Sunday, November 30, 2008

Have Yourself a Freaky Little Christmas...

White Wire Outdoor Christmas Tree-$10
Pine cone garland-$.50/yard sale
Expression on my neighbor's faces when they look in and see my 'Frankentree'=Priceless

Hey! I don't have much room to put a tree up or store it and us little Yankee girls are brought up to work with what we have..... It holds all of the ornaments that mean something to me and that's the most important thing.

Thanks to the big breakfast bar in my nest, and my penchant for not eating breakfast there, I have room for one of my favorite Christmas decorations, Santa and assorted animal friends in a birch bark canoe too!
I had a restful but productive weekend. I worked on some knitting but it can't be posted here yet so you'll have to check my unfinished projects on Ravelry. I've haven't utilized Ravelry as much as I should. This weekend I uploaded a bunch of finished projects. Of course they were finished so long ago that now I've forgotten what yarn it was and where the pattern came from. I've made a Thanksgiving resolutions to post projects as I go from now on so that I can capture all of the information.

Went to Last Saturday knitting on Saturday afternoon. It starts at 2PM and I got there at 1PM, snuggled up by the fireplace with a cuppa tea and my journal and warmed up from my morning outside. Why was I out in the cold so long on Saturday morning? Ben. Of course. I've been walking him every day for coming up on two years now. I've trained him to sit before we cross the street. When we get to the crosswalk, I stop, he bottoms and gets a nanomolecule of Beggin' Strip; his reason for living. We have done this forever. But this Saturday morning, a dim light intermittently flickers on in his fuzzy head and he thinks...'Hey, what is a driveway really but a little street that crosses my sidewalk?' He proceeded to bottom out before EVERY driveway along the walk and then look at me expectantly for his bacon. I'd say, 'No Ben' and he's calmly walk to the next driveway and sit down.

I didn't know how to handle this. I don't want to 'untrain' him to stop at crosswalks, so we walked around our 18 million house subdivision with him sitting and looking expectant every 10 feet. I can't imagine what anyone looking out they window thought. Despite NOT getting a treat and surely contracting frostbite on his bum (frostbutt?) he still wouldn't knock it off until we got home. I was pretty near frozen to death. Today? He walked just as normal (well as normal as he gets) as can be. That dog is one weird dude. sidetracked there. Saturday afternoon knitting was awesome as usual. Dale Harriet was the woman of the hour with hilarious stories. That woman has lived I tell ya! Be sure and ask her what happens when you play your Fisher Price Xylophone during rush hour!

Off to eat a yummy supper-Taco packets! I'll put the recipe on Molly Bee's Kitchen if you're interested. Just the right comfort food for a snowy Sunday night. We're supposed to get up to 6-8" of snow tonight?!?!?!? Glad I don't have to shovel it anymore! I'm crossing my fingers for a snow day tomorrow because...yes I am ten years old when it comes to that kinda thing and pray for one if there is just one flake in the air! Ummmm, hot chocolate, a snuggly woobie and soap operas....I am soooo headed for disappointment.....

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Something To Sing About

(La La La) 'One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things is kinda the same....' (La La La)

I've been kinda industrious this week. I got 4 more Connor Caps done, for a total of 8 and a 6# square for his blanket crocheted. (I gave one of the hats to Chocolate Sheep on Friday night so it didn't get it's picture taken...) And I'm working on a Christmas gift that I can't post a picture of and have that half way to done.

I've also been experimenting with breakfast cookie recipes. I've been seeing them around in stores lately and though...'Huh, cookies for breakfast. Now there's an idea who's time has come'! So I poked around the net a bit and found a few I'd like to try. These are the best so far. I'll put the recipe on my recipe website if you're interested. I usually eat a bowl of oatmeal every morning so this is the perfect pick up and go breakfast for me; no fat, lots of fiber and if you substitute Splenda blend and sugar-free pudding, pretty low sugar as well.

