Monday, August 30, 2010

Drinking the Haterade

With four weeks to go, I think I might be finally losing it. The last couple of days have been pretty stressful, between trying to track down RSVPs, another shower, and a friend's sudden announcement of her plans to marry a few weeks after us.

Unfortunately, my attempts to track down some of our non-RSVPers has resulted in the realization that a friend of a friend from the Historic Site Which Shall Not Be Named is getting married the same day we are. There is some overlap in our guestlists, and so far I've had three people tell me that they can't come because they're attending his wedding.

I am taking this far more personally than I'm really comfortable admitting. There are quite a few people not attending our wedding for various reasons: work, school, family obligations, and that doesn't bother me...but for some reason, this does. I'm really hurt that these people are choosing not to come to our wedding. Why not us? Don't we matter?

Thus, my goals for this week are to finish my placecards, start my seating chart, and to try my best to accept that if people choose not to come to my wedding, the only people who will miss out are the people who aren't there. I am going to think nice thoughts. I will not dwell on things that I have no control over. I will not, as Middle Sister puts it, drink the Haterade.

Oh, and I'll knit these.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

happiness is a warm nerd

My beloved's first language is not English. You'd probably never guess, to speak to him:1 He has virtually no accent and does not speak his first language often.2 He speaks it most when around members of his family, although the odd time when we're talking, he won't be able to find the right English word and will say it to me in French. He often jokes that he spells like a drunken sailor in English. The only time I really notice, though, is with his use of idioms, as he has no grasp whatsoever of English idioms.

This is mostly funny, as he will mix metaphors in ways that make no sense, or get an expression ever-so-slightly-wrong. Every once in a while, though, he'll use an expression so completely incorrectly that I'm completely flabbergasted by it. This actually happened yesterday, when he came home from work. He'd picked up a bathroom scale3 and wanted to buy something else, but, as he put it, one of the other workers had "snafu-ed" it from him.

"Pardon?" said I.

"She snafu-ed it from me," he replied.

"I don't understand what you mean," I said. "AT ALL."

"She snagged it before I got it," he said. "Snafu-ed."

"That's not what snafu-ed means," I said. "Not even close. It's an acronym for Situation Normal, All F---ed Up."

"No it isn't," he said. So I made him google it.

In other news, his place of employment is gearing up for Hallowe'en, which is the biggest event of the year for the store. The managers are expected to be in costume for the whole month of October, so Mat gets to wear several different Hallowe'en costumes. Last year, Capt. Mal was his default costume. Last night, he decided that this year, he's going to add Doctor Who to his repetoire.4 Awesome.

1 Though his name, Mathieu, might give you a clue.
2 This is likely because of me, since it is my second language and the older I get, the more I struggle with it.
3 Which does not work, unsurprisingly.
4 David Tennant's Doctor, to be precise.

Friday, August 27, 2010

spinning and food

While I was home on the weekend, Mat's mum gave me a giant basket of tomatoes from her garden. When I got to my parents, my mum said, "Oh, you got tomatoes already. I was hoping to pawn some off on you." It has been, apparently, a ridiculously good growing year in the region where I grew up: the corn came in early, the tomatoes plants have nearly exploded, and the cucumbers are also quite plentiful. So I have a basket of tomatoes to turn into a tomato sauce at some point today, and I bought a basket of Ontario peaches yesterday that I'd like to turn into a peach crisp.

Even though Girl Tuesday brought over her spinning wheel almost two weeks ago, I haven't had a chance, really, to do anything with it until yesterday. I picked up some of Fleece Artist's Merino Sliver1 at the store downtown, and I've got the first braid half spun and half pre-drafted.

The cat thinks the spinning wheel is just about the coolest thing ever.

It's shaping up to be a beautiful day here, so I'm going to get outside and enjoy it.

1 I love this fleece. It's merino, handles really well, has all of Fleece Artist/Handmaiden's signature great colours, and it's generally about $7 CAD for a 50g braid.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

doing the grown up things

One of my most popular posts here at academia nuts is the one where I wrote about not knitting a Cowichan style sweater for the Ravelympics during the Vancouver Games. (My other most popular post is the one with the chart for the Hearthstone from World of Warcraft.) It's a topic that I'd like to revisit some time: I think that the sweaters represent a very interesting and very vexed space in Canadian culture, and I've hardly done them justice. I only bring it up today because I've just discovered that Briggs and Little have released the HBC Cowichan-style sweater pattern as a free download on their website. It is a beautiful sweater, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to knit it. Unfortunately, it's written for their Country Roving, which is not one of my favourite yarns (picture pre-drafted pencil roving that feels like Lopi). If it were the Heritage yarn, that would be another story.

