Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last post of 2008

Well another year's gone by already. I must be getting old, because it doesn't seem that long ago that I started this blog. I started it to share pictures of my Dear Jane blocks, and that project has fallen by the wayside, especially since I started knitting. My current numbers for Dear Jane are 64-21-1-1957 (that's blocks-triangles-corners-pieces). One of the blocks and one of the triangles needs to be re-done because I made them with the wrong fabrics. Not that anyone but me would *know* they're the wrong fabrics, but I plan to re-do them anyway. Last year's resolution was to do a block and a triangle every week, all year. HA! This year, I'd like to accomplish the following, quilt-wise:
  • Get to the halfway mark on Dear Jane: 85-26-2-???? (don't know how many piece that will be)
  • Finish Big Blue, which was the 1997 Quilt for a Cure
As for knitting, I'd like to
  • Finish my first pair of socks
  • Finish the remaining stealth project by the end of February
  • Finish my felted clogs
  • Make at least one felted cat bed
  • Knit something in lace, possibly with beads
That seems pretty realistic, doesn't it? Here's the progress on the first sock:

I turned the heel today!! It didn't make sense till I started doing it, but once I started doing it, I got it. It's hard to tell in the picture, but on the left side, there's a little cup that your heel fits into. Pretty cool! Next I'll pick up stitches from somewhere and attach the front of the sock to the heel. I have a sock knitting reference book, which I'll definitely be referring to when I start working on that.

Do you remember my Booga Bag? I finally felted it over the weekend. Here are before and after pictures:

Big difference, huh? I wish I'd made it a bit taller, but oh well.... If you notice, there's a hump in the bottom edge of the bag:

For some reason that ring of colors didn't felt as much as the others. I'm going to try to re-felt it, by hand if I have to, to try to even it out. I also need to find something to put in it to block it into the shape I want.

In feline news, the cats are no longer content just taking the leg lamp off the tree. Someone (we think it's Runt again) has been climbing the tree and dislodging branches:

The this second picture shows one branch out of place, about 3-1/2" up the tree. The other day we woke up and there were branches pulled out in several places at multiple heights. The star is completely crooked and won't stand up straight anymore.

Do we have to take the tree down tomorrow?

Be careful out there partying tonight! We're staying in, as usual. The weather was pretty crummy today (after being in the mid-60s on Saturday), so it's just as well. More tomorrow or Friday.....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

No breakfast for you!

Exhibit A:

[Faces of the accused have not been included, but some of their feet are there.] This is the *second* time my furry children have knocked over the food container today. The first time, the container was on it's back - and open. Coincidentally (or not), they didn't come running after me to get their breakfasts when I got up. So I didn't feed them. I guarantee, not one of my babies is going to starve to death if they miss a meal. Of course, they *didn't* miss it. The only difference is that Max and Emma didn't get their prescription food. That container is Blue and Runt's food.

Exhibit B:

I'm *sure* the corner of this table didn't always have teeth marks in it (the camera apparently decided to focus on the carpet instead of the table). I'm pretty sure the culprit is Runt. She looks cute and innocent, but don't you believe it. When she wants out of her room, she wants OUT. NOW!

Exhibit C:

This is the *third time* I've found this ornament on the floor. I'm not sure how they do it, since it's hooked on a branch at least 2 feet off the floor, with a bulb from the Christmas lights stuck in the top of the shade . Granted, the bulb doesn't fit tightly, but still. I'm not sure why this one is their favorite. It's not the lowest hanging ornament, and they always do it when the tree is turned off, so it can't be that they're attracted to the light. Maybe they're just big fans of A Christmas Story just like Mama. The disturbing part is this time, I can't find the hook......!

I'd put coal in their stockings, but they'd probably like it. Blue really likes to play with cough drops. You'd think the smell would discourage him, but no. I think I'm going to find some rocks about that size, twist them up in some paper or fabric and let him play with those. If I put some catnip in there, maybe he'll leave the cough drops alone. Or not.

Cats are weird.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! And have a great Christmas Day!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cookies and stuff

Here's a picture of the (yes, small) cookie tray I took to work on Tuesday:

That's chocolate chip, with pecans and M&Ms, pretzel treats and peanut blossoms. We also made Swirled Holiday Snowball Cookies (recipe is on the back of the package, too), but I really like those, so I didn't share. :) The pretzel treats are really, really easy and very festive.

