Know Who You Are

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Looking for a job is not easy. Especially when you don't already have one. We all know, you want to hire someone who has a job. Because there's someone elses validation that this person is actually ok. As if you couldn't trust your own judgement, or intuiton. Which maybe makes it even worse. When you keep going on interviews, and you know  you aren't going to get the job.

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Few things feel worse than rejection. It's demoralizing & can be debilitating. But it doesn't have to be. I am not right for everyone, and most of all, not everyone is right for me. Thank God. Let's at least keep that in perspective.

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I don't hype a bunch of self-help books, because frankly, I am way too good for those books. Only losers read them. Seriously. Except, some of them actually help (which you don't actually know until you read one). Bouy's ex-boss-CIO-dude told him to buy the book  Great Answers to Tough Interview Questions, by Martin Yate, (how selfhelpish does that sound!?) because, "it changed my life". (Yadda, yadda, yadda, snore.) And in my desperate not-finding-a-job-search I finally decided "fine, I'll read the damn book, I have time, it's not like I have a stupid job". For all you job-searchers out there, with-or-without a job, it's great. Just humor my suggestion, & PLEASE, read it cover-to-cover. And then again. Write down the telephone-interview questions, and find answers for them. Write down the in-person interview questions, and your answers for them, and the answer to where you want to be in 5 years. Believe me, you will be asked.

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Because, in all my years of interviewing, I have always asked the wrong questions. (Probably why I didn't get that job at Google back in the day. Right.)

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And then something else happens. You figure out who you are. What you know, & most importantly, what you want to know.

I don't think it can be stressed enough, but we have limited time here on this planet, so do what you want to do. Do what you love. We'll get 70 odd years to make a difference for ourselves, if we are very lucky. Some people get much less. None of that is more true than today. Quoting Steve Jobs is easy, following his advise is more difficult. So, one of my favorite Steve Jobs quotes is "No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there." If anything, that should make us focus on what is important for us.

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It's got to be one of the hardest things to convey to our children. To, in all our own insecurities, instill in them that they can do anything. And be gracious, driven & humble.

 

Don't be afraid

of the love deep inside you

Bring it out for everyone

When you smile, we can see the sun

 

Because you've so much to give

And there's so much to know

But if you wait for your moment

Well it may never show

~ Supertramp, on the album "...famous last words..."


The sun is the same in a relative way but you're older.

Fresh_figs

Time. Something none of us have anymore. How are you supposed to work & make money & hopefully have a decent career & do the right thing by your kids, preferably, before 8 pm on a weekday? And also, hopefully, organically *. Or at least, with less preservatives.

Can_jars

I never grew up with TV dinners, or Hamburger Helper. Maybe it's a Swedish thing. But then again, we had blood pudding (mmmmm), and Swedish pancakes (yes, it's for dinner). What I am trying to say is that when it comes to food, I want my kid to know and love REAL food. And to be able to tell when something is full of preservatives & other junk, and know that it is not really REAL food.

Figs_pan

There needs to be a way to make that happen, without killing yourself as a parent. That the time it takes to come home & sit down to eat, shouldn't be more than 30 minutes.  And I don't mean Rachel-Ray-crazy-running-around-in-the-kitchen-30-minutes; but pop something in the oven, and 30 minutes later when you've run around doing all that stuff you do when you get everyone home after work, the dinner is done.

Fig_puttering_jam

Sounds easy right? Also, with ingredients you know, & can pronounce.

Fig_jam_in_jars

"Oh, I made that from scratch" is one of those things that people automatically go "oooooooh, you are a whiz in the kitchen" to, when in fact, making brownies from "scratch" take marginally longer than whipping together a mix from a box. But people just don't do it. All it requires is a little bit of planning.

 

Cia_waffles

Around here we do waffles every weekend. These are CIA waffles, no, they're not secret in any way, they're from this cookbook. We half the recipe, then when we make them, (FROM SCRATCH. GASP.) I mix the dry ingredients for two more batches, and put them in little ziplock bags, write what it is on them, and what's left to add (some butter & lots of eggs). So next time, it's as if you take out the Bisquick and whip them up. Except they taste SO much better.

