Sunday, May 29, 2005

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye......

So PJS has flown the coop once again. As I was singing Jack to sleep tonight I cried at the part of Puff the Magic Dragon where Puff sadly slips into his cave. I am gloomy and cheerless on this hot summer day.

Tomorrow I will meet some knitters at the Duck and Decanter at 11 a.m. – you are all welcome to join us for wine and sandwiches. Oh yeah, and some knitting and crocheting as well. I will be teaching a new knitter who found me by Googling Phoenix Knitting and sent me an email. Her name is Diane and I'm quite looking forward to initiating her into the Cult of the Bamboo Needle.

Last week Joe caught an early flight home from his trip to Chicago, and wonder of all wonders I cooked him dinner. I stopped by AJs and picked up these enormous prawns. Here is what they look like before I hacked them up:

prawn 1

I marinated them in a paste of garlic, cayenne, chili powder, olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt and then grilled them. I bought a spicy slaw to serve alongside and made wonderful caprese salads with some heirloom tomatoes I found. Just lovely. And to top it off we drank my mother's day wine – it's a red blend called Rubiyat done by the fabulous people at Cakebread. (Thanks Mom!)

prawn 2

This weekend has been busy. Jack's baptism yesterday as well as Joe's cousin's graduation from Notre Dame – he had a big fancy party down in Gilbert. It's tough to take the little guy out in the evening, he's really more of a daytime baby.

The baptism was wonderful – I invited a large group because I feel like these events are really important to share with friends and family. I know many of my friends are not religious so it means a lot to me that they show up. PJS and Potusol were the hit of the day in matching getups – it appears there is a uniform for happy Republican boys in Arizona. I was in the back talking to Kim and she whispered "Hey, is that Potusol?" Of course he turned around and of course it was a little weird. Then the godfather who lives in Ohio came up to me and said "I feel like I'm at some celebrity event, I know all these people from the blog." Julie, Dave and Mac were there, Pam and Melanie were dressed to the nines, and Kirsten brought her lovely husband Ned and of course wonderful little Jake. It was quite a day.

Perhaps it is time for a new template, and perhaps a new name. Perhaps.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

While the Cat's Away

When Joe is out of town I know he worries that I won’t eat or take care of myself. But for some reason I decided to cook a chicken yesterday. Yes, it’s a weird idea given that it’s 110 degrees outside and I have recently contracted the Bubonic Plague. But I found our beer can chicken cooker and thought it would be fun to cook a beer can chicken. So here is my fire:


And here is the chicken all cooked and ready (this is also a shot of the last corner of my dining room now that it is clean.)

dining room 3

And lastly, a shot of me eating my dinner alone just so Joe will see how sad it is to be me. Maybe he’ll bring me sympathy presents home from Chicago.

my dinner

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Another ode to my mother


Who else would take a sick and teething baby overnight so I can get some sleep?

Who else would learn to bake with Equal so I can eat two of my favorite muffins instead of one?

Who else would watch my screaming child while I go shop on my birthday and never call me to tell me to come home?

Who else would design, sew and bead my wedding dress? And not complain that it was the second wedding dress she's made for me?

Who else would do mountains of baby laundry – even fold it and put it away – only to come back the next week and do it all again?

Who else would adopt my friend's kids so we can have a multiage playdate, complete with cookie decorating and playdough?

This list could go on endlessly, as she is constantly doing things to make my life easier. She took our crying, fussing little man overnight Saturday night while we attended a party at the Arizona Biltmore. Of course his tooth finally broke through when he was with her, he had a cold, and he was downright miserable because drinking from a bottle just does not cut it in his book.

She is a brave soul, and is hopefully home taking a nap now. Thank you mom!

As for my list of ten things I've never done, here we go:

  1. I have never and would never jump out of a plane, off a cliff, bridge or other apparatus for any reason.
  2. I have never been to Hawaii.
  3. I have never been in jail.
  4. I have never mowed a lawn
  5. I have never been on a reality tv show. (This is a secret desire of mine. If they had reality dating shows when I was single I would have been the first in line to sign up. I also would have been the girl everyone hated.)
  6. I have never been scuba diving.
  7. I have never milked a cow.
  8. I have never spun wool into yarn.
  9. I have never been published.
  10. I have never eaten a bug.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Blog on...

Blogging is such a fascinating genre to me. The reasons people do it are varied, from plain old self-expression all the way up to political or financial gain. I have been introduced to a few blogs that I read on a regular basis – PJS because he’s funny (and sometimes that’s the only way I know he’s alive), Squareslant because she’s got great pictures and seems like a really cool girl, Raven because I find myself monumentally worried about her son, Pam because there is not a more amusing crocheter in the universe, Postusol because he’s new to me and it’s a good way to get to know someone without all that tedious talking, and of course Kim and Julie because I like to see pictures of their babies.

