Sunday, December 27, 2009
Your love gives me strength,
Your love gives me hope,
without you I may as well just be a dope.
Your smile brightens my day
And keeps me warm at night,
Life without you gives me such a fright.
You're my inspiration
And my dream come true,
without you I wouldn't know what to do.
All of I have to give you
Is yours forever and more,
Let's let our love soar.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Here's Shawn and his younger brother playing the Wii. We got his parents a Wii fit plus kit, and they got us a 37" LCD HD TV. And then today we decided to get a Wii too, so we got the Wii fit plus too. Hopefully it'll help us be more active since it's winter and we can't ride the bikes anymore, and we've been doing jack squat.
Here's some pictures of the LaRoche clan at the party.
Today my mother and sister came down to visit. While they were here, Shawn's parents came to deliver our TV (we were worried yesterday about leaving it in my car overnight since Shawn would not be there to help me, or me dropping it down the stairs trying to get it in the house), and help us set it up, which was really nice of them. Luckily it was just the right size, so we didn't have to get a new stand. So now we can move the old TV into the bedroom, and not have to watch the 13" one in there.
We tried to go to Margarita's for lunch, but it turns out they're not open for lunch anymore, although their website said they were. So we went to Fratello's in Manchester instead. We had not been in there for a good long time, and I had forgotten how good it was. I had a great seafood alfredo, and everyone else enjoyed their meals as well. I'm going to have to remember to go back. Then we went shopping, which is when we bought the Wii, Wii Fit Plus, the handset chargers, Wii Play, Tiger Woods 2010, and a numchuck. We managed to get it set up, and we've played a couple of games, but I haven't done the Wii Fit yet. We probably shouldn't have bought it, but oh well.
In fiber news, I finished the helmet liner. I'm now trying to use the purple sparkly handspun to design a little cowl. I'm not sure that I have enough, but we'll see.
Stay tuned for further developments as they occur.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Lasagna spaghetti sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
3 onions (diced finely)
7 garlic cloves minced with a Pampered Chef garlic press
3-4 celery ribs (quartered lengthwise and then sliced into small pieces)
1 carrot grated with a Pampered Chef microplaner (so that it's more carrot goo than shredded carrot)
the equivalent of one red pepper from a jar of roasted red peppers (chopped finely)
2 tbsp of Italian Seasoning (I was being lazy)
1 tsp of thyme
1/2 tsp of ground ancho chili pepper
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
20-30 grinds from the pepper grinder of 4 color peppercorns
1 lb of hot italian sausage (remove casing and cut or divide into 1 inch pieces)
1/2 c. water
1 6 oz can of tomato past
2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
1 35 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (chopped up with juice)
3 drops of Marie Sharps Grapefruit Habernero hot sauce
1 tbsp Sriracha chili sauce
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp Goslings Black Seal Rum
1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp of brown sugar.
Take a frying pan and put half of the oil, garlic, onions and celery in it and cook between low and medium, sweating them until the onions turn transluent. Empty contents of fry pan into 8 qt stock pot. Put carrot, roasted red pepper, and dry spices in 8 qt stock pot as well, and mix to combine, then put aside. In fry pan, put other half of the oil, and brown sausage until cooked. Empty contests of fry pan into 8 qt stock pot. De-glaze fry pan with 1/2 c. water and empty into stock pot. Mix to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes, whole peeled tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix to combine. Add the remaining ingredients, mix to combine, and simmer for an hour and half.
Other lasagna stuff:
4 cups mozzarella shredded cheese
2 cups italian mix shredded cheese (provolone, parmesan, romano, fontina, asiago)
(normally, I'd shred some smoked gouda too, but I didn't have time today)
32 oz container of ricotta
2 boxes of lasagna noodles (I don't use oven ready because I think they taste like paste, but have at it)
(sometimes, I put sliced black olives in, but I didn't have time today, because I won't buy them already sliced because I think they aren't as good if you don't slice them yourself...see, delusional again...)
Parboil lasagna noodles (little stiffer than al dente). Take 9x13" pan and grease bottom with olive oil. Put a noodle layer down. Spread ricotta on top of it. Put some sauce on top of that. I am never stingy with the sauce. I freaking hate dry lasagna. I'd rather it fall apart on the plate than eat dry lasagna. Then sprinkle some of all the cheese. Repeat until the pan is full. Cover loosely with foil, tenting it so it doesn't touch the cheese. (You can use tooth picks too if you have to.) Bake at 375 degrees for about and hour and a half. During the last half hour, remove the foil so the cheese gets nice and brown and crispy.