Ella_waffle

We also happen to maybe make too many each time (there's really only three of us), so we butter them a little, let it melt, then throw them in a ziplock bag and in the freezer, and when you feel like waffles you pop one in the toaster oven and Eggo! There it is. But better.

Mini_meatloaf

So we started to plan things a little more. Just a little. By making a batch of something on the weekend. One day we spent making calzones, lasagna & meatloaves, doubling all the recipes we had.

Mini_lasagnas

Maybe it helps that we like Italian, it's one of those things that's easy to make a shitload of, and then freeze. Like lasagna.

  Mini_calzones

We used TJs pizza dough & pizza sauce, loaded up the calzones with our favorite toppings, popped them in the oven, let them cool. Then in the freezer. Four calzones from 1 lb of dough. They're like hotpockets. But much better. It took us a day, but we had food for almost two weeks.

Apple_sauce

I'm pretty sure we're not on to something new or revolutionary, but I'd like to think that we know what we eat, and it's home made.

  Canned_tomatoes

And you can really take that as far as you want. Like canning your own tomatoes. Maybe a crazy endevour when you don't have tomatoes in your garden (they are pretty expensive.) Or you can buy the fancy San Marzano tomatoes in a can, and see what a difference they make in your pasta sauce. Or make pizza sauce with them. Or really use any canned tomatoes.

Ella_applesauce_taster

And when this cute girl rejects the Mott's apple sauce with a frown on her face, it's ok to feel a little smug. Because she knows what apples are supposed to taste like.

 

* With such a loaded word, I am not trying to be political in any sense, I just mean without-preservatives, maybe even from your own garden, if you are lucky enough to have one.

Football season is almost upon us. Finally. And it's really ok to order Pizza sometimes. I don't beat myself up over it.


What Life Gives You

Lemons

Status Quo is a myth in life. You can't have things the same way, all the time. It's just not how life operates. And even if it takes  you along kicking & screaming sometimes, it's really a good thing.

Limoncello_ingredients

Because, when you try to not make decisions, well, they'll be made for you. Regardless. Call it a side-effect, or a real bitch. The real difficult thing is to realize it is happening.

Lemons_rind

Then sometimes you can't wait for change, or it happens, and you embrace it. And your old normal is never the same, it turns into your "new" normal. Which is so much better.

And life changes completely.

Lemon_rind

I just found something that was given to me over twenty years ago, my friend knew I was moving far away and she wrote:  " To live is to leave behind". Is that too harsh? Or is that just how it is. Or is it ok when you are ready? How do you know?

Vodka_rinds

It's pretty damn difficult to look at this glass jar of lemon rind & vodka goodness, and not open it. In spite of my dislike of Facebook, sometimes it is truly fantastic. How else would I have thought to make limoncello with some of the 7+ lbs of lemons I got on Saturday?! After research I found that the common ingredient in all recipes is Patience. Right. Me & Patience.

Research notes & sources:

Vino e Vittles

Home made Limoncello

Giada's Limoncello

Epicurious' Limoncello

1. Cut the rind, leave the pith. It is a painstaking process, I went over my lemon rinds three times. Some people zest it.

2. Steep it in vodka, between 4 days - 2 month (seriously, that was the discrepancy in the recipes. Some people left it longer than that, but patience like that is inhumane.)

3. Make simple syrup and mix with vodka+lemon rinds. Steep overnight or up to two weeks.

4. Filter the liquid and bottle it and let it sit for a week-months.

5. Store finished limoncello in your freezer.

Will try to let it steep for 2 weeks, then bottle and let it sit for another 2 weeks. Please, don't laugh. I managed to not drink coffee for 6 weeks, nobody thought I could do that! (Or wanted to be around me, whatever, I don't remember.)

Lemon_juice

Lemon juice ice cubes with the left overs (also Facebook suggestion). Doesn't it make you feel so self sufficient & frugal & most of all GROWN UP??

Cknstock

We made chicken stock the other day. And I swear, it is the best ever. About 8 pints for $7. And that includes one chicken dinner too. Seriously grown up & responsible & shit. & good. Did I mention good? Always use Zuni's recipe, which isn't really a recipe, it's more of a three page essay on how to do it. With five ingredients, where two are chicken & water.

