Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday photo: Meet Tilly Lynn

She came into the world yesterday afternoon, eight pounds, six ounces and 21 inches long. It's covered up, but this little doll has a head of hair you can't believe! I am the proudest, happiest grandmother in the entire world. Tilly Lynn, prepared to be spoiled rotten!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's a girl!

I am now the proud grandmother of a beautiful baby girl, born this afternoon. We are over the moon! Thanks, everybody, for all your good wishes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I can pass out standing up, and other clever tricks

It's Wednesday--recipe or some food related thing Wednesday--which I will get to in a moment. But first, here's the text I received earlier today: No baby yet. But we're slowly getting there. Reading it again just now, I got dizzy.

My first grandchild was due last week, but since his/her dad was two weeks late himself, I shouldn't be surprised that his child is taking their own sweet time. Anxious, but not surprised. I'm trying to decide if it's easier worrying long distance or if actually being there would be better. I don't think they let you swill wine in hospitals, even if it is for medicinal purposes.

When it comes to my kids, I don't always react well. My son was about 13 and had to have some oral surgery. I did all they things they told me to do--ate breakfast, had coffee, tried to stay calm. But I passed out when they put in his I.V. I was standing up, holding onto the rail of his hospital bed, and the nurse had to pry my hands loose so I could finish passing out and hit the floor. When I came to, they told him I was alright and sometimes parents do that sort of thing. He just sighed and said, "I can't take her anywhere." I don't think a mom ever loved her son more at that moment. I loved that he wasn't humiliated. Sometimes, it's the little things that mean the most.

For dinner tonight, I tossed together some cold steamed shrimp, grapefruit supremes, chunks of avocado, a little finely chopped onion, cilantro, and a vinaigrette of grapefruit and lime juice with olive oil and a touch of honey. I served it on a chiffonade of iceberg lettuce and baby spinach leaves. It was pretty tasty and a nice idea for a hot summer's night, except for one thing--my daughter has a canker sore in her mouth the size of the Grand Canyon, so feeding her grapefruit was a pretty dumb thing to do. Yeah, I know. I guess that means no Mother of the Year award. Let's hope I do better at this grandparent thing. How's that for a segue?

As promised last week, I'm also including a photo of the latest blueberry pie I made. I thought the family was getting a little tired of pie, but after I ate the last piece was consumed, there were some sad comments made, so I'm thinking it's time for another Paula Deen peach pie.

Forgot to add the lettuce for the photo

Last piece of pie--mine!

As soon as I get word from my son, I'll tweet you guys. Boy or girl? My intuition says girl, which means of course, that it's a boy.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A simple mind is easily amused.

That would be me, easily amused. On a good day, I'm not complicating things. I'm finding amusement in the banal, the ordinary. On a bad day, I'd probably step over George Clooney, but that would have to be a REALLY bad day. Let's hope it never comes to that.

My current amusement is Wendy Johnson's Laurel sock (Ravelry link). The construction is clever and simple and amazing. You increase on the needle holding the sole stitches, and this creates a gusset. You turn the heel with wrap-and-turn short rows, which I suck at, but that's a personal problem. Then, you work the heel flap while simultaneously decreasing the extra stitches from the gusset. There's no picking up stitches. Genius, I tell you!

I could kill my buzz by wondering how in the world somebody came up with this method in the first place, and why can't I invent something like this. But some of us are meant to be inventors of cleverness and some of us are meant to be consumers. I've accepted my place on the food chain and I'm O.K. with it.

Here's a photo of an almost completed heel flap. Notice how the gusset is elegantly decreasing. In this photo I have four more rows until the heel flap is completed:

This photo shows a completed heel flap, with the sole needle now containing the original number of stitches before the gusset was started:

A backside view of the heel flap:

And a view of the instep side:

These aren't exactly Diane Arbus-worthy photos, but you get the idea. I was too lazy to set up the big-ass tripod and I don't (yet) own a table-top tripod, so these are a bit blurry. I also do not own a light box, or a remote commander, or a wide angle lens... so many toys, so little money.

