Sunday, December 16, 2007

Crafty and Sneaky

Well, my loyal readers, I have been neglecting you. I feel the cold breath of Christmas on my neck and I fear it will arrive before I've finished all the gifts! I can't show you any more pics, either, because it's too close and what's left is for people who read the blog! Yikes!

So, to entertain you, I have pictures of our annual GBH construction! (Ginger Bread House, you silly.)

Here is my lovely sister Linda and her confectionary abode. Her classic use of green piping for the roof treatment, green chewy holley over the front door and marshmallow snow person make this a treat for the eyes.

Next, we have Andrew, Jay and Vicky with their cookie carnaval! I don't know if Andrew actually adhered any candy to the house (most of what touched his hands went directly into his mouth), but he and Jay, with Vicky's help, have made a great house, and you can see how proud they all are! I particularly like the snow person, even though he needs some assistance standing. Oh, and the jelly garden is quite enchanting.

Finally, you have Simon and myself displaying our 2007 entry. This is the first year we've done the cereal/thatched roof, and I do like it! Also note the coconut snow and the lovely jelly stained glass window on the end of the house (completely conceived and created by Simon). That mass of red frosting and chocolate covered peanuts is supposed to be a fireplace and chimney. Jay declared the chimney "really, really beautiful," so I feel appreciated.

I don't know how many years we've done these, but we always have a great time. I can't wait to do another one!
Oh, and a shameless plug here for the Wilton GBH kit. I can't believe we used to make the cookies ourselves! It would take at least an entire day to get the cookies made, and then we'd invariably have a damaged one or three, and have trouble putting them together because of unevenness or something. Don't do it! For $9.00 you can get one of these kits, complete with frosting mix and candy. We usually add more candy and stuff, but even if we didn't we'd end up with great houses. You can't even buy the baking stuff for $9.00 a pop, and frankly, our time is much better spent doing other things . . .like decorating! One tip - buy them early, early, early in the season. Last year I didn't get them til late and we ended up having to buy the huge size houses. This year I got them way back at or before TG, and it was EXCELLENT!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Class Reunion

I am old, but I don't have to act it! I decided to add some of that purple dye to my hair for our 25th HS class reunion last weekend. Sorry it's taken me so long to post the pics!

I also had it all put up, and it was fun.

Between the fancy do, the purple, and the cool Batik blouse from Marketplace India (my favorite catalog!) , I looked pretty good!

The night after the reunion, Laura had our old gang over for a bit. It was nice to get together. These women have been my friends for a long, long time!

I did finally make a button out of Sculpey , sew it on the belt pouch and mail it up to Santa. I think he'll like it - I just hope the postal service gets it there quickly! SOME of us don't have elves to do our every bidding!

Monday, November 26, 2007


I finished and gifted the Santa Vest to my Dad. He loves it! It fits perfectly, and it looks great on him. He has requested a matching belt pouch for carrying mini candy canes for when he's visiting with children at the hospital, etc.

Here is the requested pouch, knit and felted and ready for a button. I should have it in the mail to him by Wednesday, if all goes well. I think I'll make a button with polymer clay - something that will look like a mint or something, don't you think?

I've also gotten lots of good "notes" and tips on what makes a good knit hat from "the boys". Dad, my brother, and my brother-in-law all coached me one morning while my brother made breakkies (wearing the hat I made for him last year). I even have a "perfect" hat, according to my brother, to use as a guide. I've now purchased appropriate yarn for his hat (he is the pickiest one because he needs things that are historically accurate for the 1840's), and will start his hat soon. I've gotten him some great reddish stuff that I'll knit to spec.s in a very tight gauge. Also, I've been overestimating his head size, so with this sample hat I'm more likely to get that correct.
In the meantime, I'm doing some mindless knitting. I've started a "more perfect" hat for my b-i-l. He's a rabid Buckeye Fan, hence the red and gray. I had already purchases this gray - baby alpaca grande - and have the red leftover from Santa clothes. My change is that I'm using smaller needles (9 instead of 10.5) so it'll be a denser gauge, and I'll knit it longer so he can roll it up more and be able to cover his ears with several layers if needed.
I've also decided to knit up some washcloths for quickie gifts for folks like my boss and hostesses of holiday parties, etc. They're easy, quick, and turn out lovely. I have a friend who makes soap that I might hit up for some bars to add to the gifts.
The long weekend at Mom and Dad's was really wonderful (despite having horrible intestinal problems as a result of my long-term dosing of heavy antibiotics), and despite hubby having a terrible toothache that has turned out to be a terrible infection requiring a root canal. Poor thing! Since we've got home, I've made 8 batches of jello and 2 kinds of soup, just to get him some nourishment until he can be worked on.
I'll be reporting on my fancy hair and my 25th HS reunion and meet-up with old friends in a subsequent post. I can only upload 5 pics a day, and I've already reached my quota.
I spent a great hour this evening at Starbucks. I used a gift card I happened to have, so it seemed like free, and it was enjoyable. I get a sick satisfaction out of ordering my coffee in the wrong order. Tonight I said "I want one of those peppermint mochas, but can you make it decaff? Oh, and I'd like it to be lowfat. I'll take a super large." LOL The Barristas had to repeat it in the correct order several times hoping, I'm sure, to teach the uninitiated what it should rightly be called. Blah to that! I will continue to call it Extra Large! I will continue to say it in whatever damn order I please! So there! Mike says I'm evil. (mwuahahaha).

