Monday, June 23, 2008


Do you ever have one of those moments where you feel as though life has brought before you a subtle challenge? Like when there is a blouse for sale and you say "I can make that" or a handmade baby blanket starts to fray and you think "I can recreate this blanket, or make a quilt from the remains" or there is a soft doll you has as a little girl, and you think "I can replicate the pattern and make a new one for another little girl" or there is a decadent cake at a birthday party and you think "I will figure this out and make one for my best friend's birthday." Well, I had one of those moments at Ry's graduation. You see, his sister made a pasta sauce that is a family recipe (not their family, but still)…a secret family recipe. It was delicious but she could not tell us what was in it (being secret and all)...I know I tasted butter...and there was something sweet about it...probably just the tomatoes combining with the butter. Well, as soon I as found out that I could not get the recipe, I filed the taste and texture away in my mind and challenged myself to recreate it. I would figure out this recipe. Oh, yes, yes I would. The family the recipe comes from is Italian-American, thus it must be a traditional Italian recipe...a la Marcella Hazan (Polini, before marriage)...perhaps with a bit of tweaking involved, or perhaps that classic tomato sauce recipe in her Essentials book...Well my friends, as soon as I read a certain cooks recipe inspired by the Italian Goddess of Cooking, I knew, I just knew that was my recipe! So I say to you, my friends, ahh-HAAAAAA!!!! This was truly a Sherlock moment, soon I will be making the recipe I have found, and if it is substantially similar, I will post the link, because everyone loves a good red sauce.

* Original post edited by request

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not enough time in the day

There is just not enough time in the day for me to create everything that is dancing around in my head and still get work, school work, time with the dogs and time with Ryan into my week. If only I had a clone that could sit through my classes instead of me, I'd be golden. Anyway, I am in the process of making some shoddy cloth napkins. I say they are shoddy because three are one size and three are another size and, quite frankly, I don't care! They are just for us because I want to stop buying so many darned paper towels. I'd like to relegate the paper towel use to the exclusive arena of cleaning up any of Sam’s little accidents and/or the occasional dog sick. We already have quite a few cotton cloth hand towels, and some fancy napkins, but I'd like to make a slew of cloth napkins. Part of the sizing problem was haste and my lack of a self-healing mat so that I can use my rotary cutter. I know, I know, it was very shortsighted of me to purchase a rotary cutter and no mat, but what can I say? At the time I had already blown most of my craft budget on yarn! I also hear tell of these lovely plastic squares that you can use in quilting to make a perfectly square square! Imagine that! So, obviously, when I purchase my self healing mat, I'll need to get a couple of different sized squares in order to make a few different sized napkins. I think, once the summer semester is over, I will be crafting more, especially since Ry will still be studying for the bar, and it's something I can do quietly upstairs so as not to disturb or distract him. If things go according to plan I may even be able to open an etsy shop in time for the holidays. Wouldn't that be lovely? At the very least it might help pay for some small portion of the wedding expenses if any of it sells, that is.. In other news Ryan and I have decided that Saturdays will be our day together. “Special Saturdays” is what we have dubbed them, and last Saturday we when to the local farmers market and bought fresh lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries and rhubarb. (There isn’t a lot in yet.) On Sunday I made strawberry rhubarb pie, for the first time, and it was delicious. I’d show you a picture, but we gobbled it up! The only thing I would change in the recipe, is that I would bake it for longer than the recommended time, it was a bit too liquid at first (strawberries juice like a sonofagun) and had to go in for another twenty minutes; and I would add much less sugar, there’s just no need for it, the strawberries are already sweet and the rhubarb is tangy sweet, so I’d reduce the sugar by at least half. We also went to see Indiana Jones, great summer movie, perfect little escape on a muggy day! (Thank you!) Moving on, this Saturday evening we have friends coming over for a barbecue at night and we’ve decided we want to go back the market and get more lettuce, I also want to get more strawberries and rhubarb so I can make an upside down cake for barbecue. But other than that we’re not sure what to do. Maybe a picnic or maybe there’s a festival or something. I'll have to check into that...I think that the Taste of Amherst is happening that weekend, so maybe we will do that, if the weather cooperates. So anyway I had a weird dream last night that I was elected as a State Rep. All I had to do to be elected was give an impromptu speech in front of the five other Reps and then they texted me later that day to ask me for the correct spelling of my name so I could be put on payroll. I didn't even live in the town I was representing and they didn't care, just wanted me on payroll. When they texted me Ry and I were walking around some little woodsy town that I've never seen or been to before, holding hands. Very weird dream.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my Mom's birthday, she is fhshsimensna years old.

