Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Back From Austin

This is a picture of me, doing what I do best, although you can't tell it from Elizabeth's expression. I spent LOTS of time holding Elizabeth, walking Elizabeth, talking to Elizabeth and...well, you get the idea. She is just starting to react to people so it was a special treat to be there with her.

I did play with the other grandchildren, of course. We went to the bookstore, Grandpa took them ice skating, and we just hung out. We worked on knitting and Ella is getting quite proficient at it. I even was able to teach her to cast on. Her first big project is knitting a hat for Elizabeth and it's going very well.

There is no better treat at Christmas, or anytime, than to spend time with family, and especially with little ones.

I hope your holidays were just as great as ours !

Monday, December 22, 2008

In the Nick of Time

Get it? Saint Nick? Nevermind.

Anyhow, I finished the stocking and finally sort of figured out the duplicate stitching. All of my Christmas knitting is finished and I'm free to knit whatever comes along next.

I also finished the second ruana, which was a large project, even though it's done on size 13 needles. I sort of felt as if I were knitting a blanket.

So on to Christmas in Austin!!!

Merry Christmas, ya'll!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How to Impress Your Family and Friends

I discovered this recipe yesterday when I had my hair cut. My stylist had made these for the shop, and they are yummy. I thought they must have come from some high-end bakery, but nope. And they are easy!


Chocolate bonbon pops

Ingredients for pops:

18 oreos (crush by hand or in a food processor-but not to a powder state)
1 1/2 cups toasted crushed pecans (crush before toasting)
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, orange juice (what's the point?), kahlua, or alcohol of your choice
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Coating: one 12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate morsels, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Mix all of above together in the food processor, or by hand, roll into balls, and put on parchment or waxed paper on baking sheet. Put into freezer for 30 minutes. If you want them to be pops, put lollipop sticks (I have no clue where to get these) in them before putting them into freezer.
The most difficult part is rolling the oreo mixture into balls. It helps to put the pecans in the mix while they are still hot. I also added some coconut to the oreo mixture because I LOVE coconut!

Meanwhile, melt one 12 oz pkg semisweet chocolate chips or morsels with 1 tablespoon shortening.

When pops have cooled, dip them into the chocolate, then put into small cupcake type papers, or, if on sticks, just cover and keep in refrigerator until time to serve.

They turned out really well, and if I do not eat them all (recipe makes about 20) before tomorrow's knit night, I'll take them with me.
(Warning: 1. These are a bit messy to make. 2. There are oreos left after you take eighteen out to use in the recipe.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yet Another Scarf

As I told older daughter the other day, I seem destined to own too many scarves. I keep falling in love with yarns and buying them to make something with.

However, this yarn from River's Edge Weaving Studio is so yummy that I can hardly bear to knit with it. What else to do with it? Well, as I originally wrote, maybe I could keep it as a pet.

But that would be a waste (and weird), so I bought a skein of mohair (Rowan kidsilk aura, color 752) to knit with the mohair/wool blend. A knitting friend suggested size 11 needles, with 15 or so stitches, alternating 20 rows of each yarn.

I'll give that a try and see what happens. If all else fails, I'll give it a name and let it live in my house.

Monday, December 15, 2008


or, a fortunate discovery made accidentally.

We recently inherited a grandmother's clock, literally from my husband's grandmother, by way of his mother. It had to be shipped from Albany, New York and took quite a long time to arrive. It needed a specially built box and all sorts of careful packing. The original finial had disappeared years ago, but it had a replacement and that was broken, not in shipping; we don't know when or where.

I set out on Saturday to find a replacement finial, thinking that I could just go to Woodcraft, a specialty woodworking shop I knew of, where I would find a variety of finials to choose from.

When I arrived, there was a packed parking lot....odd...and a crowd of people in the store. I found a salesperson, told him what I was looking for, and was told that such a thing is not sold. It has to be made. But then he pointed to a man at the front of the store and told me that he was demonstrating woodturning and that I should ask him to make one for me. Really?

I went up front and asked if he could make a new finial; he said he would be happy to. He started with a block of wood, perhaps 2" x 2" x 8" long. He put it on what I now know is a lathe, and started work. The lathe spins the wood very, very fast, and the woodturner uses various tools to take away whatever is not a finial.

As I stood there, with a CROWD, watching, the man standing next to me asked, "Do you know who that is?"

I saw that his jacket said "Nick Cook" but that was all I knew. When I said that I didn't, several people standing near told me that Nick Cook is a master woodturner, and that he teaches and demonstrates all around the world. He is FAMOUS, folks!!! And he was making me a new finial!!! Holy Cow! For the knitters who are reading, this would be like walking into a yarn shop with a problem and having some nice woman say, "I'll do it," and finding out that the woman is Elizabeth Zimmerman.

