Sunday, March 27, 2011


It's been a difficult week, in that the way the local political decisions, national political decisions, and global events have taken place, leave me with little hope for the human race.  I used to say in the past in times of extreme displeasure with election results, that I'd like to move to another country, but where am I going to go now, Mars?  And I'm tired.  I'm tired of this one step forward, thirty five steps back stuff.  You get tired of fighting and tired of arguing.  And I'm concerned, because in the past I've been angry and energized, but now I'm just disheartened and without a lot of hope.  Maybe I'm having my second midlife crisis (my first was at 25). So that's all I'm really going to say here.  Because sometimes to survive, you just need to focus on the things that actually make you happy for a little while, so you can take a deep breath. 

So, on to the normal stuff.  I made my monthly writing goal of 8,000 words for March with a new grand total of 81,715 words and 271 pages.  As I am aiming for 100,000 words or so, I'm on the home stretch.  We had a meeting of the Misplaced Modifiers and they had good comments, and we had a lovely time with Sally's kiddo, who is growing leaps and bounds.  What I think I'm going to try to do, is just press forward, get a completed first draft and then go back and refine.  I'd like to have the draft to submit to publishers (which I plan to do just for fun, I don't really expect to get published) complete by the end of the year, but no later than my 40th birthday.

In spinning news, I finished the Optim and I manged to do a 2 ply.  I plyed the two bobbins I had until the one with less on it ran out, and then I did a center pull ball off the second bobbin, and then used a scale to divide the remaining center pull ball into two, which I plyed against each other.  Normally I would use a center pull ball and ply the end against the center, but these singles were too fine and there was just no way without ending up with a tangled freaking mess.

I began spinning 4 oz of  Cormo & Silk Roving (75%/25%) from Foxfire Fiber & Designs at Springdelle Farm.  The interesting thing about it is that the silk and cormo (cormo is a cross breed of sheep, for those of you who are not among the fiber-y), isn't well blended, so I think when I dye it, even if I dye it one color I'm going to get a really interesting effect. I'm  not going crazy fine this time, because I think I wouldn't get the effect I'm looking for.  I'm trying for about a sport weight.

After much swatching, gnashing of teeth, and swearing, I think I have a sleeve in progress on the Kyoto Jacket.  I have no freaking idea if I have enough yarn.  I think that when I complete the first sleeve, I'll have a better idea about how it's going to go.  Donna D still has some she's willing to trade if I need it, and the good thing is that the way the sweater is constructed I don't think dyelot issues are going to matter that much.  Entrelac though, what was I thinking?  Although it is worsted weight, so not completely masochistic.

For the last two weeks, in addition to my normal milk free state, I have also been egg and almond free so that I can do a challenge.  I'm trying to decide what do to first, egg by itself, or egg baked in stuff, so I can see the reaction.  If I can tolerate egg baked in stuff I will be a happy woman.  But in furtherance of dealing with the last two weeks, and the next four as I complete the challenges, and to deal with the possibility that I may need to be dairy, egg, and almond free from now on, I did a little bit of shopping at Amazon, and ended up buying six new cookbooks.  So on to the cookbook reviews.

