Monday, December 13, 2010

Wake me when it's over

For this post, I'm breaking my own rule about keeping it short. There's no way to be brief when you're talking about the holidays, and almost getting beaten up by a pissed off crazy guy, so here you go...

I'm not exactly at my best this time of year. It would help if I were an organized type of person, but I'm only half-assed organized on a good day, and that doesn't feed the bulldog during the holidays. From about the middle of November on, clean underwear is about the best it's going to get. I know this about me. And if I get through the holiday season without a mental breakdown, it's all good.

Still, every year I do the same thing--I make these grandiose plans: to shop and mail early; make my own holiday cards and actually mail them before Groundhog Day; bake lots of cookies; craft multitudes of handmade gifts; host a holiday party or two; make donations to the charities I support. I have accomplished exactly one of these things. Happily, the donations have been made and that makes me feel somewhat better. Somewhat.

I did manage some hand-knitted gifts for the most special people on my list--my kids and my mom. Actually, I was surprised at how many I did manage to knit, but I have a couple more I really want to make--some booties and a sweater for Tilly, and a hat for DH. At least I got some gifts in the mail today. Tomorrow, I'll tackle the cards. Yeah, I crack myself up. I'm hoping they don't raise the postage rates before I actually mail the cards. Higher postage rates would put a serious dent in the Etsy shop I just opened. I have actually made a sale, by the way, and I'm thrilled about that, but there's a lot more work to be done. Why I chose to do it now, I have no clue. Like I need more pressure during the damn holiday.

Don't get me wrong, I have some holiday spirit in me and I don't mean chardonnay. Last week a guy on a bike called me a f*cking bitch and I'm pretty sure he was going to pound me into the sidewalk had we not been next to a street with lots of traffic and witnesses, all because I reminded him that bikers are supposed to give pedestrians a warning when they pass them, especially when it's on a sidewalk. Especially when there's a perfectly good bike lane right next to that sidewalk. I'm guessing I was pretty close to a pounding because of all the screaming and spitting he was doing, but when he threw his bike down and stomped toward me, my main concern was the three dogs I was walking and my new sunglasses. See, I really like these sunglasses, and two of the dogs belong to my bff (the other was Sophie), so as he came closer, I widened my stance, pushed the sunglasses firmly onto my face, and looked to see if there were any cars coming that I could flag down. And here's the odd part--I was not scared at all. I've never seen a grown sober man spit so much while screaming and this absolutely fascinated me. Was he aware that he spewing spit like a freakin' volcano? Was he embarrassed about it? How did he know that I actually am a bitch? A lot of crazy stuff was going through my head but fear wasn't one of them. 

Maybe it was my new HRT patch making me stupid brave. (That is a whole other post, I promise.) At any rate, the guy took one look at this middle aged woman wearing a hot pair of sunglasses and a look of resolve, turned around, picked up his bike and left. As he rode off I told him to be careful not to fall, since he wasn't wearing a helmet. When he yelled "f*ck you lady," I yelled back, "Merry Christmas!" then I walked home. And really, I was mad for about a minute, and the holiday spirit I was bound and determined to hang on to lasted until today, when I finally had to pull up my clean big girl underwear and mail my Christmas gifts before I ended up having to call them New Year's gifts. Or Valentines. Or April Fools gifts. Apparently, I've got the ignore-crazy-bikers strength patch. I'm thinking I need to step up to the get-through-the-holiday-season-without-getting-committed strength patch.

Happy holidays, everybody!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Knitting with silk--or not.

I tried, I really did. Several stitch patterns, several gauges, over an entire day--and I just can't make it happen. I wanted to love this yarn--I dyed it at Knot Hysteria last year--but I just can't make myself love knitting with 100% silk.

Silk  One thing I can pass on about knitting with silk yarn--don't try to wind it on a ball winder. Experts say it will slip off the cake and get stuck in the gears of your ball winder. I hate when that happens! For once, I listened to someone who knows more than I do (that would be everybody who's ever knitted with silk yarn).

The photo of the ball and swatch is actually closer to the true colors--soft silvery gray and pink.

On a brighter note, my Garden Patch Hats are featured in an Etsy Treasury today. I'm thrilled and honored! Here are the linkies.

Check out Etsy, if you haven't already. It's fabulous, and not just because I have a shop there.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My new Thanksgiving short-cut: Kosher turkey!

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to everybody. Even though my Thanksgiving food prep time and amounts were drastically cut this year, I was still too lazy slammed to blog.

For the past few years, I've been cooking my turkey on our gas grill. I love this method. The turkey always turns out juicy and delicious but you really do have to brine it, otherwise you get sawdust turkey. Until now. Since I forgot to put myself on the list for an organic turkey at Vitamin Cottage, I ended up going to Whole Foods, which is where I found the kosher turkey. Oy vey, this bird was pricey, but so worth it! It's kinda sorta already brined via the way it's slaughtered and cleaned. I suppose you could go ahead and brine it, but I was afraid it would end up with an ankle-swelling amount of salt, so I took a chance and grilled it as-is--I just slathered this bad boy in lots of oil, stuck some chunky mirepoix inside and let the magic of the grill take over. We were not disappointed.

