Wednesday, December 31, 2014

OTN 12/31/14

Boy, I haven't been very creative with the blog post titles lately.  I'm purposely keeping it short & sweet and just a simple what's on the needles post today because sadly, I've succumbed to the Patient First Creeping Crud disease.  It's not the flu, but I feel oogy.  I'm living on a cocktail of Mucinex, Sudafed & Tums.  Apparently the Mucinex-Sudafed combo causes incredibly horrid indigestion.

I haven't been knitting much.  Yesterday, I didn't wake up until after 1 p.m. and last night/this morning, it was after 5:30 a.m. when I was finally able to fall asleep.  And of course, I woke up at 7:15 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep.  So today, I'm just plain stupid.  Stupid with a massive case of indigestion.  That kind of stupid where you turn the washing machine on without putting any dirty clothes into it & you dump the dog food into the water bowl instead of the food bowl.

So yeah, I'm feeling oogy & cursing Patient First's germy air.  On the bright side, Zack's broken thumb is doing well.  It's still a rainbow of colors but the swelling has gone down considerably and as long as he keeps it splinted & doesn't bump it on anything, he says it doesn't hurt.  Actually, he says the tetanus shot hurt worse than the broken thumb.  I'm just glad his thumb is looking more like a thumb should look.  When he first broke it, his knuckle was swollen up more than twice as high as normal, plus the skin was split open & oozing blood.  And, as if that wasn't bad enough, the pad of his thumb had a horrible lump protruding out & downwards.  I can't believe we didn't take pictures.  It was my baby's first broken bone after all.

Happy New Year's!  Be safe out there.

Monday, December 29, 2014

OTN 12/29/14

Unless you count killing the poinsettia, not a lot of progress has been made around here.  Apparently, poinsettias don't like coffee.  Who knew?  Spider plants love coffee!  I have one spider plant that I've owned since 1989.  It has thrived on a diet of mostly coffee with only an occasional shot of water.  But one dose of coffee was all it took to kill the poinsettia.

But to get back on topic, what's on the needles?

It's the Cape Cod mitt.  Still.  I started it Friday while sitting in Patient First waiting for verification that my son had broken his thumb.  To be honest, we were in Patient First for so long & I'd knit the entire time we were there and by the time we got home, I was sort of sick of knitting.  Six hours of straight knitting will do that to me.  Saturday was spent doing a mountain of laundry which included re-washing one particular load for the third time.  Yes, I'm prone to forgetting I'm doing laundry & not remembering until days later when I go to start a new load only to discover the old load is still in the washer, wet & moldy.  But that particular load, I'm proud to say, got re-washed, dried & even put away into the proper closets & drawers.

Saturday was also spent at the grocery store buying lettuce.  You know you've eaten too many Christmas cookies when all you want is lettuce.  I swear, if I never see another grain of sugar or a stick of butter, it will be too soon.

Sunday was spent happily munching lettuce & watching a bunch of my favorite '80's Netflix movies that will be disappearing on January 1st.  I also started working on my knitting list for 2015.  You know how I love a good list.  Anyway, all I can say is that I hope 2015 is a very long year.  There's 27 items on my Things to Knit in 2015 list.  Twenty-seven!  Twenty-seven things & the list doesn't even include all the new patterns that will come my way during the year.  Good grief!

And, because I know you are curious,

Sarah can parallel park.  Granted, it takes her about 45 minutes, but she can do it.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Post Christmas hoop-la

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  We sure did.

Sarah helped Minnie & Max hang their stocking.  Minnie LOVES the stocking & what it means & wasn't very happy about sharing it this year.

 Zack helped his 4 legged siblings open their stocking.

Max was overjoyed to discover Santa had brought him a huge bone.  He was not overjoyed at having his picture taken though.  He does not like having the DSLR pointed at him.

If you are noticing a lack of human pictures, it's because I'm trying to honor the families wishes not to show up here on the blog.  Sarah will have to get over it though.  Here's what her cake stand cover hat looks like on.  Just ignore the weird, "please stop taking my picture" facial expression.

I was super excited to discover Sarah had gotten me the Buffy heart necklace we found in a consignment shop.

Sarah commented that she didn't remember Buffy wearing a heart necklace & I immediately responded, "Oh no, Buffy doesn't wear it.  Zander gave it to Cordellia for Valentines Day."  Then Sarah went off on a rant about how I can't remember her name half the time, but I know Zander's & Cordellia's and how they spent Valentines.  What can I say?  I'm a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan.  And I've been dying for a similar heart necklace ever since I first saw the episode.

I also got monogramed salt & pepper shakers from my friend Traci at Dogwood Shade Arts.

I also discovered that I can knit almost an entire hat & start a pair of matching fingerless gloves while sitting in Patient First.  My son broke his thumb at work late Christmas night and we spent yesterday, as in all freaking day yesterday (well, okay, to be honest, just a few minutes shy of six hours but that's almost all day) in Patient First getting him taken care of.  If we didn't catch the flu while we were there it will be a miracle.  I have never seen so many sick people in my life.  We hung out in the waiting room for about 3 hours & the whole time, there were at least six people having to stand while they waited because there weren't enough chairs for all the patients.  I can't complain about Patient First though.  They were just swamped with post-Christmas flu patients plus I guess it took a while to get the workers' comp approval to treat Zack.  What ever.  As long as we don't get the flu, I'm happy.  I got the hat finished (it only had ribbing when we arrived) plus I started the mitts and Zack got x-rayed & the break confirmed, bandaged (his knuckle was split open,  eeww!) splinted, an updated tetanus shot and several prescriptions for pain meds & an anti-inflammatory and we didn't pay a cent.  I was pretty impressed with Bowl America's workers' comp procedure.  And, luckily, it's Zack's left thumb so as long as he lays off the pain pills, he should be able to bowl without too much trouble.  And of course, go back to work.  I gotta hand it to the kid & his work ethic.  The doctor gave him a note so that he could stay out until Monday but he went in this morning.  Of course the big question is, can he do his job one handed.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

TBT - Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a very, merry Christmas!

