Monday, December 5, 2016

Perry Mason

Phew! Let me catch my breath for a second!!  Some kind of way, I have been rather busy these past few weeks.

We went to see a Cirque du Soleil show on Randall's Island.  Very cool, and I may have thought about the feasibility of a Las Vegas trip to catch them there. Youtube has a lot of videos about the behind-the-scenes.

Took a frugal mock-staycation in Poughkeepsie.

Saw The Nutcracker with another family we're friends with.  Enjoyable, but our little people were too little for this.  Next year I will look for a more children oriented production.

Oh, and I have been still going to class and dealing with everyday life stuff.

It has all been rather fun, but I am especially proud of our mini-trip, shoehorned into the middle of the week, between prior commitments.  I had originally wanted to go to the Berkshires, but between booking the hotel and car, our trip would have been close to 600 dollars.  For two nights!  And a lot of driving.  So, back to the drawing board.

There's this blog I love,  Frugal Queen, and this couple packs everything for travel to save on costs.  They actually do a lot I can relate to. Anyway, this is where I started.  I looked for places along the rail line, and came up with two viable options.  Both hotels were the same in amenities and close enough in price, except that one had the free breakfast.  That's one meal taken care of.  Menu planning for such a short jaunt is pretty easy- wraps and  burrito bowls.  Baby food.  Snacks. And beer.  Bam!  Was it all a little heavy and annoying traveling the subway system to Grand Central for the train.  Well, yes.  But then we got to settle in and relax without all of the driving stuff. And even though travel was still a little pricey, the trip cost about a quarter of the Berkshires plan.  And, it's closer.

We enjoyed the pool, HGTV, and I got to catch an episode of Perry Mason.  Back when I used to receive the physical DVDs from Netflix, one of the last shows I watched before switching to streaming only, was Perry Mason.  I love that show just as much as Murder, She Wrote.  Plus it brings back childhood memories of watching tv in my aunt's old room in my grandmother's house.  Oh, and side note: the actress, Julie Adams,  playing the wife of the murder victim played Eve Simpson on Murder, She Wrote.  Coincidence, or  meant to be?

In any case, I like this local travel plan better than staying home.  Must do this again.

More on the cool stuff that I am crafting later!!

I tried to get into Netflix's Luke Cage, but after four episodes I just wasn't hooked.  Oh well.  The music though...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

And So,

Wednesday was not a good day.  The weather was crappy, my kid has been going through a cranky phase, and I hadn't slept well for reasons apparent once I woke up and saw the news.

And so,

Wednesday is my workout day, and as much as I wanted and needed to go, I was looking for reasons not to.  I slowly got ready, almost reluctantly, but the only other person in the room didn't care if I went or not, just me.

And so,

We went to the park to do the workout and halfway through my kid lost his shyt for the first time since I started this exercise program.  As one does, you begin to cycle through whatever means you have to calm your child and nothing was working.  I was thinking that we'd have to leave because I felt completely out of control of the situation, and my kid had set the other child off.  But then the instructor said, "let's pause."

Yes.  Let's pause, not flee.  Adjust.  Find a solution through calm.

And so,

I ran a few laps around the park with the stroller and then the instructor pushed my kid around to help him fall asleep while I resumed my workout.  And when it was over I went on with my day.

And so,

In the days following I have limited my news intake and instead have chosen to embrace peace of mind.  The holidays are coming up and there are some crafty plans afoot that I am excited about: on the calendar there are two shows to look forward to- first, Cirque du Soleil and then seeing The Nutcracker with friends.  I picked up some mulled wine at a festival last month, and I have apple pie filling I cooked down in the slow cooker waiting in the freezer to become handpies to be shared with friends.  A friend and I are also going to collaborate on some homemade gifts, which I will share once all the deets are worked out.

And so,

Through the gloom we can still rise.  This does not mean burying our heads in the sand but it also doesn't mean we should be so afraid that we can't keep moving forward.

And so,

Friends, be well.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Time Change, or Times are Changing

Yesterday I took myself out for a Sunday walk.

And it was much needed.

Recently with all of my life changes, I have begun to reflect on what my needs are and actively limiting the extras, so just taking the time to breath easy felt necessary to begin this week.  All of these extras have included podcasts, websites, tv shows, social media, some relationships(!) and even my crafty home of Ravelry.  I mean I'd try to cycle through a bunch of this stuff daily, and really why?  Some of it was pleasurable but a lot was just me escaping my life and looking at (and thinking about) other's people's lives.  And, most of them strangers!!   Honestly.  Not living my best life.

