Tuesday, December 29, 2009

And then...poof!...there was Christmas

It really really snuck up on me this year. I mean in a way that it has never snuck up on me.

I probably say that every year, come to think of it.

Two Wednesdays ago I said "holy shit, Christmas is a week and a half away. Holy shit!"

Cards: Done, sent.
Gifts: uhm...got some for DH
Shipping: shipping? what shipping?

This is the first Christmas where Patrick isn't here to put up the tree, so I put up two mini-trees side by side on the console behind the sofa. I just couldn't bring myself to do the big one. Could just be laziness. 9 feet of majestic Monterey Spruce, a beautiful thing when it's up. Not as beautiful sitting in it's box in the dining room. It's in a box in the dining room. For the last four or so years, though, it has been Patrick's family duty to bring the tree up from the basement and assemble it. I informed him that he will have to resume this task for all subsequent Christmases. He didn't fight it. Smart kid.

Got fleece?

Ain't it purty? This is all from one sheep - or one type of sheep, Gotland, and the three pounds of gorgeous locks that DH gave me still have a bit of lanolin in them. Tigger's don't like "spinning in the grease," so I have some washing to do, which I started tonight. This group was part of round two. I only have a little colander so I can only do a little at a time. The first round was almost a disaster when I didn't separate the locks. Whadda mess. This time I separated BEFORE soaking and I didn't have to spend 20 minutes afterward teasing them apart. Aren't those colors something? It's even better in person, but this is tedious work to bring them into spinnable format. Soak, soak, rinse, rinse, dry.

Here's the drying stage, tucked into the shower in the spare bathroom. Finally, a use!

I just can't get over the colors and the luster. I don't know whether to separate them or spin 'em all together. I'll need suggestions.

No, I haven't spent my entire vacation spinning and working with fiber.

I trotted out the tools and made earrings and a pendant for Kat using freshwater pearls she had from a broken bracelet. I finished those tonight and thank goodness had a chain for that pendant. I see from this picture I could have done a better job of polishing that pie shape. Too late now! Dime included for scale :)

DH also gave me a share from Juniper Moon Fiber Farm. Funny thing about that...I had purchased a share for myself back in October! So now I have two shares.

Moving right along. We have a new tradition: open all the holiday cards on Christmas Day. Yay, that's actually a lot of fun...watching them stack up then opening them all and looking at photos that family and friends have included...then I hung them on the mantel with the stockings.

The guitar necks are from Rock Band, which we all played Christmas Eve. I played drums. It was hysterical, especially because we didn't have the drum sticks so I used wooden mixing spoons. I'm sure that was a sight. By the way, I suck at drums on Rock Band. So, don't rely on my musicianship to translate. I've got rhythm but you wouldn't know it.

Ok, that's a wrap. Oh. And, go out and rent Inglourious Basterds. If you like Quentin Tarantino, it's a major hoot. It almost resembles a Coen brother's movie. But...not.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Really, there was a Thanksgiving

And I started writing about it. It involved:
  • a turkey (not BBQ'd) and the standard trimmings at my SIL's in South Carolina, although there wasn't a traditional pumpkin pie to be found in the lot
  • lots of driving
  • lots of knitting in the car
  • hot dogs and chips at Maureen & Walt's place in Summerville
  • lots of knitting with my nephew
  • lots of eating
I had this big ol' other post that was very funny that I just never got around to finishing. So, there it is.

And then there's Christmas.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

In What Format Is Our Lettuce?

DH: "in what format is our lettuce?"
The geek in me howled and then with a straight face I replied that the spinach was small form factor and the romaine was tall and cylindrical, and both green. If you don't see the humor, bummer for you.

Sumter Wine Festival
From the events brochure: "Brown will present an exclusive 'real-time' tasting of his famous wines live from his Napa Valley vineyard through Skype technology." Tell me...don't you want to know how he'll use Skype for wine tasting? And why is real-time in quotes? Is it not really real time? Aren't "real time" and "live" supposed to kind of go together?

My 13-yr old nephew has converted the guest room of my sister-in-law's house into a crafting room. Painting, knitting, crocheting...he calls it The Craft Shack. Knitting friends: he has started a small yarn stash and already has blown through one organizing method in favor of another. Oh dear, another yarn junkie in the family. What ever shall I do?

Me, at dinner last night with DH's Naval Academy roomy of 20-odd years ago: "Yes, as a matter of fact, I am a Democrat and I do want a public option." Much heated debate ensued. Thankfully, we didn't discuss religion, or spend too much time on the cost of his Maserati. Bob: I like you anyway!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Show & Tell

This is way too adorable. Knit-themed cupcakes. Not your standard knit cupcake, lemme tell ya. While you're at it, go here to Juniper Moon Farm's blog, where I ran across the knit-themed cupcakes. This post has a Hey Jude flow chart that is wonderful.

Meet Tasha, the backseat driver. Believe it or not, she is just small enough to sit behind me in my ergonomic work chair. She loves that I telecommute, but this situation prevents the chair from achieving it's full purpose in life. And yet it hasn't complained. Yes, she does actually prop her head on the arm of the chair. Yes that is her right paw dangling lazily off the seat. She's a goofy gal. We're a good team.

