The New Year

Time for that yearly cliche, the New Year's Resolution. I have a few pounds to get rid of that arrived without an invitation and have unpacked their bags. Well, they've outstayed their welcome, and it's time to get a move on. This, however, is not my Resolution. That's just routine maintenance, and I'm already doing what I need to do by exercising and watching what I eat.

I'd love to say my Resolution is to knit more, but that's like saying that I resolve to breathe more! It's just not necessary. It's easy to find time to do the things we love to do; what's hard to do is establish a new habit that's challenging, or different from what we're used to, or somehow doesn't yet fit in with our image of ourselves. ?For example, if I see myself as a fit person who makes exercise a priority, then I'm much more likely to have a fitness routine that I stick to than someone who sees herself as someone who is too busy or too tired to commit to a routine.

We all fall into certain patterns, and these patterns can be as small as settling in to knit while watching a favorite show in the evening, or as deep as our relationship dynamics with others, or even our very identities. What a great time of year it is, now that the holidays are over and the New Year is upon us, to reflect upon the things that make us tick, to establish healthy new habits, shed unhealthy ones, and to really dig deeply into ourselves. Find something that you take for granted in your own life, and challenge it. Ask more questions, think longer and harder, go deeper. If we can start to change the way we see ourselves and the world, opening up to more possibilities, that is everything. And you can still knit in front of the TV if you like. ;-)

A Multilingual Merry Christmas!

I wanted to wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope this holiday is full of love, joy, hope, and peace for all.

Picture made by Yours Truly, the Home Economist

(How many languages do you recognize?)

The Casper Pillow

When I saw this decorative pillow pattern on several months back, I immediately added it to my queue of future projects. Not just because it bears an obvious resemblance to my kitty, but because I thought that it would be an easy intro to Intarsia knitting.

Hard Work Never Killed Anyone...

... but it sure makes me sneeze! I'm on a mini cleaning/ organizing kick today. I guess I felt that Spring Cleaning was just too far off in the future! Ever since returning from my trip to India, I've been meaning to do a few things around the house, which I'm now finally getting around to. Things like putting the last several months' worth of magazines in piles to give to the library for whoever wants to take them home; storing away my summer dresses to make more room in the closet and pulling out my winter sweaters; reorganizing my desk/ craft table. I don't mind this kind of work; actually it's very satisfying to get these things done. I do, however, think I must be allergic to it. Whenever I spend prolonged hours toiling away, I get a runny nose and itchy skin, and have to take an antihistamine. Blah!

On a related note, today I was reading my new January issue of Real Simple magazine, and I found two excellent lists I wanted to share. The first is the Ultimate To-Do List, a great place to organize your plans, big and small. With the New Year quickly approaching, many people seem to be up for this sort of thing. The only New Year's Resolution I've made for the past several years is to get regular haircuts... which I've finally succeeded in doing. Check. However, I have just rescheduled my next haircut for the second time. It was originally in November. Now it's in January. I'm growing out my bangs though, so I have a valid excuse.

The second list worth printing is the Weekly Meal Plan and Shopping List, which is organized in a very handy grid layout. Down the first vertical column you write down what you'll be making on any given day of the week, and in the horizontal boxes to the right of it, what grocery items are needed for said dish, along with any sundries.


Quiche me, baby!

Sometimes I like to share recipes that were real winners. The Spinach, Feta, and Tomato Quiche from Vegetarian Times is just such a recipe! It only has 218 calories per slice, yet every bite is just amazing! When I made it, I used a pre-made pie crust instead of the phyllo dough. I also used fresh rather than frozen spinach, which I wilted in a pan on the stove. Squeeze a little lemon juice on it when you do... somehow lemon juice just adds that little je ne sais quois. Enjoy!

photo from Vegetarian Times

Merry Christmas, Kitty!

The tree wasn't up for 5 minutes before Casper planted himself underneath. Cute!

A New Technique

I like to keep expanding my repertoire of knitting techniques, so now I'm tackling Intarsia knitting. This is a colorwork technique that allows for blocks of color that don't have strands of yarn carried across the back. It's going pretty well so far, but since you need a separate ball of yarn for each section of color in a particular row, they tend to get kind of tangled and twisted, and it gets a little chaotic. For instance, in this cat pillow I'm making, I need a pink ball of yarn, an ivory one, and a second pink one . This looked like an easy pattern to learn from, because it is pretty much just a big circle of ivory in the middle.

