Year of the Dragon

Sundays usually find us in the city. Its a nice balance-saturdays are for nature hikes, fresh air, stretching our legs in the country. Sundays are for sightseeing in the District. There are a million free, fun things to do downtown and little P is thrilled about riding the Metro every week. Little boys....
This sunday we went to the New Year celebration on 6th Street, which I must say was a great family event! We got there just in time for the parade.
I just loved this little lion.
They handed out these paper dragons to the children. We had two, but I gave one away to a little girl that didn't get one.
We had a front row seat to the dragon dancing and the giant firecracker.
And we stopped off at Crumbs for some giant cupcakes. (Sorry Cupcake Charlie, these were better!)
On the way home, I noticed a gentleman sitting across from us on the Metro wearing a red striped knit hat, doing the crossword. We left the station and walked to our car a few moments later and came upon a small group of people, standing around a man. He was lying on the ground, face down. We had passed so many sleeping in doorways during the day, that by 6pm I was almost numb to the sight of someone laying on a sidewalk. Almost.
We walked closer. And then we saw the red hat.
I tell you this story, because I love the man that rushed to his side and assisted the man as he came back to conciousness. And because I was touched that perfect strangers were there to help, to call an ambulance, and by the worry that was on their faces. And because I still worry if the man who fell was ok, because when he could finally speak he told my husband that there was no one we could call for him and that he lived alone.
Since then, I feel reassured that people are basically good. And my husband, though he talks a tough line, is a very kind and caring person who will help his fellow man without hesitation.

My Saturday in Pictures

We drove an hour out of DC this saturday to Front Royal. The weather has been heavenly, so there is no better time to go sightseeing! Along the way I made some progress on the Nantes Hat, from the Winter 2011 issue of Interweave Knits. This one is going to be a gift, so I've thrown my other projects aside for this quick knit.

Entering the park
Posing over the Shenandoah Valley, elevation I'm guessing was about 2800 ft.
Hold those boys close!!
I'm also wearing my Sockhead Hat, a free pattern from BohoKnits. Pattern here
It took forever, but I love it. To made it extra nerdy, I added two tassels on the top.
Spelunker Burgers and more...On our way to Luray Caverns.
Changing elevation, going underground, the Luray Caverns.
Nate as always, more than happy to be along for the ride.

D.C. Adventures

Can't believe I almost forgot to post this one- the Smithsonian's Museum of the American Indian. A beautiful building, inside and out. We were not as impressed with the exhibits, but while chasing the boys it wasn't as easy to soak in. I can't explain exactly why. We haven't had that problem before.
They did, however, have a wonderful area dedicated to children. The boys got to explore there, and had a wonderful time. I must say, they were really well-behaved too, so a staff member favored them by pulling a few patches out of her pocket. Which coincidentally, we collect whenever we can.
I really loved this collection of spindle whorls from Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Absolutely beautiful-the caption below says that personal spirit helpers are carved into them, instilling their power into the yarn and clothes that are created from it. Can I get me some of that?
Little P tried his hand at a bit of basket weaving.
Nathan tried a little bit of everything. He's at that age now. Nothing is safe.

And Little P would now like his own kayak. I'll start saving.

Make Believe

Sometimes we lose sight of what's important.
Giving our kids everything they want, instead of the things they need.
So for little P's fifth birthday (not this guy, the other one!), we collected costumes, hats and props for a make-believe chest. Pirate hat, Dr.'s kit, an apron and chef's hat I found at Joanne's and a giant chest to collect it all. And sadly, our boys never had a cape. REALLY.
So a yard each of black and blue microfleece fabric, velcro fasteners so they can't get caught by the neck, and now the boys are ready to take on the world! Make some magic. Fly!!! Fight the villains! Climb coffee tables in a single bound!
And I feel like a better parent, to boot.

Since I had the trusty sewing machine out, I decided to make use of the scrap fabric from my mom and the yoga bags.

So, three bucks worth of fabric paint and some cord later....

Fun bags!! Har har.

Great way to keep the toys tidy, and easy to find when the boys want them. I made a bag for their musical toys, and another for their safety gear (helmets, elbow and knee pads). Again, feeling like a better parent...patting self on back...yup.

Museums are Amazing

Did we just step out of a chinook?

Nate ran around this truck twice, pointing and exclaiming. That is pure boy-joy.

