Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hello Summer!

Judy blogged about rhubarb and strawberry compote the other day, over at Foodie Loves Baking, and it was all I could think about for days. Jude is a professional baker and a keen gardener and she is always sharing delicious sounding, healthy looking recipes. I'm no chef, but I can wing strawberry and rhubarb compote.

2 quarts of sliced strawberries and a bunch of Ontario rhubarb all cup up and ready to go.
Agave nectar instead of white sugar. I just squirted a bunch into the pot without measuring. Add a bit of water, boil and then simmer down.
I remember eating raw rhubarb dipped in white sugar as a kid. I loved anything tart. Still do. Nothing signals summer to me but the taste of rhubarb and strawberries mingling in a compote over vanilla ice cream. I'm out of vanilla right now, so dulce de leche will have to do.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Weeklies #1

I've been reading Rude Cactus for over five years. It's your basic personal blog. Chris talks about his kids, wife, books, politics and so on. He has two running features: Monday Haiku's and The Weeklies. The Haiku's are self-explanatory. The Weeklies are a list of, well, stuff, that has filled his week. Music, books, celebrity bru-ha-ha etc. I like The Weeklies so much that I've decided to make them a feature of my own blog. Thanks for the idea Chris. So, without further ado...my first Weeklies.

The weekly read: Annabel, by Kathleen Winter. First, a caveat: I've never been very good at writing book reviews. I don't think I much liked writing book reports as a child. I don't even like book clubs. I want to READ books, not talk about them! But, I can't very well blog about my weekly read without at least giving you a taste of what the book is about.

Annabel is the story a child, a set of parents, an adult friend and a playmate. Wayne is a hermaphrodite born in a small town in Labrador in, I think, the 70's. Wayne's father decides that he will be raised as a boy and with his mother, keeps his intersexuality a secret. Wayne knows he has to take pills and see doctors and that's about it, until a teacher (and neighbor) intercedes during a medical emergency.
Winter's writing is lyrical, with lengthy descriptions of the landscape which set the tone of the novel. Many readers love this type of writing Me? Not so much. I get bored. I prefer character and plot driven novels.

I was really excited to read Annabel because of the topic. Ever since taking a gender and science course during my women's studies undergrad, I've read everything I can find on intersexuality and transgender issues, and in particular, I find fictional accounts (or biographical accounts, but I've read less of them) of individuals outside of society's normative gender expectations fascinating.

I rated Annabel 3 starts on Goodreads. I  wanted to like it more than I did. Due to Winter's writing style I found myself skimming paragraphs about the harsh landscape, wishing she would just get on with the story already. I like characters, but wish they had been more flushed out. In the end, they felt mysterious, like Winter's was being vague on purpose.

The weekly film: Another Year, by Mike Leigh. If you've seen any of Leigh's other films, than you can surmise the tone of this movie. The acting was incredible, the tone was understated, the plot was slow. A year in the life of a happy mid-aged married couple as they interact with friends and family members who are significantly less content. The type of film that critics love. It was a good film to sit on the couch and knit to on a rainy day.

The weekly pretty thing: My custom made iPad cozy arrived!

 I ordered it on Etsy from Bellamela after a failed attempt at crocheting and felting my own. It's adorable and fits perfectly. I love it.

The weekly adorable: My Pumpkin in a gorgeous, silky smooth sweater knit by my cousin A.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cheesecake Fail

This is what happens when your baby is screaming and you are rushing and you forget that the dish is HOT because you already put it in the oven to bake the crust and so after pouring the filling you burn yourself trying to just get the thing in the oven so you can pick up your child to STOP. THE. SCREAMING. ALREADY!

We won't be bringing cheesecake to brunch on Sunday.


Confession time.  I often see courses that I'd like to take, for myself or with Pumpkin.  Occasionally I sign up.  I go to the first week's class.  Sometimes I make it to the second week.  And then?  I don't go.  Not because I don't want to.  Okay, sometimes because I really don't want to but usually it's just because I'm lazy.  Or it's raining.  Or I'm running late and showing up late is rude (right?!).  Or it was a rough day at work and I'm bushed.  Or I'd rather be doing...something else.

I've "taken" ballroom dancing, prenatal yoga, Jewish perspectives on the environment, and most recently, baby and me music.  This morning I looked out the window and it was so gloomy.  Pumpkin was still sleeping.  I would have to take the bus to get there.  So I didn't go.  I always feel guilty for playing hookey.  But not guilty enough to ACTUALLY GO!

I REALLY want to learn to sew and I have signed up for a four week course.  I am determined to go to every single class.  I can do it.  No excuses this time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Rafi's Dress

The Pattern

Currently on my needles, is the Maxi Dress by Elena Nodel from her blog Knitting Adventures.  This is turning out to be a surprisingly quick knit.  It's knit top down, in one piece (no seaming!). 

This dress is destined for my adorable neighbour, Rafi, who is turning two on June 6.  Her parents are fantastic people who have been so generous to Kivi and me since our Pumpkin arrived.  They are always dropping off something new for us.  Last week it was a teething toy that they said was Rafi's favorite thing to gum.  The week before it was homemade curry.  They gifted us bibs and washcloths and on and on.  Not to mention the advice and support around becoming parents. We are so lucky to have friends like them! 

