Friday, December 31, 2010

My New Philosophy

Hi all, this is the New Year's Resolution blog.  Shocker, I know, as it's New Year's Eve.  As some of you may know, I have a lot of yarn.  I mean a lot.  According to the last counts on Ravelry, plus yarn that has been ordered but not received, I have 337 different yarns.  This does not include the skeins.  So, for example, if I have 15 skeins of a purple heather Cascade 220, it only counts as one yarn in Ravelry.  Now granted, I do only have one skein of some yarns, particularly laceweights, but you can see the scale of the problem.  This also does not include all my fiber, meaning roving, fleece and top, that I have yet to spin on the Lendrum.  Which increases the scale of the problem.  So, given that it's that time of year, I've decided that I need to embark on a new yarn and fiber stash reduction plan.  (And I don't want to hear any giggles about previous attempts, it's a new year and a new plan.)

2011 Yarn and Fiber Stash Reduction Plan Rules:

1.  No yarn purchases during 2011 with two exceptions (there have to be some exceptions or I'd go off my head):
  • The Webs May Tent Sale - However, all yarn purchased must be at least 60% off retail.
  • Stitches East - However, only yarn that is not available locally or cannot be easily purchased on the web may be purchased.
2.  Books, patterns, and needles may be purchased, but with the purpose of using yarn already contained in the stash.

3.  All projects shall be knit with stash yarn with the exception of any group baby blanket projects (said hoping that no one in my knitting group reproduces in the coming year).

4.  Projects shall be chosen with the aim of reducing overall space amounts (i.e. 600 yards of worsted takes up more space than 600 yards of fine laceweight).

5.  At least one project shall utilize my handspun yarn, which had already been spun as of 12/31/2010.

6.  At least one project shall utilize a kit which had been purchased prior to 12/31/2010.

7.  At least two projects shall be self-designed and the pattern shall be suitable for posting to Ravelry for sale.  At least one of these projects shall be a design for a women's sweater with a wide range of plus sizes.

8.  At least one project shall be for Shawn.

9.  With respect to the roving, top, and fleece in the stash, at least 4 ounces of fiber shall be spun each month.  (Although this adds to the yarn, yarn takes up less space than roving, top and fleece.)

That's the fiber and yarn plan.  On to the writing plan.

Again, as many of you know, I'm working on a novel.  However, I've not been working on it very hard as of late.  I pretty much haven't done anything since our last meeting of the Misplaced Modifiers.  And I'm over the half way point, so I just need to get things moving along.  Therefore, I've concocted a cunning plan, as laid out below:

2011 Novel Completion Plan:

1.  At least once a month, I will participate in a Challenge Writing Weekend, whether anyone participates with me or not, in which the goal is to write 5,000 words over the course of a weekend.  (Linda D and I occasionally do these challenges.)
2.  In addition to the Challenge Written Weekends, I will average a 1,000 a week during the non-Challenge Writing Weekend weeks during the each month.

3.  This schedule shall continue until the novel is complete.

I will be heading to Staples later today to get a 2011 calendar to help implement both plans.

In other news, I have been off this week, which was good and bad.  Good in that I'm cruising on the Tramline Cable Sweater, and I have a shot of completing the last sleeve today or tomorrow. I'd like to finish the thing today so I can start the 2011 Yarn and Fiber Stash Reduction Plan fresh, but that's just my OCD talking.  And I would like to be able to add the yardage to my totals for this year...but again, I'm being rigid in my counting hierarchy again.   The week was bad in that I kept buying stuff.  See the Mountain Colors Half Crepe yarn to your left that I purchased at the Elegant Ewe.  I also put in an order at Knitpicks for the new Margaret Stove book, the double knitting book that I've wanted since Stitches, and a couple of balls of the new Chroma in fingering weight.   Then there was an order for vinyl project bags to US Box, an order for work tops, and an order to Zappos for my nth pair of purple shoes.  Not to mention the shoes I bought at DSW and the laptop speakers I got at Bestbuy.  Apparently, if I work, I'm too tired to shop.  Must remember this.

Anyway, I wish you all the best in the New Year and hope that you all accomplish anything you resolve to do.  I'm crossing my fingers for myself.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Wonderful Christmas Time

Okay, first things first - I did not receive a sculpture. Repeat, I did not receive a sculpture. Well, okay, I admit that I didn't really expect to get it this year, but I wondered if Shawn would decide to relieve himself of "reminders" for the next year or so until he finally caves. However, he could have decided that if he caves, I will come up with some other request that will be worse. Logical, I suppose. Poor Shawn :)

My last day of work was Thursday evening, and we grabbed some dinner and played the new Wii Party game Shawn picked up for me. Unfortunately, dinner made a rapid reappearance. Peking duck...eeww. I was not feeling well for most of the next day, headache, chills and other digestive complaints, so that totally blew our plan for
having lobsters and steamers on Christmas Eve, which I do every year. So the plan is to fit in today with our other plans. The oncoming blizzard may throw wrench into that, but we'll see. Yesterday I was fine, so we headed to Shawn's parents for Christmas.

They were very kind to us this year, which they always are.  Our dvd player in the bedroom blew so they got us a blue ray/dvd player, which we'll use in the living room and relegate the dvd in the livingroom to the bedroom.  I also got a new yarn swift from Knitpicks which is a nice upgrade from my old swift which is also on its very last legs.  I just wound a skein with the old one on Monday and wondered if it was going to make it through the skein. And the new one is larger and looks like it'll handle heavier skeins better.  

