Because we were curious.

Sniff. Thank you, NASA.

(After you’ve watched the video, go read the accompanying article from The Guardian.

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Filed under Science/Fiction

Conan, what is best in life?

Gin drinks with cucumber in them.

Gordon's cup

Anything with fresh parsley.

tabbouleh

Free tater tots with cheez wiz from your favorite waitress at your regular bar.

grossest photograph of tater tots ever

Surprise cake from your current boss to celebrate that you got a new job.

surprise cake!

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you.

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Filed under Food

Growing things

So, gardening. Is it complicated? Maybe. And who does it? I do! What do you need? Not a whole heck of a lot!

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Someone recently was saying that they think gardening is really complicated. I can’t remember who, or even whether it was an actual person talking to my face, someone on Twitter or Facebook, someone in a blog post, or someone I don’t even know posting on some website with which I am not personally associated. (I have an increasingly difficult time separating things said by my actual friends from things said on The Hairpin.)

But anyway. Gardening actually isn’t that complicated. To do it you need: dirt, plants, water. That is it. You can get fancy and buy gardening gloves if you want. And if you don’t have access to dirt you may need to buy potting soil and containers. But you don’t have to buy a watering can (the plants do not care how the water gets to them; a drinking glass works fine), fertilizer, a composter, or anything else gardening blogs might suggest you need. Your garden doesn’t even have to look all that great, as evidenced by mine.

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We got lucky with this rental. Not only does it have this great brick and concrete patio (perfect for grilling and drinking), it also came with some perennial herbs — everything planted in that right-hand bed. From the owners (who lived here before we moved in) we inherited lavender, lemon balm, thyme, chives, and oregano. And by the way, we’re absolutely swimming in lemon balm (the MASSIVE GREEN THING in the photo below), so if anyone has any suggestions for how to use it, I’m all ears.

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But the rest of the stuff — everything in containers — is stuff we planted this spring. We bought seedlings at farm stands, Lowes, and farmers’ markets. Bought organic potting soil and containers/pots somewhere. Drilled holes into the containers that didn’t have them. And then we planted some stuff. The end.

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Well, not quite. The most difficult thing about gardening for those who have absolutely never, ever done it before seems to be the watering and the sunlight. Yeah, you have to water these plants once a day at least. Sometimes more if it’s really hot and dry. I do it before I go to work in the morning and MAYBE when I get home, depending on how dry the soil got during the day. Takes me 3 minutes, but only because I tend to also fuss over the plants and check out what’s changed/is growing/is dying. If it looks like it’s going to rain, you can only water a little bit and then wait and see how the weather goes. If it rains, no watering! If it doesn’t, get yourself out there and spend those 3 minutes watering the plants.

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Sunlight can be a little more intimidating to people who have never had an outdoor plant because you have to plan a little bit. You need to think about where you might put a plant and then spend a few days noticing how much sunlight those spots get. The place in our yard that gets the most sunlight during the day is the right hand side, where the permanent bed is. So the place where I’ve put the containers gets the second most amount of sunlight. In the late afternoon/evening it can get a little shady because of a tree in the neighbor’s yard. But, as you can see, the plants are happy anyway.

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I should add that we didn’t do all of that at once. We bought some parsley when we saw it at the farmers’ market. Some jalapenos when we saw them at Lowes. The green onions are actually the bulb ends of grocery store green onions after we used the green part for some dinner. (Aside: I love that you can do this! You can do it inside with some dirt and a yogurt cup! Put the bulb in dirt after you cut off the green part and it will regrow!) Everything was accumulated piecemeal until we have what you see here. And this is probably it for us, just out of laziness. We’re growing things we’ll eat, but not EVERYTHING we’ll eat. So nothing will be wasted, but we also don’t have to go nuts trying to eat everything the garden produces before it rots on the vine.

Here’s what we’re growing:
Vegetables
Cucumber
Yellow squash
Tomatoes (Rutgers variety, natch)
Green peppers
Jalapenos
Lettuce

Herbs
Rosemary
Lavender
Lemon balm
Oregano
Chives
Thyme
Parsley
Green onions
Mint

Things are starting to produce vegetables and I’m excited! Soon we’ll be making fresh salsa, tabbouleh, and the best tomato sandwiches ever. Summer is ok.

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Filed under Food, Garden

KBC V: Fabulous hat edition

<3

For the past four years, some bloggy friends and I have been getting together to hang out, eat good food, drink good drinks, chat, knit, and do other assorted crafts. It’s undoubtedly one of the highlights of my year and I still can’t quite believe I lucked into having these amazing ladies as friends. If you have a free weekend, I highly recommend organizing something similar yourself. Just make sure to buy slightly more wine and cheese than you think you’ll need. And lots of bacon. And bug spray because oh dear god the mosquitoes.