The skill that turning a finial requires is amazing - all the lathe does is spin the wood. Mr. Cook had to know which tools to use and when to use them, and had to have the most exquisite sense of touch and pressure in order to shave the wood precisely in the right places to get the shape he wanted. The little ball on the end of the finial was his idea; he said that the original finial had probably had one. How he could make that small detail without having it come off in the process is a mystery to me - but not to him.

So now I have a perfect finial, made by a true master woodturner!

Thank you, Mr. Cook!!! I am honored.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why Three and a Half Inches of Rain is a Good Thing

Even though I am starting to whine about the rain that has gone on for over two days.

This is a picture of Lake Lanier, the source of water for the Atlanta area. (More pictures are here.) The lake has looked this bad for a couple of years; it just hasn't rained much in the Southeast.

So, I shouldn't complain about the dark skies and rain and gloomy days. I'm glad for the rain, and glad that we do have more sunshine here in the winter than people in places like Alaska do, and where Becca has to live in darkness, even at 9:00 in the MORNING! I think it would take lots of happy lights (and drugs maybe) for me to live in such darkness.

But I am hoping that the rain will turn to snow as a cold front goes through. At least snow is pretty.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Just Because

It made me giggle.


This past Sunday, my LYS had its yearly open house which included a great sale. I picked up what cannot technically be called stash, since I purchased it all for specific projects. (I have borrowed that idea of stash from another knitter and I LIKE it. BTW, stash also does not consist of any yarn that is bought to make something for someone other than the knitter. Yay!)

I am making a second two-stripe Noro scarf because the first one was so much fun to knit. The pink Cascade 220 is for a sweater for Elizabeth Anne, since I stole her Araucania yarn to make socks for myself. (Shamelessly promoting my own posts here)

AND, I am throwing caution to the wind and knitting something for younger daughter, whose tastes are a mystery to me. She may or may not like this something, but since I am copying it from a knitter friend's completed project, I know what it looks like and I know I will like it and it will find a home with me if necessary.

The shop was so crowded (great for the new owner)that four of us went across the street to a small diner to drink tea, talk knitting, AND knit. It was a great afternoon, in spite of the fact that I still can't duplicate stitch (more shameless promotion) decently. Poor Elizabeth Anne....

I Am Not a Grinch.

Really, I'm not. I like Christmas. It's fun, especially with children around.

But I do NOT like doing Christmas cards and I don't know anyone who does. Everyone I talk to considers writing cards to be a chore. Why on earth do we still do it?

After all, we're in the 21st century now, a time of e-mails, text-messaging, i-mming (whatever that is), blogs, web cams and other things that I probably haven't even heard of. Christmas cards are tree-based communications, and don't we need all the trees we can grow? (Don't ask the timber industry about this.)

I was brought up on guilt (the gift that keeps on giving) and am used to feeling guilty for all sorts of things I shouldn't waste my time even thinking about; guilt accomplishes nothing. But when I write Christmas card notes to people I haven't communicated with since LAST year's Christmas card notes, I feel guilty for not keeping in touch. But then I remember that they haven't been in touch with me either. So why are we sending each other cards, for %^&* sake?

I suppose that no one wants to be the first person to stop all of this craziness.

Can you guess that I have an afternoon of writing cards ahead of me? And that I would MUCH rather be knitting?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Second Ruana

When I knit older daughter's ruana, I ran out of mohair at the very end of it (Shh...don't tell hokgardner) and had to get creative to finish it because the yarn color had been discontinued. The LYS shop owner called around to local shops and checked out her internet sources but couldn't find any more of the color. In spite of that problem, the ruana turned out just fine, and apparently older daughter didn't notice anything unusual about it. (Shh.........)

I have the same amount of yarn this time, since I bought all the yarn for both ruanas many, many months ago. In order to solve the problem before it occurs, I am randomly knitting in mohair I have left from the Mountain Colors mixed fiber throw I made recently. The colorway is much closer than it appears to be in this photo, and I hope it will work out ok.

But if the combination does look sort of odd, I'll do what my knitting guru always suggests and call it a "design element."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why I Will Bribe Younger Daughter

Should she decide to have children.

This is a picture of the beginnings of an upper-case letter A. It is on the stocking I knit months ago for new granddaughter Elizabeth Anne. Because older daughter, Elizabeth's mother, didn't want to know ahead of time "whom she was carrying," I couldn't knit the name of said whom into the stocking as I was making it. I say that science has invented such wonderful things as ultrasound for a reason, and that she and her husband should appreciate and take advantage of scientific advances, if only for the convenience of one knittergran. But no, we had to wait.

So now I'm left to try and figure out how to duplicate stitch, which is a method of sewing over each stitch and in the process, to make it look as if each stitch had been originally knit in. Hah. It took one and one-half hours to get these twenty-three stitches done and not done well. Why? I'll tell you why. Because I had to rip out what I had done FOUR times to even get this far. And I was at my local LYS where, on Wednesday afternoons, our knitting guru, Jan, is available for help. Even with her help, this took an hour and a half.

