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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Gee, that was fun.

It was an exciting weekend - we went from 60 to -18.  It snowed, sleeted and poured rain.  There were ice jams, flooding, power outages, wind.  Then everything froze solid.  I guess this is the new 'normal'.  Mercy.


There was also some upheaval in the LLF household.  After years of enduring a sturdy, but eroding, hand-me-down sofa, we got a new-to-us sofa and a new-to-us rug!  My life, it seems, is all about timing.  I had to coordinate the delivery of the new sofa and rug with the removal of the old sofa.  Since nothing is ever seamless, the new sofa/rug arrived on Thursday afternoon and were stored in the carport - on a tarp, up on blocks due to the entire day of torrential rain on Friday - until my farmer neighbor could get over with his farm hand on the weekend to move the old one out.  It was a queen-sized sleeper and weighed a ton.  As luck (hahahaha) would have it, as soon as the rain stopped, the temperatures took a header and I went out to find my car sealed in a shell of ice on Saturday morning.  Four kettles of hot water later, I had freed the driver's side door and ran it until I could chip the ice off the windows and go feed the farm cats.


The actual switcheroo was very fast and I then (wo)man-handled the new rug - which is quite a bit larger than the old one - and the sofa into place.  We are waiting for the rug to calm down.  The new sofa is larger than the old one and a bit higher, but very comfortable and in great condition.
Lovey waiting for permission to give it a test nap.

Approved!
You will notice the weiner ramp on the left.  Lovey does not approve of the ramp.  The colors are perfect and I was able to move the old living room rug to the dining area.  I can't believe how much difference this new set up makes - it is tres cosy and gives a lot more area of traction to the dogs - very necessary, as both have leg/spine issues.  I sent off the extra-long hallway rug to be cleaned and that will complete the coverage.


I finished my socks and, alas, they are too big.  I had realized it after the first was finished, but I am not accomplished enough to adjust a pattern to different sizes.  This was a one-off size.  I didn't remember to take a picture of the blocked socks, but  will, as they, more than likely, are going to be the stars of a giveaway...  One down, eleven pairs to go!  I then realized that I didn't have another project ready for the needles.  This is code for "I have no idea where all the yarn is for the hundreds of projects that are languishing in craft room".  I found my ball winder and swift and wound 8 skeins of yarn.  Since I still have a couple weeks to go before the February socks can start, I cast on some beautiful silk/wool blend yarn for a small cowl project.  This weekend - amidst the vet appointment, adoption clinic and 'date' with my sister - I will begin the Great Craft Room Revival.  Prayers are now being accepted...


Here's the "After" photo of the Cat/Canning Room Clean-up:



If you look closely, you can just see the top of Slimmie in his self-warming bed.  He LOVES it.  The other beds and cushions are for when he has friends for sleep-overs.  Not.


*****

Just on the off-chance that there might be interest, let me know if you are interested in either of these:

Lots of great patterns in this
magazine!

This baby is a TOME!



I will mail them to the first person who claims them.   Once again, US only - however, the sock giveaway will be open to all!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Up Periscope!

Is it safe to come up for air?  After living through an unrelenting 11+ days of sub-zero weather, with a snow storm, record breaking wind chills and -20 mornings thrown in for good measure, today it is 31.  You can't make this stuff up.


Last Thursday, the 2-4" of snow they predicted measured at 12"+.  Friday, the winds started and our already-low temps dipped waaaay down.  Saturday - wash, rinse, repeat.  But with more wind and lower temps.  Sunday morning dawned at -20 and I had such a bad case of cabin fever, that I scrunched out, started the car (which made some very strange noises) and let it warm up for 15 minutes before braving the elements and meeting my Breakfast Club boys at the firehouse.  They have missed me because I bring the real deal maple syrup.


I was very concerned about the ducks making it through this relentless cold - I had to go out every two hours to bring them water, as their water froze in about 30 minutes.  I was planning to move them in with the chickens - and to hell with the mess - but they would have none of that.  So we slogged on and made it through.  And let's not talk about the inside of the chicken coop - The Alps of Frozen Chicken Poop.  Can't wait for the 50 degree weather this weekend.  You all know what I'll be doing...


