Sunday, May 31, 2009

This Might Be Why The Economy Sucks

True Story.

I worked in an office of six supervisors with about forty people under them. I was one of the forty and every few months the supervisors would shuffle us around. Of course, this meant we got to learn every sup's style.

Then the technology changed and our supervisor assignments became more permanent. When I learned who my supervisor was going to be, I went home and told the Businessman to knock me up. He obliged and I only had to suffer nine more months with her.


One day, she had a meeting with me because she felt I was the best candidate to "update" our fax cover sheet.

"I just took a class and they said the best ways to get something noticed were large words (I assume she meant font size), logos and color. This has our logo already. Let's make the words bigger and add color."
"Um, it's a fax coversheet."
*blank look* (she was good at those)
"Color might be difficult."
"I know, I thought we could print them on yellow paper and fax them that way."

I'm sure the company got back every penny they invested for that class.

What I He Made:

Yummy was a half day kindergartner and usually ate his lunch at home. The end of year field trip required a sack lunch. The morning of the field trip, I got up and told him I needed to pack a lunch.

"Mom...Hel-lo...I already packed my lunch."

This is what he came up with. A bento box with strawberries, carrots, crackers, bologna (cut with a small bat-shaped cookie cutter) and cheese. For dessert he had a fruit leather. He even filled his water bottle (I slipped in a little container of Gatorade powder since I didn't need to add anything else).

Overall I'd say he did very well. I was going to make PB&J.

If I didn't have this truly wonderful child, I might still be trying to fax yellow coversheets. With big words. Like 'yellow' or 'fax'.

Stay tuned for a few more Sunday Supervisor stories.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


The Businessman saw that I was on the computer yet again and told me to go to a cool site he had heard of on NPR.

"Type in run pee dot com."

I hesitated, worried this would be just like the time when I was blogging and he needed to know what time Dick's (Sporting Goods) opened. For future reference, their URL is a lot longer than the one I first typed in. Oops. is where you go if you're the kind of person who has to pee in the middle of a movie. Always. They list the current blockbusters and tell you at what point you can go and not really miss anything important. They even tell you what happens during the three minutes you were gone.

My favorite part: They sell maternity-sized T-shirts. Looks like they figured out their target market.

They also sell "multi-purpose" mugs. I didn't want to think too hard about that one.

What I Made:

I have a couple BBQs in the schedule (vegetarians heart BBQs). I made a double batch of this Sesame Peanut Noodle Salad. It's vegan, and it can be a light side or a substantial meal. My pics didn't do much much for the dish.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Geekfest

So something happened over the weekend that the Businessman thought you would enjoy. It's sort of a ramble, but when isn't it?

Random knitting pics for your pleasure while I prattle

We gave Yummy the Wii Lego Star Wars for his birthday. It's a pretty cool game. It has strategy and puzzles, which I like, and lots of fighting, which TBM likes and you can play two people together so we sort of complete each other.

TBM challenged me to a geekfest after the kiddos went to bed. He pulled out the Wii and the case of Miller Light (which he bought for the geekfest because it's crap so theoretically we could consume a lot of it) and we started playing.

Now, for some reason, I was exhausted. TBM politely mentioned it might be all the manual labor I did in the garden but he and I both knew I had done nothing more strenuous than hoe a little dirt. I felt a little queasy but all hell broke loose when we got to the pod race. We both had to beat Annikin and I didn't have the advantage of growing up with video games (which I am thankful for) so we ended up replaying this race over, and over, and over again.

Next thing I knew I had motion sickness. I pulled my character out of the game and let TBM finish the race and then ran my own little podracer into the bathroom where The Force.

Look, a Hat!

Still exhausted, though less queasy, I flopped onto the couch, turned my character back on and passed out. TBM made it through about 635 more levels before I woke up.

I only drank about 1/4 of the can of beer. I don't know how this little incident affects my geek ranking.

  1. Cashmere silk shawl I haven't finished yet
  2. Lidster in a luscious alpaca
  3. Some sparkly gloves--my design
  4. Felted cowboy hat--now too small, need to make another one
  5. My transition shawl--I knitted it while moving from Washington to Colorado.

