Thursday, May 29, 2008

Maui, here we come....

I can hardly contain my excitement...and DH too. You guys must understand, we've waited 25 years for this trip :) We hardly ever travel, so this is big, big, BIG!

I'm trying to figure out what knitting to bring with me. I need to check with the airline to see if I can even bring knitting needles on the flight...I suppose they'd be okay with circulars of wood, but not sure. It's really bugging me what I should bring--maybe it's time to start the Christmas knitting for DS (Moderne Log Cabin)....I'd hate to pack my Jaywalkers and have them tell me to give them the needles at the gate. I inherited my aluminum tiny-gauge needles from my gramma. Hmmm.
Any thoughts?

Anyway, this'll probably be my last post until our return. Think of us on our 25th anniversary, lollygagging on the beach :D

Monday, May 26, 2008

Apical Meristem

I just like that phrase. It's a botanical term referring to the newly growing cells at the tip of a plant. Kindof a neat phrase...full of potential for metaphors!

So my own apical meristem is knitting :) And crochet. Always new ideas are crowding their way into that location of my brain, pushing to burst forth into a new branch. It's related to what I meant in yesterday's post--how there are so many things I want to do (not many of them original, sadly). But I think that, in the botanical world there is more organization to the new growth than there is in my 'yarn-branch meristem!' I sometimes feel like all those great ideas I see on Ravelry are swimming randomly around in my brain, fighting for attention! It's a kind of ADD, and I have the information age to thank for it!

Enough's an FO pic

this is somewhat better than the photo of me wearing it! It is the [What] Jamaican Bag I finished about a month ago. Sorry it took so long to post!

Isn't it cute, posing among the bleeding hearts and snow-in-summer?! I really like it. Right now it is housing my First Socks, and I brought them both to work and showed the girls I work with (who, I should mention, are by now utterly resigned to the fact that I will show them my yarny creations, in spite of the fact that THEY DON'T KNIT!!!) But they are very polite about it :)

(gratuitous chicken picture)


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lack of Focus....

I lack focus sometimes...or is it that my focus is so widespread that it just seems to be lacking?! Heh, I have so many knitting plans, so many cooking plans, so many gardening plans, so many book-reading plans, so many travel plans that there is no way I'd ever get them all done. They are relegated to wishes--I wish I could do this, or I wish I could make that. The ones I wish on the most are the ones that actually get done! Oh, well, it keeps me driven!

I am making the cutest hot pad.

It is a chicken from this book:

I had to get this book when I saw someone on Rav making these chickens. They are so cute! It's made double thick, so it's actually going to be usable as a potholder. Not just decorative. If you are interested in making one, but don't want to buy the pattern, there is a very similar pattern for a bird shape --you could make 2 and crochet them together for a potholder =)

I also started the peacock buffet scarf. Yay! Don't laugh, that's as far as I've gotten...I've never worked with a size 12 hook before, size 10 was the smallest I've used, and it's been about 10 years since I did that!

The Only Caveat: I went to Hobby Lobby to buy cebelia #20 thread, and they only had four spools of it, each of them a different lot number. That is really annoying. So I went to Michael's looking for the same, and they only had one spool! I hope one spool is enough, but if it isn't I'm gonna be bumming!

Yesterday I ran some errands, and planted some annuals in my front flower bed and into pots. I'm afraid it still might be too soon--this freakish cold weather at the end of May is blowing my mind! It was about 42 degrees overnight last night, and the high has been 55 this week. Yesterday it finally reached 70 degrees. It's really wierd this year.

I am achey and sore from the planting. Geez, it wasn't even that much exertion, but the bending was killer. I had a really nice day, though. I got to knit & crochet after all that work :) Here's my first Jaywalker, in Trekking XXL, I love the way this is knitting up:

Six days to Maui! And a short work week leading up to it!!! We are so excited....

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Great finds....

Been surfing again :)
Found some really cool sites. First, I found a blog with instructions to make your own sock-blockers! Very timely, I must say...I think I will go in search of some vinyl placemats this weekend.

Another blogger pointed my way to this cute blog by a sheep farmer in Vermont. Such cute photos, and so interesting to this suburban sheep-farmer-wannabe!

Then, I found this great pattern for a washable reuseable sandwich wrapper! I never thought of that before, but it's kinda cute! Although, if I was good at being 'green' I'd use a tupperware sandwich keeper instead of plastic sandwich bags. And the thing is, I don't use them for sandwiches...I don't pack a lunch (I get free lunch where I work). I use sandwich bags for wrapping half a cut onion, or sealing a cleaned bell pepper, etc...So don't know how useful that would be. And trying to get DH or DS to bring something like that home after use is a joke. It'd be gone the first time they took it somewhere!