I'm in the process of sorting through the kitchen, a process which is probably long overdue. We've lived here for just over two years now, and I suspect that since that time we've just been putting things in the cupboards without really paying attention to what they are. Now that I have so many nice new kitchen things, I'm trying to sort through what we can keep, what we can give away, and what we can toss. Now that I have my standmixer, I don't need my handmixer anymore, but it will work quite well for someone else. I also have about three different half sets of dry measuring cups and spoons, which I'll be pleased to get rid of and replace with lovely stainless steel ones. I have also found our large colander (hurray!) which had fallen in behind the pots.

I also cleaned out the fridge today. Not a "let's toss the gross stuff" clean, but a real, remove-and-wipe-down-the-shelves type of clean. I also--I think/hope/pray--found the source of the rather unpleasant odour emanating from the fridge these last few days. Remember that time I made pavlova? When I separated the eggs for the meringue, I saved the yolks intending to make lemon curd...and then forgot them until this morning. Gross.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

an embarrassment of riches

I am chez les parents for one last night, though I will be up and on the road quite early tomorrow morning. One of my aunts in Toronto hosted a bridal shower for me today, and it was a really nice afternoon. There was sushi, cupcakes, fifteen different kinds of cheese1, wine, tea, champagne, much delicious food.

When my friend Jess got married last summer, she told me that one of the biggest surprises about getting married is how generous people are to you. And even though I knew that was true, I didn't realize exactly what that would mean for me until today: It truly is an embarrassment of riches to be loved by your family and friends. The shower was a recipe shower--my sister sent out recipe cards with the invitations, and everyone brought recipes and kitchen supplies to the shower. The best recipes are the family ones, copied out by my grandmother from her cookbook, where her mother originally wrote it, or from the Women's Institute cookbook my grandfather's mother helped publish up in Timmins in the early twentieth century, or my cousin's recipe for cream filled Easter eggs.

I am so very lucky. Even if they did make me wear the bra.

1 Maple cheddar! Guinness cheddar! Caramelized onion cheddar! Cheesegasm!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wedding Bell Blues

This is a wedding rant, so if you are uninterested in my wedding, you may make your exit now.

Gentle reader, if there is anything that I have learned in the last year that I feel is necessary to pass on to you, it is this one piece of advice: Just elope. 1

Things have been relatively calm up until this point. There have been a few hiccups along the way, of course, but in the span of about five days, everything got stupid. For example:
  • Wedding rings: Did you know that the price of gold is at an all-time high? It is. Which means that my plain, simple band cost almost $250 more than the price we were originally quoted.2 It actually would've been cheaper to buy the pre-fab band encrusted with diamonds that we initially vetoed as being too expensive.
  • The back up venue for the ceremony, which my father-in-law had assured us that we would be able to get (for free) is in fact booked. Most of the other possible venues? Also booked. Most of them in the last two or three days. Except for the one restaurant, which told my father-in-law that he normally charges about $200 to rent the space, but since it was a wedding he'd have to charge $500.
  • Two of the three people that we'd intended to ask to do readings at the wedding are...not coming.
  • The RSVP deadline was on Sunday and only 55% of the invitees have responded so far.
  • My aunts on Facebook are talking about the black bra of doom.3
  • None of the fascinator or jewelry supplies that I've ordered online have arrived yet.

The end result of all this is that I have taken to obsessing about things I cannot change. For example, I have just noticed that one of our floors is a bit slopy. The house is eighty years old, and I've lived here for just over two. I am sure that the floor has been a bit slopy the entire time, and that I've just never noticed before now. But now I cannot not see it or feel it every time I walk on it. There is not a damned thing I can do about it either.4

So in the meantime, I am going to breathe deeply, exhale slowly, and tell myself to accept that things are what they are, and that I need to conserve my energy. And then I'm going to go home and have a really kick ass weekend there.