So, on to the bribery. Should younger daughter decide to have children, I will, if necessary, bribe her to not only find out the sex of the new baby, but also to name said child well in advance of delivery.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holy Sheep!

Another finished project! I'm on a roll...a skein....a ball? Oh, never mind. But I've been knitting a lot lately and I think the key to finishing lots of projects is to have lots of different things OTN. That way, I'm never bored and I can just keep switching from one to another. I have a knit-night friend who once said she had eighteen projects OTN. That is too many, WAY too many for me. I would just get confused and end up with a sleeve on a scarf or something. But two or three I can manage.

This scarf project is FUN! It is made with two skeins each of Noro Silk Garden, colors 255 and 211. If you know Noro yarn, you know that there is an unlimited number of combinations for striping, since the yarns are multicolored. I don't think I've ever seen a solid color Noro. I don't know if there is one...

Anyhow, for an easy, fast and fun project, check out Jared Flood's pattern on his Brooklyn Tweed site. If you need a Christmas gift for someone, you can finish this one in time. I promise!

Now I have only one project going, and it's a summer weight wrap, so I'm off to shop in my stash for something more to do!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Perfect Pie, A Finished Object, and Something Else That is Finished

This is as close to a perfect apple pie as I have ever made. I even put leaves on it! (Not entirely talent on my part-they are made with punches from William-Sonoma, but who's telling?) Anyhow, the pie is from a Silver Palate recipe, and it always tastes great made with Granny Smith apples. Usually the crust totally splits open and lets the pie juices run all over the place, but this time it stayed together. Yay!

We have Thanksgiving dinner each year with other Georgia orphans (none of us has relatives in Georgia) and we all bring food. I always make the pies, and that has not always been a success. One year I brushed the top crust with beaten egg yolks, having read that this makes the top nice and brown. What I didn't read was the part of the directions that said to mix the yolks with water, and the top of my pie was a yucky yellow. Ooops. Then there was the year that I made the pumpkin pie with brandy or whiskey or some other liquor. I don't remember which, but it was not a hit.
Now for something completely different. This is my most recently finished project - a ribbed scarf made from three skeins of de.Ve Autunno, a wonderfully soft merino yarn. It's just a k4, p4 ribbing, made across 28 stitches. It's not entirely successful, however, since the ribbing does what ribbing is supposed to do, which is to pull together. This makes for a narrow scarf. I tried blocking it, but that made the fabric too thin. So I held a steam iron a few inches above the scarf, and the ribs pulled back together. It's a good thing the scarf is long - five feet long, so it can go around and around the neck in case of really cold weather.

Now for something really completely different:

Bravo, stick a fork in me. I'm done. With the Housewives. I don't know if I changed or the show changed or it's the constant bad news about the economy. Maybe it's remembering hearing Barack Obama say something like "We're a better country than this," referring to poverty, hunger, and the lack of health insurance for so many people in this country. I watched the first episode of the new season of The Real Housewives of Orange County last Wednesday night and was appalled by it. The women just want MORE. The excess was just so....excessive.

So that's one addiction gone. Now for knitting - just kidding. That one I'll keep!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Help Me Rhonda!

While I was making dinner tonight, I turned on the television to keep me company. Lo and behold, The Real Housewives of Atlanta was on. I've never seen the show, thinking that I really need to get a life if that's what I have time for. But during the show, there was an announcement that the new season of The Real Housewives of Orange County begins tomorrow night.


I hate to admit this, but I became absolutely addicted to this show during season two.


These women are mind-bogglingly rich and mind-numbingly shallow.

Is my diamond bigger than Lauri's?

OMG, George (see, I even know all the names. Not proud.) just gave Lauri a Mercedes that's not even on the market yet. She gets everything handed to her and look how hard I work for everything I have. (whines Vicki, the workaholic control freak...oh Gawd, I'm so invested I even analyze the characters.)

SHE thinks SHE'S the hottest Orange County housewife? As if.....

So yes, I'm hooked. I AM NOT PROUD OF THIS.

But tomorrow night at ten p.m., I'll be watching.

(photo from Real Housewives of Orange County official website)

Lazy Monday

I'm lazy today, so I'll quote other people instead of writing.

From Groucho Marx by way of hokgardner:
Time flies like an arrow but fruit flies like a banana.
(We English teachers love plays on words.)

From Woody Allen by way of the Yarn Harlot:
Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.

Parents - Here are two things you can use, if you are a bit ....I'm not sure what the word is.

Two of my friends had rather unsympathetic fathers. When one friend and her brother complained about anything that had gone wrong in their lives, this is what they heard:

Worse things have happened to better people. (ouch!)

And the other, when she called home after failing a paper, heard:

If you're looking for sympathy, you'll find it in the dictionary between sh*t and syphilis.

