library and other words that start with b...

i recognize that some people are uncomfortable with being reminded that this room exists, but there is always a short stack of books in our bathroom. so much so that it is commonly referred to as the "library" around these parts. sadly, this has become the only space within our home where i can force myself to read for any extended amount of time. many a "quick trip" has turned into an hour-long stay, and there are (oddly) moments when i dip in there just to sit and read the next few pages of some text that has completely captured the imagination. best of all, i am not alone in this insanity, as one or two of the books in the short stack are usually his.

i have always been what is usually termed a "voracious reader". then undergrad happened, and that second major in Literature left me almost nauseated by the prospect of picking up yet another book. i was just falling back in stride with the binge-reading lifestyle, when grad school happened, and i have absolutely not been able to return to the habit of sitting down (either on the bed or in a corner of my favorite sofa) and reading for hours at a time just for fun. that is where the bathroom library comes in. it began with simple things—knitting magazines and the like—and gradually shifted to non-fiction reference books on whatever interest caught my fancy at that moment in time. the current short stack includes a book about yarn design and a thick book about breeds of sheep, as i eagerly await the start of wool shearing season. i expect a few books on gardening to make an appearance in the coming weeks.

we tend to buy each other books as gifts—by which i mean buying books for oneself, then declaring them as gifts from the "other". half the fun comes from finding out what you "bought" when the bell rings.

him: that must be the mailman with the book you bought me.
me: what did i get you this time?
him:  a book of Elvira pictures. it's a late birthday gift. oh... and you also bought me a guitar... shaped like Mojo Jojo. 
me: i see.

are we incredibly dull people? that is very likely the case. do we really care? not in the least.

we made some recent additions to our respective collections. they appear in no particular order, and there really is no need to point out who owns each book, as he is a B-movie obsessed animator, and i enjoy all things murder and sheep.

this is a very typical Amazon purchase around here.

he has a sizeable collection of "art of" books, most of which were gifted to him by his younger brother, who happens to also be an animator. i am sure both parents were excited when their eldest son announced that he was abandoning the family drywall business to pursue a career in animation... then his little brother, their last hope in life, decided to do the same. seriously... they are both really good at what they do.

the best part? The Art of Zootopia...

includes drawings of a sheep! that made me smile.

which brings us back to Yarnitecture. Jillian Moreno is a teacher after my own heart. her approach tends to focus of explaining why you do something, as opposed to merely demonstrating how it is done.

Dyeing to Spin & Knit does not offer much new content for the seasoned dyer, but it is still a worthwhile addition to the craft library. The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook, however, is a MUST HAVE for anyone who even likes to fall asleep counting sheep.

it has heaps of information about different breeds of sheep, like the Bluefaced Leicester, my all-around fave breed!!!

there is also tons of info about the fleece quality of each breed. this is porn to my people.

i got Socks from the Toe Up, since someone has concluded that he is worthy of such hand-crafted things. [that object behind the book will be the subject of tomorrow's post.]

Horrorstör: A Novel is a thriller/horror set in a big-box furniture store. any resemblance to a certain Scandinavian furniture multi-national is purely coincidental. i did actually buy this one for him, mostly because i liked the cover. i am so weak.

Mama Kitty appears to like a bit of gore.

The Art of Loish: A Look Behind the Scenes is by Dutch Illustrator/Animator, Lois van Baarle.

i like the drawing on the back cover of this one.

the Loish book was purchased from our local used bookstore, along with yet another classic murder mystery by Dorothy Sayers, and a mini collection of the work of Illustrator Tim Biskup.

i want a breezy summer dress made with fabric covered in this particular Biskup design.

the favorite recent purchases however, have to be Elvira Mistress of the Dark, which was part of my birthday gift to him {updated to add Elvira photos, plus a better photo of the Norah book}.

it is a book of photos of Elvira. what more needs to be said?

