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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday = Food

Today was a a tired and resting day, until 2 pm, when I dragged myself off the loveseat and spent 3+ hours making a roast beef, gravy, glazed carrots, mashed potatoes and sauteed onions, while hubby was off at his 2nd job.

I also whipped up a batch of yogurt smoothie, which helps me take all these pills!, and a batch of iced tea. Dessert is the apple crisp I made yesterday. Boy, I'm good!

Back to the loveseat and some knitting, while hubby cleans up the cooking mess.

I did catch the last few minutes of a PBS cooking show (I hadn't seen before) with a woman (I don't know who she was) making Julia's Beouf Bourguignon. One of these days I'll make one.

I have a small sirloin roast in the freezer I can cut up for it - just need wine, mushrooms and more bacon, as I cooked the package of bacon I had yesterday, despite hubby insisting that *he* was gonna do it, as my first attempt was much less that perfect.

But I finally got it right. Very low heat and drain all the fat from each batch of bacon before putting in more strips, or else the pan ends up with enough fat to swim in and splatters like mad.

America's Test Kitchen was doing maple-glazed pork tenderloins and thick, pan cooked pork chops. I'm not a big pork fan, it's just so hard to digest.


Lidia was doing a chicken with beer recipe and dumplings with speck. Eh on the beer. There was chicken stock and unfiltered apple cider to simmer the chicken in, which sounded good, but beer? I've never liked beer.

And the dumplings, like German knödel, looked really yummy - milk-soaked old bread cubes, grated cheese (looked like parmesan), cooked diced speck (prosciuto) and it looked like onions (missed bits of this show while I was cooking), chopped parsley and chives, salt, pepper, a little flour to bind it all. Make soft balls, roll in flour, then boil til they float, coat in melted butter, sprinkle on more cheese. Gotta try these one day.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Stuffed I-cord, AKD

I'm as irritated by infomercials as the next person.

But one infomercial has been scratching at my designing mind, and that's the draft stopper made of what looks like plastic and foam inserts which slides under doors and windows to keep the drafts out. Draft stoppers in general have been permeating my head lately - just the nature of that beast we call Winter, and it's co-hort, The Heating Bill, particularly this year, with all this single digit and low double digit temps.

For awhile now, every time I see it, all I see is 2 tubes of I-cord with a stockinette section in the middle. And as this sounded familiar, I pulled out my 4 EZ books, and lo and behold, she did something similar - her I-cord belt.

Except. Her belt was in garter stitch, which is too thick for this application, and it was only 7 sts wide, with 2, 3-st I-cords and 1 separating stitch.

Now, I figured that, even if I could get a useful draft stopper made, it probably wouldn't suit for under doors, BUT, most people have way more windows than doors to stop up every autumn, and as a stationary piece, this might actually do the job.

Because lordie, I do hate having to caulk 40 some odd windows every autumn, then uncaulk them in the spring.

So, I began swatching. I figured 3-st I-cords would be a bit too skimpy. So I tried 4-st cords. And the stockinette section in the middle has to be wide enough to fit under a window, but not too wide, as, ideally, the I-cord poofs should be taught against the window and windowsill, when the window is lowered onto the draft stopper.

I began with some Country Roving by Briggs & Little. Love the wool, not good for this app - too thick and not easy to pull those I-cord sts tight.

So I swatched again with B&L's Atlantic and  size 10.5 (6.5 mm) ndls. Ah. Nice sturdy wool, 3-ply. And as one would want these things to last many years, it should be able to take a licking and keep on ticking.

Now unlike typical I-cord, there is not sliding of the sts to the other end of the ndl. The pattern would be a 2-row pattern, but easy to remember.

My window frame is 1.5" thick, so, serendipity reigned, as I had put 5 sts between my 2 cords and when flattened out (as the window will do) it spanned the 1.5" tautly. (At least in the swatch that worked, I later had to rip out1 row of cord and add 2 more rows.)

But after a few inches the inevitable struck. The middle stockinette section was buckling. Why? Those cord ends were only worked on every other row, but the middle was worked on every row. So *that's why* EZ used garter stitch - smart woman!

OK, not to be defeated yet, I tried k1, p1 in the middle - no go. Then I tried a sl 1, k1 pattern - which worked, but made the middle part too thick.

In a thinner yarn, the garter stitch center panel would probably be fine, but a thinner yarn would make a smaller I-cord.

So, back to the drawing board. It turns out that a simple long stockinette strip with applied I-cord at both of the long edges works best, and won't be too fiddly to knit in a roving into the center of the I-cord. So that it resembles that infomercial item and the extra wool padding means extra insulation, making the I-cord tubing do its job better to keep air from creeping under the windows.

