cats · cooking · crafts · knitting · Life

Is your Ipod cozy?

Because mine is!

The yarn is Noro Kureyon #52, left over from the bad clapotis.  It only took me one episode of Angel last night, and now my Ipod has a happy place to rest!

I’m now knitting my first hourglass sweater sleeve!

I’m using DPNs instead of the called for 12″ circular needle.  I hate small circs, and to be honest I just love using my DPNs.  It’s too bad I’m not into socks, because I so rarely get to use them.

Lastly, I have to review the Lasagna soup recipe I listed on my last entry.  It was amazing!  If you make it, I recommend adding a bit extra pasta, and definitely don’t leave out the cheese in the bottom of the bowls.  It tasted exactly like lasagna, except my lasagna never turns out that well!  I’ll definitely be making it again.

Tonight’s experiment promises to be exciting!  I can’t wait to try out the Broccoli rabe.  Poor Marc tried to make breakfast pizza for his office halloween brunch this morning, but apparently it didn’t go so well.  I woke up to a smoke alarm and burned pan on the back porch, and the kitchen door standing wide open.  Clearly some sort of kitchen carnage went down.  Leon was terribly upset about the open door – I wondered why he kept waking me up every 15 minutes.  He’s like Lassie, except not, since all he probably really wanted was the screen open for him to escape.

cats · cooking · crafts · decorating · knitting · Life · Thrifting


I have knit 2 more increase sections on the hourglass sweater, but I can’t show you.  The cat would be upset.

Poor Dionne… left here alone with me all day.  She doesn’t like me much.  She likes Marc.

Yesterday (Sunday) was insane for me.  I had to play/sing three masses, and in between we went to finish cleaning out my Step-Grandma’s house.  She died a year and a half ago, but due to family legal issues (don’t ask) we’re only now allowed to get rid of the junk.  I went through it all and found some things I could use.

I love these bowls, even though I’m not sure what their purpose is.  They have little handles, but surely you aren’t supposed to cook in them.  Ah well, I’ll just use them for decoration, in case they have like lethal amounts of mercury in them or something.  They look cute stacked on my sideboard.

Next to them are the 4 brown cornholders I found.  Didn’t everyone’s family have a set of these in the 70s? Marc is thrilled, so even though I will never in a million years make corn on the cob (I hate corn) I’ll try to find a creative use for them.
I also found out that Dorothy (my step grandma) must have been a dedicated sewer before marrying my grandpa.  Check out the collection of patterns from the 60s and 70s.

The little book is also full of patterns.  Too bad I’m not a sewer – I just adore some of these patterns, like the blue “Valentino original” on the right.  Maybe I could bust out my sewing machine… but no.  This would only lead to disaster.  These are probably destined for ebay (although I am keeping that jar of buttons.)

There were a ton of old crafting magazines.  I took them all, but I won’t be keeping most.   There are a few knitter’s magazines from the 80s that I want for the retro patterns, but most of the rest are of the “country craft” variety.  I remember the 80s, and if I never see another goose dressed up for holidays it will be too soon.
There were a few  old  women’s magazines.  I love these – and the family circle has granny square projects from 1975!

And I found the corn husk angel I made for them in the girlscouts.  See?  Always crafty!

Leon cared not a whit about any of this, but he says I’d better not take away his new magazine holder!

He was totally stuck and wedged in, but he didn’t complain!  In fact, he seemed sort of upset when we freed him.

I also got a few other things, like a bundt pan, a new avocado blender, and some cookbooks.  I was going through the extra saved recipes in one of the cookbooks when I realized they smelled exactly the way my grandparents’ house used to.  It’s funny – you wouldn’t think I would even know that smell anymore, as it’s been years since I’d been in the house.  It made me kind of sad.  Dorothy was the coolest step grandma imaginable – she wore makeup and fashionable clothes, and always was obsessed with weight, wanting my tips (this explains all the mid-70s Weight Watcher magazines I found.)   She was my grandpa’s second wife, after an unhappy first marriage.  He bought her a fur coat and diamonds, and showered her with trips to Branson.  It was the first time I remember him seeming happy.
After my grandpa died she stayed a member of the family, coming to holiday dinners and writing me birthday checks.  Her own son was, I think, somewhat lacking.  By keeping and using some of her things, it makes her feel more like my real grandma… which I suppose in a way she was.  I don’t feel a connection to my actual grandma, who was mentally ill and died when I was seven.  Dorothy was always special to me, and today I miss her.