(A' La Devo)
If you see a ball, you must whip it...
Any ball at all, you must whip it....
Whip it! Whip it far!
That's right...over thar!
Whip it! Whip it good

Ben and I got up just as the sun was creeping over the frost covered trees this fine Thanksgiving morning. We went over to the prairie preserve across the street to get a little exercise in. Whipping the tennis ball is good for both of us. I throw it, Ben goes to get it and brings it right back to me.....and then right by me, thus prompting me to run after him to retrieve it so that I can throw it again. We played until we got frosty toes and then we came back home. The Hannibal Lector head gear is his Halti collar. It's kind of like a Gentle Leader. Both are designed to prevent dogs from pulling on the leash. Both fail miserably in Mr. Ben's case. I keep putting it on him in case there is some kind of miracle some day and it's magic powers finally kick in.

I went to the West Side Club with friends for Thanksgiving dinner. It was fabulous! Both the food and the conversation. I haven't felt like eating much lately but all of the comfort foods really appealed to me today and I ate more than I probably should have. The zipper on my pants didn't give way but you know how it is with buffets. Once you try a spoonful of this and a spoonful of that....before you know it you're in way over your head!

After dinner, we trundled off to see my secret boyfriend (not so secret now huh? Well, only from HIM!) Vince Vaughn in 'Four Christmases'. I was a little concerned about the family theme but it had my boy in it so I HAD to go. It was awesome! The only crying I did was when I was laughing so hard I couldn't breath. Vince Vaughn as Joseph in the Nativity is a sight to behold!

Anyway, what could have been an ugly day, turned out pretty terrific with very little effort in the 'psyching up' department on my part. For that I'm thankful. Hope you all had a great Turkey Day too. Now I'm off to watch the news and see how many people set their garages on fire deep frying their turkey this year!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pummelos, Publishing and Pampered Puppies

Settle in, it's been a while since I've been here and I have a lot to say. I apologize in advance.
First of all, just talk amongst yourselves for a minute, this one is for my Mum.

Visual Aid
(The big green one is a PUMMELO. Go get 'em at the dinner party, Tiger! :-) )

OK, now that THAT'S out of the way, thanks for the nice comments on the last post, Sue! And welcome to my merry band of readers. I should get the four of you together sometime so you can get to know each other!

How'd you like The Ear? Cool place, huh? It's my home away from home, if you haven't guessed. In fact it was Knit Night on Friday. They had a Pampered Knitter's sale going on with all kinds of roving, jewelry, baskets etc. All the vendors had little tables set up in the front room so it got a little cozy and I relocated to the back room. S.E Management frowns on me going back there after what happened last time... I would tell you but, what happens in the back room stays in the back room! But beings as how there were special circumstances, with the little craft show and all, they turned a blind eye and somehow I got by them. I certainly won't get away with it again. In fact, by now there's probably legal documentation barring me from ever going back there happened again! It got downright outta hand and naughty back there! I'm not claiming full responsibility, but (guilty confession) I was a partial contributor. And I'm NOT the depraved soul responsible for the fact that no one will be able to look at an artichoke the same way again. I'm not mentioning any names.....Jane....just sayin'. I wish I could elaborate, but my lawyer says not to discuss it. Wild cows couldn't drag it out of me.

Friend Anne met me at The Ear and then came back home with me to spend the night after they kicked us out at 11:00PM.(Quite honestly it should have been much, MUCH sooner.) She spent the night so we could strike out early on Saturday morning. Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill in Mount Horeb was having an open house and I had wanted to get the Braidy Cat sweater pattern. I got that and also came away with the Snowshoe Aran pattern and some yarn. It was in there but fun nonetheless. We made friends with a lady from Chicago, who was behind us in the check-out line, and munched contentedly on awesome molasses cookies. Ann and Julia know the way to soothe a savage knit beast is with yummy baked goods!

From there we headed towards New Glarus to go to Rainbow Fleece Farm and Carding Company. I got some pretty roving and communed with the sheep herding dogs; Sundog, Flower and Rudy while Friend Anne got roving for her future needle felting endeavors. [By the way, Happy Birthday Rudy. He's 1 today!] I honestly thought we were going to freeze to death before we left. Gosh it was bitter out! But totally worth it for all of the treasure we found!

Shiny green and white blend

Celtic Woods-Deep purples, browns and forest greens

Autumn colors-golds, reds, browns

(Click on 'em to biggify and really see the colors!)

