Friday, February 23, 2018

The Object(s) of my Affection

I have many.  But this is the latest.
The cat's out of the bag.
I am mostly amazed that I could focus on a project this large.  Those are long rows.  I thought about the recipient as I worked on it - how we met, how our friendship grew and became so integral and important to my life, the fun we've had, how much she means to me, how special she is in the world.  It is aptly displayed before the most beautiful little bronze sculpture (center top - although you can't see it's full loveliness) created by the recipient of this shawl.  It is truly a multi-national result - pattern envisioned and designed by a woman in Argentina; named after a woman in Canada; yarn hand-dyed by a woman in Texas; knitted by a woman in New York; given to a beautiful woman in the Netherlands.

Another adorable object.

And, yet another.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

And, WHAM! It was all over.

I really couldn't think of a better intro.  It sounds way more exciting that it was.  Last Monday evening, on my way over the mountain towards the warm beacon of home, the flu struck.  It was that sudden.  I was going along, minding my own beeswax, then WHAM!  Eyes water and itch, the shivers struck.  Good gawd.  And, yes, I did get the flu shot this year.  I was down for the count for a good four days.  Not surprisingly, this was the view of my surroundings for the first three days...
Hot tea, non-challenging knitting.  LOTS of
I always know when I am under the weather - my morning tastes change from coffee to tea.  And I know that I am not 100% until I can think about a cup of joe without gagging.  As of this morning, I am officially cured.

Thanks to the thoroughly bizarre weather, the chicken yard - and all flat or near-flat surfaces - became skating rinks.  Ice and nothing but ice, as far as the eye could see.  Negotiating my way to barn and coop with 5 gallon buckets of water should have made me a contender for the winter Olympics.  I would have scored a gold, no doubt about it.  I have a couple of chickens who have pulled some tendon or other and have been mincing around, poor dears.  The ducks didn't mind the ice one bit, as they sledded on their warm tummies, propelling themselves with their webby feet. 

Because of the ice, the pups were limited to bathroom breaks on the deck.  Oh, joy.  Not that this would come as a surprise, but Lovey did her best (with a worried look) to do her business in the far corners.  PB left me little 'presents' right in front of gates and right on my path to the gates.  Now that our weather has decided to rocket into summer (forecast is 72* today), the ice has receded and I am able to let the dogs spread the 'wealth' in the back yard.  I still tote PB down the steps and do not allow Lovey to run, but at least I am not cleaning up the deck every two hours.

As a total aside, I had allowed myself to be lured into purchasing a snuggly bed for PB for Christmas, as he is a world-class snuggler and manages to roll himself into any fabric at hand.  Not only did it take MONTHS to receive this product, it was way, way smaller than advertised and would be more the perfect size for a grey squirrel.  Countless unanswered emails to the company, followed by the discovery that their phone number had been disconnected, frustrated any attempt to return it.  They have gotten terrible reviews and I am not sure if they are nothing but scammers or a small company that got deluged over the holidays and were totally unable to handle it.  Nevertheless, if you see an ad from Paw Prime, run the other way!
This was the size to fit up to 20#.
I'm back.  Miss me?  :)  By Friday, I was still slogging around, but had gotten more energy and focus back.  So I hurled myself into the yarn stash.  Holey Moley.  Four hours later, I had managed to just get through about 2/3rds of it.  With images of yarn long forgotten dancing in front of my eyes, I decided to do a rough sorting by weight, to be fine-tuned at a later date, when I was not in danger of relapsing.  I culled out two large shopping bags of old circular needles, some patterns I will never knit, and tons of partial, full and bitty balls of yarn.  They are being donated to a woman who does charity knitting - if she ever makes it over to get them.  My biggest gripe about freecycle or any attempt at giving things away for free. 

I then sat down and wound some yarn into balls.  It's official.  I have enough fingering weight yarn to knit 27 pairs of socks.
Sorry for the dark photo - ball
winder is in the foreground,
swift in the back.
These socks will glow in the dark!

