Friday, August 22, 2008

Gael in cardigan knit in Cascade Bollicine Dolly

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Knitting: yarn advice 101 needed!

As if it weren't enough to be on the verge of a 20-year high school reunion that for some reason I have decided to attend (having never been to any of the other reunions, I don't see why I chose this particular one to show up at, must be nostalgia due to age or senility, due to same), I have also decided to knit myself a little something to wear for it. The little something being the "Lacy Hug Me Tight" from "Knit Two Together". You can view it here: That took long enough to decide, now for the yarn...

Help! The pattern is a fitted shrug; holey but fitted. The yarn called for is Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk. So why not use that? 1)I have my doubts about its form-keeping abilities. 2)I need to stick to my self-designated budget, (be good, be good, be good), so I am considering two yarns from Knit Picks for the project: Shine Sport and Andean Treasure.

Andean Treasure would be my first choice, except that it is baby alpaca and it might be itchy, and would hold its shape? And how does it do after washing and wearing in the long run? I made a fantastic pair of socks for my husband out of really nice baby alpaca, but they are so warm they should have a warning on them and they itch me, sensitive me, silly me. This will be the first time I knit something for myself. I have four sweaters to make for my munchkins (because I said I would), so I don't want to mess around with a project that will look shabby six months from now. Anyone knit with this? How did it keep its shape? How would it feel on bare shoulders?

Shine Sport seems like a shoe-in, since it is half cotton, half modal. However, I have read on one review that it sheds "little shards" when knit, that can irritate hands as much as wool. Yikes, this sounds alarming! Personally, I can knit with wool just fine, I just have a problem wearing it. I also read that the Shine wears and washes fairly well, at least in small garments. Any experience with knitting this? And with adult-sized garments?

Last of all, are there other yarns you would recommend for this project? Keeping in mind budget, shape-holding and itchiness, thanks!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Clean laundry

Aaaah, were it only enough for it to be clean. Clean I can handle; sorted, washed, dryed, even on the line. Folded even, is not too bad, since it is either a quick load in front of the machine (me) or folded for me in front of the tv at night (dh). But getting it all back to where it needs to go...even the fly lady can't help us here.

It doesn't help that the children keep switching rooms. They do it when we are not looking, they do it at nap time, they do it when I am typing, folding wash, giving birth; any time my attention is occupied elsewhere. We have discouraged, forbidden, ranted, about this habit, but they will do it. I wouldn't mind if they just slept in another room and left everything, but each time it is a whole new interior decorating project. I find closets half-way refurbished, clothes in transit, clothes under beds, in the hallway. It can take days to get everything all sorted out again.

Cate is 11 now, going on 12, and very organized, very neat, has a very hard time not micro-managing the rest of us. Duncan and Valentine have my creative tendencies, things need to find their place, rather than being dictated a spot. Charles still does what he is led to do, Gael is barely walking, so he is basically an ambulatory mess machine. Between the five of them and their socks, life if crazy.

We have taken measures over the years to simplify the whole process. Beds are European-easy; everyone gets one fitted sheet and a comforter covered with a duvet cover made of soft cotton, both are washed each week. This greatly reduces bed-making time and untidiness. All they have to do is vaguely toss the comforter in the right direction and straighten out the corners a little.

They all know how to fold wash, and I plan to take this one step further when I buy baskets for each bedroom. Too bad for separating darks and whites. I am going to throw each room's basket in the machine and then back in the room to be folded (at least by everyone over 8).

How about you? What ingenious laundry solutions have you found for your household? Please do share and get me out from under this pile of wash!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Living with a cockatiel

During the short period of time that I had my bird, we were very good friends. I got him for my eleventh birthday after saving enough money to buy the cage, food, and toys witch cost $200. The bird itself was $150. My parents paid for that. I named him : Alestor Socks Harry James Potter Albus Madeye. I got him after my ninth birthday present, a much loved, and very old girl rat named socks died a few months before. We called him Al because his real name was to long to use all the time. His cage was over four feet tall and very hard to clean for an eleven year old. A bird is very hard to potty train, and I'm sorry to say that his life was over before he got the hang of it. Most cockatiels live up to about fifteen years, but they can live up to twenty five. My cockatiel however was a whiteface and they are generally more susceptible to birth defects. Mine had a hart problem. I was able to command my bird to step up on my finger when I said step up. He would sit on my shoulder and lean his head down to rub it against my neck. Me and my bird had a wonderful time together. But, on February 13 2008 he died. The vet did a free autopsy, and we found out that he was born with an over large hart. It was a happy adventure with a sad ending. At the time I did not know that it would lead me to another great adventure: mammito.

