Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Earl's Big Day

Poor baby. 

He's spending the night away from home following a little life changing procedure. 

He's such a great cat. I had to run a quick errand this morning before heading to the vet, so he was stuck in the carrier for a bit. As soon as we were on the road, I released him and he settled in to his spot on my lap. He doesn't move or interfere in any way. 

Once we were at the vet (who operates on a strict first come first served basis. which means there is often a few hours wait, but it's worth it because of his dedication to the animals he cares for), Earl settled in nicely and soon wanted out of the carrier. 

Being the most awesome cat that he is, it took only seconds before he was snoozing in my arms, on the seat behind me and even snuggled up to the gentleman beside me. 

All the while (we were there over 4 hours) he was completely oblivious to all the other cats, little dogs, big dogs, kittens, puppies and humans surrounding  him.

Earl...you are one cool cat. See you soon when you are cleared for pick up. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

On becoming a hooker...

Not sure how I feel about this. 

I know it's always good to learn new things. 

But, sometimes, what sounds like a good idea doesn't fit in with your likes. 

Tuesday, a friend and I took advantage of an opportunity to take a rug hooking class.  The process has intrigued me for quite some time, so why not try this little project and see if I like it. 

My overall impression was that while it's not terribly difficult to do, it is quite tedious.  The jury is still out on whether I will utilize open studio time to finish the project.

My suspicion is that I won't be falling for this craft "hook", line and sinker. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ho Ho Ho

From the days when they were small and full of the wonder of the season, to the present as grown young men, by far the best gifts in my life...


It's in full force.  Knitter's Attention Deficit Disorder. 

So many projects.  So little time.  Oooooh, wait...there's another.  

Ravelry will be the death of me.  And if not it, then Pinterest will complete the job!

I have projects on needles.  A couple in my bag and several more still tucked away in the moving boxes that will seem bright and new once the boxes are unpacked in their new abode...a K.A.D.D.'s dream come true!

Facebook is not helping either with the tempting project posts and commentaries in a couple of knitting groups.

My Modern Quilt Wrap is slowly taking form.  Ten squares down and only 62 more to go.  It is an easy knit, or would be super easy if it weren't for the fiddliness of Kid Seta yarn and the bajillions of ends that have to be woven in.  I got smart from the get go (who am I kidding...I am still AT the get go) and have been weaving ends in at the completion of each square.  The idea of that many tails hanging around and taunting me at the end of the project is enough to put the fear into me to stay on top of them!

The old brain needed some mindless knitting, so a pair of plain socks got started with some self-patterning workhhorse sock yarn.

And then yet again I was sidetracked by Naughty Reindeer hats (you're going to have to look that one up on your own) and pom poms. 

So, when someone asks me what is on my needles, the easiest answer is "What isn't?"

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It's so odd...

The "holiday" time of year is weird to me.  It used to be so much fun and I loved every aspect of it.  Somewhere along the line things began changing.

The commercialism and crass "gimme" and "I want" nature of people comes out and it, to be blunt, disgusts me.  Not to mention the people that don't have anything to do with you all year long that suddenly pop back up on your radar complete with an attitude of fake lovey dovey all because it is a gifting time of year and they want something...that or they are trying to make themselves feel better by fake attempting to reach out.

My Christmas list is quite simple.  I don't really want or need anything.  I don't expect people to buy me something (especially don't want my children to feel like they have to just because of the date on the calendar...NOR am I going to make them feel guilty for not getting me something-although, sad to say, there are plenty of people that do such a thing).  What do I really want?  Honesty, "realness", time together--even if it is reduced to regular communication by text!  I want the people I care about to be truly present in my life and me to be in theirs.  That is the best.  It gets tricky, though.  I dearly love gifting the ones I love throughout the year, not just on "the day". 

The family traditions from back in the day are not so much traditions anymore.  The only real family tradition is that something different is added or removed each year.  It keeps things fresh.  Nothing is constant except for change.

So, how do I keep from being a Grinch or a Scrooge?  It's difficult to say the least.  For me, it requires focus on what really matters to me for the entire year and not on one or two prescribed days.  If you can't show the same "love" on some random day of the year, then I'm pretty sure it's not sincere.

Don't take these ramblings as a sign of darkness.  Honesty is not always pretty and rarely ever shared freely. 

All this being said, I wish for all of you, my family and friends to have a very Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah of Happy Festivus or Happy December 25...whatever date or celebration you choose.

Now, back to some knitting...

Thursday, November 13, 2014


You heard me.  

And I mean it.

It's that time of year when all of your favorite snuggly sweaters come out of hiding.  Whether they be exquisitely handknit or ready-made, they deserve some lovin'.  Otherwise, rattiness can set in quickly.  Granted, the sweater below is not horribly pilled, but the pilling began with just one wearing and it drives me nuts.

