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!