Wednesday, February 29, 2012

what ambition looks like, part two: (more) works in progress knit parade

despite the fact that i've already got some projects on the needles, it seems i couldn't stop myself from casting on for four more. that's right, four: something for each of us.

and i have set myself march deadline for each of these projects.

no. i'm not crazy. i absolutely realize i am not likely to finish any of these projects on time. but i continue to have high hopes. because i am delusional optimistic and ambitious - my paying job, housework, mothering, blogging, and sleep, notwithstanding.

project #1: sadie baby dress
deadline: march 9

yarn: quince and co tern
lovely, lovely yarn with fabulous definition and the sweetest sheen.
would make a lovely shawl.
i wish i had gotten it in back bay blue though.
the girl looks fabulous in blue
.


reason: i am hopeful that i will finish in time so the girl can wear this as her birthday dress
feasibility: downright impossible. she will probably wear it in april. or more likely, may. 


---

deadline: march 19

yarn: madelinetosh sock yarn
probably one of my favourite colourways ever, plaid blanket. 
reason: a gift to the wife for upcoming anniversary
feasibility: fair. i've made 2 inches of progress on the first sock since i took this picture. the yarn is unbelievably yummy and i really do enjoy knitting with sock yarn for some reason, however long it's taking. i'm finding it very hard to put down.


---

project #3: hoodie
deadline: march 24

yarn: spud and chloe sweater
reason: i am taking a knitting class on finishing and i'm to apply what we learn to a project i would like to finish properly. 
feasibility: no clue. i am working with cables for the first time. i'm determined. but we shall see.


---

project #4: oatmeal pullover (a.k.a my very first adult-sized sweater)
deadline: anytime in march

yarn: quince and co puffin
another fave.
it feels like unspun yarn in the hand:
soft, warm, and light

reason: because it's nearly finished
feasibility: likely to be finished very soon. i'm nearly done with the first 3/4 sleeve and so i'll be itching to get the second one done and ready. even though it's knit in relatively bulky yarn, i have i feeling i'll still be able to wear it before spring is over.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

what ambition looks like, part one: dreaming of canned tomatoes

i am no gardener. i have never gardened. and i don't really plan on gardening this year.

thank goodness for the wife, i can remain the garden's head cheerleader, executive producer, and number one fan.

because i have high hopes for our humble gardens this year. 

last year was all about moving into our new space. we planted everything far too late. our tomatoes stayed green, having been put into the ground in august. 

we planted what we did for the excitement of actually having a space with soil in the ground, with which to experiment.

our late summer garden, 2011

happily, some herbs survived the winter.

the hydrangea is coming back.

and miraculously, my tulips are making ready for their spring show.

but this year. oh this year. we have a plot of land outside of our little home that enjoys direct sun. 

and i want tomatoes. baskets and baskets of tomatoes. i want to can them and store them year-round.

i read this post, you see; and it spoiled my taste for canned tomatoes (among other things). so i am hopeful and determined to can my own. 


in my university years, one of my roommates' parents always brought her mason jars of salsa and canned tomatoes from their summer garden. those tomatoes always tasted of the sun. and there is something rather comforting - and even romantic - about growing your own tomatoes and then canning them in gleaming glass jars: rather like saving some part of the summer light to be opened in the winter for nourishment.

the wife laughs heartily and unabashedly at me when i speak of my harvesting hopes. she wanly tells me that she must reign me in. 

the wife, sowing tomato seeds.
i am crossing my fingers they take to the peat.
we've never done this before.



our first goal, after all, should be to successfully sow the seeds for planting, hope the seeds take to the soil in which they're set, hold our breath that they grow at all, and then get those tomatoes to our summer table. 



then we'll see about canning one or two jars.





Monday, February 27, 2012

36

i turned 36 this weekend. and i am not at all surprised to feel just fine about it.

we celebrated just the way i like it best: quietly and without ceremony. but marked with the smallest and sweetest of special touches.

spent only with the people i adore (which includes my wonderful cousin who volunteered to watch the kids so that the wife and i could enjoy the day together).

doing only the things i felt like doing.


greeted by the most thoughtful friends and family, both near and dear, as well as far and away. (my sincerest thanks!)


i know i talk a lot about gratitude in this wide space. and it's because at 26, i could not have predicted that this would be my life at 36.

surrounded by love and affection 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 


i was and continue to be careful what i wish for. and although i continue to have so much more to learn, career aspirations, life goals, and destinations to reach with the wife, not to mention the journey of our children's dreams ahead, i really couldn't wish for anything more. 

my son beat me to blowing out my candle every time, anyway.