Let me tell you, letting go hasn't been a bad thing because keeping up can be draining.  And this includes maintaining relationships with everyone you know.  I don't chase people anymore.  I try to keep up to a certain degree and if I can't, that has to be okay.  No one is loved or cared for any less.

So in releasing the "dead" weight, what am I making room for? Well Japan is and will become my second home, more so than here in the States. My mom is gone, and while I still have family scattered around, it's complicated. Not in any dramatic sense, it's just that we've just never been THOSE people. Everyone is at arms length and well my Japanese in laws and extended family are most welcoming and that's that. Me being black is not a thing and I never feel weird.

I will write more about where they live and some of our adventures in another post, but visiting them earlier this year and deciding to become an ESL teacher have got the mental juices flowing towards a life I want.  I want to restart my Japanese studies as I am learning about learning from a theoretical point of view in my current studies.  The generic way of teaching/learning languages has never worked for me and I am slowly learning how to turn this around in the future both for myself but also my students.  I have neither the time or money to invest in more classes, but I am plotting out how I can make Japanese work for me within our home.

I want to be more creative- developing my knitting and sewing crafts more.  I can't devote unlimited hours at a sitting to a project anymore, but in chunks I can make things!  Japanese sewing books are a puzzling undertaking that I dream of mastering.  My language skills will grow as I learn the vocabulary to create and this is exciting to me.

I've made a set time to get outside and work out with other mammas.  The trainer doesn't take it easy on us and we're not easy on ourselves.  In going once a week for about the last 5/6 weeks I can see the physical differences in my body.  Yes, I would love to do add in another one or two workouts, but that just doesn't work right now.  But what I can do, while my kid is rolling around on the floor, are some squats and mountain climbers!  Maybe a pushup or two.

I don't have more than 24 hours in a day, but I can change how I am using my time.

And on that note one of my favorite albums when I'm in my head...

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Nature's Candy

I usually refer to raisins as "nature's candy" but the fruit that I came across in a mall's basement supermarket was so lush, it's like candy.  So, I thought I would share some more pretty pictures from visiting the in laws. Oh, and as A mentioned, keep in mind the exchange rate, but this produce was still pricey!! That said, this fruit is obviously cherished and it really puts into perspective the things we buy and hold on to and buy and hold on to, instead of just enjoying for the moment.

You ever hear some music that just pulls you out of your seat and into your fantasy singing or dance life?  I recently started watching this anime, between life and assignments, and the opening theme is just that.  (Note: this anime is not for the young or the faint hearted.  Shyt happens and it's not pretty).

Saturday, October 29, 2016


Whoa! I last posted in May- 5 months ago.

Hi A, I've returned!!

By the way, "tadaima" is something you say when you return home in a Japanese household.  The person who greets you says, "o-kaeri."  I, for one, don't see the necessity of saying, repeating, and acknowledging the obvious, but it's a cultural thing- I live with a little bit of Japan.

So what's been going on aka a recap??

  1. Japan happened and it was awesome.  It has also inspired me to switch career gears, but more on that...
  2. Now! I am studying to be a TESOL teacher (ESL teacher).  Oh man is it a lot of work, and I am officially older than people.  Like I knew that, but when age and experience separate you from your peers and it's OBVIOUS, you're *cough *cough... I work really hard on my assignments because I haven't been in a college classroom since the early 00's and I haven't studied grammar since in the 909's.  Well, that and this costs money and why would I waste my time on something I don't take seriously...
  3. Oh, and yeah teaching your native language is harder than you think.  Ever hear of count and non-count nouns?? No? Oh, the things you take for granted.
  4. The future career plan?  To become a teacher in the city part-time, build up an online business, AND teach in Japan in the future.  Hey, my kid needs to balance his American-ess with the Japanese side so summers with the grandparents are in his (our) future.  I can live my dream of living abroad.  Can't wait!! Must make time to work on my Japanese.
  5. My little guy turned one, and man I love this kid.  And maybe a few others, but kids in general? Bleh.  I live in fear that he'll be a punk that I won't like when he gets older.  Please don't be that person lil' e!!
  6. Walking solo is on the cusp of happening!! Yeah and scarrrrrry. 
  7. Crafting has sort of ground to a halt, but I have dreams of what I could be making.  Good thing I have a small holiday craft list limited to girlfriends and a few family members.  But yeah, peeps may be getting bourbon maple syrup if I can't get enough done in the next month.  No need for unnecessary stress in my life.
  8. Still cooking!! I busted out a yummy lasagna last night.  Scoping out the meat sales section at my local Whole Foods is the way to go, otherwise it's totally unaffordable to get meat there.  
  9. I've been exercising!  I needed a full body routine so I tried pilates, but to reshape my body and lose weight is not something pilates can do.  However, I gave an online pilates program a go because I can work out from home, but at the end of the day I need to sweat through cardio to see and feel results.  So I'm doing a bootcamp, while my little guy chills out in the stroller.  I'm not bored in the gym, I'm with other mammas, and I get to be outside and not care who's watching.
  10. A lot of things have fallen to the side while I've been busy with school, but you know that's okay.  I don't have any more hours in the day than the next person, but I use every minute in the best way.  My downtime has become even more valuable now that I've added another big thing to my life, but I have no regrets.  I'm ready to move on, and this next chapter is looking good.
(Why yes, these mangoes are running for 90.74 down from 98.00.  Kind of puts the price of our produce in perspective, no?  And this is in the supermarket- not an import shop.)