Peanutbutter_cookies

We also "test baked" some peanut butter cookies. Two separate sources told me they were the best they had ever had. Passing that on to the secret baker!

Raspberry_filled_chocolate_cookies

However, these were my favorite. Yes, there are raspberry preserves inside of them. Bring on more test baking.

Ella_helper_whisk

We are never without excellent help. Excellent.

White_octopus

Look what else got finished, the Albino Octopus. She's cute though.

Anders_angry_bird

Even crocheters are obsessed with these guys.

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And then came Easter.

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Elliott is only pretending to look put out.

Storage_summer_yarn

All this yarn was retrieved from storage, where the red is being used for Mr Greenjeans. But what about the rest?

 

 

 

 


The Most Beautiful Thing I Ever Knitted

Lately there's mostly been cooking going on around here. But in the background there was this MAMMOTH damn knitting project lingering, going on six years. And it is finally finished.

Pre-block-shawl

It doesn't look like a whole lot before blocking, does it?

Edgeish

Blocking being an entirely different beast, altogether. A pain in the ass, is what I mean.

Shawl_pattern

But then you see it in all its glory. And it is glorious. Fantastic. Gorgeous. Worth every second you spent on it.

Shawl

And you say the same thing you did after 40 weeks and 4 days of pregnancy, 25 hours of labor, 1.5 hours of pushing. "Let's make another one!"

You probably call it crazy, but something you sweated through comes out so stunningly gorgeous?! And you are completely caught by surprise by its beauty.

Master_icer

Not that I am equating our child to a knitted object. Because look at THAT concentrated gorgeousness? Beats anything I have ever laid eyes on. Yes, our Master Icer is at work!

Green_batter

This is what we started with, because I am a little late blogger, and these were St Patty's Traditional Cupcakes!

Pattys_muffins

They came out a little odd with some mixed in brownness, maybe it was the gel color I used that didn't get mixed properly. But oh my, Martha knows her velvet cupcakes!

Pattys_cupcakes

We used the Sprinkles frosting recipe. Oh yum. And some orange sprinkles.

Temperance_hat

Ok, maybe just a little bit crazy. If you consider pausing your TV and using your fancy ass camera to take about 20 pictures of this GORGEOUS hat Temperance was wearing on "Bones", crazy. I'm not sure I followed the storyline much this time. Look at it! So cute. Even if the weather here is spring & almost summerish this week.

Winter will be back.

 

P.S. The shawl is Print O' the Wave stole by Eunny Jang. I will definitely knit lace again. Definitely.

 


Cooking Together

Bon Appetit, the magazine, had an article the other day about food's power to give you great memories, and how important it is to preserve them. Because it's really not about food. It's how families & friendships are forged in the kitchen, working together to create something delicious to eat. We all have to eat, right?

Women in  the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia dealt with their present by writing down recipes from their pasts, on scraps of paper, in hopes that it would be for their children. The book looks amazing, and is called "In Memory's Kitchen".

And it makes you think about those simple things in life. How to preserve some of our past, for us, & our children to enjoy.

Momme_palt

I grew up in a family who cooked. But it wasn't like it is today, someone's "hobby", but out of necessity. It makes you take for granted all the knowledge that came with making food every day.

Palt

And we all know, it's difficult to get "recipes" out of Grandparents. It is always "a little bit of this, and a little bit more of that" & "it's done when it feels right". There was always a lot of touching the food involved. How do you put that down on paper?

Momme_linda_palt

So we did a lot of "show me" instead. Palt is one of those delicacies that you just have to eat growing up to fully enjoy. Grate raw potatoes, add flour, salt, maybe some ox blood, wrap it around a ball of ground beef (meatball sized), make into balls, boil for about 40 minutes in salted water, eat with butter and lingonberry preserves. Today we call it Poor Man's Food, but I call it the best food in the world.

Elin_ladyfingers

We all inherited the desire to cook. Here my sister is making ladyfingers. From scratch. For the tiramisu we were making later. I think we finished it around midnight, I was leaving to go back to the US the next day, but still got to eat some of it! See that braid in her hair? I just realized that I must have made it, because everytime I see her I always have to braid her hair. It's one of those childhood things. These days she sits more still than she did 20 years ago. Kind of.

