Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I must have been extra good....

Because Santa/PC brought me a BEKA swift for Christmas!



Here it is in action!

video

PC ordered this swift from Paradise Fibers in Spokane, WA. I have to say, for a non-knitter, he did well. I think a lot has to do with the great customer service he encountered there. A very nice woman walked him through all the options, the pros and cons of each swift, the price points, the average usage and her personal favorites. She even gave him a video link to see how the swift worked! In the end, she led him to a mid priced swift that I love.... it turned that skein on the left into the ball on the right in less than 1 minute. That's 145yds of camel, perfectly tensioned... in less than 1 minute.

Paradise Fibers... you make my world spin!

Friday, December 26, 2008

FOs and UFOs

Well, maybe not UFOs, but Santa flew right over my house the other night and dropped off presents. One I will share with you tomorrow... a full demonstration complete with a customer service "you rock!" from PC...


But, until then. The Christmas knitted gifts. These are always tricksy aren't they? Will they like them? Will they use them?


J's Hemlock Ring.



It was done in time, but too small, so a gift card was added.... and he immediately put it on top of his head. The blanket, not the gift card. He wants to put it on the dining room table. It will be stained and ruined very soon, I think. I'm not sure what to think about this one.


The wee Noodle is getting this for Christmas:















Designed by me. Concept by Ericka Knight, but I ended up changing about 110 things (including the stitch counts, the edging, the embroidery and the lengths) that I am calling it mine. I am VERY proud of this one.... I hope Noodle loves it and wears it a lot.


Yarn: Louisa Harding Kashmir DK, cashmere, merino and bamboo, I think.
And, doesn't everyone's Christmas morning look like this? The recent snow storms had left my parents' 'extra table' under several feet of snow... and it was filthy. We needed it and loaded it in the car without knowing how dirty it was (it was dark). So, 30 min of washing and rotating the table in the only place we had that we could spray it down:
Yes, about an hour before company arrived, we filled our tub with dirt and grime while washing a folding table.
What? Like you wouldn't have done the same!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wow...

Knitters are great people! So many words of encouragement and advice, both in the comments and in private emails. Wow. Wow. Wow. If I haven't emailed you, please know it's because I have been taking all of your advice and:

1. taking some time for me
2. reviewing my options
3. reviewing my resume
4. budgeting, budgeting, budgeting
5. talking with friends
6. networking my tushie off
7. snugglin' with the PC

In the mean time, this might be the most productive unemployment of my life. Knitting and crafting-wise, that is.











Even Polly Pockets need a home, right? I used a tutorial I saw over at UK Lass In the US ( wonderful crafting blog, btw... found via Little Birdie Crafts). It's super cute. I love it. I need to make a second one, now. The ultra-girlie pink is for our friends' daughter, A (who received the Abby Cadabby sweater)-- she's the ultimate girlie girl and needs a place to keep her wee people and important things. Buttons are good for practice (big girl pants are in the near future) and the handles make the whole shebang ready for Gramma's house.



Now, who can forget my dear nephew R? He's off to Paris with his mom and dad to visit family for Christmas. He arrived at a soiree at my house sans mittens! His mom had SOCKS on his hands. He looked embarrassed. His hat didn't even match! He whispered "save me Tante!" and I did... super cute 3-6 month size mittens (no thumbs) and matching cap. Encore in Blueberry. Love it!












I have a special bond with my brother J. No, his blanket's not done yet. It's on the final set of feather and fan.. then blocking tomorrow. I might need help. Well, he has a 'friend' in his life, C. She's very nice and we are really loving getting to know her, but I don't know where this is going, if anywhere. They are a little nonspecific about their relationship. But, when asked "should we put something under the tree for her?" The answer was yes. And then a ski-hat was requested. A little stash yarn (Cascade something or other) and the Unoriginal Hat pattern... and we're off.
Another FO should have made it's debut here too, but it was cast off and wrapped up 10 minutes before a dinner with the recipient. A simple Calorimetry for a friend who loves to take lunchtime walks down the Charles River banks... even in February. She's crazy and hates hat hair. Oh, and she wants to learn to knit. Hmm... I think that can be arranged.
Overall, the first week of unemployment has worked well. I need to find a card table to accomodate all the guests next week, but other than that... the house is in good shape. And we're buying the tree tonight.
Our tradition for getting the tree? Don't laugh: we get a Dunkin' coffee, drive to the local Catholica High School, shop for a tree Mini-height-with-her-hands-up-in-the-air and just the right shape and pay a kid $3 to put it on the car. It's our version of magic.
:)




Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Economics

I lost my job today.
A good job.
A good job with great pay.

Reorganization due to merger.

Shit.

Now what?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Oy.

I did something awful today. I checked my bank balance. Ouch.
Christmas knitting continues tonight at Island Yarn in Waltham. I have 1 big project (J's blanket) and 2 small ones (a cowl for Nani and a hat for J's "friend").

And, I have one small project that needs to be done.

And the Christmas cards.

And the packages to be mailed.

I just need time to do it!

Anyone else out of time? And money?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Let It Snow!

(background music: Sarah McLaughlin singing "Oh Little Town O' Bethlehem")

Waking up today was so ....perfect. It's been a busy week with holiday preparations and getting the house in order. Yesterday was the first annual Mini Cookie Swap here at Casa de Mini y PC... and it was a smashing success! Cookies were abundant, friends, old and new, shared holiday spirit. A successful melding of three parts of my life... it's always a chance when you introduce two groups of friends, no? Two babes were in attendance, my lovely nephew, R, and niece, Noodle. In all senses of the word, I am their aunt. Not by blood, but by love. And sometimes that is stronger, right? My first biological nephew makes his entrance in late January, but his dad and I don't always see eye to eye and I am wondering if this wee one will make my family closer or pull us further apart. I worry.