First I got: The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book: Great Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free Treats for the Whole Family (9781572841024): Kelly Rudnicki: Books This book I felt was worth what I paid for it.  There are muffins, quick breads, pancakes, waffles, biscuits, scones, breads, bagels, cookies and bars, frostings, sheet cakes, brownies, cupcakes, coffee cake, pies, cobblers, chocolate shakes, carmel corn and candies.  I think it's a well rounded book, and the pictures are great, which I always appreciate in a cook book.  I have not tested any recipes yet, but they look easy to follow and there's some great allergy information in the beginning of the book.
Then I got: What's to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook (9780970278500): Linda Marienhoff Coss: Books and
These books range from soups, salads, entrees, side dishes to breakfast items, snacks and desserts and it looks like there are some good things in it, but the real drawback for me is no pictures.  I know it's shallow but I like my eye candy.  Most of the recipes were fairly standard American fare, but I guess it's good to have a book of standards. 
Then I got some vegan cookbooks from the same author.  Vegan works well for me because I know there will be no milk and eggs in the recipe, and then I can just watch out for the other things I'm allergic to and add meat if I want.  Each of these books doesn't have the pictures I prefer, but the recipes in each book sound wonderful, and most don't use anything other than standard ingredients (i.e. not a lot of replacement fake foods).  I was very happy with all three books.
What I liked about this book is that most of the ingredients are available at a regular grocery store, but the recipes are inventive, cross cultural, and sound really, really yummy.
This book has recipes from the Caribbean, Central and South America, Thailand, Indonesia, Hawaii, Australia, Africa, and India. The recipes are fabulous, but there are quite a few that involve coconut, which is one of my allergies and which I was aware might be an issue, as Thailand does use quite a bit of coconut in its cuisine. I can't wait to try some of the recipes, reading it makes my mouth water.
Italian food is something that I miss very much, so I thought this would be a good book to check out.  There are some lovely pasta and risottos, salads and soups, and the desserts look amazing.  Again, very happy and can't wait to cook some of the recipes.
I bought this book at the beginning of the milk free adventure. Last week I tried making the milk free version of alfredo.  Which was god awful.  But I think that's specific to me.  I really, really, really do not like soy milk.  At all.  And the sauce was primarily soy milk.  I had hoped that the other ingredients would cover it up enough. But no, not at all.  I took two bites and dumped it down the disposal.  The good part was that I had to make "fake" Parmesan to make the recipe, and that's pretty good.  It's much better than the commercial fake vegan Parmesan that I had bought.
I also tried the instant cheez-it recipe which is supposed to be like an instant mac and cheese sauce.  It worked out okay, but I needed to add a bit more salt and some lemon juice, but it was much better than the dairy free mac and cheese I had bought in the natural food section at Hannaford.  I think I could have used a bit more nutritional yeast in the mix a well and it would have been closer.
Today I'm headed to knitting guild and tonight, Shawn and I are going to dinner with Chris and Kristie.  Apparently they found a restaurant that makes fried seafood without any dairy or egg in the batter.  I could cry with happiness.  Seriously.  I'm thinking I'm skipping lunch so I can stuff my face.  It's been months and months without fried seafood.
Well, this is a long post for me, so see you next week at this same channel.  

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rock Lobster

It was surprising easy to find a song with the word lobster in it, and one I actually knew!  Although I had kind of forgotten about until I saw it on Itunes, but still.  Anyway Katie and Andrew got their package today, so I can do the reveal on the secret project I did for them.  Because seriously, every child needs a lobster. The pattern name is Jacques Crusteau on Ravelry.  It cracks me up, but I have a strange sense of humor.  I might have to make one for myself, although it seriously distressed Kiwi.  There was much growling.

This past week and weekend was mostly about writing.  During the week I wrote 1,106 words to make up for the writing I didn't do last week, and this weekend was a challenge weekend so I wrote 5,086 words.  I even got to research lobster boats for a slow speed chase scene, so the title of this blog post has dual significance, how's that?  I have 760 words to go to make the 8,000 word monthly quota.

In fiber news, I'm working on the Kyoto Jacket, and I am most seriously displeased.  The person who wrote what has been alleged to be a pattern needs to be smacked with a wet noodle at least 50-60 times.  God help anyone without a lot of knitting experience who tries to decipher it.  Basically, I'm working on rewriting and designing the jacket because it is that freaking messed up. I'm attempting a sleeve for the third time, and I may have to start an easy project to have on hand when I feel like I'm going to stroke out.

In spinning news, I've spun about twenty minutes this week.  I really need to step it up, but that whole writing thing was in the way this week.

In Shawn news, despite the fact that I really and truly thought it was going to take me another year and half of "encouragement", I came home today to a sculpture! Woo hoo!!  And it's Shaun the Sheep :)  I think that series is hilarious.  I'm going to have to go back and look at my blog entries to see how long it took me this time, versus the poem.  I'm thinking a song would be cool next, or a movie on

Stay tuned and we'll be right back.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Little Miss Can't Be Wrong

I don't normally blog about current events because they generally depress me, but sometimes I hate being right about everything all the time.  I've been against nuclear power since forever, because I can't believe in our extreme arrogance that we honestly think we have control over everything.  Even without human error, as in Chernobyl, things can go very wrong as the events in Japan have demonstrated.  And when things go very wrong with nuclear power, the consequences are just too great.  And for what?  The technology and science we have available to us now are unreal.  Can't someone spend some time on figuring out a renewable resource that isn't going to poison us and the planet?  Improve the solar technology so it's more accessible? Is that really too much to ask?  Okay, I'm moving on before my head explodes or I smack someone.

