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.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hens & Nikons

My hen sock is almost

hen socks.  If today goes as planned, I will have a finished pair of hen socks by bedtime.

And just because I love the colorway so much and can't get enough of it.... one more shot.

So, what am I thankful for today, you ask?  Today, I am very thankful for my Nikon DSLR.  No, I don't know how to use it properly.  Yes, I have to either ask my daughter or check in with Google every time I want to change a setting.  No, I haven't had much time to get to know the camera.  Yes, I would love to take a class, or at least read the how-to book I bought.  So, if I'm so ignorant about it, why am I so thankful for it?  Because, do you remember film?  I do.  My photography skills weren't any better back then.  And back then, back in the stone age days of film, you took 12, 24 or 36 photos, took the roll of film to the store to be developed, and then waited a week to fork over a few bucks to learn that only one or two of the shots were clear & in focus.  Today, with the DSLR, I can snap a zillion pictures of my foot, delete the obviously out of focus ones, plug the camera into my computer, look at the remaining bunch, highlight a few to save & presto-magic, have a blog post with photos in a matter of minutes.  Plus, another wonderful, unadvertised feature of my Nikon DSLR....  one of the dogs, the gassy one, is afraid of it.  When he starts having "issues,"  all I have to do is take one picture of him.  He immediately leaves the room.  I think it's a much kinder response than constantly telling him he stinks.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Flying Monkey Zombies

Look what I got...

I'll admit that I bought this yarn simply because of it's colorway name - Flying Monkey's Revenge.  I have always loved the Wizard of Oz and I have always been terrified of the Flying Monkeys.  They freak me out so badly that I'm a little creeped out when I see large birds like geese or herons fly overhead.  What if they aren't really geese or herons?  What if they are really flying monkeys?  I'm not sure why this yarn called to me since the idea of the flying monkeys seeking revenge is enough to give me nightmares but I had to have it.  HAD to!

If you want your own, I ordered mine from Simply Socks.  I'd heard good things about them but had never ordered anything from their website.  The other night, an ad for them popped up on Facebook.  Normally I avoid those ads like the plague but this one was for yarn, from a company I'd heard of, and the ad promised reduced yarn prices.....  Less than 10 minutes later I had a big ol' box of yarn on the way.  And on the way it was!  I received my big box of yarn less than 36 hours after ordering it!

Meanwhile, my daughters' drivers ed class is going well.  While she sits in class, I sit in either Starbucks or Barnes & Noble, drinking coffee, eating pastries & knitting and/or reading.  Thank goodness for their membership discount cards.  I can not fathom how broke I will be at the end of the four week class.

Another funny thing about drivers' ed....

I have no idea what the company does, but this is the sign on the office space next to the drivers' ed space.

I just pray the zombies & the flying monkeys don't get together.  Can you imagine the terror that would create??

As for being thankful today, I'm thankful for having heat in the house.  I know, that's not very creative or interesting but it's honest.  The polar vortex hit over night & it went from being in the mid 60's to the mid 20's.  It even snowed!  Not enough to stick, but the flakes did fall.  So yeah, I'm quite thankful for heat in the house.

Friday, November 14, 2014

OTN 11-13-2014 & Thank you blog readers

I'm making progress.  And, gosh!  It feels good to say that.

The Eclipse wrap is done.  Finished.  Ends woven in & ready to wear.  I didn't bother to block it because, well, frankly, it didn't need it.  Remember how I was struggling with the decision of how to finish it because of the goof I'd made on the first stripe section?  I decided to just be done with it.  The scarf is supposed to be more of a shawl type wrap but I'm so freakishly tall that in order for it to be large enough to cover enough of me to actually call it a wrap, I'd have needed another full green stripe plus the missing section from that first stripe.  There wasn't enough yarn to knit an extra stripe and besides, it will get more use as a scarf anyway.  So, it's a scarf, not a wrap.  And I love it.

Now that Eclipse is done, I've returned to the Hen socks.

The yarn is not quite DK weight but certainly heavier than fingering so the sock is growing pretty quickly.  It helped that I had a killer headache yesterday that left me with blurry vision & slightly nauseous.  Great excuse to sit in the corner & mindlessly knit all day.

The other thing I did was to fix my yarn bowl.

I dropped it.