And another yarn-farmy blog. All the lamb pics this time of year are so much fun!

Thank God for Memorial Day Weekend. I am so relieved to be off work. I was back at work only 2 weeks, and caught some GI bug for the past 3 days >:|
I get so tired of that! I came home from work on Thursday, got into a pair of jeans and crawled into bed at 5:15 pm. I woke up 10 hours later! And went back to bed for 3 more hours, then came home at lunch and slept for 45 minutes. Sheesh. I didn't make it to knitting group last night--just too tired. But I'm feeling well-rested right now, especially with 3 days off looming ahead of me! Yahoo! Bring on the knitting :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Some FOs, yeah baby

Hey. I actually finished something :-D
A crocheted potholder of scraps of Sugar n Cream dishcloth cotton from my ripple blanket left-overs....
Aim's first socks. Man these are awesome and cozy. The second one was made about 1/2" longer in the foot (b/c the first one ended up being a bit tight!) but they both fit! And I love them :)
A new washcloth, the feather and fan motif. The photo in the pic is a Raveler's version of the pattern in a hand-towel. I will follow her instructions for a towel to match, next....

And last night, I started my first pair of Jaywalker socks! So pleased with them already, the yarn is knitting up very nicely in this pattern. I'm using Trekking XXL in a nicely muted desert rose colorway. Beautiful. Now, if I just didn't need to use my magnifying glasses for this >:|

I've not used needles this small before--size 1 US needles. I am really getting some eyestrain working on this, so will need to continue with the reading glasses when working this fine gauge. Grrrr. Okay, I'm over 40, but that's rubbing my nose in it! Sigh, guess I can't ignore my age forever ;o)

Ten days to Maui! It's seeming real, now :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

crafty ideas...

click to see larger, it's cool!

Wow, that last post was extraordinarily voluminous (as are these words.) I will try to limit the run-on posting from now on. That is almost unreadable!

I went to work today, and took my Indian food (Vegetable Curry Korma) and my boss tried it and loved it. It's always nice to get someone else to appreciate the cooking (DH and DS wouldn't touch such a thing with a ten foot pole, and DD only stops in once in a while!) I have already had that Korma for 3 meals since I made it--I may throw some frozen pre-cooked tiny shrimp into the pot next time I eat it, for a yummy variation.

I am starting another washcloth: check out Miss Woolly Knits' post! It is such a well-displayed pattern, and I like the way hers are making up in the Sugar N Cream. So I started one with my half-price score from Saturday :) My sock is nearly finished, I'm on the last 1/4 of the second sock of the pair. The finish line is in view, hey hey!!!

Lookie lookie! This is a scream. I want to make one for my bro...the nitrate-loving one :)

And, I don't remember if I posted a link to this cute horse purse before! So fun, I'd love to make it for a niece....

I also found some really cute patterns from DMC for crocheted items! I especially like this (from that site):
The flare-leg jeans with crocheted groovy insert :D

I have a stash of six-strand embroidery floss in many colors that I haven't used in a very long time (since my counted-cross-stitch days)...they would be pretty cool to knit or crochet with (though obviously splitty!) I think a granny square table mat would rock out of that stuff :) Put that on Aim's queue, too!

Happy Monday everyone :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pebble Mosaics

You HAVE to watch this video, ha ha haaaaaaa. DS showed it to me....

And it's sequel is equally humorous!

I finally got to knit this week. And crochet. I had a tough choice Friday night: go to a GF's jewelry party or go to knit night. I got a late start, but went to knitting. The fact I hadn't gotten any knit time in all week was really bugging me. So now, I'm nearly finished with my second sock! I made another couple of squares on my s'prise project, and generally hung out with other knitters. I always enjoy that.

Yesterday, whoa, did I do a doozy on my muscles. My back was very sore by bedtime, and I was afraid it would be worse today, but it's not as bad as yesterday. So far.

What I did to hurt my back was finish picking up the shingles and the big sheet of plastic from our re-roofing project 3 weeks ago, I hauled some bags of rocks and a big bucket of cement patch up from the basement to work on my pebble mosaic project I've had planned for 3-5 years. I had seen photos of lovely handmade river-rock mosaics, and I've always been fascinated by embedding objects into cement. Then, while in PA school, I saw this book reviewed somewhere and special ordered it from Borders:
Some photos from the book:

Amazing stuff.

