Tuesday, September 30, 2008

word on the street

Boy, have I ever become a book girl - and Sadie is my little book-girl-in-training. The two of us went to Word on the Street on Sunday and filled our book bag in record time. I think I've figured out a good system - kids books first so that Sadie can read something in the stroller while I find the few publishers with either good deals or just plain good books. My stops of note were: Coach House Books (poetry by RM Vaughan), Anansi (poetry by Ken Babstock and Dear Gabriel) and Insomniac Press (fiction and non-fiction, including a very enlightenting Lover's Tongue).

There is something so fantastic about a book fair at the end of September. On the cusp of Autumn, it's like stocking up on words for the winter. And this year's funny experience? Being interviewed while we sat on the grass and then quoted in this Toronto Star article. I laughed out loud when I read that Sadie and I were considered "two traditionalists". It's a Mommy moment I'll hold on to for, oh, about the rest of my life.

(P.S. Too funny! As I was grabbing the link for the Star article, I found that Quill&Quire's blog used the interview too. Suddenly I feel pegged devoutly anti-Sony Reader!)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

kitchen duty

Every year when cheap peppers grace the grocery stores, I consider devoting a day to freezer cooking. Why peppers? Well, I was 8 1/2 months pregnant exactly four years ago, and the only thing I knew was that stockpiling food was a good idea. I purchased this cookbook, and planned a few days of cooking. One of the recipes was for 12 stuffed peppers, and although they weren't great out of the oven they were divine when cooked from frozen (I'll never understand why the difference). So for me peppers = September = a good time to fill the freezer with hearty food.

This fall I have another reason to be practical enough to devote an entire day to cooking. Sadie left her daycare in August and as much as it was time for her to move on, I desperately miss having her close to me during the day. The daycare was across the street from my work, and as soon as I walked out of my building at 6pm, in less than 5 minutes I got to be a Mom (which I have to say, is the best stress-buster of all time). Then Sadie and I would have a leisurely TTC ride home, catching up on our day. Now, everything has changed. Sadie spends her days at JK and with a good friend in the neighbourhood (and I have to note - Sadie loves, loves, loves this new arrangement!) and Jay picks her up because he's closer to home. Work is ridiculously busy, so I don't leave until 6:30 at the earliest and then I carry my work problems home with me on the subway. I walk in the door somewhere closer to 7:30, and have to get dinner ready immediately. Needless to say, this is why I need a freezer full of quick food. I want to spend time playing with Sadie and talking to Jay - not figuring out what to make us all to eat.

A simpler solution would be purchasing meals (frankly, it's not a perfect scenario to sacrifice one whole day of an already too short weekend) but I'm having no luck there. With Jay's poultry allergy, and Sadie's egg/dairy allergies, there is limited choice in Toronto. We live close to Urban Fare, but the one time we tried a casserole Jay had a reaction (even though chicken was not listed). And the vegetarian delivery service we used to love, called Jay's Gourmet, has ceased to exist. So I figure I need to make the food to guarantee that the ingrediants won't force either of my loved ones to use their Epi-pen. Which means I'll be in the kitchen with a whole lot of canned sauce and ground beef, playing Willie Nelson and wearing an apron. Truthfully, it's not so bad, though I realize there are way more cookbooks I could try. Branching beyond ground beef would be a good start if I need to make this a regular habit.

Which it seems like I will. Let's hope the can opener holds up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

pink persistence

Patience is indeed a virtue that knitting forces you to acquire. Case in point: this pink sweater. I originally bought some lovely tweed Garnstudio wool for the Juliet vest. I knit the vest from the top to 3 inches from the bottom before I realized I hated it. So, knowing that the wool was too nice to waste, I patiently unravelled the garment and wound the wool back into balls. Next up, I tried a top-down cardigan for Sadie using 3 yr old sizing from an online pattern. This time, I got 3 inches below the underarm before I thought, "hmm, this seems big, let's see if it fits me". Unfortunately, I was right and it was miles too big for Sadie. For the second time, I unravelled a garment and wound the wool back into balls. On to attempt number three: a top-down raglan sweater for Sadie, using a random number of stitches for the neck (I know, I know...I was getting loopy and obviously making poor decisions). I didn't get nearly as far before I realized it was too big again. Thank goodness the fourth time was a charm.