Yay for Super Glue!  Double yay for finding Super Glue on Target's dollar rack!

Yay for a fixed bowl!  Except, dammit!  That slight gap in the pieces is just enough of a gap to cause the slot where the yarn goes through to close up.  Dammit!  Dammit!  Dammit!  A true lace weight yarn may fit through the resulting slot but the almost DK weight of the Hen socks' yarn won't.  Double dammit!

Oh well, she'll make a fine candy bowl/votive candle holder.

In continuation of showing my gratitude during the month of November, I'd like to pass on a little of that gratitude to you, dear reader.  You'll never know how much it means to me that you take the time out of your busy day to read my blatherings.  So thank you.  Thank you for joining me on this journey.  Thank you for your kind comments.  Thank you for your support and I even thank you for the occasional kick in the butt when a good swift kick is needed.  To show my appreciation, I'm offering each of you an opportunity to take 25% off anything you purchase from my Etsy shop between now and November 30, 2014.  Just use coupon code BlogFan2014 to receive the discount.  Enjoy, and once again, thank you! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Birthday Cookies

In honor of my daughter's upcoming 18th birthday, I'm remembering her birth day.

She didn't seem too pleased to come into this world.  She yelled & screamed & caused all kinds of ruckus for what seemed like years but we loved her anyway.  Zack loved her extra because he got a cookie.

Sarah's birth was actually kinda fun.  Once we got to the hospital, that is.  It was a planned c-section & we were late arriving because my dear, sweet husband couldn't decide which pants to wear.  Seriously!  We finally got to the hospital & they got me strapped down on the table & a nice sedative running through my veins to keep me from taking a scalpel to my spouse.  They even got Mike calmed enough to hang out in the operating room with me.  He'd had a bad time with Zack's emergency c-section & had seen way more of my insides than any spouse should ever have to see.

It turned out to be quite the party atmosphere in the operating room.  Besides Mike & I, the doctor, several nurses and the anesthesiologist, there were also a bunch of medical students watching the show.  Part of what made it fun was that Mike didn't know what we were having.  I knew Sarah was going to be a girl but he'd chosen not to find out her sex.  Being the wicked wife that I am, I told him we were having twins & had purposely referred to Sarah at different times as a boy, a girl & "the twins".  To make the lie more believable, I was big enough to be having triplets.  By the end there, Mike was getting pretty nervous that we really might be having twins.  Honestly, I was starting to worry that karma might be playing a mean trick on me for lying.

To add to the party atmosphere, the anesthesiologist turned out to be The coolest doctor ever!  He had a fantastic sense of humor & he, Mike & I giggled over what we could do with the placenta.  You see, we'd had to sign a form saying that we didn't want to take the placenta home with us.  It had never occurred to Mike & I that that would even be a choice & were rather grossed out by the idea.  Anyway, we got to giggling with the anesthesiologist about all the wonderful things that could be done with a placenta, mainly that it made great catfish bait.  It was probably one of those 'you had to be there' moments but believe me, Mike & I were laughing so hard we had tears streaming down our faces & even the medical students, who were supposed to be seen but not heard were giggling.  In the middle of the giggle fest, the anesthesiologist suddenly said, in a panicked sort of voice, "Hand me your camera.  NOW!" And he started snapping pictures.  We are now the proud owners of the coolest photos of Sarah being pulled out of my stomach.  I won't show them here because the scene was a bit bloody & not everyone wants to see someone else's bloody guts, literally, but let me just say, those photos are the coolest!

So, for my thankful thing of the day, I'd like to send a big, giant THANK YOU! out to every medical professional who has ever helped me or mine.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Eclipse knitting continues, as does my 30 days of being thankful.  Today, I am oh, so grateful for driver's education teachers.  My daughter started driver's ed this week.  Need I say more?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

OTN 11-11-14

Still on the needles....

Eclipse, the never ending knitting project.  Those short rows are so deceiving.  You're knitting along, making decent headway, short row after short row,  when suddenly the short rows are almost the entire width of the wrap and they seem to take an eternity to knit across.  But I am making progress.  Technically, I only have six more rows before knitting the final red stripe & binding off.  Except remember how I goofed on that first green stripe & it's only half the height it's supposed to be?  And remember how I'd planned to repeat that mistake on the opposite side so that I could call it a pattern rather than a mistake?  Yeah, well, I'd sort of forgotten about that.  I do have enough of both yarns left to knit another half repeat.  And that, folks, means I'm no where near as close to finishing it as I thought I was.  It's decision time.  Do I or don't I?  It would look much more symmetrical if I do it.  I like symmetry.  I have enough yarn.  But on the flip side, the Christmas panic is starting to set in.