There are folks in this world (and maybe others) who live in fear of showing up in my 'memoirs' one day. Their numbers are not small. They are a rightfully fearful lot. People, I am here to say, that day has come! That's right, I am a 'published author'. (Somebody catch poor Dale Harriet over there! She's been pounding her fingers to the nub to get her 50,000 novel done by midnight on November 30th and here I'm running around saying 'I'm 'published'! That's it, fan her face. Give her a little room. She'll be OK in a minute.) My Mum watched Oprah the other day and saw that Snapfish was having a deal. Oprah watchers could make a 20 page, printed photo book for free! Just pay the $7.95 shipping an handling! Voila, about two weeks later, the UPS guy shows up with MY BOOK! And it's HARDCOVER, none of the paperback treatment for me! My book is just too good! It's a limited edition ( copy), so I'll just have to show you a teaser until ya'll can come to my house and see it.

It was kind of a rush job because the offer was only good for 48 hours, so I just used photos that I already had in the computer. The title on the spine is 'Molly Bee's Favorite Things' and it has pictures of friends, family, animals and hobbies. It's totally awesome! You can change the layouts, background designs etc. to really customize it and it looks just like a hard copy children's book when it's done. I highly recommend checking it out. I have so many plans for using it for gifts in the future, well I could just pop!
Before I sign off here is a gratuitous doggie shot for you Ben fans. He and I have been fighting over the sofa pillows since I got them. I think they make pretty decorations. He things they need chewing and lengthy baths. I put them on the back of the couch to keep him from soggifying them and inevitabley when I am knitting, he will crawl up and knock one down with his foot and look at me. I put it back up and give him the No-Bad-Dog-No-Lickey speech. Over and over and over again. Monday night he did it again. I said (because, Heaven help me, I seem spend a lot of time talking out loud to that dog like he understands every word I say), "Fine, take it down...but the minute your tongue touches it, your furry butt is mine!" He moved it all around the end of the sofa with his nose and his feet until he had finally settled down with it under his head. He proceeded to spend the next hour or so alternately snoozing and giving me a look like, "See! I didn't want to lick it. I just wanted to take a comfy nap all this time and you've just been mean about it. I'm so misunderstood." Maybe THAT'S why he locked me out of the car last week..

(Mo, are we really all that sure that it was a different Bentley dog? )

Stay tuned next time for Tales of the Product Police and the Great Papaya/Pomegranate Mystery and How You Can Get Your Cilantro For less By Saying It's Parsley.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

LPQT's and FO's

I have been cranking out the Connor Caps in anticipation of being able to pass them off to Beth of Chocolate Sheep fame at Knit Night on Friday. I used some acrylic yarn for them from Michael's. It's called Vanna's Choice ( V_nn_ White...I'd like to buy an 'A', Alex.). It's very soft and wasn't too bad to work with despite my dislike for fake yarn. It knits up into a nice warm cap and is washable so it's all good. I have one more on the needles. It's grey with blue stripes rather than blue with grey because I'm running out of the blue. Hope it still passes muster. After I'm done, I will knit any leftovers into 6 inch squares for an afghan Beth is putting together for Connor's family.

And this is a BIG finished object for me!

I know, it's just a jigsaw puzzle, but it's the first one that I've put together almost entirely by myself....( I did get some assistance from Friend-Donna one evening while we visited) and on purpose too! I've always hated jigsaws because they happen waaay too slowly and I'd get too frustrated, but after working on one at a friend's, I got bitten by the puzzle bug-hard. My library has a big selection of puzzles that you can borrow on the honor system so I snagged one to try thinking that it was a pretty picture. I worked on it for almost a month, sometimes off and on, sometimes obsessively. When I got frustrated I'd tell myself that I was doing quality testing for the library. Someone has to check to see if all of the pieces are there! I'm nothing if not helpful. As it turns out they were all there (how much would that have sucked if they hadn't been?), although for several days I was convinced that about twenty of them didn't even go to this puzzle and the 200 more were missing. But they all fit...every last one, and considering there were 1000 pieces and 950 of them were the same %$^&*shade of green, I'm am declaring it a FO and a victory for Library Puzzle Quality Testers everywhere! [I even put a little note in the box that said, "All pieces included" and the date. I considered putting an 'Inspected By Agent 42' tag on it but thought that would be overkill. How sad is my life?]