(these doors go nowhere. There is plywood back there. Long ago, our house was a single family home and we live on the 2nd floor. )
Some of preparations this week- getting the decorations up!












My Grampy made these reindeer. I love them My Grampy also made the sleighs that are all over my apartment. Each sleigh is holding a Starbucks Christmas Bearista bear... a tradition of mine and PCs.



A little sleigh from Grampy that sits on the wreath. This way my grandfather greets everyone at the door. He would have loved our home. He would have loved how happy PC and I are together. He would have even loved PC's Christmas ham... he always thought the men should cook on the holidays so that it was a true day off for the ladies. Of course, my grandmother was a lousy cook so maybe he was just saving the rest of us from dry roasts and a true lack of seasoning. :) He would have loved how much we have embraced Christmas traditions. He was never a religious man, but he loved Christmas and having us kids nearby. I don't remember many Christmases where he wasn't at our house Christmas Eve and then back again Christmas mornign to watch us open gifts.
My brother, J, will love this blanket... if I can ever finish it! I'm continuing another family tradition here too... more about that tomorrow.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I saw this at Carole's this morning and thought: Blog fodder! :)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper usually, but gift bags if I'm in a hurry.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Real. I love picking out the tree with PC. We measure it by how tall I am with my right arm over my head. That way it'll fit in our apartment.
3. When do you put up the tree? Varies. This year, about the 17th... I think.
4. When do you take the tree down? The night before whenever the next trash day is. At my parents' we left it up until Little Christmas (Jan 6).
5. Do you like eggnog? Only with a LOT of liquor in it.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? My Cabbage Patch Kids' playpen and snap-onto-the-table high chair. This was more of a present for Smeenie (my Cabbage Patch Kid), but it had my name on it. Favorite gift as an adult? My garnet ring that PC gave me.
7. Hardest person to buy for? My mom. She's impossible, puts everything you buy her/make her "away for special occasions" and then you never see it again.
8. Easiest person to buy for? PC-- I pay attention all year and try to surprise him each year.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, it's a Lenox one-piece one that PC and I bought our first Christmas living together.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? We mail 'em. I love doing Christmas cards and set aside a special time to do them, with a cup of tea and some music playing. I also do the "mailed gifts" then too.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? My grandmother gave me 4 kitty sweaters with glitter one year. I was in college. It was bad.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? hmm.... tough one. Miracle on 34th Street.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? When am I not shopping for Christmas? I try to do a little all year b/c then the money is spread out. Next year, I'm doing a Christmas club at my bank though.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yup. A few times. And it's because someone I knew would LOVE it and I didn't.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Lazy Man Lasagna at my mom's house. My Nana's super secret fudge. I'm the only one of the grandchildren who has the recipe because I was the only one who could be bothered to sit in her kitchen to learn to make it. We had a special bond and I really miss her this year.
16. Lights on the tree? Why wouldn't you?? We have colored lights on the tree, clear lights in the foyer... and multi colored on the 2nd tree.
17. Favorite Christmas song? God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Sung by anyone, but especially by Bare Naked Ladies.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? There's no place like home for the holidays! Everyone we are related to (minus PC's sister, but she never comes home for the holidays) is within 20-30 minutes drive. Christmas dinner is at OUR house now though. PC cooks a ham.
19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? I have to sing it to get them right and I always call "Blitzen" Nixon.
20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We always opened one on Christmas Eve, but now we open ALL of them Christmas Eve b/c all the kids are at my parents house for the annual Christmas Eve party.
21. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? People looking at me funny when I wish them a Merry Christmas. What? It's Christmas and I celebrate it! If you wish me a Happy Hannukah, I would be okay with that. Oh and Malls. I hate malls.
22. Favorite ornament theme or color? I have a set of pewter ornaments that are the 12 days of Christmas. PC gave them to me for our first Christmas in the apartment. I love the 2 turtledoves ...
23. What do you want for Christmas this year? Oh, I'd love to have PC propose, but that's not happening, so I asked for diamond earrings. Mine wear stolen and I miss them
24. Angel on the tree top or a star? Winnie the Pooh dressed as an angel. No, I'm not kidding. It's a stuffed animal tree-topper.
25. Favorite Christmas dinner? PC's ham dinner. Hands down. With the special pineapple gravy and mashed potatoes.... oh yum.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Curses!

Do you believe in the boyfriend sweater curse? I have knit PC one sweater in our 6.5 year relationship. He never wore it... first it was too small (*ahem* it wasn't when I started it) and then it had puffy sleeves when it did fit. Now... I have a sweater on the needles for him and the back is like 99% done and the front should only take a few days (US9 and a quick pattern).... but I'm wary.

So, what do you think? Will finishing this sweater (which will fit!) and handing it over to PC, ruin my chances of being Mrs. PC?

Let me hear it!

Also, yesterday there were some 10 on Tuesday memes going around on how to save money. Here are my top 5:

1. Netflix. Cheaper than the movies and allows you to maintain basic cable.
2. Call your phone company. Negotiate.
3. Stash knitting...
4. Entertain at home- when someone asks "can I bring something?" say yes.
5. Remember, it's the thought that counts. My brother's blanket cost me $35 in yarn... much less than the digital photo frame for the other brother, but means so much more.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hemlock Ring

I'm making one of these:













in this yarn: (Cascade Ecological Wool, light colored yarn)














It's a gift for my brother, J. He's gonna love it! He's a snuggly blankie kind of guy and he's a new homeowner... I'm hoping it'll coordinate with his decor!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Random Thoughts by Mini

Holidays. Turkey. Stockings. Tree. Wreath. Gifts.

