Friday, October 12, 2018

What's up Chickenbutts? Friday's This and That.

It's a fairly common greeting in my family. I try to mess around and make it all formal and royal like, "Hello, bottoms of fowl." It hasn't caught on yet. I have hope. Not a lot, but like I say some hope is better than none.

I am still knitting that damn baby sweater. (I love the sweater, but for some reason the stripey sleeves are kind of sucking the knitting life out of me.) The truth is that I often can't focus on knitting until about 11pm and I don't always have all my wits about me at that time. The last 2 nights have been some funky sleep cycles. My face is puffy. I hate that.

But some good things my friends! Because we can't whirly bird down the drain of despair any faster. It's not wrong to be a little skeptical, but it's easy to get lost in what we aren't doing or what we'd like better for ourselves and those we care about.

So I offer you 1. CAKE!!!!!! (this picture is of me and my crazy cake face. I have no shame that I love it. Vain? maybe, but hey I am not puffy!!)







YAAAYYY CAKE!!! I love this cake dearly. It took a couple runs for it to become as fluffy and delicious and moist as it did. It's a coffee cake that tastes a little like actual coffee/espresso. Both inside and in the glaze. Get the recipe here. Do not substitute the cake flour.



Alright I'll ease up on the exclamation points for you with this cake. This is a cheesecake bar with mixed berry topping -- end of season out this way. This went pretty fast at the office and I am making another one for our section's Thanksgiving potluck. I prefer the crust with Nilla wafers and pecans vs. graham crackers.

The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

I finished The Goldfinch and it was crazy good to me. It was definitely crazy. I'm really surprised that I liked it all the way through. It would be a book I would normally take issue with the editor and say, why did you let them ramble on like this? But it worked for me. The story of a child of tragedy that continues to endure a lot of self inflicted pain and conflict grows up with questionable characters also making questionable decisions. There is drug and alcohol abuse. There is art, philosophy and life in parallels to question.

I had friends that seemed to have read it through half covered eyes, wincing at all the crossroads. A few people I discussed it with couldn't back any of the characters and therefore didn't like it.

For me, I liken it to finding myself enjoying some old classic rock? No maybe jam rock? Where it starts off and the first 2 minutes I'm like, this is nice. I think I like this, and then 8 minutes later  I'm pulling my hair out going, "When is this hippie crap going to end?!?"

Essentially some of the drug induced experiences were very lengthy. There's a bit of losing time in certain settings. However for me, I enjoyed the descriptions. I could see and feel and I really had a sense of the pain and the desire to escape. I understood very well that feeling of knowing what you should do, and then not doing it anyways and then beating yourself up about. Rinse and repeat. Empathy, people. I had it.

Well that is all for now. The weather here is getting that fall crispy feeling. Or as I like to say, "smells like knitting weather." To which my entire family replies, "It's always knitting weather."

Love knows.

Wishing you all a good weekend.

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Audiobook Review

There is not enough time to read. I've come to this place and I'm okay with it. So I listen to audio books now.  A lot. A little obsessively. Lately I'm working on a project that allows for this, not all tasks are conducive to listening to narrative. I'm not always listening. I'm often rewinding. But basically if I can, I listen.

I also listen a lot at home on the weekends when I'm trying to do my chores.

I like to listen while baking too. Baking is hobby time. If I'm home and I'm not baking I'd like to be knitting, preferably in front of the television set, because that is how dreams are made, duh. I'm sorry, but knitting and tv. still ranks higher than knitting and audio-booking for me.

So  here's what I've been listening to:

Pachinko
Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist)
Okay this is the winner hands down of my latest "reads". I was like an annoying teenager walking around in my own world of headphones when I was in this. I was knitting and crying while my family watched cult movies that I don't care about. I have told everyone that I loved it. I could think about it afterwards and want to cry. Takes place in occupied Korea and Japan. I forgot how capable I am of getting sucked into a family drama. It covers 4 generations if I remember correctly and it's heart is so full even when broken. A work, people. A work. "Exceeds expectations" LOL

