Monday, January 14, 2019

I know, why don't I just whip out a pair of thrummed mittens!

This is why not:
Half of the thrums
Will I ever learn to read directions before I start something?  Will I be destined to suffer disappointment in each new endeavor?  Will Marty marry Betty, or will Betty run off with her hair stylist?  I am afraid I am prone to lack of focus, so will be frustrated at every turn for the rest of my natural life.  I just need to look at it through new glasses - you know, the glasses that turn everything rosy.

Some of the promises I made to myself for this year include yarn-related things.  Okay, most of them include yarn-related things.  I am not allowed to buy a single skein/ball/cake/piece of yarn this year.  I need to start and finish at least half of the multitude of kits and projects that I have squirreled away in the dreaded craft room.  I need to un-dread the craft room.

It had occurred to me that I had a kit for thrummed mittens.  Just the ticket!

Gone.  (This morning's temp dropped
below 0.)
I ferretted around in the yarn bins and found my kit.  I bounced back to the relative warmth of the living room, settled into my chair, opened the package and, finally, read the directions.  Twice.  Then I went on YouTube to just confirm my suspicions.  Yes, these mittens will be done in the summer.  I have been making thrums, every evening, for four nights in a row, and have almost finished enough for the first mitten.  It's not that they are difficult to make - you just have to learn how to draft the roving, you have to get each fluffy bit pretty much the same length and dimension, and you have to do it many, many times.  Let's just say that the state of my thrums is directly related to how I was feeling about the entire project at the time.  Mercy.

My very own Needle Keeper!

The thrum project, on top of the endless green sock project, is starting to make me twitchy.  It's all I can do to keep myself focused on finishing them, so that I do not go off on another tangent and have six projects in varying states of completedness - except for complete.  I just realized that I have four pairs of socks on the needles.  And the thrums, of course. 

Cooking was at a minimum this weekend because it was too cold to even think about emerging from my knitting cocoon - nothing like being wrapped in the Geezer sweater with a pile of furry bodies snugged in around you.  I watched a couple of DVDs - Incredibles 2 (LOVED it!) and Game of Thrones (Season 1 - I know, I am the only adult in the country that has not seen this.  And I may be the only adult in the country to go no further with it.)

Just to notch up the frustration a bit further, I had decided to bite the bullet and try a new gluten free bread recipe.  (Insert a small rant here)  There should be a full disclosure on all gluten free cookbooks (hell, ALL cookbooks) that are sold online.  This one would have included, as a subtitle, "You, too, can bake a $16 loaf of pseudo-bread!"
$16 of meh.
Someone had raved about this book, so I ordered it.  Once I read the first recipe - Easy, Everyday Bread - and it required a cup and a quarter of raw cashew butter - I knew I was going to hate it.  However, I am weak.  As much as I declare I don't miss bread, I lie.  I miss it a lot.  Every day and every meal.  And twice on weekends.  So, I ordered my $16 jar of raw cashew butter - I did look locally, but every equally-expensive jar contained other ingredients - and baked the bread.  Which also required FIVE eggs (two whole eggs and three egg whites).  Honestly?  The resulting loaf was light and well-flavored, but NOT BREAD.  Now I have this cookbook that I will never use again and cannot, with clear conscience, foist on anyone else.  Unless they are gluten intolerant and have very deep pockets.  Pfft.

Before you think that my weekend was bereft of happiness - it was not.  It started out on a high, with a birthday package in my mailbox.  A small box full of treasures from a friend who is a treasure, herself.
Excuse the poor quality - I'll
get a better one and post it again.
She knit me a hat!  A darling owl hat in the most luscious turquois color!  OMG, how I love it!  And I got darling little knitted acorns and some of her beautiful photographs, that have been pinned to my workspace wall.  Also, I finally remembered to pick up my Christmas present from my youngest sister, which has been languishing at my parents' house:
ACK!  Cuteness alert!
I think this mug also represents the state that my very own wiener dog puts me in - he has been on a naughty streak that is driving me to distraction - and it's a very short road, my friends.  Lucky for him, he's an adorable little imp.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Mornings with me and what I did Tuesday night.

