Knit: Vineyard Cables

The Hubby's birthday socks!

Vineyard Cables
Pattern | Boyfriend Socks by Alice Bell
Yarn | The Knittery 4 ply Sock: Merino in Vineyard
Needles | 2.75mm circular needles

One of the perils about knitting one sock at a time is that if you put one side in hibernation and you happened to make modifications to it without making a note, you tend to forget all about it. When I picked up the second side, I discovered just how bad the consequences can get. While it’s nothing drastic like one foot being shorter than the other, the slightly shorter leg portion resulted in me having to add more length to the cuff. This coupled together with the fact that I forgot how to do a short row heel AND not bother to check/refer to my usual reference meant that the second sock didn’t look all that great. No holes, thankfully.

Anyway, the sock was knitted toe up using the figure 8 cast on and I ended it with the EZ sewn bind off with a 1×1 rib for the cuff. I might go back to my old way of casting on for the toes – the figure 8 cast on was quite fiddly to work with and I didn’t appreciate having to redo the toe at least once for the second sock; too loose and all. It was also my first pair on two circular needles, which made it fun to knit on the train.

This pair got me all fired up to work on socks again, so much so that I decided to stock up on DPNs!!! And me, someone who suffers from SSS – Second Sock Syndrome! Bad idea. So looking at the issues I had with this, I might as well stock to doing two socks at a time on two circulars.

O’well, at least the hubby appreciates it…even though it’s two years late plus it beats getting him football gifts (he’s more of a rugby man!).

The Hubby's birthday socks!

Blueberry & strawberry cream cheese pound cake

Blueberry & strawberry cream cheese pound cake

This is a variation of my previous recipe which involves some tweaks to the baking method, timing and such. This time, the cake turned out amazingly moist and fluffy, thanks to moving the trays between the lower and upper levels of the oven. The berries gives it a “fresh” feel and taste, making it great for breakfast or tea!

Blueberry & strawberry cream cheese pound cake
Adapted from my own recipe and the Cream Cheese Pound Cake recipe here

Ingredients

170 gms unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 gms cream cheese, at room temperature
Slightly less than 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh blueberries (whole) & strawberries (roughly diced) – about 100-150gms

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a 7 inch round pan with baking paper. Alternately, you can use a loaf pan.
  2. Remove three eggs from the fridge and place aside – eggs should be used at room temperature and not fresh out of the fridge. Do the same with the butter and cream cheese – they should be slightly soft to the touch when ready.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and sugar on medium speed until smooth or for 5 minutes before adding in the eggs one by one. Mix well.
  5. Gradually add in the flour and half of the fruit mix – if you can, mix by hand to avoid gluten formation. This will give you a nice fluffy cake.
  6. When ready, pour the batter into the pan and lightly shake it to even out the top. Sprinkle the remaining fruit over the top and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes (first 35 minutes in the center, next 10-15 minutes in a lower rack and then the remaining time in the center again) or until the top is golden brown and the insides cooked – test using a toothpick (it should come out clean if cooked).
  7. Serve as is warm or with some coffee/tea. Freeze the remaining leftovers and if need, rebake covered to warm up or warm up in the microwave (in a microwaveable container).

Day 3 so far…

My typical day now starts at 630am.

Since Nil isn’t around, I’m up about 10 mins earlier and spent a good 15 minutes preparing her food and diaper bag. Mental reminders are typically on what not to forget – my pass, cellphone, and watch. Then there is the matter of preparing my breakfast – two multigrain slices with some low-fat turkey breast and a slice of Edam cheese. I might leave some fruit at the office although there is a fruit vending machine that churns out very yummy guava and equally juicy watermelon cup.

After a quick shower, I’m out of the house with a very sleepy Eva and her Baba in tow. We reach the babysitters at 710am and after the usual kisses and goodbyes – this morning was hilarious coz she thought I was going for a walk (if only) – I’m off to take my train to work. The journey takes about 35 minutes or less so I have to be in the train by 720am if I want to get into work early. The past few days have been kind. I’ve either been offered seating or received one courtesy of those exiting at a number of stops so I’ve managed to get some knitting done – Nil’s second sock finally has something that resembles a toe.

By the time I reach my destination, it’s already 8am and today, it was bright. Too bright – luckily for my Transition specs. Yesssss, I got some yummy babies thanks to a subsidy offered by my office medical policy. So far, I’ve loving the lenses but not the frame. Very boring – I miss my “fleur” frames. O’well, I guess you can’t have everything.