This week we were introduced to Citricritic because he created such an uproar that everyone was talking about it. Ok, maybe not everyone, but a few people. He had a blog that was supposedly fictional, but he would go around to other people’s blogs and make comments, engage in conversations, and establish relationships with fellow bloggers.

Then he went a tad crazy and claimed to be escaping America because the Republicans were on to him and found out his real name. People were confused, worried, sad, angry. His argument is that his blog has always been a work of fiction and people should have known that. I don’t think he counted on all the friends he had made and the concern they felt for his well being.

It’s similar to internet dating. You never really know what is true until you meet the person. (I am a veteran internet dater, it’s how Joe and I met in fact. Long Live With blogs, you may never meet the person, so you will never be sure what is true.

Regardless, I love it and am totally addicted. I started the knitting blog so I could belong to the ROAK ring, never expecting it to become so much fun. The Jack blog is of course all about Jack all the time and is more to have pictures up of the babe so his father doesn’t forget what he looks like.

So there’s my dissertation on blogging. It’s certainly not a perfect method of communication, it’s gotten me into trouble more than once (most recently for calling someone’s friends bitchy, which I don’t think is a bad word, but some people are really sensitive), but darn it if it isn’t a great way to entertain someone who is stuck at home with a little bald baby all day.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

My Mother, the Overachiever

So we met on Monday afternoon to start the Master Knitter program. It was a bit challenging with Jack – we had to keep passing him around the table so one person could not knit at any given time. But it was fun, we worked out how to do the first three swatches, started our notebooks and we’re on our way.

My mom already has two swatches done. Show off.

I switched yarn because I didn’t like the Encore. I am now using a Knitpicks Andean Silk yarn that I love, but I’m afraid it’s too dark. They are very specific about needing a light yarn. Here is my first swatch so far, you tell me what you think of the color:

swatch 1

You can also see one of my birthday gifts from Joe sitting on the coffee table waiting to be read. I love Jon Stewart and I can’t wait to read this book.

To answer Squareslant’s question, the knife on the mantle was made for Jack by my father. He thinks every young man needs a Bowie Knife, and I tend to agree. His cousin Vince has one as well, but Jack’s is cooler. Here is a better shot of the knife when Jack was much smaller:


More pictures of the house are forthcoming. I took a break from the neatening project to celebrate my birthday, but we’re back in full swing today. I should have a dining room and kitchen shot soon.

My birthday was great. It started at my parent’s house – Jack and I spent the night there to get him ready for this weekend. He’s going to stay at Grandma’s Saturday night while we go to Joe’s firm retreat at the Arizona Biltmore, and I wanted him to sleep there at least once ahead of time. It worked out well because Joe was in San Diego, so I got to have a birthday breakfast with my mom.

Then I took off shopping. Nordstrom Rack is one of those hit-or-miss kind of stores. Yesterday I really hit it though – everything I tried on looked good and fit, and everything was such a great deal. The dress I wore last night was $13. I’ve bought yarn more expensive than that!

For dinner we left the babe with Grandma Gloria and had dinner at Lon’s at the Hermosa Inn. If you ever have some cash to throw around I highly recommend this place. When we arrived our menus said “Happy Birthday Brooke” at the top. We sat outside and the weather was just perfect. They also had one of my favorite wines on the list, and unlike most restaurants it was not marked up 300%. (The wine is Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir, and I love love love it.)

Joe continues to hate to have his picture taken, so he photographed me with my parents by the fountain. unfortunately it’s too dark to see the fountain, but here we are with me turning 33.

my birthday

In other exciting news, I’ve just signed up my first student for my knitting class. It is going to start June 3rd at 10 a.m. and I’m very excited. Apparently 2 other people are interested as well, so hopefully we’ll get a decent sized group. I dropped off my samples at the shop last week and I’m getting my materials ready.

I missed Mama Java’s last night – I hope everyone had a good time. And thanks for all the birthday wishes!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Master Knitting

Today I met Becky and my mom for some Master Knitting. We are all working on Level 1 and realized it would be easier to work out the problems together. Of course we ran into many road blocks right at the start and none of us have a single swatch to show for our 2 hours at the Coffee Plantation.

What we did accomplish is realizing we have the wrong yarn. I never buy cheap yarn (and by cheap I mean poorly made, not necessarily inexpensive, because I love KnitPicks yarn and it is quite inexpensive.) I am not used to the yuckiness of Plymouth Yarn Encore 75% acrylic 25% wool. My stitches were uneven and holey, and the swatch just did not look right.

I wonder if there are people out there who never get into knitting simply because they are using this horrible horrible yarn?

I am still working furiously on Mariposa. I am constantly fueled by reading Jonelle’s blog about all their new yarns – I need to get this finished so I can see what they have in their warehouse. I keep making mistakes however, and having to unknit – not fun at all.

