Sunday, December 30

house party

One of Christopher's friends invited us, along with a few other couples, up to her parents' second home in Connecticut this weekend. We took the train up after work on Friday and just got back. It was so lovely to be away, somewhere completely new, and no real responsibilities at all. Our hostess is very into games, and so we played Balderdash into the wee hours on Friday night. As one of the few non-writers there, I was a little nervous, but it was actually really fun coming up with fanciful movie synopses and word definitions.

Before going up I volunteered to help coordinate meals, and so on Saturday I created a menu and we all went grocery shopping together. And, can you believe it, everyone else helped cook the meal. That's five people plus me chopping and mixing and sauteeing. The kitchen was really beautiful, a chef's dream, except that it was lacking wooden spoons and a garlic press. Next time I know what to bring as a hostess present!

Anyway, I might say it's back to reality, but the holiday season isn't really over, plus we're going on vacation a week from now, so there's a lot to look forward to.

Wednesday, December 26

holiday roundup

We had very busy 48 hour trip to Philadelphia, to spend time with our families over the holiday. I feel like we were being social in almost all of those 48 hours, and I'm rather relieved to be back, though the time there really wasn't unpleasant at all. Dinah is also happy to see us.

Here is a photo of my parents' impromptu Christmas tree (and Christopher).
(This- and our own tree- got me thinking recently about dim lights in the dark, and how I start enjoying both the darkness and lights this time of year, mostly in the form of Christmas lights and candles. Neither can be really appreciated, in my opinion, without the other. There's nothing really like sitting in a dark room in front of a roaring fire or meditating on a lit tree. I guess I find it sort of spiritual.)

The other major highlight was being able to spend some time with our nephew, Isaac. He's 3 and we've had trouble finding time to get to know him, since usually we only see him on holidays when there are tons of people. Today we went out and spent a few hours with Christopher's sister and him. It was really fun, especially since he's become very chatty in the past few months.

I hope we can do more of that sometime soon.

Monday, December 24

an early Christmas

In planning our holiday, Christopher and I decided to limit our family visit and save a little of Christmas for just the two of us by celebrating a day early, in Brooklyn. We'll head down to Philadelphia tonight, spend tomorrow with our families and return on Wednesday night. Quick, hopefully not too painful.

We spent last night wrapping presents and listening to Christmas music. Today I made a feta and tomato frittata and we opened our gifts for each other. I gave Christopher a few books he's been wanting, along with a giant mug. Not exactly romantic. I had asked for some beginning spinning supplies and books, and he went all out. I have to confess that I am blown away by what he got me and how much thought went into his gifts. First, he gave me The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning, which is an extremely thorough bible type book on spinning. I've read a little of it and it's very informative. I'm sure I'll learn a ton from it.

Next, there were a bunch of little packages, each labeled either "To Start With," "To Make With," or "To Experiment With." The "starter" package contained 2oz of Shetland fiber, which is apparently a great fiber to start spinning with. The "To Make With" packages each had 4oz of Multi 64s. I don't actually know what multi 64s are, but I guess I'll learn! The "To Experiment With Packages" each had 2 oz of different more expensive fibers and blends: silk/yak, bamboo, merino/mohair and silk/wool.

I'm pretty floored at Christopher's thoughtfulness. I shouldn't be surprised, he always really thorough in his gift giving. But he had all sorts of interesting stories to tell about his trip to the store where he bought the fiber, about what he'd learned and seen. He even compared touching the fiber to crack. I'm glad he understands, at least a little, why this interests me. I'm so excited to start, though I'm not sure where to begin. Should I read the book? Or skip directly to the Shetland? Or finish up the free fiber that came with the wheel?

Wednesday, December 19


I have two things to celebrate today.

One, after many weeks on Craigslist and thwarting more than one scam, I finally sold the Ugliest Tile in the World. Not only that, but I made a very small profit on it. What a relief. Now we can move on and get better tile and finish our kitchen.

Two, Christopher's stocking is done. I really dragged my feet on the foot which was so wide and really rather boring to knit. But now it's finished. I'm not sure how I'll fill this enormous stocking. Maybe all of Christopher's gifts will have to go inside. Or maybe I can pad the inside. Just look at how it compares to my own stocking (knit many years ago by my mother).

Monday, December 17

Christmas presents

Look what I bought myself for Christmas.Does this mean I'm hard core?

I have to confess that I bought this with about 10 minutes of spinning experience, and that was in high school when I spent a month going to school on the Navajo reservation. They offered traditional Navajo crafts classes for the kids after the academic day was over, but I was the only one who was interested. I ended up taking a silversmithing class, but I hung out briefly with the weaving teacher who showed me a little about spinning.

