Friday, April 30, 2010

If I Took A Self-Portrait

This is what it would look like.

Sometimes Mother Nature blows. Literally.

So, how's the weather in your neck of the woods?  Maybe I'll fly by and check it out.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 2010

Today was Earth Day and next week (April 30) is Arbor Day, so it was the perfect time the plant a tree in our yard.

One of our maple trees (I'm not sure if it's a Red Maple or a Crimson King Maple) throws off an incredible amount of seedlings all over our yard and normally they either die off or they get mowed over before they even have a chance to grow.  However, last year being the year that we paid absolutely no attention whatsoever to our yard, a couple of the seedlings not only took root, but flourished.  The largest grew over five feet and had established a nice straight trunk.

We have a couple of trees that have died and will need to come down, so we decided to take Mother Maple's gift to us and try to nurture those trees into adulthood.  

And just because there's nothing better than drinking water straight out of the hose, I'll share this too.

Give Yourself a Swirly

A Swirly Scarf, that is.

If you are under the age of 16, a swirly probably has a completely different meaning.  As a matter of fact, if you are under the age of 16, you probably shouldn't be here. This blog isn't entirely appropriate for children.

In this case, however, if you are an adult and more importantly a knitter, then you can give yourself - or someone you love - a Swirly and I promise that you will like it.


This is my version of the popular ruffled scarf, sometimes called a potato chip scarf.  I'm not sure why it has that name, but it may have to do with not being able to stop at one.

This one is a little different than most patterns because you are only working with 20 stitches at most rather than miles and miles of stitches.

You can make it from almost any weight and with any size needles.  I think it looks especially lovely when it is made from a yarn with a long color repeat, but it's also beautiful with a solid or even a yarn with short color repeats.

The pictured scarf is made with Crazy Zauberball by Schoppel-Wolle.  I used the purple and blue colorway, but I'm making another one in gray and red.

The pattern is easy.  If you have knit short rows before, then it will make total sense to you.  If you haven't knit short rows, just trust the pattern.  When it says "knit 8" then just knit 8 and turn your work and proceed to the next row.  You are only going all the way across every 7th row.  

Swirly Scarf

Set up:
Cast on 20 stitches
Knit 1 row

Work the following:
Row 1: K8, turn
Row 2: K8, turn
Row 3: K6, turn
Row 4: K6, turn
Row 5: K4, turn
Row 6: K4 turn
Row 7: K20

Repeat Rows 1 through 7 until the scarf is the desired length and then bind off.

You can use pretty much any weight of yarn and any size needles.  I used a size 4 with the fingering/sock weight yarn.  I'm currently working on another scarf that will be more of an outwear weight made with a thick worsted and I am using a size 11 needle.

Don't worry when it doesn't start to curl right away - it takes several inches before it starts to swirl and twirl.

I loved knitting this because you are never working with more than 20 stitches, usually no more than 8, it's all knitting, and it makes a very dramatic piece that starts a lot of conversations if you are KIP (knitting in public).

So give yourself a Swirly.  Give your best friend a Swirly.  

You could even give your childrens' teachers a Swirly.  But if you get a detention, don't blame me.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In the Dark

The remodeling project has resumed.  Thank God.

Unfortunately, the next part of the project is rewiring and fixing some of the outdated completely fucked up wiring we currently deal with.  Also unfortunately, it's a slow process of going in and out of the attic, pulling wires, and doing all the other stuff that I don't understand but thankfully Vern does.

What it means to me is that we've been without power and lights in about half our house for the past couple of days.  The bedrooms are no big deal, although I do have to say that suddenly every single project that requires either electricity or lights has become the project that I want to work on.  

The bigger problem is that there was no power or lights in the bathroom.  It's a little too much like camping for my taste to have to use the toilet holding a flashlight between your teeth.

I'm happy to report that as of right now I am being told we are "back to where we started" and that it's "pretty much" permanently fixed.  Whatever that means.  

I do know it means that I don't have to hold a flashlight in my mouth anymore.

I was, however, warned . . . and I quote . . . "don't be getting used to this fancy stuff like electricity and indoor plumbing."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fiber Fest Part II

The fiber fest was a success.

What I did come home with: A bunch of yarn and fun gadgets.

What I didn't come home with: Anything that poops.

Oh, but I was tempted by this. . . 

an angora rabbit.  Have you ever seen anything so cute?  

I was not tempted by this  . . . 

Not even a little bit.  I do hope Peaches and Pear went to the same home though.  It seems wrong to separate them.

Here's some of the non-pooping stuff I came home with (you can click on the pics for a closer look).

I pretty much know what I'll be doing for the next year or so.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Retail Therapy of the Fiber Variety

Tomorrow morning some friends and I are getting up at the butt crack of dawn and driving three and a half hours to southern Indiana to go to a Fiber Fest (the yarn variety, not the gassy variety).

I've been saving up in case I want to buy one of these

or a couple of these. 