When W*lm*rt had a clearance sale a couple of years ago on decorative polished stones, I bought about $12 worth of 4 different colors of stones. And got a lot!! Stored them in my basement...

We have a crappy old cement birdbath that previous homeowners left here. My DH painted it our standard 'mediterranean blue' 2 years ago; this color is what we painted our front door (everything that doesn't move in the garden will eventually be painted that as well!) The plan for the birdbath, which is cracked and does not hold water, is for me to spread a lining of cement over the entire bowl of it, and press in the stones for a mosaic look. I started this yesterday:
Having never done this before, I don't have the knack of smoothing cement out, and the bucket of pre-mixed patch I bought was somewhat dry already & a crumbly texture, so I think I started off on the wrong foot.
I couldn't get that stuff to smooth out to save my life. Grrr, and then, by the time I started arranging my stones, it was already partially dry. Double grrrr. I ended up just arranging them knowing that I'm going to have to go back, remove a section at a time, and put on that stuff really thick and re-position everything. I want this to work!And, it rained last night--see how it holds water NOW?!

Anyway, while I was digging around in the basement for my mosaic materials (including this stepping stone kit from QVC four years ago)

I found my box of crochet and craft books! YAY. So, instead of waiting for DH to help me, I lifted the big heavy box up the stairs and put it in the back room so I can have fun digging through it and seeing anew what I have--it's like going shopping in my basement! This book is copyrighted 1946. Look at some of the cute things:
Love the elephant rug.

Heh. I am a bibliophile and just cuz our house doesn't have enough room for my books, doesn't mean I get rid of them, oh no. Not my craft books. Not my cookbooks. Not my gardening books. Not my...well, you get the picture :D

Needless to say, my back was strained from all that heavy lifting. Rocks and books. Two of my favs!! Sigh. Hopefully today I can be equally active w/o further injury, I want it to heal. I have to be pulling some weeds today, and applying weed-n-feed to the grass, planting my seeds, and walking my pooch. I hope I don't strain it again. (But I'm not feeling too well, so probably won't do much of the above list....)

Okay. I fell off the yarn diet. I had promised not to buy more yarn until after our Maui trip. I stopped in to Hobby Lobby yesterday while running errands over that way, and came out with $30 of yarn. But it was Sugar 'n downfall :) I found a great 3-pack of large skeins in colors that my local stores don't carry in the small balls; and some small balls that were half-price. Score! I'm feeling good AND bad about the purchase. But not too bad, heh.

I saw someone on Ravelry was making the Larger Than Life crochet bag out of sugar n cream solids, and it was sooooooo pretty, I think I may make mine in that. What a great idea!!!

Look at this beautiful bedspread someone made on rav,
the pattern is found here for free. I love Ravelry. Sigh.
Oh! Look at the beautiful peacock filet doily--I must make this. I love peacocks, after all the older I get, the more I start dressing like one, heh!

Okay. I just saw that someone made a Koolhaas from Malabrigo. I bet that would make a really great Xmas present for some guys in my life....hmmm. I must hunt down Malabrigo (I just touched that stuff for the first time 2 weeks ago, and it's at the top of my list to buy!!! So soft.)

Food update--I made the yummiest Indian food last night. I'm vegetarian, so anytime I can improve my meatless repertoire I get excited. The recipe is here: Vegetable Korma Curry, and it ROCKS!!! I am getting ready to nuke some leftovers for lunch....(I STARTED THIS POST 6 HOURS AGO, heh)See ya.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

RTC (return to clinic)

My pear tree.

Okay, going back to work wasn't so bad. Except that everyone there was a sourpuss yesterday. No one even said 'hi' to me when I came into the office from doing rounds, everyone was frowning and looking 'under the gun.' Whenever that happens, I know it's all instigated by the boss. And sure enough he was Mr. Grouchypants most of the day. Although I could tell he was relieved I'm back (they got swamped when I was gone, something like 13 patients in the hospital....)

Oh well, at least I felt well-rested and positive (in spite of all my negative-speak during my vaca, I really feel like a new person after that time off! I just needed my blog, and therefore my poor readers, to be my sounding board. Thanks, y'all!)

So, we closed on our refinancing yesterday. That may be part of the whole happy feeling. I feel so relieved. Plus the sun's out again.

I did not manage any yarny crafts last night. But yesterday morning I baked some awesome Apple Pie Squares before work. Unfortunately, I had to leave before I could try them, but I came home at lunch and they rock! They are my new favorite breakfast! (is'nt my placemat cute?! QVC is my friend, wink wink....)
I've been searching for a recipe like this ever since going to a quilt show where the caterers sold these at the lunch booth. YUM! So much more than a pie :) I'll come back tonight and post the recipe....