Anyway, Okayknits was selling her wheel and I knew I wanted to try spinning and I figure I can always sell the wheel if spinning isn't for me. I let myself play with it a little tonight and feel like my first attempts at spinning yarn (with no lessons) were not so bad.

In other news, I have indeed knit a decoration for the tree. My yarn remnants are a little odd together... I'm not so sure about the brown tweed with the green tweed and the hot pink alpaca. It's certainly unique.

What about a big star made with the lumpy handspun I'm currently creating?

Sunday, December 16

holiday spirit

We got our Christmas tree yesterday. For some reason, this seems like a huge accomplishment, perhaps because we've been talking about it and scouting out sellers for over a week. Christmas trees in New York are expensive, and we were balancing the wish for a tree against the need to not spend a pocketful of money.

Yesterday we looked at trees at the Greenmarket and on Flatbush Ave before we found a small seller near 7th Ave in Park Slope. He had decent trees and nothing was over $65. We found one we liked, paid for it and left it there while we continued shopping in the area. A few hours later we came back and carried it home. Our tree is about 5 feet tall, which is at least a foot taller than any tree I've ever had on my own. Christopher mounted it on its stand and I put a strand of lights on it. It is bare. We haven't decorated it, but the 6 or so ornaments that are in the box will go on quickly and I'm afraid will seem meager. Rather than go out and buy a bunch of ornaments, I've decided that it would mean more if we (I) made some. A string of popcorn or cranberries will perk it up, and I'm thinking that some Korknisse would also be welcome and quick. Elizabeth Zimmerman also has a pattern for knitted stars. I went through my boxes of yarn this morning and pulled out all of the little remnants and sorted them into piles by weight. I didn't realize that I had so many little bits of yarn and I feel a little overwhelmed by them all. But oh, perfect for some Korknisse and stars, don't you think?

Sunday, December 9


When I was growing up my mother always took cuttings when she visited my grandfather, who lived on an overgrown tree nursery. She decorated our kitchen table with holly, pussy willow or branches covered in berries. So when I saw bunches of eucalyptus for sale yesterday at the Greenmarket, I leaped to buy some. I've never bought it before, but we lugged the sticky bouquet home and I set to work finding something to put it in. The only thing we have that is large enough is a galvanized vase we bought for our wedding that now holds our umbrellas. I had to do a lot of trimming to get it to fit, but now our apartment smells wonderful and we're living with a little more nature. Aren't the leaves just beautiful? If I get ambitious maybe I could make us a eucalyptus wreath.

Monday, December 3

new stitches

You may have noticed that I haven't written about knitting recently. That is mostly because I am knitting gifts at the moment and therefore haven't wanted to display gifts before they have been given.

Now that my father's birthday has passed, and he has received his present, I am happy to share it.

My father has been hinting at wanting a hat from me for several years. He is a tough customer, and rather than choose something and knit it, I decided it would be safer to have his approval before casting on. We chose Megan Mills' Circular Bicolour Prime Rib (Brioche) Hat, a simple looking hat with vertical stripes. I had never tried brioche stitch before, though I'd seen patterns for sweaters knit with it. It wasn't too hard to pick up, and it was really fun to try something that was so completely different, creating an unusual fabric at the same time. I'm not sure I can explain how it works, but the fabric ends up being ribbed and reversible, it gives the appearance of there being a knit stitch on the recessed stitch instead of a purl, which more common ribbing has. When you do this with two colors you can play the interchange of color on the reverse site. (this might be a great stitch for a scarf...) It is also very stretchy. Anyway, details:
Pattern: Megan Mills' Circular Bicolour Prime Rib (Brioche) Hat
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride, oatmeal & brown heather, one skein of each
Started and completed: November 2007

Friday, November 30


My father turned 70 on Wednesday. Age is so funny, it seems so relative to me. My dad has always been my dad, and perhaps because he's always been 37 odd years older than me, he doesn't seem to get much older. He also isn't someone who has ever lived by society's expectations, so perhaps he never will age, in the usual sense, anyway.

There is going to be a grand party tomorrow, in Philadelphia. A friend of my parents is hosting it, and the guest list keeps growing. My mother and I brainstormed on how to celebrate my father's life during the course of the party, and we settled on doing a mix of music in chronological order bringing us from my father's birth year to today. This idea has evolved, and eventually it became mostly music that my dad really liked from the 50s-60s, plus some other tracks to fill in the other years.
This is my dad, probably when he was in high school.