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Santa Vest

No fair showing this to Dad before he opens his gift, Mom!

If you can see, there is a cable running up the front. The yarn is Harrisville Heathered Bulky. I don't really see any heathering . . . but there were a lot of little bits of twig and grass in the yarn - some of it really pokey! It knits up quickly, though, on size 13 needles (thanks for letting me borrow, Gerald!)

I just hope it fits my dad!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

See Spot Run

Well, the truth is finally here. My writing is for the masses . . . the little darlings . . .
cash advance
Go figure.

My intelligent Sensei, Yarmando found the quiz. Sigh.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Various Topics

First, I was tagged by Yarmando in the Random Book Quote Meme! Yay! I love being picked, too!
Instructions: open the book you’re currently reading to page 161 and read the fifth sentence on the page, then think of 5 bloggers to tag.
I am reading 3 books at the moment:
I just started The Syringa Tree by Pamela Gien. Don't have any idea how it will be. It is for one of my book groups. Page 161, sentence 5: The window jerked open, suddenly filling the kitchen with outside insect hum and the hell-deep boom of Pietros's voice, "Hello, Madam . . ."

I have renewed resolve to finish the last book group book (because now we're reading it for my other book group), Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Page 161, sentence 5: Richard calls it "The Geet". (Hey, I didn't make the rules! I know these don't make much sense, but isn't it fun anyway?)

Book 3 is a graphic novel I'm reading because it looked intriguing, was listed on many "greatest" lists, and then the first few pages of the story totally hooked me in (a hazard of my work). The Runaways: #1-18 by Brian Vaughan. Page 161, sentence 5: Heck, this book isn't numbered. I'll just pick a random "that looks like 161 pages" page: Topher, I cut myself because shedding my own blood is the only way to free the ancient magical weapon that my witch of a mom somehow trapped inside my body. (Now, who can resist that, I ask you!)

Tagging: Now, I get to name 5 other people to do this whacky book tag! Cycholibrarian, Cat (my Brit Twin), FightingLibrarian, Gotta Book , and Sock Princess, and just to keep things even, Aunt Gerry. If anyone else wants to post their sentence, that's great, too - those of you w/o blogs of your own (you know who you are!) can post them in my comments!

Second, Very Sad News - our pet snake, Jack, has passed away. Poor Jack. We loved him well. These pictures were taken this past Summer.

We've all cried, but I couldn't let it go without sharing the sad news. I know lots of folks don't like snakes at all, but he was really a good pet, and we loved him.

Now my uplifting news - what's on the needles!
First, a chemo cap for the collection at the Merc. I have to finish this and get it in! I already put one kid's sized one in the basket. We're competing with an LYS in Michigan. We'll win! Go Buckeyes! (omg, did I just say go buckeyes? Well, it's knitting, so it's ok).

And I've swatched (yes, sometimes I do swatches - don't get used to it!) the yarn for a sweater vest for Santa. I can post the particulars because Santa doesn't have time to read blogs this time of year!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Christmas Knitting Begun!

Well, I think I've figured out why I'm not posting as much. My son has been on the computer! Darn him! Anyway, he's at school now, and I've taken some time (rather than going immediately back to bed for a nippy-nap) to take some WIP pics so I can fill you in on my recent knitting escapades.

I've started a sweater vest for someone very special - and it's lovely wool, but I think it is sort of exacerbating my sinus problems, so I'm going to have to limit myself to just an hour or so a day on this.

I've finished another Baby Surprise Jacket. Love it! This pattern is so easy and so fun, it just flows off the needles. I also have to admit to some sick pleasure in seeing someone else trying to figure out how to make the glob of knitting turn into a smooth, cool sweater - my husband hates me for this teasing!

This is another update on the socks for my son. I'm just about out of yarn, and I'm waiting for some more yarn from my buddy, Don. He purchased the same yarn with me at the knitter's connection, and said he'd score me some more of it. You can kind of almost see the cabling going up the sides. I really hope these still fit the little (not so little!) monster at Christmas!

And finally, some slippers for another person very special to me. I like this pattern - it's exactly what Gramma used to use. Don't be surprised when you see more of these little ditties on the blog (and under the Xmas tree!).

