Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thinking Out Loud

Have you had those days, weeks, months, years where struggles and frustrations pop up continuously?  Of course you have, we all have.  It is part of life.  


And to that end, one can apply the Kaizen principle which simply put is constant change.  The difference between random change and "Kaizen change" is the mindset that small, yet meaningful, changes occur continuously to the goal of achieving positive results.  Sometimes, easier said than done.


What is a girl to do in the face of these challenges?  Soldier on and hope for the best.  No, nothing is terribly wrong per se, just a case of life getting in the way of life.  


To quote my Mother, "This too shall pass."

Friday, August 26, 2011

What's in a name?

First, I have to say, yes, I am still alive.  Blogging has taken a back seat for the last little bit as I have been attempting to get caught up in other areas.  


Last weekend, a friend of mine came over bearing a super-dee-duper present for me.  She is in the process of moving with her husband to Portland (boo hiss about the whole moving part).  We knit together every week and are both members of a local service group.  


On her last trip to see her husband, who moved ahead of her, they went to Foothills Yarn and Fiber.  She was excited to visit an alpaca farm and see the fiber from these animals.  When she arrived, the store had a number of people there spinning--I keep telling her it is just a matter of time before she joins the rest of us.  After looking around at the yarn, handspun, roving, and fleeces, she inquired about fleeces from the animals there.  Long story short, one of the alpacas is named Dina...which is my name.  She commented on that, only to be told that the animals name was D (long i) na. "Um, no, that is the same spelling as my friend and it is D (long e) na."  ***side note, I mean really, why can no one ever get my name right, it's not as if you say T (long i)na or G (long i)na is it?!?!--okay Nina is an odd one also***  Back to the story...they had recently shorn Dina and the fleece was available as roving.  She.brought.me.8 ounces.of.baby.alpaca.named.Dina!!!  Her husband walked in about that time and said, "hey did you know they have an alpaca named Dina?"  The shop owner declared that they might as well change how they say her name (to the RIGHT way, I might add).  You know how this is going to end don't you?  This stuff is like spinning air. O.M.G. it is heaven.  




Ashley is hiding behind this gorgeous blob of softness.  I have only caught her once running through the house with it in her mouth and trailing behind her.  




Ashley knows a soft thing when she sees it, but obviously does not appreciate being awakened.




Lordy! I am spoiled now...


In other news, there is no other news.  Four baby booties have now been completed...one pair following the pattern and one pair with my screwed up pattern reading interpretation.  


And that's  all she wrote...(because she hasn't had time for much of anything else!)


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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Santa, Pintos, and the Margherita...

No this is not some odd spin on Columbus' ships.  Although, back to school puts me in mind of that little poem, but I have more of an interest in Vespucci...


Santa:  Did you know that there are roughly 128 days until Christmas?  Holy snowflakes!  You're welcome.


Pintos:  With back to school, my mind starts shifting to colder weather meals.  Unlike strange son of mine that wanted Chicken and Dumplings in the midst of freaky hot weather, I usually like my warm comfort foods in the chilly seasons...aka Chili Season or big pots of Beans with hot cornbread on the side.


The Margherita:  That's what I'm talking about!  Dinner tonight...fresh tomatoes thinly sliced and marinated in olive oil, kosher salt, and garlic while the never fail homemade pizza dough is rising.  Brush the dough with a little olive oil, spread a thin layer of mozzarella (prefer to use slices of fresh, but was out so shredded works in a pinch), lay the tomatoes on and sprinkle the top with thin strips of fresh basil.  Oh my, the aroma from the oven and the taste explosion in your mouth. 



Now, go do your homework.  :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Directions...what are those for?

I have not made it to the point in my knitting journey to safely, not to mention purposefully, stray from the pattern as written.  Most of the adjustments are purely accidental and usually work out (such as the sweater made in a size Smedium) and some things don't...but they have been blocked from my memory like a bad friend on Facebook!


Enter this week's installment to the world of WIP.  

Last week I repeatedly started the Echo Mobius with my purple handspun.  I now know what the problem was, but the crafting ADD bug kicked in and the only way this classifies as being on needles is well, the needles ARE stuck in it...


My sister has a friend that is expecting a baby sometime next Spring.  Carrie asked me to knit some baby things and we discussed doing a week's worth of different baby booties.  There is a pattern in here that is soooo cute.  The color is off in this picture as the yarn (Cascade Fixation) is really cream, brown, green, and blues.  I whipped up this one Tuesday at Knitting Group and then realized that I had totally messed up the pattern as written and did something completely different.  So, they are no longer Hannah's Special Slippers, but are now Dina's Screwed-Up Baby Shoe.  I did write down what I did, so with a little luck the second one will turn out the same.