Bonus yarn - for every skein
sold, a tree will be planted in Africa!
By Sunday I was feeling almost 100%, having managed to break my chronic insomnia!  I drove to a trendy and picturesque town about 40 minutes south of me, to meet one of my besties for breakfast.  We managed to get there early enough to beat the horde of weekenders who manage to suck all the beauty out of the place, Thursday-Sunday.  After breakfast and a thoroughly wonderful catch-up session, I found myself inexplicably drawn into the local yarn shop.  I needed an intervention!  I did, actually, pretty much behave myself.  But I am a victim of lovely yarn - just as I am a victim of lovely books in a bookshop.  And lovely cookware in a cookware shop.  I went in with a list and stuck to it.   (Pardon me while I dislocate my shoulder, patting myself on the back...)  My cousin - who has mysteriously vowed to make everyone in my family a handmade quilt - nicely accepted the offer of two pair of hand knit socks as a thank you.  The problem is, she is very conservative and wears only navy, grey, dark brown, and *gasp* sage green.  Why is this a problem?  100% of the sock yarn in my weighty stash is represented by the yarn you see above.  I mean, really?  If you are going to spend hours laboring over a garment, why not make sure it stands out?  Nay, shouts out its presence in a loud, clear tone!  I did manage to find some nice grey, marled yarn and that is about as conservative as I can force myself to be.

Monday, being a holiday, allowed me to work myself into a complete lather over the prospect of having to capture and contain Slimmie for his vet appointment.  He has not been to the vet since the vertigo incident, a couple of years ago.

I had made the appointment for late afternoon, thinking that it is the time for his fifth or sixth nap in his self-warming bed.  My plan?  Creep on him - all nonchalantly - spring on him, towel at the ready, and quickly wrap him like a burrito and stuff him in his crate before he knew what was happening.  Things didn't quite work out as planned - he refused to take his late afternoon nap and I had to lure him onto the kitchen island with a pile 'o treats, THEN I  rolled him quickly in a towel and stuffed him unceremoniously into his crate.  There was much screeching and howling.  There was continual screeching and howling - for the 45 minute drive to the vet and the 45 minute drive home.  He was quiet as a mouse during the visit.  My ears are still ringing.  I was very happy that he didn't need extensive dental work - my vet, bless his heart, is very hands-on and flicked the tartar off.  He does not believe in unnecessary surgery or any other treatments requiring anesthesia.  We discussed Lovey's torn ACL and I got out of there for under $150! 

I had a nice hot cup of tea when we got home to quiet my nerves, and was treated to the cold feline shoulder for about 10 minutes.  I think we were both thrilled it was over.  (Black cats are so hard to photograph!)
The cold shoulder
The warm shoulder
Now I am back to work, shoveling my way through hundreds of emails and piles of paper.  But I have something to brighten my workday - thanks to the very-talented Kristina of Pioneer Woman at Heart.  I had seen these cup mats on her blog and HAD to have one (or four)!  They were even more beautiful in person!  Even my coffee tastes better!
So pretty!

And beautifully crafted!!
Now I have to go and catch up on all the wonderful blog posts I've missed.  Perfect lunchtime reading!

Monday, February 12, 2018

That thing I can't talk about.

I have never been good at keeping secrets - unless someone confides in me and then you could not rip it from my lips.  (Yeesh.  That sounds a little brutal, but you catch my drift, right?)  I have a memory of one of my non-finer moments as a child when, not only did I let the cat out of the bag on my youngest sister's Christmas present, but I led her to its hiding place.  I was such an awful child.  Good thing I did not perpetuate those personality traits.

So it is with profound angst that I find myself dying to tell you about what I just completed, but I dasn't.  It is a gift and it is on it's slow-boat way across the Atlantic.  I am hoping, actually, that it is jetting its way...  What I can say (but probably shouldn't - let's face it, it's too late to change the stripes on this zebra) is that I finished it last weekend, then had to wait impatiently for certain blocking elements - blocking?  Who knew? - before I could stretch it into its perfect shape, let it dry and get it in the post.

