Sunday, April 06, 2014

Basic Easter Egg Knit Pattern

All of our Easter decorations are a little too fragile for Meri and Audrey to play with.  Audrey can help me put up the Easter tree, but since many of the ornaments are glass, I then put the tree up high.  Lately, I have been thinking about knitting up a few eggs for the girls to play with.  They loved to throw the knitted ornaments about when I made those, so I figured eggs would be just as fun.

The first egg I made using some cheap acrylic yarn.  I bought it for the girls at Walmart because they *loved* the color and begged me to get it.  I figured it would be a great way to let them play with yarn and not mess with my fancy yarn.  So far, I have used it to make a heart garland for Audrey's bed for Valentine's Day.  I let the girls make necklaces using this yarn and various cereals (cheerios, fruit loops, apple jacks), they both like to "knit" (make knots in yarn with needles), and generally tie their toys up and drag them about the house.  

Back the eggs, I made an egg out of this yarn because I knew the girls would love a hot pink egg.  Even though I did not really enjoy working with this yarn, I will probably make another one, because they really do love it.  I found myself wishing that I had other colors of acrylic so that I could do a little fair isle into the egg...

I also pillaged my cotton yarn supply.  I have a weakness for cotton yarn.  I love homemade dishcloths, so whenever I see a cool colorway for a dollar or two, I just grab it.  At least I used to, until I realized I had an entire large tub full of cotton yarn...  So I started raided the cotton yarns stash and grabbed bright spring colors.  I love the way these eggs are so bright and colorful with the variegated cottons.


Basic Knit Eggs
Yarn: worsted weight
Needle: size 4 DPNs - 4 needles

Abreviations:
k: knit
k2tog: knit 2 together
kfb: knit front and back of the same stitch
ssk: slip, slip, knit together the slip stitches through the back
st: stitch(es)

Directions are the same for each needle, the instructions are given per needle.

Cast on 12 stitches using long-tail cast-on method.  Being careful not to twist the stitches, spread the stitches over 3 needles (4 st per needle) and join.

Bottom of the egg
Row 1: k
Row 2: kfb, k, kfb, k (6 st)
Row 3: k
Row 4: kfb, k3, kfb, k (8 st)
Row 5: k
Row 6: kfb, k5, kfb, k (10 st)
Row 7: k
Row 8: kfb, k7, kfb, k (12 st)

Body of the egg
Knit in the round for 12 rows

Top of the egg
Row 1: k, ssk, k6, k2tog, k (10 st)
Row 2-3: k
Row 4: k, ssk, k4, k2tog, k (8 st)
Row 5-6: k
Row 7: k, ssk, k2, k2tog, k (6 st)
Row 8-9: k
Row 10: k, ssk, k2tog, k (4 st)
Row 11: k, ssk, k (3 st)

Cut yarn and pull through the remaining 9 stitches as if to knit.  Secure the yarn and pull the end into the egg.

Stuff the egg with fluff from the bottom.  Using the rest of the cast on tail catch the end of each stitch and pull it tight.  Secure the yarn and pull the end into the egg, trimming as necessary.

Variations:
 - The main body of the egg is just begging for a bit of color work.  I would love to do some little flowers or animals - a bunny or chick - something in the main body with fair isle.
- Sock yarn and size 0 needles would be really neat for smaller eggs.




Thursday, April 03, 2014

Sticky situation

Everyday when I go down stairs to the first level of our three level townhouse, Meri goes with me and plays in the playroom there.  The first level is basically one big open room and we turned it into a playroom for the girls, so they have toys and craft stuff accessible.  The laundry room is like a closet on one side of the big playroom.  I always leave the door open and I can hear her playing but I can't see her.

Today I was showing Audrey how to do laundry and Meri was playing as usual.  While Audrey was putting the detergent in, I peeked in on Meri. She was just closing a craft drawer and said to me, I all done.  So I asked her what she was "all done" with.  She said she was all done with her makeup.  So I looked in the drawer and saw a glue stick on top with the lid on very loosely and picked it up and asked her if this was her makeup.  She said, yes and showed me where she put it - all over her little face.  Then I asked if she puts on her makeup whenever I do laundry and she said, yes.