I made the spinach dip with tofu again, but this time, I added a bit of some Amazon Salsa Verde Picante Hot Sauce, an extra garlic clove and some Penzey's Garlic Salt.  You couldn't taste the heat of the hot sauce, but it perked it up remarkably.  I also made a tossed salad, which we still have gallons of in the fridge. I guess I'll have plenty to eat this week. I knew there wouldn't be any desserts I could eat there, and being sick the day before, I decided on Christmas morning I didn't feel like getting up extra early to make one for me.  So when I got home last night, I made some Hot and Spicy brownies.  I'd been having this idea running through my head for a bit, so I did a quick search and came up with a recipe. You just take a brownie mix and add a teaspoon of chili powder and 3/4 of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  They were good, you didn't really taste it until the after bite and then it was a warm heat.

I have been obsessing on the Tramline Cable Sweater.  I finished the front on the 20th, and I already have this much of the first sleeve.  I'm off this week, except for quick visits to the office, and I'm hoping to make major progress. I'll have to think about what to do next.  I am really focusing on stash reduction, so I'm trying to use worsted weight or larger. We'll see.

Stay tuned.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Drops of Brandy

This past week was fairly busy. There was a farewell party at Hermano's in Concord this past Monday for a co-worker who is moving on to a new job. After that I had to hit Petsmart for a new aquarium heater as my previous heater had attempted fishicide by boiling on Sunday (I hadn't noticed the thing had malfunctioned until the temperature had reached 92 degrees), and then I had to hit Hannafords for various supplies and gift cards for my nephews. The following night I had a Jetboil current and ex's dinner, and then I had to hit RiteAid for cards to mail the gift cards to my nephews. Apparently the smart-ass Christmas cards I already had in my possession were not appropriate for young recipients. (Okay, so I get that the one I had with Santa talking about his new all protein diet and the reindeer running around looking for other missing reindeer might not have been the best choice.) Wednesday was a quiet evening and I worked on the front of the Tramline Cable Sweater. Thursday evening I went to Alison M's and got to see Edgar's Christmas photos. That dog is crazily cute. I also received a really kind gift of Dream in Color Smooshy in Cashmere in a fabulous purple from Mary T.  It's gorgeous, I just want to roll in it. 

This week my friend Mindy C finished the sweater that she's been working on, and that I've been helping her with during our lunches at work.  It's for her nephew and it came out really well.  I'm curious to see what she picks for her next project.
In other obsessive knitter news, I have been kind of bummer that Knitmeter doesn't work on facebook any more, because the application on facebook allowed you to calculate how much you had knit since you started keeping track.  The web version of this application only allowed you to calculate how much you had knit in the past month, last year, etc., which was not as cool as far as I was concerned.  It finally occurred to me that I could do much the same thing, by designing my own spreadsheet on Excel.  So I did.  So, not counting the yarn I've knit in the Tramline Cable Sweater (because apparently my OCD does not allow me to count the yarn until the project is complete), I've knit 7,971 yards or 4.528977 miles since August 29, 2009.  If you want a copy of the worksheet with the formulas, email me.

This weekend we were slugs.  Very much slugs.  We didn't really do much.  I spent most of the weekend working obsessively on the Tramline Cable Sweater and listening to audio books at the same time.  We both had today off, but we still were slugs. I finished the front of the sweater about half an hour ago.  Yay!!  I think I managed to get through the front without screwing up any cable crosses this time.  I've looked over it carefully twice, so probably I just need to show it to another knitter so they can spot it in a heartbeat.  There are two sleeves to go, so I'm two-thirds of the way through.  It's not eating as much yarn as I'd really hoped though, even though I added three inches of length to the sweater. I'm only through about six skeins for both the front and back.  Oh well. 

Three days of work this week, and then I have the following week off.  Unfortunately, Shawn has this week off, because the whole seniority system thing at his job sucks. Again, oh well.  I'm looking forward to Christmas Eve, Shawn and I will be exchanging our letters and having lobsters. For the last few years, we've exchanged letters to each other rather than buy each other more junk.  We buy quite enough junk for ourselves throughout the year, without adding to it.  I much prefer getting the letter than anything else Shawn could get for me.  Unless it's a sculpture he's made himself.  For those of you that remember the whole poem thing, since I finally did get the poem, I've moved on to requesting that Shawn create me a sculpture.  I've said that it could be a sculpture of anything, even an abstract concept, and it could be made of clay, playdoh, mashed potatoes, etc.  Shawn, to date, is not cooperating.  But, it took me a year and half to get the poem, and I've only started the campaign in earnest recently, so I'm not expecting it will be for Christmas this year.  For those of you wondering at my candor, Shawn does not read my blog unless harassed to do so.  Plus, he's well aware of the campaign at this point. 

That's pretty much it for this report.  Have a happy holiday for those of you that do that kind of thing.  And for those of you that don't, have a good time too.