Over the course of the past year, I have participated in a knitting meme sponsored by Tami.  It is so much fun to see what people all over the world are working on and to realize that sometimes you are making the same thing as someone far, far away, but it connects you to them.  As the meme recently celebrated it's first anniversary, Tami graciously held a give away.  I was one of the winners and got to pick out a skein of fingering weight yarn from her hand dyed yarns that she sells online as Candy Skein.  The colorway I chose is Blackberry from the Yummy Series.  Thank you Tami, not only for your generosity, but also for hosting this fun weekly event.  




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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

P.I.T.I.F.U.L.

There is no other way to describe it.  


What started out so promising...

Then got sidetracked by a WHOLE lot of wet and crazy weather...


My sweet little vegetable seeds have tried so hard, but the force has not been with them.  The seedlings sprouted up so straight and tall.  Then they got stronger and once it finally warmed up enough for them to sit in some dirt in the big bad outdoors, they turned into frightened little turtles and hid.

The evil chipmunks were no help either!  Nor were the deer helping themselves to an unsuspecting and unknowing salad bar.  


Remember the episode of Gilligan's Island where a crate washes ashore and is filled with all sorts of seeds?  They plant them and it turns out that they are radioactive seeds and produce HUGE vegetables.  Well, my little seeds have not seen that episode, in fact, quite the opposite.


 Over the last 4 weeks I have picked one or two green beans each week.  There were 8 of them, but Norman has this thing about playing with and then eating green beans.  He is a strange cat.  Kept hoping that the plants would suddenly be dripping with beans.  The flowers were there, but nothing else.  This year, I planted pole beans.  Normally, I plant bush beans, so I am blaming the lack of performance on that fact.


 Pretty bright red tomatoes.  Pretty tiny tomatoes.  The ones on the left are from a variety that is supposed to produce large quantities for canning over an entire month...3!  that's it, just 3!  For a point of reference, the camera lens cover is sitting there to illustrate the state of confusion that the 'maters on the right are in.  Guess what they are supposed to be?  BEEFSTEAK!

I don't even know what to say here.  I planted yellow crookneck squash seeds and these two things came off the same plant!


Sorta wishing the Vegetable Bunny would come and hide nice pretty veggies for me to find and put in my picking basket.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Infinity and so on and so forth...

The Infinity cardi/wrap is done, off needles, and awaiting a spritz and a pinning.  Despite having the look of a quite intricate design, it is really a quick and easy knit.  The pattern is written only for one size, and although I am quite sure other more "math-erly" people could make the appropriate adjustments, I am not so inclined.  Fortunately, it fits...even before blocking.









And with that, I end the week...a very long one...and contemplate the next needle noodlings.  I have cast on and frogged the Echo Mobius (from the same book as the Infinity) THREE times now.  My brain must be a little fried as trusting the pattern is simply not working out, that is until I did a google search looking for errata for what I was POSITIVE was a mistake (there was one, but the problem was me).  Maybe tonight after Bunco I will try a fourth time--yarn being used is the brilliant purple that I spun and dyed.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

You are such an ARMHOLE!

Over the weekend at my Daddy's, I had every intention of finishing the Infinity Cardi. Best laid plans and all that...  The arms kept giving me grief.  Got part way done with the first sleeve then realized that there was no way I was going to be able to fix the boo-boo from setting in the sleeve cap no matter how hard I tried.  

As I was sitting there ripping out row after row, someone in the room...might have been my Daddy, might have been my brother-in-law, not sure now...said something about me being an "armhole" and the conversation took a nose dive from there.  Add that one to the "familiy-isms" file.  

Tonight, however, is another story.  Currently there are only about 20 rows left to the second sleeve and this thing is done!  Sadly for you, that means only little glimpses tonight before the big reveal on Friday.  






I have mentioned before that my family says the craziest things and then they stick and we repeat them over and over even if no one else around has a clue what we are laughing or talking about.  Most people simply look at us and shake their heads.  My "driver boy" contributed a great story for the family collection on Saturday while we were driving south.  Before we left Saturday morning, a quick look at the weather indicated that it was likely we would be driving into some severe storms. 