Yikes! That was the last time she even thought about looking for sympathy from him!

Friday, November 21, 2008

If All the Other Kids Jumped off a Bridge

Would I jump too?
Apparently it's a possibility. At knit-night last night, one of the knitters was making this gorgeous scarf. She found it via The Yarn Harlot's site and fell in love, and so did the three of us who are now knitting the same scarf. It takes four skeins of Noro Silk Garden in two (or more) different colors. No two will be alike, of course, so we're not totally copycats....but close.

(To see more combinations of Noro yarn worked into this scarf, go here.)

(Photo from Brooklyn Tweed website)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Georgia, Georgia, Georgia

It's embarrassing to live in a state like Georgia. We're near, if not at, the bottom of any educational achievement scores in the country; we have a governor who prays for rain in a drought, but who has done nothing to come up with a plan to have reservoirs to help deal with future droughts (if this one will EVER end); and now the Georgia Medical Board has ruled that "because the flu vaccine is considered a 'dangerous' drug, it should not be administered without a doctor's order", i.e., a prescription. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 11/18/08)

No wonder DH found lines at CVS over the weekend when he tried to get a shot. The Governor has said that the state will not prosecute anyone who gives a shot to someone without a prescription, but Kroger and Publix, who have 327 pharmacies in the state, will not administer flu shots to those without prescriptions. CVS, Walgreens and others are throwing caution to the wind and giving shots to anyone who wishes to get one.

I imagine that this screwup will keep some people from getting shots and others will end up paying their co-pay at a doctor's office in order to get the shot, plus the cost of the shot, which isn't usually covered by insurance.

Way to go, Georgia.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I am a kind and generous person.

Usually, I am, really!

However, when I bought this yarn during last week's Knit Night, I intended to use it to make a new Elizabeth Zimmerman Surprise Jacket for Elizabeth A. The yarn is Araucania, Ranco multy, 75% wool, 25% polyamide. It's wonderfully soft and would make a great jacket, probably.

BUT, I love the yarn and am very curious about what the fabric knit from it would look like, and so I changed my mind; it may end up being socks for me. I rationalize this by thinking that the yarn's weight, sport, may not be enough heavier than the sock yarn I used for the original jacket in order to make the jacket larger. H says that Elizabeth is growing out of the first jacket and so I will keep looking for something striping and pretty, but in a DK weight.

I do pay the price, however, for keeping this yarn for myself. It is a bit heavier than sock yarn, and that means that I will have to knit a *shudder* gauge swatch to figure out what size needles to use.



Well, I was tagged by hokgardner and I am supposed to write seven random things about me. Here goes (but it's hard to come up with seven).

1. Some members of my family (well, maybe all of them) would say that I have tacky tastes. True, I do love shiny, sparkly. And when it was a fad, I really loved street glow, a neon light strip of color that was installed around the underside of the car. When the streets were wet, that blue/purple color just, well, glowed. I loved it.

2. I have a weird sense of humor. When street glow was available, we had two cars: an MGB and a Chevy Celebrity big honking station wagon. If I could have had street glow, I would have put it on/under the Chevy Celebrity.

3. If I could be any type of designer, I would be a lighting designer. I have absolutely no talent for this, but I love all types of lighting. Just last week I was in a lighting store and saw a chandelier that stopped me in my tracks. It was a seven-foot tall spiral of glittering lead crystal pendant thingies (see, I'm no designer) and small mirrors. It was stunning, and over $7,000. (Some members of my family would say that that sounds very tacky.)

4. I am apparently competitive. I went to school before the law required sports programs for girls and I missed out on the whole team sports thing. As a result, my competitiveness comes out when I play Monopoly. It's not pretty. I will not play Monopoly with my family; that's not a problem since they won't play with me either.

5. I would like to have gone to law school. When I was growing up, I never heard of a woman lawyer, and it didn't occur to me that a woman could be a lawyer until I met one when I was thirty. The world has changed.... I wouldn't have been a trial lawyer; I hate to lose (see #4) but I would like to have taught law, I think.

6. After listening to news and interviews about and with Michelle Obama, I wished that I had applied to Ivy League schools. I'm no dummy and I maybe could have gotten in. What must it be like to get that sort of education? But that was not on the radar when I was a kid. Sigh. Born too soon....

7. I hate cold weather. Very much. It was 33 degrees when I got up this morning and had to go out to get the paper. Almost not worth it.

Well, that's it! Phew...

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Never-ending Scarf

finally did actually have an end!

I just finished it and I love it, although I certainly won't be making another. It was knit from nine-hundred and sixteen yards (four skeins) of Rowan Kidsilk Haze, colors 579 and 597. It took FOREVER. The yarn is mohair and as thin as sewing thread.

But the scarf is about seven feet long, soft and warm. I can't wait to wear it!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Not My Fault

My enabler was with me.

