Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Salad

I was inspired by this post to experiment a little for dinner tonight.

I REALLY need to go to the store...but before I do that I HAVE to make a list to shop - both for dinners and for our camping needs. And I haven't made the list yet. Have to do it tomorrow.

But as I was leaving the yarn shop, I realized that I haven't made grilled cheese for a while and that meal only required a quick stop at the neighborhood market for bread and fruit. Not wanting to do the fall/winter side dish (tomato soup) I tried to think of a summery side dish to go along and settled on a pasta salad...heavy on the vegetables but still much lighter than soup.

Usually, I follow a new recipe exactly (or nearly exactly) one time and then change it up on future occasions. But not wanting to shop (and having little time) meant adjusting based on my kitchen contents and seasoning it to taste as I went.

I mixed together 2 cups cooked cavatelli pasta, 1 head of broccoli (cut up and blanched), 1 diced red bell pepper and 1 diced tomato. I drizzled in some olive oil and mixed it all up. Then, while stirring, I added some salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic salt and dill. And then a little more olive oil and mixed it together well.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and had a little bit more while cleaning up the kitchen post-kid-bedtime. It was nice and light and summery thanks to the lemon juice and dill, but the flavors of the veggies came through nicely.

I think it could use a little cream cheese. I'm not sure if there is a good way to add it, but I think the flavor and just a little of the creamy texture would make this salad perfect in my book. Does anyone know - if I add the cream cheese to the pasta while it is still warm will it mix in well?

I might try it with canola mayonnaise, since I know it will mix well...but it isn't quite what I think the salad needs. Although I forgot about the parmesan in the original when I was throwing it together tonight. That would be a nice touch as well. And it might be the way I go if I bring it to the 4th of July picnic we're attending, since there will be a time delay between preparation and consumption.

I always like adding something new to the rotation...even if Heather refused to taste it...and Todd made an awful face & said "no like it!" That just means more for mommy, right?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Family Wedding

R's sister was married this past Saturday. R was a groomsmen and Todd was the ring bearer.

I'm not sure if there is anything more unpredictable than a 2 year-old as a ring bearer. :-) But he did really well. He was a little unsure in the rehearsal, but the second time through he was relaxed and unconcerned about walking with the flower girl (the daughter of the groom).

A family shot before the wedding. (Thanks for taking the picture, Aunt Wendy!)

I was with Todd at the back of the church as the rest of the wedding party processed and encouraged him to walk down the aisle with the flower girl. He seemed intrigued by the petals that she was dropping on the aisle - a new addition from the rehearsal. Once that novelty wore off he noticed all of the people sitting in the sanctuary and walked the rest of the way with his head down, refusing to make eye contact. At the end, he seemed happy to make it to daddy and be out of the spotlight. And he stayed up at the altar for the whole ceremony.

For the recessional, he was uninterested in walking with the flower girl. (I went to the back of the church, but he couldn't see me around the best man and matron of honor.) So daddy carried him while also escorting the bridesmaid he was matched with. Still pretty cute.

The weather was nice enough that the kids could run around outside the church during the receiving line and mingling. Todd seemed relieved when guests started paying attention to other people and not just him.

There was time to go home for a rest between the ceremony and reception. Instead of napping, the kids watched Gumby.

Once the (boring to them) dinner was over, R took the kids onto the dance floor and they had a wonderful time. It was pretty hard to get any reasonable pictures, but we hope that there will be some fun video to show you in the next few weeks.

They danced so hard, there had to be some breaks, too.

We left the reception about an hour after their bedtime, and even with all that dancing and the late hour, neither one fell asleep in the car on the 20 minute ride back to Grandma's house. Thankfully, they didn't fight sleep too hard and they both slept in later than normal the following morning. Not super late, but late for them. :-)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Remote blogging

My previouw post was generated entirely on my iPhone while we were away for a family wedding. (Photos soon - stay tuned if you want to see the little man in a tuxedo!)