Christmas, 1965.  Every Christmas that I can remember, my cousins always wore their red suspenders & holly bow ties.  And I was always slightly jealous that I wasn't a boy because I wanted to wear them too.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Night Before Christmas

We're throwing back Thursday a day early.  Our family's tradition is having the oldest male in attendance read The Night Before Christmas after dinner on Christmas Eve.  As a child, it was always my grandfather.  Then the honor was passed to my dad who passed the duty on to my brother in law.  I have spent two years away from my family on Christmas Eve and both of those years, I forced found others to read to me.  One was a stranger who thought I was completely nuts but he complied anyway and actually seemed to enjoy it.

These days, I always tear up just a little during the reading as I remember past Christmas's and loved ones who are missing from our lives, but it's the one tradition I refuse to ever give up.  It would be painful to skip the Christmas tree and the special holiday foods and the gift giving & receiving but I could live through it if necessary.  I would not survive if someone didn't read me The Night Before Christmas.

So, that being said,

Happy Christmas to all

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Eve Eve

Things are starting to feel a bit less frantic.  Sort of.  The baby blanket bind off is complete.  It's this year's Christmas miracle!  The shopping is finished, eight batches of rum balls have been made, nine batches of cookies are cooling on the racks, there's a cake in the oven and there's a plan in place for delivering the gifts.  I think, thanks to a great deal of help from my daughter, we are ready for Christmas.

Okay, so I know this blog is supposed to be about knitting and it's been a week, maybe more, since I've posted any pictures of anything remotely knitting related but today won't be the day to break the streak.  I'd planned to show pictures of the finished baby blanket but Someone accidently forgot to turn off the camera the last time it was  used and the battery is beyond dead.  I'm just glad I discovered this today rather than tomorrow night in the midst of the Christmas festivities.

What I do have pictures of is,

Our tree.

A house that I hope made the tacky lights house tour.

And a human Christmas tree.  While shopping the other night, Sarah & I stopped off at a Chili's to grab a bite to eat.  Seated near us was a large group who were all dressed... festively.  Not quite as festive as the tree person, but festive.  At one point, they all stood up, sang a Christmas Carol & danced around.  It was a Christmas carol flash mob!

Merry Christmas Eve Eve.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Count Down

Holy Moses, how did it get to be December 22 already?  I will be lucky if I'm done preparing for this Christmas by next Christmas.  Good grief!

I'm on Day 18, or at least that's what it feels like, of the baby blanket i-cord bind off.  Good grief!  Who knew baby blankets were so freaking big.  I should probably admit that I've reached that "I can't face this any more" stage of baby blanket i-cord bind off that has caused me not to knit for two days.  Two whole days!  Two whole days without knitting a single stitch.  Good grief!  I won't allow myself to start a new project until the bind off is finished but I can't seem to force myself to do the bind off.  We are at a stalemate.

Instead of knitting (or baking, or wrapping, or sweeping up pine needles or gift delivering....) Sarah & I took a spur of the moment trip to downtown Richmond to see the lights at the James Center.

The lights were beautiful, but it just wouldn't be Christmas without a horse-drawn sleigh  carriage.

This one's a little blurry but...  This dude is an amazing bucket drummer.  Having failed guitar lessons back in my youth, it absolutely amazes me that someone can bang on a bunch of plastic buckets & make it sound like something.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve

Friday, December 19, 2014

Rum Balls

If I ever divorce my husband, you can pretty much guarantee it will be over his rum ball behavior.

Several years ago I stumbled across a recipe for bourbon balls that called to me.  I don't know why.  I wasn't a huge fan of bourbon balls.  I much prefer my bourbon straight, in liquid form.  But I got it in my head to make a batch to give as gifts.  I had everything I needed to make them on hand except the tins.  As my luck would have it, while I was at the tin store, dear husband & his buddy were at home drinking the bourbon.  And as things like that always happen in my household, I didn't discover the missing bourbon until I was elbow deep in all the other ingredients.

Standing there, peering into the bourbonless liquer cabinet, I caught sight of the Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum.  Hmm, it's the same color...  We have a full bottle....  It'll work.

Yes, I tend to cook by color.  If I'm missing an ingredient, something else of the same color should work, right?   (That might explain why we eat out a lot.)

It turns out, the Captain Morgan's makes a HUGE difference.  A huge, wonderful difference.

And that is why I may one day divorce my husband over rum balls.  I can not make them fast enough.  The folks I gave them to that first year have demanded I make them again each year.  And let me say, a few of those folks haven't been very subtle with their demands.  The rum balls are that good!

So every year, there I am, standing in the kitchen, making hundreds (literally!) of bourbon balls while my husband eats them.  Eventually,  he eats enough to either get a belly ache or a hangover & he wanders off.  Finally!  I fill the gift tins, clean up the mess, and mark "Rum Balls" off the to-do list while sipping the last of the rum.

And the next day, I find at least one open & empty gift tin.  I take one look at dear husband & yep, he's got a big, guilty grin and powdered sugar on his face.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

TBT - Christmas, 1964

Throwback Thursday is looking back to 1964.  I was two.

I don't remember the crib, playpen or is it a jail house?  What is that thing??  But I do remember the doll. I loved that doll!  By the time I was eight or nine, the doll's name was Dirty Baby.  I also had Pretty Dirty Baby.  As you can guess by their names, they were both obviously well loved, and well, pretty dirty.

I think this was the Christmas when I pulled the tree down.  Perhaps just moments before this photo was taken.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

OTN 12/17/14

Slight progress has been made on the gray & white spiral blanket.  I started the ruffle very late last night, or very early this morning, depending on how you look at it.  Only a few rows have been knit so you can't really tell.  I sure hope that once a few more rows are knit, the contrast between the two yarns will show up more.  I also hope that one skein of the gray will be enough to finish the ruffle because it's all I have.

Notice the poinsettia?  It's my version of Elf on a Shelf.  That poor plant gets moved around from place to place on an hourly basis it seems.  It was supposed to sit on my desk but remember this fiasco?  Yeah, well, the fiasco is on-going and the poor plant is constantly in the way.  I also keep forgetting to water it so it's having a hard life.  I hope it forgives me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Teach me

I'm wishing all my Jewish friends a happy Hanukkah.  And because it never gets old, no matter what your religion is, The Hanukkah Song.

