Archive for August, 2004

Green Thumb?

Sunday, August 29th, 2004

Ever since we bought our house almost three years ago, I’ve grown a vegetable garden in the back yard. I like gardening. One of the few good things my father gave me was a love for gardening and fresh vegetables. When I was a kid, we had a huge vegetable patch in our back yard. Mine now is tiny, but I squeeze a lot into it.

This summer the garden has been kind of pitiful. A long, rainy, cold spring, a less-than-spectacularly-hot summer, and now an early fall. The tomatoes are just now starting to turn red. In fact, I think my neighbors who keep asking for green tomatoes are going to eat more tomatoes this year than I will. I really should fry some green ones up, but that’s a dish that I usually save for the end of the season when the frost is about to strike. At least I have plenty of green tomatoes to give away.

This was my first year planting broccoli. My father always used to say that broccoli was more trouble than it was worth. So I was really proud of myself when that broccoli plant started to sprout a beautiful head of broccoli. However, when I picked it, it turned out to be infested with uncountable nasty green caterpillars. After picking a lot of them out of it, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to find them all, so I threw it away and headed to the grocery store for a bug-free head. Maybe next year, I’ll see if we can find some kind of organic pesticide and try again.

This is also my first year planting eggplant. My father in law sort of requested that I plant some. I can take or leave eggplant, but I thought what the heck. Guess what? I have a handful of little eggplants on my bush and one of them is almost ready to pick. Very exciting! Maybe I’ll make some curry or something.

The parsley and basil plants have gone wild, and I decided while I was out there tonight to go ahead and harvest some parsley. I split the bunch in two and half of it is now drying from the rafter in the basement and the other half is chopped up fine and freezing in ice cubes. I thought I’d try both methods and see which works best. Maybe this week I’ll get around to harvesting the basil as well.

My best luck this year has been with the peppers. I planted 5 different kinds, and they’re all producing. I have a ton of jalepenos, sweet banana peppers, cherry peppers, and more serranos than you can shake a stick at. Even some plain old bells.

Gardening is really a family tradition. My grandmother Marlys, for whom Julie is named, (Julie Marlys Kang) was an avid gardener. Towards the end of her life, she mainly planted flowers. But I remember staying at her house for a week at a time in the summer and eating all kinds of veggies from her little garden. I guess that’s where my dad got it from, and I hope to pass this one tradition along to Julie. Okay, this is so sappy it’s bringing tears to my eyes.

I don’t know what the point of all this was. Now you know way more than you ever wanted to about my garden. I wrote this almost a week ago, and didn’t actually post it. In the mean time, the squirrels have gone to town eating green and almost-ripe tomatoes, leaving their leftovers all over my lawn. Very frustrating!

Blue Ribbon Day

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

Julie and I just came home from the Minnesota State Fair. Well, actually, I put her down for a nap and scrubbed out the nasty Deep Freeze, and then sat down to write.

I didn’t feel like I had knit very many nice things this year, and had to sort of scrounge around to find things that hadn’t already been worn, given as gifts, or loaned to yarn shops for display. Still, even not expecting to get any ribbons, it’s always so exciting to go and seek out all my items hanging in the massive knitting displays in the Creative Activities Building. It’s even more exciting when there are ribbons hanging on them.

The first things I noticed were the Lacy Stripe Socks, which were in the big-prize-winner display. They won a fourth place ribbon, and I thought “Whew. At least I got a ribbon for something.” Then I noticed that they had a giant green ribbon attached to them as well. They won the prize for best original sock design. Wow! This is my second time winning that prize. I looked around some more and spotted my child-sized Box the Compass Sweater (you have to scroll down the page to see the one that’s in the fair). It had a red ribbon on it. Wow! Even better.

Here we pause in the story to note that at this point in the telling, Julie awoke from her nap and I am just getting back to writing this blog entry more than 24 hours later.

So, I continue looking around a bit, while trying to keep Julie from having a meltdown in the stroller. What else had I entered? Oh, the green hat! Where was it? Up and down the display a couple more times, then I glanced over to where the socks were again. Oh! The hat was sitting on a mannequin head about two feet from the socks. And it had a BLUE ribbon hanging from it. I was floored. I said “Julie, look! Mommy won a blue ribbon!” That attracted some attention from a couple nice old ladies who were looking at the display, and they had me show them my other items as well.

Julie was getting restless and whiny – and who can blame her when she needed a nurse and a nap and was instead strapped into a stroller. So we quickly headed back to the area where all the baby items are displayed. I wanted to check on my last two items. Sorry, folks, I didn’t get around to taking pictures of these items before they went to the fair. I’ll put some up later. I spotted the little fair isle hat first. No ribbon. Well, I could handle that after all the other winnings. We strolled around to the other side of the display and OHMYGOSH! The little striped sweater that I had just finished knitting and almost didn’t enter was hanging prominently at the end – with another blue ribbon attached. Yowza. I almost cried. I was especially surprised as this sweater was very plainly knit, the yarn is self-striping and does all the work. This particular category has stiff competition, too. Go figure.

