Monday, March 31, 2008

Si, se puede

Today, this blog is taking a vacation holiday for Cesar Chavez day.

Or maybe this weekend was too busy to upload any photos.

When I lived in Massachusetts, there were holidays all over the place: Patriot's Day, Columbus Day, President's Weekend (2 days off!). (I realize that these are nationally acknowledged holidays, but most places didn't observe them outside of Massachusetts.) In California there is really only one holiday that is not a federal holiday: Cesar Chavez day. And I (in the industrial world) don't have it, but The Sweetie does, because he works at a state university. It's really an extra breath before spring quarter begins, a kind extension to spring "break" for the faculty.

Read more about Cesar Chavez.

Friday, March 28, 2008

ECF: Lazy kitty

Originally uploaded by knitswithasilentk
Happy Friday! Happy weekend!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Easter traditions

Lamb cake
Originally uploaded by knitswithasilentk
Last year I made a butter lamb. But usually, The Sweetie's mom makes a lamb-shaped cake for Easter. She hasn't done it the past few years, and had already stopped frosting it, but it makes a nice centerpiece and then you eat it.

We had shopped for years looking for a lamb cake mold - it's a 2-piece mold; you bake it facedown and the cake is supposed to rise into the lid. We found one a few years ago, but hadn't had the opportunity to make a cake in it.

The Sweetie requested carrot cake (his favorite), iced with cream cheese frosting. I did some volume comparison of the cake mold with 8" cake pans, and figured a half recipe of his mom's carrot cake recipe would fill the pan. It came close - we could have used a bit more batter to really fill the back of the lamb out. We used the cream cheese frosting from (The New) Joy of Cooking. It was pretty magical to see the powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla magically transform into frosting in the Cuisinart. It was pretty good, but in the future we'd cut down on the sugar and vanilla, to get a more cheesy flavor.

The lamb cake baked for a full hour (!) and then we let it sit in the pan for an hour. Some gentle scraping with a knife loosened it enough to have it come out in one piece! (Thank you, Baker's Joy.) I piped the frosting on with a star tip. You can see little bits of wooly detail where it worked; some places needed extra scraping so it's not as pretty as it could be. I think the frosting got a bit warm in my hands as I went on. The back I just spread with a knife. The hard part was getting it to stick. (I think the Baker's Joy made the surface of the cake kind of slippery - but it's a tradeoff. The BJ made it unmold so easily!) Two dried currants for eyes and a dried cranberry for a mouth, and voila!

As it set in the fridge, the head started flopping forward (remember, it was kind of missing its back) so I stuck a skewer through it and eventually shored it up with another piece of skewer to make it last until evening. We sliced it rump end first on Easter evening. Yum!

Monday, March 24, 2008

My first Easter basket

This year, for the first time in a long time, we didn't go to The Sweetie's parents' house for Easter. He had final exams on Friday and had to have them all graded and grades set by Tuesday, so we deemed it crazy to go up for the weekend in between. But I didn't want him to be completely without Easter traditions.

Usually, The Sweetie's mom buys a Bordeaux egg from See's candies for each person, and puts it in a family basket. Friday after work I snuck out to see if I could get a Bordeaux egg. I discovered they have other flavors of egg, so I got myself a Chocolate Butter with Walnuts egg. The Sweetie usually gets my Bordeaux egg because I find it too rich, but not this year! I also picked up some chocolate eggs - one bag dark, one bag milk.

Saturday while The Sweetie was grading final exams, I hard boiled eggs in the morning, and in the afternoon dyed them. I told The Sweetie I made red, yellow, green, blue, orange, and a try at purple. (The purple is always a controversial subject - mixing red and blue do not really make an attractive purple, you know.) He said it sounded like traditional family egg dying - right down to the "try at purple".

Sunday morning I told him to stay in bed while I hurriedly assembled the basket, candy, and eggs. He was completely surprised and delighted.

