knitting


Hello! I’m just stopping by briefly on my way to make popcorn and watch last night’s Top Chef finale to share a few things I’ve been up to on my little blog break.

First:

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The maiden voyage! Leah came over last weekend with some homemade turkey stock and we got to work. The pressure canner was VERY easy to use thanks to some blog tutorials I had pinned. When I get a little more well-versed in pressure canning, I’ll share some more. Next I want to try canning beans, and then hopefully I can move on to soup bases and chili. (I want to see if I can can my own butternut squash soup and chili recipes, but I don’t know enough about the process yet.)

I haven’t popped open either of these jars yet but I think (and hope!) that we were successful. And no explosions.

Next:

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I feel like I have been working on this handwarmer for an eternity. I am a slow knitter again, but I have a bunch of Downton Abbey to watch so hopefully the second one will be done in time for, you know, June.

Also:

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We mastered the side carry and I am babywearing again! It’s so convenient. I carried Will like this the other day when we braved our first consignment sale. (BTW, ignore the clutter in the background. The bedroom is always the last room to get organized …)

Lastly: I ran THIRTEEN miles last Saturday. I can tell that I spend a lot of time with other distance runners because that did not sound all that noteworthy of an achievement to me until after I finished and was basically useless for the rest of the day. I can also tell my body is not at all accustomed to running such long distances. I am still undecided about a half marathon in April, but am leaning toward it, as long as I can keep my mileage up after the ten-miler in two weeks. However, I feel like diving back into a serious yoga practice again (which I REALLY want to d0) would necessitate cutting back on my mileage, just due to how much time I have to devote to exercise these days. I don’t think I can do both. Decisions, decisions. I’m going to see after the race whether I can wait six more weeks to start practicing yoga 3-5 days a week again, or whether I feel like I need to head back in that direction. We’ll see.

Now it’s time for popcorn and Top Chef. Is my blog break over? Another thing that we’ll just have to see!

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Why do weekends seem to go so fast??

This one was a good one, though, starting with ham-spinach-cheese omelets on Friday night. Thanks to the dozen eggs we get in our CSA share every other week, I have been working on my omelet technique. There is much room for improvement, but I’m making (delicious) progress.

Saturday I joined the ten miler training program for a six mile run. I got there a bit late and felt pretty scattered when the run started, but I eventually figured out the right route (!) and felt good the whole distance. I was running with a group of about four or five other people, but even so it was a pretty lonely run — they all seemed to know each other, and I found myself really wishing I had a friend to run with. I run alone almost all the time, so it was kind of a bummer that despite being surrounded by other runners, I still didn’t really have anyone to talk to until I met up with Karen* afterwards. She brought me coffee!

Other weekend activities have included:

  • helping my dad pick out a Christmas tree
  • baked Brie for a Christmas party with some good friends
  • chicken stock
  • knitting, knitting, knitting

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(look, I don’t have a problem, okay? I can stop knitting striped hats whenever I want.)

Also …

  • skipping church (shh)
  • broccoli cheese soup at Leah’s house
  • hauling all the bins of Christmas decorations out of the attic (well, this was Steve’s activity). This is as far as we have gotten in our holiday decorating.
  • discovering we have a baby who can scoot! Time to babyproof.

Will’s naps have become so much more predictable in the last few weeks, and he slept really, really well when we were in Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving. However he has been going through some sort of personal strife that causes him to wake up at 10 or 11 p.m. crying — he has been doing this for a while now and I think he is just … hungrier. The only thing that helps him go back to sleep and stay asleep is to feed him, so that’s what we have been doing. What happened to my little babe who only woke up once at night? Oh well. He is much bigger and a lot more active, so it makes sense that he needs more fuel. We have also been stepping up the solids:

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Peas!

And by the way, thanks for the advice re: yoga work-study. I think I am going to go for it! I am really excited to have an opportunity to advance my practice. My arms were sore for two days after Wednesday’s class. Heh.

