Jun 29, 2013

D113: Around

You might notice the different needles here. Welllll... This has been frogged twice already. The pattern calls for size 3 needles, and since it was printed in the UK I thought they meant UK size 3. Now I'm pretty sure they meant US size 3. It's a huge difference, the UK's being 6.5mm and the US's being 3.25mm. HUGE difference. I'm using 4mm needles at the mo. Why? Coz I'm stubborn.*

I'm not a very fast knitter. Changing patterns so I can work in the round is a way I save some time with less joining. It's not especially difficult when the pattern says "Front: make up as for back to Arm Holes".  I usually add a purl stitch between  the front and the back, but really I should skip that and just use a marker.  Working in the round also means less purling, which is great since I'm faster at knit stitches. 

When I work in the round I use continental-style knitting. With straight needles and western-style knitting I hinge the right needle on my forearm and release my hand to loop. However, letting go with my right-hand makes for awkward knitting when in the round.  I'm also a little faster at the continental knit stitch (and sometimes purl).  If I really work on my speed, my continental is much faster than regular knitting, but still not that fast. 

A few years ago we were travelling around Norway by bus. A row ahead and opposite me I saw a woman knitting a black cashmere somethingorother.  She was so fast.  Seriously, knit-knit-knit-knit-shove in two or three seconds. I stared at her hands for ages, trying to figure out how she was so quick.  I think it was continental because I remember that she didn't toggle her hand - it was like she just rubbed the needles together and wrote it out. It seemed to be in the eyebrows, mostly. I still regret not crossing the aisle to ask her how she did it.  
I dream of my continental knitting skills being that good. 

*While I'm delighted that my tension is matching the estimates on the yarn label, I won't be surprised if I frog this again and use 3.25mm like I know I should. Stubborn people are sometimes a bit stupid. Shall have to see how it goes in stocking stitch but I'm not sure who I'm kidding. It's for a baby, A! Not a toddler! Shall measure it tomorrow and decide...

Jun 28, 2013

D112: It will be done!

Two of my favourite people are having a baby! Yey! More favourite people!

The ol' long-tail cast-on for this one
And damned if my absent-mindedness, sleep deprivation, or other projects will keep me from hand-making something for this new little person and their lovely parents. Sooooo...

I'm using a stash of Panda Woolbale.  Is not very special, but I'm not too worried because a vest will go over onesies and tops, so any scratchiness is generally covered.  I very much like the colour though.  It's not very bright, but I think little girls look lovely in blue and it'll be safe ofr a boy.

The main point though is that I have a long car trip tomorrow but not the time to go and buy some of the special Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino that the pattern asks for.  Is really very naughty of me, but I would also feel a lot of pressure if I'd spent that much on this project.  What's more, even when I do a swatch, the measurements never work out right. :\ 

And the baby shower is in two weeks.

And I don't have the right sized needles either.  WHAT COULD GO WORNG?

Jun 27, 2013

D111: Because I say it is

We've recently signed up to Farmers Direct and have been enjoying regular deliveries of milk and bread twice a week.  It's terribly indulgent on that front alone.  Usually our midweek fruit and veg order is 'pick & pack' where we decide what will be included. But this week we couldn't decide what would be for dinners, so we went for the Couples small box, full of seasonal fruits and veggies.

Only one lucky person got the garnish.
So, for my creative thing on Tuesday I made something out of it!

I fried some chopped spring onions, added some carrots, zucchini, capsicum and tomato and chucked in some canned chopped tomatoes and some stir through sauce (coz it was open already) and some basil.

We tried cooking the past another way, which I'll share with you soon, and it worked out pretty well.  Bub even had some of the pasta, but changed her mind after a while. 

I've still got the rest of the bag of carrots, a bag of potatoes, a lot of basil, and a red onion.  The service includes a recipe that would work with what you've gotten for the week. This delivery's recipe was soup, much like what we've had for the past week.... So I decided not to go with that one, obvs.

Anyhoo, still crowding my project board with things to do...  It's like my way of drawing tension in the narrative of my blog.  

Jun 22, 2013

D110: She'll be apples...

I can't decide whether apples or lemons are the best fruit.
Lemons are so versatile - sponges, stir fries, a lemon transcends the boundaries. It's sparks and tilts the flavour of a meal, it's a garnish and a foundation flavour, and they last and last...
Apples, though, go with meats and pastries and are in the jam in jam doughnuts, and there's a gazillions varieties of them, and you can eat them fresh*... Yeah, it's apples.

