity that Noah loved at this age was sitting and pulling grass, and Isaac loves that too. I think he was searching for a four leaf clover. It is a little surreal to live all these moments again with another baby. The little things I forgot about until memories are stirred up and relived again. They are just as sweet the second time around.
Soon, Isaac declared it was time to go home for a nap. And he continued to declare it for the entire walk home, nice and loud for the whole neighborhood to hear. He is now happily sleeping. One final picture of the sunset the other night (for you Mom - wouldn't you like a dress that color?).
Someday, we will live out in the country where we will have unobstructed views of these beautiful skies, the kids will dig in the dirt on our land and swing from the big tree out in the yard. That is my dream anyway. Until then, we will enjoy the parks, I guess.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

More Life In Progress

I have been slacking in the blogging department again. Isaac continues to maintain that if he is awake, he should be held and/or entertained at all times thank you very much! A fussy baby, combined with Curtis being gone to Ohio on business all week, leaves little time for knitting or blogging or chores or other important things, like bathing! Case in point: I have been working on this same post for 3 days now, and am finaly finishing it by typing with one hand while nursing/holding Isaac with the other. Here is some of what has been going on around here this past week...

In the few minutes after he wakes up and eats, Isaac is agreeable to being put down for a few minutes. He is working on sitting up, and is pretty good at it as long as he holds himself up with his hands. He also has two new teeth and his little tongue is constantly going in and out like a little snake as he uses it to explore them. Here, he is thinking, "Gee, brother, I would really like that toy, but if I reach for it..."
"This will happen." He folds right in half. Comes in handy for sucking on ones own toes.
Noah tries to lend a hand, but Isaac is pushing 21 pounds (at least, last time we checked on the dog scale at the local pet store) and Noah can't quite straighten him despite his efforts.
Also this week, "Gumma" and "Gumpa" came for a little visit to keep me from going insane...I keep me company. Wednesday night we went to the Capitol for Madison Symphony Orchestra's weekly Concert on the Square. I don't usually drive downtown, and for good reason. It was quite the adventure, as Gumma called it. However, after we found a parking spot, took a little hike, and found a spot for our blanket, we sat down to enjoy the music. It was Beatles night! Just for us...
And several thousand of our closest friends and neighbors.
Noah waited and waited for his favorite song, sometimes asking me to fast-forward a song he didn't particularly care for. Sorry kiddo. I don't have that kind of power.
Meanwhile Isaac took it all in, sticking out his tongue, laughing, cooing, and squealing at the trees and passers-by.Finally, just as we were packing things up for the trek back to the car, they played Hey Jude for the encore. And our thousands of friends and neighbors sang along. It was one of those goosebump-inducing moments, and worth the wait (though Gumpa may not think so).

Curtis arrived back home yesterday after a long car ride from Ohio after his flight was canceled due to the storms and tornadoes that rolled through last night. I hope he is rested up, because I head back to work tomorrow and need a break from these two adorable, rather exhausting boys!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July Garden

When I look back at the pictures of the garden from just one month ago, I really cannot believe how much growth there has been in such a short period of time. The lettuce, spinach, arugula, and mesclun are done, though I have planted a new crop with the hopes that they will survive the hot summer sun. I can't bring myself to buy lettuce from the store again. Here is my garden update for July (all pictures taken with baby on my back, so not many close-ups!).
The Scarlet Runner Beans grew up the tepee and then back down again. I did not realize how tall they would get! The sunflowers are getting tall as well. Maybe a little too tall. I think they are providing too much shade for the zucchini growing beneath them.
The two varieties of cosmos starting blooming this week. I planted them with the hope that I would have enough blooms for a couple bouquets of cut flowers. The dill is also getting really tall. These were volunteers from last years crop and they are more sturdy than ever. I think they look like little yellow fireworks bursting open in the herb garden.Soon we will have some little cucumbers to nibble on. Or rather, I will have soon cucumbers to nibble on. So far, I am the only one in this house that likes them in their natural, pre-pickle state.Curtis is waiting patiently for the tomatoes. These are a yellow pear variety, good for snacking. We also have four plants with a larger heirloom variety that are doing quite well.A couple weeks ago I pulled up a carrot, just to see how they were coming and was surprised to see how big some of them were already. The Cosmic Purple and Amarillo Yellow carrots are pretty and tasty too. Along with the carrots we have harvested bush beans, onions, and Swiss chard. And last week I went out and harvested most of the basil, but not because I wanted to...The Japanese Beetles are back in full force. It is so frustrating! Every day we go out with our pail of soapy water and handpick dozens of the nasty little things. They are especially fond of Genovese basil (they leave the Purple Opal alone, for the most part), runner beans (I tried a new variety this year hoping they wouldn't like them, but no such luck!), and the strawberries. So before they destroyed the entire crop of basil, I decided to go ahead and harvest most of it to make into pesto.