The great hall was awe-inspiring for kids AND grownups.
We finally took a quick trip to Quantico to visit the Marine Corps Museum. I wasn't totally thrilled, but my husband had a real desire to see it. Once we were there, I quickly realized this one was a total winner. It was designed to really engage you, veterans, civilians, young and old. You get to experience being picked up by the bus and being taken to Paris Island, getting screamed at by a male or female (!) drill instructor, testing out the gear a marine recruit has to carry, etc.
The next few exhibits are about the origins and history of the marines, blood and guts being set aside in favor of the pride and heroics of early U.S. marines. I was a little surprised to find myself so interested. The kids, not so much. However, the exhibits about our involvement in foreign affairs/conflicts were done so well, the kids were quickly entertained. Lots of things to pick up, listen to, trucks to OOOHH and AHHH over; every room had a different look (and once, a different temperature.)
We finished by breezing quickly through the 9/11 exhibit (still so fresh and terrible in our minds) and had lunch in the Tun Tavern upstairs. Cool. Very cool.

Another Thankful Thursday

First I want to get this out of the way-my newest creations. Santa brought me a new yoga mat this year, and it took me all of two classes to realize I needed something to carry it. Something with pockets for my keys and water bottle. So this is the result of my quickie yoga bag design-let me know if you want to duplicate and I could create some directions. It took about one yard of the main fabric, 3/8 of a yard of the contrast, and some interfacing. But I feel really guilty claiming it as a 'design' since it is really just a simple sewn tube with a strap, give or take a few details. It was very easy and took about 45 mins to complete, so I made one for my hon too.

And can you catch a peek of those slim calves? I can take no credit, been eating like a pig. That's ALL yoga. Love it.

Now we get to the preachy part of my post.

I absolutely love the farmer's markets and fish markets. It absolutely disturbs, no pisses me off, that people will not identify what they eat with where and what the substance actually came from. It seems some have no problem consuming vast amounts of ground meat, chicken etc but will not roast a chicken, or eat ribs. It was explained to me (like how I'm staying vague on the identities here?) that anything 'on the bone' is disgusting. So, you can eat the animal. But as long as you pretend its not an animal? I get confused. I mean, if you can't stand to eat meat, then why do you eat twice as much as I do?

Preachy part over, read on.

So imagine my pleasure when we made a trip to the Eastern Market downtown, and picked up a whole red snapper. The whole thing. And the owner invited little P behind the counter and gave him a lesson on cleaning fish. It may have been because P was so polite, or perhaps because we were getting a thirty dolla' slab of fish! But he was a very good pupil. Then we took Red home, and I roasted him, head and all. Threw it on a plate. Even pointed out his tiny little teeth. And the boys ate it. Not the slightest bit namby-pamby about it. So proud.

Sorry Red! But for that delicious meal, we thank you!
We also bought some items we'd never cooked before.

Like homemade shrimp ravioli in bright colors. (Chuckled at overhearing some DC hipsters bicker over how to cook fresh squid ink pasta).

And rabbit and pork sausage. Last night that was cooked with some leftover pork and served on a bed of spaghetti squash. Sorry bunny. It was so savory, the boys ate it up too. Just love how they will try almost anything. Almost. But I really feel that since we are very adventurous meat-eaters, it is only fair my kids understand that food comes from an animal, not in neat little styrofoam trays at the supermarket. Especially when I am sure in Thailand there will be some of the craziest-looking seafood to ever grace our dinner plates. If they are not willing to try new things, our boys would miss out on so much!

With the yoga bags completed, the sewing machine will be busy the next few days with my latest; the imagination chest. Little P is turning 5 tomorrow. Oh MY. And still exploring all his new Christmas toys, so for his birthday we're making a chest full of costumes for imagination play and make-believe. I'm putting the finishing touches on his king/knight's costume with a cape and crown. You'll see. I'm also making "fun bags" (shaddap, don't laugh) to sort and store their toys.

A Very Thankful Thursday

Kids snatch your heart. They grab it, carry it in every little trot of those chubby legs, every little sound that comes from their rosebud lips. I find myself all choked up a dozen times a day, caught up in a moment where I think over and over again my children are so beautiful. Its the most amazing feeling, and I'm glad I gave up work because I now get to feel this way all day. I am so thankful. Thought you should know that about me, because its never said aloud.
But I think two thoughts most of the day.
First, my children are so amazing it takes my breath away. Second, I am so lucky.

