Thursday, October 30, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Halloween

It's TBT & since Halloween is tomorrow...

Happy Halloween from The Munsters, otherwise known as the 1981 Personnel Department (long before "human resources" became the popular term) of Virginia Federal Savings & Loan.   That's me dressed as Little Eddie, my BFF, Liza, as Herman & Nannette as .... either Grandpa or Lily.  I can't remember who she was supposed to be & her hair looks like Lily but she's dressed like Grandpa.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How to read a knitting pattern

When a pattern tells you how to knit the first 43 rows then tells you to repeat rows 10 through 43, it means to actually knit rows 10 through 43 a second time.  Apparently, that's a hard concept for me to understand.

That first section of green should be twice as wide.  Crud!  But, I think it can be easily salvaged without frogging.  I will simply (hopefully) follow the directions as written until the last green stripe & make it a narrow stripe to match the first.  It will make the wrap slightly smaller but I think it will be okay.

So, a total topic change....  How do you feel about the changing seasons?  Personally, I'd be happiest if our seasons changed every two weeks or so.  I have a very short attention span & get bored easily.  Based on this, apparently Virginia is The perfect place for me to live.  Yesterday it was supposed to hit 82 degrees, although I only saw 79 on my thermometer.  This coming Saturday night, it's supposed to snow.

Minnie & Max are plotting their favorite evil "it's snowing!" tactics such as getting as snow covered and maybe even wet & muddy as possible then coming inside and flopping down on the couch and bed.  My bed, not theirs.

Monday, October 27, 2014

OTN 10/27/14

First, how did it get to be October 27th?  Good grief!  This year is flying by at warp speed.

Okay, OTN or on the needles...

I was able to squeeze in a little knitting time while at work over the weekend.  Eclipse is a wonderfully simple, meditative project.  The perfect knitting project to work on while reading Odd Thomas.  Not that the two have anything to do with each other.  It's just that it's easy to read and knit on the Eclipse while at work.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Celebrate Pasta!

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Happy World Pasta Day!  

I'm a lousy cook & as the saying goes, I could burn water.  Except I don't have the patience to burn anything.  My meals tend to be more on the raw side.  But raw pasta is "al dente" so the family can't complain about another meal gone awry.  A great reason to love pasta!

Another reason to love pasta is it gives you an excuse to drink a bottle of Chianti.

And yet another reason to love pasta - it still tastes good a day or two later.  And that's a good thing because...  shh..... don't tell, but I actually celebrated World Pasta Day a few days ago.  Sadly, I'm at work today, not drinking wine with my left over pasta.  But the fact that it still tastes good, even without the Chianti, is a great example why we should celebrate.

In case you are wondering, no, I didn't forget to add the sauce.  Rather than the standard tomato sauce, I used garlic flavored olive oil.  (I'm hoping the garlic will keep the zombie clowns away from me while I'm at work.  Garlic does work on zombies as well as vampires, right??)  

Anyway... my olive oil "sauce" is so simple to make.  Just chop up a few garlic cloves (I use anywhere from 2 to 5 depending on size, what I have on hand & my energy level at the time) and add them to about a quarter cup of hot olive oil.  Cook & stir frequently & turn off the heat before the garlic browns.  If I can remember to save it, I add a few tablespoons of pasta water to the olive oil & stir that around.  If the spouse is home, I run the olive oil mixture through a sieve to remove the garlic chunks.  If he's not home, I leave the chunks in it.  Add the sauce to the pasta, salt heavily (pasta ALWAYS needs more salt) and stir.  Voila!  Dinner in under ten minutes.  Just another reason to love pasta!

Besides World Pasta Day, there's been all kinds of other exciting news in my world.  First, I finally got around to blocking my Allegro sweater.  

Granted, it may be next fall before it dries completely.  I obviously did not do a very good job squeezing the water out of it before blocking.  Honestly, I'm starting to worry that it may mold before it dries.  Good grief!  But hey, at least it's one less item on my very lengthy to-do list, and that folks, is pretty dang exciting!  

The next exciting bit of news is....

My plant is still alive!  It's survived a whole week!  It's a miracle!  Every year when we go pick our pumpkins at the pumpkin patch, I buy a bush.  Every year, that bush dies a few days or weeks later.  Obviously, my gardening skills are even worse than my cooking skills.  I know, I know.  What kind of southern woman can't cook or garden?  Me, apparently.

I have high hopes for this bush though.  And look, it has the prettiest purple berries.

Well, that's about it for the news.  I know, I lead a pretty exciting life, right?  