The dogs levitated over the frozen deck and did their business in record time.  Even PB left his fleece coat on for more than an hour.  Lovey burrowed into the blankets on the sofa and didn't move.  All I saw were a wrinkled brow and worried eyes.  Me?  I planted myself under my wool lap rug, wearing my birthday Woolrich blanket wrap (LOVE it, Sylvie!) and knitted.  I finished my earwarmer, a pair of crunchy wool mittens, and one of my socks, all while binge-watching knitting podcasts.  It was a Knit-o-Rama Extravaganza.  The only other thing I did was make soup and put fifteen layers on and then took them off, several times a day.  It was grueling.  I also went through 15# of birdseed.


Some beautiful 'crunchy' yarn I won
at Theresa's giveaway.

Monkey socks
Of course the downside of that much knitting is that I ended up signing up for two KALs (knit alongs) - one is for knitting a pair of socks a month for a year, and the other is a surprise.  Because, of course, I will have TONS of free time to knit.  TONS.  That's what our winter 'break' is all about, right?


Hitting me with the Cute Eyes

ALL the bones are his!
I realized I didn't have any shots of Lovey (of course, you couldn't see much, under all those blankets) so I will have to be a better Dog Mom and give her equal billing.  The best thing to come out of all this forced confinement?  I took some nittily bits off my List.  CM/Smoke Detector installed.  Check!  Canning/Cat room closet cleaned out and reorganized.  Check!  Shoes and books polished.  Check!  Chain stops put on my drying rack.  Check!  -- Wait.  What?  Yes, that's right.  Coming in at just under five years, I finally finished assembling my drying rack.  That is a record, even for me.



Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Let's talk about the weather. Or not. (And a Winner!)

Seeing as how the weather community seems to feel the need to name every single storm - major or not - I have decided to name this arctic siege "Genghis".   I feel as if I have dropped into a frigid abyss and I can't get out.  And let's not talk about my ducks.  Or the Himalayan Mountain Range of Frozen Chicken Poop in my coop.  Or my levitating dachshund.  Or my electric or fuel oil bill.  This leaves me with not much to talk about.


So, let's not talk about the weather.


We can talk about what we did while we were held captive inside all weekend.


We cooked.  We knitted.  We became addicted to the Grocery Girls podcasts.  We got a year older and felt every bit of it.


My best friend on frigid mornings.
The only problem (well, one of many) with living in a 'cool' house, is how to drink your coffee hot in the morning.  If I start knitting, I tend to let the coffee sit and it's cold at 2/3 full.  Not pleasant on a balmy morning of -18*.  I've taken to making my coffee in my Thermos travel mug.  This baby keeps my coffee HOT for hours.  I lurve it.  I managed to get Sylvie's leggings off the needles and into the mail on Saturday, along with a couple of Bad Santa gifties.  On my way to knitting my Poison Candy self-striping socks, I got waylaid by a lovely skein of yarn that had been languishing in my sizeable stash.  This year, I have decided to challenge myself to learn new things and I am knitting my first-ever pair of patterned socks off of a chart.  Ergo, my Monkey Socks:
The yarn is from Knitpicks
It is fun - who knew?  While I was hunkered down on New Year's Day, waiting for the temperature to reach the single digits below zero, I was surrounded by mounds of fleece blankets, from which, intermittently, erupted gurgles, snorts and snores.
PB in full-swaddle-mode


I apologize for the poor quality - it was taken
across the room at 3AM - If you squint,  you can see
Lovey's little eyes peeking out from above her beloved
Lamb Chops Christmas toy.
Slimmie only leaves his self-warming bed nest for potty breaks and meals.  Besides trying to keep everyone inside and outside from freezing solid, I tried a few new-to-me recipes.  There was One Bowl GF Banana Bread - Delish!  The addition of oats made for a very tender and moist loaf - you cannot tell it's gluten free.


Then there was sweet potato flat bread.  Meh.  The flavor was mild to the point of non-existence and it was so rubbery that, if you bit down hard, your dentures would bounce.  There will not be a repeat performance.