These words keep running through my head. I'm a little worn by the sheer quantity of money we spend at Christmas. And PC and I don't even spend that much! I always like to remind myself that limits are a good thing and that sometimes a baby sweater can be just a great present. And that teenagers really just want gift cards. And it's okay to have an age limit for gifts.

I am making some more gifts, but they involve sewing. Sewing is 1) faster and 2) more versatile. I am making two of these: one house and one barn:



















Photos from UK lass in US website.
















Mine might not be as elaborate, but they will serve the purpose. And, the wee ones are easy to please. (Ahem: Stef? Don't look- one's for A)-




















I am thinking of making one of these for a special little someone. I think kitty dolls are just great! And this little one loves kitties!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Oh, there's no place gnome for the holidays....

*groan*










I couldn't resist.
Pattern: gnome by Alan Dart
Yarn; Cascade 220 in red and white, Ella Rae classic for the face, fun fur for the beard.
Needles: US 7
Modifications: none. He's a bit bigger (larger needles and yarn) but we love him. He's getting a friend later on this week... one gnome for me; one gnome for PC.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

She's Crafty....She's just my type.



PC's got a reason to sing that song! I am exercising my super-crafty muscles this weekend! A preface: on my mom's side, I have like 100s of cousins, all of whom have kids. The little ones (under 7) get a handmade gift from me at Christmas.


I usually don't send birthday gifts for them or anything like that (unless it's a Communion or something), so this is my one shot per year to make something special for each kid. Four of these kids live in the middle of Maine (5-6 hour drive) and within a mile of each other, so all gifts must be the "same but different" you know what I mean?
Well, there are 8 little ones on my list this year. I saw these crayon rolls on Etsy a while back and thought: cute, but $10? I'm glad someone's getting that much for them, but I wasn't paying it! I searched and came upon a tutorial for DIY. A trip to JoAnns and voila! Crayon rolls!










Each roll holds 12 crayons and is secured with a length of elastic. Each one cost me $1.45 to make. I made all 8 in 2 hours. Using felt is good too, because the material will be very durable and soft... it also is very forgiving for little fingers putting crayons into and out of the pockets. Each crayon roll accompanies a jumbo-super-crazy coloring book, picked especially for each kid. These little gifts will go pre-Christmas to the kids in Maine for their annual ride from Maine to Massachusetts.










Friday, November 21, 2008

yarn is the new homework

One gnome (the PC gnome) is thisclose to done. I need to run to JoAnn's tonight for polyfill beads (so he'll sit) and some felt for Christmas gifts. Then: assembly begins!

Before I get to JoAnn's, I have to do something for school. My 2nd grad school class is called Leading Teams. I don't like it. At all. The project for the class is not the usual "pretend you are a company who makes widgets" deal. No, instead, we have to seek out a corporate project team that doesn't work for any of our companies and observe them in their team, interview them, make an assessment and evaluate the teaminess. Sounds easy huh? Okay, now try to find a company who's going to let 6 complete strangers come in to their place of business to watch them. I think what I like least is that this instructor is demanding that we get together several times a week in "live meetings" to discuss the project. Our group is spread across the Boston area and we all work full time. How the hell are we supposed to pull that off? Instead, we email. Overall, I'd give the class and the instructor an F. I don't feel like what I am doing in class is in line with the readings or the assignments. I am still assessing what I have learned... but I need to keep my GPA up, so I keep forging ahead.

So, what do I have to do for class tonight?

Woe is me... I'm interviewing a project team at Classic Elite Yarns.

What's a knitter to do??

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Crafty Holidays

This article on CNN.com says a lot about crafting for the holidays.
http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/11/17/handmade.gifts/index.html

In a holiday season overshadowed by a national financial crisis and a sluggish economy, handmade gift-making takes on a monetary sparkle. "People have more time than they have money right now," said Van Voorhis. "It's a money saver, it's cheaper and it's a great option for the person who has everything."
Gift givers who are new to crafting will find an entire culture -- both in the real world and online -- centered on its creative energy and innovation. The heart of the handmade crafter culture beats at brick-and-mortar craft fairs across the nation and online at Etsy.com. The Web site has become a sort of eBay for crafters and a market for more than 100,000 sellers worldwide since its birth in 2005.

"There's definitely been a lot of momentum," said Van Voorhis. "Crafting is getting popular with people like young mothers who're looking for home-based activities and among people in their mid-20s to early 30s." Many crafters join knitting clubs and other neighborhood groups.


After years and years of giving homemade gifts, will my knitters' guilt (that little voice that says a handknit scarf is not enough-- send a gift card too!) go away now that crafting your holiday items is socially acceptable?

I hope so. I just bought some yummy natural Eco-Wool to make my brother a hemlock ring blanket this Christmas!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Dancin'

No, not because of my new-found allergy. I am happy dancing b/c I lost 3.8lbs this week on WW. Now, I am a big girl, but 3.8lbs is 3.8lbs and I am VERY proud of me!

To celebrate, I am staying on-points. ;)

Knitting.

I knit the largest hat on the planet this weekend. I don't know what happened. It'll fit someone with dreds, but not on purpose. It went in the charity box. PC asked if I was paying attention. ha ha ha ha... this is because he has been the recipient of some too-small hats in the past.

I cast on for some tomten last night. Specifically the ones from Alan Dart. PC's sister tracked down the magazine in the UK and had it shipped to me. Tomten are a Scandanavian folklore about gnomes that live in the woods. Near the holidays, they come wearing pointy hats and winter gear (mittens, boots) and long beards (to keep them warm) and knock on doors. When someone in the house answers, they ask "do any good children live here?" If the answer is yes, then they come in and give the children sweets. In Norway, the sweets are left in their mittens. All of this as told by my grandfather when I was little. Santa sounds an awful lot like a tomten.