And now it is almost Monday. I am hoping to be a little more productive this week than I was last week — homemade bread?, more knitting, hopefully some pear jam of some sort, and some Christmas shopping — oh yeah, and some cleaning — so I better go feed my baby and head to bed myself. Whew.

*Ten miler training is a family affair!

Having a baby has made travel prep a much more involved process than it used to be. Today was taken up with errands, packing lists, laundry, and what felt like organized chaos. Fortunately I think we are just about ready …

This is coming:

(it’s fermenting! there’s a little scoby on top! and some bubbles!)

It doesn’t have a lid at this point — it needs to breathe — so I am going to have to keep it close by in the car and make sure it doesn’t get too jostled. I hope we don’t have to do any kombucha cleanup on the road. I also have to bring a few jars to bottle the finished kombucha in, whenever it’s done. (And depending on its success.)

This is coming, too:

Pumpkin butter, my friends. It was SUPEReasy to make and, apart from the largely hands-off pumpkin-roasting process, didn’t take all that long, either. I think next year I will just go ahead and make my own pumpkin puree — it was that easy. And I am looking forward to enjoying this in some overnight oats tomorrow morning on the road!

I am so taken with these little four-ounce jars, too. What else can I put in them??

This is also coming:

I really just wanted an excuse to include a gratuitous photo.

Also accompanying us to Thanksgiving dinner: three magazines, four skeins of yarn, last-minute knitted gifts (for one pattern in particular), and my trusted yoga mat + computer. (I don’t claim to travel light.) What if I find myself wanting Item X from home and I don’t have it? Unacceptable. So it all comes along, and somehow it all fits into our little Civic! I realize I probably won’t get too much use out of the extraneous stuff I’m bringing along, but I like having it with me — the knitting in particular. I hope I come home with at least one completed hat.

Thanksgiving this year feels worlds different than it did last year, and for that I am glad. The sting is still there, but not the whiplash between abject hysterical grief, and an iced-over emotional tundra. Instead, it feels like Thanksgiving — just in the new normal, like everything else.

Okay, not really. But as the east coast waited with growing agitation for Hurricane Sandy’s arrival, I just kept singing this song in my head:

I can’t get it to stop. Last week I was persecuted by a Jason Mraz earworm and now it’s John Travolta; I can’t decide which is the greater torture.

Anyway, it’s now Tuesday morning and Sandy has moved on from Virginia. Here is what the devastation looks like:

There were some power outages and sleet out in the surrounding counties, but for the most part Charlottesville was pretty unaffected by the storm, though you’d never know it from the way they closed the schools for two days. It was a little windy last night, but not that bad. I’ve been reading reports of what things are like in New York City and New England, though, and feeling VERY lucky.

In between reading storm updates over the weekend, we had a lot of fun at home. For starters, my dad and I headed out Saturday morning for our first ten miler training run! Here is where I would include a picture of our bright happy pre- or post-run faces, if I were the type of person to take my camera everywhere. Instead you will have to imagine it.

I am thinking about combining my ten-miler training with half-marathon training — the ten-miler is early this year (March 16) and I think there are a few half marathons in the area in April. I do hope to complete a half marathon next fall, depending on where life takes us, but I don’t see why I can’t also do one this spring. In all honesty, I probably don’t need to do a whole five-month training program to complete ten miles; my longest run so far was seven miles last month and I haven’t had any trouble building up my mileage. The first phase of the training program is base building, which I’ve already done, so for now I am just using it as a general structure for my running and to (hopefully) help me get ready for a half marathon. (There is a more advanced training program for those hoping to set PRs in the race, but the weekday runs are longer than I’m confident I could regularly complete with a baby at home. Life is hard.)

And that being said, I’m still not feeling very motivated to run lately. When I am running, I feel great; it’s the thought of getting dressed and hitting the treadmill that’s unappealing right now. I’m trying to work through it, but right now it’s naptime and I’m not running, so there’s that. Oh well.

Anyway. In addition to running, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen this weekend. First there was a chocolate beet cake — it’s delicious, but one would think that using four small-to-medium beets would equal the three medium beets called for in the recipe. One would be wrong. I wound up with barely half the amount of grated beets that I needed! So the cake turned out a bit crumbly. I’d like to try it again when I have more beets. And in any event we now have chocolate cake in the freezer, in case of emergency.