Friday, February 24, 2012

{this moment}


friday ritual i've adopted from one of my favourite mama bloggers, soulemama

each week, she (and others she's inspired) shares a single photograph, without words, of a moment to be savoured and revisited.

here's a moment from this week:


Thursday, February 23, 2012

favourite things: textures from my morning walk

i can't help it.  


i am absolutely


enamoured


with all the textures


unique 



to every inch 



of every tree.



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

knit parade: mawata love

i still have a few projects on the go but i promptly ignored them all when i got this package of goodness in the mail.


this fibre, if you haven't yet encountered it,  is mawata: hand dyed "raw" silk hanndkerchiefs. that's many, many layers of cocoons that have been stretched onto a wooden frame, much like an artist would stretch canvas. after the layers upon layers of cocoon have dried, lovely artists hand-dye the mawata and the fibre obsessed fibre aficionados can either choose to spin the silk into yarn or knit directly from the each individual hanky.

i first read about knitting from mawata when yarnharlot blogged about it and was immediately intrigued. first off, she gushes. secondly, because she gushes, i want some too. and thirdly, how bad can 100% silk be? so i ordered some.

and i began knitting with my little bundle of raw silk the very same day it came in the mail.

i decided to knit these ultra simple hand warmers both to show off the yarn and to ensure i could work them when i wore them. (i have a rule you see. if i'm knitting for myself, if i can't realistically rock it, i shouldn't knit it.)


i knew it would take practice trying to figure out just how to manipulate the fibre into something i could knit with. 

to be honest, i'm a new enough knitter that i'm still guessing intimidated by gauge. not to mention i just wanted to start knitting. so i followed this video and then got cracking.  


with my clumsy hands what i had to knit with is comparable to thick and think yarn... sometimes as thick as worsted, other times as thin as lace, and the rest of the time, everywhere in between. 

so. absolutely. enjoyable. 


the fibre is wispy yet strong, soft yet full of texture, and deliciously iridescent. someone in one of my knit-a-long groups said it looked like knitting with cotton candy. not quite. but  the experience is truly as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the hands.

i'm in love with the process. from separating an individual hanky, pulling it apart to make some yarn, and then knitting with it. (never mind the number of seams to weave in! or the fact that my hands need to be excessively moisturized so the fibre doesn't snag on my fingers!)


this is not every day knitting. 

this is mindful, obsessive, luxurious enjoyment. 

something i do when the kids are already asleep, when i am guaranteed minimal to no interruptions or interference. preferably while listening to a movie like gosford park (downton withdrawal, anyone?), and more recently with a glass of wine. 


a guilty pleasure i will continue to savour for just as long as the mawata lasts.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

recipe share: jaffrey cauliflower soup

i thought about making the roasted cauliflower soup featured in sprouted kitchen. but when i set about making the recipe, i thought about the fact that my kids needed protein. then, inspiration struck when i decided to base my soup creation on maddhur jaffrey's cauliflower stir fry from a taste of india, a long-time favourite of mine and the wife's. the recipe uses urad dahl, a type of lentil that lends a distinctive nutty flavour to the dish, and happily, the protein that will help to feed my babies' growth spurts.

the ingredient list is short. the soup, as pureed or textured as you like, is filling and satisfying. the babes, they ate it all up because it really was delicious.


ingredients
2 heads cauliflower, large chunks
2 tablespoons grape seed oil or other neutral tasting oil 
3 tablespoons urad dahl
1 onion, sliced
1 serrano chili (optional)
vegetable or chicken stock (to cover the veggies)
1 can of coconut milk
1 lemon
choice of nuts: any combination of almond flakes, chopped pistachios, or chopped cashews would be delicious (optional)
fresh coriander, finely or roughly chopped, as you wish (optional*


*when i first made this dish, i sauteed the fresh coriander with the onions. but this was mostly to distract my toddler from noticing the green stuff. garnishing with fresh coriander would lend a better flavour - and make a more beautiful presentation.