It seems I've been nominated for an award. I will research this and get back to you.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Look Into My Pantry

I'm subscribed to 61 blogs, so forgive me for forgetting which one of you cleaned your pantry, and thus inspired me to do the same. I usually clean it out twice a year, but I think I skipped my fall cleaning so I was overdue.

Secretly, I love looking in people's pantries. It tells me so much more than the medicine cabinet. I'm hoping you're the same.


The pictures don't look that much different, but there are some key features I want to point out:
  • The kids can now reach their cereal
  • I now know I have 14 different flours, 8 different seaweeds, 15 pounds of pasta (not nearly enough), 5 different salts, 6 different nut butters (of which the Businessman only eats Jif) and 6 different kinds of vanilla. Too many beans and grains to count.
  • TBM and I are tall, so we can easily access the top shelves of all our closets and cabinets. This is one area where I'm glad genetics didn't fail me. All my weird flours, liquor, and rarely used appliances live there now.
  • The black things that looked like mouse poop on the third shelf turned out to be black rice--phew. The black things on the floor that looked like black rice--not so much. There is now nothing edible or mouse chewable on the floor or bottom shelf (there never was anything edible on the floor, but now I can sweep it easily).

That was What I Made today. Sorry the post is a little blah, but I feel a little blah today.

What does my pantry say about me? Besides the fact I could feed a small country (or two teenagers) for a day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

BBQ Pizza

Last year about this time, my father in law announced that he was going to hook his propane grill up to his natural gas line. Knowing this man was the key role model of the Businessman, and therefore the font of all home improvement knowledge TBM has, I got worried. Very worried.

"Did you get the adapter?"
"Nope, don't need one!"
"Uh, yes you do."
"Nope, I don't!"
"Is your will up to date?"
"I can just hook it right up."
"There is a difference between the propane your grill usually uses and the natural gas your home uses."

Luckily, I managed thwart his attempt at becoming a gas explosion.

This year, we inherited his old grill (this was not my motive all along), and he is getting the UberFlamethrower 6000X, which is configured to use the natural gas line. Our 'new' grill is any self respecting American Family's dream, but I'm a vegetarian and am really fond of my little round grill. It's the perfect size for my paella pan and for pizza.

What I Made:

Barbecued Pizza

I don't have a recipe for my pizza dough--I sort of wing it and go by the feel--but any pizza dough recipe will work. This dough was half bread flour/half white whole wheat flour (white whole wheat flour is my favorite all purpose flour these days, but you need the gluten in the bread flour). Add a slurp of olive oil, salt and water with your yeast dissolved in it. I let my KitchenAid knead it about 10 minutes.

Or you could go the the grocery store and get their lumps of pizza dough. I've done it and it's great.

When it has risen, punch it down and divide it. A large handful of dough will make the size crust you see here. Let it rest a little (optional) and roll it out or toss it. Smack that puppy on the hot grill and let it firm and puff up a little (about 10-30 seconds)

My grill works best at low because it has these tongues of flame that will reach out and burn the crust to charcoal. If you don't have lingua el fuego go ahead and raise the heat.

When the crust has set, flip it over and add your ingredients. This one is fairly traditional pepperoni. It's for my kids and the Businessman. I make meat for them on occasion in order to get that feral look out of their eyes.

Put the cover on and let it cook away until the top is done to your satisfaction. If this is your first pizza, you might want to stick with olive oil/herbs as a topping (AKA Fococcia) until you get the timing right. No one eats pizza that looks awesome if the bottom is black beyond recognition.

I made my pizza with sauteed mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, olive oil, fresh mozzarella and salt. Then we ate it and I forgot to take a picture.

But there will be more this summer. There always is.

And because I'm ornery like that, I inaugurated the new grill with...

...A veggie burger. I'm sure the ole FIL will be pleased.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In Which The Businessman Builds Me A Garden

I hope everyone had a nice Memorial day and I hope you took a moment or two to remember those who gave their lives so we could still have ours.

Kind of appropriate that I finish this one this weekend. This gives me 'til July 4th to make it a pair.

