January 30, 2014

Throwback Thurs - Cleveland in the Summer.

So.  You guys.  THIS WINTER IS INSANE.  I can't even with it anymore.  We've maxed out our snow days and it's only January.  Between the snowstorm and the extreme, extreme cold the kids went from Saturday to today without leaving the house.  I'm trying to keep them creatively occupied and not plugged in but SERIOUSLY.

We've baked:

On snow days THERE WILL BE BAKING.  #snowday #polarvortex
We've made snow ice cream.  We've played with all of the toys.  We've played all of the games.

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We've done this:

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I don't even know anymore.
We had some friends over and set up a bounce house in the basement:
video


GET YOUR ENERGY OUT, KIDS.
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What, did you think I'd not want to get in on that fun?
And we made paper flowers to bring some outside into our house:

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And then I realized that I was literally taking parenting advice from Flowers in the Attic*.  LITERALLY:

paper flowers
"we were never to color even one of our paper blossoms yellow."
So before I busted out the powered sugar doughnuts I thought it would be nice to have a reminder that this is not forever. That we do not live in a frozen tundra.  That Cleveland is not, in fact, an Arctic wasteland.  It just feels that way for a few months of the year.  In fact Lake Erie can even feel straight up tropical:

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Pictured:  The tropics.
Frozen Lakewood Park
Can you feel that tropical breeze?

So instead of posting any more frozen pictures may I present:

Throwback Thursday Cleveland Summer Edition.

Edgewater Park in August

These pictures were taken on August 24th of last year.  So only 159 days ago.

Edgewater Park in August
Look the little guy is outside!  In the sunshine!  Not buried under piles of "he can get frostbite with less than 5 minutes of exposed skin" blankets!
The same date in 2014 is only 207 days from right now.

There will be warm again.  The sun will come out.
Edgewater Park in August
The lake will thaw.
Edgewater Park in August

And this winter isolation and cabin fever will end.
Edgewater Park in August

Edgewater Park in August

And I promise this summer I will never bitch about how "awful" it is to get sand in the car.

Edgewater Park in August

*So who else hate-watched Flowers in the Attic?  Who else read that story as a preteen?  And maybe a few other VC Andrews tales?  I'm rereading it again now after a fantastic twitter discussion of the Lifetime version and I have some THOUGHTS.  One of which is that maybe I shouldn't be reading a book about children being locked inside while literally trapped inside with my children.  Although maybe I should just lean into this horror stories mimicking real life thing and read the Shining next and then NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.  I mean my basement windows are completely snowed over... it kindof feels like the Overlook down there...

January 27, 2014

Snow Ice Cream.

So How did I make it this far and not know about Snow Ice Cream?  Because Ice Cream made from Snow?  SURPRISINGLY DELICIOUS.

Snow Ice Cream
And we certainly have enough snow to go around:

Fun in the snow!  #cleveland #snow #handknit #stevensonpartyof5
I've heard rumors that we've had more snow this Jan than any other Jan EVER.

Seriously I am SO over this winter.  Just the time it takes me to get hats and boots and coats and mittens and scarves on everyone is DAUNTING.  Let alone keeping track of all of that stuff.

Snow Ice Cream
But on the other hand the stuck being inside thing is making us all crazy.  There's talk of school being cancelled again tomorrow because of the cold and well... all  work no play makes Jeanne a dull girl.  all work no play makes Jeanne a dull girl.  all work...

YEAH.

I"m trying to stay positive about it with the kids because they really take their tone from me.  If I am constantly complaining about it they will, too and the last thing I want is for them to hate winter.  Winter can be fun!  Really!  Just maybe not so much of it?

Snow Ice Cream
The girl was DONE with the snow about 10 min after going out into it preferring instead to hang out in the warm house with me while her brother threw snowballs at the window.  Funtimes.
So when my daughter mentioned that she her teacher said she could make ice cream from all of this snow I was all "TO THE GOOGLE!"

Snow Ice Cream
Even if this doesn't work just having a big bowl of snow in the house was pretty fun.

Turns out you can.  It's delicious. And EASY.

Snow Ice Cream
Boom.  Ice cream.  Who knew!
Matt was highly skeptical at first but as he was reaching for his second bowl he summed up the experience:  "This is surprisingly really good and not just passable!"

Snow Ice Cream
Especially when you add sprinkles.

It's light and fluffy and really just straight up delicious.  I highly recommend trying it.  I also have big plans for lots of other flavors... chocolate!  mint!  Caramel!  The possibilities are as endless as this snow.  And the best part is that when your ice cream melts into that puddle in your bowl you can just add more snow to it and make more ice cream!

Snow Ice Cream
We had a bunch of snow leftover after the ice cream so I let the kids take it into the bathtub with them.  We made ice burgs.  It was hilarity.  Snow inside = funtimes.  Noted.

Anyways to make the Ice Cream I looked at a couple of recipes and ended up with my own technique.  Here's what we did:

How to make Lemonade from Lemons... or Ice Cream from Snow.


