Previous month:
December 2009
Next month:
February 2010

qotd, a two-fer

"Dave and I think it would be great if someone went around to people's houses, knocked on the door, and said to them, "I'm not here to sell anything. I'm here just to say thank you for doing the best you can with your life when you can; believe what you want to believe to get you through life without hurting anybody; we respect that and support it.

Oh, and wear more hats."

-- From Lisa Horstman's blog. You need to read the whole post, if only to see the illustrations.


Also, since it's timely enough that I don't want to save it for next week, some of the more amusing commentary I've read on the State of the Union address:

Looking out over the frauds and lightweights and bland hunks of man-cheese that make up the assembled political establishment, and beyond them to a spavined and impotent political culture that would embarrass any self-respecting monkey house, and beyond that to a country willing to abandon almost anything it once deemed important to the first huckster who turns up weeping on cable television, Barack Obama must have been sorely tempted to let out one final, mighty guffaw and close his first State of the Union address with the words, "And I am the only president of the United States in this room, motherfuckers," after which he would return to the White House and eat Mitch McConnell's gonads on toast.

-- From Charlie Pierce's column in Esquire. The rest is well worth a read.

food stuffs

* In a previous post about what you'd make for a visit from Anthony Bourdain, Catherine commented that she'd make her granny's biscuits and chocolate gravy. I thought I'd run across most of the unique dishes the south had to offer (and tasted all the ones that didn't involve intestines) but had never before heard of this chocolatey, biscuity goodness. Lo and behold, this month's Saveur put it on its 100 things list:  Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy. I might have to wait to try it until I make it to Knoxville again, simply because I lack cold enough hands for biscuit making. But, yum.

* Speaking of Bourdain, I now want to go to Brittany in the worst way. I'll even put on a dorky striped shirt if it helps me get there. 

* In that same Saveur -- the list issue is my perennial favorite -- the editors included a piece on Lupini Beans. I remember my grandmother offering up dishes of them as snacks. We'd suck those tender, salty legumes out of their shells with abandon. I couldn't resist buying a jar when I went to the grocery the next day. The Cora brand beans are so salty I can't even eat them. Either my sensitivity to good old NaCl has changed or I need to brine my own. Or, maybe, I just need to find another brand. Hrm. Anyone?

* I made a cake last weekend.


The recipe is from Cook's Country and is called "Washington Cream (not a) Pie." Here's my thing about Cook's Country and its sister publications - would it kill Christopher Kimball to make it easier for subscribers to use their websites? I'm already paying you for the publication, so clearly I value what you have to offer, but to also have to pay for access to the site for recipes that the magazine promotes? That's just irritating, especially to those, like Kimball, who are big fans of thrift. 

Anyway. About the cake.

The printed magazine recipe directs you to the website in order to download additional recipes for white cake and the interior custard. The only instructions provided were for the chocolate ganache and assembly. In order to get those missing bits, the site wanted me to give it all sorts of info, which I'm not going to do, since I'm already a subscriber and they have all of this stuff already. Seriously, Kimball? Seriously?


I punted, which turned out to be the right choice. The cake part was meh, if only because it was a box mix (it was a busy day and I had 19 other things to cook). Fortunately, the cake only serves as a vehicle for everything else. The ganache was good, tho a little to bitter when put against the rest. For the custard, I used Ruhlman's ratio for Vanilla Sauce and took the Bavarian option. 

OMFG. So good. I've been eating the leftover out of the plastic container with a spoon. Whipping up your own batch is beyond easy. If you can separate eggs, you can do this. then the base sauce can be turned into anything from ice cream to donut filling to creme brulee. 

So, overall, Washington Cream (not a) Pie for the win. And Kimball can suck it.


I am not all that musically inclined. I can sing with the radio, mostly on key. I played clarinet in junior high/high school but was really, really bad at it, mostly because I never practiced. I was so bad, in fact, that for four years, a fellow bad clarinetist* and I were engaged in a war** for the last chair in the section. 

The Husband is the musical one. He's a singer, trained and everything. In high school, he belonged to a choir that was good enough to travel to far off lands, like Poland, where they ate aspic.

The Diva takes after her Dad. She's had frighteningly accurate pitch since she was a toddler*** and sings quite well. I don't say this because I'm her mother; I can say with great authority that her brother can't find a pitch when given a compass and a map. Still, he makes up for lack of tone with unflagging enthusiasm.

Eventually, we'll get the girl into formal lessons, since she seems to want to take them. But for now, I'm loving listening to her sing in the backseat when we drive places. She loves the KidzBop**** discs, which none of the adults can stand. We're constantly trying to shift her over to music we want to hear, too. A few years ago, her favorite car CD was The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.***** And, yes, the "erection" song spurred quite a few conversations.

I managed to watch about 20 minutes of that acappella singing reality show. While I didn't dig the competition, it reminded me how much I love Ben Folds, which made me pick up his acappella disc, which has been in constant rotation in the car. It's a hoot to hear the Diva find the harmonies on "Jesusland," which is one of her favorites. And, I've been trying to explain what "Jesusland" means but she doesn't quite have the life experience to get it. Still, we try. 

Effington is the song that we all enjoy. She likes that Folds has his kids sing on it. The Boy likes to sing the rhythm line. And both the spouse and I grin like fools as we drive.


* Awesome band name alert.

