And a few more projects

It occurred to me to keep a running list on a sidebar of current projects but the very thought of that also kind of makes my head hurt. Because my favorite part of projects is starting a new one. We will see, maybe it would be a wake-up call for me and help me focus. HA HA HA HA! I think we all know better than that.

My niece prompted me to put up pictures of the horse pillowcases I made for her younger sister. I actually made four pillowcases, two for T. for her birthday, and then I thought as long as I was making two, might as well make four, so I made two for the Folsom Bazaar (October) as well. I used the method here at The Twiddletails Blog, it was the first time for me to use French seams, so I learned something as well. These were fun! If any more nieces and nephews want fun pillowcases, I am ready to go!


I am ALWAYS working on at least one pair of these potholders (method at Mielke’s Fiber Arts, LLC). Grandma Clarice used to make these, and they are great, thick potholders. I have used cotton yarn, acrylic, double thickness of acrylic, they all work, just create different textures and thicknesses. These are both cotton. I vary the size of the initial chain depending on the thickness of the yarn. I think I can say that almost everyone who has received a pair of these thinks they are great. They are very durable. Unless you melt them on a burner (don’t ask).


These are some I made for a Miss South Dakota fundraiser, in the school colors of South Dakota State University and University of Nebraska (OR University of South Dakota.)


Here is the second afghan in the works for baby niece L. This pattern is a free pattern from Bizzy Crochet: Faeries Sampler. It is beautiful, but lots of errata, and you should read her blog entry and the comments on it too to pick up some further errata. I still have several rows to go.


I swore I wasn’t going to do Camp Loopy again but my resistance is weak. I have noticed that I like to purchase knitting books, but I don’t actually knit patterns from them very often. So I have made myself a mental promise not to buy another book until I knit a pattern out of one of my existing books. So I am going to use Camp Loopy for that purpose. I am going to use this to knit the Lifted Stitch Scarf by Carol Scott from the Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders book, using this yarn, Desert Vista Dyeworks – Viso Self-Striping in the colorway Spumoni (right). Of course, this is going to have the result of making me want to eat Spumoni. I spend a lot of time in a car in June, going to various meetings, (not driving!), so I think this will be a good car project. I hope. And I will be on the Eastern Plains of Colorado, where Spumoni sources are few and far between, so perhaps that will be safe.


With the yarn on the left, Lorna’s Laces – Shepherd Worsted, colorway River, I am going to make the Twisted Spiral Neckscarf by Judy Warde, from the book One-Skein Wonders, Yarn Shop Favorites.  (Purchased both of these from Loopy Ewe, which is about 2 miles from my workplace, which is a dangerous thing.) So that will be another pattern from a book! That means I can buy two new books, correct? But wait, there’s more. I also bought this teal Kid Seta Noir (at Knit Knack), to make the Lace Spiral Scarf by Gail Owens, from Designer One-Skein Wonders.

teal Kid Seta Noir

This is NOT going to be a good car project, as there are yarn-overs, and then knitting into the yarn-overs with this tiny, tiny yarn, and somewhat larger needles to make it lacy, so I am anticipating this will be a challenge.

So I have three projects from three different books! That should mean I get to buy three more books, yes? Well, maybe I should stipulate that I should knit three patterns from books to buy a new book. Or two? Or five? It is hard when you are grown-up and have to make up your own rules. I have problems with how many popsicles I am allowed to have each day as well.

And here is a picture of a little cat, who looks so innocent, but went on, later in the night, to knock over the very nice flower arrangement that Ken got me, spilling water all over the table, narrowly missing the netbook computer. Grrrrrrrrrrr.


Burning Down the Kitchen II

First of all, I apologize if you are a subscriber and you got eleventeen update notices, but I have been categorizing uncategorized posts. I don’t know if WordPress sent out notifies on all of them or not, I hope not, but if you were inundated, I apologize. I am trying to get into the habit of putting them into categories as I write them.