Somewhere outside of St. Louis, he looked in the rear view mirror and declared that there was a storm chaser vehicle coming up behind us.  He was convinced that it was one.  According to him, it was big, boxy, low to the ground, dark colored, and had an antenna on top.  Guess it was possible, I've seen some pretty strange things on the interstate.  It comes up beside us...and...1. It was a low to the ground boxy truck. 2.  It was dark red (poor boy and his twin are color blind...explaining a lot of their clothing choices and propensity to coloring grass blue, etc, but that is an entirely different story).  3.  It had a regular after market antenna stuck on top of the cab.  I started laughing and as it passed thought I was gonna pee my pants from laughing so hard.  On the back were a whole slew of bicycles.  Turned to the boy and said, oh yeah that's a storm chaser all right...a Wizard of Oz one..."I'll get you my pretty!!!"  Not surprisingly, that got me a "shut up Mom!"


Driving home Tuesday, I did run into some crazy wicked storms...




It is hard to tell in the bottom one, but it was raining on the left side of the highway and not on the right.  Crazy stuff!


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Sunday, August 7, 2011

You REALLY can't take me anywhere...

I am at my Daddy's house for the weekend.  One of my boys did all the driving yesterday.  He wanted to prove that he could do the whole trip.  He did a wonderful job and the only mistakes made had more to do with the passenger seat navigator (what can I say, things look differently in that seat than they do in the driver's seat).

A tradition with the boys when we make this trip is to buy a few scratch-offs when we stop for gas.  At our first stop, which was supposed to be a super quick get some gas, go to the bathroom, get a snack stop, didn't turn out that way.  We won $100!!! Of course, that meant, let's get a few more, win a couple more bucks, rinse/repeat, rinse/repeat.

When it was time to deal with St. Louis, driver boy opted to go through the city to experience the "harder" route, rather  than taking the loop around it.  A little more than 30 minutes later, finally made it across the river.  He did really well making the right exit choices, especially considering that I have accidentally tried to go to Chicago and/or Memphis more times than I care to admit!!

Twelve hours later (yes, 12 for a 611 mile drive!!!) we finally arrived.  The bonus for me was that since I was not driving, that meant some serious dedicated knitting time.  All that time also prompted me to wonder what my "knitter hands" are gonna look like when I am old.  Think about it... ballerinas get knobby/gnarly feet, runners get black toes... what do fiber freaks get?

This morning has renewed my belief that our water at home is awful.  I have extremely fine, naturally wavy/curly hair, so, of course, I prefer to wear it as straight as possible.  Here, I can easily achieve what I want and am left with silky, soft, straight but still bouncy hair (unless ugly humidity is present and I don't get my hair dried fast enough).  At home, a great deal of effort is required to get to this point, and it always seems to fall just short... frizz is hiding...and not very well.  Wonder if there is some way to redo the plumbing to pump this water back home.

And now for the confession of the day.  Keep in mind that at the time of this incident, there was less than half a glass of iced tea coursing through my veins, so I cannot be held responsible for my actions.  I keep my travel bag stocked with small versions of necessities.  As I was getting my toothbrush ready, I squeezed the paste on it (remember, at home, I use homemade baking soda paste) and thought, that looks weird.  It was a thin line and was hard to squeeze onto the brush.  Oh well, maybe it is just old and sorta dried up since it has been languishing about waiting for me to actually GO SOMEWHERE!  Stuck the brush in my mouth and ooooooooooooohhhhhhh ick, it has zero taste, is kinda greasy, and is not foaming at all.  Turns out, triple antibiotic cream does not make a good toothpaste.

Welcome to my world.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Spinning Around


 Fiber has been flying and whirling and plying and soaking for the last week or so.  With the exception of the Infinity, the needles have been still. 

Back in June, I picked up a couple of bats and some balls of fiber at the Fiber Arts Festival.  The blue one was finished shortly after Minerva arrived.  The reddish, vegetable soup looking mass has been transformed...





I wish you could actually see more accurately the variations in the shading and the metallic gold running through it.  


The orbs of fiber are slowly decreasing in number as they are transformed into cakes of pretty yarn (trying to be very careful about spinning to a thickness to allow for a 2-ply of sport/DK weight)...





On Wednesday, I posted a riddle/joke from one of my boys.  The answer is:  He is holding a Swiss (cake roll) Army (note) Knife (dinner knife stuck in the cake rolls).  Hardee har har!  What can I say,  the corny humor acorn does not fall far from the tree! 


As I sit here typing away in the oven that is my office (the a/c unit outside has decided to be cantankerous and the repair dude has yet to call back) I am thankful that this happened THIS week instead of the inferno of the last couple of weeks and that not only is it Fibery Finished Objects Fun Time For All Friday, it is also Jimmy John's Friday...


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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bulky But Not Sweaty...

Last week, after a fun little fiber fondling trip on the weekend with some gal pals, I cast on a cardigan that I have been drooling over for months.  I have seen it in advertisements in my fiber-y magazines and it had me at first glance.  During our field trip, I found no yarn that asked to come home with me, but the book with THE pattern...you better believe it came home.  I have been stalking it, dreaming about it, and now creating it. 


