Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Out with the old

I haven't talked about actual tentative plans for a while now. Instead I've been documenting them after the fact -- like playing Catan at Christmas and buying and decorating our own Christmas tree -- if at all. But I have them. Every day I make new tentative plans. I want to tell you about them, but I thought I'd best clear the decks by reporting on the success of some of my plans/resolutions from last January.

I didn't learn to play this song on my ukulele, but I did take a four week ukulele class in November. I learned how to play Silent Night, which I played for my family when I went home for Christmas. I plan to take a 10 week class this year so I can really get into it, so I'm pretty sure I'll be playing Magnetic Fields in no time.

I didn't buy succulents for my cubicle, but I did start a new job last fall, and I like my desk d├ęcor. I have this calendar from Little Otsu on the wall and a little cactus garden on my desk (it's pictured above, and this is what it looked like in 2009). I've also been tending to Jen's succulents since we moved into our house, and so far, so good.

I started reading more short stories, as planned, including those by Alice Munro, Louisa May Alcott and Tobias Wolff. Michael read my favorite story by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Eternal Husband, and he was confused by why I liked so much. I guess I need to read it again to confirm, and now that we have a copy, I will.

I went for an eye exam last spring, and I found out that I don't need glasses (my doc said I probably won't need them for a long time). I was convinced that my time had come, and even though I was sort of excited about trying on glasses, I was relieved. It's just one less thing to think about, so phew.

I accomplished other things last year, of course, but I wanted to address the plans that I wrote about last January. Now I'm going to make a concerted effort to tell you about my new plans in the coming days - a tentative plan in itself.

Guest post: Making marmalade

I'm not sure what possessed me to make marmalade this week. It was a strange confluence of things: an article here, a new pile of oranges in the store there, and all of a sudden I was making plans!

I used this recipe, which was well reviewed, but is also apparently a bit easier than a lot of marmalade recipes. Some seem to have steps where you scrape the pith from the peel and are in other ways much more meticulous than this one. So that's good news for both of us!

Seville oranges are pretty uncharted territory for me. I've never bought them before, but they are the traditional marmalade fruit of choice. They are only available for a very short window each year, though I read in a few places that you can freeze them and then thaw and use them later. Apparently some people even prefer this method. I have two left over that I might put in the freezer, with the optimistic idea that I'll test this theory out myself some day! I will keep you posted.

Tell them how they taste, Jen! Well, they taste pretty bitter and gross. Surprisingly so. When I measured the sugar for this recipe I was having a hard time imagining that so much sugar was necessary, but it was! This marmalade is by no means too sweet. The peel still has a bit of a bitter kick, so: mission accomplished?!

This marmalade experiment is a prelude to a run at my true love of jams and preserves: lime marmalade. This process was not hard, and the results are definitely in the realm of what I would hope. Less modestly, it's really good!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Making cookie dough, er, cookies

This afternoon Michael declared that he wanted a cookie (and quickly conceded that what he really wanted was cookie dough). We found a recipe for crispy chewy chocolate chip cookies, a few bags of chocolate chip dregs, and we were in business. It was so/too easy. My coworkers will be eating some of these tomorrow.

P.S. I'm looking forward to the days when I don't have to wait until the weekend to take a photo with natural light. Remember those days? They aren't that far away. Right?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Making another scarf

This is the second scarf that I made over the holidays. It's a lace pattern that I'm particularly fond of, and it makes for very quick knitting.

The wool: Magnum Cascade Yarns, colour 9452 (I used the same in the first scarf - check it out to see a better rendition of the colour).

The pattern: Make sure the number of stitches you start with is divisible by three (I think I used nine stitches with this one) and then knit one, yarn over, knit two together on every row.

You can see another version of this scarf (with very different wool) here and here.

This scarf went to my mom. She's given me many amazing homemade gifts over the years, so it's only fair.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Making a scarf

There were no homemade Christmas gifts this year. That said, I did give away the two scarves that I knit over the holidays. Let's call them New Year gifts. The knitting was a therapeutic exercise for me, and while I had planned to keep one of the scarves for myself, they were drawn to other people. This one went to Raissa, who ooo'd and ahh'd about the pretty wool so effusively that I couldn't deny her.

I used one skein of Magnum Cascade Yarns, colour 9452 for each scarf. Raissa's scarf is 14 stitches on 12 mm needles with the following pattern: Row 1: K2, P2; Row 2: Purl.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Christmas of Catan

In December, our roomies Marc and Jen gave us an early Christmas present: The Settlers of Catan. The board game, which combines the best parts of Risk and Monopoly, has been on our wish list since Ananda introduced it to our household last fall.

We brought the game to Saskatchewan for Christmas, and we played it a million times. Both sets of parents and our friend Raissa learned to play. Everyone was really into it.

This game had a lot to do with making our Christmas holiday so enjoyable.

Other things that contributed: looking at old photos with my Baba, watching three good movies in the movie theatre (you really need to see The King's Speech), knitting scarves by the fire and drinking coffee in a leisurely fashion.

Then there's seeing friends and family in the flesh; that's always a good time.

I hope you had a fun holiday too!