Along side the turkey, I served mashed potatoes, because you have to, you just have to. Also, roasted beets, carrots and parsnips, and my world famous dressing. It's got potato bread croutons, crumbled corn bread, toasted pecans, and dried chanterelles among other things. I usually add some sausage, but in an effort to make the meal less of a heart attack-inducing event I skipped it and it was just fine. I also didn't make any bread, because I was finally able to convince myself that dressing IS bread. No need for another one.

Instead of pie (OMG, never thought I'd ever use that phrase) I served this:

I crumbled a few gingersnaps to layer a la parfait-style, sprinkled on a few toasted pecan pieces, and topped it with waaaay less whipped cream than what the recipe called for. Oh yeah. THIS is a keeper.

You may have noticed the Etsy thingie at the top right-hand corner of this blog. I am now officially obliged to knit my fingers to the bone in the hopes of actually making a little money off my craft. Please visit my Etsy page if you get a chance. Sometime soon I will offer a couple of the patterns here and on Ravelry. I'm arranging for a test knitter now and will have the patterns once-overed by a tech editor. That should take care of ANY profit I make on Etsy. Gotta love capitalism!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pimp my cast-on!

Knitters--when's the last time you used a cast-on other than your go-to, can do it with your eyes closed cast-on? For me, that would be the long-tail cast-on. I worked damn hard to learn the thing, and I really can do it with my eyes closed, but seriously, is that a good enough reason to start every knitted project with a long-tail cast-on? That's like drinking nothing but chardonnay, no matter what you're eating. Think of how much better that 7-11 burrito would taste with a gutsy Cabernet instead. Branch out, people!

Last year I took a class from Ann Budd. It was all about casting on and binding off, and nothing but. Here's the binder of samples we put together in class:

Some of the cast-ons are pretty intense, and my sampler binder isn't always enough help. In those cases, I resort to Youtube videos, Ravelry, and blogs. I don't even want to think about knitting without them. I know some people think they're a crutch, but I wasn't born with a silver cable needle in my mouth. I'll take help from wherever I can get it. I also have a plethora of books that I really need to make better use of. I don't spend enough time just paging through them, picking up ideas and inspiration.

This is a ribbing that I cast on using a tubular crochet cast-on. I'm not talking about crocheting a chain and picking up the bumps for a provisional cast-on. This one is way more intense, but as you can see, it makes a very tailored edge, and I think well worth the extra time and work.

Here's the best link I've found for this particular cast-on. Romi, you are a genius! I'm promising myself that my next pair of cuff down socks is going to start with this cast-on. Cast-ons like this take your knitting to the next level. There's nothing wrong with the good old long-tail, and there are still plenty of times when it's appropriate, but sometimes you just have to walk on the wild side.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Pasta with butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, and
hazelnut brown butter

I recently had lunch with a group of food bloggers. Yeah, I know. Crazy. It could have been intimidating--these are accomplished with-it women and trust me, they all have it going on food-wise. But I really had a great time. Good food, good company. How can you go wrong? Plus, one of them baked me a cake. And I got a parking spot right in front of the restaurant! Took me an hour and a half to figure out how to get the parking kiosk thingie to spit out a ticket, but at least I didn't end up putting an entire block's worth of parking on my credit card. I hope.

We introduced ourselves to each other (some of us had never met) and we talked about our blogs--how long we'd been blogging, what got us started, where we saw it all going. Andrea's blog has a food anthropology vibe and a delicious-sounding recipe for cranberry ketchup that I WILL make for Thanksgiving. Lea Ann has been featured in Cook Eat Share, and has a great curry recipe on her blog right now. Carter is brilliant and funny and promised me some of her spiced bourbon. Last but not least, Kirsten, who organized the lunch and can bake a cake (and anything else) like nobody's business.

Our blogs and lives are very different from each other's but we agreed on one thing: Giada De Laurentiis can't possibly eat her own food. My lunch mates also think her boobs are man-made, but since I'm mammarily challenged and have no frame of reference, I vote they're real.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

War and Peace, JelliDonut-style

I'm not into writing long blog posts. Unless you're one of "the names," your missive will just get a dismissive once-over, and all the blood, sweat and tears will be wasted. Not that I'd blame you--if I can barely find the time to write a blog post, why the hell would I expect you to have the time to read War and Peace à la JelliDonut? To that end, here's the Reader's Digest version of why I've been a little scarce in these parts lately.

"I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to worry."

"I'll never get into college, and I'll never be a doctor, and I'll end up homeless and a failure!"

"We can get you in next month."

"You ARE going to chaperon, aren't you?"

But wait! There's more!

I've been knitting. And I've actually FINISHED things, many things, specifically, many hats. ('Many' being a relative term, I expect those of you who knit in their sleep not to laugh. You know who you are and I know where you live.)

What am I going to do with all these hats? Stay tuned...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday is for Friends

It would be easy enough to turn into a hermit. Some days I feel pretty close to it, but if you look up the definition, being a hermit isn't such a bad thing, what with the introspective aspect and all. If you're into tarot cards, here's what the Hermit is about. Makes it sounds a little less mental, doesn't it?