... and the new bible of knitwear design, Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable Sourcebook, because she really is the master of such fantastic things. i can seriously gush about this woman for days. she will always be my fave.

now, pardon me while i return some of these books to the bathroom library.


brutalized bunnies and other things i blame on the Brits...

i recently found myself baking a pound cake in the middle of the night, a fact i blame in part on Australia, South Africa, and Denmark. but, most of all, i blame the Brits. you see, we—like most people in the world—are fans of The Great British Bake Off. problem is, GBBO is a cleverly-disguised gateway drug, because we keep discovering franchises set in different locales... and we are totally hooked!

we have seen all the episodes to date of The Great Australian Bake Off, most of Den Store Bagedyst (in the original Danish, which neither of us speaks, but we still love every second of the show), and now—just as we were finishing up the first season of The Great South African Bake Off and starting in on season two—we discovered that there exists something called the Great Irish Bake Off. madness!

all the off-viewing is starting to take a toll on my quality of life. watching people bake delicious things makes it very necessary for me to do the same. so, there we were at the end of one episode of Irish baking, when the urge suddenly hit.

me: i need to bake something!!!

now, this is when he usually stops me by offering a cautionary reminder of my allergy to all things wheat. however, he had also just sat through watching people bake delicious things.

him: if you're sure... [with a poorly-disguised tone of gleeful anticipation].

i hopped over to my list of favorite recipes and weighed the possibilities.

me: it has to be something relatively fast, because i am not spending the whole night waiting for dough to rise.
him: what about flan?
me: i could kill for a victoria sponge, 'cept i have no cream for the filling. 
him: what about flan...???

... at which point, i gave him THAT look. [full disclosure: i hate hate HATE flan and most other wobbly, eggy, custardy things. naturally, he loves all those things.]

him: ...or, maybe cinnamon rolls?
me: that is an all-day operation.
him: scones? 
me: i always make scones. i want something different.

then it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.

me: you know that box of really flavorful clementines we bought a few days ago?
him: yes...?
me: i'm gonna make my famous lemon pound cake... with clementines!!!
him: go for it!

so, i did, and after it was out of the oven and resting on the cooling rack, i issued a "will you be needing me for anything in the next hour or so, because i plan to be up to my earlobes in a hot bath" warning, when it happened.

i need to take a moment to paint you a picture that perfectly describes the next part of this tale: imagine if you will, a five year-old child whose two favorite things in the world are his pet bunnies and the family dog. now, imagine that this child comes home one day, and you have to break the tragic news that the dog ate the bunnies... so the dog is being put to sleep!

do you see it? that look right there on the face of that five year old child who has just gotten the news of the brutalized bunnies and the soon-to-be-dead dog...? that was the look on my favorite animator's face when i told him that he would have to wait for the cake to cool completely before he could have a slice. seriously... i have not laughed that hard in a very long time.

later that night, as we sat together over slices of freshly-baked cake and large mugs of tea, we realized just how much off-viewing we actually do together, and it is not all about baking. i like to sew every now and then, so i was excited to discover The Great British Sewing Bee, but i did not expect him to get equally caught up in watching it. by the end of the first season, he was looking at fabric swatches online and asking me to teach him how to use the sewing machine. then there was The Great Pottery Throw Down. we had talked about taking pottery classes together at some point, so we were instantly drawn to this title. then things got weird. i came across something called Den Store Strikkedyst while searching for some knitting-related thing, and my head near exploded. 

me: uhm... sweetie. i just found another "off" to watch.
him: what is it this time? origami?
me: it's knitting... in Danish!

i went through the customary ritual. made tea, lit a candle, fluffed all the cushions, then sat cross-legged on my favorite sofa, while he wandered off to the studio shaking his head. 

me: sure you don't want to join me?
him: i guess i'll check out the beginning, but i am not going to watch a bunch of old women sitting around knitting. 

he came and sat on the arm of the sofa, poised to make a quick exit back to his happy place. fast-forward a couple hours, and he is sitting next to me with my legs stretched in their customary position across his lap, while we debate which contestant is most deserving of elimination at the end of the episode. i think that counts as 'totally hooked'. 

so, there we were tonight, discussing our food options for the coming days.

me: other than a few cans of wet cat food, i don't think we need to buy anything till next week. we have stuff to cook, but there's nothing for snacks or light meals.

then it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.

me: would it be wrong if i made another clementine pound cake?
him: go for it!

i blame the Brits.


wee taters and other signs of real Spring...