Photos tomorrow when I get one "sorta" stuffed and made up. Imagine this: I have to go buy fun fur for the beards.

And might I add again?

-3.8lbs: WoooHoo!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saving at Christmas without being a Scrooge

Potential financial worries abound. We are lucky enough, we don't own our house. We don't have a ton of debt, but I still have student loans ($38,000) and the car ($18,000) to pay off... we both keep our credit cards at reasonable, payable limits (i.e. paid off within in a month or two normally). And we have officially established our "for each other" spending limit on Christmas. Spending less is accepted.

But, with all the 'other' people in the world that we like to exchange gifts with... we are being a little skimpy, I won't lie. A big thing is the kids. We would love to buy all the kids in our lives great big presents and stuff, but I have come to a conclusion: I won't compete with Santa Claus. I remind myself: "these are not my children" and am happy to say... they always seem happy with whatever we get them.

Friends. Well, I took care of that this summer. It's done, well... part 1 of each gift is done. Part 2 involves PC stopping by a gourmet grocer. I'm hosting a cookie swap at my house and we'll also be doing the holiday party rotation, of course.

Family. We don't have a lot of relatives that we exchange gifts with: Parents, siblings and occasionally an aunt and uncle. PC's parents are pretty much all set. We know what we want to get and I am doing all kinds of couponing to get it down to a more reasonable price. My parents.... well, we are still stuck on that one. And, my brothers and sis-in-law... don't know. One brother will be getting a Hemlock Ring blanket and some really cool hot cocoa with some peppermint schnapps and mugs. The other one... I am still thinking about it. They are expecting a baby in Jan/Feb (I know, I need to knit for the little one!) and we don't know--- buy them something baby related?? This year, I am gifting to my aunts and uncles b/c well, I want to. I am knitting from stash, so therefore (besides my time) it's free. We like free.

Coworkers. I bought 4 bracelets ($10 a piece) from my friend Mariuca. She makes pretty, affordable jewelry. She's a practical girl and a fellow frugal-one... and she knows what sells and for what price. She used to host jewelry parties, but is holding off until after Christmas. If you want something though, I am sure she can accommodate (Mari?) and it'll help a new mom add some presents to the Christmas tree this year. And honestly? $40 for work related gifts isn't bad. One coworker is getting hand knit mittens. She will love them, she will tell me I should not have and then she will wear them through. She's been a great mentor to me this year and a good friend.

I have to stop next week and grab some Christmas cards and get ready to send them out... as my gift list dwindles, my card list increases!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Being taken alive! (two posts in one day!)










Yup, one singluar fruit has taken me down. A preface: I love kiwi fruit. LOVE them. And, two kiwis on WW is like 1.5 points. Easy to eat ( I cut them in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon) and quite possibly, the most delicious fruit out there. And, now... mine no more!

Monday started off normally. I got to work, did some work and then said "oh, it's 10am! Time for Kiwis!!" I ate a kiwi. Felt a little funny. Thought maybe I got tickly kiwi hair in my mouth. A big swig of water. Eat second kiwi. Start to notice that lips are tingly. Throat is itchy. Itchy as in oh-my-god-stick-a-knitting-needle-down-my-ears-to-get-that-itch itchy. Then, my tongue swells.

Oh.shit.

I race to the first aid kit in the lab, take 3 antihistamines, rinse my mouth out several times. Brush my teeth and gargle with some warm water and salt... anything to make it stop.

Thirty minutes later, I'm okay. Scared, but okay.

Yesterday. Walk into lab, put on latex gloves (like every other day of my life) and get to work. Come out of lab, don't wash hands (no soap at lab sinks again!) and take off safety goggles. I have my contacts in. Probably scratch my eyes (it's still early) and poof! World is suddenly foggy and my eyes on are FIRE! Race back in lab, rinse eyes with water. Try to stay calm. Walk back to desk and pull out emergency contact lens kit from drawer. Place contacts in holder, bring saline to lab for eye rinse. This is not helping. Walk around work until 2pm with safety glasses (prescription) from 3 years ago- can't see anything. Call primary care doc, answering service says "no patients, no interruptions, no calls" today. Huh. Well, only one more place to go. The ER. (yes, i drove myself, it was only 7 exits on 128)

ER doc is great! She says most likely related to kiwi reaction on monday. Does say that something is in my eye (she washes) and it has scratched the inside of my eyelids. Ouch! Antibiotic ointment (that makes my vision blurry), steroids, and an epi-pen later, I am in business.

PC met me at the ER to drive me home (poor thing had to take a cab!) and we got home about the normal "getting home time" for us. Dinner and a nap were required before the main event of the night: a concert!














PC's all time fave band, Reverend Horton Heat, (he has their album cover tatooed on him-- talk about dedication) was in town (one show only!) and we had to go. Granted, I sat at a table in the Roxie and watched from afar (and they played so well, that I really wanted to boogie, but lack of vision was making me wary), but we were there. An awesome 1 hour 45 minute set preceeded by two bands (one I liked, one PC liked) that were pretty good... 5 hours of sleep later... I'm here at work. Blurry eyed and waiting for CVS to fill my epi-pen.

















(photo credit: unknown)
Something I learned today? Kiwi fruit is used in almost all meat tenderizer. Great.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Musings (and no photos....)

Spidey's hat and mitten set are complete and ready for delivery. I really like the way the top of the hat came out for some reason. I modified this a lot,b/c of the gauge change, I really didn't have a choice.

At last night's guild meeting (MetroWest knitting guild--- we have a Rav page!), I cast on for a simple man's hat. I am hoping that I can whip up a few of these (like 5?) before the holidays: 3 for uncles to go with the scarves/cowls for the aunts and 2 for my dad's birthday. My dad works outside a lot and a little known fact about chemo/radiation therapy is that you can feel cold for the rest of your life. Dad's having a hard time staying warm. I want to try double knit, but don't know how. Anyone want to show me?