Do your knits a favor and take the time to take care of them.  As my collection of handknit sweaters seems to be growing exponentially, my desire is to protect them.  Knowing how much time went into their creation...not to mention the amount of moolah spent on the yarn to satisfy my yarn snob ways, it is important to keep them in tip top shape.  

Besides the obvious point of putting sachets of lavender and/or cedar in their sleeping area to keep the evil buggers away, it is a good idea to give them a shave to keep the yarny pills at bay.  The type of fiber, amount of twist in the yarn, the amount of bloom in the yarn, and tightness of knitting are just a few of the things that will impact how much a knitted item may or may not pill.  And let's face it, nobody looks good with a bunch of yarn balls up and down your arms, in your pits or across your boob-al area! 

Personally, my resolution this season is to diligently de-pill as needed after each wearing.  My arsenal of tools includes the ever popular battery operated sweater shaver.  It works pretty well, but trust me...this little beast has been known to suck up super thin fabric through the blade guard and cut holes in the garment.  

New to me this year is the Gleener.  I've used mine a few times and, for me, there is a bit of a learning curve, but I am liking the results.  

So, do your sweaters a favor and ditch the pills!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Porch Knitting

What a beautiful day it is today!  A little chilly, but tolerable. 

The sun porch of the farm is the perfect locale for some chunky yarn knitting with two of my animal peeps while the hubs and a helper are installing new ceiling drywall in the hearth room.  Once that is up, he can proceed with hanging drywall over a brick wall in the room and then the wood stove hearth can be laid. The stove is a beast, but is a beautiful beast and, according to the specs, will be able to heat the entire house. 

So for now, my job is to sit and supervise while happily knitting away. My turn with laying tile, staining wood floors, painting walls and unpacking/arranging our new home is fast approaching. 

Who doesn't love a charcoal grey and mustard yellow combo in a chunky cowl??  Add to it the yarn being luscious baby alpaca and you just can't lose!

Have a happy...and warm...Sunday!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hello, my name is Earl...

As I had previously mentioned, during our move, one of the cats (Amos to be precise) escaped.  The thought of changing the name of this blog crossed my mind, but in all reality, it was highly unlikely that another little kitty would not come into my life.

My father-in-law has some rental properties and the tenants were leaving one of them.  There was a kitten that was supposedly theirs but their intention was to abandon it.  FIL has a super soft heart and couldn't stand that thought so he brought it home with him.  It is believed that he had an ulterior motive/plan to gift me with the little darling.

He walked into the office a week or so ago and said "I have a kitty for you." He proceeded to detail all the ways in which this little furball was worthy of my love...combined with a whispered "if you take him, I will pay to have him fixed".  Wes was skeptical.  We were adapting to only having four cats.  The cats were adapting and enjoying not having to deal with the stress of Amos' idiosyncrasies. In fact, Ashley was becoming more social and Sophie was becoming less of a Miss Grumpy Butt.  The pecking order and hierarchy had been re-aligned.

And then, in walks Earl.

If looks could speak, then Sophie was screaming, "what fresh hell is this that you have unleashed upon us?!?!?!'

In his defense, Earl is just a kitten and is not really trying to attack.  He thinks all these other creatures are toys that WANT to play non-stop.  

It has been a week and things are settling down.  Earl is sort of fitting in.  The others are beginning to tolerate him and he finally has overcome his fear of Jack.  Oddly enough, Jack outside in the yard with him scares him silly, but going nose to nose with a pony and a cow doesn't seem to phase him.  

The plan is to train him to be an indoor/outdoor cat.  The barn and a couple of the outbuildings could benefit from a good mouser.  In his short life, it is clear that he had not been regularly fed and was a scrounger/trash cat.  Earl.will.eat.anything.  (including an I don't know how long it had been there dead mouse he found in the yard by the pasture fence).

What is remarkable about the sweet boy?  He is extremely docile with humans to the point of going limp in your arms and allowing you to pet and cuddle him.  He purrs up a storm and gives loads of kitty kisses.  He most definitely is a keeper.

Sophie is simply going to have to deal with it.

Welcome to your new home full of adventures Earl!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WIPS and the dangers of bookstores...

Normally the Wednesday plan would be to post about what projects I'm currently working on and yammer about them for a bit.  That's going to happen, but on a different level/variety. 

In anticipation of moving, I packed up all my yarny/fibery/crafty stuff but kept out a stash of things I might want to play with. 

These are the aforementioned potential WIPS (works in progress in case you wondered):

Of course, I am still working, nay trudging along, on the sweet little baby cardigan and lacy shawl:

They are pretty mundane pieces that keep my fingers in the groove, but don't offer any real challenge...which may be why they simply travel everywhere with me...tucked neatly into a project bag carried in my purse (in reality they are stuffed in the bag and by all appearances when pulled out are having some sort of wild party in there complete with stripping off their needles and getting all tangled up) and don't get a lot of knit action.  