So, DH bought me a Lendrum spinning wheel for my birthday. Meet Betty, the wheel. Tasha, whom we met above (again, for some) felt she needed to art direct the photo shoot. Not sure how the name "Betty" happened but it did. Too much Mad Men? By the way, Don Draper is Maureen's boyfriend. If you aren't Maureen you won't get that joke. Or, maybe you will...Next to Tasha is the lazy kate I also got. If you look closely, you'll notice a piece of driftwood perched behind the front maiden. In English, that's "top-front of the contraption behind where that vertical post thingy is." That is my makeshift "hold the fiber while I'm off doing other life things" tool. The wheel doesn't have the attached orifice hook so I can't wrap my in progress work 'round it. However, this brings us to...(next slide, please)

The Orifice Hook. This happens to be the humongous plying head with the humongous orifice which makes everyone else look like 90-lb weaklings. So let's put this into a little more perspective.
Better. This hook is about 4 1/2" long, and the spiral head is just shy of 7/8" diameter. If you operate in metric (which I do when I'm working in metal), that's 11.5 cm long, with a spiral diameter of lets say 22 mm. I had a makeshift one I made from a paperclip but the head was so small that I was having difficulty controlling it. 14 gauge copper, Chainose pliers, a hammer, and a little flex-shaft-driven polishing and we have my little copper beauty. I can tuck the in-progress fiber into the spiral and, if I don't want the thing just dangling around, I can hook it on the drive band. I also had to repair the cable that attaches the footman to the treadle. While the part was on order I managed to concoct another 14-gauge copper thingy to operate in its place. Thank goodness that was fast, though, because it was a little rough. But it worked!

I'm so MacGyver.

One last picture...my yummy purple Mountain Colours "Heather" targhee. 2 3/8 ounces, 265 yards. I think that would be about 1700 yards per pound, rounded down. DK weight. This is only my second 2-ply EVER, so it doesn't suck too badly and it'll only get better. Oh, come on, let's be real about this. The first skeins are horrible. It's really uneven but it is balanced, and it's hanging up drying. I see fingerless gloves in my future...

*can we just all think of something other than "orifice"? Really? Orifice? Wouldn't "aperature" be nicer? It's not that I'm a prude, but...orifice? Most of the parts of a spinning wheel are strangely named...mother-of-all, maidens, orifice, orifice hook...well, the other parts aren't so bad, like treadle and drive band and table and wheel and footman...orifice? Really? Can I start a revolution?

No. pun. intended.

One more thing...Mom came to visit and The Nor'easter That Ate Virginia swept through and the power was out for a few days and it didn't completely suck, especially when DH tromped through the rising tide in the basement with garbage cans on his feet. Nope, no galoshes or boots or waders, and we didn't get to go to silversmithing class or Yarn For Breakfast. The former was cancelled, and the latter was in conflict with showers at the gym. See Mom's post for the gory and not-so-gory details, soon to come when she arrives back home. She's at my brother's in Wisconsin at the moment. Mom: did you find the tartar sauce recipe in your email? When I say minced, I mean really minced. There's a special mouth feel (gawd, foodie talk) when it's minced. Just crunchy enough. Not too crunchy.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Lame Post

I stalled after Williamsburg Consort (aka Band Camp). I'm tired, frustrated, angry, disappointed...and it keeps me from having fun with my bloggy self. None of the tired-frustrated-angry-disappointedness has anything to do with Consort, as we call it. Consort was a blast. It challenged me as a musician and it was a pleasure to play under such a professional conductor. An absolutely joy. It's the difference between an 18 micron Merino and grocery store twine. There's simply no way to connect the two. So that was terrific. I learned some great things from Janet, the flute section leader. I'm already seeing improvements from the advice I got from her. It inspires me to keep playing.

The tired-frustrated-angry-disappointedness (oh hell, let's just call it what it is: TFAD), the TFAD doesn't mean there aren't events to look forward to in life. My mother is coming to visit next week and I'm excited-anxious. We're titivating like crazy. Actually, I think we're beyond titivating and have moved into full on spring (fall) cleaning. I sweep the back decks at least once a day. That's something.

No, this is mostly about the triplets. They turned three months old last week and we haven't seen them since July 28th. They broke up and she didn't waste any time requesting child support, and also didn't waste any time telling him he couldn't see the babies, for any number of reasons which all equal no visits.

My best friend moved to South Carolina. I love her, I question her judgement on this, and I support her 100% because that's what friends do. Exciting for her, not so exciting for me. Now I'm just whining.

The Hateful Project is in someone else's hands now, more or less, while I finish my not-quite-as-hateful-project. Remember...Erin doesn't like managing projects. Strangely enough, The Hateful Project has gotten alot of recognition because on paper it returns a ton of productivity hours back to the teams involved, and this is big bucks. So, yay. Ironic. It doesn't make it any less hateful, though.

The uncomfortable part about wrapping up projects is that there isn't anything waiting in the wings. What happens when my six sigma project is done? What happens when The Hateful Project is done? I like having something to look forward to (remember that phrase...I'll come back to it...maybe not today, but sometime, and it troubles me...the phrase, I mean).

DH (Dear Husband) started rehearsals for Brave New World last week. I think he gets to "get nekkid" but we aren't sure yet. He really likes working with this group partly because of all the suzuki theater method they use in rehearsal. I couldn't explain it to you. It's a little weird. Sort of like competitive yoga, but not.

So, this post is about me saying: I'm here, the last few months have been a little crappy and I've mostly been trying to just deal.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

This one time, at band camp...

Tomorrow I schlep myself, my flutes, my music, and a week's worth of clothing to Williamsburg for what generally amounts to band camp for adult musicians. Never having been to a real band camp, though, I can only assume. We're staying at the Patriot Inn (remember, Williamsburg: Colonial reenactments, Jamestown settlement, home of the College of Williams & Mary, archeological digs, etc.) rehearsing about 8 hours a day for five days and performing two concerts. The whole enchilada is called Williamsburg Consort, and it's by invitation. I got connections, see.