The color way might be a bit dark for this pattern, but I DO NOT CARE. I love this yarn so much I wish it would breed like rabbits in my stash. There were zero knots in the skein, it's so nice and squishy, and the color is glorious. I don't know who came up with the name Dream in Color Smooshy but I wish I'd given birth to them. Maybe I could get a discount.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday photo

Sometimes I'd like to be a duck. Except during hunting season. Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Obsessed Blogger--Can I put that on a resume?

I read a lot of blogs. At this moment, I follow 105--the number goes up and down (mostly up) depending on links I come across, blogs not being updated for months at a time, or me losing patience with people who blur the line between satire and snark once too often. I'm not that sensitive, but I have my limits. Others don't and that's cool. One person's snark is another person's pearls of wisdom.

Thankfully, not all 105 of the blogs on my list post everyday. When I read a blog, most of the time I leave a comment. Maybe it's because I have my own blog or maybe it's because I have a hyper sense of politeness. Whatever. It's just my way of saying, "Hey, I stopped by today." It matters to me to let that blogger know. Could be overkill on my part but that's me. When someone leaves a comment on my blog, I try to acknowledge it. That's not always possible, especially if they have no email address in their  profile. In those cases I'll comment on their comment on my own blog. I suppose you could call it BOCD--blogging obsessive compulsive disorder. Goes well with my CRS.

But it's not as crazy and time-consuming as it sounds. I get nice comments but nothing like The Yarn Harlot or Dooce. I doubt they even read all their comments--they can number in the thousands. Who has THAT kind of time? In that case, I hardly ever bother to leave a comment--I figure it just gets lost in the crowd, but I'm happy they get that much traffic. There are big-time bloggers and designers, however, who always acknowledge a comment on their blog and I've tried to model my on-line behavior after them. Knitspot comes to mind. She almost always emails a few words back. I know she has to be crazy-busy, and I'm always surprised and pleased to see her name in my inbox.

I suppose I'd have more time to knit if I didn't have these crazy compulsions, but once in a while I get an email from somebody telling me how much my comment meant to them, and I know it's all worth it. I'm not curing any diseases or altering the time-space continuum but I'm making the effort to connect with people and that feels good.

I also like to give shout-outs to people who have great stuff out there. Turtlepurl makes these awesome magnetic chart place markers that make my knitting go so much faster. I love them! She also has some really gorgeous yarns. Check her out.

I'm at the gusset of the laurel socks. Hopefully I'll be turning the heel today then I'll post some more photos. Happy almost weekend everybody!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Summer of Pies

When it nears triple digits here in Colorado, there aren't too many things that will get me to turn on the oven. Add Xcel's new rate hikes tiered rates and I've got lots of reasons not to bake. Except for pies. I seriously love me some pies. One Christmas, I made seven different pies for our family holiday dinner, so maybe obsession is a more accurate description for the way I feel about pies.

Here in my neck of the woods, we're at the tail end of rhubarb season. I just found out about a you-pick organic rhubarb farm a week too late. I'm on their mailing list for next year, so I've got that going for me. Fortunately, my bff still has rhubarb growing in her yard and she's very generous with it. I've turned her generosity into jam and this week, a pie. This is where I normally would show you a photo of said pie, but we ate it before I could take a picture. I'm planning on making another one this week, so I'll post a photo of that pie. Obsession indeed.

