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.