In addition to cake I made granola, baby food (carrots!), pumpkin pancakes (2013 will be my year of not burning pancakes, I swear) and applesauce!

mighty towers of applesauce

I used the apples we got at the orchard a few weeks ago. Super simple. I didn’t add any spices or anything to it since I will be adding it to baby food, but I really don’t think it needs anything. Leah has the canning pot right now but once I get it back I’ll process three jars and keep the fourth in the fridge. And if I get some seconds apples I will probably make more. Now I’m thinking about my next canning project … pear jam? cranberry-apple butter?

(I also found a recipe for maple pumpkin butter. I have a pie pumpkin …)

Out of the kitchen, I started cleaning some things out of cupboards and hutches. Steve and I have a small house, and we both want to stay in the house as long as we can fit in it — both because the idea of moving is so repugnant, and also because we don’t want to have to move until we can buy a house we want to stay in long-term. So I’m trying to get rid of a lot of stuff and clutter just to preserve my own sanity! I felt good tossing a large garbage bag’s worth of stuff, and setting aside a box of Goodwill donations and future library books. I think my 2013 motto will be to simplify, simplify.

And of course I also made some sock progress.

like my fluffy pink bathrobe? it’s monogrammed.

As predicted, this one is coming along much more quickly than sock #1. I can’t wait to finish it. Sadly it seems that most of my winter shoes either don’t require socks (driving mocs) or are boots. Quick! I need some sock-worthy shoes! The world needs to see these! (How will everyone know I’ve made my own socks??)

Anyway, that’s the news around here. Tomorrow is Halloween, but I am a Halloween grinch and really can’t bring myself to care too much. Steve will be traveling, and I am not handing out candy in his absence. Does that make me a bad person? Will has a “costume” (his little bear outfit) but in general I am not in love with the idea of dressing up a baby in a silly costume just for other people’s amusement. Maybe I just have no sense of humor.

But you know who does have a sense of humor? Will and his grandpa. Enjoy this gratuitous video taken while we were in Pennsylvania:

Have a happy Tuesday!

1. Redemption:

Yes: jelly round 2 was a success. I made sure to use my largest stock pot (and even so, it bubbled up dangerously high) and added the obscene amount of sugar as directed in the recipe. The result? Seven jars of delicious and very, very sweet grape-cherry jelly that will probably last me for at least a few years, not counting the syrup I inadvertently made a few weeks ago. When the concord grapes come up in our CSA next summer, I’ll just say no thanks.

2. Success:

I know, I know — I have been working on this sock for ages. And I just now finished it. I have no excuses — I just don’t knit these days as much as I used to, for whatever reason — I’m out of the habit. But regardless, I really enjoyed making this and I have a feeling sock #2 will go much more quickly, especially because I am making hats for my little nieces for Christmas, and I have plans to make another pair of hand warmers for myself, so I can’t let half-finished projects sit on the needles for a month at a time! I just need to get back into the habit of knitting while I watch TV.

I absolutely love wearing one hand-knit sock; I can only imagine the bliss of wearing an actual pair.

3. Bonus:

He gets better at it every day! (His brother Teaker, as you can see, is less impressed.)

We are headed to Pennsylvania tomorrow to spend the weekend with Steve’s family, and I’m looking forward to a few days of extra knitting and reading time while I share Will with his grandparents. Lots of good things happening here!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

5:15 a.m. I hear chattering over the monitor. Will slept through the night! Of course, I didn’t go to bed until past 11 p.m. so I am not exactly feeling well-rested myself, but still: I’ll take it. I head into the nursery and feed Will, who is starving. While he eats, I peruse knitting patterns on Ravelry — I’m trying to find something to do with this lovely laceweight yarn that I have. (I was originally going to make a citron shawl but another [honest] look at the pattern told me that I was not going to enjoy making it. [Seriously. I mean, look at it. Beautiful shawl, but not my ideal knitting.]) I save patterns for a lace scarf and one for a cute hat and decide to study them both more later. I have a feeling the hat will win out.

