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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Knitting through the holidays!

Mom and Dad were here for the weekend so we were super busy!

Mom and I got her 6 year old sweater finished and it looks great...of course I FORGOT to take a picture!!! Duh! Well I'll get Mom to take a picture and send it along for you to see.

Mom and Dad did their cooking classes in Oaxaca, Mexico again this year and they shared their recipes with us. We made a pecan soup, habearo pepper and orange butter, and a pumpkin seed mole that was outstanding.

Here are the recipes

Sopa de nuez con chile chilpotle
© Restaurante El Naranjo, 2005

Serving Size: 8

4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 pound roma tomatoes, quartered
1/2 pound pecans
1 ounce stale bread
7 cups milk (whole milk)
4 canned chilpotle chilies in adobo, or to taste
salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 pecan halves

Melt the butter along with the oil in a medium saucepan, fry the garlic, bread and pecans, until all golden, divide the mixture in batches and place in the blender with some of the milk, and some of the tomatoes and chilpotles, be sure that the mixture is smooth, place back the blended mixture into the saucepan, repeat the process until
finished, and bring to a boil, season with salt and black pepper to taste. Let it simmer for 3 min, serve hot, and decorate each bowl with a pecan half.

Orange and Habanera Butter

Adapted from Restaurante El Naranjo, Oaxaca
Zest of one orange
One small orange Habanera with seeds removed - chopped as fine as possible.
Two sticks butter, softened to room temperature.
Blend ingredients by hand or with mixer.
Serve with french bread..yummmy, it gets hotter each day!

Pumpkin Mole (traditional Mayan recipe)
1.5 cups of dried pumpkin seeds
2 chilpotle chilies in adobo (more if you want it spicier)
1 can Glen Muir roasted tomatoes
2.5 squares of Giradelli dark chocolate
1/2 flour tortila
salt to taste

First roast the pumpkin seeds in a large pan. In a blender combine all the ingredients in batches until everything is the consistency of wet mud. Add all the batches back to the pan and slowly bring to a slow simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or so and salt to taste.

We ate soooooo well over the weekend and I really don't want to get near a scale!

Anyway, back to serious knitting this weekend after the TAS Student year-end party on Friday! TTFN

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Knitting day and I am now available on the iTunes music store!

It's Wednesday and that means knitting! Can you believe that I got all the way to work and DIDN'T bring knitting today! What a riot! I had fun and got to watch, or attempt to watch, Ingrid knit. I have never in my life seen anyone knit that fast!

Ingrid is knitting a scarf with a lovely lace pattern. Actually, it has been 4 hours since lunch so she is probably finished! She doesn't need to follow a pattern and she understands how stitches lay and how to manipulate them that she can make the individual stitches twist and turn at her will. I am no where near her level of knitting! I wish now that I had made a movie of her knitting, I will bring the camera to knitting next week and see if I can capture the magic!

I finished Tess of the d'Ubervilles, man what a tragic figure Tess is! Sad book with some great imagery. I need to log in to the Knit the Classics site and see what the other folks think. I also finished "North & South" by Elizabeth Gaskell. Fabulous book! I will definitely suggest it the next time the Knit the Classics group takes suggestions! Read the book and if you like it go buy the BBC DVD, excellent long watch!

Well, I started podcasting and it is a LOT of work!!! You can find me in the iTunes music store, at Podcast Alley, and at The name of the podcast is "Astronomy a Go Go" and you can get to the site directly from the side bar. DON'T get your hopes up, these first session are pretty lame-o but I hope that with practice will come improvement and if not that at least experience!


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Struggling with trees!

Well we FINALLY have the tree up! Given that we don't actually practice the religion of Christmas, but then again who really does, we do participate in all the trappings like a large part of the population. I no longer really see it as a hypocrisy, it is a traditional seasonal celebration. Since there was no 'tree' in the Christian history of the celebration of the birth of Jesus I can put mine up knowing it was stolen from earlier religions and just dare the challenge. I think the Egyptians, Pagans and Romans have a much longer history with evergreen and bring them into the home around the Winter Solstice than the modern Christian religion.