I may have mentioned that the spectacular October grease fire was not my FIRST kitchen fire, just the largest one so far. Small oven fires are really quite common, because I like to broil steaks, and quite often the fat on the steaks catches on fire on the broiler pan, and has to be extinguished. I also bake a lot of sweets, and they boil over and get on the bottom of the oven, and then I forget about them, and the next time I use the oven, they smoke lot and may or may not catch on fire. There was a notation in last year’s Christmas letter about flaming muffin batter, I don’t think I have made those muffins since then, and they were good muffins, but you know, trauma.

My previous memorable fire was when I totally destroyed the toaster oven.

I was on one of my various health kicks, and I was making homemade tortilla chips by cooking cut up tortillas in the toaster oven. (I don’t remember if they were corn or flour.) Let me tell you, if you do that, you need to watch them VERY closely. Because I turned around and those chips were on fire. And after I threw a whole box of baking soda in there, I didn’t think I wanted to eat them. Or to use that toaster oven ever again. The time required to clean it of all the baking soda was not attractive. So we just threw that toaster oven out and it was still kind of a mess to clean up.

I also boil things over quite often. My mom has had the same burner pans on her stove since she got the stove, I believe, but not so in my case. But I am trying to do better, after noting her example. It helps if I remember to clean them up right after I cook something, rather than after I cook something AGAIN and things get really cooked on.

I really would like a gas range and stove top but maybe that isn’t such a good idea with my proclivities.

I don’t have any pictures of the aftermath of the toaster oven fire, so how about a picture of Leo after his summer haircut? His hair has all grown back now and he was rather dandruffy so we gave him a bath the other night. He took it rather well, considering. A video of the procedure is not possible because it requires one person to do the holding and one person to do the washing. And, we don’t have room for a third person in the bathroom.

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

Leo about killed us the other night. I was already restless and not feeling like I was settled down enough to sleep. Ken had already put down his book and was starting to doze off. And that was when Leo decided he needed to go up to the dresser to go to bed. This involves jumping up on Ken’s bedside stand, which isn’t extremely sturdy. And Leo weighs about 16 pounds, so when he jumps up on the stand, it WHOMPS into the wall, which is more than enough to startle you out of a sound sleep. Then he added in a new feature, he must have had a bit of a hairball, and he let out a tremendous HORK as he sat on the ledge around the room before heading to the dresser. It sounded just like someone had stepped on a duck. I couldn’t recreate that sound if I tried, and trust, me, Ken and I have both tried over that last several days. Well, both of us totally cracked up, but I was the one who then continually got the giggles for about 20 minutes. HORK!

And, with that, further evidence of Why We Can’t Have Nice Things:

This is the strap of my purse. Admittedly, I needed to replace this purse already. However, now I really HAVE to replace it because it looks like mice have been at it.

See these? They look like scratches in a wall?

Look at that! They ARE scratches in a wall! Clear into the drywall! That is what happens when you try to jump through the blinds AND the closed window at 3:00 a.m. to get at the black and white cat who is walking through the flowerbed outside. See also: giving us a heart attack.

This is the carpet by our door in the bedroom. When we go on vacation, we close the door so Leo can’t hide under the bed (or IN the box spring, another thing which the cats have worked over). Neither one of them likes this. So they try to dig their way under. Sigh.

We know that cats scratch and we aren’t surprised by damage to furniture, etc., but on these things they really seem to have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

It’s a good thing they are so cute. Look, Leo used to fit under the couch.

Simon does not approve.

MaryAnne was even cute in her cone (after she got spayed.)

It didn’t slow down her playing much. (That is the remains of a toy spider, the spider part is gone, just the pipe-cleaner legs remain.)

It also didn’t slow down her getting in trouble, here on top of the clothes drying rack.

You’re Halfway There

Ken and I insanely decided to go to the mall Weds. night. Well, I guess I was the instigator. I was tired of all the leftovers and wanted something else to eat for dinner, and I needed one more small gift for Dear Niece-almost 11, and a cheese spreader (one of those little short squat knives) for my dip for the Knitting Christmas party on Saturday.

First of all, when I got home, and I got home a little late because I had to gas up, although I gassed up for $3.02 a gallon (whoop whoop), and Ken says, “Wait ‘til you go downstairs and see what your son has done.” (Yes, we call the cats our kids, I know, obnoxious, but they are as close to kids as we are going to get, for reasons which will be obvious when you see how poorly they behave.)