I feel oddly triumphant that I was able to produce an Easter basket that satisfied (my? his? whose?) requirements - dyed eggs, chocolate eggs, and the traditional Bordeaux egg, in a basket, with fake grass.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wee Tiny Sock Swap 2008!

Emily at Yarn Miracle has once again organized the Wee Tiny Sock Swap:

The Wee Tiny Sock Swap is the fastest, cheapest, cutest swap in blogland. Participants knit a single Wee Tiny Sock out of leftover sock yarn (the pattern is here) and mail it to their sock pal. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it’s the only swap that takes an hour and a half and the price of a postage stamp to participate!

More information is here! Everybody's doin' it....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Random Wednesday

Originally uploaded by knitswithasilentk
The first thing that happened at Saturday's baby shower was everyone took a blank onesie or t-shirt and ironed on a freezer paper stencil, and went to town with the fabric paint. I know I saw this around on blogs a while back, and when Grace asked if there was anything in particular I'd like to have at the shower, I sent her some links. Grace was a dear and pre-cut all of the stencils, so all people had to do was pick one, iron it on, and paint! They turned out soooo cute! Everyone said it was lots of fun.

The random part of Wednesday is provided by the results from my drawing. I used to draw numbers, and after removing Kathy (who did it already) and Rachel (the one who Ped IF to me), I ended up with Marie, trek, and Kadiddly!

Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for mailing addresses. Expect to receive something handmade within 365 days. =)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More Baby Shower stuff

Originally uploaded by knitswithasilentk
I took this picture with the macro lens, and I'm thrilled at how it turned out. These were the favors for the shower. As you can see, Grace filled baby food jars with Jelly Belly jelly beans and made stickers for the top, and labels which say "From Kim's Jelly Belly to yours!".

The Sweetie has been eating from the jar I brought home (I actually don't prefer jelly beans) and we've been commenting that the random mixture of Jelly Bellys give an experience not unlike Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans - you really don't know what you're gonna get, and while Jelly Belly probably doesn't make really awful, poopy flavors, some of them are not as good as others!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ahoy! It's a boy!

Originally uploaded by knitswithasilentk
My friend Grace hosted a baby shower for me this weekend, and the theme was sailboats. She created handmade cards for the invitations that said "Ahoy! It's a boy!", and everything else coordinated with it - the favors, the prizes, the cake, and even thank-you notes for me to use! Thank you so much, Grace, for throwing such a great party!

Today is the last day to enter the drawing for Pay It Forward.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Reminder: Pay It Forward drawing

I forgot to include this reminder in yesterday's post. For all you weekend readers, don't forget to enter the random drawing for the next Pay It Forward. For details, click here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

ECF: Baby shower

Originally uploaded by knitswithasilentk
Last weekend, my sisters-in-law threw a baby shower for me in the Bay Area, attended mostly by family friends from The Sweetie's side of the family. It was held at an English tea room and included sandwiches with the crusts cut off and scones with clotted cream and lemon curd. It was sooo cute!

The girls got me a wrist corsage to wear and a balloon bouquet (tied to my seat at the tea room). At the end, the waitstaff brought out this sweet little dessert - a petit four with a candle in it, with "Congratulations Kim" written around the plate in icing.

It was a really fun party - thanks!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thank you, Rhonda!

Gift from Rhonda
Originally uploaded by knitswithasilentk
I was bowled over the other day when I opened my mail. Hmm....something from MIT.... Now I am an alum and a volunteer, so it's not so unusual to get something from them, but in a padded envelope....mysterious.

Inside was the most beautiful card and the most awesome pair of baby socks from none other than Rhonda the Stitching Nut! It's such a special gift. Thank you, Rhonda! Thank you so much! She had blogged about them, but I had no idea they were destined for my little boy!

There's still time to enter the random drawing to be a Pay It Forward recipient. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Paying It Forward

Pay It Forward
Originally uploaded by knitswithasilentk
A long time ago, when Pay It Forward was relatively new, I jumped at the chance to be a PIF recipient. I really like the idea of just giving gifts for no special reason - just to make their day.