Ok, I have to jet but of course I'm leaving you with a snappy Saturday tune!!  Happy Fall, friends!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Applesauce, not Lemonade

Last night I realized that I was addicted. It was a particularly intense part of a drama, and I was shoving the spoon in my mouth, and then it was gone. I am officially like an old lady with no teeth, friends, eating applesauce like it's going out of fashion.  At least I spice it up with cinnamon and allspice. Does that sound better? No? In my defense I had a wisdom tooth (literally) pulled a few weeks ago and I felt compelled to baby myself. As it turns out, applesauce has become my go to cold snack. Not too many calories and cheaper than ice cream (sadly Talenti hasn't been on sale recently), and I don't feel bad eating as much as I want. Maybe it's just a phase, but I am liking it. So yeah, made an uncomfortable situation better- applesauce, not lemonade.

In other news, aside from having a tooth yanked out of my mouth, we're heading to Japan!! Whoop! And what does this mean, folks? Souvenirs. One whole bag of our luggage will be filled with gifts- tshirts, physical pictures that we printed from our phones (over 400!)(but yeah, coupon), cookies (don't ask- they're a source of annoyance), and some handmade things. I have packed for me and the baby, except for a few odds and ends, but I am feeling proud that I am ahead of the game. 

Magazines and a book are sorted. Snacks and craft projects must be figured out. I've gotta list and I'm checking it twice!!

And lastly, right before I was on a sorta soft foods regimen, I discovered this crack that you're not going to thank me for sharing.  But you're welcome anyways.  Ha!

Ok.  In honor of going to Japan soon, this is one of my favorite bands...

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


As I mentioned in my last post, I have been putting little checkmarks in my planner when I work out but really it's for the running.  Today I ran six times around the school next door and I am so proud of myself.  I didn't take any walk breaks, and even though my legs felt like lead I just kept going.  Albeit slowly.  When I was younger I would have definitely felt self conscious about exercising in public, but now what other's might be thinking doesn't even phase me- we all need to lead and live our best lives.

Another item to add to my care list is THE TREAT.  Not of the cupcake variety, though those are nice on occasion, but the meaningful little something it takes some effort to get for yourself.  A handful of birthdays ago I visited my best friend in Denver and we road tripped to Santa Fe.  Every weekend there's this large open market where one can find some amazing things, and for me it was tea.  I am a major tea drinker.  Anyway, the Masala Chai from this shop was the best of the three teas I purchased that weekend and I have been ordering it ever since.  Now life has been what it's been, and I have been saving the last tea bag amount of this tea for a looooong time, waiting for just the right moment.  Well there is never a "right" moment so I drank that last amount on a random chilly day recently, and pulled the trigger and ordered a custom pound bag for myself.  Bam! Because I'm worth it.

I am feeling super thoughtful because my inbox has been hella flooded recently with Mother's Day this and that.  I didn't even know it was coming up until the flood began.  A picture of my mom sits on my desk, and it is a favorite.  It was a sunny day in Boston, and we were taking a walk.  I was visiting from New York and we were having a good time.  

This is a song that brings me back to my early youth and the records my mom used to play...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Take Care

It's the most wonderful time of the year!!  Well, except for the itchiness and runny nose from blooming things, but hey I'm still pleased that the earth is warming up.  Not that it was a long winter, but I've been dealing with a major life change and kinda lost sight of myself for awhile while adjusting.