What We Made--Weekend Project Edition:

Once upon a time, I had a wonderful little garden. It made me yummy salads for work and provided lots of flowers. I never saw a snake there. I miss it terribly.

Next to our house is a deeply sloping hillside. The previous owner thought it would be best to line the hill with groundcloth and then dump several tons of rock on it to make it look sellable.

The problem, of course, it that in a clime with regular flash-flood inducing rains, the ground cloth was like a Slip 'n Slide. As you can see in the photo above, we started placing landscaping stone to prevent the rocks from tumbling their merry way into the lawn (which has been mown since this picture was taken).

The Businessman decided it was time for action. He told me two tons of stone was going to be delivered.

I would have expected two tons of rock to look like, well, two tons. Luckily, TBM called in his Buddy and I didn't really verify if it felt like two tons.

Three yards of dirt arrived (no pic). Then a rainstorm came and out went TBM. He tarped and diverted as much water as he could while I worried (from inside the garage) about the lightning strikes everywhere and the muddy rainwater carrying our dirt into the gutters.

Sunday, he cottoned on to me and tried to put me to work. We He shoveled, pulled, lifted, heaved, hauled, and in general ruined my nails. I tried to take more of a 'Brains in this Operation' approach, but he wasn't fooled.

Then he saw I had the camera, and I got a temporary reprieve. Sorry TBM, I warned you I would post it.

I call it Man Trying To Act Cool. He strained his back here. Not really.

And now I have three large planting beds. With two more to follow next year.

TBM suggested I could shovel some rocks and dirt today while he's at work.

Hmm. No thanks. I think I'll go look at plants.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Monster Truck Birthday Party

3rd, 4th and 5th birthday, respectively.

I may be suseptable to orchestrating very elaborate parties. It's possible I've gone overboard a little.

Well, not this year. This year we decided to rent out a picnic shelter in a children's garden (the theme was 'monster trucks' but I extended it to 'dirt') and let them do most of the work (and me less of the cleaning, shopping, and crying).

I even went slipshod on the cake. Awesome. Mom of the Year contender, right here!

Some people use a new truck. Not I. I took our four year old toy and gave it a thorough scrubbin'. Then I found a pan that fit perfectly (even if you use a new truck, I would use a pan. Toys these days Ugh!). You can search and find a million recipes for Dirt. Basically it's chocolate cake, chocolate pudding and pulverized oreos. Don't forget the worms, flowers, bulldozers or mud wrestling Barbie dolls (can't wait to be part of that Google search).

The Businessman found a simple game to play, in case we had a little extra time on our hands, and I gave Hotwheels Monster Trucks as favors. The garden volunteers provided a tour and the kids potted a plant to take home.

Trust me, the fancier you get, the more the party is about you and less about the Birthday Boy.

What I Made:

A list for anonymous who wanted some more ideas:

If I had limitless time, money, and 6yo attention spans:
  • There's a local speedway here and tickets are dirt cheap (pun intended)
  • Have families go to a Drive-In--make sure some of them bring pick-ups to toss the kids in.
  • Tie dye wifebeater shirts (that idea's courtesy of the Businessman. Sorry.)
  • Give kids shovels or bulldozer toys and have them dig around in a sandbox or empty garden bed for treasures.
  • Have the kids plant your garden!
  • Create a child sized monster truck obstacle course--don't forget the sprinklers!
  • Have the kids create a toy-sized monster truck course--this keeps boys busy forever!
  • A Monster Truck Rally mullet/costume contest (courtesy of TBM)

Remember: Boys+Dirt+Water=Happy, Muddy Boys

Happy Birthday Yummy Bear

Six years ago, two weeks before his due-date, I managed to push out an 8lb 10oz stick-figure. He entered the world sunny-side up, and he lives in the world sunny-side up. He's the rule enforcer and he's a Lego builder extraordinaire. If I had to limit his future to five professions:

  • Judge
  • Architect
  • Computer Programmer
  • Comic Writer
  • Accountant

  • But he can choose whatever he wants.

    I love you Yummy Bear. Even more than the tramp who put this in your backpack this week:

    Shameless Hussy. Great eyelashes though. I should find out what mascara she uses.

