Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Thesis Completion: Just the Beginning

I defended my thesis yesterday. What that means? I can graduate. What it doesn't mean? That my book is done. It needs a few more edits and then its time to start (gulp) looking for an agent, farming out chapters, and possibly applying for book contests, depending on how things go.

I look back at where I was four years ago, when Rane told me about my current program and I applied, and I can't believe where I am. I was struggling to write stories that exceeded five pages then, and I have to really fight to cut enough words to get a short-short below five pages now. It's a good place I'm in, but I'm really still just starting. With talent and a bit of luck, maybe I can push myself the rest of the way.

But for now, at least, I'm in celebration mode. Last night, the man and I went for happy hour at Felice's, a restaurant located in what was once a residence. The bar is on the second floor and has martinis called things like "You can call me Al." The mood music: all the golden oldies my dad loves best. The veggie taco was to die for. It contained, wait for it, barbequed black beans. Great atmosphere. Excellent food. And an impressive bartender. I recommend the place.

This weekend, I'll be tackling more wedding details: talking to the musician, making an appointment to visit the seamstress who will be altering my dress, and knitting more of the veil. It's coming along nicely.

On monday, I hunker down with my thesis committee's comments and start the next round of edits. Next stop, agents.

Friday, March 23, 2012

When a knitter plans a wedding.

My first thought, when I began tackling the wedding plans was this: could I knit the dress? This insanity quickly cooled to a much more reasonable knitting of the veil. Then the hunt began.

I've never knitted lace before, so I was rather anxious to pick just the right pattern, one that would be interesting enough without becoming too difficult for a first time effort. I searched through book after book, page after ravelry page of anything that popped up under the restrictions of "knitting" and "free" and "lace." Finally, it hit me. I'd use one of the earliest patterns I found, a circular shawl pattern meant to replicate a chrysanthemum's petals. 

I'm deconstructing the circular and knitting it back and forth on size eleven wooden needles I inherited from my soon-to-be grandmother-in-law using sport-weight yarn instead of lace-weight. So far I'm happy with the progress. It looks a little wild, but with every few rows, it looks less like the random distribution of cobweb and more like a veil.

Lace. Is it mesmerizing? Not really. Do I get why so many knitters are enthralled with it. Maybe a little. But with every stitch, I'm a little closer to being married, a little nearer to having my family considered complete in the legal sense. And a little closer to having the wedding I didn't get the chance to have the first time around. Not a big thing, just a small, simple homemade affair, something I think this veil will symbolize pretty well. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some knitting to do.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Giving up the kitchen reigns.

I can't do everything. There, I said it. I understand it. I accept it. But you know what? I don't want to give up anything either. It's been a hard go of it. I had to bust my butt to finish my thesis ahead of my previous schedule, which I succeeded at. During thesis madness, of course, there was no time for anything. There was work and there was thesis. Sometimes, I saw the light of day. You know, walking from my car to a building or from a building to my car.

Things have calmed a bit, though I feel like I need to be constantly active as I wait for my body's anxiety-state to return to equilibrium. I've been knitting. I've been writing and reading. I've been devastated that PBS replaced my knitting show on wednesdays and sundays with some quilting show. I've been working a lot and making money, which is good, though I don't have a lot of time to spend it, which is good too I suppose. But I miss grocery shopping with my man on tuesdays (which was usually my day off from classes during pre-thesis-hours MFA) and I miss practicing my guitar every day. I miss making food in my kitchen on a frequent basis.

In the time since my last food blog, I have made the following meals:
1. A random chinese stir fry with carrots, broccoli, the tofu my man had already baked, the rice my man had already cooked, and water chestnuts.

2. Spaghetti and meatballs with homemade sauce and frozen meatless meatballs
3... no that's about it.

Meawhile, the man has taken over the kitchen duties. This is no small feat for a carnivore to do when there is a vegetarian in the household, but he's done a pretty stellar job. Last night, for example, he made Moussaka:

Apparently the top there isn't cheese but a mix of egg and yogurt. It was even tasty reheated for lunch this afternoon.

Today, it was the boy's picking night. He picked pizza. By the time I got home, my man had already made the dough (using my favorite recipe and the whole white wheat flour). Usually I hate making the dough, but now that I don't have time to, I miss it. He forgot to buy the toppings, though, so I opted to walk down to the corner grocery town (the pluses of city life are few but this is one of them). It was late spring weather when spring has only just started. The sun was shining, the magnolia trees were in bloom, and no random street hustler tried to sell me anything or beg me for money the entire walk, there and back.

While at the store, I went a little overboard. I picked up the carrots, tomato, and pepper that I came for, but spring has sprung in the supermarket too. The strawberries looked perfect. The zucchini is back in season and looking like warm-weather zucchini instead of that wrinkley way it looks when they sell it in the winter. The portobella mushroom caps were on sale. And because I was getting strawberries, I figured, what the hey? I picked up some shortcake and heavy whipping cream. Sure, I didn't have time to bake shortcake fresh, but the little shells worked out fine. Instead, I put a little energy (and not too much extra time) into making fresh whipped cream.

To make whipped cream:
In a large bowl, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Add a bit of vanilla to taste and about a teaspoon of powdered sugar for every 1/2 cup, more if you want it sugary.

The best shortcake is the first shortcake of the season. 

It's not much, but I made something in that kitchen. It's a start.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Finishing that Thesis

April first. That is my deadline. Twelve chapters, one big revision. One month. And only my evenings are free for writing fiction. My days are for tech writing. I have four chapters done so far.

The thing is, as a mom who has been in college for the entire duration of her son's life, I have gotten really really good at scheduling. I list and I plan and I scheme out my days, to the hour if necessary. I have to, I always have, so I have a schedule in place.

I'll admit, though, that my schedules don't always pan out when it comes to writing. My process is at least fifty percent inspiration, and if it's not working, nothing I write is worth saving. Tonight is one of those nights.

There's so much work left to do and a very limited amount of time, but there's nothing I can do about it tonight. And I am okay with that. For now. I have a few nonfunctioning nights scheduled into my plan.