But no more! I am not one of those women who are happy just because everyone else is, or takes comfort in other people's opinions.  *Gag*  In my house, if momma ain't happy, nobody is....

Here are a few things that I'm doing to take care of myself:

1.  Getting outside to jog.  I'm working up to actually running, and conveniently there is a school next door where I can run laps around.  Just being outside without the stroller, sweating to make myself healthier is working wonders on how I feel.  I don't feel strong in my body these days, and my shape and the shape I'm in, are not the best me.  I also don't feel strong and this is no bueno.

2. On the subject of health, we, or rather I, ordered an ab roller.  It smacks of infomercial but a good friend of ours uses one and he is a great testament to its effectiveness.  At this point in my life I can't spare money for the gym, but having equipment at home, or using the outdoors, will give me the same results.  I just need to be consistent.  A little checkmark in my planner is a good mental strategy.

3. Skincare.  Holy moly.  Having a baby and breastfeeding has kept a lot of previous skin issues at bay for the most part, but it still has changed.  Okay, age and the environment are also factors.  Anyhow, I have always been one to invest money in a few but good products but now I think I need a change.  Luckily a friend has started an online shop, Soko Shop, which features Korean skincare products.  At the moment I am on the hunt for a super moisturizer and I think there is one for me there.  Still testing.  I've also jumped on the face mask bandwagon.  Let me clarify, there was a charcoal one from Origins I was using but now I'm testing out actually putting on a moisturizing paper mask, and wow, a totally different experience!!

4. Working.  I found a small part time gig that I can execute from home.  Now I don't feel like I'm not doing anything when I'm not doing anything because sometimes I AM working.  It's not a lot of money, but again the psychological factor makes me feel like I am contributing more.  Does it sound like I don't think mothering is enough...

5. Lastly craft.  Making beautiful, useful things with my own two little hands is so fulfilling.  Creating feeds the soul!

Summer soundtrack from way back when...

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Purple Sunset

I feel old.  Prince was my Bowie, part of the soundtrack of my life.  The Purple Rain soundtrack is in constant rotation.  I naively thought the man could never be silenced.  Well, he won't be in my house...

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Just All Over the Place!

1. Recently I have found myself actively working at expanding my home cooking repertoire. I figure with our little family I need more options in regards to taste, interest, and ease in preparation so on Friday I sent my husband a grocery list of items to be picked up on the way home.

Barbacoa in progress.  Take THAT Chipotle!! And yes, we're a big carrot eating family.  And yes, we love shredded meat. 

After eating this way for the first night, the next day I made a mega pasta enchilada casserole. I so want to be a casserole mama. ;0)

2. Handed the taxes over to the accountant.  As a freelancer, getting an accountant was one of the best investments I ever made, and a service I will continue to use as long as possible.

3. I volunteered husband and myself to do a cooking demonstration in a few weeks for the American Diabetes Association.  It seems like more and more people that we know are coming down with this disease because even when the warning signs are there, some people choose to stubbornly ignore the healthy advice and guidelines until they can't.

4. I also made the baby some little felted shoes out of Noro Kureyon yarn.  Felt like a good time to support the LYS, Downtown Yarns, he "needed" shoes because his socks keep slipping off, and I needed a quick something something to feel creative and productive.  Because I'm not busy enough?

Here's something a little light and frothy for yet another rainy day.  OST from the Taiwanese Drama, Just You...

Saturday, March 19, 2016

a Little Less

I sit here smelling dinner cooking (spinach and turkey lasagna- yes, that sounds boring and healthy but it's amazing and healthy), listening to the Jonathon Channel on WQXR, and keeping an eye on my now sitting baby. This is my Saturday night.

A little less. 

A little less tummy. A little less to worry about. A little less mulling over the future. 


A little less yarn. I was able to pass on a collection of stash earmarked for charity that I just wasn't going to get around to making into anything any time soon.  Now I am just left with a much lighter load and it's my hope to use up almost everything by the fall. Why? My quantities will fit a certain sized child, space is at a premium, and frankly I don't want to have just for the sake of having. 

This flower is going towards my next sewing project. My kid is lunging for something interesting to chew on. When I am feeling thoughtful, I like to work on small things. I kept the crochet thread. 

A little less food.