    Obviously, he's still a stick figure.

    What I Made:

    He was 8lbs 10oz. I deserve a break! Besides, the party details aren't assembled yet.

    Friday, May 22, 2009

    Mr Biology Teacher

    I was thinking about my favorite teachers and my HS bio teacher comes to mind. He was challenging and it brought out the best in me. Even though I always got A's from this decidedly 'hard' teacher, it always seemed most of his classes were spent on tangents far distant from the topic we were supposedly studying.

    I learned a lot from him.

    One day, we were probably studying the Krebs cycle, its similarities to photosynthesis and how both pertain to microorganisms. Being the advanced class we were, the discussion took a natural turn to...breasts.

    "What is the perfect breast size?" Mr. Bio asked the class.*

    "A handful?"
    "A C-cup?"
    "In France, they say it's enough to fill a champagne glass."

    This was the point at which the teacher realized he had completely lost control. He turned beet red and probably prayed we were the sort of teenagers that didn't talk to our parents.

    All of us, every single one, had pictured this sort of champagne glass:

    It wasn't until the next day that someone suggested maybe it was this sort of glass:

    We also learned some valuable wisdom from his mother-in-law. She felt you only needed a bra when you could stick a pencil under your breast and it stayed there.**

    *I'm pretty sure his point was going to be "whatever you have is perfect."
    **My pencil, and any hopes for dating the cute albeit shallow guys, fell with a clatter to the floor that evening.

    What I Made:

    A pencil holder!


    I knit this last summer with a yarn that I still don't know why I bought. I don't even remember what pattern I used. It was a stash buster.

    These days, I do need a bra. A racerback one at that.

    Thursday, May 21, 2009


    I made an impulse purchase this morning. Actually, I found out about the sale yesterday, for an item I saw a month ago, that I never knew was for sale. I slept on the idea of depleting my PayPal account and woke up this morning hoping no one else had the same idea.

    His name is Squish.

    A few months ago, a reader became a steady commenter and I started reading her blog and we exchanged comments back and forth. She makes lots of gorgeous jewelry, which I have all sorts of places to wear--like the gas station, gym, and hardware store.

    Corvus announced a sale this week at her store and I, for all my talent in the math department, never equated that the beauties she was blogging about were making their way to her Etsy Store.

    The woman is living my dream and I didn't even notice.

    Anyhow, I bought Squish and when she saw I was buying him, she offered to ride her bike to my house to hand deliver.

    She lives about four states away.


    Now I have a face to the name and you are all free to browse her Etsy Site and buy her other stuff so she can get a new camera, pay for college, and become successful.

    Please buy the X-Wing Fighter. My PayPal can't take anymore.

    What I Made:

    This is Penelope, the first of several spider pins I've made. I thought she was cute for a first attempt but--though they are not up to retail standards--the younger spiders are prettier, have longer legs and better craftsmanship.

    I hear you, Penelope, I hear you.

    Hot Off The Needles

    About a year ago I knit up a ruffly cardigan in a superwash wool that I plied with some laceweight alpaca so I could hit gauge. I loved that sweater and was very sad to discover I had machine-washed it one too many times.

    I will never learn this lesson.

    It's really very pretty, I just didn't have Violet yet to showcase it.

    My sister-in-law--we affectionately think of her as a midget--inherited my newly shortened creation and I hoped I might make it again someday.

    About that same time I learned about Artfibers, a small yarn store in San Francisco that sells only their own lines of yarn. I went online, ordered some samples and a month later, ordered enough yarn to make a sweater. The original sweater and the yarn did not cooperate well together. So my lovely stash of Artfibers Ming, a wool/silk singles, stared at me, looking forlorn.

    What I Made:

    This spring, I decided to make a new ruffle-cardigan, with the Ming. This time, I shortened it a little (I don't really need a ruffle around my a$$) and then shortened and puffed the sleeves. I also tweaked the armhole a bit--I think the pattern is wrong.

    As always, click pic for Ravelry Link.

    I love it. It's not blocked yet so it's bulgy and puckery in places, but once I do block it, it will be lovely. The yarn is so so soft and the color. The best description I can give is the color of a puddle in a sunny parking lot. An iridescent rainbow.