Pretzel Treats
(shamelessly stolen from someone in my quilt guild)

1 bag of pretzels
1-2 lbs of candy-making disks, any color/flavor
1 bag of M&Ms

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Lay pretzels on a single layer on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. A layer of parchment or waxed paper underneath makes cleanup really easy, especially if you overbake them. Place one candy-making disk on each pretzel. Bake 7-10 minutes or until disks in the center of the tray are soft. Remove from oven and immediately place one M&M in the center of each disk, pressing lightly to make sure they stick. Cool completely.

I used Snyder's of Hanover Snaps pretzel, white chocolate disks and red and green milk chocolate M&Ms. I've tried mixing and matching milk and dark chocolate disks and dark chocolate M&Ms, but I prefer this combo. The white chocolate really shows off the M&Ms and adds a nice contrast in flavor.

Last year I was making these for a bake sale and didn't have holiday M&Ms. I just pulled the red and green ones out of a regular bag, along with the blue and yellow ones for Hanukkah. They were very pretty. You can get those disks in all kinds of colors, so these would be great using school/team colors. If you want to get really fancy, you can order M&Ms in a whole rainbow of colors here.

I promised some crafty content, and here it is:

That's my first sock. Sixty stitches on size 2 (2.75mm) needles, using Red Heart's Heart and Sole yarn in Toasted Almond. I'm mostly following the free pattern for the yarn. According to them, I should have cast on 52 stitches instead of 60 (didn't have the pattern at the time), but I have wide feet and thick ankles, so I'm hoping it works out ok. I also used 3x3 ribbing instead of 2x2. Again, I'm hoping it'll be ok. Only time will tell, I guess. If it doesn't fit, I'll have to find someone who can wear and appreciate them.

Finally this was the view at my house last night. For the record, Blue was there first and Emma jumped up later. She also let him spend a good 5 minutes licking her head without swatting, growling or otherwise complaining.

"I still hate those stupid, stinky kittens."

Monday, December 15, 2008

One Charlie Brown Christmas tree coming up

I was on vacation last week and you'd think I'd have more to show for it, wouldn't you? In that 9-day period, we celebrated my dad's birthday, I ran a lot of errands, finished reading a book and one of my stealth knitting projects, did some Christmas shopping, baked cookies and put up the Christmas tree:

Yes, it really needs more lights, but since I wasn't the one putting them on, I guess I can't complain (much). I know there are very few ornaments on it. I do have more ornaments. Lots more. However, this is what my tree was decorated with last year, so I hope you understand why we're hesitant to put a bunch of stuff on it this year:

That would be Runt, about 18" from the top of the tree. We didn't even bother putting lights on it last year, with 7-month-old kittens in the house. She's bigger this year and hasn't shown any interest in climbing it. So far, the skirt is the only thing that's been moved. This is how I found it when I got home from work:

Does this look familiar?

I went to Wild Mango for lunch on Saturday with my friend and her daughter. I got the same thing I had last time -- the Romano Shrimp with sauteed spinach and sweet potato fries. No dessert this time, since we were coming back to my house to bake cookies later (which I should have, but didn't get pictures of). Here's a shot of the ceiling in the foyer at "the Mango":

Pretty, isn't it? If you're ever in the Greater Cleveland area you have to try this place. It's less pricey for lunch than dinner, but the food is just as good.

In other news, Ripley, who is 16-1/2, is starting to have liver problems.

I look pretty good for my age, even in a crappy cell phone picture.

She's showing some early signs of kidney disease, too. Neither of these is surprising for a cat of her age. I'm just glad she's not diabetic, since giving her daily injections would be out of the question. To me, it's not worth prolonging her life if I'm making her miserable. Emma complains when we give her the sub-q fluids, but 2 minutes later, she's on a lap (usually dripping on us for payback). We tried to put ointment in Ripley's eyes last year and after 2 days, she hid from us all the time. She even waited till we went to bed to eat.

So for now, we're changing her food to a prescription liver support diet plus a supplement. I have to mix the wet food 50/50 with non-prescription food or she won't eat it. Can't blame her, that stuff looks nasty and doesn't smell much better. The canned kidney food Emma eats smells much better. Ripley should be fine with the dry food, since she ate it when my other cat, Lucky, was sick. Of course, that was almost 6 years ago, so her tastes might have changed. She's a much pickier eater than the rest of the cats. She's the only one who won't eat table scraps.

That's all the news I can think of at the moment. I should have some pictures of crafty stuff later in the week. I'll be taking a cookie tray to work at some point and will take a picture of that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

This is one of the Christmas trees in the lobby of my office.

