Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Getting my cooking mojo back

I don't know when it started, but my cooking mojo has been slowly fading over the last year or two. Last Christmas, instead of my usual three day cooking marathon for DH's family, I made a big pot o'chili and some brownies then called it a day. This would have been an entire post all to itself had my blog existed in December, but I'd probably be divorced by now, so we won't go there.

Loss of Cooking Mojo might not be a tragedy, but when you own about 150 cookbooks, it's certainly a shame. In order to try and get that mojo back, I'm designating Wednesdays as Food Day here in JelliDonut Land. Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been all take-out and frozen crap but it's not exactly been a Food Network show either.

To coincide with my 100th blog post, I offer you my Angel Scones:

I call them Angle Scones because they are so light and fluffy. The little serving cup on the plate contains freshly made rhubarb-blueberry jam. Here's the linky to the recipe. My mods for the jam include upping the rhubarb to eight cups, keeping the sugar at three cups, and adding about three cups of fresh blueberries when I started the initial cooking. I now have a dozen little containers of jam in my freezer, a nice size jar for my bff, and a big (and rapidly getting smaller) bowl in my refrigerator. It's kind of an odd recipe, but it works and it's pretty yummy stuff.

The recipe for the scones is in the sidebar. I'll be adding more recipes, hopefully every Wednesday. I still owe you my Strawberry Lemonade Bread but the recipe needs to be tweaked a bit more. With strawberries plentiful right now, I should have the recipe worked out soon. Meanwhile, make scones and jam!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Not another pair of socks! And tips for TAAT

Thanks, everybody, for all your kind words and inquiries. I'm pretty much over my bout of food poisoning. I only have problems now if I don't stick to small portions, something I should do anyway. Somebody asked if I know where I picked up the nastiness. Yep, I know EXACTLY where. I'm going to call the mall's management office as soon as I can talk to them without using phrases like, "ass hat," and "WTF," since those types of things rarely help. They do make for some fun one-sided conversations in my head, though.

I used the downtime to do some knitting, once I was able to spend time in a room other than the bathroom. I've started this blanket, and finished these *socks:

The socks are my own to-be-named pattern, which is to be written up. Sorry to be a slacker about it, but when my stomach doesn't work, neither does my brain.

I'm quite pleased with them. The yarn is Blue Moon STR light weight, on size zero circulars, which is why I had to start the blanket before I finished the socks--those zeros were kicking my butt and I needed the jumbo-ness of size five needles to keep my hands from falling off.

I can't remember the last pair of socks I knitted the old fashioned way on dpn's. Since I figured out how to do socks two-at-a-time (TAAT) on two circulars, that's been all she wrote, folks. I've turned into a sock knitting machine--I've averaged about a pair a month for almost two years now.

Here's a few tips for knitting socks on two circulars:

See how the working yarn in the photo above is outside of the circle formed by the needles? Keep it this way while knitting and you're less apt to get the skeins tangled up, which is an annoying thing and will make you swear.

Use two different lengths of needle tips to keep the sole stitches and the instep stitches on the correct needle. I use addi circulars, one 16" and one 24".  The 16" circular has a four inch needle tip and the 24" circular has a five inch needle tip. If you're day dreaming about sandy beaches and umbrella drinks while you're knitting and you accidentally pick up the wrong needle tip, keep reading.

Keep a dpn the same size as your circulars close by. No matter how hard you try, once in a while you will inadvertently pick up the wrong needle tip and knit a row before you catch yourself. Transfer the stitches to the dpn then onto the correct circular. I've tried moving them around in various ways and configurations using only the circulars, but this is the fastest way to deal with the situation. And if you're one of those people with a swear word jar, it can save you a lot of money, too. I'd tell you I haven't done this for a long time now, but I don't want to jinx myself.

Once you've finished a row, make sure the yarn leaves the stitch in the correct position for the type of stitch it's coming from, being careful not to wrap the yarn over the working needle. You don't want to end up with a sort of unintentional YO. Ask me how I found this out...

