I’ve never suffered from…

Knock on wood, because the ending is: second sock syndrome.

I don’t know why it is, but whenever I’ve done a pair of socks, I’ve always started on #2 as soon as #1 was done. The worst that has ever happened is that I’ve stalled on a pair of socks and done another pair in the meantime. But that had nothing to do with SSS, but rather with sizing issues — they were gift socks.

I think that part of the reason is that I like the meditative unthinking part of the socks, namely the ribbed cuff and the simple stockinette foot for out-and-about knitting that can be fairly mindless. I’ve yet to settle on a truly favorite heel and toe, although I think I do have some preferences at this point. But those are the parts that still require concentration from me, and which I therefore do in moments when I can at least partially concentrate on them. Actually, my biggest memory stretch from sock #1 to #2 is making sure I do the same thing from heel #1 to heel #2. I always try to write it down, especially when it’s a new form that I am trying out. On this last pair, I actually had both of them going at the same time to make sure that I did them the same.

Favorites so far for toe-up: definitely Judy’s magic cast on for the toe and the short-row heel. However, I’m still willing to consider alternate for the heel — I liked the gusset heel that Wendyknits had in one of her free patterns.

Favorites so far for top-down: star toe, but NO decisions made for the best heel.

Still having problems with little holes in the heel corners, but considering ideas for that. This last pair did pretty good.

Here’s hoping I never suffer from SSS. Fingers firmly crossed.

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Cooking is simpler than you think

You know, it’s funny what you discover as you wander the internet for recipes.

I was looking for a good cold salad recipes that included both wheatberries and lentils. It’s all part of an effort to eat more high fiber foods, and lentils are way up there. I’ve been doing various grains like the wheatberries with various beans, but when I checked list or two for amounts of dietary fiber, I discovered that lentils are way up there. So I thought to figure out a good one. Looks like it won’t be hard. There’s quite a few recipes out there that combine them.

As I was looking at those recipes, the main thing I’m looking at is the dressing: what works best with the berry and lentil combination? (Lemon juice is clearly the way to go. The fresher the better.) But what kept surprising me as I looked at these recipes was the lengthy preparation and cooking time for the wheatberries. Most of these recipes require you to 1) soak them overnight and 2) cook them for an hour or two. I, on the other hand, cook them in the same way I do my steel-cut oats. I toast them in the pot, pour in boiling water, and cook them for approximately thirty minutes. This produces a completely cooked but nicely chewy seed. The one time I soaked them longer — I let them sit in the water before finally draining them — they were too soft for my taste. I like the chewy texture. I would think that cooking them longer would have the same effect.

Well, presumably cooking them longer leaves them still edible, just softer. So you could do them either way. Just now what you are getting, really soft seeds or chewy ones. Which works better for the recipe you are cooking?

Maybe one day I will try them with the longer cooking time, but I’m in no rush. I like the way I’m cooking them now.

So let’s consider the possible recipe…

1 cup wheatberries

1 cup lentils

onion, either freshly chopped or caramelized

any other vegetable that strikes your fancy, or nothing at all

blend of red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper

maybe another spice to go in there? What would go good? Cumin maybe, or, No! let’s try ginger.

Any suggestions?

brainwave

I just had some ideas!

I was actually taking a class on how to use Microsoft Outlook for work, and I had a sudden idea on how to use it for personal life. (This just goes to show that we have no separate lives, just one life with different aspects.) One thing I’ve never been quite sure how to handle is the repeating tasks of the household. I did not want to clutter up my regular task list with that kind of thing, but I didn’t see any other appropriate place to put it. But the class was talking about using multiple calendars in Outlook, and I suddenly saw that I could use a secondary calendar in Outlook to schedule those items as recurring events, using the note field to record actual times done and not done — I’m under no illusion that I will always do them on schedule — and that calendar will neither clutter up my ongoing appointments nor will it overwhelm my task list.

A perfect solution? No, but then there isn’t one.