Good grief!  If I spent as much time knitting as I do whining about how long the knitting process is taking, I'd be almost done by now.

That is a lesson I will probably never learn.

Meanwhile, happy Veteran's Day!  A huge, big, giant THANK YOU! goes out to all the men & women who have served in our military.  While I'll never fully know or understand all the sacrifices they & their families make, I have seen the physical & mental effects of war on men, I have watched military wives function on their own for months & months at a time and I have watched friends grieve for fallen sons & brothers.  You are all in my thoughts & I pray that those on far away soil will return home safely.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Don't leaf the lights on

I'm making a public apology for all the times I've yelled at my daughter recently for leaving her bedroom light on when in fact, she hasn't.   The tree outside her window has such bright yellow leaves that it's glowing & lighting up her room.  From the hallway, it looks just like she's left the light on.

Meanwhile, the Eclipse knitting continues.  I hesitate to say it because it's a guaranteed jinx, but... it's almost finished.  Only a few more rows to go.  Well, maybe a few more than "a few" but I've reached the home stretch and the end is in sight.  It's taken a lot longer to knit than I expected. I think November's blogging every day thing has cut into my knitting time much more than I thought possible.  Or maybe it's because two new books have shown up in the mail this week.  Or perhaps I have been busy doing a summer's worth of laundry & housework instead of knitting while I was at work.  Whatever the reason, what I thought would take one week has now passed the three week mark.  It's starting to seriously cut into my budgeted Christmas knitting time.  Maybe I should skip the housework from now on.

But speaking of daily blogging in November.... Today I am oh, so very thankful for all my Etsy shop customers.  You'll never know how much I appreciate your patronage & kind words.  Thank you, all!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

It's Pi

Blocking is complete for my Wendy Knits Pi shawl.  I even got a compliment from my husband.

He came in from work, saw the blocking process spread out all over the dining room table & said, "Wow, that's a monster.  That's really impressive."  That's about as complimentary as he gets when it comes to my knitting.  He just doesn't get it.  Yes, he gets that I need to knit for my sanity & everyone's safety.  He totally gets that.  He even shouts at me, "Oh, just go knit!" when I'm shouting at him for some silly little thing he's done.  What he doesn't get is the difference between hand knit & a Walmart purchase.  I'm not sure how we've managed to put up with each other this long with his obvious ignorance.  Maybe it has something to do with my lack of caring about lumber & car parts.  Rather than agreeing to disagree, we've agreed to ignore each other.

Anyway, I'm happy to have the Pi project completely scratched off my to-do list.  The only problem is that seeing it finished has made me want to start another.  The actual knitting part took place so long ago I can't even remember if I enjoyed it to the end or if it became one of those, "Good Lord, will I ever finish this?" projects.  I imagine I enjoyed it to the end.  I have never met a Wendy Knits pattern I didn't like.  Dammit!  Another pi shawl really does't fit into my panicking over Christmas knitting schedule.  But I do have the perfect yarn in the stash....

I may not be overly thrilled or grateful for my obsessive need to knit everything right now, today, but I am truly thankful for the beautiful autumn colors.  The view past our back gate it impressive.

I'm even more thankful for a husband with a leaf blower & a son who's still young enough to force rake duty on.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

FO's 11-08-14

I am so excited to announce that I finally blocked my Pi shawl.  I'd finished it back in April and it has been sitting in a heap on the corner of my desk ever since.  Naturally, I noticed after I'd put it the tub to soak that I'd never woven in the loose yarn ends.  Let me tell you what a joy it was to weave wet yarn ends into wet knitted lace fabric.  Yes indeedy, good times!

There she is on the blocking mats.  I sure am glad I decided to photograph it being blocked.  See that flat spot near the bottom left corner of the photo?  I had not noticed that while pinning it out but it stood out like a sore thumb in the picture.  I'm so thankful that I caught it in time to easily fix it.  I'm even more thankful to be counting this Pi shawl as a FO (finished object.)