And finally: Boston knitters-- anyone around the Saturday after Thanksgiving? Interested in a little post-turkey knitting? We have one cat and two couches and I promise to clean the bathroom. Tea, coffee and wine provided.... and some snacks if I can rustle them up. Let me know, b/c if no one can come, it'lll just be me and the cat.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Have you ever eaten an Acorn?

It's getting colder here in New England. So cold that Pumpkin is asking to "camp" under her self-warming mat. She is all snuggled up, creating heat and purring....




An acorn squash, that is. We have and we love them. Normally, we fill them with cranberries and couscous and maple syrup and bake them... but since this is the week of recommitment to WW, I thought we'd try something healthier. I modified (quite a bit) a recipe I found online and one that PC's dad (who's becoming quite the cook in his retirement!) had made and recommended.

WW points are given. oh, and I made my lasagna in two pans b/c I don't have the right size pan.

Ingredients:

2 large acorn squash, halved and de-seeded
I can't believe it's not butter spread-ICBINB ( a WW fave)
salt (coarse)
pepper
1 tsp sage
1 tsp nutmeg
no-bake lasagna noodles - 1 box (8 sheets)
32 ounces fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fat-free cheese topping (parmesan blend)
2 eggs

Instructions:
1. Prep acorn squash: place cut side down on non-stick foil on a rimmed cookie sheet (these things leak!)- cook for 1 hour at 400deg F. Allow to cool and scoop out the 'meat' and put in a mixer. Add 2 tbsp ICBINB and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper (a pinch of each)-- blend. Add sage. Mix quickly.
2. Prep ricotta: add ricotta, parm blend cheese and salt and pepper. Mix well.
3. Make lasagana(s): layer no bake noodles, then squash mix, then no bake noodles, then ricotta, no-bake noodles, squash mix, no bake noodles, ricotta.
4. Cover with non-stick foil and bake at 400deg F for 45 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 15 minutes to brown.

TOTAL WW Points: 40 for the ENTIRE dish... ours made 10 really big servings: 4 points each.

Yummmmmmm
Obligatory knitting content:



I cast on for this boys' hat last night at Island Yarn's Knit Night... it should be done tonight. I modified PumpkinMama's spiderman hat pattern b/c I had worsted weight yarn and she had used something lighter. I cast on 96 stitches and did 3 repeats of the pattern. I am also doing less of the 'webbing' at the top as this hat would be too tall... and we want a 'beanie that covers the ears' thing...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sick Knitting

In the course of being out of work 2 days (came home Thursday a.m.) and realizing in between naps, that the quality of daytime tv had not improved since my last sick day... I headed to the stash. Yes, I had projects everywhere around the house, but I needed.... something. Something new. Something repetitive. Something fun.

The Sand River Scarf.














Pattern: Sand River Scarf
Yarn: 250yds hand dyed worsted (superwash) (dyed by me!)
Needles: US 7 straights (bamboo)
Notes: I love this pattern. I test knit this for Monica 2 years ago. It was such a fast knit and I really loved the pattern. So, I cast on Friday night around 6pm and blocked last night (Sunday) at 10 p.m.


this is better representation of the color

















In spite of the virus that took me down (several fevers broke, lost my voice, still have icky feeling in ears and head, body aches--- no sniffles, though. We think it was the flu and since I don't get a flu shot--- allergy to eggs via injection- most vaccines give me a horrible allergic response), I needed to leave the house by Sunday. PC and I had been collecting food donations and sorting through his old work clothes to make a donation to Lazarus House. It's a food bank/shelter run by the Church that has a fast shelter-to-home transition and a 99% success rate in it's work skills program. It is also drug and alcohol free. A few weeks ago, their food donations dried up and they were dipping into the Thanksgiving reserves. Now, if they are using Thanksgiving food in early October--- what's going to happen in 3 weeks when they need to serve so many families? Mini and PC to the miniature rescue! We dropped off two large boxes of food, including a turkey and stuffing (thank God for BJs), paper towels and t.p., and two very warm work jackets. Look around this time of year. Are you blessed? Can you pay your bills? Is there a little extra each month? Buy one extra bag of groceries at your weekly grocery shopping (non-perishables, of course) and donate to your local food bank.


Friday, November 07, 2008

When the mom is sick... the cat will play.....















How does she work this thing?


















Can you see me?

*achoo

Pumpkin here. Mom's not here because she's on the couch... Dad says she doesn't feel good because she has a frog in her throat. I don't see why she gets to keep her frog, but she makes me give up perfectly good mice.

Anyway. She's on the couch with her frog and this means that she can't yell. Nope. Not one peep.

No "down Pumpkin!"
No "off the table Pumpkin!"
No "stop biting me Pumpkin!"
















Nope. She has to sit there and wave her arms. I close my eyes.


















But, she's had more string out. The kind of string she yells about. She is selfish. She is the only one who gets to play with her string. And the sticks! They are so chewy and wonderful.... really feel great on the gums... but, she doesn't like that either.

But... today she can't yell.....

Ouch! But, she can swat ears!!!
















Maybe I'll wait to see about those sticks later. I have to go wake her up so she can feed me. Come by in a few days. She'll feel better then.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Not winning any friends

Edited to add: this makes me even sadder. (source: Boston Globe)

Calif. voters approve gay-marriage ban

November 5, 2008

LOS ANGELES—California voters have approved a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage, overturning the state Supreme Court decision that gave gay couples the right to wed just months ago.

The passage of Proposition 8 represents a crushing political defeat for gay rights activists, who had hoped public opinion on the contentious issue had shifted enough to help them defeat the measure.