The blogging process was interesting and not too hard, but I'm not sure that I want to make it a habit. My dilemma is that I'm not spending a ton of time on my laptop these days. Usually it is just for job hunting and writing patterns & class I would really like to find a more convenient way to blog more often.

My first attempt was with the Blogpress app. It was fine, but I'm not convinced that I love the means for posting pictures. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments, especially if you can blog remotely using photos on flickr instead of needing the photos to be on your phone.

Friday, June 24, 2011


So in addition to working some hours as a member of the floor staff, I am officially on the teaching schedule at Natural Stitches. I was initially just doing the non-beginner crochet classes, but now that the teaching duties are reorganized I have some knitting classes on my list as well.

So far I've had two students in each discipline and I enjoyed teaching beginning knitting a lot more than I expected to. I'm sure the enthusiasm of the students I had helped a great deal.

Up to now, all of my sign-ups have been for Student's Choice classes. It basically allows the student to learn whatever they want - including the topic of any 2-hr class on the schedule, help with a personal project or beginning knitting/crochet. I even held one Student's Choice class with a knitting student and crochet student at the same time. It was a bit of a juggle, but it seemed to go smoothly for both students.

Since I have been organizing all of these classes simultaneously, all of the class samples are in partial states of completion. My current effort is to get the samples finished, so they can be hung up in the shop to hopefully drum up more students!

Currently available:
{Class descriptions}
Student's Choice
Crochet Hat Basics
Crochet Lace Scarf
Baby Blanket: A crochet stitch sample
Crochet Baby Cardigan
Introduction to Fair Isle Knitting (hat)
Crochet Motifs and Chart Reading
Crochet Pattern and Chart Reading
Knitting Pattern and Chart Reading
Crochet Edgings for Knitters

Coming in the next few months:
(Subscribe to Natural Stitches newsletter for updates)
Putting Colors Together for knitters and crocheters
A knit or crocheted tote class
A 3-part Top Down Sweater Workshop

I have other ideas brewing, as do my fellow teachers, who teach socks, knitted lace, finishing, steeking, spinning and more. If there is a class or project that you would like to see us offer, please speak up. We are all enthusiastic to have students. We can spend hours and hours developing a new class, but it isn't fulfilling until someone takes it. :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Todd's toddlerhood

As I mentioned, someone in this house turned 2 recently. This little boy is charming, happy and completely adorable. And did I mention charming. There is just something about Todd that makes people smile. Sometimes it is his smile and other times it is his enthusiasm, the cock of his head, his is hard to describe but there is just something about him that is hard for anyone to resist.

Overall, he continues to be the easy-going child that he was as an infant. Which is not to say that he doesn't ever express his will or state his desires. And quite frankly, when he expresses a desire, he is serious about it. He isn't just halfheartedly telling you something to see how you react. He has decided that this request is urgent to his state of happiness. And he will stubbornly defend this need with typical toddler methods.

The positive thing that I have learned about the above stubbornness, is that most of the time he still has the attention span of a toddler. If he doesn't protest strongly, the protest will likely die down in a few minutes. If he does protest strongly, then it is time to move on to something else and come back to the issue in 5-10 minutes. After a break, it is likely that his easy-going and cooperative state will have returned. Who knows how long this technique will continue to work!

His language is really amazing. I don't have specific data points, but my impression is that his language exploded sooner and faster than Heather's, who was no slouch in the words department. At his 2 year check-up, the doctor asked if he had at least 20 words and we had to do our best not to laugh...since he had more than that at the 18 month appointment. By his birthday he was starting to use 3 word phrases pretty regularly and now (2 months later) is using 5-6 word sentences. Tonight: "Thank you [for] making dinner mommy." It is kind of amazing to me that he is talking so much, especially when you consider the chatterbox that he has for a sister. But maybe that is why, so he can get a word in edgewise. ;-)

15-21 months was a tough period. Sleep was tough and so was his level of neediness and separation anxiety. It gradually improved and now it feels like we have come out of the worst of it. Of course, we have also entered the world of toddler tantrums. But in some ways I prefer the occasional tantrum over a toddler velcro-ed to my side nearly 24/7.