I did some recipe testing this week and was left with egg whites and cream amongst other things. I actually thought about making cake because I also have leftover milk, but um yeah- a little less tummy. So frittata for my husband. Not for me because I detest the smell and taste of cooked eggs. Conveniently there was also some freah thyme drying out in the fridge and some leftover cheese from a texmex meal earlier in the week.  Using up the stuff that can go bad feels like a win. We have started to buy only enough perishable food for about two meals at a time and a few extra vegetables that can sit around. This means we're pretty good about having home cooked food about 90% of the week. 

A little less screentime, and more time for dreaming and creating. And on that note, later. 

This would be the perfect Saturday night film. We used to own it on VHS. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Suddenly Sunday

It has been a week.

Warm weather and a day off heralded the beginning of fishing season for my man. I'm sure most people don't know anyone who fishes, or at least under the age of 65, but the guy and his friends are a team and they FISH. They have a boat, there are meetings, after each fishing session there's a report. It's legit.  Of course I wish this attention and commitment translated into getting things done in life and at home, but there it is... Anyways, we the family headed to Prospect Park on that nice day and I basically mom-ed in a different location while husband fished. 

Such is my life. 

Baby will begin on solid foods pretty soon, so it made sense to finally switch back to traditional oats versus the quick version I've been eating recently.  Traditionally I don't much enjoy the old fashioned oats except in cookies, so I thought I'd give the overnight refrigerator method a shot.  The next day the oats were nice and soft, but I definitely used too much water (I usually like my oats soupy but this was too much).  Next time I'll try almond milk or Lactaid, and then it won't matter if there's too much extra liquid.

Lastly, in the slow cooker (!) I made a pork shoulder and it came out delish if I do say so myself.  The man is often sent to the market without a list and I just make whatever he brings home in some kind of manner.  Pork shoulder is a good inexpensive cut that can give you a lot of servings, and the juices flavor everything nicely.  I cut away much of the fat, but there's still a good amount that can't be seen in the picture.  I made slits and shoved in garlic slices and fresh thyme and everything was seasoned with salt and pepper and a rub that I just throw together.  There's also a little bit of liquid smoke and red wine vinegar in there as well.  The meat is sitting on top of a sliced onion, some whole garlic cloves, and small, raw,  red beans.  For the beans I added a mug full of water just to make sure they were cooking along with the meat since it takes hours for the pork to release its juices.  

I've had oven roasted pulled pork, but honestly this method is better and there is still a good result even when the setting is on high, which can make this a timely dish to prepare.  After about 5.5 hours I threw in a thinly sliced fennel and some cut up carrots and really there was nothing to complain about with this dish.  Except I had to share.

Here's a lively tune to start off the week, and there's even water and boats!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Crazy Pants Completion

I was able to take advantage of the lovely weather this afternoon. There's nothing like trying to complete one's Japanese homework, having a baby who has suddenly decided naps should only last a few minutes, and mounting frustration to drive one out into the great outdoors. Living in the Lower East Side has its advantages, namely that you are close to great little streets for walking and window shopping. Baby seemed content as well, looking around with interest and making his noises with abandon. 

While walking and thinking, I happened into Purl Soho, a slightly local yarn shop, for a quick peek. One never stays long there because they have an awful layout and having a narrow rectangular shop is just no excuse for a cramped store. I saw a small Brooklyn Tweed trunk show, admired a sweater dress/tunic that bears looking into, and then walked home thinking about my recently completed Crazy Pants. 

found the Crazy Pants ( or Sourrell Pants as they are described) in a Japanese sewing pattern book I purchased from Kinokuniya a few months ago. The Japanese are very efficient in their pattern writing- if you're lucky there might be a pattern to trace but generally it's more of an outline or schematic with NO seam allowance. I forgot the seam and had to draft my pattern twice. Anyway, the actual sewing was easy and I think I look awful silly in these diaper-like, drop crotch pants, but they're fun and should look cute with my high tops or sandles, and a flowy tank with crocheted straps that I will be creating from another pattern book.

Meanwhile I have ripped out three panels from the blanket I posted about before, and remaking them because they were stretching oddly. Hopefully this will be done sooner than later. 

There's nothing like Kpop to make me feel okay about my pants!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Blanket Completion

Over the weekend I "finished" the baby's blanket, and by finish I mean I couldn't stand making anymore squares to make this project anymore larger. I think I was shooting for 25 and gave up at nine. Blanket pieces are just not my thing, I suppose, when every block is the same. I learned this lesson about 5 years ago and now I am reminded again. From now on it's full motif blankets for me! 