1 My wedding has, in fact, driven me crazy. Mad. Loopy. Barking. 'Round the twist. I am losing it. I can't believe that there are still five weeks to go because I can't imagine living like this for five weeks without resorting to the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol.
2 Not really the jeweler's fault--we got a quotation for price back in February, and gold has done nothing but go up since then.
3 It is an absolutely enormous bra that women in our family get to wear at their bridal showers. You are supposed to stuff pieces of wrapping paper from your gifts into it. The last person to wear it was my tiny, tiny cousin. I, unfortunately, pretty much fill out the bra to begin with.
4 Which is to say, not a damned thing that doesn't involved ripping up the floors and replacing them, which is not really a feasible solution at this juncture.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dreaming of Expeditions

To summit or not to summit, that is the question. One of my Rav groups is the midst of organizing a major expedition to Sock Summit 2011, which will take place next summer in Portland, Oregon. They're coordinating hotel rooms etc., and I've been offered a spot if I want one. So I need to decide soonish if this is something I want to do. I want to go so bad.1 I think that it would be so much fun to take the classes, visit the marketplace, do the Rav-type stuff, and meet some of the people that I've spent just over two years talking to online.

As best I can figure, it would cost me somewhere between $1000-$1500, with the variable being how much money I want to take to the marketplace. And theoretically that might not be too bad--I could sock away2 about $100 a month between now and then and that would get me enough money...but can I justify spending that kind of money on what is essentially a frivolity? There are so many other things that I could do with the money.3 To say nothing of the fact that I don't know what my employment situation will be like...

Chipmunks McGee is recovering slowly. He doesn't feel very good day, I don't think, so we'll continue the resting and the Firefly re-watch. Any tips on good, protein rich soft foods?

1 Which is kind of funny when you consider that I don't even really like knitting socks that much.
2 Pun intended.
1 Mostly very boring, house-related things, like furnaces and RRSPs.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chipmunks McGee

Poor Mat had his wisdom teeth out yesterday, and he is now all kinds of puffy and jowly about the cheeks. He had all four out, although only two were impacted. (Hurray for dental insurance from work, I must say; it's rather an expensive operation.) The poor guy--the day before, we had gone grocery shopping to lay in some provisions for his recovery. He had looked up a couple of recipes for vegetable soups on the internet, and bought the stuff to make them. When we got home, I asked if he wanted me to help chop stuff up and get things ready for the soup. "No need," said he. "I'll just make it tomorrow."

I decided that this was one of those moments in our relationship when I could either tell him the truth or just keep quiet. I opted for staying quiet, as sometimes telling the truth causes the other party to accuse you of being a know-it-all or a bossy bessy. Needless to say, he was not up to soup making yesterday, poor guy. He seems to be in much better spirits today, although he hasn't actually made it out of the bed yet so I suppose time will tell.

I am currently working on a little cap sleeve top made from Fleece Artist's Peter Rabbit, which is an 80-10-10 angora/wool/nylon blend. The fabric is pretty much the softest, floatiest dream. I've converted the pattern to be knit in the round, though, so now I am stuck in the endless stockingette circle. I just have to keep in mind that the finished product is so awesome as to be worth it. Besides, today is Day Two of the Great Firefly re-watch, so it will be good to have something relatively mindless to work on while we watch.

I'll be headed to my parents' this weekend, and then down to Toronto for a bridal shower on Sunday. It'll be good to have some time with them and Youngest Sister. It will also be good to get my first paycheque of the year, although that does mean I will have to resist all temptation to visit any of the yarn stores on the way home...

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Another hot and humid day. We're waiting on a thunderstorm, and my head is just aching. I've taken two extra strength ibuprofen, which has taken the edge off, but I can still feel the ghost of the headache. Brutal.

It's been a good cooking week here: I made a delicious thin crust pizza. (Okay, not "made" so much as "assembled"--I used a Presidents Choice crust.) I topped it with a plain tomato sauce, proscuitto, sliced boccocinni, shaved parmesan, and fresh basil leaves. It was fantastic. This morning I also tried my hand at salted caramels. (Perhaps not the wisest choice on such a hot day.) The caramels came out pretty well, I think, though I still have to finish cutting and wrapping them. I think I may have cooked the sugar a little too long, as they have a slightly burnt/crème brulée taste to them, but it's not a bad thing. I used a grey sea salt, and I think I would put in more next time. Also: silicone baking pans for the win! I literally just popped my caramel out of it by flipping it inside out. Awesome.

I'm almost done Larisa (like two more pattern repeats and then the last beading section almost done) which is great. I want to keep it for myself, but one of my aunts is hosting a bridal shower for me, and I'm a bit stuck on a gift for her. I need to pick out my next project carefully. Mat is having his wisdom teeth removed on Tuesday, and I am his primary caregiver. He has suggested that we get the first season of True Blood to watch while he's all incapacitated, and I want to work on something that I can finish in short order because...

I have simple knitting to do! I sold two mitten patterns to a dyer, and hopefully the yarn will be on its way shortly, because I have a very tight turnaround. Good thing mittens are usually quick knits...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Knitting Round Up

WARNING: This is will be a knitting and fiber heavy post, so if you are uninterested in those things, now is the time to wander away.