Mamma_sillbord

This is called Sillbord in Swedish. Direct translation is "Herring table". After an entire evening of eating & drinking & talking & being silly until the wee hours, I walked into my Mom's kitchen and this is what I saw. "It's time to eat something salty before we go to bed, we'll feel better tomorrow". Hard boiled eggs, boiled potatoes, pickled herring, sour cream, hard tack,  & of course, beer. Ice cold beer. Now that's how you end a great evening. My Mom knows.

Everytime I go back to Sweden, my Mom always asks "What do you want to eat when you get here?" And my answer is always the same. Her tarragon stew.  She always huffs & puffs and complains, it's so boring, and don't I want something fancier? But it is always on the table when I get there. And it's so good. She makes it with pork loin, but my attempts at home are always made with chicken.

Cut_chicken

Last night when I made it, I tried to actually write down the recipe. Usually it's blandly called "my mush", trust your instinct and don't follow it to the letter if you don't like how I do things. That's why cooking is great, there are a hundred ways to make one single dish. Or maybe even a thousand.

The chicken is cut into chunks, today it was 1/2" squares. S&P the chicken, add 2 tbsp of butter to a hot pan, quickly brown the chicken (sometimes I add 1.5 tsp of tarragon to the chicken while it browns, i feel like it releases the flavors more than adding it later, or maybe I just love the smell of licorice). Don't let the chicken cook all the way through. Remove the chicken from the pan.

Cut_onions

Chop the onions. Add 1 tbsp of butter to a pan, and saute the onions until translucent. If you'd like to reverse these steps you can do that; saute the onions first, then the chicken. Whatever works for you. I'm not really sure which way I do it sometimes. Do we want the onions to flavor the chicken or the chicken to flavor the onions, or maybe both? See? 1000 ways.

Translucentish_onions

I love the smell of onions cooking in butter. Even if you don't like to eat onions you have to love that smell.

Flour_stew

Add the chicken back into the pot along with about 1 tbsp of flour. Let the flour cook for about a minute. Add 1-1.5 cup of chicken stock and deglaze the pan. Let it putter until the chicken is cooked, add about 1/2 cup of cream (you can even omit the cream to make it "healthier", but I think that's kind of crazy.) S&P & add tarragon to taste.

Final_stew

Really, do you want to omit the cream? Didn't think so. Just try not to overcook the chicken, it's the trickiest part, to reduce it enough to make it thicker, while keeping the chicken moist inside. I'm not terribly precise, I just love the flavors of tarragon, cream, chicken all together, so it doesn't have to be perfect. Once in a blue moon it is close, and I have no idea what I did.

Tarragon_chicken

We eat it on a bed of brown rice, which means, start cooking the rice right before you start the chicken, and it will finish at the same time. Slick, huh?

White or a lighter red wine works really well.

Tarragon Chicken (for 2-3 people)

1 lb chicken breast cut into chunks 1/2-1" square. (about 2 breastesesesess)

1 cup of chopped onions (one large, or two medium onions, or close enough)

3 tbsp butter (2+1 tbsp)

1.5 tsp tarragon

1 tbsp flour

1-1.5 cups chicken stock

0.5 cups cream

S&P & tarragon to taste.

Girl_cream

One day I hope this girl will look back on her childhood and feel the way I do about mine. Filled with  memories of friends & family & a hot kitchen where everyone cooked together and had fun.

 

 

 

 

 


But Not For Me

Sals_baby_bundle

For someone very little. Actually, someone who should be joining us soon. I'm pretty sure her Mommy & Daddy want to see her real soon. Loved making the blanket, Jared Flood's Umaro pattern, in something soft & washable. All his patterns are fantastic.  The hat was just winged, but the booties are Christine's Stay-On Baby Booties.

Toddler_vest

And for when she gets a little older.

Ella_vest

About our Model's age. Who really wanted to get this thing...

Ella_vest_off

Off!!!

Karens_socks

Then it was time for Karen's Nemesises (yes, I am pretty sure that is a word). Pretty undulating cables, and the Malabrigo sock yarn is so soft. I will always think of being in the car on the way to Monterey Bay Aquarium while knitting these ones. Pissing rain the whole way. But oh boy, was it pretty.

