Friday, February 29, 2008

There Are Worms in my Kitchen!

But in a good way. This past summer we went to a family farm day at the Queens County Farm Museum, and there was a Con Edison booth there with a demonstration on vermicomposting. We'd been looking for ways to reduce our garbage output, but as we don't have a yard, we weren't able to take advantage of standard composting. They had the worms and compost in a container, and explained everything very well. On the ride home we talked about the possibility of doing it ourselves, but I finally decided that it was an insane idea wouldn't be very practical for us.

But, obsessive person that I am, I couldn't get the idea out of my head, so after scouring the stores for the right size container, and reading umpteen piles of information on the internet, I took the plunge and ordered a pound of worms. You need red wiggler worms for indoor composting, and for a standard size Rubbermaid container (I got the size you would store clothes in) a pound is perfect. I ordered them from Topline, and they sent them out. I guess the postman never knows what he's carrying around! They were shipped during a major heat wave, and I warned the kids that they may not have survived the trip. We followed the directions, and lo and behold they were healthy and wiggling around!

You have to make bedding for them in the container - we used torn up newspaper soaked in water. I drilled air holes in the sides and top of the container, but was worried that they would escape out the holes, so I reused some plastic embroidery canvas to cover them up . (Reduce, reuse, recycle!) We poured the worms in, popped on the cover, and hoped for the best. After a day, I checked on them, and though we had a few climbing up the sides, they didn't seem to be trying to escape - just didn't know which end was up.

The worms can eat half their body weight a day; I keep a container in the fridge with coffee grounds, vegetable scraps, etc. , and drop it in the container when it's full. People always ask if it smells, and it really doesn't - we do avoid putting stinky scraps in (like onions, garlic, broccoli, etc.).

I can't believe how well it's worked - we've harvested the compost twice; the picture above shows Miss Serious and me preparing to harvest. It has reduced our garbage output quite a bit, especially in the summer when we have tons of scraps, and they are the most low-maintenance pets I've ever had.

Now if I could only claim them all as deductions...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sock It To Me!

I like to knit socks. I know, I know, you can buy socks at Target for $3.00. When I first started knitting, I heard about people knitting socks, and I thought it was a trifle bizarre. I remember having a conversation with my mother in which I think I said something along the lines of what a stupid thing it was to spend all that time knitting socks. I mean, don't people know they sell them at Target for $3.00? And then I started seeing pictures on the web of all kinds of snazzy socks that people had knit. And I was in the yarn store, and they had some really gorgeous sock yarn. And it went from there.

Now I know why people knit socks - they are small and portable, the yarn for them is affordable (sort of), and if I do a plain sock (my favorite kind) I can drop it at a moment's notice, a must for the times when I hear a crash from the next room followed by a shouted "I'm okay!" (This is one of Big Trouble's favorite activities). I have discovered, however, that my feet are too delicate for the average, more reasonably priced sock yarn. My feet find these yarns itchy. Somehow, my pampered feet (I was trying to come up with a synonym for feet, and The Professor suggested "shoe meat" and "the espadrille's nougaty center," but I digress) can only truly enjoy the handknit sock experience when they are made out of fine merino wool (my loss is my mother's gain). Luckily, many companies are happy to make this lovely (and sadly expensive) sock yarn in a variety of magnificent colors. I have searched and searched for the perfect sock pattern, (after many that are too tight, too saggy, too whatever) and finally found one. It's from Knitting Rules. It's a great pattern, and fits perfectly. Here they are in Cherry Tree Hill:

I'm making another pair (couldn't help myself) out of the lovely Bearfoot Mountain Colors I got at Woolworks. It is beautifully soft, and the colors are wonderful (although my photography definitely leaves something to be desired):

These are socks I finally get to keep; my toes are thankful.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Let It Snow!

Winter has finally decided to be winter. Friday morning we woke up to a coating of several inches of snow. I hardly knew what all that white stuff was - it's been so long since we've seen actual snow here. The kids had vacation anyway, so no snow day for them, but I work at our local library a few (very few) hours a week, and they closed. They've been known to be closed even when the schools can manage to be open - don't know what that's all about.

So I bundled the kids up (my gosh it takes longer to dress and undress for the snow than we actually spend outside, but I digress) so that they could finally roll around in some snow. Anyone who knows me will know this is a great sacrifice on my part; I am not a person who enjoys the cold, and lose the feeling in my toes for pretty much all of winter, but I can suck it up for the kids. They wanted to make a snowman, but it was too fluffy.
They had a good time making snowballs and snow angels. We went out again today, and the snow was easier to pack, so they made this:
My aunt and uncle gave them the snowman clothes for Christmas, and they were despairing that they wouldn't get to use them. The kids were very pleased with their creation, and decided to leave the clothes outside on the snowman; they swore that they wouldn't be upset if someone took them. We'll see...

Sadly, this snowman is better dressed and more coordinated than I am. He probably also has more feeling in his toes.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I got a note in the mail a few weeks back that a wonderful yarn store (Woolworks in Pelham, NY) would be closing its doors. Sad for them, but the resulting yarn sale is definitely a benefit to those of us with limited funds and unlimited yarn desire. They have all their yarn on sale at least 25%, and there are quite a few things that are 50% off.