Separate the balls of yarn by keeping one on your right side and one on your left. When you complete a row on both socks, instead of turning your work around and around, flip it back and forth so that each working yarn leads back to its corresponding ball without being crossed over the other. This also helps to keep the yarn balls from tangling up. You just have to be mindful of not sitting on your balls. Of yarn. Ahem. 

You are either changing balls of yarn or changing needles, one or the other but never both at the same time. If you do, pour that glass of wine back into the bottle and leave your knitting for tomorrow.

My most important tip: check out this really great tutorial for knitting socks two-at-a-time on two circulars. Sheron Goldin, you rock!

*Extra points if you figured out the hairy legs belong to DH, my designated foot model.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I'm calling it the B&B diet

That's B&B, for bread and bananas. It's quite effective--you drop a bunch of weight by eating only bread and bananas for days. The hard part? You have to get food poisoning first. I won't say it's easy, but if you want to give it a try, just go to the food court of your nearest up-scale mall and eat some (pseudo) Chinese takeout. Helpful hint: if there's more than one Chinese takeout, pick the one with nobody standing on line. There's a reason nobody else but you is dumb enough to give their food a try. Extra points if they're handing out free samples!

This is day three of my new diet. I'm thinner but not sure I'm getting better. I have enough energy to blog, but yesterday my order from the Interweave hurt book sale arrived and I haven't even opened the box yet. If this means the end is near, my blog followers get to divvy up my stash. First come, first served.

Should my cat leaves me any, I'm going to move up to the BB&Yogurt diet. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tomatoes, bunnies, and pies--oh my!

I guess I jinxed myself. DH came in from walking the dog and told me he'd found a tomato on the sidewalk. I honestly didn't get mad about it until I saw that poor tomato, splattered and drying in the sun. I figure about half a dozen were stolen, all totaled. The only thing that kept me from a brain hemorrhage was the idea that at least they ate most of what they stole.

After I fantasized about the revenge I would extract if I could get my hands on the thieves--think duct tape and my neighbor's pit bull--I printed the sign and taped it on one of the pots. I'm surprised at how fast I got over the whole thing. In the past I would have been grinding on this for hours, but I'm trying to reduce the stress in my life, so I let it go and moved on. Knitting this helped:

It's a thank-you gift for a friend, and I wish I had one of my own to cuddle with and squish in my hands. Makes me want to suck my thumb just looking at it.

I made a few changes from the original pattern--I added bunny ears, and since I avoid seaming whenever possible, I did a knitted cast on to add more stitches for the head then worked in the round. After I kitchenered the head closed, I picked up stitches for the ears, right through the stitches at the top of the head. I think the crooked eyes and mouth add to the charm, and I hope it gets lots of drool and love.

I can't keep the bunny, but I can eat some pie. Here's a shot of Paula Deen's frozen peach pie filling, just before I popped the top on and put it in the oven.

I don't add a half stick of butter to the filling as the recipe calls for--two tablespoons is plenty to help thicken the filling. DD's school has a fund raiser when Colorado peaches are at their peak and I always buy a case. I put half a dozen of these babies in the freezer and they are still yummy many months later. We'll have it for a Father's Day dinner, along with a Harrington ham--but no tomatoes.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday photos

My gardening consists of some potted tomatoes and peppers. I also count the flowers planted at the entrance to our townhouse complex--our HOA fees at work. Have a fabulous weekend everybody!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

There it was, on page 152...

It's a fact: from time to time, I'll curse. I try to be mindful of the audience and when little kids or teachers are present, I use my G-rated vocabulary. I know some people are offended by profanity and other don't give a ______ (fill in the expletive of your choice). There are times, however, when NOT using a bad word kinda takes the air out of the tires, know what I mean?

Occasionally I ask DH to proofread a post before I publish it. If I'm on the fence about something or not sure I'm headed in the right direction, I'll bounce the post off him to get his reaction.  When I showed him this post he seemed a little concerned that I had used the S word. I ended up keeping it, because somehow, "steal the stink off poo," just doesn't have the right tone, but I was surprised at his reaction. This from the guy who taught DD her first curse words before her second birthday, when a Seattle city bus side-swiped his car and took out the passenger side mirror.