Okay I'm back. These things still rock!

Apple Pie Squares
(I'm looking forward to trying cherry, peach, and other variations!)

PASTRY= 3 c flour + 1/2 t salt + 1 c shortening + 1 egg yolk + 1/2 c milk
FILLING= 21 oz can apple pie filling
GLAZE= 1 egg white
ICING= 1/2 c powdered sugar + 2-3 t milk or water

Make pastry by cutting shortening into flour and salt until it's like coarse crumbs. Mix the egg yolk with milk, then add it to flour mixture. Divide in half, and roll out 1/2 of the dough into a 15 x 10 inch rectangle and transfer to a 15 x 10 pan (or something close to that-- a bigger pan works too because you can trim the edges straight after it's filled.

Spread the pie filling across the dough, leaving a 1-1/2 inch rim around the edges without filling. Roll out the other half of the dough, and cover the filling and lower crust; press outer rim down and trim to straighten edges with a pastry cutter or knife. Then you can flatten and smooth the top of the prepared rectangle to spread out the filling evenly inside.

Brush the top with beaten egg white and bake at 375 degrees F for 40 minutes, or til golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Mix powdered sugar with enough liquid (water or milk) to make a drizzling consistency icing. Drizzle by the spoonsful over the baked squares. Cut into squares and serve warm or cold! YUMMY!

I have a request. I have this really pretty olive oil can that I just finished.

I buy my oil like this so it lasts about 2 years. Olive oil is about all I cook with; rarely will I use other oils. I would like to clean and use this can for something, but I need some kind of tutorial or something on removing the lid and making the edges safe for use....Anyone know of any tips or tutorials to help me with this? I think this would make a fun container for my wooden spoons on the countertop. I've also seen people use things like this for flower pots outdoors. Still, I'd like the edges to be people friendly :) Just post a comment with any ideas! Thanks.....

Have a nice Tuesday everyone :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

What the? Awful Knits from the Past

I could not resist. These items are from vintage knit pattern books for sale on Ebay! I borrowed these pics to make a point. If you want to bid on items like these, go here....

Okay, the first one was from 60+ years ago. But COME ON:

My abdomen hurts when I see this hat. It looks like someone took a dump on her head! What the?!

There's simply no excuse for this one from the '80s...
This needs to be re-titled 'Skanka'....

Please cover yourself up. You are not so hot that we want to be seeing those things dangling through your shirt...especially not 25-30 years later. Okay? That gives me the shudders.

The dress in the upper corner cracks me up. What every little girl wants to wear when starting to grow breasts is little detachable purses to draw attention to them! Wonder if anyone actually made something so ugly?

What the?!

Whee! I'm wearing grandma's bedspread! La. La.

Do you know, there is not a cloud in the sky today? The day I have to go back to the dreaded workplace. Go figure >:|

Have a good 'un.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I feel like whining today

Just warnin' ya :)

I've been grumpy and unmotivated for 3 days now. The sun has been out all of an hour during that time; it's been medium to dark gray ALL FREAKING DAY LONG for 3 days. I think I'm gonna rip my hair out. I wanted to be outside, enjoying the weather. Instead I'm huddled up indoors in my blue-beauty sweater, napping under the down comforter and blankets. (Nothing to complain about there!) I was just hoping to get a little more fun-time outdoors. And the anti-depressant called 'sunshine.'

I haven't pruned half my rosebushes yet. We need to mow so badly, but can't while it's raining. My DS finishes school Tuesday and promises to mow then. I sure hope he can.

I bought 5 packets of seeds, for a hopeful garden this year. I am no dummy--the reality is, I will plant the seeds in the ground, and then they're on their own. I may be back by to thin out the weeds a couple of times, but they will have to fend for themselves most of the summer. With that in mind, I picked out these seeds:
  1. sunflowers

  2. nasturtiums

  3. leaf lettuce

  4. radishes

  5. cucumbers!
All are fairly practical and easy to grow, except the cucumbers. But look at them:

Who could resist the thought of cukes from their garden that look like this!? So cool. Only problem is I was hoping to plant things with a minimum of garden prep. Everything else will require a small surface area to be prepped; cukes however, will spread all over the planet. So not sure if they're even going to make it into the ground :( Maybe I can try them in a pot on the patio....

I finished my first sock at knit night! It fits! It's warm! I started the second one this morning at 5 AM, while the dishwasher was going and the breakfast rolls were in the oven.