I’m making Rosemary bread  in the breadmaker right now.  If you’re ever looking for a bread recipe to go with italian food, I can’t recommend this one enough.  It makes a bread that is almost like foccacia, and is perfect for dipping in olive oil.

I’ll be making Lasagna soup tonight to go along with it.  This is a new recipe to me, so we’ll see how it goes.  I’m off from work until Wednesday, so I’m getting in some quality cooking time.  I love to cook, but my nighttime working schedule can make it difficult sometimes.  Tomorrow I plan to make Rachel Ray’s Ginger flank steak with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes.  It’s in the “Express lane meals” cookbook, which I’ve borrowed from my Mom.  I also have some Broccoli Rabe to cook with it… I’m still searching for a good recipe there.  I love Rachel Ray’s recipes… I just can’t stand to listen to her voice.  I think that counts me as a fan.

crafts · Halloween · knitting · Life

What time is it?

You know what time it is.

Isn’t the resemblance between Marc and Flav uncanny?  I was Preshuss (misspelling intentional).  One of our friends spent the night asking why I wasn’t getting a drink for my man Flav.


Yes, we’ve been to two different Halloween parties now, although we opted not to dress for the second.  I think I’m officially Halloweened out.

All of this means I’ve had negative knitting time, but I have made good progress on my Hourglass sweater

I’m more than halfway to the sleeves!  I don’t exactly understand what to do once I get there, but I’m trying to “trust the pattern” here.

I ripped out the SWS scarf and started a simple chevron scarf instead.  I like it better, but I’m not sure it is meant to be anyway.  I find knitting with the SWS to be weirdly akin to knitting with my cat’s hair… or at least how I’d imagine it will be.  I promise I don’t sit around a spin poor little Leon’s hair.
I am, however, on the lookout for a pattern.  I would like to make a Ruana for my Mom.  A Ruana is sort of a cross between a poncho and a faroese (sp?) shawl.  It’s open in the front like a shawl, but it’s shaped to stay on in the front, with long panels that can be wrapped.  She used to have one which was handwoven for her, but she’s since lost it, and recently commented how much she misses it.  I’m looking for something that won’t take 900 years to knit, so the one in “Folk shawls” is out.  I’m fine with a single color, preferably bulkier weight and textured.  I just can’t find a pattern that I like.  I want something simple and elegant, but most everything I’ve seen is just “too much.” Does anyone have any ideas?

crafts · knitting · yarn

Patons SWS

Since I don’t have enough yarn or projects, I decided to browse around Michael’s today.  Usually that’s only slightly dangerous, as I’m unlikely to buy yarn there, and I’m offended that they don’t stock DPNS under size 8.  I happened upon the new Patons SWS (Soy wool stripes) and had to pick up a few balls to play with.  I decided that the self striping yarn needed an uncomplicated repeating pattern, so I went with the Misty Garden scarf pattern from scarf style (it’s basic feather and fan if you don’t know the pattern.)

I spent forever looking for a retro sort of 70s “ripple” pattern, but decided that the color changes were too gradual for that – I’ll save the one I found for later, when I feel like dealing with multiple balls of yarn, and possibly I’ll crochet it.  I’m not really sure how I feel about this yarn.  It’s not as nice as SWTC’s Karaoke, although it is cheaper and all natural.  It’s very soft and has a nice sheen, but it’s also terribly easy to split and hairy.  Did I mention hairy?

That’s a whole lot of fuzz, and I am known for my dislike of fuzzy yarn.  So I don’t know… to keep going on this or not?  I’m pretty sure I would love the finished result, I just don’t want the knitting to be too hard on my hands.  Maybe I’ll keep going a bit and see how I feel.  I swear, after my current projects (noro, cotton, sws) are finished I’m going to buy the softest, most gentle yarn possible.  I think I’ll deserve it.

crafts · decorating · knitting · yarn

Knitting in Santa Fe

I was happy to discover that the finace of Marc’s friend was also a knitter, so we happily talked about knitting and felting.  She told me about a local shop, which I visited.  It was ok, but I didn’t find anything special.  We also went to the farmer’s market, where there were several yarn booths – but I can’t bring myself to buy handspun thick/thin yarns – pretty though they are I know I would never use them.

I had some minor insomnia during the trip, so I managed to finish Marc’s scrunchable scarf. 