Woman in the Window 
The Woman in the Window: A Novel
In the same genre as The Girl on the Train and the movie Rear Window. There are a lot of old movie allusions. I would say this would be a good vacation read. It's fun, it's not prose, it's a page turner. 2 of my best friends read it while we are on vacation, which is why I picked it up. I did think that the main character was a pretty good balance of broken with a heart in the right place. The author really tries to keep you sympathetic. In terms of what was going on ... yeah I figured that out pretty early, but I was still curious to see how it would all unfold. B

The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Simon & Schuster
This was definitely one I got from the Knitters. I know Kim Knits read it. But I'm pretty sure at least one more of you read it and I'm sorry that my brain cannot remember who. This had all the feels of a PBS special. You know, where a death brings everyone together in a big old house and lands past it's prime. It has family secrets, fraud, and all the good stuff. One thing I was a little disappointed in was that the author used a journal to share some backstory (i.e. clues) and I felt like it took away a bit for me until the main character found the actual journal. This is my issue I realize. I really enjoyed it more than I was expecting. Also the narration was great and I want to learn how to do a Cornish accent now. Just kidding.

A Murder of Magpies
A Murder of Magpies: A Novel (Sam Clair)
Okay before I get into it, the Brits are really serious about their Magpie themes. This is the 3rd book where magpies are a feature or reference. I also had to quick google to tell you that Magpies and Crows are not the same but part of the same bird family, though in the lore they seem kind of interchangeable.

Yeah about the story. I could not STAND the narration of this audiobook. Seriously the woman's intonation was that of an automated phone operator,
"Hello, you've reached (end high) company name (lower here)  pause to speak to  -- (follows same tone") press 2 (same tone)."
* I realize this may not translate and I'm sorry, but that's the best I can do, because I'm not inserting video/recording today.

Look that intonation is fine for a phone operator. It works. but to hear that intonation over and over again was killing me. The saving grace was the Mom character. Despite the main character's feelings of being in her mother's shadow, I liked her and I narrator's voice was better and she even seemed to change the narration a bit. My book friend at work thought I would like it because it's got that publishing world vibe. But the mystery wasn't all that. I honestly couldn't pay great attention to it, since it was more Corporate Financial mystery with a lot of loose screws. I dunno. Someone else read it and get back to me. I admit that my attention span waned so much but I was not invested enough to rewind. I do have it checked out in the book version to do a thumb through to see if what I missed was of any value. I'm not convinced. I'll let you know if that changes. I give it a C tops.

Well that's all for now. I'm working my through The Goldfinch and so far it's LOVE. I'll give you the full report when I finish.

I have a full weekend coming. My hopes and dreams in no particular order:

  • Make good snacks
  • Not get injured
  • No arguing with the teen. May I wish for a spider hug?
  • Bake TWO cakes
  • Finish a baby sweater -- including buttons! You all know how I get all pinched up when it's button time!
  • Dinner with friends who I do not see very often
  • Massage
  • Quality grown up beverage

Tell me, what are your hopes and dreams? Do you feel like you have to choose between reading and another hobby? What hobby do you wish you had more time for? Read anything you'd recommend?

Yours in knitting and best wishes,

Ellen

Monday, September 24, 2018

Chugging along

I don't really know about the title of the post. It's all I got right now.

Kinda lame post title, I know, I apologize but brain work funny sometimes or doesn't work sometimes ...
Anyways, there are those "things" that are happening. Not a theme of something specific, but -- things.

So let's start w/baking.



I have been trying to do something different or new to me or a rerun of something I wasn't pleased with lately. I aim for twice a week, but it really becomes once, because I still need my regular (people need to eat it) bake as well.

This week I tried blackberry cake using puree from Serious Eats. This was not my best work. Despite reading through the recipe a few times, I still managed to do things out of order and this was not good for the cake. The blackberry flavor did not come through and it was not as airy as I would've liked, a little dense. Fruit is always tricky. Also, I do not use my immersion blender very often so I was a little wild with it initially and my kitchen looked a bit like a gory science fiction blood scene. (Did you see The Thing? Are you familiar with alien blood, not to be confused with "Alien" blood that is actually flesh eating acid? HA!)

Regardless of my self induced mess, because I'm a sucker for punishment, and I like Stella Parks (aka BraveTart) I think I will try it again.

I finally cast on for a baby sweater and it's really cute.



I'm hoping to finish this one up within the week. That may seem like a long time to you for something that basically just needs some edging and small person sleeves, but this is my reality.