I have to say, the sauce is pretty killer. I could eat it with a spoon with no pasta. It still needs some fiddling with, but I'm getting there. You're going to have a bit of sauce left over if you follow the recipe, but just freeze it and eat it later with some cheese ravioli or tortellini.
In fiber news, on Sunday I finished the limb warmers, wrote up the pattern and put it on Ravelry for a dollar, just because it did take me a bit to write it up, but it is very silly. If you want to get it, click here. I did get the yarn for the helmet liner on Wednesday of last week and I started the helmet liner on Sunday. You can get the pattern here.
I've been writing this in between waiting for the sauce to finish, putting together the lasagna, and finding room for it in the fridge, until I get up an ungodly hour tomorrow so it can cook, before we head to the LaRoches. It's now eight p.m. and I'm getting around to eating some dinner between leftovers and a little mini lasagna with what was left over. I still haven't written Shawn my Christmas letter. I'd like to do that tonight, but I'm not thinking it's going to happen. We're not doing our personal Christmas until Sunday and he's working tomorrow night (2 pm to midnight ish) so I might be able to squeak it in then. If the weather cooperates, my mother, sister and my aunt Murph are going to visit for the day. I've already informed them that no cleaning will take place. They will just have to deal with the state of the place as it is.
Merry Christmas everyone, hope you all have a wonderful holiday!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sean has writer's block
love has overwhelmed his muse
words cannot be found
Give it up for Mary S! How awesome is that?
Stay tuned for further updates on this channel.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The new job is good. I was concerned that I would not like it, but so far, I'm liking it a lot. I had thought that I really didn't enjoy law, but it turns out that what I really didn't enjoy was advocacy. In my past life in private practice, instead of advising clients as to what their rights were and what they were likely to get under the statute and the law given the facts and having them actually listen to you, you were often required to instead try to make the law and statues fit what the client wanted regardless of what reality was and the likelihood of them getting it. So you turned yourself into a pretzel and stitched up random bits of this and that, trying make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, to get the client what they wanted. And it made me nuts. I hated going to court arguing something dumb just because the client wanted more than they were entitled to under the law. And while some clients were normal and rational and accepted what the state of the law was, a great many more were not. It was so refreshing this week to read through the statute and the facts and be able to say "okay, this is what it is." And not hear someone say to you, "But that's not what the client wants, so beat your head against the wall for the next two months to try to find a way around it," even though you know perfectly well you won't be able to, because you've already read everything and if you'd have been able to find a decent, rational way around it, you would have freaking done it already.
I was also amazed at how much came back and how quickly. I had not really done any legal writing in almost two years, and I was worried about that. But I seem to be fine. Also, I was going into an area of law that I didn't really practice in much. But it's amazing how much exposure I had to different areas over the years. After reading some of the different statutes, I'd think "oh yeah, I had to look this up in so and so's case, I remember this."
I'm not enjoying the dressing up again, but you can't have everything I suppose. I still need to get some basic shirts and some shoes, but I think I can manage to muddle through until after Christmas. I just cannot face shopping at this time of year. I am a certified Grinch, and if I have to face crowds of crazed Christmas consumers, there may be legal ramifications, which I just don't need at this point.
Shawn and I have decided not to do the Christmas gift thing for each other again this year. For the last few years we haven't because we were saving to move, and then we were saving for the wedding, and then we were saving because I left private practice, and last year it was because we were going on a cruise. This year it's because I've changed jobs and I won't have a full paycheck until January. Instead of gifts, we write each other a Christmas letter. You know, I appreciate the Christmas letter so much more than anything else he could get me. Everything else is just stuff. I don't need any more stuff. If I wanted the stuff, I'd have bought the stuff myself. (Those of you who are knitters are having a fit, because you're saying "hello?? yarn??" but the fact is, I buy plenty of my own yarn. Note my ravelry stash documentation.) The Christmas letter is something that's meaningful and I look forward to it more than gifts. Except it makes me cry every year, since Shawn is the sweetest thing alive. I'm working on him for it to be a poem this year, but we all know I will fail dismally on that. (My friend Mary actually wrote a haiku about Shawn not writing me a poem, which was hilarious, if she gives me permission to post it, I will.)
In fiber news, last weekend Claire was in town. I love Claire. I was trying to remember how long I've known Claire now, but I can't. It's got to have been at least six or seven years now. Claire used to knit with us, but has moved to Maine now. I love that when I'm with Claire, I laugh the whole time. Claire famous for loving seed stitch, but I think she's delusional on that point. It was so good to see her. I miss her a lot, and I'm going to have to make sure I'm better at keeping in touch.
