Tag Archives: new obsessions

New obsessions – late autumn edition

Fried eggs. One day last month Deb at Smitten Kitchen talked about crispy fried eggs, and I’m not sure I even made it to the end of the page before I was headed to the fridge. If it’s in the fridge, be it vegetable or carb, I will now put a fried egg on it and call it lunch.

Beet salad with fried egg on top

Boots. This is an old obsession, not a new one. Don’t tell my husband, but I own seven pairs of boots (if you include the snow boots from the thrift store and the hiking boots from about 1999). And I still need wellies. I was all set for boots this winter. I really really had no need for any boots. But then I got free money to spend at Target as a credit card reward, and I bought these. Because when the universe gives you free money, you have to spend it on something truly frivolous.

Ugg-like boots

Source: http://www.target.com/p/women-s-kamar-suede-shearling-boot/-/A-15310907#prodSlot=medium_1_24&term=womens+boots

The knitting thing shows little sign of abating. I’m starting socks, but I don’t know how that’s going to go. I’ve made fingerless mittens and finger-full mittens and hats and scarves and I have a sweater pattern pinned, though that seems a bit large. I just bought some crochet hooks too, in case of a snow-day emergency.

Knitted hats, scarves, mittens.

This is everything I’ve knitted, pretty much. Some things are in daily use; others were mostly experimental.

This stuff. If you find it, on no account should you buy it. Believe me.

The Snack Artist Sweet and Salty Chili Crunch

Note the empty bag.

Finally, three words to change your life: fleece-lined tights. I heard of these last year but they seemed esoteric. This year I found them easily and bought a pair for me and one for Mabel. No more complaining that it’s too cold for skirts or that her leggings are too thin. Genius.

What are you loving at the moment?


Knit knot knat that

So I apparently lost the run of myself entirely on Sunday and decided that I should knit some mittens. I looked up some patterns and they mostly seemed to call for circular needles, which sounded far too scary and not what I was envisaging at all, but all it took was some mild encouragement from a friend on Facebook and I was out the door ostensibly to replenish our milk and beer supplies but actually to sneak in a quick trip to Joanne’s Fabrics and Crafts for another ball of wool and a pair of circular needles.

I didn’t even buy what the pattern told me to – I had the audacity to think I knew better than that – so I picked up some chunky (but not extra chunky) yarn in a nice aubergine colour that I thought nobody in the family would object to and the needles it said would be best for it. My thinking was that I would knit an experimental mitten and it – and, all going well, its mate – would go to whomever it happened to fit.

I also picked up milk and beer, to keep the ravening hordes at bay while I immersed myself in knit one purl two and also discovering, thanks to the delights of YouTube tutorials, the arcane skills of ssk (that’s slip slip knit) and M1 (make one) and other such hieroglyphs. And I cast on my stitches and started to knit.

Mitten in progress

Fillet o’ mitten

It was a strangely euphoric experience, watching something grow from my own hands. I gestated a mitten, shall we say. (Clearly I am having some issues with this no-more-babies thing.)

By later that evening I was live-tweeting the mitten’s creation. You probably missed it, so I will helpfully reproduce my tweets here.

You want to know the knitting joke, don’t you? Dash asked how I knew how to do braille. He meant purl, but I thought it was pretty good because purl is the bumpy side, just like braille. Sort of.

I spent last night dreaming stitches and needles. Today I finished the second mitten. They fit Dash, who is gratifyingly delighted with them. I have another ball of wool in my bag and I’m just itching to get off to Joanne’s and buy the right size circular needles to make Mabel a pair of gloves. In fact, in their absence I’m researching hat patterns. And I still have to finish my scarf…

Dash in mittens

Be-mittened boy

I’m sorry. I know you didn’t come here looking for a craft blog. I wouldn’t either. I’ll try to keep the knitting talk to a minimum.

(But if you really want to know, here’s the technical stuff. I’d never followed a knitting pattern of any sort before, or used circular needles, so that’s got to be a good recommendation for it being pretty simple.

I used this pattern for 45-minute mittens from Susan B Anderson. I made them with Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in aubergine on 10.5 US (6.5mm) circular needles. The only other things I needed were a row counter – helpful, not essential – and a yarn or darning needle.)