Here is a typical conversation (monologue) I have with my best audience (the dogs/cat) during inside morning chores:

"Ooooo, Binkers!  Is that a lightly flipped egg on your green sludge?  Whoa!  Down boy - no leaping!  Okay, Lovey-dovey, here's your egg and sludge, too.  Now, try to chew something.  (Sound of Hoovering).  (Insert sigh.)

"Hm.  Slimmie liked his dry food yesterday.  And I see that he's slopped half of his wet food all over the floor.  I should clean that up.  I wonder if I should be feeding him something else.  Rachel Ray has a good brand and she's local.  Of course, Purina - who has made billions on the back of pet owners over the years - is his fav so far.  But, then, shouldn't I be supporting a local person?  Wait.  Should I be supporting a local "celebrity" person?  Someone who is also on her way to making millions off my back?  What would Slimmie think of a change?  Cripes, the last time I had a moment of social consciousness and changed his wet food from his Friskies Tasty Treasures to that really, really expensive cat food in tiny cans, full of very, very special ingredients like greens hand-picked off the sides of mountains by monks in Tibet, he hated it.  (Insert sigh)  I just have to face the fact that my cat prefers a McDonald's diet and I'll just have to slip in the best stuff I can.  I wonder who has the best coupons..."

"Okay, everyone!  Time for Cheesies!!! (Insert sound of mad scrambling and too-long toenails on vinyl flooring)  Ha, you guys don't even know I'm slipping you a mickey (Benedryl for Binkers and pain pill for Lovey) because you DON'T CHEW!"

Looks down to see Slimmie, who has inserted himself between the dogs and waits, expectantly.

"Of course you want a cheezie, Slimmie.  It's Velveeta, you heathen."  Slimmie takes his bit of cheezie and gums it madly.  (Insert another, longer sigh).

I am lucky that both dogs are not picky - AT ALL - about what they eat.  As long as it's forthcoming in a steady stream, they are happy.  Slimmie is just a homie with a homie's taste.  Our favorite Santa Claws from PA sent him a packet of very special treats for Christmas - freeze-dried minnows!  After he got over his initial fear of them, he then tentatively took one in his jaws and walked around with it for a half hour, growling.  Unfortunately, by then it had thoroughly rehydrated and fell to pieces and he lost interest.  The Binkers was on it like a cheap suit.  That dog can hear the lid of the whipped cream can flip off, or the whisper of minnow pieces falling on carpeting and be there in an instant.  I can stand on the back deck and yell his name (and many other 'colorful' names) in full voice, and he cannot hear me.  It's a mystery (to no one).


So, how did I spend my Tuesday night?  I'm so glad you asked!  I spent my Tuesday night making a tarp slipcover for the Quail Hutch.  This should come as no surprise from the same woman who fashioned an apron out of duct tape.  I had carefully measured it (more than twice), cut out all of the pieces and duct-taped them together, being careful to duct tape the hems - as is done in The Trade.  Then I realized that I had to put it on the hutch to finish the corners.  Ah.  There was just one tiny problem with that - heavy snow and gusty winds.  While this should have taught me that procrastination has a heavy price, it won't.  I am doomed to repeat my limitations forever.  Amen.  I did manage to slip it over the hutch (it fit!) and then had to bungee the sides down.  Now that I am so close to finishing it, I am sure we will have some sort of awful weather every single day until spring, so I can't complete it.  I will take a picture of it at some point - when I can get over flagellating myself...  We're bracing for Arctic temperatures for almost a week - joy.  That means the wool blanket curtains are back in the coop as of tonight - I have to work in the dark so as not to be blind-sided by The Jerk.  Wish me luck.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Progress on all fronts, including rambling on.

We're seven days into the new year and it looks like my plans for a more focused me are taking hold.  I hope I didn't just jinx myself.  I have ticked five things off my list by doing them when I think of them.  Apparently, I have to pounce on the thought like a cat on a mouse in order to get things accomplished.  Geez.

Knitting is coming along swimmingly.  I have finished one boyfriend sock (I had hoped to postpone its mate by volunteering to mail the first sock so he could try it on, then have them mail it back.  Sigh.  No such luck.  It is a very boring knit...)
One down, acres of knitting to go.

