Tuesday, September 29, 2009

hogwarts style

Ace has decided that he wants to be Harry Potter for Halloween, which secretly pleases me to no end. A dedicated HP fan myself, I get to live vicariously through him and maybe even dress in a supporting role (McGonagall? Umbridge?) to boot. What could be more fun? Ace picked up The Sorcerer's Stone late last school year and has since steadfastly soldiered through the series; he's now in the middle of #5 and spellbound by the idea of legilimency. This, of course, means daily wizardly discussions and duels- shouts of "Avada Kedavra!" and "Crucio!" (he's enamored of the Unforgivable Curses, as any second grader well should be) are pretty standard around our home.

Being cheap, I just can't bring myself to pay forty bucks (!!) for a flimsy Harry Potter costume. Besides, back in my day (I can't believe I just said that), half of the fun of Halloween was making your own costume... deciding what materials to use, thrifting for accessories and finally, constructing the outfit. Luckily, Ace and Sweetie are way on board this train of thought, so it didn't take much convincing to ditch the store-bought variety. Ace is going to recycle his Jedi robe from last Halloween into Harry's cloak/robes and use Dad's old frames for his signature glasses. I'm leaving the wand construction up to him, which I'm sure will involve endless amounts of tape and paper towel rolls. Or course, the knitter in me jumped at the prospect to knit him a First Year Gryffindor scarf, as seen in the first movie. I'm kind of wishing I'd thought to make the scarf on size 13 needles or something, though, as it's mind numbing stockinette in the round on size 7's, but still- it's Harry Potter!!- so no complaints here.

After contemplating being Hermione, Tinkerbell, a veterinarian, Cinderella and a vegetarian, Sweetie finally decided on being Princess Leia. I was slightly relieved, as I really wasn't sure how I was going to pull "vegetarian" off. I have some white fabric that can be fashioned into Leia's gown, but I'm concerned that Sweetie's hair may be too short to pull off the signature braided buns. Luckily, we've got a month to figure it out... or um, let her hair grow. Whichever happens first!

Monday, September 28, 2009


A certain Birthday Bug turned the big T-W-O this past weekend and much merriment ensued. There were birthday balloons (or "My birthday ball!" in Bug-speak, with much emphasis on the word, "my"), Yogurtland goodness laden with blueberries and strawberries, singing Star Wars cards, Star Wars books, Star Wars cupcakes with ice cream and candle almost-blowing. It was near-heaven for this Star Wars (Die-Yo, in Bug-speak) fanatic. May the Force be with you, Youngling Bug!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

i swear i still knit, but....

I kinda sorta got sucked into the cute Halloween bento craze over on Flickr. And on the topic of bento, I know it's completely irrelevant, but I never know whether 'bento' should be pluralized as a regular noun with an 's' or if it instead falls into the irregular identical singular/plural category as "sheep" and "deer." Really, it's all kind of moot as bento is not even an English word, but still. These are the kinds of things I worry about.

So anyway, I got sucked into the Halloween bento craze and you know.... lemming. I realize the ghost might have been more effective on white bread, but c'mon, you've got to have some nutritional standards, right? I'm glad to have had a chance to use my holiday cookie cutters for more than just cookies and can definitely see more holiday themed bento in the coming months!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I know it sounds hopelessly cliche, but I can't believe how fast kids grow up. So many interminable stretches of days go by, mired in the hustle and bustle of this stuff called "life." In all the craziness that life presents, it seems the weekend can't arrive fast enough, that age 2 can't be outgrown soon enough, that the sassy first grade attitude can't be rid of quick enough. The great irony, of course, is that it is exactly in these seemingly endless stretches of days that life truly occurs. For in the blink of an eye, the weekend yields to Monday, age 2 gives way to 3 and that first grade sass finds itself subdued in the throes of second grade. In a society so focused on anticipating the future, we neglect the present, enjoying our lives in retrospect, rather than in the moment. Realizing how much of my kids' lives I tend to appreciate after-the-fact, it became my New Year's resolution to live presently. Being that I've failed MUCH more than I've managed to succeed, I will admit that I probably should have just committed to eating more beans or something more manageable like that, but hey, it's the effort and mindset that count.