Needless to say, I'm hooked and will be testing another library puzzle soon. Friend Donna gave me a puzzle for my b-day that is sky and mountains. 1000 pieces and 980 of them are the same shade of blue. The other 20 are white snow caps. I think I'll save that one for when Mum comes to visit over Christmas! My next one will be a building or a face or the Fisher Price logo; something easy!

Off to finish my last Connor Cap watch a show on the History Channel. Apparently they 'found' the Garden of Eden. I'm betting they also discover Yeti and Jimmy Hoffa living in Noah's Arc under the Tree of Life!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dog Days of Autumn

Bentley had an appointment for his monthly mani-pedi downtown this morning. Lord, he loves to dish with the girls down there at the 'salon'. It starts out innocently enough with topics like fashion. Collars? Leather or nylon? Colored? Rhinestones or metal spikes? Commando?...(giggle, blush). Then it quickly degrades into bawdy jokes and sideways whispers about who's pups came home from Obedience Class with worms, and who's Mister will be getting snipped for sneaking over the fence and getting the next door neighbor in the family way. That Samoyed was always trouble...shaking out her long blond hair and batting those long eyelashes. Her and that 'husky' voice...always luring him to 'come over and see her sometime'. Bitch.

All too soon it's over. A bowl of complimentary beverage and a cookie or two and he's done. Then it's off to Culver's so Mommy can pick up lunch as a reward for wrangling him down there and back. This works out really well for Mommy who would eat at Culver's every other day if she could. This makes it a once a month 'treat'. But, Ben decided to throw a major league monkey wrench in the works.

We went to the car early so that we had time for Mommy to stop at the library first and pay her fines for keeping their "Sense and Sensibility DVD longer than they'd like. Harriet-the-Automated-Library-Voice emailed threatening to send her boys over to break Mommy's kneecaps. You would think she'd be happy. Mommy owed enough to build that new wing she's had her eye on. Shoulda just bought the darn CD. But...I digress...

I put Ben in the back seat and had him sit while I rigged up his Hannibal Lector harness device that prevents him from getting into the front seat and 'helping' me drive. [It does not prevent him from continually licking the back of my head until my hair has a distinctive troll-doll-left-in-a-monsoon look. I pray for short car trips.] Anyway, I threw my car keys in the driver's seat and hooked him up. Apparently not well enough. I closed the back door and before I could open the front door, he has launched into the driver's seat and stood on the button that locked all the doors. He stood there drooling happily and wagging his tail while I ran around the car (twice) trying to get in. No go. No problem, I have an extra set of keys in my apartment. Problem. The apartment key is on the key ring that is currently under a large, furry butt, still wagging enthusiastically in the driver's seat. Rats.

So I go upstairs and ask my neighbor if I can use his phone to call the apartment folks to open my door. Turns out they don't do that. I would have to call a locksmith. Good policy, yes? Let a stranger come and let me into any apartment I say is mine rather than sending the on-site facilities guy over to check my ID and let me into the apartment he KNOWS I live in. So I called 'Mike's Towing' and told them the situation. After they stopped laughing and could breathe again, they sent the nicest man, Tim, over to liberate my keys and my dog, who by this time is nervous and confused about why we haven't gone for a ride yet. Yup. Two minutes, a modified coat hanger thingie and $54 and the problem was resolved.

Sheesh. Why do I even get out of bed on Saturdays? There's not enough Culver's in the world....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Molting Turkeys and Flying Squirrels

There has been knitting...poor quality knitting in most cases, but knitting none-the-less. I told you that I was unable to knit a simple sock at Knit Night. Getaloada the turkey dish cloth I knit on Tuesday Dish Cloth Night:

Yes there is a glaring error in the turkey's butt area. Looks like his tail is molting. Since it's a dishcloth and it's just for me, I'm not too concerned. And good news! I have enough of the God-awful circus peanut pink/orange cotton to make another one! Try try again...practice makes perfect and all that. And I kind of like the pattern with the K2togs and YO's in the tail.