In an ideal world I'd cast on a pair of socks after because hello, socks! and I miss socks and I want to knit socks all the time, but I have a few other "to dos" that I think if I knit first, will help me enjoy a year of continuous sock knitting without concern for anyone else. Also guys, little not so secret, if you have too many pairs of socks, you can give them away really easily. People LOVE hand knit socks.

Selfish Sock Knitting -- it's ALL the rage.

Tell me are you knitting for yourself or others? What is your favorite thing to knit? Is it a constant favorite or do you like to trade it around?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A pair for a pair.



It took me a while to finish these sock. I had a few setbacks and I won't lie, the extra weaving in for contrast heels and toes was not fun, but I do love to whine about weaving in.

I worried I would have to play yarn chicken to squeeze out the second pair, but once I was half way through the foot on the second sock I relaxed a bit.



When these dry out, I'll need to stick them in the mail.

I knit these for a friend and her daughter. They can share or decide who gets which pair. I hope they bring some warmth and happiness.

I think ankle socks are great warm weather knitting projects. I haven't been knitting as much as I'd like, but that's how it goes.

There is so much to do this evening, but I'm secretly hoping to cast on something else tonight. Fingers crossed, knitters.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thursday Share


I saw this photo on the internet and I saved it and thought I'd share it because it gives me great joy. I've been trying to enjoy stories, hobbies, get my kid off to another school year, work and work and work and get over an illness and keep my sanity.

The sanity part is still questionable.

Some days I'm very tired. But today I'm laughing at cats on the backs of sheep.




Monday, July 30, 2018

Summer Reads and I'm sorry, some ranting

I have finished 3 books this summer and it feels good. I know some of you are prolific readers, but this is the hobby that has suffered the most in the past years. Time. Never. Enough. Time.

Anyhow this is what I read and my general feelings.


Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
This was a real page turner for me. I had a 2 hour flight between Copenhagen and Split and I literally read over a hundred pages easily. I loved the flow of the writing. Ishiguro's style is classic show don't tell. The ability to allow specifics to be revealed through description and subtle indicators in plot is always a joy, especially when a story is being told first person -- which can easily devolve in being told what is of value.

It's an odd dystopian memoir fiction piece that may not make any sense, but it's better that way. I promise you. The truth is it really focuses on human relationships, human nature and the odd dynamics of friendship through the years.

WIN.

Magpie Murders: A Novel by [Horowitz, Anthony]

I really wanted a nice little murder mystery for my travels. I had started this book a while before, but never got around to finishing it because you know, life. Well I was so pleased to pick it back up during my holiday. I really enjoyed it in the beginning it had a great familiar feel to it. It alludes to Agatha Christie, Midsommer Murders and a bunch of other British Mysteries. It captures that old "village vibe" and went with some British commentary.
I am glad I read it. I was fine with the finish, but there were a few times when I felt like it was trying a bit hard, but I liked it. Also maybe my attention span was waning because I was hurrying to figure out who did it. I read a lot of this in the car.

If you love murder mysteries as much as I do, I'd add it to your list. I have it on my kindle and I can imagine in a few years rereading it because I probably won't remember who did it. Old Age or a creature of habit that likes all things to feel like a favorite cardigan?

This is like YA RomCom. This was potato chip reading. This was best read alone at the kitchen table with a bowl of soup for lunch where I literally laughed out loud every few paragraphs. Goodness High School was such an awkward time. The FEELINGS!! So Many Feelings!!

*most of these feelings are embarrassment, confusion and frustration.

As I mentioned I hear my sister's voice as the narrator because though my sister is very quiet, she's actually a Feeler and when they get her going she can be a little all over the place. I'm just very loud and expressive. She's just chaotic emotion. Feels one way, it comes out another. Also, my sister expressed more interest in boys than I did at that age. Oh I was boy crazy in my brain but I tried to be really cool about it. My sister had bona fide BOYFRIENDS in High School.

I'd lend it to her right now but she's on my poop list. I love her, I'll be over it in another day. I should've been over it in 2 hours, but I don't work like that.

Anyways, you see? It's made me think and feel all the feelings, just like a high school Celine Dion and here we are. AutumnGeisha mentioned there is a series. So here I am, waiting for the rest of my books to come so I can decide what I think of the entire series and tell you. I do not think I'll be reading YA RomComs on the regular, but I am enjoying this.