But for sure, I'm going to be buying a lot of these.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm Calling to See if My House is on Fire

No worries - there's not a fire at our house and there hasn't been in the past.  But it didn't keep me from worrying about it every time I used my Crock Pot.

When I was newly married, it wasn't that long after Rival introduced a slower cooker called the Crock Pot to American homes. So in my defense, they were a relatively new gadget.  I was somehow convinced that if I left the Crock Pot unattended while I was working, it would spontaneously combust and our house would burn to the ground.

My brilliant solution for this - and I really wish I was kidding here - was my own version of an alarm system.  On the days that I used the Crock Pot, I called our home every hour to see if it was on fire.

How would I know, you ask?  Because I reasoned that since no one was home during the day, the phone wouldn't be in use.  But if there was a fire, my thought process led me to believe - inaccurately I'm sure - that I would get a busy signal because the wires would have been burned.

Take a minute and let the brilliance of that soak in and then cut me some slack - I was only 19 at the time.

I'm a few years past 19 now and I have a lot of experience with slow cookers under my belt.  I still have that old Rival Crock Pot and it still works just like it did back then, and I'm also happy to report that it has never been the source of a fire.

It's time for it to be put to pasture though - the old grey mare (or the old yellow mare, in this case) just isn't keeping up with modern times.

I've tried a few slow cookers over the years and I haven't found any that knocked my socks off, but several months ago, I acquired one that I can finally highly recommend - The Hamilton Beach 3 in 1 Slow Cooker.

This thing is awesome.  I love that it has three different sizes of crocks and that they all have the same lid and fit into the same base.  It stores compactly and it cooks the food to perfection - no undercooking or overcooking.

And just so you walk away from this with something, I present to you my most recent favorite slow cooker recipe.

Slow Cooker Turkey and Dressing
8 oz pkg. stuffing mix
1/2 cup hot water
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 onion chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 c sweetened diced cranberries
3 lb boneless turkey breast
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Coat a 4 quart slow cooker with non stick spray; Spoon in dry stuffing mix. Add water, butter, onion, celery and cranberries. Mix well.

Sprinkle turkey with salt, pepper and basil and place over stuffing mix. Cook on low, covered, for 6-7 hours on low.

Remove turkey, slice and set aside. Gently stir up the stuffing and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.

(Apparently 3 lb. boneless turkey breasts are illegal in Illinois or something, so I used a 3 lb. frozen turkey roast found in the freezer section and I actually think it worked better.  I've also used chicken and it worked great too - I just would use boneless breasts or chicken tender strips so that they can soak up the yummy goodness from the stuffing.)

And I promise that your slow cooker will not spontaneously burst into flames and burn your house to the ground.  Call home every hour and check if you want.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Princess Has Nothing on This Pea

We like to shop. Vern and I both like to shop. We will shop for just about anything. And if we don't have something to shop for, we will make something up. This is an important point to remember for this post.

We also at some point thought we would have a lot of guests visiting. This, however, has never happened. We have a guest room and the same person occupies it time and time again. And much of the time, he brings his own sleeping arrangements with him in the form of his semi or his camper. So the one guest room we have is rarely used.

Somewhere along the line we picked up an air mattress. I think it's been used once. Maybe. As I was decluttering, I posed the question of getting rid of it and after much convincing, Vern agreed that it is something we don't need and don't use.

However, not only do we have that air mattress, we had a second one with a frame that raises it to the level of a bed. That one, however, had a leak. Which pretty much makes it unusable as an air mattress - a fact that was apparently lost on us whenever we discovered it actually had the leak because we folded it up neatly and stored it away.

Getting back to the point - we decided to match up the non-leaky air mattress and the frame and give it to my daughter, who actually does have people come to visit.

As I was getting it ready to take to her today, Vern said "what is that?"

Me - "Uh, the air mattress" (while looking at him like he has somehow lost his mind.)

Him - "No it's not."

Me - "Yes it is."

Rinse and repeat for a few good minutes.

Turns out that we not only had TWO air mattresses, we had THREE. That we never used. For the guests that we never had.

So we are pawning one of them off on the daughter, which still leaves us with one air mattress.

How we managed to throw one leaky mattress away and give one away and still end up with the original mattress I was trying to get rid of in the first place has to be some sort of new math.

(The irony of this whole story is that we are meeting her after we go shopping for a new computer and an iPad. We already have four networked computers in our home. Apparently we need two more.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Let's Get Ready to Rumble

Eff you United Healthcare. You might remember me? I've done battle with you before. And won. Even though it took me two years, I walked away with a big check and you walked away with a chunk chewed out of your butt.

But for the past couple of years, I've let things slide. A "not covered" here or an "already submitted" claim there, but not this year. You are NOT getting by with that bureaucratic bullshit THIS year.

I keep immaculate records. I know the policy. I know what is covered. And I know what I've submitted, when I've submitted it, and if it should be paid.

And I've got nothing better to do this year than be a big pain in your ass.