Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Dream - Poem

I GOT A POEM!!! After almost two years of encouragement (read nagging) I got a poem AND permission to post it on the blog!! Way to go Shawn!! Merry Christmas!!

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

Spirits in the Material World

Well, as an update to my last post, here is the finished lasagna. I left the toothpicks in it so that I could tent the foil on the way to Christmas at the LaRoches. Shawn had to work from 2:00 pm to midnight, but he was able to go to his parents for a little while, so we could open presents and then have some breakfast. I stayed for the rest of the festivities, as well. Katie had a great idea and I took some videos of Shawn's family saying Merry Christmas to him, which were funny, but I won't post them here. Mostly because I don't have any video editing software and they came out really dark. If you could see my photos before I clean them up in Adobe Elements you'd be amazed at how horrific they are at first.

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

Christmas Time is Here

I've been asked to do a lasagna for Christmas at the LaRoches. I am a very experimental cook. I don't do anything the same way until I get a recipe just the way I want it (i.e. my pea soup recipe is the same every time now--it only took me about 5 to 6 years to perfect that, but I made it a lot then). I'm getting close with lasagna but I'm not there yet. I am however, compulsive in some ways, so god forbid, I just buy some freaking Classico and noodles and cheese. No, I have to do it the hard way, making the sauce from scratch (although not quite...I've been known to start with actual fresh tomatoes instead of canned, but I don't have that kind of time, you really need home grown tomatoes for that, and it's winter... yes, I'm quite aware that I'm delusional, thank you.) Here's the latest incarnation, just for the hell of it. Yes, I know I said on Facebook that some of the ingredients were secret but who cares. Can you guess which four or five of the weird ingredients are the same every time and which are new additions?

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

Poem for the People

Mary S has given me permission to post the haiku she wrote about Shawn not writing me a poem. Therefore, I am pleased to present to you:

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

What's Going On

Ha, still a song title and appropriate because I've been flaking on reports, especially since I haven't blogged since the new job started.

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.