Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

With the celebration of the Resurrection comes the celebration of spring.

Here, on the newly green grass, is the first finished project of spring, the Tidal Wave Socks:

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They are quite springy looking.  I tried a picture using them as leaves in a tree, but the pattern didn’t show up well enough.  The pattern is the Tidal Waves Socks, available through Ravelry.  The yarn is Fleece Artist that I bought several years ago.

I have moved on to another UFO.  This time, I found some really nice Claudia Handpainted yarn that I had begun twice.  I had two partially finished first socks in different patterns.  Looking at them, I didn’t like either pattern.  The yarn and the patterns fought and neither showed to advantage.  I frogged both just before lunch today, and I’m beginning again.

My hubby is having some surgery tomorrow—basal cell skin cancer.  It’s not really serious, but it will involve time because they will be testing between steps to see what else they need to do.  I decided I definitely need knitting for the waiting.  Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Thursday Excitement

First of all, any day that includes turning a heel has a little bit of thrill in it.  I keep promising myself I will learn the toe up technique for knitting socks, but I get such a thrill out of the heel turn that I hate to give it up.  Isn’t that kind of silly?

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Yesterday was also a mostly spring-like day.  The early breeze was a little chilly, but compared to the day before, it was balmy.  By afternoon, things were great.

The new trees, planted in the late fall, are showing their first blooms, proving that they made it through a rather hard winter.  (My son pointed out that I also got a great shot of the construction workers privy.)

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And, the porch rockers arrived.  These are plastic, but they are like one my daughter has that is very comfortable and quite sturdy.  I wanted a dark color because I thought white would be too much contrast for our house and porch.  I do plan to make a couple of inexpensive throw pillows that can be replaced if they are damaged or become stolen.  These were that sort of slide-together design that is used on much of the preschool play equipment.  The first one went together easily, which is surprising because it did not include instructions.  I slid it together myself.  The second one, however, required both my husband and I pounding it up and down on the floor to get the bits to slide into place.  They are, however, just as comfy as I hoped, and I think they will look fine even though they are a little more modern in design than I would have liked.  My heart visualizes the kind of wicker my grandmother had when I was a very little girl, but I don’t want to deal with the maintenance or the expense.  In the picture, you can see the flowerbeds that are ready for spring.  We are still having hard freezes at night, so I’m determined not to plant until after April 15.

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Our back patio has a nice set of table and chairs that we brought with us and a chiminea that our son gave us for Christmas.  With shade on the east and west, we should be all set to follow the sun or shade to have some outdoor time.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

More than One Kind of Yarn

I failed to photograph the lovely yarn bowl my daughter’s family gave me last year.  It works beautifully.  When we moved, I carefully packed it in the middle of a tote of yarn, but I have not used it since moving because I had to go through stash to find the right tote.  I realize the green yarn in the photo and the Grandma cup from the other granddaughter make this look like some weird seaweed meal.

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Now for the other kind of “yarn.”  In, I think, 2007 because it was after I learned to knit socks and before I got on Ravelry, I began a pair of socks.  If I remember correctly, I was just learning magic loop and this was also one of my first projects using a chart.  I struggled a little.  I am not usually prone to second sock syndrome, but something interrupted progress, and I stuffed the yarn and the completed first sock, which is Fleece Artist, into a drawer and forgot about it.  I found them again when I packed for the move and dumped them into a tote.  Unfortunately, I had no record of what the pattern was.  I am in need of new handknit socks because some of my others are getting really worn out.  Yesterday I came across what could become a pair by only knitting one sock.  I stared at the completed sock, decided the pattern reminded me of some of the socks by Sockbug, and searched on Ravelry and the internet.  No luck.  I finally gave up, printed up another pattern that I like, and decided to knit a second sock and then frog and reknit number one.

However, before settling in for a warm knit, I remembered that we had not gotten the mail in the last two days because all the construction vehicles were parked along the street.  I was not even sure the mailman would have delivered if he had to get out of his vehicle to get to our curbside mailbox.  It was cold and windy and dusty, and I was jumpy after all the heavy equipment vibration from the machine that was packing the earth for the construction next door, so I took the lazy way to checking the mail-- getting in the car in the nice warm garage and driving around the block and pulling up at the mailbox.  With the gusty north wind, it was still a chore getting the mail without losing any of it.  I then drove on around the block to turn in at the alley entrance.  Just as I reached the corner, the word “wave” popped into my head.  I immediately realized it had something to do with those socks.  I ran back inside, searched for “wave socks” on Ravelry, and there it was—the pattern for the Tidal Wave Socks, originally designed for Tofutsie.  The picture confirmed that the pattern was correct.  Isn’t it funny how your brain can pull out the answer when you quit thinking about it?