Hope you're having a happy World Pasta Day.  Wish me luck battling the zombie clowns at work.  Good grief, those things give me the willies!

Friday, October 24, 2014

How to make a bologna sandwich

Happy National Bologna Day!

I'm not a picky eater but there is only one way to properly make a bologna sandwich.  First, you need cheap, white, store-bought bread.  No wheat, no homemade, no fancy bread will do.  Next, you slather on mayonnaise (Hellman's of course) on one piece of bread then you wipe your spreader off on the other piece of bread.  Next, a dab of mustard (spicy brown is best but yellow will suffice) on the slice of bread that got the left over mayo wiped on it.  Then, a slice of American cheese goes on the slathered mayo slice of bread while the bologna goes on the slice with the mustard.  If you get that backwards & accidently let the cheese touch the mustard, you must feed it to the dogs & start over with fresh, untainted ingredients.  When you have the cheese laying on the mayo & the bologna laying on the mustard, you put the two together, slice it diagonally (because everyone knows that sandwiches cut straight across the center taste funny) and enjoy!  And that's how to properly make a bologna sandwich.

In knitting news, I started the Eclipse shawl last night.  After casting on the required 400 stitches in the main color then realizing I was supposed to have used the contrasting color....  I decided to copy the pattern into my knitting journal using two different colored pens, each representing a yarn color.     I think this is going to be a tremendous help in keeping me straight on when to change colors.  (I might have a slight problem with paying attention to details like "change to CC.")

Anyhow, despite the rough start, I'm loving Eclipse.  Other than a little bit of counting (that you can do in advance & all at once & use stitch markers to keep up with) the shawl is basically mindless garter stitch.  It's a great project for scary, Halloween-is-coming type movie watching.

I think I love my choice of yarns as well as the pattern.  I know I love the yarn itself, I'm just not 100% sure about the colors I chose.  The yarn is Unplanned Peacock's superwash meriono Peacock Sock in the Lichen & Ferrum colorways.  I bought the yarn (& pattern) at the Montpelier Fiber Festival and in the shade of the tent, the Lichen was a much grayer green.  The grayish green & burgundy red were slightly Christmasy but more Autumn-ish than Christmasy.  At home, in bright sun, there's no Autumn about them.  They scream, "I'm a Christmas wrap."  But then, by evening, the two colors are back to showing off their autumn hues.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the final product won't look too Christmasy to wear anytime other than December.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday - The Pumpkin Patch

It's TBT & in celebration of our annual trek to the pumpkin farm...

That's a 2001 shot of my daughter, Sarah, on the left, my son, Zack, on the right & their friend, Lorane, in the middle on a wagon ride at the "The" pumpkin patch, other wise known as Mt. Olympus Farm.   We've bought our pumpkins from Mt. Olympus every year since.  It's tradition.  Zack & Sarah are almost-adults now (almost 18 & almost 20) but they still love going to the pumpkin patch to pick their own pumpkins.  Zack even rearranged his work schedule so that he could go this year.  I like to think it's because they like hanging with their mom, but I have the sneaking suspicion it's more like they know Momma's buying.

So, that's our pumpkin picking tradition.  What's yours?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Silly dog

Max always looks so silly (or slightly terrifying) when he lays on his back & hangs his head over the edge of the couch.

I finished the Monarch shawl while I was at work over the weekend.  One full day ahead of schedule, I'll have you know!

It obviously needs to have the loose ends woven in & a good blocking.

I finally got around to blocking the Ladder scarf.  I love the subtle, manly browns & grays of the yarn.

Here's a picture of the stitch detail:

The scarf was knit with Knit Picks' Chroma in the Fossil colorway on #5 needles & I only used one skein of yarn.  The stitch pattern was a simple, two row repeat of multiples of 8 + 3 stitches.  The pattern is:

  • Row 1:  K1, Sl1, *YO, K2, SK2P, K2, YO, K1,* K1
  • Row 2: K1, Purl across to last stitch, K1

Meanwhile, more deer have come to visit.

I never realized what big ears deer have.  They look like they could fly.  Maybe they really are Santa's reindeer.

And yes, this photo shamed us into mowing the grass.  I guess it had been a while.  :(

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Bad Hair #5

It's TBT & the fifth & final bad hair photo I'll show you.

Not even going to try to describe what was happening in the photo.  Just saying that I must have been reaching for God with those poofed up bangs.

In knitting news, I finally finished the ladder scarf.  