This explains so much.  Lately, she has had particularly sticky cheeks and chin.  I thought she was wiping her nose onto her cheeks and I have been following her with tissues in hand for weeks.  She also has been getting little pimples on her cheeks and her chin.  Ryan thought it was just food on her cheeks or that she had a skin condition.  What a cute little sneaky stinker.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Camping

As a kid went camping a lot.  We went as a family usually at least once a year, the church had family camp overnight camps that we always attended, there was a week long camp every year with the other girls in church once I hit 12, and then in high-school and college I occasionally went camping with friends.

I liked it until I hurt my back half-way through college.  After that sleeping on the ground lost its luster.  However, lately, I have been thinking about camping again.  I cannot think of a better nights sleep than when I have been camping.  I love looking at the stars, singing by the camp fire, cooking camp food, hiking, etc.

This year, I have decided, I am going to take Audrey camping.  I think she is old enough and so I am going to do a mama/daughter camping trip this summer.  In preparation, I got a sleeping pad that self-inflates.  I already own a sleeping bag and I think we can borrow a tent.  She and I have been talking about it and we are both super excited to try it.

Any of you expert campers out there, do you have any recommendations for taking a kid camping for the first time.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Grilled cheese and tomato soup

The other day I made grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner.  This is a fairly common dinner for us, we have it every few weeks.  I always make the soup from scratch and it is super easy.  I just saute an onion in some olive oil until it is soft, add some garlic, lots of basil, salt, and a couple cans (or a quart of home canned) of diced tomatoes (I like the Costco brand organic ones, when I don't get around to canning my own).  I throw the whole batch into my blender, return it to the pan, bring it to a boil and add a bit of cream at the end to round out the tangy deliciousness.

I love all things southwestern so one day when we were out of bread, I decided to make a southwestern twist on our usual grilled cheese and tomato basil soup.  So we had quesadillos and southwestern tomato soup, topped with avocado and a dollop of chipotle adobo sauce (I buy cans of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and then I puree them in the blender in the sauce and store it in the fridge, it is our favorite spicy southwestern sauce).

To make my Southwestern version of the creamy tomato soup:
1 medium onion - diced and sauteed until clear or even a bit browned in a bit of olive oil or butter
1 big spoonful of diced garlic
~2 cups of salsa (I used my homemade salsa made with fire-roasted tomatoes and loads of cilantro)
2 small cans or 1 quart of diced tomatoes
pinch of oregano
cumin to taste
sea salt to taste
some cream

I blend all of that except the cream in my blender then put it back on stove to warm up.  I add the cream right before I serve it.  It is awesome the second day.

I love it with the chipotle adobo sauce and avocado slices. Audrey had hers with avocado and fresh cilantro. This is one of the best foods I have ever made and ever consumed.  I enjoyed and savored every single bite.  The creaminess of the avocado in each bite of the spicy warm tomato soup with the cilantro and cumin in there.  So so good.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Something fishy

Yesterday Meri and I went to Costco to grab a few things and saw that they had wild caught Atlantic cod at a good price. I was hoping to find decent fish to eat at some point this week, so that seemed like a good idea.

I consulted "the Google" to find a recipe, since I have never cooked Cod.  I found a recipe for Poached Cod with Cabbage and Peas. That sounded interesting and I happened to have 1/2 a head of cabbage sitting in the fridge with no particular recipe in mind.  While the cabbage and peas were sauteing, I grabbed the package of cod and found...  a worm trying to wiggle its way out of the package.

I am not super squeamish, I worked at a salmon cannery in Alaska one summer for heaven's sake, but I am also not one for feeding my family parasites.  So once again, I consulted "the Google" and learned that the worm in the flesh just meant that it was "fresh" and was not to be worried about in the same way as a hookworm or other intestine bound worm.  I have picked tapeworms out of salmon roe (just part of roe processing), so I know what they look like.  This cod worm was not that type of worm.  So, after a good Google search, I just picked the worm out of the fish, inspected the fish well for any other interesting things, washed it, and cooked it.