This is what greeted me. Not one,

Not two,

But three rolls of toilet paper mutilated.

And he had the whole package dragged out of the closet but apparently he ran out of artistic inspiration.And really he only gave the 1st on the “full Leo” treatment, so I guess we should be grateful.

Apparently someone (not me) was the last one to leave the house and left the bathroom door open (ahem.)

So the mall was all that is usually is, only more crowded because of Christmas shopping and more obnoxious therefore. Lots of people in line to see Santa. Ken thought I was overly snippy to the poor checkout girl at Crate and Barrel when I bought my cheese knife (just because I said “nope” when she said “now if I can just have your phone number,” instead of being more polite, “I’m sorry, I don’t give that out,”) well, sorry it it not my week to be friendly.  Ken had teriyaki chicken for dinner and I had fried fish tacos where were not as good as they should have been.

Then we went to Williams-Sonoma because I still have a gift card from last year that I need to use. I am thinking about a pizza stone, but where will I store it? I have a small kitchen. The drawer under the stove is already full of cookie sheets and cake pans. The other thing I wanted was a pastry cloth, which W-S apparently no longer carries, except for a Silpat version which is not cloth, it is silicone, if I wanted to use silicone I would roll out pastry on my Silpat baking sheets. I don’t like how they get all weird textured and sticky after awhile, so I was not going to get a Silpat pastry sheet. Rrrrrrrrrr.  The helpful lady tried to tell me to go to JoAnn fabric and get cotton duck to use as a pastry cloth, and OH, I don’t think so. Or a tea towel, no that is not what I had in mind either…….So we didn’t get anything there.

Then we ventured downstairs in the mall to try and find the niece something dolphin or mermaid related. The Flatirons Crossing Mall has a temporary holiday store “Dickens Village” or “Dickens Marketplace” or something like that, and it is full of little booths from local hand-crafters, the East Boulder County Artist’s Alliance, things like that. Well, Ken zeroed in on a booth. I have been telling him I don’t need anything for Christmas. I might have to change my mind. This is a gentleman from Loveland who makes glass sea creatures, and I kind of have a thing for octupi. Don’t ask why, I don’t know. Anyway, these are the COOLEST octopi I have ever seen. I just don’t know if I would wear one much as a necklace. I might wear the tentacle more often.

Then we marched back down the mall, whoops, there is Spencer Gifts, the only reliable source for Lava Lamps. I have a vintage Lava Lamp (complete with flower ring and plastic flowers) in which I have been unable to restore the lava to its original grandeur, despite much Google research and purchase of strange household chemicals (pickling salt, fog machine filler) to replace the fluid with. So I decided that I would buy a new Lava Lamp and replace the globe. Unfortunately, the new Lava Lamps are not the same size as the old ones (original purchase of both the vintage one and the new one was a few months ago). So now I had a Spongebob Squarepants Lava Lamp with the wrong size globe to replace my vintage one, and not enough fluid/lava to replace the inner contents. BUT! Spencer Gifts had Lava Lamps on sale. So I got another Sponge Bob, together the two will allow me to refill my Vintage “Enchantress” model to its full glory. Pictures will follow. AND, I was very polite to the young man who helped me, despite the fact that the one who looked like he was about 12 years old and got the lamp down from the shelf said he would ring me up but he “wasn’t authorized” and I had to wait in line while the one who apparently was authorized was doing something inexplicable with the customer ahead of me. SO THERE WAS MY GOOD DEED FOR THE DAY.

OK, now we can continue down the mall, avoiding all the people who want to slather you with lotion or straighten your hair or whiten your teeth, or have you sample some tea.

Looked at men’s scarves for Ken at Macy’s. Of course, he has a color in mind that is somewhere between tan and cream, and he doesn’t like fringes, and we aren’t going to buy him a cashmere one anyway. I checked out the Crockpots, and they didn’t have the one I was interested in in stock, so that was futile. I said, “I just want to go home and be crabby,” and Ken said “You’re halfway there,” so on that note, we departed.