    Now, I need to wait for fall. Wool is not logical when the temp is 87 degrees. Also, I have less than 25 miles of yarn in my stash now--this one took a mile.

    Vogue Knitting, Fall 2007, Ruffled Jacket by James Coviello

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    Hats Off For Oatmeal!

    I'm friends with a wonderful person in my SnB. She's a generation removed from me which means she can give me all sorts of solicited advice. She's a knitter, so we always have something to talk about. She also cooks and sews, which means I have a bit more in common with her than some other friends in the SnB.

    She gave me a piece of parenting wisdom so profound I feel the need to pass it on. With love; from her, to me, to you.

    Put ice cream on your oatmeal.

    *Gasp* What? How could you? That's horrible!

    Relax! Think about it. What traditionally goes into oatmeal? Cream? Sugar? I pride myself on making oatmeal so toothsome with brown sugar, raisiny goodness, my kiddos ask for it on cold mornings. But sometimes I forget to soak those steel-cut oats overnight and the rolled oats--though quicker--aren't as tasty.

    Until you add ice cream. Kids will eat it so fast (probably in fear that you'll come to your senses) you'll almost hear their future cholesterol levels drop.*

    What I Made:

    This cute hat. Vogue sewing pattern (7619).

    I wore this hat all winter. The fabric is embroidered suede cloth. I lined it with some leftover satin brocade. The pin is something my mom found years ago and felt I should have since I'm living in CSU Ram country these days.

    The hair is windblown. Yeah, that's it...windblown.

    *I know ice cream has cholesterol. My kids also eat kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. So there.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Anecdotes From The Dunes

    Yes, we did hit the Great Sand Dunes National Park. We saw the river surges I had heard about (everyone calls them tidal waves, but that is a misnomer). I wore my new top in public. The temp never got higher than 75 degrees. I met another knitter.

    Life is good.

    What I Made:


    The Businessman spotted and pointed out 479 interesting things. Vicious saw 3 of them. And hates his 5-point harness.

    We stopped at Costco for a quick lunch. The only vegetarian option was pizza. I didn't want pizza so I had a berry sundae. When my sugar-high crashed, I was so hungry I almost ate my fighting children. They're lucky I'm vegetarian these days.

    Yummy read 85 pages of his chapter book. Then he chattered for two very long hours about some lego crystal sweeper toy.

    I realized my favorite swimsuit has been worn very thin from tiny hands clutching at it over the years. I had to retire it.

    Starbucks sells oatmeal. This is important if you ate enough sugar the previous day to induce a hangover (on second thought, maybe it was from the margarita).

    When Vish saw the expanse of ankle deep, warm water he took all his clothes off and ran halfway across before we could say "SPF 50." Ah, innocence.

    Yummy is a Junior Ranger. He memorized all the park rules and played ranger bingo like a champ. After six hours of driving, he informed us that he saw a rabbit and that gave him another bingo and we should go back to the park so he can get another badge. It was 9:00 PM on Sunday. We were in our driveway.

    Monday, May 18, 2009

    Road Trip

    Friday, 3:30 PM

    The Businessman: Do you want to go on a road trip?
    Me: Where?
    TBM: There.
    Me: What about all the obligations we have?
    TBM: We won't be able to go there until next year if we don't go now.
    Me: Okay

    There is a place I've never been (though my mother insists otherwise--I don't think it counts if you're too little to remember). It's a place I want to go, at a time when a weird phenomenon happens that I want to see.

    Priorities. First I chose a knitting project:

    Then I tell the kids to pack themselves because mommy has to load up two days of blogs.

    Yummy, age almost 6

    Not bad. I added a short sleeved shirt, socks, and his blanket. He's too big to admit he wanted to bring it.

    Next up: Vish, Age 3

    Note the toys. Clearly the child has learned priority issues somewhere. I added underpants, PJs, his blanket and socks.

    The Businessman packs for himself, organizes all meals, makes all reservations, analyzes all routes, doublechecks all our packing, and maps out all the Starbucks between here and there. I think it was in the marriage vows.