Anyway, after Will finishes nursing he drowses off and I put him back in his crib, and head back to bed myself. This putting-him-back-in-his-crib thing is very new and so far, I think I like it; I miss him next to me in the early morning, but I definitely sleep better with him down the hall. That being said, it then takes me about half an hour to fall back to sleep myself. And in the meantime, Steve leaves for work.

7:30 a.m. More chatter! A glimpse at the monitor shows Will rolling onto his tummy in bed. I drag myself out of bed (having slept for maybe an additional 30 minutes) and down the hall to see my beaming baby. I love our morning routine, simple as it is — nursing, then a new diaper and onesie, and then Will keeps me company while I brush my teeth and put in my contacts. We lounge around together for a while, taking our time, and it is 8:30 before we get downstairs.

8:30 a.m. Once downstairs I put Will in his new exersaucer while I release the kitties (who sleep in the garage) and feed them and give Teaker his shot. I also open all the blinds in the house, something I do every day — I fundamentally do not understand people who keep their blinds closed. It makes me crazy. After that, I eat half a banana and get dressed in running clothes — today we are going stroller running! Before we leave, I practice lugging the stroller out of my trunk (my kingdom for an SUV?) and opening and closing it, a process which also involves removing and reattaching the wheels. Of course, I realize we could just go running around the neighborhood, but I have my heart set on running the Greenbelt trail today and that’s where we’re headed. (Also, despite the fact that my neighborhood connects to a few larger communities, the running routes are pretty limited. It’s a sad life.)

Because it now takes me three times as long to get out the door as it used to, we don’t get to the Greenbelt until after 9 a.m. and I realize I am perilously close to naptime. I optimistically think he might wait until 10 to nap, but it’s wishful thinking. He falls asleep halfway through our run and snoozes for 20 minutes while I push him the two miles back to my car.

This picture was taken on Monday in Warrenton. Doesn’t Will look thrilled? Like my new race shirt?

Is it too soon to declare eternal love to my jogging stroller? I have only used it twice, so if so, let me declare instead my infatuation. We are very happy together.

10 a.m. Will wakes up when I stop running, but I still am pretty sure if I put him in his crib he’ll nap for an hour while I shower and get us ready for our lunch date. However, when I attempt it, no dice. This baby is cheerfully rolling around in his crib, grabbing toys, giggling, and blowing raspberries (his new thing).

Well, this is new. One thing I have consistently been able to count on with Will is a long morning nap! Apparently that 20-minute snooze was all he needed. I decide he’s happy and comfortable in his crib, and turn on the monitor while I have a quick quasi-breakfast and take a shower. He spends that time stretched out on his belly playing with a teething toy.

One of my very favorite things, but this is no yogurt-and-granola breakfast feast.

11 a.m. An early lunch for Will before we head out! Today we are meeting my beloved former boss, Kelly, for lunch. Before we leave, I email my sisters to express my mystification at Will’s lack of morning nap. I just hope he can hold it together during lunch — maybe he’ll go back to his newborn roots and sleep in the stroller. (Yeah right.)

11:30 a.m. We arrive downtown. I still feel like a chump getting a parking ticket for the garage instead of cruising on in with the rest of the monthly parkers, but that feeling is quickly extinguished when I magically find parking right away. It’s a miracle!

In the office, I get to say hi to all my old friends and catch up with some of my coworkers before I meet Kelly. It is so nice to see everyone — I worked with a really wonderful group of people and I miss them. But I am happy to report to them that Will and I are loving life at home! My friend Blair even comments that I look like I am glowing. Later, Kelly tells me the same thing: she says I look noticeably different than I did for all of last year (not counting the fact that obviously I am not pregnant anymore). She says that I look so, so happy, and I can’t disagree.

