Monday, November 28, 2011

Re-set (...I'm a looser baby...)

I love knitting.  And I don't want to overstate things, but for the most part, I consider myself a pretty successful knitter.  Most of my projects work out really well -- beauty and function intersect seamlessly, and I am nearly always happy with the outcome.  In the past months, however, something has gone very, very wrong.  Everything that I touch seems to turn to disaster.  I've knit a hat, most of a pair of socks, and two entire sweaters that have been good for nothing but ripping right back out again.  All of that misfortune kind of kicked me right in the mojo, and I turned to the comforting embrace of embroidery and crewel.  As lovely as that all is, I can't embroider in the dark, or while watching a movie, or while monitoring my children from a park bench.  I missed my knitting.

About two weeks ago, my friend Pixie came over to visit.  Pixie and I have decided to start having DIY trade-off days as an excuse to hang out...not that we need one, but there's something fun about inviting someone over for a themed visit.  Anyway, in this last visit, she taught me to make kombucha, and I taught her to knit.

Learning how to make Kombucha tea with Pixie
Starting some kombucha

She took to it immediately (fastest learner yet!). and as I watched her fall into the gentle rhythm of the stitches, I felt inspiration spark in the dusty crafting corners of my soul.

Teaching Pixie (and Billy) to knit
Pixie and Jonah knitting

During naptime that day, I cleaned up my studio, located abandoned knitting projects, and worked through my mending pile.  It felt amazing to have a clear space to work in again; my mind felt refreshed.

Mending projects in my studio...
some of the mending...

When we set off to San Antonio to visit friends over Thanksgiving weekend, I brought some socks that had stalled out at the heels (with so many projects failing, I couldn't find the emotional energy to turn a simple heel), and a laceweight sweater that needed to be ripped back about 6 inches before starting again.  While we were in SA, my friend Heather gave me a wild rainbow skein of fingeringweight wool, and she got me started on a cute ribbed hat for Daisy (it's knit on the diagonal, and it's Heather's own pattern -- maybe she'll write it out sometime so I can share it with you dear readers).  All of this to say: I am pleased to announce that, after a much needed Creative Re-set, I now have 3 promising projects on my needles.

Knitted works in progress

Today is a great day, my friends.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cracked Wheat Rolls

These buttery, mildly sweet, slightly crunchy rolls have been a staple at our Thanksgiving (and sometimes Christmas) table now for years.  They take a bit of extra effort to make, but are completely worth it.  They are amazing fresh from the oven, but they are nearly as good if you make them the day before, then re-warm for a few minutes in the oven just before serving.

Cracked Wheat Rolls

Cracked-Wheat Rolls 

From Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates

1 cup bulghur
1-1/4 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
4 or 5 cups unbleached white bread flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for brushing on top of baked rolls.

Place bulghur in a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Add 2 tbsp. butter, stir, and set aside to cool to warm/room temperature-ish.

Make sponge: in a small bowl, stir yeast into the 1/2 cup of lukewarm water.  When bulghur has cooled for about 15 minutes, add the yeast mixture, brown sugar, and 1 cup of flour. Beat for 100 strokes.  (This sounds like a lot, but it really only takes a moment, and you get a chance to take out a little bit of your holiday aggression on the rolls.)

Cover the large bowl with a damp towel and set aside to rise in a warm place until the mixture bubbles, about 45 minutes.

Uncover the sponge and stir in the beaten egg, salt, and 2 to 2 1/2 cups of flour to make a dough stiff enough to knead. 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Spray the bowl with cooking spray or smear with vegetable oil.  Place kneaded dough back into the greased bowl and turn to coat.  Cover bowl with damp towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes.

Lightly oil a large baking sheet or line a baking sheet with parchment paper (my favorite way!)

Punch down the dough and turn it onto a cutting board. Divide the dough into 16 to 18 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place the balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel and let rise again for 20 minutes.

Preheat the over to 400 degrees. When the rolls have risen, bake for 25 minutes, or until golden and hollow-sounding when tapped. Remove from oven and immediately brush with the melted butter.


Cracked Wheat Rolls

Monday, November 14, 2011

A ninja turkey and other things

Lest anyone think that there is no crafting going on over here:
Posie Gets Cozy ABC Sampler progress

I have been slowly but surely working away at this ABC sampler by Alicia Paulson, creator of Posie Gets Cozy.