Stay tuned for further updates as they occur.  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm

This week's song title is appropriate because it's been fricking cold. I hate winter and I hate wearing coats and bundling up, and I hate having to spend what I have to spend to have a nice winter coat that goes with suits. But, I had finally broken down and ordered a winter coat on Tueday or Wednesday.  My old coat was the one I had when I was still at Bianco, and the lining was pretty much gone, and I had beaten the crap out of it, so it desperately needed replacement.  I had even succumbed to beginning to wear mittens, by Tuesday, in hopes that if my hands were warm, I could go without a coat a little longer, I mean, hey, it was only 30 degrees, that's not bad right?  When I ordered the coat, I thought, oh, I'm not paying for expedited shipping either, I can make it to December 16th, that won't be a problem.  So of course, the temperature had to drop. It was 8 degrees yesterday when I got in the Santa Fe to go to work.  If I had just ordered the freaking coat in October, it'd probably be 40 degrees right now.  I need to move some place where it's 70 degrees all year round. It has not yet truly snowed, meaning that snow has not actually accumulated on the ground after falling, but if I never see another snowflake, it'll be perfectly fine with me.  Sorry for the rant, but it's that cranky time of year before I have accepted the fact that experiencing another f-ing winter is inevitable at this point.

In other news, I gave Elaina's scarf to her and made her pose for pictures.  She requested that I obscure her face, so I played on photoshop a bit and made it happen.  I also wrote up the pattern this morning and posted it on Ravelry.  You can get to the pattern by going to and it's a $3.00 pattern. 
I had considered doing it for less, but I did compile a chart for the written pattern instructions I had used, so I thought it was worth that for my work.  In other fiber news, I visited the Elegant Ewe this week, which is always a bad idea for me.  I had received an email from them stating that they had some Cascade 220 sport weight in.  So I had to go look that that.  They had two versions, one that is a two ply and has a more rustic look, and one looked more like worsted weight Cascade, with 4 or 5 plies (I didn't count).  I would have liked to try the one that looked more like the worsted but they didn't have any colors I liked.  The two ply version is pretty, but I'm not sure how the stitch definition will be, but I thought I'd try a skein out.  Guess what color I got.  I also ended up getting the Winter 2010 Spin-Off magazine, the Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders book (which has one of Gina H's patterns in it...yay Gina!!), and Kelly's Cake Tank Pattern, which does not appear to be on the website yet.  It's really cute though, and it goes up to 55" for those of us who are of size.

In writing news this week, I have not done any.  Whatsoever.  I'm not sure what is up with that.  It's either because we don't have a meeting this month due to the holiday or it's my aggravation with the cold.  Plus the office is just ridiculously overrun with stuff that we moved to make the rest of the apartment tolerable for Thanksgiving.  I may be forced into a clean and purge in the office this weekend.  It depends on my actually motivation levels.  In related news, I did finally read Peyton Place.  One of our writing group members, Sally H-D, wrote her Ph.D. thesis on the book, and has a book contract for her thesis, and we've been providing critiques.  I'm sure the critiques will be more helpful now that I've actually read the book. 

That's about it for this week. Tune in next week at this same channel.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Song of Purple Summer

Okay, remember how I said I was naming all my blog posts after songs?  So sometimes I get stuck and I go searching for stuff on the Itunes store.  This week I needed something with purple, for reasons that will become self evident shortly, so I searched.  I came up with this song.  I don't like it the song from the 30 second blurb I listened to, but who (meaning those obsessed with the color purple) could not like this title??  I wish I'd thought of it, I'd love to write a book with this title.  Anyway, the summer part is not apropos either, but still. 

This week not much was going on.  I had my first full work week since October, as I'm using up vacation days before I lose them at the end of the year.  I keep forgetting to schedule vacation now that I'm not sick all the time from the stress of practicing law.  I went to Borders on Wednesday night for the Concord Knitting group, and they had some fake trees up.  Does this scream my name or what?  If  it were reasonably priced (i.e. not $119) dollars, and if I felt it was safe to put up a tree with an overly curious, destructive and obnoxious parrot in our household, I'd get it in a second, just for the laugh value.  One of the knitters suggested I could trim it with hot pink flamingo lights.  I liked it, in the "it's so bad, it's hilarious" mind frame. Speaking of which I've been saying I'm going to do this for sometime, so here it is.  This is the Christmas lobster that I bought at Hannaford for $6.00 that sings Jingle Bell Rock.  It's my favorite thing.  Shawn hates it, but it slays me.  Here's the video on youtube:

I also finished the scarf I designed for Elaina this week, and I blocked it this morning.  I'm hoping to get a better picture of it once it's dry, and I think I'll write it up for ravelry.  Not sure I'm actually going to charge for it, but we'll see how I feel about it after writing it. 

Not much else going on.  We took Kiwi to have her wing feathers and her nails trimmed yesterday.  She now has more toys to destroy and one of them is even Christmas themed, with bells.  That bird loves trying to kill bells.  Not sure what is up with that, but hey, keeps her busy.

Anyway, that's all I have to report at this time.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm so Tired (by the Beatles)

Okay, I don't really know what happened, whether it was a bug, or just a cooking and cleaning hangover from Thanksgiving, but I did zippo on Friday and Saturday.  On Friday, I didn't really even knit, even though I said I was going to.  I even slept, during the day, which is not normal for me at all.  I basically wrote a blog post, took a three hour nap, and picked out the lobsters Shawn got, and that was it. Yesterday, the most I did was boil the turkey carcass and strain it and sort out the bones.  I didn't even make the soup.  I'm glad it's still cold enough because the stock pot had to go on the balcony.   I didn't even write.  I just felt like I should be sleeping all day, but I didn't. I did knit a bit yesterday though.  I feel a bit better this morning, I'm tired, but not so tired that my face hurts and I'm not falling asleep in my knitting.