If you're not already bored to weeping, I will elucidate on the intricacies of blocking.  Because I am now an expert.  Just ask me.  Once a garment or knitted item is finished, it is recommended that you get it wet, squeeze it ever-so-gently damp (NO WRINGING) and block it into the shape it should be on a flat surface.  This, apparently, allows all the nubbly bits and awkward stitches to relax and become sublime.  For my first blocking attempt, I chose a challenging project.  It involved things like 'blocking wires' and 'blocking pins' and 'blocking pin thingys'.  An aside here, the days of Home-Ec knitting is long gone.  We are now in the age of designer, hand-dyed, speckled, sprinkled, special yarn; all tonal and stuff.  With a price tag to match.  Every single piece of equipment necessary to help you along on this fine craft is expensive.  You no longer are expected to use knees, chair backs, chair arms, or the arms of a patient spouse to wind your skeins into balls.  You need swifts and winders, niddy-noddies and god-knows-what else.  I digress.

Because I am *cough* cheap as all get-out, I refused to pay some outrageous amount of money for blocking wires.  Instead, I found a great deal on a 25' length of stainless steel wire and pounced on it.  I am sure you can imagine what happened when I unpackaged it.  It shot out of its package like a cougar, pouncing on its prey.  It took me no less than a half hour to wrestle it into submission and cut it into manageable lengths.  Then there was the matter of finding a very large empty floor space that was not prone to paw traffic.  Then there were the blocking mats.  It goes on and on.  Suffice to say, a job that should have taken me 20 minutes, tops, took hours.  But, through force of will, much brute force and a sailor's salty vocabulary uttered at the top of my lungs, the job was done.  Once I get the news that it has arrived, I will unveil the end product.  It was totally worth it, if I do say so myself.

Instead, I give you the February socks:
Can there be more going on, pattern-
wise in this photo?
I have about one-third of the second sock done and, not content with focusing on one thing, I have a second pair on the needles, too. 

That is not, of course, all I did this weekend.  I came home Friday to find the entrance to the carport blocked by a giant box.  While I commend FedEx for making sure the box was out of the weather, he had plunked it in the middle of a large puddle.  Sigh.  Luckily, the contents were enveloped in a large plastic bag.

Inside?  Lovey's new bed.  Or, Bed Number Five, as we like to call it.  Her Bed Number Four was not really to her liking, it being just a tiny bit small.  It didn't matter anyway, as PB takes full possession of all objects, dog-related or not, immediately upon their arrival.  I was hoping the new bed would induce her to lie on it, in lieu of the sofa, which entails her springing up, off of her injured knee.  I shouldn't have been worried.  It is as large as a kiddie pool and takes up a quarter of our living space.  After tripping over it for a day, I turned the flat edge toward the wall just to reduce it's profile.  Bingo!  Unwittingly, I had created a nest and Lovey moved in.
Nest with a view and cozy
blanket enhancements
This has not bothered PB, as he has commandeered the entire sofa.  Which has opened up the slot next to me each morning for Slimmie.  Everyone is blissfully happy.  It also dawned on me that the reason the living room is disassembled every night when I come home, is that Lovey is so very insecure being left to guard hearth and home by herself.  I can't let PB out of his crate when I'm not home because he will whirl himself into parapalegicality (word?)  So she is left to deal with all the scary things by herself - random cars up the drive, UPS and FedEx drivers, meter reader, Angus bull.  I have decided to leave the curtains drawn to filter out some of the fear-triggers.  Poor nervous Nellie.

I dug out two oldies-but-goodies recipes over the weekend (no photos, sorry) and a new one - Reuben Quiche.  I made Blueberry Gingerbread for the barn crew (and a neighbor and a pile for the office), and tackled a Ballantined chicken.  At least that's what I call it.  You bone the chicken in one piece, then put a stuffing of your choice in, roll it up, tie it and roast it.  It's the perfect way to get the most out of your roasted chicken, but it's not a process for the faint-hearted.  I like to think of it as my 'show-off skill'.  Many, many years ago, I went to a cooking school to learn how to do it.  It's very fancy...  I stuffed it this time with homemade ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and spinach sautéed briefly with garlic and shallots, but I usually stuff it with chicken mousse, ham and pistachios.  It was fabulous!  I had my friend, Marianne, over for dinner.  She, in turn, brought me another gorgeous area rug, a lovely Christmas plate and a beautiful holiday wreath she had made herself.  She is so talented!!!  I will have to post a photograph of it.