It's only 45 minutes away but with the amount of rehearsing it doesn't make sense to drive up there every morning before 8am and drive back home every night after 9pm. Through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, which at any given time on any given day will have some 30-minute delay. Name a reason and it probably has happened or will happen. And there wasn't an "off-campus" option. I'm rooming with my flute buddy Amy.

My lips are going to go numb and my arms are going to fall off but I'll probably have a wonderful time.

In other news, this is the first year that Old Dominion University (ODU) has had a football team in I don't know how many millions of years. Actually it's been 69 years, according to the website. They had their second home game tonight, or so I heard. I think the fireworks I hear outside are from some ODU football celebration. We won, and I can't even believe I'm interested in trying to understand this whole college football thing. It took me an hour to figure out what division they are (FCS, formerly Div I-AA) and how that compared to, say Michigan State (yeah, right, even I know that Michigan State is, like, the bomb). So, anyway...we're 2-0. Woohoo. All season tickets are sold out, too.

I forgot to mention: some of our favorite people are students at ODU, including Kathryn "Kat," and Kent, a friend works there, we love to hang out in the student union (Webb Center), and it's five blocks from our house as the grackle flies. 3/4 of a mile if you drive.

This is also the first time ever that I've mentioned sports in this blog. It might be the last. Let's just wait and see, shall we? I don't do sports but we're all pretty excited about this ODU football-thing. We usually only get excited about sports when the Army-Navy game rolls around (Go, Navy) or during Olympics season (Go, Ice Skaters. Go, Gymnasts). Did you know you can get one of those football-shaped blue and white foam stress balls, the kind you squeeze like a maniac, at the Shell gas station up the road. It has the ODU Monarchs printed on it in gold. For only 5 bucks. Is that real gold?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Phun with Photoshop

I was playing with digital image color correction last weekend in a way I never have. For some reason this chapter in my favorite Scott Kelby book, The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers, completely escaped my notice. At the time I probably thought I knew it all and I didn't need it. I'm too stupid to figure it out myself really. I swear I'm going to go through ALL my old photographs and color correct them.

Right after I finish that five year plan. In Trebuchet. Or Poor Richard. Cooper Black, perhaps?

The "before" is on the left, "after" on the right, screenshots from Adobe Bridge. The photos don't show up as large as they used to, but clicking on the photo will bring up the larger version and the corrections are more apparent.

Waves and Vegetation
Color corrected. It's amazing what just a little bit will accomplish.

These little guys just skitter around all over the place. Color corrected and sharpened.

Color corrected, cropped, sharpened. I like the effect you get with a long lens. It looks like there really is this wall of water, which there sort of is but it's exaggerated by the 300mm lens. Or whatever I have it set to.

Bird Sans Trash
Major work in addition to color correction and cropping and sharpening...I had to remove this stupid piece of trash from the photo. I lid of some sort, like from a Pringles can or something. I was so caught up in trying to capture the bird that I didn't see anything else. So that was a little tricky but fun.

I think this is my favorite. I sat on the beach and took dozens of shots to get this one, with the shutter set to burst. Color corrected, cropped, sharpened. This was inspired by a beautiful book of photography called Waves by Steve Hawk. I pull it off the shelf every time I hang out at Barnes & Noble but haven't been able to justify the purchase. There is another book, called Beaches, that I just don't care for as much. The Sea/Day by Day looks promising. If you didn't know, you'd think you could be anywhere in the world, instead of little old Ocean View, Virginia.

I had unlocked the car, pulled open the door, looked up, and saw this right in front of me. I don't know who they are but they looked peaceful and a little romantic in an everyday kind of way, which is my favorite kind of romantic. Simple and unfussy. Color correction, cropped, sharpened. I sharpen everything a little. Most of the time I just think it looks better. I can always undo it if it doesn't look right.

Before we moved here in 1994 I could barely pick out Virginia on the map. I just never paid much attention to the East Coast. Now I can name many lovely things about the state, not the least of which is it's proximity to the center of the political and naval universe, not to mention vast expanses of water. Which is really kinda cool in a geeky sort of way. It's weird, though...my brother, who lives in Wisconsin, the upper Midwest, also lives near vast expanses of water. I was reminded of that when I was looking at his lovely photos from Lake Michigan. In fact, Wisconsin has a surprising amount of shoreline. I'll have to look that up. We all live near major water - me, Mom, Sister, Brother.

Wow, I'm definitely going through a beach phase. I posted all these photos to Flickr.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Soup or...

Harris Teeter has impressively expanded their salad bar menu. For lunch we had a coastal South American country.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Cone of Uncertainty

We were not in it.

By "we" I mean Hampton Roads. By "it" I mean the projected path of TS Danny, which us weather watchers have been hoping would strengthen and throw up some severe weather, but not enough to make us evacuate. The projected path has bands and it's all known as The Cone of Uncertainty.

By "us" I mean Nick and me.

So every few hours we're checking out The Weather Channel or Wunderground. I've lost some faith in TWC's integrity ever since they started pretending to do "morning show" type stuff. Now that Al Roker is involved...well, gimme a break, huh?

But I love the term "cone of uncertainty." I intend to use it liberally.

Speaking of liberally, we are cooking liberally from our America's Test Kitchen cookbook. We love the French Onion Soup, and have mastered the art of cooking a whole chicken in a covered pot (chicken en cocotte) . Sounds straightforward, and it is. The question is: why doesn't EVERYONE cook it like this? It's so simple and makes the best gravy and the meat is tender and juciy from the thigh to the breast. Oof, is good.