My Sweater-dress... The Finished Product

I'm really happy to say that my sweater-dress is finished! Toward the end I was starting to get really nervous that I might not have enough yarn. But, PHEW! There was enough... just barely! I probably have enough yarn left over to make a matching bookmark :-) 

So first, I lovingly handwash it in lavender scented Eucalan, a great no-rinse detergent for your delicates and handknits. Obviously I chose that particular scent because of the color of the sweater-dress! BOY does that thing absorb water! I think it sucked up about 3 liters worth.

Next, after gently wringing out as much water as I could by rolling it in a towel, I set up my blocking board on top of my dresser and pinned the dress to the proper measurements. If you just let it drape over a drying rack like your other clothes, it could get all stretched out and weird looking. 

So I'm clearly not a model in any way (awkward stance, etc.) but here's the finished product on me!

I wore it for the first time for my little Thanksgiving party :-) 

My First Thanksgiving

Well, not literally... but the first one I prepared and cooked completely by myself! Including hubby and myself, we had 9 adults and 4 children over for dinner. For a few of my guests from India, it was their first time having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, so I wanted to include everything I could! Boy was it exhausting, but everything turned out better than I even hoped. Here's the menu:

Clockwise from top left: Sweet Potatoes with Coconut and Pecans (can be found in Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook); Pillsbury crescent rolls, garlic mashed potatoes, Herb Crusted Turkey Breast with Mushroom & Leek Stuffing (Whole Foods Recipe); gravy; Green Beans with Walnuts and Shallot Crisps (Vegetarian Times Recipe); Double Cranberry Chutney (Vegetarian Times Recipe). In the center, for the vegetarians was a Mushroom Tart. There are no leftovers of that! I didn't even get a slice myself! That's OK, I plan on making it for myself very soon! 

Off camera is the pumpkin pie I made with a yummy gingerbread crumble on top. There was a crazy mishap making this, though. I was watching Glee while I was making it, and the pie is in the oven, and I realize I left out HALF of the ingredients! HALF! I hadn't mixed in any of the spices OR the eggs! LOL! I pull the pie out of the oven, stir in the spices right into the pie, and try the same with the eggs. I realize quickly that will not work; egg whites are spilling everywhere. I pour all of the contents back into the mixing bowl, add a couple more egg whites to replace the ones all over my counter, mix, and pour back into shell. Phew! What a save! It worked. The sad thing is, this isn't even my first time making this recipe; it was my third. What is the opposite of "Third time's a charm"?

All the time spent cooking didn't leave my time or attention to holiday decorating, so here is my still-good Halloween pumpkin, made over for Thanksgiving: 

Minimalist Decoration

Anyway, everything was really yummy (that's why I included the recipes, so you can have them!) and I pulled it off! I was pretty exhausted afterwards, and slept somewhere between 10 and 11 hours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Cannibal Sweater

As I mentioned in my Tweets, I decided that the sweater dress I was making was way too big, and would make me look like I'd gained about 30 lbs or so. Even though it was the right gauge and all, it just wasn't doing it for me. Even though I was already about 70% finished, I knew that there was no way I could continue on with a sweater that would just look like a pretty purple potato sack! I put it aside, and with my remaining yarn started over again on smaller needles. I am pleased to say that the size is much better! Phew! Now that I've used up the remaining balls of yarn, my new sweater is now cannibalizing the old one. That is to say, I didn't think it was worth the extra effort to rip out all of the yarn and re-wind it into balls again, so I'm just pulling the yarn, bit by bit, from the old, and knitting directly into the new! A perfect solution.

The Last Veggies

Saturday was Clean-Up Day at the Community Garden. Time to pull out the exhausted tomato plants and save seeds from the basil and marigold. The bed was all cleaned out, with the exception of the chives, oregano, and basil, which should come back next spring. I saved some OK looking green tomatoes to allow them to ripen indoors, along with two adorable (and yummy!) baby carrots. Yum! Can't wait for spring so I can start planting again!

C is for Cookie

This cookie monster has been cookie-less for a while, and hasn't baked in ages. This stops now! I'm making Snickerdoodles! I like to try new recipes, and although this is not very different from regular sugar cookies, I think that the addition of cinnamon qualifies it as a new cookie. Even if it didn't, so what? This cookie is a classic, and should be made whenever the mood strikes!
Boring to look at, yummy to eat!

Cinnamon-sugary goodness!


One fun experience in India was having mehndi done. I definitely recommend it, although it isn't for the impatient sort of person. The whole process takes several hours, during which you really can't move or touch anything. When it's all over though, and you can scrape the dried henna from your skin, you're left with lovely designs all over your hands and arms, like semi-permanent jewelry. When you put on bangles and have your nails painted, you feel so fancy and dressed up, even if you are wearing simple clothes. For some reason it always comes out much darker on my palms than on other parts of my skin. It's almost gone now, but at least I have pictures :-)

A Success!