All in all, with the exception of the weather, it was a very pleasant weekend.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Warm/Cold. Rain/Snow. Thaw/Freeze. Rinse/Repeat.

Other than doing a lot of driving this weekend, I stuck pretty close to home.  Our winter has been so frustrating so far - Arctic temperatures, followed by torrential rain.  Over and over.  My Yak Traks are a permanent part of my footwear.
Cold but beautiful.
I drove up to Vermont to fetch my mother on Saturday, as we try to get her out for a overnight adventure as often as we can.  Her bestie is my neighbor, so I am under orders to drop her off for a visit first and foremost.  It stretched on so long that I thought I might have to ransom her out of there.  We enjoyed a quiet evening with a nice dinner, a fire in the fireplace, warm dogs (and cat) close by and a couple of Midsomer Murder episodes to round off the night.  The next morning we toddled up to the local firehouse for their monthly breakfast, and then back up to Vermont.  It is not easy to live with someone who is deep in dementia.  Especially if that someone is your husband of umpteen years.

I got to try out some new recipes this weekend - my mother is a willing guinea pig!  I am working my way through my well-worn-loved copy of Enchanted Broccoli Forest.  I made a savory apple casserole that involved tart apples, sauerkraut and cheddar cheese.  It was delish!  I had everything on hand but the apples, so I made a quick and abbreviated grocery run to Aldi's, prior to picking up my mother.  I also premade my breakfasts for the week - another new-to-me recipe involving tater tots, eggs, vege and my muffin tin.  I don't have tater tots, as a rule, but had picked up a package of frozen Green Giant veggie tots. 
Sorry for the odd view.
Because of the change in weekend schedule, the barn crew got their baked goods on Saturday morning, instead of Sunday.  Apparently, the milk truck driver was very disappointed...
Salted caramel brownies
Luckily, the Arctic temps are at bay, so I could justify a fire in the fireplace.  However, Sunday was all about snow, then rain.  Then the temperature dropped like a stone this morning.  Driving is such an adventure in this weather!
Slimmie loves the combination of
the self-warming dog bed and the face-
warming fireplace.
Speaking of Slimmie Kitten, he has reclaimed his position next to me in the mornings, as Peanut finds the new couch to be the bees' knees.  I just bound off a special project that I hope to be able to share with you soon - it's a gift, so I can't let the cat out of the bag, as it were.  I am also making great strides on my February socks!
Love his white whiskers.

Monday, January 29, 2018

A Hot Mess and Warm Socks Winner!

First, a riddle.  What does Lovey and a female soccer player have in common?  A torn cranial cruciate ligament!  Yes, that's right - the fun never stops at the Little Lucky Farm.  The snow finally got down to a manageable level and Lovey and PB went out for some air.  Lovey - suffering greatly from cabin fever - tear-assed around the yard for a few minutes until the cold got to her.  Then they both trotted inside, happy as clams.  Later that night (Friday), she could barely get off the couch, cried piteously and her knee was noticeably swollen.  I managed to jerry-rig some ACE bandages and a half-bag of frozen peas into position and by morning the swelling was down, but she couldn't put any weight on it.  Up we zipped to the vet, where we got the news.  With any luck (and mine seems to be predominately bad) pain meds and rest for a couple of weeks should do the trick.  Otherwise, it's surgery.  Whoopee.
My highly technical system to
keep medications straight.
While that can very much be classified as a hot mess, that is not the hot mess to which I alluded in the title.  That would be my breakfast.  I have dubbed my Sunday morning repast as a Hot Mess and I love it. 
Step One - Clean out the fridge.

Step Two - Add two beaten eggs and a
small handful of cheese - always cheese

Step Three - Create a Hot Mess!
It has become my habit on Sunday mornings to clean out bits of things leftover in the fridge.  This particular morning it was a small piece of German bacon, some slightly wrinkly grape tomatoes and a small, slightly wrinkly shallot, sliced thinly.  Then comes the beaten eggs and small handful of whatever cheese there is - mix it all into a Hot Mess!  Delish!