Friday night was one of those rare but precious successes that I'm so grateful to have experienced. Ace and I went on a Cub Scout night hike up on Tantalus with his pack. Things didn't start off so happily, as I pulled into the campground after 20 minutes of kamikaze winding roads only to realize that I'd forgotten our flashlights. Not a big deal, unless you're crazy anal and just finished driving 20 minutes of kamikaze roads. I started to unhinge (my characteristic autopilot response), until I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the saddest look on Ace's face- he had been so excited about his first night hike, and I could tell that in one fell swoop, I had blown it. I resolved to pull it together and apologized, determined to salvage the evening and be in the moment. We joined our den with smiles and had the most fantastic time. We took in the stars and Jupiter and then embarked on our hike, which was pretty challenging for the little guys as it had rained recently and the ground was muddy and slippery. Along the route, Ace took a tumble over some overgrown roots, but he got back up, grinning, just loving every moment of his adventure in the night, fall and all. Kids have such a natural ability to be in the moment. (Just a side note about proper protocol upon scout's fall: do NOT, under any circumstances, shine someone else's flashlight into the steep embankment and ravine one foot away from where your child is treading, as it may incite profanity-laced exclamations about what would possess your cub master to choose such an insane trail of death.)
Ace and I savored the moments. It was amazing to experience everything for the first time through his eyes. Looking down upon the city lights, discovering constellations, watching his wonder as the campfire was lit and slowly burned down to embers over the course of an hour for S'mores.... I felt seven and a half again, giddy and so honored to have journeyed with him that night. Most of all, I'm so glad it was not just a fuzzy, distant experience to scrapbook and deem a happy memory. Life is most delicious when lived with the consciousness that happiness is.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

cans of a different variety

I opened up a can of whoop-ass on Sick.

See, Sick, with a capital "S" is not your generic, self-limiting head cold. It's the vicious cycle of seemingly endless contagion that plagues our house at least once a year for weeks and sometimes months on end. This current back-to-school variety of Sick has volleyed back and forth among the kids and J for about 6 weeks now, and that was all well and good, until the little tickle I felt in my throat last week rudely morphed into a hack that decided to make house in my chest.

Well, enough is enough and this mama has had enough of Sick. Fantasizing about Healthy, there seemed nothing better than to serve up a can of nutritional whoop-ass in the form of homemade chicken soup, replete with kale, onions, garlic, tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, whole wheat pasta and black beans. Finished with a sprinkle of parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil and a side of corn muffins to sop up any leftover bits in the bowl. Here's hoping that Sick is down for the count!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

easily amused

It doesn't take much to make me happy. Simple minds are easily amused, as the saying goes. Ace, Sweetie and I were coloring a Peanuts Christmas coloring book yesterday, a stocking gift from Santa. Coloring is one of those things I suspect I enjoy far more than the kids do; the smell of crayons transports me instantly to the happy, safe times of my childhood. I can tell that their interest starts to fade after about a half hour, but I often plead with them to linger longer, busting out the big gun bribes of messy oil pastels and fancy schmancy Prismacolor pencils. Luckily, they took the bait yesterday, and we enjoyed a full hour of Charlie Brown coloring. Talk about old school fun! I have so many fond memories of watching Charlie Brown specials- The Great Pumpkin, Merry Christmas Charlie Brown, the Camp Special... And do you remember those Dolly Madison commercials that preceded each special? My sister and I were convinced that they must have been the most delicious treats on the planet, having never tasted or seen any Dolly Madisons in real life.

Yesterday's fun inspired today's Snoopy bento for Ace and Sweetie. I know there are actual Peanuts bento cutters for sale, but the ghetto bento-er in me can't justify paying that much for a single-use gadget... how I covet, though! So, freehand it was, which is why Snoopy's head looks deformed. Oh well. Cheap is as cheap does.