Anyway, just wanted to do a quick update on fiber news.  I finished the front of the sweater a bit ago, but I've had to stop progress on it to work on Elaina's scarf.  So I have a picture of that too.

Also, (drum roll), Shawn bought me a skein of the Beaded Pearl & Sequin Artyarns. It's so pretty. I think I'm going to have to design something for it. I figure the most I can do with it is knit a couple of rows on a neck line of a sweater, so I'm thinking that a sweater using it as a trim would be the thing to do use it for.
That's about it for this quickie post.  I'm headed to Concord guild today, I'll be finishing the turkey soup, and then we may be going to see the new Harry Potter flick. 

Stay tuned to this channel for further updates.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Even Better Than The Real Thing

I didn't post last weekend because I was running around like a crazy woman even though I had Friday and Monday off.  I had invited Laura V and Mary Kate R to Thanksgiving at my place, as Shawn was working and they would not be able to spend the day with their families, and my mom has moved to Arizona again.  Now, you have to understand that I haven't had company in a while, which means that I really hadn't cleaned much. Because company coming is pretty much the prerequisite for me to instigate a real cleaning.  So on Friday morning, after another six month mammogram (which was good news and I can resume a regular annual schedule), getting an oil change, dropping into work to sign stuff, I started the cleaning process, and I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned.  During this cleaning process, I had an unintended milk exposure because I forgot to check to see if Girl Scout Thin Mints had milk in them.  Which they do.  ARGGH!!!!  (Picture me screaming and shaking my fists at the sky.)

On Saturday we went grocery shopping and got that taken care of, and then I went to a meeting of the Misplaced Modifiers at Sally's.  It was a good meeting and people had done really good work.  My sex scene was not universally ridiculed, so that was good.  We got to see Oliver, a.k.a. the law firm (the kiddo has a lot of names and sounds like a law firm--in fact, I'm using his name as the name of the law firm in my novel), who is really beginning to look less like an infant and more like a toddler.   When I got home from the meeting, we cleaned and cleaned. 

On Sunday, I cleaned, made cranberry sauce, both diabetic and regular, roasted the garlic for the mashed potatoes, and devised the cooking timetable for the week, and headed off to the Concord Knitting Meetup group.  We made a pork loin for dinner, and then we cleaned until about 9:00 p.m, which took care of everything except a few final touches.

As I had Monday off, I got up made the turkey brine (recipe to follow) and vacuumed and mopped the kitchen floor, and ended up dragging out the Hoover stream carpet cleaner and doing the entry way.  I will not discuss the results but suffice it say it's amazing how much freaking sand can be in the carpet, even though you just vacuumed it three times before you ran the carpet cleaner.   Then I got cleaned up and headed to Concord to sign stuff at the office.  After that I treated myself to lunch at the Golden Bowl, and headed to the Rockingham Mall to visit Bare Escentuals so that I could pick up some makeup as I was out, and then I went to the Used Book Superstore and picked up some quick reads.  Note that I had dropped off two garbage bags of donations to the same said Used Book Superstore on Saturday.  Sigh.

Tuesday night, I worked on Step 1 of Grandma Jackson's stuffing (recipe to follow) and ran errands for the last minute things.  Like a bottle of Watermelon Schnapps for Laura V and I.  It sounds awful, but mix it with Sprite, and it tastes just like a Watermelon Jolly Rancher.  It's so yummy.

On Wednesday night, I got out the turkey and put it in the brine and out on the balcony, peeled the potatoes, and the butternut squash before Laura V's bus came in.  Quick side note:  In a previous blog post, I discussed having purchased the Titan peeler as seen on TV because I have an issue with wanting to see if that stuff works.  Let me tell you, it made peeling that squash a piece of cake. After picking up Laura, we headed to Taipei Tokyo to get dinner, and then came back to the apartment to finish doing the other prep work.  We made the vegan key lime pie (recipe to follow), put a rustic grains bread together in the bread machine, made the spinach dip (recipe previously provided in an early blog post), and made blueberry muffins for breakfast the following morning.

Finally yesterday was Thanksgiving.  Laura and I got up early to make the chocolate pecan pie (recipe to follow), bake gram's stuffing, and make roasted vegetable salsa (recipe to follow) in the Showtime Rotisserie, before Mary Kate arrived.  Once Mary Kate arrived, we rinsed the brine off the turkey, stuffed the cavity with a quartered onion, fresh sage leaves and 4-5 garlic cloves, and then we used the solid injector to inject onions, sage and garlic into the turkey breast in three places on each side.  We also made roasted garlic mashed potatoes, a pumpkin butternut squash bisque (recipe to follow).  Mary Kate brought this roasted vegetable casserole with caramelized onions on the top, which was yummy, and this sparkling wine called New Age that we had tried at a Concord Co-op tasting, which was wonderful. I introduced Mary Kate and Laura V to Beatles Rock Band.  There was much laughing, and Kiwi was totally not impressed with our singing skills.