I've fought the tendency--it's the reason I started playing tennis again, as opposed to golf. But then, things like blogging, knitting, and cooking, just to name a few of my current obsessions, can pretty much be done in complete solitude, and I don't plan on giving those up any time soon.

But here's the thing--no matter how deeply I get into my passions, I always end up wanting to share them. On the face of it blogging, knitting, cooking, etc., sound like things that would isolate a person, but really, they're just the opposite. Who blogs strictly for themselves? What knitter doesn't knit for others? I have exactly zero "cooking for one" cookbooks. You get the idea.

As much as I like showing off sharing the things I love to do, at times I have to be blasted out of my cocoon with a stick of dynamite. Or at least a persistent nudge. I've had a lot of un-ignorable nudges lately, and I appreciate them very much--comments on this blog, emails, invitations. I've tried to reciprocate with comments of my own, return emails, little gifts. I don't know if any of them matter to the recipients, but in a way, it's not for them; it's for me. This hermit likes being connected and likes giving, as long as I don't come off as a stalker.

Friends matter. Giving to them and giving of them matters. It feels good for everybody. Or should if there's no strings attached. And that brings up the whole expectations thing, which is another blog post for another day.

Have a great weekend, Friends, and make time for blogging, knitting, cooking, reading, and most of all, your friends.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This is why I ♥

Tell me this is not the coolest slipcover EVER. Must be really expensive to mail stuff from South Africa, however. Ouch.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two-trick Pony

It's not all knit all the time. Today we got our first snowfall, puny as it was, and to celebrate I made my own snowflakes.

These weren't exactly a slam dunk, I won't lie. I had most of the tools I needed, except for a rubber mallet. O.K., so one little lie--somewhere in this house, there is a rubber mallet. Its whereabouts, however, elude me, so I bought another one. This one will be hidden and it will take bamboo shoots under my fingernails and hot sauce in my eyes to get me to tell where I'll hide it. And perhaps a teeny second little lie--my round nose pliers suck, so I bought a better pair. You can barely bend a marshmallow with the old ones, and as we all know, good tools make good crafts. Oh yeah. Beads. Maybe a few more jumped into the cart. So except for those things, I had everything I needed to make these ornaments.

The wire frames are pretty stiff, so making the loops at the end of each spoke is kind of tough. The beads can be pricey, but I got them on sale, so that helped. I was pretty big into jewelry making in the past, so my stash was, um, adequate. It was fun to sort through the boxes, rediscover what I have and make plans for other pieces.

These snowflakes are destined to be gifts, except for the first one I made, before I realized I'd forgotten how to make proper open loops. That one is hanging on my car rear view mirror. I have no problems with its imperfections, but since I can do better, I saved the better ones for the gifts. It's kind of like the first pancake you make--it doesn't always look as nice as the rest but it still tastes good.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I've been up to something...

I made cakes this weekend.

They morphed into this:

Are you curious? Let me tease you just a bit more. The yarn is Cascade 128 Superwash. It is squishy and yummy and plump, and a delight to work with. Soon, my peeps, soon...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday is for Friends

If you're a Twitter fan (don't roll your eyes, DD) Friday is the day people like to attach a #FF to their tweets. It's a shout-out to friends and followers. In that light, I'm declaring that from now on, Friday is Friend Day. Call a friend you haven't spoken to for a while. Meet a friend at a yarn shop, then go out for coffee and some knitting. Email some photos to a faraway friend. Make a new friend. Send a secret surprise gift to an online friend, just because it's Friday.

Today, I'm meeting a new friend for lunch. Maybe we'll eventually become old friends. Who knows?

Now, go forth and Friend!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I ♥ Rick Bayless

I've been on a cooking jag lately, so the last couple of nights when I didn't cook, the family was a bit miffed. Pretty sure they got over it when they tasted the salsa I put on the counter for them as I left for some nighttime tennis. This particular variety is a "seasonal" thing--chipotle pumpkin. OMG. This stuff is so freaking good, it's worth the $3.99 price tag. I actually had it for dinner last night, along with some sweet potato tortilla chips. I bought it at Whole Foods, but there wasn't much left after I stocked up. How many did I buy? Let's just say I'm ready to party with a couple of hundred of my closest friends. Or just Rick Bayless. Alone, just the two of us. Ahem.

There's been knitting on the home front, even if there wasn't much cooking. The Ribby Cardi is progressing nicely. Not sure why I let it marinate so long. It's a fun knit, nothing difficult but not boring either. I've already finished the sleeves and have just a wee bit more for both fronts, which I'm doing TAAT of course. I like to leave the back for last. For some reason, it makes it seem like the sweater goes faster if I'm left with just one piece at the end. Anybody else do this?

Last but not least, if you didn't vote in yesterday's elections, NO SOUP FOR YOU. Yes, all the negative attack ads were a monumental PITA and very demoralizing at times, but our governor-elect managed to run his entire campaign without them, and he won by a decisive margin. It doesn't have to be sleazy, folks. Just sayin'...