I'm happy to report that the teddy bear I knit for our niece was a big success, and very loved! She named it "Greeny", and even drew a picture of it :-) Now she wants me to knit her a sweater so she can show it off! But what kind of sweater would be appropriate to knit for a girl who lives in Kolkata, India? Maybe a short-sleeved cardigan? Definitely not something too hot, and certainly no wool. 

Meanwhile, I'm back to working on the sweaterdress thing I started before I left. I guess I'm about 2/3 of the way finished.


Well, I haven't had the energy to write anything about my trip to India, what with jetlag, a cold, etc., but go right ahead and click to see my photos!

A Final Pre-Trip Craft

As a final quick craft before taking off to India next week, I've knit up a quick cozy for my new Kindle! The plush, chunky yarn will keep it protected when it's in my bag and keep it from getting scratched. The top is secured with two crocheted bow ties. I made the whole thing in an evening. 

I won't be blogging from India, but thanks to the little bit of internet availability on the Kindle itself, I'll make some Twitter updates every now and then, and probably a few status updates on Facebook. I'll share some fun stories here when I return :-)

I wish everyone a lovely October! I'll probably miss a lot of the fall colors here, so if anyone sees anything spectacular, take a picture for me! See you in November!


Can't Get Enough?

Are you having trouble waiting days in between my posts? Always wondering just what, exactly I'm doing or thinking about? Well, have I got a solution for YOU! Look over there, to the right.... I've joined Twitter, expressly for the purpose of putting a little twitter box on the side of my blog. This way I can write about things I might want to share, but don't warrant a full blog post. Now, I can hear you say "Well, most of us who read this thing are your friends on Facebook anyway, so why not just do more status updates?" This too, dear reader, is for your benefit. Do you have Facebook friends who seem to be updating you on their every thought throughout the entire day? Do you find this a bit much? Well, I do. I don't want to subject my friends to SO much inanity on their News Feeds. But if it is on my blog, well, then it was your choice to come read it; I'm not forcing it on anybody. But for you addicts... come get your fix! :-) 

(I can feel the collective rolling of many... OK, several, eyes)

Take care!

And Then There Were Two

Finally finished that second sock, so I officially have my first pair of hand-knit socks! Huzzah! They feel so nice! This could be habit-forming. ;-) So the stripes don't line up identically, and later I learned how to do that, but so what?! They are unique, and quirky, and I like that.

The journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step...

...but the journey of 9,041 miles won't take many steps, just a WHOLE lot of sitting and waiting! :-)

Red: total miles; Fuchsia: flight time; Blue: layover time
A nice short flight to JFK, where we will then park ourselves for just over 9 (!) hours. Next is the transatlantic flight to Dubai, which lasts 12 hours 45 minutes. We'll be there for a little over 6 hours, so maybe it would be possible to leave the airport and do some sightseeing? I hear they'll give you a short visa to do just that. Finally, we leave Dubai and arrive in Kolkata, India 4 hours 45 minutes later. Quite the trip! Definitely my longest. I think when Dad and I went to Korea a number of years back it was 21 hours or so, including a 3 hour layover in L.A. If this one didn't have such insane layovers, the flight time wouldn't be as long as that, but these layovers come close to doubling the time.

How do people keep from losing their minds on these kinds of trips? I plan on bringing lots of interesting books, my travel journal, maybe some knitting or crochet, sleeping mask and earplugs, neck pillow.... what else? Any good travel games or anything that two people can easily carry and play together? We leave in 3 weeks, so I'd better figure it out!

Sock it To Me!

After taking a two-part class at my good ol' JoAnn, I just finished knitting my first sock! I love this self-striping yarn... it makes these fun patterns all by itself, without me doing a thing! The yarn is a nice cozy wool/ bamboo blend, which will feel amazing to curl up in on upcoming chilly nights. I thought about waiting until both socks are finished before posting, but... *spoiler alert*... the other one will look just like the first one, so use your imagination! ;-) Here's a visual progression of the sock....

Off to a good start...

Just turned the heel...


Grammar Police!

Do you ever wonder about what kind of grammar mishaps you are making all the time? No? Maybe you notice certain mistakes that everyone seems to make all the time, and it drives you a little crazy, wondering if anyone bothers to go to school anymore? Well, check out this little article, and you will start noticing them all over the place! One thing I hear a lot, which has annoyed me for a long time, is when people say "less" when they should be saying "fewer". That nice ice cream sandwich has fewer calories and less fat, not less fat and calories, thank-you-very-much national commercial for certain unnamed major brand!