I'm so late with this post...T.S. Danny is a dim memory.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Combing After Bill

Bill, the hurricane that whipped up a few waves and some riptide warnings and left some fun debris. Here's my haul from today's 30 minute walk on the beach...The red bits look like they are from car taillights, and probably are. A couple of funky little pieces of iron. A whole shell - some type of whelk maybe? A beautiful flat triangular shaped rock. A heavy piece of pottery. The propeller looking thingy is the hinge end of a very large (probably clam) shell.

This beach thing is fun. It's probably a good thing that I didn't start doing this 15 year ago.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Today's Quote

"I am working on my 5-year plan, but still choosing a font."
Michael Anderson, from his blog profile at tp.oma.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Today's Quote

"It’s ok if there are better players than you on your team; sometimes your job is not to be brilliant yourself, but to enable others to be their best."

WENDII, http://www.manager-tools.com/2009/08/cricket

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Action Swatch

Some knitters complain about swatching, that it's time consuming, or that they don't need to because they already know what their own gauge is because it's so consistent. Be that as it may, swatching is a valuable exercise to ensuring the sweater or sock you are knitting doesn't become that nightmare object that you knit for size 32 but it turned out to be size 50.

And do you notice that when you do screw up gauge, it's often on the side of too big? Why don't we ever accidentally knit it too small? Well, I'm sure there are knitters who do that, too.

So have fun with your swatch! After you've knitted and counted stitches and rows and determine that yes, you were right all along, put that swatch to good use. If you are really on top of your game, you'll intentially swatch to about the same size every time and after several years will have enough swatches for a small quilt. Or a large quilt depending on how prolific you are. HA!

Action Swatch #1 is relaxing with a cup of coffee on my desk.

I spun this yarn from a 50-50 merino-silk top sample that I purchased at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. For non-knitters, that's fiber consisting of 50% merino wool and 50% silk.

This was my very first spin, by the way.

Action Swatch #2, in Lion Brand Cottentots, is holding down a small table. It doesn't say on the label that it's that strong, but clearly it's doing very well. Not only that, it's holding up a small box of found objects, a measuring tape, and the leg of freshly knitted socks. So fresh they haven't been blocked.

Action Swatch #3 is in residence as a cover for the Blue Faced Leicester I have parked on my drop spindle. This was a sock swatch for the very first socks I knit, of Regia something or other, a cotton/wool/nylon blend. Very sturdy stuff which in the hand doesn't feel like it would be that comfy but on the foot is very nice.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Door to Shore: 35 Minutes

I'll grant you it's kinda gruesome, but this was the scene of some dastardly crime at the oceanfront this morning. I don't know if any actual crime was committed, or how all these fish died...but they are very dead. Might have been someone's bait.

This morning I went to the oceanfront to take my morning constitutional, as in the Virginia Beach oceanfront, that bastion of touristy tackiness. I've been going up to the Ocean View section of Norfolk, the Chesapeake Bay version of the oceanfront.


Anyway, OV doesn't have the great white expanse of sand that the oceanfront has but it's really pleasant, not as many persons, and the beach combing fairly decent. Yesterday I ran across a beached porcupine fish and many blue crabs that had been picked over by the seagulls. I guess they were tossed up by the storm from the previous night.

It takes me 10-15 minutes to get up to Ocean View. I thought, well, the oceanfront isn't that much farther...so I timed it. 35 minutes, door to shore at 31st street, including finding a parking spot at 6:55 am which, on a Saturday, wasn't difficult. The punchline, and I swear there's a point, is that when you live that close to the ocean, it's really dumb not to spend time there. However, I'll reserve my oceanfront time for the Labor Day to Memorial Day season, and stick to OV for now.

1" = 3 miles or something like that. The red star is Home Sweet Home. Despite the proximity to several rivers, none of them have beaches for walking. Sad.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Beach Bumming

I walk on the beach a few times a week and it's a special, wonderful moment in my day.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Life In Triplicate

My friend Maureen came up with that line, and I had to use it.

And it got me thinking that there are a lot of things that come in threes, or have three parts, or involve the number 3. It turns out that 3 is a significant number that turns up, well, just about everywhere. In design, three is the minimum number of objects needed to create visual tension. Many schools of philosophy include three-way ideas, such as Aristotle's 3-in-1 idea (Mind, Self-knowledge, and Self-love), or Francis Bacon's three tables (presence, absence, degree).

Things that come in threes, involve three, etc:

My newborn grandkids, the most perfect little people in the world
Flute Trios
Good luck
Bad luck
Little Pigs
Billy Goats Gruff
Blind Mice
Bears (Goldilocks and the...)
Wise Men
French Hens
Half of a knitted 6-stitch cable
Catholic Holy Trinity
Wheels on a tricycle
Movements in a sonata
Holiday weekends
Pigs In A Blanket
Months in each season
Image zones (not to be confused with the Zone System)
First odd prime number
Dog Night
Populations in Plato's Utopian city
Phony dollar bills
Waltz time
Bean Salad
Is the third unique Fibonacci number
Social group types in Great Apes
Meals a day
The adhesive company that makes sticky notes
Geological divisions of the Earth
Tolkein's rings
Days between Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection
Asimov's Laws of Robotics
Distinct species of the genus Homo
Semicircular canals in the human ear
Types of galaxies
Leaves on a Shamrock
Letters on eight of the eleven numeric buttons on a touch tone phone
Power states: on, off, pause
Points in a right angle
Types of relationships between database table
A type of bet, and also the money positions in a horse race
Hat trick
Times that something is attempted
Hat worn by soldiers in the American Revolution, and also by Chelsea Pensioners in formal dress
A crowd
The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes
Of a kind
Peas in a pod
Names in Neil deGrasse Tyson's name
Time a lady
Faces of Eve
Questions (Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
Shells (Demolition Man)
Cherries on a pawn shop sign
Light bulbs (three-way)
Short blasts or signals from a ship meaning "I am operating astern propulsion"

What are your three things?

