Saturday, February 23, 2013

Roots

I have some joyful news that I've been waiting to share until it was absolutely, signature-on-paper certain. And now that it is, as of yesterday morning, I finally feel comfortable talking about it on the internet.

Keith has a job. In Pittsburgh.

YAY.

It's going to be a craaaazy few months, because the job starts in July, which means he has to finish writing and defend his dissertation by then. But. We are staying in Pittsburgh. Praise God.

I have just finished reading this book--and again, I cannot recommend it too highly for all you fellow homemakers--and there is a quote in it from Simone Weil (who is one of my favorites). I just spent a lot of time trying to find it in the book, and I can't for the life of me, but I did find it online:

"To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul."

It has been such an anxious waiting, not knowing whether or not we'd be able to stay here. Here, where our families and friends are; here, where we have established our roots. So while this job may not be perfect, it is a huge blessing.



We are hoping, now, to buy a house by the end of the year. The interest rates and real estate prices in Pittsburgh right now are such that we wouldn't be paying a huge amount more in taxes and on a mortgage than we are in rent. We got a little overexcited and started looking at houses already before realizing that we couldn't exactly afford a downpayment pr get a mortgage until after Keith starts work. :-P But not before we fell in absolute love with a house.

It was a beautiful stone house north of the city, close enough for Keith to commute but also nearer our parents. It had a beautiful backyard to send kids out in, a flagstone patio, and doors that opened up top. It had wooden floors--some of which were covered by ugly carpets, but that's easily remedied--a working fireplace, five bedrooms, a big rambling and slightly creepy basement, plenty of closet space (especially considering the house was an older one), and a built-in china cabinet in the dining room. It was a bit dated; but who doesn't love the idea of adopting a house in need of a little love and making it their own, their home?

Keith can fall in love with a house almost instantly. It takes me a little longer. I get sad about the thought of leaving our apartment and our current little neighborhood; change overall is hard for me, and I find it difficult to initially picture any particular house as ours, filled with our things and molded to our lives. A house has to inhabit my imagination for a bit before I love it.

Well, when we realized we wouldn't be able to afford this house until August--and that it was highly unlikely it would still be on the market by then--Keith was able to resign himself to that and detach from it.

But me? I pictured my owl cookie jar on the counter in the kitchen. I imagined which bedroom would be our library, and how the shelves would be arranged. I pictured myself doing laundry in the exciting basement, while toddler-Michael had adventures in the dark corners. And I loved that house more with each image that flickered unbidden through my mind. Maybe it would still be around come summer.

And then on Wednesday the listing was removed, and our real estate agent told us someone had made an offer on it.

And while Keith is okay with that, I am still really, really sad. In my mind that house had started to become our home; I have nothing to replace it with, and when I imagine us living in a house, those are still the images that come to mind.

Well, I am trying to be patient. Before the house was sold (so far as we know) I prayed, Lord, if not this house, then please have a better one in store for us! ;) So, we will see.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Randomly on a Tuesday

The first Sunday in Lent has come and gone. We had pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, topped with mascarpone and berries. It was pretty indulgent. But there was just a bit of mascarpone left in the fridge from something else that needed to be used up ... so it kinda sorta fit into the tradition of Fat Tuesday existing in order to empty the house of all the things you can't eat during Lent ... right? ;)

minus the berries and mascarpone :)
On Ash Wednesday I made mujadara for dinner and it was amazing. We also had a few homemade prune perogies (from a perogie-making party at a friend's house) on the side.


One of the things I have been doing for Lent--and of course, Lent is still quite young, so that "have been doing" doesn't amount to much yet--is fast from the internet. Wednesdays and Fridays I will check my email once or twice, but that's it. So far it's been ... amazing. And really difficult. It is a good fast. I'm thinking I need to impose extra limitations throughout the week for Pinterest. Seriously ... I think that website is an occasion of a certain kind of gluttony, at least for me and the obsessive way I use it. (Maybe the use of "gluttony" in this context is a little weird ... I don't mean all the pictures of food, hehe, I just mean the unmoderated visual consumption ... does that make sense?)

Facebook I don't really have a problem with. Although occasionally it robs me of my peace. I know that since finishing school I live in a mostly-Catholic bubble, when it comes to the people I see and interact with on a weekly or semi-weekly basis. For the most part this extends to Facebook, too; so when Pope Benedict announced his resignation, for example, most of what showed up in my feed reflected my own feelings; surprise, sadness, encouragement. I knew in the back of my mind people were probably saying negative, hurtful, even hateful things about our dear Papa. But I didn't have to deal with it directly. Except then ... Facebook. What a mixed blessing that website is.