While fruit is notoriously sweet, it is often also sneakily tart and in a way my adult palette has missed.  When I made apple and plum puree Bub hit an especially sour spoonful once and, I kid you not, turned her head to the side, straightened her little legs and smacked the table three times.  Although paralysed with laughter, I did have the presence of mind to retain that plums are sharp.

Once I started paying attention, I realised that Granny Smiths, too, would be quite sharp for babies so I initially chose an eating apple because they often have a mild flavour.  I love Fuji apples, so I got those in case I was too disorganised to actually make the purées.  (Or is that really organised...?)

3 medium Granny Smiths, 2 brown pears & 1 medium banana = 1 doz. heaped tbsp

Bub is a fan of apple, pear and banana purée and today I had the presence of mind to document my effort, not just in photos but in quantities.  I've tried different types this time: brown pears instead of green, Granny Smiths instead of Fujis, just to work some variety into a somewhat reliable food.

Then I used some mild Golden Delicious and added some frozen berries - a few each of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.  Two small apples and some berries do not yield very much, and now I know.  A part of me thinks I'm kidding myself with this one, flavour-wise.  Did I not just explain how babies notice sharp flavours more than adults.. and I'm using raspberries? Really?

Nevertheless, I don't want to start not making things because I'm presuming Bub's tastes.  Who's to know what her preferences are like one day to the next?  Maybe she's old enough for some tartness.  Her interest in food waxes and wanes and preferences come and go without rhythm.  So as much as I feel foolish for not being right about what she likes (coz I'm supposed to have some sort of telepathy about that, obvs) I still want to try lots of different things, rejection be damned.  

Two Golden Delicious and half doz berries = not much.
This cooking thing is beginning to feel like a metaphor for the grief of parenting - all this effort, with no possibility of gratitude, some likelihood of pleasure and every chance of rejection.  For me, knowing that Bub will refuse things she doesn't like means I have to manage my emotions about it all.  I go to a bit of effort to imagine or choose and make all these things especially for this little person, with no guarantee whatsoever that it will be liked, hoping for her best response, which is a frequently opened mouth, some impatience, maybe some kicking.  So I have to find this middle ground of being thoughtful, maybe creative, but not invested.  (These are the minutiae of mental health for some mums.)  

And yet, sometimes I can't help but get a little bit excited about new foods.  For instance, I couldn't wait for her to try the little shepherd's pies I made.  I'd really like her to enjoy beef and potato, two feature ingredients in my diet.  I even cut one in half, so I wouldn't feel too bad if she rejected it.  It took three pans to make, you see, and that's a lot of bother for me.   I even caught myself talking my heart down, "She prolly won't like it much, it is a very strong flavour, and she's got no teeth..." 
She inspected it a lot, and tried the potato... early days, early days.

So, if you haven't figured out that I overthink things, you've just been busted for scanning and not reading.   About once a week I exhaust myself and fall in a gentle heap with "You know what?  We'll just put what we're having in front of her and if she eats it she does, and if she doesn't she'll have a breastfeed. No biggie."  At some stage, that relaxation will become permanent, I hope, or Bub's eating habits will shift.  As they say, food is for fun before they are 1.  For FUN.  So I've got a little under 8 weeks to get it right.  (Good work brain, way to help.)

*Yes, I know, technically you can eat a lemon fresh, but you can also eat a book fresh, so, you know.