But. Isn't there always a but?! The darn thing doesn't work. The swatch worked. I could close the window tight and still close the window lock, but when trying to close and lock the window against an entire strip of wool fabric, I couldn't close the window tight enough to lock it.


Some ideas do this. They sound good, but the execution of them leaves much to be desired.


But. Another but.


The Stuffed I-cord idea is enticing me. I immediately thought of making a long Stuffed I-cord strip for a rug, coiled up and sewn together, or maybe crocheted together - who wants to sew?


Right now I'm working on a smaller version - a mug mat, to see if it works.


I would have posted yesterday, but had a phone conference AKD board meeting (Association of Knitwear Designers) and spent much of the rest of the day emailing each other like mad with ideas and thoughts.

I'm a board member and on a couple committees. We're the behind-the-scenes worker bees turning our organization into something it's never been before - THE organization to belong to if you're a knitting pattern designer. It can take alot of time and work, but is well worth it.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

a wee bit more patience!

I've been good lately about posting every day, and don't want you all to think I'm slipping. I'm working on a long post and a free pattern. But first gotta finish the sample, block it and see if the idea actually works.

If it does work, well, actually, even if it doesn't, it has the germ of another good idea in it - all sidetracking that Fana design a bit. But when the muses begin to sing, one dare not ignore their melody!

Later today the earliest, maybe tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brainus Fartus

Every other evening, I put 2 qts of water to boil to steep iced tea. I could drink the whole half gallon every day, but I try and be good and compromise by drinking just a quart's worth and a quart of water every day.

In the morning, I strain the bags, add sugar, heat it up a bit to dissolve the sugar, add lemon juice, and refrigerate.

Except this morning.

I took the lid off the pot. And there was no tea!  OK, who took my tea? And left just a pot of water sitting here (insert sound of foot tapping.) Fleeting images of hubby running off with a jiggling, splooshing pot of tea, just to confuse me, runs through my head  Then I remember. Oh duh.

Monday, January 25, 2010

PS

I wasn't totally happy with my new pic - looked like I had huge dark circles under my eyes.

Vain. Yes. I admit it. Take away my Feminist card! So, I changed the pic again. Not perfect, but I think I like it more than the other one.


Now onto more important work.

Sleep = weight loss

No joke!

Since I turned 40, a whopping decade ago, I've been forced, by my body, to try and figure out what it needs. Until then, I just went through life, eating as well as I could and running myself ragged, as most mothers with 2 careers do! And the bod just behaved, for the most part. Then 40 hit and the game changed.

Of course, what the bod needs changes. Especially through those 10 peri-menopausal years. I'm finally past that hump, (Insert happy dance.) but this last year, it was all exacerbated by the Cancer. Menopause and Cancer at the same time is no easy task. And completely confusing to the body and the owner of said body.

But I've learned. To Listen. VERY Closely. To My Body.

And I think I've discovered something new.

I hadn't been sleeping well for about 2 weeks. Change in magnesium formula and lackadaisical progesterone supplementation = toss and turn and wake up in the bleak hours unable to easily return to lala land. And my weight was up a few lbs. With the edema, I never know if it's *real* weight or water weight. It hardly matters, as the jeans don't discriminate by weight cause, they just won't fit, regardless.

I can't tell you how this is so not like me. Anyone that knows me knows I sleep like a rock. I like to do everything with passion, even sleep!

I recently switched to a liquid progesterone formula, instead of the creams I have been using for years. The liquid is super cheap as it lasts forever, and does the job. But I'd usually take it during the day, as that was easiest for me to remember.

So, a couple nights ago, I decided to try taking 1 drop (the usual dose) under my tongue or on the inside of my cheek 1/2 an hour before bed, and take a 1/2 pill of this new magnesium (I'm incrementally increasing the dose, trying to see if I can handle full doses).

(I had tried this with the progesterone cream, but it didn't work the same way. I have read that the cream on your neck or face before bed helps you sleep. Ha, not me it didn't!)
 
Now I'm back to sleeping like a rock. And, I've lost those extra lbs and an extra one on top of it. I haven't seen 137 in? can't remember when. Haven't exercised (the edema works overtime when I work up a sweat, and that's another gripe I have with this stupid edema - I'd like some muscle tone back.) I haven't dieted. In fact, yesterday, I had pasta with chunks of melted mozzarella for lunch AND dinner, and a small piece of marshmallow-iced chocolate cake.

So, I googled, Sleep and weight loss.

Looks like it's not my imagination! So, if anyone else struggles with weight (don't we all?), look at your sleep patterns and see if there isn't room for improving the quality of your sleep. Could be a simple fix out there, to not only get us the sleep we desperately need, but make those jeans fit a bit more comfortably. I love killing 2 birds with one stone!

I'll report back periodically, to let you know if it's still working.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dawn's Feeling Radical

It's infuriating.

That in our society, we are led to believe that we can have blind faith in doctors.