Here's a link to the recipe I used for strawberry-rhubarb pie. I made one major mod, however, and it's an important one. It's the secret to the best pies you'll make: a grated apple. Cooks Illustrated uses this method to thicken their blueberry pie and it works extremely well in all the fruit pies I make. If you read some of the comments/reviews about the strawberry-rhubarb pie, you'll see that some people complain about a runny pie. Their solution was to up the tapioca by a gazillion percent. I don't like this method because while it does thicken the pie filling, it also makes it gummy and rubbery. My solution was to use the amount of tapioca called for in the recipe, but grind it in a spice grinder. I also grated a peeled apple, squeezed it dry in a clean dish cloth, then stirred the grated apple into the pie filling. (The pectin in apples is a natural thickener.) Bake the pie until the crust is a deep golden brown and the filling bubbles up in the center. The difficult part of this recipe is waiting for the pie to cool COMPLETELY. That's going to be at least four hours, five to six is better.

As for pie crust, Martha Stewart's is pretty hard to beat, but you know what? So is this:

The Kroger house brand pie crust is just as good. Is it cheating? Maybe. But it's like a padded bra--if you don't advertise it, nobody will know the difference.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Things Worth Waiting For

Today is the due date for my first grandchild. Both my kids were late, so it's no surprise my grandchild has decided to hold us in suspense. That's O.K. Some things can't be rushed.

Speaking of rushing, this weekend I cast on for my SAM KAL socks. Not that I waited until the last minute but the pattern I chose--Laurel Socks (Ravely link) from Toe-Up Socks for Every Body--calls for size zero needles, and the lace repeat is 24 rows. It's the kind of pattern that requires attention, which means when I work on it, the phone is going to ring, or somebody will knock on the door, or one of the pets will barf. I'm not using the word "conspiracy" but you get the idea. The pattern is beautiful and I even had the yarn called for, Dream in Color Smooshy. It's not all that easy to find where I live, and this skein has been fermenting in my stash for about a year, but I know I'll get more of it. "Smooshy" aptly describes the way it feels and the color is nicely saturated, but it's darker in real life compared to the colors on my monitor when I look at their website.

This is probably going to be one of those projects that will get finished a row or two at a time. That's O.K. Some things can't be rushed.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday photos

One of the highlights of summer here in Colorado is the Drum Corp International competition held in Denver--Drums Along the Rockies. DCI is hard-core marching band competition--like a Rose Bowl half-time show on steroids. You probably don't think of marching bands when you think about summer in Colorado, but since DD started high school, it's been a big part of our family life. She and her 100 or so band mates spend a good part of their summer practicing for marching band competition season, and they all meet up at Drums so they can see the creme de la creme of marching bands. The quarterfinal round of the World Championships is broadcast in movie theaters across the country in early August. Check it out!

These are the Cadets, from Allentown, PA. 

This the Santa Clara (CA) Vanguard. The guy in the green shirt is a judge. This one had a real knack for getting in the way.

These are the Blue Devils, from Concord, CA. They won Drums Along the Rockies this year.

Here's a link to my flickr page for more photos.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Want to make me nuts? Just say...

I'm a tolerant, understanding person. Live and let live and all that. But one thing I do not get and cannot stand to hear about is boredom. Seriously. "I'm bored," is fingernails on the blackboard of my being. You should be smacked for uttering the words. There isn't a single day I do all the things I need to do, much less all the things I WANT to do. There just aren't enough hours in the day. If you knit, you know what I'm talking about. So many yarns, so many stitch patterns--how can you ever, ever be bored when you can take needles and fiber and CREATE?

At this very moment, I'm trying to decide what to cast on next. I have a pair of socks due by the last day of the month for my SAM KAL (sock a month knit-along.) There are baby things I want to make, several gift blankets, and a test-knit coming soon. I have three UFOs on the needles and there would be a dozen more if I didn't practice a little self-restraint. I also have two patterns to finish writing up. And don't get me started on the canning I'd like to do while Colorado produce is in season, and the photos I want to take, and the books I want to read...

Boredom--what the hell is that?

Here's my latest FO:

There are pattern details on my Ravlery page. I'll reveal more in the future, but since this is a surprise, I can't say anything else right now.