A few months ago, Karie mentioned on Twitter that she was looking for test knitters. I volunteered right away, but I didn't have a chance to cast on for her lovely scarf until last night, owing to first the kilt hose, and then the Haruni shawl. The Larisa scarf is knit out of Rowan Kidsilk Haze and bookended by a few rows of beading on each side. It is both my first time using KSH1 and my first time beading. I was able to pick up the KSH in Barrie at the Knit and Quilt shop, which is the largest yarn store I've ever been in, and well worth the stop if you are in the area. The beads proved more problematic--there are a few beading stores in town, as well as WalMart, but I had absolutely no luck finding 8/0 seedbeads anywhere. Lots of 6/0, lots of 10/0, but no 8/0s. Just as I was about to succumb and just buy some from the internet, I had a flash of inspiration and decided to check my bead stash to see if I had any. I had a single packet of 8/0s (which I do not recollect buying) that were somehow, mysteriously, the exact colour (hematite) that I was going to order from the internet. Obviously it was meant to be. The grey of the beads looks pretty fab against the red of the yarn, if I do say so myself.


I was able to cast on for Larisa because I finished my Haruni this morning! The second chart involves increasing very rapidly and results in approximately 530 stitches before you begin decreasing again. That's a lot of stitches to knit back and forth, so the last chart really felt like a long slog. The leaves are just gorgeous, though. For some unknown reason, I own approximately 4 crochet hooks in a 6.0/6.5mm size, but none smaller. The crochet bind-off required a small crochet hook, so I had to run out to Wal-Mart last night at 9 p.m.2 I wasn't sure if they'd have my size (a 3.75mm) because I wasn't sure if they'd do quarter millimetre measurements in crochet hooks. That shows you how little I know; they actually had over twenty different sizes of crochet hooks, and apparently on the smaller end of the spectrum they actually make them in 1mm increments. Crazy. The Haruni is made from Fleece Artist's Woolie Silk 2-ply, which they have since discontinued (sniff sniff). It's lovely stuff, but I already have a shawl made in this colour, so I'm considering overdyeing it.


The other thing I got accomplished in the last week was the washing and setting of my second skein of handspun yarn. I spun this ages ago on Girl Tuesday's wheel, which is a Louet S17 and then left it to languish. Girl has been pushing me to borrow the wheel again for a few weeks3, so I decided that if I wanted to do that, I need to actually make something from what I made last time. It's an alpaca-merino-silk blend from my favourite alpaca farm, Misty Haven Alpacas and it is destined to be Kink from the latest Knitty.

It is Mat's birthday today. I will not tell you how old he is, because he is embarassingly young. This year, I have been trying to write blog posts on people's birthdays about all of the reasons why I love those people, and what I think are the neatest things about them. I am not going to write about Mat now, though; I'm going to save it for a pre-wedding post. We are going out to a new pub tonight, which has both of our favourites on tap, and that is a good thing.

1 And I can definitely see why some call it Crack Silk Haze.
2 I do generally try to avoid shopping at Wal-Mart, but when it's 9 p.m. and you need a crochet hook, there are relatively few other options.
3 I suspect, though I can't confirm, that she hopes that if I have the wheel and she can't spin, that she will stop buying roving on Etsy. ;)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Licensed to Wed

Great news today--Girl Tuesday, who manages the A/V department at the local library, has brought a new project to fruition: she's worked out a deal with the Ontario Library Service's OverDrive program that allows library card holders access to a sizable database of audiobooks (which can then be downloaded to a computer, or uploaded to a listening device). I'm just browsing through the selection right now, and it's quite impressive--Atwood's Year of the Flood, any one? (I will pass on Android Karenina, though.) It even has an iPod app, so that you can download directly to your iPod. You can borrow up to five books for up to seven days. I foresee tremendous awesomeness.

Mat and I went down to city hall today to apply for our marriage license this morning. It was a very ineresting experience: you have to declare your religious affiliations on the form, so I foolishly wrote "none" instead of "Protestant" and had to change it to "no religion" when we got there. I know this is going to be a bit pedantic, but having no religious affiliation is not the same as having no religion. We also had to take an oath that we are not affinated nor consanguinated, and swear to that oath by placing our hands on the Bible. It's interesting to me that even though I have "no religion," an oath on the Bible is still considered binding for me. I wonder if that would be different if I had declared myself to be Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist. (Somehow I doubt it.)