Rachel didn't promise to be speedy, but she was working hard! She made strips of fabric, and knit them into this beautiful rug! I don't want to put it on the floor! Right now, it's sitting on a chair in our living room, covering up ugly stained bits, as a sort of chair cushion.

Thank you, Rachel!

Now, the next step is to pay it forward again. I'll pick 3 random people who comments on this blog entry. I'll pick those people next week, on March 17. Then someday, you'll receive a handmade gift from me to brighten your day. I can tell you right now, the "handmade" part might be small, but accompanied by something good, like chocolate. There are no promises of promptness here - just within 365 days. When you get it, you must promise to do the same on your blog.

You can be anywhere in the world, but you must have a blog (or start one!)

Friday, March 7, 2008

ECF: Pond in Hancock, NH

Hancock - pond
Originally uploaded by knitswithasilentk
This is my favorite photo from our New England Foliage Trip of 2006. And I took it with my (apparently not-so) crappy phone camera. I'm pretty sure this is from my most recent phone camera. I can tell from looking at the various phone photos which of them came from the old (first phone camera) and which from the new. The old ones look kind of neon and overexposed. The new ones look pretty true to color.

If only I had a higher resolution version of this, I'd print it and frame it - it looks like one of those 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles.

And I'm not 100% sure it's a pond. Northeastern landscapes are funny - a big outcropping of water could be a pond or a lake, or just a place where a creek widened out and became a river or something. But it was so beautiful in the morning light.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Old photos, new random stuff

NH foliage
Originally uploaded by knitswithasilentk
This photo is from our New England Foliage trip, fall of 2006, during The Sweetie's sabbatical. We forgot to bring a real camera, so I took this with my cell phone. I just recently bothered to get all the photos off my cell phone and into Flickr, where they can live in perpetuity.

I have been working on seaming the second bootie - now confirmed to be smaller than #1, and probably close to the intended size. After that, the ankle sock portion to knit. This time, I took care to slip the first stitch of every row and knit the last stitch of every row through the back loop to assist in seaming. I had to add a couple of selvedge stitches to the ribbed cuff to make it work out, but it turned out nicely, I think.

Now I just have to decide whether to keep #1 around as an artifact of gauge lying, or whether to rip it out (potentially salvaging the ankle sock portion?) and re-knit it tighter.

I recently finished a book, A Year without "Made In China". It was a really easy and fun read - not heavy-handed. It chronicles an American family's attempt to not buy items made in China for a year - this family had 2 small children, too! They weren't always perfect - sometimes they accidentally bought stuff made in China (who knew that candy canes were made in China?). They had to decide about parts of items made in China, as well as whether certain areas such as Taiwan or Hong Kong counted. The author acknowledges that she has nothing against China as a country or its people; it was kind of an arbitrary choice to be more aware of where manufactured goods come from. It didn't have a whole lot in the way of fact-finding sidebars; it really was an account of their experiences. All in all, it was a thoughtful book and an entertaining read.

One interesting thing: even though they often spent more money on items to get them from some country other than China, they ended up spending less money overall, since they were prevented from buying junk that they could do without.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Happy Monday!

Sheep note cards
Originally uploaded by knitswithasilentk
This should have been Eye Candy, but I had more urgent matters on Friday. Instead, you get happy sheep note cards on a Monday. These are really cute and inexpensive. I bought them from Bezzie who blogs here. 3 cards for $3.75 including shipping! She's all out of the sets of 3 at the moment, but I'm sure she'll be making more. Speedy service, too!

I knit a bit more on my bootie #2 this weekend, in between marathon laundry and keeping The Sweetie sane by making him leave the house and enjoy the day. It is turning out significantly smaller than the first one. This is probably good, as it will probably fit a baby. The creepy part is it's the same yarn, same needle, and same knitter! Not really knitting tightly, just thinking "tighter gauge" thoughts.