Popped into Half Price Books this afternoon and was coerced into buying a couple of knitting books. They made me do it I swear!  Fortunately, the projects in said books are pretty darn cool, so any trickery and tomfoolery used by way of super cheap prices is easily forgiven. 

The first one is "Color Style" by Pam Allen and Ann Budd. I mean really, can you have too many colorwork sweaters or socks. Must.cast.on.soon.  Lookie lookie...totes adorbs (which I've been told by my offspring that I'm not allowed to say, but they get their lack of following directions ability from me)...

The other book is "Vintage Knit Knacks" by Sue Culligan. I wasn't really that keen on getting it, as I have done several similar projects until I saw the pattern for this:

Shut the front door, get outta here, OMG, or whatever you wish to exclaim. Are you kidding me??? A knit clock made using a frisbee. SOLD!!

Stay tuned for more WIPS. 

Who knows what will be on my needles next!

Monday, October 6, 2014

I'm a little bit crunchy...

Don't lie.  If you are of the same age demographic as me, you may have read that and your mind flipped it and heard/sang it as Donny and Marie's:  "I'm a little bit country, and I'm a little bit rock and roll."  It's okay, embrace it.  And, you are welcome for the earworm.  

The past several years I have been on a personal quest to live more simply and more intentionally.  There is so much TOOOOOO MUCH of everything in the world it seems.  Too much focus on McMansions, too much perfect extravagant vacations, too much "need" for mega closets stuffed to the max, too much poor food choices both from eating out excessively to over-reliance on convenience "foods" from the supermarket, too much drugs for this, that, and the other and then drugs to treat the symptoms from the original drug treatment.  Too much, too much, too much.  There is no way everything purchased can be used and enjoyed to its fullest potential.  When you put it in perspective, ask yourself how many hours you or your spouse together or separately have to work to earn the money to purchase something.  It has turned into a society that lives only to work to pay for stuff and "vacations", instead of working to live.  By working to live, I mean learning how to truly care for yourself and family, and focus on life itself rather than trappings of a world that mean nothing in the big picture.

Our parents and grandparents, probably more so our great-grandparents (I know mine did), had it right.  Work hard, but live simply.  There is nothing wrong with having nice things.  The problem, in my humble opinion, is when the entitlement demon rears its head.  Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and great-grands...what a blessing that was!  It was by their sides, and my parents' who learned the lessons of their parents well, that I was taught the basic skills for survival.  Oftentimes, people like to quote Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and try to point out that they are achieving self-actualization.  I would challenge that.  It is easy to see from a glance around that there is a chasm between those of a generation that were humble and the generation that demands instant everything.  It is frightening to observe the numbers of individuals that lack the basic skills to provide for the basest of needs, yet claim to be "self-actualized" with a great deal of morality, creativity, spontaneity, lack of prejudice and so on.

But, I digress.  These ideas swirl through my head on a daily basis.  I hear comments made by others and think, "wow, you would never survive if you lived in another time."  A magazine that I subscribe to, and mostly enjoy but secretly sort of think it is a different version of a "Martha Stewart" lifestyle, is Mary Janes Farm.  There is always something I take away from reading an issue, but a lot of it seems too perfect.  The current issue's Editor's Note struck a chord with me.   It was a discussion of what was referred to as "farm aerobics" and the idea of how ridiculous it would seem to our ancestors to find the need to go somewhere to get exercise.  A lot of the activity you need to be healthy can be found in your own home.  The catch is you have to intentionally seek it out.  Turn off the phone, turn off the TV, turn off the computer, turn off the x,y,z gadget and basically get up off your butt and actually live and do things for a better life.  Our grandparents cooked their own foods from scratch, which involved relatively few (if any) electronic devices to prepare the foods.  Bread was kneaded by hand, potatoes were mashed with a masher, butter was churned by hand.  Of late, we have been looking for "old fashioned" kitchen gadgets...they are tried and true and don't break like today's goods.  Go outside, pull weeds and plant a garden...instead of hiring someone to do it and having only a yard that provides aesthetic rather than healthy beauty...bend down/stretch/move and clean your own house.   In simplest form, the suggestion is MOVE.

I fully realize that this approach is not for everyone.  And yes, I am different.  But different can be very good.

My wish for the world in general...a lofty wish...is for more self-reliance, more acceptance, more accountability and more tolerance.  Not to get on an even bigger soapbox, but in my view:  we ALL came from the same source and ALL deserve love.

Hugs to Amos, wherever you are.  Meowmy misses you!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Funday

This is normally one of our favorite October weekends. Metamora Canal Days to search for treasures amongst the vendors and stock up on corn meal from the Mill on one day and a trek to Louisville's St. James Court Art Show to indulge in some shopping (and purchasing) from my favorite silversmith on the other day. 