That because they did all those years of study, they actually know what's good for us.

But there's 2 lessons my mother taught me, which are ingrained in me: Choose your friends carefully, and Question Authority.

As an Aries, I almost don't need to be reminded to question authority, it comes naturally. And I'm grateful for that.

Because if we let them, doctors will have their way with us, ruining us a bit at a time, 'til we're completely dependent on them and hospitals for survival. Survival, not Living.

True there are exceptions, but they are few and far between. Most doctors don't think outside the box. Cut 'em up and drug 'em is what they know. My anathema for them grows, as I see, yet another person afflicted with side effects of an idiotic and unnecessary drug recommendation.

We have, finally, a strong-enough Earth/Eco movement, growing slowly, but growing, and this time, not likely to fall by the wayside as it did in the 80's.

But what we also need is a larger network of health care professionals, like my radiology oncologist and my nurse-midwife gyn, who not only don't pooh-pooh alternative health practises, but advise them, when applicable. As adjuncts to traditional Western medicine. Depending on the problem, start with Nature. Start with remedies that aren't alien to the body, start with Nutrition and herbs.

We've chemicalled our world into a dying state. We're chemicalling our bodies into a dying state. We can no longer trust that other people know what is best for us. But then, I'm not sure there ever is or was a time we should trust someone else's judgment over our own.

A healthy Earth populated by healthy humans. It shouldn't be just an ideal, a dream. As with all ideals, they are powered by individuals. You, me, us. Demanding more. From ourselves and the professionals we rely on. Until Change Comes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

new me

Ha.

Tried to take a new picture of myself to post instead of the baby pic that's been here and Shaun, on Twitter.

Oy.

I'm not half bad to look at, but am NOT photogenic. Especially with this droopy eye from the retina surgery. (By the time you get to be old, all these doctors have rearranged your face and body til it's not recognizable any more.)

So, after about 100 attempts to capture a decent representation of my countenance, one thing seems to be blatantly clear. I'm in my "candlelight" years and should be avoiding bright daylight like a vampire.

So as all the pics made me want to hurl, I had hubby take some pics, and it only took him about 25 pics to get a decent one. Whew!

Friday, January 22, 2010

House of Cards and Doggie Day

House of Cards
I spent much of yesterday going nuts seeking out info about the most bio-available form of magnesium supplement that won't send me running to the, um, ladies' room. So far, we have 2 different full bottles of the stuff, all of which I'm too sensitive to.

Just some of the magnesium varieties:
Magnesium Oxide
Magnesium Glycinate
Magnesium Citrate/malate
Magnesium Aspartate
Magnesium Carbonate
Magnesium Sulfate
Magnesium Chloride

It's too easy to give up and not take the supplement. But too many body functions, including sleep, which is eluding me lately, rely on getting enough and most people don't get nearly enough because we don't eat the foods that have it the most.

I try to be good about taking all my pills, but I always get to a point where I can't stand to swallow another pill and back off the supps, taking just my absolute necessities, the meds.

Until the body recoils. Hacking and sputtering like an ill-timed engine. Geez. Whatever happened to just going through the day, eating food, and it being enough? But no. The bod can't function on its own. Lately, I feel like I am nothing, absolutely nothing more than a bunch of hormone creams, meds and supplements, without which I'd be a miserable pile of degenerated goo.

Or a House of Cards ready to tumble at the merest breeze. Yup, there goes Dawn, blowing away in the wind!

Doggie Day
It's Friday. To some that means TGIF. To me, it means Doggie Day. When the local shelters put pics of some of their animals available for adoption in the paper.

Well, today held an embarrassment of riches. There was Little Bo Peep, a rabbit that looks like a sheep.

Andy, a poodle mix, and his brother, Amos.

Thelma, the beagle, and her sister, Louise.

And my favorites, name-wise - Stormy, a tri-colored cockatiel, with his sisters Sunny and Skye, and brothers, Rain and Drizzle.

But then we get to the ferrets. God, they're so cute! There's always a few listed and always with similar descriptions. Bella, a 3-year old black sable ferret, gives kisses and loves to play and dance. Well, that's me! I musta been a ferret in another life!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Julia via Barbara

Missed yesterday's blog post - my only excuse has been that I spent 2.5 hours cooking and baking - glazed carrots, hash browns, pan-fried steak with a simple wine sauce, 2 apple/carrot cakes and brewed iced tea. And of course, washed a boatload of pots, pans, bowls and other culinary accoutrement. And I was knitting.

Sweet friend and acclaimed author, Barbara Bretton, sent me this book



For those now in the know, it's Julia Child's story of her life in Paris with Paul, her husband, after the war. It's a wonderful love story, and a story of a woman who discovers her life's main passion. It is the book upon which the movie Julie & Julia was based.