Knitted Bookmark

Here's the full bookmark I knit! It's currently "blocking", which is why it's pinned like this. Before blocking, it was just kind of shriveled looking and sad, but by getting it wet and pinning it stretched out in shape like this it will (hopefully) allow it to keep its rightful shape. I'm also going to starch and iron it to give it some stiffness. I like it! Notice in the middle there is an inconsistency in the lace pattern... I must have messed up somewhere and repeated a line in the pattern or something. Oh well! It's unique :-)

Recipe Card Maker

My hubby finds so many neat websites, and this is one I thought was definitely worth sharing! It's called Skip To My Lou and it has many different craft ideas, printouts and printable crafts, and free downloads. What I'm really liking today is the Recipe Card Maker that lets you make the cutest recipe cards for yourself or friends!

Super cute! 


I'm working on a knitted bookmark to give as a gift. Because it's supposed to be very thin and flat, I'm using knitting thread, not yarn, and size 0 needles, which are pretty much like slightly longer toothpicks. It's a challenge, let me tell you! I'm hoping it'll be worth it! After I finish, I'll block it, starch it, and press it so that it lies nice and flat and is a bit stiff.

The needles I'm using were an amazing find. I needed some smaller double-pointed needles for my upcoming sock knitting class, and a set of bamboo double pointed needles at JoAnn runs you about $8. The problem is, when you're knitting something, not everyone would use the same size needle because people have different knitting tension, so I wouldn't know whether I'd end up needing a size 2 or 3, or what. So, I thought it might be more economical to go online and try to find a set of DPN with multiple sizes that might save me some money. I found some, but not until I tried eBay did I find the best deal of all... a seller was offering a set of 11 different sizes, five 5" needles each, from size 0 to 10 (total of 55 needles!) for... get this... $7.99 (plus $5.99 shipping) for the whole thing! Unreal! They arrived yesterday, and I'm very happy with them! Heck, I'll even give a shout-out to this seller, mnft651. Three cheers! :-)

Tomato Bumper Crop!

We've been blessed with a bumper crop of flavorful, juicy, bright red Roma tomatoes! Just look at this big heaping bowl.... wow! I'm going to have to freeze a ton of them so none of them go to waste. The other day I made a tomato soup in the slow cooker using my fresh tomatoes, and it was SO amazing! I know it's called "Winter Tomato Soup", but do yourself a favor and make it anyway, NOW! I might even make it again today! It's from "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook" by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. It's a great book!

Winter Tomato Soup

Serves 4   Setting and Time: LOW for 5 to 6 hours

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter
1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 quart home-canned tomatoes or one 28-ounce can imported Italian whole or chopped plum tomatoes, with their juice [I just used what I thought was an equivalent-ish amount of my fresh tomatoes!]
1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 heaping teaspoon dried tarragon
Sea salt to taste
Could sour cream for serving [I didn't use this, I just served it with some bread]

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until golden, about 15 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Combine the tomatoes, vermouth, sugar, and tarragon in the slow cooker; add the onion and butter. scraping out the pan. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.
  3. Puree in batches in a food processor or with a handheld immersion blender. If you don't like the seeds, push the soup through a strainer set over the slow cooker. Season with salt. Keep warm on LOW without letting it come to a boil until serving. Ladle the hot soup into bowls and top with a spoonful of cold sour cream.
If you make it, let me know! I guarantee you'll love it!

Yearning to knit, while I'm already knitting....

I suppose knitting has made me partly crazy. Yearning to knit while I'm already knitting? Well, yeah... it's just that I just got some AMAZING yarn on closeout at WEBS in Northampton, and I'm planning on making The Panbe Dress from KnitScene Magazine. The yarn, which in my craziness I can't stop stroking and petting, is called Classic Elite Duchess, in the color "Emily's Lilac". It's the softest pale purple in a very touchable blend of merino, cashmere, angora, viscose and nylon. The problem is that I still have to finish this shawl I'm making before I can start with the new project, because I'm on a deadline, and I've already taken two breaks to make other things (the Shalom Toque and the Green Bear) for gifts. Since the shawl is a gift, too, it takes higher priority over the dress, which is just for me! Well, let's see how quickly I can knit (without making mistakes!)

Here's the Panbe Dress... it'll be really cute over leggings. I like the big cable down the front, and since it's made in a chunky yarn, it hopefully won't take months to knit!

Here's my lovely yarn... 