Monday, October 08, 2007

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Wait . . . you mean it's already ended and I missed it? Sorry to have delayed so long in posting! All 3 of you who read the blog have been wondering, I'm sure! LOL

First the knitting . . .
I have fallen in love with the Baby Surprise Jacket. I've now done 3 This one is in cotton/linen, and it was fun to knit because of the colors. It was a pain to finish because of all the weaving in of the ends of those lovely colors, but it's done except for the buttons, so we're near the end.

This one is, obviously, the same pattern. It is Crystal Palace Painted or something like that - wool, with some Cascade 220 for the stripe and edging. I like the simplicity of the pattern so much. I modify the length by doing only 5 ridges in the middle before picking up stitches again. (I realize it makes no sense to those who've not knit this sweater - sorry).

This is the knitted hedgehog, and will actually really be cute once it is felted and stuffed. It's not so bad now, I guess, but it'll be better - trust me!

This most recent weekend was like a retreat for me, although it was really just my college homecoming at Grove City College. One of my dear sorority sisters flew into Columbus from St. Louis, and we drove together, picking up another friend near my parents' house on the way. Although it was stinking hot, it was a lovely day, and I spent so much time smiling and laughing that my cheeks are sore! This is a group of us at the football stadium (I hear there was a game going on, but we didn't really watch - lol). Sally and I in the front row, Linda, Stephanie, Nancy, Kim and Karen in the back row. It was great to see old friends and re-connect. I'll post a few more pics tomorrow.

Nancy raises Alpacas (and lots of kids) and brought along some fiber and yarn. Mom and I practically spread it out on the Living Room floor and rolled in it - it is so lovely! Mom purchased enough for me to knit her a sweater vest! Yay! I get to use it, Mom gets to wear it - totally a win-win! I've still got a moratorium on buying yarn - trying to knit up my stash - at least until Thanksgiving. Gack! I tell you, if you could feel this lovely alpaca yarn (and see the adorable pictures of the animals from whence it came) you'd nearly have caved in, too! I'm so thankful that Mom bought some!

So that is what's happening in my neck of the woods. Oh, we did manage to have a Birthday party for Simon, a big music party, work a lot, get back to school, etc. I'll try to keep up better, though, I promise!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Finally catching up

I've been on vacation for the last few weeks. Yes, I said a few weeks! 2.5 weeks off, actually! WOOHOO! We went to Club Gramma (my parents' house) first. Here are my folks and my kid outside the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio. We mostly just spent time lazing around and going to the pool and stuff. It was great!

I finished my first-ever Baby Surprise Jacket (and Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern). I gave it to my friend, baby Elizabeth the next day. The yarn is Bernat somethingorother in green with trim of double-stranded sport weight, Lorna's Laces Child's Play leftover from my shawl. The buttons were all culled from my mom's button box. Baby E said, upon seeing it "Try on? Try on?" :-)

We also went to Glow-in-the-dark Mini Golf. Fun!

After my mom and dad's, we traveled South to Marietta. On the way we visited Beaver Creek State Park and looked around. Nice little park. The flooding was starting by then, though, so we didn't canoe.

We had a good time in Marietta with my in-laws, and then back home to excavate my son's room and get him ready for school. We managed to finish our chores with enough time for a nice little paddle on the Hoover Resevoir. We saw the typical shore birds, got some sun, had a good time.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What's in your coffee cup?

After reading Yarmando's blog about the Starbucks Oracle, I had to try it.

The all-knowing Oracle of Starbucks
Behold the Oracle's wisdom:
I first entered Venti Iced Chai, lowfat . . .
Personality type:
You're liberal and consider yourself to be laid back and open minded. Everyone else just thinks you're clueless. Your friends hate you because you always email them virus warnings and chain letters "just in case it's true." All people who drink venti iced chai lowfat are potheads.
Also drinks: Sparkling water
Can also be found at: Designer grocery stores
Then I entered Venti Decaf, black . . .
Personality type: Freak
No person of sound mind would go to an EXPENSIVE COFFEE SHOP to get a drink WITHOUT CAFFEINE. Your hobbies include going to ski resorts in the summer and flushing $5 bills down the toilet. You are a menace to society.
Also drinks: Non-alcoholic beer
Can also be found at: Pools with no water

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Purple Hair!

I promised the kids at my library that if enough of them (50%) finished their Summer Reading Club stuff (12 hours of reading over the summer), I'd color my hair.

Well, all of our goals have been achieved and passed, so today was Turn Purple Day! My friend Billi did the honors.

I love the colors! Since my hair is already lots of colors (although mostly gray and brown), it turned a nice array of different hues from darkish brown to lavendar.

We had enough dye for my friend, Gary, to do his beard. Isn't it great?

Saturday, August 04, 2007


My new socks are done! Aren't they pretty? They feel nice on my feet, too! For the details of the yarn, pattern, etc, see my last post.