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Miss EB thought it was amazing.

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The knitting continued.

Mom_hat

Don't remember the yarn (I am SURE there's a label floating around somewhere), but the pattern is Aantje by Knitwhits, purchased at Stitches 2011, A little fidgety to knit here and there, but overall came out nice. For a Mommy, but not mine. It's still cold in Minnesota, so it hopefully will come to good use soon!

Ella_mom_hat

Our very special Model took it upon herself to model it as well.

Pricklies

Miss Babs sock & baby yarn made us some Pricklies. If I make them again, will definitely add a little length after the thumb. But since they're not for me, they will probably fit the recipient fine!

My_mitts

Oh wait, yes, these are for me! And therefore decided to mirror the mitts. Completely forgot to do the k1tbl,p1 ribbing on the first mitt (with the pink cuff), so I ripped it out from the bottom (really, just cut the yarn), and knitted it from the pattern down. They're for me, I never had any plans to re-knitting the entire mitt, maybe only some vague idea to knit three mitts. And stupid, yes, I forgot, also a stupid idea.

Speakeasy_mitt

Because with a beer or two, who'll notice anyway?

Awesome_tulip

My Sweetie got me flowers.

Awesome_tulip_out

I love tulips.

Pink_tulip

So delicate.

Making_semlor

We didn't forget it was Semla-day on Tuesday, I'm pretty sure that's why it's also called Fat Tuesday. My swedish cookbook didn't have a recipe (!!!), but thankfully we have the internets, and used this one.

Semla_upclose

Oh yeah, it tasted as good as it looks.


Pork Tamales 101

This is how we begin (always).

Ella_kitchen_tamale_cooking

And a superb Tamales Chef. We were pretty lucky to have someone around willing to spend almost six hours in a HOT & tiny shoebox of a kitchen, making something as complicated & time consuming as tamales. She absolutely rocks, and no, we are not sharing her with anyone else.

Pt_boil_pork 

My initial phone instructions were "add a 3.5 lb pork shoulder (butt) to a pot (after trimming fat); cover it with water plus about 2 inches, add some peppercorns, oregano, bay leaves, one onion & 4-5 peeled whole garlic cloves, & 1/2 tsp salt". Ok, I think I can do that.

Cover, and let it putter on the stove until meat shreds easily (2.5 hours at least). It will smell good in your kitchen. Really good.

Pt_ingredients

Meanwhile, go to your local Mexican market (we're lucky to have lots of those in California, I know), and get some chiles, lard, corn husks & masa.

Pt_toast_chiles

For flavor we had 7 guajillo & 3 california chiles, and 5 pasilla chiles for spice. Remove the top of the peppers, and scrape out the seeds. Put them in a dry frying pan and toast them. Hint: use tongs to turn them around, they are CHILES after all. Your fingers WILL burn.

Pt_boil_peppers

Soak the peppers for about 10 minutes in a little bit of water, it will clear out the rest of the seeds. Put them in another pot, fill with fresh water to cover chiles, add 1/4 onion & a garlic clove. (Onions & garlic make everything taste better!) Let it putter for about 10-15 minutes on the stove. The glossy chiles look gorgeous!

Pt_soak_cornhusks

While chiles putter, soak your corn husks in some warm water. They should soak for an hour at least.

Pt_masa

Make your masa filling. We followed the recipe on the bag of cornmeal flour. Sort of. 6 cups of masa, 3 cups of lard, 1.5 tsp salt, 3 tsp baking powder, 3 cups of pork stock (yes, directly out of the pot, just make sure it's cooled off.)

Pt_masa_mix

Mix until dough is "sproingy". I find that to be a very descriptive & scientific term. Add more salt if needed. Yes, you should taste it to make sure it's right.

Pt_ground_chiles

In the mean time, when the peppers have boiled for the required time, dump the contents of the pot into a blender and whizz it up. Does that not look lovely? I was told this could be used for Enchilada sauce, or really, anything. It is practically pure gold.

Have you noticed Tamale making is a very multitaskey cooking process? Lots of things to keep track of, I would not be surprised if I missed details here and there with our expert Tamales Chef whizzing around in the kitchen. I tried to keep up, it wasn't easy. And with a smile on her face! (make sure you strain the chile mix even if you blend it well, just to make sure there are no chunks left.)