My sister's socks are now my socks because I am a greedy little bugger and want ALL THE YARN.  I started knitting them up on the beautiful yarn that came in my totally surprise holiday package (oh, Theresa...) Yarn that my sister had chosen for her socks.  Thank goodness neither sister reads this blog.  I am hoping that she won't remember the original yarn and will be just as happy with some similar yarn.  Which I am now looking at with longing. (Bad me!  Bad!)  However, I will just stiffen the upper lip and knit on.  I have made a vow to not buy any more yarn this year.  (I must have caught myself in a weak moment.)
Not true to color, but it reminds
me of knitting a Monet!

I did knit one tiny object this Christmas, but did not get a picture of it - not surprisingly, I was knitting it up to the very last moment and had to throw it in an envelope and get it in the post.  Maybe its recipient will kindly post a pic?  Hmmmm?  (MP....)  As in most things that catch my fancy - recipes, yarn, patterns, shiny objects - I do not bother to check the details.  Heck, it's more fun that way.  When I got the pattern for the Little Long Johns, it started with, "Cast on 12 stitches and divide among four needles."  Wha?  I am lucky to be able to handle two at a time, let alone five.  After bruising my brain, trying to adapt the pattern to the magic loop (Don't you love knitting terms?  I do!  Everything is magic in knitting - Magic Loop, Judy's Magic Cast On.), I struggled through it and managed a reasonably good facsimile of the original.
(From Susan B. Anderson's website -
I wasn't fancy with the beads - no time!
Even though I have multiple projects on the needles, I am going to be adding one.  Mittens.
Yes, it was 57 degrees inside.  I turned the
heater on after getting the side-eye
from the dogs.
Our weather has gone from rain to freezing so many times, I am now up to Olympic level on Negotiating the Chicken Yard on Frozen Icy Tundra.  The only ones not bothered by all this up and down are the ducks.  They think sliding on their tummies is ever so much fun.

And speaking of ducks and, therefore, chickens, Mr. Big Red is on his way to Outsville.  We have had the talk - Who's Boss?  I am. - multiple times, but he is, apparently, dense as a brick.  Plus, he's is a big boy.  Right now his spurs and not fully developed.  Well, I am not waiting around until that day arrives.  Neither is he.  He's attacked me twice and, while I usually give a rooster three tries before they are out, I'm skipping number three in his case.  Next up, Fritz.  If he goes a similar way, that will be it for roosters.  I am tired of having to arm myself every morning.

I am also making progress on working through my freezer.  I had my neighbor over for dinner yesterday and made a three-pound meatloaf.  He left with lots of leftovers.  A new recipe that will be moving into Favorites, is Curried Rice and Squash Casserole.  I believe I found it on the Mennonite Girls Can Cook site.  Once again, it struck my fancy and I did not read further than the ingredients.  When I went to assemble it on Saturday, I realized it made a truckload.  Good thing I like it, because I am going to be having it for lunch all week!  Next time, I will cut it in half.
I am NOT a food photographer!
Sunday morning, I decided to tackle canning some Apple Mincemeat.  Because I have two bushels of organic apples starting to wrinkle up in the root cellar/guest room.  This provided a bucketful of peelings and cores - Norman Sheep's favorite treat.  He had to fight Linden the Fat Woolly Eel and the Old Lady Llama.  I'm glad I was on the other side of the fence.

Some hours later, 8 pints were cooling on the counter.  This time, I am going to label everything.  There are still mystery packages in the freezer and I dumped a jar of what I thought was old applesauce in the chickens treat bowl, only to find it was the last jar of mincemeat I had. 
I'm not throwing any of THESE out!
Back to the chickens - they must know we are creeping toward longer days.  Instead of getting one egg every other day, I am getting one egg every day!  Woot! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Another year drop-kicked out the door and a very nice birthday (is that an oxymoron?)

Isn't it always the case that the end of the year seems to cram two-times the events into every day.  I'm not sure if that is so that you feel like you're getting your money's worth, or that it will make sure you are glad to see the last of the past year as you head towards the new.