Sunday, October 31, 2010


No, I'm not early for a holiday, although that would be nice for a change. They always seem to sneak up on me, like somebody yanked a month or two out of the calendar--one day it's the Fourth of July and the next it's December 1st and I'm standing there with a list in my hand and my pants around my ankles, unprepared.

I guess what I'm really talking about is gratitude. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about friends and how much they've given me and how much they mean to me. For reasons I don't always comprehend, I've been lucky enough to have received some lovely gifts in the past few months. There's a beautiful pair of hand-knit socks in my sock drawer, so perfect I haven't dared wear them; I take them out once in while and marvel at how gorgeous they are. I'll wear them eventually, but for now I don't want to disturb their perfection.

There's the most adorable quilted pin cushion sitting on the mantle of our family room. It was a consolation prize in a blog drawing that really didn't have a consolation prize. The blogger is just an awfully nice person who appreciates my warped sense of humor. Whine and you shall receive!

My stash overfloweth, and not just because I'm a yarn junky. One of the loveliest bloggers I know sent me a bag of yummy pink and gold yarn, telling me to knit something for my granddaughter Tilly, this just out of the blue. 

It's not only the tangible stuff. Many of you regularly comment here, send me emails, mention me in your own blogs, friend me on Ravelry, and follow me on Twitter. I don't like to use the word "friend" lightly, but you feel like friends to me. You offer support when things go wonky and let me give it back when you need it. You never, ever tell me my butt looks big, and I've shown it here plenty of times. It means more to me than you will ever know.

Thanks, everybody, for your many kindnesses. I hope I deserve them, and I promise I'll pay them forward. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

There was knitting and it was good

First up, the double heeled socks are finished, this time with only one heel per sock. Yay me! TAAT, stockinette all the way, and toe-up so I could use as much of the Colinette Jitterbug as possible. The toe, heel, and cuff are Kroy. Knitting with the black Kroy was tough--the stitches just seem to disappear, even under an Ott-Lite. Kroy is the black hole of sock yarn. Still, I'm happy with them; I hope the recipient is too.

Next, a test knit:

I used Cascade 220 Superwash, my go-to worsted weight of choice. Soft, sturdy, and machine washable. This is a great pattern--fun, fast and cute. Here's a Rav link. I'll let you know when the pattern is available. This just might be my go-to holiday hat. Thanks, Wilde Thyme Knits, for letting me test knit this hat. Love it!

Last, but oh so not least:

This is Vanessa (Ravelry link). The first is the smaller version, in Colinette Point 5. I used a size 13 needle and slammed out this cutie FAST! The second is the full size, knit in Katia Peru, a heavy worsted weight wool/acrylic/alpaca blend, on size 8's. It's very soft and lovely to knit with, but I did find a knot and when a skein is 116 yards, that's not cool. I'm hoping it's not typical either, since I have three more skeins. I'd buy it again, but I'd bitch about it. After all, it's from Spain, and if they can produce a Rafa Nadal, they should be able to give me a yarn without knots. I have no idea what the correlations is. I just wanted to put a Nadal link in my blog. Meeee-ow!

Here's a link to Nancy's website, if you're not into Ravelry.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Trick or Treat! Or not.

Sunday is Halloween. I don't exactly consider it a holiday--it doesn't involve cleaning the entire house and cooking until my fingers are raw for people who think a bottle of cheap wine is not only a suitable hostess gift, but also gets them out of EVER having the holiday dinner at their house. No, I'm not bitter about it. Why do you ask?

Anyway, I do like Halloween a lot, but I miss the old Halloween, when you got really good treats like popcorn balls and candied apples. If you tried that now, you'd have the cops at your door faster than you can say "sugar rush." And that's sad. It means you don't think you know your neighbors well enough to let your kids accept a homemade treat from them. I can understand it though, and it's certainly easier to buy bags of candy than to make stuff.

We live in a pretty large condo complex and in the summer the place is crawling with kids. When we first moved in, I figured we'd get hammered on Halloween. Our across-the-way neighbor told us otherwise. He said we'd be lucky to get half a dozen kids. I figured he didn't know what he was talking about and bought a ton of candy. Of course, he turned out to be right and I had to find places to pawn off the candy. There's an upside, though. I can buy a package of full-size candy bars and hand those out, since one package is more than enough. As a kid, that was the candy mother lode, getting a big candy bar instead of a mini.

Last year, this was one of our only trick-or-treaters, so DD took the leftover candy to school.

I guess I'll make popcorn balls this year and do the right thing--eat them myself.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Talk amongst yourselves

Monday--love it or hate it, at least it's not boring. Here's some water cooler conversation starters:

If Monday pisses you off and makes you want to kick something, here you go. Not saying that anybody who actually knits a scarf and sends it to these people is a CHUMP but if the insult fits... Yeah. I'm all about giving my time and money to an organization that makes a gazillion dollars and is too cheap to show a little love to its volunteers. And don't even get me started on their countdown clock.

For those of you who embrace Monday as a chance to explore new worlds and seek out new knitting civilizations, check this out. Prepare to be awed. Or freaked out.