The vegan version of Key Lime pie was surprisingly good, but it didn't really set well. It was very soupy, but we may not have cooked the filling enough.  I may try it one more time to see.  After we tried a piece of it, we decided to freeze it to see in that helped, which it does.  It froze very well, and when I took it out this morning to repackage it, it melted quickly, so I think it could be served frozen to solve the soupy issue.

The turkey for some reason was the best turkey I've ever done.  It was incredibly moist and even the breast meat (I'm a dark meat girl myself because I find breast meat dry and icky) was luscious.  Not to brag or anything.  I think having the probe thermometer really helps you from overcooking it too much.

I have a freaking boat load of leftovers, but at least I won't have too cook for some time.

Menu and Recipes:


Spinach Dip with Tofu (see previous blog post)
Hummus with Roasted Garlic
Assortment of Pickles
Tortilla Chips

Roasted Vegetable Salsa - As Modified: (all roasting we did in the grill basket in the rotisserie)
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in thirds crosswise, roasted
1 red bell pepper, quartered, seeded, roasted
1 green pepper, quartered, seeded, roasted
2 jalapeno chilies, quartered, seeded, roasted
5-6 cloves garlic, roasted
2 green onions or scallions, chopped
4 large tomatoes, rough chop
Run all of the above through a food processor, leaving pieces in a fine chop. Put mixture in bowl, and add the following:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of lime juice
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper
2-3 tsp of Penzey's Salsa Salad Seasoning
3-4 drops of Marie Sharps Habanero Grapefruit Hot Sauce
3-4 drops of Tabasco's Green Jalapeno Hot Sauce
Black Pepper and Lawry's seasoned salt to taste.
Mix well.


Turkey Brine - As Modified from Alton Brown's recipe: (do 2-3 days before cooking turkey)
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon of vegetable stock (we used water and the Better Than Bouillon low sodium vegetable base which is dairy free - regular is not)
1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons of allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons of chopped candied ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons of sage
1 gallon of heavily iced water
Mix all ingredients except water in a large stockpot  over medium high heat, and bring to boil mixing to dissolve sugar and salt.  When at a boil remove from heat, bring to room temp, and refrigerate.
The evening before you're cooking the turkey take the bring, put in a pot or container big enough to hold the brine, turkey and the heavily iced water.  Mix brine and water, and put turkey in breast down.  Refrigerate for 8-16 hours.  It says turn the bird once, but I didn't. Rinse brine off before cooking.

Grandma Jackson's Weird Meat Stuffing recipe:
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
onions 2-3 chopped
celery 3-5 stalks chopped
ground pepper to taste
salt to taste
ground sage to taste (I usually end up using probably 2-3 teaspoons)
rubbed sage to taste (I usually end up using 2-3 tablespoons)
1-2 bags of Pepperidge (sp?) Farms breadcrumbs or equivalent
Put ground pork and beef in a stock pot with enough water to cover. Boil the crap out of it until it's completely disintegrated. I've been known to use my stick blender too. Add pepper, salt, onions, celery and rubbed sage. Cook until onions and celery are a bit translucent. Add bread crumbs until you get a nice pudding, doughy consistency, usually between 1 and 1 and 1/3 bags. Mix in ground sage as needed to get the right taste. Put in a bird or put in a loaf pan and bake at 400 for an hour until nice and crispy on top.

Rustic Grains Bread - As Modified (bread machine 1.5 loaf):
1 cup room temperature water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup of Harvest Grains Mixture from King Arthur Flour
2/3 cup of 9 Grain Flour from King Arthur Flour
1 2/3 cups of bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of rapid rising bread machine yeast
Put ingredients in bread machine in order listed. Select Basic cycle, medium crust and 1.5 loaf size, and press start.

Dairy Free Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
Yukon Gold peeled potatoes boiled
1/2 cup garlic cloves roasted in olive oil in oven at 350 degrees for an hour

2-3 tablespoons of Earth Balance Vegan margarine
1/4 to 1/2 cup of almond milk.
Mash together.

Dairy Free Pumpkin-Butternut Bisque:
1 tablespoon of Earth Balance Vegan margarine
1 medium leek, white part only sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 15 oz can of unsweetened pumpkin puree
4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (we used water and chicken Better than Bouillon low sodium)
1 tablespoon of light brown sugar, firmly packed.
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Freshly grated nutmeg - we probably grated a good teaspoon
1 cup of almond milk
slivered almonds as garnish (although we forgot to do this)
In large soup pot, over medium heat, melt margarine, add leek and salt and pepper and saute until leek is soft but not browned. Add squash and stir to coat.  Add pumpkin, broth, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and stir well.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until squash is fork tender. Use a blender or a stick blender to puree soup.  Taste for seasoning and top with almonds.


Vegan (Dairy Free) Chocolate Pecan Paradise Pie as Modified:
1 graham cracker crust - you can find dairy free ones at the grocery store or you can make your own.
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2/3 cup warm vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan margarine at room temp
3 tablespoons of molasses
2 tablespoons of amaretto
2 cups chopped lightly toasted pecans
1 cup Ghiradelli Semi Sweet chocolate chips (no dairy in them)
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Put oats in a blender or food processor and blend until very fine but not powdery.  Put in bowl with salt and flour and stir.  In a separate large bowl, combine almond milk, maple syrup, margarine, molasses, amaretto and whisk until smooth (used stick blender, worked better).  Whisk in flour mixture.  Stir in pecans and chocolate chips with wooden spoon. Pour into graham cracker crust.  Bake for 38-40 minutes.  Serve warm  and store leftovers in refrigerator.  Nuke leftovers a bit in microwave before serving.

