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.


jaz@octoberfarm said...

dog beds are taking over my place too! two of which need to be replaced by bigger ones already! the chicken sounds good! i used to make chicken like that a lot but haven't done one in a while.

Tewshooz said...

Love the socks. I hate having to knit 2 of now I knit 2 socks at once (2 sets of needles, 2 balls of yarn) so when they are done, I am done.

Susan said...

What a wonderful friend, turning up with an area rug! I'm also up for blueberry gingerbread. I think we should all have one thing we are really good at, good for the soul, although you my dear have more than one in your arsenal I believe.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

A most amusing post! But what grabbed my attention is the Ballantined Chicken -- wow, that sounds good!

Toni said...

For someone who is keeping 'the secret' you sure give out lots of hints!

Love the socks!

Kristina said...

Sounds like a good weekend. Your project has me in intrigued. Can't wait to see it. The stuffed chicken sounds absolutely divine.

Theresa said...

I want that Rueben quiche recipe..stat! Oh pretty socks and I can hardly WAIT for the unveiling of the beautifully blocked project.
Pets to all

Ed said...

I hope all that snow that got dumped on us this past weekend isn't making things too bad up your way.

Mama Pea said...

Sounds like a lovely weekend . . . once the blocking of The Mysterious Item was done and it went swimming its way (no, no, not really IN the water) across the sea.

I do believe that new dog bed of Lovey's would be big enough for me to sleep in.

Can't wrap my head around the blueberry gingerbread but everything else you created sounds wonderful!

Your February socks look a lot like a pair of mine except mine have more pink in them. Or is it more red?

Rain said...

Hi Susan!! Oh the wonderful world of blocking! :) I have NEVER blocked anything in my life, and I should. Thank you for making it so exciting <--- That wasn't sarcastic by the way lol! :) Lovey looks so comfy and cute in the new bed! We have given up on the couches, they are pet couches now, we sit on the floor lol...your chicken dish sounds really yummy!

Buttons alias Grace said...

Lovey looks lovely :) Secrets be darned LOL, well I am intrigued as to your blocked project now. Blueberry Gingerbread sounds yummy. Hugs B
I have changed my blog :( and now have a new link and blog same calves lol :( if you want to change your link click on my name please. hugs

Michelle said...

If you could let me in on the 20-minute-blocking secret, I would be most obliged. My blocking wires came pre-manufactured, and it STILL takes me at least an hour to do anything.

Sandy Livesay said...


HA, you were just as bad as me as a kid. I actually opened up all the Christmas gifts early before my sister got up, and re-wrapped the gifts.....then told her what she got from Santa!
Now as an adult, I keep everything to secrets revealed.

Nice looking bed for Lovey! The size reminds me of the Papa - San cushion in a Japanese chair.

The chicken and blueberry gingerbread sounds amazing.

Sending hugs, and love your way.

Goatldi said...

You have no idea how much I admire a woman who makes up her own words. Parapalegicality no matter if it is a real word it certainly would turn heads in daily conversation no? I myself find myself looking for occasions to invent words.

Add to that the fact, just the facts mam, that you would be a worthy adversary in a vulgarity competition and that you knit socks faster than most people drink coffee not forgetting able to keep a secret INDEED!

You are undoubtedly at the top of my list for my next BBFF.

ElaineChicago said...

Need blocking mats? Costco has a huge package of them in black only that are advertised as floor mats. Same thing as the expensive colored ones only much less $$!

Casa Mariposa said...

That chicken sounds fabulous and I'd love the recipe for the gingerbread. :o) Your dogs suffer as much as mine do....

Goatldi said...

Oh my and I proof read this. Ugh hanging head in shame.And I can't even blame the phone.

AnnieK said...

Oh them socks look so fine. I hate to say the socks I won are just looking at me on the dresser, as they are too fine to be put on any feet. I did try one on once but treasure them too much to actually wear them. THANK you for the lovely gift, and you are SO SO talented.