Now, here's the part of this story that is absolutely priceless--when I told DD that the Yarn Harlot once used the S word in a post, he was all of a sudden totally O.K. with it. Seriously. I was even going to show him when and where she'd dropped the S bomb, only I couldn't remember. I spent an entire morning Googling and combing through her blog to find it, only to come up empty; I guess I was wrong but I swear to you I did see it once (extra points if anybody can prove I was right). I couldn't find the S word in her blog, and the best Google could produce was a vague reference to one of her books, one I did not own. Of course I did what any normal obsessive person does and drove to a bookstore and found the book. There it was, on page 152 of The Secret Life of a Knitter--an S bomb, italicized and in quotes. Stephanie, I ♥ you! And yes, I bought the book.

I'm ending this post with some photos of some of our bookshelves. We really do have a thing for books.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Need something to read?

As promised, here's the compilation of books from my Zauberball giveaway. It's an interesting assortment, with something for everybody. Maybe step outside your comfort zone and try an author you've never read before. I've linked the titles to the Tattered Cover site, so you can read the description for each book. The Tattered Cover is an indie bookstore, with three locations in the Denver area. Enjoy!

The Angel's Game--Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Shadow of the Wind—Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Angels and Demons--Dan Brown

Eclipse—Stephenie Meyer

Breaking Dawn—Stephenie Meyer

Trust Agents--Chris Brogan

Linchpin--Seth Godin

Blink--Malcolm Gladwell

Stumbling on Happiness--Daniel Gilbert

Heart Shaped Box--Joe Hill

Conservatives Without Conscience—John W. Dean

Death by Cashmere--Sally Goldenbaum

Fleece Navidad--Maggie Sefton 

Ghost Hunting--Jason Hawes & Grant Wilson

Neverwhere--Neil Gaiman

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle--Haruki Murakami

Dead in the Family--Charlaine Harris

The Passage—Justin Cronin

Drums of Autumn—Diana Gabaldon

Pippi Longstocking--Astrid Lindgren

War and Peace—Leo Tolstoy

Pillars of the Earth—Ken Follett

Small Island--Andrea Levy

Sister Carrie—Theodore Dreiser

Everyday Sacred--Susan Bender

Fever 1793--Laurie Halse Anderson

The Knitter's Book of Wool--Clara Parks

Innocent—Scott Turow

Hannah's List--Debbie Macomber

The Help--Kathryn Stockette

Border Trilogy--Cormac McCarthy

Daughter of the Forest--Juliet Marillier

Sevenwaters Forest--Juliet Marillier

A Thread So Thin--Marie Bostwick

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We have a winner!

Congratulations, Amy from Arlington, VA. You won the Zauberball! I've sent you an email with the details.

Thanks, everybody for all your great book comments. I'll compile the list and post it this week. Meanwhile, here's a sneak peek of my finished and blocked stole. I'm writing out the pattern and trying to get some decent model photos. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Say hello to my little friend!

I've been hearing rumors of an elk or two roaming the neighborhood. DD spotted them in the park a few days ago, but I hadn't, until this morning. While our 'hood is kinda sorta rural--there's horse properties scattered here and there and the occasional barnyard fowl--it's mostly urban (read: ass hats with mondo car sound systems, and beehive townhouse complexes).

DD was on his way to work this morning and about thirty seconds after he left, he called me and told me if I'd hotfoot it to the park I could see the elk. I threw on some clothes and grabbed my camera, and for the next hour or so I stalked the elk until the rain sent me back home. I had a blast, but the damp cold didn't make my bum shoulder feel any better. It is 49°F right now. No global warming, my ass.

I'm getting so many great books to add to my reading list. Awesome, and thanks everybody. If you want to add to the list and maybe win some yarn, click here. I'll post the entire list after the random number generator picks the yarn winner.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Show me yours and win some Zauberball

DD recently got the book list for her senior year of IB. Let's just say this ain't exactly summer reading: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Beowulf, John Donne's Poetry, Waiting for Godot, Proof, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, among others.