I went this past weekend to North Carolina for the Piedmont Craftsmen's Fair, a juried show of all sorts of crafts, held in Winston-Salem. I walked by a booth where a man was selling purses he makes himself, and this purse just plain old jumped out in front of me. It did!

I resisted for awhile, because it was, as my husband's grandmother used to say, "dear." But my friend K was with me, and she talked me into buying it. "It's a lifetime purse," she said.

Really, this picture doesn't do it justice. It's gorgeous. And handmade. Turquoise is my favorite color, and I had already decided that I wanted cowboy boots for Christmas. Not working boots, just beautiful leather boots with turquoise on them somewhere. But then I saw this purse. Did I mention that it's gorgeous?

So K was the enabler on this, but then at a different place, we came across a woven afghan, made by a woman who is famous in the textile/weaving world, AND it was on sale. I told my friend, who was petting and fondling the afghan, that she just had to buy it. And she did.

So we're even.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Missing: One Spoon

Before my mother-in-law died, she requested that her personal belongings go to her grandchildren, based on what items they requested. Younger daughter asked for this necklace, and since no one else did, she was lucky to receive it. It's beautiful - all the stones are star sapphires. It's hard to tell from the photo, but they are really quite stunning.

Older daughter received my mother-in-law's silver, minus a few pieces that went to younger daughter. DH brought everything back from his mother's home in NY and I spent an evening with everything scattered around me on the carpet in order to sort it all out to mail. The one thing that was a puzzle was the missing baby spoon. The fork was there, engraved with my mother-in-law's initials. Since new baby Elizabeth's middle name is Anne, after her mother and her great-grandmother, I thought that she should have the baby silver.

But where was the spoon? I looked and looked and no luck. Meanwhile, I was sorting out serving pieces and a few odd things, and there was the strangest-looking spoon I had ever seen. What on earth was it for? It was bent really strangely, and I thought that maybe it was for a jam pot or something. No, that wouldn't work....

I pulled out the inventory list: no mention of a bent spoon. Then I pulled out the more complete inventory list that had pictures on it and there was that spoon - it was the missing baby spoon. Weird looking thing, really. I imagined feeding a baby with it, and it would work ok, but I wonder that the parents couldn't just use a normal baby spoon. It has no engraving on it, so I couldn't match it that way, and really, without the photograph, I would never have guessed what it was. Would you have guessed what it was?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Two years ago in September, younger daughter crammed as much as possible in her Honda Civic and drove alone (scary for her mother) from Atlanta to Los Angeles to start a new job. She had wanted to move there for a long time, and finally all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. A friend already out there needed a new roommate and called S. S researched the top architecture and design firms there, sent out resumes and flew out for interviews.

She was immediately offered a job by one of the top five firms in Los Angeles! She started September 12th, 2006, and it has been a rush towards the top since then.

Yesterday she received a whopping promotion! The only jobs above her are: director and then own-your-own firm.

S - Stand in front of a mirror, pat yourself on the back for us, and then, while pumping your fist in the air, say what your nephew says, "I did it!"


(Sorry, S, about the photo. It's the best one I had in my computer)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Needed: One Nerd

I am having a problem with my blog's stat counter. It keeps telling me that I need to enable cookies on my computer in order not to have to sign in each time I go to the site. BUT, when I tried to download an Audible book, the nice man at the help desk told me I first had to delete cookies. I followed his instructions, deleted the cookies, downloaded the book, and everything worked out fine. But just how had those cookies I deleted gotten there in the first place if my computer wasn't set up to enable cookies?

I then followed the stat counter's instructions to enable cookies. It didn't work. I still have to sign in every time I go to the site. Sigh......

Monday, November 10, 2008


Finally, but it IS late. This is a ruana I knit for older daughter. It was supposed to be finished before baby E was born, but she decided to arrive five weeks early. It seemed to me to be the perfect garment for someone who is and then is not pregnant. It is made from three skeins of Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn (wool) and four skeins of Filatura Di Crosa yarn (mostly mohair). It is really, really easy to make - just three panels, two with cables on them. I think it could have an almost unlimited range of options: more cables, no cables, inserts of different lace patterns. The two front panels are kept on holders, then joined on one needle to knit the back directly from the live stitches. No sewing needed. It did require that I learn a new way to repair mistakes, and that was a plus also.

H says that it is perfect for Austin winters. So I put this in the success column. :-)

Friday, November 7, 2008

OK, I give up.

Some days there is nothing I can do but to admit that Mrs. G. is just way more clever and intelligent and more CLEVER (did I already say that?) than I am. So go check out this post. I love it.....

