Wednesday, October 31, 2007  

Happy Halloween!

All of the interesting photos I've been taking (ok, I lie - almost all of them have been of the pets) are stuck on the camera because, after an entire day of staring at various computer screens at work, I can't quite summon up the energy to flip on the laptop once I get home. But I will soon - because I've almost got some finished baby socks to show off, and one cannot effectively show off one's knitting without photos.

But I digress. I was posting to wish everyone a happy halloween - a holiday that we black-cat owners think of in a whole different light! When I adopted Cricket from my local SPCA, they specifically warned me to keep her inside around Halloween, as people have been known to do "terrible things" to black cats. My first reaction was disbelief, but better safe than sorry - so Cricket stays firmly inside for a few days!

S and I will be "celebrating" Halloween by heading to knitting - I told him to bring a book so he and Abby won't mind hanging out for a bit... and then we're heading to Pat Troy's for what might be our last "doggy menu" night of the year!

Work is... work. It's not anywhere near as bad as I make it sound, and S and I have been having a lot of serious "where will we be in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years" talks that have helped me to put a lot of things into perspective. I've been re-evaluating my goals and have, consequently, made a conscious decision to avoid, if at all possible, subscribing to the general attitude in a big firm that you should work like crazy to get that bonus (or that step on the ladder to partnership). I don't know what my life or my career have in store for me, but I have come to the realization that I am not willing to sacrifice my quality of life for big-firm ambition. It's not that I'm giving less than my best, but rather that I'm sticking (as much as possible) to my own personal limits, and I'm refusing to worry about it.

Consequently, I'm leaving in 30 minutes to head to Alexandria. And I'm going camping this weekend. And I'm using my "floating holiday" to take Veteran's Day off... a day I will spend knitting, getting my hair cut, and catching up on Netflix.


Friday, October 26, 2007  

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

A couple of weeks ago, I made a HUGE batch of pumpkin bread. We ate pumpkin bread for breakfast, for dessert, took it camping, ate it for snacks, brought it to work - I swear, it was impossible to eat all of it with just 2 people. As it began to get stale and I just couldn't face eating it anymore, it occurred to me that it might make a damn tasty bread pudding... so, with the help of a quick google for bread pudding recipes, the following was born:

5 cups of leftover pumpkin bread pieces

2 large eggs
1/2 cup white sugar (you might want to use less as the pumpkin bread itself is rather sweet
1 1 /2 teaspoons vanilla extract (eyeballed)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I totally used more)
2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter
2 cups half & half and milk (some combination)
2 tablespoons of brandy or rum (I used about a shot of a vanilla rum)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
Lightly grease 9 x 9 inch square pyrex
Place the square pyrex in a 9 x 13 rectangular pyrex.

For Custard:
Beat the eggs and sugar on high speed until thick and lemon colored (about 4-5 minutes) (when beater is raised the batter will fall back into bowl in a slow ribbon).
Add the vanilla and cinn.
Then beat in the melted and cooled butter and half and half.

Place the bread cubes in the square pyrex.
Carefully pour (or use a ladle) the prepared custard over the bread cubes until completely covered.
Press down the bread cubes so they are covered with the custard.
Let this sit for enough time so that the bread cubes have a chance to absorb the custard - maybe an hour?

Pour enough hot water into the rectangular pyrex so that the water is halfway up sides of the smaller square pyred.

Bake about 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the bread pudding from the water bath and cool slightly before serving.

I'll definitely be making this again!


Wednesday, October 24, 2007  

8 Random Things

I've been tagged, so here it goes...
  1. I hate coconut, but I love pina coladas. I think it's because coconut has a terrible texture.
  2. Growing up, I was a serious night owl, and thought waking up before 10 was cruel and unusual punishment. Now I rarely stay up past 11, and rarely sleep in past 7.
  3. If I don't get some quiet "me time" at some point during the day, I get extremely grouchy.
  4. I hate to be late for anything.
  5. I drink tea constantly, but hate anything to do with coffee.
  6. I can't wear wool against my skin, except for cormo, and even then only my arms, hands, and feet. Wearing a cashmere scarf for too long makes my neck itch.
  7. I hate shopping.
  8. I learned to read music almost before I learned to read, but I'm still really bad at music theory.

It is REALLY hard to think of 8 random things! So rather than inflict this on anyone, if you haven't done it yet - consider yourself tagged!


Saturday, October 20, 2007  

To Block A King

Tomorrow may see the conclusion (finally) of a long and glorious reign...



Friday, October 19, 2007  

A Wonderful Encounter!

Last week, on my second day of work, I wore my Tangled Yoke for the first time. Since I didn't have an office yet (multiple days of all-day training), I had stopped at a bench to change from my comfy sneakers into my not-comfy (but oh-so-cute) work shoes. All of a sudden, a woman comes up and asks me if that's Tangled Yoke... we do the typical "yes it is, oh I like it, oh thank you" conversation, and I end up following her to the office. Turns out she works on one of the upper floors (different company).