Vegan (Dairy Free) Luscious Lime Pie:
1 graham cracker crust
1 1/2 cups firm silken tofu, well drained
1 cup soy cream cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons of finely grated lime peel (used Pampered chef  micro grater and it worked well)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine tofu and soy cream cheese in food processor or blender until smooth. Combine sugar and cornstarch in small bowl, mix well, and add to tofu mixture, process until smooth scraping down sides as needed.  Transfer to sauce pain and cook on medium heat stirring constantly for 5 to 7 minutes until mixture begins to thicken.  It should not come to a boil or begin to get lumpy.  Pour into a bowl and mix in lime juice, lime peel, and vanilla.  Stir constantly until well formed, pour into crust and refrigerate for 8-12 hours before serving.

And that wraps it up for Thanksgiving this year.

Just a shout out to Lora K, I'm thinking of you and I know everything will be okay.

Stay tuned to this channel for further updates.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Isn't it Romantic? (Chet Baker version)

Okay, I've delayed and procrastinated for probably over a month, but I finally completed my writing exercise for last month's online meeting.  And yes, it was massively late, and it's up to my writing group as to whether they still want to critique it, but it had to be done.  How can you write a trashy novel if there's no trash in it?  The assignment was an exercise from a book on writing fiction as follows:

Write a sex scene where you know the characters well and where the sex is so particular, so peculiar to the person who yearns for it, that only he or she would desire so very much that particular person under those circumstances.

Well, it's written now.  I'm not sure it's particular, or peculiar, and I'm certain that it's schlocky and full of cliches, but the first sex scene I've ever written is drafted.  I did write it in the novel context using my characters, but it's out of sequence, so now I have to catch up in the novel to the part where this happens. I gained 2,000+ words, but I don't know if I want to count that really until I catch up as substantial revisions may need to be made to connect it up.  I need to think about that.

In fiber news, since I fixed the wheel and I had fiber that I had taken out of the closet for the Maine trip, I spun some more this week.  The fiber is from Spin-a-bit and I bought it at NH Sheep and Wool this last go round, I think.  The picture to the left is the fiber batt as I bought it.  There are shiny things in it, which are very pretty.  I'm not sure why I'm so into shiny things right now, but that appears to be the case. To the right is a crappy picture of the singles being spun.  I took a bunch and this was the best of them sadly.  I think it was just too dark in the living room.  To the right, bottom, is a picture of the skein of yarn after I plied it.  I like it.  It's a little more aqua than I normally like, but the purple balances that out I think.

In knitting fiber news, I finished the back of the purple tramline sweater.  On Tuesday I was showing some knitting friends the cable cross that I had done incorrectly and one of them spotted another incorrect cross.  ARGGHH!  And of course, that one was way at the beginning.  My options were to intentionally drop a 28 stitch wide cable back and reknit it back up.  I thought about it and said no freaking way.  My second option was to cut the cable, push it back to the other side to recross the cable correctly and graft it back together on the other side.  I have done this before.  It can be done.  I just didn't want to do it with a 2 st by 2 st cross, as I was concerned there would not be enough yarn to weave in after cutting.  My knitting friends said I was being insane and to leave them alone, it was the back of the sweater and nobody would notice.  Given that one of them spotted the second incorrect cable, I kinda wasn't buying that.  I wondered whether I could duplicate stitch over it to hide the incorrect cross.  They still told me I was insane.  But I couldn't help it, so I decided to attempt it, even though I had never heard of duplicate stitching in connection with recrossing cables, but hey, it might work.  So I duplicated stitched over the incorrect cable cross to make it look stitches were coming over it from the line below. I think I like it better than ignoring it, but I didn't weave in the ends, and I'll take it to guild tomorrow to see what people think.

I've started designing a scarf for Elaina at work out of the autumn colored Manos del Uruguay lace yarn I bought at Stitches.  We're headed to Boston today and we're planning to have dinner with Laura V.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stormy Blues

Okay the title is deceiving, sort of, but will be explained in due course.  This weekend was the annual ManchVegas Knitting Weekend, which we did in Portland, Maine.  I much, much preferred this venue to the place in Vermont, especially given my new dietary issues.  But I also liked the amenities at the hotel better than the place in Vermont.  I'm probably just getting old and getting snobbier.

I managed to convince Shawn to go with me, because I'd been gone the whole previous weekend at Stitches and I thought we could get some time together.  So we arrived in Portland on Friday afternoon, and since my aunt Murphy lives there, we got together for dinner that night.  Wally and Murph picked us up at the hotel and we went to Thai 9 in Scarborough for dinner. It was good, but I found mine a little salty for Thai. After we got back from dinner, Shawn said hi to the knitters, and escaped to our room to watch TV, and I hung with the knitters and worked on my bottle of Goslings, which is where the stormy comes in.  I love dark and stormies, but I was actually drinking rum and diet Pepsi.  I worked mostly on the Tramline cable sweater because I didn't feel like hauling my wheel downstairs that night.  Gina very kindly made us these lovely favor bags, which had carabiner clips with ManchVegas Knitters on it, a personalized tote bag with the group and trip title and dates on it, candy, a pen and post its.  It was very sweet.

