Archive for cross-stitch

Complete

I finished American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfield, last weekend, so I picked up City Dharma, by Arthur Jeon.  I started it over a year ago, and have been reading a chapter here and a chapter there.  It’s basically applying buddhist philosophy to living in crowded cities.  It address a lot of city issues that make it seem impossible to live as a peaceful, understanding, compassionate person.  Jeon addresses the issues so realistically, and without judgement, that it makes you feel as if everyone could benefit from reading just a chapter or two. I also read another knitting mystery by Maggie Sefton, which I do everytime I get big into my crafting again.  They’re fluffy and I can finish them in an evening or two.

I joined a second book club- so this month I’ll be reading In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote, and Censoring an Iranian Love Story by Shahriar Mandanipour.

I finished my iris cross-stitch project.  It came with an illustrated mat, so I just need to find a frame for it.

irisdoneI worked for a few hours on my cable scarf.  It looks the same as last week, only a few inches longer. It’s taking forever, as all knitting does for me.  A coworker is having a baby, so I’ll start a crochet blanket soon to make me feel more productive.

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Back in the Saddle

On Friday we had crazy rain. I had intended to meet up with some gals for a crafting day on Saturday, so we went to the storage unit to retrieve my boxes and bins of yarn and needles. Instead of going out I stayed home and had my own crafting day.  I worked on my irises cross-stitch. I finished the main work and started doing the outline stitching. It’s looking pretty nice.

irisI picked up my gray shawl and once again started it over because it had so many dropped stitches.  After restarting 5 times, I gave up on it for now.  So I decided to teach myself to make cables. I’m starting with a simple scarf pattern. It’s really easy and the cable is looking great.

Cable1I’ll likely finish American Wife today (only 50 pages left), and I think I’ll start on Wally Lamb’s The Hour I First Believed. But in recounting what I read this summer, I forgot to mention Tana French’s In the Woods.  It was a thriller-type novel about a detective who, as a child disappeared with two friends and was the only one to be found.  He is assigned to the case of child murdered in the same woods where he was lost. Great story, quick read, though only a meh ending.

6a00d83451bcff69e201157213461c970b-300wiToday, to celebrate the start of football season I made a taco salad- sauteed veggie chicken in taco seasoning, kidney beans, jalepenos, tomatoes, avocado, on a bed of tortilla chips (and lettuce, though ours was no good, so we tossed it) topped with salsa and sour cream. So easy, so yummy!

NYOS4Parent conferences are half over. Tomorrow I have 6 more, then Thursday I have one in the afternoon, then I’m done! Only 2 weeks until fall break!

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Super

I’ve been losing track of time easily these days.  I’m not sure what I’ve been doing, exactly, between now and my last post on New Years Day. I started back to school, we inaugurated a new president, the Steelers won the Superbowl (boo), I’ve had parent conferences, and written 20 7-page report cards and and additional 40 math-specific pages for students not in my homeroom. I’ve done almost no cooking-from scratch, and have been singing the praises of frozen vegetarian meet items, frozen steamed vegetables, and starchy sides.  I did make beef stew, though.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had real beef stew. I don’t remember my mom making it, but maybe.  Anyway, as I said in my last post the roots and tubers of winter have been filling me up and inspiring me to make comfort foods.  I found a veggie beef stew recipe in the Cooking with PETA cookbook. It was SO tasty and lasted us many days, including lunches!

beefstewFor SuperBowl Sunday stayed in. I assumed we’d make a pizza and drink beer, but the husband had different plans.  He wanted to do a theme-dinner- anything that can be dipped.  So we cut up veggies- carrots, turnips, celery, had chips, cheese, cheezits, pretzels, olives, mini pickles, pita bread.  I made two dips- guacamole and salsa ranch dip, and we bought some olive hummus.  It was quite a spread.  I was eating raw veggies and dip almost all week for lunch.

superbowlAt school we watched the Inauguration with the kids.  It was an amazing experience to share with them.  They couldn’t quite grasp how historical an event they were watching, they were excited and attentive regardless.  A parent brought in Obama cookies.  I think they’re crazy- the image is laser-printed onto the frosting.  That can’t be good for you!

obamaI’m nearly finished with my first time-intensive cross-stitch project.  I’m finishing up the shadows and then I need to outline everything.  It’s looking really nice, despite the many, many errors I made in counting.

xstitchirisI’m still working on the sci-fi books, but I did manage to finish three other books.  