Yarn: Araucania Nature wool, 1 full skein (220 yds)
Needles: US6
Finished Size: Approximately 5′ long by 5″ wide

Comments: I found working on this scarf to be tedious at times, but I love the finished result.  The pattern looks like ribbing but isn’t, so it lies flat and shows off the lovely color variations in the wool.  The wool is an average level of scratchiness, and is definitely not worsted weight or I would have been done long ago.  Marc loves it, and he can finally retire his ratty old scarf as soon as I block it (it doesn’t need blocking, but he’s requested I condition the wool for softness.)

In much more sad news, the Something red sweater is no more.  I found myself dreading working on it, and I also came to the realization that I wasn’t going to wear the color… so I frogged the whole thing.  I feel better now – as though a terrible weight is off my shoulders.  I now have a ginormous ball of shine worsted in wave with no real plans for it.  I’m considering getting rid of some of my shine yarn (I have lots) because it was purchased pre red hair, and I have to be pickier with color now.  So if anyone wants to buy any, let me know… I may make a post about it later.

I’m happy to have finally started the Hourglass sweater.

The yarn is Knitpicks mainline in Blueberry.  The color is very true on my monitor.  I had to go down to size 6 needles to get gauge.  Hopefully this sweater will bring me better luck!

I also started a Short row rib scarf (from Magknits) in Noro Silk Garden 008.

The pattern is super easy once you get started, and I adore the yarn color.

I arrived home to some packages.  Knitpicks sent me relacements for my defective options cables – their customer service is wonderful!  I also got two WEBs packages.

The SWTC Karaoke in Mermaid mix, for Clapotis

And an unexpected package containing Silky Wool that I thought wasn’t coming!

The green will become a lacy scarf, and the purple is for the Rowena Cardi from Knit 2 together… sometime.  It will be awhile before that gets started!

And what would this post be without a random house picture?  I got new candles for the kitchen window

Yes, I’ve been shopping at the mexican grocery.

Life · travel

I’m back!

We’re finally back from New Mexico, after more driving than I think you can possibly imagine. How long? Including meal stops, the drive took 23 hours. No kidding. I think we took full advantage of the “unlimited mileage” offer on the rental car. We did get to travel through some states I’ve never visited before, including Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico.

Leon didn’t want us to leave. And I am aware that my constant stream of “I wonder what Leon is doing now” comments makes me an official crazy cat lady. I’m ok with that.

New Mexico wins the straightest road award.

It was beautiful though, and the driving overall wasn’t so terrible, although I’m not so certain that we looked well by the time we arrived. We stayed at the “Pueblo Bonito” B&B, which was perfectly nice, with a comfortable bed, tiny old kitchen, and a stocked kiva fireplace. We took advantage of the fireplace, due to it being 40 degrees the entire time we were there.

On Thursday we went sightseeing around the plaza in Santa fe. Santa Fe is a much smaller town than you might imagine, and probably more touristy than you think. It was lovely, and the air was very clear, but overall I don’t think I’d like living there – I don’t like the feeling of being isolated in a relatively small place. The dryness also bothered my eyes and skin a great deal.

We (ok, I) like to visit churches, so we visited the Cathedral. The cathedral was pretty unexceptional, but had this insane statue of St. Francis in front.

I don’t know what’s up with his foot either. We also visited the Loretto Chapel, which is known for its “miraculous” staircase, supposedly built with no nails by a mysterious carpenter.

There were a lot of wedding type activities, so we didn’t really do a ton of traveling, but that was ok. Marc was really happy to see his friend for the first time in years, and the wedding was lovely.

The ceremony itself took place outdoors on a mountain… a really lovely location. The reception was inside a shelter, with lovely beams and a huge fireplace in the middle.

Yes, that black and white button is hard to avoid…

Overall it was an excellent trip, if a bit exhausting. I loved the beautiful artwork everywhere in Santa fe

And I really felt that I made friends with the bride, so hopefully someday they will get to visit us.

And the food… so wonderful. I thought I didn’t like mexican, but apparently I just don’t like bad mexican. Plus we ate at this one restaurant that had crazy rodeo clown photos everywhere

and Marc is crazy. This photo sums up the insantiy of an entire day lost to travel.

