Saturday, March 21, 2020

end-of-winter knitting

The other day, I found half a sock that I'd begun in a meeting.  Busy hands slow down my words, I find, and sometimes that is a good thing.  I finished the sock and made a mate in about two days.  Greenish socks, not quite in time for St. Patrick's Day; still, new socks.  I love the bind-off row of multi-colored knitting.  Those stitches are not shy, they don't blend; they make sure they get noticed!  

Unless something specific is called for, I usually do my binding off with a needle a few sizes larger than the one I was knitting with, and I just mind those stitches to keep them loose.  I haven't found a "stretchy" bind-off that was truly stretchy unless it comes with a whole lot of effort, and sometimes ending up too stretchy.

I have another several projects I'd really like to do but they take thinking, so I find that I keep coming back to my Reclamation Blanket.  I'm almost done, one more row, maybe two.  I am counting on it to block out a little bigger than its current size.  

Saturday, March 14, 2020

comfort food recipe: chicken noodle soup from scratch

With the flu going around, one of my go-to dinners is chicken noodle soup.  I know it sounds cliche, but it really seems to help.  I'll tell you the secret:  making it yourself means that you can make sure all the best ingredients are in it - lots of garlic, carrots, and love.  Recipe from my mom.

Chicken Noodle Soup

1 pkg bone-in chicken (I usually get 4 thighs)
6 c cold water, or enough to cover chicken
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped small
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
2 whole black peppercorns
2 or more cloves of garlic, minced

2 beaten eggs
4 tbsp milk
1 tsp salt
2 c flour

To make soup: 
Fill pot with water, place on stove on High.  Add all vegetables and spices.  Bring to boil and add chicken.  Turn down to medium heat and simmer one hour.  I find I sometimes have to add more water; it's better to do so early on, to avoid thinning it out too much at the end.  

Make noodles: 
[Edited to add: I double the noodles!]  In small bowl, combine wet ingredients.  In large bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients.  Mix to combine thoroughly.  Turn out onto floured surface and knead if needed.  Roll out dough very thin.  Allow to stand 20 minutes.  

Remove chicken from soup onto cutting board.  Remove skin and bones, and shred or chop meat.  Add meat back into soup and discard the rest.  Add noodles and cook for 10 minutes.  I recommend to serve with a side of fresh fruit.  

Even though it's a "basic" meal, this recipe is always a hit when we share it with guests or neighbors.  There's a lot to be said for homemade food!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

skyline sunrise

On an unseasonally warm morning in February, I met up with a group of photographers to photograph the early light on downtown Denver's skyline. 

I don't have much else to say.  Maybe soon.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

lying low

If my blog comments are an indication, I'm not the only one who finds it is very difficult to "lie low" these days.  If we don't quickly reply to emails, texts, and have a passing understanding of the latest news, trends, scandals, etc., people get concerned.   It's as if there is a vacuum that holds us all against the lighted screens.  

Much to their dismay, people with my cell phone number can confirm that I often leave it at home!    Between editing pictures, writing patterns, and searching for genealogy clues, sitting at the computer is more challenging..  However, once I can pull myself far enough away from screens to focus on real things, priorities realign in a way that allows tight muscles to relax.  There's nothing revolutionary, but here's what works for me.  

-I turn off the sound on my cell phone, and leave it on a short wall where it can be plugged in to charge.  When it is silent, I can sometimes hear it buzz, but it isn't demanding.  I usually leave my phone there, and I seldom lose it.

-I check my email, but then I close the tab, window or app.  Sometimes I don't check it for several hours, and I log out of Facebook for days.  If I'm folding laundry, I'm folding laundry.  I have never had an emergency, dire or otherwise, that couldn't have been prevented with a little extra thinking, but would have been prevented if I answered after the first ding.  Sometimes I watch Netflix while I do menial tasks; sometimes I read a digital pattern, but everything with alerts is off.  I read paper books; no interrupting alerts!

-I'm using Instagram differently.  I go to IG to kill time.  I.e. when I'm waiting for a kid in the car or at the dentist.  I like to see my favorite decorators, knitters and quilters have new posts; it makes it more entertaining to wait a little longer than I expected to.  I have other time and sources for getting twisted up about social issues and world crises, so I have changed who I follow on Instagram. 

-One routine I'm getting back to is planning meals ahead.  When I go to the store once in one or two weeks I get more out of my time and money, and I avoid the desperation of buying fast food.  Eating dinner as a family, sitting at the table, maximizes the time we have to spend together.  The difference in my own state of mind, and the people around me, is obvious.  Already having the food in the house means I can ensure that happens.  Writing the menu on a little chalk board means ingredients don't get snacked on and there is less complaining about tonight's dinner when my kids can see that their favorite meals are coming up.  Knowing what I'm going to do for dinner also makes it easier to invite guests.