I had a very strange dream the other night where someone (possibly one of my co-workers) wanted to pay me to read the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. I'm pretty sure that even in the dream, I refused.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Of Pretzels and Pavlova

When I decided a few months back that I wanted to post more regularly here, I read a couple of articles online about blogging. The best piece of advice that I got was that I should blog in the morning, and that I would be better able to keep myself posting consistently if I did so. I didn't put much stock in it at the time, since I tend to think about posting more in the evening, but I'm starting to think that it might be the better way to go.1

I've been putting the stand mixer through its paces, and have made both soft pretzels and pavlova this week. The pretzels were okay--it was a very humid day, which made for very dense pretzels. The recipe claimed to make 8 pretzels, but if I made it again I would make 16 smaller pretzels. I would also salt them more. The dough hook is awesome though--it kneaded my dough for me in about 3 minutes. I only used the meringue recipe from the pavlova, and it came out different than I'd anticipated. The recipe uses cornstarch and vinegar instead of cream of tartar, and it made a meringue that was crisp on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside. It was good, but very, very different from what I'd anticipated. (I served it with a raspberry coulis and homemade whipped cream, in case you're wondering.)

Yesterday, I washed and set a skein of alpaca-merino-silk yarn that I spun several months ago. It's drying now. It's so pretty I can hardly believe that I made it myself. I am going to make this pattern from Knitty with it, I think, which will be the first time that I've knit anything with yarn I've spun myself.

I am off to somewhere this evening for round two of Not My Family Reunion, because Mat managed to get tomorrow off, so we're going just for tonight. I was saying to him this morning that I thought I would be better able to deal with it if the two reunions weren't back to back; if we were fully able to attend both we'd have only three days between the two because of the long weekend. "That's too much time with too many people for an introvert," I said. "Dude," he replied. "You were an interpreter on a historic site and gave tours in two languages to huge groups. You've lectured to nearly 200 students. How are you possibly an introvert?"

Being an introvert, I explained, is not about being shy, although I was painfully shy for the first 18 years of my life. Being an introvert is more about finding it difficult to engage in social interaction for extended periods of time, and about valuing your own company as much as (if not, in some circumstances, more) than the company of others. One of the things that I like about Mat's job (aside from the sweet spousal discounts on used books and clothing) is that his schedule does not overlap with mine, which means that I get to spend a reasonable amount of time by myself every week. He is definitely an extrovert, though, so that's part of why he doesn't understand.

I need approximately three more hours in the day. If you could arrange that I'd be eternally grateful.


1 I.e., thinking about posting is not the same as actually posting.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Another Long Weekend

August is a busy month for Mat's family. The Simcoe Day weekend (known to other Canadians as the Civic Holiday) is a family reunion for his dad's side of the family, which is always hosted at my in-laws' house. The following weekend is the reunion for his mom's side of the family, with a different location every year.1 The week after that is Mat's birthday.2

So this weekend was the paternal family reunion, featuring a grand total of 31 people. I should probably preface all of this by saying that I love my inlaws very much: they've always been very accepting of me, despite our cultural and religious differences, and they've never made me feel anything but loved when I am at their house. That said, there are very real cultural differences, and a long weekend of that can be very overwhelming, especially for an introvert.

It was especially bad this year because of the wedding. There were guests at the reunion who are not invited to the wedding. (Mat's great aunts and uncles and some of his second and third cousins; we've had to draw the line at our first cousins because it would've added approximately 50 people to his half of the guest list. I am meeting almost of all these people for the first time this summer.) Most people, I think, would be fairly sensitive to the delicacy of these situations, but we got asked more than once where these relatives' invitations were. Awkward. I also got to attend a Passion Party put on by my future sister-in-law, along with her cousins and aunts. More awkward but eventually hilarious.

I got to have dinner with my parents and spend a few hours with my mom, which was really nice. My grandfather's condition is worsening (mentally at least; not sure about the physical) and he's been hospitalized for the time being. He will probably move from the hospital into an old age home. This has been a long time coming; it has been very hard for my grandmother and some of my aunts to admit that my grandfather's needs to go beyond her ability to care for him. I'm hoping that the transition goes well for both of them. Growing old is scary.

I skipped out on a good chunk of the 50 Days of Tea since I wasn't at home, but I did have a peach-mango white tea today. Very nice taste; lots of scent; not convinced that Lipton's much vaunted pyramid-style tea bag really makes all that much difference.
1 Yes, this does mean that every five or so years, they will host back-to-back reunions for about sixty people total.
2 I have bought him an iced tea set, and I will be buying him a sgian dubh for his kilt.