I can hardly believe how patient knitting has made me. I could really use a dose of patience at work these days, but for now I'll simply marvel at the power knitting has to change behavior. The secret to my fourth attempt was to do a bottom-up raglan, using the sizing from a Debbie Bliss pattern (ultimately, her patterns feel trustworthy). I tried a folded hem, but left the neck and cuffs as a rolled edge. The wool is lovely, but I've been told to wash it a few times for it to really soften up. And Sadie looks so great in this pink - as much as I bought it for myself, I could never have pulled it off. I found a great pair of pink cords for her that are the exact shade, so when the cool weather hits she'll be pretty in pink.

Now that this sweater is finally done - and really, I feel like I've been knitting this for months - I'm trying the Juliet vest again with a dark purple Debbie Bliss Luxury Tweed. My fingers are crossed that it will work this time. So far so good...but I still haven't tried it on. See? I may have learned patience, but I haven't learned from past experience. Or maybe I'm just addicted to unravelling.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

the new world

This week, there was a seismic shift in our family life: Sadie started school. Sure, it's only Junior Kindergarten, but it's still school. And as long as we live in this house, this is the school she will be attending. So, as I walked away from leaving her there on the first day, all I could think about was how she would grow up in that building, and that we wouldn't be there to see any of it. Oh - and I also thought really, really hard about not crying.

In a few short weeks she will be 4. She understands everything I say and her logic astounds me. Like every parent before me, I think her drawing is frameworthy. Case in point, during this profound week she drew a family portrait. Basically all the sizes are accurate, as is the amount of hair we each have, but the most important detail is the glasses she drew on Jay. Glasses! Oh, and that would be a pear shape for me. Of course.

I'll say it each and every year that I don't know how Sadie got to be so grown up. The baby cheeks are gone and the girl is breaking through. Long curls even cover the tell-tale backpack straps on this "first day of school" photo. It's been a seismic shift for sure, and all I can hope for is to keep my balance and a dry eye as we journey along.

Friday, September 05, 2008

tie one on

Three years ago I started this blog mainly because I wanted to join the "Month of Softies" challenge. I'm a student at heart - I thrive on assignments, and so far web challenges have got me making and reading more. angry chicken's "Tie One On" has always been on my radar, but this is the first time I've made an entry. The theme was Gingham Summer, and even though I had plenty of gingham and coordinating fabrics on hand, I ended up making an apron that is very simple bordering on downright plain. As soon as the ribbon went on I just could not add another embellishment. But I really like the hostess style these days, and I'm excited to pass this on to a special someone. Actually, that may be my new approach when I make things - figure out who would like it and give it away. Like I've said a hundred times to myself, our house is just too small and I'm not about to stop making stuff.

And check out the great Flickr gallery for Gingham Summer - this child's version is capital A adorable.

Monday, September 01, 2008

raccoon therapy

This little guy is from my "quick and dirty" category of sewing. I probably spent more time drawing out possible faces than sewing him (the whole bandit-eye-thing is tricky, as it easily veers into panda bear territory) but I feel like it took a while because I spread the short sewing time over...umm...about three months. Back in the spring we had a Mama Raccoon and 5 babies spending their evenings in our backyard, and it's no understatement to say that Jay was freaked out by them. So I thought I would adorable-ize the animals by making a stuffed version for indoors. Ridiculous idea I know, but that's how it started. Or maybe I just needed a new animal to try out.

In the end, Jay is far more fond of this fellow than I am. I don't dislike him, he's just not totally my thing. Generally I make very plain softies, so this guy almost has too much going on for me. Or maybe he just feels...stumpy. I'm not sure. But I won't abandon the idea of raccoons just yet, even though the family of 6 seems to have abandoned us. Perhaps they caught sight of this guy hanging out in their garden and found another tiny house in the city to call their own.

(As an aside - I'm amazed that the raccoon looks like he's out in nature, when truthfully at every edge of this photo are pieces of the city. Our front yard is so small, but if you crop it just right, instant forest!)