-Having written goals gives me the opportunity to be intentional about how I spend my time.  I have to revisit them regularly but seeing what I'm working toward makes it easier for me to let go of the less important opportunities.

-I put things on my calendar that I really want to do, instead of keeping them on my mental list.

-Probably the most challenging thing for me is committing to daily or weekly routines, and committing to saying no to hot or sudden opportunities.  Dates have popped up in my email, like photo meet-ups for this weekend - reply now!  I would enjoy the artistic process but it may come with self-doubt, group snark, or an inconvenient time/location.  Sometimes it is worth the trade-off, but I have already decided, not this month.  I have already committed to, paid for, am responsible for, and enjoy plenty of amazing things - like my own blog.  Saying no immediately to superfluous opportunities allows room for people and relationships, since when I see a friend in need, there is often space for people.  I can see in the attitudes of my husband and kids that me leaving this space in my calendar makes it much easier for the whole household to work better.

This week, I committed to a lot more barre.  I sleep so much better when I move and stretch!  When I'm there, I think about the pain of planks, and my mind gets a much-needed reset from other people's problems.  I meant to type 'rest' but actually, 'reset' also works.  

I avoid what I can in the evenings from other people's agendas, and try to spend more time at home, because it's cold, and it's dinner time!  It's not always possible, but it's more possible when I make an effort.

-I would be remiss if I didn't mention, I pray a lot.  Not as much as my grandma, but more and more.  If something is really weighing on me, there is no better solution than to get down on my knees. 

On the craft front, I spent some time at the end of December and beginning of January to sort out some projects that are ready for next steps - sweater quantity of yarn, a stack of flannel and denim squares ready to be sewn into a throw quilt.  It will have to be done again, but it's easier to grab things for a knitting meet-up, now.  The things I have committed to knit on commission are all relatively easy without hard deadlines. In the fall, I may be excited for some fancy projects; for now, I'm keeping my fingers nimble and my mind restful. 

A new-ish friend with a super cute house agreed to come over and walk through my house with me.  She was pretty ruthless in pointing out things I'm not using, not using well, don't need or don't fit the aesthetic I presented at the beginning.  She was right about almost all of it.  I have some work to do.  I have a lot of things in my house that no longer belong here, and many fun things that are waiting to be used, finished, shared.

Alright.  I hope this post is helpful and gives you some ideas to make your own life flow along under the current of today's angry mobs and super-viruses.  (There were also questions about the blanket I'm knitting.  I'll write more about that in another post; this one is already pretty long!)  If you have suggestions or ways that you simplify, I would love to hear them!

Saturday, February 8, 2020

on into February

I've been trying to "lie low" for the month of January, and establish some foundational habits.  I'm still working on it.  And I'm still knitting.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2020 - a clean slate

Happy New Year!

I had a little chat with my boys a few days ago, that we would be discussing goals on the first and last days of the month this year.  They may have these big, trudging goals of the school years going by, and feel like there's not much they can do but wait it out.  But these days are so precious, and I want them to stop and realize that they can be working toward something now to build a more intentional tomorrow.  We'll see how that goes. (Of course, this is also a practical lesson for us adults.)

In recent years, we have had nothing too exciting planned for New Year's Eve, and have opted for an early New Year's Day photo shoot.  This year, with the changing of the decade we were invited to some fun parties, but already had in mind to get out for sunrise, so that's what we did.  I don't know if it was amazing, but it was a beautiful, regret-free morning, and we will be back to this spot (see photo) in the spring.  

Of my list of about 50 items, what I accomplished this year is not a high success rate.  However, I know having a list helped me focus on getting something done, instead of looking back in December and seeing that I did lots of random things with no point.  To me, that's a win!  For the record, here are a few things I set out to accomplish this year, and did:  
  • finished a couple of books that were languishing but worth finishing
  • read up on lettuce before March; we did have some beautiful lettuce plants by June
  • put up curtains in the living room - finally!
  • got quote(s) for refinishing the wood floor; I ended up doing it myself but that's a story for another day
  • started and finished the swoncho
  • blog more: yes! twice as much in 2019 as 2018 
  • finished editing my digital photos (many thousands) through 2017; actually, I got through 2018, also.  
It's interesting to me to see items that have been on my list and think about why I put them off.  I don't have a definitive list for the new year just yet, but I am just focusing on this month for now.  For this month, I am working on building a better foundation - sticking to my calendar, budget, health goals, etc., putting into place some new habits, and getting caught up on laundry!  

Do you have any goals for this month?  Knitting or sewing?  Life changes?  Can you pat yourself on the back for getting to the end of 2019?  If you're reading this, there's still time to do something good before you're gone!  

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas

Silent night, holy night