Destined for Destiny is a autobiographical spoof of George Bush by some of the editors of The Onion.  It was pretty funny. It’s been sitting on my book shelf for 3 years and I figured I should get through it soon. The jokes and stabs at the former president’s awful speech and grammar are funny the first time, but get old as they’re repeated.  

destined_for_destinyI also read Light on Snow by Anita Shreve.  I’ve never read anything by her, but this book was on mega-discount a while ago, so I picked it up.  It was totally contrived and mostly uninteresting.  It’s the story of a twelve year old who moves from New York to rural New Hampshire after the death of her mother and baby sister. The father becomes a recluse. One day they find an abandoned infant in the woods and then meet the mother and blah blah.

lightThis morning, I started and then finished Brief Intervals of Horrible Sanity by Elizabeth Gold.  She’s a published writer who took a job at a “progressive” high school in Queens in 2000. She went in in February after 3 other English teachers quit. Her story is interesting and, at times, hysterical. I laughed out loud at this part:

She’s describing this kid, who is a good kids, but does no work. He’s obviously really intelligent, and doesn’t start any of the trouble in class, but clearly relishes the mischief going on around him.  

“I have my eye on Stephen Thomas. This morning he is actually doing what he’s supposed to do. He is sitting quietly reading a book provided by the Parent Committee. One eyebrow is raised, as if he is about to utter some cutting witticism at a cocktail party, something that will be quoted, among his acquaintances, for years.

Stephen is reading The Bobbsey Twins.”

Ha! That still makes me crack up.

briefThis weekend we’re headed out of town. Yay!

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Domestic Bliss

I just polished off the most delicious sandwich (leftover tofurkey with Wisconsin Colby cheese and pickles) after returning home from possible the worst driving day of the year. I went out on “Black Friday” and the traffic was nothing compared to the loonies on the road today.  After fighting to stay alive and out of a car accident, I thought I’d come home, shut myself in for the day, blog, crochet and watch movies.

Tuesday was a domestically productive day.  I simultaneously listened to christmas carols, baked kiss cookies, and made a huge lasagna for freezing. Christmas carols are new for me this year, I’m starting to be okay with some of them.  Amazon helped me along with their free holiday downloads. It was like an advent calendar that I didn’t get tempted to eat. The kiss cookies are a holiday tradition I started a few years ago. I make them for Chris and the people at his store on Christmas eve.

kisscookiesSomeday I’ll own cooling racks (and have enough counter space for them). Between batches of cookies going in and plopping kisses on the peanut butter yumminess, I made a super meaty, super cheesy lasagna for dinner and then to freeze.  It was two  layers of veggie beef scramble mixed with veggie sausage and mixed with a mushroom sauce and two layers of ricotta and mozzarella, mushrooms, and green peppers mixed with an olive sauce.  We had it with a huge salad and have plenty of leftovers!

lasagneWhen all of that kitchen work came to an end, I worked on my current cross-stitch project.  Here’s how it’s looking.

xstitch3On christmas eve, my husband and I started a new family tradition: Port Party!  We opened a delicious bottle of Daniel Gehrs Fireside Port that I got two years ago in Los Olivos. The Daniel Gehrs winery is my favorite.  I also drop a fortune when I go there. This summer my mom bought us their Tawny Port.  We’re planning on saving that to celebrate with when we buy a house.  For our Port Party we had a plate of sweets (ferrero roche truffles, chocolates, candied walnuts, and hazelnut cremes) and a plate of savory (crackers, brie spread, pepper jack cheese, and olives). It was delicious.  I dare say this is a tradition that will stick.

portpartyEarlier that day I attempted to make an apple crumble pie using this amazingly easy recipe. I got a little cocky in the kitchen, though, and decided I could eyeball the measurements. The pie turned out “a little powdery” in the words of my husband.  It was actually not bad, considering what it could have been. I just over did the flour and under did the sugar.  I highly recommend following the recipe, because even with my blunders that pie was good, so imagine how yummy the real recipe is! I added some of grandma’s candied walnuts to the crumble topping.

applecrumblepieI worked like a little crochet worker bee on my mom’s present, which isn’t finished yet.  It’s  my biggest project to date and I’m about a quarter done with it.  Here’s a photo of the blanket I’m crocheting for her.

momafghanAnd here’s my sister’s yoga bag.  She got it a few days ago, so I can show the whole thing now. I used the same pattern from Joyful Abode that I used to make mine.

bethanyyogaI finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the same day I last blogged.  We watched the movie on Christmas. I was totally unimpressed with the movie. i LOVED that book.  Chris dragged out the Half Blood Prince for me, but I had already started The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver.  She wrote We Need to Talk About Kevin, a book which still haunts me to this day. The Post-Birthday World is about a woman, Irina, an American expat living in London with her longtime partner Lawrence.  On the birthday of a friend she considers what life would be like if she kissed that friend.  The book is billed as a story about the choices we made and their good and bad repercussions.  I’m only 50 pages in, so we’ll see how it goes.  I like her writing style and I was engaged for the short time I spent reading it.