Meanwhile, I have a question for you.  When speaking of, say, a hat or scarf that could easily be worn by either male or female, do you call it a unisex hat or scarf, or is it a gender neutral hat or scarf?  Or would you call it something else entirely?

I ask because I've always said unisex, but I was recently reading a forums post where the issue was being discussed argued.  Several people felt that the term "unisex" was disrespectful & insulting.  In fact, the conversation had become so heated & insulting, I chose not to take part in it.  But it got me thinking.  Am I really that old & out of touch with things?  How is calling this hat, for example, a "unisex hat" disrespectful & insulting?  I don't understand.  Keeping in mind I'm talking about things, apparel items for the most part, not people, what is so wrong with the word "unisex"?

If you have opinions on this, please share in the comments.  I'd really like to know.  But please, be respectful & use your inside voice.  Don't yell at me, teach me.

Monday, December 15, 2014

OTN - 12/15/14 - Fingerless Whatevers

Once again, the Christmas Panic knitting is moving along at a snails pace.

Another pair of fingerless gloves/ fingerless mitts/ wrist/hand warmers are complete.  They were supposed to be solid black but I ran out of yarn & had to get creative.  Actually, I sort of like the two-toned look.

And I'm making progress on third & final pair.  One down, the second has been cast on & a few rounds knit.  If you notice the size difference, the red pair are supposed to be smaller, for girl with normal sized girl hands.  The black ones are for a man-boy with normal sized man hands.  The hand model itself has a normal man-sized palm with very long & delicate fingers.  Before becoming a glove model, The Hand was apparently a pianist.

So, what do you call those?  For  some unknown reason "mitts" sort of makes my skin crawl.  But they aren't mittens, nor are they gloves.  They do warm your wrists, but they also warm your hands. And "hand warmers," to me at least, are those packages of chemical that you put in your pocket after whacking them to mix the chemicals that create the warmth.  So, what do you call them?

And because someone asked & I don't mind laughing at myself,

Our big Christmas light display.  Sorry for the blur.  I should have used a tripod but didn't.  As dark as it was outside, it took what felt like 15 minutes for the camera to actually take the photo and I've never been known for my ability to stand still.

Anyway, there's a picture of my big icicle lights adventure.  Normally the men in the family are in charge of the outdoor lighting but neither of them had time this year.  I got tired of waiting, threatened to do it myself and well, I lost that battle & had to actually do it myself.  Have I mentioned that I don't do ladders?  I stand on a one-step up step stool and get dizzy.  So there I was, up on a 10 foot ladder with a bad case of plumber's pants & my sweat shirt riding up around my arm pits cussing & practically gagging from being so high up in the air.  I think I owe the neighbors an extra plate of cookies this year.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Poinsettia Day

Happy Poinsettia Day!

Or as I pronounce it, point-set-ta.  It makes my kids crazy but hearing someone say it with the "i" that sounds like a long "e" drives me even crazier.  Just one of those quirks that I know you were dying to learn about.


Not much knitting has been taking place.  One pair of very plain & very large men's fingerless mitts is about all I've accomplished.  I continue to procrastinate on the Christmas Panic knitting by attempting to cram all the furniture, yarn & miscellaneous craft supplies into an area way to small to hold the furniture, yarn & miscellaneous craft supplies.  I've also managed to procrastinate on that project so much that it's still going on.  I can't find anything.  There's so much stuff piled up in weird places that even the dogs are freaked out.  I have, however, amassed a zillion quotes to use on my 2015 Twitter quote of the day posts.  So there's that.

And if I can manage to stretch out typing this blog post for another hour, it will be too late in the day to decorate the outside of the house for Christmas.  And if I can procrastinate on decorating another couple of days, it will be too late in the season to even bother & I won't have to do it at all.  The only glitch is, the girl child wants me to take her to the mall tomorrow.  I think I'd rather outdoor decorate than go to the mall.

Maybe tomorrow some new crisis will pop up that I can use to get out of going to the mall and decorating.  Something like the sudden, urgent need to reorganize my spring clothes.  Yeah, that actually sounds like something I should do.  Pronto!

Oh, and by the way, watch out!  The Sarah finished (and passed) drivers' ed yesterday.  She won't be able to get her real driver's license until April because she has to have her learner's permit for a certain amount of time but she thinks she's finished learning.  I think I need to be Googling for one of those "How's my driving?  Call my mom" bumper stickers.

No matter how you pronounce it, happy Poinsettia Day!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

TBT - Christmas Pajamas

It's Throwback Thursday...  

I don't remember our family ever having matching Christmas pajamas but apparently, we did.  And I don't look too happy about it.

Although it's not exactly a good picture of any of us, I like it because of Mom's expression.  After playing Santa the night before, you can see how she doesn't even have the energy to look up at the camera.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Top Five Procrastination Tips

Five?  Forget five.  If you take your procrastination seriously, you only need one.

After finishing the cat ear hat & the fiasco that is currently my life where the gray & white baby blanket is concerned, I was having trouble deciding which Christmas Panic knitting project I should start next.  So,

I decided to rearrange the furniture.

Mike had brought home one of those desk top things that fits over two filing cabinets.  For unknown reasons, I've always wanted one of those desks.  Now I was going to have one.  Never mind it meant switching file cabinets with Mike and loosing an entire drawer.  Never mind that the table I was using as a desk seems to have grown 3 feet wider in each direction & no longer sits quietly in the middle of the room waiting for someone to come craft on it like it used to.  Never mind that in the process of moving things around, I made such a mess the vacuum cleaner wouldn't fit into the room.  Never mind that I had to move furniture in order to make space to vacuum.  Never mind that it took me over an hour to find my phone in the mess.  Never mind that all the boxes of Christmas decorations were already cluttering up floor space.  Never mind that I tried to move a table with my full coffee cup sitting on it.  Notice the word "tried" in that sentence.  Never mind that I had to move even more furniture in order to mop up the spilt coffee.  Never mind that the next day, the room still looks pretty much like it does in that photo & I have totally lost the urge to rearrange.  Never mind that I don't really like the new desk format.  It's got a much smaller surface area and the pencil drawer hangs down & prevents me from crossing my legs.  Can't even comfortably cross my ankles.  Never mind that I'm throwing myself a giant pity party and have decided to knit Christmas gift mittens instead of cleaning up my huge, giant mess.