Heather M. also came to guild on Sunday and it was so good to see her too! I hadn't seen her since the second munchkin was born. She's another one that I really have do a better job with keeping in touch, especially since lives right in my neighborhood. Apparently, this failing of mine was something the universe wanted to bring to my attention last week, and then I thought of at least three other people that I need to call or write. Sigh...
I wore my swirl shawl to knitting, and sat by Mary who is also knitting it now, in the same color. She's apparently feeling sensitive that people might think she's copying me, but a lot of people are knitting this thing right now, (see the Yarn Harlot's blog), and she bought the yarn from another knitter in our group who had bought the kit a long time ago, and it was coincidentally the same as mine. So she's not copying me, okay?
I also finished my socks this past weekend at guild. I'm not sure why these took forever, except that I've been spinning a lot lately too.
I started some 2-Needle Fingerless Gloves from a Knitpicks pattern I bought years ago, with Hacho from Mirasol Yarns that I had in my stash. I started working on it at Paula's on Tuesday. I love the yarn, (blues and purples, how could I not??), but something was just not working with it. I had almost three inches when I decided it was two small. Which is weird because when I did the gauge swatch originally, it appeared that it would be an inch larger than it was supposed to be. This would have been fine with me because I have a wide wrist comparatively. But by Friday evening it was clear that it was not working and I ripped it out at guild in Derry on Friday.
I normally don't go to guild in Derry on Friday nights because usually by the end of the week, I'm exhausted on Friday nights, but I agreed to do a helmet liner for Kerry M's husband's friend's unit, and she was going to bring the yarn. Turns out she was sick and was unable to come but it was really good to see some people I had not seen in a while.
While I was there, Caroline decided to draw for the raffle the group had done for charity. There were several items you could put in for, and I had put in for the yarn by Heather S's Sereknity hand dyed yarn, but that was before they picked the color. It turns out it was yellow. I love Heather's yarn and I've used it in projects, but I can't cope with yellow. And it wasn't just a bit of yellow, but all yellow. So of course I won. But I was able to trade it for the Lia Sophia necklace that Caroline won (which is blue, yay blue!). This lead to a minor contractual dispute between Mary R and Caroline over the terms of their agreement on their yarn diet currently in effect.
Mary R's position was that the parties had agreed that each party would knit a specific number of socks and sweaters prior to the purchase of any further yarn. It was her belief that the trade violated the said agreement and that Caroline would have to knit an additional pair of socks to comply with the agreement. (Mary R did not at first agree to be photographed for the purposes of the blog, and disguised her face initially. You will note she is still knitting with the scarf over her face.) As Caroline's representative, I argued that the acquisition had been for charitable purposes and as such, she was entitled to a charitable deduction equivalent to the skein of yarn for the purposes of the yarn diet, and furthermore the universal precept that sock yarn does not count as stash enhancement applied. Mary R argued that under the terms of their agreement they had waived that precept and that any acquisition counted. Caroline settled for having to only complete one of the two pairs of socks on her needles.
Since I had ripped out the two needle fingerless gloves, when I got home I didn't have anything on the needles. And I still wanted to knit. So I grabbed the rainbow batt yarn I had spun up from Grafton Fibers (now DyakCraft) and decided to knit a limb warmer. What's a limb warmer you ask? It's a leg warmer with a slit in it so that it says a bit around your foot to warm it up a little, but since you can't sleep with socks on, it leaves your toes and heels uncovered; however, then you realize that you could probably use it as a arm warmer too, because the slit holds it on your hand too, but doesn't get in the way of your fingers and palms as you're using them that much. (This would have been awesome for that camping weekend.) I love the way the yarn ends up transitioning.
It's very silly, but I like it. So I had to dig out my McMorran yarn balance so I could figure out how many yards the skeins were so that I could write up the pattern. Even if you're not a spinner, I think having a McMorran balance is a great thing. It helps you determine how many yards per pound your yarn is, and then you can weigh the remainder of the skein to determine how much you have. This is a great thing if you're using up partial skeins. There is a tutorial and an explanation here. Since I have one more to knit, I can test knit the pattern a bit. But it's so silly and so Denise specific, that I may post it on Ravelry as a freebie.
Since I appear to have caught Shawn's cold, although I think I've been fighting it for a week, I'm going to lay low today and not spread it to the Sunday knitters.