A Green Bear

I took time off this week from knitting the shawl to knit this cute green teddy bear (along with a crocheted vest) to give to my 8 year old niece when we go to India in October. The yarn for the vest is the leftover yarn from the little bag I made for her. I had JUST "bearly" (ha! sorry) enough yarn left for it! Phew! :-)

Shalom Toque

When my dad saw the toque I made for hubby with his name in Bengali, he requested one for himself in Hebrew. I designed the Shalom toque for him for his birthday (today!) and I've been waiting to post it until after he opened his gift.

Ripple Shawl

Here's my progress on the ripple shawl. It's about 22" long, and will be 60" when finished. I like the pattern! It's easy to memorize, so you don't have to look at a pattern while you work.

The First Tomato

The only time I remember growing tomatoes was in Canada, as a kid. We had a planter on our back deck, and they didn't exactly flourish. They were kind of pathetic, if I remember correctly. So as you can guess, I'm thrilled that the tomatoes in our plot seem to be doing so well! They're pretty much all still green, but this guy here was a bit ahead of the bunch:

See that lovely basil plant behind my hand? Just imagine all of the pizzas and marinara sauces that are in my future :-) Yummy!


We had a really fun time kayaking yesterday with LL Bean's Walk-On Adventures. It's always fun to try something new!

I got the hang of it pretty easily, and loved it!

Thank you, Summer Rain!

I haven't been going down to the garden for the past week or so because we've been getting enough regular rain, and WHOA! I'm blown away by how much everything has grown! I stopped by to pluck some basil leaves for the homemade pizza I was making, and was shocked at how amazing the garden looked! My herbs, especially the basil, are really thriving and growing, but the most amazing thing was the tomato plants. Not only do they seem to be at least a foot taller, but now where I used to only see a sparse handful of baby tomatoes, I see dozens! Huzzah! Sorry about the lackluster photo quality from my cellphone:

Pretty soon I'll be able to use not only fresh basil for my homemade pizza, but home grown tomatoes as well!

Bharot jabo! (We're going to India!)

We're planning a trip to India this fall to visit hubby's family, and I'm super excited! I've been knitting away on gifts to give, and I'm doing my best to learn Bengali, one of the official languages of India, and the first language of my hubby and his family. For someone who has primarily studied European languages, Bengali (or rather, Bangla) has its own unique challenges, but as it is supposed to be one of the easiest Indian languages (so I am told ;-) ) I'm sure it's nothing I can't overcome! The script is beautiful to look at, and I'm getting better at reading, although when I read out loud I do still resemble a grade-schooler, sounding out her words! I'm sure I'll improve with time and practice. I just got a great big book called Bengali: A Comprehensive Grammar, and it looks like it'll be very helpful. Here's a little phrase I like; it means "one language is never enough":

Wavy Shawl

I'm making an easy but pretty shawl to give to my mother-in-law. It's a nice ripple pattern in a lightweight (but not lace weight) lilac yarn. It's something she can wrap around her shoulders during the colder winter months. It takes 6 skeins of yarn (I'm using Lion Brand Microspun) and I just got through the first one. Here's a little preview:

Ravelry: TheHomeEconomist's Lilac Waves Shawl

A knitted gift

I just finished making the easiest, cute little drawstring bag. The yarn is this lovely soft, plush, chunky, brightly colored kind by Loops & Threads, and it self-stripes into lovely blues and greens. The bag is one gift I'm making for my niece to give to her when we visit India, as we are planning to do, this fall. Don't you just love giving home-made gifts?

Baby Roma tomatoes!

Here's a sneak peak at the upcoming crop of Roma tomatoes! They're so cute and little! Awwww!

Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil's OVO has come to Hartford, and we got a good deal on a pair of tickets last weekend. It was such a fantastic show! If it comes to a city near you, you should check it out!

 Check out this short trailer to see what it was all about.

Failed slippers.... fixed!

So, remember my slipper that resembled a canoe of some sort? Well, I ripped out all of the stitches on the top part and redid it, this time pretty much ignoring the pattern and doing what I thought would work. It worked out much better this time! They were meant as a birthday gift for my college roommate, Bethany (Happy Birthday today, B!) and I hope she likes them! I waited until today to post this, because today is her birthday, and I didn't want to spoil the surprise. I crocheted a magenta border around the top edge, and made a little flower. They also each have a strap, making them Mary Jane slippers. They look kind of short and fat, but they stretch out longer to fit the foot. Casper seems to like them!

Camping on the 4th

We opted for some outdoor long-weekend fun. We camped at Tolland State Park in the Berkshires. The weather was great, the fire was crackling, and we lit some sparklers for fun! It was right on a lake, which was lovely.

There was also an old cemetery at the campsite, with a few headstones from around 1840-1860. I think they are so neat!


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