So, whether you are looking for an excuse to procrastinate or motivation not to procrastinate, rearrange the furniture.  Preferably after bringing in an additional piece of large furniture.  And make sure that in the rearranging, you have to trade furniture "ownership" with someone.  Trading dressers or closets would work if you don't have file cabinets.  And that folks, is the only procrastination tip you need.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Alley Cat

It's an Alley Cat hat.

Its ears are crooked & one is a row taller than the other but I'm beyond caring about this project.  And being a rough alley cat hat suits.  It's got character.  It's recipient is Alli, who we all call Alli Cat.  At the great age of two, Miss Alli Cat is a wild woman and will most likely not notice the crooked ears.

In a moment of Christmas knitting panic and still floating on waves of relief from finishing the cat hat, I couldn't decide what to knit next.  I picked up the gray & white surprise that I'd been saving for travel knitting.

After a day spent watching bad Christmas movies on Netflix while, it's no longer a surprise.  Or travel knitting.  Its pretty obviously a spiral blanket.  A spiral blanket that has reached the pain in the arse stage.  It's now on three lengths of connected cable which refuse to lay in a circle.  The cables are determined to twist in weird places and won't allow the stitches to easily slide around & around.  And, since adding the third cable, one needle tip keeps coming unscrewed from the cable.  I would like to make the blanket much wider but my patience level is wearing thin.

By the way, if you are looking for a new bad Christmas movie to watch....  I loved Danger in the Manger.  It was stupid & had a lot of potty humor, but it also made me laugh.  It was the perfect movie for my post cat hat knitting mentality.  Besides, it's got a few of my favorite features.  Funny trials & tribulations along the journey,  the underdog wins without actually winning, and funny little kids speaking in British accents.  What's not to love about that?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dogs Rule!

Dammit!  I knew there was a reason dogs rule & cats don't.

See the problem?  And  yes, of course I knit that pink ear in intarsia, not duplicate stitch.  And yes, this is the second ear attempt because the first attempt was WAY off center, like, sticking out of the back of its head off center.  Argh!

I am obviously not loving this free pattern I got off Ravelry.  The hat part was simple but those damn ears....  It seems the pattern is simply the designer's design notes typed up and not an actual pattern.  The pattern would probably make perfect sense after someone had knitted the hat correctly but as for being understandable instructions for panicked Christmas knitting, not so much.

If ear attempt #3 goes as poorly, I'm tossing the whole project & buying a cheap acrylic Hello Kitty hat from Walmart.

No I won't, because I'm never stepping foot in Walmart ever again.  But the Great Niece won't be getting a cat hat for Christmas either.

Friday, December 5, 2014

It's good to be weird

It's good to be weird, specially this time of year.  It comes in very handy when you are a knitter who knits Christmas gifts for family members.  Nosy family members who notice odd things sitting around being blocked.

The slouchy, lacy tam/hat is finished and being blocked.  Being blocked over a cake stand because it's the largest circular thing I could find.  Pattern instructions always say to use a dinner plate but when you knit for Texas sized heads, dinner plates don't cut it.  Anyway, the recipient notices the tam being stretched over the cake stand & since she doesn't recognize the knitting as being a hat, she starts asking questions.  She now thinks I'm knitting cake stand covers for my Etsy shop.  Which, since she already thinks I'm weird and might actually be inclined to knit cake stand covers, is totally believable. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

TBT - Oh Christmas Tree

A rare photo of Mom decorating the tree.  It's rare because Santa decorated our tree.

I have no idea how Santa survived our family.  Not only did he deliver gifts but he also decorated our tree.  The week before Christmas, our family would pile into the station wagon, candy canes in hand, and go in search of the perfect tree to chop down.  We never went to tree farms, we traipsed into the wild in search of the perfect tree.  Some years we cut it down & strapped it to the top of the car right away & some years we tied a ribbon to it & Dad went back later to chop it down.  I never gave it any thought as a child, but when I think back on it, I sure do hope that some stranger didn't wake one morning to find that their prized tree had been removed from their yard.

Anyway, we'd commandeer our tree & bring it into the house on Christmas Eve Eve morning.  It would thaw out during the day while Mom did her last minute baking & gift wrapping.  That night, Mom would put the lights on the tree while Dad sat in the rocking chair supervising & I jumped up & down in excitement.  Christmas Eve morning was always exciting because by then, we'd know what kind of nests had been hiding in our tree.  There was more than one morning when we came downstairs to find our living room covered, and I mean COVERED! with baby spiders or strange bugs that had hatched overnight due to the warmth of our house.

Mom would spend Christmas Eve day doing more baking & cooking while Dad killed the bugs, polished the brass & sharpened the knives.  Don't ask me why he picked Christmas Eve to polish the brass andirons in the fireplace & sharpen all the knives, but he did.  It was an Owen Christmas tradition.  Meanwhile, I jumped up & down some more in anticipation of Santa & my sister and I "gloated."  Gloating was always so much fun & we tended to ask for long items rather than things that we actually wanted just so we could win the gloating contest.  So, what's gloating, you ask?  Gloating is laying your gifts out on the floor, end to end & seeing who has the longest pile.  It was great fun and one of my favorite things about Christmas.  I'm not sure what that says about me but....

After Christmas Eve dinner at my grandparents' house, we'd come home, open one gift (always a book.  We knew who gave us books each year & my sister & I would read ourselves to sleep that night.)  Later, after my sister & I had finally read ourselves to sleep, Santa would come.  He not only left gifts under the tree for us but he had to put our doll houses & bikes together AND decorate our tree. And we had a LOT of decorations!  Our tree was always the gaudiest thing you've ever seen, but we loved it!  Santa definitely earned some love & respect in our household because there were plenty of 5:00 a.m.'s that rolled around when my sister & I would wake up & find Mom & Dad in the bathroom brushing their teeth.  We always thought they'd gotten up before us, but I have the feeling we were wrong.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

OTN - Garnet Lace

On the needles today is still the lacy, slouchy, Christmas gift hat.

