Monday, February 28, 2011

Sometimes it pays to be a bag lady!

Don't know about you, but I had a great weekend!

Saturday, I went with Liz to Bloomington to take a class in Entrelac.  It is a very interesting thing to do.  Quite frankly, I was a tad bit intimidated before, but it is not so scary now.  We started making a scarf.  I chose Noro Silk Garden in colorway 252.  Can't wait to try my hand at a larger project in the future.








Before class, we stopped in a great little shop/deli in the same shopping center and enjoyed a wonderful sandwich after scoping out some treats to take home.  (Cannot resist Hanuta when I have a chance to get it!)


Sunday, after trekking to Bass Pro Shop (more about that later), I attended the "Yarn Tasting" at Cottage Knits.  What a great evening filled with wine, snacks, games, good friends, new friends, YARN, and more YARN!  I seriously need to consider a yarn diet (not).


We were divided into different rooms and seated at dining tables.  As an icebreaker, Cathi had plates of yarn on the table.  Our task was to accurately identify each yarn.  We got them all right, which prompted Cathi to suggest that perhaps we buy a lot of yarn.  Guilty!


The second game was a little along the lines of "Let's Make a Deal."  We got points for having our knitting bag with us (um, do I EVER go anywhere without it?) and then she proceeded to ask for different items...awarding points to each person that had the item on the list.  I WON!!!  So there children of mine that make fun of me for carrying around so much crap vitally important stuff with me all the time.  My prize was this gorgeous skein of Ischia Silk in colorway 4003.




The take-away goody bag for all in attendance is shown below.  A cute little handmade project bag, a strawberry stitch marker, a small ball of yarn (all were different as were the project bags), a pack of pocket tissues and a pattern to make a "sweater" for the tissue packs.  Thanks Cathi, Julie, Jackie, and Nyra for a wonderful evening!





Friday, February 25, 2011

Hello...have we met?

Seems like I know you...


The last couple of weeks have been a tad bit on the bizarro side.


Been busy, but not sure what I've gotten accomplished.


The major fly in the ointment has been me just not feeling too great.  We are heading into Spring allergy season and it seems that my eyes are trying to get a head start!  You know, that itchy, goopy, crusty, blecchy, where does all this eye gunk come from kind of feeling?  (you are welcome for the share factor).  If it is starting now, I cringe thinking about what is coming.  When you can't see very clearly due to all the gunk and the wild fluttering of your eyelids leading strangers to thinking you are flirting, it is difficult to focus--ha ha pun intended--on what you are doing.  So, as little as possible is what has been doing.


The only thing remotely finished that I can share this week, is that, um, well, I finished the week! Yay! Hooray!


My last baby bird has flown the nest, so to speak.  Wednesday afternoon, Chris FINALLY got his driver's license.  I fully expect to see him only when it is his curfew or when he needs money...wonder which one will come first?


Snail mail communication with Alex has picked up a bit.  Bless his little heart, he sounds so hoarse on the phone.  Sent out a huge care package this week, complete with deodorizing spray ("Mom, my locker STINKS!") along with a big bunch of pictures from home...ya know, so he won't forget what we look like!


Wesley is so excited to finally have his class ring in his possession.  Earlier in the week, he taught himself how to change the oil in his car.  So proud of my baby boy!  Self reliance/self sufficiency is something that I speak of often with my boys, so it's times like these when I know at least one was listening.


Wes and I are in the process of planning our garden for this year.  Will be putting several raised beds near the house for a mixture of flowers, herbs, and a few vegetables, but the larger planting will be "off-site."  We have the okay from a neighbor to use one of their horse lots, not currently in use, to build larger raised bed frames for a few other vegetables.  We'll see how that goes.  While I am happy to have access to the space (much like the garden that was at the farm when I was growing up), I am not too crazy about not having it literally in my backyard.  The list of seeds to order is ready.  We have chosen to only use heirloom/non-GMO seeds from here.