Monday, August 03, 2009

Monday, Aug 3

A quiet weekend. Grace is home with Nicole. Jacob is still in NICU but is holding his own. All Gabrielle's digestion issues appear to be resolved, but both her's and Jacob's internal temps are being monitored. However, everything is looking good. Nicole is spending a lot of time at the nursery, and Nick is also spending as much time as he can at the nursery, too. He adores his babies.

I saw Jacob and Grace this weekend. They look lovely :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two Travels Behind

The birth of the triplets disrupted the review I had started of photographs from our recent vacation to Callaway Gardens and mine and Kent's jaunt out to Lynchburg. It's been a very busy two weeks. Here are a couple of shots from both those vacations with the promise of more to come here and in Flickr.



Taylor loved the marshmallow roast

Jane, watching beach games

Did you know that Callaway Gardens is the shooting location for southern segments of The Victory Garden?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First Bottles Outside the Nursery

Nurse & Gabby

Nick & Grace

Gramma Erin & Grace.

Both girls drank up over a full ounce, a good showing. I got a little spit up on my shoulder. I'll never wash that shirt again.

Some of the details

Grace, 3o minutes old.

Dying for details, are you?

The babes were born shortly after midnight on the 28th, and they were all a little over 5 lbs. Amazing for triplets. Nicole was about 34 weeks, I think. I was joking in a staff meeting yesterday that unless she spontaneously went into labor that she had scheduled a c-section for August 3rd. Damned if she spontaneously went into labor, though she didn't realize she was in labor until the contractions were very close together. We all theorize that she must have a high tolerance for pain. She barely had enough time to call Nick. Nick called me, and we arrived about 45 minutes before the trips were delivered. Nicole's mother is on staff at the hospital, and her aunt is a maternity nurse, so there was a lot of traffic when they were born, and Aunt Dawn managed to get the babies lined up in front of the nursery window for all the post-delivery business they do. I didn't get to see all that when I had the boys so this was fun.

We went home around 3am, and Nick crashed on our couch so he could go to work early. Nicole's sister stayed with Nicole last night at the hospital. Kent hustled me out of the house early to visit Nicole and the babies. Jacob is in what they call Level 2 nursery picking up extra oxygen because his saturation levels are little low. The girls are in good shape, and Kent and I were there for the first out-of-nursery feeding, that was so fun!

They'll be in the hospital for the rest of the week, go home Friday. I want to do more but I don't know what, and she hasn't asked for anything. Her family is very large and she has a lot of support. I guess we'll see how things pan out.

One day at a time!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Say Hello to Gabrielle, Jacob, and Grace

Gabrielle, Jacob, and Grace, about 30 minutes old. July 28th, 2009.
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/november19/sets/72157621749945185/

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Triplet Watch 7/7/09

Nicole is carrying as if she is 42 weeks. In reality she's 31 weeks. Doctor says "any day now" and gave her her first steroid shots to help develop the babies' lungs. That's all I know for now. Here's her at 28 weeks, posing for the camera at her June 14th baby shower. Nothing there to scale, but she's only 5'1".

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Think I'll Go Eat Worms

Despite the fact that the cheese in the enchilada photos looks like little orange and white worms (oh gross) , thank you for letting your mouth water down your front, Mom :) I think we could write a fabulous cookbook, as long as we improve on the food styling.

No new news about the triplets.

When I'm not cooking, or knitting, or at work, or watching Rescue Me, I'm making jewelry. So far: a brooch, a ring, three pairs of earrings, and a bracelet and three pendants in progress. The bracelet...has been challenging. I guess it's my lot in life to embark on a project so far outside my league. It applies to work (that story is for another post) and jewelry. On the other hand, "it's a great learning opportunity." Harumph.

For the record, I'm not a project manager, as in: I hate doing project management. Which doesn't mean I don't like working on projects. Don't confuse that with outlining the steps of a small crafty project. And in the realm of jewelry projects, this is kind of detailed. But there's no comparison. The latter (outlining steps for a small crafty project) is infinitely more palatable. And you know what? People make assumptions. "Oh, you can do that? You must be a really good project manager. Hey, here's one for you..." Buyer beware! Don't let them label you as a "project manager" no matter how thrilling it might sound, or how much more money you might make.

But I digress. And I'll probably just lift that entire paragraph as the lead to my rant post about project management. But that's Not This Post.

This is the bracelet. 10 stations for 5 stones and 5 mixed media resin pieces, one box station, and one box clasp. 12 hinge pins for 12 hinges comprised of 36 independently soldered tubes. Yes, you are supposed to say "holy shit!" to the business about the tubes. Was it a pain in the ass? Most definitely. Would I do it differently? Probably not, but I'd use different fire. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last summer I picked up a back issue of Jewelry Artist magazine. I ordered it because on the cover was the most beautiful hinged bracelet. Over and above the fact that I thought the construction and choice of colorful quartz was gorgeous, I'm a sucker for hinges in jewelry. Hinges provide nifty kinetic opportunities. Hinges are also impressive, but that wasn't a driver. They are just cool. Like jazz. Cool. Dig?