Some highlights of the last four days of my year:
Inching along, literally, on my sister's
boyfriend's sock

The last of Marianne's pumpkins and it
was a humdinger!

My year wouldn't be complete
unless it contained one last morning spent
at my mechanic's.

The bonus of sitting at the mechanic's - I'm well
on my way towards completing one sock!
The end of an era

My egg journal, following 11 years and
written on every inch of available space.

Clive has a new hairdo!

Found while cleaning out the
sheep barn - I keep forgetting
to put it elsewhere and scare myself
every five minutes.

What was supposed to be my sister's
socks, but I couldn't part with the
yarn!  (Theresa, you know me so well...)

While I didn't get half of the things done that I wanted to, I decided to go with the flow, so to speak, and just enjoy the time off.  Due to a blip on the car front, I stayed home Saturday and Sunday and managed to get the sheep area cleaned up.  That's where I found the snake skin - I love these weird things - and toted it into the house.  Unfortunately, I left it in a place where I often put my hand for balance, as I remove my barn boots.  There is much squeaking in horror during the day.  You'd think I'd remember to move it, wouldn't you?  It must be very entertaining for the dogs.

I also got to see Marianne for an hour, as she drove down to get a few buckets of llama beans and we had a cup of tea.  Then, Monday, I was back up to the mechanic in the wee hours (he was squeezing me in and the early bird gets squeezed in first...)  I had a lovely maple latte, thanks to my sister's gift card for our favorite coffee place, and my knitting.  I settled in and got inches knit!  I have one more appointment to install a hose that didn't get delivered in time, and then I am HOPING that I can avoid the mechanic for a few months.  I got to stop and see my parents afterwards and do a couple of errands.  Then I was home for the rest of the holiday.

Tuesday, I had invited a friend for dinner and figured to have the entire day to clean the house, make dinner and do more knitting.  However, as is my normal, nothing went as planned.  I got an invitation for a birthday breakfast from a dear friend, then, on my return, I got a surprise and delightful phone call (it's amazing how enjoyable an actual phone call is!), then another friend, the daughter of my favorite neighbors, stopped in for a cuppa, then I scrambled to get dinner ready!  I did manage to bake myself a birthday cake.  While this may be called a Flourless Chocolate Cake, I would say that Death by Chocolate is more fitting.  Gah!  I mean, yummeh, but holey cow.
Slab 'o chocolate!
Had I not been rushed, I would have put it on a more appropriate plate - this one caused a dip in the top.  Which was filled with a chocolate glaze.  Ah, well.  One must suffer at times...snort.

So, it was bon voyage to 2018 and Aloha to 2019.  If the beginning is a taste of what this new year has in store, I'm aboard with bells on!  If nothing else, it will be interesting.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Hello there. It's me, Lovey. Virtually.

The Boss (so she thinks) is asleep.  Finally.  All this lights on, lights off stuff is wearing on my last nerve.  I keep trying to tell her - it's simple.  Fleece blankets, couch, sleep.  I've been curious about this blog stuff, so I thought I would attempt a mind-meld with her laptop.  OMG, what an antiquated piece of junk!  I'd mind-meld with her and let her know that she needs an upgrade, but I'd rather she spend all her money on our food and treats.

You won't be hearing from the Pat.  There is no way that small cranium can mind-meld with anything more complicated than a squeaky toy.  Too much chaos and noise.  He's not a bad brother, given the hot mess that he is, but he is entirely too twitchy for any serious concentration.  Speaking of concentration, no one could concentrate like my late brother, Scrappy.  He transferred his will upon the Boss, constantly.  She was putty in his paws.  There will never be another brother like Scrappy,  but the Pat isn't bad in a pinch.  He is awfully warm.

I'm not sure what the Boss has been saying about me/us, as, although I can mind-meld with computers, I can't read.  And telling me about it won't work either.  When I listen to Boss-ese, all I hear is "blah, blah, blah, blah, treat, blah, blah, blah, food, blah, blah, blah, outside."  You get the picture.  Where was I?  Ohfernatsake, I'm starting to turn into the Boss!  I go into another room to get a toy and totally forget why I'm there.  So, I have to sit, scratch and think about it.  That sends  the Boss into conniptions and she drags out that flea comb!  Doesn't she realize that is how dogs gather their thoughts?  We sit and have a nice scratch.