I remember as a camp counselor we use to make decorations and shiny objects and leave them on trees as an offering for the wood sprites, so maybe that is where it comes from.

The current decorating of trees is wholly a trip through time, there is no current/living religious justification for hanging ornaments on a tree, but for me all the little things the kids made, or I made for them, or our recent tradition of them receiving one ornament each year so they can one day have a starter set for their own Yule trees is a sweet fun tradition I enjoy.

Michael was not cooperating at ALL with my picture taking during the tree set up. I had to sneak up to the top of the stairs to get a picture of him hiding behind the tree. He was also not very excited about learning how to put the light on the tree and claimed that I was far to fastidious about the "spiral up and down the branch, lights above your head point down, lights on the lower boughs point up, cords can't show". Geez!

So, I will post a picture once we get the ornaments on and everything picture perfect!

I have been a fan of podcasts these last several months and after writing my post on knitting podcasts I decided to create my own podcast on astronomy! I am targeting folks who are just starting out in astronomy and older kids. You can subscribe to my podcast on the sidebar with the other podcast links. Take a listen and then comment on the website for the podcast...Astronomy a Go Go!

My son Michael supplied my introduction, he was much more interested in playing with the recording devise than he was decorating the tree! Go figure.

Here is wishing everyone a wonderful Winter Solstice! Celebrate the day because it marks the return of the SUN!! Wahoo!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Knitting podcasts

Podcasts. The rebel child of a torrid affair between the internet and radio. If pressed I would describe them as 'On Demand' radio and that would be partially correct. Even thought the name 'podcast' has a fruity sound you don't need an iPod to listen to podcasts. Anything that will play an MP3 file or video file, like your computer or MP3 player, will work. I found installing an podcast aggregator, like iTunes or iPodderX, helped me keep all my subscriptions organized. The aggregators go out looking for, and downloading, the new episodes so I don't have to.

When I turn on my computer in the morning they scurry about looking for what has been updated since the last time I was on the computer listening and viola' I am good to go. Best of all they are all free! At least for now.

Currently my podcast list has everything from the typical BBC/NPR news updates, daily astronomical info-mercials, weekly hour long programs on music (Scottish bands) technology, science, astronomy, a monthly video skit on mixing drinks (gotta love La-La) and now programs on knitting.

If you look through the categories of podcasts on one of the podcast aggregators or indexes like:

iPodderX not to be confused with....
PodCast Alley
BritCast a podcast aggregator for British podcasts
Podcasting News

You can find podcast on just about everything. Some of them are very basic recordings done in the garage all the way to the professional multi-million dollar broadcasting extravaganza, but the variety is most of the fun.

But back to the knitting podcasts. So far I have found three each with a different mission and each appealing in their own way. First off lets start with
KnitCast! KnitCast is a British knitting podcast hosted by Marie Irshad. Marie meets the designers, bloggers and other members of the knitting community. She recently developed a series of podcast live from a UK knitting show that have been fascinating!
Cast-On Hosted by Brenda Dayne an American now living in Wales and making us all tremendously jealous! Brenda includes music, a description of her sweater of the week, interviews, rants (sorry about the Clapotis Brenda) and other bits of wit. Very hip.
Secret Knitting A podcast from Germany hosted by Daniela Johannsenova has you casting on and knitting along on a mystery project. There is no telling what you might end up with!

There are two other fiber related podcasts that seem to be ready to launch any day now so I will let you know when they appear.

If you knit I strongly recommend that you try out these three podcasts, at least once, so you can get a feel for where the knitting community is headed. Podcasts are the aural cousin to blogs which knitters kick out more frequently than swatches! I have started using a aggregator to list all the knitting blogs I like to visit so I don't have to wonder who has updated recently. I use Bloglines so I can access my lists from anywhere.