[i am overdue for a post-a-day week... starting off shortly before midnight... on a Wednesday. that is the only acceptable way to do such things.]

it is the tenth day of Spring, and if you look closely, you will see the lightest sprinkling of snow floating through the Montreal air. i am convinced that these people are only happy in the presence of ice and cold.

on the sunnier side of life, i finally got around to sowing a few seeds for this year's balcony garden.

yes... i should have started them a month (or so) ago, but that type of on-top-of-things-ness is not part of my programming. plus, there was the subject of all that wacky weather. most of the snow melted following the big storm i mentioned in the previous post, and i was convinced that we were in for a super-early Spring, then Canada happened again. i give up!

i spent a couple weeks deliberating over starting from seeds or just purchasing seedlings come Spring... like real Spring, not just a date they circle on the calendar to give me false hope. there will likely be a bit of both, but it is always fun to get your hands dirty for a good cause. the seeds were leftover from last year, so hopefully something will grow... hopefully. i hurried through all of the planting and i was about to put away the soil, when i remembered the wee taters.

regular readers of this forum (all two-and-a-half of you) might recall last year's adventure, where i planted some spuds that had gone full-on 'Little Shop of Horrors' in the back of a kitchen cupboard. fast-forward to the harvest, and there were a few wee taters hiding among the crop.

it would have been sacrilegious to throw away such adorable things, so i put them on an open shelf in the kitchen, behind the jar of honey, and proceeded to forget that they existed. then one day i was making room for a new honey jar, and... quelle surprise!!!

just how wee are they, you ask? wee...


i punched some drainage holes in the bottom of a couple re-purposed yogurt containers...

added a centimeter (or so) of soil...

and divided the wee ones between the two "pots".

that red one looks like an alien duck floating on a pond of industrial runoff.

the last step was to top them off with a bit more soil. as with planting normal-sized taters, i covered them up until the tips of the the shoots were just visible... so like another centimeter and a half (or so... i did not measure it) of soil.

everyone got a label made from strips of plastic cut from a cat litter container (rescued from the recycling bin), then i arranged all of the newly-planted things in thoroughly-cleaned meat trays (also from the recycling bin), and placed them on a table in a sunny spot. FYI: i planted zucchini seeds in the other two yogurt containers.

all that was left was to give the newly-planted things a good bottom-watering. there is a joke in there if you look hard enough. however, in botanical terms, it simply means pouring the water into the bottom of the tray and allowing it to soak up through the soil.

i also grabbed a small plant pot and tossed in a few pinches of cat grass for my two best girls, because they too are anxious for the arrival of real Spring.

now... we wait!


how much do you love me...

...is universally understood to be followed by some outrageous request.

me: how much do you love me?
him: depends... how do you want me to quantify it?

number of steps...? which means getting something from another room.

number of blocks...? which means getting something from outside.

number of balls...? which usually ends with the purchase of more yarn. yes, my stash already exceeds life-expectancy... but i may decide to live even longer than that.

this time around, i had a brand new request.

me: you know that sweater i made for you? the one i said you can't wear till i take some photos for my project page?
him: yes....?
me: well, i want to take those photos now... outside!

at which point, we both turn to look at the hip-high snow on the other side of the glass doors.

him: i thought you wanted me to shave and cut my hair so i look extra-sexy for that.
me: yeh... we don't have time for all of that.

the pattern is the Fireside Pullover by Jane Richmond.

i pretty much fell in love with it at first sight. problem was, i just could not see it being flattering on my body [and, yes... the pattern is designed for us girls]. it is knitted in a bulky yarn, and features a deep shawl collar and a whole lot of ribbing across the shoulders and upper torso. in my mind, that is a recipe for looking like a cross between a linebacker and one of the Dwarves from the Lord of the Rings movies. then the light-bulb went off.

take away the waist shaping, and this is the perfect guy sweater.

put this on, and you instantly look like you are about to chop down a tree... with an axe carved from the skull of a dragon... that you slayed with your bare hands! seriously, who needs a coat in a snowstorm?!?

i am having eighties shoulder-pad-abuse flashbacks.

i suggested adding a button or two to the collar, but he prefers it open like this.

someone may have watched The Wrath of Khan a few too many times.

i get rid of a bit of stash, and he gets one more sweater, which—some may argue—is a pretty awesome measure of love.