The Yarn
I'm using Mission Falls 1824 Cotton 

and Estelle Cotton Cloud

I got a terrific price from Haley at Knitomatic on the Mission Falls because the line is being discontinued.  I paid about $3 a ball.  Not too shabby. Rafi has a dark complexion so I think the fuchsia and browns will really suit her.

I was able to accomplish a good chunk of the dress driving to and from Ottawa this past weekend. I'm knitting on 4.5 mm circular needles (16 inch length) and making size 1-2.   If I was to do it again, I think I'd go up a needle size, because I'd like this to be a summer dress and while the fabric isn't think, it would be airier and lighter with a bit more drape.

Rafi is a tiny little sprout, so I really hope this dress will fit her!  I can't wait for her to try it on.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thank you Avis!

Avis provided me with awesome customer service today so I've decided to give them a shout out on my blog.  Go Avis! 

Pumpkin (I haven't decided what to call my little one on this blog yet... Pumpkin?) and I arrived at the Avis counter, signed our paperwork and were ready to take the long hike to pick up the actual car.  The pick up is really far away due to construction in the regular parking garage.  I knew this in advance.  But I didn't know that there would be stairs involved.   Fortunately, the representative noticed the stroller and offered to have the car driven down from the 7th floor of the parking lot (a block away!) and brought right to the door beside the store.  Um, yes please!  When the car arrived he helped carry the stroller up a flight of stairs.  Very nice indeed.

I signed more paperwork and started loading up the car, a Toyota Yaris.  We always get a compact because my dear husband (DH for short) hates gas guzzlers.  You should have seen the atrocity he was driving when we started dating - a 92 Ford Fiesta. It was microscopic.

Anyway, I strap Pumpkin in the car seat in the back and start loading the stroller into the trunk.  Shit! The stroller is NOT going to fit in this hatchback!  And if it doesn't fit, how the heck am I going to get a bassinet and suitcase in the car too?!  So, out comes the car seat, baby goes back in the stroller and back to Avis we go.  Except, remember that flight of stairs.  Yeah...  Luckily a lovely lady offered to go get the Avis guy for me. 

I explained my predicament to him (he turned out to be the manager) and asked if I could upgrade to a bigger car.  No problem. He takes the Yaris and 15 minutes later returns with a Kia SUV.  It's gorgeous!  And has a huge trunk!  And he's already done all the paperwork for me.  Amazing!

Gurpreet, thanks for making my day as easy as possible.  W00T!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday

Crafty bloggers all over the web participate in Work in Progress (WIP) Wednesday.  Every Wednesday, I will be discussing my current project, complete with photos.  I can hear how excited you are.  Let's get started...

The Pattern
On my needles is the very popular Baby Sophisticate cardigan.  This pattern was published in Stockinette in April 2009 and according to Ravelry, has been knit 1695 times.  Whoa!  That's a lot of cardis!  I'm making the 6 to 12 month size for my little one.  Other knitters have noted that the pattern runs a bit small so I took a few hours to read various project notes (again on Ravelry) and have found a few modifications that I intend to use.  I plan to cast on 1 stitch under each underarm when splitting for the body and sleeves and pick up 3 stitches on the underarm when starting the sleeves and then decrease 2 of them on round 5.  Thank you Susan for these suggestions!

But hey!  I haven't gotten to splitting for the body and arms yet.  I've just started this project yo!

The Yarn

I am loving knitting up the Taiyo yarn by Noro that I chose for this project.  I don't generally enjoy knitting cotton, but this stuff is incredibly soft and easy on the hands.  It's aran weight, 
40% Cotton, 30% Silk, 15% Nylon, 15% Wool and 100% luxurious!  The colourway is fabulous. Lots of greens, yellow, teal and purple.

As you can see, I haven't gotten very far yet, but I'm very pleased with how quickly this is knitting up.  I'm also happy with the width of each stripe of colour.  At first I wasn't digging the mustard yellow but it has really grown on me.

I don't think I'll get very much (if anything!) done on this cardigan in the next seven days because I have just cast an adorable dress for one of the little people in my life whose birthday is fast approaching.  I'll tell you more about that project next week. 

So, what's everyone else working on?

P.S.  Some of my links are to Ravelry and I'm afraid you need an account to login.  If you are a knitter or crocheter, you must must must sign up.  You won't regret it, promise!

Monday, May 16, 2011

On the Hook

As soon as I discovered I was pregnant, I headed to Ravelry (the online gathering place for knitters and crochets) to hook up with other expecting knitters.  Ravelry has hundreds of active groups, each with a discussion board.  During my pregnancy, I was an active poster in the "We're Expecting?!" group, the "Homebirthing Mama's" group and the "Cloth Diapering Parents" group, but the women I feel most connected to are the ladies in the "Due in February" group.  They have become my friends and support system.  It's hard to believe that I've been communicating with them for almost an entire year now.  There are probably about twenty women who post regularly.  Our babies are all between three and four months old now and these women are my go-to peeps for any and all baby related questions.

One of our members delivered very early and her baby was born still.  Our group is making an collective afghan in memory of her daughter.  I contributed a square in March, but recently learned that we are a few short so I'm finishing up a second square today.  We learned that our friends favorite colour is purple.

Square #1 is the Tricolor Square by Jan Eaton.

Square #2 is just a simple granny square because I want to get it in the mail quickly.