We've had a little snow, but not too much on the west side of Cleveland. I'm sure my friends on the east side will have a different story. There is a reason I'm a west-sider. Can you say "lake effect snow"??

Don't hate me, but I've done quite a bit of Christmas shopping already. I'm just about done with a few of the people on my list, and I know what I'm getting most of the others. Whee! Along the way, as usual, I've picked up some things for myself and/or the house. For example, I bought a new welcome mat for the front porch, which is something I've needed for quite a while. Apparently both the new doormat and the ratty old one have fascinating scents.

Also, I mentioned my stash acquisitions, and here they are:

That's three balls of sock yarn at the top. The two on the right are Harry Potter sock yarn by Opal, in the "Ron" and "Harry" colorways. The one on the left is a cotton blend, and the colors remind me of rainbow sherbet. [Have I mentioned that my first sock is till only about 3 rows long? Irrelevant, I'm sure.] The two at the bottom are a fantastically soft yarn called Touch Me, which I did and therefore had to have some. This is not cheap yarn but they had a scarf knit out of it at the shop and I couldn't stopping touching it. I'm thinking of knitting a pillow cover out of it. I might not even put the pillow into it. I might just pet it when it's done. It's *that* soft!

In other knitty news, I worked a bit on one of the stealth projects after dinner on Thanksgiving. I'm about 4% done with it. Fortunately, the deadline for that is a few months away. Sorry, there's not enough of it to photograph just yet.

Here's another stealth project I'm working on.

That's a pretty close-up shot, so hopefully you can't really tell what it is. It has a closer deadline, and I'd say I'm about 40% done with that one. It's not a hard knit, but I do have to pay attention to what I'm doing. It's probably a good thing I'm on vacation next week, though.

One of the stealth projects I was working on a month or so ago is done and has been delivered. I thought I'd taken a picture of it, but apparently I didn't. Anyway, it was a chemo cap for a friend of mine who started treatments this week. I'm hoping the fact that she has a chemo cap will keep her from losing her hair.

Finally, you might remember the billiards quilt I made for John this past spring. He keeps it folded up on top of the entertainment center (which is about 4-1/2 feet tall), trying to keep the cat hair off of it. How do you think that's working out?

Don't tell Papa I'm here, okay?

Max has always loved high places - one of his favorite spots is the top of the fridge. I have a feeling he sleeps on the quilt at night
, since he's usually "vulturing" (picture Snoopy leaning over the edge of his doghouse) on the entertainment center when I get up in the morning.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I got home safely from my trip Friday night. I'll post a picture of my yarn stash additions from the week soon. It wasn't *too* bad....

Since my last post, I started the quasi-stealth project that I was swatching last time. I also started another stealth knitting project that has a deadline. I'm a little over 10% done with that, but it's pretty quick knit, as long as I pay attention.

I think the cats were happy to have me home, if having them follow me around everywhere I went was any indication. Here's a crappy cell phone camera action shot of four of them "helping" me make the bed on Sunday.

That's everyone but Ripley, who was probably camped out on a kitchen chair at the time. The heat register is under the kitchen table, of course.

I decided to go ahead and give my Secret Santa kid the weird little hat I knitted, along with the scarf that matches. If he can't/won't wear them, hopefully someone he knows can/will.

The last two nights this week have involved these:

That's two of the four bags of homemade rolls I made for various Thanksgiving dinners today. YUM! We're off to my uncle's house for dinner. I'm looking forward to it, since I only see my extended family every other year these days.

And since it's Thanksgiving, I'll do the "traditional thing" and list a few of the things I'm thankful for. Of course there are the things nearly everyone has on their lists: Family, friends, and pets. Also, my health and the overall health of my friends, family and pets. There are a few members of that group who have some health issues, but they're still with us, so I'm thankful for that. I'm thankful I have a job, and can pay my bills. I know people who are worried about those things, so I'm wishing the best to them.

And a few frivolous things I'm thankful for: fabric, yarn and all the assorted goodies and gadgets that go along with them, good books and books on CD, which make my daily commute much more entertaining! Oh, and I'm very thankful for my bread machine (see photo above for reference)!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Be safe, and remember, Thanksgiving calories don't count!! ;-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Turkeys and chickens and cats, oh my!

[Warning, more really crappy cell phone pix today.]
It's been a fun couple of days here in Beantown. The class we're taking is okay. It's not anything we'll use on a regular basis at work, but it'll be good to have the background knowledge. And despite our instructor's dismay at nearly half of the class (3/7) being system administrators, K. and I have been the first to finish our labs nearly every time. We also require a whole lot less assistance than the "DBA" in front of us, who we really want to throw something at most of the time.