Hmmm, there's a lot to say about that photo.  First, Mr. Creepyhead is modeling it rather than Mrs. Creepyhead because Mrs. Creepyhead is more child sized than adult female sized and that hat will be a gift for someone who shares my DNA which means their head is the size of Texas.

Second, it's actually a pretty lace pattern.  Simple, but pretty.  It will look much better after blocking.  I hope!

Third, I can't tell if the photo is blurry or not.  One minute it is, the next minute it looks clear & crisp.  I've been dealing with a migraine since yesterday morning but luckily, (maybe, depending on how I look at it) rather than the massive headache, my vision is impaired.  Everything is sort of wavy & slightly acid trippy. (Or should that be tripy? Obviously I don't know my spelling rules & SpellCheck wasn't around in the 60's & doesn't recognize it.)  Anyway, my apologies if the photo is way out of focus.

Fourth, the hat is knit with Knit Picks Palette in Garnet Heather with my new Knitters Pride Karbonz US 3 interchangeable needles that I bought from Webs.  The needles are super pointy & great for lace.  I may have to ask Santa for a full set.

I haven't made a ton of progress on the hat because it's my "at home" project and I haven't been at home.  My daughter's drivers' ed has taken over our lives and we've been spending 6+ hours a day (counting travel time) there.  The class is too far away from our house to come home between dropping her off & picking her back up so I've been spending a LOT of time at Starbucks.  I haven't mastered the art of knitting lace, reading and people watching all at the same time.  And there are some very interesting people to watch at Starbucks.  But, progress will be made soon.  Sarah had her behind-the-wheel test last night & passed with flying colors.  Another week of classroom learning & she'll be done.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 30th

How did it get to be November 30th?  Where did the month go?  For that matter, where has the year gone?

Other than that tiny rant, I'm going to try to keep this short.  We've been having massive internet problems all weekend.  We always have problems over Thanksgiving weekend.  Too many people & not enough cyberspace in our little corner of the world.  Which is why I haven't posted since Thanksgiving.  I've tried, but I either haven't been able to access the internet or it's tossed me off minutes after getting on.

Anyway.... our Thanksgiving was calm & joyous.  No 911 calls needed, the food was excellent & the company even better.  My niece (Great niece actually but I refuse to admit that I'm old enough to have a "Great" anything.) has just turned two & there is not a shy bone in her body.  She was wild and adorable.  And by "wild" I mean the good kind of active, not the screaming, temper tantrum throwing, breaking things kind of wild some two year olds can be.  She was just precious.  Full of energy, hugs and apparently underfed because she told anyone who would listen that she wanted bread and chocolate.  My kind of girl!

Anyway, Thanksgiving was great and I'm thankful for that.  I'm thankful for finally being able to use the internet for more than 3 minutes a day and I'm thankful that I like to knit.  Because I have been knitting, over & over & over again.  I was working on a secret Christmas lace tam whose pattern was charted with no written instructions.  When I got to the decrease area, the chart clearly showed the decreases but it also showed that the stitch count stayed the same.  It made absolutely no sense.  I played & played with it trying to figure out which chart stitches shouldn't be there & finally decided that it was way more effort than it was worth & ripped the entire thing out.

There's the beginning of the newest version of a completely different hat and the finished 3x3 ribbed hat.  With really horrible color.  Is the color that washed out & wonky on your screen?  The colors don't look like that at all in my iphoto version.  In case the wonky colors means I'm loosing my internet access, I'm going to quickly press Publish & get off of here.  Meanwhile, happy end of November.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Chocolate Pie

Today should be interesting.  It's Thanksgiving.  Otherwise known as Jen loosing her flipping mind in the kitchen day.  We go to my sister's for dinner & I bring desert.  Every year, I spend Thanksgiving day standing in the kitchen, listening to Alice's Restaurant on repeat while throwing things & crying.  I tend to over bake, as in making way too many deserts, and between my natural inability to cook, the dogs' help and the family trying to sneak tastes, things never go well.  I can literally only remember two out of the past twenty years that I haven't cried in the kitchen on a holiday baking day.  (Yes, we go through it again at Christmas except there are Christmas carols playing instead of Alice's Restaurant.)  I don't even know why I put myself, the dogs & the family through it except that it's tradition.  I like tradition.

So today, I am thankful for my paternal side of the family's chocolate pie recipe.  It's an Owen holiday tradition.  For those of you who are local, it tastes just like a Ukrops chocolate pie.  In fact, I'm pretty sure the Ukrops either stole the recipe from the Owens or the two families share DNA.  For the non-locals you'll just have to trust me.  It's delicious!  My dad helped me update the recipe.  The original recipe is so old that it refers to baking it in a wood fueled oven.  Thus, the cooking time is not exact.  If you decide to make it, definitely bake it based on the "until the center is firm" directions & don't automatically follow the suggested cooking time.

Owen Chocolate Pie

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 rounded TBS cocoa
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (real butter, not margarine)
  • 1/2 cup light cream OR evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell
Beat the eggs well in a large bowl.  Sift into them the combined sugar, cocoa & salt.  Blend well.  Add melted butter, cream & Vanilla & blend well.  Pour into pie shell & bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until center is firm.  Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

For your enjoyment, here's a look back at the Owen's 1979 version of Thanksgiving.  I like the good china, Mom's prized silver rimmed crystal goblets and the plastic Tupperware salt shaker.  And the stack of junk piled up in the background.  Classy, Mom!

Well, I'm off to get my holiday tradition started.  I'll be in the kitchen, dropping bowls full of sticky, hard to clean up, expensive ingredients on the floor, watching the dog jump up & grab entire cooling pies off the tallest pieces of furniture we own, yelling at the family to stop eating the cookies and possibly even starting a fire or two.  It's tradition.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A little too country

I am so thankful for the country life style that my husband dragged me into kicking & screaming some 22 years ago.  I grew up in the city and considered my self a city girl.  The only bug I knew was lightening bugs & grasshoppers.  I could walk to the grocery store.  I could parallel park just as easily as I could pull into a shopping mall parking space.  I can even whip my car into a tiny space on the left side of the street and that takes skill!