There is so much that I know and don't know about my mom that it is sometimes a little startling. I know that she is kind, she would give me her last penny if I needed it, even though it would mean she would have to do without for weeks on end. She is an amazing cheerleader, encouraging me along my way when I get lost or am bogged down by self-doubt. She has counseled me through fights with boyfriends, frustrations with school and conflicts in my workplace.

She listens to me and lets me ramble, she backs off when I am cranky,soothes me when I'm sad and laughs with me when I am happy.She did her best as a mother and helped my brother and I develop our personalities without question, she did her best to lead us away from bad decisions to help us recognize when we were being stubborn, unreasonable and, in my case, very very loud.

All this I know about my mom, but there are so many things that I don’t know about her when she was a child or a teenager. I know she and her brothers and sisters spent some time in a children’s home while her parents were separating. I remember her once saying that they tried to run away. I know that she deeply loved her mother, but that she was a Daddy’s girl. I know that at some point they moved from Brooklyn to California, but I don’t know how old she was when tat happened. I know that her sisters, like most older sisters, teased and harassed her and that she was deathly afraid to tell on them lest she suffer their wrath. I know that she met my Dad in Tucson, but I’m still not clear on what she was doing there. I wish I knew more about her when she was little, what she was like. Was she as quiet as is she is now, drown out by the loud boisterous people that surrounded her? Was she athletic? (I vaguely remember hearing something about running track and field.)

I imagine my mom was a sweet little girl always doing her best to behave herself and gain the favor of the Pop by doing so, with two fun-loving, hell-raising sisters and two big brothers. I imagine well groomed children at dinner and saying blessings in Spanish before meals and always coming inside before the street lights went out. I imagine this but do not know if it is true. I wish I knew more about Mom.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Gym Story

The gym I go to is in the heart of the downtown area, it’s the only place to exercise that is within walking distance to many of the offices here, so most of the people that come and go, do so between noon and one, and are normal business type people. Occasionally though, you get a weirdie. For instance, a few days ago, a little old Chinese man in khaki pants, a white undershirt, wool socks and Birkenstock sandal was just pedaling away on the recumbent bike. That was the first time I’d seen him and haven’t seen him since, however seeing an aged Chinese man in street clothes pedaling his heart out on an exercise bike is a bit startling. Then we have the attorney who wears short-shorts (I mean really short, horrifyingly short) and reads the paper while he leisurely pedals along on a standing exercycle. There’s the runner who when he’s finished on the treadmill stretches out in front of the ladies on the elliptical machines in a desperate attempt to have someone, anyone pay attention to him. There’s a young man who, when he runs on the treadmill turns it up so high that he has to grip the back of it so he can keep up and force himself to continue to run. There are two ladies, one heavy one thin who discuss in the locker room how thin the one lady is and when they work out, the heavy one doesn’t even bother to put her hair up because she moves at a snails pace on the elliptical and therefore never sweats. I guess the thin one doesn’t have the heart to tell her, that she probably needs to get the old heart rate up to lose some weight. The best so far, however, was yesterday. Yesterday the all the elliptical machines were taken, so T and I did the stair climber, the bikes and the treadmill, kind of like a gym triathalon. We’re on the stair climber when suddenly someone’s cell phone rings. Yes, you read it correctly; someone had brought their cell phone with them to work out. I can accept that under certain circumstances, like you’re waiting for a verdict to be returned, your wife is due to go into labor soon, your husband is coming out of surgery (although I don’t know why you’d be at the gym instead of the hospital, but still) or something along those lines. So, the phone rings and I look over and it’s some forty year old faux-blond woman in fluorescent orange shortie-shorts and a white tank top, and she answers the phone. The ensuing conversation is something along the lines of a woman giving an order to either a dog or her husband. I’m going to guess it was her husband because she didn’t strike me as the kind of person that would train her dog to dial the phone that would take too much time away from her “me time”. Then she hangs up, tucks the bottom of her tank top into the top of her tank top…you know that look, that kind of ‘80’s dance video meets low-end prostitute look? (They used to do it with t-shirts in the ‘80s) The kind of look that a kid of a teenager could pull off, but on a a 40-something looks like a desperate attempt at trying to be young and super-hot. Anyway, that’s what happened, and then T and I went to the bikes. Then the phone rings, again and she answers it, again. On this call she is talking in all sweet sounds and words, I heard things like “I love you so much” and “Well that’s why I have all this love for you.” (This is clearly not a verdict coming in.) Then she does the unthinkable, she gets off the elliptical and sits on the weight bench in the middle of the gym to toss her hair and finish her call. She does not go into the locker room for a private conversation or even out to the deck to be alone. (There is hardly any one ever on the deck.) No, she makes herself as visible as possible by sitting on the weight bench in the middle of the gym. At first I gave her the benefit of the doubt, thinking she must intend to continue her workout after the call. Nope. She finished the call and then went in the locker room to shower, change back into her street clothes, and leave the gym. T and I looked at each other, and then suddenly T shouted, “LOOK AT MEEEEEEEE!!! LOOK AT MEEEEEEE!!! I’M VERY BUSY AND IMPORTANT!!!” Perfect.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