And, I discovered I can’t find my new nifty red scarf I bought in Yuma, Colorado in August, so that is also making me crabby. As soon as I find something that is missing (glue stick in this case) something else goes missing. Bah. Humbug.

Leo Discovers the Delights of Yarn

When Leo was but a mere lad, he discovered that his mommy had yarn, which was really fun to play with.

You can go DOWN the stairs and UP the stairs, and around the banister.

I like this color even better.

Really quite tasty.

I like both these colors, how do I decide?

I’ll go get ANOTHER color!

Toilet paper, even MORE FUN than yarn!

This is how you make it real pretty.

Just about done with this one.


Burning Down the Kitchen

Another thing I mention in the blog subtitle is “Burning down the kitchen.” So here is the story of that.

I have had a history of very minor kitchen fires. Steaks being broiled, things that had overflowed in the oven, and then cooked and subsequently caught fire on the floor of the oven. There was the incident with the homemade tortilla chips in the toaster oven. That pretty much took care of the toaster oven. Especially since it was full of baking soda, which I used to put out the fire. But I had never had a full blown stove top grease fire, until this year. It was Sunday, October 30, and I was getting ready to go on a business trip, but I thought I would make fried chicken strips for the DH before I went. I poured about an inch of canola oil in the dutch oven, turned it on to medium-high, and went downstairs to finish packing a few things. I honestly have no idea how long I was downstairs, but it was TOOO long. Just as DH was coming back in from looking in the storage shed to try and find the carryon bag, I came upstairs, and it was smoky. I went into the kitchen, and the oil was ON FIRE. I looked at DH, coming in the back door, and said “I think we need the fire extinguisher,” I think he said something in general agreement and I ripped that fire extinguisher out from under the kitchen sink.

Side note: The fire extinguisher is approximately 17 years old, because I believe my parents gave it to us as either a wedding present or a gift very shortly after we were married. I have always been meaning to get it checked out and see if it was still charged. Thank goodness, it was.

Another side note: I think I have to credit my brother with the fact that I knew I had to pull a pin for the fire extinguisher to work. Because he had been telling me elk hunting stories, about how his hunting companion was so nervous about bears that he spent a great deal of time with the pin pulled on his bear grenade. So I knew I had to pull a pin.

CHHHHHHHHHHHHT – OK, fire is out, but pan of hot oil is still on the burner, which is on. I have no desire to reach over the pan to turn it off, so I grab a towel and lift the pan off with that. This causes 1) the towel to ignite, and 2) the pan to re-ignite. So I go after both with the extinguisher again. Finally, all is quiet. Suspiciously quiet, as in “no smoke alarm” going off quiet. More on that in a bit.

Meanwhile, DH has decided that I am handling the situation OK, and he is trying to round up the cats and put them in the bedroom, so we can open every other window and door in the house. Because the upstairs is essentially filled with smoke AND fire extinguisher dust. We get the cats stuffed in the bedroom, and wander around in shock for a bit, bring the fan upstairs to help blow the smoke out. Fortunately, it is not freezing cold outside. And, our neighbors across the street (the ones we are closest to on the block) are not home to witness this spectacle.

Did I mention I had to leave for a business trip? And now DH was going to get to clean up this huge mess? Alone? Of course he wasn’t mad at me, he knew it was an accident, but I still felt guilty.

Him saying “Honey, that’s the biggest fire you’ve ever set!” didn’t help either.

We checked it out and determined that things weren’t really probably destroyed (well, except for the dutch oven pot and the thermometer that was in it), but that everything was dirty and we probably needed to call our insurance company. The plan was for him to clean up things as much as possible so the cats could be let out of the bedroom and not traipse through too much fire extinguisher dust.

Meanwhile, I had to finish packing. I read through my usual packing list about 3 times, and had him read it out loud to me because I was so rattled. I headed out to the airport with a story to tell to all of my companions on my trip (along with the admonition, “Get a fire extinguisher!”) and left him with the mess, and instructions to box up the chicken that hadn’t even come out of the refrigerator, (but was still dipped and battered and ready to go) and put it in the freezer.