Later that evening, I check ravelry and realize that I have a message from that same person - she had found me on ravelry! So eventually we managed to get in touch via email and set up lunch, which we did today. Hopefully she'll be able to come to next week's very special Late Night...

I loves the ravelry!


Tuesday, October 16, 2007  

A New Project Goes Camping

Last weekend's getaway was lovely, and much-needed. It gave S and me a chance to really talk about what kind of life we want to build together, and ways we can realize our dreams. I think that when the campgrounds are open, S and I need to plan to go once a month for that opportunity to connect with one another (and the puppy) without worrying about cell phones, chores, tv...

The fall foliage wasn't quite out last weekend (perhaps due to the temperatures in the 90's that we'd been having just a few days before?), but the air was brisk and a few leaves were making an appearance...

... as was an EXTREMELY dirty doggy! She loved the cooler temperatures, and ran over 4 miles on a hike, with just a few stops to sniff and dig for exciting squeeky things!

Meanwhile, I decided to practice my "trip over my own feet" routine and gave my knee and hip a nice scrape/bruise combo. At least I had the presence of mind to NOT put my hands down to break my fall, so at least I didn't break my wrists or something! Plus, Cricket (being a sweetie) has already distracted me from my various bruises by biting my index finger, causing it to swell up rather like a sausage yesterday. Luckily, the swelling is all but gone today, or else I would be at the doctor's right now!

After a day filled with lots of hiking and running, Abby decided to take a nap while we prepared dinner... we had her all set up on her doggy bed to try to keep her a little warmer, but she started shivering as the sun went down and the temperatures fell into the 40's... it took her little doggy coat AND S' flannel shirt to keep the poor little pumpkin warm!

And once it was time for bed, Abby made it very clear where she wanted to sleep. You'll see that her doggy bed is nicely set up in this picture, and that I have a large blanket ready to tuck around her once she gets settled. You might also notice that Abby, after carefully evaluating all of her options, chose S' sleeping bag instead...

It took a bit of convincing, but eventually we all settled down in our own beds for a nice chilly night. It didn't warm up too much in the morning, however, and poor Abby was again shivering in her little coat... I think she warmed up nicely, however!

Oh yeah - and knitting? I'm working on a pair of Christmas gift socks. It took me a couple of false starts before I got a proper number of stitches, but it's smooth sailing now - I'm much MUCH farther than this picture, but I don't want to post too much because I'm not sure if the recipient is a reader!

And thank you guys for the words of support - it's definitely been a tough re-entry into the working world, but overall I'm really lucky. I have a tremendously supportive husband who has been able and willing to pitch in and be there for the end-of-day hugs, and together we're slowly-but-surely figuring it all out. Plus, Abby makes sure I get my exercise in, and Cricket does her best to remind me of the importance of health insurance!

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Monday, October 15, 2007  
Dear Cricket,

Although I am sure you really do not appreciate neighborhood kitties wandering past your window in the middle of the night, turning into a screaming, hissing ball of fury and launching yourself at the window DOES NOT HELP. Nor does biting yours truly when she attempts to pry you off of the screen. And although the purring and snuggling afterwards did help make me feel a little better, the fact remained that I was bleeding and very grumpy. So tonight, let's aim for letting me sleep wound-free until the alarm goes off at 5:30, ok?

Love, Maeve

I'll try to upload my camping pics tonight... I think Cricket may have been just a little mad that we left her alone over the weekend! But did she really have to draw blood? I said I was sorry...


Friday, October 12, 2007  

Reflections on a First Week

This week has been a painful re-entry into a world in which I thought I belonged, but now am not so sure... It's been a really tough transition from the person I've come to love - the one who wakes up each day with the freedom to run errands, cook, make plans, do laundry, spend time with the pets... to the person I have to become - the one who wakes up MUCH earlier, goes to the office, comes home 9 or 10 hours later, and goes to bed. I thought I'd be excited to be back at work, and to some extent I am... but in other ways I'm mourning for the idyllic life I enjoyed over the past few months.

I know it's only been the first few days, but my first assignment has left me feeling unsure of myself, which has just compounded all of the other insecurities that accompany one's first week at a new job. At the end of this first week, I find myself resolving that I will fight to keep things in my life that are important to me, and that, as much as possible, I will not sacrifice what I have come to love about my life for this (or any other) job.

Abby and Cricket, of course, are supremely unhappy with this latest shift in schedules, and wonder when their full-time snuggle-buddy will stop leaving each morning! Perhaps we can make it up to Abby slightly with the camping trip this weekend...


Tuesday, October 09, 2007  

Knitting? What Knitting?

I'm in the midst of a whirlwind 2 day orientation - why is it that orientations only seem to make things more confusing? I'm really not used to this whole "full day at work" routine yet! And this morning was our first attempt at our new morning routine - I head to aerobics from 6-7, then go on a morning puppy-walk, and roll into the office around 9. What time I get to come home remains a (likely) unpleasant surprise!