I was planning on going on the first day of the sale, but as we were all home with the previously mentioned plague, I had to wait a few days. They have lots of stock, and the ladies who own the store are wonderfully helpful and full of good humor. I purchased these:

That's Bearfoot Mountain Colors on the left and Koigu KPPM on the right. I love sock yarn, partly because I like knitting socks, but also because for a cheap frugal and indecisive person like myself, it's easy to buy. I know exactly how much I need to make a pair of socks, and I don't experience the sticker shock of buying the amount of yarn needed for a sweater.

Of course, I couldn't leave it at that, and went back several days later and got:

The left is Berocco Ultra Alpaca, and the right is more Bearfoot Mountain Colors. I got enough of the green to make a sweater (at 25% off I could take the plunge) and am now hunting for just the right pattern. If you are in the area, it's definitely worth the trip.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Knit

To those people who don't knit, the above sentence only conveys that I have a pleasant hobby, and will maybe have on a handknit item sometime. And that's the end of it. To those people who do knit, the above has a much deeper meaning. They can nod with a small smile on their face, and know immediately what my house looks like (a mess), how much yarn is probably in my closet (we won't talk about that), and how many pieces of unfinished knitting surround me from my favorite spot on the couch (at the moment, four).

It's an insidious activity, and begins when, after many false starts, something beautiful (or at least recognizable) emerges from 2 sticks and a pile of string. Then you buy some more yarn and start something new, and it goes from there. So, I decided to come up with 5 reasons that I love to knit:
  1. I like to dress my children in silly unique, handknit items
  2. I like to figure out all the math to make a pattern work (I know, what's that about?)
  3. I'm not an artistic person, and knitting makes me look creative
  4. I can feel less guilty about not cleaning my house - I'm knitting things to keep my family warm and properly clothed (who can argue with that?)
  5. I can feel less guilty about watching tv - see above
I do take breaks to cook and clean up after meals, help with homework, play assorted games (can you say Candyland - like 9 million times?), and teach the occasional class or flute lesson. The knitting is always ready to take me back when I have the time, and lets me work out the kinks of the day.

When your job is a stay at home parent, your accomplishments often seem vague and undefined. The day to day tasks of the job are seemingly infinite, and it's not unusual to get to the end of the day and wonder how much you actually got done; and then you pick up your knitting, and can see that three more inches are done on that sweater, and you have tangible proof that at least you achieved something today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Here's To Your Health!

We've all been sick. I didn't understand the full importance of that sentence until I had children. It used to be that I got sick, and I hunkered down miserably on the sofa under a pile of blankets for a few days, and didn't talk to anyone, and ate only what I wanted (even if that meant only ice cream), and then I felt better. That was what sick used to mean to me. I now have children, and sick will never be the same. Now when I'm sick, little people insist on being fed (actual food!), and having clean clothes, and maybe a ride to school. And then they get sick, and things get really exciting.

It all began about 3 weeks ago. I can't even blame it on the kids, because somehow I came home with it. It's one of those bugs that just sucks the life out of you, and you want to just sleep all day, but for some reason you can't, and when you try to eat everything tastes like cardboard, but for some totally perverse reason you don't even lose any weight (the only positive thing about being sick that I've ever found). Several days later, Big Trouble caught the thing, followed by my husband. We all thought that Miss Serious made it out safely, and then she finally succumbed. After a whirlwind of fun involving fevers, sore throats, coughing, croup, vomiting, more coughing, and general all-around crankiness, I think the plague is gone. However, supposed well-meaning people keep telling me that it loops around again - not sure how this information is supposed to help me, and I have to physically restrain myself from smacking the above mentioned helpful folks.

But at least we have our health.

Monday, February 18, 2008


The internet is a funny thing. I really like seeing what people look like, and where they live, and to know pretty much everything about their lives (I am incurably nosy - as far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to know everyone's personal business). However, the world being what it is (and me being totally freaky a tad concerned about safety and privacy issues for my children) I decided that we would all have pseudonyms, so let me introduce you to the family!

I am married to a lovely man who will be referred to as The Professor (as he is a professor - clever, eh?). We have 2 children - a daughter, Miss Serious (6, almost 7) and a son, Big Trouble (5 - he named himself that, at about the age of 3, when he actually was, and while he's grown out of it by now, he still likes the name). I am mostly a stay-at-home mom, but do some adjunct college teaching to keep my resume from having such a huge chasm of emptiness in the middle.

We live in Westchester County, NY, one of the most expensive areas of the country. Being married to a college professor, and having left my elementary teaching job to raise the kids, I have learned the fine art of pinching pennies until they scream. To this end I spend an inordinate amount of time devouring frugal books, websites, tv shows - pretty much anything I can find. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment surrounded by highly paid lawyers and financial folk in beautiful and stately homes, but we love the area, enjoy the beach in the summer, and the schools can't be beat. It's a great place to live, and I count myself lucky every day (well, most days, but we won't talk about those right now).

(In reading this over, The Professor commented that there were an awful lot of parentheses - I voted to leave them all in - they are so embracing). ((())) (So there!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

And So It Begins...

After months of thinking about a blog, reading other people's blogs, and changing the settings/templates/fonts/colors (and anything else I could think of) on my own blog, I guess it's finally time to post an entry in the darn thing. I wanted a place where I could write about my life, such as it is. But, as I always discover when I sit down to write, writing is hard. When I think about why I like certain writers, it always comes down to the fact that I am attracted to their voice. I am working on finding my own voice, and hope that it is one that I will like.

We shall see.