There was an incident with Gina involving chocolate and certain portions of her anatomy and a camera, but I have not received permission to post those photos yet.  Therefore, I am being discrete, as much as humanly possible for me.

On Saturday, Shawn helped me lug all my junk downstairs, and I spun for most of the morning. I had a gorgeous batt from Grafton Fibers (now Dyak Crafts), and I finished spinning up the singles before we left to visit Tess' Designer Yarns. I've been buying stuff from Tess' Designer Yarns at shows for years, but I had not been able to visit until yesterday. I love, love, love her stuff. But I was good. I was very good. I bought the most inexpensive stuff in the place and I bought small amounts. This does not negate the fact that I was not supposed to buy anything at all, given last weekend's behavior at Stitches East, but still I was good.  I bought 5 skeins of Superwash Merino Lace, two in Nightshade, two in Twilight and one on Mendocino Vineyard. (These would be the blues in the post title.)

Melinda, the owner and genius behind, Tess' Designer Yarns, was so kind to us.  She gave each of us one of the shop's coffee mugs with a picture of one of the yarn displays on it.  Like I need to be tempted every day, looking at it. It was totally evil, but in a good way. I could have spent a heck of a lot more, and there was skein of microfiber ribbon that I almost bought called enchanted forest, which is still calling my name, but I will be strong.  
 After we got back from Tess' Designer Yarns, I was supposed to show Caroline how I ply from a center pull ball of singles, so of course, my footman connector on the Lendrum decided to self destruct.  I had a repair kit, but of course I didn't bring it with me.  And it's my own fault really, because the left side broke not all that long ago, and I should have replaced them both at the same time.  Because you knew it was going to happen on the other side too, both pieces were the same age.  Sigh.  Anyway, I fixed the wheel and finished plying the singles when I got home today, which you can see to your right.  I spent the rest of the afternoon working on the Tramline Cable sweater, and I'm almost ready to bind off for the neck opening. 
Shawn and I had planned to do dinner on our own. I wasn't feeling very well at that point, for some reason, so we drove around the area a little bit, and found another Thai place on Western Avenue, called Pom's Thai.  We really, really liked it.  We found it to have really interesting and authentic things on the menu and we really liked the food.  We're definitely planning to go back the next time we're in Portland for anything.  I went to bed fairly early because I still wasn't feeling well, but I did have a really good time.  I'm not sure Shawn had as good a time, but it was nice to have him there.  For a full set of photos, with the exception of those awaiting release from Gina, here's a public link to my facebook album.
And that's all the news this week that's fit to print.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Britches full of Stitches (Yes, this is a song title, I kid you not)

For those of you who have not been paying attention to my blathering on Facebook, this weekend was Stitches East in Hartford, CT.  Stitches is a huge knitting convention which they hold in different geographical areas each year.  I have been trying to get my rear end to one since roughly 1997.  But life has continued to interfere with my master plans, so this is the first year I was able to attend. 
Heather M. very kindly let myself and Robert L crash with her in the room she had reserved.  Heather plans ahead well. I had signed up for two classes, but they weren't until Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, but the Stitches Market place was open on Friday, so I headed down on Friday morning.  The market had 112 vendors.  Me, of course, being me, went through the list in advance, and noted 17 booths that I really wanted to make sure I saw.  I don't know who I was kidding, I went to every booth there at least once. After getting settled on Friday, I spent the remainder of the day at the market.  I was fairly good, in that there wasn't garbage bags of yarn, but the yarn I did buy was of high quality, which means beau coup bucks. But I only went over my budget by about $20 dollars, so again, that's pretty good for me. 

I don't really know how to convey how huge the market was.  I tried to take pictures to show it, but it just doesn't show it.  To see the complete album, here's a public link to my Facebook album. I did most of my spending on Friday. 
I bought Kauni in colorway EL  (see left).  Oh, and I wore my Ruth's Cardigan rainbow sweater (see right).  Which was hilarious because the sweater attracted so much attention.  You'd have thought I was a rock star or something!  I kept getting stopped and complimented on the sweater and asked about how I did it, what yarn it was, etc.  When I got to the Ruhama's Yarns booth, where they were selling Kauni, they said, "oh, it's you, we've been hearing someone was walking the floor with the sweater on, and we've sold the yarn for two because you're wearing it!  Can you stand here a while?"  I did, because they had some gorgeous stuff, and Roberta also bought a sweater kit there, which uses two colors of the Kauni.  I ended up buying the pattern too.

 At Miss Bab's booth, I bought some 3 ply Yummy sock yarn in Raven (left) and some 2 ply Yummy sock yarn in Iris (right).

I bought Yarn Place's Heaven at the Skaska Designs booth, which is tencel and merino and 125g and 3280 yards a skein.  It is quite possibly the very smallest yarn I have ever purchased. If you do the math it ends up being 11,902 yards per pound.  Just as a point of comparison, Cascade 220 is 1,005 yards per pound. It's very pretty though. 

Webs had a substantial Blue Moon Fiber Arts display, so I ended up with their Silk Thread II, in colorway Lenore.  It's another small yarn, the skein is 1,125 yards.  But it is so yummy.

At the Elegant Ewe, I ended up with some Manos Lace, which is alpaca, silk and cashmere.  You'll note it's not purple.  It is, however, not for me, so that works out okay.  I may risk some holiday knitting this year, but it will be very, very small holiday knitting.