What's on my reading list? The Secret Life of a Knitter, The Age of Wonder, Open--An Autobiography. I could go on and on because I'm really good at buying books and sucky at making the time to read them. I WILL rectify this situation.

So, what's on your reading list? Send me a comment telling me what you'd like to read this summer and you'll be entered to win one ball of this deliciousness:

Here are the rules: You must comment on this post no later than midnight, June 14, 2010 (Mountain Time). Only comments posted on this post will be entered in the giveaway. That's pretty much it. The winner gets their choice of color way. I'm keeping one for myself and donating the other.

Shortly after midnight of June 14, I'll give the old random number generator a kick and see which number it spits out. Why June 14? That's DH's birthday, and he actually reads the books he buys pretty much as soon as he buys them.

Good luck everybody and thanks for reading my blog!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Let's all hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

I don't remember which class it was (since it's been about 100 years ago) but in middle school I wrote a paper that said something along the lines of, "If you're nice to people, they'll be nice to you." At the bottom of that paper, in red ink, my teacher suggested I think long and hard about that. I got a good grade but for years afterwards I felt like a chump, like I'd just fallen off the turnip truck and made myself a target for every mean person I would ever come across.

But I still feel that way. I know there are jerks out there who will steal the stink off shit if they get the chance. I know there are liars and ass hats who live just to make other people miserable, and I avoid them when I can. When I can't, I fight back hard and don't regret it, but I don't let the morons of this world set the tone for how I treat everybody else.

A blogger I follow brought up some good points about designers and dyers who put out patterns and yarns with the intention of donating some or all of the proceeds to charitable causes. I have no problem with her bringing up the issue. None, zip, zero, nada, so please don't send me hate mail about her. I think she has a lot of valid points. In fact, it bothered me that some responders told her they were as jaded as she is, because I don't see her as being jaded at all. Here is where we might differ, however: I have no problem with supporting charitable causes through purchases. The fact that the designer or dyer gets exposure and maybe a tax write-off doesn't bother me. Who wrote the rule that a good deed doesn't count if the doer benefits too? What does bother me is the fact that some people will use this as an excuse NOT to give, and that breaks my heart.

If you are one of those stink-stealing people who takes advantage of others, may you get the Mother of All Hemorrhoids. You are stealing more than money; you are stealing faith and hope, and in the end that's all we really have that's worth anything, family and friends aside. When I hear Sarah Palin ask how that "hopey changey thing is workin' for ya'," I want to bitch-slap her and do the jail time. I've been to that place where hope is so close to being gone that I bequeathed my green bananas. It's not a punch line to me. If wanting to hold on to hope makes me a chump so be it.

It's a good thing to be cautious about who we give our hard earned money (and time) to. Norma is 100% right about that. I figure she's earned her place in The Great LYS in the Sky for the Red Scarf project alone, never mind how loving she is to that adorable dog of hers. I've never met the woman but I know she has a heart of gold. But so do the people who write patterns and ask us to buy them so they can help give hope to others.

All together now, people! Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya. Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya...

Monday, June 7, 2010

It's SOCIAL networking, not PSYCHO networking

If you've read this blog for any time at all, you know I'm all gaga over Ravelry. Thousands upon thousands of patterns (most of them free), gazillions of photos of FO's using every yarn in the universe, over 3/4 of a million members--what's not to love, right?

Let's just say that a very tiny number of those members can be a little bitchy cranky. On occasion, I venture away from my Rav home groups and add my two cents worth in Remnants, a sort of free-for-all, non-fiber related forum. Lately, it never fails that somebody crawls out of their hole with the need to be snarky. I do not get this AT ALL. How hard is it just to mutter to yourself, "what an ass-hat," then move on? Why the need to make a bitchy snide post about someones personal opinion?

