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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A dress for Hanna's baby

I was barely 22, just out of college and working in a newspaper bureau in Milford, Conn. I was so excited to be done with term papers and finals, so thrilled to have a reporting job in a bad economy. I took my first apartment sight-unseen, the attic of a red-brick office building near Yale, just one floor above a psychotherapy waiting room. The attic was boiling in the summer, freezing in the winter, and I couldn't fully stand up in parts of it. I slept on a mattress on the floor of a small crawl space. But it was mine, all mine.

For the first few months, I ignored the fact that I didn't know a soul in Connecticut. I would go to the gym, watch movies by myself at the York Square Cinema, wander around festivals on the numerous town greens in the area. And I attended every last Milford planning and zoning board meeting, which resulted in maybe three interesting articles.

I spent 12 weekends completely alone, not that I was counting.

Then Hanna was hired. She was 22 like me, just out of school like me, and didn't have a prayer -- I decided straight away that she was going to be my friend. Brash and tall and blonde, it's not a stretch to say she was kind of a miracle. Hanna got me out of my little attic apartment, introduced me to other young people, invited me to Thanksgiving with her family and saved me from a blind date so abysmal and disturbing that I blocked it out of my mind for several years.

We moved to a more normal apartment a few blocks away with access to a tar roof where we could drink Corona and sun ourselves. From our kitchen, with its chandelier straight out of a saloon, we could wave at our friends in the next building over. We ate dinner together most nights and sometimes did Tae Bo. (It was 1999, after all). And we walked to Anna Liffeys or Christopher Martins, where we are no longer welcome back. We had just one fight -- she didn't like that turned the water on and off while I did dishes.

Hanna is pregnant with her first baby, a little girl due on my birthday. She asked for something extremely girly and white, practicality be damned. So I made her this baby dress in Patons cotton from a Spiders yarn swap.

I'm not sure if you can see the waist gathering here, but it's kind of cute.

And I'm lying a little, since it's really crocheted by Carrie.

Hanna and a baby. This is going to take some getting used to.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

They said it couldn't be done.

Actually, they said it shouldn't be done. By they, I'm referring to everyone I know. And by it, I'm talking about knitting shawls for my wedding attendants.

I know, I know. It's a lot of work, I'm going to resent it, I'll be stuck weaving in ends the night before my nuptials. But I'm still months away, and I really, really think I'd regret not giving my friends a handmade gift. It's been fun thinking about them as I knit and imagining them wearing the shawls as we take a few pictures beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Maybe with a pretty brooch?

*(I should add that I have four attendants -- if this were a Southern wedding with 8 gals, I'd give earrings instead!)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

And now for something completely different

A lot of babies are coming into the world, and therefore there's a lot of secret knitting in my world. And we all know that secret knitting is not good for blogging. All I'm at liberty to say is that several things are being knit on several pairs of needles with several skeins yarn.

So we'll discuss my second favorite topic: Leeks! I'm not sure where leeks have been all of my life, but now I'm smitten. So savory and delicious (as are most things coated in butter). I adore leeks so much that my mom bought me a special leek plate for Christmas. I think it's actually designed for asparagus, but whatever.

Besides just cooking them up with a few shallots, I've stumbled upon a few other leek recipes in recent weeks. I cooked a ludicrously rich Easter dinner that included Martha Stewart's scalloped potatoes with leeks. Oh, the gruyere!

We did not weigh ourselves the next day.

So this weekend, the leek-mania continued as we visited my family in Pennsylvania for a much-needed vacation. It was terribly relaxing, apart from my father's decision to empty the dishwasher at 7 a.m. and dump all of the utensils on the kitchen table.

Mom greeted us Sunday morning with a scrumptious cheddar and leek strata. I don't know the origins of this recipe, but it has multiplied all over the internet (with each incarnation misspelling the word "garlic.") But don't let the recipe's anonymity scare you off -- this strata was a winner. My dad thought it needed sausage, but I loved the taste and texture just fine.

Anyone else out there a leek fan? Any recipes to share with me?