"Well that's the news from Lake Woebegone, where all the women are strong, the men good looking and the children are all above average." or something like that!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Magnetic Poles drifting

It isn't knitting but it is interesting the magnetic north pole is drifting! Okay yes, it is always drifting so don't panic, but it at least for the lay-public we now know the direction, Siberia!

So, it may be that aurora become more rare and we will need to do a better job teaching children about magnetic declination (or variance) and explain why they shouldn't use those 50 year old maps with our compasses!

You can find the whole story at the "Universe Today" website. Now I am willing to bet that we start seeing "Doom and Gloom" emails about the end of the earth or the huge swing in the magnetic poles in emails by the end of the week. Remember folks the magnetic poles oscillate normally.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday!! You've gotta love Wednesdays!! If I were sick as a dog I would still come to work on Wednesday just to go to lunch with the knit group!

The star of the day was Gwen!!! She finished the heel on her first sock!

We also welcomed a new knitter to our fold, Kris from the Institute of Technology.

But wait! There's more!

Last night was our needle making festival. My Senior Scout troop has volunteered to help a younger troop in Tacoma learn how to knit and we are going to start by helping them make their own needles. Here is the group doing the initial sanding on the needles for the Brownines and doing the final sanding on their own sets.

Makahlia, who is visiting my co-leader Sandy, is a new knitter and just couldn't wait to try out her new needles. She really learned to appreciate the importance of fine sanding skills!

So all is well and good on the knitting front even if actual "Alice rows" aren't being accomplished.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Dinner with an Astronaut

We had a wonderful opportunity last night. The Boeing Employees Astronomical Society hosted a holiday dinner at the Museum of Flight and the guest speaker was astronaut Dr. Bonnie Dunbar.

Dr. Dunbar is standing on the far right.

It was a wonderful evening and a great experience for the kids. The girls got all dressed up and Michael was sporting his new all black pseudo-suit (see top picture) and they got to experience a dinner with multiple forks and knives...ohhhhhhh! ;-)

Dr. Dunbar is now the President and CEO of the Museum of Flight the fact that she is a native of Washington is even better. She has a wonderful speaking style which kept the teenagers attention.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Beer, socks and not much else

It was a busy weekend and I got very little knitting done. I did finish the fall striped sock so that was nice to get done. I need to find another set of socks to cast on so that I have them around as a nice small emergency project 'cus that is what socks to best!

I started the blocking and finishing process on my Mom's sweater. This is a sweater that she started a million years ago and just never got around to finishing so I offered to block it and stitch it up for her. Here are the sleeves....

I need to talk to mommy dearest about gauge! Not that I am one to talk but I think this is going to be huge!

Another little project for the weekend was getting all the bottles washed so we can bottle the beer we brewed a month ago! I have 48 clean 20 oz bottles now and should probably go to the basement and get one more case just in case. It takes awhile especially when folks leave the labels on the bottles! Dave 'donated' (re: cleared out his basement!) the cases and they all had labels on them so here is the process:
1.) soak the bottles in water and a little simple green for about 10 minutes
2.) rinse inside (thank god I have the little bottle washer) and out
3.) use a razor blade and peel off the label
4.) load in the dishwasher and sterilize

So it took a while but they are done!

Here is the recipe we used for the beer it will be a lightly spiced Irish Stout:
1 lb Clover Honey (bottling)
12 inches cinnamon sticks
4 oz ginger root, freshly peeled and grated
2 teaspoons All Spice
1 teaspoon Cloves
4 grated rinds from medium size oranges
6-8 pounds dark malt extract
1/2-1 pound roasted barley
1/2-1 pound black patent malt
3-4 ounces bittering hops (e.g., Bullion)
small amount aromatic hops (optional)
ale yeast

The house smelled great when I was prepping everything, grating the ginger and orange rinds and even better when we brewed. I need to go check the brew, I'm worried that we let it sit tooooo long and it will be ruined. Let's hope not that would be a shame!!