Star Wars 7: The Return of the Franchise

In movie news, Disney has just bought the Star Wars franchise, and announced that they will release a new film “Star Wars 7” in 2015. Hmmm. It was just a matter of time until the Disney Giant Cash Cow ended up inextricably linked to the Star Wars Giant Cash Cow. Don’t get me wrong…I am a long-time Star Wars fan (a certain annoying Jar Jar creature and the disappointing Episode 1 not withstanding). And I’m still a Disney fan after all these years. Sometimes I have a little vague guilt about this, especially when they strike me as piling on the shlock a bit too thick, but still, I have a soft spot for it all. If I were to be handed a trip to Disney World or Land right now, I would be thrilled and not have a bit of hesitation in packing my bags and counting my money for one of those ice creams with the ears. And, when I don’t feel well, there’s few things as comforting as curling up on the couch with some 7-Up and “Cinderella,” “Lady and the Tramp” or “Fantasia” in the VCR.

But, as Han Solo said about Lea: “Still,” … I still am not sure what to think. I don’t think more Star Wars movies are necessarily a bad thing. They could keep telling stories in that world for a long time if they do it well. That’s been the thing about Star Wars: in spite of the toys and mass-market tie-in crud, they were still good movies with exciting plots and fun characters. Especially the first ones (Episodes 4-6). They sort of lost their way in fart jokes and Jar Jar in Episode 1, but found it again in the love story of Aniken and Padme and the darkening mood of Episode 2. “Revenge of the Sith (Episode 3),” and “The Empire Strikes Back (Episode 5)” show what the heart of the matter is here: Star Wars is at its best when it is darkest.

Will Disney understand this and take Episodes 7-9 in a thoughtful and intriguing direction? Perhaps Luke will face the challenges of rebuilding the Jedi order while battling a remaining Sith Lord or two? Or will we get a whiny child of Lea and Han who will endlessly pod race with a fuzzy, farting Jabba-baby side-kick. It’s hard to say.  But, I admit, either way, I’ll probably be ready to buy a ticket to it in 2015. And now I want a fuzzy, farting Jabba baby stuffed toy.

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Baby Snuggle Sack

I’m back! Sorry it’s been a while between posts, but lots of things have been happening. Anyway, I’m thinking about knitting and yarn right now, since I just finished a project. It’s a Baby Snuggle Sack:

I put the lip balm in there to give a size reference. By the way, the lip balm is Desert Essence Lip Rescue Moisturizing with Jojoba Oil, and it’s my favorite lip balm of all time. It’s just a little minty and very mild and moisturizing, and it doesn’t have sunblock in it. I know putting sunblock on your lips is a good idea, but if I do it all the time, my lips peel. So, I like to have an everyday lip balm with no sunblock. Then, on days when it’s sunny, I put on sunblock. Living in rainy SW Washington, this seems to work fine.

I used Bernat Pipsqueek Yarn in Funny Bunny Print and the Knit Baby Cocoon pattern from the Bernat website. Here’s a close-up of the fabric:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, back to yarn. Red Heart Yarn has a new line of yarns in school colors. Each skein has two alternating colors: red and silver, green and yellow, green and white, etc. I looked at them, and I thought that they were sort of a neat idea, but I was disappointed when I felt them. They feel like very rough, hard acrylic that would not be very fun to knit or to wear in a hat, scarf, or anything. But, that got me to thinking: one could knit in school colors using any yarn you want. Simply choose a yarn you like that comes in the appropriate colors. Then choose a pattern (I’m especially thinking of hats and scarves for watching games outside and giving as gifts), and knit away, doing color change stripes wherever you like. Lionbrand Yarn had a short but fun blog post on this subject. They take three popular yarns, and list them by common school colors. Here’s a link to it: http://blog.lionbrand.com/2011/08/15/school-spirit-yarn-shades/
Anyway, I think a Lewis and Clark College black and orange scarf might be in my future, but first I’d like to finish up some of my works in progress!

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To the Beach!

