Wednesday, June 27, 2007

How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways...

I love your delicious green colors...

I love your fuzzy, soft alpaca yarn...

I love you because you're for my baby...

I love that you are big enough to encompass my baby...

I love that you are going to be worthy of hanging from my 19th century mantle...

I love that you are giving me confidence to take on larger projects like I've never knitted before...

I love that I can work on you while baby is attempting to make mischief of one kind and another...

I love that you are really just a gigantic sock and probably the only size sock I will ever be found knitting.

This is how I love my current knitting project...the hopefully soon to be completed and felted Sean stocking.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fresh Donuts

Whenever we head in and out of town via the West End, we see this house-turned-doughnut shop. It looks like a business that functioned years ago and has sat untouched. It looks like a dump. Except that this place is still going and receives plenty of rush hour business as people head to town for work. What attracts me (actual doughnuts aside) is the crappy cool homemade sign on the pink sided exterior.

The paint is cracked and peeling, the building is dirty, yet there is something about the lingering vibrance of this sign's design, simple as it may be. It called to me. One weekend morning we decided to finally check this place out. Behind the failing paint, dirt, and rust, we found a thriving family business with friendly service and a variety of fresh donuts. Hooray for homemade.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

updates, updates...

...because I know you've been wondering. There are a few past blog items on which I wanted to provide some updates, in no particular order.

- I discovered that the giraffes at the Pittsburgh zoo died, I believe earlier this year, from old age. Very sad, but they lived long lives. Two yearlings will be joining the zoo this summer. Wondering what happens to zoo animals when they die? I was. After picturing a giraffe-sized grave being dug into the ground in Highland Park, I googled and found that the animals are most commonly cremated, sometimes after tissue and/or blood samples have been taken. Guess that makes more sense, huh?

- I shared a photo a while back showing storm drain markings popping up around my neighborhood. I've since learned that they are the Eagle Scout project for a local teen. I think his name is Josh and he'll be stenciling all of our drains. Way to go, Josh...I dig the fish.

- I also had a little vent relating to finding non-super low-rise jeans. I'm happy to report that I was able to end my search at Eddie Bauer where I found well-fitting jeans at a reasonable price and...the best ever handicapped/stroller accessible fitting room. Finn does not like to hang out in little rooms while I play dress-up, but he does like to look into mirrors with me. This fitting room was huge and had a full wall mirror, so I could park the stroller next to me facing the mirror and had plenty of room to move around. Perfect. I don't frequent the mall, but this is a huge plus if ever I have to goes clothes shopping with the tot in tow.

And...I must now edit this to add that I just ate the lone berry. Mmmm.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dad's Day at the zoo

We went to the zoo yesterday for R's first Father's Day. Finn and I had gone earlier in the year, but this was the first time for the whole family. It was hot, but not too hot, and crowded, but bearable. What I was not happy about was the lack of giraffes. The giraffe is my favorite animal and we didn't see them on either visit this year. This really bummed me out. Actually, it made me a little mad, to tell you the truth. But then I thought that maybe the giraffes are just tired of being on display and decided to roam out of sight. If that's the case...good for them. Gorillas were present, but definitely avoiding the gawking humans - they're too smart for my viewing pleasure. Also, not a single orangutan. It was an exhausting day, not seeing animals.

If only we all could have taken a nap in the stroller.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Lone Berry

Hard to believe it is Friday already. Finn and I are planning to head down to the arts festival this afternoon - I almost missed it because these past two weeks have been somewhat busy. I didn't realize until this week that a relative of mine has a booth at the artists' market this year, so we'll have to stop by to say hello. I haven't seen this relative in a number of years, despite the fact that he's the only relative of mine that actually lives in the area. In any case, it will be nice to see him and see how his family is doing.

We did slow down this morning to take a stroll outside. This is one of the things we spotted:

This image makes me both happy and sad. Happy because I have a bright red berry on my raspberry bush and sad because there is only one. My hopes for a large harvest are...non-existent. I don't think I have enough sunlight for them to really do well, but I really love black raspberries and have many fond childhood memories involving them, so I had to at least try to grow them. I think this is year three. Last year I had only a small handful of ripe berries. That means no new pie or jelly memories will be grown at my house, but at least I get some "eating fresh from the berry bush" memories. Finn is too young to eat berries this summer, but maybe by next year there will be enough for me to share... maybe.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

over the lips, past the gums, look out stomach...

