Thursday, January 31, 2013

Unhumble (or, Why I Will Never Be a Food Blogger)

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. I offered to bake her a cake, and she said yes. I was pretty excited, since I have an ever-growing cake board on Pinterest, but I rarely get a chance to bake cake. I mean, we're just two people here. (Or at least, just two cake-eating adults.) We can't healthily eat an entire cake by ourselves. Which means that if I bake a cake without an opportunity to offer some to other people, one of two things will happen: the cake will go to waste, or Keith and I will get fat. Both of which are tragic outcomes. ;)

(Keith is often suggesting that I bake things to give away. Which I love the idea of, but when I try a new recipe, I'm paranoid of giving it away without trying it first to make sure it actually tastes good. Also ... I just want to taste it, hehe.)

I have no pictures of the cake I made, but it looked a lot like this only drippier (think a solidified ring of ganache around the bottom of the cake, lol). I don't have the presence of mind to take pictures while cooking, and anyways I do most of my cooking in the evening when the light is horrible for photography. Clearly I will never be a food blogger!

Anyway, the only change I made was to make a ganache for the top instead of simply melted chocolate (in other words, I added heavy cream when I melted it). And I have to say, it was pretty good. Neither the filling nor the chocolate was too sweet. And everyone complemented my cake. And all I said in response was "thank you."

Four times out of five, I can't present my cooking without apologizing for it in some way, even to Keith. If I try a new or unusual recipe for dinner (like winter root pie, or berry cobbler with added lavender (which was really really good btw)), I dish it onto the plate and bring it to the table and say, "Well, we'll see how this turned out." Or, "This is okay, but the sauce is too soupy." Or, "ehhh, I should have cooked this a little longer." Always some imperfection.

And it's good I keep track of what I want to do differently or better next time, because that will make me a better cook over time. But the problem is, my automatic response to any complement is to point out my own failures.

I can't say that this comes from a place of humility. First of all, humility doesn't consist of denying your own strengths and successes (although it doesn't seek out acknowledgment of them). At best that's dishonest; at worst it's a form of pride. Second of all, it's not that I don't like the complements ... but this response is so habitual it's like a defense mechanism. Maybe if I point out my own mistakes I show that I'm more "mature" than, say, a little kid who proudly displays her artwork that no one can recognize? That doesn't seem compatible with true humility to me.

I do the same thing with knitting. These mittens, for example. I love stranded colorwork and I want to get Very Good at it. I have yet to knit anything stranded without some puckering somewhere from having too tight a gauge, and it kind of bothers me. So when I show you these mittens, it is only with great effort that I restrain myself from pointing out each and every place they pucker.


See the puckering down the palm--how the stripes sort of disappear into a fold in the fabric?
That being said ... I love these mittens. A lot. And I am proud of them. (Or at least, the one I've almost finished.) And of the many places where it doesn't pucker. ;) So here they are, without the catalogue of imperfections to accompany them. And I won't point out the other imperfections, on my blog or on my Ravelry project page.


I think I'll be able to finish this one tonight.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tragedies

Tragedy of the morning:

Please, not another bite!

Applesauce.

For a while he would take bites as long as I let him have long drinks of water in between, but then he had had ENOUGH.

It's funny because he used to love applesauce, but it gave him some digestive troubles, so we stopped feeding it to him. Now he hates it.


On to Tragedy #2. Remember this hat?




It now looks like this.


It looks better in the picture than IRL ... 

The last time Michael wore this hat was on his way to a Christmas party at a friend's house. He did not wear it back. We never knew what happened to it, and I've been meaning ever since to ask my friend if she'd seen it, but never remembered. I had kind of resigned myself to it being gone forever, since I figured if it was at her house she would have found it by now.

Yesterday I spent the day with this friend, and as I walked out to the car, which was parked in pretty much the same place as when we went to the party, and I thought, wouldn't it be funny if I found the hat on the ground?

Then I looked down. And there it was. The same place it had been laying, in mud and rain and snow and under car tires, for more than a month.

I think it's probably unsalvageable. :( But it's a little better to have it back in its mangled state than to have it drifting in the unknown.