Anyway, tonight will see me picking Eva up just after 630pm and reaching home before 7pm. If I’m in luck, I’ll cook up something for the both of us, otherwise it’s just homecooked stuff for Eva and some takeaway for me. Might get some noodles to make a simple fishball-tofu noodle soup later during lunch. Then it’s off to the shower for Eva, some reading/play time before she hits the sack. That should be around 8-830pm and after that, I’ve to play catch up with the day’s dirty diaper laundry as well as the clean diaper laundry and my knitting – usually in front of some Law & Order episode or a movie, depending on my mood. If I have extra time, I’ll work on some morgan dollars for sale reviews and such. The night will then end before 11pm before the routine starts all over again the next day.

Boring aye?

Life as a full time working mother

I must be clear – I have always, always…from the moment I discovered that I was pregnant, considered myself a mother first before anything else. To me, my full time job is as a mother and not a worker. But y’d think that after one year of life as a working mother, I’d be fine with it – fine with the fact that my daughter spends most of her waking hours with another person, fine with the fact that I don’t and won’t have much control of what she picks up or learns from that person…

But no.

This week, my office moved and in a way, so did I. I went from spending twenty minutes travelling to and fro work to at least a good forty minutes. This morning, I left the house before Eva woke up. I watch her sleep, carress the hair off her face as she stirred a little and went back to sleeping again. And then I said goodbye, somewhat reluctantly. Chances are for the evenings, I’ll be back a good thirty minutes later. Many of my peers seem to be accepting of such a change but me? I actually felt miserable, so miserable that I spend three nights last week crying and wishing that I could be a stay-at-home mum (SAHM) again. I still feel miserable.

I really hate to accept the fact that my home is now like a hotel more than a home to my daughter, that I only spend less than 35 hours a week with her but more at the office…

Many people tell me that my daughter will still know who I am – the mother – and that sooner or later, I have to cut the apron strings but really, this has precious little to do with that. It has everything to do with how *I* see motherhood and parenting. No offense intended to many parents out there – we have to deal with our own little unique circumstances. For me, I want to be a proactive mother who is there every step of the way in my child’s formative years. To me, the early years are important in establishing not just good eating habits but also strength in character and personality. I don’t like to leave things to “fate” or “they’ll learn it as they get older” – to me, that’s just not good enough.

Sadly, in our culture here, we don’t really support proactive parenting – flexible working hours for industries like mine are not common so lets not even talking about things like coming to work three days in a week. The excuse is that people won’t be productive or worse, some people might abuse the system. We don’t provide enough incentive or benefits to parents, and when we do, single people complain that they are being left out. Honestly, do you think parenthood is the same as being single? How many parents out there can profess to be able to do anything and everything they like without a care in the world or come back in the wee hours of the morning every day?

I haven’t been able to share this openly until now because of existing stereotypical beliefs about the SAHM – that they are uneducated, ignorant, out of touch with the world, are sponging off their spouses, living a life of luxury which is typical of a tai tai and so forth. When I went back to work, the same people try to get me to pass off my duties as a parent to them with the excuse that this is the Asian way of parenting – being a weekend parent, “it’s the duty of the grandmother to take care of the grandchild full time”, so forth. Being a weekend parent, having your parents take care of your child, those are not the Asian way of parenting. It’s just what some people think parenting should be. I wish people didn’t confuse cultural traditions with their own personal beliefs or practices.

For now, I’ll just have to bear with things – and people say that going back to work is fun. Heh.

Tour de Fleece, here I come!

Pic courtesy of JulieSpins

These are new stash additions – from JulieSpins and Hedgehog Fibres – to make up for the ones I plan to use up for Tour de Fleece, an annual spinning event that mimics the Tour de France. It’ll be my first time being part of the Tour and I’ve joined two teams – one for JulieSpins and another just for Rookies. Both teams don’t really have any rules save to use JulieSpins’ fibers for the Tour (which makes sense). So at the end of the day, it’s up to us to set our own goals and strive to achieve them. Some people take the opportunity to work on their spinning and spin up sweater quantities. Others opt for spinning challenging fibers or fibers that they have never worked with.

Pic courtesy of Hedgehog Fibres

I haven’t really thought about what I’d like to do except spin these braids up into the following weights:

  • JulieSpins Roving: 60% SW Merino, 30% Bamboo, 10% Nylon (Blue-Eyed Susan in 3 ply fingering)
  • JulieSpins Roving: 85% Humbug BFL, 15% Silk (Whole Grains in 2 ply laceweight)
  • JulieSpins Roving: Wensleydale (Raisin in either 2 ply or single ply laceweight)

If I have extra time, I might add another braid or two to the list – I seriously need to destash and make room for more yummy goodies. No, selling them is not an option! In the meantime, let me continue on a roll with my knitting and start working on possible first birthday invitations – if we ever get around to having a party. Heh.

Pic courtesy of Hedgehog Fibres