I still haven't finished the two-heeled socks, but I'm getting close. They got bumped for a couple of Vanessa headbands. Did I mention my fruit fly attention span? Vanessa feeds right into it, so it's perfect. Photos of each will show up here sometime this week, assuming I get off my ass and take some pictures. I'm just waiting for The Great Pumpkin to bring me some motivation. And candy. Lots and lots of candy.

Let me end on a positive note, now that I've had my second cup of coffee--adorable!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

You don't have to be #1 to be a winner

The Bengal Regiment missed getting into the finals by one spot. They finished 9th and only eight bands advance. But I couldn't be prouder of those kids. They left it all on the field and as DD said on her facebook page, "No regrets." They were so proud of themselves for giving it all they had and having fun, and isn't that the point of it all? The long bus ride home was loud and happy, because this is a great group of kids with the right perspective and solid leadership.

Some kids from another band that made it to the finals taunted a few of our kids yesterday. DD shrugged it off and said they hadn't made it passed quarterfinals for years, let alone gotten to the finals, and they just didn't know how to handle it. This morning she told me she hoped they did well in the finals. My kid gets it, and that makes her the real winner. Congratulations, DD and the Bengal Regiment, for a great season!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I just broke the record for choosing, then purchasing, yarn--five minutes for four balls of Katia. That included dealing with a cranky credit card machine. AND I had a store credit I'd forgotten about. This is my lucky day. We're on our way to the Colorado  state high school marching band semifinal competition, followed by finals for the top 12 bands. Please wish the Bengal Regiment good luck. It's DD's last band competition and I'm going to knit a whole bunch of Vanessa headbands to keep the nerves down. I'd post a link to the pattern, but I'm blogging from my phone. I'll update you later. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is it right to call one cookie my favorite?

Baking at 5,280 feet above sea level can be challenging. I've made more than my share of trifle from cakes that sank in the center from too much leavening, or sugar, or fat, or whatever. Cookies aren't usually as problematic as cakes, but I probably just jinxed myself for saying that. Except for meringue cookies. I am convinced that Colorado was created just so we could make meringue cookies pretty much any time we want. Our lack of humidity is perfect for anything to do with baking whipped egg whites.

Here's one of my favorite recipes, Forgotten Kisses, but beware. This cookie is highly addictive.

The dishes you see in the photos belonged to my grandmother, my cooking inspiration. I never, ever use them. They sit in my little china cabinet and I take them out for things like this photo shoot. Here's why:

The tea cup is so thin, you can see through it. The face of a Japanese woman appears in the bottom of the cup when you hold it up to the light. One of these days I need to research the history of this china pattern. If anybody knows anything about it, I'd love to hear from you.

If you bake or want to bake, and you don't have Baking with Julia, go and get it NOW. Seriously. The woman knew what she was doing when it comes to putting stuff in an oven. I made a .pdf file of her tips on working with meringue--it's in the sidebar. Emeril Lagasse's Forgotten Kisses recipe, at first glance, might appear to differ from some of Julia's recommendations, but trust the recipe--it works. I realize I called it one of my favorites, but I'm a cookie ho. I love the one I'm with. Today, it's Forgotten Kisses. Tomorrow, who knows?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Get out your pencils. It's time for a parent pop quiz.

Question 1: Your child has spent most of Sunday playing XBox. At approximately 9 p.m. this child, upon deciding to do homework that is due Monday, discovers her computer is dying. Do you:

A: Decide to confuse her with facts by pointing out that you know she spent the better part of the day screwing around rather than doing her homework as she claims, and ask if she has backups of her files.
B: Hope the neighbors can't hear it when she starts bawling and shouting that since she can't finish her homework, she will never get into a decent college, therefore her life is over and SHE MIGHT AS WELL END IT ALL NOW, even though she has a 4+ (weighted) GPA.
C: Flip a coin with your spouse--the winner gets to run away from home, loser has to stay with the hysterical child.
D: All of the above

Question 2: After getting a crappy night's sleep, all you want is to spend some quiet time with yarn and coffee. Instead you:

A: Take your child's dying computer to the Apple genius bar, so that a 19 year old 'genius' can tell you what you already know.
B: Buy a new computer six months earlier than you'd planned.
C: Buy cupcakes with enough frosting to make a dog barf.
D: All of the above

Question 3: After returning home from the Apple store, broke but with cupcakes and a new computer, do you:

A:  Spend the remainder of the day transferring data from a dying computer to a brand new one that is faster and better than your own, not feeling bitter at all, because hey, as a parent you're used to getting hind tit, and it's O.K., really it is, because you can knit and catch up on your lost sleep some other year.
B: Daydream about grabbing the cupcakes and running away with a hot cabana boy.
C: Wonder how much money you would make doing technical support at the Apple genius bar instead of doing it for nothing at home, because nobody else can ever bother to read the damn manuals, or back up their data, even though you've told them to a thousand times.
D: All of the above

Keep studying. You never know when there will be another test. Extra credit if you figured out the cupcakes came from here instead of the Apple store.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday photos

I thought I'd post some photos from our London, Ontario trip. These were taken in Niagara Falls, from the Canadian side. I swear I saw a Hooters up on the hill in downtown Niagara Falls, which made me a little sad. It was kind of like finding out your favorite uncle hangs out in strip joints. But when I googled 'Niagara Falls Hooters' it looks like it's been closed, so the whole sign thing has got me confused. Happy, but confused. I just didn't want to go through life thinking there's a Hooters on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

I got lucky and shot this photo just as a rainbow was fading away.