It also represents a personal loss for the thousands of couples from California and others states who got married in the brief window when they could. Legal experts have said it will have to be resolved in court whether their unions still are valid.


I'm sad today. Yup, it has everything to do with the election. 7 years ago I would have said I am a Democrat, but I have changed and so has my political stance. I am fiscally conservative and lean more liberally socially (gay marriage: fine with me, removal of troops from Irag: fine). PC and I are going to be that "middle ground" that doesn't make enough to really do more than live (no fancy vacations and luxury items for us), but under Obama's plan, makes too much to benefit. I often wonder if American voters thought about the outcome of voting for a candidate high on social programs when we are midst a recession. Funding for social programs will come from one place and one place only: your wallet. BUT, I am a positive person and I am ready to see this extremely charismatic president-elect try his hand at office. I am hoping he exceeds his supporters expectations and I hope that he changes my mind. Several African-American politicians stated this morning that Obama would be given a 'honeymoon' to acquaint himself with the weight of his office. Sorry, son... no honeymoon. Your campaign was all about change--- the clock starts January 20 and you had better be ready. The world is watching.

But, a few things passed in my home state of MA that disturbed me.

1. Dog Racing. Okay, this is not a popular sport among pet-owners. I own a pet (Pumpkin) and have owned several dogs throughout my life ( i remember the names of 12). But, as said above, it's recession time and you just put 1000 people out of work. I think for every greyhound you adopt from now until 2010, you should have to promise to support a track employee for a month. Guess PC and I will be driving to NH to bet on the puppies.

2. Marijuana decriminalization. Jesus, Mary and Joseph. How on earth can we teach children that illegal drugs are dangerous and (HELLO!) Illegal (??!!!) if the fine for possessing an illegal drug is the same as not using a crosswalk? My mom told me that she was voting for decriminalization b/c of all the young men whose lives were ruined b/c they were caught with pot and had to go to court. My response: what about all the people who said no and didn't buy drugs from drug dealers?? Whatever happened to obeying the LAW?? Certain drugs are illegal for non-medicinal purposes ( i have read the marijuana research on pain--- it works, but so does Oxycontin and we aren't letting people run around with it without prescription). Marijuana is a drug on this list. Marijuana is illegal. It's not failing to use a crosswalk.

Oh.... and parents? Your new teenager, freshly out in the world, driving in cars with teens? Dating and being away from your for the first time? Heading off to college that you got the 3rd mortgage on the house to pay for so they won't have student loans? Massachusetts just told them that getting high on a little pot is 'not so bad.' Really glad you did that whole 'just say no' thing. How many kids did I know in college who lost it all b/c of drugs? Too many.

Sarcasm over. I have never been hesitant to speak my mind on certain subjects. I don't talk politics at work. I think about things very carefully. And since we live in the great USA, I can think what i want, you can think what you want. Also, I respect each and every opinion that is made in this country. I don't agree with them, but it's like religion: I respect your right to worship as you wish. So, keep reading here... I'll always be honest with you. Sometimes you'll like and sometimes you won't. Sometimes i don't like it either.

Onto knitting:

It's farther along now (in fact, the first mitten is done, minus thumb).

Pattern: Chevallier mitten
Yarn: Rowan Cork
Needles: US5 dpns












Note, has anyone made these? They might be the biggest mittens I have ever made! They are HUGE.... and I have gauge, so I know I am making the right size. Adding these and a matching scarf (US11, k2, p2 easy-peasy scarf) to the Christmas bucket.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hats, Hats, Hats!

I am the Queen of Small things this week. Anything little is completely do-able. Anything large like a sweater? Off my radar. I really need to scratch this small-things itch b/c it's accomplishing two things:
1. I am feeling accomplished b/c I am finishing things
2. I am starting to burn through stash....

PC made a comment while we were on a walk that perhaps I should knit down my stash until we move (June) in order to eliminate the amount of yarn we need to move. Normally, I would have laughed... but I remembered the sheer quantity of yarn I have. I am knitting down my stash. I have TONS of yarn for great projects.

So, look for socks, scarves, mittens (oh, the mitten bug is keeping me tied down!) and hats over the next few months.....












Hat/Mittens for Noodle:

Mittens
Yarn: Encore, machine washable
Pattern: my own + embroidered flowers

Hat
Yarn: Encore, machine washable
Pattern: Totoro hat (helloyarn.com) + embroidery












Hat/Mittens for MC
Mittens
Yarn: Encore, machine washable
Pattern: piggy mittens (SpillyJane)

Hat
Yarn: Encore
Pattern: Totoro hat with cat ear modifications and embroidery.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Five Little Pumpkin Sitting On A Gate

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,
The first one said,"Oh my, it's getting late."
The second one said,"But we don't care."
The third one said,"I see witches in the air."
The fourth one said,"Let's run, and run, and run."
The fifth one said,"Get ready for some fun."
Then whoosh went the wind,and out went the lights,
And five little pumpkins rolled out of sight!


PC and I will not be handing out chocolate bars and snack packs this year. Our current location is chock full of kids, but letting kids know where we are and how to get to the front door is not easy.... we can't turn our porch light on and off.... it's motion sensored and hard wired to the house.

We will be watching the Ghost Hunters live marathon (7 hours) and eating yummy beef stew for dinner. Halloween is one of those nights that brings back so many memories from childhood: costumes, candy, canvassing the whole town for treats. Halloween dinner was a favorite of mine; it was always American Chop Suey. My mom would make it on her lunch break and it would be heated up on the stove and one kid would eat while the other was being costumed and then switch.... it is still a favorite memory.

I have some photos for posting tomorrow. For those who asked, it was a death in PC's family and we thank you for the prayers.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I have to dry my hair....

And Pumpkin thinks it's play time...
So this will be kinda quick.