Stay tuned for other updates as they come in.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
You'd think an army was coming instead of me and 7 guests and a toddler who doesn't eat much anyway. I cooked a 15 pound turkey, my grandmother's meat stuffing, turnips, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, boiled onions, gravy, salad, wheat rolls, regular cranberry sauce, diabetic cranberry sauce, a diabetic key lime pie, and we had a veggie tray. My mother helped for quite a bit of it, which I'm sure she was thrilled about, and Shawn's mom brought a cheese dip and crackers and an appetizer with shrimp and pastry cups. Then just in case the key lime pie was awful (I had serious doubts, but it was actually awesome) Mom and I picked up a pecan pie, a sugar free angel food cake and some fruit salad to go with it. Not to mention a coffee cake. And Chris and Kristie brought some wonderful cannoli and some sugar free pastries for Shawn and a lovely bottle of wine. So it was completely nuts. Needless to say, it's a really good thing I bought that stand alone freezer last year.
Diabetic Key Lime Pie:
This Recipe was from Fix-It and Enjoy-It Diabetic Cookbook, which I slightly modified as will be explained below.
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup firmly packed Splenda brown sugar blend
1 tbsp butter melted
3 tbsp canola oil
14 oz can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice (because I'm an idiot I bought key west lemon juice by accident. So I mixed it half and half with real lime juice.)
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp sugar
1. Combine first 4 ingredients. Press into 10" pie pan
2. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.
3. In a mixing bowl, stir condensed milk and lime juice until blended. Pour into crust.
4. In a clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar at high speed until foamy.
5. Gradually beat egg whites until the sugar dissolves and soft peaks are formed, about 2-4 minutes.
6. Spread egg-white meringue over filling. Bake at 325 degrees for 25-28 minutes.
7. Chill 8 hours or overnight.
It was really, really good. You wouldn't have known that it was a diabetic recipe. For those needing nutritional info, the pie is to be divided into 10 slices, and one serving is 3 Carbs and 1 fat in the diabetic exchanges and it had 250 calories a slice with 42 grams of carbs, no fiber and 7 grams of fat.
The cranberry sauce recipe we found on the net was a 12 oz bag of cranberries, 1 cup of water and 8 teaspoons of Splenda (but we had to add 2-3 more teaspoons to get it sweet enough to not pucker your face tasting it). You take the water and the cranberries and bring them to a slow boil in a sauce pan until the cranberries pop and soften. Then you stir in the sweetener and let it sit overnight in the fridge. I didn't like it much. I thought there was a chemical after taste I wasn't fond of.
The remainder of this week I spent getting ready for the new job, and prepping the Thanksgiving day feast (which we had on Saturday). I did do some spinning on Wednesday while doing the eight loads of laundry to wash all the new stuff. I had some Corriedale blended batts in the stash from DyakCraft (formerly Grafton Fibers) that I started spinning up. I have 8 oz and I've only done half, so no plying yet. I'm working on trying to spin up my fiber stash. It takes up less room when it's yarn.
I'm a little nervous about tomorrow, which is my first day at my new job, but I'm sure it will be fine. Wish me luck!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The very next day I hosted my writing group at my house. I made chocolate fondue in the Helios and we had a very productive meeting I thought. I really value the conversations and the thoughts everyone shares about the writing, even if it's not mine. I think that I learn something from every meeting. I'm very happy about the tenor of the meetings so far.
Chocolate Fondue Recipe:
16 ounces dark, sweet or semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups light cream
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
Using a Helios Guide, take cozy off 2L pot and put 1-2 cups of water in 3L pot. Place 2L pot in 3l pot to act as double boiler (or use double boiler.)
1. Break chocolate squares into smaller pieces and drop them into the pot.
2. Add cream (which will prevent the chocolate from going lumpy) and stir gently but constantly until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
3. Add vanilla extract, and stir it in.
4. Use a fondue fork to spear the fruit, then dip it in the chocolate. Enjoy!It's really, really good. But bad for you.
On Sunday, since I'd been having such awful luck in NH trying to find corporate wear for the new gig, I headed down to Boston and picked up Laura V and we went to the Natick Mall. Can I just say, I hate NH store selection? In less than 2 hours, I had bought six suits, a jacket and 4 shirts. I shopped in NH for six hours and managed to buy 1 suit and 2 pairs of shoes. The first four suits we bought in the first half hour. I mean, I'm sorry, but apparently the temper tantrum I had at the Macy's in the Rockingham Mall last Monday (which did involve me asking to see the manager and telling the manager exactly what I thought about them not carrying plus sizes) was entirely justified. It was perhaps obnoxious, but justified. Laura and I had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, where we ordered way too much food again, and the drinks were somewhat potent.
After the Natick Mall, we went back to Allston, where we decided we needed to go to the asian market. I bought more skewers for fondue (yum, fondue) and some pickled ginger and baby bok choy for Shawn.