Knitting-wise, the old Crafting ADD has reared its ugly head again.  The Montparnasse is still plugging along.  One more sleeve and it will be ready to seam up and do the finishing knit bits.  The February Lady Sweater is still on needles at the yoke and is likely going to turn into the March Madam Sweater at this rate!  However, I did manage to start TWO new projects that screamed "start me now, do not wait, you know you want to knit me up, c'mon c'mon I promise I'm a fast knit and won't interfere with the other googlyzillion other things you are doing" (Liars)  The first is one that I foolishly was misled by the name into thinking easy also meant fast (clearly I did not read the whole stinking pattern and did not notice the part about knitting 1/1rib for 60 inches and then picking up 150 stitches, then increasing to 300 stitches for 500000000 inches and then increasing again to 600 stitches for 3498174981274 inches...fine that might be slightly exaggerated).  But, lemme say that the Easy Ruffle Coat (Ravelry download) is cuuute!  It is coming to life in Feza yarn colorway 712.  The other time stealer is a baby blanket for the son of one of our employee's.  Yes, I have known for months and months that they were having another baby, but, well, you know how it is.  Baby Oliver is going to be receiving the Toy Boat, Toy Boat, Toy Boat blanket done in Cascade Yarns Cherub Aran in a baby blue colorway.


So, Tami's is where you can find projects that are actually finished, but I am sticking to my original statement that I did finish the week...oooh AND this post!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Mommy

Last week on Valentine's Day, I got a letter from Alex.  


It was a short one, but he is very very busy and Mama is thrilled to get any amount of words from him.  


This past Saturday, besides being a truly gorgeous day, turned into an extra special one.  The mailman brought another letter!


I have forwarded the house phone to my cell phone and make sure that on Sundays it does not leave my side on the off chance that he gets to call.  Well, Saturday, I was busily painting window trim when my phone rang and it said "unknown."  I almost did not answer it.  Boy am I glad I did...it was my sweet baby boy!  He is very hoarse,  tired, but loving every minute.  They are officially done with Red Phase and have moved to White Phase.  I conference called in his Dad so we could both talk to him.  He requested loads of cough drops to help with the sore throat from yelling.  A few other requests were also made, specifically lots and lots of pictures!  


Yesterday and today have been spent gathering items for a care package.  The other thing that has had me bouncing off the walls, is that he got to call me AGAIN on Monday morning.  It is time to start planning reservations and other things for his BCT graduation.  Will be taking a little extra time for a side trip to the beach.  Hopefully, Alex may be able to come with me for  a day or so (he reportedly will be getting a couple of weeks for family time and recruiting before he reports to AIT).   


Life is good and I am so proud of my son!

 I swear this was just yesterday...


Don't be fooled



He may have a sweet little face...




But he is a stinker...




Norman is a thief.  He loves bread and if there are any leftover rolls or bready things, it is imperative that they be hidden. 


He will steal them.


He will eat them.


He is not very neat and does not clean up his messes.


The latest incident:  there were some scones left out on the counter in a storage container.  I had been saving them and some yummy bread from my Valentine's surprise and was rationing and allowing myself one or two a day.  One day late last week, I came home to find an empty and BROKEN box on the floor. 


NORMAN! 


This is not a false accusation, he has been caught before and his reputation as a hell raiser precedes him.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lace and dangles...

It is off needles.


And blocked.


And dangled.


And hung up.


And did I mention...DONE.


Take that evil lace pattern...






As you can see, Sophie would have been totally annoyed if I had done the cafe curtain version on the bottom half.  The dangly, beady thingys are from a beaded bar hanging (three of them) that Wes had bought for me several years ago.  After finishing the last two rows, binding off and making the rod pocket, I spent TWO hours meticulously tying/sewing on each and every bead strand.  Hanging in the window, I can see the pattern error, but since I was consistent and did not fix it, it is repeated a second time thus making it intentional.  Right?  <that is your cue to say, error, what error?  looks perfect to me>


I am DONE with lace...


...until tomorrow, when I get back to the February Lady Sweater and finish sorting throught the five patterns (all with lace, of course <rolling my eyes at myself>) that I just printed off Ravelry.  


