Archive for the 'blog' Category


My brain hurts

We just got home after a long weekend (we left Friday afternoon) visiting my parents in Illinois.

I checked e-mail twice while I was there–just popping in quickly to see if there were any fires to put out. (There weren’t. Whew!) So now I am tending to the unread and the deal-with-it-later e-mails I have.

I haven’t checked my Google Reader since last Thursday evening, though. I just opened it up on a separate tab (three cheers for tabbed browsing!) and as soon as I saw “All items (501)” my eyes sort of glazed over. Yes, that’s five hundred and one new posts. I’m a little scared to return to that tab to start the process of getting caught up on things.

How will I tackle this? To paraphrase Anne Lamott, I’ll just take it blog by blog.


And the winner is…

Twelve people entered my blog-birthday contest, which asked entrants to name the three things they’d take with them to a desert island (and explain why).

In spite of some similarities (many said they’d bring an Internet-connected computer–who needs to bring a boat to use to get off the island when you’ve got e-mail and blogs to keep up with, right?), there was a lot of variety in the responses. Food items such as coffee and good wine made it to the list, as did spouses, children, and pets. Some people thought in terms of basic survival (Leatherman tool, anyone?), and the knitters all put yarn on their lists (though one declared that he wouldn’t need to bring needles because he’d make his own from twigs–talk about resourceful!).

I posted my own answers, too, and briefly considered making those items the prize package for this contest. But a solar-powered computer was way out of my budget, and tastes in yarn vary wildly (and not all entrants are yarnophiles). And Chuck Norris said he was too busy.

pa017357prize.jpgSo I opted for stuff that I think would be nice to have on a desert island but didn’t necessarily make my list. (Come on, it’s hard to top a computer, yarn, and Chuck Norris, you know?)

Reading material: The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jean Giono. (And I’m delighted that the end of this contest coincides with Buy a Friend a Book Week. Hooray!)

Sustenance: Cherry Moon Green Tea (mildly caffeinated, so you can be alert when the rescuers arrive!), and chocolate from Iceland’s Nói Siríus’

Skin care: Pure shea butter soap from the Out of Africa project (the soap is handmade by women’s cooperatives in Benin, West Africa, and a portion of the price helps fund children’s education in Benin), and all-natural lip balm (with “NO FAKE CRAP” on the label–love it!)

Optimism: An affirmation ball (because when you’re marooned on a desert island, more than ever you need to be told nice things like “You smell nice” and “You rock!”)

pa017353winner.jpgIt took some coaxing, but I managed to get Sylvia to draw a name from the hat, er, mixing bowl. The winner is Jennu!

Thanks, everyone, for playing! I really had a fun time running this contest and seeing what sorts of things people came up with. I can definitely see another contest in my future. Soon. Stay tuned.


My desert island companions

I figured that, in all fairness, I ought to answer the question I’m asking the rest of you to answer.

I’ve given this a lot of thought. I’ve opted not to bring any family members (human or feline) with me. They probably wouldn’t enjoy it there, and I figure someone needs to be coordinating rescue efforts to find me. (Here’s hoping it’s the humans and not the cats who are in charge of this…)

So here’s my list:

  1. A solar-powered computer (maybe something like this) connected to the Internet via satellite broadband. This will provide a ton of information, music, video, and communication to keep my brain from turning to mush. Plus when I finally do get rescued, I’ll already be current on who’s president and what wars he or she has started in far-off oil-rich regions since taking office.
  2. As much yarn as possible. And maybe spinning equipment, so I can turn coconut fibers and stuff into more yarn when my original stash is exhausted. Assuming I can teach myself how to spin, of course.
  3. Chuck Norris. No, not for any prurient reason. The way I see it, anyone this tough should have no trouble figuring out how to survive on a desert island.

If you’d like to join in the fun, go here to read the details of this contest. Be sure to put your comments after that post (not this one) so I can find them. The winner will be chosen at the end of this month!