Todd's favorite things:
- Doing whatever his big sister is doing. Anything and everything that Heather does is what he wants to do, too.
- Playing with and watching others play with baseballs, footballs, soccer balls, etc. If it is a sport, he is intrigued.
- Swinging at the playground. He enjoys climbing and sliding, too, but he can literally swing for an entire visit to the park.
- Playing in water - at the spray park, the pool, the kiddie pool, a water table, the bathtub, etc.
- Eating fruit. (There are other things he likes, too, but fruit is definitely eaten with the most gusto and quantity)
- Playing with his friends Will and Henry.
- All of the TV and movies that his sister enjoys. He has a pretty long attention span for it, for someone his age...which is both good and bad. :-)
- Anything with animals - books, TV, the zoo and real life visits with dogs and cats. He would be thrilled if our cats would allow regular petting and playing sessions.

For his birthday, we had a small party with his two pals and family. After the party was over, we tested the new bubble wands, colored Easter eggs and rode bikes. It was a lovely day to celebrate the little boy who made our family complete.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Have I mentioned...

...that someone in this house is 2 now?

No, I can't believe it either.

Also, spray parks are awesome when it is 90+ degrees outside and the pools aren't open yet.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Sum Up...too much to sum up

Let's start with the present work situation, shall we? And I'll bring things up from the past few months as they are relevant.

Without a clear course to follow, I feel somewhat weird at the moment. My whole life up to this point was generally about knowing what the next "thing" was. As I completed each grade, there was another grade that followed. Then college, then my first architecture job, then a serious boyfriend, then a house, marriage and kids. My career was about whatever job my firm gave me to work on next along with completing IDP (intern development program), taking the architectural registration exam, getting my license and then passing the exam to be a LEED accredited professional. There was some progress in my level of responsibility at work, although it somewhat purposefully slowed during the pregnancy, maternity leave, infancy years. (That is a subject for a whole other post.)

When I graduated from college, things were good economically, and even without doing a very thorough job search I had three job offers that spring. Given my love of designing theaters and designing for them, I ended up at the best fit for me in the area. Not that I can't find a good fit somewhere else...but there aren't a lot of firms that would hire someone just for my theater design skill set. I think that it is applicable to a lot of other project types, given the challenges of coordinating the building systems and the flexibility needed, but I don't know whether other firm owners see those skills translating as easily as I do.

I am also fairly confident that having fluent Microstation skills in an industry mostly dominated by AutoCAD is a hindrance as well. I have made it clear that I am learning AutoCAD and that I don't think it would take more than a couple weeks to feel completely comfortable on new software...but given the firms that have completely ignored my application, I think this is hurting me. Not to mention that many firms are looking for younger (read: cheaper) employees who are also fluent in BIM software (Building Information Modeling = drafting with objects that have data embedded in them) and my resume looks even less attractive. I can argue that my experience is a terrific asset and that I can learn new software in a much shorter time span than someone with 5 years of experience can be ready to manage a project themselves...but I can only argue that if I can get in the door for an interview.

So I continue. Sending out resumes with well-argued cover letters. Sending emails to firms that seemed interested in me but didn't have enough work 6 months ago to hire. Responding to job posts online. Reminding everyone I know that I'm looking for a full time position.

In the mean time, I'm offering classes at my local yarn store, Natural Stitches. And I have just begun training to work in the store part time as well. I'm working on a few submissions for knitting/crochet books and magazines as time allows. I'm also trying not to put too much pressure on myself to keep a neat and tidy household since I am pretty sure that I could turn that into a full time job if I would let it be.

And did I mention that the kids are back in daycare full time? Because of my 2-week stint as a full time employee (yet *another* story for another time), we switched them back. And due to contract/teacher ratio issues we have kept them that way at least for the time being. The end of the summer probably brings a time for "big decisions" if my situation hasn't substantially changed by that point.

Day to day, I am doing my best to make lemonade from the situation in which I find myself. I hope that somehow the outcome, whenever it might be, finds me once again in a full time job that I enjoy or doing a mixture of part time and freelance work that has the same effect.