This week was busy week.  I saw the allergist on Monday.  Verdict was food allergies to milk, crab, hazelnuts, coconuts, clams, scallops, eggs, and almonds.  Given that I was using a coconut milk creamer for my coffee, and almond milk as my milk replacement, I was a little annoyed.  And the egg thing is annoying as well.  Between egg and milk, and my husband's diabetes, you can imagine how long grocery shopping took yesterday.  Before we left I went though my milk free cookbooks to do some menu planning, and I had to laugh at how many had egg in them.  On Friday evening, I did order six new cookbooks from Amazon, three are dairy, egg and nut free recipes and the others are vegan, so I just have to be careful about the use of nuts.  Because the egg and the almond scored relatively low on the scale, the allergist suggested doing a "food challenge" to these two ingredients to see how much they really bothered me.  This means I wouldn't eat any eggs for two weeks and then eat three servings on one day and watch for the next 48 hours to see what the symptoms are.  Since I rarely eat eggs on their own, because I always have had a digestive reaction to them, I think I'll do the challenge, and then repeat it with eggs in baked goods to see if I can get away with it and make my life a little easier.  I may do the same thing with almonds, otherwise I have to give up cereal because there isn't another milk replacement product I can stand enough to eat it with cereal.  But for the next six weeks or so, other than the challenge days, I'm off both of them.  And I'm just giving up coconuts completely, because they tested high enough on the scale, and it's not worth it.  Sigh. 

On Tuesday I had dinner with the Jetboilers and Ex-Jetboilers, although most of us are now ex-Jetboilers. It was good to see everyone.  Ben is now marketing a video about his experience taking a motorcycle from NH to Argentina, and he's giving a talk about it, with pictures, on Tuesday, March 29 · 6:30pm - 8:00pm, at the Hooksett Public Library, 1701B Hooksett Road, Hooksett, NH.  I'm going to try to go if anyone is interested.  Afterwards I knit with some friends and I got to see Lora K, which was wonderful.  Lora's 100 days from her bone marrow and stem cell transplant was yesterday, and I can't wait to take her out to dinner somewhere :)

On Wednesday, I had to run errands and pick up some groceries because Lisa E was coming for dinner on Thursday.  Lisa and I made a very eclectic salad and had some braised/grilled brussel sprouts, and played very silly games on the Wii.  It was hilarious.

This weekend has been a cleaning and cooking one.  The complex is allegedly coming in to fix the ceiling in the bedroom this week, and we needed to get some stuff out of the way.  Also, the beginning of my challenge started yesterday, so we needed to grocery shop and I needed to cook so that I have egg and milk free stuff to eat for lunches.  So yesterday we made beef stew, I made chicken in gravy for toast (chicken junk as my mother used to put it), and we got some ribs to do in the BBQ Pit crock pot Shawn bought me.  But we weren't really thinking about how long that was going to take, so we'll eat them for dinner tonight.  Today, I'm finishing up my killer spicy pea soup recipe.  If you're interested in it, here it is, developed pre-milk allergy:

Denise’s Pea Soup

1 lb bag of green split peas
2-3 large onions, chopped
1 bulb or 12-15 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb package of hot Italian sausage
6-7 stalks of celery, chopped
1 lb bag of carrots, chopped
2-3 tablespoons of flour
2-3 tablespoons of margarine or butter
1-2 bay leaves
½ tsp of each of thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, pepper and salt.
1 tablespoon of Sriracha Vietnamese chili paste or Tabasco sauce
Some cheese sliced to put on top of soup, smoked gouda goes well.

Take bag of split peas simmer on stove in a big stock pot in as much water as the bag says for about an hour or until peas are soft and falling apart. Use a hand blender or a real blender to puree the peas and water. Keep on low heat. Then take sausage out of casings and break up. Brown in fry pan along with onions, garlic, spices and chili paste. Once sausage is cooked and onions are translucent, add to stock pot, scraping down all the contents and spices into the pot. Add celery and carrots to stock pot. Simmer for about an hour on medium low heat. Take a sauce pan, and melt margarine or butter in pan and add the flour, mixing it into a solid paste to form a roux. Slowly add a cup or two of the pea soup broth, mixing it in slowly to allow it to thicken. Keep adding broth until the roux is well incorporated into the soup. Add contents of sauce pan to stock pot and mix well. Simmer on medium low until carrot and celery are cooked. Adjust spices if necessary. You can add a bouillon cube to add additional flavor if you wish. Soup should be very thick. Stir it often as it will want to stick to the bottom and can burn to the bottom, which doesn’t taste great.
Serve hot with a slice of cheese on the top of each serving.

