Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Yeah, that would be me. Because, uh, I was lame last night and didn't bake anything (I did invent some kind of pasta dish for dinner. It was very underwhelming. You know, what I really want is a cooking class that teaches me about the basic properties of certain foods and spices and common food preparation mechanisms. Like how to make a cream sauce, or with which foods does thyme go well. Then you can riff off of that and make up your own stuff. My little improvisations rarely turn out well. I feel far too tied to recipes).

ANYWAY. By the time said sad pasta was finished it was 9:30 pm and I was tired and I didn't have the ingredients or the cool googly eyes or anything. I forgot I didn't even have the sour cream required for the banana-cocoa loaf. I need to get better at this preparation thing.

Halloween, while it might partially be about toddlers in cute bug suits (the most adorable little furry chicken came by yesterday during the office trick-or-treat. So. Cute.), is heavy on the food emphasis. And in general, SUGAR.
K and I were reminiscing last night about how when we were kids we both used to lay out and organize all our Halloween candy from favorite to meh, so we could figure out just what to greedily consume first.

So let's make this a CONTEST. Woot woot!
Leave a comment telling me your favorite kind of Halloween candy and/or your least favorite. I've got some Opal self-striping sock yarn burning a hole in my pocket. From all the people who leave comments I'll ask Mr. Random Number Generator to pick one. I'll keep taking names until Saturday midnight, Pacific time, ok?

Happy Halloween and watch out for those kitty litter cakes (mmmmmm yum!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Creep out the Coworkers

So my place of employment is having their annual Halloween party tomorrow, and this year they're being cheap breaking with tradition and having a potluck (they'll provide some 'appetizers'. You know how these food contests can go) There's a prize for the scariest food.

I was thinking of doing this chocolate banana bread that I have never tried, but it's not very scary, just probably brown. Maybe I should get more ambitious. You all have any good ideas?

From some quick googling, my favorites:

Crawly Cakes from NotMartha. These are awesome but maybe more work than I am willing to do.

These Hairy Daddy Longlegs cupcakes are similar but look like less work (and don't involve twinkies, always a plus).

I think these are my favorite so far: Monster Toes. Awesome! But, cocktail sausages? Ewwww. Also, the vegetarians will be unhappy.

These vampire cupcakes that K mentioned to me were what got me started. Might be a winner.

Other Halloween food awesomeness:
Man, I feel so uncreative. Tentacles out of Laffy Taffy, now THAT is the mother of invention.

Monday, October 29, 2007


All today, just one thought on my mind:


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Goddess of Domesticity called and she'd like her canning jars back

It's been kind of a down and out, nothing happening week (except last weekend! But I don't have pictures yet), so I thought I'd show you some glamour shots of what I did a couple weeks ago:

Canned my own frickin' peaches, baby!

I know, I know. It's not much of an achievement. Still, I feel like some kind of domestic superhero. Super power: Preserving My Own Food. Oh yeah.

Here's my setup. Why yes, that's a gas stove next to the refrigerator. Nice arrangement, eh? Crack monkeys designed my kitchen.

I didn't do very many because this was kind of an experiment. I get all teary and buy too many peaches (or raspberries, or blueberries, etc.) at the end of the season, because it's a long 320 days until the next peaches arrive. There was no way I was going to be able to eat all those peaches before they went bad, so I thought I'd try this. You can see that I sort of sucked at filling the jars at first but I got better by the end. The peaches in the beginning jars are defying gravity, they've got so many bubbles in them.

It was really easy, just a bit awkward. I've canned jam before but this was my first foray into fruit. I feel slightly embarrassed because my grandmother & mother have canned food for years and years, and I shouldn't be feeling this ego boost over 4 measly bottles.

But they all sealed! And mmm will they taste good in January.

Friday, October 19, 2007

One side will make you grow shorter, and one side will make you grow taller

I went to see Crazy Aunt Purl last night (and traffic didn't even suck. Quel miracle!). She was great, I really enjoyed her reading and the questions and meeting her in person. She's terrifically funny and I wish I could be even half so engaging. It's inspiring to see her so triumphant and vibrant after all the crap of the last few years (I admit to having read CAP for a while now. She was one of the first blogs I ever started following). Anyway, all kinds of warm squishiness (in a good way).

Adrienne, I love you, because you said I 'needed a tiara day' and YES THAT IS IT EXACTLY. Emotionally I feel like I've been stuck in a hole, a nasty one with quicksand at the bottom that is slowly sucking me down, and honestly I haven't been dealing well. It may well be time for some pharmaceuticals. But then K did something extraordinarily wonderful for me this morning and I feel about a million times better. YES! And it's Friday and There Is Going to Be Some Dyeing this weekend. And pie. oh yes.