On Monday Shawn and I took Kiwi to the vet for her wellness exam. She's fine, but my checkbook took a hit. I had some other appointments, but I also managed to find two more shirts and three skirts.
We also visited the new fish market in Manchester on Second Street. Can I just tell you, I almost cried I was so happy! It's called Free Range Fish & Lobster and it's an offshoot of a Portland, Maine company. I bought some scallops and some Maine shrimp. I was almost jumping up and down. Shawn thought I was nuts, but being from Maine, I am a (to put it in Maine dialect) right wicked snob about seafood. They bring the fish down from Maine. I can't tell you what it means to me to be able to get good seafood here finally, and not that crap at the supermarket. Seriously, it's bringing tears to my eyes again. Shawn and I baked the scallops in a little butter with a parmesan/bread crumb crust and stir fried the baby bok choy to go with it. It was wonderful. Go to this market!! I need them to stay in business please!!
Today I managed to score another jacket and three shirts. So I think I'm just about done, except I do probably need two more pairs of shoes. I'll try to hit Off-Broadway Shoes tomorrow. I also did eight loads of laundry washing all the new stuff that needed to be washed.
Last night Shawn and I made final decisions on the menu for Thanksgiving. And for those of you keeping track on facebook, I did decide to brine the turkey although I do think it's a royal pain. We found a recipe for cranberry sauce using splenda instead of sugar, and a diabetic key lime pie recipe. I picked up the groceries today around 2:00 pm ish, and I couldn't believe what a freaking zoo it was. Aren't most people supposed to be working at that time of day?
In fiber news, I have barely knit this week. I have spun though. I had two rainbow batts from Grafton Fibers (which is now called DyakCraft) I got several years ago at a NH Sheep and Wool.
This the batt and the batt spread out. The colors range from black to a deep orange/red.
I spun the singles keeping the colors together the same order as the batt. The color progression is interesting to see on the bobbins as I spun the batt into singles.
After spinning the singles, I've managed to navaho ply one of the bobbins, as I wanted to keep the color changes together.
I still have to navaho ply the second bobbin, but here's what the first skein looked like. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, but it would have to be something that takes advantage of the long color changes.
Well, this sort of catches us up. Stay tuned for Thanksgiving updates.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The title is apropos this week, as some of you know, as I'm moving on to a new job. I'm very excited about it and I think it's a good new challenge and I will get to work with a former co-worker and friend again. I've been very busy training my replacement at Jetboil, and my last day there is this coming Friday.
The only downside to the new job is that I will once again have to dress up. And since most of my stuff was really worn when I left Bianco, I got rid of it. So I've gone through my closet, and figured out what I still had (including the interview suit I had bought to interview for this job) which consists of 2 days of outfits. And 2 pair of shoes, one of which really don't match any of the aforementioned outfits. I did manage to find one suit yesterday, which gets me to 3 days, but this means that serious shopping is to come in the next two weeks as I start on November 30th. I do not relish clothes shopping. Book shopping, yarn shopping, yes, but clothes shopping, not at all. Honestly, I'd rather clean the bathroom. With a toothbrush. But I do think the job will be worth it.
In other news, I've done very little writing lately. There's been so much other commotion that I just have not wanted to do it. So I've been spinning instead. However I did manage to crank out a couple of more pages the other night, and I'll be revising them this morning to submit for my writing group's critique as it's my turn this month.
I did manage to finish one of the socks and knit the cuff of the second.
I also picked some fiber from my stash to spin. I had purchased a 2.25 oz Rainbow Ribbon Batt from Foxfire Fiber by Barbara Parry at one of the NH Sheep and Wool events. I love, love their stuff. This batt is Blue Faced Leicester sheep wool, Angelina (sparkly stuff), cashmere and silk. They also have a lot of Cormo wool, which I love. I have a ton of their stuff in the stash, so I'm sure it'll pop up in the blog one way or the other.
I spun this in a fine single as I was thinking that I wanted fingering weight yarn. I think the yarn wants to be a little decorative scarf or maybe fingerless mitts.
This is a picture of the singles on the bobbin and a picture of me holding the yarn being made to show the size of the singles.
I made a center pull ball with the singles with my ball winder and plied the center end with the outside of the ball end to make a two ply yarn. You can see the size of the two ply yarn as I'm holding it and as I'm winding it on to the bobbin.
What's disappointing about the pictures is you really can't see the Angelina. The sparkle is subtle but there in real life, but it isn't really translating in the pictures.
To all my friends who are knitting and partying in Vermont this weekend, hope you're having a great time, and try to not get arrested!