Here is a little mixed media piece that Elijah and I put together for his Disguise The Turkey school project last week:
Max's "Disguise the Thanksgiving Turkey" school project

He decided that the turkey needed to be a Black Ninja, so we stitched black fabric over the shape of the turkey and then a yellow fabric lightening bolt.  The strips of blue ribbon on the boots...not sure why those are there.  I was just following 6-year-old boy instructions.  Elijah colored in the rest of it as he saw fit.  It was so special to have him sitting in my lap at the sewing machine, guiding the project along, spending some time with just him.  Also, I am always charmed by stitching into paper.  Not sure why, but it's just SO FUN!

On Veteran's Day, Andrew and Elijah planned a "Veteran's Day Parade", so after school we all lined up with bikes, push-cars, etc., bags of leftover Halloween candy in hand.  We invited a few neighbors to "line the streets" (or join in the parade), then we rode down our block and threw candy, with our resident Veteran Of Honor bringing up the rear of the parade.

Our own personal Veteran's Day parade

Our own personal Veteran's Day parade

Our own personal Veteran's Day parade

In my next blog post I'm going to share the recipe for the Cracked Wheat Rolls I traditionally make for our Thanksgiving dinner.  For now though, I'll leave you with this.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Mr Cute

This morning we have temperatures in the chilly 40's, so everyone had to bundle up for school. Jonah decided to accessorize his outfit with swim goggles...because you never know when you're going too have a swimming emergency.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Happy (VERY BELATED) birthday, Andrew!

Dear Andrew,

Somehow, since your birthday falls right at the beginning of the school year, I always seem to be incredibly behind with your birthday letter.  But that certainly does not make you any less special!

1 year old

Ice cream
2 years old with 7 year old Rachel


Happy Toddler Hat
3 years old with a hat I designed and knit for you

3-1/2 years old

Back-row: Rachel and Sparky
4 years old, with 9 year old Rachel

Sparky helps Daisy get the paper off
5 years old, helping Lavella unwrap a birthday gift

Sparky tells me all about school on his 1st day
6 years old, first day of kindergarten

Sick day salon
7-1/2 years old, painting Lavella's nails when you were home sick from school

A few weeks ago, on Egg Drop Day at school

Two months ago, on September 3rd, you turned 8 years old.  You have so many grown up teeth in your mouth; you're growing stronger and taller by the day (nearly up to my shoulder!); you are becoming more responsible and helpful... I am so glad that God has given me someone like you.

One of my favorite moments every day is when you walk in the door from school: fresh with the day's adventures, full of stories, shyly wanting my attention and hugs and help with homework.

I hope that you are always able to talk with me, that you are always able to share with me about the things that you're interested in and excited about.

When you sit close to me on the couch and read me a book or tell me a story, I listen with ears that know full well you will eventually grow up, and these tender moments will only be memories.  I try to fix in my mind exactly how your high little boy voice sounds, because all too soon it will break and deepen into the voice of a man.

You are so precious to me.  I am so glad that I've got you.

I love you forever,


Sunday, November 06, 2011

Nico Vega Live in Austin

Nico Vega

So this news is a bit dated but we got to see one of our favorite bands, the mighty Nico Vega live in Austin, back in September. Nico Vega has actually become our entire family's favorite band and there are frequent requests from all members of our little pack to play their record start to finish whenever traveling.

Nico Vega

This past September the band was on tour with Blondie and it was very cool to see them touring with such a well known headliner. The vibe at the show was definitely very different from the last time we saw them though, since 99% of the crowd was not there to see NV. We actually left after NV played because we are not Blondie fans AT ALL!

Nico Vega

It was great to be able to hear a lot of new material from the forthcoming album, to be released after the New Year.

Nico Vega

Nico Vega

Nico Vega

Hanging out with the band after the show.

Nico Vega

After the show Faith and I found a wonderful Indian food stand/outdoor cafe, G'Raj Mahal in the ever popular Rainey District, off Red River St.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Happy peaceful fun

On Saturday, Greg took Andrew and Elijah with him on an Outdoor Adventure, so the little ones and I spent a quiet day at home.  They played together so peacefully (nearly) the whole was a beautiful thing.

As I have mentioned here before, Jonah has no idea how to play by himself, so it was such a relief to have him occupied with Lavella's games all through the day.  Also...dare I say children seem even cuter somehow when they're happy.

Daisy and Billy eating lunch in the living room

Daisy and Billy playing outside with a sequined purse, a carseat, and a backpack