Neither happened this year. But, to be fair, the art show trip didn't happen last year either due to a freaky rain storm the day we planned to go. We had already decided to skip Louisville again this year, but were going to do the Metamora thing on Saturday until we woke up to chilly weather combined with brutal winds. Ummm, no thank you.  Besides, I still have 3 bags of corn meal tucked away in the freezer for safekeeping. 

No worries, regroup and move on.  The revised plan involved getting up early Sunday morning and going out for a yummy breakfast followed by a visit to what will likely be the last Bargersville Flea Market trip of the year. 

Great plans are a good thing to have. 

And then you sleep in until 9:30 because the window is slightly cracked open and there is an ever so slight chill to the air in the bedroom and you are sooooo snuggly snoozy sleepy that the fact that you finally had a night with no miserable menopausal hot flashes causing you to wake up in a full on dripping sweat at least 37 times during the night which results in you choosing not to get up and ultimately finds you writing a ridiculously long run on sentence...likely also a menopausal mistake!  Say what?  Normal version:  We overslept then went to a late breakfast before the flea market. However, note that the first portion is more descriptive of my mind of late in its previously sleep deprived state. 

The fun thing about flea markets is that you never know what you're going to find. Today was no exception. Wes found the most adorable vintage ladies coat for me that had been custom made/labelled for LS Ayres.  Anyone with any ties to Indianapolis and this department store will understand this great find. What else was so special about it?? It was leopard print with furry collar (fake fur on both sections but super nice). The price? $15. WHAT??? I tried it on and felt a little bit like the stepsisters in Cinderella trying to stuff their feet into a too small shoe. Just a bit too snug in the shoulders. Bummer! 

The same vendor had another item for which I have developed a collecting passion for...a nearly perfect picnic basket. A few weeks ago I found another one by the same maker. Now, I don't plan on going on a bunch of picnics.  So what good are these baskets?  Four words:  cat proof yarn storage (that is also cute to boot!)

Sophie agrees...(even though she appears to be more interested in looking out the window and at the floor). Today's find was the red plaid version. 

Hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Random Crap

...because I've been away too long, because it's Friday, and because this is MY blog and I can do/say whatever I please!

Yada yada yada...been gone too long.  Well, a whole lot has been going on.  Multiple trips to see and take care of two of my sons...both in different locations.  Moving to a small farm, but not actually living in it yet due to the MASSIVE amounts of remodeling and renovating required of the house, the land, the barn, the pond, the fence, all the outbuildings...the list is mind boggling, but you get the picture.  My darling hubster promised me it would only take about 7 weeks to get the house livable.  That was nearly 10 weeks ago, and for the sake of all that is good in this world about the fabulous opportunity this move has afforded us, we will leave it at that.  However, while Mama may not be happy about that particular point, everything else that is amazing about the property trumps my grumps.  It has been a real eye opener to have the bulk of my possessions packed away and realize that I haven't actually died because I did not have ready access to every single one of my lead crystal serving pieces or all the little knick knacks.  Less truly is more.  House wise, every major piece of the puzzle is either purchased or is on order.  A'int nothing I can do about someone else's production schedule.  It will all get here when it does.  Windows should be here any day.  The custom cut walnut wood floor is about 2 more weeks out.  And, the kitchen cabinetry, which wasn't supposed to be ready until after the floor was here, somehow managed to get done first...but there it sits, waiting, far more patiently than me.

Knitting and spinning?  A little, but not at the rate I previously was able to accomplish.  I used to have a 45 minute commute each way.  Now, 7 minutes unless traffic is bad, then 10 minutes.  Evening knitting?  That was funny.  Say something else funny, I could use the laugh.  But, where there is a will, there is a way...and a job where you can do pretty much what you want 'cuz you are the boss.

Last weekend was a welcome respite of 'pacas, production and plying.  Spent the weekend at my favorite alpaca farm with friends (fleecy and non-fleecy).  It was National Alpaca Farm Days and a great time was had by all that ventured out to Hoosier Heartland Alpacas.  I had the distinct pleasure of working with a little girl that had come with her father to an open house a few months ago and wanted to learn how to drop spindle.  She was a natural.  It was exciting to see her come back, spindle in hand, to get more fiber.  And then it happened.  I apologized profusely to her father.  She was sitting and spindling when I asked if she would like to try my wheel.  That was it.  Done deal.  Sweetie wants a wheel.  Sorry about that! (not really...she was interested, open to learning, and took to it immediately)  Hey, I am not ashamed to be a fiber arts fanatic.

On my wheel last week was some lovely Shetland wool, dyed in a gradient from black to dark grey,
One bobbin done and plied, with still a little over 4 oz of fiber yet to spin.  No idea what it wants to become once all is said and done, but it is some purty yarn!