Besides tackling the Craft Room/Office hot mess, I also tried making yogurt in my Instant Pot.  I was not all that hopeful, as the pressure cooking function on my particular Instant Pot does not work.  I continue to go through the onerous and frustrating process of getting someone in the Instant Pot company to fix it.  So far, I have opened a service number and sent multiple photographs and a video, as instructed.  Insert crickets.

How did it go?  Fab!  I love this because I use a lot of yogurt and I like my own homemade best because a) I can use my own milk, b) it is tangier and c) I can make lots!  I got a half gallon from the farm, poured it into the stainless steel inner pot, put the lid on and heated it to a boil.  No circling the stove, keeping a careful eye on it so it won't boil over.  Then I lifted out the pot and cooled it down to about 105*, stirred in my starter (leftover yogurt from the last batch) and put the pot back into the IP.  You program in the number of hours you want and Bob'sYerUncle!  Twelve hours later, I had a lovely batch of thick, tangy yogurt!
This means "yogurt" in InstantPotese.

Creamy, thick goodness!
If it only fully functioned, I would be head-over-heels about my Instant Pot.  I am now only pleased to about knee level.

Who will be enjoying warm tootsies this tail end of winter?

#5 - annie k!

annie, please send your mailing particulars to me at swomersley at gmail dot com.  Thank you, everyone, for your interest and nice comments!

**Updated to say that I heard from Sue - yay!***Also, I have not heard back from Sue, who had wanted the Apples for Jam cookbook.  If you would like it, please email me at the above address and I will send it to the first one who requests it.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


I find, as I grow older, that I am developing a very obsessive nature.  I will latch onto something and that is all I want to do.  If only I could direct that laser focus towards cleaning...

I am currently obsessed with knitting, even more so than usual.  I have a large project (for me) on the needles at the moment, that is not really portable, so I had to come up with small projects that I could tote along with me on a daily basis.  I am starting to become my late and much lamented frister, Kay.  I still can close my eyes and see her bursting through my front door, awash in various bags of knitting projects.  I miss her so much.

I have also managed to 'infect' my middle sister with the knitting bug.  She made the mistake of mentioning that she would like to learn how to knit so that she'd have something to do while keeping an eye on our parents.  I got her a beginner's knitting kit from Knit Picks and, last Saturday, we sat down with our needles and yarn and got busy.  She is a natural.

*An aside here - starting someone totally green with the long-tail cast on is ludicrous!  It takes all your concentration to learn how to deal with two sticks and a string, let alone trying to wrest your fingers into unnatural positions.  We bypassed the LTCO and went to my easy-peasy cast on, the name of which escapes me.

Besides my too-large socks, I recently cast off a small cowl, knit up with a skein of absolutely lovely yarn (wool/silk blend) that I won in one of Theresa of Camp Runamuck's wonderful giveaways.  It had all of my colors and feels like a little cloud around my neck.

Speaking of necks, where the heck did this Turkey Neck come from?!?  Bring out the Botox!
It goes swimmingly with my green mohair cardigan sweater, knit up by my Great Aunt Edie - she of the one cigarette, one Scotch while watching Lawrence Welk and knitting, Great Aunt Edie.  She was the only person I have known (with the exception of Kay) who could knit a patterned sweater while holding a conversation and/or watching television.  This sweater has to be at least 30 years old, if not older.

I realized, with more than a little alarm, that I had absolutely no knitting for lunchtime at the office yesterday!  OMG.  This morning found me rummaging around for a small project.  Mission accomplished, but I can't share because it/they are headed out for Valentine's Day.  I am going to be casting on another pair of socks this weekend - the only difficulty will be choosing the yarn.  So, so, so much beautiful yarn.  So, so, so, SO much yarn that I need to unearth.  This weekend I tackle The Craft/Office Room/Closet.  I may have to don multiple pairs of BGPs for this baby.

I leave you with my transformed little dining area - everything was given to me, with the exception of the chairs, which I bought from a friend.  They were her grandmother's.