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Remove Thumb

This is one of my favorite cold-weather recipes, but today, I had an accident. Apparently it's not a good idea to chop carrots and talk on the phone at the same time. I really, really, really chopped into my thumb while trying to hold the phone on my shoulder with my chin. I aimed wrong, I guess. OUCH! My husband says it doesn't need stitches but I may come to regret listening to him, since he never sees anything as an emergency. His father was a surgeon, and according to my husband, the kids never saw a doctor for anything, even for my husband's broken arm. His parents told him to stop complaining, and a week or so later, when dh was at the hospital on rounds with his father, he had an xray taken. Lo and behold, the arm had been broken, but was in the process of healing. Sort of like the shoemaker's sons having no shoes, I guess.

Anyway, here's the Slow Cooker Recipe:

Tuscan Pot Roast from Real Simple magazine:

Egg noodles on the side will soak up the delicious gravy.
1/3 cup olive oil
1 2 1/2- to 3-pound bottom-round pot roast
2 large onions, quartered
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (2 cups)
2 large carrots, thinly sliced (2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 1/2-ounce package dried mushrooms (such as portobello)
1 tablespoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, chopped, liquid reserved

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the roast on all sides. Transfer the roast to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. To the fat remaining in the skillet, add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables; transfer to the cooker. Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits; add the contents of the skillet to the cooker, along with the mushrooms, salt, oregano, and tomatoes (plus 1 cup of their liquid). Cook 8 hours on low heat, or 4 hours on high heat.Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

Using fresh mushrooms, added for the last half hour or so of cooking, works out better than using dried mushrooms.

Try it! It's great! (minus the thumb, of course)

Postscript, added two hours into cooking. The power went out! Damn.... It's been off for a half an hour so far. Maybe the thumb accident and now no power means I am not meant to cook!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just So My Daughters Will Have Something New to Make Fun of Me For

"You are such a knitting nerd," is what they'll say, I'm betting. Anyway, the group of women I went to SAFF with found this on day one, and when I arrived for day two, our first stop of the second day was to find the booth where these were sold. I scored the last one!

What is it? Why, it's a yarn keeper bracelet, that's what it is!
It lets you knit while you are on the run, or keeps the yarn near you if you don't want it rolling all over the room. It also keeps the cat from playing with the ball of yarn because you wear the thing on your wrist and the yarn is not on the floor; it's in your lap.

Now, I was caught up in the excitement that is SAFF and didn't stop to consider that I never knit on the run, or even in public very often. The only line I've stood in lately (and I wished that I had brought my knitting) was to vote early - note the Obama bracelet. My cat rarely pays attention to my knitting. I don't know when I will use this, but it is clever, at least in theory. My three friends and I aren't the only ones who thought so - the booth was sold out when I bought the last yarn keeper bracelet early on day two of the three-day event.

So, go ahead and laugh. I may even join you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008


I am so happy to report that I made it to the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair in Asheville, North Carolina! I drove up on last Friday, in horrid rain and fog and the three-hour trip took five hours. But it was worth it. I didn't buy much yarn---the place was beyond full of yarn and it was overwhelming to a knitter of my capabilities. I am not yet an experienced enough knitter to look at something yummy and just buy some number of skeins with plans to knit a *whatever* out of it. But I couldn't resist this: It is from the River's Edge Weaving Studio and it is made of 3 ounces of kid mohair and 1/2 ounce of Bluefaced Leicester Wool. It is much creamier in color than it looks in this photo, and it is very soft. I may just keep it as a pet. One of the friends I was with bought wool from a sheep that she met, but I didn't meet any Bluefaced Leicester sheep.

I was talking with a non-knitting friend when I returned from the fair yesterday, and I apparently went on and on about all the animals we had touched and petted. She stopped me, asking, "Why are you all so thrilled to be touching these animals?" I hadn't thought about it but it's true. We were just so interested to see and feel the animals whose fiber we knit with. It's fun to find out what the fibers feel like before they are washed and treated and spun into yarns.

This is an alpaca, and I have knit many, many things from alpaca. Hello, mr? mrs? alpaca!

This is a lamb. Isn't it cute!?

This is an angora goat. Mohair comes from this animal.

This is an angora rabbit. They are every bit as soft as they look. This is the fuzzy, furry angora you find in sweaters. The angora from these rabbits is harvested, if that's the right term, by hand. The owners just pull it out, and the rabbits don't mind at all.

The fair was held in a huge agricultural structure where rodeos and animal auctions are held. As large as the place is, it was FULL of all sorts of fiber-related things, from drop spindles to felting machines, antique sock-knitting machines, spinning wheels, looms and on and on and on. There were demonstrations of all sorts of activities, and the attendees like my friends and me took along our knitting to do when we stopped for a break. One of our knit-night friends had submitted yarn she had spun herself and a lace shawl she had knit from her own spun yarn. She won three ribbons in all. Congratulations, S!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why I Should Live at the PO

Not by Eudora Welty
Because I've been to the freaking PO twice today!

If I had a brain, I'd be more organized and only go once.