Now, peoples, it is Friday, so you know what that means?  


Besides that it is "Jimmy Johns Friday"...


"Ya gotta see the baby!"


(name that sitcom/episode)


No, really, ya gotta see the "babies" that all the proud mamas are showing off at Tami's.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mimosas on Monday and Windows on Wednesday

Seems as if every time I sit down to post something, I realize there are about 40 bazillion other things that need my attention more.  

Monday morning, I was hurrying around getting ready to leave for the day when Wes came and told me that I really needed to slow down.  Well, duh, of course, cuz I'm always running around like a squirrel!  


"Why?'


"Well, because you are having a party."


"I am?"


"Yeah, at 9a.m., some of your friends are coming over and I am making you breakfast and you are going to sit and knit."


"WOW!!!!"


And that is exactly what happened.  Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to sit outside of my own kitchen and NOT be the one cooking???  (I survived)


Three of my gal pals came over, bringing some assorted yummy treats.  Meanwhile, Wes fixed us bacon, eggs, toast (boy am I glad I made two loaves of sourdough on Sunday!), assorted jams/jellies and MIMOSAS!   Mmmmmmm, I luuuuuvvvvv me a mimosa on a Monday morning.  Kinda makes the whole day tolerable. 


After breakfast, (and, yes he did the dishes too) we sat around, knitting, visiting, and generally having a wonderful time.  


Every year, I make a special dinner on Valentine's Day.  This year was cream cheese stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon, NY strips, Hasselback potatoes, roasted fresh green beans with lemon slices and shallots, rolls, a lovely white merlot, and sugar cream pie.  

Knitting wise, I have had a severe case of tunnel vision and have been working furiously on the window valance.  Discovered that perhaps lace is not really my nemesis.  The pattern has repeats of the same row several times.  Originally, I kept getting frustrated because I was having some, but not all, rows with the wrong number of stitches.  Think there is actually an error in the pattern.  During a moment of math/lace clarity, I realized that the wonky stitch numbers kept occurring on the same line repeat.  DING DING DING...it is totally, okay maybe only partly, not me!!! (Only because there IS one row that got completely off, but not gonna worry about it)   Working on the rod pocket...10 more rows to go...





Folks at Tami's are bound to be better at math/counting than me and are sure to have some spectacular WIP to share.  Pour yourself a glass of wine or tea or whatever, sit down and take a peek at all the purty projects.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why do I keep doing this?

Lace.


Every time I turn around, I am picking out a pattern with lace.


I HATE knitting lace.


Something to do with the vital importance of reading and following the directions completely.


Yet, I keep doing it.  

I started a lace curtain for the laundry/craft room nearly a year ago.  Decided I did not like the pattern and switched sometime around the end of the year to this curtain.  


Sounds good enough.  HA!  Picked it up again last week.  


I.HATE.LACE


Why is it that I start out with the correct number of stitches, lose a few somewhere along the way, add in a whole bunch more, but then still wind up with less than I started with even though there is an ungodly number of yarn overs???

Originally, there was going to be a 15inch tall piece for the bottom portion of the window, and a 6 inch piece for the top.  After much thought, cussing, lamenting, counting, adding, subtracting, cussing some more, good natured ridicule from my peeps, and more cussing my ideas have morphed.  Why would I want something covering the bottom portion of the window?  It would block my view out across the back porch to the lake AND would irritate the cats to no end forcing them to spontaneously shed mass quantities of fur on it, which in turn would make me twitch.



So, here it is one full section of the lace pattern.  Going to do one more repeat, add the rod hem edge and call it a day (well, eventually, when it is really done).   Now, should anyone actually look close enough to find the mistake(s), I will gleefully poke their eyes out proclaim, that it was done on purpose and quickly change the topic!



The Montparnasse is coming along nicely.  Except for that whole part where I put it down in the middle of right side decreases, lost my place, thought I had it figured out, read the pattern wrong, and had to frog the entire right side and start over.  Do you sense a trend here??