A couple of other projects on needles:

Linnie: a sweet little baby cardigan being done up with some yarn I was gifted.

The Countess of Landsfeld shawl using Blue Heron Rayon Metallic in one of my all time favorite colorways.  Can you say squishy soft to the max, but also super slippery insanity if it slips off the needles suddenly?

It is Friday, which means Date Night normally, but frankly, I've got retail therapy on the brain.  I am doing my third style challenge with Get Your Pretty On in an attempt to get out of my "if it's a black top and blue jeans I'm wearing it" rut.  The shopping list came out last night, and while I have nearly everything on the list already living somewhere in my closet boxes (HA!!!) who doesn't love getting a few new things.  So, my local peeps, if you see me sporting something slightly out of fashion character for me, know that I have not completely lost my mind, just perhaps, my one track fashion mind!

In other random news, during the process of moving, one of the cats (Amos) escaped and never returned.  While this makes me beyond sad, I can only hope that he managed to find his way to a new home.  Believe me, I searched and searched and searched.  On the home front, the remaining kitties seem to actually be relieved that he is gone.  He had a freakishly tight attachment to me as a result of imprinting on me as a kitten since I bottle fed him and his litter-mates from just a few days old.  This attachment to me often resulted in him being mayyyybe a little psychotically territorial and a fight instigator with the others if he thought for one second that my attention was diverted from him.  I still miss the little bugger, though.  All of that has also prompted me to consider changing my blog name, but let's face it, where there is a Dina, there is bound to be at least several more kitties adopted which cements my fate as  Five (or more) Cats from Crazy.  

OHHHH, and in case you can't tell...I quit when it comes to styling (or attempting to) fabulous photos full of frous frous fiddliness.  Seriously, who has time for that?  You get what you get and you'll like it!

(don't say I didn't warn you about the randomness today)


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Eating close to home...

As a dietitian, even if I have not actively practiced in a number of years, I am keen on the idea of eating well.  That is not to say there are not a few purely not that great for me things to eat that I LOVE, but overall, my goal is to eat healthy.  No fads, no gluten-free, no Paleo, no low carb, no vegan, etc...just plain good cooking made with the best ingredients I can use.  Sorry folks, but I don't buy into the vast majority of garbage "diets" out there.  There is not, nor has there ever been, a magical diet that will solve all of your nutritional problems.  In fact, when it comes to weight loss, the only weight you are guaranteed to lose from all of the "miracle diets" and books/videos/what have you is the weight of the money you took from your pocket and gave away.  For many years, even when actively working as a dietitian, my viewpoints and approach differed from the norm of the medical/dietetics field.  Now, many years later and looking more in depth into what the gurus and powers that be in the field have purported as gospel, study after study is confirming that a lot of what was preached was actually not the best approach.  My approach, in its most simplistic form, is to cook REAL food made with real ingredients.  Skip the mixes, boxes, bags, premades whenever possible.

Over the last few years, we have been able to get back into the groove of growing many of our foods and sourcing out foods we can't grow from local growers that don't add anything unnecessary such as hormones and antibiotics.  Recently, we stumbled across a local farm that pasture raises beef, pork and chickens with no antibiotics or hormones.  For a couple of years our beef has been obtained from a local grower that does only grass fed beef with no antibiotics or hormones.  At first we were a bit skeptical, and then the first bite of that first hamburger sealed the deal.  THAT was what I remember a hamburger tasting like when I was growing up.  Sold!

This week I placed our first, smallish order from Tyner Pond Farm.  I liked what I read and wanted to try it.  Add to that, free delivery makes for a wonderful experience.  (had it delivered to our business to take advantage of the free delivery option)  Last night we had some thin, boneless pork chops with our meal.  Wow!  What a concept, food that has taste all on its own.  Check them out and send them some love, they are a keeper!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sweet Spring

The best part of finishing mowing and trimming is gazing upon beautiful spring flowers as you walk around the yard. 

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, May 16, 2014

At least I am consistent...

Oops, I did it again.  Truly, it is not my intention to create a "Groundhog Day" themed blog.  Blah, blah, blah.  I know, it's been over a month.  In my defense, it's been a hectic month.  Add garden demands and a two week trip to care for a son on top of the normal crazy and it is what it is.

toe up/two at a time

Knitting-wise, I am still on the baby sock kick.  Mainly because I can knock out a sock in an hour and a half.  Baby blankets are chugging along, with one on needles.  In the adult realm, socks are still forefront there as well.  The Alhambra pair is a little over halfway done, but stranded colorwork does not lend itself well to sleepy eyes.  The final Breaking Bad sweater...I don't really want to talk about that, thank you very much!  Obviously, it is not finished.  Promised the boy that it would be done for him to wear in time for this year's cold season.  Not going to lie, I am sick of those dad-blamed things!  During my little time away from home, I managed to venture into the new to me world of toe up/two at a time socks.