Meanwhile, in a crude segue to something completely unrelated:

I spied these on the way to work yesterday. How did I not see these before? They came out of nowhere!

How awesome are these, bright orange mushrooms! They're just growing in the dirt by the side of the road. And they're enormous!

I must be a weirdo, when funky 70s orange toadstools make me happy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

cat on a...roof

It was an anger morning, you know the ones where you wake up resentful? Even my favorite cereal did not dissolve the irritation, and I REALLY DID NOT WANT TO EXERCISE this morning. I have to though, it's like a job, the calorie bills don't pay themselves, gotta bring home the paycheck. So I was angry at the elliptical trainer and the water bottle and I pushed myself harder than usual. Did I mention it was dark and cold and wet this morning as well? BAH.

But then I got embarassed and mad at myself (angry at being angry. How do I manage that?) So screw it, today I am a ROCK STAR.
Today I will rock the rest of my outstanding work tasks. And tonight I'm going to see Crazy Aunt Purl out at the Beaverton Powells (ugh) (I say ugh because it's going to be a pain and a half to get there. Really bad traffic that direction at rush hour). And maybe she will say porn! a lot, inappropriately, and we will all laugh.

Anyway. Gotta get back to rockin'. I leave you with:

What's that on the garage roof?

Look closer:

It's Big Fluffy, the neighborhood bully cat.

Big Fluffy likes to creep into our house and eat Frances' food and sneak into the basement and hang out there. Big Fluffy howls at all the other neighborhood cats, but he's really just a big softy. And he is ENORMOUS and has ENORMOUS HAIR. Did I also mention he's polydactyl, as well?

Big Fluffy, king of all he surveys.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Embracing the Autumn

Random post with random pictures. My brain is full up with weekend. It was a good one (mostly).

I was all set to post a bunch this weekend and then a friggin' miracle happened and there was SUNSHINE and WARMTH this weekend. After a couple weeks of rain, cold, blah, the weather did some kind of weekend wonder and turned all lovely, and I freely admit I wasn't much interested in sitting inside with the computer.
The purple coneflower is holding its own, still.

One of the local plant nurseries has an apple festival every year, so we always go hit that up for some of my favorite pie apples, Mutsu apples. I discovered them 3 years ago the first time we went to the apple festival.

They're OK to eat, but they make the most fantastic pie ever. (Of course, that's to my taste: I'm not a huge fan of tart-tart-tart apple pies. I like a sweet-tart mix. Your Mileage May Vary. The Mutsus have got this ethereal spiciness to them and they stay firm after cooking. Winner!) The nursery brings in about 40-50 different apple varieties, plus pears and asian pears, and lets you try a little sample of each. They also have most of the varieties for sale for 79 cents/pound. This is kind of my own official beginning of eating-apples season (I've been eating pears for a couple weeks now, my very favorite variety of all time: Cascade. They are probably the ugliest pears ever, all bulgy and lumpy, but they're SO TASTY. And they don't go all soft and mealy like Bartletts do sometimes. YUM).
The Japanese maples are gorgeous this time of year.

So we are PREPARED for apple pie now. I also scored some unfiltered apple cider (maybe more on this later. It means a lot to me personally). Although tonight we had onion soup and I didn't feel up to an additional apple pie, so maybe tomorrow on the pie. The soup worked out pretty well (1st time on this particular recipe). It involves a crapload of onions (seriously, they filled a huge bowl once they were chopped), cooked for an hour until they are goo, then cooked some more with broth.

As for gorgeous, so are the Silvervein Creeper vines (or it might be Boston Ivy, I'm no good at telling the difference. I just know it turns bright crimson about now). I wish I could get that true red color in a picture.

Anyway. This is the MITYN (more information than you needed) part of the post: I had kind of an unexpected incident with my eye today. First, my eyes are not that great. They kind of have minds of their own when they come to focus distance (I'm nearsighted), and they keep getting worse, almost every year. But I do actually treasure my eyesight and when some weird thing happens with my eye and I call the 24-hour nurse line and they sound very, uh, WORRIED about it all and tell me to hit up the urgent care center, I got a bit nervous. Worse than nervous, I had a little breakdown.

Thank goodness for K, he was wonderful and drove me to urgent care, where I proceeded to wait an hour while my symptoms abated. I spent maybe 3 minutes with the doctor after all that time, which distilled to: wait and see. Sigh. I'm actually more relieved than put out, because when WEIRD THINGS HAPPEN WITH YOUR EYE I get very... nervous. But dammit I want my 2 hours of sunny Sunday back. This evening has been a long long stint of no-focus time, as the 24-hour nurse line recommended I take out my contacts (an excellent idea) and I am lame and have yet to update my backup glasses to my latest prescription, and so they give me headaches. That's OK, you can still cook onion soup without being able to make out details. It's amazing how the human eye, even though vague blurry outlines of things, can still detect movement.