On the positive side, it's comfortable and has a texture the baby likes to smooth his hand over. Oh, and it's acrylic so super spit up friendly, ground friendly, subway friendly and therefore THIS mom friendly!

My LOVE for Angela Lansbury runs deep...

Mining for Treasure

In wanting to get my pants done, I am stuck with the need for an elastic but don't have the energy to trek to Michaels. I even looked at Amazon, but decided just ordering elastic seemed wasteful, even though Prime affords you ordering something small with no penalty. When I need to purchase something else, like maybe the new Jhumpa Lahiri book, I 'll make the purchase but until then ripping apart an old pair of sleeping shorts will do nicely. 

So with the baby asleep and Murder, She Wrote keeping me company, I work steadily. Hopefully with his dad home I can sew everything tomorrow!

I love the 80s...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Beating the Blues

It's been a blue last few weeks and I can't even blame the weather. I think once the adrenaline rush of new motherhood evens out I imagine for some, they look around and wonder, "now what?"  Actually I am pretty certain this is not only a mom thing, but as someone who is always in her head, this is not a good thing. It's a season of change and I have been anticipating my next moves with excitement but uncertainty, and it's the uncertainty that's stressing me out when I should be embracing what amazingness could be coming if I would just release anxiety and let peace in.

My action steps for letting go of the blues:

1. Do something for me. Every Friday I go to Japanese class and that's my thing.  Baby comes too, and unfortunately shifts my focus when his needs need to be met, but I rally on.

2. Consider a part time job outside. I like being a SAHM in theory but I also want to contribute to our household, I miss the freedom to just splurge, and ultimately I am eager to start on a new career path even in a small way.

3. Get outside more. I try to make it out at least three times a week to various places, but maybe I definitely need to be outside more.

4. Get creative. I love to crochet and have started knitting, but I still feel stuck. Maybe exploring other creative outlets that I have dabbled in, and then producing a FINISHED thing, will do wonders for my pysche.

5. Seek out adventures. Choose to do/read/watch/try something new, challenging, interesting.

6. Don't forget to do the small things that make me happy!

This upcoming week I plan to cut and sew a simple pair of pants for myself. The pattern comes from a Japanese pattern book and I observed my neighbor sporting this style last summer. I hope to travel to Japan in the early summer with some handmade pieces and I feel like these pants will be perfect for the airport/plane. I hope to show them completed later this week along with my kid's blanket. 

Someone who makes me happy? Anne Miller. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Phooey for Pullovers

I should know better, I really should: my kid is a member of the Big Head Club along with his mom (me) and his dad. I also have the added bonus of big hair which makes pulling my head through fitted holes (sounds so dirty- what a potty mouth) require that I wear a bandana if I want to keep my hairstyle in tact.

But, back to my kid.

In my last post I mentioned trying to meet the self-imposed deadline of today, V day, to finish a little red sweater for my boy. Well, let me tell you. First, yes it's done. And second, it looks a little crazy. After joining the sleeves to the body, I began to decrease to pull in the fabric for the neck. And as I was going along there was a point at which I was reminded that recently himself couldn't wear yet another top because his head was too big to get through the neck opening comfortably. 

(Unlike adults, babies are not fond of squeezing into clothes for the sake of fashion. Their (loud) protests make perfect sense actually.)

So here I am knitting along and trying to figure out if my now 5 month old is going to be able to get this 12 month sized sweater on (because the smallest size was for 6 months and he's wearing that size clothing this second and the numbers for the 12 month size weren't reassuringly that much more). And the schematics were of no help. And other people's projects on Ravelry were of no help. And I was over this sweater already since I had this stupid "deadline" and I still needed to figure out how to kitchener and do a sewn bind off, and my kid was going to wake up soon, and I was waiting on an Amazon Prime delivery. 

So I made a decision as to where to stop. Did that.  Regrouped. Figured out how to do the special bind off. Wove in the ends. Kitchenered the underarms. Met the Amazon guy (and my kid didn't even wake up when the buzzer rang- oh the cruelty). And as a result have an over exaggerated boat neck sweater- not the most perfect garment, but the best for the moment. 

Now, if you look at the design of the neck opening of this onesie, it's perfect and that's how I am going to sort of "fold and tuck" the opening of the sweater around his neck so that there's no struggle and maybe he can actually get some wear out of this. 

Of course now I am on the hunt for cute fasteners...

I'll be starting his and my Rhinebeck (New York Sheep and Wool Festival) CARDIGAN sweaters this spring... Until then, I hope to finish up a blanket I meant to finish in August and a pair of socks. Laughably I thought I could knit a pair a month, but did you know that there are lots and lots of tiny stitches that go into making socks... 