We swapped hats this year (in the past we did cowls and mittens) and I got to knit a hat for the lovely Nova. Aside from being a smart lady, fantastic mom, and possessor of the best drunk laugh ever, Nova has also been doing a tiny bit of profession-mentoring for me as I’ve gone back for a second master’s degree and am joining the same field she works in. She even let me follow her around a conference when I’m sure she had better things to do than babysit the nervous new kid. In short, she deserves a lot more than a hat.

Cecily in Brooks Farm Acero

Pattern: Cecily by Knitting School Dropout
Ravelry project page
Yarn: Brooks Farm Acero

This is a very pleasing, easy little knit with just the right amount of slouch. And bonus: it looks great sitting atop Nova’s curls.

Cecily in Brooks Farm Acero

The yarn was meh. I love heathered yarn, so the color was right up my alley, but it was so splitty that I’m not sure I’d knit with it again. I made a scarf with the same yarn a few years ago (I was knitting it at KBC III, actually) and noted some splittiness in the Rav project notes. So yeah, I think this is my last time working with this yarn.

And of course, a swap means that everyone goes home with a prize. One Ms Caro Splityarn knit me a super cute, slouchy purple hat that is exactly what I wanted. It’ll be in heavy rotation this winter.

Slable for Specs
(Photo by Caro, who makes everything look gorgeous.)

I had a lovely time, ladies. Let’s do it again soon.

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Filed under Hats, Knitting

Basket ‘o booties

I really like pleasing arrangements of words. So much so that I will apparently design gifts around, not how they look or how functional they are, but how the name of the gift sounds. I am not the most practical of gift-givers that way.

But I think booties are a practical gift for parents-to-be, especially when the pregnant lady has specifically asked you to knit booties, since she herself is a knitter but hates knitting on DPNs. She made some super cute sweaters for her kid and friends’ kids, but just doesn’t feel up to all the wrangling required for making tiny shoes for tiny feet (which, after knitting a bunch of those things, I totally get).

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But the end results are so cute and my sister and brother in law liked them so much, I really didn’t mind all the end-weaving, fiddly car-knitting, swearing, and wrist/finger nerve damage. Here’s a brief run down of what went into the basket o’ booties. (And if you look at the project pages, you’ll see that re: our discussion last time about picking up stitches, I did not pick up the appropriate number for ANY of these knits.)

"Eco baby booties"
Eco Baby Booties in Ella Rae worsted
Cute and quick, because they’re knit on worsted. I recommend two things: knitting with dark yarn (because there’s no way to get the seam to look neat) and sewing down the little rolled edge.

Magic slippers #2
Magic slippers 2 in KPPPM
These are the most satisfying little knit ever.

Magic booties #1
Magic slippers 1 in Plymouth Sockotta
These are the ugliest booties ever. But I guess the baby won’t get lost in a crowd? You know how babies are always doing that.

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Newborn lace socks in Dalegarn Baby Ull
Oh god my patio table is filthy. Pretend I didn’t put white baby socks on it. Also the colors are all wonky in this shot and I can’t fix them so I gave up.
These are really cute. Would knit again A++++++.

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Saartje’s bootees in Dalegarn Baby Ull
Adorbs. Right? You knew that.

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I will add though, that if you haven’t knit these before you should know that they take as long to seam and weave ends in as they do to knit. After knitting they resemble a tiny garter stitch jellyfish and it’s only another 15 minutes of sewing that makes them into the cute little accessories you see above. Also: do not do this in a car. Seaming these is a surefire way to car sickness and a headache. (But still worth it because, did you see the wee buttons and straps?) There is a version of these knit in the round, but I missed it on the first pattern hunt and was pressed enough for time that I just wanted to knit two of a pattern I’d already memorized.

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Saartje’s bootees 2 in Dalegarn Baby Ull

CUTER. I reluctantly chose the pink flower buttons for these after realizing that the little skull buttons at JoAnn’s were too big.

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Sweet Baby Jayne in Vanna’s Choice
“Baby scoots down the hall in that hat, people know she’s not afraid of anything.” (Explanation video.) This was an awesome knit for sci-fi fan parents. My brother in law got it immediately, which was exactly the reaction I hoped for. I think a grown-man sized Jayne hat might be in order right around Halloween time.

I have one more baby shower to go to for the Niecelet, and I’m thinking of knitting another hat to go along with my store-bought gift. Probably Adrian’s Town-down Bonnet with the ears, of course. Because who doesn’t like a baby in a hat with ears? (Commies.)

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Filed under Baby, FOs, Hats, Knitting, Lace, Niecelet, Socks

The Grey Lady

Meet my new stole:

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Celes, by Jared Flood (ravelry)
Yarn: Bristol Yarn Gallery Buckingham (beautiful yarn for lace! 80% alpaca, 20% silk)
Needles: US 6 / 4 mm

I like very simple things. Clean lines, solid colors, classic styles, black, grey, green, white. Because of this, I tend to knit very simple things: lots of stockinette, plain colors, nothing flashy or terribly stylish. So I’ve ended up with a lot of sweaters and accessories that I love, but that aren’t really impressive to either knitters or non-knitters. There was a big hole in my knitted wardrobe where an impressive piece might go — something that knitters and non-knitters alike would be impressed by.