Minor obsessions and second-child woes

You may have noticed that I ran out of new obsessions after a mere four-day week. Sorry, but I can only muster so many obsessions at once. I considered including baseball, but it’s more a case of “vaguely more interested than I was before,” which doesn’t really count as an obsession. However, I do want to note that Dash’s team finished their season in second place (out of three, but it was still an upset) and he clearly improved over the course of the eight weeks. We also went to a special Star-Wars-themed game of Real Baseball (i.e. Minor League pros) on Saturday night, which was a lot of fun, if somewhat marred by Mabel being absolutely terrified of the excellent fireworks display at the end.

But there was something very nice, I found, about the sense of community with the other parents, sitting in the evening warmth on the little bleachers beside the local little-league diamond, listening for the sweet metallic clunk as bat connected with ball, clapping and shouting for all the kids, yelling “Heads up!” when a ball went the wrong way, finding myself saying “He had a good inning” and realizing that I’d just used an idiom perfectly literally.

Little league machine pitch
My view from the free seats

Of course, that only happened for one minute out of every five, because if I was there, Mabel was with me and I was mostly trying to keep her out of trouble as the minutes ticked towards and far past time for her to be safely tidied away from human interaction.

After the trophy presentation on Sunday – in which every child who participated got a trophy, of course – Mabel was enumerating the injustices of life once more. “I don’t want to play soccer or baseball,” she told me, “but it’s not fair that Dash has four trophies and I have none.”

She’s right, it’s not. Dash did three seasons of soccer and got a trophy at the end of each one, and now he has another. The unfairness comes from the fact that while I’ve offered Mabel the opportunity to play soccer for the past couple of years, I haven’t really pushed it when she declined, because all those Saturday mornings are a pain in the ass, especially when the older child is/might be doing some other activity. So she gets the bad breaks of the second, and maybe of the girl, and that’s not fair at all.

But if she wants to play T-ball next year, and Dash goes back to baseball, we might have logistical difficulties with conflicting schedules. Or, if they don’t conflict, having to be somewhere four nights a week, which was hard enough for two. B and I both have our own evening commitments every now and then as well. (And I don’t just mean a hot date with the sofa, a bottle of wine, and a Netflix, though lord knows that sounds lovely and is hard enough to come by.)

For the moment, I’m just tidying Dash’s trophy collection onto a high shelf inside his closet and hoping she’ll forget about it for a while.

New-obsessions week, day 4: My Little Pony

It’s not new, and it’s not mine, but it’s certainly an obsession. I’ve put a limit on the daily television watching for the summer, and the kids are currently using all their allotted minutes on episodes of My Little Pony.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic

The great thing is that it’s on YouTube, so they can watch it whenever suits us, like when I’m having a shower or trying to make dinner. The terrible thing is that they have to use my computer for that, so I can’t do anything useful or important like blogging or checking out Facebook while they are quietly and harmoniously occupied.

(Which is why the TV is on right now and Mabel is watching unsanctioned Daniel Tiger. After a good start last week, I am currently failing at TV restriction.)

But as TV for kids goes, I’m pro the Ponies. It’s not quite as educational as their other firm favourite, WildKratts, but it has a positive message – friendship really is magic, after all – and at least with ponies you don’t have to worry about negative body image issues. None of the ponies are fat or thin, and though some are pegasi* and some are unicorns and some are just regular ponies, there is no ponyism. They do have slightly differing American accents (now I’m wondering if they dub them with UK accents for transatlantic viewing) and the poshest one, of course, has an English(ish) accent. For a while I thought she was a villain, but she’s not. So that’s a strike against typecasting right there.

When I started watching (that is, listening, while I did something else) I was horrified by the saccharine twee-ness of it all: they have to search for the elements of harmony to bring peace to the kingdom; they each have a “cutie mark” that tells them their destiny and appears when they’re adolescent ponies, like a particularly informative first period, maybe. They warble sweet tunes about being there for your friends and showing up when needed and helping each other out. They learn valuable lessons about life and love and friendship.

Then I watched this episode and discovered it was essentially a takeoff of The Music Man, which just happens to be a much-favoured musical in this house. And gradually I came to see that the Ponies are pint-sized works of genius.

Which is just as well because now we are all stuck humming the words to “A True True Friend is a Friend in Deed” in the wee hours of the insomniac morning. At least, I think it’s not just me.