Jun 19, 2013

D109: For Little Bo Peep

Tonight I made little shepherd's pies.  I used foil cupcake shells to hold them.  I considered using a Yorkshire pudding or scone dough as a base, which I think would work really well, but for something that may be rejected and on a night of little time, it wasn't practical.
They are not, by any means, marvellous.  I was missing onions and peas, both hijacked by the soup  we made.  I wish they had more gravy.  I wish I hadn't accidentally sloshed a whole lotta milk into the mash. (You can actually smell the milk!) Luckily, we're planning on trying Bub with dairy again, so cooked milk will now be part of that.  Otherwise, I'm glad I tried it and hope they're a nice change for her.  She hasn't any teeth yet, and I'm always torn about how long to persist with a new flavour or whether I'm making it dreary, but I'll know soon enough whether the mess and flavours are to her liking :)
One of the dilemmas of making food that is for a baby, or even food for a family which includes a baby, is wastage.  Bub isn't someone who eats anything and everything that's in front of her, or even the same kind of thing as what she ate yesterday.  I'm beginning to think she's wanting some variety because her interest in things comes and goes.  She certainly gets a range of foods, allowing for the limits in her dairy intolerance and egg allergy.
Unfortunately though, for her, variety is present in our diet in a very specific way. Allow me to explain:
We don't really like cooking.
Confused? Well, it'll aaaaall be clear soon.
For us, cooking it takes time away from things we'd rather be doing. And it interrupts us every single night of the week, dammit.  Our answer for this is that we'll cook six or eight serves and happily eat the same thing for a week.
Each night that we're not 'cooking' we'll make pasta, rice or some accompaniment to go with our 'leftovers'.  The variety in our diet is presented in every meal, rather than in the range of meals.  When we make soup, we put lots of different things in it.  Spag Bol includes broccoli, zucchini, carrot, mushrooms and capsicum.  Curry barely fits in the pot for all its ingredients.  I think our most restrictive staple is risotto with capsicum, squash, sun dried tomatoes, and zucchini (chicken optional). It also means that meals that don't reheat well, or are designed for two to four people, don't really get a look-in for us unless it's a special occasion.  Maybe I should call it breadth, rather than variety...
So, you can see, when you're used to cooking in bulk, and you've got a future of small serves ahead of you for a certain someone, cooking in bulk for them is even more instinctive.  In fact, cooking a regular serve of a regular meal is already a bulk cook for her.  And then...  She may or may not eat it.
To her great credit, she tries almost everything we put in front of her provided she can put it in her own mouth, which I love.  Sometimes all it does is confirm for her that this thing belongs in 'the out tray' (i.e. the patch of floor to the fit of her high chair).  And, as with many children, veggies are second fiddle to fruits.  I can generally sneak thing into her tummy aboard some toast, which is a handy trick, but not guaranteed.  
So, with great zen breathing, I've use two saucepans, a cupcake tray and cups and generally fussed way more than ever, while cooking to other meals, in the hope that Bub will look sideways at these little creations.  Pretty sure she doesn't like carrots either...
But at least I'll like them! Right?! RIGHT?!! 

Jun 16, 2013

D106,107&108: Shtuff

Little peek-a-boo thing
Soooo... Absenteeism is high recently.  Three weeks or so is a long time to be away.  I'd apologise profusely but suspect I haven't enough regular readers for that to be necessary.  Really, though, I should apologise to myself for not sticking to things better.  Sorry A, you deserve better. For shame! I hang my head as I type. (Thanks bad posture, knew you'd come in handy.)
Project parts

Equally unimpressive is what's been going on since my last post: not much.  I'm still chipping away at this project for Bub.  Soon enough the little parts will have to be brought together in the larger piece and hopefully that last large step will happen in one go.  

I baked another two-tone brownie yesterday which was really disappointing.  It needs foil over it after the first 20mins to stave off burning, but we didn't hear the timer go, and the whole thing ended up underdone and weird.  It was so tall when I did the skewer test too - now looks like a dam after a bushfire :( Not even a pic for that accident.

Most of my other baking/cooking has been a few cakes, lactation cookies and good old baby foods, which rarely get more than two stars from our breastfed little Bub.  People ask if we're doing baby-led weaning, or whatever you like to call it.  We do both BLW and purées, and we can do purées better when she has something to feed herself at the same time.  We haven't found there's more or less food wasted in either because she'll happily refuse both.  Seriously, if you ever have a kid who'll refuse food, you'll realise it's all baby-led.  And we have no weaning going on either. 

We've done a bit of spring cleaning too (in autumn, such rebels), partly inspired by Bub's recent mobility.  I'm currently enhancing the 'change is as good as a holiday' feel around the house by enjoying new spaces and places for things.
Yesterday's bread.  Think the moisture at the
bottom is from using the hollow biscuit tray.

Another reason the blog has taken a backseat is due to a bit of work I've taken on.  (Just realised I can call myself a WAHM!)  I'm crunching the data of a school survey for the AP at my work.  It's about 20 classes of surveys so there's lots of data entry.  Nights in front of the telly have been occupied with that whenever I've had the wherewithal to do anything.  It may seem like I'm neglecting fun for work, but these little cognitive challenges are important for my wellbeing too.  I like figuring out formulas and graphs, albeit at an amateur level, and it provides variety in the challenges I work on these days.  And I get paid!

Apple and Cranberry Pie
Also, truth be told, my desire for crafting has had a bit of a slump.  No biggie.  Maybe I'm paralysed for choice, with ideas bottlenecked by tiredness.  (Recently added a fleecy romper to my wish list, emphasis on wish.)  But who knows!  It isn't a zero-sum thing, and it's not like it's going away, right?!  Ah the freedom having your own blog in which to shift the goal posts! ;D

So, I'm off to shower, and maybe afterwards I'll handwash that new fabric like I know I should, now that the sun's out! ;)  Happy Sunday folks!