Chick Chorizo Soup

Its funny how I stopped by Carole's blog today to find her Ten on Tuesday is about soups, when I had already planned on sharing my sunday night soup concoction. I love soup because you don't really have to follow any rules when throwing one together. This one was pretty much made up as I went along, and it turned out to be veddy veddy delish:
2 Cups Enriched egg noodles
2-3 boneless chicken breasts
3 chorizo links
2 cups loose leaf kale
1 small butternut or acorn squash, cubed
3 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
chicken broth, water
olive oil, salt and pepper
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
While you bring a pot of the chicken broth and water to a boil, sautee squash in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon olive oil for about ten minutes. (Optional: I sprinkled with paprika and added a dash of minced garlic) Toss into soup pot with carrots, celery, Old Bay and a dash of sea salt. (Its good for you.)
Brown chorizo and chicken in the saucepan-this will render out some of the fat which you can either spoon away or use to flavor the soup. I really don't need any extra fat, so GONZO. When the meats are golden and well-browned, chop into large pieces and throw into your vat o goodness. Simmer ten mintes. Sip, taste, season to your liking.
Add noodles and bring back up to a boil. Cook five minutes, then toss in your kale. Add water at this point too if you have boiled off too much. Simmer five minutes, then serve. We like spicy food, so this was adulterated with some Pete's and some red pepper flakes. Perfect.
Might as well add my top soups to the list. In no particular order....
1. Pho Ga- maybe its the star anise, maybe its the basil, cilantro I don't know. But I get a craving for chicken pho almost every week.
2. Campbell's Tomato. Best. Hangover. Cure. Ever. (sorry mom and dad)
3. Muir Glen organic soups. I'm not plugging this brand on purpose, just did a focus group on them last year and loved all their soups.
4. Italian wedding soup. we all love it in this house.
5. Suki/Shabu. You have a pot of boiling broth. Raw meat and veggies. Swish it around, its fun to do and tastes wonderful. Add Sriracha and life is complete.
Any soup with Sriracha, for that matter.
6. Miso. Its pretty boring, but it usually means sushi is on the way. I get excited.
7. Split pea and ham.
8. Chicken tortilla. Can't resist this one.
9. Au Bon Pain makes a few of my faves-lentil soup, etc. Used to eat there every day.
10. I'm from Massachusetts, so it has to be New England Clam Chowda'. So unhealthy I actually only eat it once every few years, all that heavy cream....but when I do, I make sure to enjoy myself!

My Weekend in Instagram

Hiking at Sky Meadow State Park.
Philip, a lollipop, and a vine to swing on. The outcome was better than expected.

Why does this remind me of the Wyeth piece, "Christina's World"?

We visit Arlington National Cemetery often. We walk and think, think and walk, and talk to our kids about service, sacrifice, pride, integrity.

Paid a visit to "The Great Emancipator" and Nathan goofed around. (Hat and matching sweater underneath by me, of course.)

Supped on some awesome soup. If I say so myself. Chix, chorizo, kale and winter squash.

Fabulous Friday

Aren't they adorable?
Happy Weekend y'all!

Fable Mitts Part Dos

Finished, wrapped and delivered to my husband's thai teacher before the holiday break. Ahhhh. Deep sigh of satisfaction!

I've been thinking about making a resolution this year. I usually never do-I mean, nothing ever knew. Everyday I try to do the same things, behave (whoops), eat healthy, love, forgive, spend less, etc. New Years day is not any different than any other day really. This year, instead, I have picked a word, a theme, a mantra or what you will. And this time next year I'd like to look back and see if this approach changed me and the way I handle, well, everything. So, since I tend to be too assertive and competetive in just about everything, the word is GENTLE.


This year I'd like to grow personally and be more gentle in every way. With people. With my boys. Not every encounter and challenge is conquered with force or brute strength. Some of the people I admire the most pass through their days successfully with a totally different approach. Who knows, it may not work for me at all. But it couldn't hurt to develop a softer side to balance the aggressive in me.

I hope to read this post a year from now, and reflect upon the ways I have become more gentle. Balance, ya know?

New Year - New Beginnings

In case you haven't noticed, I've been tweaking the blog a bit. This really isn't my area of skill (but what is?) so bear with me while I work it out. Assuming we actually make it to Thailand this summer, I think there will be a lot to share. So hang in there-some day there will be more going on here than me just assailing you with pics of my kids and knitting. I swear.
Did I say knitting? Oh yes I did.
My mother has been enabling, I mean supplying me with her gorgeous homespun. Of course by the time I finish with it I have long forgotten what it was composed of or what color. So they all get tagged as "alpaca blend" and I make up my own color. This one I would call moss & bark, but feel free to disagree. These Fable Mitts are awesome-very handy to have in this mild Virginia weather, and quick knit to boot. I even made another pair the next week as a gift. But that's another day.
Fable Knits are a free pattern-you can find them on Ravelry of course, or here
I like being able to pick button accents, and might try designing a hat to match. They came in handy this sunday when we had a family outing into the district. It was muy muy chilly, so we didn't venture far, but our last stop was the gorgeous U.S. Botanic Gardens. Even in the winter, their outdoor gardens were stunning and we stopped for a gratuitous mitt shot at the arbor:

We caught their indoor train exhibit on THE VERY LAST DAY. Little P was out of his mind with joy-tracks everywhere, overhead and going through tunnels. It was amazing. There were little fairytale houses and palaces build out of plants and trees, whimsical tableaus, and Thomas the tank engine whipping throughout. I oohed and ahhed over the replica of Castle Neuschwanstein, which we once toured in Germany long long ago.
D.C. is proving to be full of surprises and gems!