I hope you're all enjoying your summer. Is it me or is it going by too fast? I haven't made even a single batch of mojitos yet!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some of My Favorite Food Blogs

Instead of a recipe today, I thought I'd give you links to some of my favorite food blogs. There are a ton of them out there. Some are so beautiful that I spend my time drooling over them instead of getting busy and cooking something but I'll take inspiration wherever I find it, even if the inspiration doesn't hit me for a while.

Here's one of my favorites for sweets: The Food Librarian. Right now, she having a pretty cool giveaway. Every month until her birthday in December, she's celebrating by giving away gift certificates, books, things like that. She has some excellent recipes too.

Since I mentioned sweets, if you're one of the few people in the blogosphere who hasn't seen Cake Wrecks, it's worth checking out. It's not about recipes, but professional cakes gone horribly wrong. Funny, odd, gross--they show it all, and you can send in your own cake wreck photos.

I just recently started following White on Rice Couple. It's got to be one of the most gorgeously photographed food blogs EVER. And the recipes? Oh yeah. This is one of my favorite blogs.

Last for today, but certainly not least, is Tartelette. She's no slouch in the photography department either, and the recipes are fabulous. Easily one of the most elegant blogs I've come across.

I have lots of other food blogs I enjoy and will post links every few weeks. Enjoy!

I want to thank everybody for their kind words about my Katie. She is home now and doing slightly better. Right now, I have to force baby food into her. She's not eating on her own yet although she did lap up a little bit of half and half this morning. We have this funny little routine where she follows me into the kitchen first thing in the morning when I get my coffee, meowing for her splash of half and half. This morning, I had to call her into the kitchen, and it was kind of sad. The vet is now saying it's not diabetes, but most likely the IBD flaring up or perhaps lymphoma. They are both treated the same way, so time will tell. For now, we have her back and will love her and enjoy her for however long we have.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some days you're the dog and some days you're the hydrant.

Can't recall if I've mentioned that our kitty Katie has been ill--blaming it on my CRS. We thought we were going to lose her last night, and we're still not 100% certain she'll pull through, so yeah, her day could suck-start a leaf blower. If we're lucky, she's a diabetic kitty. If not, we have some hard decisions to make. I'm hanging out at a Starbucks, waiting for a call from the vet. Classifying this one as a gigantic hydrant.

I was hoping to have the edging finished on my big green project, but when you rip back three times before you come up with something that doesn't embarrass you, things tend to take waaaay longer than normal, maybe THREE TIMES LONGER. Finally ended up with something I really like, so of course I decide that an i-cord bind-off is the only thing that makes sense. And, oh by the way, when you have 570 stitches to bind off, and you basically work every bind-off stitch THREE TIMES... or is it four... ? I refuse to try and figure it out or do the math. It does look good, however, so I'm giving it a paws up. It's just the kind of brainless knitting I'm craving right now. I'm not, however, going to guess when it'll be finished since I'm being pulled from one thing to the other with no notice. It seems like a good idea to have a project like this in the old knitting bag, for times like these. I shutter to think what I'd do with a complicated lace pattern.

I'm trying not to feel like the hydrant right now but it's pouring on my head and I don't have an umbrella.  Guess I'll just have to stay patient until this dog decides to pee somewhere else. How about Tony Hayward? 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday photos

When I was a little girl, I had a yellow outfit--the skirt was pleated and the top had a sailor collar and buttons on the front. I felt like a princess whenever I wore it. Since then, I've had a fondness for yellow. 

These photos were taken in the park right behind my house. I love this place.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The best thing about knitting is...

that it will always be there. No matter how crappy I think my life is, no matter how heinous I believe the world is behaving, I can pick up my knitting and sooner or later I'll start to feel better. Maybe I don't solve my problems or achieve world peace, but after a few rows I no longer feel the need to pick up something heavy and throw it at the person, place, or thing that's working my last nerve. It might be just some yarn and pointy sticks to your average non-knitter, but if that person knew how much I rely on that yarn and those needles to keep me sane, they'd run the hell away from me as fast as they could. Ha ha!