What is it? 

The Infinity (Cardi-Wrap with Sleeves) This thing is g.o.r.g.e.o.u.s. to the max!  Thought about using a variegated yarn, but remembered some steel gray bulky yarn that has been sitting in my stash patiently waiting to tell me what it wanted to be.  Walked by the cabinet it was in and heard it yelling..."pick me pick me!"  It is some smart yarn, lemme tell you.  

So, last Tuesday night, I cast on with Saphira.

It is a 100% Superwash Merino Wool in Colorway 564.  Can you say soft and squishy?  Surprisingly enough, the pattern is going quickly.  Amazing what bulky yarn and 10 1/2 needles will produce.  The back is done, blocked, and seamed.  Yesterday, I picked up the stitches for the right front and made good progress during my knitting group.  



  
In other WIP's, I have been working diligently on a soon to be opened Etsy shop.  My plan is to start with a few of my soaps, add some knitted items, some knitting accessories, some sewn items, and some spun goods.  We'll see how it progresses.  For now, the soap inventory is growing, the business registration with the state has been completed and the all important tax ID number secured.  Stay tuned for more information on this latest journey of mine.  


There is always a stack of books on my bedside table.  Once I finally decide to actually go to bed, I do enjoy reading a few pages of whichever book in progress interests me at the moment.  Lately, Time is a River by Mary Alice Monroe has captured my attention.  


And now, a riddle/joke for you to figure out (supplied by one of my silly boys)...




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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Boys of Summer

Last week it was hot.


Today it is hot.


Imagine it will be hot yet again next week.


Last Tuesday, I took the boys and a friend to the driving range to hit buckets of balls.  We went early in the morning to avoid most of the heat.  That part of the plan worked, but the catch to the plan was the getting up early part...for them.  Turns out, waking boys up early (read 8 a.m.) when they have been in the habit of not going to bed until the wee hours of the morning and not waking up until mid-afternoon, triggers all sorts of goofiness in them.  That's what they said, but I reserve the right to disagree...they were already goofy.


PGA Tour watch out!  (no seriously WATCH OUT!!! they may hit you with a ball or three)







Near the end of their buckets, the civilized sport declined to a state of ridiculousness with one hitting balls like playing baseball and the other stacking 5 or 6 balls into a mound and whacking.  


And just because it is hotter than the face of the sun, my sons requested Chicken and Dumplings for dinner that night.  Wow...the perfect hot weather meal...steaming broth over generous chunks of chicken and fat gorgeous dumplings...yes, I'm being sarcastic and YES, that is what Mama fixed when the baby birds said pleeeeeaaaasssse.  It was declared that the world would be a better place if said recipe was shared.  So, here it is, but I do suggest you wait until it is a teensy bit cooler.  


Dina' Chicken and Dumplings


In a large stock pot, pour 3 to 4 quarts of water over a 3#  to 4# cut up chicken.  Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt (may need more, but this is a start), a small super fine diced onion (my kids wig out over the appearance of onions in their food,  don't know who they get that from-HA), 2 stalks of super fine diced celery (same problem as onion) 1 or 2 diced garlic cloves, 4 to 6 whole fresh parsley leaves, 2 teaspoons of fresh cracked pepper.  Bring this all to a boil and let it boil for at least 20 or 30 minutes.  Turn the heat down to a simmer, put a lid on, and let it simmer for a couple of hours.  Pull the chicken pieces out and pull off the bones.  Set it aside.  Meanwhile, crank the heat back up to medium under the broth and add a slurry of 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup flour...stirring constantly.  Once thickened, turn back to simmer and start the dumplings.  Sometimes I like rolled ones and sometimes drop dumplings.  This recipe works either way.  In a mixing bowl add 2 cups self rising flour, 1/3 cup shortening...cut the shortening into the flour.  Stir in anywhere from 1/3 to 3/4 cup milk.  Mix together really well.  Bring the thickened stock back up to a medium bubble, put the pulled chicken back in and then drop spoonfuls of  the dumpling dough into the stock.  Once all the dumpling dough is dropped in, cover the pot and simmer for 25 minutes.  I usually wind up adding more salt and pepper, the boys don't.  My theory is you can always add it, but it can't be taken out!  




Now if that isn't some fine summertime food, I don't know what is!  Except maybe some lovely chicken salad on a croissant, or watermelon salad, or tuna salad, or pretty much any kind of COLD salad.  But, hey...when your babies ask sweetly, what else is a Mama to do?


Enjoy!

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