And, yes, I realize that I could have studied the original sock and probably have deciphered such a basic pattern, but I am in the mood for some easy knitting right now.  I did some television watching, and finished the ribbing and two repetitions of the pattern.  My chart reading is much better than it was, so the pattern was memorized, and I was reading the knitting in nothing flat this time around.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The View

from the dining room window.  The vibration is intense.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

And the result is. . . .

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Eleven cups of chicken, which will cool overnight in the refrigerator and then be frozen tomorrow, except for the red container, which will go into homemade chicken and dumplings.  I am also cooling some very nice-looking chicken stock in order to skim off the fat before using it for the dumplings.  I package the chicken in 1-cup containers because that makes it easier to use for recipe purposes.  As a matter of fact, that’s enough to make chicken salad lunch for us or to use in other recipes for the two of us. (I also try to insist on buying my ground beef and stew meat in exact 1 lb. packages for the same reason.  It bugs my husband, since I am not usually the picky type.)

Now for my evaluation of the cooking instructions--

  • The flavor is really good—not so strong as to be unusable in anything I might want to make from it, but not totally bland and tasteless.
  • The cooking time was vague—6-9 hours.  Because I had such a full cooker, I decided to split the difference at 7.5.  Then I turned off the cooker and let it cool down for awhile before spooning the chicken into a flat pyrex pan to debone it.  It was still plenty hot to be safe.  That was too long to cook it.  This chicken is extremely fall-apart tender.  If I use it in a casserole that bakes in the oven, I am afraid it will shred up completely.  Next time, I’ll stop at 6 hours.  I’m sure the time varies from cooker to cooker.  This chicken was very cold when I put it in, but it was not frozen.

Trying Something New

Yesterday I bought 12 lbs. of chicken thighs on sale for $10.10.  While I eat white meat if I’m just eating plain chicken, I like to use the thigh meat in recipes, and I like to buy big packs when they are on sale, cook them up, and then portion and freeze the meat to use in recipes.  The other bonus is that thighs are ridiculously easy to debone.

However, I was not in the mood to do this on the stovetop, so I thought of my Crockpot and did some online research.  I found this site, which gives some recipes and, most importantly, information for doing exactly what I want to do, along with information on a general seasoning to make the chicken less bland but still usable in a variety of ways.  I mixed up some of the seasoning, skinned the breasts, put my liquid in the bottom of the pot, and layered the meat, sprinkling with the seasoning mix between each layer.  They should be ready about 4 or 4:30 this afternoon, and I won’t be having to keep an eye on simmering chicken to avoid a boil over.  I used some Swanson’s vegetable broth for the liquid because I had a little bit in the fridge from another recipe. 

I’ll let you know how this works out!

I was also feeling well enough last night to knit a little bit.  That is a relief. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pictures Not Included

because I’m always afraid of violating a Disney copyright, but I went to the theatre yesterday, at 9 in the morning. My daughter and granddaughters included me when they went to the school production of the new Amarillo Little Theatre Academy show, "Disney's The Little Mermaid, Jr."  They went as homeschoolers, and I used one of the parent tickets because Dad couldn't go.  The musical was very well done, particularly for a first performance involving 60 young people from 5 up.  The singing was great, and the costuming was wonderful.  This was one of the initial productions of the show that Disney recently released.  I'm not sure how much of the creativity was specified in the show itself and how much was due to the local direction, but the show was a visual treat in set and costuming.  I thought the use of 'heelies" to glide all the major sea creatures around the stage was a particularly nice touch.  The scene changes, which were not totally dark, were choreographed as nicely as the dance numbers.  In fact, most of them used the dancers silhouetted against a dimly lighted backdrop.

We happened to be sitting at the end of a group of schoolchildren from one of the more socioeconomically deprived areas of town.  It was wonderful to see their reactions as well as those of my granddaughters.  In addition, of course, the minor sea creatures—tiny children as jellyfish, using transparent umbrellas as costumes, little girl flamingoes, etc.—added  “awwww” moments. 

May I add that as a retired teacher, I would just as soon attend a play with this kind of audience as with dressed up more sophisticated adults.  It also helps to attend a play with a student audience and not be responsible for any of them, of course!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

As Martha would say, “It’s a good thing.”

Since we moved into the new house, I had been looking for a shower caddy for the big shower.  I looked on all the usual on-line places, compared a number of ones featured on the Apartment Therapy web site, and I still couldn’t find what I wanted.  This time, I did not want one of the ones that stands in the corner with a tension pole.  I think those are hard to clean.  The ones that were shown hanging on the shower arm did not look as if they would accommodate the hanging hose on the personal shower head that we have.  Then I accidentally stumbled across this:

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The top two holders will hold the bottles either right side up or upside down.  The lower two would hold shorter bottles right side up.  The bottom shelves serve as soap dishes.  There are hooks for hanging scrubbers on each side, and razors hang neatly through the bars on the soap dish.  There is also a little rubber fitting that fits over the shower arm to keep it from sliding down.  As you can see in the picture, the design allows room for the shower hose to hang down quite nicely.  The holder is manufactured by Grayline.  It appears to be coated steel, and I know from using some of Grayline’s kitchen products that the finish should be quite durable.  I found it by accident from Miles Kimball.  I’ve been using it for about 3 weeks, and I’m quite pleased with it. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Finds!