Here's one that actually went right! It's my first Conner Cap:

It was fun to knit and I have enough yarn in the correct colors to make a couple more. It only takes an evening or so to whip one up. It's Sharlene Schurch's Straight Stitch Watch hat pattern with a ribbed cuff from her 'Hat's On' book.

And here is a gratuitous Bentley shot....
Poor guy has been having a rough time of it. He's been anxiously watching the 3-mile Island Mutant Squirrels that live in the yard, since we moved in. I swear they go ten pounds a piece. Wicked hefty, Deah. They are the largest, most brazen squirrels I've ever seen. Anyway, lately they have been coming right up to the patio door and provoking him with evil intent. It's pretty unnerving really. He will be minding his business, not even interested and one will come and put his nose right on the glass, look in and squeak. Sometimes they do it in pairs. He runs over and looks at them, with only the thin sheet of glass between them, and then they do that mutant squirrel dance. You know the one with the kind of Pepe-Le-Pew hopping up and down on four stiff legs at once, shaking their tails and scolding loudly. I don't know if it's the fancy dance moves or the chatter, or both, but it sets off poor Ben somethin' awful. He starts bucking and spinning like a mechanical bull, drooling and whining. I just know I'm going to come home one day to a perfect Bentley-shaped hole in the sliding glass door. I feel bad for him because they are so obviously making a fool of him on purpose. You can tell because once he starts in on one of his fits, they grab their little tummies and double over with squirrely laughter, giving each other little rodent high fives. Then they scurry off only to to send another comrade or two back over a few minutes later, after he's calmed down a little, to do it all again. Quick witted as always, Ben treats every volley as if it were the first, a new and novel experience to get all wound up over.

I'm not quite sure what to do about them. My grandmother Grace has a quick solution for the pesky pipsqueaks that involved a .22 as I recall, but that's not my style. I'm more the non-violent wiley type. My initial though is pegging them with a squirt gun filled with vinegar or ammonia water a couple of times or launching them back towards the trees with a badminton racket-kinda 'Whack A Mole' like. My second thought is to just let Ben out. He's too inept to catch them though and I'm afraid they'll escalate their antics to name calling and cussin'. I'll think on it a bit. I'm sure the perfect solution is in here somewhere, I just have to rummage a bit more. (Wanders off mumbling...'Now where did I leave that badminton racket...')

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Triple Crochets, Talking, Turkey and Tantalizing Torte

Been keeping myself pretty busy and relatively out of trouble for the last week. I say relatively out of trouble because the doc told me to keep my UAS on for 2 weeks and I ditched it after 6 days. In attention to instructional detail or defiance? I'm not telling. Suffice to say I've suffered not ill effects and am even back to walking the dog in the freezing temps of 'bumhole of the morning o'clock'.

I finished a baby blanket that I found almost finished when I moved....(Nice sneakers, I know. )

It's crocheted and I really like the pattern a lot. It looks, at first glance, to be rows of squared sewn together but is in fact, all crocheted in one piece . The webs are made with triple crochets.
I went to Knit Night at The Sow's Ear on Friday night. It was a hoot as usual. An this week was special because it was a hoot with CAKE. Doesn't get any better than that! It was a "Melissa's Birthday and Yay Barack Won" cake. Cool cake even though I didn't get a decent picture of it because it was eye level to me on a counter top and I had to hold my camera up and shoot blindly!

I don't know why kind of Elven magic they used for the photo but it was awesome. And tasty too!

The only bad part about Knit Night was that I couldn't seem to knit to save my soul. I cast on and knit an inch of the same sock leg 4 times before giving up and going home. Last night I started on a Connor Cap and worked up 4 inches with no problem at all. I'm too busy people watching and gabbing at Knit Night I guess. Although the hat was knit while watching a Doctor Who marathon. David Tennant is pretty distracting as well. Huh? One of life's little mysteries I guess.

Yesterday I got together with some of the girls and went to see The Secret Life of Bees. The book is one of my top 20 favorites of all time and the movie, surprisingly, didn't disappoint. Three out of the four of us sat there sobbing through the last third of the film. But in a good way! (For the record, the man sitting to my left was crying too!)

