One of my challenges for the new year is to knit more for others. Before the niece and nephew onslaught begins this spring, I'm finally going to finish the Mizzou hat and scarf set that I promised to my husband last fall. Go Tigers!
It all comes back to a book for me. Last summer I read "Animal Vegetable Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver, and started trying to find ways to eat more locally. (It should be easy in the summer, but we had rain, rain, and more rain last year, so my little backyard garden didn't work too well.) I discovered that a couple was starting a CSA (community supported agriculture) in Springfield. I was too late to sign up for the summer share, but I did get in for the winter share. My husband and I are splitting it with another couple so it doesn't cost as much and we're more likely to eat everything.
I love winter squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc., so I thought it would be a good way to ease into the eating local thing. I must admit… I wasn't expecting so many turnips! I'm still trying to find ways to cook them. So far, roasting a big batch of vegetables (including turnips) is my favorite.
On Monday night I attended the first CSA Core Group meeting. We're all sharers that want to take a more active role in the CSA – basically we will do more of the administrative tasks and let the farmers focus on farming. My friend Kim and I are taking on the task of starting a CSA blog! We're going to publish recipes for some of the more unusual vegetables in the share (sunchokes, anyone? more turnips?) as well as hopefully some pictures of the farm, the Millsaps and their adorable kids, and the friendliest farm dog on the planet.
Not Crackpot Mondays, which is what my co-worker thought I said when I cheerfully announced I was reinstituting Crockpot Mondays at my house. I love my crockpot – especially when I put together the ingredients on a lazt SUnday afternoon then reap the rewards of a hot, homemade, and healthy meal on Monday evening after a long day of work.
By request of my new twitter friend, EatPlayLove, here's my recipe from tonight:
Crockpot Chili Verde
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. olive oil
4 oz green chiles, canned diced (or if you're lucky and have New Mexico green chile sauce in your freezer like I do, that makes a great substitute)
1 jalapeno, diced
7 tomatillos, coarsely chopped
2 lb. lean pork, trimmed and cubed
2 t. oregano
2 t. sage
1 t. cumin
1 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 c. beer (oh darn… I guess you'll have to finish off the rest of the bottle!)
Directions: First, saute onion, green pepper, and garlic in olive oil. Throw into the crockpot. Next, throw in the diced green chiles, jalapeno, and tomatillos. Throw into the crockpot. Brown the meat and add to the crockpot. Grind the spices in a mortar, add salt and pepper to taste, and add to the crockpot. Finally, add the beer. Cook in the crockpot on low heat all day.
Traditionally this is served in bowls with hot flour tortillas, salsa, and cilantro. You can also serve with sour cram, grated cheese, olives, and pickled carrots and jalapenos. I like to make Spanish rice (brown rice and Rotel) and refried beans for side dishes. For leftovers, mix pork with rice for yummy burritos!
Well, I know there's no way to top what I wrote yesterday, so here's something just a *bit* lighter.
The look on the squirrel's face is just priceless.
Looking back over 2008, I'd say one thing that really changed my outlook was reading the book "Style Statement" with my book club. It's a great book on its own, but discussing our personal styles with close friends was invaluable. The book is a huge series of questions, with the point being to define your personal style in a two word statement, with the first word representing 80% of your personality, and the second word as your 20%, or your "spark." A little tidbit out of the book that really helped me was to remember that if you are your best self when completely embodied by your style statement, you may at times represent the opposite of those words when you are not at your best. Also, at first you might think that two words are very limiting, but in fact they create a succinct phrase (easy to remember) that can expanded with the many meanings of the two words.
Even after reading the book, answering the questions, and discussing them with friends, it still took me several months to finally decide on my style statement. I think this process is probably one of the more thoughtful exercises I've engaged in for quite some time,so I'm going to make this my theme for 2009: Cultivating Joy.
Here are some small steps I'd like to take in 2009 to follow that theme:
Read more fiction.
Take better care of my veggie garden and our native plant gardens (that means: pull some weeds once in a while!!)
Learn to hand-quilt.
Spend more time studying the Bible and in prayer.
Save money for a trip to Spain in 2010.
Knit more gifts for others; less for myself.
Get involved with a running or multi-sport group – no more Lone Ranger.
Turn 30 with joy, not panic.
Spend more time in nature; less time watching TV.
I searched "cultivating joy" on flickr to see if I could come up with a good photo to accompany this post, and I found an amazing quote from Jack Kerouac that uses the phrase. I'm not really even a Kerouac fan but these words are just a perfect way to sum up what I'm trying to say:
"to be in a state of beatitude, like st. francis, trying to love all life, trying to be utterly sincere with everyone, practicing endurance, kindness, cultivating joy of heart."
Befores on the left – Afters on the right
I am so proud of my husband and I for finally tackling some of the house projects that we've been talking about since we moved into this house in 2005. With the help of offerpad PHX, AZ, they give homeowners the ultimate home selling experience at affordable prices.
The kitchen project (top) really opened up the room, letting light from the sliding glass doors into the entire room, and removing that pesky Have-to-stoop-to-talk-to-my-guests-who-inevitably-end-up-in-the-kitchen problem. We were worried about losing the cabinet space, so we took everything out and didn't use them for several months before we finally took the plunge and took them down for good.