Sue of the Apples for Jam Cookbook - if you are reading this - your email did not go through, so I need you to contact me at: swomersley at gmail dot com!  If I don't hear from you by the end of the weekend, the book will be back up for grabs.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Socks, anyone?

There's nothing quite as frustrating as finding out that the socks you've labored over for weeks are too big.  Of course, it is equally frustrating to realize that you could have nipped the bigness in the bud, had you listened to the little voice in your head.  That little voice that would shout, "Hey you!  Are you at all aware that you are knitting socks that call for four more stitches than you usually knit?  On top of it being a stretchy lace pattern?"

Never mind.  They are nice socks and I learned a lot from following the pattern.  However, I feel that socks need to be worn, so I am giving them away to someone who might be a fit.

The socks are knit out of superwash Merino wool/nylon - a good combination for wear.  The foot measures 9.5 inches without being fully stretched.  I would guess that there is still another inch of stretch in there.

Disclaimer:  These are hand-knit, so they are not - by a long shot - perfect.  If you want perfect, get a machine.  I like to think of the imperfections as creative license.

This giveaway is open to everyone.  I will draw a winner over the weekend and announce them on Monday, January 29.  If you have any questions about them, feel free to email me at swomersley at gmail dot com.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Just when it couldn't have been more surreal...

Tuesday night was a nightmare - driving-wise.  The snow started at about 4 P in the city and was blinding by the time I hit the road home.  It was a fine, icy snow, too, just to add more spice to the experience.  Having grown up on the southern shores of Lake Erie, I am plenty accustomed to driving in snow.  I learned to drive with a manual transmission and have never looked back.  This, along with a very strong sense of survival, has served me well as I continue to live Norther.

I wish I could say the same for the nimrods on the road with me that night.  As I headed up my mountain road, I came upon three cars in various stages of off-the-road.  I very, very carefully turned around and headed home by the long route.  During the slow, hair-raising trip home, three cars went off the road in front of me (all were fine and had cell phones) and the super-duper-nimrod tailgating me went off the road himself.  Thankfully, without taking me with him.  I did not bother to check on his ability to call for help, feeling that one call from the group would suffice.

I skipped kissing the snowy ground when I got home (although I did hug my mail - my special yarn arrived!) and got the dogs out ASAP.  It had taken me almost two hours to make the one hour trip.  I then geared up to do evening chores and, when on the deck headed toward the gate to the sheep area, I saw an odd sight.  The chicken coop was lit from within - it had been so dark in the morning, I turned their light on - and silhouetted on the OUTSIDE of the coop, under five inches of snow, were the chickens.  Holey Shineola.

I trudged my way to the coop, wielding my snow shovel, and found most of the hens with Mr. Cowardpants huddled in a cold, damp clump.  I very carefully opened the door and looked in.  To go eye-to-beady-eye with a hawk, sitting on the roost, nice as you please.  HOLEY SHINEOLA.  I did a quick glance around and saw one dead hen, with a few more cowering in nesting boxes and wadded into the corners.  This was not going to be easy.  Fast-forward through much flinging, flinching, wielding, screeching, and other hysteria (and that was just me), the hawk ended up flying violently into the wall and knocking itself out.  I swear it was like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  I carefully removed the hawk and the poor remains of one of my dear Faverolles outside and then started to gently herd the flock into the coop.  I did a quick head count and realized three were missing.  After getting everyone settled down, I went out in the dark with my headlamp and managed to find two, hunkered under the little coop.  I did not find the third.  Everyone was securely closed in and I moved the hawk into a sheltered place and left it to its own devices.

I finished chores, fed the dogs and had a glass of my neighbor's 200 proof eggnog for dinner.

In the morning, under a foot of beautiful new snow (they forecast 4-6 inches - max.)  I discovered a bedraggled, damp, cold hen aimlessly pushing through snow drifts.  Poor dear.  I got my hands on her and slipped her into the warm coop.  I am sad to say the hawk did not survive - they are beautiful birds, but I could not leave it in the coop, obviously, and it would not fly out into the dark. 

Never a dull moment.

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.

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

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:
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.


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