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Staycation

Because my family is in New England and the Husband’s family is in the Mid-West, we rarely think about spending the holidays anywhere other than our humble apartment in L.A. I love my family and my in-laws, but snow, ice, freezing nostrils, mittens, and temps below 30 just aren’t my things. Instead, I usually take this two weeks (used to be 10 weeks when I worked for LAUSD) to sit on my couch and crochet, read, and watch movies. Apparently, I’ve been ahead of the game all this time.  This kind of sloth is now known as a “staycation.” It’s all the rage now that the economy is in the toilet.  I’m happily revelling in the hottest new trend as of Saturday.

I’ve been cooking dinners more frequently (you’ll  notice this goes in waves with where I am in the school year- beginning of the year- we eat frozen meals, vacations- home cooking, right after vacations- convenience food, toward the end of the year when I’m in downhill mode- more cooking).

Last week I came up with the idea for this concoction because I have 4 frozen pie shells.  It’s a “Mexican Pie”.  I filled the pie with vegetarian refried beans, topped that with green chiles, then put a layer of soyrizo (vegetarian chorizo), then topped with cheese and three eggs beaten with a little water and milk. I baked at 375 for about 45 minutes. We topped it with sour cream and avocado slices. It was delicious and needed no extra flavoring because of the chiles and chorizo.

mexicanpieI also made a yummy dinner with Israeli couscous- which is the large pearl grain. I made that as directed and sauteed veggie chicken strips with onion and spinach.  We topped the whole thing with feta.  Again, no need for extra seasoning, because the feta and the seasoned chicken strips take care of it.  I had it with sparkling pomegranate juice, which was a holiday gift from one of my students.

israelicouscousLast night I made Veggie Beef Stroganoff.  I got the recipe from another teacher at school who had it for lunch one day.  I mentioned to the hubby how good it looked and he told me how much he LOVEd beef stroganoff.  So a month or so ago I surprised him with it.  It was tasty, so I made it again with the left over sour cream from the Mexican pie. This is sauteed onions, garlic, veggie beef strips, and mushrooms, with vegetable broth and red wine and sour cream.  I put it over wheat rotini because egg noodles have even less nutritional value. I also made brussel sprouts because I love ’em!

stroganoffToday was rainy and cold so I stayed in and cross-stitched all day.  I can’t believe how slowly these projects go.  I listened to music on the Party Shuffle mode the whole time I worked.  It was fun to hear all the good music I have hidden in my ginormous iTunes library.  Here’s what the mystery gift is looking like after about 6 hours of wok on it today.

xstitchgift2This evening I’ll be working on finishing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  I’m about 250 pages from the end.  My goal is to have it done by Christmas, so Chris and I can watch the movie version as our Xmas movie. I think I’ll have it done.  It’s the only book I’m working on right now. The only serious book, anyway.  I’m in the middle of another knitting mystery. I’m not sure what I’ll start next- maybe The Post-Birthday World, by Lionel Shriver.

Have a great holiday season and I’ll check back in next weekend!

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Good Tidings

For the last 7 years, my husband and I celebrated the holiday season by buying gifts for kids whose names hung from the trees in the mall. We’d pick the older kids, because they tragically asked for necessity items, like underwear and socks.  Their wishes of survival seemed so much more immediate than the 4 year old who was asking for a Playstation. We did this because we couldn’t think of a better way to spend our money- we didn’t want a tree or decorations; and we spend all year giving to each other, so we never do presents.  

This year is different.  We’re saving for a house and money isn’t going as far as it used to after bills and groceries. So instead of buying stuff for others, we both spent time volunteering.  I went to the Los Angeles Food Bank to help sort donated food and Chris went to jail- a charity puts people in jail and has them call around to raise money for their “bail.”  We both had wonderful experiences.  Mine left me wondering why I don’t volunteer more outside of the holiday season. So I started researching different possibilities, but came upon the roadblock of many organizations are M-F 9-5. I’m considering going to the hospital that’s within walking distance of our apartment.  They ask for 40 hours, with at least 4 hour shifts.  During the weekend, that’s very doable for me, so that’s the most promising option I have.