*Pegasuses. Pegasusi. Pegasusi. Pegasus ponies. They have wings, right?

New-obsessions week, day 3: Coconut oil

If you heard there was an all-natural product that had inbuilt antiseptic properties and was an amazing moisturizer, and so pure you could actually eat it (and it would do you good on the inside too), and that on top of all this it smelled amazing, well, you’d go out and buy some, wouldn’t you?

Well, there is. It’s coconut oil. Go and get some. (Trader Joe’s does a good one for a great price, but they have it all over these days.)

There are a gazillion websites telling you all the bazillion things you can do with coconut oil, from using it as a coffee creamer to curing athlete’s foot to a personal lubricant (ahem) to polishing your furniture, so I won’t ennumerate them all. 

But so far I’ve been using it as a facial and body moisturizer, make-up remover and cleanser, and have put it on mosquito bites (sure, why not) and fried some chicken in it. (I scooped up about a third of the jar into a separate container to keep for cosmetic use, so that I’m not actually eating from the same jar that I’m slathering my cracked heels out of.) I have great plans to do some deep conditioning on my hair with it soon, and make a body scrub with sugar.

The interesting thing about this oil is that it’s liquid at 76 F and higher, and solid (like lard, for instance, or butter) below that. Coincidentally, 76 F is just about where our air conditioning is set in the summer, and upstairs is usually a little warmer. So at the moment, the jar in my bathroom is usually liquid while the one in the kitchen vacillates from one state to the other depending on whether the oven is on. It doesn’t matter; it can turn from solid to liquid and back multiple times daily without doing it any harm; though I do like the soft-butter consistency for a body moisturizer when I can get it.

But the best thing about it is the smell. Remember ages ago I was washing my face with olive oil? Well, that was nice and all, but I did get a little tired of smelling like a salad. No such problems here – unless you hate the scent of coconut, I suppose. Does anyone? Is that possible? Well, I don’t hate it, and to be honest, I would probably buy anything that smelled this good, no matter what was in it. The lovely all-naturalness is just a bonus.

16 oz coconut oil from Trader Joe's for $5.99

It was Emily at The Nest who first drew my attention to this wondrous stuff, and she keeps promising to do a big long post about it, so please do just consider this a mere preview of what the expert will tell us, just as soon as the expert is done taking five children to Germany and back, not to mention all the amazing crafting, painting, homeopathing, homeschooling, doll-making, and baking that she does on a daily basis. Go check out her lovely blog and tell her I sent you.

New-obsessions week, day 2: Cold-pressed iced coffee

Iced coffee and French press

Okay, so coffee is not a new obsession. But this is something new for me: iced coffee at home.

I am a travesty of an American. Don’t tell the people who gave me that certificate, but we don’t have a coffee machine in our house. We drink instant coffee here, mostly. (This also makes me a very bad European. Sorry, everyone.)

But we do have a cafetière, otherwise known as a French press, otherwise known as a plungy-thingy [imagine me doing dodgy-looking hand movements to indicate the plunging]. And we have a fridge. And I bought some ground coffee in a bag. But the special thing about this is that it’s cold-press coffee, which makes it even easier, as well as smoother and deliciouser. All you need to do is remember to make it before you go to bed.

1. Put four heaped tablespoons of coffee grounds (or more) in the French press.
2. Fill it up with cold water. Stir a little. Do not plunge yet.
3. Put it in the fridge overnight.
4. Get up on a warm summer’s morning. Open fridge. Plunge, and pour into a nice tall glass.
5. Add ice cubes*, milk, and a straw.

* I do not have ice cubes. This is the other reason they’ll throw me out of the country, but if we had ice cubes the children would do nothing but take them out of the freezer, play with them, and crunch them up for their dinner. Besides, I don’t want to dilute my lovely coffee with anything but some nice creamy milk.

You can play around with the quantities until you get the strength you like best – this is weakish, but if you use ice, you might want it stronger. Keep the rest in a sealed jar (or just where it is) for tomorrow and the next day, unless you need to drink the whole thing in one morning.

You can also make a simple syrup to sweeten it a little, or just stir in some sugar if you’re not fussy. I’m sure I’ll get around to that some day soon, but for now I’ve just been enjoying mine along with a rhubarb muffin from the freezer for second breakfast after my workout.

Tune in tomorrow for my new all-purpose household and beauty obsession.