OR, if I had the appropriate drugs, I wouldn't be so OCD that I am compelled to take things to the PO the moment they are ready to be mailed.

I was supposed to leave today for SAFF in Asheville, North Carolina, but I returned from Austin with a crummy bug and it's lingered and lingered. I'm enough better today to try and catch up with the week's errands, and---go to the PO twice. If I can get myself together, I can drive up tomorrow and join my friends there. A big if at this point, thanks to my lack of brains or drugs or both.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let's Hope

My sister is making a comforter for older daughter's new baby, Elizabeth. As a part of this comforter, there will be squares that each of Elizabeth's siblings have drawn for her. While I was in Austin, I oversaw the artists at work. C, of course, since he is only two, drew lots of scrawls and lines, just happy to be at the kitchen table with his sisters, working on the project they were working on. He loves to be included.

E was drawing the sort of thing that she does best, lots of intricate designs, and of course, a heart and the word "love."

Then there was L. As I walked towards her, she lifted her head, smiled her famous beatific, angelic smile and said, "Look. This is a drawing of me throwing Elizabeth in the air." I'm sure I must have looked startled because she added, "She loves it when I throw her in the air."

I pointed out that Elizabeth appeared to be frightened. "Look at her mouth," I said. "She's screaming."

"No," said L. "She's saying 'Whee!'"


I then told the girls that they could draw more than one picture if they wanted, and E and L both drew flowery, sweet pictures. I'm sending all their work off to my sister and she can choose what to use.

Check out hokgardner's blog today; it's about L's love for her new sister. I'm sure she loves her, but I'm guessing there's a little jealousy there too---just check out the drawing...

BTW: L is not dyslexic; she was drawing on transfer paper and the image will be reversed when it is ironed on fabric.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another F O

Last year I bought a Mountain Colors Mixed Fibers Throw kit, and finally, just before I went to Austin, I finished it. It sort of "hibernated" during the summer months. It was just too heavy and warm and fuzzy for knitting during Georgia's summer heat and humidity, air-conditioning not withstanding.

When I realized that I was going to Austin a month earlier than I had expected because Elizabeth had been born early, I tried to think of a frivolous but luxurious gift for older daughter. Having her baby five weeks early was stressful for her and I wanted to give her something she wouldn't have expected. I wracked my brain as I knitted away finishing this throw. And then I thought, "Duh. Why not the throw itself?" It's made of all sorts of textures of wool and mohair and it is wonderfully soft. The colorway is called Northern Lights and it's beautiful. (The colors don't really show up well in the photos.)

Anyway, I carried it to Austin and gave it to H. She and Elizabeth can snuggle into it during cold winter nights when Elizabeth wants to be awake to eat or to just hang out with her mom.

And now I'm going to order another kit to make one for me!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Elizabeth A. and Elizabeth Z.

I am back from Texas where I spent a week helping older daughter (spoiling grandchildren to the best of my ability) with her new baby, who was born five weeks early. She is beautiful and sturdy...and a good thing too, with three older siblings to deal with!

I had bought the pattern for Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket a month or so ago, in anticipation of making it for new baby. But new baby was early, so I made it while I was in Austin. I have been knitting for a long time, but apparently not long enough for me to understand the directions for this jacket. It doesn't resemble anything while it's being worked up, and the instructions include such things as "See what you are doing?" (No, I do NOT) and "Hope you are still with me" (Nope). So I called a knit-night friend in Atlanta who had recently made the jacket. She agreed that the directions are vague and helped me through some of the tough parts. The jacket is finished, but I'm sure that a purist would find many irregularities in it.

The whole jacket is knit in one piece and this is what the finished knitting looks like:

This is it all sewn up and with the buttons attached.
And as tiny as the jacket is (I forgot to measure the finished project, but it's knit in sock yarn, and take my word for it, it's tiny), it's not tiny at all when compared with 4 pound, 12 ounce Elizabeth!
But not to worry. Elizabeth eats like a champ, and she'll grow into the jacket in no time!

Friday, October 3, 2008

How to Quit Smoking

In today's post, Pioneer Woman discusses her earlier smoking escapades and so, in the interest of public health, I have decided to share my successful method of quitting smoking. It has a 100% success record---me! Minimal (well, none, really) research on my part has not revealed any other uses of this method, so there may well be ZILLIONS of unreported success stories out there.

I smoked for one year, my senior year of college. When I decided that I didn't want to smoke any longer, I came up with my plan:

1. I would not "bum" cigarettes from anyone else; i.e., I would give up smoking all cigarettes, not just my own cigarettes.

2. Each and every time that I wanted a cigarette, I went down to the dorm basement where the cigarette machines were. I would buy one pack, take out one cigarette, and throw the rest of the pack in the chute to the trash. These chutes led directly to a bin in the bowels of the building and there was no way I knew of to retrieve anything from the bin. I would smoke that one cigarette, and that was that. When I wanted another, I would have to buy another pack. Even at cigarette prices in the 60s, this was a very expensive way to smoke and I was a poor college student. My smoking soon came to a screeching halt.