directions:
preheat the oven to 425 C

roast cauliflower for 20-30 minutes until burnished and scorched 
to your liking. 

heat oil in a saucepan. 

when the oil is hot, add the urad dahl.

add the onions and serrano pepper (if using. the kids are sensitive to spicy foods at the moment so i did not use it at all. but the flavour of green chilli pepper - with minimal heat - would really add a nice depth of flavour). sautee until the onions are translucent.


toast the dahl until golden - or further if you like a nuttier flavour.



when the cauliflower is ready, add the cauliflower to the soup base. mix and cook together for a few minutes. 




cover with stock.


simmer for at least 15 minutes.

add coconut milk.

remove the serrano chilli (if using or leave it in you want a fiery soup)and puree to desired consistency. (i use a handblender but a food processor or blender would work just as well but you would want to add the soup back to the pan. if you want a chunky soup, only process half of the batch.) you may also want to add a bit of water if the soup is thicker than you'd like.

add the juice of one lemon (or to taste. i hold back a little for the kids but add more to my own bowl later). 


season to taste.

garnish with choice of nuts and fresh coriander (in the photo below, i pureed some fresh spinach to boost the iron in the dish).


eat up.

Monday, February 20, 2012

one day a week: gratitude outside, mindfulness inside

i was raised mostly indoors in the philippines, in an air-conditioned existence. and a good little life it was. but what a shame, to have been living on a tropical island and to very rarely have enjoyed the jungles and beaches my country must have had, and still has to offer. 

but perhaps this is why i have become addicted to finding a way to get outside.


there is a quality of light, unlike any other - especially on cloudy days, when concrete gives way to to the elements. i find myself breathing more deeply. i retreat to the quietest corner in my mind: a vantage point that sees and feels with distinct clarity. it is when i get outside that i find peace enough to get me through the chaos of the moment, the day, the week. 


it is when we are outside that i spend most of my time being grateful.

: for the wife who complements my inability to let my son explore the rocks further than my comfort zone instead of his.


: for the son who loves the beach and ocean as much as i do.


: for the daughter who is still small enough for us both to enjoy her naps on my chest.


: for our vancouver family, the people who make it possible for us to carry on with our lives the way we do. 


: for the city that offers us so much more than just a place to live and work.


i am so very grateful.


though if i was being honest, the wife would probably say that it is when we are outside that i am most "spacey." 

i really must work on being more mindful, conscious, present. 

because it was when i was most grateful that the girl had her very first tastes of the sunset beach sand. 

 (go ahead. shake your head. i already have.)

Friday, February 17, 2012

{these moments}


friday ritual i've adopted from one of my favourite mama bloggers, soulemama

each week, she (and others she's inspired) shares a single photograph, without words, of a moment to be savoured and revisited.

this week, i have quite a few photos to share.












Thursday, February 16, 2012

occupy the toddler: making hearts

in the last few days i've come to understand that when my almost 3-year old tells me he has "a great idea," i know, i am bound to be cleaning something up within 10 minutes flat.

apparently, the same can be said of my efforts to occupy the toddler.

case in point: the valentine's day activity i prepared in the hopes of getting something done, i don't even remember what. 

it started off well enough. i had grand plans of delivering these handmade valentines to give to his teachers.



and the boy really did have a jolly good time. and the girl and i had a jolly good time watching him create.

 
but after only 10 minutes flat, i had a great big mess to clean up.

and a toddler and baby to entertain once again.

---

to the mothers out there that manage to keep their home consistently tidy because you've managed to make housekeeping fun and get your kids involved,  your laundry done like clockwork even though you cloth diaper your babes, and your arts and crafts table is productive and civilized most of the time, i bow down to your awesomeness and  am desperate to know the caramilk centre secret to your success. 

if you don't know how you do it because you are magic incarnate, at least answer me this (or the simple answer is that i just need to get my act together): how in the world do you keep your toddler from dipping his entire hand in the paint jar? 