Julie had had enough. I looked around and tried to find a good place to nurse her discreetly. I have no problems with nursing in public, and Minnesota State Law specifically states that it’s okay, even if you flash some nipple. Still, a quiet spot is best for her so she’s not constantly distracted, and I don’t particularly like to go out of my way to make people uncomfortable. The best I could find was the empty bench in front of a demonstration booth. 10 minutes, some very distracted nursing and only one or two “looks” from strangers, and she wasn’t exactly ready to get back in the stroller, but at least put up with it. We found an outdoor diaper-deck that was gross but serviceable, and then she was comfortable enough to let me push her around the fair grounds a little longer.

We paid a visit to the barn where animals give birth and you can see the baby cows and sheep. I think she was excited when she saw the sheep and cows. She even said “baa” when she saw the lambs. How cool is that?

On our way out, we stopped and got a corn dog and a roasted ear of corn. I could have spent the whole day at the fair, but Julie was ready to come home. So we did.

Deep Freeze

Thursday, August 26th, 2004

Several years ago, Joe and I were having some kind of conversation that involved the big freezers that people keep in their garages and basements. I used the phrase “deep freeze” to describe them. I no longer remember the conversation except that Joe thought it was hilarious that I used that term for home freezers. He just thought they were called freezers. He thought a “deep freezer” was something used in industrial kitchens, labs, and factories, I guess. Ever since then, whenever the term comes up, there is another silly debate and polling among friends about whether my usage of the term is appropriate. Turns out, the majority of the people we run into noddingly agree with me.

Ever since we bought our house, the idea of buying a deep freeze has come up every few months or so in passing. It would be nice to have the extra freezer space so that I could cook in bulk, so that we could order meat from local organic farms in bulk, so that we could take advantage of sales on frozen pizzas, whatever. We never did get around to actually doing it.

Then, a couple months ago, Joe’s parents called. Some friends of theirs were moving back to Korea and they had a deep freeze they needed to get rid of. They were going to throw it away, but it still worked. Did we want it? Well, SURE! Gotta love free stuff. So they brought it over
and Joe’s dad lugged the thing to the basement while his mom played with Julie. That night, we briefly discussed where we were going to plug it in, but since the only good place was the outlet where Joe’s little dorm fridge that he used for beer in his office/dungeon, we put off a decision and left it to sit waiting for a real need.

Then, last month, a group of my Mommy-friends decided to spend an evening at Let’s Dish, a place where you go and assemble a bunch of semi-cooked meals and bring them home to put in your freezer and enjoy at your leisure. We do these mommies’ night out things once a month, and this sounded like both fun and a great way to avoid the “what’s for dinner” conversation for at least a couple weeks. I signed up and put it on the calendar. The date is for tomorrow night. So a couple of nights ago as we were laying our heads on the pillows, I remembered to remind Joe to plug in that deep freeze. Our regular freezer is full of homemade baby food, rhubarb, frozen pizzas and burritos, and other mainstays of our diet.

Tonight, as I was sitting on the futon watching Olympics on the DV-R (what a wonderful invention) Joe comes up from the basement and says “I was plugging in the freezer in the basement, and I opened it up…I have some bad news.” And the look on his face was pretty grim. One of the things that Joe and I have in common is that when someone says “bad news” we immediately think of the worst. I was thinking maybe there was a dead cat inside, or maybe a rat or…well, I had some scarier thoughts. “What?”

“You know those little salty dried sardines that my parents like to eat?” (I asked him later – the korean word for those nasty little fish is something like myulchi)
“Uh huh…” (and in my head, I was wondering if this was going to be better or worse than a dead cat)
“Well, when I opened it up, there were a bunch of them in there and the smell almost made me puke”

After some further discussion, and my finally getting it out of him that he didn’t look that closely because the smell was THAT bad, we decided to go put a couple of boxes of baking soda in there, and spray some smell-eliminator stuff that we keep for the diaper pail. I grabbed a couple ziploc baggies thinking I could grab the myulchi and get rid of the odor source.

At least I was prepared, and did a great job of holding my breath long enough to open the door, put in the baking soda, spray the spray…and grab some nasty, sticky, rotting dried fish. They were stuck to the metal racks, and all over the bottom of the inside as well. After a second venture inside the freezer, I realized that the damned thing is going to need a good hosing out, and probably a huge dose of bleach. Then maybe, just maybe it will be useable. I really don’t want to have to spend $300 on a new deep freeze, and in any case, it’s too late to get one delivered before tomorrow night. So we hauled it out to the back patio, and I’m praying that tomorrow Julie takes a nice long nap and I get the priviledge of hosing out the nasty rotten fish from my new-to-us deep freeze.

What I want to know is, didn’t the people who gave this freezer to Joe’s parents know about the myulchi? Didn’t Joe’s dad look inside the freezer at any point? Why on earth didn’t he SAY something? We could have hosed it out immediately before letting those stinky little fish fester for two more months! I guess it’s one of those in-laws things. I am so tempted to call them right now and ask, even though it is after 10 at night. But, I can’t bring it up myself. Hopefully Joe will ask them about it and even better, do it in front of me so that I can hear the answer for myself.