Further in the 'easily amused' department- yesterday, I had my first pumpkin spiced latte of the year. Oh. my. goodness. That first sip was a positively transcendent revelation. All year I wait for this particular Starbucks offering. I know there are a gazillion DIY recipes out there, and- see previous paragraph- I am cheap as heck, but there's just something about this version that signals fall to me in a way that nothing else does. Living in a land where fall means turning off the air conditioning at 7 pm instead of 11 pm, you take your cues wherever you can. I confess to borderline fetish-izing all things pumpkin, as the season is all too fleeting and the flavor so intoxicating. Pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin crunch cake, pumpkin risotto (blissful shudder).... bring it on!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

of cans and dreams

When I ever-so-eagerly planted my first organic container garden late this spring, I dreamt of unimaginable bounty, having to pass off bags filled with zucchini to unsuspecting neighbors and casually walking to my porch to harvest an armful of herbs for a bouquet garni, Ina Garten style. Fast forward three months later and um, not so much. Sure, there were a few zucchinis (and I mean that in the literal sense of "few," as in two), a couple of cucumbers (cough, three), enough basil for 2 cups of pesto and maybe even 30 or so grape tomatoes. Lest I forget, there were even several salads' worth of arugula, swiss chard and kale. But the bounty I'd imagined that would require me to put up for the winter? Not even close. Nonetheless, my obsession with the gentle domestic art of canning never waned and when I realized that there really was no more to be had from my garden, I took matters into my own hands and bought some ingredients for homemade jam.

Though the peaches I bought were not as fragrant or juicy as I'd hoped (how I envy you, K-Brow!), they were acceptably soft and un-mealy. I had frozen a batch of organic strawberries bought during a Safeway rampage this summer (hello? a pound of organic strawberries for $2?! I may have bought 12 pounds. Maybe.) and decided to mix them with the peaches. I made just a small batch- the yield was probably no more than 3 cups- but I didn't want to be stuck with more than 3 cups of salmonella jam if I didn't follow the canning directions correctly. The process was pretty straightforward (though I'm sure I missed many of the subtle nuances that experienced canners are familiar with) and in the end, we got a pretty tasty jar of jam!

Having survived the experience without any bouts of botulism, I'm excited to try my hand at other prospects, namely marmalade and other citrus blends.

On the knitting front, I'm in the middle of a Think Pink KAL begun with K-Brow and Acornbud before K-Brow's departure to Georgia. Ariann (Bonne Marie Burns) is on the needles in Screaming Fuschia SWTC Karaoke and about 30% or so complete.

I'm enjoying the rhythm of this knit, though I get too easily impatient with the length of the rows. I have to remind myself that it seems to grow slowly because the back and front are knit at the same time. This yarn is delicious to work with, though I suspect the finished product may be entirely too warm to wear, save for the coldest of days here. Nonetheless, it's an entirely enjoyable knit, cozy and comforting; not altogether a bad gig at all.

Friday, September 11, 2009

tap, tap, tap...is this thing on?

I suppose you begin simply by writing something, anything. Having fallen out of the habit of blogging for quite some time, I'm not sure where or how to "pick up" again. All I am sure about is that I would like to begin blogging again; to capture moments in time that bring a smile to my face and to reflect on those things which bring me happiness. Entirely for myself. Selfish? Well, very, yes. But I'd like this endeavor to be truer and more real than my last effort. I know from experience that I am easily sucked into the community aspect of blogging and commenting. And while it may allow for interpersonal connection in an otherwise devoid medium, I am striving to find a better balance this time around.

So, there have been several big changes around these parts over the past few years. Bits of Knits is now a household of five instead of four!

Ace (formerly, "Bossy") is almost eight years old and in second grade now. Sweetie (formerly, "Stinky") is five and a half and starting kindergarten. Bug (formerly just a wishful thought) is our soon-to-be two year old son, exuberant and full of mischievous plans. He loves ABBA and sings songs from "Mamma Mia," which I have to document here so that I have recorded blackmail material for when he graduates from high school.

Packing bento lunches has become a recent interest of mine, partly utilitarian in nature because of the money saved by bringing lunch from home, but also for the aesthetics involved. My mom gifted me with a copy of Hawaii's Bento Box Cookbook this past Christmas, and I just fell in love with it. I mean, how could you not? Everything in it is so darned cute! Ace and Sweetie got a hold of the book and after that, it was pretty well decided that neither of them could bring just a plain ol' turkey sandwich to school anymore. So I've been trying to up the cute-factor a bit, with varying degrees of success, but it's all good. And fun! Here's a pic of today's lunch.... a Sanrio Cinnamoroll on fried rice for Sweetie and a boy on a turkey sandwich for Ace (in second grade, it can't be overtly cute, so I walk a fine line with that boy).

I think the little umbrella apple far right may have been a bit much cutesy-wise for Ace as it was left untouched, but it's also possible that it was left in artistic protest, as that apple looks nothing like an umbrella!