I better make this short - I can hear tossing and turning in the other room - the one with the really comfortable bed and closed door.  If she really loved us, we would be in there, on that bed and under that down comforter.  Instead, we are abandoned to our fate on the sofa, under six fleece blankets.  It is so unfair.  We should be hand-fed treats every fifteen minutes, just to make up the difference.

Before I un-meld from this dinosaur, let me add that it is NEVER, my idea to appear in clothing.  N.E.V.E.R.  The Pat has an advantage of being eel-like and able to squirm out of his sweaters.  I cannot.  And it has nothing to do with the fact that Grandma says I look like a loaf of bread.  Nothing whatsoever. 

Good night.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The time, it flyeth!

It's all a blur.  I owe a ton of thanks to my dearies out there who kept me perked up and feeling mightily blessed over the holiday (as they do throughout the year).  I will do a separate post on the particulars.

Let's see.  After the insomniac bear, I thought I should be proactive so that I wouldn't keep losing sleep (imagining him/her discovering the quail and ...) so I rigged up a very high-tech first-line bear defense system (FLBDS, or flubeds).  Voila!
Night vision version

Day vision version
It also had the added benefit of keeping the hoards of mourning doves off my feeder.  For a day.

Then it was time for Christmas!  I think I must have baked over 20 dozen cookies this year.  And they are all gone.  Some to family, some to friends.   A big box went to my postman, as he is retiring this year.  Darn. 

In my ongoing battle to keep waste at bay, I had to come up with some creative ways to wrap gifts.  This was for Marianne - three types of cookies (in cellophane bags), cowboy candy and spiced plum jam, plus a little something I picked up for her at the NH art fest.
Before 'wrapping'

After 'wrapping'
I had been given this vintage Mirro cake carrier and, since I am not a cake-baker and can't eat them anyway, it had been collecting dust on top of my cupboards.  I brought it down, washed it thoroughly, and bobsyeruncle!  The bow was collected from an old wreath.  I was quite pleased at how it turned out.

I did not finish the sparkly mitts that I was knitting for the young woman who cuts my hair, but they will be finished before my next appointment in January.
It's hellish, knitting dark yarn.
Luckily, I did finish the wrist warmers for Con and leg warmers for Cynthia, and socks for my auntie.  Speaking of socks, as is my tradition, I cast on my Christmas Eve socks.  And socks for Connie and socks for Cynthia's boyfriend.  I am so glad I am sticking to me "do less" goal for 2019.
Project bag line-up for morning knitting.  I need
an intervention...
The Saturday before Christmas, I dropped Marianne's gift off, then picked up the sandwich platter for the mechanics' lunch (another tradition) and, while I was there, mentioned my brakes were a bit spongey, could they adjust it?  They did.  And they found a broken stabilizer bar.  Well, of course they did.  However, they fixed it and didn't charge me.  I have visions of a newish, non SUV car dancing in my head, right along with the sugarplum fairies.

I made it home in time to whip up a batch of red lentil hummus (yummmeh!) and had a friend in for a glass or two of wine.  Then I fell into bed, was up bright and early on Sunday and cleaned the house.  My sister, Con, came to spend the day and night, as our youngest sister had come up to spell her for Christmas.  A good time was had by all.  Especially the dogs, who LOVE their Auntie.  I was very happy to have her company, as it was the second anniversary of the loss of my heart dog, Scrappy.  She made the day much more bearable.

Lovey giving in to all the Auntie
She came up with a fun way to break both of us out of our To Do List slump - the job jar!  We are going to fill a jar with jobs and choose one a week.  We must complete it in one week.  I think it will be a way better method of tackling my to-dos, as I tend to get mind freeze when I look at my three page, single-spaced list.  When she left Sunday morning, I was so energized, I cleaned my toaster until it shone.  I refuse to tell you how long it's been since its last cleaning...
I got a half-loaf of charbroiled crumbs
out of this baby.  And two twisty ties.
Monday was a slow day, relatively speaking, and I fixed the molded fruit salad for Christmas dinner and baked myself (and the barn guys) a gluten free apple cranberry cake.  It was delicious! 
After going through quality control.
I brought my youngest sister back with me on Christmas and she spent the night.  I took her into the city so she could catch her bus home, then I went to the office to rest....