Slow and steady. 

May EVERY day be Valentine's...

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Slow and Steady

I recently observed two knitting podcasters engage in a sockathon for the month of January.  And at the end of it they tied at 35 pairs of socks knitted. Each. They weren't doing this for any sort of charity or anything like that, just knitting this quickly against each other just because.

Another knitter, the Yarn Harlot, is known for the speed of her knitting and actually teaches classes on the particular technique she uses (apparently developed when women actually needed to knit quickly to live). Watching videos of her zip along are enough to cause agita, and watching her crank out last minute gifts and sweaters can only leave you in wonderment, or at least in her dust, because in the time you've spent being impressed, she has finished. 

And then there's me. A newish knitter since I have known how to knit since childhood, but never really took to it, who instead became a crocheter. And a crocheter I remain, but I am now exploring knitting again as a new mother looking to release my creativity in as many mediums as possible because motherhood is draining on the pysche and sometimes you need a lot of avenues for self expression when you spend countless hours alone with your baby. That, and it's nice to look forward to a project that isn't you growing said child. 

So late last fall, full of enthusiasm, I looked around and purchased a few sweater patterns for me to make my kid, and had the sudden ambition to make my little boy a Christmas sweater! It occurred to me, quite emphatically, that I wanted to start the tradition of an annual sweater, so the week before Christmas seemed the right time to make this decision and execute it. Totally delusional, of course, because my little guy doesn't care about my craft life and as I had only retaught myself how to knit, the sweater is still in progress as we head into Valentine's Day. "Lucky" for him that's our wedding anniversary so the sweater still has a attachment to some holiday (ok, whateva), but in all legit honesty it also stands for the small moments I take during his naps and sometimes before I go sleep, slowly working on his little red sweater. Yes, I admittedly have wasted some time looking at how other knitters knit quickly, but I always return to my steady pace.  Because, at the end of the day, when my little guy looks back at pictures of himself in this sweater, all he'll think about, all that matters really, is that he was/is loved and his mama made him something nice. 

I think I'll make this deadline...

A little something from Gigi today...

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Stew, Anyone?

This has been an odd season; I have both sweated while carrying the baby in the Bjorn, and gotten stuck in the snow while pushing said baby in the stroller (thank goodness for the kindness of strangers and a policeman).


One thing I miss pre-child (aside from my alcohol tolerance and the need for moderation)? Eating. Like a meal that I can enjoy leisurely versus just shoveling food in my face in a race to beat his waking from a nap and howling, or in race against him growing bored with his chew toy (sorry, teething ring) and howling. Am I bitter? Absolutely. So my will to even contemplate cooking, let alone be creative when not using the crockpot that is, is laughable.  However, every once in awhile I get an idea I can pull off in minutes. 

The first time I made this, my challenge was to use up some sliced sourdough bread that was chilling (read: slowly going stale) and I don't do bread pudding. And, bread crumbs aren't very useful in this household. And, why don't packages of bread come in half sizes so that you have a bloody chance of finishing it off before its demise. 

But I digress. 

A few years ago I was introduced to a tomato basil soup that used chunks of bread to thicken, and a drizzle of olive oil to finish. I recall really liking the simplicity of this hearty soup so that recipe started as a base for this idea that yielded hearty results, tasty leftovers, and only required chopping four ingredients. By the time punk baby started needing attention, I was stirring everything together and hey, I can mom and stir at the same time. 

The Bread is Going Stale Stew (a soup I wished someone had made for me, but we can't have everything in life).  Exact measurements are not necessary here: 2 packages of Pomi, or canned San Marazano tomatoes, a few garlic cloves, vegetables (on hand I had carrots, onions, some kale, and a bell pepper), sliced bread (I've done sourdough and whole wheat), and meatballs (optional).

I didn't add meatballs the first time I made this, but sometimes you want to play around with a dish.  Next time I'll sub in white beans, to keep this vegetarian and cheap, plus the beans will soak up the flavor.

My method, after chopping everything, was to brown the meatballs in a little olive oil first and then remove them from the pan.  It's okay if they break apart because this is rustic, comfort food.  Add a little more oil and stir in the garlic, onions and carrots followed by the bread.  Keep an eye on this because the bread will start to stick and then burn.  When everything is starting to smell aromatic, add your tomatoes and like 1 1/2cups of water.  I also added the kale at this point and some fresh herbage.  Oh, and add the meatballs.  Turn down the heat and let your stew simmer for about 20 minutes.  Don't forget to stir periodically, check the taste, and season as needed.