I DID get another repeat on the Arabesque stole done, in that hour of waiting-for-ugent-care. Thank goodness I could still knit even though my hands were shaking. But I didn't work on what I really need to work on, which is Sport, from Rowan Pipsqueaks.

This is the pretty pattern picture for Sport, plus the yarn I'm using. Spanish Red, that's the name of that color of cotton. Mmmm, red.
Sport, from Rowan Pipsqueaks by Kim Hargreaves.

I decided by fiat that knitting front & back separately on a ribbed piece wasn't something I was interested in, so I just knit it in the round from the bottom up, dividing front and back when I hit the armholes.

I had some confusion around the back neckline but I figured that out and now it matches the front nicely. And... I am at a dilemma point.

The number of stitches at the top of the sleeve, as written, isn't going to be big enough for the armhole. I did knit it exactly to spec, but I guess my row gauge must be off, because it's not going to be big enough. Or at least I don't think that it's going to be, based on my stitch gauge (spot on the pattern) and the number of stitches expected.

The Zulu Cape Daisies have been pretty spectacular and long lasting this year. I'm definitely growing these from seed again next year.

I'm considering whether I should knit the arm separately, or should I pick up the stitches and knit down from the armhole. It's a square set in sleeve, so not really all that hard to match. Maybe the pattern MEANS you to stretch the sleeve, so purposefully called for fewer stitches at the top of the arm. The yarn is a DK-weight cotton, so I'm worried that if I pick up the stitches, I will get a droopy arm. Also, this is for a 2-year-old, who could maybe use the extra firmness of a backstitch-stitched-sleeve.

Do you have any comments? Recommendations? I have got to finish this soon, it's already cotton-sweater weather. Any suggestions would be vastly appreciated. Meanwhile the lace scarf in my head keeps bubbling around.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Hey look, is that YARN over there!?

Jamieson's Shetland Heather in color 239 - 'Purple Heather'

Soft and squishy and gorgeous, and it'll probably itch like nobody's business. It's a lovely wine-colored heather, with green and orange and bright purple bits in it. Sorry, the cellphone takes crappy pictures. It is crying out (CRYING!) to be something cabled. There's only 2 balls, so probly a cabled hat. Mmmm, cables.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Irritated and envious

Two particular emotions that show me off as mean, nitpicking, niggling, and pathetic. But maybe I'll just call it Truth-In-Words Tuesday. So now you are forewarned, this post will be about nasty mean little things.

  1. I really love seeing the pictures at Yarnstorm. I think she's a gorgeous photographer and I enjoy her color sense. However, the nasty irritated part of me thinks, how the CRAP does she manage to bake all those cakes and cookies and yet remain thin and svelte? The logical part of my head answers, maybe she exercises for hours every day. Maybe she won the genetic lottery. Maybe both. Logic does not stop me from being envious. I haven't baked cookies in years. Do you KNOW what fat and sugar does to me?

    I am so tired of guilt over every bit of chocolate.

  2. morning shows. I'm really truly sorry and don't mean any insult to you if you like these, but they are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I cannot stand the fatuous, smug hosts imparting "news". I have to always remember to bring the ipod to the gym with me on weekdays, so I can drown them out.

  3. This morning I forgot the ipod. Someone was watching. They were giving tips on losing weight (they love tips. Lots of tips). Commercial break came and they cut straight to a commercial for Denny's.

  4. They were also interviewing someone who had been on the reality tv show "The Biggest Loser." I find the name of that show offensive, and I refused to join a particular gym because they were running a promotion based on that show. (Ha ha, biggest "loser", we all know what that means. Turn all the fat losers into winners.)

    She'd lost 70 pounds. I wanted to cheer out loud.

  5. K is back again from a short trip. This one is a good thing and makes me happy.

  6. We have to get the stupid ceilings tested for asbestos.

  7. I am putting this off. The abatement will be costly and disruptive, if required.

  8. I REALLY should not be putting this off.

  9. it's holding up a slew of other things I want to do, including
    a) ripping up the nasty old carpet
    b) cleaning the floors
    c) rearranging the furniture
    d) buying a Dawn Clock (I have no where to put it right now. The bed is shoved up against the wall). I have a real mean time trying to get up in darkness. I thought maybe this would help. It's kind of pricey for a "maybe", but the regular alarm clock has never done it for me.

  10. I have this pattern idea in my head but it's not coming out. It's impossible in current form given the limitations of knitted material (e.g. will not lie flat.) I need to swatch. A lot. I also need to finish some damn things.