I spent last Sunday working on this, downloading music from itunes and otherwise filling it out with CDs that we already owned. What's really amazing is the life that he has had. I mean this is totally self-centered, but it's hard for me to imagine his life before I was born. And here is all this obscure music that I've never heard, from a time before I existed, music that he himself requested. Ever heard of The Coasters? They had a really kick ass song called Searchin'. I recommend it.

Last week Christopher gave me some slides from his father's family and asked me to scan them so we could get prints made for the family. Today at work I scanned them during my lunch hour. They are really wonderful, a little peek into the family's life in the late 60s, including a picnic at his father's family's house and his very young mother, looking very shy.That's his dad on the left.

The human experience. These men were, in these photos, much younger than Christopher and I are now. They look so foreign and far away. I want to ask them what it's like there, in the era they are inhabiting. Oddly, I feel the same curiosity towards the photo of my young father as I do to the one of Christopher's dad, who Christopher barely knew. I suppose that this is just how things go, that we grow older and our youth is inconceivable to our children.

Tuesday, November 27


After consulting various cookbooks and websites, I think I've exhausted what one can do with leftover turkey. We've had several mini-Thanksgivings, turkey quesadillas with goat cheese, and turkey pot pie. Luckily the pot pie used up most of the turkey; all that's left is a drumstick that I intend to have for lunch tomorrow. And, not to waste anything, the carcass is currently simmering on the stove, giving me stock.

The holiday season is here, isn't it? Christopher surprised me by putting on The Messiah while we were cleaning the apartment last week. Am I ready to go into Christmas mode? Do I have a choice?

Saturday, November 24

Giving Thanks

This post is coming later than I'd hoped, due to some unexpected events. I'd hoped to have a Thanksgiving blog post full of great photos, perhaps a funny story about how we dropped the turkey on the floor but served it anyway.
The apartment looked beautiful, our cleaning and work all paid off.
The meal came out nearly perfectly. The only thing I'd do differently is change my stuffing recipe. I cut the amount of fat in half (don't you think 2 sticks of butter is a lot?) and it was really dry. The kosher turkey was delicious and so easy. Christopher's father's friend (who was here) raved that it was one of the best he'd ever tasted. The unfortunate thing was that we were missing half of our guests. Christopher's family - his mother, stepfather, sister, brother-in-law and nephew - were in a car accident on their way to our place. They called us almost immediately and kept us informed of how things were progressing. We heard that the brother-in-law had broken his jaw. That he'd broken his nose. That the car was totaled. That they all rode in an ambulance together to the hospital. That the stepfather had a gash on his leg. That the brother-in-law's nose and jaw were not broken after all.And, finally, we learned that Christopher's mother had a headache. After an MRI they determined that she had some bleeding in her brain and then we heard, as we were feasting without them, that she was being airlifted to a hospital in Philadelphia that had a better neurosurgery unit.

It was hard having a celebratory meal, one we had worked so hard for, while knowing that his family was spending the day in the emergency room. At the same time, there was nothing we could do except wait for news and try to enjoy our bounty. After dinner we cleaned up and packed and then hitched a ride with my parents back to Philadelphia.

The good news is that, after two nights in the hospital, Christopher's mother has been sent home. It seems that she will be fine. And we've come back to Brooklyn to eat leftovers and try to breathe a little.

Wednesday, November 21


is it me, or are the leaves slower at changing color this year? It's almost December and so many trees still have their leaves, and some of the leaves are actually green. We are so lucky to have these colorful trees right down the street from us.
(yes, I am procrastinating. It's 2:30 and I still haven't started cooking!)

Monday, November 19


I made a delicious dish from the New York Times Dining section tonight: Curried Lentils With Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard. It's actually meant to be a side dish for Thanksgiving, at least according to the Times.

I'm not sure how our guests would like the flavor of curry at Thanksgiving, but it was delicious as a pre-Thanksgiving or other cold night meal. For once we didn't actually have any chard (lucky Christopher) but it was still fantastic
Look! The turkey is busy defrosting! (We ended up with the organic Kosher frozen one, which means I don't have to deal with brining it, but I do have defrost it.)

Saturday, November 17


You may be hearing quite a bit from me this week, as I try to balance work and prepping for hosting my first holiday. Most of the grocery shopping is done; I just have to get the green beans, pecans and a few other goodies. We can call the meal planning and shopping Phase One. Check.

Today we entered Phase Two: Getting the apartment ready for guests.

We've been here a year and we've made quite a bit of progress with it, but there is a lot more to go. It's really not worth thinking too much about what lies ahead, as it is completely overwhelming. (Let's just say that our baseboards are full of peeling lead paint and our window frames are rotten.)