But as I said, my husband is a born & bred country boy and he moved me to the country.  When we first moved here, the closest stoplight was 18 miles away.  There was no 911 out here in the boondocks & while fire department had a local phone number, if we needed to call the rescue squad it was long distance.  It took me an hour, mostly on the interstate, to drive to work each morning.  The closest grocery store was 30 minutes away.  There was wildlife.  Real wildlife!  Not just more types of bugs than I'd ever imagined but real critters!  Raccoons, possum, deer, fox, an occasional bobcat and even a bear.  A bear!

Luckily for my husband, the bear didn't come into existence, at least my existence, until about five years ago.  Long after I'd adjusted to the idea of wildlife.  But the point of this is that I have adjusted to living among the wildlife & to this country living lifestyle.  I love living out here in the middle of nowhere.  I love that 9 out of 10 cars you pass will wave to you.   I love that four cars at the stoplight is considered a traffic jam.  I'm not crazy about the fact that we now have a stoplight, two in fact (about 5 miles apart,) but I am thankful for their help in crossing the road.  Because we have to cross the road to get to the grocery store.  And the liquor store.  We have a grocery & liquor store now!

Can I even consider myself still living in the country if we have two stoplights and a liquor store?  I think I can.  And I'll tell you why.  The country (as opposed to the city) has it's own electric company.  It's a cooperative & it provides electricity to a very large, spread out area & they do a fine job providing said electricity.  They are fantastic about keeping our power on & getting it turned back on quickly after storms.  But how I really know that we are still living in the country is because the power cooperative puts out a monthly newsletter/magazine thing.  This magazine has a recipe section.   One of this month's recipes was for barbecued raccoon.  Yep.  It's official.  We live in the country.  And I'm thankful for it.  Not the recipe, but the lifestyle.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

He'll pay for that

It should be legal to kill your spouse for certain infractions.  Infractions like hiding yarn catalogs.  I go out into the garage to look for something & start digging through the miscellaneous garbage stuff my husband has stored on the shelves & what do I find?  Numerous yarn catalogs.  Yarn catalogs stuffed behind buckets of nails & boxes of light bulbs!  The $@^%$$# man has gotten the mail & stuffed my yarn catalogs in out of the way places so I won't see them!  What the bloody h-e-double hockey sticks??  He is SO going to pay for that!

And before you ask, he didn't just throw them away because he's incapable of putting anything in the trash.  Anything!  Dirty napkins, empty chip bags, pizza boxes.... they all get put on the counter beside the trash can instead of in the trash can.  Drives me freaking nuts!  He is SO going to pay!

But let's talk knitting.

As I mentioned the other day, the Antler hat is finished & looks to be perfect.  Which is pretty amazing considering how many times I had to tink those damn cables.  They were super easy cables but for some reason, I had a hard time counting.  Repeatedly.  I'm blaming it on Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. on Netflix because really, I can count to eight.  Normally.

Btw, is it still "tinking" when it's cables?  It doesn't become "selbacing" does it?  It sort of felt like it.  Tinking cables is a royal pain in the rear.

The next secret project hat was going to be another cabled one but I got lazy & didn't feel like gauge swatching.  Imagine that.  Me not wanting to check for gauge.  That never happens.  Anyway, I wanted texture that I didn't have to swatch so it's simply 3 x 3 rib with the ribs changed up every six rows which forms a rectangle pattern.  I haven't figured out how I'll do the decreasing yet.  It will be one of those make it up as I go things.

So, what am I thankful for today?  My dermatologist.  She always gives me lots of samples that would cost me hundreds of dollars at the pharmacy & she calls zits "Friday night cyclops."  Because in adults, they always pop up on Friday evenings just before some big function & they are always smack dab in the middle of your forehead.  I love my dermatologist.  Except when she insists that what I'm convinced is a cancer spot is an really just an old age spot.  I really don't appreciate being told I have old age spots.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Snow birds

My kitchen window looks out into the woods & normally when I look out, I'll see a bird or two, sometimes a squirrel.  Sometimes even a fox or deer passing by.  This morning, there are thousands of birds out there.  Thousands!  And not just one big flock, there are all different kinds of birds.  Little birds, big birds, birds on the ground, birds in the bushes and birds in all levels of the tree limbs.  Thousands & thousands of birds.  What my momma taught me was lots of birds like that this time of year meant snow was coming.

Mr. Weatherman keeps hinting at snow.  He'll make some big announcement like "Stay tuned for snow accumulation info" or "Snow accumulations possible for Wednesday, the worst travel day of the year."  When you actually stay tuned or click on the link, he starts talking about how it's going to start as rain & if conditions are just perfectly so, it will turn to snow &/or sleet late Wednesday night.  But then he'll ramble on a while about how low the chance of the conditions lining up just perfectly for snow is.  He says it's about a one billionth of 1% chance that it will actually snow.  And then he ends his forecast with a sentence or two about the possibility of light accumulation.

In other words, Mr. Weatherman has no freaking clue.  But those birds....

I guess I should head to the grocery store & stock up on bread, milk & toilet paper.  It's a southern tradition.

Let's be thankful....

I was planning to be thankful for the internet today.  Yes, I'll admit, at the beginning of the month I made a list of things I was thankful for to use in case of an emergency during the month.  An emergency being one of those days where about the only thing I can think of to be thankful for is that I haven't killed anyone today.  Yet.  You know those days.  Right?  I'm not the only one who has them, right?  Anyway.... Today's thankful thing if I couldn't think of anything else was the internet.  Which is interesting because before looking at my list, I was thinking how glad I am to have the internet.  How nice it is to be able to obsessively watch the weather forecast.  How easy it is for me to publicly complain about the weather here on the blog, on Facebook or even in the Etsy forums.  Are you old enough to remember life before Google?  I am.  Boy, it was tough.  You had to watch the birds if you wanted to make sure you had enough toilet paper.

And just so there's something to look at in this post, here's a random picture of Max.

