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


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.

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
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  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!
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.

What remains of a leash and fleece
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.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ho-Ho-Holey Cow.

I was trying to sum up the past couple of weeks as foodstuffs.  Why?  By now, you should know that my brain works in mysterious ways...even to me...  I would say that it's been sliders with a heavy dose of ketchup.
Skating our way to mid-winter
As mid-winter trundles its way towards us, I have found myself woefully unprepared.  I toddled out to do chores in -1 degree F and slid my way toward the barn, having not brought out my heavy-duty treaded boots.  (Get it?  Slid?  Sliders?  Hoagies?)  I inched back in and corrected my footwear.  After all, as my dear mom keeps reminding me, 'you've got a LOT of dependents and we can't look after them for you!'  We have been the recipients of an onslaught from the Arctic which, although not unexpected for this time of year, has caught me off-guard.  The upside of this frigid weather (and there is always an upside...somewhere) is that the fireplace is back in use!
That is Slimbo's bed in the primo place
I tell you, it is almost impossible to drag myself away, but needs-must.  You know, all those dependents.
Good, but worth the effort?  The Jury is out.
Last weekend I was graced with the lovely Sylvie - maybe it should be 'blessed', as that was twice in two weeks that I have spent time with her!  She came back to her hometown to help celebrate the 100th birthday of a family friend and stayed with me until Sunday morning.  I thought I would take advantage of having dinner company by trying a recipe out of my collection of Moosewood cookbooks (my FAVORITES, all of them).  It sounded good and I had everything but the cilantro on hand.  After much peeling, slicing, steaming, cooking, and layering, a pan of Caribbean Sweet Potato Gratin went into the oven for an hour.  And came out...raw.  WTH?  We figured out that I had put it into a deeper casserole than requested (I was showing off - it was my fanciest baking dish), so on went a lid of foil, up went the oven temp and onto the lowest rack it went for another 20 minutes.  It came out fine the second time around.  Still...there were so many things we'd change about it, that I doubt I will make it again.  I did find that the leftovers were better than the original go-around.

As far as the heavy dose of catch-up (or ketchup, catsup, tomato-saucey-stuff), I pulled open my sock drawer to find *gasp* one lone pair of woolen socks!  I ended up spending a good deal of time hand-washing my socks and hanging them over the heating vent to dry.  My goal is to have at least two-weeks-worth of socks, just in case.  I also decided to tackle the pantry/cat room.  For years, it has been the repository of bulk food stores, canned/preserved food - you know, everything a Prairie Farmwife from the 30s would have on hand for her family of 12.  I had everything crammed onto a five-shelf plastic storage rack, a narrow antique cupboard, and in precarious stacks in the closet.  I used a gift card to purchase a new, metal, six-shelf storage unit (the need to assemble this behemoth, I blissfully ignored) and, after struggling for a week to get the goldang thing together, I managed to shoehorn it into the space vacated by the cupboard.  I have plans for the cupboard (thanks to Sylvie) but that has gone onto The List.  All this moving around of canning jars forced me to examine my stash.  Canned green beans from 2011?  Chicken feed.  Zucchini relish from 2009?  Compost.  I managed to empty and clean seven boxes of various-sized canning jars - in excess of the two dozen of each size that I saved for...whatever.  I put them on trash-nothing!, which has, apparently, replaced freecycle in my area, and they were picked up in a day.  Boy, that felt good!  I still have to deal with everything in the plastic shelving unit, but I did discover that I have six jars of apple mincemeat (yay!) left, and the rug cleaner and floor steamer can now be stowed away in the newly half-emptied closet!  Double Yay!

All this purging left me exhausted, so I made a pot of ginger tea, took out my latest knitting, and snuggled up with a warm pup.
Double cabled headband in
Sapphire Wool of the Andes
I'm hers, she's mine.

Monday, December 11, 2017

It's all a matter of taste.

As I tossed down the chickens' "treats" this morning, I reflected on the vagaries of taste.  They attacked the pile o' stuff (bread, rice, lettuce, unknown reddish swill) with a veracity that made you think that they were starving.  Not the case, as attested to by the 50 pounds of local feed mix that they consume a week.  Ducks are more particular, it seems.  They are not interested in anything but greens.  This may be because their beaks are rounded and they have to work mightily to rip a leaf of any size into dainty bits. 