1. Home from the land o' Mickey--- nice place to visit...too.damn.hot. Rides were fun. Took no photos. Fun family time. Good food. More rides. One upset tummy. Didn't see Mickey once. Great resort. More rides.

PC went upside down. Twice. On a roller coaster. Have I mentioned that this is something that he said he'd never do??

2. knitting. Well, I am a schizophrenic knitter lately- making no sense and bouncing from one thing to another. I have nailed down some small(ish) projects though... I think this might be the fall of small(ish) projects.














Yes, another cowl. This was completed pre-Disney but it needed buttons and trip in the sink to block it. And yes, Mari... this one is yours. Buttons are from Island Yarn, yarn (Malabrigo) is from stash.
















Pattern: Piggy Mittens (pdf)
Yarn: Encore, ~50 yds?
Needles: US 5 dpns (bamboo)
For: cousin's daughter... she's 2. These will make her giggle so hard she'll snort.
2nd pair of these are underway for a friend's daughter, also two.
















Pattern: my own
Yarn: Encore
Needles: US 3 dpns
For: my niece, Noodle. She's 4 months and needs her first woolie mittens (not that they are wool-- they are machine wash!)

Pattern:

Cast on 20 stitches, join without twisting. K1, P1 for 8 rows.
Knit one row.
Increase row: *K f/b, K1, K f/b, K1* repeat from * to * until 30 stitches.
Knit for 2 inches.
Decrease rows:
Row 1: *slip 2 as if to knit, k2tog tbl, k11, k2tog** repeat from * to **
Row 2: knit
Row 3: *slip 2 as if to knit, k2tog tbl, k9, k2tog** repeat from * to **
Row 4: knit
Row 5: *slip 2 as if to knit, k2tog tbl, k7, k2tog** repeat from * to **
Row 6: knit
Row 7: *slip 2 as if to knit, k2tog tbl, k5, k2tog** repeat from * to **
Row 8: knit
Row 9: *slip 2 as if to knit, k2tog tbl, k3, k2tog** repeat from * to **
Row 10: knit
Row 11: *slip 2 as if to knit, k2tog tbl, k1, k2tog** repeat from * to **
Row 12: K2tog all around
Break yarn and thread onto darning needle. Pull end through remaining stitches.

Make 2nd mitten.















Pattern: Spidey Mittens
Yarn: Encore (blue), Red Heart (red) and Cotton Ease (Black) all from stash.
For: piggy mittens' big brother.


3. A death in the family and starting grad class #2 this week will definitely interfere with irregular blogging... ha ha ha. Seriously, though... look for me later in the week.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Almost home.....

We are probably halfway up the East Coast by now... heading home today. I hope you have enjoyed the charitable knitting info I have been giving you. In case you have no time to knit this year, but need to clean out your stash? Here's a charity for you:


Health Care for the Homeless Medical Respite Unit
Homeless women and men at a residential medical respite unit find that crocheting and knitting help with their emotional stress, and create opportunities for socialization and companionship. It also affords those who are mothers to be able to give something handmade to their children. There is always need for yarn (wool, non-wool, partial or full skeins), crochet hooks (esp. sizes 5 - 6), knitting needles, basic knitting or crocheting books. Other arts and crafts items are also welcome Please call first.

Volunteer Coordinator
Boston Health Care for the Homeless
729 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 414-7779

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Purl for a Purpose

The Pine Street Inn is hosting a knit-a-thon to make blankets for the homeless. Now, I know that Island Yarn is knitting away (customers and employees!) on squares and I have seen a few at my guild meeting... so, what's a 9X9 inch square? 30 minutes? An hour? You can do it!!! Grab your needles and knit!
(my corporate competitor is hosting this event, but this makes me more determined to get MY company involved next year. Does YOUR company match your charitable donations?? MINE does--- ask your HR rep about your company's policy on charitable giving.)

There is an event coming up:
Date:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Time:

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where:

Hosted by GE Healthcare, 116 Huntington Avenue, Boston
(Across from the Prudential Center and accessible by the Prudential and Copley stops on the Green line and Back Bay station on the Orange line.)

Why:

To make a difference in the lives of formerly homeless men and women


Info from the webpage:

How to Get Started

STEP 1:

Sign up today! To sign up or for questions, please e-mail Eric Monty or call 617-892-9173.

STEP 2:

Create your own web page for pledges! Go to www.firstgiving.com/pinestreetinn and follow the easy instructions to set up your personalized pledge page where you can direct friends and family members to donate to Pine Street.

STEP 3:

Start Fundraising! Ask your friends and family to either make a donation on your Web site or pledge on a per-square basis. (For example: $1 per square x 50 squares = $50.) Read our tips for fundraising. Although fundraising is not a requirement, we strongly encourage all knitters to fundraise or make a personal donation to support Pine Street.

Step 4:

Start Knitting! Even though the event is in November, begin knitting now! Knit as many 9" x 9" squares as possible. We will knit squares at the event, but pre-knitted squares will allow us to assemble more blankets.

STEP 5:

Tell all knitters!
Invite your friends to join in the fun.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Warm Woolies

Warm Woolies is a great charitable organization that helps children both here (US) and abroad. It primarily works with native American reservations (some of the poorest children in the US live on reservation lands... ) and Eastern European orphanages, which offer suffer from lack of heat. I have a few pairs of wee mittens that will be winging off to them this winter.

They offer free patterns for donations, too... what a great idea!