The deep-freeze inside joke has either died or will rise to a whole new level.


Wednesday, August 25th, 2004

For years now, I’ve wondered how people managed to track the visitors to their websites so thoroughly. I think those little free tracking tools, like the one that is currently at the bottom of this page, are cheesy. They don’t even give you the information that you need! I want to know which pages people are looking at, for one thing. Brinkster, my web service provider, has a very rudimentary statistics feature as part of the account, but that doesn’t satisfy me either. I knew there was some magical way to do it, but never bothered to ask the right people. Well, yesteray I got up the nerve and asked some of my favorite tech-heads (and I mean that kindly as I’m actually a computer programmer myself) The answer was right there in front of me. Ask Brinkster for my “server log files”. I did that, they flipped a switch. In a couple days, I’ll be analyzing to my heart’s content, using a tool called Analog, pointed out by some of the same wonderful tech-heads. Why, oh why, have I waited years to ask this question? They probably aren’t reading this, but thanks Mikel and Joe. You made my day. Now I can get rid of the silly Servustats gizmo and feel like a tech-head in my own little stay-at-home-mom right!

My First Posting

Wednesday, August 25th, 2004

So, like everyone else and their dog, I’m finally creating my very own little blog. I’m not making any promises about how often I’ll update, and I’ll warn you up front that it may not be the most exciting place on the web. But here goes…

A little bit about me: I am Shelly. For almost a year now, I’m also Mommy to one wonderful little girl by the name of Julie. For over three years now, I’ve been the wife to a pretty awesome guy by the name of Joe. I do a lot of knitting – although that page is a little out of date. I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep up with a blog when I can’t even keep up with the web pages I already have. I even teach knitting and design knitwear.

What you’re likely to find here: Not much nudity or steamy personal info. Sorry. I’ll probably talk about Julie a lot. I’m really into attachment parenting, cloth diapering, making healthy food for Julie to eat, and generally being the best mom I can figure out how to be. I’ll probably talk about my current knitting projects, and I’m hoping that having a blog will motivate me to get current pictures up. Good luck. I’ll probably talk about the Minnesota Knitter’s Guild since I’m on the Board of Directors. Actually, I’m procrastinating right now on organizing the State Fair booth we’re hosting next week. More on that later, I’m sure. I don’t know what else. I guess you’ll have to wait and see.

Today – Julie and I went to our first La Leche League meeting. I’ve had the local meeting on my calendar since I was pregnant. It’s the fourth Tuesday of every month at 10:00 in the morning. Somehow, this was the first time that it’s worked out for us to go. Usually, morning naptime falls somewhere around 10:00, and that is a big culprit. Other times, we’ve had other things to do and places to go, or to be honest, I forget that it’s happening till it’s over. Anyway, we had an okay time. I ended up giving advice to some of the newer moms as Julie was one of the oldest kids in the group. The cool thing about going to a group like this is that most of the moms are into attachment parenting, and it’s great to hear other people having the same issues as we are and dealing with them in the same general way. I have a lot of really great friends with young kids, but almost none of them are great to talk to about parenting issues in much detail because our approaches are so wildly different. More on that later.

This afternoon was pretty quiet. There was the burnt pasta incident which left the house smelling funky – Joe said it smelled like B.O. when he came home. We took a walk over to Walgreens and down to the park.

Here are the things I should be doing right now:

  • Sorting out knit samples for the State Fair booth.
  • Finish catching up on Julie’s scrapbook – only a couple more pages to go and I want to have it up-to-date before her birthday party.
  • Clean up my office so I can actually walk across the floor.
  • Go spend some quality time with my husband, who is sitting on the couch doing his fantasy football draft.

Other things I feel like I could talk about but don’t have the time and energy right now:

  • My conflicted relationship with scrapbooking. I think it is a slippery slope into a huge time-waster and tacky use of creative energy. I like to keep things very simple and hope that I won’t look at the pages in 1, 2, 5 or 10 years and say “Blech! What was I thinking?” But, I want to keep all the pictures organized and in a fun, easy format for looking at because I love looking at pictures and I think Julie might like to as she grows up as well. I don’t have many of my childhood pics because my evil parents never let me have them. So I guess I’m making up for it a little bit by doing this for her.
  • My current interest in knitting on my home knitting machine. As soon as I get the current scrapbooking project out of the way, I’m setting it back up and knitting up my first sweater on it. So far, I’ve only done super-simple stuff, and this will be an adventure. I’ve also been watching used knitting machines on e-bay and thinking about getting another one. Probably more on that later.
  • My recent experience with Maclaren strollers and how I managed to trade in my broken jogger-type Mac 3 piece of junk for a snazzy new Techno XT which so far seems much better.
  • All the cool stuff that I’ve been knitting lately. I really must get pictures up, although a lot of it is at the State Fair at the moment and I didn’t take pictures first. I just finished a Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf that was so easy I could have done it blindfolded, but turned out very nicely.

Okay, I really do need to get some other stuff done. Hopefully someone will eventually find my blog and decide that we share enough common interests to come back. Thanks for reading!