And ok, maybe Celes isn’t that technically impressive — it got really damn dull toward the end there — but it does exactly what I want it to: it sits prettily around my neck and looks complicated enough that I’m not embarrassed to encounter other knitters while wearing it (like I am when wearing, say, my garter stitch Malabrigo scarf).

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Celes represents something else I love: old things. It’s a perfect confluence of simple (repetitive pattern, grey yarn, easily disguised as a scarf) and old (the Shetland lace that inspired Jared’s pattern). And I’d be lying if I said the Scottish heritage of this scarf didn’t tug at my 25% Scottish heartstrings just a little.

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I mentioned before that technique-wise, this stole isn’t much to brag about, and I think that’s true for most of you, my talented knitter friends. But it is the first time I ever grafted lace. I knit Eunny Jang’s Print ‘O The Wave for my grandmother a few years ago, but the grafting was intimidating so I left it out, knitting a single panel in one direction. But you know what? Grafting? Totally not scary. At least, not if you’re content with it being visible (and research on the internet has lead me to believe that there is no such thing as completely invisible lace grafting).

This truly crappy photo does a pretty good job of showing you the kitchenered graft:

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See? Not terrible, but visible if you’re looking for it (which I would be if I saw another knitter wearing a two-panel stole).

Another technique footnote to this pattern: I will never, EVER, be able to pick up the correct number of stitches. You could hold a gun to my head, threaten my family, burn my books, or even help me count the stitches, and I would still pick up the wrong number. When picking up stitches for the edging of Celes, the pattern told me to pick up 211. I picked up 186. Not a big deal, because I just decreased a few extra times (k3 tog instead 2 at the end of RS of edging rows) to make the total divisible by 6 and made it work. But I do not know where I was supposed to find those extra 25 stitches.

Although none of that really matters because the finished object is beautiful and I am completely in love with it.

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Filed under Accessories, FOs, Knitting, Lace

Tyler

As I mentioned earlier, the problem with having multiple projects on the needles is that it feels like nothing ever gets finished. In addition to the slowness of knitting small bits on different large projects, one of the Denise circulars I was using for Aidez just broke, so that’s on hold while I’m knitting the edging for my beautiful, gray Celes.

Mostly right now I am excited about the weather getting warm enough — and the streets clear and dry enough — to ride bikes again. Around here, the weather is usually above freezing during the day, with a few over 50 F days happening every now and then. Perfect biking weather if you wear mittens (specifically, Elinor’s Mittens, which I would encourage you to knit if you want some wind-proof hand coverings).

bike ride

Last summer, courtesy of a friend’s break-up and an unwanted gift, I got a free bicycle that was way too big for me. But I rode it anyway — slowly tipping over at stoplights — and started casually reading bike blogs, learning a little about bike maintenance, types of frames, bike gear, and bike-culture wars.

Thanks to those blogs, I realized a couple of things:

1) It’s ok to want your bike to look nice. Just expect to get mocked for that.
2) If you’re uncomfortable or feel unsafe on your bike, it is not the bike for you.
3) Bikes are expensive.
4) Gear is expensive.
5) I want at least three different bikes, all for different purposes.
6) Every hobby/community/activity-based group has assholes who will ruin it for you if you let them.

In February, I started combing Craigslist in earnest, looking for a bike that met my criteria (small, cheap, multiple gears, upright handlebars, fenders, not falling apart). After a few months of wondering how I could ever save up what I’d need for the perfect bike, I found one that met nearly all of my criteria. The one catch: no fenders. I bought it anyway and, after one small tweak to the gearshift (or whatever that’s called — I apparently have limits on how much jargon I’ll learn for a new hobby), it rides beautifully.

new bike!

I love my new bike. It’s a Tyler brand — made in Poland in the 80s, 3 gears, upright handlebars, small frame. I need to add a few things to make it perfect, but nothing that’ll break the bank. I want to add fenders, buy new tires, a rear rack, and some kind of baskets or panniers. I also need to get a helmet, which is first on the list, but the least exciting purchase.

R is kind of baffled by how excited I am over biking. I want to bike everywhere, even places that we usually walk to. He sees biking as something utilitarian: a faster way to get from here to there. I see it as, first of all, fun, but also the first kind of exercise I’ve tried since I stopped dancing that I haven’t hated with the passion of a thousand firey suns (RUNNING). And after a winter that’s involved a lot of beer, cheese, and baked goods, and very little movement, any exercise is a good thing.

warm enough

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Filed under Bicycles