Here the guidelines and address:

Feel free to use any child-sized pattern you like so long as it follows these four guidelines:

  • First, we use wool. The kids we're knitting for live in extremely cold climates. Wool is warm and stays warm even when it's wet. It also holds up better and we intend for the items we knit to be passed down as they are outgrown.
  • Second, any child-sized items are welcome. By "child-sized" we mean newborn to 16 years old. If your item turns out larger or smaller than you intended, that can be your secret! Whatever you knit will fit a child and be a blessing.
  • Third, the warmer the item is, the better. Warm Woolies patterns call for size 10 1/2, 24' circular needles and bulky or doubled worsted weight yarn. Finer weight yarns are okay only for the smallest sized items.
  • Fourth, think coverage and closure. A little too long is fine in a hat, sweater, vest, or sock cuff - a little too short is not. Sweaters and vests need to close securely all the way down.
  • Fifth, if you have acrylic yarn, please consider making a baby blanket. You can follow any pattern you would like, the warmer the better.
  • Please send finished pieces to
    Warm Woolies
    5572 E. Mansfield Ave.
    Denver, CO 80237
Note: they are 501(c), so your donation is tax deductible.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Red Scarf

The Orphan Foundation of America's Red Scarf drive is in full swing. You have until October 31st to get your scarf to them!

Orphan Foundation of America
The Red Scarf Project
21351 Gentry Drive
Sterling, VA 20166


Rules:

Scarf Size: Approximately 60" long and 5" to 8" wide. Scarves should be long enough to be wrapped around the neck, with tails long enough to be tied in the front.

Style: Think unisex collegiate. Ask yourself if your son, brother, and/or husband would enjoy receiving the scarf. Fringes are optional. Your scarf should drape and tie easily.

Yarn: Preferably DK, double fingering-weight, worsted weight, or light bully yarns. No laceweight, super-chunky, or mohair yarns as there are many people who find mohair too itchy. The yarn should be soft.

Color: Red! However, this could mean burgundy, cherry, russet, red stripes with other colors, or multicolor hues including red. Other unisex colors, including black, navy, teal, olive or gold are also welcome.

Finished and tagged: Yarn ends should be securely sewn in. For a personal touch, attach a tag saying "Handmade for You" with your first name, city, and group affiliation, if any. Donors have also included washing instructions, messages of encouragement, gift cards, burger bucks, books of stamps, etc.




Monday, October 13, 2008

Warmer Winters

Warmer Winters is an organization that knits items for donation in the Leominster and Fitchburg area. It uses volunteer knitters and also has ambitions of being a co-op for disadvantaged women who can sell their knitted items.

The Metro West Knitting Guild is currently collecting knitted items for donation: must be machine washable, adult/child/baby items needed.

Central Massachusetts has the largest population of children under the poverty level in the state. Organizations in this area often have difficult times raising funds or meeting the community needs because the entire area is struggling. Chronicle recently had a segment on Fitchburg and the new Main Streets program for revitalization.

If you are looking for a charitable cause during the season of giving, please contact Warmer Winters.

*Warmer Winters is not a 403(c), so your donation is not tax deductible.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Last night, at the guild meeting, I was dubbed a princess and provided a tiara! (which I wore through out the meeting.... i might wear it to Disney this weekend.)

A princess, you say? What makes ME a Princess?

I have strong feelings about birthdays. I think you should celebrate and shout from the rooftops, if that's your thing. I don't believe in ignoring your birthday. At all. It's a special day commemorating the day you landed on this earth. A very special day. No "it's just a day" or "ignore it, I'm too old"--- nope. I want a cake and a card and someone to say "Happy Birthday!" to me. I like me. I like that my mom and dad made me. I am eternally grateful that my mom had me.

So, today's my birthday and I am giving DIANE a present!

Diane- send me your address (do I already have it?) and I will send you a surprise in the mail.

Tonight, I am having world-famous PC-made corn chowder (it has asparagus and if have seen my house, you know about asparagus!) and I already got a card from both PC and Pumpkin.

My friend Mari called me to sing "happy birthday!" this morning.

It's a good day. It's my birthday!!!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Exhaustion

I am in that place where waking up in the morning is impossible. Staying awake past 10pm is unthinkable. I am dozing off at my lunch hour. My hands hurt from sheer exhaustion.

You know that level of tired when it hurts to make a fist?

I'm there.

Damn. I need this vacation... no wake up calls on Sunday, okay honey?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Get ready to .... Cowl?

Usually October is the month where you get ready to Howl... big harvest moons, chillier air and of course, Halloween. I had an idea for a friend (who shares my birthday, yes... you were all right- Thursday is my 31st birthday! I'll pull a name on that day) who needs a present. She's a new mom and routinely takes her new son for walks in the baby bjorn carrier thing. But she needs to stay warm too (he's well bundled... he has a fleece snowsuit and a winter one) and a scarf kept getting pulled on her neck when the baby shifted. So, the cowl was the answer!















(before and after blocking)


Pretty, huh? But, wait! There are TWO cowls here and unless my friend is a two-headed new mommy... she only needs one. I have found cowls are like potato chips. You. Cannot. Knit. One. Nope.














Pink for S. The buttons are from the League of NH Craftsman's Fair-- S picked them out for me a few years ago... little does she know that I have been waiting to use them for her.

Yarn: Manos de Uruguay
Needles: US 9 nylon circulars
Pattern: Philly Cowl (Rav link) by splityarn.com
Modifications: none, but the thick'n'thin yarn was harder to deal with than I expected. The overall product is beautiful (blocking is a miracle), but throughout, I was concerned about the texture. Now, I love it!















And the Blue??
Yarn: Malabrigo --- oh, yum....














I have an aunt in PA who just loves Blue. All things Blue. So, this one is for her. She's also the mom of two boys and I don't think they knit for her. And she deserves it. She's a nice aunt and I know she will be tickled pink(blue?) when this arrives for Christmas.















We're off on vacation at the end of this week. I am trying to think of stuff to pre-blog for while i am away. Also, we have some family stuff going on, so think good happy thoughts for us.