Speaking of being thankful, I sure am thankful for my blocking mats.  I don't know how I ever survived without them.  They were one of those things that I wanted, but when it got down to it, I always wanted additional yarn more than I wanted blocking mats.  Once I finally broke down and bought a set, I quickly learned that I needed a second set in order to block most of the shawls I knit.  The second set arrived in not so great shape.  They had muddy boot prints on them and a bit of what looked like hardened glue.  I was able to clean them up easily but I contacted the company anyway just to let them know, not to request a refund or replacement.  They insisted on sending me a replacement set anyway and now I'm the proud owner of three sets of mats.  Which turns out is a really good thing.  Blocking that Pi shawl took all but two squares.

Now, if I could ask you for your help.... Please say a little prayer that the blocking mats hold together.  The shawl is so wide that it's hanging about a foot off each side of the table.  I keep getting a mental picture of what the poor thing will look like if the mats break apart & pull the shawl down on those two sides.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Gifts in the mail

Today I'm showing my appreciation for friends who send me unexpected gifts in the mail.  Snail mail in general is so much fun to receive but finding an unexpected package in the mailbox just makes me giddy.  It rates right up there with the UPS guy having to use his handcart to make a yarn delivery!  Over the years, I've received some pretty weird things in the mail.  I've received a pair of used Crocs, a six-pack of Coke in the old green glass bottles, a cheeseburger & fries and even rum soaked sand from a friend in Key West.  (Yes, there may be a story behind a few of those gifts.)  Most recently, I received this adorable tin of popcorn from my friend Kate.

I absolutely loved receiving this!  Not only was it unexpected but the popcorn delicious, & it's an adorable Halloween decoration.  But what makes it even more special is that I can set it on the shelf over my desk with the "side view" facing out & all I see is the black with white polka-dots.  It's a perfect, year-round, scrap yarn ball storage container!  Thank you, Kate!

By the way, Kate runs a fantastic genealogy research company, so if you are in need, look her up at  Besides being a wonderful friend, Kate is a trained historian with mad research skills.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A thankful Throwback Thursday

Veteran's Day is next Tuesday & I wanted to take a moment on this TBT to thank, in advance, all those men & women who have done their part to guard our country's freedoms.

That's my Dad on the far left during WWII.

Section B, 1012th Signal Co., WWII.  Dad is the one on the left in the very back row.

This is my mom.  She had written on the back of the photo, "Santa Claus has gone to war and Mrs. Santa had to take over."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Finally.  A few not so great pictures of finished projects.

The scarf is the Monarch Shawl from Dirt Woman Fiber Arts.  I have a love/hate relationship with this shawl.  I Love the blues & greens but am not crazy about the solid black stripes, although when I wrap it around my neck, the colors look just fine with my skin tone & most of my clothing.  I loved knitting with the yarn & had no problem with it being splity or snagging but once blocked... it snags if you just look at it funny.  Also, it didn't block out properly.  If I knit it again, I need to read the instructions much more thoroughly.  The pattern calls it a triangle but the increases are done in the same manner as my generic heart shaped shawl pattern, or at least I read them to be the same.  Which ever, it refused to block into either shape.  It refused to be triangular or heart shaped or even rounded.  In the end, I just pulled it out as straight & even as I could get it & pinned it down.  Even though it's a little oddly shaped, I love it wrapped around my neck.  I wore it to work the other night when it was bitter cold and it kept me toasty.

As for the material details of the Monarch, I used almost a full skein of Shappel Crazy Zauberball in color #2085 (blues & greens) and a little over three quarters of a skein of Cascade Yarns' Heritage Silk in color #5672 (black) and my #6 Caspian interchangeable needles.

The sweater is Allegro which finally, after what seemed like weeks on the blocking mats, dried.  I'm love/hating this one as well.  The pattern was super easy to knit and I love how the detailing on the back draws the waist in just a bit.  I also like the actual color of the sweater much better than the color that's showing up in the picture.  In reality, it's a much deeper, bluer blue.

I'm not loving the way the fabric has wrinkled after wearing it only an hour or so.  I'm also not crazy about how big the sleeves are.  They are bell shaped & I prefer tighter sleeves that hug my wrists just enough not to flap around but loose enough to push up my arms when I'm hot or have my hands in dish water or bread dough...  Not that I do those tasks frequently, but when I do, I don't like my sleeves getting in the way.  I really like the fit of the sweater through the body though & I may knit it again using a different sleeve style.  We'll see.