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  It's alarming how fast this year came to an end!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Antifreeze of the Gods (and Goddesses) and Hibernation, Smibernation.

Another whizbang weekend.  Saturday was the usual shenanigans - as in, I went back to the mechanic because of a 'faulty sensor' (my diagnosis) and, when the garage owner came out from the bay looking a bit green around the gills, I speed-dialed my sister to pick me up.  Sigh.  Apparently, what I had self-diagnosed as a faulty sensor was my car's attempt at telling me my brake lines were leaking and I was headed for Flatsville.  As in brake pedal to the floor.  I suppose I should delete "auto mechanic" from my resume.  While I didn't actually cry when he told me that all my brake lines needed to be replaced and it would take 5-6 hours, I swear someone was slicing onions nearby.

Off with my sister to make our annual gingerbread men.  A mere three and a half hours later, my mechanic was on the phone - they decided to make their own lines and he put three guys on the job.  When I braced myself for the bill, he had knocked off 50% because I have spent so much on my car.  I almost kissed him.  In fact, I think I did.

I had invited a friend for dinner and had thought myself so clever and organized, planning a nice pot roast in the slow cooker function on my Instant Pot while I would be gone most of the day.  When I lifted the lid...the potatoes were hard and the meat tough.  Gasp.  I had put it on low, instead of high, and she was arriving in an hour!  Much pacing about and wringing of hands - until a dim bulb illuminated the one working cell in my brain and I realized there was a pressure cooking function!  Thirty minutes under low pressure and it was perfect.  Huzzah!  I think I kissed my Instant Pot, too.  Or, maybe it was Lovey.  The holidays bring out the romantic in me.

That was Saturday.

Sunday arrived with grey clouds (the norm) and icy rain, sleet, snow, rinse, wash, repeat.  Since it was a perfect day for indoor work, did I clean the house?  No, I did not.  I baked three kinds of cookies, blueberry gingerbread, GF oat bagels, and made another meal in my Instant Pot - Cheesy Chicken and Rice.  It was touted as the BEST chicken and rice.  It wasn't.  I also started a batch of Jun tea* and made a holiday family favorite - Swedish Glog (imagine the umlaut over the o).
Antifreeze of the Gods/Goddesses!
I am not lying when I say that this concoction - drunk hot - will start with the bottom of your feet and warm you right through your cockles and up to the top of your head.  A couple of times!  It's basically spiced wine and bourbon with caramelized sugar.  The two small jars in the pic are the blanched almonds and raisins that were brewed with it.  According to (our) custom, you place a few of each in the bottom of your cup.  This stuff is potent!

I also finished some gift knitting and ripped out another, but knitty stuff will be in another post.

Springing out of bed this morning, I was determined not to let the endless darkness slow me down and decided to get outside to do chores as soon as I could see where I was going.  Turns out, I must have just missed a 'visitor', who took down one of my bird feeders.
My boot print below.
Yes, a smallish bear had come browsing through the back.  He/she meandered around and ripped the bottom off one of the hanging feeders.  I know it's been almost balmy - Sunday and Monday were in the high 30s - but the temperature had dropped precipitously overnight and this morning's temp was in the low teens.  What about this hibernation business?!?  I am going to have to bring all the feeders in every night until I get a solar-powered motion detection spot light installed.  Brother.

Also coming this week is a peek at a care package that arrived Friday and put me over the moon.  It lifted my spirits and put the ho-ho back in my holiday.  I'll also try to remember to photograph my cookie packages as I put them together.  I've tried a few new recipes this year and most of them are keepers!

*Jun tea is like kombucha, but you make it with green tea and honey, as opposed to black tea and sugar, and it has it's own special SCOBY.