A glimpse into a little bit of controlled fun, once my patient was a teensy bit more mobile:

So, in an attempt to reboot my brain to bloggy world, let's have a little fun.

Friday Five:  Five things I love and why...but not the normal things you would think!

1.  My all time, hands down favorite comfort foods are macaroni and cheese made the way my Granny did (grated cheese with a little bit of milk and butter stirred straight into the hot pasta) and cold canned peaches in heavy syrup.  Why?  Because that is what my Granny always fixed me when I stayed with her.

2.  Driving fast.  I have a lead foot and am not ashamed to admit...or use...it!

3.  Finding stinking awesome deals.  I really do not care for shopping.  I am not a clothes horse and am not impressed by name brands or the people that insist upon purchasing them.  However, if I can find a ridiculously good deal on something of quality (CANNOT have the brand/designer emblazoned upon it for all the world to see) that is timeless and classic in nature, I get all giddy when making the purchase.  However, most of the time I talk myself out of a lot of things because I imagine wearing or using the item and then don't need it anymore because I've already mentally experienced it.

4.  Playing piano.  Granted, I'm not that great and my consistent repertoire is fairly limited, but there is something mentally soothing about creating music.  The one thing negatively associated with this activity is when someone fusses because rarely will I conform to the tempo suggested.  I play from the heart and it is an emotional tempo that fuels my fingers.

5.  Going to the 4th of July Indians Baseball game at Victory Field.  This is a little weird for me, because I loathe the entire sports mentality.  The whole sporting world is nothing more than a modern day version of Roman gladiators.  However, sitting in the stands people watching (we like to pick out groups of people and decide which character from Friends they are most like), halfway watching the game and then watching both the field's fireworks and the downtown Indy's fireworks display is a tradition I truly love.  We missed it last year, hopefully that won't happen this year.

Happy Friday y'all.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Seeing Stripes

Hot off the needles are the latest additions to my sock knitting obsession.  For some reason, socks seem to go so much faster, when in reality, the stitch count of a pair of socks is comparable to knitting an entire sweater!  Must be because of the teensy circular needles and the purse portability of them.

So what are they?

Beginner's Lightweight Socks by Knitting Pure and Simple.  This is the pattern I used several years ago for my very first pair of socks.  As I recall, it took me an entire summer of baseball practices and games to complete them!  Fortunately, my speed has exponentially increased.  This is a super simple and basic pattern that truly lets the magical yarn properties shine through.

Yarn:  Saki Bamboo in Cedar Lake colorway.  The color progression is lovely.  Surprisingly, I seem to have overcome my need for complete symmetry as these are more fraternal than identical twin sockies.  Needles used were 2.75mm tiny circulars and double points for the toe.

I'm back to working on the last Breaking Bad sweater.  I have to finish it quickly before the weather for the wearer is way too warm...he will still have some cool nights for a little bit longer.  These sweaters have really kicked my butt and honestly, I have been procrastinating finishing this one.  However, guilt washes over me every time I look in the bottom of my knitting bag.  Too bad I wasn't smart enough to stuff it in a cabinet and forget about it, but Mother Guilt rules my brain.

Hoping for a fun weekend.  Starting it off with a hot date tonight...plotting trench lines for irrigation to the garden spot.  Yippee!  Yay for me, though, since we are going over straight from the shop and I have a long dress and sandals on, I may be able to excuse myself to the bench under the tree at the back of the garden.  You can bet I will be "planted" with sweater knitting in hand.  hahahaha

Saturday, April 5, 2014

"Heel"-ed up

Flat out, honest truth, the last pair of socks off needles are the best fitting socks I have made to date.  They also have the most bizarre method of construction I've seen or done.  As per the pattern notes, the heel has both a heel flap and gusset...which is entirely re-knittable should repairs be needed.  The short rows on the sole provide both an attractive visual detail, but, seem to improve the fit.

Yay for cute, well fitting socks.  And, who doesn't love a chevron pattern?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Let Go

This is not my normal kind of post, but has been swirling in my mind taking form and was pushed to the forefront last night.

Do you ever stop to really think about why you do the things you do and buy the things you buy?  This idea has been on my mind for quite awhile now.  Choosing to live a simpler life is easier, in most cases, for the person doing it, than it is for the people around them to comprehend.  Like most people, those in my life are a mixture of like-minded individuals, those tied to their commercially driven lifestyle and those that are over the top materialistic in their life approach.  It takes all kinds.  But, then, if you step back and look at what drives your choices, it can be a real heart breaker to see how detrimental some choices really are for mankind in general.

A couple of movies I watched recently really drove this point home...for me anyway.  One of them I had seen when it came out and the other is an Indie film that Wes picked out on Netflix on a whim.