So I says "Hey, Barbara." Barbara, wonderful Barbara, is my silver jewelry master/guide/yogi/instructor/mentor. "I want to make something like this."

Barbara says, "Okay." Silly Barbara.

I have three square pieces of some kind of jasper Kent brought back from MIT. Two pieces of rectangular apatite that I picked up at a local bead store. Visions of interesting resin-with-embedded-pieces dancing in my head, a la found object art. Some wood bits with polka dots in a color that goes with the jasper and apatite.

There is lively and repeated discussion in the Ganoksin forums about whether to design around a stone, or design around an idea. My personal opinion is that...it depends. In my limited experience as a jewelry designer (dare I call myself that? so presumptuous!) I've done both. The bracelet was designed around an idea, and I refined it based on what I had in my stone collection. The brooch was designed around an idea, and I found The pearl earrings were about trying a technique, the "messy bulky wrapped loop," technique, and then I chose the stones. The chandelier earrings were designed around the red beads in a beading class. A pendant was designed around two stones that look good together. Another pendant was designed for some extra pieces of silver I had lying around and a nearby stone that looked like it belonged, although it began with a circle of square wire that was waiting for a purpose. Another pendant was designed to experiment setting stick pearls. but you could make an argument that I designed around the stones and mixed media because I didn't formally draft the design until I had those in the right order. Hmph.

In other words, the chicken and the egg mysteriously occur ed simultaneously and any attempt to determine which came first just takes all the fun out of it. There is something to be said for those who enjoy the debate. Kent.

  1. Gathering the requirements/technical specifications, in which our hero measures her wrist, the stones, determines which tube thickness looks best, and what type of clasp will be used.
  2. High level design (HLD), in which we make a pencil drawing using the specifications and ask the all important question: does it work? does it look good? are the pieces in a pleasing order, and answer the question: are you sure you want the bracelet to be this long? (Answer: yes, I like my bracelets loose, and it matches the length of another favorite bracelet.)
  3. Low level design (LDL), in which we figure out how much silver we need, how tall the bezels should be, does Barbara have right sized tubing or do I need to purchase from Rio Grande, what gauge to use for the bezel backs, gauge for the hinge pins, how to approach the actual build, and again answer the question: do you want the bracelet this long? It seems really long. (Answer: my wrists are big and I like my bracelets loose. It matches the length of another favorite bracelet.)
  4. Build, in which our hero begins the tedious process of measuring, sawing, soldering, resoldering, resoldering, fussing with her creme brulee torch (and which we eventually discover is completely inadequate for this kind of fine detail work).
Build is taking a looooong time, because every time I get to the stage where I am doing the rough polish I have to boomerang back to build because a hinge snapped. Over and over and over and over. And I stopped doing some of the work at home because I got busy with other things and unenergized about the whole thing.

Then I got energized again, and it broke. During the build stage, The Bracelet has popped apart many times. A bezel popped off when I started setting the first stone. Ah the joys of learning to make complicated jewelry. It doesn't LOOK like it should be complicated. Stations and hinges and a clasp. What's the big deal?

Sunday, May 17, 2009


This was an awful week in the world of Me. Primarily work-awful, but allergy/sinus infection/head cold awful, too. But instead of spending my time venting, I thought instead I'd share my Enchilada recipe, and along the way maybe some of the vent will...vent.

Triplet update: All is well, all is normal. Nicole is cranky, Nick is excited, I'm bored knitting baby things after only three little hats and three sockies. End of July is the expectated due date. The babies are fraternal, not identical, and one of the girls has Mom's name as her middle name.

Red Chicken Enchiladas
This is a medium-hot to hot enchilada dish. You can make it more or less spicy by adjusting the mix of enchilada sauce and adding or eliminating jalapenos. A little chipotle sauce sprinkled on top of the sour cream when you serve adds an interesting smokey note. We use B├║falo Chipotle.

This recipe began almost 19 years ago, right after Kent and I were married. We had gobs of leftover champagne from the wedding, and we were in the mood for Mexican...enchiladas, specifically. We boiled chicken breasts in champagne and allspice, and used that in the enchiladas. The recipe hasn't changed much since then, but it is really based on a recipe I received from my mom for white chicken enchiladas. I don't think this bears much resemblance to her original recipe, or if she even remembers it, but I speak the truth. I seam to recall thinking "roux? eewwww, I think I'll just substitute red enchilada sauce." Mom will deny all of it. She now has a wonderful enchilada recipe from my brother which is similar in spirit if not in specifics to mine. We both created our recipes independently of one another. Must be genetic.

We buy a better champagne these days and prefer to drink it rather than use it to boil chicken. Although if it goes flat...