We didn't take the boat ride because it was getting kind of late in the day and we needed to head back so I could check out the Mary Maxim store, which we didn't get to because we got sidetracked by some very nice farmer's markets.

This guy was feeding squirrels and birds in the park alongside the falls--St. Francis with headphones.

This last photo was taken on the way to the falls. Check out her helmet. Very cool!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

They'll pry the carbs from my cold, dead hands

I love bread and I'm not ashamed to say it. There aren't too many vices I've held on to--smoking, partying all night, bad boys--they all lost their hold on me pretty quickly. But bread is still there and always will be. I don't care what "research" says. I refuse to believe anything bad about something I love so much. That's my rationale for anything I won't give up, but then I've never let myself get confused by facts. I just modify my approach. Instead of half the loaf in one sitting, a single slice. All things in moderation. Except wine. O.K. FINE. Wine in moderation too. But not chocolate.

This is Maple Oatmeal Bread, from Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads. The edition I have is from 1987 but it's been updated at least one more time--it's that good of a bread book. It's a chewy, delicious loaf that's wonderful on its own, but what it does for a sandwich is almost illegal.

The recipe link is in the sidebar. I've included some notes of my own and if you have any questions, let me know. In another life, I taught bread baking classes. You can imagine how bitter the low-carb craze left me. Bake a loaf of this bread and make me feel whole again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Taking a trip to Stupidville

Let's face it. From time to time, we all do boneheaded things--jaywalk, mix wine and hard liquor, text photos of our genitals to people not in our calling plan. Here's my latest stupidity:

They look like my usual pair of TAAT socks, with the exception of the solid color toes and heels, something new for me. The cuff ribbing will also be done in black--the ribbing that I was less than an inch from. Click on the photo and you'll see the tale-tale signs of frogging.

Apparently, when it came to the short-row heels, my brain got hit with the stupid stick. I read, "Continue until you have worked all of the wrapped stitches, and work to the end of the row over the last 6 stitches," as "Keep on wrapping and turning, even after you've worked all the wrapped stitches, so that you'll have TWO heels on each sock, and end up having to rip out 5 inches of leg on each sock." Yeah. I just ignored the two funny looking lumps at the tops of the heels and kept going, but live and learn. Next time I'll just take a short cut to Stupidville and text a photo of my hooha to total strangers, and hope some friends come through with bail money. Anything is better than frogging ten inches of sock leg. For my non-knitting readers, that's as nasty as it sounds.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Anniversary, honey.

After 19 years of marriage, it's still exciting, and I learn something new every day. How else would I have found out about Brett Favre sending photos of Mr. Willie to New York Jets massage therapists? Thanks, honey, and Happy Anniversary.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Let's try this one last time

It's our last day in London, Ontario. I haven't done nearly all the things I'd like to have done and there are a couple of people I would love to have met, but these wacky Canadians have kept us under their evil spells with lots of food, drink, and gifts. It's been a really nice conference but I'm going to have to buy another suitcase to bring back the haul.

For my yarny friends, here's what you've been waiting for:

It's not a huge stash enhancement, but I did get some lovely stuff--Manos silk blend, some yummy Lang sock yarn, a pattern, and some "Made with love by Grandma" labels. I'm happy. Here's a photo of the shop where I purchased these goodies, London Yarns:

It's not a huge shop, but there was a nice selection and a friendly staff.

The damn wifi is finally moving at something more than glacial speed. We leave tomorrow, so it figures. I'll leave you with a few shots of my completed Celaeno shawl.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Honestly, I'm not downloading porn. Honestly.

I've spent a lot of time in hotels this last month. I don't generally mind hotel life--somebody makes your bed every day, cleans the bathroom, leaves fresh towels. If you're in a really nice hotel, maybe you get a piece of chocolate on your pillow every night. It's not a bad life.

But I've noticed a few things about hotels lately. What is this thing with the little lights all over the room? In the room we're in this week, there's at least half a dozen lights that can't be turned off. There are two lights on the smoke alarm; the switch for the light above the room door has a night-light; the phone has a light. Even the table lamp has a glowing on/off switch. You could land an airplane with the light from the alarm clock. Every night I cover as many of them as possible, and every day when housekeeping does their thing, they move all the little pieces of paper and what nots I've used to cover the lights so I can sleep. I'm thinking I'll carry a roll of duct tape in my luggage.

I also have a problem with the so-called high speed internet access I've been stuck with. High speed my ass. Dial-up couldn't be slower. It's not as if I'm downloading porn, people. I just want to check my email, read some blogs, post to my own blog. Seriously. IT'S NOT PORN.

The conference DH is attending here in London, Ontario has kept us pretty busy, but I did manage to find time to get to a yarn shop. If I don't end up in the slammer for threatening somebody over the crappy internet access, I'll post them something about it in a day or two. Do they have wireless access in Canadian jails?