The neatening project continues. Now you can see a full view of the front room and by tomorrow the dining room will be complete.

after front room

After that I am on to the nursery, where we still store the shredder and a bunch of boxes. I realized that one reason I can never get things straightened up is that I get distracted. I take something from one room and put it away in another room, and start cleaning that room. By doing one room at a time and not paying attention to the mess and clutter every where else I seem to be making some progress.

Joe is gone until Wednesday. I miss having him here – not just because he helps with Jack, but because it’s nice to just have someone to hang out with and tell me what is going on in the world. We are having a big fancy escape together this weekend and I can’t wait. No dogs, no baby – just the two of us. Well, us and all the lawyers in his firm. But who cares about them? I get a good nights sleep in a fancy hotel.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Happy Birthday?

My birthday is next week. Wednesday I think. And for the first time in my life I don't really feel like it matters. I can't think of a single thing I want, I can't think of anything I want to do. I am hoping this is a temporary situation brought on by living with a tiny person who takes every ounce of energy I have, but I must admit I am worried.

I love birthdays. They are the only holiday left for me that isn't somewhat ruined by obligation, over-commercialization, too much church, and of course, the worst of it all, growing up and realizing there isn't a Santa Claus. (Not only that, but now I’M Santa Claus for this little person who moved in with us.)

This too shall pass, right? Next year I'll be back to normal, celebrating my birthday along with the rest of America. I can only hope.

The neatening project is moving along with great success. Squareslant requested to see the inside of my house (ok, she didn’t ask for my house specifically, but “the insides of people’s houses” sounded funny.) Bit by bit I will show you, but only as I get it cleaned up. Here is the first shot of a clean living room:

after coffee table

Actually that’s only part of the living room. I am doing the rest today. For those of you who have actually seen this living room you may be surprised to see the top of the coffee table is copper – it’s usually covered with an array of mail, baby toys, and various other items. I’ve made a deal with Joe that he won’t put anything on the clean surfaces once I get done, and that is going to be a challenge for both of us. As I was removing the tags from my new outfit this morning I almost put them on the coffee table, but realizing that would mar the surface I refrained. We will see how long this lasts.

I am going to finish the third lace repeat on Mariposa today because my next installment of the first season of 24 just got here from Netflix. After the gym I will plop myself down and start knitting.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Welcome to the Desert

In my travels, people often ask me if Arizona is full of cowboys and rattlesnakes. I used to say no, of course not, it's a hip metropolitan city, the sixth largest in fact. My father is setting out to prove me wrong however. Here is the latest snake he has killed in his yard – the fifth snake to be exact.


I have run across snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, and coyotes living here in the desert. This is by far the biggest, scariest snake I've seen. I am glad I wasn't there when he found and killed it.

I realized today that as a stay at home mom my house should be in much better order than it is. I am not and have never been a good cleaner – if there is one thing Joe and I agree upon it is the fact that we must have someone come and clean our house once a week. But it should be NEATER. I should be able to take a picture in the house and not worry about what is behind the kid – like the coffee table or the kitchen counter – that will make me look bad.

So I am going to try and neaten up our house. I suppose it is part of my job since I do stay home with the little guy all day. Not a very fun part of my job, mind you, but part of my job nonetheless.

As Julie and Parley know from living with me, this idea is laughable at best. Brooke? Living in a neat house? I know, I know, laugh all you want.

The problem is this neatening project takes away from knitting. And knitting may be the single thing that is keeping me sane. Therefore, I may just lose my mind. (And hush those of you who want to make smart comments about how I already have.)

Speaking of comments, why can't I get my comment counter to work? I hate haloscan now, but I can't figure out how to go back.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Save This Animal

My husband and I grew up together, although we didn’t meet until we were 25. (Ok, Parley just pointed out my error. Actually, he left me a voice mail calling me a filthy liar. We met when we were 27. Sue me.) We went to the same grocery store as children – Smitty’s Big Town on McClintock and Baseline – and ate Parfaits at the ice cream counter in the front. We both watched Wallace and Ladmo, played outside in 110 degree weather (which required we learn to swim at a very young age), and most importantly, went to the Phoenix Zoo.

Back then, when you first walked into the zoo there was an exhibit of Capybaras. Many of you may not know, but the Capybara is the world’s largest rodent. They lived happily for many years there at the zoo entrance, enchanting young children and lazing in the mud.

In another corner of the zoo was perhaps the scariest exhibit ever – the alligators. To get to the actual viewing platform you had to cross over a creaky bridge surrounded by reeds and tall grasses. If you looked between the planks as you walked, sometimes you could catch a glimpse of an alligator swimming below. It always gave me goosebumps to walk out there, knowing any minute I could fall in the water and be eaten in one chomp. (I was a small child with a wild imagination.)