Anyway. Despite internet fasts, I'm hoping to blog a bit more this Lent. (I know, I know. Broken record.) My problem is I want to blog about everything--deep thinky-thoughts, knitting, babies and family adventures, etc etc--I have these huge blog plans and then I am so lazy/intimidated by my own ambition that I don't post ANYTHING. It's like I need to relax and get kicked in the butt simultaneously, hehe. For example I've had a lot of deep thinky-thoughts in response to this book, which has spoken to many things I've been thinking about, questioning, and struggling with. I highly recommend it to you stay-at-home mothers. It seems to be out of print, which stinks, but it looks like there are some cheap used copies on Amazon, and they are definitely worth it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Yarn Along

I meant to have this mitten finished several days ago. It will be done tonight or tomorrow.

Sideways picture.
I absolutely love this yarn. The color, the softness ... and guess what? These mittens only take about 120 yards of each color, which means I'll have a LOT left. :) At first I was thinking hexipuffs .. but that's a LOT of puffs. I think I'll make another pair of mittens for a friend. And then make hexipuffs.

I've been meaning to read this memoir since I got hooked on the show. I'm enjoying it. The show follows it very closely.

Linking up with Ginny for the yarn along.

50/50

Today, I made macarons for the first time. (You may remember that this was on my list of goals for 2013.) I had my mom bring over her food scale, I left egg whites out on the counter over night, I processed almond flour and powdered sugar together. It made two trays worth. Here they are.




(Again, not a food blogger. And I don't really know how to use the Nikon, and the batteries on the Canon are dead. Sorry!)

As you can see ... the two trays turned out VERY differently. I have resisted the urge to taste the good ones, but in case you can't see it, they have "feet"! Success! As for the other ones ... I think those are generally referred to as "macawrongs." Ha.

I have my theories. First, that tray was on the bottom, and the oven was too hot (due to a really stupid mistake on my part--luckily I checked them early), so they bored the brunt of the heat while protecting the upper tray. Second, I think I understirred the batter. Since I piped the crappy tray first, the batter was worked a bit more for the second tray.

All things considered, it wasn't nearly as scary a process as the internet would lead you to believe, and aside from the "macaronage" (stirring the almond flour and powdered sugar into the meringue)--which is when you have to get the consistency just right--it was pretty easy and much quicker than I expected.

I have some limoncello in the freezer, and I think I'll pick up some mascarpone to make the filling this evening.

Yay. :)

Friday, February 1, 2013

What is happening to me??

I was going to start this post "Earlier this month," and then I realized it was February. Yikes ...

Anyways. Back in January I broke down and bought a course on Craftsy, on lace design. Once you buy a course you have unlimited access to the videos and can watch them at your own pace, so the plan was for me to watch the course "later." When I didn't have mittens and a baby sweater in my future and a partially finished shawl on the needles.

But then I memorized the pattern of the shawl I was working on and figured, what the heck. I can watch and knit at the same time.

And then ... I went a little crazy.

For three days I abandoned everything else. I mean, I made dinner and took care of the baby, don't get me wrong; but every ounce of free time was spent with graph paper and stitch dictionaries and needles and yarn, and it resulted in this:




I'm both embarrassed and proud of that swatch/teeny tiny shawl. Embarrassed because I made so many mistakes that could have been avoided if I'd been more patient rather than having to plow on ahead and knitknitknit. (Notice the kind of funny shape? It's supposed to be a triangle ...) But proud because I designed it. And I know how to fix what's wrong with it. And it isn't too shabby, all things considered.



Now things are building in my head. Ideas for various designs. Accumulating.

Is this what happens when you're addicted? It's not enough to knit other people's patterns--you have to design your own?

Of course, I am getting way ahead of myself, which is part of the crazy. One little swatch somehow equals an imminent collection of lace shawls.

Meanwhile, I have cast on my second mitten, and I am loving it so much I find myself perusing other mitten patterns, and also various grid patterns that might translate to colorwork, and I catch myself thinking, "Now, this wouldn't be so hard, would it? To translate these patterns onto a mitten? I could do that. I could design a mitten."

Oh my gracious.

This is getting bad.

Very bad.