Come hell or high water, though, I'm making it to Late Night tomorrow!

ETA: Work 1; Knitting 0. No late night for me!


Friday, October 05, 2007  

Last Day of Freedom

I start work on Monday. SIGH. On the one hand, I'm super excited because it's been awhile since I've been, you know, PAID for anything, and the bank account is starting to whimper. On the other hand, being a stay-at-home doggy mom has allowed for some great days of errands, puppy-snuggles, and knitting... and I'm really going to miss the freedom of setting my own schedule.

So to celebrate my last weekday of lounging around, I'm spending the day with some lace, some Harry Potter audio books, and a few fuzzy companions.

I'm working like crazy on the Alpine Lace scarf - this picture was from a couple of days ago, so imagine it looking exactly the same, only longer.

And an artsy shot showing how lovely and bumpy lace is before blocking...

So that's the lace. The other thing I've been doing? You're looking at the Executive Vice President in charge of Snuggle Supervision. I've been working overtime...

Exhibit One - Dog Holding Down the Couch

Exhibit Two - Cricket and the Featherbed

As one of our wedding presents, we got a down featherbed. Within minutes of me putting it on the bed, Cricket came in to see what all the fuss was about. She slept on the bed for approximately 18 hours, with only the shortest breaks for meals. Once I break out the down comforter, I may have to start bringing her food to the bedroom lest she starve to death... apparently she likes the feather bedding!

And I may have accidentally made some pumpkin bread. And then had lots more batter, so I had to make pumpkin muffins and pumpkin cake. Oh, and there may have originally been 6 muffins... but what if it hadn't tasted good? Don't all cooks have to do a little taste-test?



Wednesday, October 03, 2007  

Finished Sweater, Minnesota, and Some Jello

Last time I managed to sit in front of the computer and update, I was struggling to finish Monarch of the Glen in time to wear it to Minnesota. I decided to do a turned-down collar and graft the live stitches to a row of picked up stitches on the inside of the collar - for this pullover, I wanted the collar to be nice and stretchy. Of course, since I was essentially making the shaping up as I went along, I had to do this part twice. I think the worst was taking out the first round of grafting...

With the neckline FINALLY properly shaped and grafted, it only remained to weave in some ends and graft the underarms. Monarch accompanied me to Late Night, where I attempted to finish everything up. Unfortunately, a few other things got in the way of the last bit of grafting...

Exhibit 1 - Crazy Yarn Hoarding Behavior.

Exhibit 2 - Adorable Dog Under Knitting Table (or, more likely, in arms demanding snuggles).

So instead of finishing up the sweater on Wednesday night, I finished it up at the airport on Thursday morning. Thanks to TSA, I even had to gnaw off the ends with my teeth since I couldn't bring scissors with me. Fun times!

With one project down, I turned my attention to Alpine Lace... I definitely got a few strange looks from my fellow passengers as I carefully unpacked my cone of yarn, set it up under the seat in front of me, and started knitting.

The lace enjoyed the flight, and enjoyed the view (and the beer) in the Milwaukee airport.

Eventually, we made it to Minnesota, and spent some lovely quality time with S' family. Friday and Saturday morning, however, were reserved for "playing tourist." We didn't have a ton of time, but we managed to visit S' alma mater, the state capital building (awesome tour, by the way!), and one of my favorites - the Como Park Conservatory. (Freudian slip? I keep calling it CORMO park... I wish!) It was beautiful! We wandered through the Sunken Garden...

... almost had to physically carry my dad out of the Fern Room (he really REALLY likes ferns!)...

... and we lucked out that it was the very last weekend the outdoor Japanese Garden was open for the season!

The beautiful garden and the cool temperatures combined for a photo shoot....

Monarch of the Glen Aran

Pattern: my own, based on a sweater worn by Duncan on the BBC show Monarch of the Glen

Yarn: Cormo worsted, Fox Hill Farms (MDS&W)

Notes: I loved working on this sweater. I am thrilled with how it turned out, and am proud that I took the time to rip out and re-do when something didn't turn out exactly as I hoped. I knit this sweater in pieces, leaving live stitches at the neckline for the collar. After seaming up the raglans, I knit the collar (turned hem, grafted) and finished sewing the seams.

Before the "second reception" on Saturday, we headed up to Stillwater for some pictures - which resulted in another finished object photo shoot as I realized I never properly photographed the Debbie Bliss Silk Shrug I finished AGES ago!

And the reception in Minnesota? SO MUCH FUN. And look! Jello!

When we finally got home, the animals had (according to them) NEVER EATEN AT ALL. And they'd gotten no attention. Yeah, right!

Cricket seems to be sleeping, but really, she's fainted from hunger. She just happened to conveniently faint right in that lovely sunny spot in the living room...

And Abby is so weak that she could only managed to dig a little teeny tiny hole this morning...

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