Comfort food

Today’s Booking through Thursday:

Okay . . . picture this (really) worst-case scenario: It’s cold and raining, your boyfriend/girlfriend has just dumped you, you’ve just been fired, the pile of unpaid bills is sky-high, your beloved pet has recently died, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. All you want to do (other than hiding under the covers) is to curl up with a good book, something warm and comforting that will make you feel better.

What do you read?

(Funny that this turns up on Booking through Thursday just days after I posted about my blog-birthday contest, which has a similar “what would you pick when you can choose only a few things?” theme.)

For comfort reading, I would probably turn to The Fellowship of the Ring trilogy, which I’ve read a gazillion times. It’s a black-and-white world with no moral ambiguity. The good guys get to be heroes, and the bad guys get their just desserts. It’s a feel-good, happy ending. Well, until you get to the part where Frodo is miserable and still in pain years after the ring is destroyed. Maybe I’d just stop with the scourging of the Shire.

This reading would, of course, be accompanied by my favorite nonliterary comfort food: instant macaroni-and-cheese (yes, with the packet of cheese powder)–eaten straight out of the pot. (Because I know I’m going to eat all of it anyway, so why dirty up another dish that needs to be cleaned, right?)

Hard to believe but true: today marks the second birthday of this blog. Wow.

When I started this blog two years ago, it was a place for notes and photos of my knitting projects. For a long time, that’s pretty much all I wrote about. But gradually, the scope of this blog expanded, and I found myself talking about religion, electricity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, food, and even the Hoff. And knitting, too.

It’s amazing how blogs facilitate a certain type of communication. Through the blogosphere, I’ve encountered lots of people I never would have met otherwise, and some of them have even become friends. I’ve gotten to know some real-life friends better (both through their comments here and through their own blogs), and I’ve renewed contact with people I haven’t seen in years who happened to stumble upon this blog.

In the last two years, I’ve switched from Blogger to WordPress (and never looked back!), changed the name of this blog, written lots of posts (this one is #300, in fact!), and even gotten my own domain for this blog. A celebration of sorts seems in order, both to say “Happy birthday!” to this blog and to thank everyone who’s stopped by and joined in the conversation here.

A contest!

I thought about asking people to write about why they blog or why they read blogs, but that’s already been done before in many other places. Besides, everyone generally come up with the same answers to that question.

My most recent food post, with its mention of one particular cookbook as being desert-island-worthy, inspired the question I do want to ask all of you: What three things would you take to a desert island with you, and why?

If you have a blog, post your answer there (with a link here) and let me know in the comments here that you’ve done so. (Between the comments and trackbacks, I’ll be able to find your response.) If you don’t have a blog, just post your answer in the comments here. In either case, make sure I have your e-mail address.

Participants’ names will be written on pieces of paper (if your answer especially strikes my fancy, you’ll get your name on two pieces of paper–whoo!), and on the last day of this month my two-year-old daughter will pick one piece of paper out of a hat (or a bag or a box or a bucket or whatever I can find that day).

The winner will get eternal glory (yes, that’s right, eternal–remember, everything that appears on the Internet never completely disappears!) as well as a box of goodies via good ol’ snail mail. I won’t specify the contents in advance, since they’ll depend a bit on who the winner is (e.g., a knitter will get some knitterly goodness, whereas a non-knitter, um, won’t), but they’ll definitely include stuff that would be pretty nice to have on a desert island.

Anyone can chime in on this topic–knitters, non-knitters, old friends, new friends, people who’ve stumbled across this blog for the first time. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!


Home again, home again, jiggity jig

I’ve just returned from a two-week vacation in Vermont, which is one of my favorite places on the planet. There were  hikes in the woods, a friendly white chicken, wild raspberries picked on the trail, a mountain pond, shooting stars, the best sweet corn I’ve ever eaten, and so much more. And yarn. Yes, there was yarn, too.