Lastly for yarn, I got a large hank of hand dyed superwash merino in fingering weight from Creatively Dyed Yarn, called Waterfall in colorway Henry Branch.  It was about 1300 yards.  I liked it.

I bought a lovely dragon shawl pin from Creative Designs Unlimited--there was another one that I liked better but it was twice the price and I'm sorry, it was just going to go too deep in the yarn budget, so I got this one instead.  Which I still love, I just didn't love it as much as the really expensive one.
I also stopped by the Knit Princess' booth and said hi. She had emailed me on Ravelry about the Kauni sweater project (see? Kauni sweater is like using the force, I swear) before I knew who she was about a month or so ago, so I stopped by her booth and picked up her new collection and got it autographed. To elaborate on the Kauni theme, the inscription said "To Denise - Thank you so much for your Kauni help!  Allison Sarnoff  The Princess." I was bumming that her picture didn't turn out very well though, too blurry.  Damn digital photography!!

I did pick up a couple of patterns, the Oakland Shawl, the Bubbles Scarf using the double knitting technique I was taking a class for, the Beverly Cardigan, and a pattern for a shawl modified from a baby blanket.  I can't find a link so here's a really crappy picture of the pattern. (right). 

So that's the market report.  Next, the classes. I was pretty late in signing up, and I wasn't sure about when I could attend and get time off, so I ended signing up for only two classes and those were on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.  The first was called Double Dare with  Candace Eisner Strick, which was described as
follows: "You'll do a double take when you see what you can do with double knitting, double colors and double hands!  Learn how to create a 2-sided fabric with 2 colors using both hands.  After you master stockinette stitch, you will learn several different pattern stitches."  Despite the lame description, I was interested in the technique and it was something I had not done before, so I took it.  I liked Candace a lot, but I did think there were too many students, and that the numbers promoted some people not listening, particularly those who seemed to be incapable of reading the handout that said exactly what the teacher just said word for word.  But I digress. I learned to double knit, I learned to use two colors, and I learned how to use two hands.  Whether I think it's worth the bother to use two hands is another story.  I did however, fail to succeed at counting that day, so my pattern resembled a blob instead of the intended diamond.  I'm blaming the market and sensory overload.

The second class I took was Morphing Cables with Fiona Ellis, which was described as follows: "Learn the basic principles of designing your own cables.  Even if you are not an advanced cable knitter, give it a try.  Simple patterns can morph and create unique new ideas.  If you love cables and want to heighten the challenge, this workshop is a must!"  I took this class because it was offered Sunday morning and there wasn't much available Sunday morning, and because I admit it, I'm a knit geek, and Fiona Ellis has written books and is therefore a "famous teacher" in the knitting world.  Now, I will fully admit that I have designed my own cables before, and I know perfectly well what I need to do to design a cable on Stitch & Motif Maker software or on graph paper.  So I didn't really expect to learn much, but I thought it would be fun anyway.  However, Fiona approached the design part from a different approach than I had ever tried.  Normally, if I'm designing a cable, I have a pretty good idea what I want to do, and what I want it to do and look like.  Fiona had us cast on 39 stitches and do a couple rows in P4, K3 rib, and then said, okay, just make it up, and do some cables and traveling stitches and see what you get.  It was really interesting to experiment with actual yarn rather than planning it out ahead.  I got something I really liked, without writing anything down or drawing it out first, but I am well aware that this was beginner's luck and it will never happen again.  But it was interesting to think of designing a cable first and then thinking what to do with it after. 

On Friday night after the market we were pretty exhausted so we went to the bar at the hotel called Crush and ordered food there.  The shiraz was okay, and my food was okay, besides being hideously expensive, but Roberta L's was awful and she sent it back.  And they appeared to be playing some horrible Italian speghetti western horror flick, which did not enhance the culinary experience.  The bar was decorated for Halloween and was bathed in red light, with fake leaves on the bar, and Halloween confetti things. All I could think of afterwards was that I could have spent my dinner money on yarn.
On Saturday night, we decided to venture out of the hotel and go to Feng Asian Bisto.  It was lovely.  We sat at the sushi bar because we didn't have reservations so we got to see these wonderful artistic sushi presentations.  Unfortunately, I only had my blackberry with me and the camera in it sucks, so these photos are very blurry.  The dark think sticking up straight is some sort of huge clam shell, which they used to load with sushi and sashimi.  I had the special of the day which was red snapper broiled on top of udon noodles in a green curry lime sauce.  It was awesome.

That concludes my Stitches report.  I am planning to attend again next year with Heather and hopefully Roberta. We all had a great time.

Now for our regularly scheduled broadcast.  I've been writing. I have reached 54,793 words of my novel.  I have not written my writing exercise yet.  I plan to work on it tomorrow night.

I've been knitting as well.  Shocker.  I made it past the armholes on the Tramline Cable Pullover. I still have several inches to go before I call the back good, but I'm making progress.  

Also, I have received pictures of Edgar and Garrett in their respective blankets, as you can see. Garrett also made his first appearance at the Concord Knitting Meetup last week. He made a big hit.

I'm heading next weekend to the Manchvegas Knitting Retreat in Portland, Maine.  I'm looking forward to it, but I'll be glad not to be traveling the followign weekend.

So that's all that's fit to print, until the next regularly scheduled installment.