Other idea? I have been frustrated by the mishmash of items that I use for my desk space and the things (books, papers, etc.) that still end up on the floor. The mishmash is not doing the job, but what would? I suddenly realized that I need a general desk/shelving unit, but not a real, extended desk, just a big shelving unit with a longer midsection where I could put my laptop and monitor. I would need a big one, but not some of the really large monsters that are available out there, since my LR area is not that large and I would not want to overpower my space. And bookshelves wouldn’t work, since they wouldn’t be deep enough to handle some of the paraphernalia. But if I could get this right, I would have lots of shelving space for the computer and its paraphernalia, all the things currently on my end table, and some other things that currently live on the floor. I might even be able to get rid of the end table — or at least replace it with a smaller one. This would open up my space nicely, I think, and provide the appropriate storage.

The problem? Well, money and actually finding the thing. I’ve been doing a little online looking, and I’m not finding what I want. And a cheap version from ikea or the container store is NOT going to work; I am endlessly tired of cheap furniture. It makes me feel like I’m still in college, and that boat has floated. Plus I really don’t like the veneer over MDF or its variants; it shows wear and tear a little too quickly. I want real, solid wood that will last.

Sigh.

Patience and persistence will get it done, but I’m sometimes tired of waiting.

December 2009 roundup

December roundup 2009

What books did I read this month?

Laurie R. King series turned out to be very good. I started to read the most recent one, but then I skimmed through it enough to know that I want to wait for the next to come out — it was kind of set up with a cliffhanger of sorts. And I hate waiting.

What movies, tv, performances, etc. did I watch this month?

Criminal Minds was a sudden discovery through marathon repeat sessions on A&E. This meant, of course, that I was seeing it in on overload, with a very disjointed storyline for the ongoing character development. But that was okay. I’m not precisely interested in becoming “addicted” to it. I would prefer to be able to enjoy if it is on, but also be able to turn it off.

I got to see Handel’s Messiah performed live by an excellent chorus and orchestra on my visit to Boston. Since one of my goals this Xmas season was to the Messiah and the Nutcracker, I was very pleased to be able to get that done. Unfortunately, the Nutcracker didn’t work out. The weekend I planned to try for it was the weekend that we received record-breaking snowfall here in DC. And I was too lazy — and out of the mood — the weekend after Xmas to find out where it was.

What fun things did I do, alone or with my family and/or friends?

Well, the entire trip to Boston for work also turned out to be a very fun thing. It was definitely alone, since this was a work trip that I extended for personal pleasure. But I realized a long time ago that I enjoy doing some thing by myself.

What gifts did I give and/or receive?

Since we did thanxmas last month, I actually didn’t receive any gifts this month, except the chocolate truffles sent by the company with whom I have my investments. Very good choice on their part, especially since they stated that they had also made a donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

I did do some charity gifting that I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

And I actually won a prize in relation to a previous charity gifting I did a month or so ago. Knitting pattern — yay! (Although possibly not one I would have bought myself. I like the lace pattern, but would prefer it in a triangle rather than a stole shape. I wonder if I can convert it? Consult designer, perhaps?)

What special or unusual purchases did I make?

I think the nicest memento from Boston is the pewter tablespoons set. They have a neat design of a dragonfly in the curve of the spoon. Ironically they are not made in Boston or surrounding areas, which is usually one of my criteria for a memento, but I liked them enough that I didn’t mind. And pewter is definitely associated in my mind with Boston, mostly because of the colonial time association.

What illnesses or health concerns did I have?

The ongoing sinus pressure headaches do not seem to be going away. I’m continuing to take only two of my three allergy medicines, and reactions are mild to nonexistent, but I’m wondering if I will be able to continue that. Anyway, doctor’s appointment next month, so we will definitely be questioning this.

I did finally get rid of the cough from November’s flu; just had to wait it out. Interestingly, it finally faded away the very week I was teaching. Maybe the sheer amount of water I drank to keep my voice functional that week made a difference? Or else it was just time?

What were my accomplishments this month?

Teaching the class in Boston and getting the class materials updated and uploaded.

I also finally finished four pages of digital scrapbooking.

What were my disappointments this month?

Well, I didn’t get to the Nutcracker. Maybe I can focus on that as a goal for next year.

Anything else noteworthy to include?

Christmas was quiet. Snow was significant.