"The Joneses", while on the surface is a commentary on the under cover mass marketing approach to how we are influenced and coaxed into buying the latest and greatest in order to be like everyone else, it has a darker sub theme.  That being that people yearn to do whatever possible to, at least outwardly, appear to be like everyone else while destroying their true selves...all for the sake of "fitting in" to whatever society says you have to do/be/buy/drive/wear/live in/eat/drink, when at the end of the day, a misplaced happiness is nearly always revealed.

The second movie (actually watched this one before re-watching "The Joneses") is full of hidden meaning that most people overlook in their desire to be merely entertained for a couple of hours.  "The Brass Teapot" centers around the primary theme of people feeling the need to get more money with the notion that it alone will make their lives complete and a lowly teapot that creates money like a magic lamp is the answer to their prayers.  Personal pain causes the teapot to spew forth mass amounts of money, but soon that slows down as one's own pain is not enough...leading to the eventual need to inflict great pain/injury to others in order to keep up the flow of money and to create a sense of misplaced power by the one in possession of the teapot.

Last night, a show was on TV, that brought this sad life commentary back to slam in my face with a heartbreaking example of just how far some people are willing to go...all for the almighty dollar to make themselves happy.  The episode of "Deal With It" (a show that has people do and say all sorts of stupid and sometimes hurtful things in order to win a monetary prize) in question, showed a Dad having a meal with his daughter.  He started out doing silly things, such as snapping his fingers/waving his arms while talking.  Basically acting a fool, as the winnings increased while he is told to do more and more silliness.  At the highest level, he is told (by the puppeteers in his earbud) to tell his daughter that he and her Mother are divorcing as he has found someone else...another man that joins the table.  The look of tears, devastation and profound shock/sadness on his daughter's face, even after it is revealed to her that it was all a joke so he could win $5000, is beyond sad.  My heart broke, yet again, to the idea that someone would be willing to hurt their own child to that level all for a few bucks.  It's sad people.  Gut wrenching, heart breakingly sad.

Wake up.  Look around you.  Life is truly what you make it.  Being caught up in the materialistic falsehood that is spewed at us from every angle is sad.  This is just my point of view and is not to say that I am immune to the lure of stuff, but it does not rule me.

My favorite quote from "The Brass Teapot" comes at the end of the movie and if you are not in tune with what the whole movie is trying to say, you will miss it:  "Kings, queens, dictators, priests, peasants, generals and thousands before you have held it.  So few have had the strength to let go."

Let go.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Itty Bitty Baby Toes

I am at that point in my life where my sons are "grown" but not yet married.  It's like a mother's purgatory.  Your babies need you, but they DON'T need you.  They have not started families of their own, so there are no little ones around to spoil the bejeezus out of.  Now, do not be fooled by this commentary into thinking that I don't still do everything in my power to continue to spoil my men-boys.  I am quite sure that, much like the scene in "A Christmas Story", where Ralphie is in the bunny costume and the comment is made something to the effect of his Aunt laboring under the delusion that he was not only still 4 years old, but also a girl, they might think similar thoughts about the things I continue to do/make/send them.  My response, TOUGH! They will always be my babies, and there is nothing wrong with silly little things to make someone smile!  Deal with it.

When they were little, I did quite a bit of sewing for them.  This was my pre-knitting era.  Had I known how, they would have been swaddled, wrapped, socked, sweatered, soakered, mittened, and hatted up beyond yarny belief.

The project of making baby blankets for a group in Okinawa that my Marine son asked me to do continues, but now has branched out.  It is impossible for me to avoid the lure of itty bitty baby things.  Granted, I have a large enough stash of baby appropriate sock yarn to make more baby hats, socks and booties than they would know what to do with, but, in true Knitting Addict fashion, I must confess that my LYS sucked me in yesterday with little puffs of darling colors.  The Boy had already given me the okay to send baby hats and booties, as well as the blankets, but I have been stuck in the Breaking Bad Sweaters hell production mode.  The third one (yes, boy number 3 decided he did want one after all) is still on needles and although it is slogging along, it is beginning to feel like it will never end.

After yesterday's evil display of yarny yumminess resulting in the purchase of 5 sweet puffs of yarn, the project A.D.D. kicked in and my determination to finish the final sweater was no match for thoughts of sweet little baby toes tucked into teensy sockies.  I'm a sucker for baby toes...don't deny it, many of you are also!

What:  Stretch Baby Socks

With:  My First Regia in Kevin colorway


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Get your Fat Tuesday on!

I had good intentions. My box of Cafe Du Monde beignet mix was in the pantry hollering "come on fool! It's N'awlins day if ever there was one".  But sleep and the recollection of leftover waffle batter in the fridge won out. So sue me.

