Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's a Year of Lace

Last year I overdosed on sweaters. This year is a year for working through my lace stash. Over on Ravelry I joined the 10 Shawls in 2010 group and am working away on my 10. I think I have laceweight stash to get me through at least the first 8 and I definitely have sock yarn that would work for the other two. The rules are simple. Each shawl has to use at least 250m of yarn and 2 of the 10 must use at least 500m. The shawls can be any shape, but they must be started and finished within the calendar year 2010. Piece of cake! My first shawl of the year is already complete.

Project: Feather Duster, by Susan Lawrence
Yarn: Schulana Kid Seta Lux (293m used by weight = 321 yards)
Needles: US 7 (4.5mm)
Start/Finish: 2 Jan 2010 - 15 Jan 2010
Notes: The yarn was a complete impulse buy just after Thanksgiving. Two balls of this lovely gray with silver thread jumped into my basket and begged to come home with me. This yarn is similar to Kid Silk Haze (a.k.a. crack). It is light and airy and just plain fun to use. It is an absolute bear to unknit so I was very glad that I made few errors (that I caught and needed to repair). The pattern was one that I had loved ever since Susan first posted it. After I bought the yarn and decided that it would be perfect for this pattern, Susan made the generous gesture of offering donations to the Red Scarf Project for purchases of her patterns during a certain timeframe that happened to coincide perfectly with the time when I decided to buy the pattern! See, it was charity! In any case, I got a great (and well-written) pattern, a worthy cause got a donation, and I ended up with a beautiful shawl. Obviously, I was the big winner this time. Originally, I planned to knit this for holiday garb. As it turned out, I didn't go anywhere to need something like this and felt too rotten to knit then. So, again, fate worked in my favor and I didn't cast on until after the first of the year.

After all that good luck, I very nearly messed up the blocking. Most of the shawls I have knit have very sharp points on the lower edge. I initially blocked this one with points and then wondered what was wrong. It didn't dawn on my until I was in bed that night that I had blocked it incorrectly. Of course, I couldn't sleep until I got up and fixed it! Sometimes obsession is no fun at all.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Sky in SoCal

Yes, we are lucky. This was the view as we drove to Irvine Spectrum for a day of wandering, eating, and a movie (The Blind Side is great!).

This is a view of Saddleback. We don't usually see snow this low, but his week's rain was good for something.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Storm Watch!

Yes, Southern California is all worked up because we are expecting a REALLY BIG STORM. Okay, so the weather forecasters finally have something to do besides tell us that tomorrow will be just like today. As I type, it is actually raining. The rain isn't very hard and hasn't left enough water to really run anywhere, but we are getting a nice soaking. So, what do we do when it rains? Well, I try to stay of the roads when possible. Unfortunately, I do have to go to work on Monday. I figured it was a good day to mix up a big pot of Chili.

So, as a thank you to my friend Jo, whose Corn Chowder recipe was such a hit that Young Man not only drained his first bowl, he requested leftover chowder instead of going out for dinner on Friday!

Engineer's Diner Chili

Put the following into a big pan (5-quart or bigger):

1 pound lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic (or 1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder if you are out of fresh)
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped

Cook and stir over medium heat. Stir to break up the meet. Cook until onion is soft and meat has lost its pink color. Drain off most of the fat.

Add lots more good stuff:
6 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups crushed or chopped tomatoes (I use canned and dump in all the liquid)
1-2 cans of whatever beans you want (optional) - This batch uses a can of Chili Beans and a can of Red Beans. We also like Black Beans or even Kidney Beans
2 teaspoons brown sugar (optional - hey, if a small sprinkling of sugar means the 12 year old will gobble this up, I'm game).

Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for an hour or so or until you can't stand it any more and must dish it up because the house smells so good. We serve it with cornbread. Most of the time I just make the basic cornbread recipe that comes on the box of cornmeal, but lately we have become hooked on fancier fare.