Oh, hat. I will do what I can. Know that you were well loved ....

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Shawls, mittens, minis!

Wow. I haven't linked up to a yarn along with Ginny in ages. I have been knitting, quite a bit in fact. But on Wednesdays I have Bible study, and then since my mom watches Michael while I'm gone I visit with her after getting back, and by the time she leaves it's Michael's grumpy time of day (which usually coincides with when I have to make dinner). So I haven't had time to take pictures or blog on Wednesdays.

But Bible study was canceled today, so here I am!

Way back when, I was supposed to do a knitalong of Bigger on the Inside with some friends. Two of them finished in August, and the third in December. I cast on this month. Whoops.

See the TARDISes??
 I thought the ribbed border was boring so I am doing a lace edging instead (using a pattern from a stitch dictionary and this tutorial) but it is going to take forever. Good thing I'm a(n) obsessive fast knitter.

Meanwhile, two other friends and I are doing another knitalong, this one for mittens. I am a bit more on top of this one. :) I have been itching to knit the Mystery and Manners mittens for some time, and I had this beautiful skein of Malabrigo lying around. You know those skeins of yarn that are just so lovely you agonize over what to knit with them because it has to be the Perfect Project? Well, this one is finally wound into it's tidy yarn cake and ready to knit.



I love peacocks. I LOVE Flannery O'Connor. So I think that makes this the Perfect Project.

(And yes, they are for me, even though my friends are knitting for their husband and their child.)

Also I received a mini-skein in the mail today as part of a swap. It was a good day.


Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year, New Goals

I am super, super excited for this year. God-willing, Keith will graduate and we will move--hopefully to a house. But all of that is incredibly unpredictable right now, so I've spent some time imagining staying where we are (meaning this apartment, Keith in school, etc), and while we both really want to move this year (and it would be really frustrating for Keith if he didn't finish his degree this summer), I know I can be happy even if moving gets put on hold. :)

There is so much apart from that to be excited about, though. Michael's first birthday, and all the milestones he will hit. (He is gearing up to crawl within the next month and a half, I think.) Getting outside more this summer. (Last summer I was a hermit ... I was exhausted and a bit overwhelmed with the adjustment to motherhood.) Continuing to learn about being a stay-at-home mom and domestic diva. ;) Seeing what God has in store for our little family.

So excited!

And my goals for this year have me excited too. Although this list seems a LOT longer than last year's. Uh-oh. I have a feeling that means I won't get much of it done.  We'll see. I've started a Pinterest board for my 2013 goals to keep me motivated, although it's still a bit sparse.

Knitting 

-a sweater for myself

-a sweater for someone else (other than Michael--he kind of goes without saying)

-100 hexipuffs (2 down, 98 to go! I need a concrete goal rather than just "a lot." This might be a bit ambitious, but we'll see!)

-Bigger on the Inside (my friends and I did a "knitalong" on this one and I seriously missed the boat--they're all finished and I haven't even cast on!)

-a panel for Knit the Bridge

-mittens (also planning on doing a knitalong with friends for this)


Things Otherwise Crafty

-Learn to dye yarn. My father-in-law has a lot of black walnut trees on his property, and is all too happy to have someone take the nuts off his hands once they start falling to the ground.

-Sew for real this year, which means I need to have concrete projects in mind. Either or all of these: a knitting needle case, pajamas, a summer dress for myself. (This is where I'm starting to have misgivings about how ambitious this list is, haha.) 

-Make Christmas stockings for our family.

-Learn to make macarons. I am pretty psyched to do this.


Other Goals

-Read 50 books. (Specifically Reckless (how have I not read this yet??), Call the Midwife, The Hobbit, Drowned Cities, Character Building, and the Catechism.)

-Get in the habit of spiritual reading each day.

-Revamp my blog's layout and try to post once each week. (I think I should decide on a day of the week that I always post, no matter what.)

-Submit three stories for publication. (I thought about setting a writing goal of some sort, but couldn't decide on a good one. At the bare minimum this will require me to write even if I'm not producing much new work.)

-Plan and throw a birthday party for Michael.