Esther_chiles

I was pretty annoying with the camera, and by extension, a lousy Sous Chef. See, I almost missed an important step. Boil 2 large potatoes (you can dump them in with the pork), but only for about 5-10 minutes, just to make them a little soft. Cut them up like french fries, along with one bell pepper (not cooked). This is part of the filling.

Pt_potato_gbellpepper

I did some "rudimentary research" online about tamale making, where someone complained about a recipe with potatoes in it. We got it Straight From The Source, so we're sticking with what we've been taught, and maybe feeling a little smug about knowing better. Besides, potatoes are good in everything.

Pt_chiles_masa

Add about 3 tbsp of your gold (a.k.a chile spice mix) to your masa mix.I'm not sure I could mix that with my bare hands, but it does look YUMMY!

Pt_masa_chiles_mix

Right about now the pork should be done. Shred the pork, but remove any fat you find. We just want the meat here. Saute the pork in a little bit of vegetable oil, then add the chile sauce mix, add a clove of garlic and some pork stock, if it's too dry, and let it putter.

Pt_shred_pork

To quote our Tamales Chef, the longer you let it putter, the more the flavors blend & the yummier it is, add salt if needed. I think I was too busy "tasting" the mix, as opposed to taking pictures, at this point. Sorry.

Ok, now we are ready to set up a Tamales-making-station. Masa mix, meat, bell peppers, potatoes, pliable corn husks.

Pt_tamale_making_station

Start by spreading your masa mix on the corn husk; on the side that feels smooth and almost "plasticy". Spread it about 1/4" from the top, fully to your left side, and to about 1/4" to your right, and not all the way down. See below. Seriously, that is SO not my hand. My sad attempts were really not photography worthy.

Pt_make_tamale

Add a dollop of meat mixture, one piece of potato & bell pepper, roll up the tamale, clockwise, and fold up the bottom to seal.

Pt_e_tamale_meat

Stack the tamales, standing up, on a steamer insert in a stockpot with a cup of water on the bottom. Cover and let them simmer & steam at low heat for 1 -1.5 hours. You can check the tamales after an hour to see if the masa mix pulls away from the husk, then they're done. Add more water if you run dry. Freeze them as is, and steam them straight out of the freezer (do NOT microwave!)

I loosely calculated that she made about 3-4 tamales while I struggled to finish one. Which was barely acceptable anyway.

Pt_tamales

But it was SO much fun, practise makes perfect, and I feel so honored she spent time with us to pass on all this knowledge, and I wish they didn't live so far away. That part still really sucks.

Pt_tamales_done

But we have almost 40 tamales to drown our sorrows in. Ok, we're probably down to about twenty now, but still.

 

 

 

P.S. On my wish list; a large stock pot & a metal steamer insert. We had to wrap our tamales, six at a time in foil and stacked them in my pot & steamer setup, added some foil on top, and clamped down the lid tightly. Thankfully, a little cooking engineering still accomplished the task. Also, below is a quick cheat sheet of the measurements for:

the Most Awesomest Tamales Ever

Boil Pork:
3 lb pork butt.
1 tsp pepper corns
3 bay leaves
4-5 cloves garlic
1 onion
1/2 tsp salt
oregano

Chiles:
7 guajillo (flavor)
5 pasilla (spicy)
3 california (flavor)
1/4 onion
1 garlic clove

Masa Mix:
6 cups masa
1.5 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
3 cups lard/shortening
3 cups pork stock (or water)


Not Another Hobby

Bodan_2000

My grandma used to have this ginormous loom in the basement of her old house. I used to just look at it, but one day she decided to show me how to weave. "Keep the edges straight, and there is a basket of balls made up of cut up old sheets. Have at it". (Well, in Swedish, but that was the gist of the conversation.) Not being able to do many things in moderation, I remember weaving until 4-5 am every morning for a few days, blasting my music, totally in the zone.The Weaving Zone. My grandma would come down on occasion, checking my work; she had no problems ripping it back, or fixing my tension, but how else do you learn? I didn't really understand back then how lucky I was to learn all these things from her, it just seemed like the thing to do. (Right, I was in my early twenties and should have been bar-hopping, I suppose. Instead I sat for hours on end in the room with the oil heater. At least it was always warm.)