I had to take this pic of Simon this evening. This is how he looks much of the time we're home. He's drawing, he's got a reference book to his left so he can make sure his details are correct, and he's got other paraphernalia around him. Rosie found him fascinating, too.

OK, Back to knitting. I've started some more socks, these for my young artist. I'm trying two at one time, toe-up as my sock sensei has suggested. More on these as they progress!

I've finished my bag-o-bags. I knitted strips of plastic grocery bags on size 17 needles. I'm going to make some kind of straps - any suggestions? Seems to me like plastic would be unstable, stretchy and sticky. Maybe some scrap fabric I have laying around. Nothing will be purchased to make this bag!

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Socks in progress! I'm using Yarmando's pattern for the Mash-Up socks. They are toe-up - a first for me - and I'm doing them with the magic loop method, as you can see by the SIP. I'm also making the instep and cuff parts a little bit lacy with a pattern called Anastasia Socks, but I can't find a proper link at this point. I know I got it off the internet, but the link on the pattern doesn't work this evening. I got the yarn at Knitter's Connection, and I am enjoying working with it. It's from Yarn Love, in Fuschia and Spring Morning.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I finished my shawl! I had started making a neck scarf with this beautiful Lorna's Laces, sport weight yarn a while ago. I so thoroughly enjoyed knitting with it and I love the colors so much (called "Child's Play") that I asked the LYS to order me more so I could make this into a shawl. They did . . . I did . . . yay!

Upon consulting with the KnitWits yesterday morning (and with great deliberation for the last few days) I decided to bind off with a picot edge, and then decided to pick up stitches on the other 2 sides and picot those. Ah! I'm so glad I did - it looks fantastic!

Friday, July 20, 2007


A few weeks ago I felt an inexplicable craving for sweet rolls. Now, we go to a shopping center quite often that has a Cinnabun shop. All through the place you can smell that delicious cinnamon/butter smell. It always makes my mouth water, but we never buy any. They are delicious, don't get me wrong, but they're not homemade sweet rolls . . . the taste may be extraordinary . . . but for me, a key component of having homemade sweet rolls is the visceral experience of making them. I love working with yeast, watching the dough change it's properties while you knead it, let it rise, punch it down, let it rise, roll it out, form it up, let it rise again, and bake it. I love making sweet rolls, and usually I only make them once a year . . . at Christmas. But this time, I knew I had to make them for my book group potluck, which is tomorrow. When I was a kid we used to go to big family picnics several times each Summer, and someone would always bring sweet rolls (store bought, but as they were from great bakeries, they were very good), slathered in icing and butter.

So this morning I got out my favorite bowl, my favorite spoon, and let the ingredients all come to room temperature (just like my home ec. teacher taught me). It struck me, then, how very sensual and marvelous this whole process is for me. It's ritualistic, almost like some pagan right of nature. The perfect handmade stoneware bowl . . . the well-loved wooden spoon (oh, how many batches of brownies and cookies and sweet rolls it has made with me), the old pyrex measuring cup (inherited from my Grandma's collection when she passed away), and the recipe card, written out in by my mother in her perfect teacher's script. Then there are the ingredients themselves: yeast moistening in warm water, eggs rolling around on the counter, my luke-warm milk in the glass container, and of course, real butter (never used for anything other than cooking very special baked goods in this, The House of Heart Disease). At this beginning point, it is all about anticipation.

Then I mix - I put in all the ingredients, mixing them slowly together in the bowl at first. As the flour is added, I have to mix more strenuously, putting real muscle into the process as the dough becomes sticky and unyielding.

There is always a point in the process when I must move the dough to the counter, and when I think to myself "Oh, yes, this is why I don't do this very often." The dough is sticky and messy, I put my wedding ring into my pocket and start pushing and mixing the last of the flour in, on the counter. It is so messy that I nearly always falter, I think I may never get to the smoothness that I long to find.

But then, sweet bliss! The dough starts to take on that new quality of smoothness. It becomes elastic and firm at the same time. There is nothing that feels like this kind of dough at this point. It is beautiful - that transition into real dough. Soft, just a bit sticky, but not sticky enough to stay on your hands. This is when I fall in love with the baking again, and I love kneading this, my dear friend, the dough. But soon I realize that if I keep on kneading, it would make the dough too tough and chewy, and I must gather it into a smooth ball and place it aside to rise.

I put a thin layer of oil (today I used softened margarine) all over the inside of my perfect, beautiful bowl, and slather a thin layer all over my ball of dough so it won't stick or crust in the rising. Then it gets covered in my clean linen towel (another beautiful item that inspires me) and placed on in a warm spot. Now I am free for a few hours, knowing that soon, soon I will get to punch all the bubbles out. As the day goes by I'll let it rise another time before forming it into the delicious rolls.