Max says to tell you that I have finished the Antler hat & have started another secret project hat.  Photos to follow if the sun ever comes out.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I paused the gray & white surprise project & started knitting Tin Can Knits' Antler Hat.  It's going to be a Christmas gift but I think I'm safe talking about it here because I highly doubt the recipient reads my blog.  I'm not sure how to proceed though.  The pattern calls for one more pattern repeat (6 rows) yet the hat is already slightly too tall for Mr. Creepyhead.  The intended recipient does have a big head so I made my husband try it on because he's got a huge head.  If I start the decreases now, it would probably be a few rows too short for the spouse but six additional rows would probably make it slightly too tall.  I guess the decision will come down to how badly I want to be done with this project & move on to the next.

As for the gray & white surprise knitting project, it hasn't been moved into the abandoned UFO pile.  It's been moved to the Starbucks pile.  Every week night, my daughter has drivers' ed & the class is located 55 minutes from our house so I can't just drop her off, go home then come back for her.  I hang out in town & wait for her.  At first I was going to a nearby Barnes & Noble but that quickly became way too expensive.  Apparently, it is physically impossible for me to leave a bookstore without purchasing something.  Luckily, I discovered a Starbucks nearby & have been hanging out there every night.  Anyway, I figured knitting around & around & around on the gray & white surprise was better suited to knitting in public while reading & people watching than a cabled hat that I had to keep track of the row count & cable needle.

So, to bring this to a close....  I'm so thankful for the positive response I've received regarding my recent Walmart experience blog post.  It was a rather degrading experience & I wasn't sure if I should discuss it here or not.  The "I hate Walmart" anger got the best of me though & I hit Publish then cringed in fear over what response I'd receive.  Anyway, thank you for your kind words.

I think my fear of what your response would be gave me a mental blog block yesterday & I completely forgot to post what I was thankful for.  I'd planned to say Ravelry.  What a fantastic site!   I don't begin to use it properly.  Mostly, I just look for patterns & inspiration.  One of these days I'll remember to log in & record my projects & use the site the way it was meant to be used.  Meanwhile, if you want to meet me there & encourage me to participate more, I'm JeannieGrayKnits.  Look me up.

As for today's thankful thing, I'm oh so thankful for my friend Traci who encouraged me to join the Etsy community.  I'm also glad she knew the proper way to encourage me.  Instead of telling me it was something I should do, she made me go with her to a free How to Etsy seminar at the library.  Her claim was that she didn't want to go alone but she's smart.  She knew that as soon as I saw the possibilities, I'd be hooked.  So thanks, Traci.  You're the best & I hope you are feeling the virtual hugs coming your way.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Walmart Experience

So, we had a fun day at Walmart yesterday.  And by "fun" I mean I'm bouncing between livid & a Twilight Zone version of "OMG! Did that just happen?"  As I said, part of me is pretty damn irritated.  Part of me is totally creeped out and part of me is giggling over the experience.

So, what happened...

We were having a girls day out yesterday.  "We" being myself, my friend, my daughter & my friend's daughter.  We'd shopped a while, had lunch & ended up in Walmart because the girls wanted to look at makeup & us grownups needed a few groceries.  We entered the store, the girls went one way & us grownups went the other way.  Eventually the kids texted to say they were bored, lets meet and check out.

After checking out, as we were leaving the store, we were stopped by a man in baggy pants & a sweatshirt, not a Walmart uniform.  He wasn't wearing a name tag but he had one in his hand.  (Alex.  Alex from Walmart.  And since I had just learned about the Alex from Target phenomenon a few days before, it turned on my giggle switch.)  He mumbled something & at first I thought he was asking us to complete a survey or something.  Then it became clear that he was asking if the girls were our kids.  Next we were told we had to follow him to the office because the girls had done ...mumble, mumble, mumble something we couldn't understand.

What it all boiled down to was that Alex from Walmart had seen the girls pick up an item off the discount aisle & when he saw them a few aisles later, they didn't have the item in their hands anymore.  Therefore, they must have stolen it.  The girls explained that yes, they'd picked up the item then decided against buying it & put it back.  Alex from Walmart again mumbles his story about how the girls must have stolen it.  The girls gave their story.  Alex repeated his mumble, the girls repeated their story.  On & on this went.  Eventually my friend insisted on either speaking to the store manager or a police officer.  Conveniently for Alex from Walmart, neither was available.  Finally, he allowed us to leave with a mumbled, "we'll have to take your word for it."  No apology.  No understanding at all that someone might change their mind about buying something.  Not to mention this guy had apparently followed our girls around the store for almost an hour.  That just creeps me out.  And it upsets me that we were made to follow this guy, who wasn't wearing a uniform or a name tag into an out of the way office.

So, okay.  I realize that shoplifting is a problem, specially this time a year.  I realize that perhaps Walmart has under-cover employees looking for shoplifters.  I get that.  I even understand that they want to do their investigating in a back office out of the public's eye.  But I really do not appreciate being detained for more than 20 minutes because someone picked up an item then decided not to buy it.  Alex from Walmart did not see the girls shoplift.  Alex from Walmart was not wearing a name tag or uniform yet he expected  us to follow him into an out of the way office.  Alex from Walmart was not interested in looking to see if the girls had put the item back as they said.  Alex from Walmart didn't even seem interested in searching our girls.  In fact, I'm the one who did that and nope, no stolen merchandise.  Alex from Walmart didn't even seem to have a solution to the problem.  He just wanted to accuse us.  Repeatedly.

Anyway, the whole experience has left me ranting about Walmart.  Again.  I'm upset that the girls were accused of shoplifting simply because they chose not to buy an item & put it back.  I'm upset that Alex from Walmart apparently followed our girls around the store for quite a while without them noticing.  I'm upset with myself for following Alex from Walmart into that back office without fully understanding what he kept mumbling about.  I'm upset that there was no apology for accusing our girls for something they didn't do.  I'm upset that my daughter feels I don't trust her because I looked in her purse to make sure she didn't have the item in question.

 I have boycotted Christmas shopping at Walmart before & I am prepared to do it again.

So now, I'm off to calm myself down with some knitting.  And tease my daughter about going from jailbait to jailbird over night.

What am I knitting you ask?

The Flying Monkeys cowl is finished & has already been worn, thus the stray hair hanging off it.  Why is it that those stray hairs are never seen until you are about to publish the picture?

This is the new project but it's a secret so I won't be going into a lot of detail, not before Christmas at least.  Can you guess what it's going to be?