** If you can describe any two people who are that apathetic about their musical development as being in "a war."

*** I also wonder if this has something to do with how quickly she picked up language.

**** Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box has a great KidzBop moment in it.

***** I know. But when your parents met doing theater, listening to quirky musicals is your birthright.

many things make a post

* How literature can help with depression.

* Keep Calm and Carry Yarn. Also, Make It Work.

* FWIW - The Yarn Harlot and I have the same hair issues.

* Four fun facts about sloths. It strikes me that "avoid being eaten by eagles" is just good advice, no matter what your species is.

* Cherie Priest does an awesome job of explaining what authors can actually control about their books. It's not that much different on the non-fiction side.

* Every day, my love for Nathan Fillion grows.

* There's nothing quite like it for curing cooling the blood. (Thanks, Wendy.)

* Jezebel on the New Yorker piece about Neil Gaiman and his use of the word "bitch." (Hat tip to Jerri, who seems to be blogless.)

* *snerk* The larval stages of the common American speculative fiction writer.

* Two from the NYT: Dad stays home and Book Clubs of One. And on the Book Club thing: what title do you not want to share with anyone? 

* Apparently, this is the all NYT many things post: Jincy Willet on Katharine Weber ( I will read almost anything Willet recommends) and the DIY book tour. (I will totally come to your house if you promise to not kill me and bury me in your backyard.)

a bit of business

The fine folk at Free Press/Simon and Schuster have suggested that I put together a promotional video in advance of the March 22 release of Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously.* **

While I'm certain there are any number of things I could blather on about, I've been wondering if there's anything specific you all would like me to blather on about. So now's your chance - what should I talk about?


* The book now has cover art. Hooray!

It looks like this:


** Buy one! Buy twelve!

actual knitting content: Ms Thing's Mitts

When Maddy saw that I was knitting a scarf for your brother, she decided that it was an injustice that could not be born. So she put in a request for fingerless mittens that "almost cover my pinky." 

The result, which I finished last night:


The details: The pattern is Shelia January's Knitted Hand Coverings recipe from the Knitter's Review Retreat 2008. Koigu KPPPM in the evocatively named "P623," which I'd purchased at Purl Soho during the summer to make something for La Diva at some point.  A nice, quick project that the recipient loves, even if this knitter is still not clear on the point of fingerless mittens.

I'm finishing up all of these small projects so that I can clear the decks to start a sweater for myself out of some Beaverslide Dry Goods yarn I got for Christmas. One more little task to go, then on to the selfish knitting.

good eats?

Classes started today, which means that I'll have to get the hang of Wednesdays again. There's just something about the middle of the week that is all messy when I have to do my actual job, you know, the one that provides my actual dental insurance and pays the bulk of my actual bills. 

While I sort my Wednesdays out, a question:

Scott and I were watching Bourdain's show last night. He was in Istanbul (not Constantinople) and eating with his fixer's family, who cooked all sort of traditional dishes. All of said dishes looked yummy -- but that's not my question. I started to wonder what *I* would cook for Bourdain if he ever showed up at my house. What are the dishes that I feel tell some sort of story and that I feel I am competent at cooking? 

I'm at a loss, frankly. Maybe I'd just buy a lot of limoncello and we could just drink ourselves so silly he'd fail to notice there was no food.

What would you cook?

many things make a post

* I'm trying to be surprised by this data about gay marriage bans and a state's divorce rate. I'm failing.

* Letterheady might be my new favorite blog, if only because I have something of a business paper fetish. This one is my favorite entry so far.

* Forget the lawyers. Let's kill all the bankers.

* So this looks like a good way to lose an eye.

* For ironic purposes, these two links need to go together: Objectification silences women and My New Pink Button.

* I'm starting to believe that KJ Dell'Antonia has the same books on her shelf as I do. Here she capsule reviews the wonderful Dutchess of Whimsy.

* And on the topic of kids books, I have a new favorite illustrator, thanks to Jules at Seven Imp.

* Just when I give up on Garrison Keillor, he pulls me back in.

* It'll be interesting to see if this study bears out.

* Why the Pigeon Pose (or any stretching, really) feels good. Personally, pigeon is my least favorite pose ever. EVER!

* Another book to get for the kids. The Table of Contents reads like the outline of my husband's childhood. I mean this in a good way.

* On a serious note: Kage Baker is seriously ill. If you haven't read her books, you should. And if you feel like you need to say goodbye, you should. All of the contact info is in the link. (Also: damn.)

when all else fails, show a picture

MLK, Jr., Day in the States today, which means that kids get the day off from school to build snow forts in the backyard. Warmer cities have parades in honor of the great Mr. King. Here, we talk a little bit about him while zipping up snow pants.

I've celebrated the holiday by catching some kind of crud that leaves me snotty and exhausted. Some would argue this is my default state. To them I say: Shhhhh.

So, some pictures from the last few days, since I'm all out of pith.

Why it is so hard for me to get much done during the winter:


Apparently all of that fur doesn't, in fact, keep you warm. My laptop, however, is perfect.


He does not approve of my navigating away from

I finished a scarf for the Boy. His only request was that it be "green."


Mission accomplished. The yarn is Cascade 220, purchased in Pittsburgh. The stripe is a nameless ball of something grey from the stash. Garter stitch worked lengthwise. And done.

And The Boy couldn't resist snapping a few pixs of his own, once he saw the camera.


The TV stand.


My head.


An image from my nightmares.