I also made fried calamari for the first time - but there are no photographs because it was late yesterday (after late afternoon chores that, normally, take a half hour and took two hours because - EVERYTHING WAS FROZEN) and I was knackered.  It was a gluten free recipe that wasn't bad.  I order it out every chance I can (if it's gluten free) but had never made it.  I missed the part about marinating the squid in milk overnight to tenderize it, so it was a tad chewy - but nothing like the rubber mats that were sweet potato flat breads.  I baked brownies for the barn and managed to get a half-can each of wet cat food down my barn cats' little gullets before it froze.  Jiminy Cricket.


I also made this:
Preserved Meyer lemons
And filtered this:
Cassis
I hope everyone is holding up under Genghis.  From the forecast that I glanced at - before it dangerously depressed me - we have yet another bout of Genghis coming later this week and through the weekend (sure, why not?), then we are back up to the low 30s.  In the meantime, Peanut Butter wants to leave you with this sage advice:


That's a laugh, coming from him - I put his remaining sweater on, turned my back and he had pulled his front legs in - turtle-style -  which rendered him unable to walk.  He was lying on his side, looking balefully at me until I released him from bondage.  Gads.


**** ANNOUNCEMENT ****


The winner of the Einkorn cookbook is Charade!  Please email your mailing instructions to me and I will get it in the mail!




Friday, December 29, 2017

FOs, UFOs, UFPPs, FPPs, Trout triage, Cat, and a Giveaway.

There has been a lot of action on the needles of late because


WTH.



FOs (Finished Objects)


Double cabled headband in Sapphire - no photo of this, as it went into the mail as soon as it came off the needles. 


Socks!  Only 9 pair to go!  These were my green ones.  Next up are a pair in Poison Candy, a hand-dyed yarn from Sweden.  Can't wait...


UFOs (Unfinished Objects)


Leggings for Sylvie*


Good use of a lunch hour

Who knew that my office chair had
the perfect 'span'?
#2 Legging!
I have one completed (other than weaving in the ends) and over half done on the second.  I am hoping to get these completed and mailed by Saturday. *This is now officially a FO!


Yet another ear warmer!
I love this pattern!




FUFO - Or, Finished Unfinished Object.  This was a knitted 't' shirt that made it all the way to just needing sleeves before I was honest with myself and realized I hated it.  Sooooo, I frogged it.  I do like the yarn (Noro), but not for this pattern.  It will, most likely, become a scarf.
Sigh.

Next up, stripey scarf.


UFPs (Unfinished Purging Projects) 


I don't know if I would bother to count all of the purging projects (endless), but I have decided to tackle all of my closets for the !Great Closet Purge of 2018!  So far, I have half a closet done.  Snort.  I will have the closet in the Cat/Canning room sorted out by the end of the year.  Then it is on to - gasp, gulp - the craft/office room.


However, on the FPP front (Finished Purge Project), I have finished the major purge of canned goods!  This involved masses of unlabeled jars of mysterious things being turned into compost or chicken treats.  Besides the seven boxes of empty canning jars that left the building a week or so ago, I have another five boxes that are going to another person this weekend.  That does not count the still-filled jars and the two dozen of each size that I have - just in case.  It is so nice to know what I have!  And it allowed me to make an awesome mincemeat pie for Christmas - although my sister and I had a good laugh when I hauled out two pints of what I thought were mincemeat, only to discover that one was canned black beans!  Luckily, I realized it before opening them.  That would have made some interesting fusion - British/Southwestern Mincebean Pie.


*****

Besides his new, self-warming bed, Slimmie Kitten got a toy.  Troutie!  I had seen this on Instagram and was mesmerized by the tubby, fluffy cat that appeared in the video.  It had Slimmie written all over it.**  He got it on Christmas morning and LOST HIS MIND!  I found, after the fact, that it was the kind of toy that needs supervision, as he managed to chew Troutie's face off in under 15 minutes.

Slimmie enjoying the self-heating
DOG bed - all beds are cat beds, in
Slimmie's eyes.

Pre-triage, with the ragged bits trimmed off.
It has a zipper in the bottom for refilling of
catnip
I took a video of him with Troutie - it's a little/lot dark, so I hope you can make out all of Slimmie's tubby gloriousness.  We call this "Trout-a-Rama".

Into the Arctic Wilderness that has become our world, a few (dozen) bright spots:
My Meyer Lemon tree.
Look at her go!