In which Jenn gets a her hot little hands on a craft room

So, on Saturday, our roommate P moved out. (Who, for the record, is so selfish & nutty that he banned our friends J & M from coming to the house while he was living there, because he and J exchanged words,(J insulted P's ex-girlfriend and P insulted J's wife) and J apologized. However P wasn't satisfied so he told us that we could never again have them at the house while he was living there. Normally, I would not have agreed to this and would have told him where to stick it, but then Ry pointed out to me that he's on meds and keeps guns in the house, so I kept my mouth shut. So that's the back story about P.) There are three exciting things that come out of this grand move-out: 1) No more P, no more hippy friend and no more stinky tea that's on the DEA watch list!(that all counts as one as far as I'm concerned) 2) We get a dedicated guest room and 3) I get a CRAFT ROOM!!!! Glorious! I spent the day Saturday setting it up. (Truthfully it's not totally finished yet, I need to make up some curtains,get a more comfortable desk chair and slap a coat or two of paint on the walls and baseboards,but I didn't have the time for all of that because Sunday is study day.) Ry hauled two shelving units in and put them in the closet, which is where I have my yarn and fabric organized. I swept and mopped the floors, cleaned the window sills, washed the windows, dusted and organized. All of my woolen yarn is now neatly packed away into plastic bags so the moths won't get to it. I have WIPS on one shelf sock yarn on another, DK, Worsted and Aran weight yarn on their own shelf, and my novelty and cheap acrylic yarn has been segregated away from the good stuff. (I know Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would have something to say about my malicious yarn segregation, but any knitter will tell you, it's not all created equal) All the yarn still in bags is on the top shelf. Then I put my sewing items on another shelving unit, Washed and unwashed fabric is separated out, WIPs have their own shelf, the scissor/zipper basket has a little home of it's own and I have a remnant bag as well. My embroidery floss is hanging from little hooks in the shelf as well. At my built in desk, I went all Martha Stewart-y and strung up my twine an ribbon and I have a couple of glass jars holding crochet hooks and some knitting needles.

I have what use to be P's TV shelf, holding my sewing machine, books and magazines as well as all my vintage and new sewing patterns.

(these pics are before the rug was put in) Ry put in an area rug that the dogs love and I have two big sunshiney windows in there so I can have a lot of natural light during the day. I just love it. While I was putting my room together, Ry was starting the guest room (which also needs paint, it's the most atrocious green I've ever seen in a room.) He swept, mopped dusted and cleaned his little heart out. He moved a dresser up there, all of our shoes, the spare bed and two night tables. We just need to paint and decorate..and put beddign on the bed.

This will also be our first time living ALONE together! Which we are both incredibly excited about. No more, "is this our milk?" type questions, because from now on the answer is "Yes,yes it is." In knitting news I finished the Anouk dress and Saartje's booties(did I already say that?) and I'm almost done with the embossed leaves socks.

I am casting on for the Belle Cardigan this weekend, I even did a gauge swatch!
I am knitting it off-gauge though because I kept reading reviews on Ravelry that it comes out way too big, so I'm knittign a smaller gauge and a smaller size, both in the hopes that the gym will have really paid off by then and it will be a near perfect fit. Oh yes, did I tell you? I found a gym near work, so I've been going on my lunch hour everyday since the 19th. I've already lost some weight! Hoo-ray! Deb really inspired me, she does an aerobics class on her lunch hour and is driven to lose weight. So, I hunted down a nearby gym and joined up, it's the favorite part of my day now. Except, of course, for knit-night on Fridays!

One last shot of my room.