I haven't blocked yet.  At the moment, I'm counting finishing it as a monumental event.  I'm not sure why I didn't enjoy that project.  The yarn was lovely & the pattern was easy to remember.  I'd say it was due to the dull grays & browns of the yarn, except I seem to be into grays & browns at the moment.  Maybe it was just because it was five feet of the same two rows being repeated.  Whatever.  It's done.  Well, except the blocking....

Can you tell I enjoy blocking almost as much as I enjoy scrubbing toilets?  It's one of those tasks that you never ever want to do but you're so glad you did it when you're done. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dasher & Dancer

It's only October but the reindeer are fattening up in preparation for their annual journey.

Okay, so maybe they aren't reindeer, but they are certainly fattening up.  In our yard.  Just steps away from our front door.  And our barking, snarling dogs.  Our dogs do not appreciate interlopers in their yard, even if the interlopers might be Santa's helpers.

That was yesterday.  Today, it's pouring down rain & I'm celebrating the rainy day by watching Paul Walker movies & knitting.

Normally, it would be Buffy re-runs and knitting but a new Paul Walker movie popped up on Netflix and, well, who can resist Paul Walker?  Certainly not me.

The Monarch shawl is coming along nicely.  I probably shouldn't jinx myself by saying this, but it's progress is right on schedule.  I only have to knit two green stripes per day in order to finish it by Monday.  Thankfully, the shawl's color is slightly off in that picture.  In real life, the blues & greens are deeper & less shiny looking.  Apparently, Paul's radiance was casting a weird light.  But who cares. Paul can do anything he wants.

Well, those green stripes aren't getting any shorter so I better get back to them instead of blathering on about my TV boyfriend.  I'll leave you with a shot of Vixen.  Okay, okay, okay - it's Vixen's wife.  What ever.  She was close enough to lean over the porch railing and pet.  Isn't she beautiful?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I love my job!

Have I mentioned how much I love my "day" job?  The job that's actually at night?  The job where someone direct deposits a paycheck into my account every few weeks?  I LOVE my job!  Know why?

Yep, at work, I can read & knit with my feet propped up.  And it's not even a knitting related job.  It's a job at the local theme park.  And apparently, I can even sport super awful manicures.  (That's four week old glow in the dark nail polish that actually glows in the dark & scares me each night when I cut the light off to go to bed.  You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but nope.  It still startles me each & every night.)  But back to how much I love my job....  Yes, we all bitch & moan about the long hours, the late nights (more like mornings,) having to walk around in the rain & once last year, sleet & snow.  It's hot.  Really, really hot.  Except when it's cold.  When it's cold, it's freezing.  But the people are great, the employee cafe is better than expected and have I mentioned - I can knit & read.  I can knit & read my own personal stuff while I'm at work.

My job covers three different areas & each day I get assigned to one of those areas.  Mostly, I'm assigned to being "Banker" which means I spend eight to ten hours in a little room all by myself.  I think I'm Banker so often because I tend to complain, loudly, about being either hot or cold & when they send me off to that little room for the evening, they don't have to listen to me complain.  Whatever.  I love being Banker.  The Banker's job has short periods of crazy, frenzied work mixed with hours and hours of absolutely nothing to do time.  In other words, knitting time.  Oh yeah, I love my job!

By the way, that's the hen sock.  The next time I'm the Banker, that sock will be seeing a heel.

Oh, and I'd like to personally thank Jilliane Hoffman,  author of Pretty Little Things for making me cry at work.  The book was a suspenseful, can't-stop-reading page turner.  But that last page, phew!  That last page was a tear jerker.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall Fiber Fest

As if candy corn, lower humidity & leaves changing colors weren't enough reasons to love fall, there's another, even bigger reason.  Even bigger than candy corn!  It's the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival.

Despite showing up wearing an acrylic, GoodWill sweater & not a single stitch of hand knitting on my person (I blame that on total lack of sleep,) it was a huge success this year.  The weather was absolutely perfect!  I don't think I've ever been to a fiber festival in good weather before.  When I think back, it's always been 98 degrees with 400% humidity or pouring down rain.  Sometimes freezing cold & pouring down rain.  But this year, ahhh....  weather bliss.  Blue skies without a cloud in sight & low to mid 60's.  It just doesn't get much better than that.  The sheepdog trials were fun to watch & the runaway sheep incident made them even more interesting.  The strawberry lemonade was to die for, even though we thought we might actually die from the number of bees circling the stand.  But what was best was the shopping.  Oh, the shopping!

I took my daughter along to keep me under control, but it turns out, she's an enabler, not a credit card protector.

As you can see, I was too excited about my new yummy yarns to photograph them before winding a few.  First on the winder was a wool/silk combo from Dirt Woman Fiber Arts.  I'm knitting their Monarch Shawl pattern which was free with the purchase of the yarn.