As for Allegro's materials, I once again turned to KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in worsted Solstice Heather.   The pattern called for # 7 needles but I tend to knit loosely & had to go down to a #5 nickel plated interchangeable needle to get gauge.

Last but not least, I'd like to say how thankful I am to have had the democratic right to cast my vote yesterday.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


I am so thankful for honest people.  For those of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may be sick of hearing this story but I thought it was worth mentioning one more time.  One day last week, I went to my local Chinese take-out place to pick up dinner & accidently left my wallet on the counter after paying.  I'd also forgotten to take my phone with me.  By the time I got home, Lin's had already left me a voice mail telling me I'd left my wallet.  As if that wasn't enough, they had also called my neighborhood's security company in hopes they would be able to flag me down & let me know.  And if that wasn't enough, the restaurant even offered to bring me my wallet so that I didn't have to drive back there without my driver's license!  Talk about service!  I didn't take them up on that offer but when I drove back to the restaurant, I was happy to see that all of my money, credit cards, id's.... were still in the wallet.  Thank you, Lin's for having such honest, service oriented employees.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Night Knitting Group

Today I am thankful that my schedule once again allows me to attend my Monday Night Knitting Group.  Not a meeting goes by where I don't either learn something or get inspired by someone else's project.  Thank you, knitting group!

I'm slowly making progress on the Eclipse wrap.

Sorry the picture is so blurry.  I was shivering.  The picture was taken yesterday on my final day of work, when it was 45 degrees outside and I was hanging out in an unheated concrete building wearing shorts while the cold outdoor wind blew through the air conditioner vents.  (Someone please remind me next year to trade my uniform shorts in for a pair of pants.  Please!)  I knew I'd be cold so I'd taken a beach towel to use as a blanket over my legs.  (The towel took up less room in my backpack than a blanket.)  I was the epitome of a little old lady knitter sitting at my desk all bundled up with my "lap robe" knitting.

I'll leave you with a bit of useless trivia.

Have you ever wondered how much your average Cash Control teller writes?  I started the season with a brand new Pentel R.S.V.P. pen (my favorite) and used it 99% of the time I was at work.  As you can see (maybe) the ink level is now down below the finger grip thingy.  What's amazing, or scary depending on how you look at it, the only writing we do is to initial things.  That's a lot of intials!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 2, 2014

Today I am very thankful that tonight marks the end of the work season for me & I have the next five months off.  Tomorrow morning, while everyone else is posting on Facebook about how much they hate Mondays, I will be crawling into bed, thinking how much I love Mondays and how I will sleep until noon,  maybe even later.  So, thank you Monday & a big ol' thank you to KD.  It's been a great season.

By the way, for those of you wondering, there will be normal blog posts during November.  I don't plan to only post what I'm thankful for.  It's just that there's not a lot of time available this weekend to put towards blogging.

To give you something to look at, here's a random picture of a leaf floating on the water.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Giving Thanks

Each year several friends send me Facebook challenges to post something I'm thankful for each day in November.  For years & years, I've done this in my journal so you'd think it would be simple to remember to post my thankfulness to Facebook.  Nope, every year, I get a few days or weeks into the project & forget to post.  One day without posting leads to another day and before you know it, it's Easter & I'm realizing that I'm a total failure at being publicly thankful.  So this year I decided to do something different.  This year I'll post here on the blog instead.  I'm not sure it will help but a girl can dream.  Right?

So.... today, November 1st, I'm thankful that it is the last Saturday the theme park where I work will be open this season.  Don't get me wrong, I love my job, I love the people at my job & the uncomfortable uniform shorts are worth the paycheck.  But I am SO looking forward to a weekend off.  Multiple weekends in a row off!  Ahhh.... the glory of being able to go to a Saturday morning yard sale....  Okay, so I don't really care for yard sales, specially early on a Saturday morning.  But the point is, I could go to one if I wanted.  I do care about going to various festivals & craft fairs & weekend barbecues & going to bars to watch friends' bands play.  I can't wait for next weekend!  Next weekend I will be spending my money instead of counting someone else's money.  So, thank you End of Season!