Our goal for the apartment this week is simple: convey the appearance that we live a more organized and domestic life than we actually do. This morning, I put lots of photos in frames and hung them in our hallway. I started this project last spring but lost interest. Today progress was made.Christopher has been busy scrubbing the baseboards. It really makes a huge difference in the look of the apartment.

My father came up and finished plastering the column, a project we began many months ago. It is so nice not to have the floor around the column surrounded by plastic and buckets of joint compound! Ah! He also patched some parts of the wall that were rotten. And he helped me stabilize the wall cabinets in the kitchen. If I get my act together maybe I'll put more knobs on them... He also helped me install the last under cabinet light, and I took this photo of him. I can't help being reminded of this picture of him from July 2001, a photo which actually kind of creeps me out. Anyway, I feel a little like our apartment is much messier now than it was before we started, but I guess that's what happens when you do a major cleaning plus minor renovation. From now on we'll concentrate on the cleaning part, and start a little food prep.

Thursday, November 15

choosing turkeys

I have never bought a turkey.

It seems like an odd thing to say, or to admit. I've certainly eaten a lot of it, and I've even roasted a few. It's just never occurred to me to purchase one, since I've never hosted Thanksgiving. And until I just started thinking about it, I hadn't realized that for most people (myself included) turkey is a once a year event. I mean, why not eat them more often? Is it just too much work? Is it too expensive?

The food coop where I shop has just gotten in their shipment of turkeys. In the past I've eyed the list of turkeys with envy, wishing that I were hosting Thanksgiving and could justify the purchase of one of these locally grown birds. This year the list terrifies me.

There are seven different brands of turkey to choose from. Seven. All are antibiotic free and from farms within 500 miles of New York City. Some are pasture raised, some are organic, some are pasture-raised organic. One of them is kosher, organic and frozen.

I'm not sure how to choose. Maybe I'll just close my eyes and grab one.

Monday, November 12

our closet

This year we are hosting Thanksgiving. Our parents, along with Christopher's sister and her family, are coming up from Philadelphia for the event. There will be about 10 adults, plus Christopher's nephew who is 3.

In anticipation of our guests, we have started cleaning. We aren't the neatest or most pristine people. Papers tend to litter the floor, scarves and hats are on the dining table, along with 2 months' worth of mail, and you can see clumps of Dinah's fur in the corner. It's pretty gross.

Part of our problem is that we don't have enough storage space. There are boxes stacked in the den, still unpacked from our move a year ago. There is a pile of books next to my desk.

If you've been to our apartment, you might have noticed our tall ceilings, which extend into the closets. But most of the closets only have one shelf, leaving about 3 or 4' of empty space above. So, in order to get the clutter out of our rooms, we want to put in extra shelves. Yesterday we installed one, in our entry closet. I measured and cut support boards and installed them. And then I spent about 1/2 an hour trying to get the shelf to fit. Because our building is so old there are very few right angles. The back of the closet is about an inch narrower than the front, and I had to cut the shelf accordingly. (This is why installing the shelves is taking us so long.)Once that was done, Christopher painted the inside of the closet, which had been covered with multiple scuff marks and yellowing paint. He did a great job, don't you think?

Saturday, November 10

sweater surgery

You may have noticed me complaining about Christopher's sweater recently. Something about it is all wrong, but now that the weather has changed he's started asking when he can wear it. Which means that I need to finish it.

At first it seemed that the arms were too long. When he tried it on, the arms drooped down past his hands. They were at least 6" off. I removed one of the arms and tried it on without the sweater. It was fine, perfect in fact. And it matched the specified dimensions exactly.

Wondering what else it could be, I measured everything, including the gauge. What I discovered: The back of the sweater was a good 4" too wide, because for some reason the gauge was off. The rest of the sweater was fine. I spent about a week agonizing over what to do about this, gathering information from various blogs and forums before I decided to cut a panel out of the back. Crazy but true. Instead of unraveling the whole back and reknitting it, I decided to cut it.

Today was the big day. For several hours, I wandered between the living room, where the sweater was, and the den, where I have my computer. I consulted and reconsulted the blogs. I read my knitting books. I talked to my mom.

And then I got my sewing machine out and sewed two somewhat crooked zig zag rows up the back of the sweater. The actual sewing didn't take very long compared to all of the thinking I'd done. I then cut out the panel(with the help of my friend) and then sewed the seam up, by hand. The seam isn't as invisible as I'd hoped, but perhaps with a little blocking it'll lay a little flatter. And hopefully the sweater will fit better. Unfortunately, it's not smooth sailing from here. The sleeves still pucker, so I'll have to reknit at least the tops of them to make them fit better. But hopefully the biggest problems have been fixed. (cross your fingers for me)