That’s right… this is Kansas. We didn’t have to go to Kansas – we actually drove there so that Marc could add another state to his list. Of course, all of Kanas that we saw was this crazy trucker’s strip club in the middle of nowhere, but whatever floats your boat, right? I love the crazy.

crafts · knitting · Life

Packing blues

We leave tonight after my choir rehearsal… the plan is to drive through the night (I am shortly going to go back to bed in an attempt to sleep as much as possible) and arrive tomorrow afternoon. I’m not totally sure exactly what we’re doing there. We do have a room at a B&B reserved, because we don’t like to stay in chain hotels. They reserved blocks of rooms at the comfort inn, but if we can stay somewhere for the same price and support independent business I would much rather do that. There are pre-wedding activities, of course, including one bar night, a gallery tour, and a barbecue. I’m certain that it will all be very fun. Marc is apprehensive, but I think that’s mostly about the drive.Me? I’m not worried about the drive. We’ve rented a sedan (teach them to give us unlimited mileage!) and I’ve loaded my Ipod up with episodes of “This American life” and more musicals than you can shake a stick at (no, I don’t know how many that would be.)

I don’t have my knitting bag packed yet – it’s going to wait until last as always! I’ll take the Something Red sweater, of course. I has another 2 inches of body ribbing, and then I can get to the sleeves. I need to go to the Knit Nook this afternoon and buy some size 7 DPNs. I thought I had some, but apparently not. You may have noticed that I rarely go to the yarn store, even though it’s 2 blocks from here. It’s because I’m way too easily tempted by the pretty… although I am on the lookout for some Brown Sheep Cotton Fine, and if they have any I may cave. I’m also planning to finish Marc’s scarf and hopefully start the Short Row Rib Scarf in Noro Silk Garden 008. My next sweater project is an Hourglass sweater, but I’m trying not to look too far ahead – if I did I would never get around to finishing this evil sweater!

So… see you all when we get back next Monday!

cooking · Life

Reasons not to let your boyfriend cook

1. He has been saving all the leftover butter and sugar packets from work

2. He has been shopping at the salvage grocery store again.  Marc is endlessly fascinated by a grocery where nothing costs more than a dollar.   The swirled choclate chips above are so old that they will not melt when you try to eat them.

3.  He’s been reading recipes off the back of Kroger brand saltine boxes for “Saltine Chocolate Pieces”

4.  He has too much time on his hands and a clean kitchen.

All of the above =

What we have here is saltine crackers, covered in butter and sugar, baked and then topped with stale white and regular chocolate chips.

The carnage:

Yes, he opened all those butter and sugar packets for this recipe.  My favorite part?  It didn’t even call for white sugar, he was substituting…

You want the recipe?  Okay…

Saltine Chocolate Pieces

1 sleeve Kroger Saltines 

3/4 cup brown sugar

1cup butter

12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a 10×15-inch cookie sheet with foil; spray very lightly with cooking spray.  Cover cookie sheet with saltines.  Boil sugar and butter for 3 minutes.  Pour mixture over saltines and spread evenly.  Bake at 400 for 5 minutes.  Remove from over and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Let set 1 minute, then spread melted chips with spatula.  Sprinkle with nutes.  Cut on diagonal then break up into pieces.  Can be frozen.  Yield: 30 pieces. 

Let me be clear here… under no circumstances should you attempt to make this.   I haven’t personally tried it, but it just looks like some sort of recipe that would include directions like “Now have an adult put crackers in the oven for you.”

I think I *heart* Marc for insisting on making this.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I think it’s adorable that he insists on using up everything in the pantry.  I can’t always get behind his ideas (pickle juice as a mixer? I think not) but it makes him unique… and a little crazy, but that’s ok.  I like crazy, because crazy in interesting, and always beats out normal and boring.

crafts · knitting · Life · yarn

The cursed sweater

I’m really beginning to believe that my “Something red” sweater is cursed.  Last night I was cleaning the living room, and I went to put away the sweater for a bit.  I absentmindedly placed it around my shoulders to check the size and heard a “pop”.  I freaked out, threw it down, and saw this:

Yes, that’s right – the needle cable actually separated itself from its base.  It didn’t come unscrewed – it came off.  I fired off a disappointed email to knitpicks about this.  I still love the needles, and this was a cable I had just switched to, so it’s likely defective, but still it’s awfully disappointing.  This is not supposed to happen.