Linda_blue_runner

Who knew sheets made such beatiful woven patterns? It was kind of a challenge to come up with a pattern (and making sure you had enough for the entire runner). Unfortunately I don't have pictures of the other one I made. It was lost somewhere along a cross country move.

Blue_runner

The blue one she sent me, is one of my favorites.

Beige_yarn_runner

She told me "oh, I just have this little scrap one." It's a little larger than a placemat. She must have used yarn to create some interesting stripes. What was that; "Necessity is the Mother of Invention"?  They didn't use a snobby, yuppiefied word such as "recycling" back when she was young. It was just the responsible thing to do; use & re-use what you have, because that is all you have. I also think that designing something beautiful within those constraints is more of a challenge than having an all-access-pass to everything you could want.

  Blue_grey_runner
Love the earthiness of this one.

Pink_green_runner

I must have one for each season & holiday. Pretty sure I slept on those purple, green & white sheets too...

Red_xmas_runner

Not sure if this one was bought or made. Very traditionally Swedish.

Red_black_grey_runner

It reminds me of the Sami art. the different shades of their woven blankets & wall hangings.

Linen_cabinet

And now the linen cabinet is organized. No, I am not buying a loom. Really, I'm not. At least not until we move. Not a large one anyway.

Boda_sjon

The lake is hiding behind that little barn and the line of trees. We used to go fishing there every summer. The term "fishing" used very loosely. Love this view from the house, it looks so very cold, because it was.

I forgot to mention another very cool thing. In my Grandma's little town they had a "v√§vstuga", a weaving cottage. You could rent space on a loom a month at a time, for your project. It was great if you didn't have a large enough loom at home for the project you wanted to work on. They were mostly used for rugs and large table cloths. Now, if you could attach a wine bar to one of those, I don't think I'd ever leave. 

 

P.S. No, the top picture is  not of my Grandma's old house, it's a little cottage in the back of the actual house, but I always loved how it looked every winter, almost completely covered in snow.


Oh, swatch it.

Only I didn't say fudge. I mean. Anyway.

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So that looks ok, right? Finally. Cotton-Ease on sz 4 needles. Yes, size 4. I am a loose knitter, as they say. This would be swatch number five. Mhmm. In the middle there I decided to try another pattern. It didn't really work out. Twice (because I never learn the first time). So back to Umaro, and size 4 needles. I would have to knit until eternity to get this completed with the correct size. And it is such a gorgeous pattern, I just didn't want to knit it in something that would weigh a ton. Not for someone itty bitty. That's all I am going to say about that.

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Berroco Comfort Chunky is the Savior (after the second half-swatch, size 7 needles). There is not an ounce of natural fibers in this yarn, but it FEELS nice. And it's easy to wash & dry. That is going to be important. (Hint, hint.)

Did I mention how important it is to swatch things?  Although, after six 4"x6" swatches I kind of feel like the project is done. Except they all looked aweful. Until the last one. And it's even green.

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So we have a new project, and the Print O' Forever Shawl is on hold. For now. I'm not worried, it's not going anywhere.

 


Cleaned Out

Went to our yearly great Mistry Christmas Party. Miss Independent wanted nothing to do with her parents, she stood 3 feet away, staring at that "guy" in the red suit. "He" was handing out presents too.

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The rule is you have to come with an ornament. (Well, they will let you in without one too, probably even drag you in anyway, that's how nice they are!) It was last minute as always. Good thing we have a crapload of felt.

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Thanks to Abigail for giving inspiration with her little birds from Falalala Felt.

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Shamefully copied them on the fly. Added some sequins to the "tail feathers"; because everything is just cuter with sequins.

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May have to buy that book too. And not only for my conscience.

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Our holiday was great. And so was the ham.

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Third year in a row Buoy is making our Bourbon & Brown Sugar Glazed Christmas ham.

What is it about traditions that make you feel so good? I want to eat this every year for the rest of my life.

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It's still nice to have chucked out the Christmas tree yesterday. Very nice. Not sure the cats agree. Someone's Little Helper needed room for her new table to cook. This is serious business.