  • 3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boiled, baked, or somehow cooked, your choice.
    (or one of those deli-rotisseried chickens)

    (or deli-rotisseried turkey)

    (or leftover baked chicken)
    (or a combination of any of the above)

    *the pictures show the turkey option
  • 1 cereal bowl of shredded white cheese
    Think monterey jack or Oaxaca quesadilla cheese. Mozzarella is a little too rubbery and mild for this. The Oaxaca is a little saltier than mozzarella, and shreds beautifully, and jack is a good old stand-by. Pepper jack would be interesting.
  • 1 cereal bowl of shredded cheddar - we use our store-brand sharp cheddar
    If you want really cheesy, double these amounts
  • 1 cereal bowl of chopped not-green bell peppers
  • 3 fresh green onions, chopped (or one small onion, chopped and sauteed)
  • 2 or 3 fresh jalapeno peppers, finely diced
  • 2 10-oz can regular/mild enchilada sauce
  • 2 10-oz can hot enchilada sauce
  • 1 pack of a 12 to 20 medium-sized flour tortillas
    not the super-ginormous ones, you know what I'm talking about.
  • Sour cream, salsa, and more chopped green onions as toppings

  • One 13x9 glass baking dish and, possibly, one 9x9 glass baking dish.
    The tortillas fit perfectly side by side like little soldiers in the Pyrex dishes. Whether you use one or two depends on how much meat you have. A rotisseried turkey yeilded enough for one 13x9 pan of enchiladas. You'd probably need two rotisseried chickens (they're pretty puny, yes?). With four chicken breasts, we always used the 13x9 plus the 9x9.
Get your chicken cooked up, removed from it's bones, shredded or chopped, whichever is appropriate. I like chopped because I get a cleaner bite when I stick my fork into the cooked enchilada. If you don't like getting shredded poultry in your teeth, go with chopped. If you really dig the acting of using two forks to shred up the bird (and I know those who do), then knock yourself out! Put the chopped or shredded chicken into a large bowl.

Chop up your bell peppers, onion (we used sauteed white onion in this photo), and jalapeno, and dump it all into the bowl with the chicken. Shred the cheeses and put most of that into the bowl. Reserve a large handful of mixed cheeses to sprinkle over the top. If you are using green onions, reserve a couple tablespoons of that to sprinkle over the top, too.

Everything should be in your big bowl, so use your hands or a big wooden spoon or some implement and fold the ingredients together so everything appears to be well distributed. This is now called The Filling.

Open the cans of enchilada sauce and mix them together. I use a 4-cup glass measure because it has a spout. Lightly oil the glass baking dish(es) (yes, Pam and it's type work fine) and pour a just enough sauce in to coat. Tilt the pan around so the sauce clings to the bottom and sides. It helps extract the enchiladas when it's time to serve.

Stir a little enchilada sauce, say no more than 1/2 cup, into the big bowl of The Filling. Hands, big spoon, tossing in the air (dangerous but also effective), whatever stirring method floats your boat. The purpose of the sauce in The Filling is to bind it together some while you are getting it into the tortilla.

Remove the flour tortillas and heat them.

There are several different ways to heat up these tortillas. The objective is to soften them so they don't crack when you roll 'em around the filling. My favorite way, time consuming though it is, is to cook them over a flame. No pan needed. This works best with a gas burner, and you just gently and slowly flip the tortillas back and forth over the flame. It cooks the floury taste out and warms them up nicely. These don't need to be COOKED and charred up, just warmed. Don't go nuts. However, the fast trick is to wrap the stack of tortillas in a barely damp towel, and zap them for a minute (on high) in the microwave. Or wrap them in aluminum foil and keep them warm in the oven. It isn't as culinarily romantic but it's effective. My heart thinks the stove-top cooked ones taste better but I'm probably wrong. Warning: don't do this with an electric stove top or a glass/ceramic/smooth-top stove top. You have to have the heat up a little higher to achieve the same end and they are likely to stick if you aren't careful. Trust me on this. And anyway it's still just not the same.

Okay. Now you have warmed your tortillas in some wonderful romantic or wonderfully efficient way, and you need to set up a little assembly line. I go from right to left: bowl of The Filling, my stack of tortillas, my empty pan(s), and a big spoon.

Take off your jewelry, this can be messy. I like to use one of those big soup spoons, or a small serving spoon to do this. Scoop a couple of spoons of filling into the center of the tortilla. Carefully roll up the tortilla and place it seam-side-down into the baking pan. Keep doing this until the pan is full. If you have extra tortillas and extra filling, use the 9x9 dish.
**If you have leftover tortillas but no leftover filling, save them for quesadillas or make your own chips.
**If you have extra filling but no extra tortillas, this stuff is great on these grilled nachos. I give them 5 stars.

All the tortillas are panned up; pour the remainder of your sauce over them to coat. Use a spoon to spread it around. The edges of the tortillas need to be coated or they get hard and crunchy. Unless you like that :) Live dangerously. Sprinkle the reserved cheese and green onions over the top.

< Kent's two cents worth.

Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is nice and bubbly and the enchiladas are heated through. Remove and let rest for five minutes or so while you get out condiments.

Enchiladas, cooked, having a rest >

I recommend sour cream, a fresh chunky salsa, maybe a few more green onions. Black olives are tasty, too.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Tre Bambini

This is what Tasha does when she wants something. Will you look at that sad little face? "Erin, I'm a starving little dog! When will you ever feed me?"


Well, Mom's been wondering when I was going to "put pen to paper" on this topic. Kent and I are expectant grandparents of triplets!!!!!!!! Oh, you want proof you say? well, check this out:

triplets ultrasound.jpg

Count 'em: Baby A (Boy), Baby B (Girl), and Baby C (Girl). I think that's how it worked out.

Nicole is five months preggers and is as big as a house (must have picture, that front porch is really something) and carrying like she's going to deliver any day. Nick says it's all baby weight, except for that front porch I mentioned.

I'm the Knittin' Grammy (much better than Gramma and I need to distinguish myself - Nicole's mother can be Gramma). For my part, I've bought baby clothes for a boy and two girls, knit three preemie beanies, and am working on a little sweater for when someone gets to about 6 months. Everything was always way too big for either of the boys when they were little, and they were kinda little when they were little. The sweater looks ginormous compared to what I THINK should be the right size, but I'm just going with it. Blankies? No, I'm not knitting any blankies. Not yet anyway. Heck, I'd have to knit three. That's a lot of blankies. No, I'm interested in sticking with quick projects.