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm knitting in Canadian, eh?

Here are my September Sock-a-Month KAL socks.  Today is October 1st. Yeah.  As of yesterday, I had about three inches of the toe completed. As we boarded the plane to Detroit, I told myself I could still finish them IN ONE DAY. Seriously, neither drugs nor alcohol were involved, though in hindsight they might have helped. By the time we landed and were on our way to London, ON, I was ready to start the gusset. I gave up when we got to the hotel. Wuss that I am--sleep won over knitting. There's just been too much jet-setting this week. I did manage to finish the Celaeno shawl just before we left, however. Proper (non-iPhone) photos to follow.  We are on our way to Niagara Falls today, and if we don't run out of time, we'll stop at Mary Maxime on the way back to London. Bucket list!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vegas--the highlights of a party animal

What I've done in Vegas:
  • got a migraine from the cigarette smoke at the taxi stand at the airport, before we even got to the hotel;
  • got a haircut, manicure and foot massage the next day, with the money I saved by not being able to leave the hotel room the first night;
  • survived 103℉;
  • went to a Jimmy Choo shop AND a Christian Louboutin shop, where I bought nothing since I didn't win the lottery last week;
  • had dinner at Bouchon--I'd better win the lottery next week;
  • and knit just enough to figure out I need more beads to finish my Celaeno tomorrow.
What I've seen in Vegas:
  • skirts so short they look more like band aids; 
  • some guy I'm sure is an actor in one of those silly sitcoms I never watch, and I couldn't Kinnear him, and since I don't watch any sitcoms, I can't remember his name;
  • a roller coaster that flips over (on purpose) right outside our hotel window
  • a cheesy gondola in a pricey hotel
  • and many, many people drinking beer at 9 a.m.; I was not one of them.

What I bought in Las Vegas:
  • gifts for Tilly, and DD (because she hasn't wrecked my car);
  • tennis shoes for me, which I paid too much for but they make me look like I have game;
  • and coffee, lots and lots of coffee.
Last stop before we head back? In-N-Out Burger

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Celaeno Shawl--almost

I'm almost finished with my Celaeno shawl, just a couple of rows to go. So what am I doing today? An urban abstract photography class. Don't try to figure me out. Just go with it. Meanwhile, here's a few photos of the scrunched up shawl. Hopefully, I'll be blocking it tonight.

We leave for Las Vegas tomorrow. Since I'm not really into gambling, I plan to take lots of photos. I'm hoping to get some good information from the class today, so that I can come home with some interesting pictures. There will also be knitting accomplished and perhaps a nice glass or wine (or two) consumed. It's going to be about 100 degrees there, so any knitting will happen inside. I wonder what they'd say in the casino if I sat at a slot machine and knit?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Shout-Out to Blogless Wanda and My New Friend

Remember this blog post? Blogless Wanda--I don't know who you are or how to get in touch with you, but many, many thanks for your explanation about yarn weight and yardage. Makes a whole lot of sense. Are you in the business? Are you really blogless? Anybody know Wanda's identity? I just love a mystery!

Speaking of mysteries, my beaded project doesn't have to be kept a secret anymore. In fact, I could have revealed the pattern about a week ago, but since I was too preoccupied with a certain adorable granddaughter, I missed the pattern unveiling. Celaeno is the latest offering from Romi Hill. It's part of a collection of what will eventually be seven shawls with some bonus goodies thrown in. I loved knitting Celaeno, but I shouldn't be using the past tense just yet--I have a couple of rows to go. It will be finished soon, because I plan on wearing it when I go to London, Ontario next week. I'd post a photo of my progress but lace all scrunched up on needles really isn't much to look at. Admire Romi's finished Celaeno instead, then go to Romi's website and buy the eBook subscription, or check her out on Ravelry if you're a member.

DD stayed home from school today, so I did what any mom with a sick teen does--left the house. There were some things I had some errands to run, namely buy more Cold Snap, and stop by DD's school to pick up some homework. Her locker is still so tidy and organized, it's a little scary. You'd know what I mean if you saw her room. It's like split personalities.

I'm still managing to dodge the bug that's going around DD's school but I've washed my hands so often and doused myself with so much hand sanitizer, my skin is permanently wrinkled. Can't be too careful, though. Don't want to contaminate my yarn.

Giving a shout-out to my new friend and neighbor, Cpeezers at Home. Check out the story on her blog. It really is a small world!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Soup to die for

There's been no knitting accomplished today. None. That's what happens when you over-sleep, go for a workout, lunch with your bff, pick up your sick kid from school, then come home and cook soup. Oh, but not just any soup, my peeps. This is a soup that says, "I love you so much, I'd take a bullet for you." To top it off, I'm fighting tooth and nail NOT to get a cold. *Cold Snap don't fail me now! I have DD and DH to thank (they felt lousy first) but to show there's no hard feelings, I made this:

Yes, the recipe is involved, but break it down into parts and it's doable for just about any skill level. I made it in about two hours. A sane person would make the spice mix one day, roast and puree the squash the next, then pull it all together on the third day. To add the carnivore element, I lightly steamed some Italian sausages, cooled them a bit, then cut them into small chunks, which I browned on both cut sides--easy meatballs without the fuss. I also roasted the seeds I pulled from the squash for garnish. If you look at the recipe reviews you can see my notes (Susan, Lakewood CO).