In other news, as those of you Ravelry and Facebook are aware, I finished the Vintage Socks, last Sunday night.  Woo hoo!  I was a mite obsessive last weekend. I also started my project for Andrew and Katie, and I think it will be apropos.  I really can't say much here in case Katie reads my blog when I post it on Facebook.  I don't think she does, but I'm taking no chances.  For those of you on Ravelry, it's my current project.

In writing news, I haven't this week.  Ugh.  Maybe this afternoon, if I have time after guild.

In fiber news, still spinning the Optim.  I did about 20 minutes before work one morning, and about 40 minutes yesterday, so not a lot of progress.

And I think that's it for this weekend.  Stay tuned for further updates as we receive them from our affiliates.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

She Drives Me Crazy

Okay, in this case, it's not really a she, it's an it. Unless you anthropomorphize knitting projects the way some men do cars and boats. So I'm totally obsessing over the Vintage Sock. I worked on it all day yesterday, in between eating breaks, showering, and laundry. When I say all day, I mean from about 7:00 a.m. until midnight. I was taking breaks every 45 minutes in hopes of avoiding repetitive movement stress injuries, but that means I'm knitting too much. Also, I took a couple of Advil before bed to lessen any soreness I might have in my hands and shoulders the next day. So you know that's too much. My arms are a bit sore this morning, but my hands are okay, thus far. But in any case, I have about 8 rows left of the main color and then I'll be moving on to the cuff silliness. So it may be possible to finish today. In which case, I'll be needing to find a baby project to do for my cousin Andrew and his wife Katie, as they are due in three months. Any suggestions? They are in Texas, and having the baby in the summer.

This week, I was careful to follow the purple calendar of doom's schedule so that I didn't have to make up any writing this weekend, and could do whatever I wanted to do with the exception of laundry and the dishes. I currently have 74,523 words and 248 pages of the Yet Untitled Novel.  Maybe I'll know what to name it when it's done.  So far this month I have 1,048 of the 8,000 word goal.

I also worked on my spinning quotas under the 2011 Yarn and Fiber Stash Reduction Plan and worked on getting some of the newly rediscovered fibers spun up. This is a grey Romney fleece that I hand dyed a hundred years ago (okay, probably at least eight to ten years ago, because I think it was before I bought my Lendrum wheel) because I wanted to see how the grey would take color differently.  This was a fleece I bought at the NH Sheep and Wool and prepared myself on my drum carder.  And I think it was before I got the good one, or I really sucked at drum carding at that time.  This was spun up as a 2 ply at about worsted weight.   
I also found a commercial white roving that I hand dyed likely around the same time.  I think the purples are different dyes though.  I have to say, it made a remarkable difference in spinning to have a well prepared fiber, even though I did have to predraft to remove some compacting and matting that occurred during the dyeing process.  This was also a two ply, but I spun it at about a sportweight.  It was easier to spin finer as the fiber preparation was better. 

I also found some Optim that I bought to try a few years ago.  I'm about 95% certain I bought it in that yarn shop I found in Vegas during our honeymoon.  If you want to learn more about Optim go here. If you don't, suffice to say that it's a wool that has been subjected to a process to make it finer, and more like silk.  It's interesting so far.  I'm using the laceweight flyer for the Lendrum at the 44:1 ratio.  I'd like to 2-ply it, but I just don't know if I can do it from a center pull ball without ending up with a mess.  I may have to navaho ply it, or actually try to come up with two bobbins with the same amounts on them.  Hahaha. I wish the pictures conveyed how ridiculously fine this is spinning up.

In other news, I've been off my Zyrtec since Tuesday because I'm having allergy testing on Monday and I have to be off allergy meds for it work.  It's freaking killing me.  I want to scratch out my eyes, my whole body itches and I appear to have some little hives for some reason, besides the regular respiratory symptoms.  I'm going to bring a benedryl and a Zyrtec with me and take them immediately after the testing. Not to sound like a Zyrtec commercial or anything. 

Anyway, that's what's been going on this week.  Stay tuned.