And when I came home and went to get something out of the chest freezer, I see the package, labeled “Halloween Fire Chicken.”

So, I now give you the recipe for Chicken Fried Chicken Fingers, henceforth known as “Halloween Fire Chicken.”,1739,152185-224194,00.html

Make sure you have a fire extinguisher! Make sure it works! Make sure your smoke detector is properly hooked up! (We checked ours, feeling that it should have gone off, and it appears that while it was connected to the electricity, it was not connected to something else????) and probably hadn’t been for 10 years since we bought the house. I don’t remember it ever going off. And I burn things fairly often……

In Which Yet Another Appliance Attempts to Take a Dive

Well, an eventful-enough weekend. Woke up to snow, snow, and more snow again Saturday morning.  And MaryAnne, sitting on the window sill, looking out at it, licking the window, how festive. The newspaper in its plastic orange wrapper was barely poking out of the snow. And I, with my fabulous razor-like memory and organization, had left my snow boots at work. Eventually I put on DH’s snow boots and trekked outside to retrieve said paper, so I could continue my a.m. tradition of Diet Coke and newspaper, the breakfast of champions.

About enough snow, already, OK?

I needed to go out to the store to get additional potatoes and some other things for Thanksgiving Part II, but I wasn’t about to go out until the snow settled down a bit. So I worked on cutting out pants for DN 12 (birthday pants about 2 months late)  (with the help of the cats, of course),

Leo, helping. Big time.

sewed a little on my color class project (taking a quilting class based all on color theory), sorted clothes for DH to wash, looked out at the snow and complained, and did some family phone calling that needed to be done. Made beefy harvest soup for me for lunch and Oriental Beef and Noodle Toss for DH (a recipe which he inexplicably likes, I sometimes hit on the oddest things that he actually enjoys. Unfortunately, I do not enjoy it much (not spicy enough)).(Recipe I have scanned in from a cookbook and saved to the computer in an effort to narrow down the cookbook collection.)

So that was a kitchen disaster, making two things at once with multiple ingredients, stuff all over the place, but that is kind of the way I cook. Thinking about things, I came to the conclusion that I needed to cook the turkey that night, because Sunday we were going to be going to a Christmas party, and I didn’t want all that hassle and clean up and being exhausted and too full before the party. So, when the snow quit (about another 6 inches, thank you very much, 2nd snow storm in 3 days), I struck out to the store, which was busy with everybody else who had the same idea.

Of course, just going to the store has to be eventful, so I locked myself out of the house. I had run back upstairs to grab my reusable bags, but did not grab the keys off the hook like I meant to. I shook my coat to see if the keys were in it, and the zipper jingled, so I thought I was good. When I got to the car, I discovered I was NOT good. In a combination of events that only seems to happen in my entertaining life, the husband had announced that he was going to take a LONG hot shower after shoveling the walk/driveway. So of course, him getting in the shower coincided with me locking myself out of the house. Oh hey, I have a brilliant idea, I will go to our neighbors across the street who have a spare key. Well, none of them are home, except for Lucy the cocker spaniel, who looked a good deal like she would enjoy giving me a good ankle bite, but she wasn’t going to get any key for me.

So I stood on our porch, peering in the door window, hoping to see some sign of DH emerging from the bathroom, and pounded on the door/rang the doorbell approximately every 60 seconds. I am sure the cats were freaking out, because they always panic and hide when the doorbell rings.

After about 10 minutes of this (fortunately I was dressed warmly, and the sun had come out and it wasn’t CURRENTLY snowing), our neighbor did come home and I retreived the spare key, zipped into the house for my key, yelled to DH that I had been locked out, and headed off to the store. Fortunately, I only had 4 things I wanted to get, and I managed to remember all of them. Unfortunately I forgot to even think about getting that throat anaesthetic spray to deaden my sore throat, but I seem to be getting over the evil cold/sinus thing slowly.

Stopped at Starbucks to get hot cocoa for DH and I because I am such a nice wife, but what I really needed at this point was a shot of Baileys or Jagermeister in mine.

