Sam’s Art

May 6, 2011

Brain Pickings (a web site well worth reading in general) published a post recently featuring drawings by artists with autism.   Here’s something my resident artist has been working on.  Sam loves to stand at his desk, creating crayon drawings with layer upon layer of colors, numbers, and shapes.  They’re amazing, to me — a little insight into his imagination.


Two Days in a Row? Crazy!

February 26, 2011

Shortly after this picture was taken, these veg became borscht.

Remember what I said about the cookies not being a big hit with the boys? Scratch that. Sam LOVED them. Thank goodness I put some in the freezer or they would all be gone.  Lunch was Roasted Beet and Potato Borscht (recipe courtesy of Everyday Food).

Long have I believed that I didn’t like beets.  Um, revising that opinion. This month, I’ve been trying to eat more colorful veggies, so I gave beets another try. Yum.  And perhaps my post yesterday was slightly misleading.  I haven’t gone completely vegan. For example, I stirred some sour cream into my soup and inhaled it like a Hoover.

I was all set this weekend to knit like the wind on a seamless, top-down raglan I started.  But instead, I worked yesterday on a giant granny blanket that’s been languishing as a WIP.  (The header photo is a close-up of it.) Unfortunately, I’ve also been reading knit blogs and browsing Ravelry and I want to start about 900 new things.  I especially am feeling the desire to knit a stripey shawl, something like this one or this one, both of which were featured on Knitted Bliss.

This house is a total disaster area, due to the Awesome Destructive Power of Small Boys. I want to sit and knit, but John’s got a piano recital and my parents are coming over afterwards and, sadly, the house doesn’t clean itself.  I think I’ll put this album on and get to work!


Snow Day!

February 25, 2011

A blizzard hit us this morning, so it’s an impromptu day off for me.  On the agenda: crafting and cooking and baking.  Also, much watching of Spongebob.

Might things have been different for Kurt if he had had a Heart-Shaped Muffin?

I’ve been kind of obsessed with cooking and cookbooks lately.  My diet has been changing — increasingly away from meat, and even dairy and eggs, and toward more veggies.  The elimination of whole categories of ingredients – milk, cheese, BACON – has been, perhaps paradoxically, inspiring rather than limiting.

Some of my favorite new cookbooks were written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero of Post Punk Kitchen.  Appetite for Reduction is great, but today I delved into Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar!  Because nothing says “Snow Day” like cookies!

It is both good and bad that vegan cookie dough is safe to eat raw.

I decided to make one of the recipes from the “Wholesome” chapter, Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies.  These were not a huge hit with the boys, but I heart them.  They turned out almost scone-like in texture, and contain oats, whole wheat flour, dried cranberries, and toasted pecans. Yum.

If only I had a cup of coffee, my existence as a cookie would be fulfilled.

The recipe calls for agave nectar, but I didn’t have any so I subbed in more brown rice syrup. As a result, they’re probably less sweet than they should be.  That’s OK with me.  To be honest, these are the kind of cookies that would make other moms whisper, “Poor John and Sam. Their mother is a hippie. She makes them eat lentils and VEGAN COOKIES.”  Most of the recipes in the book are decidedly not like that.  John has made me promise to make one of the recipes with chocolate chips later.  That’s what snow days are for.


This and that…

On a related topic, another of my favorite food writers and cookbook authors is Mark Bittman.  He has published two very interesting columns recently, one on the Department of Agriculture’s new nutrition guidelines and another on McDonald’s oatmeal.  At the heart of both pieces is the simple belief that we should be eating real food. If only the government weren’t afraid to speak this wisdom!

Yesterday, I listened to a couple of great NPR podcasts from All Songs Considered.  Their latest is a 90s retrospective, which is fun, but I really liked an older one entitled “Tunes that Got You Through Your Teens.”  The stories from listeners are great and really reminded me of how important music was to me as a teenager.  As Bob Boilen said, “What a good friend music can be.”  Lots of different stuff helped get me through my teens.  The first album I thought of, though, was Ocean Rain by Echo and the Bunnymen.  I listened to it incessantly.  To me, it was the very essence of brooding romanticism, something that I think is almost universally appealing to teenagers.  For your listening pleasure, my favorite cut…

Baby Steps

July 19, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the State of the Planet, and the environmental impact of my actions.  Maybe it’s all the terrible news coming from the Gulf of Mexico.  Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve taken up a hobby — birdwatching, to be precise — that involves watching wildlife and being in nature.  Whatever the reason(s), it’s been on my mind, and I’ve been trying to be a little more conscious of what I am doing and eating and buying, among other things.

Sometimes it has seemed to me that environmentalists have urged concerned people to make changes in their lives that seem at best drastic and at worst, impossible.  Sell your car!  Live a carbon-neutral lifestyle!  Turn your whole family (including the dog) to veganism!  Get off the grid!

Well, gosh, I’d LOVE to, but where do I start?  And, if I do something short of that, am I still making a difference?

One day last summer, I picked up a flyer at my local coffee shop exhorting people to adopt a vegetarian diet.  It provided amazing statistics about the environmental impact of eating meat.  And it suggested that even modest changes in one’s diet would help.  Meatless Monday is an international campaign that educates individuals about the beneficial impact of eating meatless just one day a week on both personal health and the well-being of the planet.

That got me thinking.  Maybe little changes would make a difference.   The idea of permanently swearing off bacon made me nervous, but if I could help by just reducing my meat consumption, I could definitely get behind that.