The next yarn to go on the swift was Blue Ridge Yarns' Colorburst in the River Rocks colorway.   Pre-winding, the skein had a lot more gold & browns in it & matched my State Fair hen colors perfectly.

I was SO excited to find this colorway and especially to find it made by Blue Ridge Yarns.  I've knit several other projects with Blue Ridge and have always been very happy with the results.  Even though the socks are turning out to be a bit bluer than expected, I'm quite happy.  Besides, there's nothing wrong with river rocks.

What is wrong is that, yikes!  I have to go get ready for work.  More about the other wonderful yarns & patterns in future posts.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Bad Hair 4

It's TBT...

And things obviously didn't improve with age.  Or with a perm.  Good Lord!  It wasn't even a real perm, it was a "loose body wave" that was supposed to make those natural waves on the side of my head behave.  Not!  Not only did this lovely loose body wave give me tight, kinky curls, it never relaxed.  Never, ever.  I had to cut it out.  I had to let it grow a bit, cut it, grow, cut, grow, cut...  I've done some really stupid things in my life but that perm was, & will always be, the number one regret.  Good grief!

Friday, October 3, 2014

State Fair, 2014

My daughter & I had a good time at the State Fair.  The weather was cooperative & there were lots of things to see & do.

The baby duck slide is always a popular attraction.

I'm not sure if this guy was a pigeon or a dove, but I was fascinated with his long legs & big, poofed out chest.

I'm officially in love with the colors in this chicken.  Browns, golds and blues.  I must find yarn to match!  I MUST!

A rattlesnake handler.  The guy had four or five Rubbermaid tubs full of rattlesnakes & while handling them, he'd let them crawl along his handling stick to within just a few inches of his hand before he'd rearrange them.  Ugh!  Gives me the willies just to type about it.

The goats were playing king of the mountain.  I like the way that chicken is peeking into the photo.  I didn't notice it there when I took the photo.

My woolly friend.  This particular sheep was very friendly.  He came right over to us as soon as we stepped near his pen & he licked & nibbled my fingers while we admired him & his friends.

I was a disappointed with the lack of knitting displayed but I loved this basket.  I'm not sure what the display was for exactly, but who wouldn't love a basket with an in-progress sweater & yarn, a bottle of vodka & a giant container of headache pills.  I know I could have used that basket when I got home from the fair!  Yesterday's comment about hoping I didn't jinx the scarf....  Well, you know how that went.  I spent over two hours last night knitting & tinking four rows on that blasted scarf.  I desperately needed vodka & a giant bottle of Excedrin.

Of course the fair offered tons of fried foods.  I didn't try any deep fried Kool-Aid or a Krispy Creme burger or sloppy joe, but I could have.

And of course, the lights.  I absolutely love the lights at the fair.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Bad Hair #3

It's TBT & as you can see, my bad hair days continued through the pre-teen years.

Lately, my knitting has been almost as bad as my hair.  I finally realized that the sleeping bag striped scarf I was knitting was not going to work.  It was just way too wide.  The realization came during knitting group the other night.  I was glancing through a group member's pattern book & started laughing at how ridiculous a model looked in her super wide cowl.  And that's when it hit me.  If it looks ridiculous on the model, how's my sleeping bag scarf going to look on me?  Not to be defeated, the sleeping bag scarf is now a tote bag waiting to be felted.  No photos at the moment - we are going to the State Fair this evening & the camera battery is on the charger in anticipation.

The lacy cabled poncho also took a turn for the worse.  I "yo, K1"'ed instead of "yo, K2tog"'ing several rows back.  "Several" being like 20.  Argh!  At the moment, the poncho has been moved to the side, way, way off to the side, because I'm not sure I like it enough to bother fixing it.  The though of ripping it & then having to chase all the ensuing runaway yo's is just more than I can deal with at the moment.

So, at 1:00 a.m. last night (or this morning, depending on how you look at it) while re-watching the final episode of Season 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (dammed Facebook quiz for making me want to rewatch the entire series!) I grabbed the ladder scarf out of the UFO  pile & got to work.  I'd put this scarf aside because the yarn had started to feel not so great in my hot, Virginia summer humidity hands.  It's cooled off a bit now though & rather than the scarf's length being in the single digits like I thought it was, it's actually about 3 1/2 feet long so far.  And that means, I might be able to finish it quickly.  After the sleeping bag & poncho setbacks, my mental state needs a project I can successfully complete.

Gosh, I hope I didn't just jinx the ladder scarf.