I can handle people not agreeing with me; I have a seventeen year old daughter, so I've got that skill down cold. It's the need to try and make someone feel bad that I just do not understand. It really is possible to tell someone you don't agree with them without taking a verbal dump on their day. Really. And to be fair to Ravelry, this sort of thing happens way worse in other places. If you've ever left a comment at the New York Times, you know exactly what I mean.

But let's move on to happier subjects, shall we? My stole is finished, just needs a few ends sewn in and a good block. It's a pretty simple pattern, but I'm thinking about getting a tech editor for this one. I might offer it for a small fee and donate the proceeds. Need to ruminate on this decision a bit more. Here's a pre-block photo:

I have also come into possession of a some Zauberball...

and I'm thinking it might be time for a little give-away. Aren't you curious now?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sending some love to the AT&T CEO

If you're an AT&T cell phone customer, by now you've heard about their clever plan to do away with the all-you-can-eat data plans and go a la carte when 4G comes out. I'll be forced to get this non-consensual upgrade enema when I eventually get a new phone. That won't be for a while, since I'll probably be going to prison in the near future. AT&T doesn't seem to take too kindly to complaints, so they sure as heck aren't going to be very happy with me.

I read this article about another person who's less than enamored with once again having to bend over and take it from the Nurse Ratcheds of cell phone companies, and being the bandwagon jumper that I am, I sent my own email to Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T:

Subject:  Kindly requesting my personal cease and desist letter
From:     (
Date:      June 3, 2010 9:38:27 AM MDT

Dear Mr. Stephenson:
As a long-time loyal AT&T customer (read: I have an iPhone and have no choice in carriers), I am requesting my own personal cease and desist letter. This is in conjunction with your impending rate increase that I will surely incur when I eventually upgrade my phone to 4G.

Since I will be victimized by your heinous price gouging of those who wish to take advantage of updated technology, I feel I should at least get some sort of perk.


Lakewood, Colorado

P.S. Please make the letter suitable for framing.

I've removed Stephenson's email address from this post, but seriously, if you can't find it on your own, you probably can't use a cell phone either, so this would be of zero interest to you. 

I wonder if they let you have circular needles in The Big House.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Good thing I didn't wait until the last minute or anything

I had my May sock-a-month knit-along socks finished days ago, but didn't get them posted until MINUTES ago, barely making the deadline. The rule is, they must be posted by noon on the day following the last day of the month you are knitting for.

It's a pretty simple pattern, but one that breaks up the monotony of an all-stockinette sock while still moving along pretty quickly. I think it would work for men or women. I used two skeins of Plymouth Happy Feet and had some yarn left over. I'll write up the pattern soon and post the link.

I did these toe-up, using Judy's Magic Cast On. When I took did the stitch design workshop with Cat Bordhi, she taught us a little ditty to help remember this cast on--it involved a girl, her mom, and her boyfriend. She swore we'd never forget it and she was right. I didn't even need to go to Youtube to jog my memory, but here's a link to Cat's Youtube video. Unfortunately, she doesn't use the same story in the video, but it's a pretty good tutorial anyway.

The other cool thing about this pair of socks is the bind off I used--Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.  If you've ever knit a pair of socks toe-up and then found them to be too tight no matter how loosely you tried to bind off, you need to try Jeny's method. It's stretchy without being a pain in the butt to execute and doesn't look too ruffly either. I loved it so much I sent Jeny an email thanking her. She replied from her iPhone, which proves she cool AND smart.

I'm going to use Jeny's bind off for the stole I'm working on. This means I'll have to re-do the supposedly stretchy bind off I initially used, but it will be worth it. I left a long enough yarn tail that it won't be a problem but I wish I had remembered this bind off sooner. I have a lot of great how-to sites bookmarked but I need to get into the habit of looking through them when I'm designing a project or when a pattern doesn't specify what sort of cast on or bind off to use. The plan is to put together a check list of things to consider when I start a new project. I'll post that here too, when I get it together. Just one more thing in a long line of things I want to accomplish. Can somebody loan me a few extra hours in the day, please?