So, in the spirit of counting my blessings this holiday season, and sharing with others what I have (this year, more time than money) here are the last of the holiday cards I’ve made for friends and family.cards1cards2cards3And some mystery gift images.  I’m hand-making gifts for my mom, sister, and father.  Here are two close-ups of what I’m working on.

mysterygift1mysterygift2I’ve also been baking up a storm, but I keep forgetting to take pictures.  Last weekend I made mint chocolate chip cookies and mom’s peanut butter cups.  The weekend before that I made sugar cookies.  Later today I’m making kiss cookies. I’ve gotten in the habit of baking for Chris’s employees, so I send most to work with him, bring some to work for my colleagues, and we keep some at home. Yum!

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Absent

It’s been an interesting school year so far.  I’m exhausted and feel like I’m on a roller coaster.  One day is amazing and the next is horrible.  I took Friday off to clear my head and rest my nerves.  I feel way better, so I thought I’d come here to to update.

I’m trying to get back into exercising more frequently.  When I do that I tend to cook more often, or rather plan meals to be cooked.  My husband and I have a sort of unspoken argeement that the person who gets home first makes dinner.  Recently, that has been him, because I’m up to my neck in meetings and paperwork.  When I’m trying a new recipe, though I’m eager to come home and cook. We’ve been eating go-to meals for a few weeks now, waiting for things to settle down- spaghetti, veggie burgers, etc.  This week we bought garlic naan at Trader Joe’s to make with those vacuum sealed Indian curries.  The next day my honey made veggie meatball subs on garlic naan.  The bread was chewy and yummy and delicious! I couldn’t resist taking a bite before getting the camera!

meatballnaanI’ve been yearning for autumn weather for a while now.  It’s hard to be thinking Thanksgiving when it’s mid-80s outside.  I’m not complaining, just wishing for a little cool down.  Since this weekend was forecasted to be cooler (mid 70s), I broke out the crock pot today and made potato soup from The Simple LIttle Vegan Slow Cooker cookbook. I stirred in some colby-jack cheese when I served it (so much for vegan) and had a veggie Italian sausage and green beans with it.

tatersoupFor lunches I’ve been having chickenless nuggets, apple slices and grapes, vegan chocolate chip cookies from Trader Joe’s, pita chips, a hard boiled egg, and string cheese. I don’t eat it all at once. It’s spread through the day- snack, lunch, after school snack.

nuggetbentoI’m still reading the Wind-Up Bird Chronicles.  I’m about half way through and I still love it.  I highly recommend it! I’m also still reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  I haven’t gotten too far in it, because I took a break to read a knitting mystery that I borrowed from a colleague.  That’s right, a knitting mystery. It was simple, and quick, and made me want to knit.  It was particularly interesting or well-written, but it’s the first in the series and I’ve already started the second one, so I guess I got suckered.

knit_160bI’ve also been spending a lot of time playing Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir on my Nintendo DS.  It’s a hidden picture game.  I’m totally addicted. I could play for hours at a time. My honey brought it home for me because I loved Professor Layton and the Curious Village so much.

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Today I worked on my holiday cards.  Since we’re looking at moving in a few months, my husband and I are sending homemade Christmas cards out as gifts, rather than getting anyone anything.  Just sending our love through time spent on crafting.  Here are the first four I came up with with a little help from scrapbooking paper, charms from the dollar store, and spray adhesive from the Japanese market.

xmas1xmas2I spent a good part of the morning updating my ravelry account.  I’m not even close to filling out all my projects, WIPS, ideas, and stashes, but I added a few things, including my finished Windy City Scarf! I love finishing knitting projects.  They just go so slow, it feels like a big deal to finish something!

windy1I’ve also made some progress on my shawl. It’s increasing pretty quickly. I’m not sure how long I’ll make it. I bought enough yarn to make it LARGE, maybe it’ll be more of a throw.

knitshawl2I’ve been doing a little crocheting this weekend, as well.  We’re currently obsessing over the TV show Jericho. We’ve had it on DVD for a long time and never watched it.  We started it a few days ago, after finishing Painkiller Jane. So I’ve been trying to crochet during the new box set, but it’s one of the few shows that I’ve seen recently that has kept my attention. 

I haven’t cross-stitched or embroidered in a while, but I never posted my most recent pics of the big cross-stitch project. It’s starting to look really nice, but I’m out of practice with counting my stitches and the last time I sat down to work on it, I made a ton of mistakes.

xstitchI’m still working on my ribbed knitted hat.  I started it over and made the rib smaller. But I think my focus for the next few weeks will be crocheting and making cards.

Next post will be after Thanksgiving, so have a happy holiday. I hope you get to spend time with family and friends and delicious food.

 

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