Monday, December 17, 2012

Soup for What Ails You

Last week was a week of sickness in my house.  A horrible stomach virus made the rounds, beginning with my husband, who ended up with a brief stint in the emergency room getting rehydrated.  All the kids that got it (four of them!) faired slightly better and got well at home, but while it lasted it was miserable.  The patients were left feeling weak for several days.

Only two of us, my just-turned-18-year-old son and I, escaped unscathed.  And we are still somewhat surprised because, despite all the Lysol and Clorox, there is no way we were not exposed.  I am just very thankful, I prayed that I would not get sick until everyone else was done (all moms understand that prayer!).  I have ended up with a cold, but that is very minor in comparison.

This put a little damper on Christmas festivities around here.  The tree and some indoor decorations are up, but no outside lights:(  No goodies have been baked so far, either.  Not much cooking went on last week at all.

However, even sick people with little appetite need nourishment, so soup it was.  First I made this soup.

I'm sorry, I don't know where I got the recipe.   It's been copied on a card for YEARS and I never actually made it til last week.  I have to say I really liked it, a great soup for when you are feeling under the weather.  It's easy to make and the lemon flavor is refreshing.  (Caveat:  if you don't like lemon, this is not the soup for you.)  Here's the recipe:

Avgolemeno (Greek Lemon Soup)

Bring 6 cups of chicken broth to a simmer.  Add 1/2 cup uncooked rice.  Cover and simmer just until rice is done (about 15 minutes white rice, 30-40 minutes brown rice).  Whisk 3 egg yolks with 3 Tablespoons lemon juice.  Whisk a ladle of hot soup into egg mixture, then add back to pot.  Garnish with fresh parsley and black pepper.  Great with warm pitas and hummus.  Makes 8 cups.

Then I made good old chicken noodle soup.  I used this recipe.  I know there are many ways to make this soup, but this is a quick and easy one when your energy resources are low.  The only thing I would do different next time is to saute some celery in with the onion.  DO NOT double this recipe.  I almost did and am so thankful I didn't.  This makes a huge pot of soup, so be warned:)

Hope you are staying well this holiday season, but if not, you might want to try one of these soups:)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Crochet Granny Blanket

After finally finishing my ripple blanket, my fingers got itchy for another long-term crochet project.  Many great options presented themselves, a bobble blanket maybe chief among them, but I had a lot of yarn left over from the ripple that I felt like needed to be used.  On the other hand, I didn't want to make something in exactly the same color way, so I ADDED to the yarn collection I was trying to use up (there is a twisted logic in there somewhere, I hope:) by purchasing all the rest of the solid colors in the I Love This Cotton yarn that is sold by Hobby Lobby.
Completed squares so far
Now some of these colors are not necessarily beautiful, and some of the colors are very similar to other colors, and Hobby Lobby doesn't sell some of the colors I wish they would (like raspberry, apricot, pumpkin, a silver gray, watermelon), so it is not readily apparent that all these colors are going to play nicely together.  (Since I began this project, they have added a color, "Apple Green," which I am happy about).  However, I felt sorry for the ugly colors.  Attributing hurt feelings to inanimate objects is a trait that I share with my oldest son.  Usually I root this feeling out with some strong common sense arguments, but not this time.  I did feel downright greedy buying ALL the colors, but the skeins are only $2.66 each when on sale, so that's not too bad, is it?

Anyway, my inspiration blanket is Kristen's summer cottage blanket.  If you love beautiful crochet and knitting -- among other things -- then you will love her blog, aptly named Cozy Things.  I don't really imagine that mine will end up looking quite as lovely as that, especially not with the colors I am using, but I am making it like hers, and will use her directions to join the squares when I get to that part.

For the granny square itself, I followed Jacquie's instructions here, on her blog Bunny Mummy, which is another very happy and helpful crochet site.  It's an 11-round granny square, changing colors each round. The colors are random, and once I use a color I don't reuse it until all the other colors have been used.  That forces me to pick the colors that are not on the 'favorites' list.  There is no master plan, I just start with a color and then the next is chosen, and then the next..... Each square is a 'surprise' when it is finished, which adds to the pleasure and anticipation for me.

Yes, it's a little psychedelic
When I have enough squares, I will use a single color to make a final round around each square, and that will hopefully unify the blanket.  My daughter is very doubtful about how this is going to turn out:  it looks too great-grandmother-y for her.  Maybe that is why I like it.  As I make this blanket, I feel a connection to the women (including my great-grandmother) who have made similar objects before me.  I understand what they were thinking as they looked in their yarn bag and thought, "I'll choose THIS color," or "I'll just shut my eyes and pull a color out."  No overanalyzing the color scheme here, just relaxing and letting the blanket design itself, in a way.

The only bad things are: 1) it is not super portable, since you have to drag around ALL those colors of yarn and 2) this:
Lots and lots of ends that will have to be woven in.  I try to save those for mindless TV watching, or for long phone conversations.  That way I can get something done without having to devote a lot of brain power to it.

It will be a good while before this is done, maybe not until next winter.  But I have a totally unreasonable fear of running out of things to do, and I certainly don't have to fear that as long as I have projects like this to keep me busy.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Meet George.....and Harry

These little monkeys were knitted by my daughter, using the directions in Itty-Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson.  The first monkey, who we'll call 'George', was commissioned by a friend of mine who is expecting her first grandchild, a little boy, to be born any day now.  She and her daughter had seen my daughter's other toys (you can see some of them here), and they wanted one, leaving the choice of animal up to my daughter.
George turned out so cute that my daughter made another one for her younger brother.  We'll call this monkey 'Harry.'
Both were made using sock yarn from KnitPicks.  We ordered it from there because the only sock yarn we can find locally is variegated, which wouldn't give the monkeys the striped effect.  Because George is for a baby, he is stuffed with plain stuffing.  Harry is partially stuffed with plastic pellets, which makes it easier to sit him up, but the pellets tend to settle, so he is not as fluffy as my daughter wanted.

There are plans for a third monkey, but knitting those skinny arms and legs in the round got tedious, so my daughter had to take a little break before further monkey business.

Don't you just love the little topknots?
"Ah, this is the life!"