Finn has been eating purees for about two and a half weeks now. He's usually pretty eager to eat.

So far, I've made all of the food. We've done carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, and butternut squash. All cooked and pureed and then frozen in ice cube trays for easy use. Finn tolerates carrots, loves sweet potatoes, gags and pukes on peas and enjoys squash. Last night I mixed some peas in with his sweet potatoes and he gobbled it down, so it's nice to know that I have a way to get him to eat the less appetizing veggies. R also gave him some mashed banana the other day and said he really liked it. In a day or two I'll start giving him more fruits - his reward for eating all his veggies. I have a decent freezer stash of food that didn't take much work, so I don't think the homemade thing is too difficult at this point. My strategy has been to pick a veggie to make every few days and that provides enough to last quite a while. I used and The Baby Bistro Cookbook as guidance for what to give him when and how to prepare it. I think I'll actually have more trouble when it's time for table foods since Finn probably eats better than R and I do at this point. I'm not so good about making sure our meals are well rounded.

Things I've learned: I had trouble with organic carrots from Costco - they were super hard, even after cooking for... a looong time and I ended up having to throw them out because I couldn't get them to puree in my blender. Use decent ice cube trays. Initially I used a set that was cheaper and the cubes were round (so, not exactly cubes). It was more difficult to get the not-cubes out of the tray and I don't think the thinner plastic would have lasted very long.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Random Post of Firsts

First baby injury involving blood.

Now before you get all concerned for little Finn, he was the cause and not the victim here. We were just hanging out on the bed and he was grabbing at my face, the way he loves to do. Well, he grabbed at my nose with one finger inside and squeezed as hard as he could. It really hurt, so after pulling his hand away I put my hand up to my nose and held back some cuss words. When I took my hand away a few seconds later, there were several drops of blood. I narrowly escaped getting blood on my new bedding. (And I had assumed I only had to fear getting baby puke on it.) Which brings me to my next first.

First photo showing the inside of my home.

You haven't seen inside my home thus far because, quite frankly, it's messy. And who wants to see that? I don't even know that you want to see this but, too bad. This new bedding just arrived yesterday and I was pleased to find that the color perfectly matches the linen curtains in our bedroom. I ordered this online and it was a major closeout in a King size coverlet and shams for about 30 bucks. It's reversible, too, so I could switch it up a bit if I get bored. If this were a proper post, I'd have some detail photos of more of the decor in the room, but it's not. For example, I could show you the bedside lamp and shade, an IKEA find that I totally stole from Amy. But I think the lamp complements the bed and now the shade goes quite nicely with the bedding. So, sorry for biting your style, but I had to. I'm sure you understand.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I've been tagged...

So here it is.

7 oh-so-interesting things about yours truly.

1. I know plenty of people think they're cute, but I think squirrels are creepy. They are rodents after all. The only thing that I can think of that I might actually say I'm afraid of is rats and squirrels are pretty similar. With those long nailed feet and beady eyes. We've had them become really interested in trying to get into the house by climbing onto window sills and scraping at the windows and jumping against the siding. Repeatedly. That's creepy. I think part of what makes them creepy to me is that they don't really seem to be afraid of me - if I try to scare them off of the porch, they just look at me. I wonder if anyone has ever made a documentary called "When Squirrels Attack" ? I will make an exception for cartoon squirrels which I wouldn't necessarily call cute, but I wouldn't say they're creepy either.

2. I have a degree in Film Studies and Philosophy. I never once took a single computer course, but after college I worked for 6 years in IT as a Systems Administrator. Although my degree had nothing to do with the job I held, I know I never would have been given the position (which was initially executive assistant with a quick promotion) without the degree because most people still see it as a sign of capability. I wouldn't trade my college experience, as I know it helped me grow in various ways and has made me who I am today, but I do wish I had been encouraged (or outgoing enough) to consider other paths after high school.