I found myself filled with murderous thoughts of frogging the sweater, but then Marc’s old college roommate called out of the blue, wanting us to go out to meet them at Za’s pizza… so instead of  murdering my knitting we stayed out until 3:30 in the morning.  I have been a zombie all day – but I do think that the wife of Marc’s roommate is interested in joining the stitch n bitch I’m trying to start up, so all was not a loss!  Plus Marc hadn’t seen his friend in years, and it turns out they’ve bought a house a few blocks from us.  And I really liked his wife.  So it was pretty exciting.

I was still depressed about my knitting tonight, so rather than sitting down and trying to fix it, I bought shoes.

  In my defense, Payless was having a buy one get one half off sale, so all of these shoes were only 50 dollars.  Plus I’m obsessed with cute flats at the moment and I only had one pair… and look at those heels – how hot are they, in blue patent leather with wood heels.  The second pair aren’t actually flat – they have little tiny kitten heels which I love.  I’m not a huge fan of ballet flats, but I did get the one pair.  It’s possible, although I’m not confirming anything, that I may have bought a pair of footless tights to wear with them.

Then I took a nap (my sleep habits are so messed up right now!)  and finally found the courage to fix my sweater.  I think it will be ok – I only had to tink back half a row, and I didn’t drop any stitches.  I officially hate it now, but hopefully that’s going to improve.  I have church in the morning… hmm, do we think I will sleep?  I’m having my doubts.  My three hour “nap” will probably give me insomnia.

WEBs finally sent my order (remember the yarn for the clapotis?)  I really wanted it for our trip, but we leave on Tuesday.  And the yarn won’t be here til Wednesday.  So sad… but at least maybe Marc’s scarf will finally get finished!

Ok, I’ll try something less depressing… Marc made white chili and cornbread for me while I was at church tonight.  He’s the most wonderful man ever, and eternally tolerant of endless knitting talk.

decorating · home repairs · rennovations

Joy and drama

Our condo is in an old building in a historic district.  I’ve lived in historic buildings my entire life, and I can’t imagine things being any other way.  I love the sense of history and the old neighborhoods.  Our building was built as a private home for an architect in the 1890s, and the two side wings (where we live) were added in 1920.  It’s in remarkably good shape, despite some shady remodeling by some previous owners.  So before I start complaining, let me show you some things that I love about our home.

The windows in the hallway

These and the cute little arched front door are pretty much what sold me on the place.  Well, that and the fireplace and balcony.


But… I mentioned the questionable taste of some of the previous owners, right?  Well, they rennovated the kitchen.  I almost wish they hadn’t, because what they left behind is pretty bad.

You see what’s going on here, right?  White laminate countertop, which is coming apart, combined with off white laminate cabinets (also peeling.) Plus a white sink.  Dear god I hate that white sink.  It never looks clean to me.  Plus the cabinet doors are hung all wonky, as you can see, and are contributing to the peeling of the drawer fronts.  And then there’s the window…

Apparently what happened is that there used to be an airconditioner in this window (don’t ask me why,) and it leaked all down the wall over a very long period of time.  The plaster will come off in your hand if you touch it, so I try not to.  You can also still see some of the heinous blue paint that used to be covering everything in here – yeah, I know, bad paint job here, but my goal was just to cover up the damage and hope it holds as long as we live here.

In spite of all this, including the ancient appliances, I do love the kitchen (check out my happy green walls!)  I keep planning to refinish the cabinet fronts, but the thought of all that sanding terrifies me, so I decided to just replace the knobs for now.  The old knobs looked like this

And now, through the magic of 10 minutes with a screwdriver, they look like this:

Check out the ring of grime I need to scrub at some more.  And my favorite part – here you can see that they didn’t install white counters with off white cabinets – the cabinets used to be white!  Mystery solved!

*sigh* I seriously don’t know what to do here.  I just don’t have the space to do the cabinets, but I’m really tired of them the way they are.  I guess I should get used to doing work – we’ve been here 6 months, so we won’t be selling for a couple years, but when we do we will buy a house that’s much more of a fixer-upper than this one was.  We need more space, but I adore this area too much to move somewhere cheaper.

I’m not complaining though – I really do *heart* this place, and I’m so glad that we live here.  All of its flaws give it character, and give me a challenge.  So the ceiling fan in the guest room shocks you if you try to change the bulbs.  So there isn’t any closet space.  So the bathtub has peeling paint and needs refinishing – so what?  I would hate to live in a new home – I’ve always had work to do, and I kind of enjoy it.  Don’t tell anyone… but it’s possible that I’m kind of handy.