We have lunch at Eppie’s where I can be reunited with the curry chicken salad and pumpkin bread. It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to talk shop again, for lack of a better term, and I get some updates on a few of my former clients. Meanwhile, Will is tired — too tired to play with any of the toys in his car seat, but apparently not tired enough (or too stimulated) for sleep. Before heading home, I take advantage of our proximity to quickly run into the Blue Ridge Eco Shop to look at their composting supplies. (I keep thinking that one day Steve and I are going to wake up and discover that we’re hippies, but I am enjoying every step of our descent.)

1:00 p.m. We head home and I am greeted by this sight:

He was even snoring.

I bring Will upstairs and change and feed him, but it looks like I’m unlucky twice. I swaddle him and place him in his crib, but he’s suddenly so full of overtired energy that he busts right out of his swaddle blanket and kicks his legs, arching his back and rolling around. Eventually I decide to dress him in a onesie and socks and see how he might do sleeping without the swaddle. (For whatever reason, he still seems to need a swaddle during naps, but does fine in pajamas at night.)

2:30 p.m. It is a long struggle, but after about half an hour Will starts blowing angry raspberries and fussing more in his crib. I pick him up and rock him, and after fifteen minutes or so, he finally falls asleep — over an hour after I first tried to put him down. Whew. I am suddenly exhausted and after throwing a load of diapers in the wash, I spend a necessary few minutes downstairs decompressing. I catch up on some email and chat with Steve on the phone.

Finally.

3:00 p.m. This happens:

Gaaaaahhhhhh

It’s time to bring out the big guns. I take off his socks and onesie, rock him for a few minutes, and then swaddle him as tightly as I can and put him in his swing. We have been doing really well with naps in the crib, but desperate times call for desperate measures! This baby needs a good nap, and I have my fingers crossed that the swing is up to the task.

And happily, it seems to be. Will passes out after just a few minutes and I head downstairs to either take a nap myself, or make a a much-needed cup of coffee.

Hi there.

I’ve recently renewed my love for French press coffee and today I go all-out with a big pot of fully caffeniated Shenandoah Joe coffee. Over the last few weeks I’ve been slowly reintroducing caffeine and fortunately, Will doesn’t seem to have noticed. However, I do. I am exhausted at this point, but there’s still a lot to do around the house. Steve encourages me to take a nap, but I opt for the caffeine instead and [whew] it helps A LOT.

Fueled by coffee, I set to cleaning up the kitchen. I boil some peaches to peel, wash some dishes in the sink, wipe off the countertops, and do a little organizing.

Still life with peaches

When the kitchen is to my satisfaction I retire with my coffee to watch my girl Ina make some shortbread cookies for some of her fabulous Hampton friends. Watching it makes me desperately want some cookies to go with my coffee, but I settle for a handful of m&ms.

After Ina, I pick up the living room a bit and vacuum, an activity that for whatever reason I find highly satisfying. I can’t pretend to understand or explain this, but it’s true. If it didn’t involve picking up so much baby-related paraphernalia off the floor, I would vacuum every day. (Or at least I claim I would.)

5:30 p.m. I hate to do this, but I have to wake up Will. While Marc Weissbluth might repeatedly remind us to “never wake a sleeping baby”, I am going to choose to disregard this advice so that my baby will want to sleep tonight.

Look how huge he is in this thing. I love it.

I’m sorry about this, baby.

I just want you to be able to sleep tonight!

I feed him while perusing some of my favorite blogs, Simple Bites (strawberry Meyer lemon marmalade??) and Northwest Edible Life (homemade yogurt!) I am currently trying to figure out a contraption to make my own yogurt at home (crock pot with heating pad?) and also adding to my ever-expanding list of things I want to can. It’s too late in the season for strawberries or Meyer lemons, so I set the idea aside for now.

After Will is finished nursing, I set him in his crib to “help” me fold his laundry and diapers. For some reason I really hate folding my own laundry, but his I don’t mind; it’s probably because everything is so tiny and there’s just much less of it per load. Will helps out by grabbing at onesies and burp cloths and stuffing them into his mouth. Steve comes home while we’re hard at work on this, and he whisks Will away to play downstairs while I finish stuffing inserts into clean diapers.