Thanks so much Barbara!

Of course, I am just one of the throngs, waiting with baited breath, to read Barbara's next installment of the Chloe and Luke Saga!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cooking and Knitting - Just The Math Ma'am

Cooking
I missed Lidia's Italy this week, as we were busy cooking. Hubby was making lemon and garlic-seasoned, breaded and baked flounder, to which I decided to make a sauce to go on top.

I began with 2.5 cups water and threw in a small bag of frozen shrimp shells. Boil, then simmer, covered. I do that with fish remains, instead of smelling up the garbage with them. Let simmer about 15 minutes.

As he was also making stuffed mushrooms, I absconded with 2 of them, chopped them very fine and sauteed them in some butter, adding some onion powder (had no shallots, but add that to the list of things I want to grow), then a good sploosh of Asti (had no white wine).

Then added all that to the pot of simmering broth and simmered the entire mixture another 10-15 minutes.

It wasn't alot of shrimp shells, so though the aroma said, Fish, the resultant sauce was delicate, not fishy.

I then made a roux with 2 TBL butter and 3 TBL flour, to which I added the strained liquid from the simmering pot, and whisked. Add salt and a bit of pepper to taste.

I'd love to try Julia's Beurre Blanc, but at 3 sticks of butter in the sauce, it would mostly go uneaten, or kill us if we did eat it all!

Knitting - Just The Math Ma'am
As I finished that errant Kimono Fana sleeve and am about to join all 3 pieces and shape the yoke area, I needed to do all the math first, for all 5 sizes, so that I know, at least on paper, that it can work. What happens once I knit it is something else and can muck up the entire thing.

Problem.
I'm not finding in any of EZ's books, and the Spun Outs and WG's which I have, though I haven't them all, nor in PGR's Knitting in The Old Way, ANY reference to shaping a square set-in sleeve in the round.

Oh sure, I could work the front and back to the shoulders, either separately or add 2 more steeks at the underarms, BO and seam them or bind them off together, then sew in the sleeves, or bind off the live sleeve sts into the armholes, or?

But no, I feel there's gotta be a way to do it in the round, no sewing, no more steeks, just the one at center front.

So, the one piece of knitting instruction I'm working from is EZ's Spun Out #21 (orig. WG #12, March 75), which details a set-in sleeve pullover, worked in the round.

So, the first thing to do, after trying to digest the instructions and figure out the *why* of each instruction, is to eliminate the shaping that occurs first, which is for the curved inset part of the sleeve.

I just want the straight up and down shaping part, so I'm gonna begin with the 2nd part of the instructions, which has you dec 1 st at each raglan point (not that this will be a raglan, but you know what I mean), on every 2nd rnd until half the sleeve sts are decreased out, then dec on every rnd til a few sts remain, then she has you do some back and forth work, which I haven't grasped yet.

Well, it all just makes the armhole depth too deep.

After running numbers, it looks like a 2/3 to 1/3 ratio works just about perfectly. Dec until 2/3 of the sleeve sts are gone on EOR, then dec the remaining 1/3 of the sleeve sts on ER.

Another issue is the % of underarm sts to be put on hold. Usually it's 8%. BUT EZ does the tops of her sleeves at only 33% of C = WAY too tight.

The sleeves for this design are at 41% of C, and as she suggests in the Spun Out, one then needs to put about 12% of C sts on holders. I find that 10.5% of C works, as I aim for about 2" worth for a size medium and that works out to be 10.5%.

Now, to get some uninterrupted hours to knit through this and see if it will work. But not til after another showing today, if she shows. She was supposed to show the house once before, but never showed up, and didn't call to cancel, so she's not on my good agent list, yet. Had 1 return visit on Saturday, and a showing and agent preview yesterday. It's all go here lately.

Now if this printer and computer would stop jerking me around - I'm trying to get a selection of designs and 1 each of all 7 of my books printed to send off to a new sales rep.

Coming up tomorrow - Barbara Bretton does it again!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Little Engine That Couldn't

Off to the chemo doc this morning to get this port flushed. I am hoping beyond hope that the extra cash we're giving to any agent, who gets us a signed contract by Jan. 30th, will finally get us a buyer, so I can schedule the removal of this port.

It's like an umbilical cord, that keeps me tethered to the chemo doc's office, feeding his till and his need to be overly cautious. As if he thinks I'll *ever* agree to have chemo again. They'd have to find me first.

Almost got that bad sleeve reknit. Then will tackle EZ's set-in sleeve but not. I want a square set-in sleeve, not a shaped set-in sleeve, so have read through her directions in Spun Out #21 (orig. WG #12, March 75), and will edit out parts of the shaping to end up with what I want. Hopefully!