*****
 The Giveaway.  I recently was gifted with two great cookbooks, so something had to go.  I have one small bookcase in the kitchen that is strictly for cookbooks - it is packed to the gills.  You can't get a dime between the books.  Room had to be made.


For any of you who are contemplating baking with Einkorn flour, this is the Bible.  If you would like this book, let me know in comments by a) stating so and b) letting us in on your favorite cookie!  Due to prohibitive postage rates, this giveaway is only open to the Continental US.  I will draw the name of the winner on New Year's Day.

**A slightly incensed observation about customer service.  When I ordered Troutie from Amazingly Cats, the expected ship date was 14 days.  It actually arrived one day short of a month.  When I sent an email requesting the shipping status about 15 days in, I got a reply that informed me that the REAL shipping range was 14-28 days.  Mine took 29.  When I complained, I was completely ignored.  Fast forward to the purchase and arrival of the dogs' Christmas bed, ordered from Chewy.com.  When the bed arrived (two days after ordering), the box AND the bed reeked of cigarette smoke!  What the - ?  I immediately sent an email to customer service and they almost immediately replied that they were shocked and horrified.  Then they told me they were shipping off a brand new bed with their compliments and apologies.  They hoped I could launder the original cover and donate the original bed to a rescue.  Guess who is getting all my (considerable) furry business?


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

There was rain, ice, sleet and snow. And Christmas.

This holiday was nothing, if not eventful on the weather front (pun intended).  Friday there was snow and wind.  Saturday there was rain, sleet, ice, wind.  Sunday there was ice and...nothing.  Monday there was a snow storm with gale force wind gusts.  Hoo-ee.
Saturday morning, early, Mr. Butters and I had a vet appointment in the city.  It was a long and dicey trip over the mountain and into the icy streets of the city.  In my underlying state of eternal optimism, I had envisioned salted streets and cleared sidewalks.  In reality, it was a skating rink because, apparently, the roads department figured no one had to drive anywhere on a Saturday before Christmas.  It was a real challenge, negotiating the sheet ice on the sidewalks, while hefting a tweenie weenie.  We inched our way to the vet's doorstep and arrived unscathed.  The vet techs have formed a Mr. Butters fan club - in spite of the carrying-on that erupts during each and every visit.  This was his final laser treatment and I hit them up for another nail trim - we need to do small bits at a time - which resulted in much screaming, yelping and general tumult that had the other patients and their people glancing nervously at each other.  So much drama.  We have moved from laser treatments which, although therapeutic, were not making much headway, to prednisone.  He has an appointment to be microchipped (that should be good for some high drama, as it will also involve nail trimming) at the end of January, and then we are on our own.


Mr. Butters has been enjoying more time out of the crate, as we try mightily to keep him from bouncing.


There is no bouncing while begging.
He got a lovely quilted jacket from his Auntie for Christmas - to get the right length, we have to adjust the belly strap (which still needs to be done - it's on The List).


OMG, my dirty dishwasher!  That has to be
moved to the top of The List
His quilted jacket came in very handy this morning, as the temp when I got up at 4A was a cheery -6*.   Two hours later, it had dropped to -9*.  Wrong direction!!!


We had a lovely and low-key Christmas - Auntie Baby was up from the City for Christmas Eve.  We had our standard lobster and champagne and a fire in the fireplace.  The dogs got their presents, Slimbo got his (which already needs triage) and we were yawning and in bed by 8:30!  Christmas morning dawned with almost 8" of snow, so I was very glad to have 4 wheel drive on the Hyundai.  I inched my way to the dairy farm and dropped off a warm mound of monkey bread - half of which disappeared in the 10 minutes I was there.  Auntie B shoveled while I slogged through the morning chores.  Everyone got Christmas treats, thanks to their Auntie Santa Jane!
Treats!
The sheep and llamas got graham crackers, the pups got salmon treats, Slimbo got freeze-dried minnows (he may never be the same), hens and ducks got corn/herb/mealworm treats, and the parental unit got a....Leather(wo)man!  That has been on my wish list for YEARS, but I refused to spend the money.  I spent a good half hour pulling out and examining all of the 14 tools!  OMG.  I am so ready for anything...Zombies?  Bring them ON!