To staunch my feelings of remorse/regret for not starting Fat Tuesday in the most appropriate manner, I came up with a Plan B. Since Fat Tuesday is all about overindulgence and gluttony, what better thing for a crafter to do than start ANOTHER project?!?!  Never mind that I have a sock and a half in my bag, a gorgeous winter sweater off needles waiting to be seamed up, multiple scarves and gloves on needles tucked into cabinets, the stalled pile of hexipuffs, baby blankets waiting impatiently, sewing projects out of sight out of mind, annnnnd the biggie:  the THIRD Breaking Bad sweater still on needles. All of that is irrelevant. 


What:  Achilles HeAl. Free on Knitty.com. Interesting heal construction that caught my eye. 

With:  Claudia Hand Painted Yarns in the appropriate colorway of, duh!, Mardis Gras. 

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

You're Nuts!

Wayyyyy back in the summer...remember that time of warmth and sunshine???...we were intrigued by a vendor at our local Farmer's Market.  What was it?  Hickory Nut Syrup.  We had never heard of it, but the second the sample hit our taste buds, we were hooked.  This stuff will knock your socks off with the intensely incredible taste that, in our opinions, far surpasses the taste of ANY real maple syrup we have ever eaten.

Confession time, there is quite a bit of pancake syrup use in our house.  Waffles are my dearest's favorite breakfast treat, so we have them or pancakes just about every weekend and sometimes on the occasional lazy cooking weeknight.  I like maple syrup the best, but Wes prefers pancake syrup, so we primarily use that and I reserve my stash of good maple syrup for use in homemade granola.  Neither of us are crazy about the HFCS in the pancake syrup, but none of the alternative recipes I have tried seem to taste that great, plus they involve the use of artificial flavorings so, not exactly how we want to roll.

Then we tasted this stuff and immediately shelled out (ha ha, pun intended) the $15 for a HALF PINT of this sweet elixir.  Sticker shock to the extreme, but worth it for the short term enjoyment.  The couple selling this crack yummy stuff, shared with us that it was made from local shagbark hickory nuts.  Hmmm, given my propensity towards investigating how to make stuff myself, perhaps divulging that tidbit was not very smart on their part!  WHOA NELLIE!!! We have a shagbark hickory right beside our garage.  The nuts are everywhere in the Fall.  In years past, before Chase the wonder dog German Shorthair Pointer was killed, he actually had a great time chomping on these nuts (and watching the squirrels).  It always amazed us to watch the ease with which he could chomp down and crush these incredibly hard nuts.

True to our nature, we decided to try making our own.  I set forth on the journey of finding out how to do this and Wes began trying to grab all the nuts before the squirrels could get them.  My search was fairly short.  Turns out there is a lot of information about making this syrup, but for some reason, it is not done by many people.  I had the easier task.  Wes gathered huge trays of nuts that we dried out over the winter, after he removed the outer hull.  The bowl of nuts sat taunting me...until this past weekend.

The "recipes" found online, never really gave definite numbers regarding how many cups/pounds of nuts, water or sugar to use.  What have we got to lose except the time from picking up and shelling nuts, some water and sugar?  So, I winged it and guessed and stirred and sniffed and sampled...and smiled!  Bingo!

What did a bowlful of nuts, some water and some sugar yield?  A grand total of 17 PINTS (and one lonely half pint) of deep brown, rich, sinful syrup.  Wow, nothing like making the Farmer's Market price equivalent of $525 worth of syrup in my own kitchen with my own ingredients in one afternoon.  It was really quite simple to do.  An interesting side note to this little adventure is that not only can the syrup be made from boiling the nuts/shells but also from the bark of this tree.  I think we are set for a while syrup-wise!

Here's the slightly vague, but really pretty simple 411 on how I did this:

Put 8 to 10 cups of cracked hickory nuts and shells into a large (mine was 16 quarts) stainless steel stock pot.  Fill the pot, to within about 3  to 4 inches from the top, with water.  Boil until reduced by nearly one half.  Drain solids out, saving only the liquid (I used a double layer of cheesecloth lining a fine mesh strainer and strained the liquid a second time).

Pour the liquid back into the stock pot and add sugar (about 1-1/2 cups of sugar per cup of liquid.  I used granulated white sugar, but brown sugar can also be used.  If I had had enough on hand, I would have used only raw sugar, but it is what it is...and certainly is NOT HFCS!)

Boil on medium for about 45 to 50 minutes at a temperature of 220 to 234 degrees...use a candy thermometer to monitor.  Add more sugar to help thicken, if needed.  Caution needs to be used to avoid adding an excessive amount of sugar as it can crystallize out once the syrup is processed and cooled.  

Pour syrup into warmed/sterilized jars and apply lids/bands according to standard canning practices, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace.  Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.  

Easy peasy and super tasty!



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