Okay, so there are like 10,000+ people doing the February Lady Sweater so why shouldn't I join in on the fun?  Because, ya know I-HATE-LACE, but what the heck...



Sophie, as she sits stuffed into a most small basket, doesn't really care what is going on.



It has now been a week and a half since I last spoke with my oldest son (he is at Basic Training).  This is a very busy time for him and I know that he has limited time and is exhausted.  No letters have been received by either his dad or myself.  Loads of notes are going out to him and hopefully, soon, the floodgates will open and the letters will start coming in.  Fortunately, I have the support of others in his platoon by way of a Facebook page.  It helps to talk to them and support one another.  In the meantime, I keep finding myself listening to the old voicemails he left that are still on my phone.  


Dark circle/teary eyed Mama and her baby...



Lots of projects being worked on (hopefully no more lace, or at least lace done right) at Tami's.  Stop by, visit, and spread the love.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Calendar is Cruel...

As I was running on the treadmill earlier, all sorts of things, frightening, terrifying, horrendous things were floating through my mind.

Did you know it is nearly the MIDDLE of February?

Did you know it is just about one month until Spring Break for us?

Did you know that means it is soon going to be shorts season?

Did you know that means bathing suit season follows VERY soon after that?

Did you know that means I really need to NOT get off of the treadmill for the next month, at the very least?

Thought I would share. That's what I'm here for... :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super...

plate of homemade chicken pot pie for dinner.  Bet you thought I was gonna say bowl! 


Sometimes, you just want the comfort of some saucy chicken and vegies, but don't always feel the pull to make the pastry.  Here is a quick way to get the same tastes, but without the fiddly pie crust.  


First, make some biscuits:


2 cups self rising flour
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk


Using a pastry blender,  cut the shortening into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Make a well in the center, pour in milk and using a fork, mix until fairly well blended.   Do not overwork.  Turn out onto floured board and knead 3-4 times.  Pat out to about 1/2 inch thick and cut with 2inch cutter.  Fold, flatten, and cut scraps.  Should get 8 biscuits.  I like mine with soft edges, so place in greased 8 inch cake pan with sides nearly touching and bake in 450 degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden.  Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.  


While the biscuits are cooking, mix up the yummy chicken, veggies and sauce:


2 cups cooked, diced chicken
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
salt
pepper
1 can cream of chicken soup (un-diluted)
1- 10 to 12 oz package frozen mixed vegetables


Combine in saucepan and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.


Split biscuits in half and spoon chicken mixture over and enjoy some warm yumminess.


This week's cleaning schedule calls for Zone 10:  Back Porch


Normally, this is what I would do in warmer months, but as it is still winter and the porch is not in frequent use at this time, I actually did a modified version all at once today.  


Monday:  Straighten
                Deadhead plants


Tuesday:  Vacuum and mop (yes I really take the vacuum out and use it on the floor, rugs, and screens)


Wednesday:  Remove cobwebs
                     Dust and polish wood furniture, clean ceiling fans


Thursday:  Clean windows, doors, and wall light fixtures


As soon as it warms up and we are ready to officially "re-open" the porch, I will take everything off and super duper clean it (really have to wait to do that until after the oak trees finish blooming, otherwise it is a colossal waste of time)

Having a little pity party of my own...compounded by feeling like I am coming down with something.  Anticipated getting a phone call tonight from my favorite Soldier in Training, but no such luck.  :(  I know he is busy so I'll just keep the letters going out.  

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sew FO

My needles have been very very busy the last several days.  But, not the knitting needles...  My sewing machine and serger have gotten quite the workout.


Wanna see?


Tea for Two plus Two plus One = Five Travel Tea Cozies:







The inside basically looks like what is shown here.


Ugly utility sink BEFORE:



Prettiness, AFTER (done in three sections to allow for the front to be lifted up for access to the stuff hidden beneath the sink):


For the BEFORE pic, use your imagination to envision your everyday, bland, boring, black task chair.


