Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Soup and Cupcakes

Monday was knit night. I love knit night. I look forward to each one. Sometimes we spend more time eating and chatting than we do knitting, but who cares? It is my kind of fun. Occasionally, we do a soup swap. Everyone makes soup and brings enough for everyone else, and then we swap. It's exactly like a cookie exchange, except with soup. This is, after all, Northern Minnesota. We NEED soup for survival.

I decided to try a recipe for vegetarian tortilla soup and I have to say, Kevin and I were both happy with the results. I altered the recipe a bit, because that is what I do, and it came out great. Super tasty and minimally spicy. Nora found it too spicy anyway, but she thinks peppermint gum is too spicy. I love her, but I do not trust her version of spicy.

I found the recipe here, but I am going to write it below the way I made it. Because I can't vouch for it as published since I didn't make it quite like that. Close, but not quite.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large red onion
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
3 cloves pressed garlic
1 tablespoon cumin
1 (28 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies (so 2 ounces)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 bag frozen corn (12 to 16 ounces)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
shredded cheddar
sour cream

1. Finely chop the onions and peppers. I used my food processor and everything got pretty wet. I was OK with that, but if you aren't, then maybe use a knife. Whatever floats your boat.

2. In a large soup pot, sautee the onions, peppers and garlic in the oil until soft.

3. Add the cumin, tomatoes, chilies and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes. You can season with salt and pepper if desired.

4. Add the corn and black beans and cook 5 minutes or so, until they are hot.

5. Serve with cheese, avocado, sour cream and tortilla chips. Yum!

Like I said, sometimes we spend more time eating than knitting. I baked cupcakes to share. They are white cake with lemon buttercream icing. I topped them with yellow cake sparkles. They are pretty nice. Three days later, we only have 5 left out of 24. I am happy about that because I have only eaten one. Yup, one.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fabric Mail Sorter

Grandma had the girls sleep over Thursday and Friday nights, so I took the opportunity to make this fabric mail sorter. I initially saw it on the Craft: blog, and got pretty excited about it. I always have a hundred different school papers for Nora and kept meaning to find a better way of organizing them. I had been sticking them to the fridge with magnets and knew it was only a matter of time before I lost something important. This mail sorter was clearly my answer. I was already planning to make it when I saw that it was one of the two February project options for Finny and Donk's Craft: Along. Sweet!

I followed this tutorial, which was incredibly well written and very easy to follow. I am the first to admit that my sewing skills are way less than great, but I still managed to make this with minimal swearing and only one date with the seam ripper. And I only burned myself once on the iron, which is a small miracle.

Here is a close-up of one of the pockets.

The whole unit. I love the fabric, but now that it is finished and hanging on the wall, I am not sure how I feel about it. It is really wild, and I can't decide if it is too- Great Grandma. Like, maybe I should have used the binding fabric as the main, and the wild floral business as the binding. Too late now! The thing is, I NEVER choose neutrals. My parka is lime green, my hat is wild, my purse is crazy... For some reason, I am drawn to crazy patterns. So probably I should just zip it and smile. And then go sort Nora's school stuff. I might make another, less wild one as a gift. It was that simple!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Me on Me

The weather has been really weird here lately. School was canceled on Monday and Tuesday after an ice storm was predicted. The outlook was grim, and the weather guys kept referencing the last major ice storm we had, when we lost power for several days. It was nice and warm, for February, which was nice. We had a lot of melting, both due to temperature and rain. And the storm never really happened, which was nice, too.

This is a photo of the Rhinosaur River. It is the "river" that runs through our front yard. I named it that when I was 3 years old. Except that I lived next door, with my parents, and the river went through my back yard then. In case you don't already know, we built next door to my parents in June 2000. And as weird as that might sound to some people, it is actually quite nice. Since I have small children, I haven't put much into my yard. But we can tromp next door and sit in my parents' gazebo in the middle of their lush, gorgeous gardens any time we want. We can enjoy their ponds, their playhouse, their swimming pool, and the fruits and vegetables of their labors. And it is very nice.

So about the Rhinosaur: it normally stays frozen until April. To see its root beer waters meandering through the woods in February is kind of cool. The first year we lived here, we didn't realize the power of the Rhinsaur. As a result, we almost lost our driveway, despite our four-foot tall culvert. Scary! Now, every spring, Kevin heads out to the river with some tools and cuts a channel in the ice so the water can flow through to the other side. It is crazy that he had to do this so early! And today? It is cold again. In fact, it is snowing. And everything is windy, gray and frigid again. Except that winter sports are now impossible as the ski trails are all full of ruts, the ice rinks are totally lumpy and bumpy, and the snow is too rotten to sled on. So I have mixed feelings about all of this.

So a week or so ago, Finny of Finny Knits posted her responses to interview questions and asked if anyone wanted to be interviewed by her. And apparently I was in the mood to talk all about myself, so I offered myself up.

I am going to preface this by saying that one of the rules is that you can't edit the questions.