My latest sanity knitting:

I'm hoping to start the edging tonight and post a photo of the completed object by the end of the weekend. This is a gift for someone who has NOT made me want to bitch-slap Santa. That means a lot.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pasta with Tomatoes and Fresh Herbs

This is one of my favorite summertime recipes. It requires fresh tomatoes and herbs, which are abundant right now, and takes only a few minutes to make--waiting for the pasta water to boil takes more time than the rest of the prep. Nice! I've served it along side grilled fish or other meat, and sometimes all by itself. I won't get into the whole cheese with pasta thing, since that seems to get your underwear in a twist if you're Italian, but I will say that freshly grated Parmesan is worth the time. But you didn't hear that from me. The recipe is in the sidebar.

This recipe is an adaptation from Marcella's Italian Kitchen (Marcella Hazan), one of my all-time favorite Italian cookbooks. The Yarn Harlot and several other people were Tweeting about another divine pasta sauce and I'm fairly certain the recipe was from this book. It's the Sugo Fresco di Pomodoro--Simple Tomato Sauce. It does require cooking, but it's pretty quick. If you can't get your hands on the book, here's a link, but be warned--the person who wrote up the recipe must have been hitting the Chianti hard, because they list ingredients that don't end up in the cooking instructions, like fresh basil. You add the basil just before you serve the sauce, in case you want to give it a try.

Giving a shout-out to SusanB-knits for her suggestion to add fresh blueberries to my Angel Scones recipe. She says it's a delicious variation and I'm going to try it myself. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This is why I keep my camera handy...

Remember these guys? I was on my back deck, shooting some yarn photos, when I heard some rustling in the trees right under the deck. Looks like they'll be hanging around for the summer. I've seen them several times in the park this last month, but never this close to our building. I just hope people are careful--you don't want to get all up in their faces. Elk can be mean. I kept a safe distance when I took these photos and didn't get all paparazzi on them.

Nice butt!

There were actually two hanging out in our backyard. I'm not sure if this is the same elk or his buddy, but I think this one knocked on my neighbor's door. Probably wanted a cold beer. Colorado elk like to party. That's a little known fact.

Isn't the velvet beautiful?

I came across a website selling antler velvet as a supplement--it's supposed to increase testosterone in men. Is there nothing some guys won't try for a boner? Seriously.

Here's what I was intending to photograph. It's some yummy Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed, some Zauberball, and two different color ways of Classic Elite Alpaca Sox.

I bought it from a very nice knitter who is selling off her stash to finance her dreams of relocating to the Big City. She is the nicest person and I'm giving her a shout-out. Check out her Etsy store. Please. She's letting go of some very gorgeous yarns and if somebody else doesn't beat me to it, I'll buy more of it. And I need more yarn like I need a third boob.

Monday, July 5, 2010



In Colorado, we like to brag about the weather--400 days of sunshine a year, yada yada yada. Yesterday in Denver, on the 4th of freakin' July, it rained and hailed like nobody's business and everybody is shocked. HELLO! The weather on the 4th of July is crappy 99.9% of the time. We save the good weather for September and October, after the summer tourists have gone home, and before the ski tourists get here. Instead of sunny skies and fireworks, we rake in the tourist $$$'s with stuff like Rocky Mountain oysters and Mike the Headless Chicken. Then there's that frozen dead guy. Disneyland's got nothing on Colorado, I tell ya! I'd love to hear about the sophisticated happenings in your state. Send me links and let's see who can peg the meter on the Crazy Tourist Attractions scale.

*I stole the phrase from this blog. This is one damn funny person. Go read her stuff.
**This photo was taken last July. I rest my case.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday photos

Is there any color that sets your heart on fire the way red does? 

Have a happy and safe holiday weekend.