Please to enjoy!  And if you have any tips for getting through the next week of cold please let me know...

January 26, 2014

The Dude's Slouchy Green Hat.

So!  How about a free knitting pattern for a kid's slouchy hat?

The Dude's Green Hat.

 See way back at the beginning of this winter thing my dude told me that he wanted me to knit him a Green Hat.

My dude wants a green hat so a green hat he shall have. #knit #knitting #love #hat #green
Green, you see, is his FAVORITE color.  To the point where if it exists and it's green then obviously it is his.  OBVIOUSLY.

The Dude's Green Hat.
I wanted to knit him a hat that fit his cool dude personality.  So I decided on a slouchy, over-sized, rasta like shape.

The Dude's Green Hat.
The Dude's Green Hat.
Also as much as I liked the bright, BRIGHT, green accents in his jacket that color alone seemed too shocking.  So I added in the skinny, emerald green stripes to tone it down.

The Dude's Green Hat.

 Then I added in one, simple, relaxed cable to give it some interest.

The Dude's Green Hat.

 I love how it turned out!  He's been wearing it all winter - won't go anywhere without MINE GREEN HAT:

The Dude's Green Hat.

 And the combo of skinny stripes and cables makes my heart sing:

The Dude's hat is done!  Can't wait to see it on him!! #knit #knitting #handknit #hat #stripes

Since we're snowed in right now - which is the perfect time for Knitting All The Things - I thought I'd write up the pattern and share it with you guys. (you can see it on Ravelry here:  The Dude's Slouchy Green Hat)

The Dude's Green Hat.

The Dude's Green Hat.

The Dude's Slouchy Green Hat.

Size:  Approx. 2T-3T.  This hat is slouchy and over-sized.  It should fit my 2.5 year old for many years!

Gauge:  10 stitches and 15 rows = 2 inches.

Materials:
70 yards of worsted weight wool in Main Color (MC) I used Cascade 220 in color #8894 (green)
65  Yards of worsted weight wool in Contrast Color (CC) Plymouth Encore in color #477 (bright green)
Size 7 double pointed needles (or size needed to obtain gauge)
Stitch Markers (2 and an additional one for the end of round - I usually have the end of round break at the end of Needle 4 and keep track of it that way but if you are using circulars you will need one)
Tapestry Needle

Abbreviations:
MC - Main Color
CC - Contrast Color
K - Knit
P - Purl
K2tog - Knit two stitches together, decreasing 1.
K1fb - Knit in the front and the back of the stitch, increasing 1.
PM - Place Marker
SM - Slip Marker
C5B - Cable 5 Back - Slip 5 stitches onto a cable needle, hold to the back of the work, knit 5, knit the 5 from the cable needle.
C4B - Cable 4 Back - Slip 4 stitches onto a cable needle, hold to the back of the work, knit 4, knit the 4 from the cable needle.


Note:  When working the stripes in the round it looks nicer to use a jogless stripe.  There’s a decent tutorial on that here:  Jogless Stripes.


Instructions:
Using Main Color (MC), size 7 double pointed needles (or size needed to obtain gauge), and the long tail cast on method, loosely cast on 68 stitches dividing stitches evenly onto 4 double pointed needles.  Slip as to purl the first stitch from needle 1 onto needle 4 and slip the last stitch from needle 4 over the slipped stitch and onto needle one being careful not to twist stitches to form a smooth join.

Ribbing:
In MC:  [K2, P2] repeat around.
Repeat ribbing round 5 more times, 6 times total.

Setup Round:
In MC:  [K2, K1fb, K1fb] repeat stitches in bracket 5 times, K2, PM, P1, K3, K1fb, K1fb, K3, P1, PM, [K2, K1fb, K1fb] repeat stitches in bracket around.

At this point there will be 98 stitches on the needles.

Begin Body Pattern starting on Round 2 of Body Pattern instructions.  Knit rounds 2-12, then knit rounds 1-12 two more times.  Knit rounds 1-9.  At this point you will have completed 7 MC stripes.  Begin Decrease Rounds.

Body Pattern:
Round 1: In MC:  K to marker, SM, P1, K10, P1, SM, K to end.
Round 2: In MC:  K to marker, SM, P1, C5B, P1, SM, K to end.
Round 3: In MC:  K to marker, SM, P1, K10, P1, SM, K to end.
Rounds 4-6:  In CC: K to marker, SM, P1, K10, P1, SM, K to end.
Rounds 7-9:  In MC: K to marker, SM, P1, K10, P1, SM, K to end.
Rounds 10-12:  In CC: K to marker, SM, P1, K10, P1, SM, K to end.