Lovey will eat just about anything.  She doesn't actually chew, she Hoovers.  Peanut Butter is a little more circumspect when there is any change to his food dish.  They are currently eating an easy-over egg for breakfast (every other day), mixed with grain-free, salmon-only kibble (in PB's case, for small breed dogs = tiny bits), topped with thawed, pre-cooked, human-grade turkey with sweet potatoes and greens.  Moistened with homemade broth (turkey at the moment).  PB gets his meals in a soupy state, as he does not drink enough water due to confinement.  Scrappy was game to try anything, although I distinctly remember his run-in with a grape - he rolled it around in his mouth for a good 15 minutes, giving me the big moo-moo eyes.  He waited until my back was turned and then spat it out into a corner.  Where it lay until Slimbo found it and batted it all over the house.  And then I stepped on it.

Slimbo gets a half-can of wet food and a couple of handfuls of grain-free, indoor cat, kibble.  He is adamant about both.  Only Rachel Ray's Indoor Cat kibble and only Friskies (with gravy/sauce) wet food.  He could live on their turkey in crab sauce.  OMG.  I get the dry heaves just typing that.

The llama prefers graham crackers over just about anything, with apples coming second.  Norman feels the same way, but requires his apples sliced into bite-sized pieces.  Linden will inhale apples, Grahams and pumpkins.

If I had to list my favorite sandwiches, they would be (in no particular order), PB, pickle and mayo; warm, sliced hard-boiled eggs with salt and mayo; hard salami with pepper jack cheese (grilled); and grilled cheese with pickles.  The best of all - a pastrami Rueben on rye, with coleslaw and grilled.  My arteries are very thankful for my GF status.

What rings your Pavlov's bell?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Delusional Dog Mom.

Yes, yes.  I know it's been all about dogs for weeks.  Welcome to my reality.  Four long weeks have gone by with Peanut Butter in lockdown.  He has been exceptionally good about it, and for that I am thankful.  Besides the initial vet and specialist costs, there have been laser treatments and an amazing amount of gear that has been necessary to keep him safe and non-bouncing.  I expect him to require private school at any moment.

There is the ramp.  When I pulled it out of the box, Slimbo shot out of the living room like a cannonball.  Peanut Butter has had the same reaction - like it's radioactive.  Lovey just looked worried, which has become her permanent state of mind.  There is the booster seat.  It is strapped onto the front passenger seat of the car and it allows PB to ride to his countless laser treatments firmly and safely clipped in place.  It also allows me to tuck a large fleece blanket around him and it's high enough that he can see out of the window.  I tried putting it in the back seat, thinking it would be safer - I am mimicking child seats, as I have no experience in momhood - but there ensued much howling and yipping as 'mom' was further than six inches away.  Then there is the sling.  Since I have to carry him everywhere and he is a chunky monkey, this has saved me some wear and tear.  However, the sling is made for a maximum of 15lbs. and he's 19lbs.  We manage with a little staggering on my part.

Monday morning was his evaluation with the new vet and I was there, rose-colored glasses firmly in place, babbling on about how great he was doing, how hard it was to 'keep him down', blah, blah, blah.  We have been there so often, that PB has his own fan club.  The vet smiled, nodded and then took him for a walk.  Without me.  At first I was bothered by this, but, in the instance of PB, it is better to get his 'mom' out of view.  He is very protective of me and will carry on if strangers get near or between us.  Unless they have treats.  When she came back, the verdict was that he still has a way to go.  I removed the rose-colored glasses and pulled out my checkbook.  Six more weeks of treatments (mercifully, only one a week), Cosequin daily ($special$...of course), and a very tightly managed schedule of physical therapy to bring him back up to normal function.  I hope he/we can maintain his/our patience with this extension.  He longs to be Peanut "Full Speed Ahead" Butter again.  We all long for that.

Meanwhile, there are the other kids to consider.  Lovey should be renamed Velcro, as she is curled in a tight bundle next to me at every opportunity (when Slimbo is not in possession of the spot), her little brow creased with worry lines.  Lovey misses her playmate and I am a sorry substitute.  She keeps trying to get Slimbo interested, but he's having none of it. 

Me?  I'm running on Plan Bs.