The zoo has made many changes over the years. Some are great – the monkeys and the wallabies are both in open exhibits where the people can mingle with the animals. Some, well, see for yourself:


This is a lone capybara. He is living in what used to be the alligator exhibit, stuck up on a hill surrounded by a murky lake. The reeds and grasses have been cut back. Two storks wander aimlessly by. Storks? What do they have to do with capybaras? And where are all his friends?

Joe is tired of hearing about the plight of the capybaras. He is working with the zoo board this year on some family initiative, and one woman asked if she could call me to get my opinion as a stay at home mom. He won’t let me talk to her because he’s afraid I’ll embarrass him about the capybaras. He’s probably right.

For those of you who come here to read about knitting, here is my progress on Mariposa:

third repeat

I’m to the third set of repeats on the lace.

And I finished a sample for the class I’m teaching at Craftmart. Here it is displayed on my favorite baby:

scarf with jack

I always forget how much ribbing pulls in the fabric. I did a 2x2 rib at the beginning and here you can see how much smaller it got:

scarf close

I left it in though because I think it will be a good example to show people how different stitches act.

My next task is to find some yarn to do my master knitter swatches. It’s supposed to be light colored and worsted weight. I have some yellow from knitpicks, but I’m afraid it might be too dark. I have white Patons wool, but I don’t love it. If anyone has suggestions let me know.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Look Out!

I am officially a knitting instructor! I met with Pam at Craftmart today and we’re going to set up my first class. Since the May calendar is already published, she is going to put up a sign to have people call me if they are interested. Then in June we will have a set time. The class is beginning knitting and will cover casting on, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, casting off, simple pattern instructions and choosing yarn. I started a sample to hang by the sign, and I’m making it up as I go along. I should have used lighter color yarn, but this was in my stash so I figured I’d use it up.


I’m just going to make a sampler scarf with some ribbed sections, a seed stitch section, stockinette, and maybe a dropped stitch section. In between each I have a bit of garter stitch to set off each type of stitch. Hopefully it will work okay.

I also got permission from to teach Clapotis. I think this is a great project to learn increases, decreases, and dropping stitches on purpose. Now I just have to finish mine, which involved borrowing Judy's ball winder, winding the yarn I got from Jimmy Bean's Wool, and knitting up the remaining few inches of the darned thing. After that I'm going to put together a Kids Knitting class for the summer and see if people are interested in that.

I’ve just received the information for Master Knitter Level One from The Knitters Guild. It is pretty labor intensive, and I’m going to have to do a little research about casting on before I get started. It seems like and interesting process and I’m excited to learn more about the fundamentals of knitting. Has anyone else out there completed Master Knitter? I bet it's going to take me the rest of the year to get it all together.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Back to Reality

I returned from spa-land relaxed and rejuvenated. Julie and I had a wonderful time in Sedona – I had a massage and a clay wrap, and a bonus feature is that I had a healing and my chakras realigned. For those of you who aren’t aware, Sedona is a very new-agey type of place, and the Enchantment Resort is no exception.

The woman who performed the healing on me explained that she would act as a straw for the universe and draw away all my negative energy, replacing it with positive light. The chakra alignment came about because apparently my sacral chakra was out of whack due to childbirth.

I don’t know if any of this is true, but I can tell you one thing – I returned to Phoenix a new woman. That can also be attributed to 10 hours of sleep – the most sleep I’ve had in over five months. And truth be told, I normally get that amount in two nights.

Joe was a trooper with the little guy. Jack was not a happy camper about receiving a bottle at midnight and subsequently kept Joe up for the next two hours screaming his cute little head off. I know how it feels, and I do have a small amount of guilt for leaving him in such a situation.

All is well that ends well, however, and the family appears to be back to normal. I wrote my worries on a paper and put them in a bowl, and now I have nothing left to worry over.

My knitting is moving along nicely, although I may have to finally admit that the pain in my right ring finger could possibly be from the Mariposa Shawl and may not in fact be knuckle cancer. Speaking of Mariposa, check out this detail:


I just finished the second repeat of the frost flowers pattern and am set to do my next decreases. This time I have to decrease 72 stitches evenly across – luckily there are 7 ½ pattern repeats in this section so the math isn’t quite so challenging. I enjoy this project so much – I doubt I will put it down until I’m finished.

Here is a full view, just to give you an idea of the size of the thing:

mariposa progress

I’m guessing it will look much better blocked, but I’m not positive how bamboo does with blocking. I’m just going to immerse the entire thing in water and pin it back, but who knows if that will work? I can’t wait to see it completed.

I did not make it to Changing Hands tonight - Jack was not in the mood for any traveling. I have a neighbor who has offered to watch him when she's in town, and I may take her up on that for future knitting events. She could watch him just until Joe gets home, and now that Joe is getting better at putting the little guy to sleep I might have a chance.