We’ve got most of the unpacking done, but I’ve only just begun to get caught up in my electronic life. I have e-mail to go through (I checked it several times while I was away, but somehow a truckload of e-mail decided to arrive in my mailbox since I last checked it a few days ago) , my Google Reader to browse, and about a gazillion photos to download and sort.  It’ll take me a few days to get situated, and then you’ll all be regaled with tales of my northern adventures.

My local post office held my (snail) mail while I was gone, and for some reason I can’t quite explain, when I put in the hold request I told them not to deliver it until tomorrow. I think my brain temporarily went on vacation before the rest of me did. I know there’s a Dishcloth Swap package in there (my swap pal mailed it a few days before I left, so I just missed it!), and I think Gnorm from the Knitting Gnome Swap is in there, too. So I just want to let those senders know that I’ll post about those packages within the next couple of days.

Oh–and Secret Pal 11 started while I was gone, too (just a few days ago). So hello to my SP11 pal, too!


Good karma

That is, Good Yarn Karma, a blog where people post about the yarn, needles, books, magazines, and other knitting/crochet-related items that they want to give away.

Most items are listed as “free to a good home,” often with the stipulation that the recipient pay postage (though sometimes the giver will offer to cover domestic postage). Some items are listed as “for trade,” with particular sought-after items listed.

Is your yarn stash threatening to get its own zip code? When you rifle through it, do you encounter yarn that is so not your cup of tea that you’re pretty sure you must have been on a bender when you ordered it? Do you have a leftover skein or ball from a project and have no idea what to do with it? Do you want to rack up some good karma?

If you answer any of these questions in the affirmative, do check out the Good Karma Blog. I haven’t participated in it myself yet, but it’s been interesting to see what sorts of things are offered. And no, it’s not all out-of-style or cheap yarn–there is a lot of very nice stuff on there, too. I’m always a bit astonished to see someone giving away high-end yarn, but then I figure they’re looking to spread some yarn love. Nice!


Summertime culinary adventures

p7115528.jpgThe veggie-loving part of me loves this time of year, when farmer’s markets and roadside produce stands are teeming with red ripe tomatoes, fragrant basil, and all sorts of late-summer goodies. Today I was determined to take advantage of this bounty, and resolved to do sometime that involved both my home-grown green beans and basil (not my own, alas–my basil hasn’t flourished this year). Here’s the result.

“Spicy Tofu with Thai Basil and Coconut Rice Cakes,” from Vegetarian Suppers, by Deborah Madison.

  • I used regular basil (which is what I had on hand) instead of Thai basil.
  • I put no heat in the tofu (we do encourage Sylvia to try mildly spicy things every once in a while, but for this dish it was easy enough to offer sambal on the side).
  • I did not let the coconut rice cool to room temperature, cut it into slabs, then pan fry the slabs. I’ve done that before–and it’s quite delicious,–but I didn’t have time for that today. Instead I used a tool that I bought several years ago yet hadn’t used until today: one of those metal rings to mold food. Pretty much every chef on the original (Japanese) Iron Chef series used a ring for at least one dish in each “battle”–that’s where I first saw them and thought, “I must have one of these things!” Well, I bought one, and it sat buried in a drawer of kitchen gadgets (e.g., melon ballers, can opener, tea egg, tiny ladles). I used it to mold the rice on the plate, and though I didn’t get the tidiest result (probably because I didn’t pack the rice in firmly enough), I think the result looks nice.

Green bean and carrots with walnuts, sunflower seeds, and dresssing

  • The green beans are from my garden; the carrots are not. I blanched them for about four minutes.
  • The dressing is “Asian Miracle Dressing,” from Vegan Lunch Box, by Jennifer McCann. I’ve been reading McCann’s Vegan Lunch Box blog for over a year now, and when she published a book of recipes recently I had to get it. It’s a terrific book, suitable for anyone regardless of his or her (non)vegetarian orientation. She’s published some recipes at the main blog and others at a recipe-specific blog, but most of them are available only in the book. This one is online, though, so you can try it yourself. I think it’s excellent and will probably be using it on most fresh vegetables and salads for the next several months.