3. I was too shy as a kid to ask for things that I wanted. From cool clothes to lessons to permission to join in activities or sports. Just a sampling of things that I wanted to do at some point, but didn't bother to ask my parents about: music lessons (saxophone would've been my choice, although I tried to teach myself piano and guitar because I had access to those instruments), joining the school's champion field hockey team, taking tap lessons (inspired by an episode of The Cosby Show - I still love the Cos). I did, however, have no hesitation in deciding to go to college over 300 miles from home to study philosophy in the interest of proceeding on to law school and one day becoming a judge. I kept the philosophy portion, but when I got a job at Pittsburgh Filmmakers freshman year, I decided I wanted to be happy more than I wanted to be wealthy and the road to a career in justice was too long to take when I couldn't be sure I would even like it.

4. I love to bake. Oh wait, you knew that. Here's why. Not just 'cause home baked goods are delicious... I think it's also a cultural thing, Pennsylvania Dutch. I'm from a family that makes funnel cakes for breakfast, has ice cream and homemade waffles for lunch, and strawberry shortcake for dinner (real shortcake, not that spongey crap you get at the grocery store). And I don't feel a need to justify any of those meal choices. We also make doughnuts every Fastnacht Day (Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, call it what you will), eating the product all day long, and have multiple homemade ice cream parties throughout the year. As they say in PA Dutch country, "If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much." (Although, I can't personally use the word "ain't" in actual speech.) I really am lucky that I don't weigh over 200 pounds since I also don't really exercise.

5. One summer in college, I worked as a security guard. I went wherever they needed me, all over town. My locations included the Catholic Diocese, a PNC loan center, Montefiore, a couple office buildings, and the parking garage of West Penn hospital directing traffic. While it was interesting to be in on the security of various places, I hated it because it was most often what I call a sitting duck job. I sat in one place and every kook and creep could come up to and talk to me about whatever and I had no way of getting rid of them. This included older men asking me out, which I found more ridiculous than usual because I had to wear an awful uniform involving polyester pants and jacket and I didn't exactly try to look pretty for this job.

6. I have brown eyes while neither of my parents does. I'm no biologist, but from what I learned in junior high bio, that's not supposed to be genetically possibly. At least out of my parents 8 kids, I'm not the only brown-eyed one. My mom assures me we were neither adopted nor extra-maritally conceived. I believe her.

7. Despite my Film degree and corresponding interest in film and television, I haven't had cable or satellite TV in almost two years. Only recently have we been receiving over the air HDTV signal which allows us to watch a few channels. I had gotten to a point where I started to hate what the TV was doing to my household and felt stupid paying for that disservice; the fact that it was on when nobody was even watching it and the tendency to waste time watching stupid shows unintentionally was bringing me down. I'm happy to say, that hatred has been abated and I don't feel a huge void in my life without live television as I do still watch previously recorded shows or DVDs - on my own terms.

I hope those tidbits aren't lame. I've nobody to tag since Amy went and tagged just about everyone. Well, unless Eli Gregory would like to share interesting tidbits about his illustrious 9 months in this world?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

zesty cake

In the kitchen this week, I baked up an Orange Zest Cake, as recently blogged about by the angry chicken. (Sad, but I'm not positive I know how to make a nice link and am too lazy to mess around with it right now so you'll have to go look for her May birthday post if you want the recipe.)

I made it with red raspberry jam in the center rather than lemon curd. Tasty but a bit on the sweet side. If you're not so into the sweet, it would be tasty with no filling at all. I may have to mess around with other fillings in the future - it sure was simple to make.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Jenny: designer, baker, third-grader

Okay, so I totally flaked on a Foto last Friday. What was I doing? I was putting in some time cleaning out our office. Well, it's supposed to be an office, but it's mostly full of boxes of junk. And once those boxes of junk are gone, or at least decreased in number, the room will also be my sewing/craft room, since a little baby took over my previous sewing area. Anyway, I came across my school memories book from my elementary days and had to look through it. Remember a while back I posted about wanting to make a quilt? How could I forget that not only have I made a quilt, but I had also entered it in the local fair and won third prize.

It was a quilt and matching pillow, in pink and blue, as I recall. It must be somewhere at my parents' house. Little 8 year old me, who, according to the book, was 131 centimeters tall (is that really how third graders are measured?) and wanted to be a designer, as in fashion designer. I also won first prize in baking both that year and the previous year for golden nut tassies - my mom's tried and true recipe, but I assure you I did all the work and the prize was no doubt owed to the love and care I put into my baking. No wonder I love to bake - real cash prizes for baking at 7 and 8 years old! I did go on to design some fashions for my own wardrobe over the years, but alas, the quilt-making has yet to be revisited. For now.