Thursday, June 29, 2006

Random Cuteness

Meet Ryan's new kitten. Her name is Lisa ("that's a really pretty name for a girl, Mommy!"), and she's the sweetest lap kitty you ever met. We're learning to look for her deep inside cardboard boxes, which seem to be her favorite places to sleep. The two older cats aren't quite sure what to do with her, but seem to be putting up with this evil intruder with remarkable grace. Mostly.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Things I love right now

  • Recycling. I'm having the best time finding any and everything I can put in our recycling bins. It's like my own personal scavenger hunt every day, looking for bits of paper and plastic and metal that can be reused again. Our old towhouse didn't have any kind of recycling, so we collected everything and drove everything to the redemption center once the bags got full enough. Problem was, they didn't accept anything beyond bottles and cans. Not even newspaper (it killed me to throw newspaper in the trash, but what else could I do when no one would take it?). Now I'm having a grand time, finding new things I can recycle everywhere I look.
  • My own back yard. It's wide and inviting and so full of growing things, flowers especially. I love that the boys can run out and come back not five minutes later with armloads of roses, bachelor's buttons, and other flowers and you can't even tell they picked anything. Still don't know what most of the plants out back are yet (anyone want to take a guess if I post pictures?), but figuring it all out is pretty fun, too.
  • Working out where to put everything. Sure, it's a bit of a chore to unpack and get all the stuff in place, but there's something really satisfying about finding the right place for things and getting it all just the way that feels right.
  • Watching the boys explore their new home. Arden especially is thrilled to finally have his own room all to himself. They both are having a grand time running around the back yard, searching for "treasure" and generally getting covered in dirt in every way imaginable. Warms my heart to see them stack rocks and dig in the dirt and ride their bikes in the cul de sac. They already have a new friend who lives just 3 doors down, and it looks like there are several little boys of about the right age within 2-3 blocks.
  • Oregon strawberries! Absolutely incredible - so sweet and full of flavor, it's hard to even describe. Delicious.
  • My granite countertops. I can put a hot pan right down on the counter without giving it a second thought, keep pastry cool if I need to, and the counter never looks dirty. Ahhh....lovely stuff.
  • Knitting with my handpainted yarn. I was going to jump into the glorious yarn my dye pal sent, but Dan has been drooling over the other half of the skein I dyed since it was fully dry. He kept making subtle comments like, "you are keeping some of that yarn, right?" and "you know, if you made some socks for me out of that yarn I'd love you forever." Yep, he's the king of subtlety. But the yarn is knitting up really nicely, and I love watching the colors turn and bend as the sock gets longer and longer.
  • Ginger and "Yuzu" Wafers. Got the recipe for these ethereal cookies from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider. They're essentially tuilles with a hit of intense ginger and citrus. Just enough to nibble with some tea or alongside a bowl of ice cream. Yum.
  • Living here. I'm so incredibly glad we went through everything we did to make this happen. This is the right place for so many reasons, and it feels like home already.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Lots of dyeing

Now that I finally found my camera cord, I can share a few more goodies. Look what I got in the mail! Six weeks ago I signed up for Dye-O-Rama, a swap where everyone exchanges hand dyed yarn. I signed up for this in the middle of selling my house and packing because I am certifiably insane, but that should be abundantly clear by now. Anyway, the lovely Kate of k8knits sent this amazing package that you see to the left. Not one but two skeins of the most gorgeous colorways and a skein of the softest handspun I have ever come across. I kept holding it up to my cheek and petting it. Seriously.

The moment I saw the handspun, I knew exactly what to do with it. A friend of mine is going through chemo and had lamented the lousy choice in hats, and this happened to be exactly her colors. I started knitting once I rummaged through boxes and found my Denise needles, but soon found that there just wasn't enough for a full hat. No problem - this was a great excuse to go to my first Portland yarn store! After a quick check with Google, I drove off to Abundant Yarn in search of something with similar tones, something hopefully just as soft. I found many yarns that matched well, but nothing came close to the feel of this handspun. Finally, I spied some Jo Sharp Silkroad, gave it a feel, and smiled. Silk and cashmere would be just perfect, and the color worked wonderfully. Made up a roomy hat (she likes larger hats) with a rolled brim and gave it to her yesterday. She told me it feels like a "head hug" :-).

Today was the last day to send off dyed yarn, so last night I found my dye and yarn, waited until the boys were asleep, then laid everything out. I mixed colors (a Frankenstein mix of Rit dyes in brown and black, Dudley Easter egg colors in blue, orange, green and yellow, and KoolAid mix in blue) until everything looked about what I wanted, then tested what they'd look like by dipping bits of paper towel in each cup and laying that down in front of the cup (the colors were so dark, it was hard to tell them apart otherwise as well). The Dudley colors were very, very bright and vibrant, and I wanted muted and deep, so I added brown and black until they looked more sedate. Then I started painting the soaked yarn, bit by bit. Then I wrapped the yarn in plastic wrap, coiled it up, and set it onto a steamer rack in a large canning pot. The yarn steamed merrily for half an hour, then cooled with the lid on until it was just barely warm. I rinsed the yarn carefully, then laid it out on a rack in our dryer and set it to air dry with a bit of warm air to help things along. Took over an hour, but it finally dried properly. I was really happy with the end result. The yarn - Wool2Dye4 Supersock - really opened up and did beautiful things once dyed. I'm completely hooked - yarn dying is soooo much fun!

Then I skeined it up by hand. Took a long, long time to wind the yarn around the top of a box. Must. Get. Swift. My skein wasn't quite as tidy or pretty as many I've seen, but it didn't come out too badly. I tiptoed out across the wet grass to take a picture, since the colors went so nicely with the little tree out off the patio in our new house. Any excuse to walk outside in my very own back yard :-) Took a close up as well, just because. I love this colorway. Hope my dye pal likes it, too!

Thursday, June 08, 2006