On the plus side, we got to see these guys and a few more of their friends this morning on our way into class:

We told them to run for their lives. They must have understood, because they were long gone by lunch time.

But that's not the fun part. A couple of my college friends moved out here right after we graduated, and I don't get to see them very often. Last night we went to their house for dinner, yarn shopping and knit night. Dinner was yummy, we had an adventure winding a hank of sock yarn at the yarn shop, and got very little knitting at knit night. :) But the company was excellent, so we went out there again tonight.

My friends raise chickens and their son sells the eggs, which are really good. It's a shame we're flying home, or I'd ask for some to take home. Here are two of the 50 or so they have at the moment:

There are also two resident cats. I'm sure you all know how much I like cats. :)

Butters enjoys blending in with the furniture, when he isn't eating hand-knit wool socks. Wolfgang spends his time climbing trees and into the laps of those who are allergic to him. Butters is polydactyl, but even without that, he has the biggest feet I've ever seen on a house cat. Wolfgang has the softest, silkiest fur I've ever felt. We were hoping to bring one of them back with us, but couldn't sneak them out. Well, I was hoping - K., probably not so much.

I do have some fiber content today. First, the finished hat:

It's looks a big misshapen in the picture, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be too small for my Secret Santa kid. I ran out of yarn and had to stop, though. Maybe he'll have a small head, or a younger sibling/cousin/friend who can use it.

Next up, the projects I have on needles at the moment:

From the top: The sock I cast on (2 or 3 times) tonight; the swatch/pocket of the quasi-stealth project I started the other night; and the first couple of rows of my felted clogs. I've been assured that if I follow the pattern, this will eventually become something that resembles the sole. Time will tell.....

And finally, as if two tasty home-cooked dinners wasn't enough, S. made shopping bags for each of us. Here is mine:

I love it! Thanks so much!!

Tomorrow the three of us are going do dinner and go to a quilt shop. Oh yeah, we have to go to class first. Minor detail.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A new look and a new (temporary) location

Sorry, all crappy cell phone pictures this week. The digital camera was one too many electronic gadgets to keep track of. I've already missplaced all my chargers and forgot to bring my laptop power cable. Sigh.... Luckily, I'm travelling with a co-worker, K, who has the same laptop I do, so I can still juice up when needed.

Anyway, here's the new look, after a color, cut and addition of glasses:

My location for the week:

Any guesses? It's the site of a famous "Massacre" - which involved the death of a whopping 5 people. Not to say that killing 5 people is a good thing, but I hardly think that qualifies as a massacre. Maybe it did in 1770.

At any rate, we're in Boston. That's a picture of the Massachusetts State House on Boston Common. We got here Sunday afternoon, ate some good seafood for lunch, then walked part of the Freedom Trail. We thought this was the marker for the Boston Massacre, but it's not. I have no idea what it is, actually. Pretty, though. Except for the graffiti. People are so stupid...

We found the Granary Burying Ground where this guy is buried:

I'm not a beer drinker, but John likes his brew. ;-)

Also there were Benjamin Franklin's parents, but I instead of taking a picture of their tomb/maker, or the guy dressed in period clothing, I chose these shots:

Nearly every headstone in the place had a skull of some kind on it. A lot of them were hard to see. This one had the skull and crossbones, as did a few others. A lot of them had skulls with wings, which kind of resembled some really creepy bats. Along one side of the cemetery, is a building, but we didn't look to see what the building actually is [we would make horrible reporters, btw]. The ground level windows all had bars on them, with razor wire strung above them all the way across. WTF? Are they trying to keep people from breaking into or out of the cemetery?? I just don't get it.

In other news, our hotel room are really nice, and this was the cheaper place, I think.

This is almost as big as my last apartment. The room has a separate bedroom and a full kitchen. We could stock up on food and cook our own meals. But we have no intention of doing that. We're in Beantown, baby. We're eating seafood all week!

Except tomorrow night. Tomorrow night, we'll be enjoying the hospitality of some college friends of mine and their sons, who live in this fine commonwealth [how come KY, MA, PA and VA call themselves commonwealths, not states?]. I haven't seen them in a while, so I'm excited. They have two new cats this year, one who climbs things (trees, mostly) and one with a wool fetish. Can't wait to meet some furballs who are at least as weird as mine. :) And as a bonus, there's a yarn shop nearby, and tomorrow is knit night at the library. K and I are going to learn to knit socks!