The dinner was delicious!  Because of the worm, I probably over poached the fish, it was falling apart when I took it out of the liquid.  Luckily cod is a nice firm fish and the extra cooking just meant a little more time to absorb the yummy poaching liquid.  The recipe called for adding chicken broth and lemon juice to the saute pan (after you remove the cabbage and peas).  I squeezed 1/2 of a fresh lemon into a bit of chicken broth and added a bit of white wine too (a late harvest Riesling).  I served it with a bit of fresh lemon, that was nice to squeeze onto the fish and a bit of the same white wine for the adults.

Poached Cod over sauteed cabbage and peas

Friday, March 21, 2014

Gym fun

While I truly believe that being healthy and fit has very little to do with a gym, I have loved my membership these past few days.

We joined on Tuesday. Wednesday I met with a personal trainer and went through a strength training circuit with her (this was included in the membership).  Thursday after school I took both girls to the daycare and swam laps for the first time in forever.  It turns out that "small" pool felt much larger once I was swimming in it for the first time.  I also forgot some strokes, so I am going to look those up on youtube.  After I felt like I got a good swim, I went and grabbed the girls from the daycare and took them swimming too.  They *loved* it.  Audrey is taking lessons at the rec center on the weekends, so this was awesome to just let her practice a little in such a low-key and fun way.  This morning I tried Zumba for the first time.  It is awesome.  It is everything I ever wanted in a workout class - fun, high-energy, dancing to hip-hop.  I want to do Zumba everyday.

So I told myself that I was going to start out slow, but I have just enjoyed it so much, that I haven't started as slowly as I intended.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Getting Fit

Before I had Meri, I was an exercising fool.  It just felt good both physically and mentally.  I ran (slowly) a couple times a week with my neighbor in the evenings and then I discovered swimming. I took swimming lessons to learn how to lap swim to add a little variety to my fitness.  I wanted to get better at swimming and remember what I was being taught, so I thought I would practice what I was learning once a week in the morning before work.  I enjoyed it so much that I literally woke up at 4:30 am without an alarm clock excited to go to the pool.  Soon I started going just about every morning before work - just because I loved it so much.  

My love for it ended abruptly when a certain sweet baby started pushing on my lungs.  Suddenly it felt really scary to be in a 8 lane 50 meter pool that was 14 feet deep at the deep end and 8 feet deep at the shallow end, while not being able to take a good deep breath.  So I stopped.

But lately, I have been jonesing to swim again. The rec center that I went to is not really very close to my house.  Once I made it there in 17 minutes when I got lucky with the lights at 5 am.  Usually it was closer to 25 minutes.  So I have been looking for other options.  Recently a sport and health club facility opened in the Wegman's complex near my house with a 4 lane 25 meter pool shallow pool (only 4 feet deep). 

Today Meri and I went to check it out and I ended up signing up for a one person membership with the rest of the family getting free memberships for 3 months.  If the whole family actually uses it, we can upgrade to the family plan later.  I am *super* excited about this.   

The pool seems small in comparison to the rec center, but it is also lightly used according to the club.  Lane sharing was a regular sport at the rec center - one that I will not miss. Plus they have family swim time in two of the lanes in the afternoons, so I can take Meri and Audrey.  The club has an amazing daycare with a nanny camera that lets you see what your child is doing from any of the workout machines on a certain channel.  Two hours of daycare is included every day.  Meri went right in so I could take the tour and she didn't want to leave when I was done.

I am also going to try some of the group classes.  Zumba looks like so much fun, so I will definitely do that one and I want to try this crazy bodycombat class that is a mixture of martial arts - sounds interesting.  Unfortunately, the yoga classes are right at Audrey's schools drop off time, so I probably won't get to try those classes until summer.