I whizzed along on it, whilst singing and dancing to Mamma Mia! last night on the tube. Which apparently was too much excitement for me, as I was then all tuckered out and headachy. These damn diuretics. And I had 9 Klor Con yesterday, 3 more than my usual, as my energy has been low the past few days, but this bod just ain't well yet. I know I'm a slow healer, but this is tedious.

I know some (not naming any names - wink) might say it's Encrouching Old Age, but one doesn't go from spiffy quick and capable to a pile of goo overnight, when growing old. Decrepitude usually creeps up on people. I feel like I've been stopped in my tracks. I keep wanting to get the engine to rev up and roar up the track and it keeps sputtering and spitting out clouds of soot!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Knitting Begins With The Word

It's no wonder that I haven't wanted to knit. That there's been no spark, no fire, a knitting emptiness. All my knitting books were packed away, ever since that last buyer, who wanted to move in right away, so I began packing, then they backed out, leaving us high and dry and in a state of dishevelment.

I can't knit without my books!

I know. One usually expects a knitter to say she/he can't knit without their needles or certain yarns. But for me, knitting begins with the Word.

The word from the great knitting masters. At my side. I enjoy the doing, the creating, but it's only with their words by my side, quietly waiting under soft and hard covers like a patient teacher, that I feel capable, inspired, plugged in to the stream of knitting thought.

So when this realization hit me, I darted into my shipping room where the boxes were stacked and Xacto-knifed through the carefully taped boxes, diving feverishly through the layers of books, searching for my backbone books - everything EZ, PGR and AS. And sighed with relief, as if I had found a precious gem I thought I had lost. The pile now sits reassuringly on the floor next to the loveseat upon which I knit.

The world has a lesson coming up.

We're tossing books aside, as if they were relics of yesteryear, quaint, but unnecessary. And embracing Kindles and websites. And we rationalize it with Saving a Tree. Pish.

I've been doing my part to save trees for about 35 years, if not longer. It's no reason to not have books. Save paper somewhere else, not with books.

They are more than just paper and ink. They are what they do to us. It's as if every feeling or thought connected with that book becomes tangible, as one reads. It's not the same when reading pixels on a screen.

I love computers. They are great tools. But that's all they are. Tools. Same for all the other electronic gadgets taking over our lives. They have no soul. When you pick up a book and begin reading, you relinquish your connection to the here and now and allow yourself to take flight.

We need to do that. Humans need to disconnect from the world in a way that enriches us. We mustn't forget how much we need books. And authors. Or else risk becoming connected only to our tools.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Just One Shining Candlestick

What a day!

Sat in one of those breezy hospital gowns for 1/2 an hour waiting on the rad onc for my 3-month checkup. The patient before me apparently needed way more than the usual amount of doctor interfacing.

BTW, hospital gowns should come in 2 weights - that short-sleeved, cotton summer weight and a long-sleeved, thick flannel weight for winter. I sat there with my down jacket on over the gown, lest the cool breeze they call heat, that was blowing from the FHA ducts, turn me blue.

Which made us late getting home, which made hubby late for work and me to get some food finally into my stomach. Which made me tired when I shouldn't have been!

The dog also decided to leave me a trail of *gifts* down the hall and on the rug. I kept reminding myself, he's 15, he's 15, he's 15, instead of yelling at him.

Which meant I had to get out the carpet cleaner, again, and clean the family room carpet.

I already had enough to do today, but ain't that always the way when Murphy's at it.

Yesterday was also stew day, so out comes the arsenal of ingredients and cooking paraphernalia, in between 2 loads of laundry to do, and all the dishes, then an email from our agent - a showing for today. I do a quick mental appraisal of the house, and am glad I cleaned the carpet and not put it off! But add clean the bathroom again to the list.

But leave it to my husband to add levity to the house-prep chores.

I'm walking around the dining room table this morning, collecting all the silver, while he's staring at me wondering why I'm doing this.
me, reading his mind: They have to be polished.
him: No they don't.
me: Yes, they do, they're getting tarnished. Can't have a bunch of dull metals in the house dulling the house up for showings. Could you get me the brass candlesticks, so I can polish them too?
him: ALL of them?
me: No, just one. YES, all of them!
him: From the dining room AND the parlor?
me, groaning: YES!
him: With the candles or without?
me, thinking I should have just gone and got them myself: Oy, with the candles, so I can put the right ones back into the right candlesticks. You belong to the School of Lazy Man Housework, don't you?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

what's grey and white and hot pink all over?

Every designer makes mistakes. Most of the time, they're small mistakes. Not me.

Last night, I finally was at the neck of the Kimono Fana - we're talking body done, sleeves and yoke done to the neck and I was binding off, so I could sew and cut the steek, then tackle the problem of the facing.