If everything goes according to plan, when this is done the bread pieces will thicken up the tomato base nicely and any pieces that are left will melt in your mouth.  So delicious!  Finally, to finish it all off I added a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of red chili flakes for a final warming touch.

I will say that because of the addition of bread, no added carbs are necessary, but if you are super hungry you can treat this soup like a sauce and serve it over pasta with a little fresh parm.  Enjoy!

Weird weather requires some Björk...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Down Memory Lane in a Crockpot

In thinking about the recipe I wanted to share today, I began to reflect, and what followed on this gloomy day were thoughts and memories...

But first, cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot is genius and why don't do I do this more often. No, there's not going to be any crispy brown skin to nibble on, but a more moist and succulent bird you will not find. I don't do anything particularly special- just load the bottom of the dish with an assortment of veggies (and I can't be bothered to worry about what may overcook to the point of not photo friendly), salt and pepper, maybe some fresh herbs if I have any, and then the seasoned bird goes on top. Bam!
Oh, and I do add some liquid- water actually, but some white wine would be nice too if I ever have some around- only just enough to cover the veggies because the cooking bird is going to produce some lovely juice and you don't want to dilute that.
After 8 hours on low the meat is falling off the bone, so do that- remove the bones, chunk up the chicken, season as desired and stuff your face. Budget and time friendly, plus good eating.

I declare the crockpot the best purchase of 2014. I was newly married, and in trying to emulate another couple I knew, attempting to make dinner after work . Typical, except that I would get home around 1030 pm most days and couldn't quite work up the enthusiasm of cooking for my spouse after the newness wore off. It actually became a source of resentment for me that I would have to get home from work and there would be no warm meal waiting for me, but when the man got in, there would be something (he comes in after midnight). Enter the crockpot. I bought the largest size that seemed reasonable, complete with timer and automatic warming after cooking. It even beeps!

The crockpot seems to be part of those throwback memories that seem on trend these days except that I can't say it brings back anything specific for me. We had one, and I can see it in my minds eye on our counter in my childhood home in Alabama and then again in the rental house in Massachusetts my mom had while I was in college. I tried cooking something in it in those later years, a bean soup that came out bland methinks, but I have no memories of meals coming out of the pot from my mom's hands.

I recently marathoned Blue Bloods and the show makes me chuckle because Donnie Wahlberg is this Boston guy acting in a NYC police show and we all know how these two locales clash, but even more importantly I can't help but covet the plot device of the Sunday family dinner. I see that, and I want it. I want a family food tradition, as food memories for me are wrapped up in my life journey

a sleepy, sunny time spent in my grandmother's house as a child where there would be boxes of sugary cereal on top of the fridge, popcorn made in a yellow domed air popper with a grate to let butter ( but probably Country Crock) melt over the hot popcorn, and the blandest cornbread ever made, in a black skillet. Oh, and in the cupboard there was a large mason jar filled with vinegar and hot peppers to season the greens.

The memory of the shrimp boils with lemon juice and butter and corn on the cob at my great aunt's house in South Carolina. 

And then the move up north- an intense, bleak, cold, and ultimately tragic time. There was the homemade birthday cake when I was seven, and I actually got to invite a friend over, which was special. Special because there wasn't a lot to celebrate it seemed and I so rarely got anything. Fried onions and thinly sliced potatoes with lots of salt and pepper was a dish I loved my mom to make.  My own attempts at cooking were based on recipes I'd find. Boiled Minute rice with baby shrimp and Blue Bonnet springs to mind as something we ate. Rice a Roni dishes...

And then came the period of fried spam and tuna fish in pita sandwiches. And the family pack of those tiny chicken drumsticks. This period lasted a long time and eventually I realized we were poor.

I hadn't thought of these times for a long while, but here we are at the courtesy of a crockpot...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Life's Like This Now

Every once in awhile I find myself a bit astonished at my life. It's not a big life, quite small and simple actually, but I never envisioned THIS. That is, a life where yeah some things could be better, but I really don't have that much to complain about. I never meant to end up in New York, but moved here to attend culinary school and never left. After visiting Denver a few years back, I thought that my next life chapter would take me there, but then... and now I have a baby and a husband in addition to the cat- this lone wolf has a little family.

I sing parts of this song to my baby. I may also do some of the choreography.