Path to the Beach

Well, it’s been a little while since the last post here. I wish I could say it was because I’ve been doing lots of interesting things, or been on an exciting vacation, but, it’s really just been normal stuff keeping me busy. I’ve been  helping my mom out and driving her places, since she still cannot see very well. Also, my boyfriend got a very pretty new car, so we’ve been having fun driving it and showing it off to everyone.

On Thursday, we went to the beach in the new car. It was so much fun. It is a convertible, so of course, we had to have the top down all the way there. It really was great. It’s so funny: normally, I’d worry more about going around with messed up hair, but, when I know that my hair is all over the place from riding in the pretty convertible, I don’t mind much at all! I almost feel like it’s some kind of status symbol. Haha. Funny how perspective makes all the difference!

We went to Seaside, Oregon for the day, and the weather was fairly good. The temperature was great (probably around 68 degrees) with plenty of sunshine, but it was pretty windy on the beach. We had packed a picnic lunch that morning with a turkey and cheese sandwich for my boyfriend and a peanut butter and bread-and-butter-pickle sandwich for me. We also had green grapes, and I was carrying around some iced green tea I’d made that morning. Once we got to Seaside, we stopped at the Rite Aid to get hand sanitizer, a Pepsi for him, and a little bag of potato chips to split. We took our lunch down onto the sand and sat on a beach towel to eat. It was a nice picnic, but, even though we tried to keep our food covered, everything was beginning to have a crunchy dusting of sand by the time we were finishing up. Things that we didn’t try to cover, like the upwind side of the beach towel, were actually beginning to disappear under a thick layer of sand by the time we finished eating! It was still a great day at the beach, though, despite all the wind and blowing sand. It was actually pretty nice for walking. The wind kept us cool and comfortable while we took a nice long walk on the beach.

Beach Walk: Seaside

Pelicans

Beach

Later, we walked on Broadway Street and looked in the shops and art galleries a little. That was fun. I found some postcards to send or give to family, and we had fun looking at all the cute stuff. Later, we ate dinner at a little restaurant / bar and grill place we found there. It was called Big Kahuna Pub and Grill (111 Broadway, Seaside, OR, 97138). It was really good! I got a salmon Ceasar salad, and my guy got halibut fish and chips. Everything was very fresh, high quality, and tasty. My salad had great fresh Romain lettuce, fresh grated Parmesan cheese, and a marvelous chunk of cool, freshly grilled salmon which perfectly balanced the slightly salty-vinegary dressing. And, I think the croutons on it were homemade. I was happy. The bites I had of the fried halibut were great too: hot, fresh, perfectly cooked high quality fish. The prices are not cheap, especially considering you eat on paper plates, but the food itself is at least comparable to Pig and Pancake… maybe even Mo’s (other places we have been happy with before). So, for a nice fish dish from a place like that, the prices are comparable. And, I’d definitely be willing to pull out my wallet for another one of those salads in the near future…paper plate and all!

By the way, the pictures I have here are from Seaside, but they are from a trip we took there in July 2008. Sorry I don’t have any photos from this trip. In trying to remember everything I wanted to take: picnic, long pants, shorts, jacket, sunblock (very important in a convertible!) hairbrush…I forgot my camera. But, on Thursday, the beach looked very similar to how it looked in these photos from 2008. The main difference is, it was a little bit mistier on that day four years ago (I think all that wind on Thursday scoured out any mist!). Here’s one more:

Misty Seaside

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Spiced Peach Oatmeal

Some mornings just start out well, and lead on into good days. You get up, and your world seems alright. Usually, for me, these are days when I don’t have to work early; it might be a week-end or day off work, or just a late start day. This gives me time to make a nice breakfast including some good coffee or tea,  sit down by the window, notice the sun is shining, and that “it’s already a good day. ”

I put quotes around that last phrase because I was thinking of the movie Cloverfield. I love that part where he gets up early in the morning and video tapes and narrates a little as he looks around the apartment. We see his girlfriend quietly sleeping, the dim quiet apartment, the view over the grey city just beginning to be touched by pink and yellow light as the sun comes up. He says “It’s 6:42am. Beth’s dad’s place. He’s out of town. And it’s already a good day.” He says that last sentence with  such a contented, sincere sound to his voice…I love that line. I think that’s the same kind of morning I’m trying to describe.