If you could undo one shitty (or otherwise) thing you've done in your life, what would it be?

Once, when I was in sixth grade, I was skiing with my little brother. I was generally pretty mean to him growing up, for reasons I still don't even know, but this particular day I went way too far. We got off the lift and he said or did something I did not like, so I jabbed him in the head with my ski pole. It bled and bled, and the ski patrol had to load him on a sled and take him inside for first aid. The thing is, even when it happened, I knew that he hadn't done anything to deserve it. I have felt horrible about it ever since. And then, like a year ago, he brought it up! It isn't something we had ever discussed, and when he told his version of the story, I felt like such a bully. I know that I have felt like crap about it this entire time, but to hear that HE still feels like crap about it-that was really bad. I can't think of a single mean thing he has ever done to me, and I injured him for no reason at all. What a jerk!

2. What is your biggest WT food indulgence?

I love me a good nuked cheese samwich. Slap a slice of cheese on some white bread, nuke for 30 seconds, and eat while standing at the counter and staring at the wall. We didn't have a microwave growing up, so maybe that is why I covet this delicacy.

3. If you could be The Best at anything - ANYTHING - what would it be?

What a hard question! Because really, my only talent is the word jumble, and that hasn't come in handy yet. I think I might like to be the best writer. I love to write, but I am not any good at it. Wouldn't it be fantastic to rock at it? I would like to think that something I wrote changed someone somehow. Hopefully for the better. Or at least that I provided a nice distraction.

4. Would you rather be hotter or smarter?
Seriously, now.

Probably hotter. Smarter doesn't always get you farther in life, but hotter does.

5. What celebs are on your "Free Sex List"?
You know, the list of celebrities with whom, given the unlikely
opportunity, you could engage intimately without any negative
relationship consequences. Like, you can get with them and your husband
can't get pissed.

If I were to get into that situation I would be way too shy and awkward to do anything about it. In fact, I can feel my cheeks flushing just thinking about this. I am such a dork! Plus also, Kev is all the celebrity I have ever wanted.

Do you want to be next? If so, leave me a comment saying so. I will email you five questions. You will answer them on your blog without editing any of them, and you will link back to this post. And then, if anyone wants to be interviewed, you will continue the cycle. It's big fun!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Saturday Night

Lest you think I spent my entire weekend cleaning, I am sharing the photos below. Sunday was my sister's birthday and we went out Saturday night to celebrate. Yup, even me.

There were probably 20 people out for dinner, but there wasn't room for all of us to sit together. So here we have me and Dan on the left and Charity and Sam on the right. Dan is Charity's dad and Sam is Charity's husband. Note that he is not my brother Sam. My Sam came out later, so we had Sam Squared for much of the evening.

Dan grew up with my dad. His first wife, Kathy, grew up with my mom. So that means we grew up with Charity and her sister Jessica. In fact, for a while we all shared a duplex. They are non-blood family.

Me, Alex (my sister), Charity and Lisa taking a break from a wild game of ping pong. Actually, Alex was playing with her neighbor while the rest of us dodged flying balls and paddles. It was spicy.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Liz IN Hat

Today was just what my messed up Virgo self needed. I spent the morning cleaning the fridge, which you can see below. Isn't is fun to see what is left in my fridge? For example, three jars of pickles. I should take a photo of my fridge every time I go shopping. Wouldn't that be so helpful? That way, when I can't remember if I have any pickles left, I can just look at my camera and see that yes, I DO have pickles, and plenty of them.

After I cleaned the fridge, I watched more Deadwood while knitting a gauge swatch for my sister's hat. I knit so tightly that, even though the pattern calls for size 6 needles, I had to go up to a 9. Clearly I should have a cocktail while knitting so I would loosen up a little.

About Deadwood. Lest you think I am into westerns or something, let me tell you I am not. But I do like history. And HBO tends to do a great job with character development and all. It is an interesting show. But I generally watch it while knitting or folding mountains of laundry.

I spent most of the afternoon cleaning out the kids' closet, as planned. Thank God Monday is garbage day! The evidence will be gone by the time I walk Nora out to get on the bus. I gave my mom EIGHT fireman hats to bring to her preschool. Seriously-my girls love to play dress up, but who the heck needs eight fireman hats? Crazy town! I also pawned off two bags of size three clothes and a maternity parka on my sister to bring to her pregnant neighbor. Isn't that so sneaky? Because she isn't going to drive them all back up into the sticks to my house. She can either keep them or dispose of them herself. And I never have to know exactly where they ended up. I can just pretend they were all put to good use. And now the bedroom closet only contains toys that have all of their pieces and that actually get played with. Huge relief on my part. Their closet was a deathtrap.