And I'm counting. The sts between the markers. And I'm 3 sts off on one sleeve. So I count all the decreases in each raglan line. OK, they're all the same. I count the sts put on holders at the underarm. They're all the same. Then I look at the sleeves, and a big deep inner groan begins to well up. Good Lord, I didn't do the sleeves on different amounts of sts, did I? And if so, how on earth did I do that?

The cuffs are the same, hmm. Then I count the reps just above the cuff. 3 sts decreased around, on ONLY 1 CUFF.

I Have To. Rip Out. Down to the raglan joining rnd and 1 sleeve to the cuff.

Serves me right. This is what I get for taking TOO long to finish a design. When I pick designs up after much time spent in waits-ville, there's too much more room for error. It's this limbo I've been in ever since listing the house again. All my energy, every thought, is about selling the house and Moving.

Part of me is unable to devote the proper amount of energy and time to designing that it requires. The other part of me thinks maybe I can, but am afraid if I take my eyes off the ball, this place won't get sold.

I don't know how I feel about this. I'd usually get thoroughly angry with myself. In the meantime, I've restarted the one errant sleeve, and have decided not to do a raglan again. I'm really gonna go out on a limb and try EZ's set-in square sleeve. But need to unearth a few books which are packed away, for reference.

The raglan was presenting a problem at the neck, anyway, which I was aware of before I worked it.. I didn't want to run the wide front band around the entire neck edge, which was rather large, I want a traditional snug-around-the-neck kimono neck band. I was considering binding off and seaming the raglan neck, but thought that would really be a desecration of a good raglan. But, sometimes, one needs to actually see it in front of you, before you can see if a solution is workable.

As I say to hubby when one dragster blows an engine part right off the line - Do Over!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Now there's a solution to global warming!

My husband isn't the only person in our family with which I share quick repartee. My daughter's another one.

She's an air sign, and I'm a fire sign, and despite the fact she keeps saying how fire signs (particularly Aries) get on her nerves (because we're so AR), she's managed to have a few friends along the way who are Aries. Interesting how that works!

So, today, I emailed her about a showing we had on Sunday:

"A couple came yesterday with a 3.5 year old, very talkative little girl who loved Pickles. She immediately sat down next to him and petted him, while saying that she wants a dog and she's gonna name it Red, cause red's her favorite color!

And she noticed the red glass in the front door sidelights and loved it. It was too funny."

To which she replied. "OMG... she's an Aries =P"
Me: "My thoughts exactly! I know - too many of us around!"
Her: "I think you should all be deported to Mars =P haha"
Me: "Then all you air signs should be sent up into the atmosphere to see what you can do about the global warming! lol."
Her: "We'll hold hands and fill the hole =P"
Me: "That sounds like a plan!"

Whilst I was sitting in my office, trying to do something productive, whilst the showing was taking place, I figured I'd save my email files and my website files to zips, as I do every few months. I should do it more often, and after what happened, I WILL be doing it more often, as I managed to delete the last 7 months of all my emails. The last time I backed up, it was May. They're only emails, but I felt bereft all afternoon and evening, mourning the loss of 7 months of carefully organized emails in 73 folders!

It happened so fast, and it's all this zip drive's fault. The connection is a bit wonky (I got it used) and it was during one of its wonky bouts, while I was deleting the old mail files off the zip, so there'd be room for the new mail files and moving the new files over, that it took them all and sent them into never-never land.

I'm gonna see to that today and figure out why it turns off all by itself.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Buddy Bailey's and Sweet Talker

My Buddy Bailey's
House showing is just always filled with such turmoil and angst!

Who's 45 minutes late. Who cancels. Who's come with 3 kids and everyone is going around the house unattended, doing their own thing for 40 minutes.

And I have 2 more showings today with a possible 3rd.

Nothing a little shot of Bailey's can't fix.

At least hubby will be here today to help out. He had to work yesterday, so I tackled it by myself. Good thing I awoke 1.5 hours early, or else I'd have been a frazzled mess by the time they began descending on me.

Sweet Talker
Did you know that my medicine cabinet holds cat piss and a garbage dump!?


I'm getting ready for bed last night and after washing my face, I proceeded to put on some Kiss My Face Peaches and Cream Moisturizer, which DD gave me, to which hubby replied that I smelled like cat piss.

After a few rounds of rebuttal, I said, Fine. So on top of it I slathered on some Avon Anew Moisturizer, which DD also gave me, to change the smell (as I wasn't about to wash my face again), which, BTW, didn't smell like cat piss, just peaches and cream. THEN he says, What now, are you gonna smell like a garbage dump!

He did relent and admit I smelled better, to him, as I thought I smelled fine all along!, but all this laughter right before bed gets the heart rate up too much and keeps us from sleeping! It's a good thing I love him.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Perhaps to Bohus?