On one such recent morning, I made Spiced Peach Oatmeal. It is inspired by Mollie Katzen’s basic oatmeal  and chai oatmeal in her book Sunlight Cafe. I use the same ratios she does, and spices sort of like in her chai oatmeal. But, I do only one serving at a time, and I cook it in the microwave with the addition of a sliced fresh peach. It was heavenly! And just the thing for a morning that’s off to a good start. In fact, it might be good enough to improve a morning that isn’t quite as great as those ones I’ve been talking about.

Spiced Peach Oatmeal and Coffee

Here’s the recipe for what I made:

  • 6 tablespoons old fashioned rolled oats (this is 1/4 plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon oat bran
  • 3/4 cup water
  • a pinch each: salt, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and turmeric
  • 1 ripe peach, sliced (okay if a little firm)
  • sweetener, if desired (white or brown sugar, honey, or even Splenda would be fine)
  • Milk, if desired

Put all ingredients, except sweetener and milk, in a medium-large microwavable bowl, stir. (If you are not sure if your bowl is big enough, put a plate under it. It’s much easier to clean up a plate than the inside of your microwave…believe me I know this). Microwave on high for about 3 minutes (with my microwave, I use the setting for 1/2 cup of oatmeal. This cooks it for 3 minutes and 10 seconds, and it comes out great). What you want is for it to get hot and then boil for about the last 10 to 15 seconds. This is when you will find out if your bowl is the right size or not. When it’s done, it will be very hot and steamy (use hot pads to take it out of the microwave). Let it sit until it is cool enough to eat (it might seem a little thin at first, but it will thicken as it stands). Add sweetener and milk to taste, if desired.

Spiced Peach Oatmeal

By the way, in case you couldn’t guess, I really liked Cloverfield, and I would definitely recommend it if you are into monster movies. Even if you’re not normally into monster movies, it might be worth a try, since it is pretty unique and good. I loved how real it seemed: one minute everyone is going about their lives, the next, they are trying to understand what big scary thing is tearing apart their city. (There’s a moment when Beth sees the monster and asks “What is that?” Hud responds “It’s a terrible thing.” Then, they see something else, and she says “Oh my God! What is that?” Hud says “I don’t know! Something else! Also terrible.” I always enjoy that line, and have to giggle at it. That’s one thing I like about Cloverfield: it’s pretty scary and a little gory, but it also has some fun and humorous moments. It’s probably not for everyone, but, if you like scary or adventure  movies, it might be worth giving it a try.

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Chocolatey Fudgy Brownies

July 4th was a good day. I slept in a bit, then had a nice talk on the phone with my mom while mixing up brownies! Here’s what they looked like after baking:

The recipe is “Classic Fudge-Walnut Brownies” from the September 2011 issue of Cooking Light Magazine. I pretty much made the recipe as written; except instead of the bittersweet chocolate chunks, I used Nestle Toll House Dark Chocolate Morsels. Oh, my goodness! These are some seriously chocolatey brownies! And very fudgy and great texture. Well, maybe a little bit on the soft crumbly side, but it didn’t slow anyone down.

I think they were a little soft and crumbly because they were barely cooked through. But, this just made them fudgy, and yummy. I had sort of an adventure getting them cooked, though. The recipe says to use a 9-inch square metal baking pan. I don’t have one of those, so, I used a square Corningware ceramic casserole that is about 9 inches across. Then, I checked them after 22 minutes like the recipe said. Well, they were nowhere close to done because I’d forgotten that ceramic doesn’t cook things like metal, so they needed quite a bit more time. Plus, my oven tends to run a little cool, so when I had it set at 350-degrees Fahrenheit, I was getting something closer to 340 degrees. But, I was afraid I would overcook the brownies, and they would be dry and chewy, not fudgy (I sort of have a history of doing that with brownies). So, I think I stuck a toothpick in these every five minutes for twenty minutes after the first 22 minutes! Good grief! I was beginning to feel like the OCD Cook! But, it paid off. They were really nicely done. Maybe a little tiny bit doughy, but not much…really just enough to make them fudgy like everyone really wants anyway. I took them to the pot-luck barbeque at our friends’ house, and only brought two little ones home.