Butternut squash is a pain in the butt to peel and cut up, but so worth it. You can buy it already groomed at Whole Foods, but it will cost you about a gazillion dollars. Costco has it ready to cook around the holidays and it's much more reasonably priced, but not organic. I buy it and so far nobody has dropped dead, but I do try to go organic when I can.

It was the perfect soup for the first day of fall, and hopefully it will make DD feel better. I'll probably roast a couple of pans of the squash and freeze it for some snowy, hand-knit sock kind of days. They'll be here before you know it.

* I swear by Cold Snap. It has saved me from a cold many, many times. I don't sell the stuff and this isn't medical advice, but I've only had one person say it made her freak out and she was nuts to begin with. Consult your physician or watch an episode of House

Monday, September 20, 2010

Proof that I'm a beer short of a six-pack

I'm knitting with black yarn, I'm wearing black pants, and it's dark. If you're a knitter, you know why this is stupid. If you're not, this clip art gives you a pretty good idea of what I'm dealing with it. Pass me a beer.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I'm a hooker all the way

I've been on a beading bender lately--two projects in the last month have required placing beads on yarn. I call it a bender because this is the first time I've ever knit with beads or had the desire to do so. It's all Romi's fault, but really, it's growing on me. I wish I could show you what I'm working on right now, but let's just say there's a whole lotta beads involved.

I've never liked the idea of pre-stringing beads onto yarn. For one thing, I've never seen a pattern that tells you exactly how many beads to use. It would be a major pain in the butt to either string too many or not enough, and I'm afraid sliding multiple beads over a strand of yarn might result in some very frayed yarn. Bummer. No pre-stringing for me; I'm a hooker all the way.

Actually, finding the size 10 crochet hook needed for adding beads to my projects proved to be tougher than the beading itself. I ended up buying this set from Michaels, mainly because I had a coupon. Yes, I realize the link isn't for Michaels, but I couldn't find it on their site.

I will leave you with an adorable photo of my adorable granddaughter Tilly. It has nothing to do with beads and yarn. I simply couldn't help myself.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Photo: Chillin'

This is Tilly's cat, Clyde, doing what he does best--chillin'. We can all learn something from him.

This weekend, I'll be helping DD with her college applications. I predict minimal chillin' and maximum wailing and gnashing of teeth, so a trip to the wine store is imminent. Purely for medicinal purposes, of course.

There has been a bit of knitting going on, and it is glorious, even if I do say so myself. I'd show you, but then I'd have to kill you--top secret test-knit stuff. Hopefully, I can reveal it next week. Stay tuned...

Thanks, everybody, for your kind words for my last post. They are much appreciated.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stop and smell the roses

I generally think of myself as a glass-half-full kind of person, but I'm a realist too. Sooner or later, your crap o'meter will get pegged no matter how hard you to try to keep it at zero. Might as well enjoy the good times when you get them, because you can't clean up the turd before it hits the fan.

This week, two people I knew were suddenly 86ed. Poof. Gone. Dead. We weren't close or anything, but it was unexpected and sad. I think of their families and my heart gets heavy. It would be all too easy for me to get paralyzed by the what-ifs and whys of life and buy a one-way ticket to Ain't it Awful Land, but I'm not going there.

I can miss Tilly and her mom and dad and be sad about it, or I can look at the photos I took during my visit and marvel at the wonder of my child having his own child now. I can be bummed about the fact that no matter how much or how fast I knit, I will never, ever be able to knit all the things I have on my list; or, I can fondle my enviable stash and indulge in some fantasy knitting. I can freak out when my youngest drives off in my dream car, or I can celebrate her growing independence. It's all about choices and how I look at what I'm given every new day.

Thanks so much for all your kind words about Tilly. Yes, she is the most adorable granddaughter ever, but it's nice to read your thoughtful remarks and congratulations. Also, I owe several of you a proper thank-you note. Rest assured, I'll get them in the mail soon. I've let myself get overwhelmed lately by the little things in life that seemed to have suddenly grouped and ganged up on me, but it's the same for everybody. I'm pulling up the big-girl panties and getting back to work. Regular blogging will commence once again. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Meet my excuse

Who thinks about blogging when they're spending time with the most adorable baby ever? When somebody gives you a smile like that, it melts your heart and makes your brain go soft. Not that I was that far away from soft anyway...

There's been very little knitting accomplished but much cuddling and cooing. I had forgotten how tiny babies are so the sweater and Skull pinafore are waaaay too big, so photos of Tilly wearing them will come later. Here's the Skull pinafore for those of you not into Ravelry:

There has been yarn procured, of course. Giving a shout-out to Prairie Yarns, in Fargo, North Dakota. I believe, "Bring her back anytime," is what they told Tilly's mom and dad. Ahem.

More later, I promise. It's hard to sit at a keyboard when you're wrapped around a finger.