  11. No more peaches this year. Sigh.

  12. I'm sort of unwilling to re-enter apple & banana land. Pears are o.k. I like apples and bananas but I overdosed or something last winter. 8 months of apples and bananas. bah. I guess I could mix things up with some grapes.

See? boring, pedestrian, mean and insignificant. No knitting content at all. Not even some sewing to mitigate the tedium. Grump.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Canadians out there. I'm thankful for all of you.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Monkeys: Pretty in Pink

Oh, I did have more finished things! I know you all have been waiting with BATED BREATH. Why yes, my sense of importance in the world is completely off right now. I feel GREAT today. WOOO! Have a fantastic weekend everyone!


Pattern: Monkey, by Cookie A, as published in Knitty. Worked cuff-down.

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Mediumweight in colorway Fru-Fru. 380 yards/5.5 oz, superwash merino wool (although I will probably handwash them; other people have reported that they sometimes felt up)
It was given to me by the lovely, talented, and generous Ms. Zoe (go look at her gorgeous red sweater!) Thank you Karen!!
I used almost an entire skein for my women's size 11 feet.

Needles: Lantern Moon 2.5 mm/US 1 DPNs (yo, I knit loosely, peeps)

Gauge: about 7 stitches/inch. I'll have to go measure my row gauge.

About the pattern:
Yeah I know, these are the knitting flavor of the month, but for good reason. The pattern is fun, quick, easy, and easily memorizable. The big repeat makes matching the sock lengths effortless. I'm not generally a fan of hole-ey socks (just say no to the yarnovers) but these yarnovers are unobtrusive and kinda cute.

Each repeat adds another inch or so to the height. It's easy to length or shorten the foot in smaller increments though, just start the toe a bit early and work some plain stockinette rows. The pattern is also flexible enough that you can stop at any one of 3 of the last rows and the pattern will still appear coherent.

I worked cuff-down and kept the ribbed top. I've got muscled calves and the ribbing helps keep 'em up (As an aside: I love my calves. They're big and strong and well-proportioned and as K complimented, "they're calves that show that person works out in the gym 6 days a week." Hell yeah!)

Changes to the pattern: I worked a typical slip-stitch heel (row 1: slip, (K, slip) repeat, row 2: slip, purl to end) instead of the plain stockinette the pattern uses. I need the reinforcement. I also have narrow heels (but wide feet. lovely) and the slip stitch pattern helps make that heel flap narrower.

About the yarn:
Soft, sproingy, fabulous to work with. I really like knitting with this stuff. It's very comfortable to wear as well.

I used up almost an entire skein. I had a little game of Chicken going with these socks. I've NEVER cut it so close before. I had a backup skein, so of course I made it. You want to see how much yarn I had left after I cast off?
About 4 feet.

Some people find the pooling insufferable, but I think it's kind of charming. I like how when I stand with my feet together, it looks like one sock is pooling into the next. Where could I buy a pair of socks that looked like this? NOWHERE.

About the needles:
My trusty wooden DPNs. I broke one of these trying on the too-small Pomatomuses so I subbed in a bamboo one. I just like DPNs. They were really really awkward for the first couple inches on the first sock I ever did, then they grew on me. Don't be a hater.

These were my commuter knitting for a bit. One day a woman sat next to me and expressed how much she liked the colors of the yarn and started asking sock questions. She was also a knitter but hadn't ever attempted anything circular. I gave her my usual "it looks complicated, but it's not, but it IS awkward at first" spiel.
She expressed trepidation that the stitches might fall off the needles, so I pulled out one of the DPNs out of a couple of stitches and she gasped. I demonstrated that even if I tugged at it the most they dropped was a couple rows and they were easy to pick back up and do again.

She asked me, "but doesn't the yarn get dirty, knitting it on the train like this?" I replied that I'm intending to wear these on my FEET when I'm finished, and give them a good wash anyway.

She was so excited when I had to leave that she said she was going to try a hat, knit circularly. Win! Another one pointed toward the sock-knitting fold!

Pink Monkeys in the Daylily Jungle

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I know, I know. I don't even have a Ravelry invite sucking me away. No excuses.

I'm at the "I'm bored with this project and when will it be done?" point on the ribbed toddler jacket. People, it's just a BABY SWEATER and yet I am bored. This doesn't bode well for knitting an entire adult sweater, which (Admission time), I have never done. OK, it's in cotton. Maybe not so pleasant to knit. Maybe leaves my hands aching if I go for too long. But still.

I am done with the back and 7/8 of the fronts, with the sleeves still to go.

Meanwhile, I am a teeny bit obsessed with this yarn right now:

Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK in Scarlet (courtesy of the cell phone's camera)

Here it is, hanging out with my office mascot. Yes, I brought a skein of yarn to work with me, and occasionally pick it up and squeeeze it. I KNOW. Three days until the weekend.