Decrease Rounds:
Round 1:   In CC: K to marker, SM, P1, K10, P1, SM, K to end
Round 2:  In CC:  [K5, K2tog] repeat stitches in bracket 4 times, K4, SM, P1, K4, K2tog, K4, P1, SM, K3, K2tog, [K5, K2tog] repeat stitches in bracket to end.
Round 3:  In CC:  K to marker, SM, P1, K9, P1, SM, K to end.
Round 4:  In MC:  [K4, K2tog] repeat stitches in bracket 4 times, K4, SM, P1, K4, K2tog, K3, P1, SM, K2, K2tog, [K2, K2tog] repeat stitches in bracket to end.
Round 5:  In MC:  K to marker, SM, P1, C4B, P1, SM, K to end.
Round 6:  In MC:  [K3, K2tog] repeat stitches in bracket 4 times, K4, SM, P1, K3, K2tog, K3, P1, SM, K1, K2tog, [K3, K2tog] repeat stitches in bracket to end.
Round 7:  In CC:  K to marker, SM, P1, K7, P1, SM, K to end.
Round 8:  In CC:  [K2, K2tog] repeat stitches in bracket 4 times, K1, K2tog, K1, SM, P1, K3, K2tog, K2, P1, SM, K2, [K2, K2tog] repeat stitches in bracket to end.
Round 9:  In CC:  [K1, K2tog] repeat stitches in bracket 4 times, K2tog, K1, SM, P1, K1, K2tog, K2tog, K1, P1, SM, K3, K2tog, [K1, K2tog] repeat stitches in bracket to end.
Round 10:  In MC:  K2tog around.
Round 11:  In MC:  K2tog around.

Cut yarn and thread through remaining stitches, draw together and tuck in end. Tuck in the rest of the ends.

And a couple of bonus pictures from back when we could go outside.  Before Cleveland became a frozen tundra and we knew about things like the Polar Vortex...

The Dude's Green Hat.
The Dude's Green Hat.The Dude's Green Hat.
 Ugh.  I miss being able to easily take them outside.  I'll just have to bury myself in hand knits until spring...

January 22, 2014

3 Things Currently Making My Life Better.

So!  It's been awhile since I did a random list.   And I have a few seconds here to blog (my daughter has dragged both the boys - the little guy in his walker - under the dining room table and is reading to them.  when the inevitable breakdown occurs this post will be over).  So how about it?

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Random picture of our frozen Lake Erie.

3 Things Currently Making My Life Better.

1.)  Food, Glorious, Food.  Ok.  I hate baby food.  I hate the baby food phase.  It's gross.  It's more things that I need to deal with.  It's generally just awful.  HOWEVER.  Now that he's transitioned to solids it's surprisingly easier.  And kindof... dare I say... fun?

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Riiiight.  Cleaning this up was super fun.
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Grilled Cheese is awesome, Mommy!
The little guy is genuinely enjoying all of the new things I'm offering him.  And only having to feed 3 kids 3 meals plus snacks a day?  SO MUCH EASIER THAN WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING.  I know we're a little way from that - he's still nursing fairly frequently - but seriously the thought of everyone in this house eating the same thing at the same time makes me want to weep with joy.
Three kids eating the same thing for lunch. THIS IS THE DREAM, PEOPLE. @verozarc #3kids #macncheese
3 kids eating the same thing for lunch at the same time.  THIS IS THE DREAM, PEOPLE.
Bottom line?  An assembly line is easier than a juggling act.  And we're so close to that I can taste it (natch).

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I am not amused by your puns, Mommy.  Now pass me some more of that sandwich.
2.)  The List.  So my husband and I rarely have a chance to watch a movie.  To have an night when we're both home, the kids are down and dishes/etc done before 9ish?  Total rarity.  And when it happens we're so excited about it that we spend a hour flipping through the netflix trying to decide what to actually watch.

And then it's too late to watch anything.

And the selections on Netflix Streaming aren't exactly the most current.  So we end up watching an old movie that we only kindof want to see and falling asleep halfway through it.  GLAMOROUS!

With Oscar season happening we realized just how very, very far behind we are on current popular culture.  So we made The List:

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The rule is that if we are going to watch a movie it MUST be one from The List.  No more spending hours deciding!  No more watching nonsense from the '90's!  We're using redbox to do it which is a new experience for me.  So far we've seen The Great Gatsby.  Which is one more current movie than we've seen in ... months?  Years, probably.

So what do you guys think?  Are we missing anything from The List?

3.)  Saturday, Art Day.  My daughter is taking a class at the Cleveland Museum of Art:

She really likes her art class! #stevensonpartyof5
She's old enough now that it's a drop-off class.  Which means that I get an hour and a half at the museum all by myself.

My daughter is taking an art class so I have a hour and a half all by myself here. So many possibilities!!! #cma #happyincle
Time without kids in one of the best cultural institutions in the country?  GLORIOUS.
Last week I went to a docent lead tour on American Landscape Painting.  It was fascinating.

Twilight in the Wilderness, 1860, by Frederic Edwin Church;  View of Schroon Mountain, Essex County, New York, After a Storm, 1838, by Thomas Cole;  Yosemite Valley, 1866, by Albert Bierstadt.

I learned so much!  And it felt so good to be engrossed in and thinking about something that had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with raising children. These "highlight tours" are free and offered basically all the time (here's a link listing them).  I can't wait for next week!
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