I made some nice breakfast rolls ala Hakucho! They were really easy, and though I didn't get to try them hot, they were awesome cold later with a cup of coffee :) I'd definitely make these again. Yum.

I lost a big chunk of my temporary filling again. Sigh. I guess I need to call and move up the filling date, because this big divit in my tooth could spell disaster if I bite on it wrong. I'm already tired of dental visits, having had 4 in the past month, and none for 15 years previous :)

Okay, I'm going to try to do something productive. I'm going to go now and photograph some FOs, and try to start unraveling blue sweater. I'll be back later tonight.

I'm back. Here's the Jamaica bag--I call it the What Jamaican Bag....(cuz I roll like dat)

honest, it's a bag, but it just fits my big noggin :)

Friday, May 9, 2008

More from the Garden & More Fiber Fun

My Star Magnolia was spectacular this year!

It bloomed about 2 weeks ago, and all last week it dropped its petals while getting wind-whipped during our storms. Now it's completely devoid of bloom. Glad I got photos!

My puppy posing under the pear tree. It's raining white petals, and is so pretty this week! This is where I usually catch some zzzz's when I come home for lunch during the summer. You can see the grass is no longer growing there. In fact, we had to put down that temporary cement block walkway in early spring, so the dogs would quit wading around in the mud and tracking it into the house! We hope to extend the reddish block patio in the lower corner of the pic, to surround the tree. Then I can put the bistro table and chairs in the corner, for a great place to snack and read. And I can plant impatiens and spring bulbs around the base of the tree. We have our grill on this patio, if you pan right, as this is just outside our kitchen door. I can't wait to get this patio finished, it's been in progress 12-14 years! :)

We also need to get a plumber to put an outdoor faucet here. Shouldn't be too hard, as the kitchen sink is located on this house wall (to my doggie's right). Our only outdoor faucet is on the opposite side of the house, making flowerbed maintenance on this patio difficult during summer! It would be so much easier to water dogs and flowers with a spigot, than multiple trips in and out of the backdoor to the kitchen sink. Ya know?

This pear tree was a great find! I got it for $15 as a 6-foot sapling. It's a Bradford Pear. Very beautiful flower display, and with no nasty fruit to drop and spoil the patio in the fall! Only caveats with this hybrid:
  1. It is prone to splitting as it ages. We lost the north 1/3 of the tree in a windstorm 2 years ago. It's just now filling out on that side. The reason? We had hung a seed-heavy birdfeeder on that limb, and it was just enough strain to weaken it. Our neighbors planted their Bradford Pear one week after seeing me plant ours (and hearing about the bargain price), and theirs has not split.

  2. It's flowers smell like piss! No kidding. As the flowers age, the smell diminishes. Still, it's a funny thing to plant outside your kitchen window! "Throw open the windows wide and welcome spring, cough, gag!">

This soft green makes me want to log-roll down the hill! I guess I can restrain myself though, LOL :)

My apple tree, blooming away. I still don't know what kind of apple this is. It was labeled 'Granny Smith' when I purchased it from Home Depot for $7, but last year it looked like crabapples when it fruited. Don't know if that's cuz cross-pollination is not happening, or if it just got mis-labeled at the store. I don't really care WHAT kind it is, it smells delicious, and wafts into the window where I sit at the computer :) Aaaaaaah. The original aromatherapy.

And now for fiber fun. After yesterday's massage, I stopped by the Goodwill store to try my hand at scoring cheap wool sweaters to re-purpose. (I felt kinda creepy in there. I don't know why.) I got two nice sweaters to felt and one to recycle yarn from! For felting, the striped one is wool and cashmere, the brown cabled one is "100% Lambswool."

Before felting.

After felting.

The blue one is a ramie/wool/silk/nylon blend that I fell in love with. It is very soft,and a lovely variegated indigo color. It just so happens it's seams allow for recycling the yarn! So excited, I hope to get started with unraveling it later today. :)
I will be using this tutorial on recycling yarn from a sweater!

And, these are really cute labels to use for keeping track of recycled balls of yarn! I'm all over that :)

It should be a fun Fiber Friday! Maybe I'll spin on the patio, too. I don't have anywhere to be today, and then I can go to knitting tonight! What a fine end to my vacation week, sigh. I'm feeling like life is good again :)

(I came back 2 days later to post pics of these.) And, it wasn't much of a fun fiber friday, although the felting got done. The striped sweater didn't want to felt, I had to put it through the machine 3-4 times--is it because of the white yarn in it? I've heard that lighter colors felt less for some reason....And, I haven't gotten around to unraveling blue sweater yet.