Some unsorted items got moved to this house from the old house before I culled them.  Yesterday and today, I found some treasures!

A Barbie swimsuit—I have one of the first year Barbies, with the box, stand, etc.  However, I couldn’t find the original swimsuit, a knit black-and-white striped one-piece.  It was tucked under the edge of the shelf paper in a drawer.  Now, we can be original again.

Knitting Needles—My modest collection of straights, from my high school and college days.

A shawl—I knitted this in the early acrylic period.  My mother, who taught me to sew and do other things, never encouraged my knitting.  She was a crocheter, who knitted under the duress of World War II and quit as soon as she could.  She really complained about this shawl when I made it.  I’m surprised that it was tucked away in some of her things.  It is still in perfect condition although the fringe is a little rumpled. I think I knitted it in the early ‘70s and never had the courage to wear it after she criticized it so much. 

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I need to take a lesson from this and remember that critical words can last a long, long time. . . .

Saturday, March 09, 2013

A Miscellaneous Sort of Day

Yesterday, I received an email:

Grandma can you make a sweater
for lucy my baby doll and my
amaracin doll olivia?

This message came from my barely 6-year-old granddaughter, who is just now learning “official” keyboarding skills.  Not bad for a kindergarten girl. 

Who could resist this kind of request?  I hunted up a top down cardigan pattern on Ravelry and grabbed some stash that I had not yet put away and cast on immediately.  This morning, with the aid of a couple of episodes of The Rockford Files, I finished.  There was no gauge listed for the pattern, so I guessed at altering the needles size in my usual way.  It seems like the fabric came out rather firm, but if it is too small for Olivia, it should fit Lucy, so it should still work out. 

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One change I would make is to knit the sleeves in the round.  I could have magic looped them.  It would be better for doll dressing purposes not to have weak spots.  Since I’m reasonably sure that I will be making a few more of these—there are the other two granddaughters as well—I will make that modification.  I also want to experiment with different closures. 

My big chore for this afternoon is installing Command hooks in the closet in the craft room to hold my knitting bags.  Right now, it’s the best idea I can come up with, and they will be easy to change if I come up with something better.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Miscellaneous Updates

I haven’t posted because I’ve been intermittently under the weather.  Of course, this was complicated by the fact that I did not have a doctor here, at least not of the general type.  That situation has been remedied, and not only is she exploring with the aid of some tests what is going on with me, she has also propelled me fully into a preventative “catchup” of immunizations, new specialists to replace retired ones, and some of those tests that those of “a certain age” are supposed to have.  I’m going to have a busy few weeks.

Knitting—I have completed the unfinished square of the mitred crosses blanket and knitted two more.  I know some people find this pattern absolutely fascinating.  I don’t.  I like the completed squares and will like the completed blanket, but the knitting just doesn’t do it for me.  I’ve also knitted another hat.  Actually, I knitted it, did the finishing, and then discovered that I had dropped two stitches in the shaping section.  I ripped back and reknit.  Here are a couple of pictures of the hat as it is blocking:

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The first shows my blocking attempt over a bowl.  The hat ribbing is under the bottom edge so that it won’t be stretched too much.  The second is a detail shot of the pattern.  The pattern is the Foliage Hat, free on Ravelry.  This is the second hat that I have knitted recently by this same designer.  Both patterns have been beautifully written and include both written instructions and charts.  The yarn above is KnitPicks Swish DK; the color is actually more of a charcoal gray. 

I still haven’t finished all of my craft room, but I’m getting there.  Not feeling well has cramped my plans some.

We had quite a blizzard here.  Although I looked outside a lot, we stayed in, warm and cozy.  Since then, we’ve had a couple of near-60 days, and now we’re back to early spring wind.

Looking outside my dining room window, I can see the work going on on the house on the corner.  Today, they are grading for the pad, using some sort of laser or electronic or GPS device. 

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Looking out this window right now, we can see for a mile or so.  When the two remaining houses are built, we will have a view of a wall or fence.  That will take some getting used to.  However, I do have plans for a birdfeeder setup so that we will have activity to watch outside our window.  This town is a good place for birds.  I hope the lack of big trees in this neighborhood won’t hurt us too much in that regard, and it will certainly discourage the squirrels that cause mischief.  Of course, being this close to open country means that we have to be snake-conscious.  My son and a friend put down fabric and mulch in the front flower beds a couple of weeks ago.  The granddaughters are going to pick the flowers, which will probably be planted mid-April, just to be safe from freezes. 

I’m going to plug up to an audio book and try to do a little more work in my craft room today.  Peace!