The toy sheep was provided by Sylvia. She insisted that it go in that exact spot on the table, right next to the plate. Who am I to argue with that?



Today’s Booking through Thursday:

What’s the most desperate thing you’ve read because it was the only available reading material?

If it was longer than a cereal box or an advertisement, did it turn out to be worth your while?

I have read a lot of cereal boxes in my life. Way too many. And yogurt cups and juice bottles and candy-bar wrappers…

The most desperate thing I’ve ever read is the safety manual in the pocket of an airline seat. Normally, this is considered mind-numbingly dull literature. But I’m one of those people who gets nervous on flights. To me a patch of turbulence is a sure sign that death is imminent–or at least a very good possibility. I look out the window, notice a bolt on one of the wing flaps, and start wondering what will happen if it comes loose. So the one time I read the safety manual (with all the vague illustrations of water landings and inflatable emergency slides and tentacled breathing apparatus dangling from the ceiling) I did not particularly enjoy that flight.

Needless to say, when traveling now I am always sure to bring reading material with me. And backup reading material, in case I finish the first batch.


I rock. On toast.

rockingirlbutton.jpgThe very excellent Mei has named me a Rockin’ Girl Blogger, and now it’s my solemn duty to pass it on to five other people.

  • Katie, at Maylee Beezir, who is a fellow knitter, a fellow Whedonophile, and one of the nicest people I have ever known. She’s my favorite person to go to Target with. :)
  • Beth, at knitsmitten, who is a fellow knitter, a fellow outdoors enthusiast, and one of the nicest people I have ever known. She also gave me a chunk of her mint plant, for which my mohito-loving husband is very grateful.
  • Gina, at the Mirthful Menagerie, who is a fellow knitter, a fellow cat lover (she has five–all rescue cats!), and one of the nicest people I have ever known.) She also writes some of the most gut-bustingly funny posts I’ve ever read.

(Do you see a theme here? I am very lucky to know so many really nice people!)

  • Pixie, at My Obsession with Fiber, who was my SP10 spoiler and did such a great job of choosing wonderful gifts for me. She’s been a fantastic correspondent, too!
  • Knittymama, my SP10 spoilee with whom I have an uncanny amount in common. Both of us are vegetarians. Both of us use the same cloth diapers for our kids (well, not the exact same ones, since our kids each have their own sets–just trying to nip in the bud any literal interpretations out there). Both of us own omops. (If she tells me that she wrote in Ralph Nader on her 1996 ballot, I think I will pass out from disbelief.)
  • Arianna, at *stars upon thars*, who was my SP8 spoilee and has so many interests (knitting, social activism, literature) that I’m amazed she has time to breathe. Plus she worked on Lord of the Rings Online, so she also rocks for geekery.
  • Lynnette, at Linnet’s Nest, who was my SP9 spoiler and sent me all sorts of interesting stuff (including a ball of yarn made of pineapple fiber!). She also just put up a post that includes the phrase “farting poodle,” so she definitely rocks for that.
  • JD, at jean.e.ology, who is a fellow knitter and writes amazingly thoughtful posts. We met when I stumbled across her blog and saw a recent post in which she offered to give away two extra issues of Interweave Knits that she had. She also rocks for having one of the coolest blog names I’ve ever seen.
  • Imperatrix, at Peaceable Imperatrix, who is a fellow knitter and a fellow wordsmith. She gets outraged about the same sorts of things that tick me off too, but she’s much more articulate than I am about them.

Okay, okay, so I’ve listed nine people, not five. Math was never my strong suit. Besides, since I rock (on toast) I should be able to make up my own rules.

(The toast reference? It’s something very geeky that Jan and I say when we really want to emphasize the awesomeness of something. Example: Sylvia has just gone to sleep for the night, and we’re feeling all mushy-lovey about her. “Sylvia rocks…on toast.” Rockin’ without toast is pretty good. But rockin’ with toast is even better.)

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