---


and in case you were wondering, i forgot to finish the valentine's for his teachers. good ideas and best intentions. yep. i need to work on following through on those. i know it. i'll be better tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

knit parade: works in progress

alas, i don't have any finished knits to show you today.  

i have found myself with a modicum  of "spare time" lately, after the wife and kids have gone to bed.

and i have found myself to be quite productive during this time of day: cleaning. re-organizing the kitchen, doing the day's dishes, making the wife her lunch, etc... serenely, leisurely, with quiet enough to hear myself think. 

which means this is also the time of day that affords me the moment to reflect on the time we spend together and blog a little. 

i'm a little in love with this time of night. though i do miss the wife a lot. and the knitting suffers just a tad - but not too much.

at the last minute for example, i knit the wife another bandana cowl in black. i haven't photographed it yet but i'll do once it's blocked and drapes as it should.

i've also been trying to work my way through my work basket.

this is an oatmeal pullover i'm knitting for me - my very first adult sweater! i'm hoping it fits me well... 


it's a thicker sweater than i want to be wearing this time of year but i love knitting with the yarn and can't wait to see how it turns out.

this is supposed to be a toddler cowl of sorts for the girl. but i think it's more likely to be used in the fall, at the pace i'm going.


and finally, this is a bulky baby blanket, intended to have been this winter's stroller blanket. but as its practically spring and i'm mad at it, i don't think i'll make it. 


i'm having trouble casting off because the stitches are supposed to line up properly and i can't quite tell what i'm doing when i'm knitting at night. the eyes play tricks because the colours are close in hue. i'm hoping i'll get a chance to finish the blanket in daylight. we will see.

i have a couple more projects i'm trying to get to but if i'm being honest, i'm enjoying being more leisurely about the things i have to do, as well as the things i want to do. there's something restful - even luxurious - about feeling productive while i take my time completing a task - knitting included.

so, while i'm hoping to share a finished sweater as soon as possible, i'm going to bask in my own pace for a bit and see how it goes - before the tides change yet again and this special "me time" flows back from whence it came.

Monday, February 13, 2012

beluga sunday

this week, we followed our almost 3-year old's lead for our one day a week excursion.


i was told by the boy's preschool teacher that he has been spending all of his time at the marine mammals "station," listening to "baby beluga" on repeat, snuggling the mama and baby beluga soft toy, and staring at the identification poster that features all manner of whales and dolphins.


at home, the boy has been spending all his time with the orca soft toy that his grandfather got him when they went to the aquarium together on his last visit, and requesting free willy and free willy 2, on repeat.


so to the aquarium we went.






i was very sad to learn that the vancouver aquarium lost another beluga calf.




tiqa was born just when i got pregnant with the boy. i watched his mother, qila (now the youngest of the belugas at the aquarium once again), give birth to tiqa, just when i was becoming a mother, myself. so i was nearly in tears when i asked about the details


although i feel rather silly feeling so strongly about the loss of a beluga i "hardly knew,"  i understand that my affinity comes from a primal place: the universal experiences of motherhood, parenthood, and loss.


"qila" (i think)


so that when the boy asked, "where's the baby belugas?" i had to tell him the truth. that they died. that tiqa was sick; and that her cousin nala died because rocks (and a penny) went into her blow hole.


"they died?" he repeated.


"they got sick?" he asked again and again, truly wanting to know.


and for the next few hours as we settled back home, he continued to process the information. "baby belugas died already," he kept saying. then he showed us that he understood what it meant for rocks to go into a whale's blowhole on the grey whale softie he got from the aquarium today (for free!). 


"all the belugas died already," he continued to say.


of course, the wife (and i) helped the boy along by reminding him of the belugas he did see. and the dolphins. and the turtles. and the sharks. that he can tell his teachers and his classmates about his adventures. lest he tell them only that "all the belugas died already." 







i know we'll continue to have more conversations about what happened to the baby belugas for a long time. every time we go back to the aquarium, i expect.


but boy oh boy, this was much more unschooling than we bargained for. 



as for the girl... she had a good time on this, her first aquarium visit. she saw her first beluga up close, gave qila her big smile, and then went on to other, more important matters: like snoozing on my chest, enjoying her first ride in a new (to her) carrier, and people watching.




not exactly a zero-dollar experience. nor was it void of difficult, but important life lessons.




but before kids, the wife and i would do dates like this all time: just the two of us, or with friends and family.  


only now we each have a baby to wear, intellectual curiosity to foster, and challenging parenting choices to make. 

an attempt to take a shot of the four of us.
the boy is on the wife's back.
the girl, on my chest, asleep.


all in all, the best way to spend a sunday, really: together.