    Also, he's in the middle of organizing a huge conference at work and this is good practice for him. Like herding cats.

    How long did it take to get there?

    I had knit this much sock when we arrived at the visitor center--the heel turn is done.

    Where am I?

    You tell me.

    Sunday, May 17, 2009

    Daring Cooks May-Gnocchi

    I have a secret... I love the gnocchi you can buy in the pasta aisle. Those larvae-looking blobs that are sealed in plastic. They boil up into slightly larger larvae with a dense, chewy texture. It's what happens when a German American wishes she were Italian. I can't be held responsible.

    I have tried making potato gnocchi before. It was disasterous. All three times. So when the Daring Cooks' challenge was posted and I saw our inaugural recipe was ricotta gnocchi I was worried.

    And I was right to be worried.

    Exhibit A: Test gnocchi after 10 seconds
    Exhibit B: Gnocchi? Gnocchi? Where did you go?

    I drained my ricotta. I added a little bit more egg. I added a whole egg. I searched my memory and remembered a trick for German bread dumplings and added 1/2 cup flour. That worked and my dough finally held together in the boiling water.

    But they had a Spaetzle (pronounced SHPAY-tsul) feel to them. Then I remembered I'm a Kraut and love Spaetzle. So it all worked out in the end.

    I sauteed sage leaves I stole from my neighbor's garden until crispy and drizzled the sage-y butter over the gnocchi.

    I still can't make gnocchi, but I have always made awesome Spaetzle.

    Saturday, May 16, 2009

    Go! Fight! W-W-What Are You Wearing?!

    I don't have a scanner or I would post tons of humiliating pics of me when I was skinny, had thick hair and unfortunately had these advantages in a fashion disadvantaged decade.

    But I perused a classmate's blog today and stumbled upon this:

    My 8th grade cheer leading squad. I'm on the right, throwing off the symmetry of the shot. What I remember most about that uniform, was the seven inch growth spurt I after being measured. I couldn't lift my arms without showing some midriff. Quite the trauma back then.

    I'm blissfully ignoring my hair, and my bangs. Horizontal stripes? Doesn't look like they helped any of us.

    What I Made:

    The wreath I talked about here.

    After lovingly assembling and promising to give TLC during its first weeks of life so it can take root and fill out, the Businessman called to ask if I wanted to do a road trip this weekend. We'll see if it's strong enough to survive a couple days with no water.

    Friday, May 15, 2009

    On Waistlines And Alterations

    My Personal Illustrator cottoned me onto Sew Mama Sew the day she posted this cute top.

    I got link happy with that sentence, sorry.

    I want to make this cute top for my PI. But first, I had to practice on me.

    It's good I'm always creating something, because I churn out a fair share of crap. This top proving no exception. It's not the fault of the pattern--see how cute it looks on Violet? It's the fault of having extra weight distributed in such a manner as to have several people ask when my baby is due. No, I'm not pregnant. Cute little baby-dolls like this fan out like a tent on me and only solicit more of said comments.

    Again, darling on Violet, not so much on me.

    My cousin suggested I belt it. Good solution, however, let's learn about waists. If you want to find your true waistline, tie a bit of elastic around your middle--just a little snug--and go about your business for about ten minutes. The elastic will naturally ride around to the narrowest part of you--your waist. My elastic sits "normally" around my back, but swoops right up to my bra in front. Actually, it's now about two inches below my bra these days since I've lost some weight, but still not an attractive line for a belt. Violet's waist is normal and sits parallel to the floor, ergo, a belt looks fine on her.

    I'm determined to at least try and salvage this top. At the very least I could wear it as PJ's (though I would need to make bottoms) but it would be nice to have more clothing I'm willing to wear outside the house.

    This top has pleats in front and back. I sewed the back pleats all the way down to my back waist, thereby removing some of the excess fabric, nipping in (and highlighting) the part of my waist that's more attractive (relatively speaking) and still leaving the front flow-y.

    It's still not ideal (I need to tweak the hem a little now), but that little alteration helped a ton. The top looks more like the cute little top I wanted and less like a parachute.

    Of course, it still looks great on Violet.

    Stupid, enviable, hourglass figure.
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