I'll have some fiber-y pictures later in the week. I finished the stealth knitting project, but haven't delivered it, so no picture. I finished a quasi-stealth quilt top on Saturday. I have a picture of it, but not with me. I started and am about half done with a hat for my Secret Santa kid. I'll take a picture of that when I'm done with it.

Now, I'm off to get ready for class. Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


So far this weekend, I've embroidered a couple of pillowcases for the local children's home (no photos for privacy reasons). I put together these two stockings from kits for my quilt guild. They going to a local Native American Charity.

I also finished the commissioned quilt block for my co-worker. The one on the left is the actual completed block. The picture on the right is the original center, just folded up on top of the finished block.

I like the black background better, but the white one looks better than I thought it would. I hope the sister-in-law approves.

I also got some more knitting done on the latest stealth project, both at embroidery club Saturday morning and while I was doing the embroidery. I can't really go far from the machine while it's stitching. I don't know how the machines know when you leave the room but they do. As soon as you leave, BAM! the thread breaks or the needle breaks or some other nastiness happens. So I keep a chair by the embroidery machine and knit while it's running.

Next up, I have a quilt top and possibly a quilt label to finish by next weekend. A friend of mine and I are working on a joint project, and I have to get the top done before I see her. It's all strip-pieced, so it should go together really fast. It's going to be a really busy week, so I have to try to get at least part of it done tonight. I was hoping to get the stealth knitting project done by Tuesday night, but that's looking less likely all the time.

Oh, and the "kittens" got a clean bill of health yesterday, though neither of them was happy about getting stuffed in a box and hauled to the vet's office. They forgave us pretty quickly, though, which was good.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The B-word

Bifocals. Oh, sorry, they're "Progressive Lenses" now. Same difference, if you ask me. Either way, I spent $$$ Thursday night ordering a pair for myself, along with a pair prescription sunglasses (distance vision only).

The irony of it is that I had LASIK done several years ago. When I originally had the surgery done, my vision was pretty bad, and they told me upfront that I'd have to have both eyes zapped twiced, with 6-8 months between the procedures. They were fine for several years, then I noticed the right eye was getting blurry again. I had that one re-done, after which they told that A) I had lost some of my near vision and B) that eye was done with surgeries - not enough of my cornea left to zap. Now 3 years later, and just past 40, I've noticed some more blurriness in my distance vision, and a bit of trouble seeing close up. Yippee.

I'm not sorry I had the LASIK. I was extremely nearsighted back then. I had to squint to see the clock radio next to the bed, and if I dropped my glasses, I was pulling a Velma (i.e. patting around on my hands & knees while saying "Where are my glasses?? I can't see without my glasses!") to find them. Great visual, huh? Even worse was the time I dropped a contact lens and it landed on a plastic baggie.
Good times.

Anyway, my new specs will be in next week. I don't *have* to wear them all the time, but likely will, just because it's easier to do that than to remember where I left them. :) This getting older thing is *not* fun!

I've made some more progress on my stealth project, but can't show you that till it's done and given away. I got the new center done on the commissioned quilt block, but still have to do the embroidery. I got the names digitized for it, I just have to stitch them out. This weekend for sure. I want to get it done before I go to training.

In other news, a couple of someones get to go for a ride in the car today to see the nice lady doctor.

"We told you, we're not going!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day!!

I am so glad it's FINALLY election day!! I'm so tired of hearing politicians telling me what the other guy is going to do TO me instead of what they themselves are going to do FOR me, I can't stand it.

I hope everyone exercised their right to vote. If you didn't vote, I don't want to hear you complaining about who's running the country, or your state, or city or whatever. Unless you're a convicted felon (and I don't think I know (m)any of those), you have the ability to make your voice heard. If you choose not to, you've forfeit your right to give your opinion on the state of the country, etc. You know who you are.....

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now. :)

In crafty news, there really isn't any. I still haven't re-done the center of that commissioned quilt block. I did start a new stealth knitting project, but I can't show that yet. So instead of projects, I'll show you this:

That would be one of my socks, pilfered from the container in the basement under the laundry chute. I keep finding them in strange places around the house. On Saturday, I found one in the middle of the bed, and another one in the doorway between the living room and kitchen. This one was in the middle of the living room floor when I got home from work today. I don't know how they're getting there, but I worry about what will happen when I start knitting my own socks.

What? Fetching Mama's socks is perfectly normal behavior.