By the time I got home, it was time to get the turkey started if I wanted that to get done, so I wrestled it out of the bag. I have a nice roasting pan but if I use that for the turkey, I can’t fit any other pans in the oven, so I stuff the 12 pound turkey into a 9 X 13 cake pan. It fits nicely. I do remember to remove the neck and giblets, because I have plans for the giblets. I throw the neck in the pan to roast along w/the turkey, it will get boiled along w/the carcass to make broth.

Later I peeled the potatoes and got them boiling, blenderized the raw giblets for the stuffing (that is the way my Grandma used to make it, I am trying to re-create it, it is a different taste but it grows on you.) I wonder if she always used the gizzard, that doesn’t seem to blenderize very well. Mmmmm, delicious giblet smoothy. (Not really, I didn’t taste it, I was trying to not even smell it….) With a couple of eggs, added to the usual bread crumbs, onions, celery, and seasoning, this is the traditional family recipe. Potatoes get mashed, along with cream cheese and I show great restraint and only use 1/2 stick of butter. There is butter in the stuffing too, and I basted the bird with butter, so I tried to be frugal in the mashed potatoes.

So I am whomping up the potatoes in the KitchenAid stand mixer, and they are about done, but then I start to hear really bad noises from the trusty KitchenAid, like the beater is whacking into the side of the bowl. I stop and look and think *(&()*&*&^(* this will be the 3rd kitchen appliance to die in a month, bloody hell, and try to adjust it. Still whomping. Oh well, figure it out later. So when DH goes to dish up his potatoes, he gets a big chunk of white metal on his plate, the cover to the place where the attachments can go on the front of the mixer has fallen off and that is what is making the noise, thank goodness. Now I just need a new Crock Pot (handle disintegrated) and food processor (broke the lid). Although I am going to try to order a new food processor lid, their website says “not available online, please call us,” I consider that to be a really bad sign. As in, we don’t have parts for that bloody thing, it is so old (about 10 years old, I think…) go buy a new one.

The adventurous part of the turkey was getting it from one pan into another so I could easily get the pan juices to make gravy. I have a baster, and could have retrieved the juices w/that, but it isn’t really that functional, I have had it forever, maybe there is a better design out there now……So I grabbed my nice new tongs from IKEA a few weeks ago, and my giant grilling tongs, and I manhandled that baby over. No disaster, surprisingly. The only treat the cats got was when I dropped the basting brush onto the (relatively clean, before that) floor and spattered butter and herbs everywhere.

The proper tools for turkey transfer.

Altogether a good meal, although I accidentally opened up creamed corn instead of regular. Didn’t get around to making sweet potato casserole, can make that some other weekend, or scalloped corn, but DH won’t eat either of those anyway, so I will make them some weekend and take them for breakfast at work all week.

I knew I wanted to get up Sunday morning and clean up the kitchen (did you think I cleaned it up Sunday night after dinner? Ha ha ha ha ha.) So I did that, alternating cleaning with reading the paper. Made a new ranch chicken recipe in the mangled crock pot for lunch, didn’t want to eat too heavy as we were going to a Christmas party this afternoon and I knew there would be good appetizer-y food there. Ran out to look for new jeans and found a fleece top that will be good to wear this winter if it is going to snow 3 times every &*^(&*^^%$^ week, and my throat spray that I forgot the day before. And I did a little sewing, and we (mostly DH) watched the Broncos, and I tried to nap, and MaryAnne work me up, scratching on the carpet, playing with a hair elastic, I have no idea where she got that. Little brat. Scritch scritch scritch scritch, on the carpet, and she has been digging up the carpet by the bedroom door so I assumed that was what she was doing, and I stomped up to check, and NO, she had the hair elastic, and we don’t really need for her to be eating that. And then she demonstrated to me how she can jump up ALL the way on TOP of the entertainment center, I didn’t want to know that….

We went to the Christmas party, and it was lovely, but I really think I did too much this weekend and I probably should have spent more time trying to recover from being sick so I am OK at our work convention this week, I may be paying the price by Thursday. And the weekend ended like it began, snowing like crazy, oh the joy.