Now, voila...AFTER:

Happy Valentine's Day!!  (forgot that I am not a big fan of Burda patterns)


And, what did all those scrappy bits of leftover fabric turn into?


With the addition of some pleather from the covering of my dressing table stool, I now have 4 Pseudo-Log Cabin quilt pillow fronts to use for the back porch.  Picked up some lovely coordinating solid green for the back.  Now to stuff 'em.




Other needle noodlings are being showcased at Tami's.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Global what?




Yeah...I'm not buying it!


In other areas of excitement, Wes felt the need to document my stupidity/forgetfulness last night.  This is what happens when you turn on the oven to preheat, have your hands covered in flour and dough while kneading the biscuits and remember "OH *%^$" the sourdough starter is in the oven.  Why was it in the oven with a towel over it?  I have five cats, duh!

See the little tidbit of bricky red on the right?  A wonderfully dear sweet lady named Margie (Hi Daddy, tell Margie Hi and thank you again for me, k?) made this crocheted hot pad for me.  I love love love it!


Toasted tea towel does not smell very good.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sew Crazy and a Knit Wit to boot!

It is Wednesday.  

We are, for all intents and purposes, iced and snowed in.

Of course that means, let's empty out the mending basket and start a few new projects.  

Why???

Because I can :)

Knit-wise, my needles have been monogamous to one project:  Montparnasse .  The back and left front are done.  Ready to cast onto the right side.  




Sewing bug bit me again in a big way.  (might have had a little help from the grumbling of someone that wanted his FAVORITE sweatshirt repaired...it's been in the mending basket for about 2 months)


Monday and Tuesday, worked on and finished all five of the Travel Tea Cup Cozies that got started in December.  Will share them on Friday.  


Then, decided that my utility sink was UGLY to the max and needed some clothes...





My workspace desk chair was nekkid too.  Again...gonna have to wait until Friday...

This morning I woke up fretting about all the lonely fabric scraps in the cabinet crying out to feel the love.  Grabbed the scissors, straight edge, chalk, and got to it.  Well, except for the whole Bella sitting on some scraps I needed part.





Can you guess what it might be turning into? Can you can you huh huh huh???




For a Valentine's Day "present", started working on a slip nightie with some remnant satin with tone on tone hearts on it.  Woo Hoo, it's getting hot in here!!!  (Sorry, I'm stuck in the house, a little bored, and for some reason Jerry Springer is on the TV...)





Gotta go, so much sewing, so little time.  If you are the praying type, please send up a few that there WILL be school tomorrow.  'Nuff said.  


Go check out progress being made by other fellow knit wits at Tami's.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Major Carb Loading

That is what I am calling it, cuz the honest gluttonous truth is a little depressing.  

This past weekend, if it was a carbohydrate, I was either cooking it, eating it, or cooking and then eating it.  It sounds better if we just say that I was carb loading in preparation for the half marathon I am going to be doing.  (Shhhh, the run is not until May, but if we leave out that little detail, then my pigging out is totally justified, right?  Can I get an Amen Sistah!!)

Saturday started out innocently enough with whipping up a batch of homemade granola...poor delusional fellow, Wes thinks adding raisins will make it better, but ummm NO.  

Then, I noticed we were shockingly short on bread.  Well, let's just make some sourdough starter (here is the record of my past inability to do this).  

 All you need is some yeast, warm water, flour, and honey.
 1 Tablespoon yeast---dissolve in 1/2 cup warm water.

 Stir in 1-1/2 cups flour.
 Then another 1-1/2 cups warm water.
 1 Tablespoon of Honey, darlin'
 Stir it all up.
 Cover with a tea towel or cheesecloth and leave it out at room temperature for about 5ish days.  Stir at least twice daily.  Then what?  Jump over to Chickens in the Road
for the rest of what now info.







Of course, that is not good enough to satisfy the carbing out mode.  We needed regular bread and some cinnamon bread for french toast.

 Ready to rise.


 One hour later.


 One loaf for second rising.


 One loaf quick freezing to have on hand.


 After second rising and ready to bake.


Come to Mama baby...

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