Here's what else I got -- are you ready?
My favorite kind of goat!  On a pillow!
Marianne saw this and figured it was the perfect goat for me - no feeding or clean-up required and no fences destroyed!  I LOVE it!  It was made by a local artist.  Did I mention that I love it?


Auntie B and I made our way - carefully - up to Vermont and had a lovely dinner.  The family unit was fully intact - something not achieved for ages.  I had an uneventful trip home and my personal family unit tucked in for a cosy night of ginger tea (me) and a DVD.  It was my kind of holiday.



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Holiday Tableau in Gingerbread



 It's obvious, I have too much time on my hands.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hey - I get frustrated, too.

But I don't go around tearing my clothes off, do I?  At least, not anymore.


I am officially changing TGIF to OMGIF.  Too many Fridays have taken the helium out of my end-of-week balloon.


Ergo:
What remains of a leash and fleece
jacket
Mr. Butters is feeling better.  This is evidenced by his complete frustration at still being held in captivity.  We have had the talk countless times - "you can resume normal cohabitation when you cut out the bouncing."  But Mr. Full Steam Ahead cannot help himself.  He is still having lower spine issues and, at the present rate of recovery, it's going to take MONTHS before we can come to some level of normalcy.  To relay his frustration in more tangible ways, he managed - somehow - to pull his heavy-duty leash and fleece jacket through a one-inch-square hole in his crate and shred both.


When I blissfully crossed the threshold on Friday after my usual hair-raising hour commute, I went to let Mr. B out but could not find his fleece jacket or his leash.  Both had been on top of his crate.  I immediately gave Lovey the stink-eye, poor girl.  After searching high and low, I gave up and he went out nekkid.  Just as I was going to let him back into his crate, my eye caught a dark fragment of something.  Upon pulling out his fifteen blankies and specially soft padded crate liner, I discovered the remains of the missing objects.  If I wasn't so thoroughly PO'd I would have marveled at the physics of it all - how DID he do it?


Poor muskrat.
I have been trying to keep him out - safely - as much as possible, but he's certifiable.  I have him using a ramp to get to our chair (one quarter of it is mine, he gets the rest), then I swaddle him in his favorite giant fleece blankie.  I turn my back for two minutes, and he launches himself off of the chair ARM.  He may be the death of me.


I dug out the dog Christmas PJs and found Mr. B's is too small.  Lovey can still wear hers, and she does prefer them to her hoodie.  I think it's the lack of the pootie sag in the back.  She looks quite adorable, the little rye loaf.
The wrinkled tube look goes with the
wrinkled brow of anxiety.
Friday did start off well, as my co-worker brought his dog, Gordon, in for the last half of the day.  Gordon and I are pals, and he makes a beeline for my office as soon as he's through the front door.  He's a youngster, so is in constant motion and tried to scale my leg to get into my lap.  It's distracting and lovely. 
Checking to see if I finished my lunch.

Always in motion.

Sweetie boy.
In my faltering effort to get into the holiday spirit, I was out of the house early Saturday to help my sister make our family's traditional gingerbread men.  I managed to luck out and she had all the dough mixed by the time I got there.  With our iceman sidelined due to dementia, and our clove-eye-clipping helper sidelined due to macular degeneration, C and I were left to our own devices.  I had made these for years and years, with my great-aunt Edie.  She of the Germanic will and temperament.  There was no deviation allowed from the original recipe - especially not in the icing design.  So imagine my surprise and delight when my sister, in an outright burst of creative genius, decided to make their bow ties RED.  OMG.  I'm sure Edie is spinning in her grave, but we think they look fabulous!
The Holiday Season
has officially arrived.
Alas, I cannot eat them.  There was no need for a gluten-free recipe 60-odd years ago.  I decided to go home and whip up a batch of King Arthur's GF gingerbread cookies.  Had I been thinking ahead, I would have used the traditional W-Family cutter, but I wasn't, so I had to rely on what cutters were on hand.
I call these "Mood" cookies
I cut out a festive mix of stars, circles, fir trees, flowers and llamas.  Snort.  I will have to create a gingerbread tableau to share with you.  Before I et them all.