If you would like to make some pesto, good on sandwiches (Curtis uses in his paninis) and adding to pasta sauce, here is my 'What To Do When The Japanese Beetles Are Eating Your Basil' Recipe:

3 cups basil

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

4 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts (optional)

salt to taste

In a food processor (or with a stick blender) blend together 1 cup of basil, garlic, nuts and olive oil until a thick paste forms. Add the rest of the basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt and continue to blend. Add more olive oil as needed to reach desired texture. Adding just part of the basil to start makes it easier to blend the garlic well. The lemon juice keeps the basil from turning brown in color. I then spoon the pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Once frozen, you can store the pesto cubes in a freezer bag and just take out one or two cubes as needed.

Despite the beetles, it is really a treat to be able to go outside and pick our own organically grown vegetables for dinner. I like searching for new recipes and building our meal around what is in season. The best part is when Noah actually eats what I have prepared. It makes for one proud mama :)

Monday, July 12, 2010


This past weekend we packed up the family and headed North for a refreshing long weekend with family. Noah tried out his new wheels; an Irish Mail Cart made by Grandpa, with a custom paint job by cousin Adrianne. His legs may have to grow a bit before he can make it go by himself.Confession: I tried it too, and it was fun! I will spare you the pictures though.

Despite the hot and humid weather, we kept somewhat cool in the shade. I got in some solo swinging before being joined by Isaac. He was mesmerized by the trees overhead, and cooed and talked to them in his new sweet, high-pitched, puppy dog voice.Isaac is always aware of his brother and watches his every move. Noah likes to act goofy to get Isaac laughing. Together, they provide quite the entertainment.On Saturday, we all got dressed up for a country wedding, complete with sunflowers, an outdoor ceremony under a handmade arbor with storm clouds overhead, and a horse that really did not want to carry the bride down the aisle. Most importantly...two people in love and looking very happy indeed.The weather cooperated, just barely, waiting until after the ceremony before down pouring. Isaac snuggled with Curtis under the huge tent as we waited for the rain to pass.Before long, the sun came out again and I got a chance to visit with some of my siblings and extended family. Isaac charmed lots of people with his easy smile before getting a little sleepy. So what do you do when you have a heavy, sleepy baby and need to give your arms and back a rest? Hand him over to his Uncle Colin, who will walk him around the fields for a good long time before returning with a drool-covered shoulder and sore arms of his own.

Meanwhile, a shy Noah warmed up to his cousins while waiting for dinner, and they taught him how to be a little silly.
After his long walk, Isaac finally snuck in a little snack and snooze out on the lawn.
Speaking of being silly... Here Grandpa Ted and his brother Paul get a little goofy. I am envisioning this will be Noah and Isaac in about 75 years. Maybe minus the handlebar mustache.
And finally, some dancing. Congratulations to Tanna on Ryan on their beautiful wedding and the start of their lives together!

Each summer, our parents stand in a long line and buy boxes of peaches off a truck straight from the south. All weekend, those peaches ripened in the dark basement, until Sunday morning when they were the perfect juicy ripeness. So before driving home, I spent Sunday morning with my Mom, peeling and slicing peaches for freezing. My goodness, she was fast! I think she peeled and sliced about three peaches in the time it took me to do one. All those hours spent canning as a young girl, she says. I think it is some Grandma superpower or something. We will enjoy those frozen peaches in the months to come. For now, we also have lots of fresh ones to eat, and today I made peach cobbler. Tomorrow, peach pie. Isaac, wondering where the endless supply of arms and laps has gone now that we are back home, demanded that he watch the process from his sling.

So, despite being a little tired and having lots of laundry to do, I am glad to begin the week feeling refreshed by family, music, and lots of good food.