After the movie we went to Avanti's in Verona for supper. I had been in there once, before the bar addition, and have had some pizza from there on Charity Knit Night. The food was excellent. I highly recommend the Shells Florentine. And it was good to have company at meal time. That has been my biggest hurdle this fall-eating alone. Usually, I do a crossword puzzle while I eat. It was nice to have conversation again. I mean chats with Bentley can only take me so far.

Me: Hi Ben, how was your day.
Ben: You gonna eat that?
Me: Did you see any squirrels out front.
Ben: Give me a bite of that meatloaf will ya?
Me: You didn't bark when the mail person came did you?
Ben: Ummmmm....broccoli.


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Due in large part to Chester here. My Mum made him for me many moons ago. He has graced my kitchen table every year since then. I dug him out today and put him out. I think he's the cutest thing ever! Just looking at him makes me smile.

Dapper, wouldn't you agree?

Ben is out with the neighbors right now. They took him for a walk with their dog because they know my foot is still sore. Wasn't that sweet? Even sweeter because they KNOW that walking him is like trying to harness a speeding locomotive. I made some brownies for them so I guess I'd better go cut them up and get them ready since they should be back soon.

Have a good Monday everyone!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Weekend Update

The Halloween party at work was a success. There was even one treat grosser than my Halloween fingers and that was this jello brain. I know...EWWWWW! But oddly tasty none the less! Would have gone great with fava beans and a nice chianti.
And this was my costume. Simple but effective. A tiara and a half full specimen cup tied around my neck. Know what I was? See bottom of post for answer...

I had to have blood drawn on Monday so I asked the lab tech if I could have a specimen cup and she gave me one and asked me what it was for. I told her what I was thinking and that I would fill the cup with apple juice for effect. She got all excited and told me to go with Juicy Juice Tropical Blend for more realism. I'll be darned if she wasn't right! Tastier too! You could tell she had thought about this before. I didn't ask for details as to why...

I didn't win the costume contest (even thought I volunteered to drink my own 'urine' if it would bump me up in the standings...) but I did win the pumpkin decorating contest. If you can't really see it, the pumpkin's eyes and ears are popped out, oozing and bleeding. There is a big hole in the back of his head with a little Nerf brain and head shrapnel that has blown out. I was pretty proud of using materials at hand at the office. Thank goodness I work with scientists. I found Mr. Potato head parts [I think they should heretofore be called Mr. Pumpkin Head parts because he looked waaay better in them than that moldy old spud ever did!] and the little Nerf brain in the department toy box and some salt water taffy on the treat table that I sculpted into the oozie bits. The prize was a rocking water bottle!
This weekend has been a busy one. Lots of little things to do around the house, taking down the Halloween stuff and putting up the Thanksgiving stuff, etc. I missed having trick or treaters come this year. We used to have have over a hundred at the house. One of the concession of living in a security locked building I guess.
Went to friends' house last night for supper and board games. They made the best lemon chicken and ribs in black bean sauce I've ever had. After supper we played Candy Land with their toddler which was absolutely hysterical. I would ask him for rule clarification and strategies for winning and he would reply with seriousness only a four year old can muster. If I had a set back, he would tell me not to get upset, that that's just how the game went sometimes. He told me at one point that he was 'somewhat of an expert at Candy Land'. (His dad just laughed and shook his head and said " I hate it when I hear my own words come back at me.") I was going to take a photo so you could see his cute little sweet self, but when I mentioned it, he just shook his head and said, "I'm not a big fan of pictures..." . Four going on 40, I swear! After he went to bed, we played a game I had heard of but never played before called 'Ticket To Ride'. I really liked it and will look into getting a copy for myself. My mum is coming out for Christmas and I bet she'd like it too.
I found a nearly finished crocheted baby blanket when I moved so I dug that out and have been working on the edging. Hopefully I will finish it tonight and have pics for my next post. Off to get the linens out of the dried and remake the bed. With it getting dark so early and all of those warm, clean sheets, I'll have to fight the temptation to crawl right in!
Oh yeah... I was 'The Princess and the Pee'...

Cooper and The Garden Guest

I discovered earlier this summer that finches aren't the only thing that like my thistle seeds. Even though there is a plethora of seeds...