Now, before my daughters tell on me, when we lived in Florida, another neighbor and I helped each other wallpaper rooms. We drank coffee and ate coffee cake in the mornings; we had sandwiches and soda for lunch; and if we were still papering at dinner time, we had one cigarette apiece and switched to drinking beer. A good time was had by all and the wallpaper generally looked pretty good.

To this day, I sometimes really, really crave a cigarette. I am one of those few people who enjoy second-hand smoke. But I have convinced myself that one cigarette will cause me to have a heart attack or some other dire medical emergency, and I have resisted bumming one from any smokers I might be around. On my first trip to Paris, as I was standing in line to get in the Louvre, a very nervous young woman was asking if anyone had a cigarette she could have. I told her there was plenty of smoke in the air (the French do love to smoke) but she said that was not enough.

It is for me!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


"Got gas?" you ask.
Why, yes, I do and thank you for asking.

Does this sound like a weird thing to be celebrating? It won't to those of you in some southeast cities, where gas is really, really rare right now. I was down to one-quarter of a tank, and spent the morning using precious gas to find more gas. I decided not to wander too far and stayed within twelve miles of the house. A gas station very near my house was out when I left, but by the time I got back---not finding gas anywhere else---the station had gotten a delivery. The parking lot was lined with roped-off lanes like those for a ride at Disney World, and there were workers directing people to the next pump available. Fortunately I must have arrived just after the gas arrived and so only waited for about two minutes. Lines in the Atlanta area have stretched for miles; there have been fights over people cutting in line; and there was an incident where someone siphoned gas from daycare vans. Bad, bad person!

The cause of this shortage here is supposed to be the hurricane---the one that came nowhere near here. It apparently cut production from one of the refineries in Texas (where there are no shortages) and the southeast is low on gas. Doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's what they tell us. This problem didn't even start at the time the hurricane happened, but started a couple of weeks later. Weird.

Because I left the job that required a seventy-mile roundtrip commute, I can stay fairly close to the house, and so this full tank will probably last two weeks or so.

Whew.... I can go to Knit Night!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oh, well

Knit Night
Gorgeous Yarn


More stash. Another project!

(This is Blue Sky Alpaca, Dyed Cotton, colorway 628. It has more green in it than the picture shows. It will be a wrap: stockinette stitch surrounded by seed stitch.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

totally tubular, dude

I don't know what that means. I had thought it had something to do with surfing until I watched a Globe Trekker show last week, and the surfers in southern Mexico talked about surfing in the "pipe." So who knows...

Anyway, I digressed. When I wrote about the circular scarf I was knitting, what I really meant was that I was knitting a tubular scarf. It's knit on circular needles and will form a tube when finished. I don't know where the pattern came from, but all the other kids at my LYS are making it, so I had to as well. It's knit with 86 stitches on size 6 needles, 16" long. It's a perfect no-brain-needed project, unless you're knitting it in stripes and have to count rows. I am just knitting in this green until I run out of it and then changing to magenta and knitting until I run out of that. The finished project is somewhere in the vicinity of six feet long. Yikes! I hadn't thought about that when I started the project; this yarn is really just thread and so I hope I can finish the thing before I, uh, die. Or go crazy, whichever comes first.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Good Intentions

Gone Bad.

I just went to the grocery store to buy something healthful for dinner. I did accomplish that. Then I walked past all the crunchy, salty snack foods I love. I walked past the chocolate. (I really, really love chocolate.) Then I walked past the Krispy Kremes. (I really, really, really love Krispy Kremes.)

But then I spotted the candy corn and candy pumpkins. Resistance was futile. I'm putting them in a dish that has a lid. Think that will help?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

As Always

Mrs. G. says it best. Check it out.


No, that's not a real word, but it should be. It's a word I learned from a friend of mine, and it means, of course, something that makes one nervous. I told my older granddaughter about this word one day when she was up in a tree in her yard---WAY up in a tree. She laughed and now when I visit, up she goes and then yells to me, "Hey, Gran! Is this nervacizing?"

Well, YES! But now it's getting worse. She is on a climbing team and this is her almost-eight-year-old self in the picture. I conveniently forget that I was a climber as a kid. We had several large willow trees, and my sister and I spent many, many hours in them as kids, just hanging out, talking, plotting (against our brother) and dreaming. I loved those trees.

But now that it's my precious granddaughter, I say "Enough! Get down from there!"

Not really. She's been trying to climb anything and everything since she was a baby. A friend of mine remembers when Ella, at only three months old, tried to climb up her when she was holding her. We have pictures of her climbing door jambs, the outside of stairways, and of course, trees.

So Ella, learn to climb well and safely, because I know you're going to always be looking for a way to go UP!