I went to Sunday bbq by myself, which was incredibly relaxing! The cousins were not very happy with me for coming without the kids, but it was awesome to get my own plate, eat my own food, and not have to worry about anyone else's nutrition. Plus, I remembered my camera. So I handed Liz her hat and immediately snapped her photo. She kept the hat on all through dinner, so I think it is a hit. Sadly, though, today is Alex's birthday and I had nothing to give her since the gauge swatching only happened this morning. I am knitting with friends tomorrow night, so hopefully I can get that hat well on its way. Just in time for her to jet off to Puerto Rico, where she won't really need it. Too bad I have no sympathy for her.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Hat for Liz

I think I mentioned yesterday that I ran out of yarn making a hat for Liz. Since the girls are at Grandma's house this weekend and Kevin is off on an adventure with his dad, I took the opportunity to spend part of my day watching Deadwood and knitting. I was really happy to finish this hat. Again, my first attempt at cables, and I am really pleased with how it came out. I love the color, I think the eyelets are kinda cute, and the cables were really simple. My family does Sunday dinner every other week (though this is the third week in a row for some reason), so I plan to give it to her tomorrow. And I will try to remember to take my camera with. I can't promise anything though.

I know I will regret putting this in writing, but I am looking forward to having the house to myself tomorrow. I plan to clean the fridge so it quits smelling like THAT, and I am going to tackle the girls' bedroom closet. I realize this is all kind of lame, but I am much anticipating a date with some garbage bags, where nobody can catch me tossing broken toys, ultra cheesy stuffed animals, stained favorite shirts and other such debris. Our house is much too small to house garbage. Wow-when did I turn this boring?

Friday, February 6, 2009

What Gives?

So I have been keeping a family blog for a few months now. And it is great-I love writing about my kids, my best friend/husband and our lives together. But sometimes I just want to rant. Sometimes I want to write about stuff that is more about me than us. So I thought I would give myself my own blog to rant on when I feel like it. That way I can't muddle up the sweet family stuff with whatever crazy stuff is on my mind. Plus I won't bore the people who just want to see pictures of my lovely daughters.

Don't think that I won't talk about my family though. They are my entire life. Take this, my inagural post, for one. On Wednesday at ECFE (Early Childhood Family Ed), the parent educator, Sarah, had us pick a marker from a bucket. She gave each of us a blank sticker and told us to draw a heart on it in a color that describes our current emotional state, and to put that heart sticker on our sleeve. I chose blue. It turned out that I was being too honest. Because when we got together in small groups to discuss our color and what it meant, everyone else was calm, cheerful, sunny, etc. And I truly felt blue. Like sad. 2008 was a heinous year for me and many of the people I love the most. That year is over and done, but there is still a lot of repairing to do. And on Wednesday I was feeling down about the repair work. And that was largely due to my habit of staying up way too late and waking much too early. I ended up telling the group that blue symbolized me being tired. Which was a half truth but who cares. Sarah was trying to make a point about parenting, about how kids have a huge range of emotion and it is our job as parents to help them find appropriate ways to work through their emotions. Unfortunately, it is also our job to help ourselves work through our own emotions. So the rest of the class was spent discussing the things we do to take care of ourselves, or, as Sarah put it, "What do you do to feel human?"

So here are some things that I have been doing lately to feel human. Things I do to feel like an adult, and to take care of my own self, crazy though I may be.

I am a total Scrabble nerd. Luckily, my husband is, too. And he has this handy dandy I-Phone with the Scrabble game right on it! So we always have a game going. Even if we are sitting on the couch doing separate things (he is often online and I am often knitting-more on that in a minute), we can still have a game going. We just pass the phone back and forth. It is grand, I have to say. With two little kids, we generally do 100-piece puzzles and play Zingo. Scrabble is such a treat!
And it absolutely makes me feel like a grown up. Plus there is that competitive edge going on. I admit that I prefer to win.

Knitting. I have a ball of yarn waiting to be made into a hat for me. It will be the first thing I have made for myself ever. I mean, other than the ugly and itchy hat I made in Knitting 101. But I didn't pick the pattern out or anything-it was a class requirement and I wasn't about to pawn it off on anyone else. So anyhoo, the yarn pictured above arrived yesterday via UPS. It was my version of getting a candy gram. The charcoal gray stuff is to finish a hat for Liz, my sister in law. The brown is for a hat for Sam, my brother and Liz's husband. It is weird to think of him as Liz's husband instead of my brother. I mean, he is both, but I don't usually think of him as Liz's first. Whatever. The blue is for a hat for my sister Alex. Her birthday is on Sunday. I think my own hat will have to wait. Which is fine, because I prefer to knit for other people.

An example of how neurotic I can be. I have knit this hat about 15 times for 15 different babies. I have the pattern pretty much memorized. As I was making the charcoal gray hat for Liz, I ran out of yarn. I needed something easy to do while I waited for the new ball to arrive. I didn't want to start my own hat because it is more complicated, and I didn't want to get confused when I went back to Liz's. Because the Liz hat is my first attempt at cables and I don't want to mess it up. Anyhoo, I found some yarn in my stash and knit this up over the past two days while I waited for the above package to arrive. Knitting calms me. And lately I find I am at ease if I have a project going.

Anyhow, going to get my firstborn off the bus.