Mr. Engineer's Phenomenal Cornbread
Lube up a 9x9 or 8x8 square baking pan with whatever you prefer (spray lube, butter, etc.)
In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups corn meal (white or yellow)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup brown sugar

When the dry ingredients are all mixed, dump in the wet ingredients:
1 can (14-15 ounce) cream style corn
1/3 cup oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, or Mexican blend) - optional

Mix lightly just until moistened (do not overmix quick breads!).
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

I really wish I had photos from Young Man's game yesterday, but it was a night game ane I just can't seem to get decent pictures under the lights. It was a fun game for us. Young Man's team won 14-1. While it was a great boost to their egos (and a fun way to start the season), I'm sure future opponents won't be so easily defeated. What was really fun to watch was the way the boys played together as a team. Over the years we parents have waited for this moment. We all knew that our boys had skill and we saw glimmers of working together, but this really was the first time that almost every boy seemed willing to work together and achieve assists instead of individual goals. The results of this teamwork were obvious - field domination. Young Man and his fellow defensemen had some good plays, but most of the action was near the opponent's goal. Next weekend is an afternoon game and I will have my camera charged and ready!

As a consolation prize, I give you two books for your reading pleasure.

A Single Shard A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was assigned to my son for his 7th grade history class. I knew his teacher was onto something when I picked up the book after work on Friday and he was finished with it before 10:45 a.m. Saturday! Any book that was assigned for a class yet still keeps a 12-year old off the video games must be a winner! Of course, this book was already the winner of the Newbery medal in 2002.

This is the story of Tree Ear, orphan, outcast, but a young man well raised by another outcast, Crane-man, in 13th century Korea. While it is ostensibly a story about a potter's assistant, there is far more to the story than that. Linda Sue Park did an excellent job of weaving in historical details that are sharp enough to stick in a young mind. She also adds many moral lessons that help to mold young minds much as Tree Ear hopes to mold clay.

Teachers and parents, don't miss this one!

Fleece Navidad (Knitting Mystery, Book 6) Fleece Navidad by Maggie Sefton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Yes, more "popcorn" reading. I admit that I like the break that Maggie Sefton's Knitting Mysteries provide. As with all the others, I figured out whodunit long before the last potluck, but I didn't really care. This one had some elements that seemed a little less polished than some of the other books. While it was about time that Kelly and Steve got together, the increased sexual innuendo really didn't thrill me.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Saturday Sky

Don't hate me because I'm warm.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Happy New Year?

Mr. Engineer and I started the new year off with colds and his turned into a sinus infection. Now I am sitting here feeling the pain killer wear off from the two ancient fillings that I had replaced today. 2010 is not starting out that well for us. Hopefully it will improve from here.

As a start, let's get back into the Booking Through Thursday routine, shall we?

What books did you get for Christmas (or whichever holiday you may have celebrated last month)?
Do you usually ask for books on gift-giving occasions or do you prefer to buy them yourself?

Ooooo! I like these questions! I received a few books this year and I made sure that Mr. Engineer received a few that I also wanted. Is it poor form to give your partner books that you want to borrow? Perhaps, but we do it anyway. Here are the books I received this year:

Abigail Adams, by Woody Holton
Well Preserved: Small Batch Preserving for the New Cook, by Mary Anne Dragan
Steampunk, edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
The Black Book of Secrets, by F.E. Higgins

The first two were purchases I made in my role as Santa and the second two were my gifts from my book club's secret gift exchange. They were on my short list of books that I wanted. Yes, I do request books and I buy them myself. My sister and her husband set a budget and then go to the bookstore together. Quite efficient.

Here are the books that Mr. Engineer received from me that I will be borrowing:
Superfreakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
And Another Thing..., by Eoin Colfer (the sixth book in Douglas Adams' trilogy)
Good Eats: The Early Years, by Alton Brown
Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, by Kevin Zraly

Young Man didn't miss out either, but he has already read all the books he received under the tree and in his stocking! I guess I can't complain if he will stop playing video games to read. Here are the books he received:
Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume (Vol 1), by Jeff Smith (actually, we returned this version and bought the individual books because the color versions really are nicer and the big volume was too big to read in bed)
Castle of Llyr, by Lloyd Alexander (book 3 in the Chronicles of Prydain series)