I want my son to read it because he's an actual High Schooler so I'm sure he'll tell me what is ridiculous and I am secretly trying to infiltrate his cool guy genres of Sci Fi and Action Movies and "Art". (All of which I love too, but his Dad is really feeding some B grade stupid stuff to him and some things that require a little more focus in my opinion. But what can you do?)

I made them watch When Harry Met Sally for my birthday. And everyone was reluctantly admitting it was cuter and better than they thought it would be. I'm not super gushy, but you know, no one likes a snob. If you try different things a few times then you might have a more credible explanation of why you don't like it.

Anyways the movie is being released on Netflix August 17th. Very excited. This is how I will be spending my Friday night. AND Crazy Rich Asians is being released in the movie theaters the same weekend. In my entire life I can't remember 2 mainstream (not subtitled ART) movies featuring Asian Leads opening within the same year let alone the same weekend. This is kind of a big deal to me. 

I was hoping the Kid would read the book before he watched the movie, but I'm not going to push it. He's reading another YA right now, and he still has a bunch of summer assignments to finish so I shouldn't fuss. But ... JUST FOR ALL THAT MAKES THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE, READ. PLEASE JUST READ!

Sorry that capitalized Mom moment was brought to you by teenage parenting. If you ever would've told me that one day this child would need to be reminded to read I would've given you the "what?" face. 

Oh parenthood, you tricky tricky beast.

He can cook for himself, so see you are all my witnesses and it is now documented, I mother of H has said something positive about him, as he is not just what he can do or what he should do. Nominate me please as petty parent of the year and I will make you all feel infinitely better about whatever job you are doing yourselves.

We could've had a cat. Cats are so cute you don't care if they don't do dishes or leave the convection door open ... EVERY. DAY.

Think like a Positive Mom Says: He went for a walk on his own today and took out the compost, recycling and trash and gave me a morning hug without being asked yay. (I know his hugs are a bit bonier than a cat snuggle but I'll take it.)

Alright enough venting. What are you all reading? What movies are you looking forward to seeing? What's in your Netflix queue?

OOooo maybe next post will be a media one ...

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Wednesday Whatknot

I'm happy so many of you enjoyed my travel / packing commentary post. Kathy mentioned she was going to share it with her boys and I have to say I really enjoyed packing the boys. They require extra socks and lots of adapters, cables and expensive @ss noise cancelling headphones. We used to have one pair that were supposedly a birthday present of mine. In 3 years I have never worn them as someone else needs them more. That's ok with me. I'm very happy with my little earbuds, the other noise doesn't bug me as much.

Have knitting will travel with a smile.

What else? Well it seems nature is having her way with the Nation's summer temperatures ... again. Flooding, ridiculous heat. I worry for people that do not have the necessary access, support and infrastructure for such extremes. Some areas have patterns so they are prepared, some ... not so much.

Well not to humble brag, but I'm gonna. Here's a tweet regarding the bubble I live in:


For the record. July is never warm in SF. It's infamously foggy. You get sun from 11 am - 4pm -- maybe in SF proper. I would say our warmer month is end of August - first week or so of October but I may be recalling my youth and not the shift that we've been recently experiencing.

Look at me, full blown grown up chatting about the weather. Ha! 

I am reading YA right now. "To All the Boys I Loved Before." It's young, so easy and makes me laugh outloud. For whatever reason the main character reminds me of my sister. It's told first person, so that's the voice I hear when I read it. You could read this thing in like 4 hours, but I'm busy! I will finish it this weekend for sure. Then I will give you my final verdict on this summer read, along with a book I finished on vacation. I know, I will have read two books. WHO AM I?!?!

I am knitting a pair of socks, meaning I'm knitting 2 pairs from the same yarn for a mother / daughter team. One pair is done, I'm half way through the first sock of the second pair. Give it a little time kids. I'm working on it. I'm a very monogamous knitter these days. It's odd.I used to be such a project slut, but you know there's no shame here. Knit your life how you want to as long as you're enjoying yourself and all projects are consenting.

There are some people I think that were hoping for a few items a while ago, but it is what it is. I never made promises. I have to follow the knitting mojo.

Whats your whatknot? What's got you happy and what's got you fraying and fretting?