So I did, and as a result, I’ve become a most-of-the-time vegetarian.  I eat meat now and again, but I try to save it for special occasions or something really worthwhile.  From there, I started thinking about other little changes that I could make.  Instead of “living carbon-neutral” or “saving the planet,” I made this my motto and my goal:

While I am here, I want to tread more lightly upon the Earth.

Note that any change at all, however small, will advance this goal.  That allows you to feel good about every positive action you take.  And, of course, as I know from years of raising an autistic child, nothing effects positive change like creating opportunities for success.  Here are some of the small things that I am doing to tread more lightly upon the Earth

I am growing vegetables at home. There are many reasons I decided to do this. You can’t eat more locally than your own backyard.  I love the taste of real, homegrown tomatoes.  But mostly, I’d like to teach John and Sam that food does not come from grocery stores.

I quit buying paper towels. This may seem silly, but I realized that it was pretty crazy for me to be recycling junk mail and cardboard packaging, but to use and throw away so many paper towels.  I bought some microfiber cleaning cloths, and I also use handknitted dishcloths for many things.  If I’m cooking bacon or something else that needs to be drained (which doesn’t happen all that often), I use some of the million paper bags or napkins that I’m given at restaurants and stores.  At home and when packing lunches, we use cloth napkins, which adds a little graciousness to even a peanut butter sandwich!

I hang my clothes up to dry. For this change, I have Erika, my boss at the yarn store, to thank.  After the refrigerator, the clothes dryer is the second-most energy-consuming appliance in the home.  I have clothesline hung in the laundry room, and I’ve found that hanging wet clothes takes only a few extra minutes.  There is nothing like the smell of sheets that have dried in the sunshine!

I don’t buy bottled water. In fact, I’m trying to buy fewer things packaged in plastic in general, but bottled water was the very first thing to go.  Did you know that nearly eight out of ten plastic water bottles will end up in a landfill?  And most bottled water is not pristine liquid from an Alpine source or a tropical island, but rather plain old tap water?

These are just a few things I am doing — I generally don’t use air conditioning at home, and I am also trying to use public transportation when I can.  But the thing I like about these steps is that they are completely doable, practically painless ones.

Have you made any changes in your lifestyle as a result of your concern for the environment?  I want to know what they are!


Books I’m reading now that are, more or less, on this topic: Diet for a Hot Planet by Anna Lappe (the daughter of Frances Moore Lappe, who wrote the groundbreaking Diet for a Small Planet) and The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, which I picked up despite its being a celebrity diet book based on the enthusiastic endorsement of a very trusted friend.

And check out my friend Gretchen’s blog, (Sort of) Sustainable Summer, in which she documents her family’s efforts to eat locally in the Cleveland area this summer!


June 3, 2010

I’m having a really hard time getting motivated today.  I can’t seem to get out of my chair.

It seems like a good day to stare at the roses …

… or watch a mourning dove plop down on the driveway for a spell …

… see if I can catch this gnome moving out of the corner of my eye …

… contemplate weighty questions …

… or just admire my new tablecloth.

Partial list of places I need to go today: grocery store, post office, website with information about forming a limited liability company.

Partial list of places I want to go today: back to sleep, a lawn chair with iced tea and a good book, possibly for a stroll at the local nature center.

Yep.  It’s summer.

Where Does the Time Go?

May 28, 2010

Whoa.  I did not mean to let two months go by without blogging.  Good weather and busy-ness.  That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

I am seriously overdue in posting about the awesome potholders I received in the Potholder Swap.  Here they are!

Yay!   Awesome work by (clockwise from top left) Betsy, Lucia R., Maureen, Myriam, and Kristin.   I will be teaching a vintage potholders class at River Colors next month and Maryse has kindly given me permission to use her awesome Modern Vintage Potholder pattern.  So  there’s more potholder happiness to come!  By the way, please please PLEASE click the link which is Maryse’s name and take a look at the socks she designed for Elinor’s Socks Revived contest.  They are amazing.  If you read the Outlander series of novels, you really need to see them!

I’ve been knitting and crocheting, but this past week, I’ve turned to sewing a bit.  One bad thing about renting a house can be yucky window treatments.  My dining room had dingy, old Roman shades, but I’ve fixed that.

I've been assured by two independent sources that the Eiffel Towers don't look jokey.

One good thing about moving into a rental house in the fall is that whatever comes up in the garden is a surprise.  I found these in the yard the other day.

Cute. Strawberries are just cute.

I’ve also started a vegetable garden for the first time.  I am so excited!  I planted two kinds of beans, three kinds of tomatoes, bell peppers, two kinds of radishes, carrots, Swiss chard, and a variety of herbs.   More pictures of the garden to come!

More tiny food!

March Spawned a Monster

March 27, 2010

… a crochet monster.  This month has completely gotten away from me, and my excuse is birthday madness combined with crochet crazies.

Modern Vintage Potholders, pattern by the redoubtable Maryse

First, there was the Potholder Swap.  I finished those and mailed them off.  I sort of thought after making ten identical double crochet circles with Tahki Cotton Classic and a D hook, I’d be over it.

Um, NO.

When I grow up, I will be a giant granny square.

Today, I felt what could only be called true compulsion to start a giant granny square blanket.  It will be composed of all my 100% wool scraps, partial balls, and orphan skeins, rounded out with some Patons Classic Wool I bought for no reason other than it was on sale at the Big Box Craft Store.

So far, I’ve done 15 rounds and it’s about 16 inches square.  And I am kind of in love with it.