The recipe says to cut these brownies into 20 pieces, and surprisingly enough, I think I agree. They are so chocolaty and dense and rich with chocolate chunks and walnuts, they are almost close to chocolate fudge or truffles. They’re still brownies, but they are definitely headed in the truffle direction. Also, since I am allergic to chocolate, I have to eat them in small quantities. When I’m going to eat a little chocolate, though, these will be a recipe to keep around for sure.

Sorry it’s kind of blurry. I’m only including it because it shows the fudgy texture…in spite of the blur!

Here’s one more picture:

The rest of the 4th was good too. I got in our friends’ new above ground pool (cold, but fun!), hung out, visited, ate a barbequed hot dog, and had a great time. Later, we set off little fireworks and lit sparklers while watching the bigger fireworks that other people in the neighborhood lit off. I wouldn’t do those bigger ones myself, but they were fun to watch! We got a pretty good show from right here in our neighborhood. Plus, Summer has finally arrived here! At last, it was sunny and warm. Hope your 4th was good too! 🙂

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A New Page!

I’ve added a new page to the blog! It’s right under the header picture at the top of the page, and it’s called When, what, where? (Notes). I’m going to use it for quick notes about what each blog post contains. I think it’ll be useful for me as a reference of things I’ve talked about in the past, and I’ll also use it to post links and information that might be useful to others. So, if you want more information about something I talk about, or wonder when I talked about something, check the When, what, where? page. If you still have questions, please use the comments section to ask…I’ll see what I can do! 

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The Blue and Green Sleeveless Cardigan

In my first post, “Starting,” on September 12, 2011, I talked about the Blue and Green Sleeveless Cardigan I’m knitting. Here’s a link to that post: https://kebbycrafts.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/starting/ In it, I told all about the yarn and the pattern, and finished by saying I would post a picture of it soon. Well, I never got around to it, so, here’s how the back piece used to look:

My boyfriend said it reminded him of some kind of animal pelt at this point.

Next, I did front pieces and sewed them onto the back. Then, I started the seed stitch trim around the neck and sides of the fronts:

Blue and Green Sleeveless Cardigan in process.

The neck and front trim looks kind of scrunched here because it’s still on the circular needle.

 

Blue and Green Sleeveless Cardigan Shoulder.

I’m fairly happy with how the shoulder seams came out on this, but I still hope I’ll get a little better at them with practice.

 

It’s going pretty well. My only complaint right now is that it’s kind of boring going back and forth across all that seed stitch trim. But, it’s a good project for working on while I’m watching T.V., talking, or riding in the car. It’s actually beginning to look like a cardigan, though, so that makes it more inspiring.

I think it’s going to be sort of a mid-season piece; something I will mostly wear in the Spring or Autumn. I guess that’s how it’s intended too, since it was published in the Fall 2009 issue of Vogue Knitting. I don’t think I’m going to get it done in time to wear before the weather gets warm this Summer, but I’m hoping to be able to wear it by the time it starts getting cool again at the end of Summer. Also, being nearly sleeveless (technically it’s sleeveless; the dolman shaping plus the trim around the arm holes hints at sleeves to me), it might be a good Summer sweater for what I call “severely air conditioned” buildings. There aren’t too many of these in my medium sized town, but there are a few. Certain grocery stores, restaurants, and movie theaters are kept so cool in the Summertime that I want to put on a sweater when I go in; even if I take it off again when I go outside. When we have visited Las Vegas in the Summer, I always wanted to have a light sweater with me. It’s so hot in the Summer there, I’d wear a tank top and light skirt, but when I’d go in the casinos, I’d freeze if I didn’t have some kind of sweater. I’d joke that it seemed backward to put on one’s sweater to go inside and take it off to go outside. So, maybe I can get that sleeveless sweater done in time for some Summer sweater wear too….we’ll see!

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