Edited for thankfulness.

Thinking about Walmart got me so worked up I forgot to be thankful.  And honestly, I'm so upset over the whole Walmart experience that I can't think thankful thoughts at the moment.  About all I can think of to be thankful for is that my daughter & I have the type of relationship where she can tell me, in a calm nontypical teen tantrum manner that I hurt her feelings for not totally trusting her & even considering that what Alex from Walmart accused her of might be true.  I hope she understands that my actions did not imply distrust, they were simply a bad reaction to a surreal, WTF moment.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

TBT & The Great American Smokeout

What happens when Throwback Thursday collides with The Great American Smokeout?

That.  That is just so attractive.

I am SO glad I quit smoking 23 years ago.

I know quitting isn't easy.  Believe me, I know!  But, please, if you smoke, give quitting some thought.  Do it not only for yourself but for your loved ones.  You won't regret it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy Birthday, Baby

I'm wishing my baby girl a very happy 18th birthday today.

There she is, enjoying her first ever birthday cake.

And now look at her.

Eighteen and legal.  I'm warning her she can be arrested now.  She's informing me she's now old enough to vote, smoke and get tattoos & piercings.  Heaven help us all.

It's killing me knowing that my sweet baby girl is now officially an adult and although she gives me a gray hair every now & then, I'm so thankful we didn't take her brother's advice to send her back when she was a newborn & wouldn't stop crying.

Happy Birthday, Sarah.  Your momma sure does love you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

11-18-14 knitting update

Wow, this whole blogging every day for the month of November thing is starting to wear on me.  As mouthy as I am, I just don't have that much to say.  While I do knit as much as possible each & every day, there isn't always enough progress made on a project to bother photographing it.  And since I knit as much as humanly possible each & every day, my house is a disaster so you don't want to see pictures of what I'm cooking.  Besides, I'm not cooking, I'm knitting.

So, yes, I'm making progress on the Flying Monkeys cowl but not enough to bother photographing.  So far, it's about 5 inches tall and looks like it's measuring 22 inches in circumference.  A far cry from the intended 28 inches but considering I didn't do any kind of gauge swatching & had never knit with this yarn before, I just for no reason decided I'd get two stitches less per inch than the yarn's band said I'd get and, the knitted fabric is a ribbed pattern and VERY stretchy.... I'm happy with it.  Besides, 28 inches may have been too loose around the neck for this stitch pattern AND, since the cowl won't be as big around, I may have enough yarn to knit a pair of fingerless mitts to match.  Now, that's exciting!

But back to blogging every day in November.  The reason behind blogging every day is to state what I'm thankful for each day.  Besides being thankful that the month is quickly coming to an end & I can stop posting every day, and besides being thankful that it did stop raining before we had to leave for drivers' ed last night, I am quite thankful for all my Facebook followers.  To show my appreciation, there's a coupon code there for 25% off your entire purchase from my Etsy shop, Jeannie Gray Knits.  So, if you've already Liked my Facebook page, thank you!  It means the world to me.  If you haven't, go check it out here to get the coupon.

Meanwhile, I'm going back to crazed Flying Monkey knitting.  It would be so much fun to finish the cowl today & be able to wear it tomorrow.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The monkeys are flying

I'm proud to say that the hen socks are no longer on the needles & have been moved into the FO category   Yay!  As in completely finished!  The toes are even kitchnered!  Double yay!  And while I was kitchnering the hen socks, I kitchnered the Christmas socks as well.

Remember them?  I barely do.  I finished the knitting part sometime in late spring or early summer & they have been sitting in my in-box ever since waiting to have the toes woven shut.  Well, I can check that task off my to-do list now.  Triple yay!

I had a slight moment of crisis trying to decide what to knit next.  There's the Christmas gift knitting list that needs attention, there's the urge to knit another pi shawl, and there was the Flying Monkeys Revenge sitting there screaming, "Knit me, knit me!"

The flying monkeys won.  I mean really, I have 36 days to work on the Christmas gift knitting list.  No need to panic on that yet.  Right?  Please, tell me I'm right.  Please, oh  please tell me I'm right because suddenly, my skin is starting to get that iggly,  twitchy, "you've totally screwed up" feeling.

Crud.  Double crud.

Oh who cares.  Friends & family don't really need hand knit Christmas gifts this year, do they?  Besides, I am LOVING the flying monkeys.  I had no idea what I was going to do with the yarn.  Even as I loaded it onto the swift, I had no particular pattern or even item in mind for it.  The bright neon shades of green & yellow in it are so not me I thought I'd probably make socks that could be hidden under pant legs & inside shoes but as sometimes happens, the yarn chose it's own outcome.  Honestly, I don't even remember making the decision.  One minute, the yarn was half on the swift, half on the ball winder.  The next minute, I was casting on stitches.  My notes about the project simply say, "screw gauge - if 6 st. = 1 inch, 6 x 28 inches = 168 ... doesn't look big enough. CO 180."  From there, I'd scribbled down the same stitch pattern I'd used for the Christmas socks.

It's a little bit scary when the yarn takes over like that but when it does take over, it always knows what it wants.  Flying Monkeys Revenge wanted to be a cowl.  In a spiral rib pattern.  I absolutely loved the way the color sequence stacked up on the Christmas socks.  They ended up looking like entrelac.  Flying Monkeys is not stacking up like that at all but I like the way it is stacking.  The stripes of color are spiraling in the opposite direction from the rib spirals.  It's sort of a big giant mess, like what flying monkeys caught in a tornado would look like.  It's perfect!  Absolutely perfect!  I'm even liking the neon lime green & yellow.

Now to be thankful....  Of course I'm thankful that Flying Moneys Revenge spoke up, quite loudly I might add, and demanded to be a spiral ribbed cowl.  It's going to be perfect.  I'm also quite thankful for a cold rainy day.  I actually love an occasional cold, rainy day.  It's perfect knitting weather.  Now, if it will just stop raining before tonight.  The temperatures are supposed to drop into the 20's and my daughter will be going to drivers' ed.  I'm not sure even flying monkeys can calm my nerves enough to allow my kid to learn to drive in a freezing rain storm.  If it stops raining before 7 p.m., I'll be extra thankful.