Caitlin, Tuesday, March 25th

Saturday, August 2, 2008

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Fasting, motherhood and the world

I have decided I prefer the term "fasting" to describe the experience of subsisting on water and lemon juice. It evokes the great spiritual traditions of Native Americans who journeyed into a land of holy trances and visions deep in the woods as well as Gandhi, objecting to the world's injustices. The mystical Orient with its melange of great luxury and austere deprivation holds great appeal for us in the highly antiseptic, neon-lit, edged-lawn-owner West. I am well aware that 24 hours of food abstinence does not begin to qualify as a spiritual experience, I don't even feel light-headed yet, but my perception has changed subtly overnight.

At 24 hours; the carpet felt softer under my feet walking down the steps. The morning air felt cooler and was a welcome vision of green and gold through the trees. I felt lighter, less distracted by the superficial, the unnecessary.

What am I hoping to gain? Certainly not saintly visions or voices-they would cart me off in a hurry. I am hoping for a purity of perception, to reconnect with what is vital. To let the ensnaring strings of modern life float away and find the root of necessity once again. To renew my faith in the beautiful, the light. I want the things that keep me from being kind and composed to fall away forever. I want my children to find a mother who is serene, tranquil and happy, yet efficient, energetic and ready to listen, play or meet whatever the occasion calls for.

Darn, I am afraid it would take more than four days of fasting for all this! But let us keep the faith and give an update tomorrow.

Friday, August 1, 2008


It's time to cleanse, a practice my chiropractor insists upon once of year or so, when I am not pregnant or nursing a newborn, which really limits the time frame for someone in my advanced condition of motherhood! Five babies in ten years and two babies that weren't, poor little angels...that has not given me a wide window for cleansing. Add to that the fact that in the past I have been a whiner and felt miserable (like everyone else) when on a cleanse, and it all adds up to something I have not often indulged in.

So here we go. I am posting to oblige myself to some measure of accountability. If all million regular readers of my blog ask me how my cleanse is going, I will be more likely to stick to it during day two and three when I am longing for a doughnut, a slice of leftover foie gras, or just a bowl of dry Cheerios.

Why cleanse? My chiropractor takes one look at my eczema that is driving me mad and pronounces "yeast." She always says "yeast" to me. What reassures me is that she always says "dehydrated" to one of my friends, so at least this is not a "one-size-fits-all" solution. Then comes the dreaded word: "cleanse." And she walks out of the room.

Now, dear reader, if you are also a mother of five or four, three, two , one, or even just living with a room mate who loves to eat, you will understand the particular pressure and temptation of preparing meals three times a day and snacks in-between while conscientiously drinking your lemon-juice or water or whatever you have chosen as a weapon. We really like to eat in our family. It is more than a hobby, it is an obsession. We spend hours dreaming up menus, looking up recipes and cooking. Last night was our 15 year wedding anniversary. We created a feast, a lovely feast, with foie gras from France, a salmon terrine from fresh salmon, fresh cream, a mushroom/egg/cream tartelette, and a green salad tossed with balsamic wine vinegrette and garlic croutons made from homemade bread, all in delicate portions, served beautifully (by my husband), and accompanied by a light rose wine. Dessert was a new cream cheese brownie recipe from Joy of, that I have perfected my making it three times in the last week, a true delight to behold, even better to taste. Despite this, it is fairly easy to be disciplined in this respect, once I have made up my mind to do it.

What is harder is the lack of energy and lethargy that kicks in on days two and three. I have not attempted this for years, so my body has forgotten how awful I will feel tomorrow...I will give you an update then. For now, I am a happy day one, hour one cleanser, drinking my happy water.

I'll check in tomorrow.