Yeah, yeah, I know the arguments. "Well, knitting a blankie is fast, it can just be garter stitch with a border. You can crank it right out." How boring is that? It just isn't for those of us with a short attention span. I can be fairly tenacious with more complex items. They are interesting. They hold my attention. If you go out to Ravelry and look me up (erinkristi, but I guess you have to have an account to do that...Flickr has a Knits folder that has all the photos I post to Ravelry), and look at my projects, you'll see this lovely black sweater in stockinette. Gorgeous, yummy Jaeger Extra Fine Merino...it's a UFO.

For the uninitiated, non-knitting readers: UFO is, in knitting parlance "UnFinished Object." It's surprisingly apt.

Anyway, the purple and white striped sweater could work for any of them, but it's going to scream "girlie" after I add the pink and yellow doo-dads. After the sweater are some booties, then another sweater, then more little sockies, then another sweater. The bambini will probably birth sometime during the latter part of the second sweater (at least I didn't call it a "sweatie") or the beginning of the second set of socks.

This weekend I'm buying diapers at Costco.

I don't know when Nicole's baby shower is. Lester (one of Nick's friends) told Nick that Nick will have to be "Nicole's bitch" during the baby shower. I told Nick I thought Lester was pulling his leg. Lester is a sweet guy, and at the top of our list of Nick's Friends We Really Like. Lester has a bit of a sense of humor, and it's quite possible that he's pulling Nick's leg right out of it's socket. But then, it's been a very long time since I've been involved in any baby showers, so maybe that's the way it is these days. The Funky Stork has a cute article about having a celebration for the expectant dad. Actually, it's a cool site and all about the Dad part of having a baby. Their logo is especially slick, and the whole place is very Manly Man. They don't mention a thing about the dad being the mom's bitch during the shower ;)

I tagged this as photography, too, because I hate how my photos of yarn and projects turned out! ugh! Did I forget all my skills? Does my lighting suck? Well, the lighting clearly does suck, and I tried to fix it using a low-end image editing tool (stoooopid). It's not the fault of the image editing tool. IrfanView, which is my absolute favorite quick image editing tool for tasks that don't require Photoshop, doesn't do the kind of heavy lifting that these photos required. I use IrfanView for cropping, sizing, lite editing, and viewing all manner of weird image formats because it's very fast. Small application footprint. BUT: don't give it images whose white balance so screwed up that new images are required. I think that's where we are with these. Shame, too, because I spent quality time on that activity. There are few things on which I'm willing to perform this level of rework. My photography of my yarn. No, I just can't let it go. This is a problem of Erin versus The Flash. I will win.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Yes, we have no snowbrerro

The weather outside was frightful...when we were at my mother's in Silverdale over the Christmas holiday. Kent identified the snowbrero, a round patio table with a round planter in the middle of it. Covered in snow, it resembled a sombrero, just in case you didn't guess that.

I brought this up because I was reminded of it when it snowed around early March in Norfolk. Of course it didn't last long, but it was about the only snow we saw around here and it's, ahem, exciting when it happens. So anyway, I had started this post at that time...well...it was a diversion. More important things have come up in the meantime...to be continued!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Old House, This

If you ever again hear the words"We're buying a fixer-upper" come out of my mouth, take me out back and shoot me because clearly I've lost my grip on reality. It seems like just when we're ready to make an improvement, something breaks and we end up spending money on that broken thing, and the improvement is delayed once again.

No, no, nothing major happened. It was just a small sequence of events in a 100-yr old house. The the two-year-old dishwasher died...again. A year ago the motor had to be replaced. Under warranty. Now it's the "harness assembly." Not under warranty. A basement drain backed up. This happens when the wind blows from just the right direction, pushing the bay and it's tributaries inland, which makes it harder for the runoff to drain properly. A new pump station was installed a few blocks away but the problem has actually gotten worse. These events have all come together at the same time, but I don't know if they are causal. In any case, I did a load of laundry yesterday and there's rinse water all over my basement floor. I was reminded of this awful cycle of horrors. Houses always cost so much more to maintain than I expect in both time and money. Makes condo living look veeerrrrrry attractive.

Okay, the dishwasher wasn't part of the "old house" thing, but still...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One Year Later...

Yes, it's been nearly a year since I posted a blog entry. I feel I've lost a certain anonymity that I prized for so long. Is the time for anonymity gone, and am I being completely unrealistic? Probably. Maybe I don't know how to be who I am online. And yet it feels pretty good to lay down some words and walk away.

In other words, I'm ambivelent about this entire blogging thing. And maybe that's exactly who I am and I just don't need to apologize for that. An epiphany a day it good for the soul.

Much Ado About No Snowthing. We were scheduled to get 2-5" of snow yesterday. It stopped in Raleigh and then went out to sea. I know the state border is a virtual boundary but you'd think it was physical the way the storm just bumped along it. All the schools were closed. City services were closed. Many people got a four-day weekend out of it. To this storms credit, about twenty-three snowflakes fell in the driveway. Can you have snow that is less than flurries? We did. For five minutes. The 2009 Blizzard That Wasn't.

Compare that to the fourteen inches of snow we got over Christmas at Mom's house.

MANY projects underway. Two pairs of knitted socks, two knitted hats, a 10-link bracelet, three pendants. Not much photography at the moment but I think that'll be picking up a little. I'll at least photograph my projects.