I was sitting on the loveseat last night finally knitting again on that long-suffering Kimono Fana cardigan (almost to the neck on the raglan shaping) and was thinking about my next design. Knitting is perfectly suited to letting your mind wander, especially a simple, repetitive stitch pattern. The fingers can work away, whilst the brain takes a holiday.

Cascade yarns had sent me several skeins of cascade 220 and Cloud 9 for swatching my next design, which is to be a Fair Isle twin set.

Except.

I'm not so sure I don't want to design a Bohus-inspired sweater.

Now if anyone isn't familiar with Bohus, they should be! Here's a few links to whet the appetite:

http://www.oneofsusannas.com/bohus.htm
http://bohuskal.blogspot.com/
http://www.solsilke.se/
http://www.knitchmagazine.com/features/bohus-stickning.html
http://redhatknitter.blogspot.com/2009/01/bohus-stickning-exhibit.html

I love the interplay of colors that happens when one purls on the RS of the fabric within a color pattern. And using angora blend yarns with plain wool yarns should add additional interest.

It's a shame Emma Jacobson couldn't find someone to carry on her work, which left Bohus design a shining gem in our hand knitting herstory.

We can carry on, though, using the technique that Emma and her talented team of designers became famous for back in the '30's, though to be sure and never call it Bohus, but instead, Bohus-inspired, in deference to her work.

Anyway, I think doing something Bohus-y might be just what I need to spark my little designer gears back into action.

And what I think will make this style of sweater a good type of design for 2010 is that it can use up stash hanks of yarn in a pretty way, just as Fair Isles can use many colors. But some knitters can be afraid of mixing colors - unsure about what looks good together. I may need to do a blog post or 2 about that, when the time comes.

Though Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting, now reprinted by Dover, is an excellent source for this info! My copy is about 18 years old and I'll never part with it. Same for my 2 copies of Knitting in The Old Way. Some books you just know you will always need, always want to refer to.

The web is great, but books are greater!

And I haven't forgotten that I also need to put the Fana KAL into a booklet. Need to do another sample, though, in that gauge. This Kimono Fana is another gauge and a totally different design.

In the meantime, must finish the raglan, do the wide front border and figure out the inner cuffs for these wide sleeves, beginning sometime after the 3, count 'em 3, showings I have today. Good hubby is bringing home pizza for dinner.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Recalcitrant Designer

I made that beef stew last night from the leftover sirloin roast. Which is a good thing, as hubby has a friend coming to visit sometime this weekend, up from Florida, and I have 2 showings so far for tomorrow and 1 so far for Sunday, so cooking for me is OUT!

Onions, carrots, celery, then later 5 cloves sliced garlic, sauteed in olive oil and butter, then a large can of diced tomatoes, 4 cups beef broth (low salt, naturally!), diced leftover roast, of which there was plenty still remaining, salt, pepper, 2 bay leaves, a little rosemary, some basil, oregano, bring to boil, then lid on and simmer 1 hour.

I then cooked some pastina and the remains of my homemade egg noodles, which I broke into smaller pieces and tossed all that in along with 1/2 - 1 lb green beans. Didn't have enough noodles by themselves. Simmer more, then I made a small roux of butter and flour and thickened the stew.

The only thing I didn't have was some red wine for it. But I did stir in the remains of the gravy I had made for the roast. It was still perfectly good so I saw no reason to let it go to waste.

It all made a big pot of stew, which should get us through the weekend.

But damn and blast, I do need to get a couple loaves of oatmeal bread baked again, as I swapped a loaf and a carrot/apple cake with my daughter for some face moisturizer she didn't like but I could use. And some cookies wouldn't go amiss with the company coming.

I really, I mean really, gotta get back to my designing and knitting. I've been on sabbatical too long already. Especially after finishing up my taxes, and being faced with the cold hard facts that are numbers.

As much fun as I've had cooking and baking and posting about it, it doesn't pay the bills. If only. And that book I'm writing is only inching along.

I'm not feeling the love yet, but hopefully it will well up again, once I knit more. It seems as if it hardly matters *what* I do as long as it's something creative. I'm not overly attached to any particular creative activity. Though I think my garden has the most tugs on my heart, at least until every August, when the heat wears me down, and I begin to wonder why I insist on doing something that necessitates trudging 300 yards and back to a few piles of dirt and weeds in the hot sun.

But it's not August. It's January, and the seed catalogs sit here in their full-color glory, beckoning all the hopeful and dreamers, aka gardeners, to place their seed orders, whilst envisioning their most perfect garden!