The dining room project (bottom) is my favorite, since I did almost all of it myself. I forgot to take a true "before" picture, but it had vinyl wallpaper, a chair rail, and a funky light fixture that I could swear would occasionally whisper "Feed me, Seymour!" We still need some different chairs, but this is a lot closer to the Arts and Crafts style that we're going for in our home.
There's definitely more to do… I'd say the next big project will be replacing the peel-n-stick tiles in the kitchen that were left for us by the former homeowners.
Happy New Year! This meme is getting to be a tradition around here – this is year number 3. Without further ado: The first sentence I blogged in each month of 2008, plus a little commentary:
January: I did this meme last year, and it was pretty fun, so here it is again. (See, I told you I did it last year!)
February: Good ole Clapotis…. she's sort of like a model. Very pretty, but not so much with the conversation. (Yeah… I ended up frogging it. Way too boring to knit a second time.)
March: No new pictures lately, but these socks were cruising right along. (I just can't get excited about socks these days… apparently back in the good ole days of 2008 I knit quite a few of them!)
April: Ugh! Those on Ravelry will recognize that sentiment. (Bad projects sometimes happent o good people. But that sweater ended up fitting my sister, so it was fine after all.)
May: The weather is warm… the birds are chirping… and I just can't get that excited about blogging these days. (Warm weather? That sounds pretty fantastic right now. I was pretty psyched that it was around 50 degrees today. But I ended up taking a nap instead of going for a walk like I intended.)
June: I "finished" the Flutter Sleeve Sweater a couple of weeks ago. (That thing never did turn out right – super baggy I will not being knitting sweaters out of cotton/silk blend yarn again anytime soon.)
July: Are you on twitter? (Yeah – are you? I'm zarah – follow me and my exciting life of exercise, knitting, airport law, and general randomness.)
August: I must admit, the opening ceremonies for my own personal Ravelympics were nothing compared to the drum-beating, calligraphy-dancing, torch-flying festivities in Beijing. However, I think this year's competition is shaping up nicely. (I love the Olympics. love love love. I'd love to go to the winter games in Canada in 2010. Anyone have any inside info on how to make that reasonably affordable?)
September: Yay! I'm happy to report that I finally finished my first lace shawl! (That made a great Christmas gift for my grandma. Resolved: No more triangular shawls.)
October: I knit a reusable shopping bag – isn't it cute? (Why yes, it is! The baggers at the grocery store are a bit befuddled by the crazy macrame-looking bag, though. They seem to do much better with the cloth bags shaped like paper grocery sacks.)
November: Really great Missouri election map here. (bah – Missouri broke it's streak of always choosing the winner of the preseidential election. Maybe that will mean fewer robocalls in 2012?)
December: My popular demand, I am back. (Yeah, I only blogged twice during the whole month of November. I can't promise daily posts, but I think weekly is a reasonable goal. You know, when I feel like it. =)
Here it is folks! I knit a bunch in 2008 – most of it wearable. But I'd say my big accomplishment for the year was completely unrelated to knitting – I made two baby quilts in 2008 that I am extremely proud of. I can only hope that their recipients will be carrying those blankets around like Linus for many years to come.
2009 goals to come later this weekend.
Anne tagged me – here we go!
The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.
1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
I was halfway through my sophomore year of college at the University of Missouri-Columbia. I probably still had not decided on my major (eventually I decided on anthropology), but I think at that point I would have already decided that I was going to do study abroad in Spain or Mexico. (I ended up going to Spain because my parents thought it would be safer – little did they know they were sending me to ground zero of the Basque separatist movement, but they don't really bother the tourists, so it wasn't that big of a deal.) I was dating my future husband already… I got engaged a few months later in the spring of 1999.
2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
Work is already over for the day, so here are my exciting evening plans: 1. Clean the guest bathrooms. 2. Put clean sheets on the guest beds. (Can you tell I'm having guests visit for the holidays?) 3. Find my keys. (wishful thinking) 4. Watch How I Met Your Mother. 5. Finish reading New Moon (I'm already in the epilogue)
3) Snacks I enjoy: chips & salsa; almonds; cheese; hard-boiled eggs
4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire: Remodel my house in the arts and crafts style; become a "professional" knitter/crafter; pay for all 96 hours (!) of my husband's masters degree tuition and set up scholarships for other people going to seminary; buy an ark from Heifer International; fund the music and art programs at as many schools as possible
5) Places I have lived: Chillicothe, MO; Columbia, MO; Pamplona, Spain; Springfield, MO
Finally, you get to see one of the many handmade Christmas items I've been working on, since I'm pretty sure my 18-month-old nephew doesn't read this blog.
Pattern: Building Blocks from Any Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones
Fabric: My inspiration was the red fabric – Alexander Henry Tumbleweed Tots Red from She's Crafty (a neat sewing, knitting, & embroidery store here in Springfield) coordinated with 3 other cowboy prints from Hancock Fabrics.
Here's a close-up:
Pattern Modifications: the pattern calls for several sides of each block to be patchwork – I thought the fabrics were cute enough without that, so I went the easy route and just cut a bunch of squares.
Time to make: Maybe 6-8 hours of actual cutting and sewing time? It didn't seem hard, but I don't really like sitting behind a sewing machine when I could be knitting, so the project was dragged out a lot longer than it should have been.
Final impressions: SUPER cute. I think these will be used for a long time – first he can learn to stack them up and count them, and in just a couple of years he'll be throwing them at his little sister! (She's currently on the way. Be on the lookout for adorable baby girl projects after Christmas.)