Still life with diapers

Downstairs, this is happening:

and this:

Just in the last week, Will has started to figure out how to play with the (many, many) things on his exersaucer. It’s so fun for us to watch.

6:30 p.m. Dinner tonight is leftover homemade pizza topped with peppers, olives, ground sausage and tomatoes, and a big salad. While we eat, Will rolls around on the floor.

I love this baby.

U.S. Open action is rained out tonight, so Steve and I start last week’s Project Runway episode. We’re very good at being completely wrong when it comes to guessing the judges’ reactions.

7:15 p.m. Bedtime! I feed Will, poke around facebook, check my email, catch up on my google reader. He falls asleep with no problem and I tiptoe out of the room.

Downstairs, we finish Project Runway while I work on my sock. I go from here:

Heel!

To this:

Magic!

So far, sock knitting has been everything I wanted it to be and more. Before this I was making a baby blanket for Will which turned out great, but it was row after row of garter stitch and it’s nice to have a bit more to do now.

In addition to knitting, I do some push-ups and sit-ups (trying to build some upper body strength, as though hauling around a 15-pound baby isn’t enough of a strength workout on its own) and, of course, eat some ice cream. Life is good.

10:30 p.m. Bedtime at last!

11:30 p.m. Still awake. No more 4 p.m. coffee for me!

So that’s basically a day in the life of Will and me these days. Some days are different, of course — for one thing, most days he naps more easily — some days we run errands, other days we don’t leave the house; many evenings I cook; diapers get washed about every other day. I usually run during his morning nap on the treadmill. But one thing remains constant, though: I have ice cream basically every night.

PS. Whew: Sorry this was so long! I guess I just like to be (very, very) thorough.

So, it’s still hot. Thankfully today is the last day of this extreme heat (it’s a measure of how miserable it is outside that Steve and I were encouraged to know that today’s high is “only” 99!) and I’m looking forward to being able to enjoy the outdoors again instead of just enduring them.

Yesterday morning we got out the door in record time — I was running on the Greenbelt by 7:30. (We’d go out earlier, of course, but I don’t believe in waking up a sleeping baby!) I am really loving this route for its shade and lack of hills. It was a very hot and muggy four miles, but I felt so much better than I did on Wednesday, probably because of said shade and lack of hills. I finished four miles in 41:08, which surprised me because I kept the pace very easy and walked a few times. My speedwork might be paying off!

Other than that, the three of us have stayed firmly indoors this weekend. We only ventured out to Target yesterday and enjoyed dinner in (black bean burgers — yum), and followed the Wimbledon women’s finals. I also got to FINALLY finish the hat I cast on the day I went into labor:

Again, the pattern said newborn. Is it me?? At any rate, I’m glad it’s too big because this baby does not need to be wearing hats in 100-degree temperatures.

Now I just need to finish the striped blanket I was working on before his arrival — hopefully we’ll have room to pack it in the car to the beach. (It takes up a lot of space.) And after that I am determined to start experimenting with socks. I can’t wait!

We got our errands out of the way yesterday so we could take it easy today. We very sadly watched Andy Murray lose Wimbledon, I’ve done some cleaning, and I’m getting things done in the kitchen.

I need a haircut.

On Friday night I finally succumbed to my craving and made a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I saved half the dough in the freezer “in case of emergency” — but somehow I think Steve and I will declare an emergency some night very soon! Homemade cookie dough is one of my favorite foods and, like popcorn and Oreos, it’s something I have very little self-control around so I make cookies MUCH less frequently than I used to. It’s a sad way to live, but absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Today I’m making chicken stock and granola:

Not to be eaten together.

The granola is based on a Cook’s Illustrated recipe which has you bake the granola packed into a half sheet pan and then broken up into clusters after baking, hence the parchment paper. I’ve been going through granola like crazy lately and I will be reluctantly sharing this batch at the beach next week! (The chicken stock, however, is staying home.)

I hear thunder outside — it sounds like that long-awaited storm is finally on its way! Cooler temperatures here we come!

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