"In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death." ~Sam Llewelyn

But this one nails the work involved:
"What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it." ~Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden, 1871

This just in - change of plans, company next weekend, whew! So, maybe I'll get some knitting done after the showings. Bread rising as I write.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Roast Sirloin with Gravy

Hubby found the last chunk of a sale-priced 5 lb. top sirloin roast at the store Saturday. Just a buck 50 a lb! This will be dinners for the week. A coupla days of it plain, with gravy, then the remains made into stew.Link
Now, I had sorta remembered the recipe from "America's Test Kitchen" , another PBS show I try not to miss (but did manage to miss this Sunday) for their roast beef with gravy. But I needed the recipe and didn't want to wing it. Much searching and filling out forms (and losing patience with slower weekend cable speed) took place so to access the site's recipes.

Hubby rubbed it with salt, pepper and garlic powder the night before. I patted it dry the next day and bravely browned this hunk 'o meat in the cast iron pan - alot for this non-meat cooker. Then popped it onto the v-rack in the large baking pan and into the oven at 275 degrees for 2 hours.

I cooked some of my homemade egg noodles and ladled the gravy over the medium rare slices (at 2 hours' cooking time for the 5 lbs) and the noodles, with green beans on the side.

Now the gravy. Delicious, though more work than my usual gravy and, it repeated on both of us.

You use the pan the meat was browned in and toss in a chopped onion (they called for 2, but this guy was huge enough), 2 carrots (to their 1) and 1 stalk celery, all chopped. Saute til softened. Add 1 tbl tomato paste (which we were out of, of course!, so I substituted 4 tbl of his homemade marinara sauce), and 1/4 c flour. Stir and cook this til it's all blended well - a couple/few minutes.

Add 1 c red wine (of which I only had 1/3 c), 4 c beef broth (mine was low sodium). Stir it all , bring to a boil then simmer 10 minutes til it thickens.

Well, mine didn't thicken so much. I know the tomato sauce instead of the paste added more moisture, but I WAS short 2/3 a cup of the wine, so it should have balanced out.

Not to be outdone, after I strained the gravy through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a saucepan, I added 1.5 tbl butter to the frying pan and a couple tbl flour and made a roux. I added some of the4 gravy to the roux to blend it in and then added the roux to the gravy and NOW it thickened. Add 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce (instead of their 1 tsp, as it kills hubby), salt and pepper to taste, then let it sit covered while the meat was roasting.

I think, though that I'll stick to my simple gravy of butter and canola oil roux with beef broth and a bit of drippings from the pan, with salt and pepper. Sometimes with a touch of onion powder or other seasonings, depending on the gravy.

The sirloin was a good cut - almost as tender as a tenderloin, at such a great price! I'm spoiled now. London Broil can be good and it can be tough.

Now, all that veg that was used *just* for gravy flavoring. I didn't want it going to waste, as it still had flavor. So they went into another saucepan with 2 cups of chicken broth and some salt and pepper and simmered awhile, for an easy veg soup.

On with today's madness - endless phone calls, waiting on return calls, faxes, continued tax prep, laundry, emails, and all the other usual Monday-after-a-holiday-weekend stuff to deal with!

One of these days I'll have something knitting-related to report! I hope!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Strangozzi Query and My New Middle Name

A reader asks about a recipe(Tomato Sauce with Bacon and a Chard and Almond sauce, can be paired with strangozzi) from Lidia's Italy (a PBS show).

I Googled and could only find references to the show's airings on various stations around the country.Link
It's also in this book.

The episode is called Umbrian twist.

Your best best is to find out when it will air again on your local PBS station.


My New Middle Name
If I thought for just one second that 2009 wasn't the sh*t*ss year that it was, and that it was just a Dream, I opened this folder today with which to begin my yearly tax headache, and realized, no it wasn't a Dream, it was a Nightmare!


This is our 2009 medical folder. Just 2009! Prescriptions up the wazoo, doctor (s, plural, at least 7 different doctors between us) copays, hospital copays, treatment copays, test copays, dentist copays. Copay should be both of our middle names.

The accountant is gonna be flummoxed.

Friday, January 01, 2010

You don't need to go to the gym

to get an upper body workout! Just kneed the dough for 2 loaves of (oatmeal) bread, seen rising below



and roll out 4 sheets of paper thin dough for egg noodles!





I must be crazy to do this, but ya know, it's fun! And it beats sitting in front of the computer.





My last 2 loaves were a bit dense. I usually light the oven briefly to warm it up, then put the dough in there to keep warm, but I'm finding that just putting the bowl of dough on the stove over the pilot light works best. I'm sure I learned this lesson previously, but forgot it, as it's been awhile since I made bread.

Same for the noodles and pasta. I want to do it enough to ingrain the process in my head. Lordie knows how many pounds of pasta and noodles it will take to do that! But I'm sure it will sink it, just as I could write raglan sweater shaping directions or sock knitting directions in my sleep now, especially the socks - have knit more pairs than I could count.

Speaking of which, I finished brother's thick wool socks, which are soaking now. Musta used about 8 ozs of Briggs & Little's Atlantic, so they're sure to keep his feet warm.

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